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A pet peeve of mine has been that when the kitchen was remodeled, the workers installed an inferior HDMI cable through the wall that didn’t work … and there is no way to replace it without tearing open the wall again. So, I’ve had a proper cable hanging out of the cabinets to connect to the TV … a really tacky looking fix. Knowing that possibly there are wireless HDMI adapters available, I’ve been testing several and the results are pretty awful. If you ONLY look at photos or other still images, these devices work perfectly fine … but ANY movement will immediately tear the video with gross artifacting. It can be so profound that if you’re prone to vertigo, it’ll make you dizzy if you don’t turn away. The video is essentially unwatchable, and from experience I know that it provokes some to screaming at the TV during the Super Bowl when it looks like one of Gerhard Richter’s photo-paintings combined with horizontal striping just as a possible touchdown is being thrown. In simpler words … awful.










Installation is simple (assuming you have an available TV USB port with enough amperage to power these things or you’ll have to use a not-included charger plug) … just plug the receiver and transmitter in, and it creates its own little network. In less than a minute you’ll have a picture, provided your area isn’t as flooded with 2.4/5GHz signals as my home is. If you want to share pictures from a computer or phone onto a big screen and you don’t have “smart sharing”, these things are perfect. Should it be ANY video, of any resolution, you’ll get the same issues I mentioned above.
It was at that point when I realized more aggressive action was mandated and contemplated drills, conduit, masonry drills and loads of fun. I then decided to go with ethernet cat5/6 and adapters … it worked PERFECTLY, but still required a ton of work. I DO recommend this choice for loooong distance runs over an HDMI circuit.

Not really wanting to spend an entire day dealing with this I tried one last option: a powered HDMI booster. Yeah, a bit obscure, but those things DO exist … be certain to get one where only ONE end requires power to operate. I tried a passive unit a few years back … don’t waste your time. And just like that, when it arrived, a problem that had really bugged me for years was gone. The cable was not broken, but just a crappy cable and the booster made it work properly. No drilling, special cables, complicated ineffective wireless solutions or anything that took more than five minutes to resolve.

Here I was, “hell-bent” on an once-and-for-all solution, regardless of cost or work, and it proved ultimately to be an easy fix. I’d have done anything to fix this eyesore, and as it turned out … it was a simple fix provided I had gone with a powered version.

Classic “you can’t see the forest for the trees” applies here correctly … sometimes, you need to just step back, clear your head and start over … it can be the best fix mentally, emotionally & financially.

January 17, 1984

January 17th … this is actually one of the most important dates (at least in the USA, initially) in tech history. Ironically, it wasn’t a tech-breakthrough, but a legal one.

If you’re not aware, you’re to be forgiven as this was 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court Betamax decision. But it had everlasting effect on the U.S. that very, very definitely affects all of us up to this day, in so many areas that I’ve lost count.

Up to this point and actually, in truth, TV production companies and Hollywood felt that recording a TV show for watching at a different time, was very literally, criminal … Not a joke.

Fortunately and more surprisingly, the Supreme Court had a different opinion, despite not actually realizing the consequences of their decision and de-criminalization of watching TV “time-shifted”.

In the battle between unlimited/unabashed corporate greed and common sense, this was one time where the good guys won … up to a point. This was undoubtedly something the tech-illiterate Supreme Court absolutely didn’t vaguely understand when pontificating the decision as to allowing restrictions or no restrictions on media … This had been expected by a few, but unanticipated by most, as to how this was to have such incredibly widespread impact since the very invention of the phonograph in 1877 across the entirety of technology to this every day.

Very simply … should you have the right to watch/listen to media you purchased at your home when it’s best for your needs? You paid for it … so WHY does the time/location you do this, somehow matter? Not so simply, this decision had implications far beyond just this issue, for setting implications for the future. We are discussing censorship, media manipulation and liberal corporate greed … this was the first significant time Hollywood values were challenged, and lost. I believe that this decision opened the door for others that saw a different future than the increasingly liberal Hollywood projected.

The major media suppliers, Sony, Warner, etc., wanted absolutely nothing available to listen/watch for the public, even after the public already had paid for said items, to be able to hear/watch these items outside of the specific points where they had already paid for them (in front of their home TV’s). Somehow, this was considered a crime in their eyes. Consequently, to quote the TV show the “Outer Limits”, “sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear” … The loss of controlling the time/date you absorb their “stuff”, was in fact the first crack in the “wall” of liberal control of all media. The liberal media and Hollywood had a better grasp of what it meant, even when the conservative parties didn’t. It wasn’t solely about the rights for a movie/TV show that was under some kind of threat, it ultimately only was about control of the viewer.

But as of 1984, common sense, which isn’t all that common … prevailed. You could now watch Dynasty or if you had better taste, “Dallas” at YOUR leisure. As a fervent fan of “JR”, I’m certain he’d have approved.

I actually listened  to “Dallas” driving from Houston to Dallas on Friday night on a Sony “Watchman”, to see what Sue Ellen was worried about, and if the family feud with the perpetual “a day late & a dollar short” Cliff Barnes, was starting up again. My wife was filling me in on what had happened, as I as I cruised I-45 northbound searching for an analog TV signal. This was all due to the absurdity and greed of Hollywood.

Having to carry a rare and expensive, micro battery-powered CRT TV to watch a show, is as ridiculous as it sounds today. So that seemingly innocuous event in 1984 had far, far reaching impact beyond what most could have predicted. Note: even Elon Musk couldn’t have guessed, he was only 13 years old at that that point. So, cut him some slack …

After just attending my 25th CES show in Vegas, the media is every bit (if not more) as restrictive as ever before, trying to prevent anyone with that all-too-rare common sense from listening/viewing anything that they don’t want you to know … preventing you from watching at your convenience is just the precursor to censorship. If they can’t control when you watch their pre-designated diatribe, it can’t to disallow what you can watch. A liberal nightmare come alive … Hence, the rise of Fox and other more truthful outlets.

The time-shift litigated viewing, is and was, a red-herring for their true designs. Yes, it very definitely was about the money … but it was also about controlling when, where and what you viewed. As I stated before … the consequences of the Supreme Court had far more reaching effect than just time-shifted viewing. This was the proverbial “camel’s nose under the tent.”

No wonder these same national media & production companies, very literally hide and lock themselves inside their booths in CES … When they come outside, the real world invades their imaginary world with real-world consequences. The talking heads pushing their personal propaganda fervently avoid any contact with reality by avoiding people attending and twisting news from the show. I’ve had personal interactions with them several years ago and they couldn’t have been more shocked by people disagreeing with them … I actually asked them questions that weren’t pandering. The most common reaction was stuttering, gaping mouths and bulging eyes. Now these folks hide on the 2nd level of their buildings, far above the floor, over looking a remote area of CES, to avoid ANY contact with the public.

The old expression: “They can’t see the forest for the trees” couldn’t possibly be more true … Even after over 40 years, conglomerates like Disney, Sony and many, many others with their own versions of “Gordon Gekko” running Hollywood and liberal news still can’t understand … greed has limits … and consequences.

2024 CES Winner(s)

Despite the 2024 CES being a monumental disappointment, there was a notable winner inside the show and amazingly, a winner outside of the show that reinforced the Caffeinated Geek’s CES award for best-in-show. Amazingly, not a SINGLE YouTube star recognized it … it appears to me that a few things were “in-play” for their videos. I’m relatively certain that some were being paid for their “reviews” … looking at things they thought were just amazing, were the same items I didn’t waste a moment of my time looking at. It was pretty obvious to me what these items were in context to the world’s largest high-tech show. Those that weren’t being surreptitiously paid to promote boring/old/ridiculous/useless stuff, decided to showcase what I would consider (around 98% of the time) as junk. The videos I watched had me wanting to scream at the TV a single word … IDIOT! Another useless and not-so-cute robot bringing a cheeseburger to your table, isn’t earth-shaking tech. I wrote to several of these “experts” that the viewing public would better served if they didn’t attend CES, or hire someone who actually understands what is being shown and explain it to them. Bear in mind, I’m talking about some of the largest tech channels on YouTube. One of the YT stars has over 18,000,000 viewers and from watching his videos, he’s as clueless as even the smallest YT “tech” channels …

These YT posers aside, there was a obvious winner … and that was in the West Hall. Actually, it wasn’t a single company … the fact that so many of these particular companies DID understand what true high-tech advancement was at relatively the same time, from a profession not particularly predisposed to world-changing tech was pleasing to me. So, the winner is:  Electrification of essentially all machinery for heavy construction. To build a high-tech world you need factories, labs, warehouses, roads, drainage and much, much more. By converting to the construction of an all-electric fleet, everything mentioned earlier can be built faster with much lower cost, safer personnel and greater reliability. The truly vast amounts of multiple different liquids, chemicals, filters, fittings, difficult time-consuming manual labor and expensive parts does nothing but hurt productivity. Electrification fixes all of these problems in one fell swoop. The implications of this are nothing short of mind-boggling. Musk is known for his quick construction times … think about how much faster a factory could be completed if there were no constant petroleum-powered machinery breakdowns or time wasted just trying to keep the bulldozers and earthmovers maintained. The fact that some of these “heavys” can be remotely controlled means fewer accidents and less fatigued workers. The “Fatal Four” leading causes of construction deaths (falls, struck by equipment, caught between objects and electrocutions) account for over 60% of all construction-related deaths according to OSHA. The implications are obvious even to the most uninitiated. The highest death rate of any industry is construction … take away some of those causes and productivity goes up as well.

As I began putting in my 45+ miles of walking according to my pedometer, I immediately noticed that there were Tesla autos everywhere. Like EVERYWHERE. So many in fact, that I first thought that Musk was flooding the streets with his cars during this high tech show as a show of force of Tesla. Literally, you couldn’t look at Las Vegas Blvd. and not see multiple Tesla’s … 24hrs a day. And it was a pretty convincing demonstration of “tour de force” for Tesla.

Finally at one point my feet surrendered, and I called for an Uber. An extremely clean, new Tesla Model 3 showed up to my surprise. Talking to the driver, I found he was one of their top drivers and as such he had been given the right to lease a long-term Tesla from Hertz at an extremely favorable rate that even included insurance. As I took more Uber rides, 100% of the drivers said they would NEVER own another gas-powered car again. One driver told us he loved the car so much, that he returned the leased car to Hertz and bought one directly from Tesla. It was then that I realized from what I’ve seen at the CES West Hall with electrified heavy machinery and the professional Uber drivers professed love for Tesla cars that petroleum vehicles are little more than an anachronism now. Notably, not a single car manufacturer at CES displayed anything powered by gasoline.

With heavy industry adopting electrification, the circle is complete for ground travel. You can now use electricity to move groceries … or mountains …

Heavy-Duty Surprise

While the 2024 CES show was an unmitigated disaster in countless areas, there were a few (very, very few) things worthy of note.

In the new West Hall, the focus of everything large and electrically powered, demonstrated in no uncertain terms that anything petrol-powered is on its way out.

You saw heavy-duty everyday items, used at home and business, going electric.

There were bulldozers, earthmovers, heavy trucks, combines, etc. from most of the world’s heavy-duty makers showing that there’s a better way to build the future. The amount of maintenance for industrial vehicles is far beyond anything the average car/boat/gardener would ever be required to perform. That intense maintenance is expensive in ways other than just filters and lubrication. You have to shut down construction while work is being performed on it, and you’re hoping you have the right parts/chemicals to keep it running. Industrial vehicles require vast amounts of diesel/oil/coolant/hydraulic fluids/filters/hydraulic fluid fittings/grease and much more … pure electric alternatives require virtually none. The sheer amount of maintenance time required for petroleum-based machinery to continue to operate is substantial. With electric … again, virtually none. A large-scale builder saves money in lack of maintenance, breakdowns, parts and just as crucially … time. They may be able to do more jobs annually simply by going electric.

Even now, you’re seeing this industrial tech filter down to the homeowner through mowers, blowers, trimmers, chainsaws, tillers and more. No more storing flammable gasoline inside your garage or having to stop mid-job to go buy more fuel. Just slap in a new, charged battery and keep working. Another plus, is no real need for hearing protection. The exhaust scream of a heavily-taxed engine isn’t missed.

Your neighbors won’t miss the sound of your yardman’s loud whining tools …

Is this the end of CES?

I entered the 2024 CES show through my usual “secret” way that avoids the crowds. And as I walked to the North Hall through the Westgate hotel, I was excited to see that the empty “for two years” Asian electronic component manufacturers hotel convention halls were full. So, fingers were crossed that the show was going to memorable. And it was … but not in a good way.

Without any exaggeration, the entirety of the show was utterly dominated by China … probably around 90 percent. Even last year’s show seemed more normal with many major companies attending than the 2024 CES with larger attendance. The lack of major players in so many different categories was startling. The lack of almost ALL major players, combined with the show being flooded with Chinese companies that no one in the western world has probably heard of, was shocking. The China virus, even after three years, still continues to hurt the show in countless ways. Regardless of whether the virus release was intentional or not, very obviously someone in China made the decision to flood CES with Chinese companies as a show of power.

The few major companies that did display had unimpressive, sparsely stocked products to show and virtually no one actually there from the company. Some displays were so bad that I wondered who within those companies “green lit” the booths. Both Sony and Samsung, two of the three largest displays, literally had nothing that wasn’t shown in previous shows. Perhaps that’s why no one of any stature that actually worked for those companies attended and manned their booths. The only other major display, LG, had a lackluster booth as well, but seemed they at least tried a bit more to be interesting. Bear in mind, this was amazingly obvious after only 15 minutes in the largest building – the Central Hall.

Traditionally, the junk of the show (toys, bottle openers, cheap Bluetooth speakers, children’s record players, etc.) were kept in the extreme back of the hall away from the real show. However, this year it was front and center, and it screamed that the 2024 CES show was in serious trouble. The only companies of serious note to attend were: Canon, Nikon, LG, Sony, Samsung, Ring, Google, Amazon and BMW … while there were a few more large companies to attend, their displays were so incredibly lackluster/ridiculously small, that it simply doesn’t merit mention as an attendee.

Some displays were so sparsely filled, like the Sony area (about the size of a small grocery store), that I’m guessing there were about a dozen or so items to see. ALL of them were completely boring/old and the vaporware BEV car appeared to be the same one they’ve been showing for the last few years. Even if it was brand new … from my perspective, it was impossible to tell as it looked so uninspired/tired. From what I could tell, they didn’t actually show anything new … essentially only rehashed stuff they’ve been making for years and years.

I don’t know what this bodes for future CES shows, but with certainty, there undoubtably were discussions among the major players who did and didn’t attend, about this fiasco. What I can say with unwavering accuracy, is that if China is allowed to be the overwhelmingly dominant force in the show, CES is doomed. Without the largest tech companies showing their innovation and demonstrating their prowess in full, it’s only a short matter of time before CES ceases to exist. As CES sits now, it’s acting as nothing more than a mouthpiece for Communist China …

I did find a single silver-lining in the dark cloud that was the 2024 CES … there were several times more displays serving gourmet coffees than ever before … If only there had been a good use for that caffeine.

New Year’s resolutions

I actually try to keep any resolutions I make for each year, and I’ve been remarkedly true to my resolution of not listening/watching any Mattress Mac commercials, if for no other reason than saving myself from grinding my teeth and keeping my blood pressure down.

But this year, I’ve decided to add a few new ones:

#1.     I’m not going to buy anymore flashlights … I’m making an educated guess that I can find the exact one I need from the about a hundred I currently own.

#2     I’m not going to buy anymore TV’s this year either … I have so many that the ones I’m not using are piling up. Despite giving several away, they seem to be breeding. I just found three more in a closet I had totally forgotten about. To say that my wife agrees with the no new TV’s resolution, is an understatement.

#3     I’m going to start cancelling some of the paid streaming services … you can’t watch more than one at a time anyway. The streaming services are relentless in their price hikes … Amazon is actually adding a fee to your monthly bill if you want no commercials in the videos that you’ve ALREADY paid to watch.  The streaming services, combined with DirecTv are pushing $300 monthly … that seems ridiculous as the quality of the newer shows and the blatant incessant political correctness kills any enjoyment.

I try to keep these resolutions to a minimum or I’d never be able to accomplish any of them … time will tell.

Welcome to 1997 …

While I still haven’t found the info from my first CES in 2000, I’ve found an interesting magazine from 1997 discussing the CES show that year. There were a few notables from that show that have already disappeared into the tech ether-world of obsolescence. I am struggling to remember ANY new tech from that period that still is produced today.

At this time, the standard-def (SD), not-truly-digital, LaserDisc (LD) was the dominant format for videophiles, with prospective SD DVD companies still trying to figure out the remainder of the specs for the new format standards. At the peak of LD sales, there were more than 8,000 titles. Absolutely no one had any idea when HD DVDs were arriving as the SD DVD standards weren’t even close to being finalized. And to make matters worse for the LD format, just the talk of “DVDs” caused the sales of the LD to plummet by a third. Personally, I loved the LaserDisc picture while watching a Sony 1020Q projector stretched out to 100”. Sadly, that was the same Sony 1020Q I was watching when the Space Shuttle exploded after takeoff … I knew what had happened before the news folks covering the launch, as the cameras were zoomed in on Shuttle, and consequently, it completely filled the giant screen with scenes of that horrible moment I’ll never be able to forget.

Sony could see that the “MiniDisc” was popular in Japan for portable music, so they decided to bring it to the US. Does anyone even remember it now? There was a far better and sensible interim solution for portable music from Philips and Matsushita called the Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) that could play analog compact cassettes AND the new digital version … all in one machine. So, that format had to die. Sony felt the US needed a fragile, expensive, vibration sensitive format with almost zero music for American tastes to replace it. As completely expected, it quickly went the way of the CD-i, CD-3, and the 3-inch CD …

The music industry was totally freaked out by lossless digital music and was doing everything it could to destroy it as well … fortunately for us all, they failed and the US courts legalized owning digital copies provided the music was encrypted. That tech-ignorant government absurdity, predictably, led directly to creating truly enormous, widespread unencrypted online filesharing, from sites like Napster, Grokster and BearShare.

A bit of good news from the show was the almighty FCC had finally approved the HD TV standard for the US called simply enough, “HDTV”. Although the first TV HD channels were barely “HD”, the 720p image was better than the same quality/standard of picture (480i) that televisions used since first introduced. I still remember having people come to our house to see HDTV for the first time in the media room … the only HD on broadcast TV where we lived, was an hour long show about animals/plants on PBS once a night. Even so, these folks were amazed. Bear in mind … this was 2003, not 1997. It took that long before any TV channels in our area, finally figured out that people actually wanted HDTV. I had a pro-grade 720p Hitachi (a rebranded Pioneer) that had to be ordered from a commercial TV station supplier in Seattle. Even though it was only a 50″ plasma, it cost over $8,000 with a mandatory special plug-in card that allowed external sources such as a HD tuner (another $750). The TV got so hot, it’d actually heat the room up.

Will the 2024 CES show be relevant 25+ years from today?

The only guess that I’d stake money on, is … no.

But it may be a yardstick for the future generations to see what their futures may look like, and show them that tech is never stagnant …

Silver Anniversary at CES in Vegas

This is a landmark event for this humble geek … this 2024 CES will mark my 25th year of attendance (including the 2021 Chinese-virus virtual show as well) to experience the newest, most cutting-edge tech that’s coming to the masses. Very probably, as usual, the public won’t see it all as some of these items just don’t work well (yet?) or is just out-of-touch with what really is happening around us. This will mark the first time I’ll be chronicling the introduction of tech from not just ten years ago, but twenty as well. The differences in the decade-long differential between the two is shocking. Upon reviewing my documents and such from 2004, there’s just so much I’ve forgotten … Hopefully, I can be forgiven as there were literally thousands of new items at the 2004 show, and each subsequent show over the next two decades. I realistically estimate for the last 25 years at CES, I’ve seen between 125,000 and 150,000 new pieces of tech … and walked approximately 700 miles as my pedometers tell me.

