Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review of Google Wifi Mesh Router System

The Good:

  • Can be easy to set up for most people
  • Great speeds with mesh network
  • Simplified menus
  • Awesome support

The Bad:

  • Doesn’t have some advanced features
  • Need a google account and smartphone
  • One shared port
  • Doesn't switch between wifi points well

It looks different than your typical router. I personally like the way the some of the other routers look, with antennas coming out all over the place. They often look mean and like an alien mothership with blinking lights. It shows that it’s a serious piece of hardware that can kick ass. This look is not for everyone. The styling reminds of something Apple would put out.

Google made it look to blend in with your furniture

Since it would be placed through different parts of your house, the styling’s main objective is to be unobtrusive. I think it accomplishes this task.

You can adjust the brightness of the light

Setup is pretty easy. You have use an app on your smartphone to set it up and must have a google account. There is no browser interface. The wireless covered my three story house better than Netgear R8300 which was the same exact price. (The Netgear died 18 days after purchase – common issue with that router).

Most people have a modem coming from their ISP. I had Verizon and they were able to configure on their end so that wouldn’t need a modem(this can be done with some haggling). It’ll take some time to release the DCHPs from their end (usually overnight) so some things may not work correctly right away.

I had this issue where one of my ports was not working and for some reason it would not let one chromebook sign on even though I had two of the same model and it let the other one on wifi. If you do have modem from your ISP, reboot your modem after you have installed your primary wifi point.
You connect the wire coming from your modem or ISP into the globe socket and then from there I connected the other Ethernet port into a switch. I then connected my other Ethernet cables into the switch.

If you have switches that are only rated for 10/100 you’ll only get a fair signal. You’ll need gigabit switches to get a great signal. Google Wifi doesn’t give you any real numbers to see. They rate their signal as weak, fair, good and great.
My house has Ethernet ports throughout the house so I used the other two wifi hubs as access points throughout the house but had each one connected via Ethernet. This is the equivalent of having three routers connected to my ISP at different stories in my house.
Google wifi is the evolution of their OnHub router. Google did right by integrating it into their previous system. If you own an OnHub you can use this as another Google wifi point.

I was disappointed that you can’t stop the SSID from broadcasting but it’s not a deal breaker. There is no Mac filtering, content filtering or url blocking. For most can live without these features especially if the trade off is for a great wifi signal all over your house. I just wish Google offered these items considering the price you are paying for the router.

Overall, Google makes things easier to do. Most of the features with the router are standard on most high end routers or if you use DD-WRT. Google does most of them, but easier.
You can identify what’s on your router and rename it something you’ll recognize unless you can memorize the MAC addresses of all your devices. Google Wifi makes is really easy to do this on one screen. You can do this on other routers but it’s more clumsy.

Renaming devices are really simple

You can pause internet on a group of devices or a single device at any time. Again, this can be done with your more advanced routers but Google makes it so easy. I do wish they added a feature to schedule times of when they are connected and when they don’t have access.

I have all the chromebooks in one set up. All I do is click one button and it pauses the wifi connection. I can also schedule the time that the wifi will come back on for these devices. This can also be done on an individual device basis as well. The schedule feature is only for 24 hours to turn back on or no time if you want the device not to be connected. You get real time data as well to see what is taking bandwidth on your wifi system. Again, you can usually do this with other routers, Google just make is easier to do.

Google just did an update a few weeks ago so that you can now set schedules for which devices have access to the wifi. A great feature. I wish they would add the feature of blocking certain websites on certain devices. Google wifi allows you to submit feedback and suggestions.

You can see what's on your network and real time data

Wifi Access Points 
I have one point in the basement, in an office on the first floor on a high bookshelf, and then one on my nightstand on the top floor. They are all wired connections. The coverage is excellent. I've using a wifi app to test the signal strength and speed. No matter where I am, I get a signal of 40-70dBm and a transfer speed of 200-600mps. You will get much less if your wifi points are wireless. My test was about half of the wired strength and speeds when completely on wireless (60-80dBm, 80-200mps). Your speeds will differ depending on placement and interfering signals. Google wifi does a good job in automatically scanning the other signals and then choosing a signal for the best strength.

