Posts filed under Gadgets

Flashing the Sonoff TH16 Wireless Switch

The Sonoff TH16 is an inexpensive piece of hardware that can be controlled over WiFi. Apart from the switch (that's capable of handling electrical currents up to 16A) there's an interface for temperature and humidity. The actual temp/humid sensor is sold separately (in most cases).

Posted on December 31, 2017 and filed under Gadgets, Hardware, Programming, Raspberry Pi, Tips'n Tricks, Domotica.

Internet of Things (IoT) and Ransomware

Unfortunately, and no matter how funny the cartoon may be, this may be what the future is going to bring us if we're not careful.

Below are some of the online appliances (just random picks from Google):

The only item I couldn't find was the Internet-connected broom. But I guess that won't take long. The other items can all be bought with some sort of Internet connectivity, and are therefore potential vulnerable for abuse.

Posted on October 10, 2016 and filed under Annoying, Gadgets, Hardware, Internet, Security.

Entering The World Of Android Based Media Players

This is gonna be a good one. An Apple Fanboy Going Android..... WTF!?

Yep, it's true to some extent. The reason for letting myself into the Android world is a media player one. Up till recent I was quite happy with my Popcorn Hour A-110, which I bought 6-7 years ago. Happiness started to fade when transfer speeds and connections to the device started to fail. Networking was never its strongest part, even though it had a 100mbps interface. For some reason it never got above the 10Mbps speeds. Had something to do with the processing priority of the device.

Anyway, lately, larger FTP transfers failed for whatever reason, and using SAMBA transfers.... well, don't get me started on that file transfer protocol. Sending communications by pigeon-mail is faster. And since streaming over the network was not an option for the larger (far less compressed) x264 encoded movies or TV shows, I started to look for an alternative.

The alternative should be able to connect to remote media sources, and have enough processing power for the network adapter to get decent a throughput. Also some additional multimedia features were on the 'very-nice-to-have' list. These features included (but were not limited to);

  • stream various content from the web
  • not limited to just video
  • easily modifiable (apps etc.)
  • prepared for the future (4k video?)
  • xbmc (or something alike)

With this list of requirements, there were about a gazillion candidates, because every player out there tends to support this. So I needed to narrow down the candidates. I did exclude the current Popcorn Hour because of the physical size of there latest models.

Posted on December 27, 2014 and filed under Gadgets, Hardware, Personal, Review, Tips'n Tricks, Video.

Best 'Unboxing Videos' Ever

It's the best, mainly because it's terrible. It's a montage of several unboxing videos of the Google Nexus phone/tablet thinghy. I guess I would have thrown the entire box + contents out of the window. Google can learn a lot from other companies like; Nikon, Canon, Leica, Apple... Hell, even the shrink wrap on Microsoft products are easier to remove. Unboxing is an integral part of the new gadget/thinghy experience nowadays.

Posted on July 16, 2012 and filed under Fun, Gadgets, Hardware.

(Theoretical) Apple iPad Thoughts

Apple iPadApple announced the iPad this week. Basically, it's an oversized iPhone/iPod Touch. It comes in several 'sizes'. Meaning different memory sizes (16, 32, and 64GB). The 3G option is an option on all versions (which sets you back an additional >$130).

The size is too big to put it in your pocket, but I think the device will find many owners in frequent flyers market. Smaller than a laptop, and bigger than the iPhone. Just the right size.

I do have my doubts about the device as a gaming platform. It's too big to cover the entire screen with your hands when you're holding it. The iPhone/iPod Touch can be held with both hands and you can access every part of the screen just with your thumbs (at least I can).

Posted on January 28, 2010 and filed under Apple, Gadgets.

Additional iPhone Thoughts

Before I go into the imperfections of the iPhone, I must mention that the iPhone is one of the best (smart)phones I've had so far.....My (smartphone) references are the Nokia Communicator, Nokia E61i, Nokia N95. While the PDA experience comes from Psion (to bad that they are gone), and a boatload of crappy/unstable Windows CE/Mobile platforms over the last 10 years.

Every device had its limitations, but the iPhone clearly has the upperhand (at the moment). But there's always room for improvement :-)

Posted on October 22, 2009 and filed under Annoying, Apple, Gadgets, Hardware, iPhone.