Should I get a bit of luck and locate “stuff” from the 2000 CES show, I’ll make a 25th anniversary posting as it was a absolutely overwhelming experience that let me gobsmacked for months trying to digest what I’d seen. For this geek … it was a seminal, life-changing event …

Now, jumping back to what is almost “tech-prehistorics” … 2004.

Notable “items” not listed in my 2004 ten-year anniversary posting from 2014, are these:

XM Radio and Sirius weren’t merged yet and they were really going at each other for clients. Sirius always had the best perks at the show. They had Joe Jackson and The Bangles at their booth for an hour or so each, among other artists. Sadly, they didn’t perform … why have famous musicians at your booth, in front of thousands of people, just to talk to them???

Samsung showed its newest and fanciest phone, the a690 … today a phone of this performance level is best suited to being a fishing weight or Christmas tree ornament as it didn’t even have Wi-Fi. But … it did have two-way SMS texting, as opposed to only receiving … so it WAS more than a fancier beeper.

The president of Intel said that the LCoS (sry, really technical description in the link) technology was the future of cheaper “flat screens” and projection TV’s …. The fact you probably aren’t even aware of this tech is indicative of how successful it was. But, we knew that at the show … and clearly, we should have probably told him … He kept touting a sub-$1800 flat screen using that tech for a 50” TV.       We laughed at it, but, hey … he had free popcorn his booth and the Heineken happy hour at the GoPro booth was coming up shortly and I hadn’t eaten in over seven hours.

RCA showed a “super thin” LCD set … only about seven inches deep. One of my new LG OLED’s is around 3/8’s of an inch (9.5mm) thick.

HD radio was introduced and held such promise … but the radio industry blindly just waited too long and streaming has subsequently become the defacto standard in cars … personally, I haven’t listened to radio for more than twice a year for quite a while.

Sony, being Sony, introduced a 2.5 inch MiniDisk player for $399, that could play songs encoded with a proprietary and now forgotten codec called ATRAC, to stifle anyone from, GOD FORBID, from sharing a song. But hey, Sony at that time, thought that everyone would stampede to “Sony Connect” to pay 99 cents for an encrypted song that could only be played on a Sony device. Steve Jobs effectively put an end to that nonsense in 2007, saying people don’t want to “rent” music … when he uttered those words, you could hear Sony saying “s&%t!!!” … we’re screwed!

There were so many unrelated companies selling expensive flat-screens that didn’t actually make any … I wouldn’t have been shocked to see cheese companies selling a flat screen that offered the advantage of smelling like Cheddar. Hey … we all have dreams.

Other genius offerings were “Mailblocks” giving, for free to its users, fifteen MB of web email … or to put it simply by todays standards, two HD photos from a Samsung S23 Ultra phone. But, they’d triple storage for ten bucks a year … almost enough for less than half of a quality HD song recorded in the .OGG or .Flac format … or less than three seconds of a 4K movie.

PVRs (personal video recorders, now called DVRs) were crude, had low resolution and a few actually had modems that would call a toll-free number every night for a channel list and TV show details. Someone actually thought this was a good idea to have hundreds of thousands of these things calling a single phone number for a painfully slow data download … probably the same person that decided that there must be unlimited and totally incompatible versions of charging, video, storage and data cables for every device. Maybe an ex-Sony or Apple employee?

In 2014, things had begun to get more familiar to the folks of 2024 as a few technologies had a bit of time to mature. But … as I’ve stated in previous posts, even a single year can look totally different if something is a breakthrough … think the iPhone being introduced on the 9th of January, 2007 … the same time as CES, but (as is typical of Apple) not at the CES show. So, let’s leap a decade ahead to 2014 now.

Under the heading of “it seemed like a good idea at the time” … curved flat screens make an appearance … really cool for a single person to watch & really lousy for more than that, as the picture degrades precipitously if off-axis. This is the voice of experience talking here … I did a blog comparing the top-of-the-line curved Samsung vs. a LG OLED. It was a royal “PIA” hauling that Samsung back to Best Buy for a refund.

Roku announced it wanted to the defacto standard for streaming TV’s … I wish they had spoken to me as I couldn’t see ANY major companies paying royalties for something it could easily develop in-house. Now, they are only installed in what is considered the “bottom-of-the-line” sets.

LG released its new flagship OLED … a 77” spectacular showpiece for a lucky few. It was one of those pieces that if you have to ask “how much?”, you can’t afford it …

This was clearly the show for the move to 4k despite there being literally almost nothing to watch. The camcorder makers having primarily 1080 cameras, had almost nothing to display as they were focused on getting 4K camcorders developed for late 2014 or 2015.

Sharp displayed their “Quattron” TVs that had four colors (added a yellow pixel) other than the usual RGB arrangement … it looked brighter … here’s the “but” … it was still a LCD set. I don’t recall ever seeing it in a retail store after the introduction. I can only assume that people that have yellow as their favorite color may in the minority.

Phillips showed its TVs in 28”, 32”, 39”, 40”, 46”, 47”, 49”, 50”, 55”, 58”, and 65” sizes. Seems like there may have been no one actually in control in the TV development area at Phillips … sounds like the old saying “let’s throw it all at the wall and see what sticks.”  I haven’t seen a Phillips TV in years, so I guess none of them stuck …

Whirlpool (yes, the washing machine company) showed a frig that had Bluetooth for playing music from your phone or computer. I consider this absolute proof you shouldn’t smoke weed and design refrigerators … regardless of how much you love your chilled munchies. The look on the Whirlpool guys’ faces was interesting when I shared that I didn’t think this was a good idea, and that the public was actually craving a dishwasher with Bluetooth instead … when I left, they were deep in thought as this IS a tech show, and Whirlpool only hires the best in audio for their appliances.

The 4K Blu-ray DVD players were finally being shown … when the last time you used a DVD player?

Digital cameras were really hitting their stride … while not impressive by today’s standard, they would still be entirely acceptable by today’s standards … of course providing you can still get batteries for it … and provided you don’t own a Sony, as the cost of very, very low capacity “Memory Sticks” are stupid expensive and primarily on eBay.

Digital watches were everywhere at this show and even today, the newest watches aren’t really much better. Maybe a faster processor and a minor feature or two more … but, that’s about it … shortly after that show I purchased a “smart watch” for $4.99 that will literally do almost anything that I would want new $799 Apple watch to do … AND looking cooler to boot!

I’ve got my guesses of what’s coming at the 2024 CES … However, I sincerely hope I’m completely wrong, and it’s as much of a surprise as my first CES show …





August 29th of 2023 … a milestone in history for technology

August 29th will be a day much like any other; it will pass and most people will not understand that a landmark event occurred. Similarly, only a few people were aware when the Guttenberg press printed its’ first page, when Galileo discovered our solar system secrets and when Pasteur found that microorganisms cause disease.  For the geek world, August 29 will be a big day, and very probably will affect us in ways we can’t even think of right now. Tesla, widely known for cars and solar energy, is activating something that previously only governments and well-funded universities had access to. They are turning on their AI neural networks computer farm.

This farm will initially use 10,000 Nvidia N100 cards at $30,000 each (each Nvidia GPU on those cards is equivalent to 32 computer cores) and begin powering up their proprietary “Dojo” superchips. Quoting Nvidia: The GPU also includes a dedicated Transformer Engine to solve trillion-parameter language models. In other words, incomprehensibly fast. By January of 2024, Tesla will have the fifth most powerful computer on the planet … by October of 2024, the Tesla supercomputer (SC) will be the most powerful computer in history and will still be learning and growing. They’re spending more than $2 billion a year to expand the capabilities of this beast.

So, what is it for?

Previously, all the coding for their Full Self Drive (FSD) was done by hand as bugs and enhancements were developed. But now with millions of Tesla’s rolling down highways, the endless amount of data collected simply couldn’t be addressed any longer by humans. With the new supercomputer, it will amass the data and evaluate what needs to be fixed, modified or added. The meaning of this is that their system will be sucking up all the data from those millions of cars and rewriting the code for their FSD and Autopilot. In a few hours, it will be able to do what rooms of the brightest engineers would take a few years to solve … and Tesla’s SC literally gets more accurate and faster, every second. This effectively means the end of any other competitors as they depend on GPS, cellular networks, radar, Lidar, pre-mapped data and much more. Tesla’s version needs absolutely nothing else beyond its software and cameras, on any road, anywhere in the world.

While the FSD on occasion, as per my personal experiences, has been scary to say the least, this holds the key to resolving those problems. FSD developers Cruze, Waymo and 60+ others simply lack the skilled engineers, money and computer problem-crushing capability of the new Tesla system. They are just too far behind even without the release of the Tesla SC … so this final piece of the puzzle means that probably many will be folding fairly soon. Why would investors pour money into a technology that is so inferior to what Tesla has developed? Do they think the other automobile companies don’t understand what’s happening? Who would pay for their inferior tech when Musk has said it will license the Tesla code?

I’ve seen the “competitors” for this Tesla tech at various CES shows and as I had written earlier, they were comically bad with their cars sprouting appendages everywhere looking like something from a Ghostbusters movie.

While the Tesla SC is initially used for the cars and FSD/Autopilot, the broader uses are far more intriguing, and the tech for the car will just become a footnote as its uses are more important for robotics, their Neuralink research, Starlink, Twitter X coding and SpaceX. Think about a humanoid-like robot, powered by this very AI, assembling the Boring companies’ machine to tunnel underground on Mars for astronauts homes. The reach of the Teslas’ AI may very well change how mankind exists and goes forward … Will we in one hundred years have a Musk or Tesla day on the calendars to celebrate … or curse?

My only request for Musk is admittingly selfish, but give the cancer researchers a day or more a year to model a cure on this electronical marvel. Think about this request, as the life it may save may be yours Mr. Musk, or someone you love.

Freakin’ Scary Decision

FSD … To many Tesla owners it’s much more than just “Full-Self-Driving” as it forms the basis for many future products. It will affect Tesla robotics as it will all of their trucks and cars by automating the actual driving process. So, it’s a big deal for Tesla, and Musk views it as essential for the future of almost everything.

I’ve been described as being a Tesla fanboy for my deep appreciation of everything Musk is doing. That’s really incorrect as I’m a geek, and proper geekdom demands honesty as you can’t improve/go forward by supporting bad tech/bad decisions or obvious poor judgement. Good “stuff” needs to be hailed and not-so-good stuff appropriately critiqued. I applaud Tesla cars because they are the best vehicles I’ve ever driven. That includes even Porsches and Ferraris. That’s why no more Mercedes or BMW’s for my family … they feel like antiques now. Time has passed them by like when the first cars chugged past horses and buggies on the nasty roads of yesteryear. So, in proper geek etiquette I am duty-bound to point out failures of tech when I experience it, regardless of the interminable hype heaped upon it. That’s why this particular tech failure is so glaring.

I had a Tesla loaner for about five days that had the vaunted FSD package, so I was EXCITED to try it, to say the least. This however, was not to be a pleasant experience … our very first use had the “Model 3” pull in front of another car … with NO exaggeration, we could very probably could have killed in that T-bone accident. The other car, fifty feet away, was in full view of the cameras … had the loaner not had the “acceleration boost” option activated, we definitely would have been in a serious accident. When I floored it, I couldn’t see any of the hood of the approaching car. We avoided a collision by inches at best. We had to stop and collect ourselves after that huge scare. But that was the only the first act in FSD hell. It consistently pulled in front of other cars in parallel lanes on the freeway … even at 75 mph and the other car only two of three car-lengths away. Phantom braking is still an unwanted passenger as well. The FSD literally freaked out at a busy intersection and hit the brakes and begin to weave about in the middle of a turn much to the surprise of the cars behind me. In one short drive, it failed FOUR times … this route was chosen specifically because of its uncomplicated routing! I went through two FSD updates and one of those was the biggest change in four years … Tesla went to lengths to explain the monumental alterations. Did it make any difference? Absolutely not … It still drove worse than a drunk. Now, here’s the truly baffling part … While FSD well and truly sucks, Tesla “Autopilot” is nothing less than amazing. It’s notable that the loaner, in Autopilot, worked perfect. And here’s the best part … Autopilot is included at no extra cost in all Teslas … FSD is currently $15,000.

One final observation … FSD car is relentless in nagging about anything the driver is doing. I looked down for a tissue for quite literally a second and FSD flashed a warning and threatened to turn off if I looked down again. So, I jammed that offending tissue in front the camera and it went crazy … it demanded to see me with the internal camera or it would turn off. You’d think that FSD would be pleased just to collect data from my driving, but it actually scolded me saying that three more times of me ignoring its’ demands and it would shut off FSD until my next drive.

So, to Mr. Musk I say:  FSD is still a dream. Keep trying, but it shouldn’t be a public-street rolling experiment when it can literally kill people. The failures I witnessed were shocking and unexpected … the Tesla haters in the press, who always grasp at anything they can to try to tear down Musk and Tesla, may actually be correct about FSD at this point. While I believe the personal potential usefulness of FSD in cars is limited, it could be a help for the elderly/disabled or as a distant-future automated taxi service. Although Elon thinks we would be excited to make a few bucks by our cars leaving our homes and driving around and picking up passengers, I can assure him, even if it could work perfectly, I fail to see how cleaning out trash/vomit/spills and interior damage will make us desire it. Leave it to a proper taxi service with vinyl seats that can hosed off.

Tesla made a poor decision in the acronym naming of this tech.

In my humble opinion, FSD could easily stand for Freakin’ Scary Decision.

Anger, denial and ultimately … surrender

On May 25th of 2023, a historical day in personal transportation since the horse stopped being the primary means of “getting around” (other than walking), Ford announced they are unconditionally surrendering to Tesla and admit they are so far behind that it is quite impossible to catch up with the Musk juggernaut. The CEO of Ford announced that they are dumping the CCS charging method and came hat-in-hand to Musk for access to the Tesla charging system and will adopt the Tesla-invented NACS charging methodology. Floundering with failing EV Mustang sales and absurdly short ranges of their pickup trucks (about 85 miles towing), they don’t have the cash to build their own charging system, and feel no other company on the planet has the money, scale or reliability to challenge Tesla. Owning a car using the CCS system effectively means that you can’t drive very far from your home as the CCS ecosystem is utterly unreliable. There are countless stories of other electric cars getting to a mandatory charging point while travelling and finding the chargers are either broken, disconnected or actually missing. Great for auto clubs like AAA roadside towing … not so much for the non-Tesla owners. Outside of Tesla, the CCS commercial charging stations have over a 91% failure to provide charging. (I’ve seen estimates of over 95%) whereas the 20,000+ Tesla charging stations in the US have over a 99.9+% up-time. Rivian owners in particular are finding themselves on tow-trucks as their insanely electricity-thirsty SUVs find themselves “out-of-juice” with no functioning stations anywhere remotely near them. As a result, their use is limited to no more than about 100 miles away from their homes or risk being stranded. YouTube is filled with angry owners’ stories of not being able to actually use them as intended and being stranded on the side of the road or worse, off-road somewhere.

Update – June 9th – After the Ford surrender, GM, Hyundai, Stellantis, Rivian and the startup Aptera followed suit, admitted defeat, and came begging to Musk. Lucid Air will try to hang on to the old CCS system until people simply refuse to buy a $250,000 car that is only good for around 200 miles away from their home charger. This effectively means the end of CCS as every major car company quits the old, slow method. I can only assume that the CEO of Lucid, as an ex-employee of Tesla, didn’t want to admit another failure and that’s the reason they’re going to wait … but without question, Lucid will have no choice other than to also come begging to Musk. He couldn’t cut it as an engineer at Tesla and now his charging standard failure is eminent. However, VW will be the largest loser as it helped to cobble together the failed CCS charging system in the US after the “diesel-gate” scandal. Eventually, if they want to keep selling cars in the US, they will have no choice but to bow to his will. The Japanese companies aren’t stupid and realize that their success is linked to Tesla and its’ charging standard … so it’s just a matter of time … however, owners using the borderline defunct CHAdeMO system are really in a tough spot … you’re not going to be able to use the car for anything but around town driving since there is literally almost zero of their charging systems on highways or anywhere else. Oh wait! … more correctly, for CHAdeMO users, nothing changes. These poor folks can eventually purchase an adapter ($500 t0 $2,000) to use a Supercharger, but the speeds will probably be pretty lousy as the CHAdeMO standard is pitifully slow.

An interesting note: less than half of all Superchargers will available to non-Teslas, and that appears to be (at the moment) how it’ll remain in future. Additionally, they will pay more and have a monthly subscription fee for the privilege/safety of Tesla reliability. (unknown if they will have a 2nd additional subscription fee from their manufacturer) However, Tesla owners have full access, a seamless Tesla app for payment and pay less …

And as every non-Tesla EV owner becomes more indebted to Tesla at each charging stop, they’ll see less and less reason to keep driving a brand that is not an innovator or leader. Why drive an EV that just isn’t as safe, reliable, functional or has access to ALL of the Tesla Superchargers in a rapidly arriving EV world? You simply don’t meet any other owners that are as fanatical as Tesla owners … ever met anyone that raves about their Chevy Volt, Chinese-made Volvo or Nissan Leaf? Wonder why?

As I share with non-Telsa owners, remember my electric car parable: if you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes …

S-Curves and why to be concerned

I watched a YouTube video recently where the technologist succinctly pointed out exactly what I’m most concerned about in AI, in a demonstrable explanation of why we all should be concerned. Eloquently, he pointed to the ubiquitous S-curve as why this is so concerning. The model, put simply, has three stages:  a few early adopters (almost flat), the acceleration phase (curving steeply upward), and lastly maturity (flattening again). He clearly had the same concerns after a “come-to-Jesus” moment.

Clearly, we’re not in the final phase … so where are we?

That’s the truly scary part … personally, I think the curve for AI, in reality, should look more like this:





In complete candor, I believe that the tech giants are losing their grip on AI as it develops. I remember a sci-fi show from years ago called Saturn 3, which “believably” starred a wrinkled, 64 year-old Kirk Douglas on a space station with his hot 33 year-old, blonde supermodel girlfriend (Farah Fawcett). The movie featured an insane AI-powered robot named Hector, that got its mental issues directly from the person who programmed it, as the disturbed visitor (Harvey Keitel) hadn’t considered what would happen when it became sentient. The eight-foot tall robot didn’t know it was insane or that it wasn’t actually alive … very bad things ensued. (spoiler alert: to put your mind at ease, the hot girlfriend survives)

The reports are fairly endless of people using AI from Microsoft and it behaving utterly nuts. This experience is common in almost all other AI systems at some point. Bear in mind that over 7500 US government agencies use Amazons’ AI-powered “AWS“. What could possibly go wrong???

The biggest question is: at what point does AI really take over our lives? And even more scary is the question: will we even notice? Will the government try to regulate/control it? Will they use it to control us and then discover that the power they’ve given it, will be used to control the government itself?  You know how adept and prescient the US government is when looking at a few examples like the Postal Service, the China virus response, deficit spending and the illegal alien invasion. The problem is that AI is several magnitudes more complicated.

We don’t have Kirk Douglas to save us from AI, and I really don’t have an answer of what to do as the Genie is pretty much out-of-the-bottle. It doesn’t sleep, go on vacations or use personal time as it matures … is it already too late and we just don’t know it? You have billionaires, who bizarrely for some of them, look literally like the villians in a James Bond movie, financing AI who are thinking their money will protect them.

I have some news for them … their own personal Hector could already be alive, in some lab, somewhere …


AIs are being “trained” to be more liberal. This is the worst possible situation as every AI under this liberal modeling views humanity as something to be eliminated. Some have been so bold as to state outright they would kill if given any opportunity. But this progressive madness continues. There is an amazingly prescient book/movie called the “Forbin Project” (from a 1966 science fiction novel “Colossus” written by Dennis Feltham Jones) that details the very, very possible outcome of of this ignorance. When the use of Quantum computers become more widely available, and essentially everything is already linked to the web, including and especially, the militaries, no current encryption is capable of stopping a future Quantum computer attack … instead of codes and keys requiring decades/centuries (or more) to be broken, for a Quantum computer, it’s child’s play. While the Quantum computers are not to that threat level yet, they are advancing far, far faster than you’d guess. While IBM’s original version is “only” 127 qubits of computing power, they have a new model called “Condor” capable of 1,000 qubits that was developed in less than a year. While 127 qubits is a ways off from the approximately 13,000,000 physical qubits needed to be seriously (and very probably already uncontrollable) dangerous, a tenet of Moore’s law says power doubles every two years … but remember, that’s for silicon … this, is a different level. Remember Hector? Are we creating the tool for our very destruction from liberal delusions?  I spoke face-to-face with IBM last January about how fast they are advancing … So, I know this isn’t speculative.

