I am Opting out of the Facebook Class Action Settlement

Facebook settled a privacy lawsuit for $725 million related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other data sharing practices from 2007 to 2022. Over 200 million people in the United States are automatically included in the class unless they opt out.

In my latest video we take a look at the settlement and why I think the lawyers and Facebook / Meta are the only ones who really benefit.

The lawyers involved in the case are set to receive 25% of the settlement fund, which amounts to about $181 million. Users are expected to receive just a couple of bucks each depending on the length of time they have been Facebook users. The settlement also prevents users from participating in any future lawsuits against Facebook or their parent company Meta regarding any issue related to data sharing that took place throughout the fifteen years the lawsuit covers.

Anyone in the United States that had a Facebook account between 2007-2022 will automatically be included in the class even if they don’t file for a compensation claim. That means unless individuals take the effort to opt-out they will be barred from any legal action against Facebook should additional data sharing scandals and or damages arise in the future.

To opt out of the settlement and preserve your rights, you can visit the Facebook lawsuit website and follow the opt-out instructions.

Synology BC500 Security Camera Review

One of the multitude of features built into Synology network attached storage (NAS) devices is their Surveillance Station software. Surveillance station is a security camera DVR system that runs alongside all of the other functions the NAS can do. It currently supports more than 8,000 IP cameras.

Most Synology NAS devices allow for free use of the software for two cameras with additional cameras requiring the purchase of a camera license. But Synology’s newest products are a line of security cameras that come with the license and offer some built in AI features that integrate with Surveillance Station. I took a look at their BC500 camera in my latest review.

The camera can be powered over ethernet or by DC with its barrel connector. There is no power supply or injector included in the box. And either way you power it an ethernet connection is necessary for video to be sent back to the NAS. There’s no Wi-Fi option on this unit.

The camera is weatherproof although the connector for the ethernet cable was not friendly to pre-terminated cables. The manual instructs installers to terminate the cable after it’s been threaded through the weatherproofing.

I found that the motion detection will take some tweaking to avoid false alerts, but the camera’s built-in AI person and vehicle detection features should reduce those false alarms considerably. The surveillance station software has some neat features like the ability to search for motion in only specific portions of the image.

Video quality is decent out of the camera and it has a night vision mode with a built in illuminator that can light up about 30 meters in front of the camera in darkness. There’s also a built-in microphone that will record audio and can be used as a alert sensor. It can shoot video at a 2880×1620 running at 30 frames per second.

There are much less expensive cameras on the market with similar specs that are compatible with Synology’s system. But the addition of a license along with a 3 year warranty does add some value to the offering. In addition the bullet camera that I reviewed here they also have a turret configuration that shares similar specifications. Although turret camera looks like a PTZ device it does not move once it’s installed and pointed.

Synology will continue to support third party cameras but some users may find a camera designed to be integrated with the surveillance station to be more desirable.

ChatGPT Helps me Open a 27+ Year Old Newton Backup File!

Yes, as a lifelong nerd I of course had an Apple Newton back in 1994 when I was a senior in high school. Check out this photo I took of my Powerbook and Newton together likely in 1994 or 1995:

The Newton had a companion app for backing up and synchronizing called the “Newton Connection Kit” or NCK. Apple being Apple this was an optional software package that did not come bundled with the device.

One of the neat things about the Newton Connection Kit software was that it allowed data from most of the core Newton applications (calendar, notes, contacts, etc) to be edited on the host Mac or PC. It stored everything in a single file that I have preserved all of these years.

Every so often I boot up Basilisk II on my modern Mac and tool around with some of the old Mac apps I enjoyed as a kid. (This process, by the way, is a heck of a lot easier now with the awesome Infinite Mac website that’ll load things up in a web browser with zero configuration).

During one of these tinkering sessions I stumbled across the file and remembered how the NCK used to work. So I headed over to the Macintosh Repository and found a working copy of NCK, installed it, and then discovered that my old backup file wouldn’t open.

