Stuff that works: Netgear Arlo Security Camera

by Volker Weber

A video posted by Volker Weber (@volkerweber) on

Almost five months ago I wrote my first impressions about the Netgear Arlo camera. Now I can say that this thing works a treat. It's battery-driven, so it does not need a cable. I am still on my first set of batteries. You just need to put in a single screw and attach the camera to the mount. There is an access point you connect to your network, and that will service multiple cameras. As soon as the camera triggers an alert, I get a push message. That is so fast, that the alert often comes before somebody even pushes the door bell. And it records a short video of what is going on. The footage above is from a friends house, in the middle of the night. Somebody is checking out whether there is something he could quickly grab and take away.

A video posted by Volker Weber (@volkerweber) on

The first video shows a burglar that is checking out if there is anything he could quickly grab. In the middle of the night, when it was pitch dark. Arlo uses infrared light at night. The second video shows a neighbor's dog who is checking on our dog.

I could probably make room for more of those cameras.

Are smartwatches for nerds only?

by Volker Weber

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Selling a smartwatch isn't easy. Most people who can afford one, may already have a better, read "more expensive" one on their wrist. They may be tempted to put a fitness band on the other wrist, but they won't leave their good watch at home. And then there are those, who never really wear a watch, because there are so many places around us which show the time. Including your own phone.

What are you seeing? How many people around you wear a smartwatch? How many of those would you consider not being a nerd? What kind of wearables do you see? Apple Watch, Android Gear, Pebble, Sportswatch?

Apple Music leaves me confused

by Volker Weber

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I have a few Apple products I love. iPhone, MacBook Pro, even software like Keynote. But Apple Music leaves me confused. Here is what is working for me: I can enter my credentials in Sonos and search the service for music, which will play throughout the house. It has sections with curated music for me, but they never hit my taste or mood. It has a section for new music, same here. It has Beats 1, a radio station where the DJs talk way too much.

But I can't even figure out how to keep track of music I love. When I want to create a playlist for stuff that is only on the service, it asks me to enable iCloud Music Library. That would be fine, if iCloud Music Library would not try to match my local library. Why is that a problem? It appears to enable you to make all of your music available on all your devices. But if you do that, it will pollute your tracks with DRM once you make the tracks available offline on your other devices. And you will not notice until you unsubscribe from Apple Music. Crippled tracks just look like your original ones.

And then there is iTunes Match, which is yet another subscription. It supposedly does the same thing as iCloud Music Library: make all your Music available on all your devices. However, this isn't transparent. Once you go offline, you may find yourself without any tracks whatsoever, since you needed to download them first.

It's all very confusing. Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer.

Billboard: What Does Music Do to Us When We Listen Together?

by Volker Weber

People spent more time in the bedroom awake, which turned out to correlate with 60 percent more sex when there was music out loud in the home. So that was the interesting thing to me. Because now you're talking about something that you can tie with our biology and genetics.

That is just one of the findings. Maybe I got you interested. :-)

More >

Revisiting the BlackBerry PRIV

by Volker Weber

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I love stuff that gets better over time. And PRIV is one of those devices that have continuously improved. There are monthly updates. The keyboard now supports three languages without switching, just like BlackBerry 10. The camera has improved; the pipeline is faster so it stores images quicker, and it also improved its low light performance. I am now using BlackBerry Hub instead of the native Gmail client or Outlook (which is way better on iOS than on Android). One feature that I am still waiting for is the quick overview of all unread messages.

I have now activated a second SIM for two months and I can now use it as my secondary device. Tomorrow I will add a Pebble Time as a smartwatch.

Mixcloud on Sonos

by Volker Weber

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Two months ago I started my (free) subscription of Apple Music. But I have not used it much. The reason isn't Spotify. Nor Tidal (cough, cough). The real reason is that 90 percent of what I am listening to is on Mixcloud. I have subscribed to only a few DJs and their music has been filling the house ever since. This is what is currently on.

Best of all, Mixcloud is completely free. Sign up and enter your credentials in Sonos.

Update: Since Frederic mentioned Soundcloud, that is also available.

Hickies

by Volker Weber

Q got me a box of Hickies for IBM Connect. Love them.

How to clean up your Twitter timeline

by Volker Weber

Twitter used to be easy. You followed people and you saw all their tweets. Then Twitter started to go down the same path as Facebook with "suggested content".

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You can fix some of the defects that Twitter introduced:

  1. To get rid of the "best tweets" at the top of your timeline, go to your account settings under Content and disable "Show best tweets first".
  2. For "While you were away" tweets, click the litte x (Dismiss) and tell Twitter you did not like that. They will ignore you and continue to bother you.
  3. To get rid of promoted tweets, block each and every spammer. Here is a list of spammers you can import into your blocked lists.
  4. You can get rid of Retweets by disabling Retweets from individual accounts you follow. Go to their profile, hit the gear icon and select "Turn off Retweets".
  5. To get rid of bots that retweet everything you tweet, block their accounts.
  6. When Twitter suggests other tweets or accounts, click the litte x (Dismiss) and tell Twitter you did not like that. They will ignore you and continue to bother you.

As the Twitter experience gets worse with every turn they make to appease their investors, you may eventually have to stop using Twitter.

Apple Music now officially supported on Sonos

by Volker Weber

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Sonos Updates its software to version 6.2. You no longer need to run a beta for Apple Music support. I have been using it for almost two months and while there were a few hiccups like skipping tracks, it has worked well so far. I just don't see any benefit in Apple Music over Spotify, safe for the odd artist who does not want to play on Spotify.

Upgrading from Samsung to Apple

by Volker Weber

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When we bought our Samsung TV in 2012, one of the reasons we chose it over competing brands was that it promised to be upgradable. Little did we know that Samsung would not upgrade the software. It would rather sends us a never ending stream of useless apps, that I tried to get rid of. But they would keep coming back.

Two years ago I tried an Evolution Kit, which is a piece of hardware that goes on the back of the TV, with desastrous results. Towards the end of 2014 I visited Samsung's innovation lab in London and learned that (a) yes, the software on the 2012 TV is considered horrible and that (b) the 2013 evolution kit was not usable with Sonos, and (c) that a 2014 evolution kit would be better. Last year I learned that there is no 2015 evolution kit, because Samsung had already abandoned the 2012 TVs. I asked Samsung for an old 2014 kit, but that would have only worked temporarily.

Apple to the rescue. I had already used the previous three generations of the Apple TV and I did not know what to expect of the new one. I was not prepared to be as blown away as I found myself after only a few days of using it. The biggest part of this experience is convenience. I never have to touch the 49-button Samsung remote. Without any manual setup, I can switch on and off both the Apple TV and the Samsung TV with the six button + trackpad Apple remote. Sonos Playbar adjusts the volume with the same remote.

Arte and ZDF have very usable apps, ARD is still missing. Youtube, Vimeo, TED, Dailymotion, Netflix, TapeTV, Watchever are there. I have not played with PLEX or VLC yet. When nothing is on, Apple TV can play beautiful fly-overs. So far I have seen New York, San Francisco and London.

Not everything is perfect. Amazon Prime is missing. And the new Apple TV no longer has a TOSlink out. With my Samsung TV unable/unwilling to passthrough Dolby Digital to TOSlink, there is no path for surround sound.

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vowe.net is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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