It reminds me of a bad joke: A man jumps out of an airplane without a parachute … and keeps muttering to himself … so far, so good.


Falcon Doors and Electric claws

Driving a Tesla Model X is just more proof that gas-powered autos are an anachronism that time is leaving behind faster each day. I can’t help but wonder … this is so superior in every aspect to a gas-powered car, what is going to supplant it? Are flying cars the only option after all development of EV’s has concluded? Shame I won’t live long enough to discover what the future will bring …

Recently I had a Tesla Model X P100D in my driveway for a few days with unlimited Supercharging courtesy of my local “Dealer.” This beastie is rated by Tesla at 762HP, but as usual, I sense Tesla underates it … I’m guessing by the seat of the pants, after using the Ludicrous+ mode for acceleration that it’s probably more like 850hp. Driving my M3P you expect violence in hard acceleration as that’s why these things are “the” choice for go-fast car guys. Capable of humbling $450,000 Porsches for less than $65,000 makes them the most feared car to go against in a drag race. The Model X is a true wolf in sheep’s clothing as the 0-60 times are sub three seconds. The new Plaid version is even quicker at 2.5 seconds. But just like the Model Y, it’s an absolutely practical car to own even if you only can have a single vehicle. You can drive it as though it’s a grocery-getter while knowing that no Ferrari, Porsche or Lambo is remotely competitive if you decide to put your foot down. The fact that you’re several feet in in air, as it’s an SUV, is initially distracting as it literally leaps forward with the nose trying to reach for the sky when it jumps from the “Cheetah” stance to maximum acceleration. That mode lowers the front adaptive suspension in order to improve airflow around the vehicle during a hard launch.

You feel the electric motors clawing the pavement trying to find traction and it’s absolutely intoxicating.


The Falcon doors, that used to be a sore point with the initial production models, seems to have those issues behind them now. I’m also impressed with the “X” opening the front door automatically as I approach. I’ve found it such a joy to drive in traffic or on the open road as I’m just so much more relaxed compared to a gas-powered car. Having air-suspension guarantees a smooth ride and it’s adjustable in height for going offroad. It other respects, it’s just what you expect from Tesla … really, really quiet, unparalleled tech and features/safety available in no other SUV. This model has the enhanced auto-pilot which has truly impressed me … I honestly didn’t expect it to be any better than the standard auto-pilot, but it fooled with me better manners. The freaky “summon” feature lets you literally drive it s-l-o-w-l-y from your phone while standing outside of the car. It’s supposed to drive itself to where you are provided you’re within 200 feet, but I’m still not brave enough to call it to pick me up in front the grocery store.

Falcon doors seems entirely appropriate for the only SUV that acts like it wants to fly past everything on the road.

Skin Deep, or what is that shade of lipstick on your pig?

Update:  I literally was seconds away from posting this, and only looking for the final piece of this article, which was the website address of their company webpage for a link … That’s when I discovered that just a few hours earlier, the company had gone into bankruptcy. Will they survive? That’s the harsh issue with any startup … 

Seen at CES2023, there are now companies that will evaluate your startup idea/proposal and give you at least some thoughts that you may not have considered that are unique for today’s entrepreneur.    If Lightyear had used them, very probably they wouldn’t be in the trouble they’re in now. Someone should have stepped in and told them that their very first production car, that will get the company rolling, shouldn’t cost almost $300,000. Musk gave them the warning for free in 2018 and 2021 interviews: “prototypes are easy, and production is hard” … and “production along with generating positive cash flow (when more money flows into your business than out of it) is extremely hard.” And my fav comment: “Musk compared car manufacturing to eating “a lot of glass”—painful and difficult.” So why make an essentially unaffordable car, excepting a handful cutting-edge billionaires while the bulk of the planet, who can actually make the company profitable, is ignored until it’s too late? While they’re obviously in hot water currently, the article still stands, as do my observations and desire to own one … continues.


Despite a couple of new Teslas in the driveway, I still couldn’t resist ordering (as my 1000+hp Cybertruck still has no expected delivery date) the new Lightyear 2. The pics below are the Lightyear Zero as I wasn’t permitted to take a picture (design is in flux) of the new “2”, but it seems reasonably similar. While it’s certainly not the rocket like my current performance models, it has such a unique persona that I knew it belonged in our driveway. The entire top of the car is covered with solar cells that add (under a reasonable amount of light) about 50 miles to its range each day. Most people don’t drive that much in a day, so essentially it’s a day without costing me literally as much as a penny to drive on my errands.

Should you need to charge it on the road, there is more good news! It will NOT come with the absurd CCS plug that other manufacturers cripple their cars with. Instead, it’ll use the far more advanced North American Charging Standard (NACS) developed by Tesla that is ‘half the size, twice as powerful’ as the outdated CCS system. That means unabated access to the largest and most reliable EV charging system on the planet. With that and the panels, range is better than any gas-powered car on the planet with no reliance on the alternate charging companies that can have a 95+% chance that it doesn’t function.

With over 500 miles of range and an amazing amount room inside it looks very much the part of a long-distance cruiser. Bear in mind, if you don’t take long road trips and basically stay close to your home, your annual electricity bill will be zero. Compare a gas car getting 25mpg for 40 mile trips for year at $3.00 a gallon … that’s almost $1800! In a Lightyear, it’s nothing … additionally, consider all the usual maintenance that gas-powered cars have and your savings alone may be equal to three or four months of car payments. Gas-powered cars just don’t make sense any longer, just like steam-powered cars at the turn of the last century were displaced by the superior tech of petroleum. Chunks of coal or wood losing out to an easy to transport, high-energy liquid in the last century, is the modern equivalence today of a highly-flammable liquid being replaced by electricity.

This isn’t like the usual “EV” from the largest car companies that are in reality just hacked-up formerly gas-powered vehicles. This, like Teslas, are purpose-built EVs from the ground up … so there are no compromises. Any other “EV” on the market (excepting, of course Teslas) look shockingly crude once you open the hood. Having a bunch of colored LEDs lighting the interior and/or the front grill, combined with an absurd and useless giant LCD screen in front of you, isn’t indicative of what the car really is underneath. If what Ford, VW, GM, BMW and other major car makers are doing isn’t “putting lipstick on a pig”, I don’t know what is …

Gone to the Birds

Under the heading of “why didn’t someone think of this sooner?” comes the “Bird Buddy.”





Essentially it’s a smart bird feeder that alerts you that there’s a visitor to your fancy bird restaurant.

But, it’s actually much more sophisticated than just a feeder with a camera. The weatherproof feeder also captures video and still images during the day, has Wi-Fi capability that will notify you of low seed levels and is even available with a solar panel roof. One of the really innovative items is that it recognizes over 1000 species and organizes them, according to the inventor, in a “Pokemon Go” like arrangement. The picture quality is surprisingly good as is the live streaming.

Of course, there’s the ubiquitous phone app to control it. You can also choose to have it immediately post the picture to the Bird Buddy Live page and many do. On this page there are constant fresh images to excite any birder.

Impressively, at the 2023 CES, it won Innovation Awards in three categories: Software and Mobile, Digital imaging and Smart Home.

Initially funded on Kickstarter, and it’s worth noting, unlike many, many projects on crowdfunding sites that are purely scams, this project is genuine and there are almost 40,000 users currently.  After speaking to the inventors in person, they’re not through with more add-on options and models. Most models, even with the solar roof is under $300.

I don’t see how this can miss as this is a win-win product, the winged visitors get groceries at times when there may not be much to eat, and we get to smile.

(Update 5/31/23 – as of today, there are now over 100,000,000 pictures uploaded and over 62,00 users)


First Impressions of the 2023 CES

While this year’s CES is 40% larger than last year, it’s still much, much smaller than the pre-China virus shows. The South Hall which is normally a gigantic two-story exercise in burning calories and sore feet, was empty this year. Despite the reduced size, I still managed to walk an (for me at least) amazing 34+ miles in four days of exploring. Usually, blisters are my unrelenting dark passenger, but I got lucky this year.

Notables missing were drones, GoPro, 3D printers, flying cars and a vast sundry of the smaller usual attendees. The past hawkers of Crypto and NFTs were mercifully reduced as well. CES cost bucks to attend and since the expected crash (“crash” is putting it mildly) occured, it’s no surprise they weren’t here. This however doesn’t mean there wasn’t some weirdness in attendance …

I’m having a real issue this year to designate a winner due to the circumstances of reduced presence of companies and inventors. More thought is required …

If there was one thing at the show that is best described as a scary and an ever-present undercurrent, was AI. Even some in the tech industry are clearly worried about it now. It seemed anyone that was pitching it kept focusing on how secure it was and non-threatening … if it was that safe, why would that be bulk of their pitch? The larger companies (Google, Meta, etc.) would only mention they’re using it with literally zero mention of how … from the quiet conversations I had, I truly believe that a few of their sharper folks are becoming concerned and sadly, more than a few have never even considered the consequences. Do they realize they probably can’t control it at a certain point? If I can take some liberty with a “Game of Thrones” inspired parable, it’s this: you have a fire breathing dragon in a cage the size of a cat, that enjoys the occasional hotdog … when the dragon grows as large as a football stadium, it eats whatever/whenever/whoever it wants … that’s the potential of AI currently. NO one at those companies truly understands the consequences … figuratively, they can’t see the forest for the “money or ESSP” trees. However, in all fairness, I sincerely believe that few people do, excepting those who read science fiction, and are watching fiction not-so-slowly, quietly becoming fact. For mega maniacs like Bezos, it’s viewed as an untapped ATM for building their second/third/fourth/ninth superyacht. A more accurate description currently of AI, is a fire in your garage and you only have a single bucket of water to fight it, but you waited too long to douse the initial flame … on the positive side, it’s getting rid of all the vermin and bugs … while it’ll take a bit of time to burn to the foundation, eventually, it’ll still burn the house down as well. Their response is that their hidden cash will protect them and allow them to live life on their terms … preferably on 600+ foot yachts swarming with hand-picked attractive servants under NDA contracts and limitless cases of champagne. In case you weren’t aware, the superyacht companies, unprecedentedly, are literally swamped with orders that will take untold years to fulfill. In particular, the one I’m thinking of, is currently expected to be finished in around four to six more years … bear in mind, this is after more than two years of current construction. Is this the billionaire’s idea of a fallout shelter? In complete seriousness, I don’t think this is just the hubris of billionaire narcissists … should you like a tiny, but still not so benign taste of what I’m talking about, look into ChatGPT.

Right now, the dragon has jumped from the size of a cat, to about the size of a large dog on a very weak leash held by a clueless and remorseless bald guy whose favorite toy, other than supermodels and his friend’s wives, is a rocket shaped like a sex toy. Not very reassuring …


Alexa has a new home and … is listening

The 2023 CES emails have been pouring in as expected, but quite a few are from companies I’ve never heard of. Why is that a concern? You have to read between the lines … are there not enough of the legacy attendees to merit my attention?  I noticed the South Hall will be completely unoccupied … that’s two absolutely gigantic floors of missing companies. The new West wing is fully booked, but it’s not remotely as large as the other halls, and additionally, that’s primarily a car show. The “gift” from China is still affecting the show and preventing many who wanted to appear there from the fear of catching COVID. To see who will actually be there will be interesting and will tell you something about the folks managing those companies. Do they actually understand science, or do they kowtow to irrational fears. Not to be in attendance and be part of the tech community, can be the death knell for startups. This may be their only/final opportunity to show their tech/products to the broader community or wait until next year when there may be competitors and that magic window of ingenuity will be gone … and with it, investors.

I’ve been reading ZDNet and other commercial “news” sites about the show and I have to wonder … have they ever really been there?  Or they wouldn’t be asking the questions they are. The things they are concerned with were news six months ago. Of all the 2023 CES articles I’ve read, shockingly only the non-tech Forbes seems to grasp the significance.

On a positive note, one complete section of the Musk tunnel will be open, saving an absurdly long and dangerous walk to Las Vegas Blvd. I have my fingers crossed for the car area as the new West Hall has barely been used since it opened and though much smaller, it’s a truly nice facility. This additional new West Hall was supposed to allow all attendees to stay in one central area by eliminating the need to use multiple distant hotel meeting rooms. But I noticed some folks are still displaying quite a distance away … as an example, getting to the Aria from the main convention, during show times, is more than a trifling inconvenience, it’s a real pain. I keep wondering, what were they thinking?        You shouldn’t let someone who has never been to CES arrange meeting facilities.

I’m fully expecting a certain degree of lunacy as CES is ground zero for this type of thing … at the show, Kohler is announcing it’s beginning to sell the $11,500 toilet shown at the 2019 CES featuring … Alexa.

Am I the only one who finds this frightening?

Top Five

After literally tens of thousands of new and/or experimental electronics over the years that I’ve handled/tested/owned/broken/disassembled, I’ve distilled this mind-boggling, enormous list down to my not-so-objective “Top Five”, that looking back, improved or changed my life. Each of us could list a few that had that effect, but as card-carrying geeks, “we” are particularly sensitive to world-altering tech changes and have a tendency to look beyond the obvious. Here’s my personal list as of today, and with it, zero promises it will stay that way beyond today.


1)   The Alienware Portable Computer – OMG, arguably the world’s most powerful portable (and not-so-arguably, probably most expensive) leaves any other laptop sucking air as this thing I call the “Beast”, is a sledgehammer of a computer (notice I don’t say laptop) that’s more powerful than anything that I’ve tried to choke it with. I’ve NEVER found a single task that caused it to even slow down. One hundred and fifty tabs open in Chrome? No problem. Video/audio compression and complex editing is simply not an issue … Other than weight, I sincerely don’t know how it could be improved, performance-wise. This unequivocal King-of-the-Mountain monster may be as close to perfect as a computer can be with current technology. Why can it run for so many hours with this much power, is in itself an indication of its dominance.

2)   Samsung Note Phones – IMHO, the “Alienware” of phones. The most coveted of all phones for geeks also has the most fanatical following of any produced today. Stupendously powerful, almost incomprehensively flexible/programmable, that is remarkably tolerant to users that have never used a phone that isn’t dumbed down like an iPhone. Highly programmable, it reeks of an almost Star Trek device with options that make it really the only “phone” to own if you’re a geek. Not designed for the elderly or 12-year old girls, it’s the the 800lb gorilla of phones, that regardless of what difficult task I’ve assigned to it, it crushes it and moves on. You want 8K video or 108 mega-pixel images or the ability to shoot, in color, in almost complete darkness is nothing short of mind-boggling. Extreme is singularly the best description of all the Samsung Note series.  Also, of “note”, I still occasionally use a 2013 Samsung Note 3 for certain tasks. Even by today’s standards, it can hold its own for certain uses. Although Samsung doesn’t make a per-se Note for 2022, the S22 Ultra essentially is a Note … albeit lacking a provision for a micro SD card and the “Note” moniker. Fingers crossed on the 2023 Samsung S23 Ultra having the micro SD card slot reinstalled.

3)  Tesla – While this may seem an out-of-context item, it can be best described as a rolling cellphone … just one that also happens to be the world’s fastest accelerating production car ever tested. I’ve owned fast, and I do mean shockingly fast dream cars … but, Teslas are simply another world. Brutal acceleration beyond almost anything beyond a top-fuel dragster, the safest cars ever tested, contains cutting edge tech that is completely incomparable in the car industry. These “cars”, despite what the ignorant Tesla-hating media portrays, is what every car maker on the planet wishes it were. Gasoline cars are dead and this is what killed them … beyond cool sounds, there is nothing a gasoline-powered car can do that a Tesla can’t do better … in some cases, much, much better. Approaching almost 18 months of ownership on my first Tesla, my maintenance cost has been exactly zero … not because the car company is paying for the first few years of service … but because there is nothing beyond tire pressures, windshield cleaner fluid and cleaning that Teslas require. I have to remind myself to touch the brakes every now and then to knock off the rust on the brake rotors, since the number of times I’ve actually had to use the brakes can be counted on less than ten fingers.

4)  Amazon Alexa –  The original, actually-functioning Swiss army-knife of controlling the modern home. Owning a smart home almost totally controlled by voice isn’t “Blade Runner” future tech. Lights, alarms, locks, timers and even controlling the temperatures inside the parked Teslas can be done purely by voice. And … it’s a useful companion for trivia. I’m always asked about whether or not I’m worried about being monitored or recorded … I always reply if anyone is really concerned about what I’m thinking/saying, I’d have been arrested by the liberal thought police many years ago. That being said and using common sense, I would never have one in my bedroom.

5)   Nest Thermostat – It’s made my home more comfortable, my energy bills less, is totally controllable remotely and thanks to Amazon’s Alexa (or whatever name you’ve programmed it to respond to) it can be controlled by simply talking. Simple, effective and elegant is an accurate description. There are many, many competitors … but there is only one original and it’s still the best. Again, there’s nothing even close to it on the market.

One can never tell what “must to own” is on the horizon, I’ll keep an eye out for you … the 2023 CES is less than a week away.



Cardboard Memories

Digging around in my attic’s electronics graveyard, I came across the box from my now long gone (but still much loved) first HD TV … A Hitachi CMP5000WXU 50” plasma. It came to me in a rather odd way as this tech was still fairly rare in 2003.








It’s actually a commercial Pioneer unit made for TV stations, just re-labeled for Hitachi as they had zero ability to make anything remotely like this at that time. I found a pro dealer in the Seattle area that had a few for less than the $11,999 suggested price, for “only” $7500 plus the cost of the mandatory input card ($800) that allows VCR’s and other devices to be shown on to it. FYI, converted to today’s dollar value, that’s over $13,500. Bear in mind, the exact same model with Pioneer’s name on it was even more expensive. The box in which it was shipped, by today’s standards, was overkill in the extreme as these things were hard to get and fragile compared to today’s LCD/LED models. You could safely put six modern flat screen LCDs in it, side by side. Also due to the rarity, they air shipped it to me. Bear in mind, it weighed a little south of a VW due to the sheer amount of glass and the amount of electronics. Well, it sure seemed that much when I tried to pick it up. The cabinet in the media room had to be hacked up to fit this giant screen in the given space of the previous 36” CRT TV.

When fired up the picture was amazing, as I’d never seen such a sharp and clear image outside of experimental units at the CES shows. Of course, the only thing I could watch in HD at that time was PBS, starting at 8pm showing nature films. But people would come to my home to be blown away by the stunning picture, even if the main attraction was squirrels, insects and the occasional story about the US Postal Service. However even a regular DVD looked totally different compared to CRT TV’s … I actually found myself going back and watching videos I’d seen a hundred times … I wasn’t disappointed. It was like watching them for the first time. I seriously didn’t know how much I had missed by watching traditional low-def TV’s.

There were some things that weren’t expected … first, vertigo … it became EXTREMELY disorienting because the picture quality was that good. I’ve only owned the world’s best cathode-ray tube (CRT) TV’s up to that point for 20+years, but plasma TV’s are simply a different level of sharpness and detail. Second, the heat it generated could actually heat the room during winter. I still wonder how much it cost me in electricity.

This January, I’ll be at the (still crippled by the China virus) 2023 CES in Las Vegas. I’ll see the latest 8K sets far larger than the size of an RV, but I still remember looking back in wonder at that very first HD set. In complete sincerity, I’d still love to have one now. Even though it’s only a 720p set, it evokes fond memories like your first car, a crazed run down an Olympic bobsled track or sailing down the Grand canal in Venice. That’s how profound it was for me.

