Thursday, September 26, 2013

Too many remotes?? Get a Universal Remote already!

A few years ago, I realized I hated remotes. I was always programming cable remotes for myself and my parents so they would pair with the Tv. Easy enough. Well what about that sound system? Ok no problem. What about the DVD player.. Hmmmm Ok that should work. However what about the apple tv. What about the roku? What about the 360? What about the PS3? The devices kept mounting and so did all the remotes you needed to control all the devices. This just wasnt working for me especially because the cable companys remote didnt have all the button functions that I needed for all those devices. I still cant find the remote that came with my Sound system!

I started doing some research and this lead me to Logitech. Most, if not all of there remotes got great reviews. It seemed like this was the route I was going to head down so I jumped in head first and went for what I thought was the best.

My 1st Logitech Harmony Remote was the Logitech Harmony 1100 Universal Remote with Color Touch Screen. $329.99. It's touch screen and although not iPhone responsive, its good enough. It was amazing to see all your devices you had set in an activity turn on with a single push of a button. The software was a pain to install at first and if I remember correctly, I wasn't getting it to work right away, however it quickly became a breeze. You do have to create a login and password which will save all your remotes activities and devices which is handy. (This is not the same setup as the myharmony.com that comes with newer devices)
This device was wonderful for 3-4 1/2 years. Then the problems started. The right side of the screen started to become non responsive. Once I got that fixed with re calibration, the sound button started going off by itself. Volume would go up and down by itself. I still haven't given up on this guy because I truly love it and am hoping to find a forum to help with my latest issues. I will say I got my money out of it for sure. The rechargeable battery still works along with the docking station. My favorite feature was the channel favorites. Basically you hit one button instead of remembering which channel number to go to. Its like your contact list on your phone. Do you even know any of your contacts phone numbers. Its awesome! I can go on and on about this one remote. One big downside to it was, that people were intimidated by it. When I had people over they felt like they would break it. Its different because its square.


My 2nd was the Logitech 915-000144 Harmony Link - Black $99.99
I wanted a universal remote for my bedroom. I was getting my Uverse through my Xbox and with the addition of my soundbar, that was one to many remotes in the master bedroom. However this technology was not ready yet. This device shook my confidence in Logitech a bit. It just didn't work. The responsiveness that I got from the Harmony 1100 wasn't there at all. I would have to keep hitting buttons over and over again to get the activity to work. Not to mention the configuration was for the most part, manual. I had to always figure out were certain buttons were and it was just inefficient. I ended up giving it to my parents who never actually used it.

3rd was the Logitech Harmony 650 Remote Control (Silver) $67.11
This simple remote brought back the faith in the Harmony Remote brand. With the web setup and easy setup and use, this is just a nice remote. For 60 bucks it does the trick. You are limited by activities and devices but you get a nice color LCD (non touch) and it works as a plain old remote. The intimidation factor is not there because it looks and feels like a normal remote. Its easily the best use of $60 bucks I spent this year! 


4th and most recent Logitech 915-000201 Harmony Ultimate Remote with Customizable Touch Screen and Closed Cabinet RF Control - Black $337.31
The latest edition to my house. This was the replacement to my poor Harmony 1100. Not only do I love this remote, I love love love love this remote. First it looks like a remote. The LCD screen is super responsive. The button setup takes some manual adjusting but works flawlessly after setup. My biggest issue with the Harmony 1100 was the manual setup of favorites. Basically I had to manually find the channels and icons of the stations and manually input them into my favorites. Then sync the device so they would be there.This version asked me who my cable provider was and downloaded the stations. I just had to go and star the stations I wanted on my favorites. It even gave me the option of standard and HD channels. After that they appeared on my lcd screen with the channels icons. It makes a huge difference for me and was always worth the effort to setup but this was so much better. This remote came with Harmony Smart Control. Basically this is the new and improved version of Harmony Link. Let me tell you this is worth the price of admission. They just made the device so much better, including two RF adapters. When I changed channels, it is super responsive. Because you have to be on the same network to use this app I was able to change channels from a different room. Turn all the devices on and off from another room. Basically you can hide and control all your devices with ease. The Harmony 1100 will always be a sentimental favorite, but there is no denying how terrific this entire setup is.

Upcoming 5th (Near Future) Logitech 915-000194 Harmony Smart Control with Smartphone App and Simple Remote - Black $99.99
Because I love my experience with the Harnony Ultimate Remote setup, I will be buying this Harmony Smart Control setup. I have an original iPad 1, that I can and will use as my remote for this setup. Because of how well this device responds to the actions, I might never buy another traditional remote again.

In short, I've had a great deal of success with these remotes. Don't get me wrong, I've had my issues, like after 3-4 years the Harmony 1100 steadily started to die. For over 300 dollars, I was hoping I would have it longer. The 650's initial installation was a pain for sure and I wanted to take it back. The link was just terrible. During setup of the Ultimate I lost connectivity and had to restart the hub. Its not perfect, but pretty darn close. 99 percent of the time (after installation and setup) its terrific. The bumps in the road are nothing compared to outstanding performance and reliability that these remotes provide. Not to mention the favorites and the ability to turn on and off with one button on one remote. Check these out you wont be disappointed!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Use your old Android devices as a home webcam.

