Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Motorola Z2 Play. A premium device with an affordable price.

A few weeks ago I got the desire to try a different device. Not because of any issue or anything like that, I just decided I want to have a different phone. For some reason the thought of jumping between devices to try a few out is appealing to me. And now with the cloud holding most all of the data I use on the phone switching back and forth is easier than ever. I currently have an HTC U11 phone that has been a blast to use every day for the past 6 months. I never had an issue with it, everything runs smoothly and the battery life is great. I get a day to a day and a half if I’m conservative with my streaming. The phone looks awesome it’s a bright red metallic color that everyone notices. I have it enclosed in a clear case and put a shatter proof screen on it. I had a spur of the moment inkling to check out the Motorola phones again after they sent me an email with a large sale on some of their newer flagship devices.

I checked them out and decided on the Z2 play from Motorola. This is a nice thin lightweight phone with a 5.5 inch LCD which is bigger than the screen on the HTC. The phone is so light and easy to hold too. I forgot how much weight the HTC had to it till I picked it up to do this review. Its not a bad thing either its just different.

The Moto has a nice bright screen that is easy to see and everything looks vivid and sharp. The camera is a 12 MP shooter in the back with a 5MP in the front for great self portraits. Pictures look great on it and seem to capture a lot of detail. The phone is quick and responsive and everything is easy to find when looking for your favorite apps. This is an unlocked device that is carrier neutral so there is no bloat ware on it. I love this feature as the HTC was the same way and it is great not to be force fed apps that I cannot uninstall and will never use.

The phone being a bigger size is still easy to use one handed thanks to the thin sized footprint. It has a head phone jack which I like and it also has a usb C connector for the charger. I tried USB C headphones but they did not recognize on the phone so they cant be used unless you have the head phone jack adapter. The battery life has been outstanding I can push this and get a full day and a half out before I need to charge it again. There is also a Moto Mod add on that is an extended battery should you need more juice. I stream quite a bit and run different music apps like sound cloud and the Sirius XM app for on demand shows. I have more than 40 percent battery life left at night before I put the phone down to sleep. The included turbo charge will give it a 50 percent boost in 15 minutes so to get you through a long day should you need it. The phone has one downside when coming off the HTC, it is running Nougat of Android 7.1 and the 8.0 Oreo update is still pending. Moto seems to have an issue getting updates out quickly. This has not been an issue to me except I miss the nice emoji icons when doing text messages. I have not seen any major issues with the phone and it has been a joy to use. I have only seen one small issue and I am still testing to see if it happens on all audio apps or just one. What happens is after some time the volume just decreases half way. The volume is set all the way up on the phone and on the app but it just is a lowered volume. This happens on the
Sirus app and closing the app and restarting it takes away the issue. I have yet to test this on other apps and I am not sure if it’s a power saving feature or some bug. Either way I will keep testing and report back. This is a really great phone and for a less expensive price point it can be an affordable device for someone who just needs a phone and doesn’t need the latest and greatest. I will probably use this for a few weeks then I may switch back to my HTC device. Either way I have two great devices that can get me through a whole day without fail and they are both reliable and dependable. That’s all I want at the end of the day.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

3 days with a signal issue can teach you how to be agile with different devices.

