Thursday, October 30, 2014

Outdoor Audio Tech part 1

Since moving, I now have something I hadnt had since I was in my teens. A backyard.  I find myself spending more and more time out in the backyard as the weather cools off. Even during the summer we would be outside by the pool enjoying the space. I bought, what I think are really good bluetooth spearkers. Turns out it was merely a gateway to what I have come up with now.

TDK Life on Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker is a really good speaker, and I bought it because it was weather proof and if you live in Texas you know that just because it looks sunny, it doesnt mean its not gonna rain on you. But over these few months, Ive soured on bluetooth technology. Its unstable and buggie at best and I really dont want to have to jump out of the pool to get the music playing again. Yes I could plug my phone into this device using an Aux cable but whats the point of that.

So I looked into other options. Saw this video on youtube. Thanks Mark for shinning a light in this direction because I love the way this turned out. Mark uses a Lepai amp and a Apple Airport Express.
This allowed me to implement a Sonos like option without the hurt to the pocket book, using Apples built in Air Play functionality. If I want to use the computer upstairs in the Gameroom to Airplay Music, I can do that. If I want to use an old IPad, or my IPhone, I can do that as well.

What was next was finding the speakers. I didnt go with the cheapest and I didnt go with the most expensive. If this didnt work as I envisioned this working, I didnt want to invest to much up front. I purchased these beauties, the Yahama Indoor/Outdoor Speakers. They are bigger that anticipated but are way better sounding than anticipated as well. I needed Amazon Basics Speakerwire as well as I previously did not have any. To finish it off I purchased the Wiremold white Cordmate Kit. I bought the kit because I was not going run cables through my walls, and wanted to conceal them as neatly as possible.

The installation took no time at all, and this is coming from a very novice handyman. I can put Ikea stuff together, but I have friends and family help me with anything more difficult. After setting it up the Yamaha speakers sound great and carry a long way. The amp puts out a better than expected quality, however I am not an Audiophile so I wouldnt be the best person to ask. The Airport Express connected to the amp and plays flawlessly I really enjoy the ability to play music over airplay and will be going over other functions of Airplay in upcoming blogs.

Upsides. AIRPLAY, need I say more. Music play back to any room in your house that you have a connected AIPLAY capable device. Multi Room playback. Yes you can rock this just like Sonos. Its awesome, and you can control the volume for individual locations. PRICE. Huge factor for me, its cheap compared Sonos and comparable devices. Expand-ability, you can buy Airplay Enabled speakers or receiver like the Denon Avr. Also Apple Tv (2nd gen and higher can Airplay as well)

Downsides. While its like Sonos, its clearly not. I cant have another person control the music or play something they want, unless connected to my network. Also another user cannot play music when I am connected to the airplay device I am playing to. Meaning I have to disconnect from the session before that person can play the music. Technically adventurous capable people are needed. By no means is this a difficult install, infact it basically plug and play for the most part, but its not as easy as the Sonos is.

In Part two I will discuss the my second outdoor project. In Texas your garage technically is an extension of your outdoor space, just like your backyard patio.

Regardless of how you want to set up your speakers & system, adding outdoor audio is a fun project that pays off for months and years in the end.  Add a Tv into the mix and you will be able to enjoy endless hours of outdoor family and friends time outdoors.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

FYI Comcast just activated the hotspot feature on your Router

If your unlucky enough to be a Comcast user, and your trying to connect to your Wifi and you see the usual network connections in your area. You might see this XFINITY Wi-Fi in your network connection choices. If you notice XFINITY Wi-Fi probably has the same signal strength as your own network. The reason for this is because Comcast enabled a feature to on your home network that allows other Comcast user to use your device as a personal hotspot.

Comcast uses separate network antennae's one for your private use and the other for anyone with a Comcast connection. While I like to believe this is only meant for guest use like Comcast explains, I have a hard time not thinking a creeper down parked in his car close to my house will also be able to use my signal for who knows what, as well as possible slowing down my bandwidth. While Comcast might think this is a great feature, I know that opening up your network to any unwanted usage is never a good thing. Why risk the exposure. People once said Apple was virus free. Like anything else, someone will find a weakness in the system exposing you home networks to attacks.

So the question is how do you turn this feature off? You would think you could go into the router\gateway and just turn off the option in the settings. Nope, you have to call Comcast and request them to turn it off. While you probably wont get attacked or hacked, why bother. You can setup your own guest feature which Comcast claims this does. I would never have this option enabled. Take control of your own network and call Comcast and turn it off.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spotify and Pandora blocked? Try this for FREE

First I would say try ITunes Radio. Its really great and I enjoy it more than I ever did Pandora. It just seems to play what I want to listed more frequently.

However, if you looking for something similar to Spotify, try the Chrome extension Streamus. If you like me, the network administrator sucks and is blocking all Music sites and not allowing you to stream your favorite music. Go to chrome extensiona download the app




Then Click on the Extension.


Click search for songs, Search by artist or song name
Push play and that is. I have only used this on a computer and havent tested it another way. If it works on a phone I will update. Check it and Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Delete or recover email properly in Outlook

So I ran into this issue when a couple guys left the company I work for over the weekend and went to a competitor. Basically one of the guys deleted all the of his email or so he thought. The Branch manager wanted to see if there was anything in the emails that he should be concerned with.

