Week 8/2017 #dontbreakthechain

by Volker Weber

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The day isn't over, but the week is in. Who is with me?

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Ute is.

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Are you?

Apple Watch charging

by Volker Weber

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I haven't unpacked the massive cable. But there has to be a better way.

BlackBerry KEYone

by Volker Weber

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It's not the DTEK70 after all. As TCL has revealed in Barcelona 'Mercury' will hit the market early April as BlackBerry KEYone for 599 €. That is not as ridiculously high priced as the PRIV was when it launched, but it seems quite expensive for a business device. This will not be the last BlackBerry. There is already another one in beta. I'm a bit puzzled by the branding. Maybe KEYone will be followed by KEYtwo etc. This is going to make sense when we see the first NOKEYone. :-)

I have been playing with this device last year, but I never disclose information before its time. You may think the unique feature is the keyboard, but what I found interesting is the battery, which is rated at 3500 mAh. That is a lot of juice for a 4.5" display. Compared to an iPhone, it's roughly double the size. This thing is meant to be used all day. I am not a huge fan of the design, but it's functional. It combines elements of Nokia, Apple and BlackBerry. The back provides a good grip, it feels very solid, but the keyboard is relatively small. It cannot hold a candle to the keyboard of a BlackBerry Classic, if only because the keys are not sculpted. I am actually faster on a soft keyboard than this one. It does provide the trackpad functionality first seen on the Passport and it introduces a fingerprint reader on the space bar.

This is a solid business phone with Android, but it does not make me drop a PRIV.

My favorite headset design

by Volker Weber

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These are my favorite headsets. And they follow the same design pattern: no wires, recharge in their case, sit inside your ear, don't seal off the environment. Both are very comfortable. The AirPods are great for listening, but can't compete in the noise cancellation space. The Voyager Edge has the edge (sic) in phone calls.

I use both of them a lot and you can tell by the dirt they are accumulating.

What is up with Android Messages and RCS?

by Volker Weber

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Android Messages makes it easy to communicate with anyone by using SMS, MMS, and more.

Google's handling of messaging rivals only its social network fumblings. There is Hangouts, and Allo, and Duo, and now Android Messages, formerly Messenger. Why all the fuzz? It's because Google is failing time and again.

Android doesn't have something like Apple's iMessage. They don't really have something like Facetime. So they created Allo and Duo. Both are tied to your phone number, copying a successful push by the likes of WhatsApp. And since Google+ bombed, they could not make Hangouts to fly, so that is moving in the direction of enterprise, where it meets the big boys like Cisco. Do you know anybody who uses Allo or Duo? See?

And now RCS? Puleeeeze. That is the follow-up to texting, designed by carriers. They want you to pay for messages, just like you did for texts. I am sure you were just waiting to do that.

Jaybird Freedom and X3 :: First impressions

by Volker Weber

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I visited Jaybird at IFA 2016 in Berlin, took a look at their Freedom and X2 headsets and was pretty sure I wanted a Freedom headset. It's just tiny and extremely light. But it did not make much sense to test it then, since Jaybird wasn't shipping here yet.

Fast forward to last week and I received an email from the agency offering me test samples. I thought about it for a bit and then replied asking for both. Not only the Freedom but also the X3, successor to the X2. As it turned out that was a smart move.

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Enter the Freedom. Isn't this thing tiny? It ships without the ear gels attached and you have to customize it with one of three sizes of gels, or one of three sizes of memory foam which provide a better seal. And then you can add one of four sizes of fins, that sit inside your ear and push the head of the earpiece in, so it never comes out, no matter what you do.

You have to take your time with this process. Only when you achieve a seal, you will get the full sound experience. If your in-ear-phones sound tinny, chances are it is not the headset but the fit. The good news is that it is very easy to swap gels on these Jaybird headsets, unlike most other designs. So I played with different gels but I could not get them to sound well.

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Somewhat disappointed I tried the X3 and they immediately resonated with me. I stepped up from the medium size gel to the large one and boooom, there was the bass. Add two medium size fins and I had the perfect fit. As it later turned out, the Freedom headset fit just perfect into small ears, while my somewhat larger than normal ears needed the X3. So the red Freedom became the Lady headset, and for the first time ever we found an an in-ear-headset she likes.

Both headsets are sweat-proof and you can wear the wire over the ear or casually just hanging out of your ear. The box contains two clips that let you manage the length of the cable so the headset sits firmly on your head with the wire behind your neck. Great for workouts.

