Monthly Archives: November 2015

Ep. 57 – How much is that Fahrvergnügen in the window?



How much is that Fahrvergnugen in the window

This week the guys have a whole peck of listener feedback & input. Jacob finally goes and sees the movie The Martian and literally doesn’t have a single bad thing to say about the movie.  If you haven’t gone and seen it yet, go and do it before it leaves theaters for good.  Seriously, just go.

‘Tis the Season to Overspend

The guys talk about this season’s holiday shopping results.  Black Friday, Thanksgiving Thursday, Cyber Monday.  Too many commerce festivities all shoved into too small a window! Ack! Much spending was done, many bank accounts were drained. Can it be January already?

3…2…1… Blast off!

Jeff Bezo’s rocket company – Blue Origin – just tested and successfully recovered a reusable rocket.  The New Shepard was just launched to a height of 100.5km (62 miles for us ‘Mericans) and kissed the edge of space.  The amazing part is the BE-3 rocket engine was successfully landed (vertically, we might add) and touched down at a gentle 4.4mph.  One of the few recoveries so far in rocketry and if they can repeat the feat, it will be a huge win for the company as they plan to move forward with their space tourism plans.  Sign us up for a trip!

Fahrvergnügen redux?

More VW woes – it’s looking like the top brass at VW may have known about the problems with fuel economy and emissions issues for up to a YEAR before the story broke! Jeff updates us with news that VW is reaching out to TDI owners and potentially offering them some cash in the form of a Visa gift card, and in-store credit.  How much Fahrvergnügen does $750 buy, anyway?

Calling an inaudible…

Marketing companies are using inaudible frequencies to tie together profile information on you across multiple devices! Yeah, you should be outraged about that.  The Center for Democracy and Technology just released a scathing letter to the FTC outlining how these companies are using the technology to build multi-device profiles and to refine their information on you.  So far the companies are staying mum about their tech and what all apps and advertisers are using it.  The FTC has agreed to hold some workshops to discuss the technology and how it could potentially affect consumers.  This is pretty darn scary, folks.  The most troubling part in our opinion is that currently there is no way for consumers to know if they’re being fed these inaudible signals, and no way for them to opt-out of the tracking.  Yikes!  You should definitely be concerned about this and keep watching to see what comes from these initial workshops the FTC plans to hold.

TWC <3 ROKU

Speaking of companies that people love to hate… Your cable company.  But this is actually kind of cool!  If you’re a Time Warner Cable customer in New York or New Jersey, the cable company is going to be rolling out a trial that will let you replace your set-top box with a Roku. You’ll have access to over 300 channels live, plus 20,000+ on-demand titles as well.  No word on TWC’s plans to roll this out to any other markets, but we can only imagine that if this is successful we’ll start to see alternatives to cable-co set-top boxes pretty quickly.

What we love:

Jeff loves his High Sierra Loop backpack: http://amzn.to/1lqknoM

Jacob loves his Honest Amish Beard Balm: http://amzn.to/1XARsKZ

Join the NBTA newsletter. You’ll be the FIRST to know about inside information about the podcast, information on upcoming drawings and giveaways, and more.  It’s fast, it’s free, and we promise we won’t abuse your info!  Join today: http://NoBetterShow.com/join


Ep. 56 – The Sciencepisode



Episode 56 - The Sciencepisode, All science, all the show!

There’s a whole lotta’ science going on in this week’s episode! The guys found a bunch of science-heavy stories and are bringing the nerdy, hard!

Science quickies

A few science quickies to get the ball rolling!

  • A great podcast – Caustic Soda – with an excellent episode on Science Deniers! http://causticsodapodcast.com/2015/10/12/science-denial/
  • A controversial theory that light might be SLOWER than previous thought!
  • Ronda Rousey’s bell rung with almost 50 pounds of force.  Ouch!
  • A possible flaw in the new H3N2 flu vaccine means it might no be as effective as previously thought.

Face-Off

The most extensive face transplant in medical history has just been completed and it’s amazing what modern medicine is capable of these days.  Firefighter Patrick Hardison just received a full face transplant from doctors at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and the transformation is unbelievable.  He received a scalp, face, ears,  nose, lips, and eyelids in a grueling 26-hour surgery (performed by a 150-person medical team).

The donor face came from BMX enthusiast David Rodebaugh, who dies in a tragic cycling accident.  Below is a picture of the transformation. While it might be a little hard to look at – there is no denying that it’s absolutely amazing that it’s a surgery that’s available at all, with more than 20 patients receiving full or partial face transplants at institutions around the world as of 2005.