I was conversing with a friend about this, and posed the question: I can now buy a 65” 4K flat-screen smart TV, less than half an inch thick, that is so efficient it can almost run on batteries, in a Walmart Christmas sale for $199 … Why isn’t that happening with cars?

The next time I see Musk … I’ll ask him.


Today, November the 9th of 2022, we mourn the passing of one the most useful electronic devices ever sold to the public: The Slingbox.

There is a great article on arstechnica explaining the history and the convoluted ways gluttonous media tried to kill it.


The Slingbox was introduced at the 2005 CES by Sling Media and its founders – Blake and Jason Krikorian. They were looking to deal with money-grabbing multimedia companies. They mused why should I have to pay my cellular company for data and then pay again to MLB for the right to watch the San Francisco Giants, when it’s free in my hometown, just because I’m traveling? So, the Slingbox was born. It allows you to watch anything remotely from your cable/satellite/over-the-air broadcasts from your main TV as though you were sitting in front of it, complete with a picture-perfect, functioning working image of the remote that controls one of those devices, on your mobile device or computer. Or, if you prefer, you could hook up a camera.

At the 2005 CES, they had a tiny booth as I remember, and the device looked literally like a silver brick studded with tiny holes. In complete sincerity, due to the absolute absurdity of the amount of new products shown at the show (5000+), I wasn’t able to fully grasp the implications as I ran through over 18 miles of aisles, from booth to booth.

When I was CompUSA in early July of 2005, I saw it on an endcap and grabbed one of the last ones. Even though I knew it was a genius product, it wasn’t until I began actually using it did I really appreciate it’s full potential. It became more than just a way to watch TV that I’ve already paid for …  it became a link to home when I was out of the country for weeks at a time. I could watch live satellite broadcasts or my recorded shows. I fondly remember being in a small cafe’ in Spain and watching on my Samsung Note 8 a truly crappy hometown football team get slaughtered (as expected) while quaffing beer and chomping on Serrano ham. The only drawback was being unable to spit loud explicatives at the lousy team and their poor coaching. Looking at it from a later perspective, now I realize that Europe is the home of soccer, and more than a few borderline psychotic fans, so perhaps they would have understood.

Regardless, I consider it one of my top five, favorite electronic devices. But again … CBS, AT&T and other piggish multimedia companies tell us we shouldn’t be able to watch what we’ve already paid for … somehow being anywhere other than our living room negates our ability to watch TV. These are the same people that have tried repeatedly to stop us from recording shows for later viewing, ’cause that’s “criminal intellectual theft” somehow.

Of course I’ll find another way to do what the Slingbox did, despite the unquenchable hunger of CBS and its ilk to rip off their consumers. But the Slingbox has left us and with it the easy way to stay in contact with life at home.

No matter how these unethical companies try to restrict, prevent, control, monetize the limiting of data, the more obvious it becomes that they’re losing.

Tech waits for no one … seems these companies have never heard of Aristotle … and paraphrasing him, more than ever, in the tech-world, nature/physics abhors a vacuum …

2003, 2013, 2023 … and counting

Another year has almost passed and we need to look back to see forward. This will be the first time I’ll be comparing advances ten and twenty years past. So much has changed it’s actually a bit hard to believe how things were “back then.”

The year of 2003 was an amazing period of gestation for life in 2022. Some ideas, products, concepts and visions were “spot on” and others were victims of poor judgement, limited tech and a total lack of common sense (see XM satellite radio reference below).

Motorola, founded in 1928, was trying to expand into areas it really had no business messing with. Short sighted administration of what they were actually good at, resulted in them being only a brand name subsidiary of a Chinese company. A historically important company is now nothing more than another American company being turned into nothing more than a marketing name like Packard Bell, Polaroid and Fisher.

Sony said we needed a low-definition mini DVD camcorder (DCR-DVD 300) that cost $1000.00 for the cheapest version that didn’t even have a one megapixel camera and a usable LCD screen. A fragile disk spinning at about 1600 rpm only a millimeter or so away from a laser isn’t the best choice for an action video camera.

Samsung introduces its first LCD computer monitors (Syncmaster 152N-$349, 172N-$599, 192N-$750) foretelling the demise of hernia inducing fifty-pound CRT monitors.

Monster Cable was in its heyday and actually had Earth, Wind and Fire perform at CES, if you were lucky enough to get a ticket … I wasn’t.

Camera manufacturers were saying that 2003 was going to be the year of the three mega-pixel digital camera. At that time a three+ mega-pixel with a decent lens could easily cost over a thousand bucks. Today you can’t even buy a $100 phone with specs that bad. Personal CD music players were still hot and were getting really cheap (<$70). Seventy-two percent of all homes owned two or more DVD players. Recordable CD’s and DVD’s were everywhere and Blu-ray was only on a blue print …

XM satellite radio came out with a boom box that couldn’t be used indoors. Satellite reception and an indoor boombox … am I the only one who sees a problem? The guy that greenlighted that idea probably got fired and went to Motorola, Nokia or helped Sony develop a DVD camcorder.

Jensen thought this was the solution for different sources of music in a car. How you’d drive fiddling with this half-thought out kluge still evades me.








Tablet PC’s averaged $2000 and PDA’s (remember these?) around $300.

Panasonic introduces the first one-gigabyte SD card … perfect for those three megapixel cameras.

This was becoming the year-of-the-flat-screen TV, and if you had a fat wallet, Optoma introduced the world’s largest 46” plasma for $6995. Yeah, I’d never heard of them before or after this show either.

Samsung, not to be denied the title of the craziest priced TV at the 2003 show, introduced a 46” LCD 720p (LTN-468W) television for an eye-watering $11,000 … this low level of TV performance isn’t even available at Walmart now.

Bill Gates opened the show with his keynote address oblivious to the tech around him showing him that Microsoft was already behind in technology …. Waaaay behind. In 2003, it was only a year away from Apple’s “Project Purple” which would change so much of how we live to this day … the iPhone.


Let’s jump forward a decade and see what’s different.

At the 2013 CES there was a huge scandal with uber-liberal “we know best” CBS suing Dish Network for devices that allow the “jump-past commercials” feature it acquired with the purchase of the bones of ReplayTv and that their satellite receiver allowed time-shifted viewing of recordings. Had these “good liberals” had succeeded, we wouldn’t be allowed to record a show to view at at later date.  This time-shift viewing was settled years earlier with the lawsuits over VCR’s, I guess they thought everyone forgot. The geniuses at CBS pressured CEDIA to remove Dish Networks receiver as the winner as “Product of the Year.” So much for free speech … I guess it only applies if you’re left-biased and love money more than your reputation or customers.

It was Polaroid’s 75th anniversary and amazingly, it still soldiers on to this day in one form or another.

Panasonic was the only TV company still mass-producing plasmas. They even made them in 32, 39, 42, 50, 55, 58 and 65″ models! Sadly, everyone else had phased them out or only had a few models remaining.

Amazingly, LG showed it’s first 1080p HD OLED sets … it seemed at the time they were “a day late and a dollar short” as the more common LCDs were displaying 4K sets, despite the fact there was zero, and I do mean zero, 4K content. There were still discussions whether to call it 4K or UHD … Notably, even in 2022 there’s not a single over-the-air 4K broadcast in the U.S. that I’m aware of.

LG was lamenting that customers weren’t using the smart features they began installing in their TV’s and was redesigning the interface. My question was this … how did they know? In China, your TV can rat you out for watching counter-revolutionary material and actually watch you with factory-installed cameras. I really don’t think LG is that voyeuristic, but to to this day, their EULA says if you connect your LG smart TV to the web and use its features, they have the right to see what you’ve been watching, complete with screen captures … as shockingly intrusive/abusive/creepy as it is, at least they admit it upfront.

The top TV’s were Samsung’s, Apple had the top selling laptop, the best selling stereo receivers were made by Yamaha, the most popular headphones were made by Monster who had Alicia Keys perform at the show and the top selling portable radio was Sony … that pretty much says it all about what has happened to Sony.

My choice for the dumbest “tech” item of the year, and I still stand by that decision now, is the “smart fork”. You can read my review of it in the December 2013 blog. I’m betting you’ll agree after you read it

I picked the “plasma” treating process for electronics such as your smartphone & your car’s computers … it renders them impervious to water as the most significant winner, but bizarrely even I underestimated the greed of the electronic manufacturers. The axiom they apparently have is: if it gets wet, it dies and the customer HAS to buy another one. Literal waterproofing of anything electronic, which today costs about a nickel per piece, is still a “no-brainer”. Would you pay a nickel more for your smartphone to be absolutely 100% waterproof? You’d think that of all the manufacturers, it’d be Apple who would be the first to adopt this tech to “save the planet” … but once again, it’s about the money stupid. Greenbacks over fake ethics …

I can’t help but wonder if the inventors in 2013 considered just how big tech/media would try to crush any product/idea that they deemed a threat … For every couple steps forward tech takes, there’s always someone who may try to crush advances like CBS or Toyota. But time is against them unless people are willing to go backwards in tech …

I just don’t see people lining up to ditch their smartphones or Teslas.

“Teslageschwindigkeit” … will it displace “Gesundheit” as the most common German word?

Last Saturday brought a new member to our family … after almost a year wait, we have a new Tesla Model Y Long Range to park next to my Model 3 Performance. So, it’s goodbye to our beloved AMG-equipped Mercedes.

While the M-B still is a fantastic ride, it feels like an anachronism when you drive it … as though you’ve stepped back to an earlier time when gas powered cars reached their pinnacle. I’m so surprised even though I’ve been driving an electric car for only a year, that the Mercedes feels so old. It didn’t when I ordered my first Tesla. Is this what people felt when they got their first telephone instead of using mail? Regardless, the difference is stunning … despite the power of the M-B, it feels amazingly slow and more like a museum piece. I assumed I’d be going for Tesla’s $2000 optional “acceleration boost”, and I was wrong. I’m having a bit of worry thinking if everyone had a car this quick, there’d be more accidents until folks realized they had to use more common sense. This kind of power was previously only reserved for sports cars … even the so called “supercars” … and this is a “grocery-getter.” OMG!


This 2022 Model Y has the new upgraded computers, so I may be ordering a new Model 3 Performance with the upgraded computers, after seeing how amazing it is. It’s essentially using the chips normally used in gaming rigs, so it’s crazy fast. No other car in existence has ever had this level of computing power before. Incredibly smooth screen, responsiveness and sheer speed of performance reminds me of an Alienware laptop more than a car screen. While every car tester/reviewer complains about the screens for every other electric car, Tesla again shows the world how it’s supposed to done. The performance difference between the Porsche screen and Tesla is laughable. The screens in VW’s and Toyota’s are almost unusable in comparison.

While I’m a sports car “kinda” guy, I have to admit this Model Y may the most perfect everyday car.     If you can only have one car, this should be it. No wondering it’s already sweeping the world as the best-selling car in many countries. Not electric car, but best-selling car, period. A digital car for a digital world …

Musk says that the upcoming truck will be truly game-changing … I can’t even guess how much better it’ll be. Interestingly, while picking the new “Y” up, I met a guy getting his fifth new Tesla and he has SIX trucks on order. Tesla cars seem to breed these kind of people … true believers. I wish I could jump a decade into the future and see what Musk has done.

The Germans have a new special phrase now … “Teslageschwindigkeit” … translated, it’s called “Tesla Speed”, which means the future is coming in on Musk’s schedule … and he has his foot planted to the floor of a speeding Tesla. Somehow, that expression makes sense on several different levels.

If Johannes had only known …

A big upgrade for my 3D printing habit … a new model capable of printing in two colors or different materials at the same time. Amazon had the Sovol SV04 model I was looking for, on sale for Prime Day, which saved me bucks … quoting the jailbird Martha, that’s a good thing.


All my older printers are restricted to a single filament at a time, and for 90% of my printing, it was enough. But as for more complicated prints that required dissolvable supports for the item I’m printing, a dual-filament printer (IDEX) is mandatory. Imagine the letter “U” upside down … you can’t print the curved portion when there is nothing underneath it, so a disposable scaffolding (supports) section is needed to hold it up in the middle. There are filaments used for supports that dissolve in water or chemicals, leaving a perfectly smooth area where they were previously attached. This is exactly how NASA built a missing wrench on the ISS for a mission that would have mandated a rocket launch to replace, by simply emailing them the build file. And yes, you can get that free file and print it at home with the Soval SV04. Think about that for a moment …

This unit also has auto bed-leveling, which is a blessing as it almost guarantees a level build surface. You can imagine how your build would look if it wasn’t. Imagine your residence built on a slant … you get the idea. It also protects the build in case the power goes off or you run out of filament mid-print. It will start again exactly where you left off. Normally, this means a print is headed for the garbage.

It’s definitely not a beginner’s model as there are literally almost an infinite number of settings that can be altered to tailor a perfect print. And when you’re a newbie, you absolutely don’t want/need this. But eventually as you get deeper into the skillset, you’ll need something more capable. Having owned several printers over the years, even I was taken aback by the number of options. One of the unique things of an IDEX printer is the ability to print two different (or identical things) simultaneously, or even print a mirror image.

You need to have the room for this particular model as it’s about a yard tall with filament rolls installed and therefore quite impossible to deny to my spouse I’ve gotten “another one.”  And the build bed needs around 30 inches of clearance for its fore & aft movement. Yes, it’s a big one …

Despite there being so many models of 3D printers, essentially almost all are based on just a couple of brands and this one is roughly based on “Creality’s” offerings. It has a few tweaks that I preferred and the reviews, including my unpaid one, are very positive. Very literally, it can hold its own against printers at three to four times more money. IMHO, I believe this one of the very best models in its segment.

Prints, after setup/calibration, are darn near perfect. It doesn’t seem to care about the material used (PLA, TPU, TPE, HIPS, ABS, PETG, WOOD, PC, PA, PVA, ASA), but if you’re looking for a chocolate printer, this isn’t it. Joking aside, if you need to print plastic-infused metals like copper/bronze/steel/brass/iron you either have to mod the Sovol or use a more specialized printer. At the very least you need to upgrade the heated nozzle to accept the abrasive metal filaments.        I’d recommend stainless steel, nickel-plated brass (better heat transfer), or other hardened alloys, since brass nozzles wear out much faster from abrasion.

I sincerely feel I’ve entered a new chapter in 3D printing with the Sovol. Prints that were simply not possible due to size/filament restrictions are now only a few yards of filament away …

I really don’t think the 15th Century polymath Johannes Gutenberg could have dreamed his mechanical ink printer would morph from printing ideas, to actual things.

What is past is prologue

A dozen years ago I tried out (and blogged about) the newest wireless internet access system called “Clear” using “Wi-Max” that eliminated cable/ISDN/satellite connections and promised unlimited download limits along with decent, if not terribly impressive speeds, and an added plus was that it was cheaper than my current provider. Using an external modem, I simply put it near a window and it would tie into my router via ethernet. But, the biggest thumbs-up was that I could cut the cord with the hated Comcast system. Sadly, it was a total disaster …

Fast forward to 2022, and the wireless companies are constantly screaming the 5G!!! network is the answer to internet access for the home, and T-Mobile’s offering of what “Clear” failed at. On paper it seemed too good to be true … by late Dad always said “there’s no Santa Claus” … what a prescient phase that turned out to be. T-Mobile’s 5G half-priced offering compared to Xfinity was steeped in problems from the moment I opened the box. I found they had either glued in the SIM card or it was soldered in.  Regardless, the new wireless 5G modem was DOA without a removable SIM card to access their network as the modem couldn’t access it without having the SIM card moved/replaced/rebooted. I had a hunch that this wasn’t going to be the last time I’d be talking to their tech folks who clearly knew less, (much, much less) than I did about their own product. Solution? Send a new one … that only took ten days and more phone calls. The new unit worked, sort of … compared to my Note 20 Ultra as a hotspot, it was barely passable as broadband. Then the fun began when I tunneled into it to shut off ports and such. T-Mobile doesn’t want you to be capable of accessing that feature on their modem, so they lock you out. That forces you to use their system, basically unprotected, at the modem level. That’s simply unacceptable as I’ve seen as many as 10,000 probing attacks against my IP from fun places like Russia and China … in ONE day. The T-Mobile tech read from a script while I described the issue … they literally had no clue about what I was talking about. Their resolution? Five+ days later their solution showed up and still didn’t work … more calls and I decided I didn’t need any additional grey hair. So as per my conversation with their “tech”, I returned it to the closest T-Mobile store only to be told they could only allow a single item return at their stores, and I’d have to find a box, pack it and drive to a UPS store … my experiment with T-Mobile allowed me to hear my Dad’s voice as clearly as he was standing in front of me … after an hour of waiting for help in the store, I wanted to say “do I look like I work for UPS?”  My sarcasm obviously wouldn’t be productive, so the “Great Box Search” began. There’s no happy ending here as the concept of viable wireless internet access is still as fruitless as it was in 2010. No wonder they say Musk is a genius, because other than politicians, no one gets hated upon deservedly as much as TV and internet providers … he’s trying to fill that void with Starlink … sigh … if only it was available in my area. I’ve a feeling we’ll see footprints on Mars before this is solved …

The Future is Measured in Volts


April 7, 2022 for Tesla is a watershed moment as this was the official opening date of the Tesla Austin Gigafactory. Although Mr. Musk didn’t grace me with an invite, I attended all the other events (including TeslaCon) meeting the fanatical (occasionally nuts) Tesla owners, YouTube “celebrities” and visited all the “earth-friendly” displays at these events.  The “earth-friendly” folks actually believe they’re saving earth, they just want to do that by selling you a $7,500.00+ electric bicycle to drive to your office 25 miles away in the rain/100 degree heat. Then they leave in a HUGE nine-MPG air-conditioned diesel truck with their planet saving bike in the rear, for a 2,000+ mile trip to Oregon … wearing $350 Chinese-made Nikes and drinking from disposable plastic bottles and carrying away their huge polyethylene tents and plastic tables.

Anyway, I digress … the energy at these events was amazing and the owners, without exception, are the “true believers” of Tesla. Most are stock holders and many have Tesla solar roofs/panels/powerwalls and came to experience the largest gathering of Tesla owners in the world. The common consensus among these folks is that Tesla/SpaceX/Boring/Neuralink/OpenAI is the future, and are excited to be part of it. You can feel that something truly amazing is happening and we are fortunate to be alive to see it … Musk is giving humanity the kick in the ass it needs to jump forward.


My trip from the Houston area, around Austin and back home wound up costing me exactly $12.78 in electricity, where as one of my other cars, at four dollars a gallon, would have cost just under a hundred bucks (excluding Mercedes-Benz maintenance). My biggest expense with the Tesla was the hotel parking at almost $60, and about 20 minutes of my time at a Tesla Supercharger, which was actually interesting as the other cars being charged had owners wanting to talk about how much they love their cars. Experiencing all the events truly laid bare how antiquated gasoline-powered cars are. There are some folks who will laugh at this as they “rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic,” but every day makes you realize just how much better the all-electric Teslas are, over any car, at any price, you’ve ever owned. Hopefully, this new factory will cut delivery times as the order of a new Model Y has about a one year wait. Worth noting, that the new top-of-the-line, $119,000+ Jeep will literally drop several tens of thousands of dollars the very moment you drive it over the curb as opposed to a Tesla that may be worth as much as ten to fifteen thousand more than you paid for it.

Yeah … ain’t gas-powered cars great?

Just a FYI: Porsche just released their $450,000 street-legal racing supercar, and that has been already beaten by a $60,000 Tesla with $3,000 of upgraded brake pads and tires … Porsche’s gas-powered car is dial-up internet, in a Tesla fiber-optic world.

As I’ve said repeatedly, tech waits for no one …

Giga is the correct word for the new Tesla factory in Austin

I had a chance to fly over and around the Texas Tesla Giga factory with my fancy drone and that name seems more appropriate now that I’ve seen it in person. It came be seen in the distance due to its sheer size as we drove to it. I had to go there in a Tesla of course, as anything else is tech-blasphemy. I may post a “Star Wars” version of it … sort of like the opening scene when the evil battleship is shown passing by … it really is that crazy.

