September 2016

VanMoof Electrified S Unboxing :: With Frau Brandlinger

by Volker Weber

iPhone-Kamera blitzschnell starten

by Volker Weber

Ink support in Windows 10

by Volker Weber

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As I was thinking about different 2-in-1 concepts for Windows 10, I could not help but notice how well Windows plays with Surface. Yes, I know, surprise! Microsoft makes both. But there are quite a few things that I would want to do on iPad and simply can't.

Number 1 is the ability to annotate a web page. That's built into the Edge browser. Tap an icon, take your pen and fire away. Not in Safari on iPad Pro. I would have to take a screenshot and then open that in Paper by 53.

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Number 2 is the ability to write with your pen instead of using a keyboard. When you are holding your Surface and tap with your finger to open an entry field, it will show a keyboard. But if you tap with the pen, it opens a writing area. And if that thing understands my handwriting, it will certainly understand yours.

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And then there is the ink workspace. Tap a small icon and it opens up. Select what you want to do from there. I don't particularly like the stickies. But being able to make a screenshot of the current screen, no matter what's on it, and then being able to annotate that? Sweet. That's number 3. On the iPad Pro I have to do the screenshot + Paper thing explained above.

Number 4: click the pen button and get a blank page in OneNote. Double click it to first select a region on the current screen and import that into OneNote.

And number 5, just to complete the list: you can go to an empty page to doodle on from the ink space. It's just one page, you can easily delete it. Or save your doodle into a file before you hit that delete icon to get a blank page.

That's the stuff, that's built right in by Microsoft. On top of that you get real applications.

How BlackBerry lost the empire

by Volker Weber

BlackBerry never had a successful smartphone. Their commanding market share was built on rather simple messaging devices and an architecture that allowed customers to tie into their internal, walled-off mail infrastructures.

When iPhone launched in 2007 the writing was on the wall. This was not a highly efficient device with a long battery life and super low demand on network bandwidth. This was a real computer with a web browser, always connected. It brought down the AT&T network and other carriers around the world. They had to invest into their networks and iPhone paved the way for real smartphones.

When BlackBerry finally caught up with BlackBerry 10, it was too late. If you develop apps, you don't want yet another platform. You are busy doing Android and iOS. No software, no customers.

And in the enterprise space BlackBerry made a major mistake. BES5 would handle all old BlackBerrys, but BlackBerry 10 demanded a new BES10 server. And BES5 was not upgradable to BES10. You had to make an enterprise sale to deploy a new architecture. And an enterprise sale takes years.

BES12 rectified this situation, somewhat. But again, it did not help the BB10 platform since customers had long started deploying iPads. When you safely handle iPads, you can also handle iPhones. There was no need for BB10.

Then last year, BlackBerry changed course again with their Android initiative. Making a super expensive PRIV was probably not a smart idea. Sales just did not add up. And when DTEK50 shipped, I told you this does not feel like BlackBerry at all. It's a secure Android device with a berry on the back.

We can take a lesson from this. BlackBerry could not transition from the super successful initial BlackBerry platform to BB10 and then Android. Palm could not successfully launch the webOS platform. Nokia could not take their Symbian success and make it on Windows Phone. And I will give you another one: GoPro will not be able to take their action camera success and battle DJI in the drone space.

Will BlackBerry succeed in the software space? I don't know. Companies who retire their BlackBerrys are likely to also retire the vendor. Buying Good was a smart move. Because that is where many customers are swimming. And they will be surprised to find BlackBerry at this beach.

BlackBerry still launching a handset next month

by Volker Weber

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I contacted BlackBerry and asked two questions. I got the answer within minutes:

Is BlackBerry going ahead with the DTEK?

Yes.

Is BlackBerry still committed to Android updates?

Yes.

Both DTEKs are not made my BlackBerry but by TCL who also developed the hardware. There is a third device in the pipeline and I have not asked about that. BlackBerry will not be developing further handset hardware, and frankly, there isn't anybody left who understands hardware. But they will continue to invest in software. And then enable others to make BlackBerry devices.

BlackBerry is now a software company

by Volker Weber

'Our new Mobility Solutions strategy is showing signs of momentum, including our first major device software licensing agreement with a telecom joint venture in Indonesia. Under this strategy, we are focusing on software development, including security and applications. The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners. This allows us to reduce capital requirements and enhance return on invested capital,' continued Chen.

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From my inbox :: VIPP

by Volker Weber

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I am a sucker for VIPP. Their products are expensive and made with extreme care. I have this, this, this, this, and now this.

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Some of those I bought for myself, some I got as presents. Thank you! And there is always at least one item on my wish list.

IBM Collaboration Solutions cognitive and roadmap update :: September 2016

by Volker Weber

Ed Brill has been travelling with this presentation last week. I really hope that IBM can close the gap between aspiration and delivery.

Werbemüll von @manager_magazin abstellen

by Volker Weber

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Ich weiß nicht, warum das Manager Magazin den Prozess so geregelt hat, aber anscheinend ist der Twitter-Account die einzige Anlaufstelle, die den Müllversand abstellen kann. Ich bin gespannt. So ganz sicher ist der/die mit dem Twitter-Account auch nicht.

Still going strong :: Microsoft Surface

by Volker Weber

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I watch Apple events on Apple TV. And I watch Microsoft events on Surface 3. I just have to.

This little machine does not get enough love on vowe dot net. The reason is that I don't have my trusted apps on Windows: iA Writer for writing copy, Pixelmator for editing photos, Imagewell for preparing screenshots, a blog editor for my ancient CMS. It's all on my Mac, and for iPhone and iPad I am using Workflow to streamline things and of course iA Writer for copy.

I really like the design of Windows 10. I like that little machine. If your software portfolio is different from mine, you may like it as well.

Nächste c't: EMM für alle

by Volker Weber

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Heute ist mein nächster Artikel für die c't 21/2016 belichtet worden. Jetzt wird gedruckt, geheftet und am Freitag ist er bei den Abonnenten. Seite 132, wer ihn zuerst aufschlagen will.

Es geht in dem Artikel darum, wie man mit Hilfe von EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management) private von geschäftlichen Daten trennen kann. Der Artikel ist so einfach wie möglich gehalten, ohne auf zu viele Feinheiten einzugehen. Ich möchte auch kleine und kleinste Unternehmen motivieren, mit dem Gewurschtel aufzuhören und eine saubere Lösung zu wählen. Ein paar Seiten vorher erklären wir auch, warum man das will und wie man es bei Android und iOS zusammenlötet, wenn man kein EMM hat.

Bei der Recherche zu diesem Artikel ist auf einmal ein Leser aufgeschlagen, der mich auf eine große Gedächtnislücke hingewiesen hat. (Danke, Ahmad!) Ich kannte nämlich einen Anbieter über einen alten OS/2-Weggefährten. (Hallo, Oliver!). Und dieser Anbieter hat ein ganz schickes Angebot: bis zu zehn Personen mit jeweils bis zu drei Geräten kann man damit verwalten, ohne eine Lizenzgebühr zu bezahlen.

