Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

Apple AirPods Update

I’ve previously passed along my opinions on my new(ish) Apple AirPods and have an update from a recent experience with them.

I used them in a somewhat noisier environment for the first time on the subway. Since they are not noise canceling and do not cover the ear, outside sound does degrade the experience somewhat. I found myself increasing the volume a couple of times to hear podcasts better. Still no real complaints with them but if you are regularly in a noisy environment you may notice it.

Apple iCloud Photos Experience

A couple of things on my experience in moving my entire photo library (maybe 60,000 pictures) into the iCloud (http://www.apple.com/icloud/photos/). Previously I had a large photo library and started keeping the oldest years on an external SSD (LaCie). The issue with this was that to get to old photos I had to switch iPhotos (now Photos) to it which could be a pain to find old pictures and Faces was per library. This also inhibited me from easily/quickly sharing old pictures. I was also concerned about loss so I had set up a synch system with AWS Glacier.

I decided to make the transition a couple of months ago and go into a single easily accessible storage and access system so I picked the Apple iCloud Photos. Doing that also lets you have a single location for all of your albums instead of multiple sets of albums in different libraries. Transitioning to it took several days of upload (from 2 different MacBook Pros because of the external library) but once that was done it has worked well so far. I also selected the reduced storage option for my iPhone 6 so it keeps all of the pictures in a lower resolution on the phone and the full sized images in the cloud. This has worked well so far but one thing that I do notice is that apps that can select photos take a bit longer to initially load the thumbnails because of the number of thumbnails to deal with. The reason that I had to use 2 MBPs was the iCloud Photos is linked to the device so having one MBP complete an upload and then switch to another library runs the risk of losing all of the previously uploaded pictures. This is because (I think) that switching libraries causes iCloud Photos to start a 30-day timer where it will expire the pictures not in the library that your MBP is using. If you use 2 different devices to upload iCloud will merge all of the pictures into a single library which then can be accessed from all of your Apple devices.

I also had to subscribe to a larger iCloud storage plan to hold all of the images. I feel like the convenience of access and automatic backup offsets the additional yearly cost.

Something else to note is that Google Photos has been in the process of uploading the photos from the phone for quite a while. It is automatically creating memories which is pretty interesting in that it uploads the most recently taken pictures from the phone and then keeps plugging away at the oldest pictures that it had not seen before because they were on the external drive. Because of this I regularly get “memories” of events that I have not seen in quite a while which I like.

So far I am satisfied with my experience with my only real complaint being the additional time that apps take to load thumbnails.

OpenShift and Build Error New (InvalidOutputReference)

I had a recent experience with troubleshooting a build problem with something in an OpenShift v3 project that I wanted to pass along. I did a number of searches on the error (InvalidOutputReference) and did not find the lack of an existing imagestream as a possible cause.

If your build status output includes the following

"New (InvalidOutputReference)"

It may mean that you need to create an image stream before the starting build with this

$ oc create is myapplication

It is possible that the build has failed but OpenShift will not realize it and will continue saying that the build is in progress.

If your build configuration has a section like this:

spec:
  nodeSelector: null
  output:
    to:
    kind: ImageStreamTag
    name: myapplication:latest

Then you should be able to do the following and get back an imagestream.

$ oc get is myapplication

If you can’t that may mean that you need to first create the image stream. Note that if your build is pulling from an upstream image it is possible that an imagestream is being created automatically.

OpenShift is a powerful container orchestration (and more) environment. You can find out more about the community version at https://www.openshift.org/ and the Red Hat supported verson at https://www.openshift.com/

Apple AirPods Review

This is my review of the new Apple AirPods. They are small wireless (bluetooth) earbuds that each fit in an ear and are not connected to each other by wire. Each has a battery which is supposed to last for 5-hours. Pairing them with my iPhone was automatic and immediate once I opened their holder. I only had to acknowledge the pairing on my phone. They come already charged and with a small holder that you slide them in for charging when not in use. When the holder is opened and the phone connects a popup window appears showing the charge level on the holder and pods. I do always put them back in their holder (and thus charging) when not in use. I have gone not the distance yet but have had them in for 2 or 3 hours at a time without any problem.

The bluetooth range is very good (from my iPhone 6) and I was able to leave my phone charging in the kitchen to go upstairs with no loss of connectivity.

They fit snugly in the ear and do not feel like they will easily fall out which is the primary concern that I have and have read about.

When just wearing them around the house and on my bike trainer I have not felt like they will fall out.

One did come out when I pulled a t-shirt off over my head. The other immediately stopped playing which should make it easier to recognize that one has fallen out and not leave it behind. When wearing a heavier jacket it may be possible for the collar to touch a pod causing it fall out but that has not happened to me. Something else that I have not tried yet is being out on the bike with a helmet. I am wondering if the helmet straps might make contact with a pod and cause it to fall out. I will eventually try that and update this when I know.

I have tried them on a several short runs and had no trouble with them falling out. In thinking back to running with earbuds connected by a wire they would typically be pulled out by me snagging the wire so that avenue should be closed now.

They have the same form factor as Apple earbuds and have no active noise cancellation. This means that they do not remove outside sounds but do reduce them to some degree. When walking outside with a moderate wind I am able to hear the audio from them.

One important thing to note is that they do attract attention and may make you feel conspicuous. I have had a suspicion a couple of times that someone has thought that I was wearing unusual earrings which feels a little odd.