I did notice that Google wifi has some issue switching between wifi points. It has to drop the point that it's on before it can access a stronger signal access point. It doesn't really do this well. I've been on the top floor and my phone was still connected to the basement even though I was literally a foot away from the bedroom wifi point. If you turn off the wifi on your phone and turn it on again, it will pick up the strongest signal. It does switch on it's own but it usually took me being near the closes wifi point for at least 15minutes. I didn't really notice an issue with performance on my phone but I have seen my phone drop wifi and then go back on to the strongest wifi point.

You can see the history of the bandwidth up to 60 days

Google will continually make updates to their product. This can be mostly good. Their updates usually makes their products better but the fact that you have no choice but to go with the updates is not ideal. Sometimes, I like the product as it currently is and do not want updates. You don't have a choice with google. Yes, I realize sometimes the updates are needed for security. I would still like a choice on if I want the interface updated. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Fluval FX6 Review

Review for Fluval FX6

The Good:
High capacity for media
Put any media you want
Self Primer
3 year warranty

The Bad:
Doesn't come with much media

The new FX6 model came out around 2011 to replace the highly popular FX5. There are very few commercially made filters for large tanks. This new version uses 10% less electricity than that FX5. The filter is rated for 400 gallons but is rated for 925 gallons per hour. To me it seems like it really should be rated for 220 gallon tank as you want to turn over your water 4X per hour. I suppose you could use it on a 400 gallon tank but you'll be doing water changes a lot more often.
I'm running this FX6 on a 75 gallon tank and I'm running 2 FX5 on a 180 gallon tank. Overfiltration, possibly. However I can't argue with my results. Healthy fish, clean water and I do water changes 20% once a week.

Set up in fairly straightforward and easy. It has a self priming feature that helps getting started easy. It also shuts itself off every 12 hours so all the air trapped inside escapes and you have less noise and the most efficent flow.

There are also control levers to change the amount of flow coming in and out of your filter. You can use these to fine tune your filter and also change the amount of noise the filter makes. My is right next my couch so if it make even a little noise, I can hear it.
I put a styrofoam lid under the filter to reduce vibration. The filter can become a little bit noisey. It's usually not from the motor but from the air trapped inside the filter swirling with the water.

Fluval recommends the following media setup for this filter.
I can understand the logic of how this is set up. The water goes through the mechanical filtration first and then goes to the biological filtration and then a water polisher at the end. I guess this will work well if you also want to do maintenance on the filter every month, which they also recommend.

I'm going with a completely different media arrangement. I've removed all the mechanical filtration and put in Fluval's Biomax media in all the trays and even where the mechanical filtration would be. This gives me almost 3X the biological filtration than their recommended setup. This reduces my maintenance on the filter to once a year.

The biological filtration is only good for the amount of "food" (fish's waste) it gets. Since I removed all the mechanical filtration, the waste slowly starts to build up in filter. This wastes provides more food for the bacteria which in turn provides more biological filtration.
My once a year maintenance is removing all the trays and washing out the build up of waste in the filter and then I top off any Biomax that is needed and then put it back on the tank. The whole process takes about 15 minutes. I usually do it in the summer as I can just do it outside plus the warm temperature will keep alive most of the bacteria.

This setup will not work for everyone. It works for me. I've been using this setup for the past 4 years and have never lost a fish.

The great thing about this filter is that you can put whatever media you want. My arrangement works for me and my fish. You can customize it to whatever you want. It comes with two media bags.

The filter is a bit expensive, especially for a 75 gallon tank. What I'm paying for is using up less of my time to do tank maintenance. Some people really like to do tank maintenance. I do not. I want to keep as minimal as possible. Weekly water changes, cleaning the substrate and glass once a month is all I do.