Having to switch between 2 devices day and night while waiting for a signal issue to resolve has made me quite nimble and aware of the annoyance it can be to juggle between 2 devices. But since more data gets stored on the cloud it has made it easy to switch from one device to another. In my case I use the regular old text message app that is on whatever device I am using at the time. So when I switch I have to jump around on conversations as they do not sync with all the other data. I really should move to something that will store them in the cloud but I’m still figuring out which app I want to use. But for all my other data the cloud has made it just come across like its nothing. So it made the switch easier. I wanted to get to a point like that because I wanted to be able to try different phones at different times and be able to test them for a bit before going back to my other daily driver. There is a new HTC U 12 rumored to be coming out around April some time I would love to try another HTC phone and the specs really make it worth an upgrade. My U 11 has been a dream to use until about 3 days ago… Let me start at the beginning..
3 days ago I got out of my car and sent a text. But the text never went. It was late and I saw it was not sent and that the service was out and had an x. I dismissed it and went to sleep thinking maybe the network had a glitch and it will be better by morning. I awoke early the next morning to see I still had no service and was not sure what was happening. I had data mostly if I was not on wifi but the data would fade in and out. This was like this inside the house, outside the house, and about a mile down the road before I switched towers maybe and the signal came back full and I then had zero issues. I went about my day at my office and the phone just worked like it always did since I bought it new in September. I never had one issue with the phone. Signal was never a problem in my home. If the phone rang I got the call. But to then have this weird signal issue that is still ongoing and I am waiting for the carrier to resolve the issue. Someone told me it’s my sim. But if that is the case why does it work perfectly 3 towns away all day and the only issue is when I am near my home? And why does the same behavior not occur to my old Samsung device when I put that same sim card into the phone? When the sim is in the old phone there are no issues at my home phone calls and texts come fine. When the sim Is in the HTC phone I get sporadic connections for minutes then the signal will just drop out and not come back. If it was the phone then why would that behavior not continue in other places? When I am anywhere else but my home, the phone works with no issues whatsoever. The data connection that runs streaming and audio will stay up and buffer enough that the stream will be uninterrupted even as the phone switches over to where it can work well. It is about a mile radius away from my home that I cannot get signal then it comes back on that device. Keep in mind this is an HTC phone it is not sold or known well to Verizon at all. It is known as a certified open channel device or BYOD device. When this first came out there was a lot of people online that had issues getting a sim to work with version. They had to work close with Verizon tech to get it to work. And the store techs were not familiar with the process when the phone first came out. My search on google with this issue has not turned up much. Most posts are older and the options and tricks mentioned have been tried. I rebooted into safe mode. Same issue and I even cleared the cache in the device. I also reset the network settings. I called Verizon and asked the first level tech to refresh my device which she did but it did not make much difference. I have another sim card and I will flash it if needed but I am going to wait first for Verizon to tell me what they find. In the mean time, I will be a skilled device ninja deftly moving between devices till this gets sorted. 3 Days later it finally got fixed by Verizon as part of a larger issue. Now I’m back running at 100 percent with the HTC. It really has been a wonderful phone to use and very easy to enjoy. But being the device switching guy for a bit made me realize I want t try another device. Especially now since its so easy to switch back and forth. So in my next post I will be discussing my new device which is on its way to my shop right now. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

HTC U11 A Review and a toast!

The HTC U11 is a great phone! Fast, sexy, and easy to use are some of the first thoughts. The look of this thing is so nice. The Solar Red glistens and changes to lighter and darker shades of red in the different lights. It is a great size and not too heavy when you add a good case and a screen protector. INVEST in a good screen protector! More on that in a bit. The size of the phone is a good size and very easy to use with one hand. The layout and swipe directions are designed for a one handed user. It is very fast and the battery lasts all day unless you live on the phone. And the audio.... Holy.....crap! The audio is so awesome. Lets get into it
Even the packaging is cool. Its a fully recyclable package and laid out well. You get the charger and the usb C cable as well as a clear bumper to protect the back of the phone and the paperwork. The thing is a work of art. I am told all the colors are beautiful to behold and all shimmer in the light to make a great looking phone. The screen is very bright and the auto brightness works very well. You can see the screen in the direct sunlight and still read everything well with the default fonts. A note here: the screen is EXTREMELY FRAGILE. Get a screen protector with the phone. Get one that is shatter proof even if its just for the front of the screen. You can buy a full clear case from Spigen that covers the sides and protects the rest of the phone. You want a clear case so that the colors of the phone shine through and catch everyone's eyes. Even with this case and the screen protector the phone is much lighter than my Samsung s7 edge with the Commuter Case and no screen protector. When you hold the phone in one hand, its very easy to see why they thought of the "Squeeze Sides" idea. The way you hold the phone naturally puts your fingers in the perfect spot to squeeze and its able to be done without feeling like you will drop the phone. It makes taking pictures very easy. I am thinking about how program this feature how to do something else for me other than just take pictures. It can be annoying though some times when you take your phone out of the car the way you hold it can activate the squeeze. I've had to delete 3 different pictures of my front yard that snapped as I got out of the car!
Here is a photo I took with the phone using the squeeze sides. It came out nice and clear and was very fast to snap the picture. The phone has a lot of filters and adjustments you can make to the photos when you take them and after the picture is taken. I am not going to snap a lot of photos and compare them to other phones. There are other sites to view that sort of comparison this is not one of them.

