Category Archives: Geeky & Techie

Road Angel Diaries – 2000 miles in…

So…I’ve done another thousand or so miles since getting my Road Angel Gem+ that I wrote about in THIS POST and THIS POST and I must say its developing into a Love Hate relationship.

One is its annoying habits is refusing to startup, which at first got me raising a ticket with their Helpdesk who advised I needed to do a reset on the device.

I figured this was an isolated incident but now know this is a regular ‘feature’ of the Road Angel Gem+, so much so that I now carry around a spare Nokia SIM Key on my car keys as the reset ritual is becoming a regular thing:

This little thing is perfect for doing a quick reset and gets used at least once a week πŸ™

The other annoying thing about the Gem+ is its database accuracy, or lack of. For a Β£160 device that you then need to add a Β£69/year subscription to I would expect 95% accuracy at least but sadly this is not the case.

There are camera’s that have been around for months that it does know know about, there are road speed areas that have been around for years it mis-categorises, i.e. telling you a 30mph zone is in fact a 40mph zone so word of caution do not rely 100% on this device or you could get punished

Here’s a shot of the beanbag mount I mentioned in my last Road Angel post , I need to run the cabling inside my center console at some point but this at least saves any tell tale mounts being on display when you leave your car unattended.

Road Angel Diaries – First 1000 miles

So I’ve done the first 1000 or miles with my Road Angel Gem+ here’s some initial feedback, useful if you are looking at buying one of these units πŸ™‚

The battery life truly sucks if the screen is on full brightness and when I say sucks it does not last the stated 2.5 hours. True you can set it to Auto Brightness but in reality the display is barely readable, the solution – run it in Hard Wired Mode (direct into cigarette lighter/charger). I always spend more than two hours a day in a car so running this off just battery power is not an option…

Set it to Auto Power On/Off, this works really well. As soon as you turn the keys in your ignition the cigarette lighter gets power and the Road Angel fires up. When you turn your car off a motion detector spots the lack of movement (combined with the loss of power) and the Road Angel shuts down.

Buy one of these to mount him on: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005OV8ND6/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The sticky mount junk the Road Angel comes with means ‘permanently’ having the mounting base on your dash saying “Hey car thieves, there’s probably a Road Angel hidden in this car”. With the Decrescent ‘Bean Bag’ thing instead you can just stick this in your glove box/center console storage out of sight.

Set Single Beep (Audio Options) to Single instead of Loop (default setting), otherwise you will want to kill yourself after driving past your first Speed Camera. ‘Loop’ is like some 1970’s Space Invaders game when the aliens are REALLY low on the screen and doing that manic/demented scream thing in a really tinny tone. They have managed to get reasonably good quality ‘voices’ for the camera alerts (similar to TomTom) so quite why they fell back to nasty Low-Fi squawks in the final approach to a camera/blackspot is anyone’s guess.

The Adding New Locations feature is good in principle but I’m yet to be convinced it works as advertised. The idea is if you come across something new or wrong (perhaps a Speed Zone they have incorrectly identified with the wrong speed) you can then make a change, it stores this in your unit and later on:

When your ROAD ANGEL Gem updates, these new locations will also be downloaded to the central database, and can then be verified by the ROAD ANGEL team for possible inclusion in future updates

I’ve been adding the same ‘wrong’ 40mph zone every night for a week and it has neither kept this change on my own unit or downloaded my revision….go figure!!

 

More comments in another 500 miles maybe…

Meh!

So, three years ago I built a Synology NAS box with 5.2TB of storage, enough to last any man you might say?

Well, guess what, it’s ran out of space….Meh!
Meh!

Plans are afoot to build Deathstar Version 2.0, he is going to be a Synology DS1513+ and will have 5 x 4TB drives stuffed into him….watch this space.

Bed Tech – MyLight

Whilst doing our annual Xmas Cyber Shopping Marathon me and Mrs Billy Goat came across this product – MyLight Bed Light which is a neat, high tech way of lighting up your bedroom automatically, based on motion detection.
We were actually buying presents for other people at The Glow Company site where we bought a bunch of stuff last year and got majorly distracted by this gadget. To cut a long story short we sprang for a set and I got these installed at the weekend. Actually they are very cool (once you figure out the best placement for the mini PIR type sensors).

Currently ours are not quite right, it’s a trade off between getting the whole 120 degree sensor range so there’s no blind spots in your bedroom vs. having some intentional blind spots to cover moving duvet, random limbs hanging over edges of bed etc. The first night was half hilarity, half blind range when every single movement triggered the fecking PIR’s….

Fitting was very fast and easy and so far we left them on the default ‘on for 30 seconds’ setting.

Probably best explained by both these vids, courtesy of the manufacturer:

Their website is here: http://www.mylight.me/#!home/mainPage
The Glow Company are here: http://www.glow.co.uk

Machinewerks: CS X51 (Support local industry!!)

Many UK people who were involved with the dance scene back in the early 90’s will recall The Black Dog, well they never really went away and have been tirelessly involved in the music scene ever since, releasing stuff, DJ’ing etc.

Now they are trying to realise a much bigger project and want support for it, please take some time to check out their Kickstarter page and their product site for the CS X51

If you can, please pledge something!!

 

 

 

 

 

Campaign Links
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/machinewerks/cs-x51-usb-midi-control-surface
http://machinewerks.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/MachineWerks
https://twitter.com/machinewerks_
https://vimeo.com/machinewerks

The Galaxy Way

If new phone shizzle is your thing then I’m cool as cats today…how many people in the UK have one of these in their greasy palms right now…Midday, Friday 26th April 2013?