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Wer also ein kleines Unternehmen betreuen will, der findet hier einen Einstieg mit niedriger Schwelle. Das kleine Unternehmen könnte auch eine Familie sein. Bei EMM kochen alle mit dem selben Wasser. Das erkennt man, wenn man die verschiedenen Plattformen vergleicht. Was man bei der einen lernt, heißt bei der anderen vielleicht anders, aber dennoch funktioniert das ganz ähnlich.

Ich hätte gerne meinen ganzen Artikel auf Relution aufgebaut, aber dieser Plattform fehlen (noch) zwei Komponenten, die ich unbedingt haben wollte: Android for Work als Standard für alle Androiden und ein Mailcontainer für iOS. Ich bin deshalb eine Stufe höher eingestiegen und habe BES12 aus der BlackBerry Cloud und MobileIron aus der Telekom-Cloud benutzt. Ich hatte großartige Unterstützung von vielen alten Bekannten. Danke an Peter und Martin, Marco, Fabian, Surendiran und Roman, Kai und den unerreichten Abdelkader. Ohne Euch wäre es nicht gelungen, von diesem großen Elefanten ein kleines Stück abzubeißen.

Es ist sehr schwierig, etwas einfach zu erklären. Das war ein hartes Stück Arbeit für alle.

Outlook for iOS and Android is now fully powered by the Microsoft Cloud

by Volker Weber

Outlook for iOS and Android now supports Exchange Online mailboxes natively, which means that none of the data of your mailboxes is cached outside of Office 365.

Outlooks is the best email client for Android and iOS. And Microsoft is finally making it enterprise-ready by connecting it directly into the Office 365 cloud. ... This new architecture also improves how Outlook reports Device IDs to Exchange Online, to help admins manage mobile email access through Outlook.

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Sonos coming to the Apple Store

by Volker Weber

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Just putting this here so that I don't get pinged by everybody. :-)

Apple Stores (physical and online) will start selling PLAY:1 and PLAY:5. PLAY:1 is the easy one, PLAY:5 is quite a big box. You get three months of Apple Music with your purchase, from now until the end of the year.

Good news for Sonos. If Apple would finally enable Sonos to send music to those players from any app, that would be great. I am already using Spotify Direct, and that is coming to all Sonos players in a few months.

Warten auf die Telekom

by Volker Weber

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26. September 9:05 Fritzbox meldet: kein DSL

26. September 10:05 Fritzbox meldet: seit mehr als einer Stunde keine Internetverbindung

26. September 11:05 Fritzbox meldet: seit mehr als einer Stunde keine Internetverbindung

26. September 11:07 vowe: @Telekom_hilft hat heute pünktlich um 9 Uhr das DSL abgeschaltet. Ob das noch mal wieder kommt?

26. September 11:37 @Telekom_hilft: @vowe um welche Vorwahl geht es? ^ar

26. September 11:41 vowe: @Telekom_hilft 06151 Alle Infos hier: http://vowe.net/contact

26. September 11:51 SMS von Telekom: Sehr geehrter Kunde, wir kümmern uns schnellstmöglich um die Störung an Ihrem Anschluss 06151-4289617. Den aktuellen Status können Sie online unter www.telekom.de/service/status verfolgen, die Ticket-ID dafür ist 206710706. Selbstverständlich halten wir Sie auch per SMS/E-Mail auf dem Laufenden. Ihre Telekom Deutschland GmbH

26. September 11:52 @Telekom_hilft: @vowe eine allgemeine Störung ist nicht bekannt. Ich habe das Anliegen daher an die Kollegen der Diagnose gegeben. ^ar

26. September 12:19 Statusänderung: Ihre Störungsmeldung befindet sich in Bearbeitung

26. September 15:29 Fritzbox meldet neue Internet-Adresse

Ärgerlich, aber einwandfrei gelöst.

The display makes the difference

by Volker Weber

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Swim-proof, GPS, faster CPU, all of that does not make a difference to me. If you are a runner and want to leave the phone behind, GPS is your friend. If you live a maritime lifestyle, having a swim-proof watch is paramount. Everybody loves a faster CPU.

But the display makes the difference to me. This photo was taken in bright overcast daylight. It's the brightest light you get, safe for direct sunlight. And the display isn't only perfectly readable but it still appears black with even the grey shading behind the move, exercise and stand blocks visible.

That's what makes the Series 2 Apple Watch appealing to me.

VanMoof :: Our secret’s out

by Volker Weber

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Observations from using the new iPhone and Watch

by Volker Weber

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With a few days into using the new iPhone and Watch, I have some observations to share. Going through a long list of new features and celebrating all of them does not mean you will notice them after a few days, but here are a few that really stick:

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I had a blue silicone cover on the 6S as you can see in the photo. With the black 7 I am leaning towards Cocoa and/or Red. What do you think?

IBM Bluemix Runtime for Swift

by Volker Weber

IBM gladly announces general availability of the IBM Bluemix Runtime for Swift. By including the latest Swift tools and taking care of system dependencies, this runtime allows you to focus on writing your server-side Swift services. And experienced enterprise developers take note: the Swift runtime includes all optimizations necessary to run in IBM Bluemix public, dedicated and local cloud deployments.

Cool stuff. Swift was introduced by Apple, then made open source. Now it's available for server side development.

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It's a tight race for udoq

by Volker Weber

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When I told you about udoq, the Kickstarter campaign had just started and was at 80 backers. Now it has over 200 and looks to be on track to meet its goal of 50.000 €. But since it gained 80 backers in just a few days and then 150 in a week, it has to gain some speed to meet its goal.

Please note that you can acquire the cables you need by adding to your pledge. Read the whole page.

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This is a really nice product I would like to succeed. Watch the video. And the go to the Kickstarter page and support it. If only to get a 50% discount. The product is already being produced and you will be able to buy it later. Just not for this price.

Kurswechsel bei IBM

by Volker Weber

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Die Zeit unter Jeff Schick als General Manager war für den ex-Lotus-Bereich bei IBM nicht von Erfolg geprägt. Zu viel versprochen, zu wenig gehalten. Die IBM Connect 2016 durfte er noch eröffnen, dann verschwand er in der Versenkung. Zum Ende der Veranstaltung trat seine Nachfolgerin Inhi Cho Suh an. Und die ist dabei, gründlich aufzuräumen. Mit Ronnie Maffa wurde auch die für die Produktentwicklung verantwortliche Managerin gefeuert.

Enterprise-Software kann man nicht binnen weniger Monate entwickeln. Deshalb setzt die neue General Managerin auf Kooperationen wie die mit Box oder Cisco. Das wird die IBM wieder näher an den Puls der Zeit bringen.

