gadget

Where To Find Tech News for IoT, Wareables, Smartphones and #yourlifeintech

The Internet is a big place and finding tech news online about #yourlifeintech isn’t hard but finding good, interesting, news sources is another story.

Maybe you want to read more about IoT, or perhaps you’re more interested wareables than Internet security or you’re just interested in how technology is tangling itself throughout culture or just looking for the latest news in the war on encryption.

Now it’s your turn to share! Below is a list of online news sources that we used to discover news, reviews and articles for the #yourlifeintech weekly digest. Each morning take a quick browse through the headlines and if you discover something fun, interesting or absolutely amazing share the link with us on Twitter @binarybound or post it to the binarybound facebook page.

#yourlifeintech /news, articles

#yourlifeintech /reviews

#yourlifeintech /art, music, fiction

Oh, and here are some of Today’s Headlines

*If you’re a content publisher and would you like us to consider your site for #yourlifeintech then please send an email to /editor/at/binarybound/com/ with the URL.

I Survived Two Days Without My Apple Watch And It Didn’t Bother Me

Having forgot to drop my Apple Watch on the charger Friday night, I woke up Saturday morning looking at a 3% battery alert. So I ughed and shrugged and snapped it onto the magnetic charger then enjoyed the first day of Spring sitting in the warm sun reading a Paulo Coelho book over a cup of coffee for a few hours. I could you give you the old-school Twitter play-by-play update of the rest morning, but it ends with me standing in Home Depot after lunch realizing that I completely forgot about my charging Apple Watch and it didn’t bother me. Why is this I wondered? and then I started thinking about what I actually use my $399 Apple Watch for.

Date & Time + weather
Outside of the obvious date and time, the weather complication on the watch face was the first feature of my Apple Watch that I missed most. Although, I did have my iPhone in my back pocket, just a quick twist of the wrist and seeing the current temperature is a really awesome convenience. Plus, with a quick tap on the temperature I can view the hourly forecast for temp, precipitation, hourly and 10-day outlook.

Watch Faces
The next feature that I absolutely missed about my Apple Watch are the watch faces. Even though they are just “okay” compared to some of the faces I have seen for Android Wear devices and the Apple Watch Hermes edition, I like having the option of matching a face to an outfit, event or function. Lately weather has been crazy and making that the focus of my watch has been invaluable, where as other times, a simple clock face has reduced stress by putting less emphasis on time, appointments and activity circles.

Activity Rings
I have to admit that I am addicted to these little colorful rings. Being at a desk all day long as a programmer I tend to forget to stand, stretch and walk as much as I probably should, as well as eat sometimes, and my Apple Watch does a terrific job keeping me on track. It’s not perfect, but it keeps me a bit more motivated than when I didn’t have it around for the last two days.

Text Messages
Yes and no. I did miss receiving text messages, but because Siri has her challenges I rarely use my Apple Watch to actually respond or initiate messages. At times I try and try again with her, but the user experience of replying to messages trips itself up with too many options that eventually require me to interact with the watch face using a finger. I feel these small issues are defeating the spirit of wearable technology requiring me to still depend on my iPhone to successfully reply-to or send a text message.

Apple Pay
Ha. Usually by the time I realize the merchant accepts Apple Pay, I already have my credit card in my hand ready to swipe and it’s more work to put the card back in my wallet just to use my watch. I have a friend @bryanlewis who absolutely loves Apple Pay and uses it all the time without any hiccups; just has not been my experience.

Siri
She never even crossed my mind. LMAO! “I’m sorry James, that’s not very nice to say.” Unfortunately Siri on my Apple Watch is just as bad as Siri on my iPhone 6. Half of the time “Hey Siri” doesn’t work and the other half when it does work she doesn’t understand what I am saying or is pretty slow interpreting my words.

Third-party Apps
I honestly haven’t found many third-party apps very useful. The reason for this is the communication delay between the watch and the iPhone. I have found this to be a problem in watch apps like MLB AT-BAT, 7-minute workout, LoseIt! and Strava. The data just doesn’t keep in sync between the too devices reliably, for example MLB AT-BAT sends a notification to my phone of a game lead change. I see it on my phone, tap my watch face and the MLB At-BAT complication is a few innings behind. I tap it and open the watch app and the score is still not accurate or in sync with the iPhone notification.

Do I like my Apple Watch? Yes. I love how it looks, the watch faces are polished and fun and the complications add value to the user experience, but did I miss it? No.

