GNC #1157 Open Source



The government has followed through and started to release code to the public. So developers out there can start to see if there is code that can be re-utilized that you as a tax payer have essentially paid for. Next week the show will be on the road in Denver. I am looking forward to exploring Denver as I have always flown or drove through.

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Thumbs Up for Fitbit



Fitbit LogoAll too often we hear stories of poor customer service so I want to give some props to Fitbit who replaced my Flex with no fuss or special blogger treatment. Here’s how it went down….

Faulty Fitbit FlexI’ve had a Fitbit Flex for nearly two years and it’s one of my favourites as it’s waterproof and I wear it while swimming. A couple of months ago the middle LED stopped working and last week another one seemed to stop. All other functions worked fine, so the Flex was still counting steps and syncing to my Fitbit app. In reality the fault was largely cosmetic.

Still, I decided to contact Fitbit’s customer services via email. I paraphrase each message.

2016-11-03-16-22-56Me: I’m having trouble with the LEDs on my Flex dying one by one. See photo.
Fitbit: Ok. I see that. Could you try resetting the Flex followed by a full charge.
Me: I’ve done that and yes, one of the LEDs is now working but the middle one still isn’t. See new photo.
Fitbit: Ok, I see that it’s still not working. When and where did you get the Flex?
Me: I got it in November 2014 and here are the details.
Fitbit: No problem, that’s fine. We’re going to send a replacement. What’s your address?
Me: Thanks. Here’s my address.
Fitbit: The replacement Flex is on its way.
Me: Thanks again.

And sure enough, the replacement Fitbit Flex arrived in the post yesterday. All the LEDs work fine.

Reviewing the email exchange, it really couldn’t have been sorted it out in anything less. A big thumbs up to Fitbit for sorting it out easily and painlessly.


GNC #1156 Apple Blew It



We waited 4 years for this piece of crap! Apple Blew it.. You know what’s coming! Glad to be back in the saddle, detailed details of my trip to Columbus and what was accomplished. Glad to be back in the Studio with you! Big thank you to everyone that supported my sponsor GoDaddy this month. Lot’s to share this is a monster show.

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Heed Audio Introduces the Elixir



heed-audio-elixirHeed Audio has a motto: “Forget hi-fi – remember music!” The company designs and manufactures its lines of CD transports, DACs, speakers, and amplification components in Budapest, with parts from around the world. Heed has introduced the Elixir Integrated Amplifier.

The Elixer has a neat place amongst Heed Audio’s Transcap technology amplifiers. It is the purest music performer of all, without any technical compromise and presents the music effortlessly. Besides the power amplifier, the headphone stage also benefits from the basic idea of the Transcap technology. Class-A darlington-driven capacitor-coupled outputs feed your headphones like nothing else.

The MN phono stage is based on the Questar’s circuit. As the standalone amp, this integrated incarnation is thick and warm and provides a great overall amplification for nearly all kinds of MM cartridges. It’s a very easy way to find your way back into the analogue domain and vinyl records.

Features:

  • 4 analogue and 1 MM phono inputs
  • Class-A headphone amplifier
  • Transcap – output capacitor technology
  • Discrete bipolar transistor architecture

Mistaken Identity – Creed, Country, Colour and Culture



Mistaken IdentityThe BBC’s Reith Lectures for 2016 are underway and this year they are presented by philosopher and cultural theorist Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah under the title of “Mistaken Identity”. At a time where identity is endlessly discussed and defined – Republican or Democrat, pro-EU or Brexit, gay or straight, the four lectures will cover aspects of identity; Creed, Country, Colour and Culture and show that identity isn’t a binary choice between one adjective or another.

Kwame Anthony Appiah says: “We live in a world where the language of identity pervades both our public and our private lives. We are Muslim and Christian, so we have religious identities. We are English and Scottish, so we have national identities. We are men and women, and so we have gender identities. And we are black and white, and so we have racial identities. There is much contention about the boundaries of all of these identities. Not everyone accepts that you have to be a man or a woman; or that you can’t be both an Englishman and a Scot. You can claim to be of no religion or gender or race or nation. Perhaps, in each case, someone will believe you. And that is one reason why the way we often talk about these identities can be misleading.

Two of the programmes have already been broadcast, Creed and Country, and are available online or as podcasts for download. I found both episodes interesting: Creed for its historical perspective on religions and how in the past religion was more of a verb than noun, and Country appealed to me as an individual who can legitimately claim some level of citizenship with four different countries (where my parents are from, where I was born, where I grew up and where I have lived the longest). Prof Appiah is an entertaining speaker and there’s a good deal of fun and wit in among the insights.

Put aside the tech news for an hour and consider something more profound than the latest product refresh from Apple.


Say Goodbye to Vine



vine-logoVine has announced that they will be discontinuing the mobile app in the coming months. They haven’t given any specific reason for why they made the decision to discontinue the mobile app. The absence of a clear explanation is likely going to lead to some speculation about what seems like a sudden announcement.