Member of the iPhone Club

As of today, I'm the (proud) owner of an iPhone 3Gs 32GB (Black). Ever since the release a couple of years ago I really wanted an iPhone. The problem is that we can only get an iPhone in combination with a T-Mobile plan here in Holland, and alternatives to the T-Mobile plan are relatively expensive;

  • You need to cough up the entire amount for a SIMLOCK free iPhone in once (several hundreds of euros) or
  • Get the T-Mobile plan and let them remove the SIMLOCK (for a fee). Initially less expensive, but you're still hooked to their two year plan.

Either way, an iPhone cost around 800 euros, whether you pay it at once or spread the costs over two years. Since I didn't like to finance T-Mobile for a plan, since I already got a pretty good deal, I went out and bought an iPhone.

Posted on October 17, 2009 and filed under Apple, Gadgets, Hardware.

New MacBooks

Apple announced (or released) three 'new' MacBooks;

The biggest surprises (apart from the new housing) is that the MacBooks come in two flavours; the 'old' white MacBook (which is also a sub-thousand dollar/euro laptop), and an aluminum version.

Every MacBook (Pro/Air) has the possibility of having solid-state harddrives, and, as usual, there are several upgrades available (CPU, Memory, and tons of accessories). The thing that keeps bothering me is the price that Apple wants for its memory upgrades are most likely ridiculous (as usual). Problem this time is that Apple puts DDR3 DIMMS in the notebooks, and I can't seem to find these in the regular webshops.

Anyway, after getting the Popcorn Hour this week there's no reason for getting an Air or Pro version of the MacBook (if my MBP dies, or gets sold for a decent price). But first.... Wait to see wait the initial problems are with the new MacBooks, because there always is something.......

Posted on October 14, 2008 and filed under Apple, Gadgets, Hardware.

Popcorn Hour A-110

Popcorn Hour A-110 Popcorn Hour A-110'Networked Media Tank' a.k.a. 'Popcorn Hour' is another name for an awesome piece of hardware. It's a small device (the size of a 8-port desktop switch)) that enables you to view media on your TV. You name the format, and it plays it. No matter what the resolution is.

The Popcorn Hour (PCH) is a specialized piece of hardware just for decoding media. Even MKV (Matroska Containers) files are supported. I tried this by downloading a sample of Iron Man in 1080p with DTS audio, and it performed flawlessly. The picture quality was superb.

Besides watching video's you can also;

  • listen to music
  • watch your holiday pictures
  • watch (pre-programmed) online media like YouTube
  • use it as a torrent downloader
  • use it as a usenet downloader (NZBGet)

I currently use mine solely with the HDMI connector hooked up to my Pioneer A/V Receiver. This way I get to enjoy all the benefits of HD content. There are numerous ways of connecting the PCH to your TV/Home Theater. Both analog and digital.

One little drawback; don't plan on doing a lot of pushing buttons on the remote when you are copying lot's of files over the network to the device. I had to reset my PCH twice in an hour. The CPU for the operating System (OS) on the device is for the interface and basic network connectivity (there's a CPU for displaying media, and a CPU for the OS). So if you're gonna stress the device it might hang.

So, if you're thinking about a Home Theater PC (HTPC) for the purpose of watching media this is the device for you. If you plan on recording TV you'll need another device for doing that.

Posted on October 13, 2008 and filed under Gadgets, Hardware, Movies.

Point & Shoot

Ever since a certain split-up, I'm in need of a decent point&shoot camera. A nice small camera to fit in my pocket for every day snapshot use, but with pro-like features. Why?, because they won't allow you to attend a concert with a Nikon D300 and a 80-400mm lens.. (or any lens for that matter). And the camera on my Nokia N95 is not satisfactory at all.... But then again, it's a phone.

At the moment I'm kinda interested in the Canon Powershot G9, or the Panasonic Limux DMC-LX3 (which is not available yet. The first is.. well... kinda a legend at this moment, but the second is throwing high hopes for that segment. The new Nikon P6000 lacks Mac support and uses a closed RAW format at this time, so that's a no go (even though the integrated GPS in kinda neat).

Guess I have to wait for the first reviews of the Panasonic Lumic DMC-LX3. I hope it's available soon.

Posted on August 21, 2008 and filed under Gadgets, Hardware, Personal, Photography.