A screen which I can use to watch Netflix, a screen which I occasionally can hook-up to my laptop as a computer monitor and a screen with good sound. That was my wishlist when I searched for a new screen. I want a small screen. Not bigger than 32 inches. Believe me. People in Vietnam said that’s too small. In Vietnam, the living rooms are dominated by big screens. You need to have a bigger screen than your neighbors.
I could choose between a television or a computer screen. The decision I took was the television because most computer monitors have underpowered low-quality speakers. I didn’t want to invest in a separated sound system. In Vietnam, most of the televisions with a screen size of 32 inches and smaller have a low resolution. Those so-called HD-ready televisions have only 1366 by 768 pixels panels. (I saw even a 1280 x 720 pixels television. The horror, the horror) In 2018 that resolution is not accepted anymore for a television. I want to use the screen for multimedia design work. I need the workspace. I need a high resolution. I don’t want to compromise with a low resolution.
I found in the Samsung UA32M5500 a good friend. a 32-inch television with a real full-HD panel that offers 1920 by 1080 pixels. The television is flat and offers a lot of functionality for around 340 dollars. that’s included with delivery and installation.
After 14 months I got started to notice some problems in the image quality.
Two backlight LEDs seemed to stop working. Also, the backlight was flickering. The first thing I thought was that this is the beginning of the end. The backlight problems will grow bigger and I can’t do anything about it because I thought that I didn’t have any warranty anymore. WRONG ASSUMPTION.
This can not be true. After 14 months the television already shows signs of malfunction. I decided to send Samsung an e-mail.
As a long-term Dutch Samsung customer, I have a question about the quality of Samsung television in Vietnam. In the Netherlands, I have always owned Samsung television. First a 32-inch LCD and later a 40-inch full-HD LCD. Both televisions worked flawlessly. When I moved to Vietnam I decided to buy a Samsung again. After a long research, I decided to go for the UA32M5500. A small television with real 1080P full HD. So I can use the television also for my edition work. The television was delivered to me on 26 June 2017.
This week I started to notice a problem with the backlight. Two LEDs on the left side of the screen seem to stop working. Plus that side has also a flickering. It looks like a hardware failure. Now I understand that in Vietnam the television doesn’t have two years of warranty like I’m used to in Europe. But only one year of warranty. So it seems that I don’t have any warranty anymore.
But this is a Samsung. It not normal that after 14 months of usage the television is already shown signs of problems. My girlfriends say its normal because the Vietnamese people get the lower quality products from Samsung and I have to take my losses. But I refuse to believe this rumor. I always loved the Samsung television because of their beautiful screen quality. But now I see this black spots on the screen where the backlight stopped working. Can Samsung assist me in finding a solution so I can use my television how this television supposed to function?
Rienk Jan Schurer
Shortly after the e-mail, there was a phone conversation between my girlfriend and the Samsung Service center in Saigon. Samsung will send an engineer to look at my television.
The guy came with the biggest backpack I ever have seen in my life. He immediately started to disassemble my old television and removed the circuit boards. My girlfriend already whispered to me that she has no idea how much it will cost. We kept quiet and watched how the engineer was performing his job. He swapped the broken panel with a new panel. The circuit boards and the original cover were placed back. The television was showing a spotless image. Mission accomplished.
The good news that the complete operation was free of charge. It turns out that Samsung is offering two years of warranty on televisions in Vietnam. The only thing the engineer had to do was to register the television in the database of Samsung. The original seller of the television has failed to do so. I had always the wrong assumption that Samsung only is offering one year of warranty on their television. But it’s two years. I’m really happy with this information because I was afraid that I had to buy a new television. This was not the case.
The warranty service in Vietnam is way better than I’m used to in Europe. If in Europe something break I have to go back to the shop with the product. Wait in line for the customers’ service. Then I have to wait maybe one till three weeks for the shop to find the problems and to repair it. Drive back to the shop to collect the repaired television. Takes a lot of time. In Vietnam, the problem is solved in 20 minutes. You don’t even need to leave your home. Thank you Samsung for fixing my television.
I was running out of space on my hard drive if I didn’t use Apple’s iCloud. But do I trust Apple’s iCloud enough? Or should I upgrade to a bigger SSD?
Since the spring of 2006, I’m a happy user of Apple products. I always tried to keep my machines fast. You don’t have any profit if you have a fast CPU and a lot of memory in your computer when your hard drive is the bottleneck. So I always tried to install the fastest hard drive I could find. In the last decennia, this was the Western Digital Black 7200RPM hard drives. But slowly a new revolution was entering the market. The SSD. Sort for Solid State Disk. No more mechanical pieces with a moving head that only could cover one section of the disk at the time, but flash-memory chips that instant can access every part of information without hardly any wait time.
In 2009 I bought for my MacBook Pro an Intel SSD with the size of 160GB. Wow. Wow. My machine felt so fast and snappy. I was infected with the SSD virus. From now on I will never have a computer again with a conventional hard drive. Every time I touched a normal computer with a mechanical hard drive it felt old fashion and nail-biting slow. After the MacBook Pro, I used a MacBook Air for years. This machine was built around a fast SSD. The slow CPU and low amount of memory didn’t matter because the SSD pushed the machine through the years.
In 2014 I bought the machine I still use today. A MacBook Pro retina with an Intel I5 CPU, 8GB of ram and a 256GB SSD. I’m not a hardcore graphic designer. Otherwise, I should choose for the I7 with 16GB of ram. In 2018 the machine still feels fast. But I can sense it has some problems to keep up when I’m doing video editing (O really). In 2014 I was storing my media on my NAS (Network Attached Storage). But the introduction of Apple Photos decided to collect all my digital memories together in one program.