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Both headset connect over Bluetooth to up to two devices at the same time. So they need power and have batteries that last for eight hours. You charge them via 500 mA and 5 V USB. The Freedom has an interesting design. Half of that battery capacity is located in the in-line controller together with three buttons and the mic. The other half is in a tiny box that has a microUSB connector and five pins. You clip it to the controller to get to eight hours or you use the headset without, rendering 4 hours of playback. While you are using them, you can recharge the tiny box separately. If you buy spare adapters, you can have several of them pre-charged for long flights or you can attach one while you charge the other one. The X3 is simpler. The controller contains the eight hour battery and you need to attach a clip that connects the USB wire to the pin holes on the controller.

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The headset are pre-configured with an equalizer setting that provides some "loudness" by raising the bass. You can program them any way you want them to sound through the MySound app. A different sound is just a tap away. There are downloadably profiles and you can also manually set the equalizer any way you want.

These are great products if you want a headset for sports, that is customizable to your needs. Just know that you will need the X3 for larger ears and the Freedom for tiny ears.

IBM Connect 2017 :: Watson über alles

by Volker Weber

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Es sollte ein großer Neuanfang für IBMs Traditionsveranstaltung, vormals als Lotusphere bekannt, werden. Der Umzug von Orlando nach San Francisco sollte neue Teilnehmer bringen, die sich für IBMs Cognitive-Initiative erwärmen. Der Neustart misslang.

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Gewohnheitstier :: Hier, Tastaturen

by Volker Weber

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Es ist ausgesprochen schwierig, Tastaturen zu beurteilen. Was gewohnt ist, scheint auch besser. Bisher hatte ich vor allem zwei Tastaturen in Benutzung: ein Apple Magic Keyboard und ein 2013er MacBook Pro. Diese beiden Tastaturen gleichen sich und ich hatte mich voll an sie gewöhnt. Jede andere Tastatur erschien mir schlechter. Die neuen MacBooks hatten zuwenig Hub, die Yogas ein fremdes Layout. Nur das ThinkPad X1Yoga erschien mir super, wohl weil es sich anfühlte wie meine alten ThinkPads.

Nun mache ich seit gut acht Wochen alles auf dem Surface Pro 4 mit der Puscheltastatur und habe mich an diese gewöhnt. Die Mac-Tastaturen finde ich auf einmal zu weich und nachgiebig. Ein neues MacBook fände ich nun wahrscheinlich besser als die alten, auch wenn viele bei der Umstellung den kleinen Hub bemängeln.

Der Mensch ist einfach ein Gewohnheitstier.

Insta360 :: First impressions

by Volker Weber

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Weezeeh. This is fun. I never knew what do with 360 degree panoramas. But it turns out you just need the right (inexpensive) tech. Enter the Insta360. This is the same photo, just rendered in a different way.

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The Insta360 comes in a box, which doubles as a VR viewer. Any content, from the camera or from Youtube for instance, that is encoded as 360 VR can be viewed. Call up the split screen view, place the iPhone in the box and you are ready to go.

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The camera is rather simple. Wipe down the two lenses with the bag it comes in, and then plug it into your iPhone with this Lighting plug.

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Downside: this is a tight fit. You cannot have a case around your iPhone. For the first time ever, my iPhone 7 Plus is going commando. Wish me luck that I don't drop it. Insta360 automatically launches its app, and if it isn't installed already, it offers to install it.

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Since the camera is plugged into the bottom, the UI of the app is upside down. You get a view finder, you can shoot video or photos, and the app will stitch it together, live, while you are watching. What you see above is Tiny Planet. The app can also render as Fish-Eye and Panorama.

Do you want to see the full Tiny Planet for photo above? You can find it right here. Look in the upper righthand corner. There are many view options.

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The camera has its own battery. So you have to charge it. And you can insert your own 64 GB microSD to store photos when not connected to an iPhone.

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There is a shutter button. Press it once for a photo. Press it twice for a video. And press it three times for either a time-lapse or a timed photo. For those two you would need the stand, that is not included.

Editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award. Big time. This will be fun. Weezeeh. Watch this video review.

IBM Connect 2017 Opening General Session

by Volker Weber

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There are two parts, the first was at 10 am, the second part at 1 pm. I find very little in the first part interesting. Watch for Chris Crummey, the guy with the pocket square (Einstecktuch). The second one you should watch from beginning to end. If you are interested in Notes and Domino, that would be towards the end of the video.

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Ceci n'est pas un blog

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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