Why you should not buy an Xbox One

This is based on my personal experience with the new console in my internet situation.  I honestly believe that this is a trend that has probably infected all the other new gaming platforms or will shortly and only get worse.  And yes this is completely a first world problems rant, but also an indication that change is not always a good thing.

I live where you have limited internet choices, like a lot of Americans do  You have either Comcast or Frontier DSL.  Both here have so over sold their data, that from 4pm to 1am your internet speeds drop down to near dial up speeds.   I have actually resorted to using an LTE 4G USB dongle to record my podcasts as it's a lot faster and far more stable than the other options for internet access.  But this also means that the "next gen" of videogame consoles are a complete failure.  They require an always on high speed connection while playing or to even buy a game.   I recently bought an XboxOne and Forza 5, and after setting up my new purchase I had to wait 24 hours to play a game on it.   The XboxOne on it's own took 2 hours to update it's self when first turned on.  Then the game download of 20gig of data was needed to even play the $60.00 video game on this $500 game platform.

So I try to pass it off as an anomaly...  new platform needed major updates, and Turn 10, the company that makes the Forza series may have had a major update...    But no,  it's a trend that is getting worse.   titanfall needs a ton of always on data and is unplayable on any connection that is less than 10meg down and 1 meg up.... so DSL is not useable....  The same for the new Destiny game.. etc..  Plus these gigantic Games take 50gb on the tiny 500gb drive that Microsoft though was a good idea.    I have $120 burning a hole in my pocket as I want to buy a couple of new games, but nothing exists out there that I want to play because it's either online multi-player only (no interest in battling potty mouth 13 year olds)  or the game requires massive data incoming and outgoing to play it.   Microsoft is losing my money because I'll just spend it on Beer and Buffalo Wings instead.  It get's worse...  I try to buy a different game,   Wolfinstien: New world order and discover it as well is a blank disk that simply tells the machine to download 51gigabytes making it impossible for someone on DSL to play the game for 2 days.  And this same problem is noted all over the place,  http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/05/20/the-misadventures-of-trying-to-play-wolfenstein-the-new-order-via-ps4-digital-download/ for example talks about this problem on the PS4 so it seems that all the new game consoles completely and utterly suck if you want to play a game you just bought.  You have to wait a few days for it to finally get around to downloading it's self and taking up a huge chunk of the paltry 380GB left on your 500Gb hard drive. 

Update: I just bought and tried Wolfenstein: new order yesterday and I could not get it to install even after letting it download for 1 day straight.  Plus the forums are full of people complaining it will not install right and have to delete it and re-try several times.  No thanks;  glad  GameStop has a no questions return policy to return junk games like that.

So it seems that if you do not have the highest tier of internet and live in a city that is large enough to have full internet speeds at 8pm at night, your gaming experience on the current gaming systems will suffer.  And god help you if you live rural and have Hughes-net satellite internet.  I am in the demographic that the game companies really want to keep.  A game player that actually has money to spend on this frivolous past time,   I use it as a de-stresser when I can not be out on my motorcycle.  But I also advise a lot of people on technology purchases and I have to warn people away from the XboxOne if they live in a rural setting or anywhere your internet provider has oversold the available bandwidth, which seems to be most of them.

I guess I need to think about getting rid of my video game habit and dump the money into vintage BMW bikes......  Anyone know how to read German technical manuals?

Change is Scary : That feeling is always the same, the Anxiety of changing jobs.

I did not sleep well last night,  tossing and turning my mind would not stop running and thinking.  Just a few days before I was chased down by the executive of a large company here in town, asking if I was interested in listening to what they had to say.  This is not the first time I have been headhunted, but I did not expect it this time around.  I met with them, and was told early in the meeting, "let's get to the point,  we think you are a fantastic fit for our company and you need to give us a number you can not refuse.  What will it take to get you to work for us?"  Ok, that one is new. Never had someone 30 minutes into a meeting cut to the chase and say that point blank.  I really appreciate not wasting time, and when a company does not screw around they really get my interest.