So far after a few days of use (office, commute, grocery store and home) I have no complaints. More to come as I try them for longer periods of time.

Mevo Camera Update Failed

One final update on my Mevo cam before it goes back to BB today. I tried it in the office last Thu and could not connect to it at all. Today I decided to give it one more chance so I did a hard reset on the cam and deleted the app from my iPhone and reinstalled it. I start both up and the app says a cam firmware update is required so I think “great, this might fix it!”. I hit the update button and it spins a bit a says “update failed, unable to connect to Mevo”. Retried numerous times with no progress. #fail

Mevo update failed

Streaming Is the Future of Entertainment

In the past we regularly went into DC for the DC Shorts (@dcshorts) film festival. This involved at least a 30 minute drive in traffic, parking, probably getting dinner and then sitting through a few of the films and then the return trip. This year they decided to support online viewing (http://festival.dcshorts.com/film/online-festival/) and we had our first experience with it tonight.

We watched a number of short films using my iPad mirrored to my AppleTV and had no issues or any complaints at all. This saves money, time, the aggravation of traffic and listening to people talk in the theater. We regularly stream iTunes and Netflix to our AppleTV and almost always have a great experience so DC Shorts is just another use of that device.

An interesting point on the side effects though. One is that as there is an uptake in streaming it causes a reduced demand for hospitality services such as restaurants and parking facilities. This means fewer jobs in general. The streaming service jobs (data center for example) are likely to be somewhere else in the world.

However, the other side of that equation is an increased demand for content so there will be more jobs and opportunities (and innovation) in content production. These may again occur anywhere but at least it gives the opportunity for anyone that wants to enter that business to try it out.

Review Mevo Livestreaming Camera

I picked up the Mevo livestreaming camera today and am on my second test usage of it. So far I am very disappointed. Each of the videos that I’ve seen from people reviewing it have been vastly better than what I am experiencing at home. Even at the lowest resolution setting I am getting frequent heavy pixelation and timeout errors over wifi.

A recent speed test from my iPad Pro 9.7 showed that I am getting a regular 47 Mbps download and upload speeds varying between 23 Mbps and 37 Mbps. This is via Verizon FIOS.

If this does not improve it is definitely going back.

I have done a number of livestreams of meetup groups in our area (all on my YouTube channel) and have been using a Logitech BCC950 with my MacBook Pro which has worked very well.

I wanted to try reducing my rig to an iPad and the Mevo and based on the video reviews I’ve seen of it that seemed reachable. The Mevo iOS app also provides some reasonable studio capabilities (selecting camera view for example) and I thought that that would also improve my meetup captures.

Unfortunately, the pixelation and errors are bad enough so far to reduce my willingness to keep trying it but I figure that a few more days is reasonable.

Bose QC-35 Bluetooth Headset Review

A quick review of the Bose QC-35 wireless headset. I’ve been using a QC 15 at work for some time and regularly catch the audio cable on something (chair arm most of all) and half the time yank the cable out. I got tired of the enough last week to buy the Bose QC 35 wireless headset. It works like a champ but one caveat on it. The 15 has a solid throw switch for on/off. The 35 on/off switch is a different design and more flimsy. It appears to be easy to abuse. It feels different to your fingers and I have a tendency to push it in in addition to sliding it. I’ve learned to look at it and turn it on before putting the headset on. Audio quality is at least equal to the 15, over ear comfort is the same. It also has a rechargeable battery in it with a usb charging cable. I’ve been wearing my 15 much more often at work lately to reduce surrounding office environment noise.

It connecting to up to 2 BT sources means that if you are listening using one of them (such as your MBP) while connected to your phone if a phone call comes in you get a spoken notification with the option to switch BT sources. Worked very well for me minutes ago.

My only complaints are that the power button seems flimsy and asking to break and it would be nice to connect to more than 2 BT sources. In my case my source are iPhone, MBP personal, MBP work and iPad so being able to do 3 at any one time would work best for me.

Tesla Fatality and Autonomous Vehicles

I keep thinking about some of the implications of the recent Tesla driver fatality and a few aspects came to mind regarding autonomous vehicles.

One is did the car detect the accident (the top was sheared off I think) and if so how? Does it have accelerometers that detect a jolt indicating an accident and react accordingly? Would this event even have been noticed by an accelerometer?

In this case the car drove under a flat bed truck and may have continued at least for a bit. The accident might have had a better outcome if the car had impacted the truck directly rather than the way that it did which was bad luck.

Another consideration is related to the car awareness of the driver condition. By that I mean what if the driver had a heart attack or seizure and did not touch anything that would get the car’s attention. Is it possible that a driver could become incapacitated or even die and the car not be aware of it and continue on until it reaches a destination? The stipulation of driving modes such as this is that the driver is supposed to maintain continual awareness. The reality is that it will become easy and tempting to do something else. Aircraft autopilots have been criticized because they reduce pilot direct flying activities, increase dependence on the autopilot and may erode pilot skills as a result.

The idea of a driver becoming a systems monitor will probably not become mainstream anytime soon.

This accident will likely delay the appearance of the fully autonomous vehicle because it raised the awareness of the complexity of driving and visibility conditions and unexpected events.

Until a vehicle can mimic the same level of vision, particularly field of view, and interpretation of what is seen, heard and felt by a human I am not sure that full autonomy will occur without continued risk.