Jeff Schick hat mittlerweile die IBM verlassen und verkauft nun Software von Oracle. Sein Kartenhaus wird hoffentlich wieder durch eines aus besserem Baumaterial ersetzt. In drei Monaten wird endlich "Verse on Premises" erscheinen. Eine Software, die Schick versprochen, aber nie gebaut hatte.

Black iPhone vs Jet Black iPhone

by Volker Weber

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People who like black things have been agonising over the question which of the two blacks they should buy. When you unbox the "regular" black model it looks very black. Surprisingly black actually. In bright daylight there is not much difference between the two models. It's just that one is matte, the other one is shiny.

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And this photo shows the confusion. Both phones are still in daylight conditions, but now they are on a matte black surface. With lower contrast in the lighting conditions the camera amplifies the difference. The matte black phone appears to be some sort of space-grey, when in reality it looks very, very black. Your eyes aren't as easily fooled as a camera. Matte surfaces diffuse the light, while the shiny surfaces reflect it.

Conclusion: it frankly does not matter which one you get. Both are very black. The question is whether you want the shiny one. Most pundits have been dismissive saying it attracts finger prints and scratches easily. I am not.

What nobody talked about from first hand experience is how grippy it is. But you can experience it yourself with your iPhone 6 and later. The shiny Jet Black model is way more grippy. It's back feels exactly like the front glass. Now take your iPhone 6 and feel how slippery the matte back is and how sticky the glass.

And that's the difference. The black iPhone hasn't changed. The Jet Black phone feels like it's completely coated in Gorilla Glass. The front blends into the back as if it were a solid piece.

But what do we care? You will put it in a cover anyway. Most likely a black one.

IBM Business Connect in Frankfurt

by Volker Weber

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Hallo BlackBerry, so macht man das. Also nicht, dass IBM übersehen hat, dass ich da war. Aber die Art und Weise, wie man die Unterlagen einer solchen Veranstaltung allen Kunden und solchen, die es werden könnten, zur Verfügung stellt.
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Ja, ich war echt da. Habe sogar noch das Schild. :-)

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Apple Watch and Watch Series 2 display comparison

by Volker Weber

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This is out in bright sunlight, but in the shade of my own body. Both are readable, but you can see at the edges that the new display is superior. The slight tilt does not make a difference.

Neues Design beim Apple Case für das iPhone

by Volker Weber

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Ich fand das Apple Case aus Leder immer etwas unhandlich, weil die Buttons des iPhone schwerer zu bedienen waren. Nun hat Apple kleine Knöpfe eingelassen, die durch das Case auf die Buttons des iPhones einwirken. Besser zu fühlen, besser zu bedienen. Und damit eine gute Sache.

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Flachmann wird flacher

by Volker Weber

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Passend zum Launch des neuen iPhone 7 bringt tizi.tv einen neuen Zusatzakku. Sehr praktisch: das Ladekabel (OUT) ist schon drin.

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Einen Knopf zum Einschalten (ON) hat es. Vier LEDs zeigen an, wieviel Strom drin ist. Dazu eine Buchse (IN) zum Laden. Leider MicroUSB und nicht Lightning. Damit braucht man ein kurzes Adapterkabel für das Ladegerät.

1A schiebt der Akku zum iPhone, mit 1.5A kann er selbst geladen werden. 3200 mAh sind drin. Das ist nicht viel, aber flacher als das nackte iPhone.

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Buying an Apple Watch Series 2? A recommendation.

by Volker Weber

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If you are considering buying an Apple Watch Series 2, I have a recommendation. After wearing the original Apple Watch for a year, I just switched to the new model. And with that switch I went from a Stainless Steel watch to what was previously an Apple Watch Sport. Apple no longer makes that distinction. It's just "Apple Watch".

The biggest difference that I noticed immediately is how much lighter the aluminium body is. You have to see this in numbers:

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I am used to wearing 82g to 91g on the wrist, now it's only 46g. That makes a tremendous difference. And while "heavier" feels more expensive and more substantial, having a light watch is much better.

Good news: my recommendation is the cheapest Apple Watch you can get. Actually, not the cheapest. I would get a Series 2 and not the (updated) Series 1. It adds three features: brighter display, GPS, swim-proof (and swim exercise). To me the brighter display seals the deal.

BlackBerry is not good at protecting secrets

by Volker Weber

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A URL with 'specifications-a-donotpublish.html' is security through obscurity. The DTEK60 just went 'official'.

Height 153.9 mm / 6.06 in
Width 75.4 mm / 2.97 in
Depth 7 mm / 0.28 in
Weight 165g

5.5” diagonal
16:9 aspect ratio
534 PPI
2560 x 1440 Quad HD resolution
24-bit colour depth

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 64-bit Quad-Core (MSM8996 with 64 bit Quad-Core 2+2 Kryo 2.15GHz / 1.6GHz), Adreno 530, 624MHz GPU

4 GB RAM, 32 GB Flash

USB Type-C, USB 2.0 fully supported with standard USB Type C to USB Type A cable (included in box), USB OTG

3000 mAh 4.4V non-removable Lithium Ion battery, QC3.0 Enabled

21 megapixel auto-focus camera, 4K video recording at 30 fps, 720p HD video recording at 120 fps, Phase Detect Auto Focus (PDAF), Fast focus lock, HDR, 6-element f2.0 lens, Dual Tone LED Flash, 4x digital zoom

Front camera same as DTEK50: 8 megapixel fix focus

Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Ambient light, Hall Effect, Fingerprint sensor

From my mailbox

by Volker Weber

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This was in my mailbox today. No further information. I figured these are for cable management. There is a sticker on the back. Thank you tizi.tv.

Familee

by Volker Weber

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Eine Familie. Zwei Apps. Alle Plattformen: Die familee App hilft Eltern und ihren Kindern sicher und altersgerecht mit dem Smartphone umzugehen.

Was man alles bei der Recherche zu Mobile Device Management findet! Familee ist ein App, mit der Eltern die Smartphone-Nutzung der Kinder steuern können. Meine erste Reaktion war "Helikopter-Eltern". Und dann habe ich mal gelesen Die Position wird zum Beispiel vom Kind geschickt und nicht von den Eltern getrackt.

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Plantronics BackBeat Fit

by Volker Weber

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Since many people seem to be looking for good Bluetooth headsets, I am trying as many as I can. This BackBeat Fit isn't new, there are just a few new color options.

The BackBeat Fit has an interesting profile: other than most sports headsets it does not block you ear canal. It's not worn inside the ear canal, but inside your ear lobe. The wings push the eartips into your ear canal, but they don't completely block it. At first these headsets seemed to be too uncomfortable but I wore them without my glasses and noticed the discomfort had gone. Now I put the headset on first, and then wear my glasses over them.

Max has tried both the Trekz and the BackBeat and he prefers the Trekz because they keep the ears completely open. I prefer the BackBeat since they sound rather well while the Trekz ... Although it is unsealed, the BackBeat Fit headset is rather loud and delivers a punch. I cannot play it on full volume since it is just too powerful.

