Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Apple CarPlay still has a few problems I wish they would fix

I am a big fan of Apple CarPlay ever since I purchased a compatible car. I love hands free calls and texts and being able to ask Siri if there is a game tonight. There are just a few issues I still have with it. First I wish Apple would open it up a little more to different apps. Second I wish 3rd party apps would work a little more seamlessly. Third I wish they would make a way that audio apps are automatically included.

Apple Maps have improved a lot over the years. I love that they include the speed limit now and at least in my area, the traffic seems to be quite accurate. I just like to have the choice to use other map sources. If they would allow an app like Waze to be on their system it would give me an alternate option. I like that Waze gives better updates on things like hazards and changing traffic. 

I have had a lot of trouble with apps like Pandora and iHeart Radio getting stuck and not loading properly. This often requires you to force close the app and reopen it, not something that can be done safely while driving. 

I also wish that the Overdrive app would be added to CarPlay. I love to get audiobooks from the library to listen to, but I would love it if I could start a book easily while driving. If Apple would make it so you could start whatever you were listening to on any app I would love that, because sometimes when I am listening to Pandora I get bored and want to listen to a book for a while, but there is no way that I know of to get back to the book without looking at your phone.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Decorating a Smart Home to Make it Actually Look Smart

A lot of what makes a Smart Home smart is that it has a smart decor. While this will vary a lot from person to person, I personally think it needs to be clean and uncluttered. This can be very difficult for people living in smaller spaces, but clever designs can make up for this. Minimizing clutter can also help reduce issues of robotic vacuums and floor scrubbers from getting stuck.

Another huge factor is the choice of material. Things don't need to be synthetic to look smart. In fact, I find that natural floors and counters look good. Stainless steel appliances tend to look smart, but if you can afford it, things like smart stovetops and refrigerators can really add to the feel. Unfortunately, there aren't too many options yet if you want a fridge that can automatically pour you an ice cold soda or make you a snack.

In general, if you want something to look smart you need it to look modern and sensible. It should be well lit with adjustable lighting and it should be easy to control. Everything should seamlessly fit together. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The iRobot Roomba 690 Review WiFi Connected Robotic Vacuum

Roomba 690 on charging dock

After having the iRobot Roomba 690 for about a week now I thought I would talk a little bit about it and give it a review. Overall, I have been very pleased with its ability to navigate my complex home. Unfortunately, it doesn't clean very systematically so it basically just goes until it runs into something then turns and continues cleaning. It does a pretty good job of cleaning the entire floor though. You may have to adjust a few things to make sure it doesn't get stuck. Especially, if you have tight spaces because sometimes it will think its done cleaning after bumping around there for a bit. Even though it was just stuck in a corner.

Its easy to empty the iRobot Roomba 690. The tray simply pops out the back

I empty my Roomba 690 daily into a ziplock bag which makes it easy and helps to keep the dust down. Its very easy the tray simply slides out of the back when you lift an easy to grab latch. Then you pull open the cover and dump the waste. It could be a good idea to regularly pull out the filter and tap it against the side of a dustbin to the remove built-up dirt. I am planning to regularly change the filter, but I have heard that people have been able to go a very long time by simply cleaning the filter regularly.

Emptying the iRobot Roomba 690 dust tray or bin

I also purchased an Authentic iRobot 600 Series Replenishment pack which includes new brushes and rollers as well as 3 replacement filters and a brush cleaning tool. I know many people get third-party filters for their unit, but I heard they don't always fit quite right and I wanted to have plenty of authentic filters at first. Eventually, I will probably test some third-party filters and let you know how it goes. I am not expecting to change the brushes anytime soon but it will be nice to have them in case something happens to them or they get worn out.

The iRobot 600 Series Replenishment Kit includes 3 filters new brushes and rollers and a brush cleaning tool

Whats inside the box of the iRoomba Replenishment kit.

There are a lot of complaints on Amazon about these robots not being able to find the home base. While there have been a few cases where it didn't make it back it's been pretty good at finding its home. Sometimes I block it into a certain room where I want to clean using the included virtual wall and somehow it seems to know it because when it is done it just stops instead of trying to return home. Other times when I start it at its home base it will spend a long time trying to get back and simply run out of battery before it makes it. Either way its not a big deal to simply place it back at home, since you are going to want to empty it anyway.

An empty home base charging station for iRobot Roomba 690

This Roomba is also WiFi connected. Although it may not seem like much at first it is actually pretty cool. First, it allows you to control your robot when you are away from home. Whats even better is it lets you see how long its been cleaning and how many times its detected dirt. It will even give you a notification if it gets into trouble or gets stuck. It's really a nice feature to have.

The home app shows you all of the past runs, how much time it cleaned and how many times it turned dirt detect mode on.
After the first week, the Roomba 690 is a great robotic vacuum. The Roomba does a great job cleaning floors and works well with pet hair. I really appreciate how much cleaner my home has been. It's also amazing how quiet it is so you can let it run without bothering you. I wish I would have gotten this much sooner.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Bitcoin soars past $16,000! What do I think of the cryptocurrency?

A pile of coins with a large bitcoin in the middle.
I have heard a lot about Bitcoin lately. It has soared to unbelievable heights lately and has made some people rich. The question remains is a it a good investment or even a good payment method.

Personally, I don't see it as a good investment opportunity, unless of course you bought some a while ago and you have already made a great deal of money. Although then the question would still remain as to when to sell. Even just today its dropped an enormous amount. One of the biggest problems it has is that it is riding on a lot of momentum. As people see it rise they want to buy it more and the problem with that is as it drops it could fall with similar momentum.
How bitcoin has changed during recent times
It is an interesting idea as a currency, but a problem I see is the high volatility of it. Unless you buy some Bitcoin to make a purchase and if you receive payment sell it immediately you run the risk of paying more for your purchase than you intended. It is great idea for secure payments, but I personally find Paypal more appealing for the vast majority of shopping most people do.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

iOS 11.2 bringing faster wireless charging, Apple Pay Cash and a huge list of bug fixes

iPhone X showing iMessage with Apple Pay Cash
Apple broke their normal schedule by pushing a weekend update for iOS 11.2. This was probably due to the Dec. 2nd crash bug. This update adds the much anticipated Apple Pay Cash allowing one to send or request cash using Apple Pay in the Messaging App (Although currently not active.). It also allows for faster charging at 7.5W Qi Wireless speeds if you have a compatible charger. They also included a large list of updates and bug fixes in this version visit https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208067 for a complete list.

The real question here is should you update. I give it a cautious yes. If you are a developer there was no Xcode update so you may run into some issues there. Otherwise, it seems to be a good update with very little noise related to it.

Apple CarPlay still has a few problems I wish they would fix

I am a big fan of Apple CarPlay ever since I purchased a compatible car. I love hands free calls and texts and being able to ask Siri if ...

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