Archive page for April 2017

I have several Hue "smart" light bulbs in my home. One thing that frustrates me about how they work is that they don't behave like regular light bulbs when there is a power outage.

With a non-smart lamp, you physically turn a light on and off, so if you have the lamp off and there is a power outage, the light will not just turn on when power is restored. The same cannot be said about smart lights like Hue, instead they turn on to max brightness the instant power is restored.

Imagine having one of these lights in your bed room and being woken in the middle of the night. 

The problem is that the on/off state of the light bulb is controlled by either a hub or the bulb itself. Yet, you are putting these bulbs in normal lamps with a physical switch. The manufacturers are concerned that in an emergency, if one where to try the turn on the light after a power outage by using the lamp's switch, they would not be able to do so.

I personally don't understand this safety concern, because not responding to the lamp's switch is actually how the light normally works. If a Hue light is off and you flip the switch on the lamp and flip it again, nothing happens, the light does not turn on. So, under normal circumstances the safety concern manufacturers claim to preventing against is in fact the default condition. 

So, I think smart bulb manufactures should give users the control over deciding the default state after a sudden disruption of power.  In the bedroom, I want to configure the bulb to default to off and stay off until I manually go into the app and turn it back on. 

I am playing with Docker Windows containers and I am really surprised by the size of the container image files. The Windows containers also run much slower than Linux containers.

Microsoft has revealed what it is doing with Wunderlist, it is replacing it with something they are calling Microsoft To-Do. Microsoft, Android, iPhone, and web apps are available today. 

I don't understand why Microsoft needs to replace Wunderlist, I guess they found it too difficult to integrate with Office 365. The preview version currently available is very limited, it just has a single to-do list and a My Day filter view of that list. The preview version does not work with Work and School versions of Office 365. 

Historically, To-Do list functionality has always been a gap for Microsoft. For example, the Outlook Android and iOS apps do not have a to-do list even though it exists in Outlook and Exchange. 

Even back to Windows Mobile and Pocket PC, while Microsoft provided a To-Do app it never worked with Exchange. The gap has been left to third party providers to fill. 

I will be watching to see how fast Microsoft adds functionality to this app and when it provides integration with Office 365. 

Nixnote is an open source Linux client for Evernote. I have it installed and it is synchronizing to my MintBox as I write this. 

BTW, the first note I wrote in Evernote was on March 17, 2008. I nearly have a decade worth of information in Evernote.

I installed Dropbox on my MintBox but the system tray icon was not appearing. Apparently this is a known problem with Mint and I created a new Startup command using the information on this page

If you browse my Geekbench profile you will quickly notice that I do not use what most will consider to be high-end computers. The best rated computer is my old work computer (a ProBook 6460b) that I got more than six years ago. Unfortunately my new work computer, an EliteBook 745 G3, is much slower than the computer it replaces, although it is much thinner and lighter.

I've become re-acquainted with the Acer C720 through my experimentation with GalliumOS, and I am surprised to find to be as fast as newer computers that I own. 

Looking back at when I ordered the Acer, it only cost me $100 after using reward points, and that has turned out to be a really good purchase. Even at the $249 full retain price, it would have been well worth the price. 

Putting a Linux distro on the C720 makes it even more useful than it was running ChromeOS. I get all the ChromeOS functionality via Chromium and gain the ability to run Linux UI and command line apps. I've installed Nodejs to run River5 and I've installed Docker and pulled containers.

One big constraint is the limited disk space, the Acer C720 only has 16 GB of storage. I have found that you can replace that 16 GB SSD with a pretty inexpensive 128 GB SSD that I ordered from Newegg for $44. 

I've found installation instructions for replacing the SSD, it looks like the biggest challenge will be prying the back cover off after removing all the screws. Cracking open the case will void the warranty, but again, I only paid $100 for this thing! 

I've been running GalliumOS on my Acer C720 for a few days now, and I am really enjoying the experience. One problem that I did uncover is the lack of Page Up and Page Down keys. 

Part of the problem is caused by the C720 being designed to be a Chromebook because its keyboard does not have dedicated Page Up and Page Down keys. Nor does it have Home and End keys. 

ChromeOS provides keyboard shortcuts as replacements, Right Alt + the Up arrow for Page Up, Right Alt + the down arrow for Page Down. However, despite the fact that GalliumOS has a keyboard mapper with a default setting for Chromebooks, the settings don't work. 

Fortunately, I have found a fix to the problem that involves running a set of commands found on this page. The fix does  not enable the Right Alt as the overlay key, but I have found that I can enable the Search key (which is placed where one normally finds Caps Lock) and that works just fine for me. I am just happy to get Page Up and Down back! 

Anbox enables one to run Android apps on Linux. Given that ChromeOS is based on a Linux kernel I wonder how different this solution is to the Android support that Google is adding to Chrome OS.

I've installed GalliumOS on my Acer C720 Chromebook, and I have to say that I am very impressed at how fast it runs. With Chromium, its as functional as a regular Chromebook, with the added benefit of a full Linux distro based on Ubuntu.

Here is a good article that describes the install process. One downside that after the installation all I have is 9 GB of storage space. 

I've installed git and nodejs and successfully tested an installation of River5. I've also installed Sublime, Standard Notes, and Skype beta. 

Alexa can finally change the color of Hue lights. I've never understood why it could not change the colors, and I never got IFTTT to work properly.

Tried Flint OS on the Raspberry Pi, and it didn't go well. Flint OS kept shutting down and rebooting. Might keep an eye ball on it to see if it improves over time. 

Should we stop to consider whether the Supreme Court nominations are worth the scorched-earth tactics the Republicans have employed over the last two years? 

Looks like Google is acquiring Spotify. I've been a paid subscriber of Spotify for several years and enjoy the service, so I really hope that Google does not screw it up. 

Sigh.... looks like I got suckered by an April fools prank.

Jean-Louis Gassée says that the iPad turnaround has begun, pointing to the iPad Pro and predicting more powerful iPads are in the future. In effect, he is saying that the iPad is the future of real personal computing.

As I expected, most of the big name IPSs are making statements that they will not sell customer data. What about metadata? 

Getting ready to join episode 2000 of the MobileViews podcast. Here are my notes for the podcast