Get Outta My Head: Google Cast-enabled Speakers


Google Cast-enabled Speakers

If you had the opportunity to read about Google’s recent launch of the Chromecast Audio, then you might have some idea of what Google Cast-enable Speakers are.  But if not, then you’re in for a treat. Sony, Denon, and LG have all announced Google Cast-enabled Speakers.

Google announced that several partners have integrated the Google “Chromecast” functionality into a couple of lines of stand-alone speakers.  These speakers, unlike most Bluetooth speakers, operate from a connection to your home Wi-Fi and steam clear, digital audio directly from the Internet.   The Google Cast element allows the user to control that audio stream from Google’s Play server, whether through Play Music, Play Movies, or from a host of other services like Pandora, Spotify, IHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, RDIO, and more.

Although these new speakers are not priced in the same ball-park as the Chromecast Audio itself ($35), they do offer a similar level of audio playback quality that you might expect from a high quality speaker.

LG Electronics

The LG Music Flow speaker series begins with the Music Flow H3.  A fairly small, vertically rectangular box that is slightly taller than a box of facial tissue. Atop the head of the speaker there is a iPod-familiar volume touch interface and a simple On/ Off switch.  As most of your music will be controlled through whatever smartphone or tablet device that you use, there isn’t much need for controls on the speaker itself.

Other devices in the Music Flow line are the H4, H5, and H7 speakers.  A unique feature of the H4 is that it includes a battery making your music more portable around the house.  And if you’re really into the LG line of speakers, adding the Music Flow Sound Bar will allow you to play back the audio from your home theater system.


The flare one expects from Sony hardware is somewhat diminished in the SRS line of speakers.  But where LG left off, Sony picks up.  The SRSX77 isn’t just a Wi-Fi device, it doubles as a Bluetooth speaker.  And adds all the support of the DLNA, Apple AirPlay, and a ridiculously long 100+ hour battery life.

In similitude to the LG line of speakers, Sony too has a line of speakers ranging in price from slightly more than the LG to a great deal more. You should expect to get solid performance from these speakers for the price, but don’t expect to pay less than $100 for any of them.


As of yet Denon has not released it’s line of Google Cast enabled speakers.  But we can get a glimpse of what is to come via their website (Press Release).

If You Had All Digital Clocks, You’d Forget About Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time

It’s that “time” again, Daylight Savings Time, that is.  Time to “fall back” to the old time.  Yes, you wouldn’t even know that the time had changed, because your smartphone and tablet, desktop and laptop, atomic clock and Smart TV all set themselves at the exact time change. If the rules were changed yet again, the manufacturers of these devices could easily make a small change OTA to reflect it. And you still wouldn’t notice.

Alas, some of us still have appliances that are not connected.  We have desk clocks and analog wrist watches, wall clocks and grandfather clocks, DVD clocks and clocks in our vehicles, none of which are connected to the internet to update the time.

So take that extra hour and remember to set your non-connected clocks “BACK” an hour at 2 AM after Halloween (Sunday, November 1st).   And consider all those lucky people who don’t have to think about the time change.


Unlimited Tablets and Free Data For Life

free data for life 02

Free Data for Life

With a title like that, you’re probably asking about the catch, but there really isn’t one.  T-mobile is quite serious about its offerings and they mean to stay that way.  Now, with Free Data for Life on as many tablets as you want, the deals are only getting better.  It’s as if T-mobile sees a problem with the market and rather than try to spin a solution, they simply fix it.

No Contracts

The first great thing that T-mobile did in this championing for the people, is to eliminated service plan contracts.  They went to a system where the only contract is that you pay for the hardware at cost (over time).  Regardless of which company you go with, everyone pays for the hardware, but for every other mobile provider the final bill is the full 2 years. To leave T-mobile, you only need to pay off the phones.

Which leads me something  pretty cool about T-mobile.  You should not pay for the phone up-front.  All device loans or Equipment Installment Plans (EIP) are “at cost”, no interest. Whether you pay for it immediately or over time, you pay the same amount.

Unlimited Data

The second great thing about T-mobile is the dedication to Unlimited Data.  At no time, even prior to my having become a customer in 2008, have they ever cut off the data stream. Although they market it as X number of Gigabytes of 4G LTE data, the data does not stop once you hit that level. It merely reduces down to 2G or 3G speeds and continues. There’s no harsh fee for overages, because you can’t go over unlimited.

Free Data For Life

And finally, the Free Data For Life.  Every now and then T-mobile will do promotions where they offer a free Tablet and free data for life.  You do at least need to pay the taxes on the “free” tablet, but they’re not joking about the free data.  You will however get only 200 MB per month (It could be as much as 500 MB).  And to boot, there is no cap on the number of tablets.