As a sports headset it is IP57 rated and has an additional sweatproof nano-coating. The battery is rated for eight hours and the headset speaks to you with easily understandable status messages. There is a companion app that helps you switch the headset between multiple paired devices.

The only thing that took a little bit of learning are the manual controls. Tapping on the volume button raises the volume, holding it lowers it. Same thing for the audio button: one tap means pause/play, double tap means next track, holding the button means back to start of track, holding it twice means previous track. Before I learned these awkward controls, I used the Apple Watch as a controller.

Although I like the headset, it does not earn the editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award. When I wear a headset, I want to block out the environment. By design this headset does not try to achieve that. I have to mention it has a microphone for taking phone calls, but there is no Plantronics wizardry that so amazes me with their professional headsets.

HP pre-programmed failure date of unofficial/ non-HP ink cartridges :: Myce.com

by Volker Weber

Investigation of an online printer ink retailer shows that HP has programmed a date in its printer firmware on which unofficial non-HP cartridges would fail. Thousands of HP printers around the world started to show error messages on the same day, the 13th of September 2016.

Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer.

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Microsoft Health fails

by Volker Weber

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The only people who have ever used the Microsoft Health platform were those with a Microsoft Band. Now Microsoft renames it "Microsoft Band". And does not appear to have new bands in the pipeline.

It was nice knowing you, Microsoft Health.

The biggest non-issue

by Volker Weber

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Hottest item for weeks has been Apple dropping the headset jack from iPhone 7. The topic appears to be most popular amongst pundits who don't even want an iPhone.

To tell you the truth, I don't care. Neither do most people who buy an iPhone. They just take the new earbuds out of the box and plug them into the Lightning port. And that aftermarket headset they own? They will attach that small Lightning adapter that comes with the iPhone to their headset and then quickly forget about it. Chances are they want to buy a pair of those AirPods. Most iPhone owners I know can't wait. For those who can wait it will be a wonderful Xmas present.

You would not believe how many people just play music from their phone's speakers. And that got significantly better with louder stereo speakers. Why is nobody talking about that?

You dock with udoq

by Volker Weber

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This was a nice find at IFA in Berlin. Udoq is a universal dock for all your gadgets that charge with Apple 30-pin, Lighting, MicroUSB or USB Type C. It comes in different lengths from 25 to 70 cm. And you customize it to your liking. Notice the little details: Aluminium never touches your device or your table. There is always a bit a soft material in between.

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Udoq sells you the cables you need, you open the ends of the dock, slide them in and then hide the excess cable within the dock. Then you close it all up, connect the cables to your charger and you have a nice clean solution to check your devices in. Udoq sent me a sample, bit they did not have the multi-port charger yet that belongs on the back of the dock. Instead I used a Tizi 4 port USB-charger.

ZZ43DB45BD This thing is very customizable. You can run the cables out of either end, the top or the bottom. You don't have to run all cables out of the same port. On the 40 cm dock, you can easily fit five smartphones, or four with an iPad. You can also adjust the height of each of the plugs by up to 8 millimeters to accommodate protective sleeves around your devices.

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This is a keeper. Editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award, big time. Udoq just started a Kickstarter campaign with a significant discount.

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Who says Microsoft doesn't listen?

by Volker Weber

One of the ongoing feedback items we’ve heard is how the apps that come preinstalled with Windows will reinstall after each upgrade – particularly noticeable for our Insiders that receive multiple flights per month. We’ve heard your feedback, and starting with Build 14926, when your PC updates it will check for apps that have been uninstalled, and it will preserve that state once the update has completed. This means if you uninstall any of the apps included in Windows 10 such as the Mail app or Maps app, they will not get reinstalled after you update to a newer build going forward.

No more 3D Builder, Get Skype, Get Office, Solitaire, Minesweeper etc. We will see if they can keep Xbox off, because that is a bit harder to get rid of.

Thank you, Microsoft.

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[Thanks, David]

Jabra Halo Smart and Plantronics BackBeat 100

by Volker Weber

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I brought this Jabra Halo Smart headset back from IFA 2016. It's not that I don't have enough headsets, but I was curious about the collar design. Plantronics has the competing BackBeat 100 product, and I wanted see who came out on top.

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Both headsets share the same idea. You wear the electronics, the Bluetooth chipset and the battery around your neck, and you have two wired earbuds hanging from this collar. You are wearing nothing on your head, you are not tethered to your phone, and yet, you can drop the earbuds quickly without losing them.

Although they have the same idea, the execution is different. The collar on the Plantronics device only manages the wire around you neck and has all the electronics at the right end while the Jabra design puts the battery around your neck. That is why it is a more solid affair while the Plantronics is more flexible.

The Jabra design has a massive advantage. The battery is rated for 17 hours of playback, while the Plantronics runs out after only eight hours. I also like the flat cables on the Jabra and the magnets on the collar, that can park the earbuds. It's completely tangle-free.

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Both designs also will hold the earbuds together in front of you when they dangle since their magnets attract each other.

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The BackBeat 100 has rather thin wires and the earbuds are smaller than in the Jabra design. I find them more comfortable. Both need to be adjusted to your ear by replacing the gels that come with the headset. You need a good seal to keep the sound waves from escaping and to keep ambient noise out.

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While the Plantronics design looks more appealing to me, I was a bit disappointed with small details like the MicroUSB door falling out. At this price point we are not looking at products in the Voyager class of headsets. You will not get a comparable voice quality when making phone calls and the sound will also not rival that of the Voyager Focus or Sense products.

Jabra comes out on top for a simple reason: with a 17 hours battery you will never run out of power during the day, no matter what. Both don't win the editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award, for the simple reason that I have much better.

And now for something completely different: :-)

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The unlikely winner of this year's "headset in my pocket" is the Samsung Level Active, although I cannot use any of their performance tracking features. And I expect this to change when I have the Apple AirPods or the Jaybird Freedom.

Gruber on swallowing your pride

by Volker Weber

I'm not saying it was 'easy' in any way for Apple to go from, say, the iPhone 6S to the 7. But they didn't need to swallow any pride. They did with WatchOS 3, and that's a good sign. The way to be right all the time is not to be right all the time, because that never happens. If you're pushing the boundaries of any endeavor, mistakes are inevitable. If you convince yourself that you're right all the time, you'll slip into denial regarding your mistakes. Then the problems compound. The way to be right all the time is to be smart enough to be right most of the time, and humble enough to recognize your mistakes and address them.

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Love this new watch face

by Volker Weber

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This watch face is a nice reminder to stay active. I always try to close the exercise ring in the morning and keep the move ring in front of the stand ring.