Writers Wanted: Explore Your Geek And Write About #yourlifeintech

if you like  #homeautomation  then join the @binarybound team & about how you use modern  DM us on twitter @binarybound for more info about all the perks! or drop us an email at editor /a/t/ binarybound /c/o/m or complete the form below.

An Interview with the-gadgeteer, Julie Strietelmeier circa 1999

18_breakfastWhile scrolling through an old SQL file I stumbled into an interview I did with the-gadgeteer, Julie Strietelmeier and thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane, to an era where Palm was the biggest dinosaur in the gadget world scrimmaging with WindowsCE and playing with iPods and Zunes.

It wasn’t more than a year after the-gadgeteer launched her website, and while I was writing under the-palmguru brand, I had the opportunity to interview the ambitious, gadget-loving enthusiast, Julie Strietelmeier, and two years later, I met the gadgeteer herself at Microsoft’s Mobius group in Redmond.

This interview was originally published in March 1999. (Photo: circa 2001 at a Microsoft Cafe in Redmond, Washington eating breakfast with Rachel Luxemburg, myself, Michael Steinberg, the late Calvin O. Parker and the-gadgeteer).


gadgeteer

Julie Strietelmeier, aka The Gadgeteer, steps out of her red, 1997 GMC Sonoma pickup after her usual day job as a Software Engineering Technician and heads into her suburban Indiana home.

After greeting her Welsh Corgi, Kasey, and tossing a ball down the hall, Julie fires up her Dell, 400mhz, Windows based PC and logs onto the Internet. “Bing, Bing” the modem chirps. Kasey crooks her head, and the night-life of The Gadgeteer begins.

But how exactly did Julie get this job, that many of us envy — come on, checking out all the new, cool techno-products would be a dream for many gadget-obsessed people. However, it turns out that Julie just “walked” into reviewing products, and coined her name thanks to a few people at work.

“I was always coming into work with some new thing [gadget]. First it was the PalmPilot, then the WinCE PDA, and the people at work (only guys), always made fun me asking ‘What new gadget do you have today?'” Thus “The Gadgeteer” was born.

Starting back on Geocities, The Gadgeteer’s web site attracted an audience and niche-following that lead her to start a site using the domain name, www.the-gadgeteer.com. The new space, and branding of The Gadgeteer name, allowed Julie to review a wide variety of gadgets, including the REX, as well as the opportunity to expand her gadget-wants, sharing with me that “every time something new came out I wanted to review it”. When I asked Julie what she though made the Gadgeteer site a success, she answered, “people like [my] reviews because they [have] pictures and good content”.

Julie has been reviewing techno-gadgets as “The Gadgeteer” for about a year, and has written over 100 reviews on some of the coolest adult-toys from the introduction of Nintendo’s color GameBoy to our personal favorite (which some people would consider as their next of kin), the PalmPilot, et. al. — also her favorite gadget.

The Palm III has been Julie’s favorite gadget to review, speaking fondly of the device, “I like the Palm III because of the sheer number of 3rd party applications available — every time you turn around something new is available for it [the Palm III], making you more excited to show people the gadget”. She also likes her Palm III over other PDAs she has reviewed, that include the Newton, REX, Psion Series 5, DaVinci, and Casio E11, because it’s so easy to use — “I don’t think I have ever read the PalmPilot manual”.

“My favorite case is having it naked,” thus the perfect choice was the Slipper III (which she reviewed) by E&B Company, and Julie uses a PDA Panache Stylus to keep track of reviews in her To-Do app. And, if you want to be just like The Gadgeteer, than you need to download and register her favorite Palm OS app, Home by Shuji Fukumoto.

However, Julie seemed a bit concerned over Palm’s future, saying, “From what I hear about what’s happening with the two new models (4 and IIIx) — they seem pretty much the same as we have now,” adding, “with exception that the IIIx is suppose have a better screen, and the 4 is suppose to be more slim line”. I think that Julie speaks for many of us when she says, “I’m kind of worried that they [Palm Computing/3COM] aren’t making the Palm devices any more exciting than the 1000s were” and shockingly hinted that if something more exciting doesn’t come out soon, she might be “tempted to move on to something else for something different.”

When asked “If you could be the President of Palm Computing for one day what you do?”, Julie replied that she would first “tell them they had to change the display of the next generation PDAs and have a louder speaker that would be able to play music or something, like mpeg,” and then Julie added that she would change “the screen display. I would like it so it [the display] is the whole size of the unit, and have more resolution and be a little bigger”.