So essentially I'm taking two really great ideas and services and combing to get the best usage for me out of them.

First I learned about iVideon from my friend el dipablo at Bauer-Power.net. iVideon allows you to connect any camera and stream that camera over the web. Whats excellent is that you can use iVideon on Windows, OS, Android and Linux devices. The server and smart device app are free. Up to two cameras are free as well. After setting up my account information I setup the iVideon Server on a mac mini and and attached a Logitech usb webcam. The usb webcam is detected automatically by the server.Create a user account, hit play/start and your off. Setup is painless and easy. From there you can view the feed from a browser or smart device.

Even though I'm an IPhone guy I still have access to extra droid phones that will never be used again. So when I ran into Iyaz Akhtar episode 57: Turn You Android into a Spy Cam on Twit.tv I got super excited because this is something I wanted to implement for a while.  Make your old phone into a webcam, I'm in The article said to install IP Webcam from the google play store on the droids. Like iVideon, this app is completely free.

Once installation of the app was complete I opened the app and started the service all the way at the bottom. From there IP Webcam is running. You will need the IP address that is on the screen. Enter that IP into a web browser.  From there you will see a bunch of different options on how to view your droids feed. You will want to choose URL for MJPG-compatible software. This is under the Third-party software support:. I've circled what you need to copy below. Copy and paste the url.


Go back to your iVideon server and right click on the IP Camera. Add camera. Find the URL input area. Click on the middle option next eye looking button. Paste the info your copied from Android webcam server and hit ok. Click ok again. Hit the start button on the iVideon Server. 

From there go to the iVideon app or browser that your videos are streaming and confirm setup.  Below is a picture on where my cams running live. The far right pic is in a dark hallway. 




As mention before iVideon is a free service with just two cameras.  Anything more and you will have to pay like I have. My option is 21 cents a day for three cameras. With the payed version your get more options. Your able to archive for up to 10 minutes. This comes in handy if someone breaks in your home. You can also setup alerts. Status alerts and Motion alerts. Motion alerts also work really well in the middle of the night as I tested. These are only available with the paid version.

My Setup
Mac Mini (For Server and Logitech usb Webcam)
Logitech Webcam (connected to mac mini)
Micro usb cable (Two of these)
USB wall charger (Two of these)
3m Meduim Hooks (hold androids)
Two old android phones 

So basically I took two really awesome ideas. One from Iyaz Akhtar from this Know How regarding IP webcam app, and one from el dipablo at Bauer-Power.net. I molded the services together for what I wanted and the end result has made me very pleased. I also see this service put into play for day cares. I have a baby of my own and would love to be able to check in on her with something like this daily. Its inexpensive and has been reliable. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

iTunes Radio not showing up on Windows 7

If your like me, I've been wanting to check out iRadio and see what the deal is. After I updated iTunes to version 11.1 I expected to see the option appear when I opened iTunes. Much to my dismay it did not magically appear. It showed up on my mac mini and macbook pro. So you might be saying, isnt that enough. Well no. It should work cross platform and its just irritating. Besides my work hourse is my Desktop PC and it should just work on there darn it.

After a bit of research this is what I found out. The system requirements from Apple.
"System Requirements
Mac OS X version 10.6.8 or later
Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later
32-bit editions of Windows Vista or 32-bit editions of Windows 7, and Windows 8"

I got Windows 7, whats the deal? Well after uninstalling iTunes and a big epic fail of trying to install a 32 bit version, I re installed the 64 bit version.

Magically iRadio appeared! That was great, but the really awesome thing was that all my media was where it was before I uninstalled. So it might have not been the best way to go about it. But it worked for me!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

5 reasons I'm not going to iOS 7 just yet

Now I'm not telling you to not update. The people who use these apps know what they're doing. For the everyday non jail-breaking people there aren't very many reasons not to update to the latest and great version of iOS. However think about speed when updating. If your on an iPhone 4, chances are your going to slow down your 4 because iOS7 was made using the latest hardware Apple uses. Is the prettiness worth the slowness of your phone on a day in, day out basis. Remember Apple doesn't let you go back to the old version. Here is 5 reasons why I wont be updating my iPhone 5 until the iOS 7 jailbreak comes out!

1. Auxo. Auxo shows you more of a preview of the opened apps when you double click. While making easier to close one or all of your apps in the background

2.Opener allows you to automatically open links in GoogleMaps instead of iOS native Maps

3.BiteSMS 100% better than native messages because of the features. Quick Reply, Quick Compose, Scheduled Messages, Auto-Forward, Auto-Retry, Pass code Lock, Privacy, Contact Pics, Easy Pick Smileys, Templates,

4. Swipe Selection. I now take this one for granted. This app is amazing. Instead of having to try and push to the location you want to edit on a text. You move your fingers across the onscreen keyboard left or right in the direction you want to go, to the location you want to edit the text and you are right there. Trust me, look it up and check out the video. Game Changer

5.PdaNet. Tether enough said

5.5 My lock screen is Kate Upton doing the Cat Daddy.. 


 
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