Posted on December 1st, 2023
Oooh look! It's officially Cybertruck Day!
Which is to say that Tesla is finally... slowly... releasing Cybertrucks to those who had the massive amount of money needed to buy one. I think ten people got their's today.
But, more importantly, today is the day that the journalistic embargo on reviews ends, so everybody and their dog is rushing to publish their hot takes on the future of automobiles. But don't worry, I'm going to save you from having to wade through all of that by providing a link to the only tech reviewer that I consider to be essential, Marques Brownlee...
Now, I'm of the opinion that this is one butt-ugly vehicle and I wouldn't buy one... and certainly wouldn't pay $60,000 (minimum!) to own one. But I'll be the first to admit that it has some truly cool tech in it. Tech that I hope eventually trickles down to cars for the rest of us.
Or, if somebody wants to buy me one, that would work too.
Posted on November 17th, 2023
Yesterday Sonos announced a patch which will (supposedly) fix the heinous POP OF DEATH problem that Sonos ARC soundbar customers have been enduring for years. As you may remember, I talked about this a while back... where playing Dolby Atmos content via either an AppleTV 4K or an Xbox will cause a loud POP! and kill your soundbar until you reset it. The only option you have to prevent it is to turn off Atmos. I have both of those devices, and bought the ARC soundbar specifically to play Dolby Atmos content. Then I went ahead and bought two Era 300 speakers for the rear channels in the hopes that Atmos would route through them and allow me to turn it back on. NOPE! It's all or nothing.
Needless to say, I sure hope that this patch actually works. Otherwise I've spent a hell of a lot of money for nothing.
I have been a massive Sonos fan for a very long time. Sure I've has occasional connectivity problems which Sonos Support always blamed on my network (despite my ditching two sets of routers and replacing them with a very expensive Amplifi Alien mesh network), but it hasn't dimmed my enthusiasm for their products. The sound is exceptional and the capabilities are fantastic. I still have occasional connectivity problems to this day, though I reject completely the idea that it's my network's fault. My network is rock solid... and far exceeds what's required to stream sound. Usually going in and manually changing the channel that Sonos is using is enough to fix things up. Until the next time.
But then the POP OF DEATH happened, and I've been "FUCK SONOS!" ever since.
Every time they announced layoffs I was all "GOOD! YOU DESERVE TO FAIL!"... while feeling sorry for the employees who were collateral damage because their fucking management wouldn't allocate the resources required to solve a huge fucking problem that caused their products to fail for the very purpose they were designed. Remember... this problem has been going on for years!
I had it in my head that I would never buy another Sonos product ever again because this was so absurdly fucking shitty.
So when Sonos announced today that they are cutting even more jobs and focusing on developing headphones, I am not swayed. Why would I buy some expensive headphones that could ship with a massive defect that takes the company YEARS to fix? No thanks. I'll continue to buy Apple or Bose headphones, because I'm done with Sonos.
Or am I?
Honestly I don't know.
I'd sure like to think so. But maybe they will come out with something so awesome and revolutionary that I'd be willing to give them a chance if the price is right.
Regardless, Sonos is a cautionary tale of how a beloved brand can trash their own reputation and flush customer good will down the toilet. If a problem comes to your attention, you'd better fucking drop what you're doing and fix it... quickly... because you're never the only game in town, and brand loyalty only goes so far.
UPDATE: Color me fucking shocked...
Fourth time was a charm... well, that and two reboots (unplugging and plugging back in again). I watched a movie on my AppleTV 4K and no POP OF DEATH, so far. So that's refreshing.
Posted on November 14th, 2023
UPDATE: Well that was fast... YouTube cracks down on synthetic media with AI disclosure requirement. I mean, this literally means nothing unless it gets enforced, and the idea that YouTube will "crack down" hard enough to make the problem go away would cut into their ad revenue, so I'll believe it works when I see it.