As life itself speeds you through its ups and downs, it wouldn’t be the virtual world most of us Palm users live in without a PDA horror story. Julie said that she had dropped her PalmPilot a couple of times, but nothing serious, and has never had one break. Of course, there’s always the opportunity for firsts, and just before Julie could knock on wood, she was reviewing a Palm OS product and “went to stoop down when it [the Palm device], batteries and memory door popped out and flew across my desk. I lost my data, but nothing was broken”.

Sometimes as readers (and users), we don’t take the opportunity to get to know the people behind the web sites we frequent for news, reviews, and software. So enough with this “gadgeteer” business and lets get to know the Julie Strietelmeier behind The Gadgeteer.

Personal Data Sheet:

Full Name: Julie Ann Strietelmeier
Born In: Indiana
Date of Birth: June 4
Astrological Sign: Gemini
Height: 5 foot 5.5 inches
Eye Color: Green
Hair Color: Auburn
Occupation: Software Engineering Technician
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Vanilla
Favorite Food: Mongolian Stir-fry
Favorite TV Program: Friends
Favorite Music Type: Acoustic guitar
Artist: John Denver (don’t laugh at me).
Favorite Movie: Sound of Music with Julie Andrews
Dream Vacation: The Smokey Mountians in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Dream Gadget:: Palm V sized unit with a color screen, voice recognition, voice recorder, wireless modem, compact flash slot, built in webcam, and built in gps.

As I wrapped up the interview, I asked Julie where she saw The Gagdeteer in the PDA market’s “big picture”, and she replied, “I see The Gadgeteer as the authority on reviews, ” and she added “I receive email messages each week from readers saying, “I bought this [product] because I read your review”. — I can’t think of a better way to end a day, or a better reward for a job well done.

Thanks Julie for all your hard work – we appreciate it.

###

It’s wild to think that I wrote this 17 years ago and I am still excited to recommend The Gadgeteer as a great website with quality reviews. And, once again Julie, thank you for all your hard work. Gadget enthusiasts around the world appreciate your thoughts, time and passion for technology.

How Many Hubs Does It Take To Control Your Smart Lightbulb?

None. HomeBrite’s smart LED lightbulbs setup with the flip of a switch, install of an app and pleasantly don’t need an additional hub for you to control them.

I have to admit that I wasn’t too interested in automating my home until I purchased my first HomeBrite LED bulb from Home Depot for $14.95. My lack of motivation was primarily the cost of entry and the fragmented nature of protocols from the ubiquitous Wi-fi and Bluetooth to the unfamiliar ZigBee, Insteon and ZWave. The more I looked into the idea, the more complicated and expensive it became. Every manufacturer has their own app to control their smart devices from light bulbs, door locks and egg containers to garage doors and security cameras. Then I found an app called Wink, as well as a website called IFTTT and I saw the world of home automation in all its powerful possibilities and convenience for the first time, but even better, everything I needed to start dabbling now had a small startup cost of $14.95 thanks to Feit Electric’s HomeBrite LED Smart light bulb.

Feit Electric (@feitElectricInc) isn’t a newcomer to the light bulb industry. They have been around since 1978 and chances are if you unscrew a light bulb in your house you’re going to find their name on it. HomeBrite, is their new venture. They describe it as “a Bluetooth Smart Mesh LED Lighting System offering consumers an exciting new way to personalize and control home lighting, from the palm of their hand.” Products include: dimmable LED bulbs, high-CRI Enhance LED bulbs, LED retrofit kits, and Linear LED Tube offerings.

How it works and How I used it
Unscrew your old light bulb then screw in the HomeBrite LED bulb. Through either the Apple’s App Store or Google’s Marketplace, download the HomeBrite app and once installed you’re ready to flip the switch and power-on. The HomeBrite LED bulb with flicker once. This indicates that it is working and available in the Mesh network, which is basically a LAN (local area network) of connected nodes. Thankfully, you don’t need an understanding of networks to use your light bulbs. All you need to know is how to flip on a light switch and use an app.

screen12The app, self-titled “homebrite”, will automatically scan the Mesh network and add any new bulbs it finds during startup before displaying a list of your bulbs. At first they will be named “Bulb1, Bulb2, etc” but you can easily rename them to something that makes sense to you. I have one named “Bedroom – Dresser”, as well as two others named “Living Room – Fireplace” and “Living Room – Chair”.