This was due to the file losing its Mac file type and creator information. Unlike the PC that uses a file extension (like .DOC for a Word document) the classic Macs stored the originating application inside the file itself. Oftentimes transferring the file from a Mac to a PC like I must have done years ago stripped the Newton backup file of this information. Because of this the NCK software couldn’t see or open the backup.

I searched extensively over the last couple of weeks looking for the four letter code needed to get this file open to no avail. So I asked ChatGPT 4:

Its answer of “pkgb” was unfortunately not the right one. It was close though – pkgb is the file type for Newton’s equivalent of apps that the NCK software would also install back in the day. Many times people would email these apps to each other and found the NCK software didn’t know what to do with them.

So then I asked ChatGPT a followup question: “On an old Mac how might I look up what file type an application is looking for?”

Its step-by-step response led me to the right answer.

After following ChatGPT’s instructions using the Mac’s old “Resedit” utility I was able to quickly drill down into the 1994 application and get my answer. The correct file type for NCK backup files is “DCKb.”

I added that file type to my backup file, double clicked and BOOM! Suddenly everything that was on my Newton that day in 1995 was once again available to me.

To be honest there wasn’t much that was all that interesting. But there were some nostalgic calendar entries like the date of my high school graduation:

The rest of it had a bunch of random notes from high school and college classes but also a few fun things like this drawing a friend of mine made on the Newton on October 28, 1994:

What’s amazing about ChatGPT is its ability to sift through all the garbage you might get in a search result and guide you to the right place. It doesn’t always get things right as we saw here, but generally it will point you in the right direction.

If you’re curious about the Newton I made a video about this classic PDA platform a few years back when the iPad gained handwriting recognition functionality. It’s amazing how far ahead of its time it was.

Testing WD’s 22TB My Book External Hard Drive

I recently had the chance to take a look at a massive 22 terabyte WD My Book external hard drive. You can watch my full video review here.

This particular model is priced at just under $600, making it a bit less cost-effective on a per terabyte basis vs. smaller capacity versions. But if you need this much capacity in a single drive you’ll find it here.

The My Book series comes with a three-year warranty, a license for Acronis backup software, and encryption features. You’ll also find the same capacity and guts in their more affordable Elements line that has a shorter two year warranty and lacks the encryption and backup software.

The MyBook uses an aging USB 3 Gen 1 interface and comes with a USB-A cable. It’s compatible with USB-C but you’ll need to purchase a separate adapter or cable to interface the drive.

It’s equipped with a SATA 600, 7200 RPM drive inside, and during testing, it achieved around 220 MB/s for both reading and writing large blocks of data, making it suited for backups and archiving. Its random reads and writes were a big sluggish making this not ideal for gaming or booting operating systems.

While it’ll work with game consoles most will not be able to make use of its full capacity so a smaller drive would be a better choice.

If you plan on using this for storing your priceless data, make sure you have a solid backup plan in place as mechanical drives with this much storage density are susceptible to damage from bumps and drops.

Overall if you needed a lot of capacity in a relatively portable package this will certainly get the job done. Just make sure you have a good backup strategy as you’ll be putting a lot of eggs in one basket here.

Quick Thought on the SpaceX Starship Launch

I’m sure SpaceX would have preferred the rocket survived longer but it did get through a critical phase of flight.

My armchair analyst’s opinion is that they will be looking closely at the pad at lift off and how to better protect these densely packed engines from shockwaves before the hold down clamps are released.

It looked like something popped right at lift off which may have damaged other engines & systems.

SpaceX’s approach is rapid iterative development and low cost hardware. There’s probably a half dozen more of these either built or in the process of being built. A few weeks to refurb the pad and you’ll see another one out there ready to try again.

They even celebrated their many failures attempting to get their Falcon rockets to land in this video:

You can bet their next launch will get a little bit further.

Streaming ATSC 3 Content Outside the Home

I am continuing my journey into over the air ATSC 3 television now that I have a functional antenna up on my roof. In my latest video I explore streaming ATSC content outside my home!