As more and more streaming services keep raising prices while reducing content, I cut more and more streaming services. The one streaming source that is in no danger of being cut anytime soon though? Youtube Premium. Simply because the amount of ads they inundate people with is so horrific that I cannot sit through them without having an embolism. But, unlike Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and the rest, YouTube is always stacking up more content. There's so much content that I couldn't hope to sit through even a fraction of it (not that I'd want to).
But all is not perfect in YouTube Land.
One of the genre's I cannot get enough of is science videos. I watch an insanely huge amount of science-based content.
But lately I've been noticing a shitload of shitty fucking science content being pushed my way. Most of it AI-generated. I'll be enjoying a great science video. It will end. And all of a sudden I get a video with a robotic AI-generated voice, showing the same AI-generated visuals over and over, while reading from a bad AI-generated script, then pushed out with an AI-generated thumbnail.
It's so bad that I ended up searching Google to find out what the fuck was happening.
Ironically (or not) one of the first links returned was a YouTube video that sums it up very well...
Now, I'm just going to put this out there: If YouTube doesn't do something about this crap... quickly... they could end up fucking themselves out of a lot of cash. From people like me who have absolutely zero desire to be exposed to souless content that isn't properly researched or fact-checked by actual people who know how to do that.
A good first step would be for YouTube to require that all AI-generated videos be flagged as such. And easily identified as such. And any video not properly declared as AI-generated can be reported with the account demonetized.
A good second step would be for YouTube to allow its users to set a preference to have AI-generated videos not be displayed. I would check that box in a second, because I have no desire what-so-ever to watch this shit.
A great third step would be to ban the content entirely, but it's not like YouTube would ever ban something that brings them money so I'm not holding my breath.
Posted on November 12th, 2023
Officially entering the holiday season, not that it'll keep me away... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• This is EARTH! sigh. I love love love the YouTube channel Kurzgesagt. They tackle fascination topics in a highly educational and entertaining way. And now there's this absolutely brilliant new video. They have condensed the 4.5 billion year history of planet earth in exactly one hour. And guess when humans appear in that hour? Helpful hint... don't blink...
It's had it running last night on the television while I was working. I found myself looking up to watch more often than I expected.
• POIROT! Here's the thing. I thought the Albert Finney original Murder on the Orient Express was better than the Kenneth Branagh remake. I thought the Peter Ustinov original Death on the Nile was VASTLY superior to the Kenneth Branagh remake (indeed, it's one of my favorite films). But I still enjoyed Branagh's take on Poirot, so I just watched A Haunting in Venice. This one I liked a lot...
My mom read all the Agatha Christie books, so I ended up reading all of them as well. I don't remember the book Hallowe'en Party much... but I do remember not thinking much of the BBC adaptation, feeling they were scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one. The Branagh version wisely makes a very loose adaptation with A Haunting in Venice and the movie is far better because of it. I really hope we get a fourth film where they try something unique... and adapt it to be as interesting as this one.
• Reacher Deux! The second season of Reacher cannot get here fast enough. The first season was one of the best things to happen to my television last year...
I haven't read all the Jack Reacher novels, but I've read enough that it's shocking how much more faithful the Amazon Prime series is to the Tom Cruise movies (though, I liked those also, if I'm being honest).
• Falling! I watched the occasional episode of The Fall Guy but was never so much into the show that I gave a thought to a movie adaptation. Until I saw it was starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt!
This movie looks entertaining as hell.
• DAFUQ? I had absolutely no idea (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@howardsternshow Barbra Streisand on Being the Inspiration for Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” #howardstern #SternShow #thehowardsternshow #howardsternshow #fyp #BarbraStreisand #JamesBrolin #Aerosmith @AerosmithOfficial @Howard Stern ♬ original sound - The Howard Stern Show
I wonder if James Brolin gets any bank off that song?
