IoT Idea: A Smarter Pet Door

LabradorBlackSome years ago I installed a MaxSeal pet door into one of the French doors that leads into my home office. This lets Shadow & Gwen wander in and out over the course of the work day. I opted for their dual-flap model, which aims to be more weather-tight. We get heavy rain, and there’s no point in attempting to air condition the back yard.

In general, we’re very happy with the pet door. Where “we” are the two quadrupeds, who like their independence, and the bipeds who don’t want to be pestered about every possible coming or going.

If there’s one complaint I have about the dog door it’s the clatter it makes when it closes. Each flap has six metal clips that swing past magnets embedded in the aluminum frame. This acts as a brake for the flapping action, and holds it closed between ingress/egress events.

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Tip: Faking an HDMI Connection

FITPC-HeadlessLast week I once again saw a need to share the output of an Android device. As I’ve described previously, this requires the use of an HDMI splitter to feed both a monitor and the HDMI capture card in my vMix PC. The monitor satisfies that HDCP handshake, which allows the PC to see the video stream.

However, there are times when it’s just not convenient or practical to have an extra monitor involved. This came up recently in a thread in the Wirecast support forum. Someone wants to capture the screen of a number of Mac Mini’s in order to bring multiple Skype video calls into a streaming production. They run the Mac Mini’s headless, accessing the Mac desktops using a software screen sharing application.

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Rant: If I had a time machine…

TARDISA few weeks ago I tweeted that if I had a time machine I’d travel back and ensure that the speakerphone was never invented. It’s a vile thing whose use is seldom justified. It degrades communication and damages relationships. This story is an example of how this can occur.

My tweet met with response from Doug Mohney. He noted that such an action would likely put Polycom out of business. I doubt that. I appreciate conference phones. Given the presence of a group their use is completely justified. It’s an individual using a speakerphone that makes my blood boil.

My tweet was inspired by a terrible experience on a recent conference call. The experience is worth sharing, so that you might avoid such aggravation, or worse cause someone else the same sort of outrage.

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1More: My New Best Buds..Maybe.

1More Triple Driver EarphonesI’ve long been, and to this day remain a fan of the Etymotic Research line of earphones. In fact, I had three product generations from them. Most recently their HF5’s which remain my favorite noise reducing earphones. That said, in recent times I don’t find myself in need of noise reducing earphones as much as in the past. After 20 years of routine business travel, in 2013 I gave up my relationship with the airlines in favor of a continuous home life.

So when my current set of HF5’s started looking a little worn out it I occurred to me that I could try something new and different. That was about a year ago. While I was curious about some of the multi-driver Shure IEMs their >$300 price point put them out of reach.

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Signal-to-Noise: Some Thoughts About Unboxing

unboxThe internet is for cat videos. It’s true. Well, it’s largely true. I’d say that unboxing videos rank right up there with cats. YouTube reports that it has 41.5 million unboxing videos! I admit that I simply don’t understand the phenomenon of unboxing videos.

You’ve never seen an unboxing video hereabouts. I could certainly do them, we have the tools, but I don’t think they deliver any value. I can see no reason to share what is actually a pretty commonplace activity.

If you wanted to know what was in the box, being a thinking person, you’d research the manufacturer’s web site, or perhaps check with a reseller. What’s in the box is usually easily determined. It yields little insight into the product.

I suppose it’s easy to do, and garners some attention for those who make the effort. What do you think? Are unboxing videos useful? Or below the noise floor?

Cats like boxes. I suppose that might be why there are so many unboxing videos online. There are even videos of cats in boxes. Ours would not pose for me.

BoomStick or BoomSchtick?

It’s Monday as I begin to set these bytes in order, so I may be predisposed to be extra crotchety.  Consider yourselves warned.

Today’s news dump was largely unremarkable, with a singular exception thus far; Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff penned a sort of mini-review of an audio enhancement gadget called the BoomStick.

boomstick

Various aspects of the this piece cause me concern. It’s basically hollow. For example, the author offers:

“According to the manufacturers, it can enhance virtually any audio source with a built an advanced digital signal processor (ADSP) that includes psychoacoustic base adjustment, spatial enhancement and high-frequency contouring. They all combine to, BoomCloud 360 claims, reveal latent audio qualities — things that can get masked in a sound mix. “

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