After carrying Nexus phones for years I bought a Google Pixel in December 2016. That was just after the Pixel 2 was released, so the older Pixel was priced well and still offered great performance.
I was very pleased with the Pixel until quite recently. The OTA update to Android 9 (Pie) in August has been a huge step backward. Since that update the phone’s battery life has been dramatically reduced. Where it once lasted all day with my typical usage, it now lasts only about 7 hours with only light usage. Further, the phone is often noticeably warm to the touch.
Being the inquisitive sort, I’ve done some experiments to try and find out why this is happening. There are no rogue apps running. Or at least the OS reports no app using more that 2-3% of battery power.
I put the phone in Safe Mode for a day so only the factory installed apps would run. Battery life remained abysmal. That suggests that the problem is not caused by an app at all.
I’ve come to believe that I’ve identified the source of the problem. It’s related to the Wi-Fi. If I turn off the Wi-Fi the battery life is closer to what was experiencing running Oreo. Turn it back on and it plummets.
This post arises from a question posed by someone via Quora. I’m not all that engaged with that Q&A platform, but this question seemed novel, so I offered an answer. I thought the answer worth sharing in a little more depth, so I offer it here as well.
The question was, “How can I use the RTSP stream from an IP camera as a source for a WebRTC application?”
There are two parts to solving this puzzle; (1) Connect to the RTSP stream and (2) Make it appear like a webcam to the client application.
Obvious Answer: vMix
At the outset, let me say that I would address this using vMix. vMix solves both parts of the puzzle handily. If this is all that you needed to achieve, the $60 Basic HD license would suffice.
Of course, you’d need to learn a little about the application, which is deep. To my mind it’s fun, but some might find it daunting. Further, vMix requires a considerable host platform. You’re not going to run it on trivial hardware.
Let’s just say that we’d like to solve the problem with less spending and requiring less knowledge overhead.
Less Obvious Answer: VLC & NDI Tools
VLC is the ubiquitous, open source media player. Available on all platforms it can play anything I’ve every wanted to open. Beyond files, it can open network streams. I’ve used it to listen to my local PBS radio station. I’ve also used it to watch video streams from our Grandstream surveillance cameras, as shown below.
Here’s a cute new widget from Compulab, makers of my beloved Airtop-PC. A first glance, fit-statUSB looks like a very small USB memory key, but it’s actually a programmable color status LED.
Costing just $12 this wee LED looks like a serial port to the host computer. You can send simple commands to the com port to set its color, brightness, make it sequence, etc.
It’s easy to think of many possible use-cases. I can imagine a rack of gear where a servers process status is indicated by a front mounted fit-statUSB. When a critical process goes down the LED indicates this immediately, without requiring a sophisticated management or monitoring system. Just a few scripts.
Might be fun to play with one (some?) of these one day soon.
Of course, all this was before the now ubiquitous Raspberry Pi was released. It makes sense that someone would try that low-cost SBC as a host for Asterisk. However, there hasn’t been much hardware support for that effort until recently.
Today I read that SwitchPi is now offering modular and multi-port FXO/FXS interfaces, as well as a GSM interface.
OAK8X base module (4 onboard Asterisk FXO channels) $130
OAK8X base module with 8 channels (8 Asterisk channels, 4 FXO plus 4FXS) $180
OAK8X base module with 8 channels (8 Asterisk channels, 8 FXO) $180
We’d all like a deal, right? Most especially a better deal on something that you have to buy anyway, like car insurance. So it was that a couple of weeks ago I succumb to an online ad for EverQuote, a company that purports itself as disrupting the insurance business. I regret the decision to try the service. It was a moment of weakness that haunts me still.
We’ve been with the same company for auto insurance for a long time. They are not the company that has our household insurance. I had thought that it would be worth the time, on a Saturday morning, to see if this disruptive young startup could provide me with a couple of quotes. My hope was that, with just a few minutes at the keyboard (actually my phone in this case) I’d have some insight as to whether we were paying too much.
Last evening I stumbled upon a couple of interesting things on YouTube. Dodoid is a channel run by a young man who seems to have a thing for old technology, in particular computers from SGI. He has accumulated a series he calls, “The Complete History of SiliconGraphics (1982 – 2009)” It’s a nice romp through some history reminds me of the early parts of my working life.
No, I didn’t work at SGI. I was involved in video production. Some of the people I worked with were occasionally involved in graphics and animation, which is where I first crossed paths with SGI. That was about the the time of the SGI Personal Iris Workstation.
Later, when I moved into helping to sell graphics systems to post-production and broadcasters, I occasionally competed against software solutions running on smaller SGI systems. This was back in the mid-90s when PCs really didn’t do video in a serious way.
I recall being at Fox in LA and seeing their editorial teams working on SGI Onyx systems. Back then they ran Autodesk’s Flint or Fire software for editing, and Flame for special effects. I see that Flame still exists.
Smaller animation houses would run Softimage 3D animation on Indigo or O2 workstations, with an Octane or Onyx to render.
The Indy workstation included “IndyCam” a small fixed focus cameras intended to make it possible for users to video chat in real-time. As such, it may well be first computer to include what we now think of as a “webcam.”
Some of the sales people I worked with across the US were also resellers for companies that has SGI-based products. I can still recall the utter heartbreak some felt when SGI turned away from Irix on MIPS processors, turning to Windows NT running on Intel CPUs. There was a palpable sense of abandonment by a sales force that had fought hard to differentiate professional workstations from common PCs.
It’s nice that some young people, like Dodoid, are drawn to this corner of computing history. Although, I do admit that remembrances of troubleshooting SCSI interfaces still gives me a headache.
Then there was the time that Majortech thought they might get into selling IBM’s Power Visualization System, aka PVS. That was IBMs attempt to compete with SGI for the high-end of the entertainment business, leveraging hardware they had designed for industrial and medical imaging. That’s a story for another day.