Apple Photos offers a great solution for bringing all my memories in one place. Videos and photos are stored in a chronically ordered timeline. The software is doing face recognizing on every face it can find and is using the GPS metadata in the photos and videos to put it on a map. It improved the way of finding pictures back. No more searching in folders on a NAS. But I just type in the name or a location. Looking back at old memories is fun again.
Slowly my Apple Photos Library was growing. But on my small 256Gb SSD, this was not a problem. Apple offers iCloud so you can synchronize all your photos and videos to the cloud. The original pictures and videos are stored in the iCloud. When you want to watch the high-quality version Apple Photos quickly downloads this file from the iCloud. My local Photos Library is really small. So why do I need more hard drive space?
Because I already paid every month for my iCloud storage I also start using the iCloud Drive to store my normal files. I couldn’t fit all my files anymore in my free account of Dropbox. paying for both iCloud and for Dropbox sound a little overkill. In iCloud I can also choose to optimize Mac storage. So more free space on my hard drive when needed.
The first problem I encounter is that Apple’s optimize storage algorithm is way too aggressive and unpredictable. You can read in the above screenshot “The full content of iCloud Drive will be stored on this Mac if you have enough space. Older Documents will be stored only in iCloud when space is needed”. This is not true. I had enough free space. But the algorithm already removed the original pictures from my hard drive that I imported one day before. I could not quickly edit my vacation photos because the originals were already removed from my hard drive. For every edit, I had to wait seconds (or even minutes) when iCloud was downloading the picture in the background. I can tell you that the internet in Asia can suck big time. The same problem also happened with my files. Some files I worked on a couple days ago where already removed. I had to wait till iCloud had downloaded the files again. But some other files I hadn’t touched in months where still on the hard drive. Apple’s iCloud algorithm doesn’t make any sense.
The second problem was with Time Machine. I realized that Time Machine only makes a backup of my files that are psychical on your disk. Every file that’s in the cloud isn’t stored in your Time Machine backup. I have to give Apple my trust that they are taking care of my digital life. This is a big problem. I don’t trust Apple. I trust them that they are capable of respecting my privacy. But with their hardware, software, and management I have a hard time to trust them. The last year to many things happened that give me a feeling in my gut that I have to take care for my own data. I can already hear Apple’s mantra to their customers “You are doing it wrong”.
What do we know about Apple Datacenter? How are they secured and how do they keep my data backed-up?
What happens if Apple disagrees with a customer and disable their account. We now live in a world where big companies with a finger snap disable accounts. Even in the country of the free speech.
What happens if my monthly iCloud payment to Apple has a hiccup and Apple deletes your extra storage space.
What happens if I die and my family asks Apple access to my digital memories?
What happens if the country where I live is blocking all Apple services?
So I decided that I want to take care of my whole complete digital life. I still will use Apple iCloud. But I need and want a complete (offline) backup of my data on my hard drive and on my Time Machine backup. But those last years I’m so spoiled with iCloud optimize storage that I never can store all my data on my hard drive. I need a bigger hard drive in my MacBook Pro.
Apple’s SSD’s are that fast because they use their own proprietary connection. The advantage is that they can offer their customers higher read and write speeds. But the disadvantaged is that you can only use Apple SSD’s with this connector. This article can tell you more in details about the connectors. I can’t go to a normal computer store and buy a M2 SSD. I could use a converter that makes it possible to install a M2 form SSD in an Apple computer. But this gives a lot of compatibility problems. I can’t use the sleep-mode for example. So I want to install an original Apple SSD. But that’s something you can’t buy straight from Apple.
On Ebay a lot of sellers are offering secondhand SSD’s for the MacBook Pro. But they are too expensive. I don’t want to buy a secondhand SSD from the other side of the world without knowing if it’s working and I have a good return policy. It turns out that in Saigon is a shop specialized in solid state drives. So I visited this shop lagihitech. They had a box filled with secondhand SSD’s for every kind of Apple computer. They offer two things that decided in deciding to buy an SSD from this shop. They offer a warranty and they want to buy my old 256GB SSD.
To be ready for the future I choose a 1TB SSD. The shop offers two edition of this SSD. A fast one and a really faster one. I choose the fast one. Back home I could not get this one to run. It was detected by OSX and by Windows. But after a couple minutes, it disappeared. This is exactly the reason I didn’t want to buy an SSD online. Can you imagine the work I have to do if this SSD had to be sent back and I had to wait to get my money back? If you get your money back at all. The next day I returned to the shop. Without any problems, I could swap the failed SSD for another one. This time I choose the really fast one. It works without any problems. And it’s fast. Really fast. Take a look at the benchmark.
The SSD is secondhand. In the SMART health information table, I could read that this SSD in his lifetime had written 40TB of data. This is nothing. Basically, the SSD was almost brand new. Six months later the SSD is still running fast.
For my daily workflow I have now enough free space on my hard drive. I don’t need to wait anymore for iCloud to download files that were removed because the Apple algorithm decided I didn’t have enough space. I can work and stay in my flow. What I really like. I have enough space left that I don’t need an external drive again for my virtual machines.
In my opinion this was a good investment for my computer. I’m also super glad about the fact that I can still upgrade the SSD in this machine. The latest MacBook Pro’s from 2017 and 2018 have there SSD soldered to the mainboard. You can’t upgrade it anymore. So when you buy your MacBook Pro you have to decide the amount of space you need. You can’t change this in the future.
After many trips and vacations, my Apple Photos library was more than 500 gigabytes big. What can I do to make my library smaller? I start to use H265 (HEVC) for my videos.
