Aug 28, 2013

Aug - 14 2013 | By

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Both Paul & Glenn were in the studio.
Intro & outro music was by Phoebe Legere

 

Paul talked about the Nexus 7 Android tablet that he bought recently.
– It has a 7" screen.
– weighs well under a pound.
– runs for about 10 hours. <Per battery charge, I assume>
– has wi-fi.
– the screen is of a type you might call "retina", though that name is owned by Apple. <That means it has a high resolution>
– retails for about $229, before discount. Paul figured that it's about half the price of an equivalent iPad Mini.
– It comes with 16gig of memory. A 32gig version is available.
– However, it does not have a flash drive port.
– It has a single standard micro USB port for charging and exchanging data with a computer.
–      This port uses a standard known as OTG USB — On The Go USB. That means you can connect different peripherals to it and they will be recognized. And if you plug in a 4-port USB hub, and the hub has a flash card reader, the Nexus can use that card reader. This is unlike the iPad, which can only use wi-fi or iTunes to transfer data.
<The Nexus 7 was mentioned in the 8-14-13 show; see those notes & link to a review article>

There's been some discussion of the relative merits of the Android & Apple "ecosystems". They are quite different but are similar in some ways:
– Both have an app store — Apple Store & Google Play.
– Many apps are created in versions that run on either platform.

Paul's current favorite app for Nexus is NavFree — free GPS software. It's useful for those that don't have a permanent <continuous> internet connection like when driving around. <The wi-fi connection is not reliable in this case>
– Without a continuous connection, the maps have to reside on the Nexus. During installation, NavFree lets you choose the maps for the states you're interested in. You can download maps for other States at a later time and they're free.
– Apps for Android tend to be fairly small — in the range of a few megabytes. The data for the California map was about 256meg.
– NavFree "should work on your phone as well", for those times when you are out of range of a cellular tower — like at the Burning Man Festival.

The other software Paul likes is X-plore. It is a file explorer and more.
– It will also connect to Picasa for exchanging photos. So, it explores files on alien systems such as Google Drive (If you use X-plore you don't need the Google Drive application).
– It also links up with Windows networks & Mac networks and many other systems that have files on them.
– Glenn wondered if there is an equivalent for Apple products. Paul thought not because Apple has such a ridged control on its ecosystem.
– Android tends to be more tolerant about where you can download apps. As such, there is no need to hack Android to make it more open, though you can do that too. However, you do need change the setting under 'Security' to permit downloads from third-party sites.
– If you download only from the Google Play store, you can be sure they are digitally signed and approved by Google.

Glenn said that, over the past several months, some people at the Curious Forge have been building a performance stage in the form of a vehicle called The Shamancycle. It's powered by 6 bicyclists sitting facing each other (3 on each side). It has a performance stage on top and is embellished with the figure of an eagle whose wings light up at night.

The Shamancycle was conceived by Phoebe along with the Shaman Dome group at Burning Man. They approached the Curious Forge for its cooperation in building it. The project was completed, and now the Shamancycle is on its way to the Burning Man Festival. Paul said he couldn't find pictures of the cycle on The Curious Forge web page. Glenn said there are pics of it in some of the blogs on their website. You can find linked to Phoebe Legere there, too.

Paul mentioned a website for the Bay Bridge and project to build a new Eastern span. Traffic on the bridge will be stopped from tonight at 8pm until Tues Sep 3, for some finishing work.

The guys talked about how public rail transportation used to be popular but eventually was scaled back as cars became more popular. Paul talked about the trolley cars in San Francisco. He said, in the past, the driver had to get out and reconnect the poles to the overhead electric wires whenever they came off. More recently, he's noticed they don't do that anymore. He said the process is now automated. He doesn't know how it works but he's seen a pole being repositioned on the wire without the apparent help of the driver.

While Paul was looking at the Bay Bridge website he found a simulation of what it would be like to go over that bridge. He said it's hard to tell if it's really a simulation or an actual video, except that it looks "hyperreal". The simulation even has some skid marks on the road.

Glenn noted the Golden Gate no longer has toll takers. Toll is paid by the use of Fastrack or by using cameras to take photos of license plates and then sending a bill to the car owners.

Paul raised the privacy issue when cameras are involved. He wondered if authorities would be able to arrest someone with an outstanding warrant if their car was photographed crossing a bridge. Glenn thought that wouldn't be feasible because the police would have to be mobilized on to short of a notice — the police would have to always be stationed at the ends of all bridges. Paul thought that someone would eventually figure out a way to do it. Technical possibility is followed by its use followed by its abuse, he said. He related what he thought was Jefferson quotation: anyone that gives up privacy for a little bit of security will lose both.

During the show, Glenn was having trouble downloading the California map for NavFree. That got Paul talking about "reciprocal backoff". If the initial download rate is fast, at some point the rate is reduced by half for, say the last 60 seconds. If you're still downloading the file after 60 seconds, the rate is reduced by half again. He says Hughes Net internet satellite service does this.
<A different type of reciprocal backoff was mentioned in the 5-08-13 show>

Mark called. He lives in the Nevada City area and has seen people trying to get to a nearby campground but are being lead astray by their navigation systems. The guys thought the maps may be based on old data and that it would be futile to get the map vendors to correct them. The best solution would be to put up a roadside sign that says, "Your GPS is wrong".

Paul add more details about his Nexus.
– It has a temperature sensor
– gravity sensor
– accelerometer
– magnetometor
– front & back facing cameras
– a GPS
– Bluetooth
– You can use a wi-fi mouse on it. And, using a replicator with the On The Go USB port, you can use a wired mouse. Unlike the Apple products, a mouse pointer actually shows up on the Nexus screen. Apple's Steve Jobs is known for eliminating things people have taken for granted; the Flash video app, floppy disks, CD drives even the mouse.

These sensors add realism and control features to some apps like the flight simulator called Picasim. This app simulates slope soaring — flying radio-controlled gliders on currents uplifted by hills. <slope soaring was mentioned in the 6-27-12 show> Search the Google Play store with the words: rc flight simulator.

Of the 800,000 or so apps at the Play store many are really good and are free. Many of them have pay versions that give you more features — Picasim gives you more maps & airplanes for an additional $2.99.

Raymond called. He recently got a remote piece of property and wondered if it's worth the expense of putting in a land phone (the phone line is already there). He wanted to know if there is an advantage to be gained. He's currently using a cellular phone and it works reasonably well.
– Unless you want high speed internet (if it's even available there), then no. There's no reason for a land phone.
– However, land phone may be a bit more reliable.

Last updated 10:01 PM 8/28/2013