Around The Web Audio/Video

Camp Century

Camp Century

In the 1960’s the US Army built an underground ice fortress in Greenland known as Camp Century. The photos (and video) are quite awesome. Reminds me of the ice lair used by Mr. Freeze.

Around The Web Audio/Video

Hydraulic Press Crushes Bubble Wrap

Bubble Wrap Hydraulic Press

Everyone loves bubble wrap right? It’s addictive to play with. Assuming you’re one of those people, this video of a hydraulic press taking on 23 feet of bubble wrap will be very satisfying.

[Via: Gizmodo]


Wi-Fi Usage Worldwide

From telecompetitor:

Wi-Fi network use will nearly double in homes around the world come 2016, according to new Strategy Analytics research. Already used in some 439 million households worldwide, equivalent to 25% of all households, Wi-Fi home network penetration will expand to 42%, reaching nearly 800 million by 2016, according to the “Broadband and Wi-Fi Households Global Forecast 2012” report.

It also mentions that 61% of US households have Wi-Fi.

Having had Wi-Fi now for a decade (since late 2001), I can’t imagine life without it anymore. It’s liberating being able to put a laptop anywhere and get online at high-speed. Devices like the iPad just make it more so.

Wi-Fi is easy to take for granted. It’s becoming a utility like electricity and water. You just expect it to be there and work when you want it.

Around The Web Funny

Bacon Roses

Bacon Roses

Pretty sure I saw this one a while back and forgot to post it, now it’s making the rounds again. If you ever needed instructions for how to make a bouquet of roses out of bacon, the internet has the answer for you.

Roses are red,
Bacon is also red,
Poems are hard,

I don’t mention bacon related things nearly enough on this blog for some reason. I’ll work on that. I happen to like bacon and know a thing or two about it.

Apple Google

Google Tries Augmented Reality Via Project Glass

Google Project Glass

I mentioned several weeks ago a NY Times report on Google’s augmented reality project. Google has now revealed “Project Glass“, an attempt at augmented reality.

The first thing that struck me is that it’s extremely similar to Siri, except it is visual as well as audible. This does serve some benefits (for example directions) as seeing is sometimes easier than having to listen, especially with lots of background noise.

My primary concern that it just isn’t practical for cost reasons still seem justified. Under the present model by wireless providers you’d need to add tethering to your phone’s plan in order to use such a device as there’s no Bluetooth profile that would facilitate most of that, with the exception of making a call like a normal Bluetooth headset. That’s an easy $20-30 a month via AT&T and $20 for Verizon. Given data plans are becoming more stringent, paying more for less data in a few years is entirely possible.

I’d bet Apple is working on something similar (how could they not be?), but will either use a proprietary Bluetooth profile or an entirely different radio for the purpose. I can’t imagine Apple shipping something that looks like Google’s device does either. It looks too much like eyeglasses and goes across the entire face to provide a tiny screen to one eye. I’d see a Bluetooth headset (Apple had one in the past) with an extremely thin boom and screen. Perhaps gyroscopically balanced (this sounds like a long shot for many reasons). The whole over the face thing seems reminiscent of when cell phones were 60% keyboard.

Apple Networking

Stable WiFi Connections With Mac OS X

I’ve been digging into Mac OS X’s sometimes unstable WiFi connections for a while now, and have come to the conclusion that the Broadcom drivers in Mac OS X 10.6+ are either too fussy or just buggy in particular when dealing with 802.11n.

Apple’s iOS drivers seem to be different as few people see the same issues across Mac OS X and iOS. On the hardware side, the iPad 3 and iPhone 4S use a Broadcom BCM4330, while the slightly older iPhone 4 uses a BCM4750. MacBook, MacBook Pro, Air use a Broadcom BCM4331 these days. Some older ones (pre-2010 I believe) used Atheros AR5008. As you can see the hardware is pretty similar suggesting software as the discrepancy. Despite using a Darwin based OS it makes sense to have slightly different drivers. These devices have very different needs in terms of data usage patterns and power consumption. iOS devices seem to use less power than their OS X based counterparts. That makes perfect sense. The question is how does this impact connectivity and what can we do about it?

