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Blogs about hardware

Internet of Things "Hack and Tell" Review.


Last week I went to an "Internet of Things Hack and Tell" at the Makerhaus in Fremont. The event was quite well attended; by my count there were over 80 people there. The hackathon was cleaned right out of sponsored pizza; I was glad I'd already had pre-meetup sushi. There is clearly enough interest here in Seattle to support a Nodebots group.

It was interesting to see all of the projects shown at the event. Here's a rundown of what was demoed:

For the record, many projects were only talked about. Some were too large to mobilize, some were missing parts ("the motor arrives tomorrow"), and some presentations were just a slideshow.

My apologies to those folks whose name / URL I did not get. A couple of folks were given Intel's Arduino-compatible board - the Galileo - at the conclusion of the event. Very jealous!

Installing Snow Leopard onto a Macbook Air.


I finally decided to upgrade my old MacBook Air from Leopard (OS X 10.5) to Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6). Unfortunately for me, Snow Leopard wants to be installed from a DVD, and the MBA doesn't have an optical drive.

Rather than buying an external optical drive for $100, I had the husband put a disc image onto a USB flash drive using a MacBook, and I installed Snow Leopard from that. When prepping the flash drive, it's important to Format a new Mac OS Extended (Journaled) onto the flash drive, rather than drop a .dmg file onto it; otherwise you won't be able to boot from the flash drive. More details on installing Snow Leopard from a USB drive are available here.

The Sezmi.


In February, our household ditched cable T.V. service in favor of a combination of Netflix, a new DVR and less T.V. overall. For our new DVR, we chose an over-the-air DVR from a company called Sezmi. Unfortunately, last month Sezmi decided to cease providing direct to consumer service.

While we could watch previously recorded shows, the DVR stopped recording new shows, and seemed to lose the listing service. We could still manually set recordings, and choose live T.V. by network.

However, we recently rebooted the Sezmi, and since then it's started automatically recording shows, and it's been showing the listings information again. Hooray! This will certainly stave off the need to research and purchase a new DVR solution for a while.

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The Laying On Of Hands.


The father of a childhood friend always started fixing household devices by opening doors, re-seating cables, and just fiddling with the equipment. It was reasonably effective, and he referred to this process as "the laying on of hands".

Since I rebuilt my computer a few months ago, it was intermittently failing to find the hard drive on boot up. I figured it was a hardware failure, since there were no boot problems when the drive was found. I cracked the case, poked around a bit, and reseated the SATA cables. I've had no problems since!

The laying on of hands wins again.

The Bose Headphones.


Last week, I had trouble with my Bose QuietComfort 3 Headphones. The left ear phone started cutting out intermittently, and the next day it stopped providing any sound entirely. This was pretty frustrating because the headset was a gift, and was just under 2 years old (the warranty was one year). For something that expensive, I expect it to last much longer than 2 years.

I called Bose. The agent confirmed that the headphones were broken and needed replacement. He apologized that they were broken, but couldn't extend the warranty. He did offer Bose's replacement program, where for just $100, they would replace my old headphones with a brand new set of the same model. I said I'd think about it.

Later that day I went into the Bose store near my office, and got the same offer from the in-store associate. She was very kind and apologetic that I'd encountered trouble. She could do the $100 exchange right there in the store, so I wouldn't have to wait for shipping. I took the exchange. She gave me the cable and battery from my old headphones, so now I have extras.

Bose definitely provides a customer service model holds up to my expectations for the premium price of their products. But if this new headset doesn't last 5 years, then I will have to conclude that their products don't meet my requirements for the price.

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