My big Apple Photos Library
Apple Photos is my main media storage application where I store all my videos and photos. All my media is synced to the Apple cloud with iCloud. If I make a picture with my iPhone it will automatically appear on my MacBook Pro. But it also happens vice versa. If I import the photo’s and videos from my DSLR and pocket camera on my Macbook those files will also appear on my iPhone. If I delete a file on one machine, its also automatic delete from the other machine. Also, the trash is synced on my devices. If I delete a picture on my MacBook I can use my iPhone to recover that picture. Even the edits I make are synchronized. Those are features of iCloud I really appreciate.
Slowly my Apple Photos library is growing bigger and bigger. You go on a trip and shoot a lot of videos. You found an old folder filled with old vacation photos and videos on an external drive. Your parents send you old pictures they scanned. All those media files I collect in Apple Photos. Before you know the library is around 550 gigabytes big. The library contains 38 years of my life in digital form.
A couple of months ago I decided that its time to take control of my media collection. I did every day a Pomodoro. This is a productivity trick that you focus 25 minutes on one task. For every day I focus 25 minutes on my library. I started to delete pictures that had no meaning anymore. When I just got my DLSR I made without a problem 600 pictures at a party. As a reminder, I only kept 10 pictures of that party. I used my phones as a memory. In a couple of weeks, I managed to delete 15.000 pictures. I’m still not at the end of the library. Every day I do a small chunk of work. But still, my library is big. I found out that in this 550GB big library around 400GB is video. That’s a lot.
In the autumn of 2017, Apple released their new operating systems. OSX 10.13 for the Apple computers and IOS 11 for the mobile devices. In this software, Apple introduced a new codec for video and photos. Let’s talk about this new codec for video. HEVC. What stands for High-Efficiency-Video-Coding. Its a way better compression for storing video. Apple claims that it can make your video twice as small as the previous video codec they used: H264. I can tell you this is true. But videos I shot with my Canon, Sony and SJCAM camera’s even become smaller.
I made a short youtube video to show the difference in quality between H264 and HEVC. You see the change in quality is negligible. But the saving in disk space is huge!!!
The original video is a 34 seconds long and is 224MB big. Its recorded with a 50Mbit bitrate on a Sony Cybershot RX100 mark 3 camera. After I encoded the video to HEVC it’s only 17MB big. That’s only 7,5 percent of the original. You will lose some color and sharpness. But for private videos, I don’t have a problem to encode it to HEVC.
I started to encode all my old videos in HEVC format. In the table, you can see some examples of video clips I encoded.
H264 to HEVC compression rate
Length of the videoclip
Size in H264 format
Size in H265 format
Apple iPhone 7
Canon Powershot S100
Sony Cybershot RX100 Mark 3
Why would I want to make my videos smaller? It will take less space at my harddisk. I need less space in the iCloud. The video will load faster if I want to stream it to my iPhone. Because my Apple Photo Library is getting smaller I have more space for other files on my hard disk.
Using Permute to encode the videos
When I wrote this blog post there are two good video encoders for making HEVC files for OSX. Handbrake and Permute. Handbrake is free, faster and offers way more settings than Permute. But I choose to use Permute because of a better workflow. Plus Permute conserve the metadata of the video file. I can tell you that this is super important. Apple Photos is using the date and time metadata in the video for the correct place in the timeline. If your video is shot on 04 January 2013. And you encode it with Handbrake at 08 August 2018. Than Apple Photos will not place that video in the timeline on 04 January 2013 but on 08 August 2018. So your timeline will be messed up. Permute keeps the correct recording date in the encoded video file. Using Permute is too simple to fail. With Handbrake, you can make easy a mistake. There are just too many settings in that program. Permute cost only 10 dollars. But you can also find it in the Setapp subscription.
How did I configured Permute?
I made a custom preset for my encoding work. I want to keep the same video and audio quality as the source video. If a video is 4K it will be downscaled to 1080P.
I have a folder on my desktop with the name “IMPORT APPLE PHOTOS” where Permute automatically saves the encoded videos. I put CPU usage on low so I can use my computer when Permute is busy. Disable previews is also a good advice. Otherwise, Permute can spend minutes on making small previews of the videos. For me, that’s not important. It only cost a lot of time.
This is important. You need to tell Permute that you want to preserve the creation date of your video. Otherwise, the encoded video file will get the date of the day you encoded it. If you import the video back to Apple Photos it will have the wrong place in the timeline. So turn it on.
In Apple Photos I made an album with the name “To Permute”. When I’m doing my Pomodoro and I find a video which I want to encode to HEVC I just drag that video to the “To Permute album. Before I will sleep or I don’t want to use the computer for a long time I will select all the videos files in the “To Permute” album and do right-click on the files. I choose then edit with Permute.
Apple Photos will prepare all the selected videos and send them to Permute. Check in the left-top bar if you choose the correct preset. The only thing you then need to do is press the start button. Now you need to wait. Some videos are encoded in a couple of minutes. But I also had some long videos that took two days. My MacBook is not that fast. Read my blogpost about keeping a MacBook cool.
When Permute is done with encoding I just drag all the video files in the “IMPORT APPLE PHOTOS” to Apple Photos. Do a quick check if the videos are oke. After that, I just delete the videos in the “To Permute” album. When I do my next Pomodoro I just start over with a new batch of videos.
In the near future, I want to use an Apple Script that will import the videos automatically after Permute encoded it. I found this thread at the Apple forum how to do that.
Three weeks later
In three weeks time, my Apple Photo library shrunk from 550 GB to 300 GB. It’s still a work in progress. I hope to get my library under 200 GB. I also hope to find an easy workflow to convert some raw photo’s to JPG format, or even to HEIC photo format. I will share this on my blog if I find a good method.
This blog post describes my steps to make my old Apple MacBook Pro run cooler in a warm climate under constant processor load.
