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Comment: Not all devices are ready for the real world (Score 1) 180

by Turmoyl (#46639949) Attached to: A Third of Consumers Who Bought Wearable Devices Have Ditched Them
I tried out the Jawbone UP band in its first generation, and it was a disaster. The smartphone apps that were designed for it were severely lacking; for example, food items had to be (slowly) downloaded for every meal you wanted to input. My first band stopped syncing after 10 days, and two resets did not fix it. Jawbone sent me a replacement band, but it was the wrong size. They finally got me the correct band, but it would not sync at all.

As if that wasn't enough to trash the whole experience, the online seller I had initially purchased the UP from would not process my refund. This was due to me previously following Jawbone's instructions upon the first RMA return, meaning that I had already sent them the original packaging, etc. it turns out that they won't accept returns from their channel partners without the packaging, so this put my seller in a pickle. After several emails and phone calls I was not able to straighten any of this out, and ended up charging the purchase back via my credit card issuer. I know that stuffed the seller, but I feel that the issue lies purely between him and Jawbone, so I will let them figure out it.

When this is someone's first experience with wearables it is not hard to understand why their adoption and usage rates are low right now. I will not get into another wearable until both the manufacturers and their products mature.

Comment: Th eMinnowboard has many issues (Score 1) 214

by Turmoyl (#44905145) Attached to: Intel Rolls Out Raspberry Pi Competitor
We were just playing with freshly unboxed Minnowboards at LinuxCon, and it was not a pleasant experience. Here are he issues we uncovered as a group:

1) The boards do not boot consistently. It sometimes requires reseating power and/or the SD card multiple times.

2) The included parts kit has a 3 Ohm resistor instead of 3k Ohm, so the included LED will not light up with what's in the box.

3) The Atom chip runs quite hot, enough for the other side of the board to be uncomfortable to touch. This is despite the huge heatsink on it. I cannot imagine this processor ever being used in a mobile, battery-powered device.

4) The GPIO ports are as flaky as they come. High one moment and low the next despite no input and no touching.

When you add in that this unit costs more than 6x what the high end Raspberry Pi does, or twice with Adafruit's whole Pi kit does, I cannot find a reason to like the Minnowboard.

Comment: Google Voice rocks for this (Score 1) 242

by Turmoyl (#43601485) Attached to: The Balkanization of Chatting
I've been using Google Voice for texting and call forwarding for several months now, and it is flawless except for not yet working with email-to-SMS (which has only caused a problem twice so far, with a workaround available in both instances).

The associated Android app works nicely, making this a no-brainer for me. It's also wonderful to be able to type a text on a full-sized keyboard while using the Google Voice site.

Comment: Re:Is there really a use case for single-providers (Score 1) 100

by Turmoyl (#43541669) Attached to: Amazon Reportedly Working On Set-Top Box
I hear you, and the absolutely limited experience that the entire Kindle line offers (e.g. the Kindle Fire HD, which is all things Amazon to the exclusion of all things Google, even though it's running on a (severely outdated) Google OS) does not bode well for a set-top box, especially when it has to compete with totally usable, cheap, all-in-one solutions like the Roku line.

Comment: I know how I would use Google Glass (Score 1) 496

by Turmoyl (#43427981) Attached to: Not Even Investors Know What Google Glass Is For
It's too early to tell what we will and will not be able to do with Glass, but I have have imagined how I'd use it:

1) GPS overlay while driving. I bet some folks will balk at this idea at first, but what's worse, taking your eyes off the road to look at a small screen, or having it overlaid (unobtrusively, of course) over some or all of your field of vision?

2) Access to the Internet is so locked down where I work that BYOD has been the employee's saving grace. I would rock Glass while at my desk as I could interact with the things I want without having to go for my tablet. This, of course, depends on how well I can control Glass by hand. The only time you will ever find me giving voice commands to Glass is on the trail, and even then only when hand commands are simply impractical.

3) Many desktop-based games do their damnedest to trap focus in the game window. It would be easier to do things like look up or track game info within my field of vision. The same would apply by default to console gaming.

IMHO Glass, and things like it, are a natural progression heading towards wetwiring. Mainframe -> desktop -> laptop -> phones and tablets -> wearable -> implantable.

Comment: Re:Sad day (Score 1) 299

by Turmoyl (#43351317) Attached to: Disney Closes LucasArts
That sad day already came and went many times in the past. Here are two previous examples:

I'll never forget when I was in the SW:G beta. My wife asked me one day how I felt the game was coming along. I replied that it still had 6, maybe 8 months to go, and how it would be wonderful if the devs were given as much as 11 months. The very next morning I had an email from SOE/LucasArts letting me know that it was going retail in two weeks. It was a true "WTF?!" moment, and we all know how things turned out for SW:G.

Fast forward to SW:TOR. Yay! Another SW MMO, but it's being done with gaming companies that I trust to deliver a decent experience with or without LucasArt's involvement. Imagine my shock during the pre-order phase of the beta when I discovered that those low-rez, low-detail toons from the early footage were the actual retail experience, along with a questionable physics engine, very little PvP content, etc. This wonderful intro was followed closely by the much-feared patch & nerf cycle that has plagued other MMOs, and that some game companies just can't seem to move past. I managed to hang on for four months because I wanted to like it, but I just couldn't do it.

My only surprise is that it took this long for someone to shut LucasArts down.

Comment: It all depends on the driver... (Score 2, Informative) 53

by Turmoyl (#43297785) Attached to: AMD Reveals Radeon Sky Series For Cloud Gaming, Previews Radeon HD 7990
Just as has been the story with ATI (now AMD) for more than a decade, it simply does not matter what kind of hardware they produce if they can't write a driver that is solid enough for things like gaming and GPGPU. No one is going to be satisfied with buggy GL, screen tears, etc., and things like that wreak absolute havoc on GPGPU solutions.

I have tried ATI cards several times over the years only to be repeatedly disappointed to the point of returning them. Returns are so common that Newegg, who does not easily take returns, does not bat an eyelash when it comes to accepting an ATI/AMD card back.

Without me saying a word my GPGPU guys recently had me convert their lone ATI/AMD-based system over to Nvidia due to these long-running driver issues. Unless/until AMD can definitively demonstrate that they have broken this poor coding cycle, and will not allow it to occur again, I simply cannot and will not recommend their GPU products to anyone regardless of the specs, hype, or pretty boxes.

Comment: Re:Emulate (Score 1) 233

by Turmoyl (#42957299) Attached to: Full Review of the Color TI-84 Plus
I'm sure that this is true in many settings, but my Pre-Calculus I instructor at a community college allows me to use Algeo Calculator on my Nexus 7 for tests. This says a lot as he is older, and technically challenged. He made it clear what my limitations with the device are, thereby giving me enough rope to hang myself. I appreciate his trust, and will not take advantage of it.

My large screen, auto-scaling, color graphing and pinch zooming are envied by many of my fellow TI-using students.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.