Switching to the USB C plug has been enjoyable its much easier to plug your phone in while in the dark, not having to worry about which way the plug is facing to plug it in. (I have come from the land of the micro usb and I do have to replace some accessories but its not a huge deal.
Another thing to get used to coming from the Samsung world is that they are reversed with their onscreen buttons. The Back button on the Samsung is on the right and the app switch button is on the left. Every other manufactuer like the HTC has them reversed, and that is how it should be as it makes it so much easier to use with one hand. The back button is used more than the app switch button and after inital adjustments, it works great for me.
The new Nougat OS is quick smooth and has great battery power management. The phone has seen none of the weird software glitches I used to see on the Samsung. Multitasking is very easy with the app button and it ran multiple apps without breaking a sweat. ON any given day I have a google maps open along with Soundcloud as well as company email and other time wasting, battery draining apps! But I get through a full day with at least 30 to 40 percent left on the battery. I pushed the Samsung that hard and I was at 10 to 20 percent at the end of a day. The battery is good and I am glad, I would hate to invest on a premium device and not be able to get a good battery life out of it. I have had many tablets and phones do that. You only found out they were empty or dying at the most inopportune time like Right when you need them the most!
This new HTC U11 is lightweight, easy to use, and has a long lasting battery. I really hope that it will continue to be a great phone for a long time and that I will continue to enjoy it as they update to Oreo and beyond. This phone has been wonderful for the first 2 weeks I have used it and I look forward to writing a bigger review after some real time used on this phone. Im sure there are many different options I have yet to try out and as I learn the phone more I will find ways for it to help make life easier for me when it comes to my digital life.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Samsung smart switch makes moving to a new Samsung very easy

So I have had the pink line for about a few months now and it is getting worse on my s7edge. It has started causing the top right corner of the screen to not respond to touch . So i decided to get an s7 to use so Samsung can fix the pink line if possible. I have not heard back from Samsung yet about fixing the pink line but that is a story for another day. I dread having to switch phones as the process has not been as easy as Apple makes it. Their iCloud works well and makes moving to a different device very easy. Well Samsung has a program that is very similar called the smart switch. It works with any device and will make switching very easy to get to a new Samsung device.

The transfer can happen 3 ways, via Wireless from one device to the other, with a usb transfer cable, or connecting the devices to a pc or mac.

The Smart switch will let you choose your items you want to sync like your contacts, photos, and text messages. It even keeps most of your settings the same. I cannot speak if that works across platforms but switching from one Samsung to the other kept all the settings. I had my icons right where I liked them and all the apps opened and worked with no issues. You do need to sign back into each app and reauthorize if you have a 2 factor authentication setup. But all your data comes right over and its very easy to get back up and running in no time with very little hassle. I did have to readjust my sound settings so I figured it was time to pick some different ring tones for messages and alerts and calls. The program works well it is very easy to download and install and very easy to follow the steps. It was pretty fast too as it flew over the wifi and I have a good amount of photos on the device's storage. It took less than an hour to get everything moved over. It may have even been about 30 minutes.
It is a great app to use and if your going to move to a Samsung I highly recommend getting this app. I will probably have to use it one more time once I get my s7edge fixed. I will update about that later on once I find out what the status of getting it fixed is. I hope to just be able to get it swapped out but I am not looking forward to getting a refurb if that is what they offer me. I know I will not pay for the repair as it is not caused by use its a defect in the phone. I really hope Samsung does a better job with their s8 line than the issues that plagued the s7 line as well as the Note 7 debacle. If you are getting a new Samsung just make sure to use the Smart Switch app to move to the new device seamlessly.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Its time to start thinking about 10GB Ethernet

10GB Ethernet. It is here, it is blazing fast and it is probably expensive right now. But its going to get more popular in use and its adoption will drive the price down. I don't know how many homes might decide to move to it but it would be a huge upgrade cost to do so. But if you are running something like a Home studio for video production then it may be something that is needed. Even the hardware is starting to be forward thinking. The Buffalo TeraStation TS5410DN has a built in 10GB port on the back. Lots of NAS drives are starting to put them in. In this Video review by David Gewirtz just a month ago there was 6 of them and each one talked about 10GB Ethernet.