I do like the Biomax but I am thinking of switching to lava rock. It is about 5X cheaper and offers as much surface area if not more. You will need to break the lava rock into smaller pieces. I'm going to experiment with a small canister filter first before I put the lava rock into the FX6. I've noticed that the Biomax breaks down at a rate of about half a box per year with my set up. Initial set up was expensive as the FX6 used up 9 boxes of the Biomax at $10 a box.

What comes in the box:

Two bags for hollow rings (not Biomax)
  • Rubber hosing
  • Rim Connectors, clips and suction cups
  • Inake stem
  • Output nozzle
  • Lid fasteners
  • Filter canister
  • Utility valve and hosing
  • Drain cap
  • Pump unit (motor) and power cord
  • Rubber feet
  • Media baskets
  • 1/2 media baskets
  • Filter lid and other accessories


For fresh and saltwater aquariums up to 1500 L (400 US Gal)
Flow Rate: 2130 L (563 US GAL) PER HOUR
Pump Output: 3500 L/H (925 US G/H)
Mechanical Area: 2,100 CM² (325.5 IN²)
Media Basket Capacity: 5.9 L (1.5 US GAL)
Filtration Volume: 20 L (5.28 US GAL)
Head Height (max.): 3.3 M (10.8 FT)
Wattage: 120V/60HZ – 43 W AND 230-240V/50HZ – 41 W
Dimensions (L x W x H): 40 X 40 X 53 CM (15.75 X 15.75 X 20.8 IN)

Huawei Honor 6X Review

Review for the Huawei Honor 6X

The Good:
Solid build quality
Dual-SIM support
MicroSD support
Dual cameras
Fast fingerprint reader
Good price to performance ratio
Comes with a screen protector

The Bad:
Huawei's own interface
EMUI feels unpolished
No USB Type-C
Weak speaker
No dual band wifi

Overall, the buttons on the 6X don’t feel very tactile and don’t offer the satisfying click that many users look for, which is unfortunate. On the left side of the device, you’ll find the power button and volume rocker, while the headphone jack is placed at the top. On the bottom of the device you’ll find the microUSB port, flanked by two grills – one that houses the speaker unit, and one that hides the microphone.

Finally, the right side of the device houses the dual-SIM card slot/microSD card tray. There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the back, which sits below the dual-camera sensor.

It came with a screen protector already in place! Why doesn't every phone manufacturer do this?! Everyone know how hard it is to perfectly put a screen protector without any bubbles or dust.

5.5-inch LCD display with a 1080p resolution, and it is a fine display overall. Sharpness isn’t an issue and it gets bright enough to allow for comfortable outdoor visibility.

Honor 6X comes with Huawei’s own mid-range processor, the Kirin 655, backed by 3GB of RAM
Everything is as fluid and responsive as expected in everyday use, and the device also handles graphically-intensive gaming with little issue. Performance is easily one of the highlights of the Honor 6X, especially when you consider the price to performance ratio.
It's a capable processor, scoring 56,602 on the AnTuTu benchmark, which measures overall system performance. That puts it above the Snapdragon 617-powered G4 but below the Kirin 950-powered Honor 8 (91,712). It's also no match for the Axon 7's superior Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (141,989).
device coming with a large 3,340mAh unit. Huawei claims that the Honor 6X can last for as long as two days with moderate usage and for 1.5 days with heavy usage, which is certainly a very lofty claim. I did get around 1.5 days of battery life quite consistently though, with usage that involved a lot of gaming and a fair amount of watching videos on Youtube.

Every dual-camera setup utilizes the secondary camera differently, and the Honor 6X comes with a 12MP primary shooter and 2MP secondary unit, with the latter being used purely to capture depth information that can be taken advantage of when using the camera’s wide aperture mode.
The wide aperture mode lets you dial in the aperture from f/16 down to as wide as f/0.95, which allows for a very large bokeh effect. While changing the aperture does give you more or less depth of field, it doesn’t allow more light into the camera, so it’s not a true aperture change in the purest sense. However, the bokeh effect does work quite well and looks very convincing.
The overall camera experience has been quite impressive. It is fast to focus and capture photos, and the photos are surprisingly very pleasant, especially for a mid-range smartphone. The photos come with excellent color reproduction, are well detailed, and the camera does a great job with balancing highlights and shadows, which certainly wasn’t expected from a device in this price range.

