Sunday, May 31, 2020

Video Conferencing Testing

CIO Services Group (CIOSG) has continually leveraged a variety of collaborative technologies. In the realm of video conferencing, we have been using Microsoft's Skype on many platforms. Skype has been effective and dependable with exceptional audio and video. We have exercised Skype with a variety of Windows browsers and clients and smartphone clients.


Most of the Skype usage has been with a host-initiated call. This requires all participants to be logged into a Microsoft account (MSA). We also tested the technique that doesn't need an MSA. That technique was as satisfactory as using an MSA.

There are a confusing number of Skype clients between Skype and Skype for Business as well as Windows browser clients.

CIOSG next tested 8x8. This is a commercialization of Jitsi. The audio and video were good. The controls were not up to the level of Skype. The testing was done with Windows browser clients with Firefox being "Limited Support." We didn't get Firefox to work.

Google Meet was next on our assessment. CIOSG is a GSuite customer so we have had access to Google Meet Essentials. This is now available to all users with a Google account. The audio and video were exceptional. The controls were complete and full function. The testing was done with a variety of Windows browsers and smartphone clients.

Our Webex testing was less than satisfactory. The audio and video were the lowest quality of all the clients tested. Webex was the only test where we abandoned the platform and went back to Skype. The testing was done with a variety of Windows browsers and clients and smartphone clients.

Our testing of Zoom showed that its reputation was well deserved. The presentation was well organized and functional. The audio and video were exceptional. The testing was done with a variety of Windows browsers and clients and smartphone clients.

While CIOSG tended to focus on Windows browser clients, several of the platforms were insistent on downloading and installing Windows clients. Often the "run in browser" link was actually delayed in presenting. Other than Google Meet, the other platforms presented limited capabilities when using the Windows browser clients. Examples of limited capabilities are no grid view, reduced host controls, lack of background features.

A detailed assessment of the various platforms is available here.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Wyze Band

My son-in-law gave me a Fitbit Versa for Christmas last year. I've used it to document my walking and sleeping. The Versa gives me heart rate and pace and sleep periods.


I've been a big Wyze Cam fan so I jumped on the Wyze Band when it was announced.


It arrived recently and I've done a quick comparison to the Fitbit. As you read this you need to remember that the Fitbit Versa is ~$170 and the Wyze Band is $25.

Here's the walking report from the Fitbit Versa.


And for the same walk, here's the report from the Wyze Band.


Here's the comparison of the walking reports.


The Wyze distance is a little high and the Fitbit distance is a little low. The GPS measured distance is about 1.88 miles.

Still, the Wyze is close enough for 1/6 the price.

Here's the sleeping report from the Fitbit Versa.


And for the same night, here's the report from the Wyze Band.


Here's the comparison of the sleeping reports.


The Wyze Band doesn't fare as well on sleeping as on walking.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Chillin' With an iPhone - Part 3

In my earlier post about MapMyWalk on my iPhone, I mentioned that I would revisit why the "red line is so crooked."

It's related to the observation I made in my post about managing photos on my iPhone. In that post I said that non-Apple apps tend to not run passively in the background even if you enable Background App Refresh.

Here is a recent result from MapMyWalk on my iPhone.


I think that's what happening with MapMyWalk. It looks like iOS isn't letting MapMyWalk access the GPS for location continuously. This results in the waypoints appearing irregular and the red line being crooked.

For comparison, here's the display from MayMyWalk on an Android device.


There is significantly less deviation on Android. The little discontinuity in the middle is where I crossed the street for an oncoming car.

This also has the effect that MapMyWalk's statistics are reported incorrectly on iOS. The distance and pace will be slightly off.

Generally this isn't really a problem with MapMyWalk.

But the same phenomenon can be observed with Google Maps. Often when you open Google Maps on an iPhone, the location will show as the last location where you used Google Maps. Then in a couple of seconds, the location will be updated to the current location.

I use Google Maps Timeline feature. Overall Google Maps Timeline on iOS has a lot less granularity than on Android and often will completely miss segments of travel. Even when it does record the travel the resolution isn't sufficient to identify the business visited. Google Maps Timeline on Android does an incredible job of this.

Neither of these examples disqualify location services on iOS. The upside is that the iOS battery usage is significantly lower than Android.

In an admittedly unscientific attempt to compare, I went back to the last 30 days of my iPhone 6S compared to the next 30 days of my Essential PH-1. The iPhone 6S milliamps/hour averaged 55.63 compared to 69.03 on the Essential PH-1.