Face-Off for science

“Did I do that?” #Urkle

Jumping to making lemonade-out-of-lemons; researches at the European Space Agency (ESA) were able to turn a huge mistake into an opportunity to study general relativity more closely than has ever been studied before.  The ESA commissioned two satellites to be launched and become part of a new global-GPS system.  The only problem is the Soyuz put the satellites into a highly elliptical orbit rendering them useless for their purposes of working as part of a positioning system. Seeing an opportunity – scientists at the ESA realized that by using the highly accurate atomic clocks on board, they could measure the time dilation effect as they moved about their elliptic orbit and calculate the effect to a much higher level of precision than has ever been done before.  When Murphy strikes… strike back with SCIENCE!

“Nu-cue-lar. It’s pronounced nu-cue-lar.”

The case of fission v. fusion…  The guys get into a deep discussion of fission versus fusion.  But, hey, remember they’re just two idiots with microphones and an audience, so maybe don’t give them too much credibility.  It’s two interesting ways to get energy; one we’ve got a pretty good grasp on, the other is an elusive dream that scientists feel might be achievable in our lifetimes still.  Can you guess which is which?  It’s probably more than you ever cared to know about fusion, fission, and how stars work, and it’s coming from two guys who have absolutely no business trying to make difficult concepts simple.  But – darn it – they’re going to try anyway!

Things we love

Jacob loves his SABRENT WiFi wireless audio receiver: http://amzn.to/1YpK8nJ

Jeff is ga-ga over Netflix’s new Marvel series; Jessica Jones.  


Ep. 55 – Long Quickies



Episode55Banner

This week the guys have a bunch of quickies, that quickly turn into almost a full episode! Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Someone crashed their drone into Seattle’s Great Wheel – this is why we can’t have nice things
  • Rumors are swirling that Apple is working on a peer-to-peer payment system using Apple Pay. No more fighting about who’s picking up the check, just Apple Pay your share over to your buddy!
  • Beats Music is shutting down on November 30th. Apple’s made tools to help you migrate to Apple Music – so it’s now or never, Beats fans.
  • Halo 5 booted XBox One sales to beat out PS4 in October (for the first time ever). Can Microsoft continue the momentum through the holiday season?
  • Bluetooth is getting range and speed improvements next year! The group that steers Bluetooth’s development has announced a 4x range and 2x speed improvement with the same power consumption being used today.
  • A new Android exploit in Chrome can hack almost any handset in one go just by visiting a webpage! We’re sure Google is working furiously to get a patch out, but until then, be aware of where you browse…
  • On Veterans Day they were over 20 laser strikes on airplanes across the country. Again, did we mention that we can’t have nice things because of a few A-Holes? Seriously, stop shining laser pointers at planes, people!

Timex is getting into the wearables/health tracking market with it’s new watch the Metropolitan+. It’s an analog watch with an activity tracker built in that will sync to your phone via Bluetooth.  Once the data is over to your phone, you can share it amongst the most popular activity tracking apps of the day. The Metropolitan+ will set you back about $125 and is available now: http://www.timex.com/metro

Speaking of wearables, Fossil just acquired Misfit (makers of the Misfit Shine) for a cool $260m USD. Fossil is said to be buying Misfit for access to their design team, as well as to a customer base of wearable buyers. Jacob mentioned that he’s noticed a distinct decline in the number of trackers and wearables he’s noticed of late (and, of course, Jeff says just the opposite). Is this the beginning of consolidation? Are fitness trackers and wearables popularity in decline? Should Jawbone and Fitbit be worried?

Google maps for Android has a new offline mode that allows turn-by-turn navigation AND searching to still work! The features (coming soon to iOS) have been in the works since Google demoed them at Google I/O in May 2015. The new offline mode will seamlessly transition between cached mode and online mode as you move in and out of service areas. As someone who is directionally challenged, Jacob is jumping for joy over this one!

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is mounting a comeback! Show creator, Joel Hodgson launched a Kickstarter to bring the show back! If he can raise $2m, we’ll get three new episodes; and if he can raise $5.5m we’ll get an entire, new season of episodes! So go and pledge your support, even if it’s only a couple of bucks! This is something that NEEDS to happen! http://bringbackmst3k.com

Microsoft rolls out their first major Windows 10 update. Among some of the less exciting features, is the promise of better performance. One article Jacob found hints at potentially a 30% performance boost on the same hardware. How very “Apple” of Microsoft!