It also performs fairly well in low-light situations. Highlights are mostly kept in check, with only a few rare occasions where they would appear overexposed. It is only in the poorest of lighting conditions where the camera falls apart completely, but most low-light shots are perfectly usable, with pictures coming with a fair amount of detail and minimal noise.

Network and Connectivity
The Honor 6X is an unlocked GSM phone with LTE bands 2/4/5/12/20/38, like the Honor 8. The only key omission is band 17, which improves building penetration for AT&T users. The phone showed strong network performance on T-Mobile throughout my testing in midtown Manhattan, registering a top download speed of 16.6Mbps. Other connectivity protocols include Bluetooth 4.1, but there's no NFC or dual-band Wi-Fi like you get on the Axon 7.
On the software side of things, you get the Emotion UI skin on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but an official update to Android 7.0 Nougat is expected to arrive shortly. The user interface is very bright, colorful, and somewhat cartoonish, and you get everything that we’ve seen from the EMUI in the past, like the transparency effects and the lack of an app drawer.

The notification panel is still split into two tabs: one tab for notifications, and another for Quick Settings, which is a layout that doesn’t feel as easy to use as what we have with stock Android.

If you’re after a phone but don’t have enough money to pick up a flagship, this is a great alternative.

In a budget market flooded with options, the Honor 6X sticks its head above the water with a premium look and good spec in almost every area.

The chipset will be able to run most of your favorite games and the battery life is solid enough to get you through a hectic day.

With a good camera on both the rear and front, it’s hard to go wrong with the Honor 6X.

Display            5.5-inch IPS LCD display 1920 x 1080 resolution 403ppi
Processor Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 655
GPU               Mali-T830MP2
RAM              3GB
Storage           32/64GB
MicroSD        Yes, up to 256GB
Cameras         Rear: Dual 12 and 2MP with phase detection autofocus, LED flash, 1.25┬Ám pixel size, wide aperture range from f/0.95 - f/16
                       Front: 8MP
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, 2.4GHz Bluetooth BT4.1, Micro USB, GPS/AGPS/Glonass/BeiDou, Navigation Satellite System
Sensors         Hall effect sensor, Fingerprint sensor, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Compass, Accelerometer
Battery         3,340mAh Non-removable
Software      Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, Emotion UI 4.1
Colors         Gray, Gold, Silver

Dimensions and weight 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2mm, 162g

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Specialized Rockhopper Sport

Review of the Specialized Rockhopper Sport

The Good:
Low Weight

This is a good, solid starter bike. The 27.5" wheels is a good beginner's size to help become accustomed to riding trails. More experienced riders will want to go with the 29s. Specialized has a long history of putting their experience and knowledge into their bikes. Overall it handles very well and can take on most beginners and intermediate trails. It gets taxed when taking it through more advanced trails. The RockShox XC28 is good enough for this entry level bike. Brakes are grippy but lacks the power probably due to the Tektro brakes not having been sufficiently bedded in. The 2x10 SRAM X5 package shifts well and reliably. This is a great starter bike for someone who is just getting to XC mountain biking. More advanced riders will want to get the 29s and better components.

This bike excels for the enthusiast rider getting started and want to make sure they like riding before committing more money for a more advanced bike. It succeeds in it's mission for durability, low weight and quality. You gotta love the lifetime warranty on the frame and you know Specialized isn't going anywhere. 

With a Shimano Alivio and Acera mix for the drivetrain, it is very functional and durable. Even after a few dozen rides, it didn't need any adjustments. Cranks are a SR Suntour set up with a 3x9 drivetrain. They have an octalink bottom bracket. This is a threaded unit that sits inside the frame.