It's a trade-off. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Quiet, Listen

That's the sound of Intel going down the drain. My previous post in August 2019 discussed Samsung's Galaxy Book S running Windows 10 with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 7nm chip.

But hey, Intel has announced new systems as well in May 2020.
Intel’s 10th generation desktop CPUs have arrived - still on 14nm
Sad. I really can't think of anything positive to say about that.

Maybe other chip manufacturers have not progressed either.

Nope, not so much.
Early TSMC 5nm Test Chip Yields 80%, HVM Coming in H1 2020
(HVM stands for High Volume Manufacturing.)

Well, maybe they don't have any customers lined up.

Wrong!
TSMC already sampling Apple's 5 nm A14 Bionic SoCs for 2020 iPhones

It's a death watch now.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Don't Read Forbes

At least not for your Windows news!


There seems to be a sector of the news media coming up with bad news about Windows Updates. See my earlier article on Windows 10 Updates.

My Google News feed came up with the following article:
Google Just Gave Millions Of Users A Reason To Quit Windows 10 (archive.is)
Note that while it was updated on 04/26/20, it was originally published on 04/23/20.

It rambles around talking about a Chromium sandbox feature that even Firefox uses.

Then it buries the lead with:
The good news is [Google's Project Zero] alerted Microsoft to the problem and the company issued a patch (CVE-2020-0981) to fix it. 
It fails to note that the patches (archive.is) were issued 9 days before the article was written!

Get your Windows news elsewhere.

Addendum: Don't read Express.co.uk either. They posted a similar article on May 3, 2020 with the headline "Windows 10 users face nightmare choice between losing their files or breaking Google Chrome".

Perhaps fortunately this story will no longer load. You can see it at the Way Back Machine or archive.is.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Contactless Payments Revisited

Do you see this symbol at check-outs?


Do you know what it means? Does it work all the time?

It means that the check-out terminal hardware supports contactless payments. It doesn't mean that the merchant supports contactless payments.

I covered contactless payments a couple of years ago but there has been a lot of progress since then.

Contactless payments come in two main forms - a smartphone app or contactless technology embedded directly into the card.

The smartphone technology is known as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay (not covered by this article). Of course, Apple can't make it simple. On an iPhone the app that manages it is Wallet. Here is how to do it on your iPhone and here is how to do it on your Android phone.

All platforms will walk you through adding your credit cards to their app. But you may find that not all of your cards are supported on all platforms. For example, my primary credit card is supported by both Apple and Google. However, my bank's debit card is supported only by Apple.

After you add your card to the app, you'll probably have to interact with the issuer to confirm that you really want to add the card to the smartphone. Generally, that's an easy text message or automated phone call.

To use your iPhone with Face ID, double-click the side button, glance at your iPhone to unlock it, then hold the top of your iPhone close to the check-out terminal for a few seconds. When you’re done paying, a blue check mark will appear on the screen.

To use your iPhone with Touch ID, rest (don't press) your finger on Touch ID to unlock your phone, then hold the top of your iPhone close to the check-out terminal for a few seconds. When you’re done paying, a blue check mark will appear on the screen.

To use your Android phone to pay, unlock your phone, then hold the back of your phone close to the check-out terminal for a few seconds. When you’re done paying, a blue check mark will appear on the screen.

Recently, U.S. card issuers have begun offering contactless cards. If your card is capable, it will have this symbol on it.

If your card is equipped with contactless technology simply hold it near the card reader to complete your transaction. However, my experience is that 100% of the check-out terminals that have this symbol DON'T actually support contactless cards. That should change over time.

Contactless cards are sill rolling out in the U.S. Only 1 of the 3 cards that I primarily use support contactless.

There are reference articles here (archive.is) and here (archive.is).

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Chillin' With an iPhone - Part 2

On my Essential PH-1, I used a combination of apps to track my daily walks. I used Runkeeper to get a nice map of my route and Pedometer to count steps.

This time, I looked harder for an app that consolidated those functions. I came across MapMyWalk from Under Armour.

Here's its output at the end of a walk.

Pretty good.

I wish it would audibly give 2 decimals of the distance as you're walking. It only gives tenths of a mile. And give complete step counts. It only gives hundreds of steps.

I'll talk about why that red line is so crooked later.

MapMyWalk is also available on Android.