Google Nexus Q – Sexy Streaming Media Hub for Android Users, Made in the USA

 

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If I liked Android stuff (start your flame war below) I’d be all over this sleek new gadget.  Unveiled at a Google developer conference on Wednesday, the “social streaming media player” gets all its content directly from the cloud, or a wirelessly connected Android device.  The Q can be connected to nearly any kind of A/V device, using its built-in 25-watt amp and RCA connectors, plus HDMI, optical audio, and USB ports. If you don’t have any speakers available, not to worry. The Q comes with a built-in set.

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Volume, media selection, and group access are all controlled through your Android device. Anything that’s available through Google Play or YouTube can be streamed to the Q, with no limitations.  The Q even has a voice-recognition feature, allowing you to “Ask the Q” for help with life’s great mysteries. It’s no Siri, but it’s a cute little Easter egg.

 

Although all this technology is impressive, the most notable breakthrough surrounding the Nexus Q is its birthplace. Etched right on the bottom of every device are the words “Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A.” When’s the last time you saw those words on a piece of high-end technology?

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Google is one of the first major companies to bring its manufacturing center out of China – where labor is cheap and regulations are non-existent – and back to the US, where it can make a difference to our economy.  The plant that manufactures the Q employs hundreds of people in Google’s hometown of Mountain View, CA.  That number may rise in the future.

 

Here’s a short Google video describing the Q’s functionality:

I Don’t Know What it is, but I Want it.

UPDATE 2/13/12: HPs big secret will be revealed at 11am tomorrow, February 14th.  See the video below.

 

HP sent an email to the press corps of SolidWorks World 2012, hinting that they’ll be releasing something very big at the show. Based on their teaser ad, we should all be very excited, or very afraid.

http://hp.com/go/newera

Examining my Commute with DashCommand

Now that I have an iPhone 4S (thanks Mom!), I finally have a device that can handle the processing and data transfer needs of DashCommand.

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DashCommand is a vehicle diagnostic and data visualization app from Palmer Performance Engineering.  Basically, you can plug your phone into the OBD-II port under your steering wheel (with a cable or wireless transmitter, sold separately), and see every piece of information about your car’s performance.

 

Some of the parameters that can be viewed are:

  • Speed
  • RPM
  • Power
  • Torque
  • Remaining Fuel
  • Fuel Economy
  • Coolant temperature
  • Pitch and roll
  • G forces
  • Check Engine codes

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It also takes averages over trips, each day, and between fillups.  I decided to use a trip average to record the data for my commute from work to home.  Here’s the data for my one way, door-to-door  trip:

 

 

Average Fuel Consumption

23.5 mpg

 

Distance

36.5 mi

 

Fuel consumed

1.2 gal

 

Average CO2 Emission Rate

13.2 oz/mi

 

Total CO2 Emissions

23.8 lbs

 

Elapsed Time

56 min

 

Drive Time

41 min

Meaning I was stopped at red lights/in traffic for 15 minutes

Average fuel flow

1.3 gal/hr

 

Max fuel flow

4.7 gal/hr

 

Average Speed (excluding idle)

42 mph

 

Average Speed (including idle)

35 mph

 

Max Speed

72 mph

 

Average Engine Speed

1535 rpm

 

Max Engine Speed

3155 rpm

 

Max Acceleration

0.4 g

 

Max Braking

0.5 g

 

Max Engine Power

199 HP

 

Max Torque

278 ft/lbs

 

Distance in Neutral

22.6%

I think this means the amount of time I’m stopped or coasting

Time in Neutral

47.3%

 

Distance in 1st Gear

0.7%

 

Time in 1st Gear

1.4%

 

Distance in 2nd Gear

3.6%

 

Time in 2nd Gear

4.7%

 

Distance in 3rd Gear

9.8%

 

Time in 3rd Gear

8.9%

 

Distance in 4th Gear

63%

 

Time in 4th Gear

37.5 %

 

Distance in 5th Gear

0.3%

 

Time in 5th Gear

0.2%

 

Distance in Wrong Gear

77%

I don’t know how this cold be possible, since my car is an automatic. Does anyone know?

Time in Wrong Gear

52.5%

 

 

 

My dashboards:

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My Route:

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(Note the color changes based on my speed)

 

At some point I’ll post some data from a performance run or a quarter-mile, if I can find a safe place to do it.

 

Meet BAMF-Raptor 2.0

What do you do when you’ve got thousands of dollars worth of medical bills piling up? Upgrade your computer of course!  With the help of the infamous @CharlesCulp, I scoured Newegg and MicroCenter for deals on the best of the best in desktop hardware.

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This is what I ended up with:

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600k Quad-Core (@ 3.70GHz)

RAM: Corsair Vengeance DDR3 8.00 GB (2×4)

Motherboard: Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 (with HDMI, USB 3.0, SATA 3.0)

Graphics: Nvidia Quadro 600 (slim)

OS: Windows 7 x64

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Continue reading

My Power Diagnostic Benchmark Tests

Update: Energy Diagnostic with Power-Hungry Programs

Continued from post on Power Efficiency Diagnostics Tool

 

iTunes (playing, includes audio drivers, etc)

Itunes

Errors:

  • High Definition Audio Device: “The device or driver has made a request to prevent the system from automatically entering sleep.” – Apparently iTunes prevents your computer from going to sleep, at least while it’s playing music. Makes sense.