The answer is not many.

But alas it’s not mine, it’s destined for Mrs Billy Goat to replace her Galaxy S2…..I haven’t told her yet she’ll need hands like shovels to hold this behemoth slab of tech πŸ™‚

1.9GHz Quad Core CPU
5″ HD Super AMOLED screeb
13MP camera
LTE CAT3
Full 1080p Video
2600mAh Battery
NFC

Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505

Is Google a boy or a girl?

Q. Is Google a boy or a girl?

A. Obviously a girl because it won’t let you finish your sentence without suggesting other ideas.

A Sprinkling Of Clouds

So you have your Synology NAS box setup with all your goodies on it, then you realise you could also backup all your junk from your Laptop, PC etc. to it as well (which is a good idea).

I’ve been doing this for years but using Synology Data Replicator 3 but running it in sync mode and triggering it manually. As good as it is it’s not as elegant as another Synology solution called Cloud Station.

This is what they sell as ‘Hit Save, and It’s Everywhere’:

If you own multiple devices, Cloud Station is perfect for you to have files synced automatically to all of them. Your work will always be up to date among Mac, PC, and mobile devices. Files are always accessible via web and Cloud Station folders on your local computers.

  • Maximum file size: sync files of up to 10GB size
  • Enjoy speedy file transfer when your client device and DiskStation are in the same local area network (LAN)
  • Get mobilized: use the free mobile app, DS cloud, to have your files stay in-sync on mobile devices, even for offline viewing

So, semi snowed in and bored this weekend I set about setting up..

Start by creating a backup account for each device you want to backup to the NAS

Then create Shared Folders for each of the locations you want backed up

Then go and enable Cloud Station.

Add the users you created earlier in Privileges

Go into Sharing in Cloud Station and share out the Shared Folders you created earlier (yes its dumb but you have to do it twice…)

Then install the Windows Cloud Station Client on each PC you want backing up, pick the account you created for the relevant folder sets and point them to the right place on your PC. The folders have to be empty to start with for some stupid reason so in my case I created a ‘FolderName2’ for each of the folders I wanted to sync, moved everything into them, pointed Cloud Station at the original folders that I wanted synching and then moved everything back into them afterwards.

Then site back and wait (several days in my case) for everything to sync across to the Synology NAS.

Oh and it eats a bunch of CPU while its doing it πŸ™‚

Cloud Station Client will just sit in your system tray once everything has done an initial sync and anytime you change stuff on your PC it will get synced across to your NAS automatically.

Cool eh?
It would be perfect if it didn’t have a maximum file size of 10GB (so basically all my big BluRay files don’t get backed up automatically but I can live with that…..I think)

Don’t get mad, get even…

I think Robert F Kennedy once said ‘Don’t get mad, get even’ and sometimes it’s a nice feeling to do just that.

My computer has been annoying me for ages but I’ve been putting up with it as I’ve not had time to try and resolve the issues, actually because I’m employed to fix other people’s computer problems.

So when mine started acting up that little sucker’s card was marked and I vowed one day to kill it.

I waited until there was nobody around then beat the crap out of it, I must admit the whole experience was very therapeutic πŸ™‚

 

 

Another dead drive, tears for the owner.

There’s a mantra I like:

‘Data you don’t have at least two copies of is data you don’t care about’

Been there (many many years ago) and now believe in ‘redundancy’ on an industrial scale, nicely summed up in this neat ‘Motivational’ poster:

Redundancy

But of course not everybody follows this rationale and they keep their whole ‘lives’ on USB sticks which snap, go through the washing Machine, get ate by dogs, erased by alien forces etc. etc.

Slightly better (but only by a narrow margin) are those that keep their whole ‘lives’ on Portable Hard Drives. The technology is less prone to going FUBAR due to its design but sooner or later it WILL bite you in the ass, normally when you least expect it…..Shit Happens, it’s a fact of life but these days you can (should) plan for such disasters by having copies of all your important data in another place
(preferable two other places). This is especially important if said Portable Hard Disk is of the Low Rent variety…..what we would call in this country ‘Happy Shopper’ (i won’t be more specific just in case I invite a litigation case but you get the idea).

So todays customer who shall remain nameless wandered into my office with a forlorn look and asked if i could recover his Low Rent Portable Hard Disk as it contained all his financial records, his college work and his family photos.

I said “Sure, but you have a backup copy someplace, right?”
Him….blank look, blinking like a monkey…..then “That is my backup drive”
Me “Ah ok, but….oh never mind, leave it with me”

So it gets prised open and attached to the awesome DriveWire that’s saved my ass on many occasion and low and behold check the manufacturer:

Again….i won’t make a big deal about this as I don’t want my ass sued but take it from me….don’t buy one of these, buy a Hitachi…

So the end of the story is like this…..I manage to get about 40% of the data off Mr Low Rent Portable Hard Drive before it refuses to read and write data and thinks it’s dead, the rest of the data (and the IMPORTANT stuff too) is unrecoverable. Mr Customer goes into the corner to cry…

Lesson 1:
Buy a good quality device….THEN also back it up to one of the many new fangled Cloud Storage solutions on offer from the likes of Dropbox, GoogleDrive , SkyDrive, or SugarSync (other brands are available) then at least you stand a fighting chance if things go Tits Up with all your important shit.

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