When my Macbook turns older. Its somehow starts to feel slower. It’s weird because its still the same computer I bought four years ago. With every OSX version that Apple releases it makes my computer feels faster and it makes it feel slower. I have to explain this. My computer feels faster after the release of METAL for handling the graphics parts. But its feels slower of all the new software features that are integrated into every new OSX release. I also have that gut feeling that Apple isn’t giving OSX any priority anymore. The big money is made with the IOS devices. Why spent a lot of resources on OSX? Most things that are now coming to OSX and the Apple computers are innovations that are first made for the IOS devices. IOS get the optimization and new features first, OSX gets it later.
My late 2013 MacBook Pro 13 inch has an Intel 2.4Ghz I5 mobile processor with a TDP of 28 watts. This means that the processor can produce up to 28 watts of heat energy. The i5-4258U processor is a combined CPU and a GPU in one packaging. So the CPU and the GPU share the same footprint and share the same heat pipe that transports the heat from the processor to the heatsink. The fan is blowing this thermal energy out of the enclosure.
The i5-4258U has the base frequency of 2.4 GHz. But can use the Intel® Turbo Boost Technology to push the frequency up to 2.9 GHz if there is enough cooling. Lately, I’m using the Macbook day and night for the encoding of videos. So the processor is pushed to the limit. Because its here around 30 degrees Celsius the Macbook could not reach the full 2.9 GHz. It was hopping between 2.4 GHz and 2.7 GHz. There has to be a way to improve this.
I start to search for a solution. On blogs and on Youtube videos the advice was to replace the thermal paste between the processor and the heat pipe. Thermal paste is a sticky solution that helps to transfer the heat from the processor to the heat pipe. Apple doesn’t make their own laptops. They hire a company in China to do that work. The problem is that this company is using a low-quality cool paste that’s too thick, has bad thermal performance and it will lose it thermal conductivity over time. It’s total garbage. The solution is to replace the thermal paste with a high-quality brand. I searched for what kind of high-quality thermal pasta is available in the city. For around ten dollars I bought a small tube of Arctic Silver 5.
I removed the heat pipe and with alcohol, I cleaned the old thermal paste off the processor. There was indeed too much crappy thermal paste. It was everywhere. After everything was cleaned I applied a small drop of Arctic Silver on the processor and put the heat pipe back. It was a disaster. The MacBook was running awful. I removed the heat pipe again and saw the problem. I did not apply enough Thermal Paste. There was a big part of the processor not covered. I applied some more of the Arctic Silver and put the heat pipe back.
Wow. That was is big different. The MacBook feels snappier. With the old thermal paste, the laptop had hiccups when it had to do heavy graphics. But now it’s fluent. Lets put the MacBook to the test. Let’s encode some videos. My video encoding software only uses the CPU for its task. The GPU is almost running idle. This little adjustment is a big success.
One of the advanced of having a unibody computer is that the whole enclosure is a heatsink. This is also a disadvantage. Sticky sweaty palms. The whole laptop was feeling like a small backing plate. Not comfortable. So I was looking for a solution to make the complete Macbook feel cooler and more comfortable at the hands. In the local hardware store, I bought for one dollar a 12CM fan and hooked it up on the most worthless power supply ever. Don’t understand me wrong. The laptop was running great with the new thermal paste. It could run at full power. But it wasn’t comfortable to put your palms on the Macbook. So the fan was keeping the enclosure cool.
But the bottom plate of the MacBook Pro was still running super hot. I want the airflow of the 12 cm fan also to flow under the laptop. So I started to put things under the Macbook: Little blocks of plastic, a Bluetooth speaker or a coffee cup. It didn’t work. I had a cool laptop. But every time I moved the laptop it fell off its temporary plateau. When I was typing the whole laptop was wobbling. Let’s search for what kind of solutions exist to lift the laptop higher, but that I’m still capable to use the laptop without an external keyboard.
I will spare you the time I spend in searching for a solution. I read blog posts. I watched the videos. All the collected information I processed for a week. After that, I made the decision to buy the Xuenair MacBook Stand. A massive block of aluminum with a hinge. I paid 20 dollars for it.
The hinge makes the stand portable. You can fold it flat and put the stand in your bag. You can also fold the hinge up and use it as an iPad stand. The hinge is moving stiff so you can adjust the angle.
Now there is enough space under the Macbook for a good airflow. The hole at the back of the Xuenair helps with the cable management.
The chin of the laptop is close to the table. So I can use the trackpad and the keyboard while my arms are resting at the table. Not only does the Macbook got a better airflow under the enclosure. But the screen is now higher. It’s much more comfortable to work for a long time. I can hold my neck in a more natural position. The stand is rock solid. I can type for hours and the MacBook is not wobbling. I think the Xuenair is a great product. I don’t have yet any experience with traveling. The stand is around 400 grams. Did I ever tell you that working with the combination of a trackpad and a mouse at the same time is god-like?
In the history, the GPU was mostly used only for games, acceleration of video playback and doing the graphical user interface. Nowadays the GPU also responsible for heavy calculations. Take a look at the video editing software Final Cut Pro. It’s using the GPU to do the rendering of the videos, the analysis of the stabilization and the encoding of the final video. The CPU and the GPU are both used to give you a better experience. More and more the GPU is responsible for heavy repeating calculation task. In the first years under OSX OpenCL was responsible for this. Last years Apple is shifting to Metal for this GPU supporting calculations. The arrival of a Machine Learning Module in Mojave OSX 12 will accelerate the use of the GPU in your computer. The GPU will help the Apple Photos application for recognizing faces and objects in your pictures.
Let do some quick tests. This is not a hardware website where reviewers are doing hours of testing. Those are my own quick tests. I’m doing this for fun.