Microsoft researchers achieve speech recognition milestone

by Volker Weber

Microsoft researchers have reached a milestone in the quest for computers to understand speech as well as humans. Xuedong Huang, the company’s chief speech scientist, reports that in a recent benchmark evaluation against the industry standard Switchboard speech recognition task, Microsoft researchers achieved a word error rate (WER) of 6.3 percent, the lowest in the industry. ... This past weekend, at Interspeech, an international conference on speech communication and technology held in San Francisco, IBM said it has achieved a WER of 6.6 percent. Twenty years ago, the error rate of the best published research system had a WER of greater than 43 percent.

The advances in speech recognition are simply amazing. And I have actually tried it (more than) 20 years ago.

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The best iPhone review ever written

by Volker Weber

Matthew Panzarino has written quite a piece:

Apple is mid-stride in building out physical manifestations of the iPhone’s core abilities. If the Apple hardware ecosystem is a body then the iPhone is the brain, the Apple Watch is the hand and the AirPods are the mouth. Your memory and cognition, the way you interact with the physical world and how you speak to it. ... There will come a day when we will view poking and prodding at an iPhone’s screen as just an archaic interaction method as the punch card. And that’s where Apple is skating.

That's a famous quote from legendary ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky: "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been."

I recommend you read Matthew's review in full. It's the best I have seen in a long time. I recommend it even if your conviction demands you despise Apple.

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IBM Business Connect 2016 in Frankfurt

by Volker Weber

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This year IBM had their annual Business Connect conference on the Goethe Universität campus in Frankfurt. Decades ago there would have been car parking everywhere, but this campus has banned all cars. Which makes it absolutely wonderful, and not so easy to reach by car. The garage was full when I arrived, so was the overflow garage. Just before I was about to give up and drive home, I found a (legal) parking spot in a residential area only a 15 minute walk from the venue.

I was there to find out about Watson and the cloud business. Everything is either "cognitive" or "cloud", or both, when you talk to IBM. I would have also looked at Collaboration, but that was a no show.

So, Watson. When I see solutions that include understanding human speech, I am immediately curious whether it works in German as well. And I came away with the impression that it indeed does. I was also trying to find out how this would work in Verse, since that was already announced in the beginning of 2015, but I could not get to the bottom of this. I was talking to the person who is responsible for the Watson business in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and he would not know. He could explain really well, how IBM is building solutions for customers on top of the Watson platform, with or without partners, the things you need to make it work, but he had no idea how Watson would support "email that knows you". I have pretty much given up on that topic and will focus more on asking about real world solutions.

Cloud was more of a general catch-up. I wanted to know where IBM sees itself in the market, and I saw happy faces all around. Business is growing, confidence and trust in cloud solutions is growing as well. Our region has always been slower to adapt, so that's a good thing. Competition seems healthy and big customers don't just have one vendor, but instead pick from multiple, depending on what they want to build. The interesting stuff is happening in support for new business solutions. If you want to build a new business, you don't have the time, and most likely also not the services you need to make these things happen fast. Bluemix is a platform that seems to be tailored for this. IBM told me that customers do not only prototype on Bluemix but that they actually runs workloads on the platform. Personally I don't see IBM up there with the big three: Amazon, Microsoft and Google. But IBM disagrees.

The Nokia farewell party

by Volker Weber

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Rumor has it that Microsoft will stop selling Lumias by the end of the year. Time to remember the big party in Abu Dhabi.

It was 2013, I was using the brilliant Lumia 1020 phone with the 41 megapixel camera. I had an iPhone 5, but I preferred the Lumia by a long shot. After having the Nokia World in London for a couple of stints, there were rumors about an event in New York, but eventually Nokia sent out invitations to Abu Dhabi. This is were we all realized this would be the big farewell party, before the smartphone business would be taken over by Microsoft.

If you have never been to the Emirates, this is a very strange place. Everything is brand new and shiny, it's incredibly cheap to get there, and you can stay in 5 star hotels for very reasonable rates. And it feels even more fake than Las Vegas.

So we gathered in Abu Dhabi and Nokia went out with a bang. A 6 inch Lumia 1520, when Apple was still thinking 4 inch were big. And the magnificent 2520 tablet with its gorgeous display. As we know today, both were running the wrong software. Microsoft fumbled Windows RT, and they set out for a third restart of their Windows Phone offering. Everything they made after the 1520/2520 was lackluster.

Yesterday I looked through my Abu Dhabi photos and I noticed that I was carrying a Lenovo Yoga 11 from 2012. Windows RT as well. I dragged it out of storage, dusted it off, reset the system to factory conditions and let Microsoft patch it. 100+ updates and multiple reboots later, it works just like it did in 2013. A very clean Windows RT 8.1 experience that still had the charms when swiping from the right.

At the time we did not know why Nokia was releasing a competing tablet to Microsoft's Surface line, but they did it anyway. And it was beautiful. Two years later Microsoft would release the last of their Lumia flagships, and they were not.

watchOS 3 does not mess up battery life

by Volker Weber

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I never use beta software just to be on the latest and greatest. So I did not install any of the watchOS betas. Apple Watch is way to important to me to risk serious bugs. You also needed to upgrade the iPhone to iOS 10 beta, which was even more out of the question.

So I waited patiently for the GMs and upgraded both the phone and the watch. And at first I was under the impression that watchOS was working the battery much harder and that I might run out of power before the day was over. But that was not what was happening. Instead it was me who was stressing out the battery.

Now that the novelty has worn off and I am back to normal, the battery holds up just fine. With about 23 hours off the charger and 68 minutes of exercise (HR monitor continuously on), I am still at 26%.


Screenshots in watchOS 3

by Volker Weber

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If you press both buttons on Apple Watch simultaneously, it will take a screenshot and place it in the camera roll on your iPhone. That no longer works unless you enable it in the Watch app on your iPhone.

Need input on separating business from personal data

by Volker Weber

Most large enterprises have deployed Enterprise Mobility Management platforms that manage mobile devices, their apps and their content. Most tiny and small companies don't give a sh!t. They are too busy running their daily operations to even figure out they may have a problem.

I need your thoughts on this. What can tiny and small companies do to protect their business data from Facebook & Co? Or from their kids ...

Here is one example: some Samsung phones have a personal KNOX container. But what can you do for iPhone?

Let me hear it. Everybody is welcome to push their ideas.

Sonos 6.4

by Volker Weber

We’re listening differently. More and more Sonos listeners are choosing curated radio stations and custom playlists over individual tracks. Less time spent searching for single songs, more time spent filling your home with a continual flow of music. So in response, we’ve evolved our Sonos App to make this new style of listening as fast and easy as possible.

Sonos made this a stealth update by syncing with the Apple keynote. This was a long beta until they got it right. You now just tap on what you want to hear and Sonos starts playing. You can still manage queues, but you probably will not do it often. I like the change, but I hardly ever resist change. YMMV.

I am always one or two cycles ahead. And I am currently enjoying two new features that have upgraded my experience tremendously. I never talk about unreleased software but I just want to say that I love how Sonos improves their products that are already out in the market. Their support is second to none.