If you want 10 tablets with 200 MBs of 4G LTE, you can get them all free date for life.  Or if you just happen to need 25 tablets with 200 MB of 4G LTE, but you don’t use them for 12 months, you’ll get 60 GB with all that roll-over data.  Yes, if you don’t remember to use all 200 MB of data, then you will keep it for up to 12 months.


The key factor here is the “Free Data For Life”, but simple fact that T-mobile will willing to offer unlimited tablets with that data and roll over, causes one to wonder.

Caller ID Spoofing: Journey through the Un-phone


Caller ID Spoofing is no fun for the Owner or Recipient

Jokes and pranks are all fun and games until you are on the receiving end.  Some people can take a joke, but when it’s a joke that involves their business, livelihood, or their lifeline to the world, then it’s no laughing matter.   Lately, Caller ID Spoofing has become the domain of scams and debt-collectors. And both the owners of the numbers and recipients of these calls are getting shafted.

It’s always someone else’s problem until it’s your problem and recently it became mine. In Mid October of 2015 I noticed that I couldn’t make any calls from my cellphone.  Every number that I dialed returned the Routing Error message of three ascending tones and the response, “The number you have dialed has been disconnected or is no longer in service, please recheck the number and dial again.”  Every single number that I dialed had the same response and it was getting very annoying. GoogleVoice

I finally narrowed the problem down to the call forwarding service (Google Voice) that I had been using for many years.  Apparently, when I tried to dial out with the forwarding service, the system needed a valid carrier connection.  That connection had been labeled as a spammy number by another phone company and so when I was dialing every call was being blocked.  After a great deal of testing, both with apps, the phone, and another cellphone, I resigned to using a VoIP app (Google Hangouts) to make all my calls.  This was not ideal, but it could work.

The answer to my issue came the following day when I received a call FROM MY CELLPHONE.  My cell number called my Google Voice number — of all the weird things to happen — and I realized what I needed to do. I called my carrier and had them give me a brand new number.  (Recently where I live a new area code had been set because of the population increase.)  This new number had never belonged to anyone and would be free of the issues that prior numbers usually had.

Immediately I could call out again, the problem had been resolved.  I only spent about 4 hours with Google and with my carrier to resolve this issue, and fortunately I have a forwarding number, so that I can change my carrier number without much hassle.   But for all the other people who do not use Google Voice or some forwarding service, when they get a spoofed number they have less immediate recourse.

As technology improves and we see more that a tool can be used both by regular citizens as well as criminals, we will need to become more vigilant in our design as well as use.  Telecommunications have drastically changed our society and we need to respect that change as we move into the future.  Legislation is only one way to resolve these issues, right thinking and acting will help curb the misuse of such tools.


All other ISPs Vs Google Fiber


All other ISPs Vs Google Fiber

If you’re fortunate enough to live in one of the very few cities or metro areas, such as Kansas City or Austin,  that have Google Fiber, you probably remember the battle to get there.  But for those who have yet to experience the wonder of the modern world, there are semi-alternatives available. These faux alternatives are offered by the companies that Google is battling with and they are AT&T, Comcast, Time-Warner, etc… That battle is still waging now, but it’s akin to the beating that the Seahawks gave to the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII (48).

Let’s review what each company has to offer.

Google Fiber is 1000 Mbps Synchronous, that is both directions, upload and download.  It costs $70 per month.  You can get Television service as well for an additional $50 per month.  Installation is Free if you sign up for a 12-month contract.  The price does not change after the contract period.

AT&T does not currently offer Fiber service in areas that do not currently have Google Fiber available.  But you can get up 50 Mbps / 5 Mbps (Dn/Up) in many areas for between $50 and $100 / month with a 24-month contract.  And the price will go up after that.

Comcast does offer Fiber Service, even as much as 2 Gbps in areas where Google Fiber is currently available.  The deal is great for those with money to burn; $500 for install, $500 for activation, and $300 per month with a 12-month contract.

As for Time-Warner Cable, there’s only whispers of a suppositional possibility for 1 gbps service in the future.

It would appear that the best deal, even if not available in your town, is Google Fiber.  You may have to suffer with slow speeds, high cost, and wretched customer service, for a while until Google Fiber gets to you.  And there are usually other alternatives locally, but you may pay more for them.   For example, in Northern California, a local company Etheric Networks, offers a land-based microwave system that offers up to 100 Mbps, but at a steep price.  Whereas another local company offers AT&T’s U-verse service for 50% less and it includes VoIP phone service (

If you’re wondering why Google Fiber is so much less expensive and why all the other ISPs have yet to offer Gigabit service, the answer is a complex one.  Google wants everyone on the internet and the fast, the better.  Google sells ads and the more bandwidth, the fast ads can be sold.   The other ISPs currently make a very good living from charging consumers for slow internet, especially in monopolized markets.  Plus, improving access speeds is a massive infrastructure cost.  In short, it is in Google’s interest to give you faster internet, it is not in the interest of all other ISPs.