Unlike the older ATSC 1.0 broadcasts that are encoded in a high bitrate MPEG 2 format, ATSC 3.0 uses a modern HEVC codec. This is very similar to the video encoding used by Netflix and other popular streaming services, making these ATSC 3.0 broadcasts much friendlier for remote streaming. ATSC 3.0 also runs at about half the bitrate of ATSC 1 broadcasts for HD content.

As before we used my HDHomerun Flex 4k to tune the signals which was provided free of charge by Silicondust to review a little while back. These devices are primarily designed to work on a local network only, but because HDHomeruns have an open architecture there are third party software options that provide more flexibility.

That’s where the Channels App for HDHomerun comes in. The app can connect to an HDhomerun remotely providing a channel guide and even pause and rewind capabilities. In my use case I set up a local VPN on my router to access my home network from the outside securely. In my testing it worked just as well outside the home as it did inside the house!

For iPhone and iPad users the Channels App for HDHomerun is free to use. On android and TV boxes (including the AppleTV) the app costs $25 one time with no subscription fees. Channels also offers a self-hosted DVR service that we’ve covered in the past for an $8 monthly subscription fee.

But there is a big asterisk on this which involves ATSC 3.0’s dark side – the option for broadcasters to enable a DRM flag. This is already taking place in some markets and it’s unlikely that the Channels App will be able to tune those DRM’ed channels in the future. The AntennaMan has a great analysis of the situation on his YouTube channel.

But for now this works great for me. We’ll likely see more players support this in the future once the AC4 audio codec can be decoded using open source tools like FFMPEG.

Disclosure: Silicondust, the makers of the HDHomerun along with the Channels App are past sponsors here on the channel. They did not sponsor this video.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 Review

In my latest video, I take a look at the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5, a premium laptop that delivers close to gaming laptop performance in a business oriented ThinkPad.

As we approach the time of the year when prices tend to drop on these, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take this high end model out for a spin.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 starts at around $1,800, and the model I reviewed was configured at about $2,600.

My review loaner features an Intel i7 12700H processor, an Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB of video RAM, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. Both the RAM and storage are upgradeable. It has a 16-inch 4K IPS display with a 3840 x 2400 resolution, which is Adobe certified and X-Rite calibrated. This laptop is also HDR 10 and Dolby Vision compatible, making it useful for creative work and media consumption. The display is nice and bright with a decent contrast ratio for a non-OLED.

Weighing just over 4 pounds (1.88 kilograms), the laptop is made out of carbon fiber and magnesium. It has a solid, well-balanced design and a backlit keyboard with a 1.5mm key travel. It comes with a variety of ports, including two Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI output, two USB-A ports, a full-size SD card reader, and a headphone/microphone jack. The laptop also has a 1080p webcam with a physical shutter and decent speakers.

The battery life on this high-performance machine isn’t exceptional, with around six hours on minimal use. As expected, the laptop performs well for basic tasks like web browsing and video playback.

It does well at higher end tasks too like photo and video editing thanks to its CPU and GPU. But it may experience performance degradation under heavy sustained load as its cooling system is not as robust as what might be found in a gaming laptop. “Bursty” tasks like video editing should do fine but work that hits the CPU & GPU over longer periods of time will see a performance drop after a few minutes at full load.

Despite this, I was pleased with the overall performance, look, and feel of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5, especially for those who appreciate the traditional ThinkPad design. For many the cooling issues will not have much of an impact but for those needing something for more long duration work a gaming laptop is the better choice.

My Amateur Radio Exploration Continues!

In my latest YouTube video I update you on all the things I’ve been doing lately exploring amateur radio with my technician license.

Technician licenses are mostly limited to the 10 meter high frequency band for long-range communications, which is what we’ll focus on in this video. Right now conditions on the 10 meter band are at their best in years, allowing me to talk to people over great distances using voice and digital communication modes. In the video you’ll see me make contact with somebody over the radio in Texas from my home in Connecticut and I talk about how I’ve reached people in other parts of the world too.

In addition to voice communication, I have also experimented with digital modes like FT8. FT8 allows communication over even longer distances, thanks to its weak-signal performance. I’ve also been playing a lot with tried VarAC, a robust keyboard-to-keyboard communication method allowing for long distance chats, email and even file transfers. Towards the end of the video, I give a brief demonstration of connecting to a packet radio bulletin board system.

