iDevices are getting used in innumerable ways these days. Some years back you may recall my examination of the Mocet Communicator, an iPad accessory that turned it into an executive desk phone. Behringer’s X AIR XR18 is an audio mixer with iDevice remote control. The Cerevo LiveWedge is a video production switcher with an iPad-centric control scheme. These are just a few examples of iDevices assuming a key role in the control scheme of a more sophisticated device.
What the Mocet device highlighted is that dependence upon Wi-Fi is not always an optimal solution for connectivity. It provides Ethernet connectivity and could be powered using standard 802.11af power-over-Ethernet.
Recently, Redpark introduced a power-over-Ethernet capable Gigabit Ethernet adapter for the iPad. For just $99 this device provides both continuous power and reliable connectivity via the same length of Ethernet cable.
While supporting 10/100/1000 Mb Ethernet networks, the USB subsystem of the Lightning port delivers 225 Mbps. The interface is 802.11af compliant, capable of drawing up to 15.4 watts from the network line to keep the iDevice charged.
A single solution to providing reliable power and connectivity strikes me as massively appealing. I can see this as useful in any situation where an iDevice is in a dedicated application.
P.S. – I’ve also found Google’s combination AC adapter and Ethernet interface for first generation Chromecast to be profoundly useful. It makes the Chromecast dramatically more reliable. The newer Chromecast Ultra includes this optional power supply.
This is a bit of a trip though time. In my past life, involved with broadcast technology, I travelled extensively. One of my many trips involved an evening driving from Boston up to Burlington, Vermont with a sales associate. It was a nice ride in his Saab 900S, and my first experience with Saab.
As the afternoon wore into evening and we lost the light I came to appreciate a particular feature of the Saab dashboard. It had a “Blackout Mode.” With the press of one button all the dashboard and console lights went out. That is, everything but tips of the tachometer and speedometer.
With blackout mode engaged driving the dark, empty highway was a lot easier on the eyes. It was a nice feature. It spoke to a thoughtful design team.
Continue reading “Feature Idea: Blackout Mode in Consumer Electronics”
As you may be aware there have been a few rather high-profile DDOS attacks in recent weeks. They all have one thing in common…they leverage common network attached devices that have been compromised, or at least left unsecure.
Many of these devices have been found to be network attached cameras. Brian Krebs has a great post on the matter. The table of most common devices includes IP cameras from several manufacturers, some printers and consumer routers.
I take exception to the BBC headline that reads "Webcams used to attack Reddit and Twitter recalled." Their use of the term webcam is egregiously in error.
By definition, a "Webcam:"
- Has not been a factor in these DDOS attacks.
- Are not network attached devices.
- Are usually USB connected to a computer.
- Are not able to do anything without the host computer.
While you may think me pedantic about the headline, the BBC’s overly broad definition of a "webcam" does their audience a disservice. There’s simply no need to have every granny who video chats with her grandkids worried about the one-eyed Logitech menace atop her monitor.
Quite plainly, it’s the router, Dropcam, Nest thermostat or Skybell that she should be worried about. Not that those products have been cited as problematic, but by virtue of the fact that they are network connected, they at least might be compromised.
Like many people, I’ve come to enjoy using a tablet to do things that were once entirely in the domain of the computer. Over the past year the Nexus 7 has become part of my routine. I use it routinely for checking email, reading news feed & e-books and watching the occasional video, amongst other things. It’s a wonderful device.
There are some things that I do with the tablet that leverage specialty apps, like the remote control for our Nest thermostat. This makes perfect sense to me as the function of both the thermostat and the app are clearly and completely defined. Also, their operation is largely isolated from the rest of the elements of our lives. For example, we simply don’t require that the Nest integrate with the home phones.
With such clearly defined requirements, or more exactly, limits to the scope of requirements, a smart phone/tablet app is good solution. It certainly makes more sense than a traditional hardware remote control as one might get with a TV.
Continue reading “Waiting For Doorbot: Appification Can Be Disappointing”
Ok, so this is a little off topic. Last year we installed a Nest thermostat in the house. We bought it from Lowe’s when they first hit the stores. At $249 it was very expensive, but showed a lot of promise. In the end we like it a lot.
Today I see that Amazon is offering the first generation Nest thermostat for $179. That’s certainly a much nicer price.
The company has released a second generation of the hardware, which is why they can discount the original device. Nonetheless, it’s been a solid addition to our household.
The device learns the pattern of your life, so there’s simply less need to adjust the temperature. For those times when we do want to make a tweak we especially like the remote control app for Android & iOS devices. We can turn on the air conditioning using a cell phone even as we’re on the way home.
CompuLab, the company that brought us the Fit-PC series have a special place in my heart. Their little super-small-form-factor PCs hold an attractive quality that’s hard to describe.
I rather impulsively bought a Fit-PC2 even though I really didn’t have any need for it. The little 4″ square box is actually mounted on a VESA bracket on the back of an LCD monitor. It essentially turns that monitor into a net-top.
As cute and appealing as they were, a Fit-PC was never going to be my primary desktop. Sporting an Intel Atom running at 1.1 GHz they just didn’t have the CPU power to fill that role. However, that may be changing. The introduction of their latest offering, Intense PC, might make a viable replacement for my ailing desktop.
Continue reading “CompuLab Strikes Again; Intense PC Looks Sweet!”