• DAK! All throughout high school I was addicted to the DAK catalog which had really good deals on electronics, computers, and media. It was kinda a weird concept... the owner (Drew Alan Kaplan) hunted down products which were made wrong or had some cosmetic detail that was off or whatever, bought the entire lot, then offered them at a consumer-direct discount price. I couldn't afford to buy lots of stuff... I was in high school... but I obsessed over every new catalog that arrived. And now those catalogs have been scanned and archived by Cabel Sasser on his site...
This one is my favorite... turn your tiny blurry television into a bigger blurry television with this fresnel lens!
• Pander! I finally remembered to watch the new South Park special on Paramount+... Into the Panderverse... and it's pretty epic. I am 1000% onbord for inclusivity and diversity in entertainment. It keeps things fresh and interesting, because how many times do we want to see the same old shit with straight white people? But the problem is that remaking the same old shit and substituting non-straight-white-people for straight white people is a stupid, lazy way of creating inclusivity and diversity. It completely ignores the lived experience of non-straight-white-people by copy-pasting them into a straight-white experience, and the movie/television studios need to do better than that. Because it's getting boring as hell.
Plus it's got Kathleen Kennedy and her massive ego in it! Though it's fake Kathleen Kennedy, so any hopes of her taking time out from completely fucking up LucasFilm/Disney were shortlived. Unfortunately, there it a downside to this episode. Gino Carano is using it to extend her 15 minutes.
Enjoy whatever remains of your Sunday, everybody.
Posted on November 10th, 2023
Between my iPhone and my Apple Watch, I'm good.
That's not to say that I'm against adopting new and exciting "wearable" technology as it arrives... it's just that it would have to be something incredibly useful or amazing for me to hop on the early-adopter bandwagon.
Today Humane, a company creating AI tech, is announcing more details of their "Humane AI Pin" that they demoed in a TedTalk six months ago. Including the price, which clocks in at a whopping $699 (plus a required $24 per month for a cellular contract via T-Mobile).
I fully admit that it's an interesting trinket. With some caveats...
UPDATE - VIDEO REMOVED FROM YOUTUBE BY HUMANE: Let's say that you work hard to create a ten minute joyless video announcing your product launch. What's the best possible thing that could happen? I'll tell you what... people copy and repost your video so it goes viral. There's no better advetising because it's exponential but costs no additional money. Except Humane has started issuing take-down notices with copyright strikes against people reposting it. Apparently the launch video had some pretty serious factual errors involving how much protein is in a handful of almonds and where is the best place to see the upcoming eclipse. So Humane is working hard to remove the evidence, I guess.
The one thing they demoed that was its "killer feature" was live translation using your own voice and inflection. Alas, they had to remove the whole video, so that's gone too...
And about those caveats...
I will watch the progression of Humane's little gadget with interest. But I won't be dropping $700 to buy the first one. Maybe they'll be able to prove its necessity in the future. Or maybe the price will drop low enough that it will be a fun thing to play with for the price.
Posted on October 24th, 2023
Yeah, there's no post today.
Look, I am not going to candy-coat this... after "discovering" BobbyBroccoli, all my non-work time has been watching every single video he's produced. And I remain completely blown away.
BobbyBroccoli's channel is six years of video games. Then, three years ago, something changed. All of a sudden Broccoli (Kavan S) switched the focus of his channel to scientific scandals. And this is when things get very, very interesting. His first video in this new direction is actually a video in three parts about Jan Hendrik Schön. If you are a science geek, it's riveting. Mostly because he doesn't just go "Hey, there's this science guy and his lies almost got him a Nobel Prize." Oh no. He goes into glorious detail explaining how everything happened.
Last year BobbyBroccoli ran through a series on Ammerica's Missing Collider. As with everything else, it's an absolutely fascinating deep dive into the subject which spans three presidencies...
PART ONE: Ronald Reagan & the Biggest Failure in Physics.
PART TWO: George Bush Vomited & Set Physics Back by a Decade.
PART THREE: Bill Clinton & the Day Physics Died.
That mostly gets you caught up to what I posted yesterday. There's a few other videos, including this fascinating look at The Image You Can't Submit to Journals Anymore...