The Macbook is doing
Final cut pro 4K export. This is using the CPU and the GPU;
Permute HEVC encoding. This program is only using the CPU. The story is that ffmpeg isn’t using the GPU because of the low video quality in HEVC;
Quicktime screen recording. This program always pushes the GPU frequency up to the maximum 1.1Ghz.
You can see that the processor is using around 30 watts. The GPU is running at 1.1 GHz and the CPU is running around 2.7 Ghz. Still in Turbo boost mode. I still get more CPU processing power than I paid for. But I don’t get the full 2.9 GHz.
Furmark is known as the GPU killer. It pushes the limit of your GPU. If your GPU can run a long time at a high load and a high temperature. Then you can assume it’s a stable and good GPU. It will be not the first time that a GPU is killed by the Furmark. So be careful.
Final cut pro 4K export. This is using the CPU and the GPU
Permute HEVC CPU encoding.
Furmark running at 1024×640
This is interesting to see. The CPU is running now at 2.1 GHz. That’s under the base clock speed of 2.4 GHz. The GPU is running at 0.95 GHz. Lower than the maximum speed of 1.1 GHz. Is the processor throttling? And that is something I want to know. Why is the processor not running at full clock speed? The total power consumption of the processor is 26 watt. Lower than the previous test.
Is there another reason why the processor is running slower. Is Furmark using all the memory bandwidth and the processor forced to run slower to keep up with the memory requests? But nobody will run Furmark in real life. So this is not an honest test.
After four years I have to realize that my MacBook Pro is an old machine. Its a great machine for my daily life. But for hardcore calculations, I can feel the machine is sludgy. If I do one task at the time the machine can keep up with my needs. Most video encoding I’m doing when I’m at sleep or when I’m not behind the computer. It takes some time. But I will get there.
The small adjustments I did to let the machine runs cooler is helping. The machine feels snappier because I replaced the thermal paste. The machine feels cooler because of the fan and the stand. The stand also improved in handling the machine better.
This is not a review. But my story and opinion about the Jack. The Jack is a device that can turn every wired headphone in a Bluetooth headphone. You just plug the jack plug of your wired headphone in the Jack. (Maybe that’s why it is called the Jack?) The Kickstarter page showed a story that Podo Labs has the experience to make this Bluetooth device and bring it to the market quickly. The main reason I backed this project was that you can turn the Jack in a transmitting mode. So I can connect the JACK with a wire to any television, radio or computer and it’s transmitting the sound to another Bluetooth headphone. Handy when you have a long flight but you don’t want to be bothered by cables.
In the winter of 2017, I backed the Jack on Kickstarter. It’s not my first rodeo on Kickstarter. I have backed a lot of projects on Kickstarter. Fortunate for me I received all the things I backed. Maybe it’s luck. Maybe I can feel if a project will be a success. I also backed the PODO camera on Kickstarter. From the same makers as the Jack. But shortly after I received this camera I already broke it because of the poor quality of the plastic used by Podo labs. I asked about the warranty. Podo told me that providing that was not a problem. I only need to ship the camera back to China. The shipping cost was higher than buying a new camera. So I put the Podo camera in a box and never took it out again. I only need a small plastic piece. Maybe one day I can print this part with my 3D printer.
The promise on the Kickstarter page was that the Jack would be shipped in the summer of 2017. Podo labs bragged that they had the experience with previous products. So shipping the Jack on time was easy as pie. The Summer came and went. I saw the autumn. I saw the winter. I welcomed 2018. Sporadic I received an e-mail that Podo Labs has productions problems. In every e-mail, they send to there customers was a story about delays but with the promise that the Jack would be shipped soon. When Podo Labs put the Jack on Kickstarter they still didn’t fulfill all the backers of their latest project. People were still waiting for their Podo camera.
In October 2017 Podo Labs announced their next project on Kickstarter: The Belle Bluetooth speaker. People were still waiting for their Jacks. People were still waiting for their Podo camera. In the comments section on Kickstarter people even start to talk that Podo Labs is paying the debts of the previous projects with the gainings of the latest Kickstarter projects. Sounds like a Ponzi scheme. You keep the public interested in delivering products that are paid by others. I don’t know if this story is true. What I know is that when a company is communicating with their customers on regular basis and tell them the truth that you will get goodwill. But that’s what Podo Labs didn’t do. They kept silent. You have to hide something as a company if you keep silent for weeks, or even months.
I already took my losses. I expected to never see my Jack. This will be my first failed Kickstarter project. Kickstarter is an investment. So I can’t cry like a baby and ask for a refund. The 25 dollar I invested is lost, but I gained a experience. Why are companies returning to Kickstarter with new projects? Kickstarter is a platform to kickstart a company. Why return?
I was surprised that this week there was my mailman in front of the house. With a small envelope. What could that be? A small envelope with an utterly smashed small box in it. I received my Jack. Without any notice, Podo Labs send me a Jack. I didn’t receive any tracking code. What a surprise.
What did I receive? A black Jack, a USB charging cable, and a silicon protection cover. Everything was protected by some bubblewrap plastic. There is no manual in the box. Something I don’t see as a problem. I keep my manuals digital in Evernote. The paper manuals I always throw away. I can’t remember that I order the silicon cover or recall the reason why I received the cover. I can’t find any proof that I paid for it. So thank you Podo.
On the left side of the Jack, you have a stereo 3,5-inch jack plug and a micro USB charging port. When I plug the Jack into the USB port of my Macbook there is not USB device visible in the system information. So there goes any change for an easy update of the firmware or use the Jack as an external DAC player.
On the right side, there are three buttons and a hole for the RGB led. The led can show in different colors the state of the device. The big button functions as the power button and as the play stop button. The small buttons are for the volume control and the control of the tracks.
