June 2009 - Gadget Victims


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Leaving HTC TyTNII for SE G705

6/29/2009 04:48:00 PM 0
After sitting on it for two weeks, the Irish customs finally decided to release the G705 that I ordered on eBay and almost considered lost. The OS was predominantly in Chinese, so I had to change the CDA with tools called "A2 CDA File Generator" and "A2 uploader", so my next update on SEUS would load an European firmware. Then I could really start playing with it:

(I initially posted a review on www.esato.com which forum is excellent for everything related to mobile phones)

I found a good balance between simplicity of use and technological integration in my previous Sony Ericsson phones K750i and K550 and they were part of my organized life. All it needed was a good PC companion freeware, myPhoneExplorer in my case, to synchronize with Google Calendar and backup the phonebook.
All these became suddenly more complicated with the arrival of the HCT TyTNII. The blame is not on the device itself, which is all a geek can dream of, but to the Operating System (Windows Mobile 6.1).
I manage to force this device into my organization habits but it required some additional software:
- Softick Card Export II: to use the TyTNII memory card as a smart drive on PC, as I used to do naturally with my SE phones.
- BirdieSync: to force ActiveSync to synchronize with Thunderbird instead of MS-Outlook.
(Don't get me wrong, I'm not an absolute MS phobic, I just like to have the choice.)
These two applications, despite they are no freeware, are the main reason why I kept my TyTNII for almost a year.

With the arrival of the G705, I could resume on using myPhoneExplorer (which I really missed) and retrieve the legendary simplicity of use of Sony Ericsson phones.

The only regrettable evolution is that now the use of MTP protocol when plugged in Phone Mode device on the computer. The Mass Storage mode used before was more flexible for synchronizing non-multimedia files. Hopefully the USB Ethernet Emulation driver allows to reach the phone's content as a network drive through \\g705... but it's slower.

In both TyTNII and G705 cases, I consider that such a small gadget cannot be your main in-car GPS device. For this there are cheap GPS with large screens and fast chipset (such as SirfStarIII) out there that do the trick much better.
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X10 automation hell

6/29/2009 02:43:00 PM 0

Back in 2002, I started installing an Wireless alarm and automation system. It seemed to be the most affordable solution, but it is far to be the most trouble free and the numerous problems I had to resolve forced me to acquire more knowledge on the subject that I really wanted to.

With time, I gathered some rules:

- don't put a motion sensor (MS10) nearby a halogen lamp: if that lamp was used just before leaving the house, the residual heat will be detected and trigger the alarm.
- don't stick the door sensor (DS10) directly onto an aluminum door frame, it may prevent it from working. Put a plastic or wood block between the frame and the magnet.
- don't leave some kitchen appliance (a certain "Rocket Blender" in particular) plugged even when not in use: the noise generated will stop the propagation of the X10 signal .
- beware of some surge protected power strips: they can suppress the signal just like the kitchen appliance above.
- a computer power unit with noise filter may absorb the X10 signal. A X10 filter (FM10) may be needed in this case and the 2 others before. (see this excellent article on noise and signal absorption)
- don't use the X10 Lamp Dimmer (LW10) with any Energy Saving CFL (even the new dimmable ones) , you may fry either or both. Use AW10 instead when in doubt.
- If you just added a MS13 wireless PIR and some X10 lights or appliances turn on or off with no apparent reason, remember that the MS13 control also the device number just over the one you setup (U+1). This one will be subject to the Day/Night detection.
- don't think that, because you're the only one to have an X10 alarm central in the vicinity, that it will not get interferences from other wireless alarm systems. Mine was going off every day at 3:30PM, which corresponded to when a neighbour returned home and disarmed his alarm: an cheap unbranded wireless model. The solution was to change the home code of mine.

You would also discover that these systems are packet with all sorts of bugs and, since their firmware can't be updated, you end up buying a new central unit every year or so:

Marmitek SC2700: no support for thermostat sensor
Marmitek SC2770: some support for thermostat sensor with bugs (Digimax 210)
Marmitek SC2800: better support for Digimax

SC9000: support for Digimax (although a first batch sold didn't support it).
New casing with LCD display for easier programming. X10 events scheduler.

SC9000 Wireless Security Central

SC28 (also called SC9100 and HomeProtector+): scheduler can control the Digimax thermostat, so you can set a lower temperature at night. Less bugs but the PS18 power supply can be problematic (mine blocked all X10 signal at some stage and had to be replaced)

The most annoying in the X10 world is the complete lack of communication and support from the manufacturers, to a point where the resellers themselves are often confused and sometimes advertise features that are not part of the model they have in stock.

A precious source of information is the AutomatedHome.com support forum.

All in one, I love and I hate X10 automation. Those who have such an equipment will understand what I mean. The central units discussed here are entry level (around €90 for the central unit alone), Some more expensive and reliable wireless alarm systems are now available, but they probably still don't beat a wired alarm system for the reliability.
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Foscam Wireless Pan & Tilt IP Camera

6/28/2009 12:56:00 AM 55

I've been searching for a wireless camera solution to second my troublesome and unreliable X10-based alarm system. This dial-up central is very sensible to interferences and so always called me following a false alarm. Having a way to confirm visually an intrusion would be a good thing for the day this alarm would really go off for a good reason.
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Call to all gadget victims

6/02/2009 08:47:00 PM 27

Set your inner geek free!

Some people claim that technology does not always make their life easier and that they could walk away from it... any time.

These very same people are often among the first ones aware of the latest gizmo when they don't already own it!

For them, a gadget that can't be either tweaked or hacked is of limited interest.

These people often feel like they are not understood by the rest of the mankind in general, ...and by their wife in particular.

If you recognize yourself in this description, and your Geek Quotient is worryingly high ...

...this web site is for you!

So welcome, and make yourself comfortable!

Affiliate links disclosure and other stuffs:

Some of the links in this blog are affiliate links from:

www.amazon.co.uk, www.gearbest.com, www.banggood.com
This means, that, at no cost for you, clicking on some links may  generate some revenue and/or motivate some shops to send me goodies to play with.

I bought most products myself and received some (in which case there's a thank you notice at the end of the article).
I aim however at giving an unbiased opinion on the products I review and sometimes warn you to stay away from some.

All references on this site are based on European standards (metric, € currency, 220v,...)

Topics and language on this blog are suitable for all family (no PG required).

Articles are gluten free, for most part, but written on a desk which may contain traces (...sometimes big chunks) of nuts!

See also: Finding your way on this blog

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