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A few thoughts on the Apple Watch Series 2

by Volker Weber

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Since I am an active Apple Watch user, I got a lot of questions after yesterday's keynote. Some thoughts inspired by those questions.


  1. Do you need to upgrade from the original watch? For most people that is a definite no.

  2. GPS. That is the big thing people have been waiting for. It allows the watch to track you without an iPhone. That comes at a cost. GPS most likely is the top battery burner in a device that small. Apple says workouts can last up to five hours with GPS on. You probably need a full charge to go that distance and then return with an empty watch.

  3. Battery life. An original watch lasts about a day and a half on a charge. Having 40% left at night is a bummer. It does not last two days, and it could have burnt more during the day. That is going to happen with watchOS 3. My limited tests so far seem to back up my suspicion that the watch becomes more aggressive on the battery.

  4. WatchOS 3. That is a beautiful update coming to your watch next week. It's like an all new watch. I am not going to list all the details that you can read on Apple.com.

  5. Waterproofing. The original Watch and Watch Series 1 are splash-proof, Watch Series 2 are swim-proof. I never had any water damage with the original Watch, although I clean it under running water. I would however take it off when jumping into a pool.

  6. Brighter display. That may be the most useful feature in Series 2. I am often outside and it's between difficult and impossible to read Apple Watch in direct sunlight. More brightness helps. If you are mostly inside and sun isn't available where you live, you won't notice a difference.

Again, upgrade or not? If you spend much time around water or in the sun, yes. If you do short workouts up to an hour, without your phone, yes. For all others: upgrade the software next week and enjoy a new watch.

For those buying a new Apple Watch: 42mm is always right for men, 38 for women. Apple Watch is smaller than you expect. Sports Band is my favorite, some prefer the Nylon weave. You can buy the cheapest model without sacrificing anything. I always recommend getting the newest version though. That would make it the Series 2 aluminium model.

Some thoughts on the Apple Keynote

by Volker Weber

Let's dive right in:

  1. Watch Series 2 looks like the original. Wise decision. Samsung has tried seven different designs and they are losing. New features in Series 2: waterproof to 50 m, GPS, 2x brighter display, faster dual core GPU with 50% more performance, 100% faster GPU. Great enhancements, especially for active people. Two new workouts: swimming outdoors and in pool. Does lap and stroke count. Runners won't need to bring their phone for an exact track.
  2. The original Watch stays in market as Series 1, gets the faster CPU and a $100 price reduction from Series 2. Partnership with Hèrmes continues for that extra luxury. New partnership with Nike for serious workout. I haven't figured out the details, but it only seems to be a different band and additional software. Watch Edition in solid gold seems to be axed and is replaced with a ceramic white watch, that is even more expensive than the Hèrmes variant.
  3. iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are exactly as rumored. Two new colors replace space grey: black and jet black. Jet black is shiny and Apple is very proud of the process and finish. However, this is going to be a fingerprint magnet and it will scratch easily. In the fine print Apple recommends a case to mitigate these issues.
  4. Main features besides a new design: protected from water and dust with IP67 rating, double the memory capacity: 32, 128, 256, while maintaining the iPhone 6 pricing. Mechanical home button is replaced with new pressure sensitive pad. Tap Engine replaces vibrator for better notifications.
  5. Both iPhone 7 and 7+ have new cameras, front (higher res) and back (bigger aperture). The Plus model has a dual camera with the normal wide angle lens and an additional 2x telephoto. The main feature of that dual camera isn't even finished yet and comes in an update: a new Portrait mode will use the telephoto camera for the foreground and the wide angle for a blurry background to create the bokeh effect which currently needs a much bigger lens and camera. If you are serious about smartphone photography you want this camera and thus the plus model. Sorry, you skinny people with tight jeans.
  6. Dropping the audio jack caused a tempest in a teapot before the event. I think it is the right decision. The DAC moves from the phone into the Lightning-connected EarPods and into the Lightning-Audio connector. Both are in the box. Wireless headsets have a DAC anyway.
  7. New AirPods wireless earbuds use some proprietary whizbang to connect to Apple devices and will propagate the configuration to your other Apple devices via iCloud. Dual stream Bluetooth connects both earbuds to the phone and you can take out either one for a phone call. This headset will require an in-depth test once they become available. They do look great, but I would not buy them at face value.
  8. Apple opened with an education section, announcing collaborative editing in iWork, a suite that hasn't gotten much love recently. This appears to be a game that Apple is losing. If you ask students, they do all their collaborative editing is Google Docs and most everything else in Microsoft Office, with some pockets of LibreOffice. OpenOffice is more or less dying ever since Oracle has alienated developers.

It was a solid performance which was only boring during game demos. But that's me. I'm not interested in games. And Pokemon Go on Apple Watch "before the end of the year"? That would have been interesting two months ago, not in two months.

iOS 10 and watchOS 3 become available on September 13. You can order iPhone 7 and Watch Series 2 starting this Friday with delivery one week later.

And what does vowe want? iPhone 7 Plus in jet black. And a ceramic watch. One can dream, right?

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Sen.se ThermoPeanut

by Volker Weber

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This is all I ever wanted from IoT: simple, one-purpose devices that don't cost a fortune. Now Sen.se has started to make "Peanuts", the first one being ThermoPeanut. It's driven by a CR2032 battery and talks to your smartphone over Bluetooth Low Energy. The default is one measurement every 15 minutes and an automatic transfer every two hours. As everything, this is configurable. If you press a button on the peanut or refresh from the app, transfer happens immediately.

ThermoPeanut stores measurements for about 15 days at this frequency, says Sen.se. 15 x 24 x 15 equals 5400. The interesting thing is that it pairs with multiple devices and those talk to the same cloud account which gives you unlimited storage of sensor data. All your other devices can see that data. This means that any of your devices left in the Bluetooth range of a peanut can pick up and transfer the data. You don't need a dedicated hub.

ThermoPeanut will work with Nest and IFTTT and you can set alerts for minimum or maximum desired temperature. Monitor the doghouse or the fridge? Make sure the content in your icebox isn't thawing? Want to know the temperature on your camping trip. Plenty of use cases.

Currently I have only one Peanut, but there is room for more.

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Drei Sekunden Höchstgeschwindigkeit. Und das jeden Tag.

by Volker Weber

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Lieber Herr Weber,

wir verbessern die Leistung für Sie! Ab sofort surfen Sie in Ihrem Tarif mit Ihrem Highspeed-Volumen mit der maximal verfügbaren LTE-Geschwindigkeit: bis zu 300 MBit/s im Download! Die höhere Geschwindigkeit ist für Sie selbstverständlich kostenlos.

