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Justin Garrison
Avid autodidact, Linux enthusiast, technology addict, and all around stand-up guy (both character and desk).
Avid autodidact, Linux enthusiast, technology addict, and all around stand-up guy (both character and desk).
Justin's posts

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Nexus Player/Android TV Review

I'm putting this here in hopes that someone at +Google who can actually make a difference will read this.

I'll start with the easier thing to review

Nexus Player

The hardware is fine.
I have previously had and tried lots of different set top boxes and they prove that specs don't matter (unless it's too old to play HD) and it's all about the experience. The Nexus Player is in that middle ground of it works well enough and the only times I see lag are during software glitches which there are plenty of.
The glitches have also been reviewed in lots of other more professional Nexus Player reviews so I won't mention them too much here.
I wish the Nexus Player had ethernet (entertainment cabinets don't get the greatest wifi signal) and an optional IR port (more on that later) but overall the size is fine, the button on the bottom is interesting, and the plug location is a bit annoying because you can't blindly unplug/replug the device (which you have to occasionally do) without picking it up to look at the bottom/back.

Android TV

Android TV has lots of little paper cuts

Google cast doesn't work at all as well as chromecast
Tiny app market
Software glitches

But I have 3 main things that samurai sword stabs that keep me from using Android TV

The first is a lack of profiles. Google should understand that media consumption is usually a personal preference and a majority of people in the world (arbitrary stat) don't live by themselves. Netflix understood this with streaming a long time ago. My wife doesn't like getting recommendations for "because you watched Die Hard 50 times..." and I didn't want suggestions for "shows like sesame street" You need an entry point to be user switching (or at least the option to do so). It makes even more sense when the device isn't just streaming movies but also ties into my entire Google account (music, youtube, etc.). Why is it that Android tablets have profile switching but not Android TV?! Oh and please also make family plans to share libraries (just not playback) of files. I don't want to upload all of my music to mine and my wife's account just so she can have access to the music we own and purchased. Same goes for movies/TV shows through Google Play.

Which leads me to my second section of recommendations are terrible. This is mostly due to the first point but here's why. I occasionally listen to techno on youtube while I work. This unfortunately often has scantily clad slideshows while the music plays but it's always hidden behind a tab/window so I never see it. But you know when it's very apparent and visible? When my family turns on the TV and sees recommendations in big icons across the home row of Android TV. You know when else it's bad? When I start Google Music at work and all of the playlists are Beach Boys and Beatles because that is what my family listened to at home while I'm at work. This goes back to needing profiles but I wanted to paint a clearer picture.
There also needs to be a way to turn recommendations off completely. I tried setting up a restricted profile with only access to Netflix and Google Music but video recommendations (that they can't buy) still show up. This also isn't good if young kids turn on the TV (even in a restricted profile) and see recommendations for American Horror, Jaws, or anything I don't want them to have nightmares about.

The last part is controlling the device. I'm not saying I want everything to have IR because I think it should go away. But until it does, I managed to make my own IR with a Flirc and some clever button discovery. What I am saying though is Android TV should treat keyboard media presses (play/pause, home) as actual remote buttons. Specifically this is bad with the "home" media button which doesn't go to the home screen like the BT remote "home" button does. And second, Android TV should support more of the media buttons even if the remote doesn't have them. Not being able to stop something (only pause and exit) is very annoying and doesn't make sense when people try to use universal remotes or keyboards. Google should understand that people don't want another remote. It's hard enough to get them to switch TV inputs.
The voice search isn't good enough for me to ever use it and it wont/can't search inside apps (Kodi).

I really hope Android TV doesn't die off like Google TV, but unless they make it better than Roku and Apple TV I just don't see it being popular. I'm hopeful that more boxes like the WeTek will come out with tuner support for easier Live TV watching and hopefully content providers will build apps at some point.
For now, the Nexus Player just sits silently next to my PS3 which still has a better watching experience, and even though it has a BT remote, still has better control via the Logitech adapter.

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This actually had some good information in it that applies to all walks of life.

Here's some feedback about the Jawbone UP24 which I've been using since September.
First of all, I like it more than I thought I would. I originally got it just for the integration with my IoT devices/IFTTT and the silent alarm clock. I don't pay much attention to the step/sleep tracking but I like that it's there when I want to be reflective.
The alarms/reminders is where my biggest issues are and I think they can be better.
I like the bedtime alarm. I do because I often get lost in a project and having a reminder I should go to bed soon really helps. However, why does the reminder go off when my band is already in sleep mode? If I do happen to get into bed early the reminder often wakes me up to tell me to go to bed. WHY?!
I also use the silent alarms pretty heavily, I moved away from my iPhone because the UP24 is much more soothing to wake up to. All the 3rd party apps that claim to have gentle wake up sounds never worked for me. But why do I need to put the band in sleep mode for the alarm to go off? This is the opposite problem from the bedtime reminder in that I have on a couple of occasions forgot to put the band in sleep mode and was never woken up for work. IMO Reminders should care about sleep/wake state, alarms should not.
Then there are the alarms themselves, I'm a little sad it only supports 4 alarms but I'll assume that's just a memory limitation of what can be stored. But why is there no snooze/repeat alarm option? I have the tendency (which I'm sure others do too) to turn off my alarm in my sleep. One alarm in the morning just isn't enough. I have to take 2-3 alarm slots set every 10 minutes apart to make sure I wake up. I know this is a problem with just heavy sleepers but I know I'm not alone. I would recommend alarms have a snooze option in that they will repeat every 10 minutes until the band is taken out of sleep mode. This shouldn't take up any more storage for alarms and will allow people to actually wake up if they hit the action button by accident. This also has the benefit to remind people to take the band out of sleep mode which I have forgotten multiple times. My band thought I was sleeping restlessly for 10+ hours which messes up other stats. If the band isn't in sleep mode when the alarm goes off (see above) then the alarm should just go off once.
The only other gripe I have is the lack of tracking calories for standing desks and stationary bikes which I use often when I don't feel well enough for a run.
Also the metal cover has scratched my son multiple times when we are goofing around which has made me not want to wear it at home. Nothing to leave a mark, but enough to hurt and make the fun stop. :(
All in all I think the UP24 is great. The 14 days of battery life is awesome and I mostly forget I'm wearing it. I wanted to provide this feedback in hopes that the software and user experience can be enhanced in the future. Thanks for making a typically lazy guy care just a little bit about my health.

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A good read about team management and project/work focus.

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Some really good tips about writing a resume for developers. Although I disagree with the length (I always suggest limiting to 1 page) the content suggestions are really good.

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For anyone out there using Vagrant and OS X this looks pretty cool.
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