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Connect All The Things…to Ethernet!

This quick post was inspired by a recent article on How-To Geek that describes How to Add Gigabit Ethernet to a TV Without It. I find myself violently in agreement!

things

They say:

TV manufacturers have rushed to improve their latest models with fast HDMI 2.1 ports capable of supporting 4K gaming at 120Hz in glorious HDR. Unfortunately, most of the same models still use outdated 100Mb Ethernet ports.

Further:

Most new TVs support 5GHz and 2.4GHz wireless networking, but Wi-Fi is notoriously temperamental. Even though 5GHz networks have a theoretical maximum speed of 1300Mb/sec, many confounding variables can affect real-world performance. Ethernet is far more reliable in this regard.

To which I’d like to add a Hell, yeah! At least in so far as avoiding Wi-Fi is concerned.

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New Gear: Eaton 9130 Dual Conversion UPS

We have a pair of UPSs here; one in the office and another in the house. In both cases, they run the network core; Ethernet switches, Wi-Fi access points, IoT hubs and the like. Our reliance on power-over-ethernet means that there are actually quite a lot of gear that’s on the UPSs.

For many years the UPS in my office was made by Belkin. It was cheap. It did the job, sustaining the network core through many a minor outage. Being fanless, it was silent…which I deeply admire.Eaton 9130 2UHowever, as with most low-cost UPSs, it was “line-interactive” design. In such a design the power provided by the batteries and invertor is connected in parallel to the utility power. When utility power falters the local circuitry tries to make up the slack. The design is simple. Any UPS under $500 new is almost certainly a line-interactive design.

More sensitive gear is better served using a more sophisticated design known as “online” or “dual-conversion.” An online UPS puts its active circuitry between the utility power and the load. The utility power is turned into DC, which feeds the batteries and the invertor, which makes brand new, pristine, stable AC power for the load.

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My Take – Using your mobile camera as a webcam

A couple of weeks back Chris Kranky offered a post where he explored this topic in some detail. It’s a good idea. Well worth exploring since common, and especially built-in webcams, are so bad. He tried a handful of iOS and Android apps on various handsets. It was a good experimental series.

I’d like to add a slightly different take, using a couple of additional apps that have crossed my path. In particular, I’d like to highlight NDI as a technology that’s very useful in this application.

What is NDI?

According to Newtek:

“NDI® (Network Device Interface) is a low latency IP video protocol developed especially for professional live video production, and is supported by an extensive list of broadcast systems from many manufacturers.”

NDI Camera

Newtek has offered two different NDI Camera apps. The original (no longer offered) which I bought for around $20, leverages full-bandwidth NDI. Full-bandwidth NDI offers the best image quality, and lowest latency, but requires massive bandwidth. It can work very well used when on a robust Wi-Fi network.

NDI Camera Julio

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Birddog Redefines NDI-to-HDMI on the cheap

A little over two years ago, I surveyed the various tools that could be used to display an NDI stream on a monitor or projector. In staging Cluecon 2018 I had used a couple of Lenovo M73 Tiny computers running Windows and Newtek Studio Monitor. There were other options, but the most accessible dedicated hardware solution was the Birddog Mini, which cost around $500.

That post has proven to be quite popular. In fact, it needs to be revisited in the light the latest announcements from Birddog, which happened just this week. Newtek’s launch of NDI 5 allowed Birddog to announce a set of new products and services, including Birddog Play.

Birddog Play is a small dedicated hardware device designed to allow playback of an NDI stream at a monitor or projector. It ticks literally every box I can think of. And it does it for just $150 USD!

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Amazon Sidewalk Approaches

As a household that has several Amazon Echo devices, I feel obligated to share the news about Amazon Sidewalk, including how to disable it.

What is Sidewalk?

Sidewalk is a “feature” in the latest firmware for the current generation of Amazon smart home products, including; Echo smart speakers, Ring doorbells & security cameras, and Tile trackers. When enabled, Sidewalk capable devices used by neighbors, visitors or passers-by are able to leverage your local internet connectivity.

Amazon says that these Sidewalk interlopers are allowed a limited amount of bandwidth, just 80 kbps, which is about the same as a tradition VoIP phone call.

Why Sidewalk?

That’s simple – ubiquitous connectivity is very convenient. Amazon knows this from years of experience. For example, their WhisperNet was a mechanism leveraging AT&T’s 3G mobile network to provide ubiquitous connectivity to early Kindle e-book readers.

Tile tracker

Imagine someone who uses Tile Pro to track their car keys. They are, as so many do each day, dropping their child off at Travis Elementary School, which is across the street.

It could be very handy if their Tile Pro found our front room Echo Dot, allowed it to ping Amazon servers. If they later lost their car keys, Amazon would know they had been near our home. Presumably, Amazon would have a more detailed record of their location that might otherwise be possible.

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Roasting Coffee: Not Burning Down the House

Coffee is a significant part of my routine. It’s my a.m. beverage of choice. In the afternoon I transition to water. And most typically, further transition to wine in the evening. Both coffee and wine are subject areas with considerable depth.

My interest in wine is by now well known. I pursued that with some formal classes and certification about the same time I started working with ZipDX. There’s only so far to go down that path. It gets expensive and requires the sort of commitment that comes from working in that industry. These days I remain a well informed consumer, but not as driven to explore the depths of the world of wine.

Instead, I’ve started to explore coffee. We’re fortunate that much of the coffee entering the US does so via the Port of Houston, making this a great place to be a coffee drinker. The House of Coffee Beans is our regular source. Stella gets me a selection of their coffees every year for Christmas.

 

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