Sunday, March 5, 2017

Chromebook Plus

I purchased a Chromebook early in the history of Chromebooks. I have since received a couple more...they seem to collect. I guess they aren't for everyone.

I decided to get a  Samsung Chromebook Plus. My initial plan was to wait for the Pro...just have to have the fastest version.  After reading some reviews, I don't think the Pro will be the best device for me. While it runs Chrome faster, it doesn't do as well with Android apps.

My plan is to replace both of my tablets and my Chromebook with a single device.

I've see a number of the reviewers post Octane numbers for the Pro and the Plus. I decided to compare those results with my current devices. As expected my old Surface Pro 3 is the fastest. And my old Chromebook was the slowest.

I was kind of surprised that even the Plus is faster than any of my current Android devices.

Performance Numbers
Surface Pro 323,256
Chromebook Pro20,780
Chromebook Plus9,400
Pixel XL8,893
Pixel C8,312
Nexus 97,469
Samsung Chrombook XE3036,315

Why is the Plus better for Android apps? It's actually fairly easy to figure out. Most Android devices use an ARM processor. This is the same processor as the Plus. Because the Plus has an ARM processor Android apps can run as is. The Pro uses an Intel processor. In order for it to run Android apps, there is a layer introduced to emulate the ARM processor. This slows Android apps.

So far I happy with the Plus. It might be a little large for tablet use, but it seems to work very well and I like how it feels.

USB-C Charging

I've had phones with a USB-C port for a while now. My Pixel C tablet also has a USB-C connector. I thought it was nice, I like the physical connector. It seems more durable than MicroUSB and it's a lot easier to plug in.

I heard about laptops with USB-C and wondered how this would work. Most laptop chargers run a lot more power (watts) and at a higher voltage (19v) than a cell phone charger.

The USB standard supports five power delivery profiles. The specific voltage and current provided are negotiated between the device and the charger. It should be noted that these profiles are not unique to USB-C. When using a MicroUSB connector, a charger can go to Profile 4. Using a USB-A connector a charger can go to Profile 5. But, you will need to full USB 3.x system for this (cable and devices).

ProfileWattsVoltage and Current
1105V @ 2A
2185V @ 2A → 12V @ 1.5A
3365V @ 2A → 12V @ 3A
4605V @ 2A → 20V @ 3A
51005V @ 2A → 20V @ 5A

I recently picked up a Satechi inline USB-C power meter. A fun little device and I recommend it.

When I'm charging my phone (Pixel XL) with a generic USB-C charger I see 5v at about 2a. The current fluctuates a fair bit. I see about the same on my Pixel C and Samsung Chromebook Pro. This is clearly a 10w Profile 1 charger.

When I charging using the adapter that came with my Chromebook Plus I get different results. The phone charges at 9v/2a, as does my Pixel C. When plugged into the Chromebook plus I'm seeing 15v/2a or about 30w. This is a Profile 3 charger, but I don't know about the 15v. Maybe it reports as a Profile 4 and limits the voltage to 15v.

Unfortunately, my Phromebook Plus was fully charged when I took these pictures. But I wanted to show the difference between the generic charger and the Samsung charger.

Generic Charger

Samsung Charger

How do you know which charger to get? How do you know what your device will accept? These are tough questions. I have not seen device manufactures include information about maximum charge voltage and current. I think you can look at the factory charger to see its' power rating (in watts), this will give you a good idea of what's required.

Using a charger that's rated higher than your device will not be a problem. Remember the device and charger negotiate the voltage and current.

Several months ago Google asked phone manufactures to stop using rapid charge systems that are outside the USB spec. This would include Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0. Look for USB-C to become more common on phones released during 2017 and beyond.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Are Side Mirrors Going Away?

I have long felt side mirrors should go away.  Using a camera gives better coverage, can be more aerodynamic, and doesn't get in the way.

You can also do some interesting things like focus on a specific camera when the situation calls for it. For example, in the image below you can see the two side mirror images.  When a turn signal is activated the system could put just the camera on that side into full-screen mode.  This would allow the driver to see more on that side of the car.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

KeySmart - something new is coming

The team at +KeySmart Corporation is releasing a new product next week.  They have launched a coupon program ahead of the release, so I'm sharing it with my readers.

I've been really happy with my KeySmart device.  It gives me a pocket-knife like holder for my keys and I've joined it with a hanger clip.  This keeps my keys from rattling and makes it easier for me to access them.

In addition to your keys, they have accessories you can add as well.  A bottle opener, USB drive, divot tool, loop (see image), there are also expansion packs that allow you to add more keys.

The top and bottom plates are available in two lengths and multiple colors.

Here is the Coupon Link for your $10 off.

Monday, November 9, 2015

TensorFlow - Machine Learning from Google

Google has opened up their machine learning platform for others to use.

This is a great opportunity for people to work with a first-class machine learning system to solve problems.

For example, at work, we are trying to solve a problem of routing and sharing rides.  With a system like TensorFlow I can feed in routes and manually shared rides to have the system learn.  Then see if it can start to setup shared rides on it's own.  I'm very excited about this opportunity to work with a system like this.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Snowball's Chance - AWS Storage

You've decided to move your hosting to Amazon Web Services (or AWS), but you have amny gigs of data to move up there. Do you upload it or send a hard drive?  Or do you have enough data that you need to send multiple hard drives?  What if you have 40 GB to send?  How do you shard your data across multiple hard drives?

AWS has the answer and it's called Snowball.  This is a rugged device you can order through your AWS console.  It arrives as you see it below.  No box, just the device.  You plug it into a 110v outlet and connect it to your network, it supports up to 10 GB speeds.  Did I mention it weighs 50 pounds? Bring a friend to help you lift it.

There is an e-ink display that is used for configuration and as a shipping label.

Once connected you can copy your data to the Snowball.  It support 50 terabytes of storage.  All of your data is protected by a 256-bit encryption and a 25 character unlock code that you set.

As part of the process you create a job manifest that tells Amazon how to ingest your data into S3.

The cost is $200 per job and you can take up to 10 days to copy your data to the device before shipping it back.

Source: [AWS Blog]

Sunday, October 11, 2015

myLifter - A Smart Hoist

I came across this little gem this morning.  It is a smart hoist.  What makes it smart?  Well you can control it using an app on your phone.  The idea is to mount one of these to the ceiling in your storage area to hang stuff up and out of the way.

The lifter itself supports up to 50 lbs.  This can be increased to 100 lbs with the use of a pulley system.  You can also sync up to four lifters to operate together for heavier loads.

Much like the automated rear doors on many SUVs, you can set the upper and lower limits for your specific load. After you've don this you only need to select "raise" or "lower" in the app.  You don't have to watch it lift your load and stop before running into the ceiling.

There are a number of ways you can attach the cable to your item.  You can use hooks straps or a basket.  For stability, they recommend using a pulley system on larger items.

All-in-all it's a nice package.  I like what they've done with it and how easy it is to use.

Source [myLift]