Ihre Telekom

Doppelt so schnelles Internet, das klingt gut. Rechnen wir mal:

  1. Mein Tarif enthält 3 Gigabyte Datenvolumen. Bei 30 Tagen im Monat sind das 100 Megabyte am Tag.
  2. 100 Megabyte pro Tag sind 800 Megabit pro Tag.
  3. Wenn das Telekomnetz also wirklich 300 Megabit pro Sekunde liefern kann, dann dauert das keine drei Sekunden, bis ich mein Highspeed-Volumen verbraucht habe.

Vergleichen wir mal die Finnen:

The standard mobile phone plan in Finland comes with unlimited data, and carriers differentiate their services based on speed. Elisa’s network currently maxes out at 450 megabits per second; it sells data packages that offer speeds up to 300 Mb/s.

Unlimited data heißt also, dass man nicht darauf achten muss, wieviel man verbraucht. Und was kommt raus?

Finns consume more data per capita than any other nation, with the average active user on Elisa’s network devouring 12 gigabytes of data per month.

Vier mal so viel Volumen - im Durchschnitt. Da täte mich die Varianz interessieren. Es kann gut sein, dass viele Menschen auch eher 50 Gigabyte verbrauchen. Ich finde die Preisdifferenzierung nach Geschwindigkeit besser als die nach Volumen. Die sind für den Anwender viel leichter nachzuvollziehen.

Box Relay is Notes all over again

by Volker Weber

Box Relay is a new type of workflow solution that is targeted at business users who need to create, share and track simple workflows. It is designed to help you get your work done more efficiently. Box Relay will not replace traditional business process and case management tools but will complement them.

If you habe been in this business long enough, the irony of Box Relay is not lost on you. This is exactly how Lotus Notes started. Move simple workflows out of email. Bottom up, from the departmental level.

Box Relay is designed for the extended enterprise and workflows can include participants in other companies such as your customers, suppliers and partners. There is no need for IT to define external users in your directory - Box Relay utilizes the capabilities in Box to support external users securely and efficiently.

This time however, it works across company borders.

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September Update for BlackBerry PRIV and DTEK50 is live

by Volker Weber

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Security Level September, 06. That is a zero day delivery. PRIV on the left with build AAG191, DTEK50 on the right with build AAG326. DTEK50 still does not have Picture Password, although this was a big update.

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Dutch Kryptonite

by Volker Weber

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Thanks, Thomas!

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium bone conducting headphones

by Volker Weber

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Headsets serve two purposes for me: they let me listen in private when I am traveling and they isolate me from the surrounding noise. But what if you do want to hear what's happening around you? Like running through a forest or riding in traffic? Aftershokz set out to solve this with their Trekz Titanium headset. It works by sending the sound through your cheekbones instead of your ear canal. You can still hear what's happening because your ears remain free.

Big question: how do they sound? Somewhere between tinny and terrible. The frequency spectrum proabably looks like a bell curve. Midrange is fine, high frequencies are dull, low frequencies don't seem to exist. It gets better when you plug your ears with your fingers or the included squishy ear plugs, but that defies the purpose. You can switch between two EQ settings by pressing both volume buttons at the same time. One of them provides more bass than the other. There are two noise cancelling microphones for making phones calls.

How do they fit? The band between those "earpieces" is an elastic titanium alloy which creates the pressure needed for bone conducting and you wear the band over your ears so they don't slide down. Glasses are not a problem, since you can slide them under the headset. The headset tickles the skin in front of your ears and that can be irritating. It also leak sound since the vibration has to be strong enough to induce sound in your ear.

Are they useless? Not at all. When you listen to podcasts or when you need to make phone calls, you don't need Hi-Fi sound quality. I have custom earplugs (german: Otoplastik) and the Trekz Titanium is the only headset that can bypass those.

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Brands selling out :: Exhibit A - Hasselblad

by Volker Weber

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The latest camera brand that is selling out their pedigree is Hasselblad. And it does not really matter if it's Leica, Zeiss, Schneider-Kreuznach or Hasselblad. You can print their logo onto a smartphone, but you are not getting the quality product attached to the brand for a fraction of the price.

When Hasselblad announced their Moto Mod at IFA, most of the journalists in attendance were in awe. A Hasselblad attached to a smartphone. Wow. But something struck me as odd: a 12 MP camera with an aperture of 3.5 to 6.5? That's not going to capture a lot of light. And as it turns out, the camera is just terrible. It was optimized for one thing, and one thing only: 10x optical zoom. Unfortunately the photos it takes turn out soft and grainy.

Marques Brownlee tells it as it is:

Five weeks to five hundred

by Volker Weber

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Did not talk much about it recently, but this thing is still on. Today is day 465, or one hundred days since completing the year. Five weeks from now I will have completed 500 days with all three activity goals met.

Photofast Memories Cable & iKlips Duo

by Volker Weber


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I brought two memory devices back from IFA and they both serve the same purpose: exchange files between an iPhone or iPad with PCs or Mac, or other iDevices for that matter. I will be first looking at the Memoriescable from Photofast and then at the iKlips Duo from Adam Elements. Both companies are from Taiwan.

Getting files in and out of an iPhone or iPad isn't quite as easy as with an Android device where you just need to attach a UTG-adapter (USB to go) and then a memory stick to that. Apple sells a USB adapter that lets you plug in memory sticks. But it will only transfer photos and videos from the stick. There is no file manager.

Photofast and Adam Elements sell memory sticks (or cables) with two ends. One is USB A plug that goes into your Mac or PC, the other is a Lightning plug. And they also deliver software that lets you move files in and out of the iDevice.

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This is where stuff gets weird. Both use a proprietary app that manages its own internal memory and the external memory you bought from them. What you cannot do is move a video file from your PC or Mac into VLC on your iDevice. Both apps can only transfer stuff to the internal memory of their app. From there you can "open in" other apps. But that means you have to be able to store that data within your mobile device. That is an iOS limitation.

Since you can't move the file into other apps, both Photofast and Adam Elements need to display them themselves, right from external memory without moving them into device storage first. That means they have to duplicate many functions inside their own app, like a photo viewer or a video player, a PDF viewer etc. This is where Photofast goes all crazy. If you have a video player, they might as well let you watch videos from Youtube and Vimeo. And since they can manage files between internal and external memory, why not add OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and iCloud drive? And since they can backup contacts, calendar, photos, videos and what not from your iDrive, why not add Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr backup?

An interesting feature is that you can hide away and protect sensitive files on that memory stick. Want to carry your pr0n collection outside of the iDevice memory, here is your solution.

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Memories Cable not only stores data, but you can also use it to recharge your iDevice. Just connect both ends and the battery gets topped off. Photofast has made the 3rd gen cable toupher than the previous one. A braided nylon mesh adds strength and robustness. If you plug the cable into your Mac or PC and the iDevice at the same time, your computer mounts the drive and your iDevice recharges.

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Memory capacity is 32 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB. Do your market research before you buy. A 128 GB cable costs less on Amazon than a 32 GB cable at the official store. In either case, this is a great travel companion, since you can both charge your device as well as move files in and out.

