Review: Powerbeats 3 headphones with Apple w1 chip

Review

Overall, I am a huge fan of these headphones.  The only issues I’ve run into are fairly minor and probably won’t impact most people.  They sync to my iDevices quite quickly in all cases but one.  I’ve only had issues when switching from one iPhone to the other (personal vs work) where I’ve been forced to turn the headphones off and back on again before they will pair successfully.  This usually fixes it.  I’ve run into similar issues when trying to switch from iPhone to laptop, which tends to be a bit more of a challenge to resolve.  It took me a few tries to actually understand that the most efficient way to pair them is to have them in a “powered down” state and then hold the ‘button’ down and stare at my iOS device until the pairing window pops up on my phone.   In my experience, it works just as well if the iOS device is locked or in an app.

Let me also say that I am constantly losing headphones… the same applies for sunglasses. Anything that doesn’t have a nice neat-and-pocket-friendly container will quickly disappear or be left behind somewhere.  In the case of these headphones, I decided I’d attach a Tile tracker. This works really well, however, whenever I’ve got the headphones resting on my shoulders (instead of in my ears) I am inevitably stopped by a helpful friend to tell me I’ve got a tag sticking out of my shirt. (I may end up spray painting the tile black to address this because I don’t want to give the impression that friends shouldn’t tell me when I do actually have a tag sticking out.)  This only becomes a frequent thing because the headphones rest so naturally on your shoulders when you take them out, that you forget you’ve got them there.

The headphones are quite comfortable for many hours of use, and with the ear grabby things, they are unlikely to ever come off accidentally.   These grabby things Grappling Hook Clip Artdo mean they tend to anchor themselves to every other cable in your backpack like a grappling hook.  They come with a soft rubbery carrying case which wouldn’t protect them from the kind of roughness that happens to things once they get stuffed into my pockets, so I don’t use the case.

It would be nice if they used the lightning adapter instead of micro-USB, but I have plenty of both types of cables plugged in at various charging locations, so it’s more about the USB cables always being oriented the wrong way than anything else.

These headphones are quite good at noise cancelling, so when I’m wearing them at work, I am able to isolate out the conversations and noise around me.  I have to be a little careful though when I’m out and about in the neighborhood because it means I’m not going to hear cars, bikes, or other pedestrians around me.  This is both handy for people who would otherwise interrupt me mid-thought and dangerous for faster moving (and more massive) vehicles.

I also use these frequently for calls, and I’ve found that when I have the cable which connects each end located behind my head, it is often difficult for the other person to hear me if I speak at a normal volume.  Relocating the inline mic to the front (so that it dangles under my chin like a paper birthday hat) seems to reliably fix this.

Pros

  • Great sound
  • Trivial to connect to a device
  • Comfortable in your ears or around your neck
  • Good for making calls (as long as the mic is in front)
  • Easy to attach a Tile so you don’t lose them
  • Good isolation from environment noise
  • MicroUSB instead of Lightning
    • Both a pro and a con because you probably have other devices that use microUSB already

Cons

  • Challenging to un-pair and repair in a hurry depending on the device
    • Still much easier than normal bluetooth devices though
  • Carrying case isn’t going to protect them
  • MicroUSB instead of lightning

Verdict?

 Yep, I’m happy with my purchase

Lego Dimensions

Well, now that Disney Infinity is no longer a thing, I decided to take the plunge into the Lego equivalent.  I’m hopeful that Disney IP may end up coming to Dimensions as it is no longer a direct competitor to Disney Infinity.

And at $45, that was a pretty easy decision.

And considering how much I’ve enjoyed both of the two Lego movies that were put out for wide release over the last couple years, I think these games will be both fun and well written.

And of course I couldn’t resist the Doctor Who and Back to the Future add on sets.

 

April Fools Fun 2017

Petlexa

For added effect, ask Alexa “Alexa, what is Petlexa?

Epic Skeletor

This one might actually be real…I think.

 

Dr. Ruth Readies for Blast Off!

 

Yahoo mail password reject loop on OSX Apple Mail fix

If you use Apple Mail (or a similar desktop app for handling email) and you’ve seen the following error message in connection doctor, or you run into the constant cycle of the app telling you to reenter your password, this might fix it.  

“Trying to log into this SMTP account failed. Verify that the username and password are correct.”

It is possible that you’re experiencing a sign in verification issue with apps that don’t support Yahoo!’s multi-step authentication system.

