Ep. 113 – Ten Acres of Nerd

Is your smart TV spying on you?  It might be!  Jacob recounts his tale of his Vizio TV informing him that it was auto opting-in to basically monitor everything happening, being watched, etc. and sending it off to Vizio to be “shared” with third-party content companies.  The scary thing? The tiny fine print in the privacy agreement lets Vizio tie all devices it can to your IP address and include them in it’s reporting.  So if they can link your PC, tablet, smartphone, or other devices to your TV – that data is all fair game, too!  Arrgh, it’s enough to make a technologist pull their hair out.  If you haven’t checked out the DNS blackholing project Pi.Hole (http://pi-hole.net) yet, you really should go and do that right away!  Protect yourself, people!

Everyone hates open concept offices, that’s a given.  But who has the BIGGEST open concept office?  Like so many things, Facebook seems to be striving to be the biggest; they’re building a 10-acre office that’s going to be one room. It’ll also house 2,800 engineers – all under one roof.  Wowza!

There’s a bunch of quickies the guys run down in this episode:

  • Microsoft is bringing Cortana to the Android lock screen
  • Apple to offer a Kaby Lake Macbook pro with 32GB of RAM later this year.
  • Trump says, “Cooks eyes open to it” – to possible manufacturing iPhones in U.S.!
  • CBS is working with Andy Weir – author of The Martian – to create a TV show about NASA
  • AT&T has finally shut down its 2G network. No more original iPhone support anymore.
  • Twitter sells its developer platform to Google.  But will they find a buyer for the actual Twitter platform?

In the what-were-they-thinking department: A U.S. Appeals Court ruled last week that App Store customers can move forward with a lawsuit claiming Apple created an illegal app monopoly because it did not allow users to purchase iPhone apps outside of the App Store.  Tell us again how that’s going to work? Oh yeah, it’s not! This is America, though; where anybody can sue anyone for anything. It doesn’t seem to matter the validity of the claim.

What we love

Jacob loves the book “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail” by David Miller.  It’s his story of thru-hiking the A.T. in 2003 and definitely worth checking out! http://amzn.to/2iJwajT

Todd loves his Shure 215 in-ear monitors; writing, “[They’re] comfortable, stay in my ears and provide a good seal”.  Audio bliss for a ‘hundo! http://amzn.to/2iNOXaN

Jeff loves his Seagate Expansion 1TB USB 3.0 external hard drive.  Tiny with a price-tag to match: http://amzn.to/2iNORj4

Ep. 112 – Wholesome Activities

This week the guys are talking about some of the cool things shown at CES 2017 – a fantasy-land for any gadget fetishist around!  But before they can get to the gadgets they have to talk about some of the bigger news items of the day:

The FBI has arrested and charged former regulatory compliance chief Oliver Schmidt with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Since that story broke, another handful of VW employees has been named as being criminally complicit in the diesel-emissions-coverup scandal.  Is the end in sight for VW? And – more late-breaking news – is that Fiat Chrysler may be facing down its own dieselgate-type scandal!

The week this episode was originally published marked the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone announcement.  Yes, ten years ago – on January 9th, 2007 – Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone and changed the world.  It’s hard to imagine a time before smartphones were ubiquitous, and now they’re de rigueur.

On the CES news front: Razer unveiled two stars-of-the-show this year. Their three-screen laptop prototype was rave reviews for its innovative and unique design.  It sports not one, not two, but three 17″ 4K screens that automatically slide out and form an ultra-wide 12K screen!  It’s 11,520 x 2,160 pixels for those of you playing along at home! Acer also unveiled a 21″ “laptop” that weighs in at a whopping 19 pounds and starts at $9,000.  Anyone want to order a few and have ’em sent our way?

An IndieGoGo project hits big and is also a darling of CES.  The Tiny1 is a smart astronomy camera that blew its funding goals way out of the water on Indiegogo. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tiny1-the-world-s-smallest-astronomy-camera-photography#/

T-Mobile has their usual CES announcements. This year they unveiled their One plan; unlimited data and they’ll even refund you if you don’t use a bunch of data.  Yep, if you use 2GB or less of monthly data T-Mobile will credit you back $10. They also announced something that Jacob can really get behind; all-in pricing. There is no more hiding taxes and fees – the price you’re shown is the price you pay each month.  Hopefully all of the other carriers pick up on this and start offering it as well; it’s long past due!

What we love:

Jeff loves his Pasonomi iPad Stand. It looks nice and it’s affordable! http://amzn.to/2ikVN74

Jacob loves his Leviton VRPD3-1LW Vizia RF Plug-In Lamp Module – it’s affordable and works with Wink and Alexa! http://amzn.to/2jlVLNr

Todd loves the YouTube channel by MKBHD. Lots of great tech and gear reviews: https://www.youtube.com/user/marquesbrownlee

Ep. 111 – Resolutions?