So I thought it over, did some research as to what the national median for my career salary was and added 15% to compensate for my skills and experience, actually did some backdoor investigation on the company through friends that knew people that worked there or knew others that knew someone that worked there.   Turnover rate is very low, and everyone loved working there...   That is a good sign.  I spent the rest of the weekend fighting over the number  to ask for in my head,  Is it too high?  is it too low?  it cant be too low, you did the math and research...  But if they chased me down they are willing to pay...  ARRGH!  I decided that being honest was better than greed so I stuck with median +15%  It felt fair and was significantly more than I was making now so it will make a big difference.  I sent them the number,  plus asking for 3 weeks of vacation to start out..   I'm not a entry level employee, I need the vacation time.  They got back to me in 2 days with "Yes! we will send you the official offer ASAP."  My first though was , "crap, I should have asked for more"  but honestly I realized they also knew what the right number is,  any company worth a darn will know you can not keep employees by paying them peanuts, they knew what the national median was and they could see that I was only asking for a bit more and why.   So my research probably paid off. If I was hiring someone I would look at what they ask for as a salary as to their level of honesty and self worth.  Someone coming in asking for the moon either has no idea of their worth or is greedy, at least in my mind that is how it would work.

This is when the elation sets in,  Holy crap I have a lot more money!  new desk in a fancy building! big company with a big name has more clout!  Until the actual offer shows up.   Yes it is exactly as they said, except with a few small modifications..  3 weeks of vacation turns into 2 weeks and 1 week of "personal time"  (sick days)  Ok, I can  accept that.  Some of the wording is vague, but that starts the doubt machine...  What do they mean by that?  Etc...   And honestly it's boilerplate,  the company is not out to screw you on day one.  I had my wife read it over and she said it all looks great, so I accept their offer and that is when I went to bed.  This morning was numb, I got out of bed just  as the alarm went off. I stood in the shower for 10 minutes still thinking, Is this the right decision? At work I am top dog, proven that I know my stuff. The new place I am the new guy who has no credibility other than what others have said.  What if I am not a good fit with others? what if my coding style is not "acceptable".   The butterflies start to flutter. I get dressed still cant get the worries out of my mind. I keep pushing the doubt back down. It's the uncertainty. that is causing me to worry, I am sure of that. I get dressed, get coffee and grab the keys to the company van.. I need to clean this thing out.

The drive in gets worse, the closer I get to work the more the butterflies flutter. I think of all the friends I made there and how I will not see them daily anymore.. Change  is scary.  I pull in the parking lot and one of the installers that I really get along with is pulling out, I fill him in on my decision, I get a lot of congratulations from him, but the butterflies are in full force. I almost feel a little sick at this point,  time to go in and get this over with.  Asking my boss, " can we talk a minute" is almost surreal, he has no clue that I am about to give him my resignation. the butterflies are fluttering like mad, I need to get this over with right now.  And it hits me....  This is the tipping point, after this meeting there is no going back.   I mention the great opportunity I have been offered, and that I am resigning, he start with the idea of a counter offer but I stop him cold with, "You cant afford to keep me. I was given an offer that the company just can not afford to match."  And I am right,  I was one of the highest paid employees here, nearly doubling my salary would have caused a lot of issues.  I was congratulated although I can see on his face that I just caused a storm of hell for the company.   This is the busiest time of the year, and I just reduced the programming department staff down to 1 person and one trainee.

I have resigned from 5 jobs in my lifetime, and all of them feel the same way, you are unsure of what you are doing, you get your head full of doubts, you worry.  This is normal, humans are designed to fear change.  the comfort of know what will happen day by day is what we desire and a job change is a huge disruption to our lives.  we step WAY outside out comfort zone when we do this and it's normal to feel doubt.  What IF,  How About....  "Dang it I like the comfort of the same thing every day...  why are you changing that!",  your brain is basically screaming at you.  The way to combat this is during your decision process make a list of the positives and negatives.  Logic is what wins the argument with feelings and your primal brain.  It will not stop the gut feelings and worries. I sit here with my stomach flipping right now as I write this, and the feeling will not go away until I start the new job and see that my worries are all unsubstantiated.   Until I see that my new co-workers at the new job are actually nice people, that everyone says "hi!" and "welcome" with big smiles on their faces... my stomach and brain will fight me with worry and doubt. Job change is actually very stressful for people, it is right up there with death and divorce in stress levels.  The anxiety is completely normal and is what will keep people from making changes to better themselves.

I will still miss my friends here though...  It's funny, you spend more interactive time with your co-workers than you do with your family. Becoming attached to the workplace and the people you see every single day and the fear of changing that is a large part of the worry in your gut.  It is OK to miss everyone, they will miss you too.


Sena SR10 review from someone who actually owns one.