  1. Log into Yahoo’s website.
  2. Click on the gear thing in the top right.
  3. Choose “Account Info”
  4. Sign in (again)
  5. In the section titled “Sign-In and Security” click on “Manage your app passwords”
  6. Give it a name like “MacBook Air Laptop Mail”  and then let it generate a unique app password.
  7. Use this password in your app, and only in this app — create other passwords unique to each app you use.  You don’t need to remember the password, the point is you just generate a “one-app” password for each app that needs to authenticate. 

Full details: http://help.yahoo.com/kb/index?page=content&y=PROD_ACCT&locale=en_US&id=SLN15241

Why Test Driven Development saves time and money

Often times developers insist that writing code first is the quickest way to get your product launched. For the most part this is a fallacy. Test Driven Development may result in slower ramp up, but that really means more investment in well designed and well structured code. Carpenters call this “measure twice and cut once.” Many developers go with the “measure, cut, measure, cut, measure, cut, glue, measure, get a new piece of wood” approach. Using a testing framework like Jasmine will reduce the overall costs (time and money) and improve the overall product.

TDD is also a great learning tool for newer developers. It helps encourage code reusability and encourages better design by reducing the reliance on monolithically giant functions/methods.

There’s a great write up I just came across that details several more benefits and explains how it improves the quality of the product while simultaneously reducing the overall time to market.

http://blog.codosaur.us/2013/07/is-tdd-worth-it.html

Antifragmentation

You all know how vocal I am about the fundamental flaw in the Android platform — the fragmentation.  No matter what Google tries to do, they cannot convince their hardware manufacturers to provide release support for anything but the shiniest newest devices.  I don’t fault the manufacturers because financially speaking, it would be a bad business decision for them to invest developers’ time and efforts into backporting the newest “dessert” to their older devices. Google has created an environment where equipment manufactures are responsible for functionality merges of enormous proportions.  Any developer will tell you that merging code is a costly and often buggy process.

fremium-model

At its heart, Google is a giant ad agency trying to get as many eyeballs looking at their ads as possible.  Google can’t enforce the OS upgrades so Google’s product (what some folks call “customers” — see cartoon at right; if you’re not paying for it, you are the product not the customer) is forced to suffer because they can’t upgrade and obtain the latest and greatest features or important bug and security fixes.  And don’t forget, chances are good that you know someone with an Android phone, so your personal information on their device is in the mix as well.

Developers suffer because they need to support such an insurmountable fragmented ecosystem. For many small businesses, Android development is prohibitively expensive with little financial reward.

That’s why I was so excited to come across a plan that finally articles how Google it intends to rectify this fatal flaw with the too open mobile device platform. Do they need to virtually abandon the open-ness which they so vocally claim was superior?  Yes — at least a little bit.  Is this a bad thing? NO!  Without a unifying vision and cohesive experience, manufactures, “customers” and developers are all made to suffer and you end up with the lowest possible denominator every time.  By centralizing control of the critical aspects and drastically reducing the complexity of what must be rolled out, they might actually be able to turn the fragmentation issue around.  Unfortunately it’ll take a couple of years to ripple through the ecosystem as all the lion’s share of today’s non-upgradeable devices need to slowly be retired through damage or upgrades.  It’s an exciting start to say the least, and who knows, eventually I might even need to add an Android category to this blog…

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/09/balky-carriers-and-slow-oems-step-aside-google-is-defragging-android/

…oh and hey, what’s that?  Microsoft bought Nokia to also gain tighter control of hardware and software integration? Gee there might be something to that after all.

 

WordCamp LA – 2013

For anyone in the greater Los Angeles Metro area, I’ll be presenting concepts on working with WordPress in the enterprise at WordCamp LA 2013.  If you’re not familiar with WordCamp, it’s a conference where developers, designers, content producers and business folks all gather to discuss concepts, strategy and implementation approaches for WordPress. It caters to users of all skill levels and runs 2 days.  Tickets are available from the site.

 

 

Disney Infinity – Teaching software development in a game

Sorcerer Mickey - Disney Infinity

As you might imagine, I’m pretty excited about Disney Infinity — especially after receiving a Sorcerer Mickey figure at the D23 Expo this weekend!  I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the Toy Box mode, but after watching a couple videos, it really feels like this game is teaching kids to write software.  The Button and Repeater objects strongly remind me of registering event listeners and then handling the trigger.  I also see iterative loops and counters built into this simple example.  In the years ahead, I think that software development will be integrated at some level into grade school or at the very least, a life skill class in High School, like wood-shop or auto-shop.  Geek-shop perhaps?

Check out the video below and see if you agree…