The holidays are over and the guys are – once again – back at the tech-talk-game. Some of the topics this week:

Cheap and Useful? A website promising links to “cheap and useful stuff under $25”.  It may or may not actually be useful, but it certainly is cheap!  Decide for yourself at http://www.cheapanduseful.com/

Inside Facebook’s Prineville, OR data center.  Some amazing stats and also where your old, unused Facebook data goes to die – in cold storage.

The wearables market didn’t do nearly as well in 2016 as analysts predicted, but Jeff’s still bullish on his Apple Watch and pines for the Apple Watch Series 2 edition.  What say you, listener?  Are wearables hot or overrated in 2017?

Jeff gives an enthusiastic review of his Beats Solo 3 wireless headphones.  TL;DR?  Loves them.  You’ll have to listen for his full review.

On the heels of Jeff’s Beats review; iFixit declares Apple’s AirPods are “impossible to repair” – saying that you’ll have to destroy the earbud to get into it’s tiny, complicated electronic guts.  It doesn’t seem to be stopping people from ordering them, though – there’s at least a 6-week wait on Apple’s online store.

Todd *highly* recommends checking out The IT Crowd.  Both he and Jacob are late to the party, watching the show, but if you haven’t seen it, check out this clip and then give it a look on Netflix (or YouTube if you’re a glutton for bad quality videos).

Ep. 110 – The Clipasode Cometh

It’s the holidays… the LAST episode of the year, and the guys are spending some time with their families.  So in the interim, you get to enjoy this 100% freshly recycled clip show for the low, low price of FREE!

Covering stuff they love all the way back to the very first episode! Hear where it all started and stick around for Jacob’s retelling of his most embarrassing story on the podcast to date.  The one that you – dear listener – seemed to enjoy waaaay too much.

All this – and more – is waiting *just* for you in this fabulous episode of: The No Better Than Average podcast!

Ep. 109 – The Second Christmaspisode!

It’s not a clip show this week, but it is Christmas time and the guys squeeze in one last show before the end of the year.

This week they’ve got listeners calling and emailing the show – which is always awesome and much appreciated!

The guys talk about the new iOS game that dropped last week: Super Mario Run from Nintendo.  What’s the verdict? For $9.99 is it worth picking up or is it a pass? You’ll have to listen to find out, but both Jeff and Jacob are in agreement on their decision!

Amazon has successfully delivered its first package by autonomous drone. On December 7th, in Cambridge, England – the e-tail giant successfully delivered the sub-5-pound package via one of their customized drones.  They’re testing in Cambridge, and seeking ways to improve the service as well as expand it as they work to make it bulletproof.  Will the FAA relent and let them do any trials in the US?  Only time will tell, but Amazon doesn’t appear to be slowing down in their ambitious plans.

In another case of the legal system not keeping pace with technology, a Florida appeals court has said you can be compelled to utter your phone’s passphrase – not just be required to unlock your device with a fingerprint!

The European Union has ruled that Ireland can’t give Apple it’s sweetheart tax deal (0.005% taxes, what?!) and Apple owes $14 billion in taxes to the EU.  Naturally, Ireland and Apple are more than a little upset with this decision (a final EU ruling is expected as early as the week of December 19th). Will this make tech companies located in Ireland start looking harder at potential US offers to repatriate monies back into the United States?  Will the government play ball to get back some money instead of leaving it outside the boundaries of the country?  Will Italy be the next major EU country to cause more financial stress as their banking system potentially needs to be bailed out?


Ep. 108 – Inspired by Nature

This week Jeff is MIA and Todd and Jacob do their best to take up the slack!  Don’t worry, Jeff should be back next week, though.

Listener John writes in with a well-timed rant about “planned” obsolescence of all of our amazing tech gadgetry.  It’s a real concern for business and home-gamers alike.  How to keep up with the tech, keep it secured, and keep it updated without spending a small (or large) fortune.  It’s a planned rat-race as the pace of change in tech is ever accelerating, our demands of what we want – now – is unrelenting, and our desire for new and shiny is every present and played upon by marketers. So what’s a tech-obsessed geek to do?

Apple finally announces a ship date for their much anticipated AirPods.  If you were lucky enough to get them pre-ordered they should deliver right in time for Christmas – December 21st.  If you missed the pre-order window, but still want a pair, you’re looking at a mid-January ship date now, sucker!

The guys discuss why open-concept office spaces aren’t all they’re cracked up to be (and how Jacob’s moving into one may influence his decision away from AirPods and towards some Bose noise-cancelling cans!).

Disgruntled diesel VW owners are stripping their cars before turning them back over to VW.  According to a court ruling in the “dieselgate” scandal owners have to return an “operable” vehicle to be eligible for their buyback and settlement money.  Unfortunately for VW the term “operable” is pretty narrowly defined by the courts. Basically, the car has to run under its own power and that’s about it. So the Internet – being the wonderful/horrible place that it is – is now full of stories of people stripping off everything they can before returning the vehicle.  And it’s apparently working (if Reddit is to be believed) with one user reporting full payment after stripping off exterior body panels, rear-end collision damage, and other systems removed!