Assuming I don't fall down another YouTube rabbit hole, I'm guessing things will go back to whatever passes for "normal" here at Blogography.
Posted on October 23rd, 2023
I watch a lot of videos. If I'm awake and working, odds are I am watching (but mostly listening to) YouTube videos. And the subjects I have running in those videos are crazy eclectic because I enjoy loads of different subjects. But ultimately the videos I tend to watch more than others are those that can teach me something. AKA educational videos.
More specifically, math and science videos.
I have watched hundreds upon hundreds of such videos. So when I tell you that I have now found my favorite science video that I've yet seen, I am not speaking from lack of data.
It's an absolutely brilliant video about "element hunting" and "the man who tried to fake an element." Not only is is just wildly entertaining (both in the way it is told and the way it is graphically represented), but it is mind-bogglingly fascinating. On top of that, it miraculously is fairly easy to follow for non-scientists despite tackling a rather complex chain of events.
And it's a year old!
I'm posting it here. It's well worth your time. And you're welcome...
Now, isn't that just fantastic?
As I type this, I'm in the process of watching it a second time immediately after having finished watching it the first time.
What's so utterly bizarre is that YouTube shows me that I've seen two of BobbyBroccoli's previous videos. I remember watching both of them, liked them, and have no earthly idea why I didn't subscribe immediately after watching. It's only thanks to the YouTube algorithm that I happened upon his channel again. Which only goes to show... the algorithm isn't always bad.
At least this time I had the sense to subscribe.
UPDATE: Yeah... I may not get any sleep tonight. This guy makes exceptional videos. Like these, which breaks open a huge scandal in a beautifully visual way...
Yikes. I mean... this is the very definition of a train wreck that you can't look away from.
Posted on August 17th, 2023
Boy did I fall down a rabbit hole this morning.
I woke up at 5:00am, couldn't get back to sleep, so I grabbed my laptop to see what was happening in the world... and ended up at the YouTube channel for a company called "Nest Box" which sells bird houses with a built-in camera. Then I watched the videos there for over a half-hour!
Here's the video which started it all, and this may very well be the most magical thing you see all week...
Amazing. If you have time to kill, I highly recommend the Nest Box Live channel.
I'd love to have one of these, but they're nearing $300. I wonder if I could build one of my own and stick one of my NestCams in it? Might be a good winter project!
Posted on August 14th, 2023
I wish that my robots would keep to a routine. Joy, the mopping robot, kinda does. Carl, the vacuum robot, never does. This can cause a problem if you want vacuum then mop immediately after. If both robots are made by iRobot, then they can coordinate that stuff.
But if you don't? You either have to wait until the vacuum robot is finished then run the mopping robot.
Or else end up in this scenario, where it feels like they're about to fight to the death...
As it was, they narrowly avoided each other.
Posted on July 12th, 2023
=sigh= Home robotics still has a ways to go, don't they?
A long while ago I bought a robot vacuum I named "Carl" after the janitor from The Breakfast Club. He was an imitation iRobot Roomba by Ecovacs, so he was cheap, but I didn't have a lot of furniture to confuse him or junk laying around my house to block him, so I was thrilled with how well it worked. Almost immediately I bought a companion mopping robot by iRobot that I named "Joy" after Joy Mangano (the lady who created the Miracle Mop (and was portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence in the movie biography Joy).
The mopping robot was just okay.
It worked better in my bathrooms which are smaller and easier to clean because they are tile. It worked less better in the kitchen, because it was bigger and the pad got dirty before it could finish. It didn't work AT ALL in any other spaces. Partly because they were too big... but mostly because the little vibrating pad ripped up my hideously expensive (but shoddily-made) hardwood floors. I used it for a half-year in the bathrooms, but eventually trashed it.
Fast-forward to last week after I was washing my floor on my hands and knees and thought to look at mopping robots again. The one that caught my eye was the Bissell Spinwave. The pads aren't a vibrating pad, so I had high hopes that it wouldn't tear up my shitty floors...