Vine started in 2013. Their blog post says that millions of people have turned to Vine to laugh at loops and see creativity unfold. They seem very grateful for the creators who contributed to Vine and for everyone who watched Vines. They also are trying to reassure creators that their Vines are still there.

Nothing is happening to the apps, website, or your Vines today. We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way. You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made. You will be notified before we make any changes to the app or website.

What’s next? Vine says that it will be sharing more details on their blog and on their Twitter account about whatever comes next. Vine will also notify creators through the app when they start to change things.


FCC Adopts Rules to Protect Your Online Privacy



fcc-logoThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules that require broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to protect the privacy of their customers. The rules ensure that broadband customers have meaningful choice, greater transparency, and strong security protections for their personal information collected by ISPs.

This landmark ruling, which was passed by a 3-2 party line vote by the FCC’s five commissioners, asserts that customers have a right to control their own personal information. In short, the new rules may forbid internet providers from sharing sensitive personal information such as app browsing histories, mobile location data, and other information generated while using the internet.

More specifically, the rules separate the use and sharing of information into three categories and include clear guidance for both ISPs and customers about the transparency, choice, and requirements for customers’ personal information.

  • Opt-in: ISPs are required to obtain affirmative “opt-in” consent from consumers to use and share sensitive information. The rules specify categories of information that are considered sensitive, which include precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications.
  • Opt-out: ISPs would be allowed to use and share non-sensitive information unless a customer “opts-out”. Some examples of non-sensitive information include email address or service tier information.
  • Exceptions to consent requirements: Customer consent is inferred for certain things such as the provision of broadband service or billing and collections.

Pokémon GO has a Halloween Treat



pokemon-go-halloweenI love it when video games include a special Halloween event! This year, Pokémon GO is doing something special for Halloween. It is the first time the game has done this. This makes me wonder if there will be more special events after the Halloween one is over.

Niantic announced a treat for Trainers. From October 26th to November 1st, players can earn double the amount of Candy every time they make a catch, hatch and transfer Pokémon. Play the game as you typically would – and get extra Candy while you play.

Now is a good time to start using a Buddy Pokémon (if you haven’t done that yet). Your Buddy Pokémon will help you earn Candy four times as fast during this Halloween event.

There is another treat to look forward to. Niantic says that players will encounter “more spooky Pokémon than usual” during the Halloween event. You could encounter Pokémon that you haven’t caught yet.


GNC #155 Where is the Mavic



You will notice the show is about 25 minutes short.. As I was doing the show tonight both of my monitors that I do the show from just went black. I have no idea what caused it, but I had to do a full reboot. Thus tonight no show as well. First time in 1155 episodes I have not been able to complete the show due to a monitor going black. You have my apologies. Murphy Strikes. Next two shows are on the road most likely Audio only.

Long time supporters of the show. I hope you will follow my instructions given tonight on how you can support the show with your social skills.

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Topop USB C to 3x USB A and LAN Adapter Review



The physical USB type A interface connector seems to have been around forever and to be fair, it’s had an impressive lifespan starting with USB 1.0 back in 1996. Since then, the communication standard has been updated several times and the connector is still very relevant with USB 3.1 which now sports transfer speeds of up to 10 Gb/s.

USB type C is the latest connector design providing high speed data comms in a neat reversible design. So neat that a couple of manufacturers have ultraportables with a single USB C port. No USB A, no ethernet, no video. Looks great but a pain in the port if there’s a pile of cables to plug in. Accessory makers have stepped in to address the problem and here we have the Topop USB C to three USB A 3.1 ports and RJ45 Gigabit LAN adapter.

As the unboxing video shows, the adapter arrives in plain packaging and it’s a fairly functional device: this isn’t brushed metal milled from a single block of aluminium to complement the MacBook. It’s a sturdy matte black plastic . In terms of ports, there are three USB 3.1 type A ports on the top and a Gigabit network port on the far end. A short cable terminates in a USB C plug.

Topop USB C Adapter Topop USB C Adapter

Having three USB A ports and a network port is very useful on these minimalist devices. Who has a USB C memory stick? And there are always wireless dead-spots. The Topop adapter gets out of these predicaments.

However, I discovered quite quickly that the presence of a USB C socket on a device does not guarantee functionality, so check compatibility on the website and assume that the adapter only works with phones, tablets and laptops mentioned. Believe me, it doesn’t work with the OnePlus 2, 3 or Google Pixel C, but find a device that is compatible (Apple Macbook, Google Pixel Chromebook) and the adapter will work fine.

Topop USB C Adapter Topop USB C Adapter

Priced just under GB£20, the adapter’s in the right price bracket for the features that it offers. There’s no doubt that the Topop is a handy gadget to throw in a bag for occasional use, though if I was looking for a dock-lite on my desk, I think I would pay more for a better match to my laptop. Of course, your aesthetic requirements may differ.

Thanks to GoldenSwing for providing the Topop USB C to USB A 3.1 and Gigabit LAN adapter.