The RockHopper uses the tried and true 32 hole cross 3 lacing method, so long term maintenance is something any shop worth spending any of your money at can maintain them. The tires are really nice. The Fast Trak rear and Captain Control front handles any terrain that was thrown at it.

Brakes are Tektro Draco. They are dependable and reliable. You could upgrade to a better set but it fits with this bike.

Fork: SR Suntour fork is solid. The action is good and predictable. It works best if you're between 155-180lbs with about 3 inches of travel. If you're over 210, ask your shop to firm it up. For riders under 140, you'll need to lighten the spring.

It is a good climber because it is maneuverable. The lock feature on the fork made it a breeze to make your way up inclines. Although this is a feature that many won't use, as you advance in your biking skills, it will be something you are very happy to have.

This is where this bike shines. It's lightweight agility and frame geometry makes the bike very nimble. It wants you to push the bike to show what it can do. As you become more experienced with riding overall, you'll begin to appreciate the Specialized heritage.

This is a really fun bike to go downhill on. You can push harder and the bike will respond. You'll begin to notice it's limitations on drops more than 5 feet but otherwise, it's a lot of fun.

This bike is an excellent beginners bike for anyone getting back in or starting mountain biking. When you master this bike you'll be ready for the more advanced bike. For casual riders that want to push it now and then, this is perfect fit.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Columbia River Knife and Tool's M21-04G Black Folding Work Knife

This is a review of the Columbia River Knife and Tool's M21-04G Black Folding Work Knife.

The Good:
Solid Construction
Great open action
Lifetime warranty

The Bad:
A bit heavy to carry in your pocket
power coated handle  

Unpacking the knife
The knife came in a well packed box with instructions and registration materials. It seems simple enough and documentation is straight forward. They give you instructions on how to close it with one hand but I've not been able to master it. Maybe bigger hands will find it easier to do with one hand. I see the risk injury high if you try to close it with one hand.


Overall Construction
This is my first Columbia River knife. It has solid construction and you can tell it'll hold up to most abuse you'll give to a knife. It's a tab bit heavy to keep in your pocket on a everyday basis but I guess that's why they have the clip on the side. A great feature is that you're able to move the clip to the other side of the knife if that works better for you. I could see the clip breaking with heavy use. I don't use the clip so it's not a factor for me. It comes with a life time warranty which is very nice for knife.
It is designed by Harold "Kit" Carson. He's a retired Sgt. Major and high profile member of the knifemakers' guild. I'm not that into knives so I'm not sure what factors this brings into the knife but at least it tells you that it was well thought out when they built and designed the knife. It's well balanced for a folding knife and feels solid. 

This is why you buy a knife. It is a solid piece of of well constructed 3.875 inch stainless steel blade. It's coated in a nitride finish which will wear off but the blade will hold up very well. It's held up very well to the odd tasks and jobs I've asked it to do. I'll provide an update later to see how well the blade holds up. 

The handle is very comfortable in your hands. The holes on the sides gets enough air through so you don't get too sweaty if you're using the knife for a long time. As with most folding knives, the weight is more on the blade when it's unfolded. It's black power coated so that finish will wear off in time. 

Opening the knife is a dream. This has been the best opening knife I've used. It has a flipper knob to start the opening action and you can either flick with your wrist to open it all the way or continue to use your finger on the knob. The open action is very smooth. We'll see how it hold up to thousands of opens.
I use two hands to close it but I could see you could do it with one hand. I would rather keep my fingers so I'll always use two hands to close the knife. 
It feature the innovative and strong AutoLAWKS knife safety. This sets a pin against the locking liner which converts it into a virtual fixed blade when the knife is open and locked. To disengage the blade, simply pull the red pin back, slide the locking liner over and close the knife. To deploy quickly, press your finger on the Carson Flipper, the blade flies open, and this innovative safety system automatically has your back.