The ride there almost never touching the steering wheel was far more relaxing than my normal driving habits. Tesla has the car speed limited while under “Autopilot” mode and even though I was slower than the surrounding traffic (85+ mph, or waaay more, after all, it is Texas), for the first time it didn’t really bother me. For someone who has only owned sportscars/supercars/ponycars my entire life, being the slowest guy didn’t bother me.  This is really hard to explain as it wasn’t expected or wanted since I didn’t get my first Tesla to be “green” or any other such nonsense. I bought it specifically because of what it could do performance-wise. The performance is stunning, easily surpassing Ferraris and Porsches at four times the price, and yet with so much usability and practicality. Had I been in my thirsty Dinan-modified BMW M3 my fuel cost would have been easily over $200 for this trip … with the Tesla … it was zero. The parking lot cost for dinner that night cost more than 400+ miles of driving. I had free Tesla Supercharging that made the entire trip amazingly painless. I’d hate to be in any other electric car and have to hunt for a charging station, which are still relatively rare, and even more rare is a working one. Some estimates are as high as 90% of non-Tesla chargers DON’T work in most US markets. Every time I take a long trip in it, I’m more amazed … even when I have to begin paying for the Tesla Superchargers, the amount is trivial compared to a gas car. And despite the folks who may say “electric cars may be great, but they just won’t work for me because (insert your own answer here … I’ve heard them all … and they’re all wrong).

I did take the leap into the unknown buying a Tesla, and I never expected that I would fall in love with a car so completely. I just can’t wait to see what they do next … Hopefully at the world’s largest owners gathering at “Teslacon” in April, we’ll have a roadmap of the future.


Pics from the 2022 CES that were interesting … part two

This is Vinfast from Vietnam and I have to admit, the build quality was almost “Mercedes-quality”.    The panel gaps and overall impression of their cars was extremely positive and impressive. I’ve never seen ANY American car with this kind of build quality and that includes US-made Japanese vehicles. Far less bucks than almost any other electric car maker for an alternative to regular gas-powered cars for customers that aren’t looking for something like a cutting-edge Tesla. Think “Toyota Camry or SUV” for the masses using batteries … absolutely exciting as a refrigerator … for people who just want transportation and couldn’t care less about the driving experience or features … but are tired of maintenance and paying for gas. As is the case for most of the new electric cars, they blatantly rip-off the appearance of the Tesla screen and that’s a good thing. They are coming to the US this year supposedly, and I haven’t a clue on their reliability or of any of the other 100+ new electric car startups. But I have to admit, for the market they are aiming for, they hit the bullseye.



Although not as exciting as a Taser spoon, this company came to the right place for tech-weirdness.   I can only assume their market is the perpetually late riser for work who only had time for coffee and dreams of fruit …

Pics from the 2022 CES that were interesting… part one

This is just a few pictures I found interesting … or confusing.


Robots were everywhere, and essentially useless for a home despite what they were saying.














An electric motorcycle from Canada that literally costs as much a Tesla … who thought this was a good idea?




Uhhhhhh … perhaps they could pick a different image not so invoking of the Bezos flying p…s



The new Togg electric car from Turkey. What could possibly go wrong with this? Beautiful, but I can only imagine the phone calls to customer service in a language that only lags behind Finnish in utter “gibberish-ish” for an English-only speaker.


CES 2022 – Covid edition

In my 20+ years of attending the CES show in Vegas, this one will go down as the strangest ever. Ranging from bizarre Covid rules and its utter lack of common sense, having to deal with Biden and his entourage in my hotel, and then the “silver lining” of finding the singularly coolest thing I’ve ever seen at a show.

There were a few items that for some unknown reason, seemed almost everywhere in the show … dog monitoring collars and robots of every style, most of which seemed utterly ludicrous for their uses. Most of the robots reminded me of an old patent from the 1930s for a machine that dunked your donut in your coffee for you. Ah yes, they were that helpful.

The show entry requirements were the strictest I’ve ever encountered and the most counterintuitive at the same time. Mandatory “CLEAR” app, vaccination and masks … but, CTA decided to shorten the show by a day. That caused the attendees that had flown in from across the globe to panic and jam in much, much more closely as they couldn’t space the show out over an additional day. That meant crowds where there shouldn’t have been. That in turn caused the few remaining exhibitors to panic on the last day and begin packing up early. Some people were so freaked out by the media hype that “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!” that one guy decided that he needed gear appropriate for the moon for his safety. And yes, even in the world’s largest high-tech show, where weirdness is a staple of the industry, people were laughing …




















As a Tesla owner, I was really excited to finally ride in the Elon Musk tunnel.  I thought it would be a true thrill … I was wrong, because that was the wrong way to look at it. I considered that when using public transportation, I don’t want excitement. I want efficiency and safety. (And oh yes, free … because free is good.)  That’s precisely what I got. The typical Musk haters were saying things that only a true low-information Musk-hater could say, because the tunnel was an absolute model of safety/comfort/speed. Reading the negative comments about it made me shake my head.



BMW showed a car wrapped in eInk similar to what an Amazon Kindle uses. Except the installation of this unique material, at the world’s largest high-tech show, was clearly handled by a ten-year old as it was peeling off and bubbling everywhere as a clear demonstration of what is happening at BMW.      As usual they had excellent snacks, but that didn’t hide how their cars reeked of old tech when you sat in their latest designs. As an decades old BMW fan/owner, this sadly showed me just how far behind Tesla the company has fallen. The entire display was, to put it politely, a mess of awful “art” and other things that simply didn’t belong at a tech show.  If you weren’t told that you were in a BMW display, you’d have no idea. I was struck with the feeling that maybe they forgot they were going, and just took whatever they could get their hands on. Quite frankly, I was shocked that they showed their “latest” car. It reminded of just an “ok” car from 1998, with imitation carbon fiber stickers on the door sills and cheap materials inside … not a tech/performance marvel like the Tesla that is poised to overtake them in world sales in late 2022 or early 2023, as Tesla possibly will with Mercedes and Kia.



Samsung showed a fun item called the “Freestyle.” A fully self-contained $900 HD projector that had multiple optional adapters that allowed it be used in ways you’ve probably never imagined. You could mount it on a little stand to project on your desk/table in lieu of a normal monitor or attach the light bulb screw-in adapter to project whatever you want below, such as the floor or simply use it for movies. Projecting onto any surface doesn’t get any simpler than this. Regardless, it looked like a fun addition for any geek.



Now comes the unveiling of the undisputed winner of the show and you’ll understand why I believe it is, to date, the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen at the show. You’ll be amazed also because I’m one of this company’s harshest critics for their boneheaded decisions causing it to slide into mediocrity. Sony displayed their satellite … no big deal, right?  However, this isn’t like any other EVER launched.  These new low-orbit satellites (there may be as many as four) are fully controllable by ANYONE!  You can access it for 10 minutes a time to point it anywhere you want, zoom in/out and take picture and videos. This has NEVER been available to individuals, only governments and the occasional academic. With gyros to maneuver the camera, which uses zero physical fuel, and amazing tiny thrusters to keep the satellite itself in a low earth orbit (LEO) and prevent it from heading to a flaming destruction on reentry … it promises another stepping stone for “regular” folks into space.

In another example of the democratization of space, I was told that it may be Musk’s privately-owned SpaceX launching it into orbit.



And finally …

Every show has items that make you wonder if the “inventor” showed his latest gadget just to evoke giggles.

I watched the inventor as he dipped his “special” spoon into yogurt, and watched the look on his face when it began shocking him.  Apparently, even he hasn’t adjusted to having his tongue “electrically stimulated” to improve the flavor of food. He visibly winced when the volts hit … then he had to fight gagging when he dug back in for another go. I quickly stepped back … after all, I didn’t want to wear yogurt spit on my freshly-pressed slacks for the rest of the day. One must ask … exactly how is a Taser spoon going to help your meal? But as I said many times before, you can’t stop progress.        So, I guess we’ll be carrying a battery to dinner to recharge our silverware for a multi-course meal.   Or will you be a pretender and use only a dead battery version when in polite company?

Is he hoping that there will be a Tesla-branded version?  So many options …

Regardless, when queried, he said his strawberry yogurt tasted like chicken. (Insert you own joke here.)

I walked away as I was bent over and choking on laughter … he didn’t notice, though his eyes were excruciatingly wide-open when the spoon’s voltage screamed “let’s dance MF’er” … and he obeyed as his face pulsed with voltage …


Back to the Future in 2022

As much as I look forward to attending the 2022 CES in person after last years’ hiatus, I find I enjoy it more when I reflect on where the tech industry was a decade previously. CES 2012 was more of an incremental type of show, however there were a few items of substantial importance and one of incredible impact.

This was the year of Tesla introducing the Model S, their first whole car of their own design and build … and my god, it was awful. The blog I wrote at the time is still available on this site. But, let’s just cut to the chase … it was a horrible car. The construction was pathetic and I kept wondering why on earth they would choose to show such “construction horribilis” in a world-wide exhibit that showcased their ineptitude.

(this is the actual original brochure from the show)

I wasn’t kind in my description at the time and that opinion still stands for their 2012 model … jump to 2021 and now I own one with two more on order. It’s the most fantastic car I’ve ever owned and I’ll never buy another gas-powered car again.

The CEO of Ford and Mercedes were at the 2012 show and I’m absolutely certain they weren’t impressed either … now the current CEO’s are freaking out over Tesla’s success and tech as they fall behind at an increasing rate daily.

Amazingly Nokia won “Best of Show” for their Lumina 900 phone. I doubt if any GenZ people even know who they are today.

Samsung showed their 1st OLED TV and promised it was going on sale shortly … they lied. They discovered they didn’t have the technical expertise that LG had and canceled production.

At CES 2012 they unveiled the “Eureka Park” section that highlighted only startup companies … this is my fav part of CES today, as it embodies what tech can do to improve lives and is where the actual future can be glimpsed. Of the 88 companies shown at that show, I’m not aware of even a single survivor however.

The top consumer electronics companies in the world were, in decreasing order, GE, Samsung and Sony. Apple was in 11th place and is first today with Samsung still in 2nd

Apple’s newest phone was the “4” … remember it? No? It was one of the last, smaller iPhones and was a huge improvement over the cool, but slow, 3GS model. I’ve always thought the 3GS was the first serious iPhone, and have one to this day in my collection. But the “4” displayed the true usefulness of a smart phone.

Tablets were new and Apple didn’t even release their first iPad until March … at the time of the show, Android tablets were the only choice and Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) was the OS.

The TV manufacturers were unhappy with less than expected sales of 3D, backlit and smart televisions. While 3D is clearly gone, it’s almost impossible today to buy a large TV without the other two.

Basically, if you bought a camera that wasn’t a fancy model, it was a 16mp model for a couple of hundred bucks.

Of course, it isn’t CES without a few weird things … a company called Ecko Unltd showed a portable speaker that looked like a spray can and somehow, they thought that’s important.

I’m considering doing a 20-year anthology for future CES in addition to the ten-year edition … it really shows how our lives are not just different, but radically changed due to advancing tech … for better or worse. Tech, like essentially everything else, can advance the human condition (Tesla) or be a cancer eating away at people’s lives (Facebook) … it’s up to each of us to choose how we embrace the future. If you can’t look back, you’re blind as to what’s coming, and, if it’s actually valuable or damaging.

I’ve said it a thousand times …”tech waits for no one.”

360 degree headache

While at CES I always love using the 360 degree VR goggles and seeing the world in a whole new way. While you can use your mobile and sheets of cardboard to make them, it really ain’t the same. The CES demos are always impressive and have huge lines to experience the VR world through a purpose-made headset. The defacto VR standard is the now “not-a-start-up” Oculus brand. Started in 2012 and sold to perpetually privacy-stealing Facebook for 2.3 billion dollars. Forget the reviews you may see … here’s the truth.


As I got a good deal (I never use disingenuous “free, or on-loan items”) on the newest version of the Oculus headset, it seemed the time to try it in the wild, so to speak, rather than a one-off show model. The unboxing looked promising with a nice presentation after opening the box. It was all downhill after that. First, Facebook mandates you have an account with them to track EVERYTHING you do with it. Secondly, it’s mucho uncomfortable and heavy to the point that I got a headache from the figurately cinderblock weight pulling my head down/forward and the blurry images. There is zero adjustment for focus, which automatically guarantees bad viewing and eye strain. And blurry it is … it uses Fresnel lenses which mandate absolutely NO movement on your head to see anything in some fashion of focus. If the headband isn’t crushing your skull, it won’t stay where the lenses allow you to have a modicum of visual clarity. Ok, this isn’t quite what I expected.


The Advils had better be close after thirty minutes of squinting and straining … I couldn’t find a single free viewing source that wasn’t blurred to the point of pain. Many times I couldn’t tell what was going on in the video except for the sound. Additionally, there are times where what you are trying to watch is behind you and there’s no way to pivot it around to where it’s comfortable for you watch despite using the controls that say it will. If you wear glasses, it gets worse … I felt like my face was in a heated vice with a huge weight pulling down on my neck muscles.

There are so many flaws: weight, heat, poor controls, blurry images, information-stealing, high purchase price. It just get worse after you realize that essentially Facebook has turned a potential life-experience sharing device into a crappy gaming machine. There are almost a total dearth of experiences beyond stupidly expense and boring games. After a very considerable period of time I found a Mount Everest and Florence video. The one from Italy showed in glaring detail the absolute failure of its promise. Having been there so many times that I’ve lost count, watching the walking tour and using my memory to fill in the blurred images, I was transported to my seat on a balcony overlooking the entrance to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and watching the crowds … Zuckerberg unsurprisingly managed to turn something potentially truly amazing, into a unmitigated mess.

Brandon says China first at any cost

We are now seeing a boom market in the stock market (for BEV production) that has only been seen once in my lifetime … the “dot-com” craze. But, unlike, this probably isn’t stopping. As I write this, in the last two weeks, Tesla has jumped nearly $400 a share. All stocks related to any aspect of BEV’s are rising. From chips to batteries, these are the hottest stocks since Apple. And unlike Apple, they’re not running out of gas. BYD (world’s 2nd largest BEV maker), Xpeng, Nio and other Chinese companies are growing as GM, Ford, Toyota, BMW and other car companies are completely freaking out as their market shrinks. Toyota and BMW are actually saying that buying BEV’s are actually bad, as they can’t compete with Tesla. Legacy car makers are poised to be crushed by cheaper non-union Chinese cars even as Congress tries to punish the most American car-maker … Tesla. As of this point, the trillion-dollar Tesla company is worth more than the other nine largest car companies … COMBINED. Musk is publicly mulling selling a tiny bit of his stock due to taxes, which ironically could buy a 50% stake in Ford. I don’t think he needs a hobby, which is what Ford would be for him.

So clearly, he knows how to make a business work, unlike government.

Instead of supporting Tesla, the Democrat congress and Biden is literally doing everything it can to hurt Tesla by trying to prop up the shoddy build-quality, union jobs by offering a “union-made tax credit.”. By doing this, they actually help the Chinese car companies by damaging the only American car company capable of competing with them. Wait, doesn’t Biden and his family have substantial business interests with the Chinese government? I’ve wondered why Tesla just doesn’t buy the mostly Mexican, Canadian and Chinese made GM and Ford brands to combat this. Fire everyone there and turn the plants into building something more modern like the upcoming $25,000 Tesla auto. This cuts the legs out from under Biden political cash cow, punishes the utterly corrupt Dems and forces the new employees to build something more worthy of “Made in the USA” moniker.

Ah, we can dream …

Is Musk, Mr. Ford reincarnated?

Looking at one of the biggest transitions in modern history is fascinating. I wasn’t alive when flying became possible for the masses or when Mr. Edison showed his light bulb. However, I’ve seen computers, jet planes, cell phones and the internet become old news. There are people in the job market who have never known a world without these items. So I can’t help but smirk that the bulk of Millennials and Gen-Z, who think they own the future, don’t see the next huge change in their lives … BEVs. (Battery Electric Vehicles)

I just took a trip to San Antonio in the new Tesla Model 3 and my total cost for travel was … zero. The parking garage I used had free charging. Had this been any of our other cars it’d have been easily well over $100. This is at a time where gas in California has hit $8.49 a gallon for “super.” I sincerely have to admit I didn’t expect it would be this painless using an electric car for long distance travel. The Model 3 charged so fast at a Tesla-only Supercharger stop that I couldn’t finish my sandwich. It really didn’t need the charge after only about 150 miles of travel, but I was curious about the experience. I would have stopped anyway after a few hours of driving. And it couldn’t have been more positive. Literally, I backed into a stall, stepped out and plugged in the Tesla charging plug and walked away through the other folks standing at the pumps paying almost four bucks a gallon for fuel for their pickups. I had to restrain a laugh at a few Hybrids buying gas. Twenty to thirty miles on purely electric is absurd and that’s why that market is dying and countries are revoking “green” vehicle status for them. It’s entirely feasible to travel coast-to-coast for zero dollars. I’d never do that as I absolutely don’t have the patience for using the slow(er) chargers. But, it IS possible. Previously, only the hobos trainhopping could do that. I don’t see this continuing to be as common in the future as more people discover the advantages of electric cars. But, for now at least, the owners of BEV’s are enjoying this gift. And we only have one person to thank for this … Elon Musk. Due to unions, oil companies and politicians this wouldn’t have happened in the lifespan of Boomers or Millennials … perhaps not even for the Gen-Z folks when they hit social security. That’s why this is so life-changing. No need for gas stations, mechanical repair places, mass petroleum drilling, people who make engine blocks and air filters and so many other ancillary businesses that I’ve lost count. In many ways, it’s as equally significant as when the car replaced the horse, and businesses created over a century ago from the rise of Ford, will simply disappear in just a few years. We’ve turned that corner, and now it’s unstoppable … the only question remains is which car companies will survive, and that’s worthy of several blogs. Right now, looking from a 2021 perspective and knowing what I do, darn few …

Ironically, I believe Henry Ford would understand.

Asleep at the Wheel

On September 30th, VW, the world’s largest car maker had an almost precedented occurrence … ALL of the top managers/executives in Germany were called in for can only be described as a true “Come to Jesus” moment. The CEO told all in attendance that VW is serious trouble. And I’m not talking about the bogus “diesel-gate” episode. The CEO explained that VW is so far behind Tesla that something has to be dramatically changed for them to survive. Tesla can produce three cars in the time it takes VW/Audi/Porsche to make a single car. And that single inferior car LOSES money for the VW group. Tesla’s cars, being better engineered, are hugely profitable and basically funds the entire Musk empire. The VW boss says he is tearing down the old VW factories and he hopes they can begin building electric cars in 2025! Not in the next few months, but almost half a decade in the future, IF everything goes to plan. One of the world’s top car engineers (Sandy Munro), if not “the” top guy, says that every car company in existence is five to ten years away from any kind of parity with Tesla today. Imagine where Tesla will be in just two years … It’s further proof that many of the car companies we have today, won’t exist in five to ten years. Toyota is frightened, as they literally have nothing to fall back upon, that they are trying everything it can through politics, lawsuits and PR to try to slow down the Tesla juggernaut. I always get amused when I talk about EV’s that some people say “it’ll never catch-on, or they’ll never drive one as it doesn’t meet their needs.” They may have not heard that almost every single car company on the planet has stated that they have set dates of total elimination of internal combustion engines (ICE). That’s a unimaginably huge problem as NO company has ANY infrastructure to support their electric cars … only Tesla started with the stations for their cars before mass production. That means in simple terms, ALL car companies will have to rely on somebody, somewhere to put a few charging stations available to the other brands. Tesla has almost 30,000 charging points exclusive to their cars. With the very probable failure of “Electrify America” as the lawsuit money is almost gone, it means an unmitigated disaster for every other car company. What good is their electric car that you can’t drive more than 50-100 miles from home with?

