Ooohhh! This looks cool: USB Charger with a Built-in Ethernet Adapter!

USB-OTG is very handy. It allows someone to connect a variety of different USB devices to a tablet or mobile phone. Most often I’ve made use of a simple USB OTG cable to connect a flash drive or USB headset to one of my devices.

You can also use a USB hub to connect multiple devices, all while keeping the tablet powered. I have on occasion connected a USB headset or Blue Yeti microphone. These I use in conjunction with Audio Tool.

Today I discovered that Google offers a USB charger that has a built-in Ethernet adapter. Called the Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast, it’s just $15 from the play store!

Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast

This is fantastic since it eliminates reliance upon WiFi as the primary means of connectivity! That could make many things, admittedly obtuse things, that I might wish to try more reliable. As I’ve stated previously, wherever possible I prefer to leverage Ethernet over WiFi.

I simply had to have one of these for use with my new nVidia Shield K1 tablet! There’s an open question as to whether it will work with the K1, It only delivers 850 mA, which may not be enough for some devices. At just $15 it’s a risk I’m willing to take. More news to follow once the goody arrives.

Ye Ha! NoMo WEMO!!

About 18 months ago I succumb to my impulsive side and purchased a Belkin WEMO LED Light Starter Kit. That kit included the WEMO interface and two of their Zigbee remote controlled light bulbs. Since I had “grand plans” I also ordered another six WEMO bulbs.

I must admit that I had my doubts about Belkin‘s WEMO offerings, but since the starter kit was just $25 at the time, I thought it worth a try. With just $120 invested in WEMO I sought to revisit remote controlled lights for my office, and perhaps elsewhere in the house.

Jumping ahead in time….I’m very pleased to report that I recently sold that collection of WEMO products to a neighbor, recouping about a quarter of my original investment!

Seriously, that WEMO lighting was some of the most infuriating tech to cross my path in recent years. I cannot believe that a big company would offer such a cheesy product.
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Some Thoughts About Grandstream

In VUC625: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly I offered Grandstream as an example of a company going in a good direction. I didn’t start out feeling this way. This post describes my history with their products, and the evolution of my opinion about the company.

Voice: The Early Impression

grandstreamBT-101The very first Grandstream product I even held in my hands was the infamous BT-101. It was possibly the very first affordable SIP hard phone, which is why a friend bought one. Beyond merely affordable, it was cheap. Everything about it was cheap, which tainted my view of the company.

To be fair, there were a lot of really bad SIP desk phones at that time. Grandstream’s strategy was to own the entry level space, which they did, handily.

As a result of that initial experience with the BT-101, I actually bought a snom 200.

It wasn’t long before I was gifted (yes, gifted!) a Polycom Soundpoint IP600. That device won me over completely. It was superior in every way. It lived on my desk for years, not displaced until the Soundpoint IP650 brought HDVoice to my attention.

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Netgear Routers Hailed as Dangerous – Here are some alternatives worth considering

netgear-R7000CERT, a US Federal government agency tasked with cyber-security research, has issued an alert advising consumers to stop using various models of Netgear routers. These devices are subject to a trivially simple command injection exploit. Ars Technica has a nice overview of the matter.

Normally I’d have literally nothing to say about this, since it simply doesn’t impact us. Wanna know why it doesn’t impact us?

We don’t use a consumer router that runs closed source firmware.  We don’t think that you should either. In fact, you probably shouldn’t let your friends and family use that junk either.

Perhaps this holiday season, and all of the travelling & visiting that goes along with it, presents an opportunity to help someone unsuspecting secure their home network.

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A Lament for the 3.5mm Mini Jack

It seems that Apple has pressed the world into abandoning one of the oldest standard connectors still in use, the 3.5mm mini-jack. Apple, Samsung and others are now offering mobile phones sans mini-jack, much to the delight of the Bluetooth Consortium and those who make adapter dongles.

I’m not going to waste any more ink, digital or otherwise, with respect to the logic of abandoning the ubiquitous little connector. Enough has been wasted on that already, and it changed no one’s mind.

Nexus 5 top

That said, I am able to comment on the shoddy state of the 3.5mm jack in the past generation of mobile phones. The mini-jack on two of my last three my last mobile phones became defective. Both of those phones, a Nexus 4 and Nexus 5, were made by LG, so perhaps the problem is specific to them.

I have other devices that don’t seem to suffer this fault routinely. Of course, it’s also possible that I don’t used a wired headset as much with those devices. Still, over the years I can’t recall as many simple mechanical failures of the mini-jack as I’ve seen with recent mobile phones.

My suspicion is that the lowly mini-jack simply doesn’t get much respect. In the drive to pack more junk into ever thinner handsets, the elderly connector gets squeezed to the point where it’s mechanical integrity can’t be sustained. It’s not a complicated thing. I suspect it’s just gets ignored. Even under-engineered.

It’s a pity since there very reason that the mini-jack has survived this long is the fact that it can be both robust and cost effective. Not to mention that fact that there are millions of existing headsets that use the little devil.

If someone should decide to not include a mini-jack, I get that. I may not agree, but I understand the decision. To include a poor implementation is another matter entirely.

Undecided: Replacing a Nexus 7 Tablet

Nexus-7-2013 360pxUntil very recently I was seriously committed to Google’s Nexus line of devices. From the Galaxy Nexus onward, with just one exception, I carried a Nexus Series mobile phone.

I was so happy with the Galaxy Nexus, and Nexus 4 after it, that I jumped on the first generation of the Nexus 7 tablet in 2012. Similarly, my experience with that tablet was good enough that I bought the Nexus 7 2013 edition immediately upon it’s launch.

Later, when Google stopped offering them, I even bought a spare! I regret not purchasing the HSPA+ capable version when I saw it offered by Expansys at a discount.

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