I spent months looking up information and looking for reviews of the Sena SR10. I wanted one but I was concerned that it would not do what I really wanted or what it really promised.  There were a LOT of holes in what the Sena sales literature mentions that the device can do, and they do not list anything in the "it cant do" column.   Online motorcycle forums have people full of speculation but nobody that really uses the device. The ONLY review of the unit from someone that used the SR10 was on webbikeworld, every other article and "review" was based on someone playing with a demo unit in their office for 10 minutes.  I wanted a real life review of someone that used it daily and relied on it daily.  So I finally took the plunge.   I own a set of 4 year old Scala Rider Q2 bluetooth headsets for my and my wifes helmets,  These are early units that do not do A2DP, and honestly nothing really did A2DP back then.  I loved how they integrated with my phone and the wireless all the time intercom to my wife worked well.   But there are times I ride with a group that uses FRS radios and I wanted to bring a touch of my Ham Radio hobby with me on the bike.  Plus I installed an older Garmin GPS on the bike and wanted a way to get the audio from the GPS into my helmet.  The Bluetooth Motorcycle GPS's are still insane priced, even on the used market, so going the SR10 route was a lot cheaper when paired with an older Garmin 2720 GPS.

Being a very frugal (wife calls it cheap) guy, I scoured ebay for a very good price and found the SR10 new kit with the lighter plug power cord for $125, another $15 and I had the Icom radio plug that works with most radios.  3 days later I have the items and on the charger the SR10 went.  The unit I bought had to have it's firmware upgraded, and honestly you really want it to be at the latest 1.2 firmware to fix a lot of problems with the SR10.  This was rather painless except for Sena requires you register the unit with them before you can get access to the firmware loader.  While it was charging I turned the unit on (press and hold the top pairing button and the center big/PTT button until lights come on) and updated the firmware, Everything so far is easy.

Sena has a interesting "waterproofing" technique.  the plugs are all very recessed in the grey rubber and when you plug in the cable it "seals" around it.  This worked great for all the cables that come with the SR10,  but other cables might have problems.  I saw right away that the cable I bought for a permanent mounted PTT switch on my bike will not fit, so I will need to buy another SR10 PTT switch extension cable and modify it.  Luckily the cable that I have for my GPS audio fits into the AUX ports just fine and actually look like they seal against the grey rubber.  Your cords may or may not work, so be sure to try them before running any cables on your bike.  All of the Sena cords are very thin and feel delicate. This makes them very flexible, but I worry about their longevity,  life on a motorcycle is not all careful and delicate.  Time will tell if they actually last for a decent lifetime.  The add on Icom cable for my handheld radio was the most curious, it was very light weight and small as you can see in the photo.  The special connector they have for the radio plugs is well built and clicks on the SR10 nicely, you have to pull back on the outer ring to release it.

Pairing the unit to my helmet Scala Rider Q2 and my HTC ONE M8 cellphone was rather painless.  It takes a bit for the SR10 to show up on the phone to be available for pairing, but like all Bluetooth it takes time.  After 30 seconds it showed up and paired.  I then paired the SR10 to my headset by putting the SR10 into pairing mode first, then the headset.  they both blinked away for about 45 seconds and then they started blinking blue to let me know they paired.

The first weirdness I experienced is if you plug your radio into the SR10 and then try to power on the SR10, it will force your radio to start transmitting, so it is important that you turn on the SR10 first then hook up and turn on your 2 way radio.


I followed all the instructions in the manual and paired my helmet headset and my HTC ONE M8 phone to the SR10  everything worked great in the garage so I shut everything off and went inside.  The next day I decided to ride to work and give this a real workout on my 40 minute commute.  Right away everything went wrong.  The SR10 refused to stay connected to my Phone.  It happily connected to the helmet and I had GPS audio and two way radio comms all the way to work, but the phone refused to stay connected and actually would disconnect when I touched the PTT button on the SR10.   At work I checked the sena forum,  completely useless.  so I searched the internet and found a LOT of people have this exact problem.  a full reset of the SR10 seems to solve it.  so that is what I did.  On the top by the pairing button there is a recessed dot,  push in there with a smaller screwdriver to hit the reset button.  This will erase the SR10 to factory defaults.  So now you have to pair your helmet and phone again.   I did this and now it seems to stay connected but the phone will not auto connect to the SR10, you have to dig it out of your pocket and go digging into the bluetooth menus to find  it in the list of headsets and click on it to make it connect.   Direct to my helmet or direct ot my headset I use for the car is automatic,  Sena for some reason does not search for the phone on power up and try to connect, that is a flawed design as any bluetooth device should aggressively try to connect to it's paired devices.   I can not really report on Two-Way operation,  of course nobody was on the regional repeater this morning, and where I buried the Icom handheld in the tank bag I could not change to any of the other frequencies.  I hope there is a better chance of using the radio on the way back.  UPDATE: 3 days later and still no response from SENA tech support.  I am pretty sure they ignore their support email address.  So do not expect tech support from SENA if you need it.  I decided to load the firmware again and then fully reset the device.  It is now keeping the phone connected if you do not touch anything for about 5 minutes after turning all the devices on and manually hitting the connect button on the phone in the bluetooth menu.  The device is very finicky.