My eye was caught immediately by the two screws. I felt a big urge to get my screwdriver set (XIAOMI Mijia Wiha. The best screwdriver set ever) and open this puppy. Here I found the first problem. The enclosure of the Jack is only held together with one screw. The second screw is loose in the plastic. I will show you later why.
Opening the Jack is a feast. It’s only two plastic parts. The battery and the circuit board are sandwiched between those two plastic parts. I was afraid that it would be a problem to open the Jack. But as smooth as warm butter the two parts slide from each other.
Seeing the circuit board give me a positive feeling. I don’t know if it’s of good quality. But it looks easy to repair or to modify. You can see there are a lot of test pins on the circuit board. But for now it’s a little happy board.
The connector for the headphone only has three pins. So any headphones with support for a microphone won’t have microphone support with the Jack. You cannot use the Jack for making phone calls. The antenna is a separated part. I wonder why? It’s cheaper to etch the antenna on the circuit board. But Podo Labs decided that the antenna is a separated piece that’s connected to the circuit board with a cable. I don’t mind this decision. It looks like more quality. But is it reliable?
UPDATE In the comments section MadJo mentioned that the Jack has support for a Microphone. I got my flashlight and took a closer look nearby. Yes. There are four pins in the jack plug. The Jack is supporting headphones with a microphone. I paired the Jack with my iPhone and I could make recordings in the IOS 12 (beta) Voice Memos app. Both clips are lossless. That the sound over the Jack is in a lower quality is I assumed something in the Bluetooth protocol. I don’t think its the Jacks fault.
The battery is a 300mAh Li-Po battery. I think enough for a long day of listening to podcasts, watching Youtube and listening to music. The battery is easy to get on the market and has a protection circuit.
When I was putting the Jack back together I didn’t feel comfortable. There is a change that the metal clip can touch the circuit board and cause a short-circuit. Maybe the protection circuit on the battery will prevent a big spark. But its something to keep in mind when you are disassembling or assemble the Jack.
What I think is a problem with the Jack are the fragile pillars that are holding the screws. In my Jack, one of the two pillars was already cracked. So the screw can’t hold on it properly. I hope that Jack will release the STL files. Then I can print my own enclosure with my 3D printer when the enclosure breaks. The Sandwich construction also gives me the opportunity to design my own enclosure for the Jack. maybe I will dive into that later.
Someone was maybe lazy in the Podo Labs factory. On the battery is a strip of tape. Maybe to secure the battery in the enclosure. But the protection foil is still on the tape. Did someone forget to tape the battery?
My first impression is that the Jack looks easy to repair or to be modified for future projects. What I really hope for is that I can use the Jack as part of a vlogging setup. The Jack can be used as an audio transmitter. So if I put a microphone in the Jack. Can I somehow capture this audio stream and record it on a laptop or a phone. Or a second Jack (or an another Bluetooth receiver which I can use to connect). This project goes on my list.
How does the Jack sound? I have to be honest. Better than I expected. It sounds good. Podo Labs didn’t step into the trap to make it too bassy. The market is already flooded with too many devices that are too bassy. The Jack sounds very natural. I’m happy with the sound. The Jack gives me the freedom to choose which headphone I want to use.
One of the reasons that the Podo was delayed by more than a year is its clip. The clip feels badass. It’s strong and feels like a part of something that’s used in the Starship Enterprise. I can play for hours with that clip. If other manufacturers are reading this story. If you ever want to put a clip on your product. Look at the Jack. That clip is pure art.
In the comments sections, people complain about the range. After one meter the sound already starts to crack. I did also this test. My range is five meters. That’s acceptable. I can reach all the corners in this room and I can use the bathroom. Don’t forget. Wireless communication depends on two peers and the band. Maybe they use a shitty phone or live in an area with an overcrowded 2.4Ghz band.
I won’t back quickly a new project on Kickstarter. Lately, I have the feeling that Kickstarter is not anymore a platform for finding the funding for a product. But its become an advertisement platform to promote a product. A lot of products don’t need any big investment to get realized. For example wallets and bags. After the Kickstarter is finished that product is ship right away. The designs and factory lines are already in place. They just need Kickstarter to reach the big public. It’s also really shady why successful companies use Kickstarter over and over again for there new project. For example Pebble. The first time its understandable. They need the funding for a new project. But later they did it again. And the third Kickstarter was a total disaster. Pebble was already bankrupt when they started this Kickstarter. Think about it. Why are companies returning to Kickstarter. If a company is healthy they can use the normal retail channels. You as a customer will have more rights.
I have seen a lot of things on Kickstarter that interest me. But now I’m withstanding the pressure to backed those cool things. I wait till the Kickstarter is over and the products are available in the normal retail. I pay a little bit more. But now I get a legal warranty on the product. I don’t need to wait months before the product is realized and I’m protected by my credit card company if the products aren’t delivered.
One of the best and cheapest stereo audio recorder is the ZOOM H1. This little device is now for many years on the market. It didn’t need a refresh because it was almost perfect. But the Japanese company Zoom surprised everybody when they released its successor. The Zoom H1N. But before the H1N is almost as perfect as his big brother the H1 the last bugs need to be crushed. Zoom released firmware version 1.19. I made a video which helps you to update the firmware on your Zoom H1N. What I found out is that you need a good formatted memory card or the update doesn’t start. I highly recommend that you use the SD Memory Card Formatter to format your memory card.
After the update, I noticed that the Zoom H1N was also faster with booting up. I like to get a free performance boost.
This blog post is dynamic. It will be edited with the latest information. You will find a changelog at the end of this blog post.
The meetup groupThanh Pho Ho Chi Minh Walking for health Meetup-Tao Dan park is bringing people together every 12 weeks for a walk. But some people disagree that every 12 weeks is enough. Every week or every two weeks is better. We try to contact the administrator of the meetup group. But this person stayed silent. So this is a shadow document with more information about the weekly walking group.