I’m currently working on obtaining my general license which will open up even more possibilities for communication and exploration. My journey as a technician license holder in the world of ham radio has been both exciting and educational, and I’m eager to continue sharing my progress as I advance to the next level. Stay tuned for more updates!

Update on the Incorrect Apple Replacement Device Lawsuit Checks

Last week I uploaded a video in regards to the Apple “Replacement Device Lawsuit” which was a class action suit brought against Apple over AppleCare replacements that concluded with a $95 million settlement. The lawsuit alleged that Apple provided replacement devices for warranty swaps that were either refurbished or contained used parts. Most impacted customers received about $14 per incident. The lawyers received over $27 million!

In the original video I noted that many customers found that their checks were made out to the wrong name, while others never received notification that they were part of the class.

This week I have a followup that includes comment from attorney Michella Crass from Hagens Berman, from the law firm representing the plaintiffs. Cras provided additional information and offered an alternative means of getting checks corrected via email:

Kras says the court approved email as the primary method of notifying class members. Despite sending multiple email reminders, many digital payments went unclaimed (likely because emails didn’t get delivered), and the deadline for claiming cash payments was extended to February 26, 2023.

After failing to reach people digitally, the parties agreed to send checks to 1.6 million class members for whom they had physical mailing addresses. Kras acknowledges that a portion of those checks had misspelled or incorrect names. To rectify this, affected customers can email AppleCare@hbsslaw.com with the necessary information, and a new check will be issued. But it has to be done by May 30, 2023.

But how could somebody who did not get notified and whose name was incorrectly recorded be in the class? Crass says that if an individual received a replacement device with non-new parts during the class period, they are considered part of the class. Members of the class are entitled to the settlement amount only and can no longer sue Apple over a similar issue – even if they were never notified as being part of it.

And what if funds go unclaimed? Kras says unclaimed funds may either be redistributed to class members who claimed their funds or donated to a charitable organization, but will not return to Apple or the law firm.

I question the effectiveness of class-action lawsuits like this, as a customer suing Apple individually over this issue in small claims court would likely recoup the entire cost of the phone if Apple is found in the wrong – not a measly $14.

And while it could be argued that class action lawsuits are an effective way of regulating corporate behavior that’s not the case here. Apple merely updated their terms of service to allow the use of previously used parts for AppleCare replacements rolling forward.

My suggestion is that if you’re notified as being a member of a class action lawsuit be sure to exercise your right to opt-out of the litigation. You’ll retain your right to sue and be able to get a much larger settlement in the end.

Lenovo Chromebook 3 11″ Review – Currently on Liquidation !

It’s amazing how much laptop you can get for very little money these days – especially when that laptop is being sold at a liquidated price like the Lenovo Chromebook 3 11 that is the subject of my latest review.

This is a low-cost option that offers a functional secondary computer for basic tasks. With an AMD A6-9220C dual-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of eMMC storage, the IdeaPad Chromebook 3 has an 11.6-inch TN display with a maximum brightness of 250 nits. While the display is not touch-enabled and the colors are muted, the build quality is solid, with a weight of 2.46 pounds and an estimated 10-hour battery life. The keyboard is not backlit but offers a comfortable typing experience and the trackpad performs well.

The Chromebook has two full service USB Type-C ports (although only one display can be output at a time) along with a pair of USB 3 ports, an SD card reader, and a microphone/headphone jack.

But the device’s performance is sluggish, especially when compared to similar Chromebooks with Intel processors. But for basic tasks it’s fine and the battery life is pretty good for that type of work.

The speakers provide better sound quality than expected, and the device is compatible with Android apps and Linux. The end of support date for this Chromebook is June 2027, but it may be possible to extend its lifespan using Chrome OS Flex. Overall, the IdeaPad Chromebook 3 is a good value for those who manage their expectations and require a basic, functional laptop.