Processor Utilization: 5.49%

 

Outlook

Out

Processor Utilization: 0.37%

 

 

SolidWorks 2011 (idle, no docs open)

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Processor Utilization: 0.31%

01

 

 

SolidWorks 2011 (Simple Assembly Force Rebuild)

Processor Utilization: 2.66%

02

 

SolidWorks 2011 (Complex Assembly Force Rebuild)

Processor Utilization: 42.69%

03

 

PhotoView 360 (Rendering, Best quality)

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Errors:

“The program has made a request to prevent the system from automatically entering sleep.” – this makes sense. You don’t want your computer going to sleep in the middle of an 18 hour render.

“The program has made a request to enable Away Mode.” – not sure what this is…

“Total CPU Utilization is high” (100% of 3.05 GHz)

Processor Utilization :78.32% (PV360) + .043% (SolidWorks)

 

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Little-Known Windows 7 Command Tool Generates Sustainability Report for your Computer

Everyone is going Green these days – there’s no denying that – and Microsoft is no exception.  But the computer giant isn’t just going green internally, they’re also developing tools to help every user save energy… and save the world.  I recently discovered the Power Efficiency Diagnostics tool in this article of useful Windows 7 tips and tricks (page 3).  This tool is run from the command line, but the output is a well formatted HTML report detailing your computer’s power consumption, and possible improvements to be made. 

 

The power Efficiency diagnostics tool not only provides the details of your power consumption, abut also allows you to change and improve your settings using the same command.  The full command line option set can be found here, but I’ve provided some of the more useful commands below.

 

Note: To run this tool, you must be running the command prompt as an administrator. The quickest way to do this is to click start, type cmd, and press CTRL+Shift+Enter

 

powercfg -energy

Performs a 60-second test, and generates an HTML report based on your computer’s power settings and energy consumption.  This option is only available on Windows 7.

powercfg -lastwake

Reports information about the event that woke the computer from the last sleep transition.

powercfg -devicequery query_flags

Lists all devices that can wake your computer from various states of sleep.  This is useful if your computer seems to magically wake itself up with no input from you.  Check the documentation for detailed options.

 

Now, as a test and an example, I’ll lay all my cards on the table.  I’m going to run though the diagnostic tool and see how I can improve my own consumption.  I can tell you right now, BAMF-Raptor is not the model of power-sipping efficiency.  The neon kinda gives that away…

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To run the diagnostic: 

1) Click Start, type cmd (run as Administrator if necessary), open the Command Prompt

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2) Type powercfg -energy to begin the diagnostic with default settings.  The test runs for 60 seconds…

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3) … and returns information of the number and type of alerts, and the path to the full diagnostic report.  My test resulted in 16 errors, 22 warnings, and 14 tips. Ouch.

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4) The diagnostic report goes into detail about each warning, error, and informational item. 

Most of my errors were redundant; 12 of them told methat my USB devices did not turn off when the system was idle.  Two of my errors warned me that my computer did not automatically sleep or hibernate after a period of inactivity.  However, I disabled these settings on purpose because, ever since upgrading to Windows 7, I’ve gotten the BSOD every time I try to put it to sleep.  The last two errors warned me of an unusually high processor utilization (14.9%) and a hardware incompatibility that forced PCI Express Active State Power Management to be disabled.

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The warnings mostly had to do with various individual programs or processes that caused Windows to run inefficiently, either due to unusually high processor utilization, or overriding of the idle-state timer.  In may case, the greatest offenders in both catagories were:

  • Firefox (The highest power user. Also, ironically, what the HTML report was opened in)
  • Google Talk Plugin
  • ambx Illuminate
  • PlayOn Server
  • 3DConnexion 3D Mouse Driver
  • AIM
  • SolidWorks Background Downloader

Keep in mind that my computer was basically idle at the time, with no hardware-intensive programs running at the time.  I’ll run this diagnostic with a number of heavy programs open soon.

Also, although not important for my desktop, laptop users may be interested in the warning that states “The current power policy for 802.11-compatible wireless network adapters is not configured to use low-power modes.”  This may affect power consumption  and signal quality when on battery mode.

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The information section included details on the process strings which returned the lowest platform timer setting, and therefore used the most power (I think).  For example, the highest consumer included Firefox and all it’s add-in and a bunch of Microsoft kernels, which were all part of one task.  Below that, the report listed the names and settings of the current Power Plan, including a value known as its “Personality.” Apparently my computer has a balanced personality. Who knew?

This section will also check battery and system inefficiencies, supported sleep modes, processor power management schemes, and so on.

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Give it a try and see how you stack up. Leave a comment below with your results, and may the greenest machine win.

UPDATE: See my new post with benchmark tests of heavy programs.