After a busy week its good to have a walk. You can use it to learn and practicing a new language, make new friends, exchange information about cultures, try new food, See people practice different sports or just walk in silence.
Every Saturday morning. We gather at 7:00 (AM) in the bird cafe. Around 7:15 (AM) we start walking in the Tao Dan Park. Around 9:00 (AM) we sit in the Bird cafe for coffee and/or tea. Some members of the walking group start at 6.00 (AM) with a sport like running.
The walking is in the Tao Dan Park in District One. This park is central in Ho Chi Minh City. The park is situated behind the Independence Palace (aka Reunification Palace / Dinh Thống Nhất) As address for your navigation system, Taxi, Grab or Aber you can use the address 57 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Bến Thành, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Every morning bird lovers gather in the bird cafe. They bring a cage with their beloved bird. A good place to gather for the walk. More information about the bird cafe can be found at -> Cà phê chim Tao Đàn, thú vui tao nhã của người Sài Gòn (Sorry. The text is in Vietnamese)
If you come with your bike. Then you can park at two places in the park. The parking in the east is only a 10-meter walk to the Bird Cafe. The cost for the parking is 5.000 dong.
In the Bird Cafe, you can buy coffee. The price is a little bit higher then you pay on the ‘street’. A coffee with milk is around 20.000 dong.
Walking makes you hungry. In the park is a small stand that sells warm soja yogurt with caramel. Taste really good and is not so heavy for the stomach. The price is 5.000 dong for one bowl.
In the park is a FREE public toilet. It’s clean. Separated for ladies and gentleman. You are not allowed to wear your own shoes inside. Make use of the free provided flip-flops. In the park are also paid toilets. You pay 2.000 or 3.000 Dongs in advance for the service. Be aware that there is no toilet paper. You have to get the toilet paper separated in advance from the toilet-lady.
28 September 2017 – first initial release.
06 July 2018 – Some typo’s
Meerdere malen per maand reis ik met de trein tussen Leeuwarden en Sneek. Dit gaat altijd goed. In de 25 jaar dat ik gebruik maak van deze lijn heb ik nog nooit een boete gehad. Arriva is een bedrijf met een winstoogmerk. Er moet efficient gewerkt worden. Gaat dit ten koste van de menselijkheid dan gebeurt dit maar. Arriva is de monopolist tussen Sneek en Leeuwarden. Zowel op bus als op trein gebied. Ik heb een fout gemaakt. Maar ik geloof in de goedheid van de mens. Helaas is deze menselijke maat niet aanwezig bij Arriva.
Ik ben de trein ingestapt omdat ik niet kon in checken. Het alternatief was een uur wachten op de volgende trein. Ik ben meteen naar de conducteur gegaan om mijn verhaal te vertellen. De conducteur heeft mij meteen een boete gegeven. Met de instructies als ik meteen betaal en bezwaar maak dat de kans groot is dat Arrive de boete kwijt scheldt. Ik heb daarom dezelfde dag de boete betaald en Arriva een brief gestuurd met daarin een uitleg van de situatie.
Brief richting Arriva
Rienk Jan Schurer
8601 HH SNEEK
Sneek, 12 juni 2017
Arriva personenvervoer BV
Betreft: Bezwaar tegen proces-verbaal met kenmerk 9658 1721 4400 6355 – Weekendvrij 3528040007181582
Geachte mevrouw, meneer,
Woensdagavond 7 juni 2017 heb ik op het traject Sneek – Leeuwarden een proces-verbaal ontvangen omdat ik niet een geldig check-in kon tonen aan de conducteur. Graag wil ik tegen dit proces-verbaal bezwaar maken.
Woensdagavond liep ik naar station Sneek. Ik dacht dat het 19:40 was. Mooi op tijd voor de 19:48 trein richting Leeuwarden. Bij het oplopen van het station met mijn OV-chipkaart ingecheckt. Maar op het station kwam ik erachter dat het 20:50 was. De trein van 20:40 was al vertrokken. Omdat de volgende trein een uur later vertrekt ben ik naar een supermarkt gelopen voor een flesje fris en ben ik door een heerlijke zomerse avond naar station Sneek-noord gelopen.
Op station Sneek-noord was ik geconcentreerd een boek aan het lezen toen ik opmerkte dat de trein richting Leeuwarden er aan kwam rijden. In mijn gedachten pak ik mijn OV-chipkaart en hou deze tegen de terminal. “U bent uitgecheckt”. Dit klopt niet. Ik hou mijn OV-chipkaart weer tegen de terminal. “U kunt niet opnieuw in/uit checken”. Gelukkig is hier een oplossing voor. Tenminste. Bij de incheck palen van de NS werkt het wel. Dus ik ren naar een andere incheck paal. Helaas dezelfde melding. Ik kan niet inchecken.
De machinist steekt zijn hoofd al uit het raam. Wat kan ik doen vraag ik. Hij zegt. Ja. Je moet twee minuten wachten. Maar ik ga nu weg. Je kan ook instappen. De conducteur is achterin in de trein. Ik ben meteen naar de conducteur gelopen. Omdat ik geen geldige checkin heb krijg ik wel een proces-verbaal. Hier kan ik tegen in bezwaar.
Maandag 12 juni 2017 heb ik vanaf de ASN BANK het proces-verbaal betaald. Ik wil graag bezwaar maken tegen dit proces verbaal omdat het systeem van Arriva mij niet de mogelijkheid gaf opnieuw in te checken. Ik wilde graag met een geldig vervoersbewijs reizen. Maar ik wilde hiervoor niet nog een uur wachten op station Sneek-noord. Daarnaast vind ik het jammer dat Arriva niet mijn dalkorting heeft verrekend. Ik betaal voor kortingsproduct waar ik graag gebruik van wil maken.