As value packed as this machine is there is a better option out there – if you can find it. The Acer Chromebook 311 I reviewed a few months back had a similar price but came with a higher quality display, faster performance, and the ability to output dual displays. Crazy!

Boosteroid is a Competitive Game Streaming Contender with Room for Improvement

Game streaming has been growing increasingly competitive, with numerous platforms vying for the attention of gamers. We’ve looked at a number of different offerings that you can find in this playlist. My latest video looks at Boosteroid, a startup based out of Ukraine with servers located throughout the USA and Europe.

Boosteroid (affiliate link) allows users to stream some, but not all, of the games they purchased on Steam, Epic and a growing list of other platforms at 1080p at 60 frames per second.

Boosteroid is subject to the same developer licensing restrictions as other cloud services. So like GeForce Now not every game you paid for will be available to stream but it looks like some developers unwilling to allow their games to be streamed GeForce Now do allow Boosteroid to do it. On the flip side I found a few games on GeForce Now that are not available on Boosteroid!

I found Boosteroid’s performance to be as advertised, with low latency and responsive controls. However, there is still some work to be done on the interface front.

After selecting a Steam game from the Boosteroid interface, the user is dropped off on a cloud computer running a Steam client where they have to then run the game from. Quitting a game doesn’t end the session but returns the user back to the Steam client. I found Epic games will load directly but quitting a game does drop the user back off to the Epic Store interface.

Despite this shortcoming, Boosteroid’s price point is quite competitive, even beating out Nvidia’s GeForce Now base tier if users opt for an annual subscription.

But buyer beware: Boosteroid does not currently offer a free trial or refunds, so it’s essential for potential subscribers to sign up for a free account and search the games database to ensure their library is compatible with the service. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to match a user’s owned games with the Boosteroid compatibility list at the moment.

Boosteroid (affiliate link) is a promising game streaming service with a competitive price point and solid performance. Although it still has some kinks to work out in terms of interface and compatibility matching, it’s a viable alternative to more established platforms.

Unboxing Some Cheap Gadgets from TEMU.com

As a tech enthusiast always on the hunt for cheap and useful stuff, I couldn’t resist diving into the world of TEMU.com (affiliate link), an online schlock house that offers a variety of inexpensive gadgets and other cheap stuff in just about every product category imaginable.

In my latest YouTube video, I shared my unboxing experience, revealing a mix of surprisingly useful items along with some of the crap I expected.

First the good stuff:

I got a $20 face tracking smartphone camera mount that performed surprisingly well. The best part was that all of its face tracking was done on the hardware itself and did not require an app. Another win was a relatively low cost wireless lavalier microphone kit. While it was not as good as my expensive Sennheiser gear it was pretty good for a couple of bucks. And the super cheap knock-off Apple pencil was recognized as an Apple Pencil by my iPad at 10% of the price. The only feature it was missing was pressure detection.

There were of course a few letdowns in the mix. The tiny action camera I received didn’t work, the $12 “smartwatch” had non-existent health sensors that delivered false results and the $10 1080p webcam delivered a washed out image with a microphone that sounded like I was underwater.

Without a proper customer review system it’s hard to know what you’re getting from TEMU. Many products pop up and disappear when stock runs out only to be replaced by the same item with a different brand name. In short you get what you pay for at TEMU so be prepared for disappointment. But you may encounter some delight when a cheap gadget turns out not to be a piece of junk.

Caveat emptor!

Plex Adds End Credit Detection to the Plex Media Server

My monthly sponsored Plex video this month does a deep dive into the new Plex end credit detection feature. You can watch it here.

On TV devices the end credits will zoom out into a small box and Plex will present some additional content options to watch next. Clicking the remote will return the end credits to full screen if you want to watch them in full.

End credit detection will also know when content appears after the credits finish rolling. In that instance you’ll have the option to click “skip credits” and be brought directly to the post credit scene.

Credit detection is CPU intensive so you may want to have this take place during your server’s maintenance window. Plex has set up a cloud database to speed the process along, so if your file is in the database your server will download the credits location from Plex vs. having to run a full analysis. Your Plex server will also trigger a “watched” flag that fires off right when the end credits begin.