The GPS audio was clear and the bluetooth connection came up quick,  although my older Garmin will do an "alert tone" before any spoken command so the SR10 get's a full 1/2 second heads up before any speech to open the audio channel. I had to drop the GPS audio output level to 70% to get rid of any distortion, but it was very clear in my ears. Listening to the FM radio in my Q2 headset the GPS instructions would trigger the Q2 to switch to the GPS audio quickly,  5 seconds later the SR10 drops the audio headset connection and my FM radio that the Q2 has built in comes back.   I did have it set for 3 seconds, but it seems that that setting that you can only set via USB and their windows only app is wiped out when you hard reset the device, if having to hard reset it is a regular occurrence, that setting is pretty useless.   It also seemed that it did not want to hang up a phone call from the headset,  instead I had to wait for the other end to hang up,  this is a major flaw that could have been fixed in firmware.  Directly paired to my headset the phone calls work flawlessly, so it is the SR10 that is causing a problem.

I am concerned that they have  had no firmware updates for nearly a year and no other information about the SR10 that has been updated, coupled with their tech support not getting back to me about the device is making me think that they are abandoning it or about to discontinue it.  I hope not, as it's the ONLY device that can give you bluetooth control over a two way radio with some audio mixing.   Nobody has made a bluetooth enabled FRS radio yet that actually works well, and  large riding group communication is important.  The ham radio community that rides and wants to also use the radio while riding is so small, that we are just lucky that the device exists at all.

Overall, if you have a bluetooth headset for your helmet or built in bluetooth that is old enough to only have 1 audio channel, this is a great device to connect the devices you  have to your helmet.  IT give you GPS audio integration that is a LOT better than what any of the Garmin motorcycle GPS's can accomplish for significantly less money.  But it is a product that is in a dead end market.  If you bought a more modern capable Headset for your helmet like the Sena SMH 20R, SMH-10 or the Scala G9x and  paired with your smartphone in a decent mount or tank bag with power connected to it from the bike you can have a lot more going for you.  the Apple iPhone has had stellar voice control for 4 years now for motorcyclists,  but the latest Android release has really upped the game with "google Now" integration.  

I would buy the SR10 ONLY if you already invested in gear that you do not want to replace and only want to spend a little bit of money giving it some integration, or if you really need two way radio communications to your bluetooth helmet setup.    If you want the ultimate in communications, phone and music then spend your money in a modern headset that is bluetooth 3.0 or 4.0 with multiple device connection and mono audio mixing.  

Shadetree Motorcycle Mechanic myths: Throttle Cables.

For the several decades I have been riding and wrenching on motorcycles, I notice a lot of myths about bikes pop up regularly.  But I find that myths about BMW motorcycles to be the most prevalent and worst.  Tons of people proclaiming that you cant do this or that,  they are hard to work on, you have to have the dealer do some work, etc...   My favorite recently is the flat out misinformation that the Throttle cables can not be lubricated.  Sorry, but BMW does not use special secret Luftwaffe cables made from special unobtainable sensitive products.   They are made in China, and are normal cables with Teflon impregnated plastic liners.  you can and SHOULD lubricate them regularly with a dry Teflon lubricant.   In fact if you read any of BMW Motorrad's technical bulletins, you will see that they recommend lubricating the  cables when installed with a dry teflon lubricant.  But let's go further,  the Honda Goldwing uses the same type of cables, and the service manual for that bike recommends periodic lubrication with ,  you guessed it,  dry teflon lubricant.

