Monday, September 30, 2013

Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid. An observation from a geeky gearhead.

I'm into fast cars. I'm into European luxury and sporty cars. I love cars in general. You can call me a gearhead. My wife is into practicality. She recently got one of those brand new Ford plug-in hybrids, the C-Max Energi. This is completely out of left field for me. The picture you see above is the average MPG of driving roughly 40 miles over a period of two days. Even as a gearhead, I can totally appreciate that 80 MPG number I am seeing above.

This is not my kind of car I typically look into. Politically correct and green trendy. The visual exterior won't turn heads. The handling and drive characteristics is nothing to rave about.  I'm currently in the market for a mid-life crisis sports car so this is the polar opposite of what I look into.  However, the C-Max Energi is already growing on me. I'm starting to really like it. It is also packed with a lot of gadgetry and electronics. This blog is not going to be a full on review of any sorts. I'm just going to give my readers my impression of a car that I will driving 20-30% of the time.

Just look at how cool the plugin port is. The blue surrounds shows you how far along your charging is. The outer edge of the port lights up fully to indicate the charge status.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Firefox ZTE Open Firefox OS phone unboxing

Look at what I got! ZTE Open. The first Firefox OS phone.

I just got it so here are some pictures for now. I'll dig deep into it later.

It uses a standard SIM and has a micro-sd slot.

FireFox OS app launcher!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chromecatch turns your Mac into a Chromecast receiver

There are lots of software/solutions that turns computers, NAS, and other devices into Airplay compatible end receivers. Now, there is one like that for Chrome "casting." It is called Chromecatch. It is a $3 app on the MacStore and there is an iOS version that turns your iPad into a chromecaster.

What does all this mean? The same functionality of the $35 HDMI Google Chromecast dongle can be replicated on a computer. $3 sure beats $35 if you want to experiment with this functionality.

The Cast icon shows up on Chrome devices if you are on the same network. I tried it with both computer, iOS, and Android devices. Unfortunately, Google half baked Chrome casting so it isn't available on the Samsung Chromebook.

Here is my Samsung 7" Galaxy Tab casting youtube to a Macbook Pro Retina. The Galaxy tablet is handing off the youtube to the Macbook.

It supports Google Play Music, Youtube and the SDK samples of Google Cast. I didn't try Netflix. I can't tell you how useful this except to say it can be done. Maybe I'll install it in my bedroom 27" iMac which is currently being unused.  I still prefer Airplay any day of the week.

You can download and purchase it here.

Update: Apparently, you can do this for free with  Leapcast. Maybe I'll install it on one of my Linux box with a follow-up.

Monday, September 16, 2013

64 bit iPhone and the future of the iOS

The iPhone 5S has brought about a lot of disinformation on the internet. Everyone seems to have an opinion and I'll throw in my two cents.

See the picture above? That is a 1990s era Silicon Graphics Octane Irix Workstation that I used to work with in the 1990s. It has a total RAM configuration of 2 GB. Yep, 2 Gigs of RAM. All the MIPs based RISC workstations I worked on were all less than 4GB of RAM and ran 64 bit. DEC, SGI, Sun Solaris. What does it prove?

You don't need more than 4GB of RAM to realize the benefits of 64 bit computing. I don't profess to be an expert on 32/64 bit but I do know that there are many more advantages to 64 bit besides addressing more than 4GB of RAM.  Addressing more than 4GB of RAM does not require 64 bit hardware/OS as we've seen with PAE extensions. 

Now that we have that of the way, what are my thoughts?

Well, I do agree that the move to 64 bit will have very little material impact on consumers today. There will be some specific use cases but I think this is more about laying the ground work for the future.

A few scenarios. AppleTV and future iPads will benefit. I see Apple will venture into gaming in a big way. The original XBOX, Playstation all had 256-512MB of RAM. The newest forthcoming XBOX, PS4 now support 8GB of RAM. The AppleTV, in my opinion, may be a next platform gaming platform. IOS7 now has built in APIs for game controllers. iOS7 now supports OpenGL 3.0.

Next scenario is a hybridization of iOS and OSX. We may well see a Macbook AIR with ARM in 3-4 years. It is inevitable when all the pieces of the puzzle are in place.

In the near immediate future, the move to 64 bit iOS will allow OSX developers to easily port their great apps to iOS with the new improve Toolchain in XCode. I am thinking of ultra cool apps like Hype HTML5 animation and Pixelmator will be easier to port to iOS. To me, this is the biggest draw.

So what about everybody else? 64 bit in the mobile space is an will spread across all the platforms but for now, Apple does have the marketing and the rights to claim the first 64 bit smartphone. As for those who claim the Motorola Razor I with the ATOM z2480, they're completely wrong. The Z2480 SoC is a 32-bit SOC.

Android may go 64 bit. The GCC compiler was recently updated this May of 2013 to support 64 bit ARM so I don't expect we will see a 64bit OS on Android until version 5.

I doubt I will be getting a 5s. I carry two phones (Android and iPhone) and tick-tock updates every year. This year, I will probably get a Note 3 (from work) to compliment my iPhone 5. I will definitely be getting the next A7x powered iPad. The next year, I'll get the iPhone 6.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Living with Chrome OS

I've been trying to wrap my head around the idea of going cloud-only. Supposedly, it is the future of computing and there are many strong advocates of Chrome OS. I've been playing with my two Chromebooks and my opinion is still the same. It will be a long time before the majority of us go cloud-only.

Here are some anecdotes  of my life with Chrome OS and Chromebooks.