See more, including configuration options, in the video! Thanks to Plex for their long standing support of the channel!

Apple “Replacement Device Lawsuit” Checks are not a Scam, but Poorly Executed

Millions of people are receiving checks from the “Replacement Device Lawsuit” in the mail, the result of a $95 million class action lawsuit settlement against Apple. In my latest video we dive into the lawsuit and how it appears as though the claims administrator may have misspelled the names of many of the recipients.

The lawsuit claimed that those receiving AppleCare replacement phones and iPads were getting devices of a lower quality than the customers’ original devices. The settlement resulted in payouts for 3.3 million people, but many recipients didn’t know about the lawsuit until the check arrived. Those who didn’t opt out by the deadline are now part of the class and are barred from suing Apple over this issue in the future.

The settlement details can be found at replacementdevicelawsuit.com. Lawyers received $1.3 million in costs and almost $27 million in attorney’s fees, while the two individuals who initiated the lawsuit were given bonuses of $15,000 and $12,500. Members of the class are receiving just under $15 per device covered in the lawsuit.

A major issue with the payouts is that many recipients’ names on the checks are incorrect. The company responsible for distributing the checks, Epiq, rolled up records with the same name and contact information, possibly leading to mix-ups. Many recipients, myself included, have reported their banks rejecting the deposits due to incorrect names. You can find many more examples on this Reddit post I made a few days ago. I have reached out to Epiq but have not heard back from them at the time of publication.

Epiq claims to have reached 94% of the identified class, but it is uncertain how many people actually received the email notices vs. having them them land in spam folders. Recipients now have a narrow window to correct their names and must do so via mail, causing further inconvenience.

The leftover settlement money’s fate remains uncertain; it could be donated, put into funds, or claimed by lawyers. With many checks bearing incorrect names or appearing as a scam to the recipient, it is likely that a significant sum will remain unclaimed. The case highlights the importance of opting out of class action lawsuits when possible, as participating may mean giving up rights without receiving much in the way of compensation.

Xfinity Stream App Overview – Saves Money on Cable Box Rental Fees

I am continuing my adventure into saving my mother money on her monthly cable bill. In my latest video we take a look at the Xfinity Stream app which allows cable TV subscribers to access their subscription channels without a cable box rental.

Xfinity Stream right now is available on Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV. Oddly the app looks and feels a bit different on each platform. All versions of the app allow for watching live television from a subscription plan, streaming and on demand content, and recordings from the Xfinity cloud DVR that’s part of some service plans.

My preferred platform for Xfinity steam right now is Roku. Comcast began their “Partner Device” program on Roku first so the app is the most mature on that platform. My Mom has been using it for several weeks now and has no complaints.

The biggest advantage in using Xfinity Stream is that you can get rid of your expensive cable rental boxes. In my Mom’s case returning those boxes resulted in $720 in annual savings just on that component alone. As I noted in a previous videos in the series, one of her rental boxes triggered a secondary DVR charge resulting in $60 a month in unnecessary rental fees!

For many Comcast remains the only game in town for Internet and TV service. Thankfully some of the competitive pressure being applied to the company in many markets across the US is forcing them to offer cost saving options for consumers.

A Tour of Startup Fiber Optic ISP GoNetSpeed in Connecticut

The other day I posted a video about the emerging ISP choices we have here in Connecticut for Internet service. One of the companies I talked about was a scrappy startup called GoNetSpeed that is building out a neighborhood at a time throughout my home state.

I’ve always wanted to go “behind the scenes” of an ISP to see how everything works. The other ISPs serving the state declined my request but GoNetSpeed agreed! Check out the tour in my latest video.

This video provides a comprehensive tour of GoNetSpeed’s facilities and their network design, giving you an in-depth look at how they’re competing with legacy carriers. Throughout the tour, you’ll see the journey of the fiber connection, starting from a customer’s home and extending all the way back to the central office point of presence.