So remember,  Forums are handy for information, but those people are not experts nor are they correct most of the time.  If they have REAL information backing it up, you can believe it,  like photos, or real documentation.   Plus you should always do more research outside the forums,  look for your motorcycle makers documents or service bulletins and see what they say.   As for never lubricating cables like throttle cables,  every old biker that has actually worked on and ridden bikes for decades will tell you,   Lubricate them because the only way you can be sure they will not fail on you in the middle of nowhere is when you know they move easily and smoothly and are clean and rust free.

Plus nothing is forever,  you DO need to replace those cables now and then,  when they feel rough or tight,  it's time to replace them.  if they dont return on their own, it's really important to replace them.

Just remember, no bike is difficult to work on,   just different and requires different tools, and you can certainly work on your own bike if you have the time and ability to learn.

HTC ONE M8 - bricked, crashed, or locked with a dead android icon from a bad recovery

Note if you are having problems with hacking your HTC ONE M8 and you lock it up in recovery flashing  you get the dead android icon on screen with the red exclamation point.

Press and hold Volume UP and POWER until it reboots.   It seems this information is hard to find on the internet and there is a lot of bad information out there about how you actually do this.


Coffee Addiction

Things have been rough at work lately,  we are down one programmer and I am training a new one.  Plus we have the standard workload so I am pulling triple duty, to stay awake and peak performance I increased my Caffeine intake dramatically.   1 redbull plus 1 12 oz travel mug of coffee a day, to this last friday when my total consumption was 2 redbulls 48 oz of coffee and 2 16 ounce monster energy drinks.   I had to travel 250 miles work 12 hours and travel the 250 miles back.   My consumption had spiraled out of control to the point that I have another can of redbull in my work vehicle, "just in case".    So this weekend I decided to test my addiction and do a reboot.  I have not had anything more than decaf or green tea for the entire weekend.    I started with all of Saturday as drinking only water or only fruit juices.  by noon I had a pounding headache and felt like I had the flu.  By that evening I felt as if my brain stopped working and I could not focus on any task.   Yup, the addiction was strong in me.

Over the course of the past 4 weeks I have significantly abused myself to take on the additional workload.   Monday this stops,  I will miss deadlines, I will drop the ball, and I will do it happily.  I am not going to kill myself just to make a deadline promise that someone else made.  In 2014 I wanted to make some changes and increase the enjoyment out of life, I just did not realize how badly I was abusing myself with Caffeine.   Record your intake in a food diary over the course of a week, I only needed to see what I consumed in a single day and how I felt at the end oft hat day.   I was  yawning and feeling tired as I pulled into my driveway at 8:30pm....  Just a year previous I would have been bouncing off the walls for the next 10 hours with how much I consumed.

Look at your Intake and try a reset.  I am not kicking it out of my life, just trying to get it back down to sane levels.  1-2 cups in the morning only.  and something as an emergency if I need to stay awake driving home late at night.

Only 14 hours before I can have another cup....   And a search to find a decaf that doesnt taste bad.

Ebay china knockoff "Leonardo pro micro" and how to actually use them.

I bought 5 of these (pictures here from the seller I bought them from) off of ebay as I need a cheap micro duino for some wearable projects that are at a reasonable price.   I have bought the "legitimate" versions from sparkfun and other places but their $25.00 price point is simply way over the top.   The China knockoffs so far of the non USB types have been perfect.  But this USB one has some tricks to make it work.

First what I received has "spakerFun" silk screened on the underside, and the USB reports as a sparkfun device.  so in order to use this with the arduino programming software you need to go to sparkfun's github here to get the files you need to not only program and upload to it, but also get windows to actually identify it. (Windows USB drivers,  how lame that windows cant recognize a standard USB-RS232 device like OSX and linux can)  Follow the instructions and copy the files into your arduino install directory as the text file tells you.  I simply copied the contents to the /Program Files/Arduino/hardware/ directory as a folder names SF32u4_boards-master.  re-launch the arduino IDE.

To actually upload to it,   Under tools select board and then the "Sparkfun Pro Micro 5V16Mhz" and under programmer select "USBasp"

If you upload the standard "blink" sketch there is no led on the board to blink for you.  I was bummed by this as the non usb pro micros do.  Under windows this device will show up as 2 usb serial ports. 1 when in bootloader mode and 1 when running the program.  This is only obvious when you do the "double tap"  because it is too fast for you to notice when you do a normal upload.  

If you need more than 2 seconds for the bootloader, double tap reset to ground, you now have 8 seconds for the bootloader.