Island Musings

Do not believe a thing because many people speak of it

KISS — March 2, 2019

KISS

Steve Jobs was obsessed with the interface between human and his machines. I have not thought about that much but realized today that my home entertainment devices are a perfect example. 

We have a his and hers TV. Hers is hooked up to Shaw direct satellite system and she pays around $100 a month. It works very well. She pushes one button on her remote, then the up or down button to select a channel and one button again. Excluding volume she has  3 buttons on the remote to keep track of. She has a limited selection (what she pays for) and watches programs when Shaw broadcasts them. It works well. 

My TV is entirely streaming. I can watch most any TV program series or episodes that was ever produced when I want to watch. In addition I have access to most any movie ever produced. I push one button to turn on. Then I scroll through a selection of apps which provide different services. I select one which opens another screen. From there I select the program (series and episode) or if not listed on my preconfigured screen I will search. I press another button and the app searches for various streams and I will select one. Press again and I am watching. My process has more choices and takes longer – maybe 20 seconds. It works well and a good performance comparison is Netflix. My system handles hi def and Dolby sound. My cost is under $10 a month. I am not downloading any files so I am on the right side of what is allowed. 

When I offer to set up the same on her TV, she says nope, to complicated. She will use Amazon Prime streaming as that is one button selection. 

Jobs was correct. A simple interface for people who have no interest in tech is the answer. I don’t think voice control is the answer but it may be close. With the various IoT voice devices, progress is being made. An example..  my daughter is hiking in Tasmania right now and I spoke aloud, “Alexa, what is the population of Tasmania”. Instantly I was told 509,000. With a little work I could easily say, “Alexa, play NCIS series 4,

Creig Dewitt Robinson —
ASUS RT-AC68U — February 23, 2019

ASUS RT-AC68U

I know only a geek will understand that I find it fun and challenging to set up a new router for my home network. My home network manages traffic from:

2 iPads

1 iPhone

1 android phone

2 TV

1 Nvidia Shield

1 Amazon Alexa

1 weather station monitoring display

Numerous Hue lights

1 USB 3 T network drive

I was replacing a decade old AirPort Extreme as Apple had discontinued support and I wanted more granular configurability. The replacing router arrived a day early and I spent the afternoon setting up to suit my needs.

Router configuration ( 10 years ago) was black magic, filled with frustrations and confusion. Not any more. ASUS has it dumbed down to a point if you can read and click, the basic configuration and connectivity is a 10 (or less) minute process. Once that is completed the fine tuning is next. I enabled the firewall and malware detection first. Malware protection is a huge plus and eliminates the need to run on individual devices.

After that I set various priorities. I made streaming video priority over other functions. I then enabled traffic monitoring so I could understand how much data was being used, by whom, what application etc.

Wi-Fi is a beast. I have excellent coverage in every room with signal strength of -38 dBm and 340 Mbs at most distant point.

Download speeds are consistently faster but that is subjective as my ISP may be having good days. I am paying for 25 Mbs download speeds and Analoti indicates I am getting between 20 and 50 most days.

Wi-Fi networks of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz are separate networks. 5 is faster but is an ‘in room’ network as 5 is always a weaker signal. It is nice to have the choice.

I had intended to run the WRT-Merlin firmware but the OEM is so good I see no reason to change.

I can recommend this router to anyone looking for a good sold performing device. ASUS RT-AC68U

Surely not —
Free TV — February 17, 2019

Free TV

I was asked again how to obtain ‘almost free’ TV and to keep it simple I will outline what I think is necessary. 

An internet connection with download speed of at least 10 Mbps. Check your speed at fast.com. 
An Android TV box. I recommend the best. Nvidia Shield. (Approx $200 on sale.)
A software package from one of the many providers. Currently TVZion is the best. These packages are free. In addition Cyberflix and Cinema work well. 
A real-debrid account. 16€ for 6 months. 
Optional. If you use TVZion a club membership. $15 for one year. 
Optional. A VPN client. I prefer NORDVPN. $3 monthly. 
Not absolutely necessary but a quality router will make a difference. Typically the wifi router your ISP provides is crap. 
So, there is no free TV. However with the above you can have equivalent or better quality than Netflix. The key to the quality is a real-debrid account and adequate download speed. 
Trusting crow — January 30, 2019

Trusting crow

A good friend refers to my GPS as crow. When we are traveling he has been known to ask, “what does crow say?”. I just returned from Halifax where I relied on crow to lead me around. I asked crow to take me from Lady Hammond Drive to Hobsons Lake Drive, a distance of 9 km. She (crow speaks with a female voice) took me to a vacant lot in a scary section of town. A U-turn allowed crow to collect her wits and she correctly led me to my intended location.

I just updated the maps on my GPS. A 6.5 G download.

Don’t blame me — January 27, 2019

Don’t blame me

…but I can’t cook. I am of a generation that men did not learn to cook. I grew up in a home where my Mom did the cooking and to my regret, I was not taught this critical skill.

Due to unforeseen circumstances Herself has been unable to prepare meals for a while and while we muddled through, it emphasized a deficient in my life skills.

Thus, despite an instinct to avoid following the latest trends, we invested $99 in an Instant Pot. I can read instructions and I can push buttons. Magic!

w

I am not judging — January 25, 2019

I am not judging

CNN just reported that the majority of US Government employees do not have sufficient savings to manage missing one pay cheque.

The Huffington Post reports, “In 2014, the average federal employee salary was $84,153, approximately 50% more than the average private sector worker earned. This discrepancy increases to 78% when benefits are included. The average federal worker costs the government (aka taxpayers) $119,934.Dec 21, 2015“.

For perspective various organizations report 3 1/4 million people in Canada live in poverty.

Neuvoo reports, “The average Government salary in Canada is $47,150 per year or $24.18 per hour. Entry level positions start at $23,400 per year while most experienced workers make up to $80,155 per year”.

Just another comparison stat, Neuvoo also reports, “The average Family Physician salary in Canada is $195,000 per year or $100 per hour. Entry level positions start at $20,000 per year while most experienced workers make up to $331,500per year.”

Again — January 20, 2019
Router — December 30, 2018

Router

Apple has discontinued production of the Airport router and while I have been satisfied with mine it is getting old and it is probably prudent to start the process of looking for a replacement. If anyone here is technically inclined I welcome any suggestions. 

My networks looks like this:

The AirPort Extreme is situated at one end of our house and is the gateway to the Xplornet modem. I have Airport Express extenders in the detached garage and opposite end of house. The garage is not critical. 

To my surprise my WiFi serves 11 devices. Most are low data requirements but a couple of items are data intensive. I use approximately 300 gigs of data each month. 

I would like the ability to manage priority. For instance if streaming TV I would prefer giving priority to that device / protocol over other activities that may use the network. While not critical it would be convenient to be able to run a VPN at the router level as compared to each device. 
The choices available seem overwhelming but at this point Google WiFi Mesh looks good (but expensive). Recommendations are welcome.