The inside of a fiber optic splice box

What struck me is just how much capacity a tiny strand of fiber optic cable has. It was also refreshing to hear how many times my tour guide, COO Tom Perrone, talked about how important customer satisfaction is to the company. That’s not something you hear from the legacy carriers!

8bitDo Controllers Now Officially Apple Compatible

8BitDo controllers are now officially supported by Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. I tested them on all three platforms in my latest video.

This compatibility eliminates the need for complicated workarounds to pair these controllers with iOS devices. Compatible controllers include the SN30 Pro, SN30 Pro Plus, Pro 2, the 8BitDo Ultimate Controller, and Light SE. 8bitdo has a compatibility page here for more information. Users may need to update their controller’s firmware first – even if they just purchased it recently.

The controllers can be connected via USB-C on iPads with a USB-C port, but iPhones or iPads with a Lightning connector must use Bluetooth connections. I found that they work just like Xbox and Playstation controllers once connected.

The 8-Bitdo controllers can be used with various games, including those on Apple Arcade, as well as game streaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming. Users can remap controls and set up different profiles for their controllers using iOS settings or the 8-Bitdo Ultimate app, which allows for further customization on their more premium controllers like the Ultimate and Pro 2 controllers.

This new feature closes a big compatibility gap these controllers had since the beginning. Now if only we can get them working with Xbox and PS4/5 Consoles next!

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook Review

My latest review looks at the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook.

The Dragonfly Pro Chromebook strikes me as a spiritual successor to Google’s Pixelbook – a flagship-style device that offers features not typically found on lower cost ChromeOS devices.

The device has a 14-inch touch-enabled LCD display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2560×1600. The display is incredibly bright, reaching up to 1200 nits, making it suitable for outdoor use.

The device is powered by an Intel i5 1235U processor, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. It also supports the Wifi 6E standard. Unfortunately there are no user-upgradable parts, so users will have to make do with the included storage. It also features four Thunderbolt ports, which are compatible with USB Type-C and regular USB devices using a dongle. However, there is no headphone jack or card reader.

In terms of performance, the Dragonfly Pro performs well for everyday tasks such as web browsing, email, and video playback. The Dragon Fly Pro Chromebook achieves a score of 271 on the browserbench.org Speedometer benchmark test, which is in line with other devices in the same price range.

Battery life on the Dragonfly Pro lasts around eight to ten hours, depending on usage and screen brightness. It features upward-firing speakers, providing impressive sound quality with plenty of bass and volume. The included webcam is capable of 1080p video, making it suitable for video conferencing and online meetings.

Like other Chromebooks it’ll run Linux and Android apps. The Android experience is a little easier here thanks to the touch screen. Additionally this is one of the Chromebooks that is compatible with the Steam on ChromeOS beta so it’s possible to play some of your PC games on it too.

It does feel a bit on the heavy side weighing in at 3.33 pounds or around 1.5 kg. The build quality is exceptional with a mixture of magnesium and aluminum making up its casing.

HP offers a 24/7 support line specifically for the Dragonfly Pro, as well as an extended warranty program similar to AppleCare. For $11 per month, users receive coverage for accidental damage, with one incident per year, for up to 36 months.

All in the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is an excellent high-end laptop for those who need more power and features from their ChromeOS device.

But the lack of expandable storage may be a concern for some, especially as Chrome OS continues to evolve and support more applications. The $999 price point may be steep, but for those in need of a powerful Chromebook, the Dragonfly Pro could be the right choice.

Google Bard vs. Chat GPT-4

I got access to Google’s new Bard AI Chatbot this evening. I thought it might be fun to see how both Bard and Chat GPT-4 interpret a transcript of my latest video about Verizon’s 5G Home Internet. The transcript was extracted from YouTube’s automatic captioning and converted into a blob of text.

I asked each AI to “Summarize this transcript into a blog post in a journalistic style” and provided no additional guidance.

First let’s take a look at Google Bard spit out:

Title: Verizon 5G Home Internet Review: A Good Option for Many

Verizon 5G Home Internet is a good option for many people who are looking for a fast, reliable, and affordable internet connection. It is especially a good option for people who live in rural areas where other internet options are limited.