Data Centers have have been using this standard since 2007. Of course if you have Gigabit Ethernet and want to upgrade you are going to have to buy new switches and hardware that can support 10GB Ethernet. Plus you need to have Cat 6 Ethernet cable or Fiber cable to run it through your network. You can run it up to 100m (330ft) After that signal loss will occur. 10GB is the only standard that has come out that does not offer the option of Half duplex communication. The standard reads Full Duplex only. Would a home user ever use this standard? Sure they would, if they were in video or music production you will take all the speed you can get! Plus having 10GB to stream from your NAS box to your internet to upload, things are going to get done pretty quick! If you are a cloud provider for customers or Run a small data backup company you will want to have your backbone at 10GB speeds if at all possible to make sure that data will get to where it needs to be.
10GB Ethernet is almost here and its time to start thinking about putting budgets against it to make sure you have the speeds you need to transfer the ever increasing amount of data coming out of your network. This is a developing topic and I will discuss it more as it starts to make a larger headway into Mainstream networking. As always feel free to leave me feed back about my topics.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

This age of instant response can make for missing a moment alone.

Your getting out of bed trying to remember what important things you have to do today and you get "Bling" "Blong" Your cell phone chirps that someone has sent you a text. You respond then start to think again, I need to make sure I go to... "Bling Blong" Again the response comes in what feels like milliseconds and you couldn't even finish your small thought about going to the market! Later in the day you have been dealing with 5 emergencies from every department and then you found out you need to leave early to go to your house on your lunch break to deal with something and you just want to close your eyes and gather your thoughts for a second...Ahh..."Bling Blong" . It never ends. This instant response with technology has made us lose some of our razor sharp focus we once had. They say multitasking is bad and does not work. Well it used to before you had this instant response device working. You could start a project and finish it without an instant interruption that started and had five responses or further questions before you even got to pick up the phone to look at it! It has caused people to have less patience as well when it comes to waiting for answers. Everyone thinks you should be able to text the response back no matter where you are or what you are doing. This is not the case and you may need to let people know in advance. You have to block off time where you may even turn your phone to airplane mode or off to not hear those messages. Tell all you important friends and family you are doing this to focus on something important. Even if its for a work out and meditation. Does not matter. That is your time to get things done that need to be done. Those texts will have to wait. And for business, set the same ground rules. Let your co workers know, If you have something quick fire off a text but if it requires more than 3 responses, send an email or call about it so the message is clear. Let your clients and customers know, I do not do business by text message. You can give me a text to ask if Im in the office or can I call you? But anything else must be in written or verbal form via an email or phone call. Set the precedence right from the beginning and you can gently remind them if they forget later and do it. And if you get coupons or offers via text message think about them do you really need them? If you do, you just have to hope they are not at 2 in the morning!
It really is hard to try to focus for a long time when you keep getting some kind of alert from an electronic device. Even as I write this now, I had 5 text messages come through and my tablet had 3 alerts from apps come through. So my train of thought stopped a few times and I had to try to pick up where I left off. So if you have tablets you may have to put them in airport mode or at least disable all alerts that are not needed or are duplicated by your cell phone. Try to start small, start with 20 minutes maybe in the early morning. Put your devices to airplane then just close your eyes breath deep and think about something that relaxes you. Don't think about work or anything else you have to do, just think of something relaxing like an image of the sunrise at your favorite beach, or the feel of the breeze as you sit in your screened porch. Just make sure to take some time to your self for your thoughts. The more you do this the more you will be able to focus better and you will feel sharper and sometimes feel less overwhelmed at larger projects. Put on some of your favorite music and just listen to it for some time to your self. If your phone goes off while your in the middle of juggling three tasks at work that are small, don't answer or look at it until you get at least 2 of them done. Then take a quick moment to look at the text. Or if you feel better not worrying about it then don't look at it until you got all three tasks done.
They say we reached the age of instant communication. Well I would like to go back 3 steps where I don't have to respond in an instant and I can get things done without hearing sounds in my head, "BLING BLONG" .