Tot 9 juni 2017 was ik woonde ik op het adres:
Rienk Jan Schurer
Grote Kerkstraat 170
8911 EG LEEUWARDEN
sinds 10 juni 2017 woon ik op het adres:
Rienk Jan Schurer
8601 HH SNEEK
Bank gegevens: ASN bank NL45 ASNB 0707 3727 55 tav Rienk Jan Schurer te Leeuwarden
Ik vertrouw erop dat Arriva de menselijke maat betrekt in het besluit om dit proces-verbaal ongeldig te verklaren. Ik ben meteen naar de conducteur gegaan en heb zonder protest het proces-verbaal aanvaart omdat ik erop vertrouw dat dit in orde komt.
Met vriendelijke groet,
Rienk Jan Schurer
De boete bedroeg het bedrag van 50 euro en 4.53 euro voor de treinrit. Ja. Ook al betaal ik elke maand 40 euro voor een kortingskaart. Ik moet Arriva het volledige ritprijs betalen. Als je ‘zwart’ rijdt kom je niet eens in aanmerking voor je 40 procent korting. Ik voel me net een robotje.
Op 12 juni 2017 hebben wij een bezwaar van u ontvangen voor een verkregen boete.
Wij hebben uw bezwaar in behandeling genomen en laten u hierop het volgende weten.
U hebt op 7 juni 2017 een boete opgelegd gekregen door een van onze medewerkers voor het reizen zonder geldig vervoerbewijs in een van onze treinen. U geeft in uw reactie aan het hiermee niet eens te zijn. Met uw reactie verzoekt u ons om deze boete in te trekken.
Wij hebben de aan u uitgeschreven boete niet beoordeeld als onterecht opgelegd. Als gebruiker van de OV chipkaart bent u zelf verantwoordelijk voor het correct in- en uitchecken. Aan uw verzoek om de boete te laten vervallen kunnen wij dan ook niet voldoen.
Wij vertrouwen erop u hiermee voldoende te hebben geïnformeerd.
Met vriendelijke groet,
Arriva Personenvervoer Nederland B.V.
Manager afdeling Klantenservice
Het Arriva robotje heeft het besluit genomen. Ik ben verantwoordelijk voor het in en uitchecken. Sorry schat. Maar dan heb je de hele context van de brief niet gesnapt. Ik kon niet inchecken. Bij de NS hebben zij een failsafe ingebouwd voor dat soort vergissingen. Maar Arriva heeft dat niet. Arriva laat liever mensen een uur wachten op de volgende trein dan een beetje coulant te zijn. Ik trap er nooit meer in dat ik eerst de boete betaal en daarna pas bezwaar ga indienen. Ik kan boos zijn. Maar ik kan ook een mooie afbeelding van een trein tonen. Die arme trein kan het niet helpen dat zijn eigenaren een beetje niet sporen.
Iedereen die mij kent weet dat ik erg van Science Fiction films hou. Helemaal als ze in de film proberen het zo realistisch mogelijk te maken. Jaren geleden zag ik de korte film “True Skin” voorbij komen. Ik was de video al een tijdje vergeten tot een oud collega mij HYPER-REALITY toonde. Zo kwam ik tot deze collectie van korte films waarvan ik denk dat die de toekomst aardig dicht benaderen.
In de toekomst is het modificeren van lichaamsdelen de normaalste zaak van de wereld. Maar wat heb je aan al die technologie als er op je gejaagd wordt.
Langzaam nemen de robots de wereld over. Maar gaan ze deze strijd winnen?
Augmented reality in een overdrijf. Kan jouw identiteit makkelijk gestolen worden?
Daten in de toekomst. Het is een spel. Kan jij een vrouw versieren als je informatie over haar hebt?
De eerste 3D printers maakten gebruik van ABS. Deze op oliebasis gebaseerde kunststof was ingewikkeld te printen. Je moet gebruik maken van een verwarmd printbed om te voorkomen dat jouw print kromtrekt. Daarnaast komen er giftige stoffen vrij bij het printen van ABS.
Als ik ABS print gooi ik de ramen helemaal open en sluit ik de deur naar mijn print ruimte. Ik wil niet in de buurt zijn. Natuurlijk heb ik de fout gemaakt dat ik bleef kijken bij een ABS print. Dit heb ik moeten bekopen met een heftige hoofdpijn voor de rest van de dag.
PLA is een kunststof die wordt gemaakt van plantaardige grondstoffen. Ze zeggen wel eens als je met PLA print dat het ruikt naar popcorn. Ik vind dit onzin. Maar het stink niet. PLA heeft als nadeel dat je het meteen wilt koelen. Daarom hebben de goede 3D printers allemaal een filament cooler. De Kodamo trinus 3D printer heeft zelfs een 360 graden cooler. De koele lucht wordt rondom op het object geblazen. En laat hier nu het probleem zitten. De cooler is zo goed dat de printkop ook afkoelt. Soms koelt het wel af tot 20 graden onder de ingestelde temperatuur. Dit kan problemen geven met de stevigheid van het geprinte object. De nieuwe laag heeft door de lage temperatuur niet goed kunnen hechten aan de onderliggende laag.
Dit probleem kan je oplossen door de printkop te voorzien van een siliconen kapje wat rondom te printkop gaat. Mijn printer heeft geen problemen meer om de printkop op de juiste temperatuur te houden. Een tweede voordeel is dat de printkop schoner blijft. Verdwaalde print filament blijft niet meer plakken aan de printkop.
Ik heb drie siliconen sokjes van E3D (LINK) voor een paar euro gekocht vanuit Engeland. Voor mij nu al één van de beste aankopen voor mijn 3D printer.