In this review, I will discuss the pros and cons of Verizon 5G Home Internet, as well as my personal experience using it.

Pros

  • Fast speeds: Verizon 5G Home Internet is capable of speeds of up to 1 Gbps, which is much faster than most other internet options.
  • Reliable connection: Verizon 5G Home Internet is a reliable connection, and I have not experienced any outages or slowdowns in the time that I have been using it.
  • Affordable price: Verizon 5G Home Internet is an affordable option, especially when compared to other internet options like cable and fiber.
  • No contracts: Verizon 5G Home Internet does not require a contract, so you can cancel at any time if you are not satisfied with the service.

Cons

  • Coverage area: Verizon 5G Home Internet is not available in all areas.
  • Speeds may vary: The speeds of Verizon 5G Home Internet may vary depending on your location and the number of devices that are connected to the network.
  • Data cap: Verizon 5G Home Internet has a data cap of 500 GB per month.

Personal experience

I have been using Verizon 5G Home Internet for about a month now, and I am very happy with it. The speeds are fast and reliable, and the price is affordable. I have not experienced any outages or slowdowns in the time that I have been using it.

Overall, I would recommend Verizon 5G Home Internet to anyone who is looking for a fast, reliable, and affordable internet connection.

Overall Bard’s summary is weak and got a lot wrong. Verizon does not advertise speeds for its service so I don’t know where it got the 1 gigabit speed from (I certainly didn’t mention that in my review). It also wrongly said there’s a 500 GB data cap (Verizon does not have a cap on their home service). Later when I had it correct the record it apologized but then spit out the wrong info again.

It also completely made up the “personal experience” section. I never said I used the service for a month. I specifically said I tried it out at a friend’s place who didn’t live far from me. Bard also completely missed my key criticism of the Verizon service related to its poor ping rates.

In another experiment I gave Bard a link to another YouTube video I posted recently about an outdoor TV antenna and it came back with a summary about opening a 7-Eleven franchise in the Philippines!

I think it needs some work..

So let’s see how Chat GPT-4 did with the transcript:

Title: Verizon’s 5G Home Internet: A Casual User’s Delight

In Connecticut, Verizon’s 5G home internet service is making a splash, offering a viable alternative to traditional broadband services. Priced competitively at $25 a month for existing Verizon Wireless customers, the 5G Home service provides fast and reliable internet for casual users. However, it may not be the best choice for heavy gamers or streamers.

The service comes with a Gateway device that connects to the Verizon tower and provides Wi-Fi service to the home. It supports Wi-Fi 6 and includes two Ethernet ports for hardwiring devices. For the best performance, users are advised to place the Gateway near a window with a clear line of sight to the cell tower.

In ideal conditions, users can expect download speeds of around 300 Mbps and upload speeds of 15-16 Mbps, which is great for video streaming, web browsing, and email. However, the service has some drawbacks, particularly when it comes to latency in online gaming and streaming services like Hulu Live.

The ping rate varies considerably due to Verizon prioritizing mobile users over home internet customers, which is not ideal for multiplayer gaming or streaming that requires an instantaneous response. For now, there is no data cap or penalties for heavy data usage on the plan, but the router does feature a cellular traffic query page, hinting at possible future restrictions.

In summary, Verizon’s 5G home internet service is a fantastic choice for casual users looking for fast, reliable internet at a reasonable price. However, gamers and streamers may want to explore other options for a more consistent and low-latency experience.

Wow.. Chat GPT-4 is light years better than Google’s system for this task. It effectively encapsulated all of the key points of the video and didn’t make anything up.

You’ll note that it mentions Verizon prioritizing packets – that was something I said in the video that some viewers think is not true. I based that observation on the ping rate variability I noticed during my testing. So if that is incorrect it’s on me and not the robot.

And Google has a long way to go here.. I’m shocked by how much stuff Bard is just making up. Just a few minutes ago it told me that Google developed the competing GPT-3 language model!

This just goes to show how companies that were once the disruptors can be disrupted themselves.