So here is steps the user should have done to make sure his deleted folder was really deleted. Open Outlook and View the Pane towards the top of outlook



From there Choose Folder

Then Choose Recover Deleted Items.

Then you View all email that is in the trash. You can either Recover the deleted item or makes sure you delete them by choose Delete All.

So if your trying to hose your previous company or just dont want them to have the info you leave behind, thats as good as you can do! We got all the emails he tried to delete.





Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Team Viewer and Logmein, the winner is?

Team Viewer and Logmein are two of the many programs out there that will let you remotely access your computer while your away from home. Some might ask why you would want to do this. For me, its my way to provide support for my family since I moved so far away and since I've started my new job, it is the way I support remote users all over the country. Lets not mention its a great way to get some stuff done on your personal machines when you have the occasional downtime at work. 

I started this blog article way back when Logmein was free and easily the best option out there for daily use. You could have as many linked computers in your account as possible. Then they cut it off the unlimited access down to just 10 computers. I was easily able to handle almost all of my computers as well as my relatives computer. This was the program I lived in for years. Sometime late last year, they finally closed down the free portion and made option a pay only option. However they basically cut off the free option in one day and gave the users a 1 free week trial. It wasn't a very nice thing to do but that's how it goes. 

I had used programs like Join.me which is great but isnt the same as Logmein. (Logmein owns Join.me) I had also used Team Viewer for the occasionally trouble shooting issue for the remote users I had. The whole 2 of them. So of course I remembered that and loaded two test computers. While you cant mistake the difference between Team Viewer and Logmein, they basically provided the same functionality accept Team Viewer is free. (For Now) Both support clients. Both support multiple computers. They both support multiple passwords needed to login, just incase some accesses the program, they would still need a pass to the computer they are trying to login at to access it. One noticeable difference is that Team Viewer supports sound, (atleast on PC not sure of mac) and Logmein does not.

Obviously the big difference between the two is price. Team Viewer is free (for now) and Logmein has a yearly fee. If Logmein offered a reasonable lifetime price, I would have probably paid it. That being said, when I arrived to my new company, I was very happy to see they used Logmein to support all the remote branches. It makes life very easy to support the users with there various questions. Team Viewer does support a corporate pay version. I'm sure that would be great as well, but because I enjoy the Logmein interface just a little more I would have to recommend Logmein if price wasnt an issue and you have a lot of users to support. 

That being said, FREE is better especially in this instance, check out Team Viewer if your like me, the remote IT support for your friends and family or in a pinch and need to support a user who cant get Join.me or Logmein to work. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I'm back (again) but in Houston!! Review of Aereo streaming local tv service

In January I sold the house in San Diego and moved out to Houston where I had a nice relaxing I.T. job waiting for me. The only downsides besides moving away from friends and family is that I'm traveling twice as far and traffic is twice as terrible. ( I wont mention the weather issue) But the people are way more engaging and generally nicer. But this is not an update on me just letting you know why I haven't written in so long. 

Since I've moved to Houston, I have essentially been living TVless. Now that I'm settled and in a routine I wanted to address this. I have been staying with a friend and I didn't want to add to his cable bill and get a box. Some might ask, why don't you just torrent your shows. The WiFi in the house isn't the greatest and speed isn't a concern to my friend, so I don't want to bog down his network with constant streaming or downloading. (And I would never torrent) 

In San Diego I had read about a service called Aereo. It sounded like a great idea. Basic cable that you can get on your smart device. Another step closer to cutting the chord. However it didn't have enough channels for me to consider it a viable option. Since I'm now in a place where I have 20 or so days between my friends house and escrow closing on my house. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to give Aereo a try. 

Upsides so far
1. The setup process is simple. However you need a credit/debit card that has a local billing address tied to it to complete registration and initial billing process.
2. DVR to record shows
3. Aereo probably offers the best web DVR setup I've used. Its much simpler and more responsive than Uverse of Cox Cables online interface. 
4. You can access live video from your web browser via phone or computer
5.1 month trial/test period (which is perfect for my needs)
6. Price 8.99 monthly 
7. Smooth 4g LTE Playback (smart device)
8. Smooth Wifi Playback (pc & smart device)

Downsides so far
1. Limited amount of channels (but I knew that going in) and its really not a downside but I would kick cable if they offered more. 
2. No App for smart device
3. Having to use a card located with a viable zip (that is how they keep subscription local)
4. One DVR channel at a time. (You pay extra for an additional channel for simultaneous DVRing)

As you can see the positives out weigh the negatives, for the cord cutting people this service can be a great alternative especially during football season. You would only have to find different options for Monday and Thursday night football. I'm definitely in the early stages of using Aereo so if I find any issues along the way I will make sure to post an update. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I have multiple email accounts but Mac Outlook 2011 only lets me have one out of office ;(

If your like me, you have multiple email accounts. However if you want to use outlooks out of office assistant, you can only use it for one particular email account.

This is how I managed to get around this annoying issue.

Click on the Mail, towards the bottom left of your Outlook
Then Click the organize tab towards the top
Choose Rules, once the drop down appears click Edit Rules

Then choose the particular email type.  For example Exchange, Pop, IMAP

Edit the Rule Name with whatever you want. Example “Vacation Message”



Click the Reply Text button in the middle and edit your out of office message.

Then hit ok and send a test email.


 
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