May 6, 2015

Apr - 28 2015 | By

Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at:
– They’re tagged with #Zentech.
– When what’s said is unclear to me (or I’m unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (” “) verbatim.
– Editor’s comments are delimited by < >

NOTE: There will be NO Zentech show next week 5-13-15, due to a membership drive. Next show is on 5-27-15

Today’s show was more conversationally casual than usual & wandered a lot. Reflecting this, the notes may seem a little fragmented.


Both Glenn & Paul were in the studio today.


Paul observed that there seems to be a lot fewer viruses and a lot more malware these days. A virus can spread from machine to machine and can seem malicious to some but beneficial to others — the scammers.

Paul said that there’s no sign Windows 10 is any better at defending itself against virus than Win8 or Win7. Linux has become more user-friendly over the years and he likes it better than Windows or Mac.

He uses a lot more Android than he used to. Although Glenn settled on the 10″ iPad, Paul likes his Nexus tablet running Android. President Obama had been known for using a Blackberry, though its market share has fallen below 1%.

On a typical workday, Paul encounters, in order of popularity, Linux, Mac, Android and Windows. Windows 7 appears to be a relatively mature product, though it’s often subjected to malware.

Talk turned to audio equipment when Paul asked Glenn if he still uses CDs. Glenn said he rarely does though his car’s audio deck has a CD player as well as a USB port for playing .mp3 files and an AUX input for hooking up an external device.

Paul has a friend who’s CD player burned out and he had to figure out how to get out and what to replace with. Audio decks on cars, he said, have to put up with a harsh environment — moisture from the windshield, heat from heater vents etc.

Glenn has had to replace a number of audio decks. He’s found that replacing an OEM <original equipment> unit is often more difficult than an after-market unit.

Paul went on to say that many audio decks rely on slivers of metal that act as latches to hold them in the dash. It’s worth searching online for tips from those who’ve done replacements. A tip he found suggested making metal strips 1/2″ wide & 4″ long and forcing them thru narrow slots along the sides of the unit to disengage the metal springs that hold the unit in place.
<I often find forums hosted on a manufacture’s website have useful tips from other users — true for all sorts of products, not just audio decks.>

Once removed from the dash, you’ll see that the audio deck will have about 12 or 14 wires dangling out of the back. The replacement unit you’re about to put in, unless an exact replacement, will likely require a different arrangement of the wires. Newer audio units tend to follow a standard for the color coding of the wires. Cars older than 8 or 10 won’t follow a standard color coding. To be sure what wires go where, it’s best to look it up.

You can save a lot of money if you buy a replacement that doesn’t have a CD player like the one Paul got for his friend for only $25. It has an FM radio, a USB port and a SD card Another thing to look for in a replacement unit is the ability to read (from a CD, .mp3 or .wma file) and display the album artist & title of a song. Cheaper units will just say track 1, track 2, etc.

These days, the slot in the car’s dash for the audio deck comes in 2 standard sizes – din 1 and din 2. Din 1 is the smallest and is what you typically find. It’s about 1.5″ high and maybe 5″ wide. Din 2 is twice as high. Paul speculated about putting an Android tablet into the Din 2 slot and using all the functionality of the tablet such as internet radio apps, GPS, etc.

The control console in the KVMR studio is mostly digital and uses level 1 Ethernet packets, thus eliminating the need for a lot of wiring. Similarly, cars are starting to use in-dash networking thru which various components of the car communicate, including the various sensors. Going a step further, Paul wondered how great it would be if a car can anticipate and react to the change in driving conditions. He gave the example of a GPS unit knowing that there’s a hill ahead and autonomously downshifting when appropriate.

Paul mentioned how troubling it is to replace the little light bulbs in a car’s dash. Instead of using an old style filament bulb for a replacement, he said you can now get a pin-equivalent LED light bulb from Amazon. They typically last 100,000 hours and aren’t subject to breakage due to vibration, as with filament bulbs.

Paul asked Glenn if he’s ever used Uber, a taxi-like service involving private vehicles. Glenn said he’s never used it but he is an Uber driver. He’s gone thru the process of qualifying but hasn’t been in the position of picking up customers yet. He thought of driving for Uber during his trips to San Francisco.

It’s a simple process for the passenger to use the Uber service. You get the app for your mobile device Android or iPhone, put in your destination, ask for a cost estimate (if you desire) and push the button that summons a Uber driver. Uber drivers in the vacinity get the notification that you want a ride and can then accept or reject the job. The price is set by Uber and is subject to surge pricing — the price can change due to the change in demand like time of day or special events. Paul heard that the Uber price is usually about half that of a taxi.

Paul ranted a bit about how services like Uber should be subject the labor laws. He mentioned another service call something like Rent a Husband where you hire someone to do the work of a handyman or other household chores. He said many business are coming online that are based on the internet and social networking. He tried to remember a service that let you bid on a parking spot that’s about to become available. He couldn’t recall its name, MonkeyParking.

Paul talked about writing apps for mobile devices. If you write for an Apple device you pay $100 to be able to distribute it thru the iTunes store. The program that lets you write the app is called Xcode, which you can get from the Apple app store. It’s free and runs on a Mac using an emulator (it mimics the iPhone/iPad on the Mac). If you don’t pay the $100 to get your app into the iTunes store, you’ll be able to run it only on your own iPad/iPhone, you can’t distribute it. When you submit your finished app to the iTunes store it’s reviewed buy someone to be sure it’s not malicious. Big Brother also makes sure there’s no profanity and that it meets other social norms.

Things are a bit freer on the Android side. You can distribute your app freely or thru the Android Marketplace. When you go to download an app, read thru the comments other users have posted to get a sense of what it’s about. As with Apple, some apps don’t do what they claim, or they inundate you with annoying ads.
<Get the Google Android developer kit here.
For other Android developer kits see here:>

Saxon called. He has a 2012 vintage Mac Book Pro with a conventional 750meg hard drive <maybe he meant 750gig> that he uses for Cad drawings. He’s been advised to remove the CD drive and replace it with a (SSD) flash drive. He wanted to know if that’s a good idea and tips on doing it.
– It’s not easy to do on a Mac, unlike other laptops. The drive is an integral part of the machine.
– Most “Mac places would do that”. Inquire at an Apple store to see what they think about it.
– Consider replacing the hard drive itself (not the CD drive) with a hybrid drive. That’s something you can do yourself using a special pentalobe screwdriver to take the screws out of the back. It’s much easier than replacing the CD drive.
– Flash drives are expensive. Paul thought it would be over $1000 for a 750gig flash drive.
– First, make sure you have plenty of RAM. That’s the most obvious way to get a performance boost. Saxon said he has 8gig in his machine, which is the maximum.
– Paul quickly looked up the price of a hybrid drive. Amazon sells a Seagate 750gig 7200rpm SSD hybrid for $76. It didn’t say in this ad, but try to determine how big the flash drive is in relation to the total storage capacity. Remember, the bigger the flash portion the higher the price.
– Go to the manufacturers website and look up the specs of the drive you’re considering to get the full details, including the size of the flash drive portion.

Last update 12:20 AM 5-7-2015

Leave a Reply