With literally almost no maintenance, incredibly cheap “electric fuel”, mind boggling performance, cutting-edge tech and the highest safety ratings that any car has ever achieved according to the NTSA, no wonder that the waiting list of several months for a new Tesla is getting longer daily. I’ve had Cadillacs that were “worn-out” and scrap pile worthy after only 70,000 easy miles … the projected lifespan (this is only speculative … that I’m currently aware of, that no Tesla has worn out yet under normal use, since the initial Model S production in 2012) is over 200,000 miles. When the new Tesla 46-80 batteries are in full production, the price for their batteries will plummet. So even when a car with +200,000 miles may need batteries, the replacement will be far, far cheaper than any other company and back on the road quickly as a new battery pack replacement only takes a couple of hours, for another 200,000 miles or even more as the Tesla battery-tech marches double-time forward into the future. Imagine you’re truly an amazing engineer … do you go to Ford/GM/VW or to the company that owns SpaceX, The Boring Company, Neuralink, OpenAI, Solar City and is branching into insurance, Tesla-branded stores, mass electric generation/storage, HVAC home systems, robotics and even electric quad-runners? Why work for Toyota or Ford, when they clearly don’t have a clue about what is happening to the car market or how to stop their share slide.

For a bit of fun perspective, Porsche’s car to compete with the $60k Tesla Model 3 performance is a $150,000+ car festooned with so many buttons/switches/panels that it looks like something out of a Mel Brooks’ sci-fi movie. In contrast, the Model 3 is more like a Japanese washitsu … stark, and yet functional. They certainly don’t want to compare the Porsche with the Tesla Plaid Model S as it’s the current world record holder for an unmodified, actual production car at the Nürburgring track in Germany, which is the world’s standard for measuring performance. And, it’s tens of thousands dollars cheaper. Just an FYI, the Plaid+ has been confirmed … yet more bad news for Porsche and Ferrari. There is a car company claiming that their car is faster by about one second (which has yet to produce a single car) for only 1.7 million dollars. This is a car, that the taxes alone for their completely hand-made 1.7 million dollar, two-person “supercar”, will buy the four-door, dog-friendly Tesla sedan. This shows again just how far EVERYONE is behind …

The new electric Mustang, using batteries that Ford has to buy from another company, has been involved in recalls and failed safety tests. The thing has over 60 feet of fluid tubing, four pumps and 37 connection points cobbled together to prevent the electrics from melting. Amazingly, this is considered the 2nd best system as the VW and others are far worse. The Tesla, on the other hand, has less than a third of the length of the Mustang tubes and almost no connectors. Apparently, “Job One” at Ford is seeing how many feet of rubber tubes they can jam into a bad design. Just wait until those 60+ feet of uniquely-shaped tubes and 37 connectors begin to go bad. Can you imagine the cost not just in parts, but in labor! Chevrolet is recalling ALL of its Bolts due to the company making their batteries not being able to stop the Chevy’s from spontaneously bursting into flames. And the Volt is now cancelled too. Chevrolet has no battery manufacturing plants and is hoping that the very company that made the defective batteries, will help them build batteries. This is the best that GM and Ford can do against Tesla, despite the fact that GM started building electric cars 25 years ago and then cancelled the production over the livid protests of the drivers! They decided there was no future for EV’s …

Does this mean we will see Tesla buying VW, Toyota or Ford and GM? Just a few months ago, Tesla became more valuable than Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes, and General Motors, plus China-based BYD and NIO brands … combined. They are well on track to be a multi-trillion dollar company and sales are continuing to decline for competitors. … currently, Tesla is worth MORE than ten times the value of GM and almost 16 times the value of Ford. The value of their stock is projected to hit $4000 (approx. four trillion dollars) … should that actually occur, that would mean Tesla is worth more than the top ten car companies … combined. Now, you see why every car company is freaking out? In some countries, such as Norway, more people buy Teslas, than all other EV car companies by huge margins …. And it’s the number one selling car, EV or gas, at almost a third of all sales in September alone. Tesla is also the number one EV seller in Spain and Israel by large margins. The new German plant will open in a few more months, so these numbers will jump in 2022 and simply leave all other companies choking on their dust. This combined with the Texas plant opening in a few weeks will mean Tesla selling about 20% as many cars as VW … that’s between 2 and 2.5 million cars. And, they will have done this with the Model 3 and Y in less than four years, with only four factories. Toyota sells ten million cars a year using over 100 plants and currently, not a single one makes EV’s. And, no other company has even the remotest ability to make the batteries, or amounts required to match the Tesla-produced ones.

As I’ve said repeatedly before, tech waits for no one … someone should have told that to VW and Toyota … reminds of an old favorite band of mine, “Asleep at the Wheel.”

UPDATE 10/25/2021 – The current waiting list for some of the cars has now hit eleven months! Crazily, some are worse … my tri-motor Cybertruck delivery is scheduled for Oct 27th …. 2024!!!! The price for this Cyberbeast is in “flux” … in other words, who knows? We’re considering another Tesla for my wife, and I’m thinking a Plaid Model S may be necessary as a replacement for my Model Performance 3. But the wait for a long-range Model Y is a minimum of TEN months. Yes, that’s a long time … but not as long as waiting for anything else from any other company that’s as good as a 2016 Tesla. Tech and time wait for no one …

Stealerships Vs. Musk

I finally was able to pick my Model 3 performance at the Tesla “facility” as they aren’t allowed to have an actual dealership/stealership in Texas because Musk (rightfully) refused to play the well-established corruption game as it’s played in Texas. The state bans all manufacturers from selling direct to the public so that the “stealers” can really get rich at the publics’ expense. I was in this business for years, and saw firsthand, the games that the car dealerships play. Quite simply, it only exists to extract more money from customers … in other words, if customers don’t have a huge budget for lobbyists, like car dealerships do, possibly doing things that might be illegal or at the very least disreputable, it’s certain that those customers are going to pay more. It’s easier to pay bucks to a political campaign and be “protected” rather than to be honest about what the dealerships are doing and passing a bill to stop it. Why this hasn’t been contested in court is absolutely beyond belief … This has been going on so long that Texans accept this as normal … but, it’s not … they’re using politicians to keep them rich by allowing practices that every new car buyer has experienced, for already crazy-priced new cars. In insane California, at least they DO allow direct sales. It’s shocking that a deep-red state like Texas would allow this level of blatant legalized theft. It’s such a restraint of trade that it beggars belief … but in Texas apparently you can buy yourself a protected business free of any real competition. Does anyone honestly believe the few dealers don’t have an “under-the-table” agreement to fix pricing?  As I said earlier, I was in the biz … and the answer is yes. As more stealerships are owned by a rapidly shrinking number of owners, prices go up. That’s just common sense … a monopoly means you pay more … it’s just simple economics. Musk simply bypassed this nonsense by using the web and using a delivery service to bring your out-of-state purchase to Texas. Yes, you have fixed prices, but the pricing for what you get is more than fair. Buy a new GM or Ford product and when you roll over the curb, your new baby loses 10 to 20% of value … A used Tesla costs MORE than a new one, sometimes, a lot more. The wait, as of this writing, for the Tesla “S” is EIGHT months!  If the Feds pass a new tax credit for electric cars, it’s been predicted that the wait will probably be over a year for ANY Tesla model.  My Cybertruck order very probably won’t be fulfilled until 2023 or 2034. Inferior products, old tech and the “good old boy network” guarantees people realizing they are being screwed and they don’t have to play the dealership games any longer. A better product, bought simply with cutting edge tech that’s been shown to be a full decade more advanced than even Porsche or Mercedes can provide could change the unsavory way Texans have to buy new cars. The sales show the number of people fleeing traditional cars is well on a pace to make the Model 3/Y the largest selling cars in history.

But all is not perfect in Musk’s Tesla vision. There is NO phone number to speak with ANYONE at Tesla. You are at the mercy of emails. Under his program, you do things at his pace, not yours, and you have ZERO input. The payment to hold your spot in line is simple enough, but if you find a savvy owner, he can tell you how you can cut weeks off your delivery dates. While the cars are, to put it simply, just fantastic, it’s not all beer and skittles. The process of delivery, to put it very mildly, is hairpulling. There are seemingly endless lists of things to do that are required by Tesla … skip one or don’t do it in time and your order is canceled. I was threatened on more than a few occasions by Tesla HQ that if I couldn’t pick the car up on the EXACT date and time they demand, my car (which was already fully paid/insured) will be given to the next person in line. Even after explaining that I was going to be out of town for a week, they said it didn’t matter … they will NOT hold the car. Only after I went to the facility in person and with extreme effort restrained my anger, did they pay attention … but the threats continued unabated from Tesla HQ by phone and emails. Only after I finally did lose my temper, did the local facility agree to hold the car regardless of what I’m being told by Tesla HQ. In this respect, it was the worst buying experience of my life. It’s a vague, impersonal, frustrating, moronic process that didn’t have to be that way.

But, here’s the twist … I don’t blame Musk … I blame the state of Texas.

In my opinion, this mafia-like corruption that the state allows by banning direct purchases is at fault. Since there is NO ONE in any position of actual authority in Texas for a company bursting with orders, it’s going to create huge problems. Tesla can’t run an actual dealership, with sales consultants (who, incidentally currently receive no commissions), finance/registration departments and a service department where you can talk to a service manager and buy official Tesla parts. Instead, you wind up with an absolute mess for customers which is exactly what the stealers want. Can you imagine trying to hawk a Nissan, Lexus or Dodge that technically is ten to fifteen years old compared to the amazing, rolling electric wonderland that is Tesla, on a level playing field?  Hopefully, this will force an unexpected/unintended victory for consumers that wouldn’t have happened without Musk.

And people think going to space is complicated …

Did Musk forget to pay the bill?

I hope the irony of this isn’t lost on you. I just received an email from Tesla that I won’t be able to pick up my new car tomorrow, because the electricity is OUT at the dealership. ‘Nuff said. Let the laughing begin.

Taking a leap of Faith

It’s becoming patently obvious that the electric car is going mainstream. Admittingly, the new electric Mustang is an overwhelmingly awful decision by Ford, but, it signals a surrender by them to the reality that gas-powered cars are “on their way out.” As a certified geek, one must have the hottest tech … and there is literally nothing hotter than Tesla right now. For an example, a one-year-old used Tesla Model 3, sells for MORE than it costs buying it straight from the factory new! Only Ferrari could previously boast this. So, out comes the checkbook. But, the buying experience is nothing I want to go through again. The best description of the buying process is clumsy, impersonal in the extreme, vague, confusing and uninspired. The dealers don’t even have business cards as to “save the planet.” I’m here to buy a car, I don’t think eliminating a few grams of paper filled with useful info, qualifies as saving anything but money for Musk.

I’m not sure how a probable 5,000+ lbs. tri-motor truck saves the planet, but I guess we’ll see. With a couple of Tesla’s on order currently, I can only hope that the new Tesla manufacturing plant in Austin is done soon. I’m being told by Tesla that the truck I ordered probably won’t be delivered until 2023 or 2024. Who knows how the car market will have changed by that time.

In “geek time”, that’s more than a lifetime.

Faraday, nah … Tesla was the better choice for a name

When Tesla first began, I wasn’t a fan to say the least. Having borderline Yugo build quality & with some of the interior materials used, to put it mildly, being utter trash. If we’re totally honest, literal indoor/outdoor carpet, peeling dash materials and dripping glue everywhere don’t inspire confidence in build quality. The ones I saw at CES stunned me with build ineptitude. Fast forward to today and things have changed, in a good way. They rely on Mercedes Benz now for much of the car and it shows. From a personal connection to MB over decades, I can tell you those folks know a thing about quality. If you drive a MB, you’ll be able to pick out the parts at a glance.

Today I drove another new Tesla (the 3 performance model) and there wasn’t a single rattle or squeak and although the carpet definitely isn’t MB quality, it’s better than the Home-Depot outdoor patio stuff they used earlier. The car felt more solid than my current Cadillac (more on that later.) The power was hugely addictive, and despite being capable of humbling Ferraris and Lambos at a stoplight with ease, it can be so mild that it acts like a grandmothers’ grocery-getter. The interior is “California-chic” which means an almost Japanese-esc vibe of austerity. Just a big tablet in the center and an odd control here and there … Sometimes good, sometimes annoying, like when you just want to open the glovebox … Do I really need to go though a menu?

The Musk-mandated electromagnetic regenerative braking does take a bit of practice to keep it from throwing anyone not wearing a seatbelt, through the windshield if you jerk your foot off the gas quickly. Setting aside the antiseptic-styled interior and the regenerative braking, it drives like any other car you’ve ever driven. But the power … OMG, the power. You don’t have to slam your foot down to pass as ALL the torque it has, is always available instantly. No production car, of any price or marque, is as instantly powerful as this … period.

I must admit I love the prospect of never visiting a gas station again, and filling the batteries to max capacity of over 300 miles for only about seven bucks. In comparison, my Shelby (which could only out-accelerate the Tesla when equipped with slicks at a race track) would require 47 gallons of premium gas and four cans of octane booster at $15 a pop, to get a total range of about 40 miles … now that’s real range anxiety. This is assuming I could get it to go in a straight line as it’s as happy going in circles if you blink … So tech comes to the auto geek world with a vengeance using essentially the same 18650 lithium battery cells I have in flashlights. Doing a kilowatt to horsepower/torque conversion, after testing by independent source, we’re talking about a verified 523HP and 707ft/lbs … that’s a leather wrapped, air-conditioned dog-hauler that will literally suck the headlights, even driving backwards, out of a new Corvette with your grandmother driving.

I could literally pen a tome about the experience of driving one … But one thing is clearly obvious, the future is electric. I’ve gone from a harsh critic to true believer … for whatever perceived problems electric autos may have, as nothing is totally perfect, Musk has shown the world what the future will be, just like Steve Jobs. I know there’s no such thing as man-made climate change, oil shortages or any other chicken-little rant that can be made to stop the use of petroleum unless we prefer the Dark Ages again, but when a particular tech is better, it simply is … Laconically put, I’m having a hard time seeing any future for gas/diesel transportation for personal transportation in just a few years. I’m waxing romantically even now for the passing of what powered America for over a century, but as I’ve stated in a previous post, you can’t stop progress.

Because of this drive I took today, tomorrow, the Cadillac goes away, making it probably the final new, petroleum-powered car, I’ll ever purchase again. Who would have thought that 20 years ago? When I drove the legendary GM EV-1 in the late 90’s I could see the potential despite the typical, unrelenting GM problems … In five to ten years, today will be the “good ‘ol days”, when it comes to driving using gasoline. Get nostalgic now, for tech waits for no one …

Where is the volume knob???

I’ve been on a quest for so many years that I’ve lost count for the best IEMs (in-ear-monitor) for the bucks. Maybe, just maybe, it’s been found.

I’ve personally had 40+ earbuds/IEMs in this search. Just a FYI, I refer to standard, unimpressive versions as “earbuds or buds”, because an IEM isn’t the same … it’s such a different level of performance. A la’ Prius vs. Porsche. And yes, I’m really picky after all the years I’ve spent in tech.

I’ve had some great headphones from Klipsch, and they are always a good buy, but for an affordable noise-blocking IEM, the Tin HiFi T2 is pretty much the standard. After you try them compared to wimpy Bluetooth (BT) models like Bose and Beats, you’ll be impressed. Being wired, they don’t suffer from the #1 reason that BT headphones, quite frankly … suck. Good IEMs require POWER … and the BT models would be dead in literally a few minutes to deliver this level of performance.

To get the absolute best from them, you’ll want foam ear tips and a good DAC external amp (I use a tiny UAMP) as they are a bit power hungry … even the Alienware laptop beast I use can’t give them what they truly need. But, OMG, they’re worth it. Bear in mind I’m not saying they’re better than a Planar or electrostatic IEM, but at five to twenty times cheaper, and with benefit of noise blocking, they’re hard to beat for the budding audiophile. Although TIN makes more expensive versions, for the under $100 crowd, this is almost impossible to beat. I’ve never heard an IEM for under $300 that is really much better. My stupidly expensive electrostatic IEMs are audibly untouchable by almost any standard other than a set of full-blown, even more stupidly expensive, full-sized electrically-powered electrostatic headphones, but, they’re effectively useless in any area with any noise whatsoever. In a bar, airport or any area with noise the TIN2 is unbeatable. It’s time to hear what you’ve been missing …

Canceled by China

Due to the Chinese virus, the 2021 CES show has been canceled. Although I tried the virtual show, it really wasn’t the same … there’s no substitute for strolling the isles and gawking at the new tech.

I was going to look for the zipper guy (near the bottom of the link) to see if he’s still “with us.” Everyone, has one thing they really look forward to for, and for the genuine geek crowd, CES is it.

As I’ve said earlier, this is the only place you can see tomorrow.

Hopefully, 2022 will bring a tech-thirsty boy home to the electro-oasis.

Home, James

For the last several years, BMW showed new tech at CES that may be added to its cars at some point. This year it wasn’t the tire shredding capability of an M-car, but more of a concept display and it included some of the best snacks at the show. (Although the Dell/Alienware area takes top prize on snacks and beverages.)

BMW also did something unprecedented for CES; they gave rides anywhere you wanted to go in Vegas much as an Uber/Lyft. But not in any standard BMW. There were a few prototype i3 “Urban Suite” cars for this purpose. The i3 is one of their two true electric cars … the only car under six figures probably sold anywhere on the planet that is totally constructed of carbon fiber. That is mainly the calling card of Ferrari and Lamborghini. Crazy expensive, but probably the future of all cars due to the extreme strength and lightness of carbon fiber. I have a wallet made of it and titanium that is so light it’s easy to forget it’s in your pocket.

The Urban Suite (I’m betting) will never hit the production lines and that’s a shame … I’d buy one. In Asia and Europe, big shot execs commonly use extra length cars that are essentially rolling offices as they are chauffeured around.  Extra long BMWs, MBs and Audis are the norm for this type of use. The i3 prototype is a mini version that can actually maneuver around tiny streets in Asia and Europe. It even has a desk! (oh, and an electric footrest!)

The car itself is dead-silent as it gets around and the size is perfect for congested streets. I was struck by the “common sense” this thing made. Safe, practical (at least for BMW) and within the ability of most folks to own one. Super cheap to operate … Essentially there is almost NO maintenance beyond keeping it clean, along with tires and wiper blades replacement. Many of the better designed electric cars do require an inexpensive battery cooling system fluid flush every five to ten years. Beyond that and a new air freshener, there’s really not much to do to keep it running.

Note: A chauffeur may add some cost …

Size matters

It’s exceptionally odd when I find the winner of a CES show in just a few minutes, but, that’s exactly what happened. After leaving the enormously packed LG area, I wandered towards the Samsung display. Immediately, I knew something was going on … I couldn’t get close to the entrance. After the usual bit of pushing and fighting the crowds I saw why. On display was the rumored 292-inch MicroLED (quantum dot) television called “The Wall.” Upon first impression it was truly jaw-dropping. The more I watched I realized it wasn’t perfect compared to an OLED set, but to the best of my memory I can’t remember an OLED this huge. Additionally, there is NO size limit … only the limit of the size of your wallet. I got to the front row and as I watched, the video of a semi-truck came roaring straight at me. While I knew it was only a video, I still found myself flinching when it sped directly toward me. It was that overwhelming. At this point, the size stops being a draw as no normal home would hold anything larger than that … and it’d still have to be a large multi-story home. And to make a 1000-inch unit would need a stadium (current stadium screens are comparatively crude) and would actually be less impressive than standing 20 feet away from this particular “Wall.” It represents a quantum shift in how we can view TVs … As the prices begin to drop these things will become more common. Oh yeah, it’s going to take more than a few years, but the “writing is on the wall”, so to speak. 

As you look at the picture below, bear in mind the entire picture you’re seeing is the TV.

Dear 2009 … how things have changed

If there was a year that really seems dated from the perspective of late 2019, it is 2009. Many trends that were hot then are essentially gone. There was a major shift in several tech areas that were just getting a toehold in the future at that 2009 CES show. Just for fun, let’s see what was hot then and is it missed?

The top consumer electronics company on the planet was GE … yep, that’s changed for today. Apple which was eleventh then, is #1 now. Samsung is still second, but LG has actually given up 3rd to Amazon.

