Category Archives: Technology

Further thoughts on the GDS3710

The Grandstream 3710 Door System provides a video intercom, security camera (its recordable using compatible NVRS), RFID reader, and door unlock control relay. The device has a contact input that can be used for an inside exit demand input and a second that can be used as a door status sensor input. And all of this for the price of a door controller from HID or AXIS.

This is a new device so it has a few rough edges. This post talks about the rough edges.

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Small, Simple Access Control

My church is completing the remodel of its new building. Being a retired moocher having nothing better to do, I got sucked into the design sub-committees working on Audio, Lighting, and Networking (including phones). In our current building, we issued keys to trusted congregants that allowed them to open the building to support scheduled activities like choir rehearsal, meetings, and the Sunday program. We kept a key under a rock (well, a figurative rock) having a button lock. Over the years members had come and gone but the key combination remained unchanged. In our new home, we wanted to avoid physical keys and their management so we opted for an access control system. This article describes what we found and did.

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HomePod is a Speaker Phone!

I made an interesting discovery when I called out from home on my mobile. It showed a new Blue Tooth audio device which happened to be my HomePod. On a lark, I moved the HomePod into my study for the quarterly check-in call with my broker. In my study, the phone (iPhone 6+) speaker phone has a pretty bad echo setting my expectations to switch to headphones after the caller reported hideous call quality.

The first go

When the call came in on my iPhone, I switched it to HomePod expecting that I’d have to switch to ear buds to have the echo tolerable. My advisor calls my Google Voice number which rings both my iPhone and my OOMA Telo VoIP land line. I have the choice of which to use and normally take his call on the iPhone using some Sennheiser headphones made for iPhone calling.

Surprisingly, my advisor reported clean audio on his end free of echo. He sounded well also calling from a 212 area code phone, probably VoIP likely on a local PBX but possibly a cloud PBX. At any rate, HomePod works well as an audio endpoint for a 2 way phone call.

Siri can’t dial

“Hey Siri, call aunt nancy at home”

“Sorry, I can’t help you with that here”

HomePod Siri can’t chat with iPhone Siri to make the call for you.

Introducing YouMail

I’m impressed. Favorably impressed. StraightTalk was OK but ATT, my MVNO carrier had gotten lazy. StraightTalk was not offering ATT visual voicemail, data tethering, or WiFi calling.

Changes in ATT’s ranking in Consumer Reports prompted me to change from StraightTalk to Ting. Consumer Reports ranked T-Mobile above ATT as a carrier and Ting above StraightTalk as an MVNO. StraightTalk is a competent discount MVNO but had not been keeping up on ATT LTE capabilities rollout. The Ting rate plan model offers data tethering, WiFi calling, and visual voicemail across the board.

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The Moocher welcomes Ting Mobile

Ting Mobile has surged to the top of Consumer Reports wireless carrier popularity survey. Ting is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) serving the continental United States reselling T-Mobile and Sprint service in its service territories. Coverage is the same as the parent carrier. If you’re in town on or a major road, life is good. In the prairie or the mountains I can’t hear you now but I am never there.

References

  1. https://www.ting.com
  2. Consumer Reports carrier survey (website subscribers only)
  3. Online review https://youtu.be/tpcxbBrEHgs
  4. Funny Advert https://youtu.be/vV_l9ZoBfOI

Why did I change

The incumbent MVNO operator was OK technically but known for horrid customer service. Thanks to good articles on GigaOM and Ars, I made it through on boarding with the incumbent without needing to call them. Since then, I’ve not had to call them but I’m finding my website password goes missing from time to time. Most recently, when I started looking at the number porting. You have to mother may I to move your old number. Being a GV convert, i let Ting give me a new number and saved firing the incumbent for another day.

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Thoughts on Electric Power for Puerto Rico

As you may know, I’m a former electric power utility equipment engineer. Although no longer active, I continue to follow developments in my former industry. Hurricanes Irma and Maria significantly damaged Puerto Rico’s ailing state owned public utility. Because of economic conditions on the island and electric power pricing decisions, the utility has been unable to maintain its generation and distribution equipment. Apparently, the utility was also deferring tree maintenance long its rights of way. Because of the lack of care and the strength of the storms, most of the island’s retail distribution is down and some of its backbone transmission is damaged. Puerto Rico is in the position of rebuilding its transmission and distribution and cold starting its generation.

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