According to a Microsoft blog post, Mac users switching to Surface more than ever before, after new MacBook Pro ‘disappointment’.  Sent in by listener Kye (thanks, Kye!) this story is an interesting one; with the relatively unimpressive MacBook Pro refresh earlier this fall, power users are torn; do they buy a less powerful MacBook Pro, or look elsewhere for their computing needs?  Microsoft is definitely trying to capitalize on what they perceive to be Apple’s misstep and have been promoting the Surface platform heavily the past few months.  Is the strategy paying off?  Microsoft seems to say yes, but Slice Intelligence and Apple itself point out that the refreshed MacBook Pros have been Apple’s fastest selling laptops in the company’s history.

Ep. 107 – Flamethrowers!

Despite being under the weather the guys are back at it again this week, talking tech.  Amazon’s new Lightsail VPS service is the neato service de-jour and Jacob geeks out just a little about it.  If you’re in need of a virtual server on the cheap, it’s definitely worth a look.

Todd geeks out on his new LG V20 phone and gives a rundown on it after owning it and using it for a bit.

Scientists finally get their act together and name some new elements; 113, 115, 117, & 118 to be exact.

DJ Earworm released his annual pop mash-up; United State of Pop 2016.  If you’re a fan or just like pop music you should go give it a listen!

Ep. 106 – Tobler-wrong!

This week the guys catch up after the Thanksgiving holiday – back in the saddle and talking tech.

Jacob is outraged (*outraged* he says) that Toblerone is shrinking the size of their candy – producing wrong looking Toblerone bars. They’re making them smaller as pricing pressures creep up.

Drone maker DJI introduces two new drones; the Phantom 4 PRO and the Inspire 2 and they look amazing.  If you’re interested in aerial photography these are definitely the current gotta-get drones. DJI seems to be moving away from focusing on the flying part of the hobby and investing very heavily on the photography and videography aspect of the hobby.  At any rate – they’re amazing marvels of technology.

Jacob also recounts a story of getting his drone caught in a tree; as the guys give support and encouragement by laughing their butts off!

Ep. 105 – A Good Filibuster

The political season is finally over and the guys are back with tech talk! Listen for all the nitty-gritty.

A few quick links for ya!

Check out this amazing video of the new world-record-breaking-Rubick’s-Cube-solving-robot – how fast you ask? How about 0.637 seconds fast!

Jacob also can recommend his Hakko soldering iron cleaner.  If you’re an electronics wonk who needs to keep his tip cleaned and tinned – you really need this nifty little gadget!  Only $10 too, cheap! http://amzn.to/2fQhsDE

Ep. 104 – The Terrible Twos

What’s this?  It’s been TWO YEARS since the No Better Than Average podcast launched.  From such humble beginnings back in November of 2014 – here we are, 24-months and 104 episodes later and we couldn’t have gotten here without such awesome listeners, and YOUR support!  So thank you, listeners, for being there and for listening.  We hope we’re still going strong in two more years when we’re on episode 208!

This week the guys hear from a listener who’s just as irritated as Jeff about the just-announced MacBook lineup.  He’s got some great points, too.

The New York Times goes on a buying spree, snapping up The Wirecutter and The Sweethome, while also posting that profits declined by over 95% year-over-year from the third quarter 2015 to 2016.  Ouch, that’s going to sting.

Market research group IDC announces; “No one is buying smartwatches anymore!” Sales of smartwatches have been declining.  Is this the normal ebb and flow of the markets – especially with apparent supply constraints (as Jeff has found) or is this pointing to a larger problem with smartwatches in general?

Sweden’s highest court bans drones with cameras. They’re now off limits to “normal folks” with exceptions for law enforcement and those obtaining a very expensive filming permit.  Right when technology gets interesting, the gub’ment comes alongs and takes it away!  Thanks, Sweden!

Todd tries to buy a phone from LeEco’s LeMall with ensuing hilarity over checking out with the wrong of two other-than-the-instant-rebate-identical products. The really frustrating part is that the company apparently has no way currently to just issue the rebate; forcing him to instead receive the phone, return it, and re-purchase the correct identical-other-than-the-rebate model when it’s available on one of their infrequent “flash sales”.

What we love:

Jeff loves Marvel’s Doctor Strange (‘natch, it’s a superhero movie!)

Jacob loves his Yeti-ripoff RTIC stainless steel tumbler.  Works with all of the Yeti accessories for about 1/3 the Yeti price.  Sure it’s made in China, but whattyagunnado? http://amzn.to/2eGR7du

Todd loves Newegg.  It’s “his” Amazon and default starting point for consumer goods: http://www.newegg.com/