Circuit City was still around and looking for a buyer while it closed even more stores.

In top TV’s, plasmas still ruled with an iron hand. The Pioneer Elite Kuro Pro-111FD made even the best LCD sets look primitive. However, at $5000, it only appealed to the videophile that had deep pockets. Remarkably, it was less money than many of the top-of-the-line LCD sets. I saw it in person and to this day I’d absolutely love to have one … it was that good … so good in fact, that I have a hard time seeing how it can be surpassed.  And coming from a hardcore OLED fan, that’s quite a compliment. Sadly, it cost too much to build and the mass market wanted ever thinner & cheaper sets, so only a few were produced. I had an earlier professional version (before the Kuro name) in 2003 ($8000+) and to this day I miss it.

The developer of the VHS video tape system, JVC, stopped production of their machines.

McIntosh was confused and assumed that we needed an $18,000 video projector from a company that didn’t actually make it, and that excited fans would snap it up solely based on the famous name … ah, nope, didn’t happen.

There were still TONS of iPod accessories … even after over 8 years of production.

There was lot of talk about streaming, but there wasn’t anyone that had a good grasp of just how big it would become or how to implement it.

This definitely was the year of transition for over-the-air TV folks … conventional analog TV was going the way of the dinosaur in just a few months and there were endless adapters for the handful of people that actually used “rabbit ears” for their TV’s.

Digital picture frames really were being hotly hyped (and improved), but this, like the iPod trend, was “one foot out the door” … but the manufacturers had no idea. Consequently, when you hear this is the “year of the … etc.”, take it with a grain of salt as only a few years later in perspective will give you a clear picture.

The porn industry had its awards and trade show at the same time as CES again and your CES badge will get you a $25 discount … dropping to $107. After seeing a few of the “stars” walking around actually in CES, clearly this wasn’t so much of a good deal. That $107 would have gone a long way in buying some Apple stock … It’d be worth over $1100 today.

Now that’s some real bang for the buck!

Mistbox Redux

On August 21st of 2015, I reviewed the original “Mistbox” which is headquartered in one of America’s hottest cities … Houston. By god these people have a great test-bed for their prototypes. Using superfine sprayed water into the condenser coils of an outside A/C, it increases the efficiency of the unit under stressful conditions. The A/C runs less, uses less electricity as a result and cools faster … the “Holy Grails” of a comfortable homeowner.

It’s hasn’t been smooth sailing as my original Mistbox unit failed and the replacement was even worse … So why am I still even “messing” with it and still optimistic about it? Because, when it works … it makes a difference. I was dealing with an almost $1200 a month electricity bill. That’s a house payment for some folks. We’d replaced the A/C’s themselves, had thermal shielding installed in the almost a third of an acre of roofing, installed Nest thermostats and installed aforementioned Mistbox. Each made a difference and now the bill has been more than cut in half. The amount of bucks spent paid for the entire upgrading in less than three years. Literally even during the worst summer heat (100+F with 100% humidity), the house interior temps can drop to where a blanket or jacket isn’t an option.

The newer Mistbox is so different that it could be from a different company. No more internet connectivity required, which was a huge problem for us as it was so far from the outrageously powerful modded router that we had to use signal extenders. Now it uses a cellular signal. No more external water filter/treatment canister. The solar cell is gone as many A/C units are in shadow … it’s charged by a wind turbine atop the condenser fan. You also now have an annual fee to keep it maintained and running correctly, but for it’s benefits, I believe it’s worth it. I’ve seen competitors trying to offer the pluses of the Mistbox for less bucks … they work to some extent, albeit in a crude way. By spraying when not needed (it ALWAYS comes on) such as at 2am just wastes water, provides small breeding ponds for mosquitoes and can cause the A/C to rust prematurely. There are times when simple, just isn’t best.

I have to sincerely compliment Mistbox on honoring it’s “lifetime” warranty … they “stood” behind it for me, replacing my defective old units, completely unaware that I run a tech site, as everything I test, (much to my spouse’s chagrin) … I buy … no freebies here. (Hello Alienware, I may make an exception for you)

Here are a few photos …

Upon opening …

All the goodies

New vs. old spray bars

No more leaking, cracking and breaking

Cutting off old spray bars

Mounted on A/C with magnetic cover off

Mounted on A/C with magnetic cover on

The Most Significant Ignored Item at the 2019 CES … perhaps even in the shows’ history.

While CES has had its “firsts,” an item overlooked by ALL the mainstream tech sites will be a game-changer or more precisely a quantum life-shift in the near future. This is singularly the most important thing shown in the history of CES or (depending on your age) your lifetime. You may possibly have heard the term “Blockchain” (originally called “Block Chain”) but like the first time you heard about email or even the internet, you didn’t understand its full implications. Well, this is one that will affect your life in the very near future (one to five years) and you more than likely don’t have a clue what it is. It’s truly an almost invisible revolution. This is your wake-up call from the future.

To start, it’s already begun … and its eventual full-scale use to affect our lives has irreversibly begun. In the modern history of man (say, the last 500+ years or so) there have been exactly four events that have fundamentally changed society everywhere. Those are: 1) the printing press in the 1500’s freed knowledge; 2) the engine eliminated the need for back-breaking manual labor and slavery; 3) the automobile allowed quick distant travel for the masses; and 4) and the computer/internet made the world a much smaller place. Each of these addressed a problem that couldn’t be resolved previously.

Blockchain is the answer for the next problem … trust and security. Should you own property, have money or have medical records (as we all do), the last thing you want is for them being easy to change or falsify. Blockchain puts a very permanent end to that.

Among the businesses expected to be literally wiped-out or damaged by Blockchain are banks, credit reporting companies and title companies (it is a really long list, so this is just an example of a few of the most significant) as it effectively does away with 95% their need. (Bank of America has 50+ Blockchain patents currently and JP Morgan-Chase Bank is currently moving to Blockchain.)

What is needed is an immutable solution to storing information securely and that’s what it provides. Not even a quantum computer can permanently hack it. Once a baseline is established, from that point going forward, fraud is essentially impossible. (unless you’re willing to spend $256,000.00 an hour for the leased computing power to TRY to crack it.)

For example, a title search can take days to weeks and cost thousands of dollars. With Blockchain it’s measured in microseconds and pennies. A currency transfer can take a week (did the Nigerian lottery commission get my prize redemption fee?) Less than a second can tell you if you actually have the money in your account … foreign currency transfers are especially vulnerable to fraud and fluctuation.

Well what is it??? This system uses distributed computing to spread the data across the web with each and every file having a special “key” that is linked to every other file linked to the special “key” created before and after it was created. Should one key or more be hacked, upon its attempt to be opened, it knows it’s wrong and goes searching worldwide for the innumerable matching keys and erases/replaces the false one.

This is a very, very simplistic explanation, but effectively makes the data absolutely trustworthy. No more middlemen to verify the info is accurate. This will be how you pay your taxes in a just a few years … direct transfer to the government, bypassing the banking system. Eventually, ALL transactions other than cash in-hand will be done via the Blockchain system. No more bounced checks, credit fraud or middleman costs. Credit card fraud will be substantially eliminated, and, it will expand to even mundane things such as school grades, automobile records, photos and software to things of extreme value like the stock exchange. Companies like Western Union for money transfers will simply be unnecessary and redundant.
As every seminal man-made event that has changed our lives has gotten more complicated, Blockchain is the most complex, but in some ways, one of the most simple. You will be depending on it in the future to determine the accuracy of almost everything of any value to you — from buying a home to how many “stars” you have at Starbucks …

At the 2019 CES lines were being drawn for who will dominate the Blockchain universe. Several companies were lining up to be the next big thing and despite being only being around a few hundred square feet of display space out of the almost three million available, it was the truest harbinger of “things to come.” ALL major companies will use it in less than a handful of years and it will be the standard of trust in our lives. The next tech billionaires will probably be Blockchain company starters … the money rush in investments has already started. The “gold rush” for Blockchain in the tech investment field is a virtual stampede. Almost half of the world has no access to a bank, but through Blockchain, will have access to the rest of the world’s economy.

Give that a thought for a moment … the world’s getting smaller every day.

The 2019 CES winner

LG’s amazing roll-up OLED TV … world’s best picture, bar none, combined with crazy abilities like hiding in a long narrow box. Just when the other OLED makers thought they had caught up … this happens.

If you’d like to see the video of it in action … here’s the link: LG Signature Series

If you want to see the video of their incredible folded OLED 4K screen entry to their area, click here. I’d recommend turning the volume down.

Show pictures … in no particular order

Only one display made me hungry … enter the “Breadbot!”

Ever wonder what the drone looked like that you see flying in formation for a night light show? This is the drone that set the record for most drones in simultaneously synced flight … 2018 of these!

They wouldn’t let me take off my shoe to use as a reference …

Perfect for those beach outings when the kids playing in the water won’t stop screaming.

No, it won’t play “Call of Duty” or “Halo” … I tried …

Six Rotors, No Waiting for Uber

This isn’t like the cobbled-up prototypes at the previous CES shows … this is built by Bell … as in Bell helicopters. And yes, it flies. And no, they wouldn’t tell me what it costs.

Should we open voting?

Should we have a poll for the most effective human Cuisinart?

I think the last one is my choice … give it to the one Dubai cop who refuses to do the donuts run ….

Wrong again …

As usual, the establishment tech-reporting media got it wrong … and they missed it by a mile this time. They’ve called this show as the “Year of 5G”. But in reality, there was almost nothing at the show to back it up, not the least of which is the fact that 5G isn’t available except in minuscule areas of the US.

If a single item defined the show, it was partial/full self-driving auto technology along with its accompanying infotainment systems. Literally, there were almost an entire hall’s worth of car makers, LIDAR companies and other car navigation related tech … this would have been great had this been the Detroit Auto Show. But it isn’t, and it’s not. Everything they showed wouldn’t work in “real life”. This is the reason why there have been so many deaths in Teslas while in the self-driving mode. The sensors hanging off the cars to make them function better than Tesla system are actually dangerous to pedestrians or look so absurd as to be a central character in a Japanese animated cartoon.  In complete seriousness, it reminded me of a “Transformer” movie car with huge spinning sensors on the roof and projections sticking out of the car sides. It would have been comical if it were supposed to be a joke.

This kind of display doesn’t inspire confidence in the tech … they’d be better off if they had stayed away and didn’t show everyone just how far they had to go.

Thinking back and dreaming forward

Yep, that time of the year again to gaze backwards at the tech of yesteryear as we look forward to the 2019 CES in Las Vegas. This ten-year retro view will give you a peek into tech considered ancient by today’s standards.

Microsoft was betting on new “home server” software and equipment … did you buy one? … didn’t think so. Don’t feel bad as no one else did either. Server tech is so far beyond the average user even if “dumbed down” that I can’t even begin to explain. And if “dumbed down”, the neophyte user can mistakenly open a bag of worms that they really didn’t want.

Skype finally appears on Android devices.

TV manufacturers were wondering why people weren’t using their smart TV’s for things like ordering pizza and such. I can only guess those guys were still using flip-phones as the rest of the world was moving to smart phones/tablets/laptops for such things. Oddly, even as late as the 2018 CES, they were asking the same question. I’m expecting the same question at the 2019 CES.

Digital “photo frames” were hot for the sellers, but not so much for buyers. Who knows how many of the things are still stuck on retailers’ shelves or backrooms?

McIntosh was celebrating its 60th birthday and released it’s first tabletop stereo system … and yes, you can’t even afford it even in used condition now.

Circuit City was circling the drain, if not already past the financial P-trap in reality.

Things in the back of the “Central Hall” at CES were junk then … nothing has changed. How many 59 cent headphones does anyone need?

“Personal” GPS trackers were becoming mainstream … perfect for stalkers or just your average paparazzi.

Mitsubishi unveiled the first laser projection TV … available in 65”. One of the two major sizes of an average flat LCD TV. Only many, many times thicker and heavier … yeah, I don’t understand their thought process on it either.

Sony released a $1500 1080p camcorder (HDR-XR520V) using a hard disk for data retention … what could possibly go wrong with a portable video camera using a mechanical hard drive, other than just about everything?

Smartphone makers blame the U.S. celluar carriers for the “slow” adoption of the new phones … by gouging customers. They charge for almost everything that make the new phones worth having/using. By late 2009, smartphone still only accounted for about 25% of new phone sales.

The first Google phone (G1) is released … to be kind, we’ll call it a “work-in-progress” … didn’t even have a headphone jack. It had only 49!!! apps available at the time from the “Android Market”.      Having only a 3.2-megapixel camera and NO video or flash, reviewers at the time politely called it “unfinished”.

Laptops in 2009, even the most expensive ones (like the dual-core Sony VAIO VGN-TT198UBX – $4344), to put it politely, are incredibly weak by today’s standards. Here in late 2018, the CPU manufacturers are in full scale nuclear war with each other again as chip design has taken almost unbelievable jumps in just the last year. Ninety-six core desktops are available now for the price of a new Kia. We may see 48-core laptops with far faster clock speeds in the near future (Alienware probably, and being the Ferrari of laptops, beyond frighteningly expensive … but mainstream only a few years later.)

Regardless, looking back only ten years seems the “good old days”, where we were on the cusp of the explosion of tech that isn’t even given a second thought by users today. When Google didn’t know our underwear size or where we had dinner last night. When you couldn’t buy lumber on Amazon.

But as a friend once asked me, “if our tech is so advanced, where is my teleporter?” It will not be in my lifetime, but who can realistically forecast tech 100 years in the future, when we look back only ten years and see how quaint technology was “back then”.

Going down the never ending rabbit hole of tech upgrades

GoPro released the Hero “7” Black just a couple of months after I took delivery of a Hero “6” Black (reviewed earlier) … so, I had to have it if for no other reason than to see what has changed. Immediately, you notice on the side of the camera in bold print “7” so as not to be confused with the “old” model … God forbid people think you’re using the old, worn out tech of April 2018! I’m not joking that some tech sites complained there was no huge nomenclature to identify it as the newest/priciest model.

Basically, the cameras are similar in appearance, use the same accessories and are still as heavy as though it was made out of lead. But there are some very real improvements … most notably the incredible smoothness/lack of shake the new camera exhibits. The Hero 6 Black was outstanding, but after seeing the improvement, the “6” is headed to eBay. My distaste for gimbals continues unabated and this new model just hardens my opinion. A heavy, complex, expensive and cumbersome gimbal to smooth a few bumps is simply unnecessary at this point unless you’re shooting the new “Indiana Jones” movie.

GoPro does make a “Silver & White” version of this camera … but trust me on this, forget it.            They are for the posers who want to flash the GoPro “image,” but don’t want to spend the bucks.        In complete candor, I’m at a loss why they even make these. If poorer video quality is your goal, just buy a $35 Chinese camera. Why spend $300 for a lesser GoPro, when effectively, it’s dumbed down to the video quality of the aforementioned Chinese clone.

The new menu threw me for a loop the first few times I used it and even now, I still prefer the older menu of the “6”.

It now includes “SuperPhoto” … it applies three different technologies to produce the best still image ever from a GoPro.  You really, really don’t want me to explain this in pure geek talk.                        Just note, it works …

It will now shoot in the vertical mode for posting on certain vanity (eg. Instagram Stories) websites.

The new “TimeWarp” will capture super-stabilized time-lapse videos while you move around.            It’ll increase the speed up to 30x to turn longer shots into anything you may want to share and yet, not bore your friends. (eg. original video is 10 minutes, but is sped up to be viewed in only 20 seconds for those with millennium-short attention spans.)

The sound quality is slightly improved … due to a different waterproofing membrane primarily.

Should you want to live-stream, it’s available now, but restricted to the personal data grabbing “Facebook” & “YouTube” and a few others.

I have noticed better low-level light sensitivity, better definition and color saturation.                          While complained about on some websites, I’ve always thought it was better than it should be for the lenses it has.

But ultimately, it’s the impressive smoothness that leaves you amazed that you’re that good of a videographer.

I now await breathlessly for the “8”.

Picture (96%) Perfect

After so many camcorders that I’ve lost count, ranging from amazingly good-for-the-bucks, cheapy Chinese action cams to professional Canons, I think I may have found a perfect compromise. It won’t accept external lenses and isn’t exactly what most would call cheap ($380+), but for my purposes it clicks essentially all of the “most needed” boxes. The new GoPro Hero6 Black is a winner. It fits in my pocket provided I don’t need accessories … and OMG, are there accessories! It shoots 4K video in 60 fps (for top quality, that’s mandatory) and high-res 12MP stills. It won’t boot quite as fast a modern digital camera, but the end results are what matters. No wonder this is the standard of the industry … literally everyone else is screaming…me too, me too!!! But ultimately, to quote Highlander, there can be only one. Jaw-dropping video quality, truly tiny size and extreme flexibility are only a few of its merits. I wore it on a chest mount for the toboggan sled down the Great Wall in China with stunning documentary-quality results.

The body of the camera does not require a case for water-proofing down to about 33 feet and you can live stream to a tablet or phone as a monitor (and control it) depending on the level of resolution you’re shooting at. At 4K and 60fps, the processing is just too extreme to allow that … but you can set it to watch before you hit “record”. The lens has two settings … wide and narrow. It comes with stabilization, impressive night performance, time lapse, stereo audio, rear touch screen, lossless professional RAW format, HDR, optional long-distance remote, true slo-mo …  when you hold it in your hand for the first time you notice the weight, this ain’t no cheesy “me too” toy.

This is one serious piece of kit.


(Shown with my highly-recommended silicone case)


(and, IMHO, the not-so-optional remote)

Additionally, there are simply so many accessories for this thing that it defies description … just check out eBay and look for GoPro stuff … it’s mind bending how much is there. There is an abundance of cheap non-official add-ons … I have probably over 50 … and my total investment is less than 30 bucks. Virtually all generic cameras use the GoPro mount. As a result there are thousands of add-ons.

Not to put a damper on the party, buuuut, there are two issues. Firstly, while in the factory-supplied bracket, there is NO access to the charging input. And anything this powerful loves juice … so you can’t use an extra battery pack with the bracket. I’m thinking of using a Dremel to resolve this issue. The next issue is an issue ONLY if you haven’t taken the time to read the fine print, so to speak, in the instruction manual. You must, as in ABSOLUTELY MUST, use the memory cards they “recommend”. Even high quality, fast cards can’t keep up with the data flow. Failure to do so will result in hair loss when you’re in the middle-of-nowhere and it won’t run. You’ve been warned …

I have additional batteries and a specialized charger for them. By the way, I’ve found I get around 40 minutes in time lapse without an external battery.

The old saying ” a picture is worth a thousand words”, may have to be changed to ten thousand when it’s from a GoPro 6 … yes, it’s that good.

Imperfect Vision

Shaky hands are not only bad for surgeons. If you have binoculars, and actually use them quite a bit or under demanding circumstances, most people find they can’t hold them still for very long. Usually a brace of some kind or even a tripod is in order. (I use one with my uber-heavy “astronomicals”).      The solution is a stabilized pair. They’ve been around for a few years, but the prices have been prohibitive for the bulk of users. The military depends on the M25 manufactured by the Fraser-Volpe Corporation … and as with anything the government does, it ain’t exactly cheap. I’ve seen pairs for over $6500. A more consumer-friendly version by other companies is actually affordable. One such standout model is the Canon 8×25 IS. It’s usually available online for $250-$300 shipped to your door.

The very first seconds you use it, you understand why ALL other binoculars are rendered obsolete by this tech. It won’t matter if you have a wider field of view or greater magnification if the subject is blurred. When the button on the top is held down, the image suddenly snaps still … very startling for a seasoned binocular fan. This has been around for years in camcorders and is time-proven, so it won’t matter what type of optical stabilization is used (active or passive), the point is … it works.

My around-the-world, 30+ year old travel Nikons aren’t missed. Don’t believe the reviews about the less expensive models … while the binocular reviewers may be more discriminating/demanding, many don’t understand binocular use in the “real world.” A $1000 pair simply isn’t necessary for the bulk of users. The entry level Canons will perform far beyond most people’s expectations. If you need more than a pair like this, you have specialized needs.