Jacob loves his 6″ digital calipers. Only $12 from Amazon, cheap! http://amzn.to/1HQx6LH

Jeff loves CBS’s new show Limitless. http://www.cbs.com/shows/limitless/


Ep. 54 – Oops, Jeff Did It Again!



EpisodeBanner54

This week the guys talk a lotta tech!

Jacob has a gripe about his new iPhone 6S – it’s too darn fast! Jeff tries to give him some suggestions to make the experience a little better, but why can’t Apple just give Jacob exactly what he wants?! Comon’ Tim Cook, how about a few tweakable settings already?!

Jeff mentions that Apple just announced a patent on a “panic mode” that would let you register a finger print as a panic-inducing print.  If you were forced to unlock your iPhone, you use this special finger and it locks the phone down, requiring a password to unlock it and get into the (potentially) incriminating evidence.  It’s a great idea, but will it ever see the light of day?

And speaking of the courts and politics not keeping up with technology – Jacob found a story where two professors at Western Illinois University have conducted their 2016 Presidential Mock Election. And…. they are predicting that Bernie Sanders will win against Jeb Bush! Sounds crazy, you say? Well it might indeed, until you stop to consider that the duo has applied their polling and statistical approach to every Presidential election since 1975 and they have a staggering 100%-correct track record! Yep, they’ve called every election since the mid 1970s and they’ve (so far) always been right.  Wowza, can you imagine getting used to President Bernie?

Jeff mentions that CyPhy Works has created a tethered drone that can stay in the air indefinitely! It has a 500′ range, and can act as a communications relay station. And it never needs to come down.  A little spooky, eh?

And in more drone news, DJI (makers of the Phantom and Inspire line of quadcopters) has announced they’re buying a minority stake in Hasselblad. They’ll score a seat on the board of directors, as well as access to Hasselblad’s 70+ years of photographic experience. You may know of Hasselblad – they only made the freaking cameras that went TO THE MOON!

Lytro – the company that brought the infinitely-focusable-after-the-fact to the masses – has announced their new beast, the Immerge, will be available in 2016.  What is it, you might ask? We’ll it’s a “ball” of Lytro cameras that captures fully-after-the-fact-focusable video content in a full 360-degree sphere! Shoot once and then you can control the entire experience (including pulling a 3D picture) after the fact. Don’t get too excited, the rig is expected to hit the market in the $300k price range.  But oh what possibilities lie ahead!

Tag Heuer announced their $1500 Android Wear watch this week – the Tag Heuer Connected. It’s a titanium beast with some pretty sporty bands, but aside from some custom Tag-specific watch faces, it’s just plain old Android Wear.  The tech specs are pretty middle-of-the-road, and the anticipated 40-hour battery life has been downgraded to “about a day” by Tag executives.  Still, if you’re in the market for a high-end smartwatch and Apple’s ecosystem isn’t your bag, it’s about the only other serious game in town at the moment.  And Tag Heuer is doing something interesting; if you buy a Connected, you can trade it in two years later (along with an extra $1500) and get yourself a genuine mechanical Carrera from the company. Now that’s an interesting twist!

Jacob loves his Estes Proto X nano quadcopter. A steal at only $30 and a ton of fun to fly! Check out his mini-review on the site at: http://nobettershow.com/2015/11/estes-proto-x-quadcopter-mini-review/ and pick your own up at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MDKO6EG

Jeff loves… well, you just need to tune in to hear what Jeff loves!


Estes Proto X Quadcopter Mini Review



ArticleBanner_EstesProtoX

After talking to Paul Nurkkala on episode 53, I got the itch to go fly my quadcopter. The problem is I have a middling-sized one that won’t fly in the house very well and it’s a bit windy and autumnal outside at the moment.

I had been looking longingly at the serious hobby quads every since Paul mentioned that you could get into the hobby for “pretty cheap“, but at the mere mention my lovely wife looked right into my eyes and whispered…. NO!

So what’s a guy with poor impulse control to do?

Well, he takes to the Internet and does some reading on various dark and sordid places with funny names like Reddit and RCForums.  And he finds a damn tiny quadcopter that’s under $30; the Estes Proto X!

Yep, I bucked my lovely wife’s insistent “NO” to the tune of $30 and treated myself.  And of course the moment it arrived I ripped into it like a five year old on Christmas morning!

