Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why Project Ara Matters

I read the Wired article about Project Ara, and then read the discussion of the article at Hacker News. The discussion there led me to realize that folks may be missing the boat on why we HAVE to have Project Ara.

First a quick summary of the article - Yes, the device now boots. Yes, they were able to swap out components without the phone crashing. No, they didn't try hot swapping the CPU. One major point of the article was making the point that you could have different frames, and then move the modules from one to another. So if you are out climbing and you want the real long battery and real good camera, but don't care about calls because you won't have service anyway...

So that is one reason we need it - phones that can change on a use case basis. Another that I don't see getting talked about is that we're at about the same point with mobile that we are on the desktop in terms of CPU. The system I am writing this article on is a custom-built PC from June 2009 that has a core i7, discreet nVidia graphics, and 8 gigs of RAM. If I bought a top end system today it would have a core i7, somewhat more powerful nVidia graphics, and probably 8 gigs of RAM. With the Snapdragon 805 I could easily see that if I could update the display and camera I might not feel the need to mess with anything else for a couple years. In fact, from a Google or Apple standpoint, wouldn't it be great if they could stop having to sell me the razor and the blades and just extract the money for the blades? As a consumer wouldn't it be great if I care more about the camera than a fitness tracker to have more room and spend more money on the camera without forcing folks who would prefer the other to find a different phone, or force the manufacturer to have two (or three or four or...) different SKUs?

Whether it will be Ara and Spiral specifically that get the job done or not, I think the direction is important to mobile, and feel confident that we will see something in this space sooner than later.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Windows 10 and Licenses

If you haven't checked out my game development blog in a while, I have started up work again on "Project Gliese". Which brings me to today's post on here. I had been working on my laptop for most of the work cleaning up from where I left off, and then copied the code to my home machines last night to do the build to put on the blog. All well and good.

But this morning I went to open the project in the copy of Unity I had on the upstairs machine where I have Win 10. I had installed Unity under the first Win 10 build, and now got a message that my OS had changed and my license was not good anymore. I was a little surprised that just changing the build made Unity think I had changed the OS, and had to run the "reactivate" a couple times before it actually took.

Not that I expect that many of you will run into this exact same error, but if you are running commercial programs on a machine with Win 10 and suddenly they stop working, you might want to see if your license server or certificate are suddenly showing errors.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Windows Networking is Just Plain Weird

Woke up at 2am (CDT) this morning due to some congestion, and noticed that the computer on the other side of the room was no longer showing my photos, but rebooting. I became more fully awake as I saw messages that looked like Windows wasn't doing just a regular update but a full-on install. Thoughts of programs to have to install, messages I might not have thought to copy to Evernote from a Sticky Note, and so on suddenly filled me with dread.

Once I had fixed some tea and blown my nose a couple times, I was relieved to see that the MS 10 preview had indeed installed a whole new build, but that everything was just where and how I had left it the night before... except that the new Notification center was complaining it couldn't connect to my HD array downstairs. I get this message all the time when Windows reboots as it doesn't seem to consider that the network has to connect before it can see the drive (same problem on my other Win machines), and so clicked it to clear it.

Then opened This PC and double-clicked on the drive and... well heck. It really wasn't talking to it. Do another reboot, and no more luck than the first time. Start investigating and notice that the install did NOT preserve my IP settings. Heck again... fix that, and still no love.

Make the walk downstairs and see it is waiting to install an update. Figured it might be a security update and that could be what was causing the problem, so reboot there. Sure enough, the new update cleared out the IP settings for this adapter as well. Spent time fixing that, and then found myself back where I had been a few months ago. Downstairs computer could see every other computer in the house except the Bedroom computer. Bedroom computer could see every computer in the house except the Downstairs computer. Most mystifying, Laptop computer could see and map to both of those computers even though they couldn't see each other.

Start a DL of Ubuntu just in case, and decide to visit my router. Sure enough, it was needing a firmware update as well. Applied that, and low and behold, everything can see everything again.

If it wasn't for the experience with the Laptop I would be blaming the router for this "fun", but I can't see how the router could be at fault if the only computers that stopped seeing each other were the two that got the MS update. I am tempted to think that rebooting the router forced both machines to rebuild their cache for the home network and that is what cleared things. But I have to admit it is more trouble than it should be to keep a Windows share up and running.

Still, since Hearthstone isn't available on Ubuntu, and Win 10 is still being developed, I'm not quite yet to do a full conversion around the house.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Getting Back to It Just Works

It has been quite the weekend here. It started with the decision to make about going to Ubuntu 14.10 or MS 10 TP. Given how little difference there is in Ubuntu 14.10 compared to 14.04, and that I was getting a bit tired of the daily reboots to re-establish my shared drive connections, I decided to give the latest Windows a try.

DL'd the ISO, and then used the Win 7 USB-DVD tool to create a bootable SD Card.

From there I had anticipated an experience similar to when I first tried Win 8 a while back. But was incredibly pleased to see that it read the Activation Key from the BIOS and so didn't have to type anything in, it properly got the right nVidia driver for my graphics card, and things were pretty smooth until I got to the shared drive point again.

Spent much of the last 24 hours trying different combinations of the Powerline adapter on one machine and the USB 802.11ac (Netgear A6200) on the other, and various IP adapter settings. The problem is there are so MANY options that trying to tease out a combo that doesn't leave your machine open to easy hacking while still letting you communicate back and forth involves adapter settings, network settings, and firewall settings. I kind of wish MS would let you choose to open everything up and then walk through a wizard to start closing up, or the other way around. Instead you're half open and half closed...

In any event, the trick that seemed to get me the most stable environment and the fastest transfers was Powerline up, USB down, shared (but not default) workgroup, fixed IP address, Turn on file and printer discovery, and NetBios over TCP/IP. The last option is one that SHOULD be the default if you setup a fixed IP address since Windows still uses it for discovery, but somehow thinks that if you are setting up fixed addresses you don't need it.

With all that I finally have both drives seeing each other properly mapped (no more "Network Discovery"), and my transfer speed is between 7-8MB each way.

Given all that, perhaps next weekend I can spend time doing something besides just making things work the way they should out of the box :-)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Publishing Time Again - Rosetta of Gliese

Yup, a new hard scifi book for your reading pleasure :-)

Blurb first:

This was it! The first signs of intelligent life outside of Earth!

It was only a slight disappointment when the first probes to Gliese 581g determined that it had died out almost 5000 years earlier. Dr. Kim Evans was part of the team picked to investigate what had happened to the Gliesians. Come along for a Hard Sci Fi thriller looking into Archaeology, Biology, and more on an alien world. And join Kim as she passionately works to unlock the planet's greatest secret.

Kindle version is available free through the Kindle Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited programs.

Hope you enjoy!