Apple has recommendations for iOS. For the most part these are universally good recommendations, however I’ve found a few things to be different:

  • 802.11 a/b/g/n – If you’ve got a broad set of clients, without question seek out a simultaneous dual-band wireless router. Not dual-band, simultaneous dual-band. This will save you a lot of headache and ensure good performance. Two radio’s are better than one.
  • Channel – Apple says to set it to “auto”, however I’ve found if there are several access points on other channels nearby this can be troublesome for OS X based clients on 802.11n in the 5 GHz spectrum. You’re best off setting it to the most open frequency and leaving it if you experience problems. This alone will likely resolve many (if not all) connectivity issues in my experience. 2.4 GHz seems to do better in auto channel. I’m not entirely sure why this is, however I suspect it has to do with power saving strategies employed by the driver. This seems to be even more problematic with 40 MHz channel width, which sort of makes sense given they are related.
  • Set 5 GHz channel width to 20/40… maybe – Apple says to set the 5 GHz channel width to 20/40 MHz if supported because not all devices support 40 MHz, and this is most compatible. If you’ve got simultaneous dual band, you can consider setting it to 5 GHz 802.11n only with 40 MHz channel width and set the other radio set to 802.11b/g 2.4 GHz / 20 MHz serve as adequate backwards compatibility for non-40 MHz devices. I’ve run things both ways, and IMHO either will serve most needs well. Just depends what devices you are supporting.

This is pretty obvious in retrospect. The 5 GHz spectrum seems to have some funny business with channel selection and this can be solved by just being more strategic about your usage. If you’ve got an Apple device being fussy with network connections, this is the first thing to play with.

Audio/Video Funny

Drunk Guy Bohemian Rhapsody

Drunk Guy Bohemian Rhapsody

There’s “drunk” and there’s “singing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody in the back of the cop car drunk”. This guy is the latter.

This is what the internet was made for. In other news, I’ve somehow managed to publish 3 Bohemian Rhapsody blog posts here. That song is just associated with anything strange or unusual on the Internet. Wayne and Garth agree.

Apple Hardware

Screen Quality

Dustin Sklavos at AnandTech pinpointed my feelings in regard to crappy displays:

Each time I write about a notebook with a crappy display, more and more people get irate in comments, and many of you simply write off the review. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that hardware like this is still what’s prevalent in the marketplace, and that Joe Consumer either doesn’t seem to care that much about screen quality or just doesn’t know to ask for better. That tide may change with the rise of tablets, but there are people who see text on a high resolution screen, see that it’s “too small,” and just assume the screen quality is poor. So this problem persists.

I don’t understand how people can stand poor quality screen as this point. I may be a little extreme in my nitpicking, I think the glossy MacBook Pro displays are borderline unusable due to glare and over-saturation. But I think we can all agree that the typical lower end PC laptop is trash. For what it’s worth I’m staring into a Dell display that I really like right now, so this isn’t PC-bashing.

The iPad’s retina display is stunning. It’s the best display I’ve ever seen other than my iPhone. I can’t wait until that’s eventually available in a larger desktop size, and at a price we can all afford.

[Hat Tip: Jeff Atwood]

Funny Google

The Best Of April Fools Day 2012

Unlike many of my peers I’m not really a curmudgeon when it comes to Internet pranks on April Fools. Some are cool, others aren’t very well done. Get on with it. There wasn’t that much this year, presumably because April 1 falls on a weekend this year. Two however were pretty awesome:

Google Maps 8 Bit “Quest”

April Fools Google Quest

This is just outright awesome. It’s a fully “usable” 8-bit version of their map. This wasn’t just a quickie hack, it’s actually well implemented and complete. It’s very NES.

XKCD’s Targeted Comics

Everyone’s favorite comic XKCD went over the top by creating a bunch of targeted comics based on several aspects including browser, ISP, and location. The folks at reddit have been working to break it down. It’s quite complicated and clearly took some time. A lot of comics were drawn to make this work.

Around The Web Funny

Sesame Street Gets Rule 34’d

Elmo & Cookie Monster Adult Fun

Rule 34 of the internet: If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.