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The iKlips Duo looks more like a traditional memory stick with two different ends. It comes with a nice protective case that you can wear on your keychain. It warns you not to plug in both ends at the same time. That is one less feature. However it uses super high-speed MLC flash memory to store its data.

There is an Indiegogo campaign for the iKlips Duo and prices will take your breath away. Capacity goes up all the way to 256 GB for $369.

Finnish Kryptonite

by Volker Weber

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Thank you, Frank!

The Art of Casey Neistat & His Impact on Filmmaking

by Volker Weber

Very good analysis by a film editor. Don't know Casey? Watch his latest. I suggest you subscribe. Casey publishes daily and it is a nice 10 minutes to look forward to.

New tracker in the house :: Misfit Ray

by Volker Weber

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I have been trying many trackers from Fitbit, Jawbone, Withings and smartwatches from Apple, Microsoft, TomTom, Pebble and Withings. And then I settled on the Apple Watch since that is just perfect for me.

But what if you do not want a smartwatch, because you have a nice mechanical watch that you love. And that has memories attached to it. You can't even wear one of those full featured trackers with a display, because that already tells you the time.

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Misfit Ray to the rescue. It's just a small cylinder with three 393 watch batteries inside. They last half a year, so you never need to recharge. Replacing the batteries is extremely inexpensive. They can be had for as little as 10 ct if you buy them in bulk. You also never have to take it off since it is waterproof to 50 meters.

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Photo © Misfit 2016

Ray is customizable by selecting from a wide array of bands and it comes in different colors. It tracks your sleep as well as your steps. And that's all we need right now. Ray automatically switches from sleep tracking to step tracking and it will signal notifications from your phone with a blink of its LED or a soft vibration. You can set different colors for different events. The same LED also gives you an indication of your progress towards meeting your move goal in 25% increments. Finally, you can set Ray to wake you in the morning during a light sleep period.

There are lots of things to discover. You can set actions that happen when you tap Ray. Switch off your HUE lights when you go to sleep, maybe?


The Merc isn't included.

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Wireless headset designs

by Volker Weber

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Apple is about to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack from the next iPhone, or so we hear. Whoever makes wireless headsets should be happy about that. As a customer however, you have to weigh your options. Traditional over-the-ear or on-ear headsets works just the same as with a cable and they offer all-day battery life.

With in-ear headsets however, there are many different designs, and all manufacturers offer a wide range of options. Since I will be talking about different products in the next weekswe should talk designs and concepts first.

Completely wireless: This is the new thing. Two earbuds, no cable. The challenge is the wireless link. Phones or watches use Bluetooth to talk to the headset, but how do the earbuds talk to each other? They cannot both talk to the phone at the same time. So one of them is the endpoint for Bluetooth and then it talks to the other one. If you want to use Bluetooth to talk to the other one, there is an obstacle. Between those earbuds is a brain, which contains a lot of water. And that blocks Bluetooth radio. This is where some designs fail. Indoors you can bounce Bluetooth waves off the walls, but once you get outside it gets difficult. The Jabra Elite Sport just announced at IFA uses near field magnetic resonance technology found in hearing aids to overcome this obstacle.

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Connected earbuds: This is so far my favorite technology. One earbud talks to the other over a wire that runs behind your neck. The Jaybird Freedom seems to be the most advanced of those designs. The earbuds are extremely small, most of the electronics are inside the control unit on the cable. A few days ago I also started using the Samsung Elite Active which follows the same design pattern.

Both of those designs share one problem. To make them comfortable, the battery has to be tiny. Since they are meant to be worn during exercise, they only run three to four hours. The Jabra ear buds are stored in charging case which can top them off twice, which gives you a maximum of 3 + 6 hours. The Freedom earbuds have a small charger that can be attached to the headset and gives you 4 + 4 hours.

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Neckband-style: This is a very popular design in the US, which looked very weird at first but is getting refined. It puts the battery on your neck and thus lasts all day long for listening to music and making phone calls. The Jabra Halo Smart for instance lasts 17 hours on one charge. The technology is rather simple and those headsets are not expensive. You just don't want to use them for workouts. They provide one benefit over the other designs: you can wear just one ear bud for phone calls and both for music.

All of these designs share one problem: if you want bass, you need a good seal. Those small earbuds can only provide a full sound, if the sound waves don't escape from your ear. But if nothing escapes, nothing comes in. Passive noise cancellation is great when you want to be alone, but it's not so great if you can't hear a car coming from behind while riding a bicycle. There are two designs that mitigate this issue.

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Sports headset: the Plantronics Backbeat Fit is a good example for a sports headset that does not seal your ear. It works like the Apple earbuds but they don't fall out since they are held by an elastic band behind your head and around your ears. While they work reasonably well, I find them too uncomfortable to wear for an extended time. They may look a bit like the neckband headsets but they provide the exact opposite experience.

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Bone-conducting headset: Very similar in design to the sports headset, this particular design leaves your ears completely open. Yes, you read that right. There is nothing in your ear and you can hear everything like you were not wearing a headset at all. Instead those headset transmit the sound directly through your skull to the cochlea where you pick it up. I will be telling you about the Aftershokz Trek Titanium in a few days.

Lenovo Yoga Book was my IFA highlight

by Volker Weber

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This is a fresh new device. Tablet on one side, Wacom digitizer on the other side, Yoga hinge holds it together. The digitizer is not a display, but it can light up as a keyboard, basically a backlit template.

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Typing on this surface gives you physical feedback through a left/right movement. Not a vibrator, but more like Apple's Tap Engine. Since it is not a display, you cannot change key assignments. Different models for different markets. But the software adjust to you. If you hit the space bar low, it will learn and recognize it outside of the strict target.

Target audience is 15 to 30 year olds. They are used to typing on glass, which is way inferior to this solution. Typing speed is comparable to mechanical keyboard. I will need to use it myself to verify, but so far it looks good. Why not a second screen under the Wacom digitizer? Cost! What you don't really see: this is very light for a 2-in-1, and there is no place to store the pen.

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The other thing you can't really see is that you can write through paper and the pen holds a real pen so that you get both the drawing and the digital version.

Lenovo is already shipping for 499 € Android or 599 € Windows 10. I haven't decided which one I want. Windows 10 is stock, Android needed to be customized. Which one would you prefer?

Great Sonos commercials: You're better than this

by Volker Weber

This is a compilation. Individual ads below:

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Samsung Level Active

by Volker Weber

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Nice find yesterday: Samsung Level Active in-ear Bluetooth headphones. At first I thought they did not sound any good. But then I pressed them into the ear canal and boom, there was the sound. Replaced the ear gels but still could not get a good seal. Finally replaced the over-ear hooks with in-ear wings. Now they provide great sound while being very comfortable at the same time.

There is a lesson here: if you find ear-canal headphones missing bass, it's you. Work on them until they fit.

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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