So why did I pick the Proto X? Well, for one it’s flippin’ tiny. Like – holy cats – is it small.  Here’s a picture of it next to a genuine US of A quarter.  Look how small it is (the quad, not the quarter… Though I suppose the quarter is pretty small, too, when you think about it)!

18

That’s all there is to the thing.  A quartet of tiny propellers, a little circuit board, a tiny bit of fiberglass for the body, and (relative to the rest of the thing) a big, honking battery.  I should point out that the “big, honking battery” is only 100mAh. So it’s actually pretty dang tiny, even by battery standards.  It’s still easily 45% of the total weight of this thing, though.

6

The remote is also Lilliputian by any normal standards. If you have anything other than the delicate hands of a fetus, you’ll probably get a little crampy holding on to the remote for more than 3 seconds at a time.

3

That’s it – just a bit of plastic and a couple of D-pad-esque control sticks.  You get an on/off switch and a left/right and fore/aft trim setting.  That’s it.  You can push in on the right stick to switch control modes from easy/beginner to medium to holy-freaking-crap-I-just-pooped-my-pants mode.

You can also push in on the right button to enable what Estes calls “acrobatic” mode, but what should better be know as auto-decapitation mode.  It enables you to do flips and barrel rolls which will – inevitably – cause the quad to careen directly into the softest, fleshiest part of your face in a mere nanosecond.  Far, far to fast to enable you to do anything other than yell, “Shit!” and try to clamp your eyes closed in a desperate attempt to try to prevent any permanent damage.

Once you get the Proto X charged up – which takes about as long as the Cretaceous period lasted (around 25 minutes, for those of you short on your geologic ages) – you get roughly 5 minutes of flying time which consists mostly of swearing as you try to find the damnable thing after it’s crashed behind the couch for the ninetieth GD time in 37 seconds.  The Proto X is helpful though, it has bright red and blue lights which will make you think there is a tiny DUI checkpoint behind your couch.

7

This color combination also ensures that it is completely, physically impossible to find the propellers when they fall off; which they will do with the slightest possible provocation.

When the quadcopter is actually flying, the red and blue lights help you orient it in space.  The blue lights are forward and the red lights are – obviously – the heiny.

It’s a wonderfully helpful setup because if you’re a nearing-forty year old with poor eyes and a bad sense of hand-eye coordination you’ll need every possible aid to help you keep the damn thing oriented in a way that makes any sense whatsoever so you can get a few milliseconds of hovering while slowly rotating in a circle before slamming into the wall and losing the quad behind the couch… again.

Which bring me to… The flying!

Once the batteries are charged, you turn on the remote and then (and only then) you turn on the quadcopter.  The lights will do a delightfully little blinkey dance and then lock on solid. Now you’re ready to terrify the dog and possibly get yourself in some serious trouble with your spouse as the moment you touch the throttle the quad will leap off whatever flat surface you’ve set it on, right towards the eyes of the person who happens to be nearest. You would normally think this would be yourself, but somehow it’s always your spouse. So maybe get them some safety goggles before you start, for God’s sake!

IMG_7321

Now that everyone is safely back at least 100 feet, you’re ready to just slam the throttle all the way to 100% because that’s what everyone does the first time they try to fly a quadcopter. This will, predictably, send the quad shooting straight toward the ceiling at 200MPH where it will then promptly ricochet toward the sweet, loving, innocent eyes of your spouse.

After a 10 minute hunt for the propeller that flew off, you’ll be ready to try again. “This time will be different!” is what you’ll say to yourself. But what you should know about yourself is that you’re a dirty, dirty liar.

No matter how gently you try to feather the throttle, the damn thing is going to shoot straight up at near supersonic speeds and bounce of the ceiling again.  After a few more tries – stopping to find those pesky props, of course – you’ll get a hovering flight. It’ll only be about 0.5 centimeters off the ground, but it’ll be flight, damnit!

With your growing confidence, you’ll soon be able to pull off stunts like slowly drifting forward and then listing to one side or the other while you desperately try to figure out which direction the quadcopter is actually facing and OH MY GOD WHY IS IT GOING RIGHT WHEN I’M CLEARLY PUSHING THE CONTROLS TO THE LEFT?! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS DAMN THING?

From there it’s just a short amount of practice to actually flying loops and doing barrel rolls. With a little patience you should be able to get there in approximately the same amount of time it’ll take the Sun to turn into a red giant, engulfing the Earth and ending all life and giving you death’s sweet, sweet embrace.