The list view will display a lightbulb icon so you can quickly recognize the bulb type, as well as a slider where you can adjust the bulb’s brightness and a power-icon. I found that the more bulbs you connected the more valuable this view became versus the apps default wheel view. The default wheel view fills the enter screen with a lovely dashed circle representing the bulbs brightness. It easier to adjust this feature and wiping the screen to the right and left toggles between all the bulbs but as you can imagine the more bulbs you have makes this view less attractive from usability perspective. Sometimes it’s just faster to pick from a list or group.

screen9After I got my third bulb I set up some groups. The first group of bulbs was for the living room. Through HomeBrite’s group settings I added “Living Room – Fireplace” and “Living Room – Chair” to a group titled “Living Room”. The advantage to doing is that I can now control all the bulbs in the “Living Room” at the same time. If the mood strikes, I can quickly dim all the lights in the room with the slide of a finger. Putting bulbs in a group doesn’t mean that I can’t control them individually either. If am I reading on the couch and the “Living Room – Fireplace” bulb is distracting from the fire then I can easily view the list of bulbs and tap the power-icon to turn one in the group off.  By turning it off outside the group settings I won’t then change the group setting for that bulb.

My favorite features of the HomeBrite app, however, are scheduling and setting timers. You can can schedule an individual bulb or a group of bulbs. I use this feature to control the “Bedroom – Dresser” bulb to automatically come on at 6:25 AM. On these darker winter mornings, it makes it a lot easier to wake up in a bright room. I also have the same bulb scheduled to come on at 5:03 PM so when I get home the bedroom isn’t dark. The only big downside that I found with scheduling is that you can’t control the brightness, so your bulbs will come back on at the previous brightness level last set.

screen15

Sometimes, if you know you’re heading to bed or leaving a room early and just don’t want the lights left on, you can override the schedule by selecting the individual bulb from the wheel view and turning on a timer. It’s easy and amazing how often I use this feature. Since it’s a one-off action, the timer settings do not effect any room or bulb schedules or scenes. Scenes simply modify a groups setting.

Unfortunately, one other downside is that these Bluetooth bulbs do not connect to the Internet. If they did, you could set a savvy schedule through IFTTT so when you arrive home (at a specific GPS location) the “Living Room” group of bulbs will turn on. Although, Bluetooth can interface with Wi-Fi networks and maybe through a HomeBrite firmware update, Wink or Smart Things Hub this one day could be possible. Until then we are stuck in a more or less static schedule realm, which is still cool and I don’t have to remember to turn my living room lights off before I call it night and go to bed.

screen17But, what happens if the person controlling the lights with their phone isn’t home? You can still turn the bulbs on and off like a normal light. However each time the bulb is turned back on at the switch it will blink once. this could get annoying which is why I avoided installing the bulbs in locations where on/off frequency was high. You can also create an account through the HomeBrite app and save your apps settings to the “cloud” and then someone else can install the app on their phone and using the same login could also control the bulbs as well as configurations. It’s not an ideal solution but it works.

The app works well but has some bugs and room for improvement. One bug is that the bulb’s state is not always accurately represented. This is more obvious when viewing a group of bulbs than viewing the individual list of bulbs. Another bug is sometimes the app won’t discover the Mesh network and require your phone’s Bluetooth to be turned on and off. These bugs are certainly are not deal breakers in my opinion and as HomeBrite’s smart-product line grows I am sure we will see the app mature not only in design and user experience but also reliability.

Pros

  • Easy Bluetooth setup.
  • No account needed for basic use.
  • Affordable.
  • LED bulbs will last 25,000 hours. That’s more than 22-years based upon the average use of 3-hours per day.
  • Easy sharing with other family members if settings are synced with HomeBrite account.

Cons

  • UI/UX of app doesn’t support Retina screens.
  • Schedules don’t support dimming.
  • Syncing settings back to your account is not automatic.
  • Only can control through a Bluetooth Mesh network where your phone needs to be in the same area in order to control.
  • No HomeKit integration

What it could do better
Again, the bulb itself is perfect. The app, however, could use some smarter UI/UX design.

Buy or Not buy?
Definitely buy; maybe even 3 or 4.

Source
Purchased product at Home Depot $14.95/ea

Website
http://www.feit.com/homebrite/

Online Support
http://www.feit.com/homebrite/homebrite-support.html