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sonos Play Review

I was looking into some new speakers for my home and I did not want some big monster speaker or have a mess of wires to play with. I was looking into the Bose system as well as the Sonos Play series. After reading about each in depth I decided to get the Sonos Play speakers.
I picked up the Sonos Play 5 which is their largest speaker.
I also picked up a sonos play 1 which is the smallest speaker. The smaller Play 1 speaker will be perfect for upstairs to have a surround sound effect while the Play 5 will be down stairs in the living room. You can connect the speakers together to play the same stream or you can set them up to be different and play different music. Everything is done with an app loaded onto an iOS device or Android device. These speakers are very loud! The sound quality is top notch. Setup is very easy to connect the devices to your wireless network. The option to put the speakers together in sync or separate is an easy option in the software. The devices update with any new software needed when they first connect to the network. And it is setup to auto update as needed later on for any new software updated. The other great feature that Sonos has is the True play configuration. You can select the room you will put the speaker in and turn on true play and it will adjust the settings to get you the best sound for that room. I have not even used that feature yet on either speaker but they still both sound excellent.
The app once downloaded is how to control the Sonos System as well as play media to the speakers. The app connects to your local storage of music on the device as well as many common apps such as Spotify and Tunein. All in all there is about 30 different services you can connect the Play to.
The very cool feature about the Sonos systems is that they do not connect by bluetooth. They connect through your wireless network. This keeps your phone free to continue to be used as a phone, or to make sure notifications do not get missed. The music does not stop if you get a call on your phone. The music is streaming through your wireless network. This makes a world of difference. Bluetooth is ok for a small speaker to stream with. But for multi Room sound the Sonos is the way to go.
The Sonos Play one is a smaller model but it fills a room with big sound. All the bass and treble is there along with a rich depth to the music your listening to. When you turn up the sound to max it does not get distorted either. The bass notes stay crisp and thumping and the highs get high without any distortion. The Play one is also designed to resist humidity so you can take it outside for some BBQ music or even in the bathroom to play while showering. (Who needs an LED bulb that can stream music?). This will probably be the way the Play one will be used at my house as my wife likes to play music while getting ready in the morning. The design of the play one is also very bold without being flashy. It was designed to be put in small places like on a shelf or a book case to be out of the way but to give you great sound so your music is always a joy to hear. There is a choice of black or white. I choose the Black for both units as it will go more with the decor we have through out the house. Once I did setup the Play units in their place they did look like they belonged and matched well. If you didn’t know they were there you might mistake them for just some kind of decor!
The Sonos Play 5 is the big bad Boss of a speaker from them and it has some large sounds to come from it. It has 3 large subwoofers and the sound from it is really impressive. It is designed in such a way that you can stand it horizontal or Vertical and the music sounds good either way. I have set my Horizontal and it sits in my living room at the far end. I have an open floor plan and when I crank it up the music flows right into the kitchen and even upstairs and sounds dynamic. If you sit upstairs and close a door it sounds like you live above a dance club. Before I got the Play 1 I went in the back yard and turned the volume up full blast and when opened the screen door, the neighbors wanted to know if they could borrow my system for a party! They said with sound like that you don't even need to bring it over, just open your door and face it outside and let us send you songs to play! Yes this thing can PUMP! I have set up both units so they play together and for the moment the Play 1 is in the office which is around the corner from the kitchen. This makes for a very wonderful sounding setup which you don't need to turn up loud to make sure you can hear it while your doing things in the kitchen. You can also purchase a 2nd Play 5 to put with the first one and then they automatically play in stereo mode with a right and left channel. I listen to a lot of Electronic dance music and rock and both sound so great. All the little sounds that are in a song can be heard clearly even while the bass is thumping along.
If you want to get a speaker that can give you great sound and is easy to setup and doesn't look out of place with your decor the Sonos is the way to go. People asked me why I did not look at Bose for a speaker but I did and I liked the support of more apps and options that came along with the Sonos. Plus the support is top notch. I think if your in the market for a new speaker for your home you cannot go wrong with any of the 3 options from Sonos.