So I went to buy one and... FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY FUCKING DOLLARS?!? Does it blow me after it finishes mopping? Because that's the only way I'd spend that kind of money.
But then I Googled to see if there was an alternative that might work for less money... only to find that Best Buy was advertising the R5 model I wanted (it has mapping on the app) for $220 (which is less than the cheaper non-R5 model!). Still more money than the $150 that I was wanting to spend, but if it works...
When I got New Joy, I set her up next to New Carl so I could charge it. Once Jake came downstairs from his nap, it took him all of seconds to see (smell?) something new...
My hopes for New Joy were dashed when it left its charging station, turned a corner around the legs of my hutch, and got stuck...
Jake found this to be hilarious...
But, seconds after I took the above photo (and before I could pull New Joy out from under the hutch), she freed herself. Nice!
Which brings us to the R5 model's mapping. The reason it's supposed to be worth the $550 price tag. It's actually very cool. The unit has a LIDAR camera spinning on top which is constantly updating it as it moves around the space. For example... this is what Joy thought my living room looked like...
But once it sees that it can go behind my couch, the map is updated to reflect that...
The mapping even noticed where "rooms" are located and decided to mop the entirety of my "great room" (living room to dining room) before moving on to the kitchen/entry hall, downstairs bathroom, and guest bedroom...
But then... uh oh. The map cleared itself shortly after entering my kitchen. Even worse, Joy stopped reporting her location accurately. She would randomly appear all over my house, but then always snap back to her actual location...
Jesus. THIS is what Bissell charges FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY FUCKING DOLLARS?!?
You can define Go/No-Go areas easy enough, and your robot will remember it for any future moppings...
Unfortunately, there is a minimum size area you can define... and it's fucking HUGE. If you need tiny areas defined... like my cat feeding station and second cat water fountain... you'd better fucking hope that they are against a wall so you can have it bleed off the edge. As you can see, I got lucky.
And then we get to one of the most idiotic, head-scratching failures of this FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY FUCKING DOLLAR robot... you can't define rooms/areas and save them for future use. Sure you can draw an area you want cleaned and send the robot to do that, but you can't save them for next time. They disappear after the cleaning happens...
What the fuck? It would seem that Bissell expects you to clean your entire fucking house in one go. But come on, that's not even remotely feasible. Because your little mopping pads will get dirty fairly quickly, which means it will be washing your floors with dirt. Blergh. This should be a priority for Bissell, because yikes.
When it comes to my home, I don't have tons of furniture and practically no clutter. Which makes it an excellent candidate for robots. There's hardly any obstacles for it to get caught up on. And yet... this happened...
This seemed weird. First of all because Joy was, as usual, randomly reporting herself where she wasn't located. The map was showing that she was at her docking station. But she wasn't. So I had to go looking for her. Turns out she wedged herself between the toilet and the wall...
I don't even know how to respond to this. It's not smart enough to throw itself into reverse and back out of there?
Later on I stopped hearing Joy run. At first I thought she was out of battery and couldn't return to her docking station. The map wasn't reporting her location, so off I went again to try and find her. Oh. Despite her having a FUCKING "SOFT-EDGE SENSOR" LIKE BISSELL ADVERTISES, she was choking on a rug...
Jesus. But that's not the worst of it. Do you see hoe the bed in my guest bedroom has a dust ruffle around the bottom? Joy thought it was a solid wall and didn't mop under the bed! I added a "GO" area and sent her back in the room... but she returned without mopping under the bed! So the only way to mop my guest bedroom is to remove the rugs and the dust ruffle...
So what have we got here...
Ultimately I'm going to keep New Joy because she mops just well enough that the $220 price is worth it. Had I been able to afford the original $550 price tag, she would have been boxed up and returned within one hour of opening the box.
Maybe I'm just happy that I have a solution for mopping my floors that doesn't involve me doing so on my hands and knees with a wet rag?
But welcome to the family, New Joy.