But let me be serious for a minute.  This thing is a total blast to play with. If you’re twitchy at all, you will send it spinning into the wall, the couch, your significant other… you get the idea. You’re going buy the farm, repeatedly. You should probably buy some extra propellers (it comes with a spare set) and an extra battery to extend the flying-to-charging ratio a bit.

This thing is so small you can easily turn any room into quite the arial obstacle course. If you have regular ceilings, no problem. If you have vaulted ceilings, no problem. Big space, small space – it makes no difference. This thing can really move around in tight spaces as long as you’re gentle with the controls.

In “easy” mode it drifts gently to and fro – never in a hurry to get anywhere, but not afraid to move across the room.

In “medium” mode, you can flit around a bit. It’s not too touchy, but you can scoot across a room faster than you might expect.  Plan ahead and get your flashlight ready because you will hit the wall and you will have a prop go flying across the room.

In “expert” mode you’ll scare yourself. The quad becomes so touchy and nimble that just your pulsing heart will send imperceptible twitches to your thumb which will instantly command the machine to jump about at nearly insane speeds considering the whole thing is under 2″ across diagonally.  You’ll definitely hit things.  You’ll probably hit yourself.  For God’s sake buy some spare props because you’re going to need them!

If you have no previous experience and want to get your hands on quadcopter flying this is a fun little way to do it on the cheap. It’s small enough to fly in just about any indoor space and it’ll fly outside on a calm day (though be prepared to only get about 20′ – 30′ of range with the stock controller).

If you have some quad experience, you’ll probably have a good time terrorizing your children, significant others, and pets. The Estes Proto X is nimble, fast, and a metric crap-ton of fun to fly. You’ll be able to hone your skills to do some pretty impressive precision flying (if YouTube videos are any indication).

For $30 it’s hard to pass up on this. Sure, it’s not anything that you’ll grow with and keep for years and years, but for the cost of a Chipotle dinner for four you’ll definitely get your money’s worth and you almost probably won’t come down with e. coli poisoning. So, win-win?

What are you waiting for? Go and buy one already! http://amzn.to/20vB9Dj

1


Ep. 53 – Paul Nurkkala



Episode53Banner

This week the guys find out that when they’re talking Canada – they’re really stirring the ol’ listener pot!  Lot’s of listener feedback about the big election a-doin’s in Canada this week.

Check out the 80s playlist that YOU helped pick out!  https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/totally-no-better-than-average/idpl.c3be96be2c6144c097e4e274f68b31f0

Some friends of the show call to congratulate Jeff and Jacob on making it a whole year. Jeffery and Carl – the 5th Grade Zombie Slayer guys (from way back in Ep. 26) are a couple of solid dudes and their web series is finally getting rolling online.  Check out their Facebook page and catch up on all of the episodes! https://www.facebook.com/TalesOfA5thGradeZombieSlayer/

Our guest this week is a drone racer. Not just a drone racer thought… He’s a drone builder, a FPV (first person view) flyer, author of an awesome flight logging app, and a super passionate guy about the multirotor hobby in general; Paul Nurkkala.

Paul came on to talk about the sport of FPV racing and to talk about what it takes to get setup with a ready-to-race multirotor.  It’s not cheap, but it’s not nearly as expensive as you might imagine.

The most amazing this is that he’s only really been flying these racing drones for about 8 months now!  Jacob thought he was an above-average quadcopter pilot, but then he watches Paul’s videos.  Now he’s ashamed that those words ever left his mouth.

Not only does Paul race these little buggers, he also races them first person (which is a fancy way of saying, he straps on big ol’ goggles and experiences the flight as if he were perched on the front of his drone! The videos on YouTube are intense, we can only imagine what its got to be like live and in person!

The guys also touch on some of the recent legal aspects of quadcopters, drones, and multirotors (whatever you choose to call them).  From the FCC proposing licensing requirements to not being a jerk when you’re flying and what can be done to build awareness of the laws and general safety of owning and operating one of these.

Paul gave some great links if you want to investigate getting started in the hobby. Check out some of these if you want to end up down a deep, dark, and expensive rabbit hole!

If you want to check out Paul’s drones, or get in touch with him to learn more about the hobby check out these links:

Jacob loves his Stanley 25 & 10 compartment organizers: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005QWYF and a bonus; a cheap pocket hanger for your gadgets: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YMEHDOG

Jeff loves his Omaker Intelligent 6.6A USB Car Charger: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZ5OIFE

Want to help support the show? Head over to our Patreon page and pledge a buck or two. Our supporters are the best of the best people, and are just plain better looking that the average person out there! https://patreon.com/nobettershow