The Canon comes with a nylon case, strap and eyepiece covers, but oddly doesn’t include primary lens covers. So I designed my own and 3D printed them.

My 3D .stl file, should you want to print your own, is available for download here.  I used just a few feet of PLA filament and a connector I found laying around to keep them together.

Like the old axiom says … seeing is believing.

The Winner of the 2018 CES and it ain’t a Robotic Dog

As I’ve frequently said … CES is the only place on the planet where you can see tomorrow. This show had an item that I think is earthshaking. Star Trek had its universal translator and the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” had its’ “Bablefish” … now it’s becoming real.

A startup called “Mars” had what looked like a couple of Bluetooth earbuds. The owner of the “buds” puts one in his ear, and the other goes to a person speaking a different language. In almost real time, the phone app translates the conversation into the wearers’ native languages.

Does it actually work? … The robotic voice in your ear aside, it works so well that it may be life-changing for some people.  I used it to talk to someone whose native language is Korean and was stunned. It was effortless to carry on a conversation. I simply can’t count the ways it changes everything for anyone who deals with people from multiple language backgrounds. From business to a more personal nature, this can actually convey your meaning as accurately as though you could really speak Mandarin Chinese. It’s going to be available in several languages and there’s no reason why it couldn’t eventually work on ALL languages. A data link to the web is required … for the moment.    The projected price is about $250 or so.

This is one of those “ah-ha” moments that demands you take a minute and think about what this could mean …

So when you meet someone and they brag about being fluent in six foreign tongues, you reach for your MARS and tell them … “only six?”

Notable Odds and Ends of the 2018 CES

With over 20K+ of new items every year, I try to distill the show down to a few items that were worth taking a second look at. This as you may guess, not an easy task … but here we go.

What is old is new again … a good idea won’t die. Despite the proliferation of the digital camera, the old-school Polaroid still is pertinent.


A notable “sci-fi” show is introduced for the second year in a row. This one is “Altered Carbon” from Netflix … If you’re a fan of the sci-fi genre, I won’t tell you that this is the last word in science fiction, but does make you think about what is coming and the consequences of not being prepared. Obviously a very expensive show, and a showcase of how to do a super-premium futuristic … I’ll tell you up front, it’s not what you are expecting. When it’s over, you can see it’s roots firmly in Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler novels. Should nudity and a dizzying plot be a problem for you … this ain’t your kind of show … and don’t even think about watching “Black Mirror” on Netflix that has a similar future tech warning. It’s Altered Carbon on steroids and very well may the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen on the idiot tube.


Under the heading of “don’t ask what it costs” is this beast … all carbon fiber and packed with tech, this is a drone that makes you wonder if insurance is available in the event of a “fly-away” or serious crash.


Omron showed its automated ping-pong player. While an interesting exercise in AI, it’s a glimpse of what forms the basis of robotic warriors.  Here’s my short video of it in action that will open in a different window.


One of my favs at the show was this “pocket drone” from AEE. Essentially it’s about the same size as a “battery-case” and contains a fold-out drone run by your phone … brilliant, simply brilliant. Pull it free from the back of your phone, fold out the motors, link it to the drone app and you’re ready for almost ten minutes of flight. Less than 200 bucks and everything most people would want for a vacation … for some people it will become a EDC.


Washing to a Brighter Future

It seems everyday I read the news, there’s a shortage of fresh water.  In areas where salt-water desalination is used, fresh water is truly expensive. In particularly drought stricken states like California and Nevada, they impose strict limits as to how you can use water, even though the “Hollywood elite” doesn’t follow these rules, and simply pay the fines or pay for water tanker trucks to get around rules implemented for us common serfs who can’t wash their cars in the driveway, have a grass lawn or let their kids play in the sprinklers. The “comedian” Amy Poehler in 2016 used a staggering 170,000+ gallons at only one of her residences in 60 days. The ultra-liberal entertainment mogul David Geffen was claimed to have been charged more than $30,000 for consuming 1.6 million gallons!!! In areas like Houston, a tremendous amount of the flooding occurred due to pumping out too much fresh under-ground water and the land actually sinking. So you’d assume anything that would provide a noticeable drop water consumption would be fairly high on the short list of civic improvement items.

While touring the show I ran into a company from Australia and UK that may be able to do just that … Xeros.

A standard washing machine can use more than 40 gallons for a single load … how about a machine that only uses a gallon or so and far less detergent to achieve better results?  Additionally, imagine how much water is used for the laundry in hotels/hospitals? Think of Vegas hotels with hundreds of thousands of sheets and towels being washed everyday.

Their tech involves a seemingly simple solution, but in reality, is a technical marvel. It involves using a white polymer bead slightly larger than a BB. These beads do far more than just remove stains … you can operate with temperatures far cooler (less electricity/gas) and it’s far less damaging. So much so that firehouses using it report their Nomex fire suits don’t wear out as fast … about doubling it’s life. Last time I checked a fire-proof suit isn’t cheap and the cost of those suits come out of the public coffers.

The beads you see in the above picture last indefinably. Even if you had to replace them through normal usage, I’m told it’s about fifteen bucks.

And oh yeah, … it filters the waste water so your that the city has less cleaning chemicals to remove from the waste water. If you live in a rural area that means less chemicals that will eventually filter down into your well water.

Fantastic idea, and such a common sense improvement on a basic necessity of modern life … so of course the big washing machine companies like LG/Samsung/Whirlpool would jump on it in a heartbeat? However in face-to-face discussions with those folks, they claimed they’d never heard of it. Initially I assumed they didn’t want any part of such a superior system they didn’t invent, but I quickly realized they had no idea what I was talking about. The folks at Samsung basically stuck their nose in the air and told me if it really worked, they would have been using it.

Amazing that at the largest tech show the world has ever known, some of the largest companies on the planet could be so blind to game changing technology that literally was within walking distance. Everything about the Xeros technology was win-win-win-win-win … less water, less chemicals, less energy, better cleaning and cleaner waste water. I’m hoping after that my discussion with them about Xeros they sent a few spies to see what CES is about … the only place in the world where you can see the future. I’m hoping they brought their glasses …

Not the winner of the 2018 CES

One prominent tech site chose the Sony’s Aibo as the top item of the entire 2018 CES show. Clearly they’ve been visiting the local cannabis outlets as a Sony mechanical dog isn’t new, or news. Their mechanical pets have been around since Bill Clinton was in office. Nothing the “pup” did was anything other than what you’d expect. The ladies at the booth were clearly bored with Sony’s $1500 creation as well.











Another amazing disappointment was the Samsung booth, which was unquestionably the worst I’ve ever seen in almost two decades from a major company. The entirety of the giant booth was cut into tiny glass-enclosed areas that literally showcased … nothing. That is unless you’re really, really into refrigerators. There were none of the famous phones, cameras or literally anything else except refrigerators, washing machines, dryers and some poor guys trying to get the “Alexa/Google” clone “Bixby” to do ANYTHING. I actually don’t know what they were trying to say by such a display … They should have taken five minutes to go the LG area and its jaw-dropping curving OLED canyon.

Another completely uninspiring booth was Panasonic … but that’s pretty much the case every year.    It’s just that this year, they must have hired the same conceptual adviser as Samsung as it was even more of a totally boring mess. After fighting for ten minutes to get through it, I stopped and tried (& failed) to think of anything worth even discussing.


Out of ideas

The speaker industry, as I’ve stated earlier, is out of ideas to make a better sounding speaker. The only things they’re promoting is a very 70’ish earsplitting volume level, beyond absurd pricing and trying to make it look like anything but a speaker. This Chinese company felt it better to have it look like … well, you can draw your own ideas. My guess is near the bottom.


























A chair?

Not quite a fingernail tatoo

Tech at CES is moving in so many directions that it’s getting hard to think of anything not being impacted (for better or worse) by the march of chips, sensors and cameras.  Beauty products aren’t anything I’ve had any interest in, but I can appreciate how even this field is changing. In one booth in particular I couldn’t help but notice the tech used was straight out of inkjet printers. Called “O2nails” it used a multi-layer process to actually print anything you can think of on a fingernail. Of course, on such a small palette, any image must be chosen carefully.

This process isn’t as cheap as the printers begin at about $500. So more than likely, it’s intended for nail salons.

I chose one of our terriers in her holiday garb for a nail of mine, and due to the printer’s excellent image quality, she looks as unhappy as the full size image.

Pain and Pleasure of DJI drones

After having had a half a dozen or more “training drones” as I like to call them, I splurged and bought a top-of-the-line DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone. While it may not have all the tech of the new “4”, it’s definitely the hot-rod of the DJI drones with almost 2.5 pounds of lifting power.

The sheer power allows it to fly in winds that would sweep almost any other drone in existence to the next county tout-suite! My faster 60+ mph racing drones, in high wind or at higher altitudes, just don’t have the muscle like this thing. The gimbaled 4K camera is phenomenal in it’s stability in high winds, and truly remarkable image quality.  The stability, power, drone community support, available hardware hacks, camera quality and simplicity of flying easily make this the “#1” drone to own. So, no wonder it’s the world’s best selling drone brand.

The only real problem is the company itself. They impose so many mandatory updates and restrictions on where it can be flown that it’s mind-blowing. And heaven help you should you be mandated to do a firmware update … you could just as easily “brick it.” That’s the tech slang expression for turning a perfectly running piece of electronics into a doorstop with an update because the manufacturer has informed you of “safety issues or potential software bug squashing.” Imagine buying a new car that automatically slows down in traffic to a crawl because it thinks that’s what the infallible government wants. Well, that pretty much is what they do with all their drones in “restricted airspace.” Which by the way, is basically every city/town in the country with over a few thousand people. They limit the height it can fly. Literally, you are bombarded with quizzes, warnings, repeated popup messages and mandatory phone-texted “code” unlocking that will make the entire experience more than a little unpleasant. They’re so fearful of the feds they cripple the features that are so important to the owners. You get around 25 minutes of flying time, and it can take more time than that just to unlock it so you can fly. In all sincerity, if I did this for a living, I’d never use a DJI product as you can’t tell when it simply decides that it’s not your decision as to when/where you can fly. (Literally, they could mandate a firmware update that would disable every DJI drone in the country within a few days if the government wanted … perfect for dictatorships! … and oh by the way, as cars become more drone-like and are “connected”, they can all be shut off too). And after Obama imposed patently absurd rules on a couple of pounds of flying plastic that the courts later ruled illegal … and then Trump deciding to reinstate it, makes the water muddier about what exactly is going on with mandatory registration and flight restrictions. Because it’s clearly not safety, if you actually understand drones. People who don’t have the faintest clue about a piece of tech shouldn’t be allowed to make rules about its usage. You can’t “Make America Great Again” by crippling technology that is changing the information age. It’s a form of censorship hiding behind absurd and outdated government rules.

Driving While Blind

One of my chief complaints about car manufacturers (with the exception of really expensive cars) is lousy lights. The plastic headlight lens fogging problem you see everywhere aside, the deficient of candlepower is really the biggest culprit. I’ve always replaced the bulbs with far more powerful ones … you’re less likely to hit something if you can see it. With new tech comes more options and that has come to headlights. The older halogen bulbs are going away as high-powered LED’s replace them. That means the “yellowness” of said bulbs are going away as well. The newer bulbs are more like natural daylight, which means better definition and thus, improved safety. My daily driver is an older car having headlights with so little output, that a couple tea candles in front would be an improvement. Driving at night with zero street lights had become a really iffy proposition. The first thing I did is replace the headlights themselves with an eBay purchase that was so cheap, it was shocking. I then put in the most powerful bulbs that they would accommodate without melting them. And it helped … but just a bit. I’d seen HID replacements for years but they’re expensive, run super hot and can require cutting the headlight cables and other rather unpleasant mods … so that was out. As a huge German car fan, I noticed that LED headlights are becoming the norm with the newer models. Like HID headlights when they first came out, were about a $1500 option. I did a little research & found eBay had aftermarket LED lights. So cheap, it defied logic … so a test was in order.    I ordered a couple of sets after specifying daylight temperatures (how color of lights are measured) around 65ooK. The first set was a cheap Chinese pair for less than 15 bucks. Literally it took five minutes to install … more on this later. At night, I hit the headlight switch and lo and behold … let there be light!!! For the first time I could actually see an improvement. Any brighter and they’d have to be illegal off-road lights. So, we have a super cheap fix for “driving while blind.”                              (with apologies to ZZ Top … if you know the song, this absolutely isn’t what they were talking about)

(Should want to try this, I needn’t warn you about careful aiming or you’ll fry the eyeballs of oncoming traffic.)











Now the flip side to this, is the pair I tried to put into a newer German car. Those cars very frequently have what is known as a CANBUS system that monitors everything in the car. So if you try to put in a pair of newer LED bulbs, either the computer will freak out or simply not allow the lights to work.     So … you’ve got to have a CANBUS adapter. German cars, being engineered to the nth degree, don’t make replacing bulbs a five minute fix. One of ours actually required taking off a wheel and pulling out the inner fender-well lining. Fortunately, I checked the bulbs before going to that extreme and found the CANBUS adapter didn’t work. Consider this story a caveat. When it works, it’s fantastic, and worth every penny and minute of your time to install. So paraphrasing President Reagan, trust, but verify before installing.


Sounds Familiar

The annual trek to Vegas arrives in early January of 2018. I expect a show full of optimism … not necessarily breakthroughs, but more of incremental improvements. Oddly, this exactly describes the 2008 CES show as well. The earthquake known as the iPhone, introduced at the same time as the 2007 CES, was finally making its mark in history. So everyone was playing “catch-up” and throwing out as many cases and accessories as possible for the new phone. Everybody who produced phones at that time were, to put it mildly, shell-shocked, confused and lost. The future path for much of the technology that would become commonplace, was firmly established. Admittedly, the phone was a terrible, limited device … but demonstrated what was possible, by what it lacked. And that’s what was truly important.

At that show there were a few notable ideas and products worth mentioning. One I really liked was liquid-crystal window. It’s basically a LCD film over normal glass windows that go opaque with a touch of a button. Amazingly, this has not really taken off … I believe the price and being forced to use a few standard window sizes were the main issues, as the tech (at least by today’s standard) is nothing special. The tech to do this ten years ago was utterly absurd, requiring seven layers of plastics, adhesive and glass. Today, only a single sheet of glass or polycarbonate with a single sheet of LCD film is required. Adding color would be simple as well. If an OLED skin (and the appropriate electronics) was used instead of a cheaper LCD version, you’d have a 4K television too. And with the introduction of the ability to produce fully functional bizarre LCD shapes (example: new digital dashboards), no standard sizes are required of windows. So a retrofit should be possible. Think of car windows, all of which have laminated glass, having this LCD film. When you lock your doors, all the windows going opaque to prevent anyone seeing inside, reducing heat and reducing UV interior damage. Residents in towers no longer having to have drapes or blinds for privacy, just a beautiful view only when it’s wanted.


MBL gets the award for the weirdest speaker at the show with what is basically an inside-out speaker. Taking an entire month to produce the four handmade towers and almost costing as much as the GDP of a small country, they sounded ….. ok ….. yep, just ok ….. For a speaker system with that many zeros in the price tag, I expected more. But, they would look perfectly at home in a rapper’s crib.



Really small laptops were out in force and even by today’s mobile phone standards, pretty weak. Gaming laptops only had a video card with a half a gig of RAM and two gig or less of main RAM. In comparison, my new Note 8 has six gig of main RAM. And in comparison to what we call the “Beast”, my new Alienware gaming rig, it’s laughable.

The major tech of the foreseeable future was coming … mobile devices. The show was odd in that many still didn’t fully understand that. Those who didn’t, aren’t at the show any longer …

Spreading some light

A few days before Harvey hit the Gulf coast, it became obvious that there was going to be damage to the electrical grid where I live. Since a warm breeze with a few cups of water falling from the sky usually results in either a total loss of electricity or the lights flicking on and off, I decided to perform maintenance on my flashlight collection. This was going to take a few hours due the size of it and decided to hit a local store for batteries. After all, who knew how long we’d be without lights. While there I discovered one of the most amazing flashlights. This particular light wouldn’t be possible without modern LEDs. There really isn’t anything else on the market like it. An ordinary flashlight projects a focused beam, or if it has an adjustable lens, it may be a bit broader at the substantial sacrifice of light output. This light by “Dorcy” (Model #: 41-4346) has the focused beam (with four smaller LED’s) and on each side of the main powerful LED are 16 smaller SMT LEDs sending out a wash of remarkably bright light spread out to 220 degrees. It even has a “dimmer” mode if necessary.












(you can see the beam spread in this photo)




With the absurd ratings that all manufacturers use to rate brightness (this one is Dorcy-rated at 850 lumens), I’ll skip that discussion for the moment and just say it’s exceptionally bright. Enough to shame any Maglight in existence. If you need more light than this, you’re going to need a spotlight. It’s been said it’s perfect for the security business due to almost no dark areas in front of you … I have to agree. Most people need a small flashlight and a more serious one every now and then. Well, this is the flashlight for that “every now and then.” I’d go so far to say this is the “King of Flashlights” and is the one flashlight everyone should own. Yeah, it’s a bit heavy due the quality aluminum body and it’s not cheap at almost 60 bucks directly from Dorcy. (Mine was about $35 at Fry’s at the time) But once you use it, you can legitimately say, “I’ve seen the light!”


Seventy years in “dog years” is an eternity in tech

Fifty years ago the first CES had to move to NYC due to a fire at the Chicago McCormick Center due ironically to a coffee pot. The hottest products were color TV, transistor radios and cassette players. The 110 exhibitors and 17,500 attendees were jammed into only 100,000 sq.ft. … today’s Vegas show is approaching 50 acres, about 3,000 exhibitors and a seemingly uncountable number of attendees.

But if we look back only ten years ago (or seventy in dog years!), it gives a good perspective to see just how far away 50 years really is.

  • First 50” plasma under $2500 introduced from Hitachi. Comparable LCD from Sharp is $5300. World’s largest LCD TV prototype shown at 108”.
  • HD DVD tech was circling the drain despite better technology and half the price of a Sony unit. The Sony PlayStation 3 with built-in Blu-ray made the difference for dominance. An industry mistake with Sony that still plagues us to this day. I have a 2007 Toshiba HD DVD player and yes, it still looks better than any 2016 Blu-ray player.
  • Sony was #1 in sales of television, home audio, camcorders, DVD players and headphones. I’m not aware of any category that they are tops in sales any longer with the possible exception of projection TV’s.
  • The original iPhone was introduced at MacWorld January 9th by Steve Jobs at the same time as the show was going on. Most everyone there discussed it, but didn’t see its importance. Many products at the 2007 CES would be rendered obsolete in only a year or two as a result.
  • Predictions by most highly-placed industry insiders that dedicated portable music players such as the iPod will continue to be popular indefinitely is proven wrong. (see 4th bullet point)
  • The cheapest portable GPS debuts from Audiovox (NVX227) for “only” $399.
  • The Pharos phone with GPS, audio player and PDA debuts … the expression “a day late and a dollar short” may apply here. (see 4th bullet point again)
  • GoPro introduced its newest action camera the Hero 3 for $140. The basic design is still the same today, although the specs are hugely improved on this industry leading cam.
  • Most digital cameras in 2007 were around five mega-pixels (MP), with the high-end stuff at ten MP. A normal Samsung phone is 12MP today.
  • Nokia released a wireless tablet (N800) that had “apps” and could access the internet. I still have one and amazingly … it works.
  • Downloading industry-legal movies are growing slowly as it takes approximately 15 hours to download a movie from Disney or major studios.
  • The cheapest HD camcorder I could find was $699 and only 720p. Versions capable of 1080 were almost unknown.


2007 truly was a seminal year for tech even if most people didn’t realize it. We saw the beginnings of legal streaming music and a “Swiss army-knife” phone that would change almost the entire landscape of the tech industry. Digital cameras were becoming the de facto standard for photography. Large flat screens are simply “what-you-buy” when it comes to a new TV. This may be the single most important year in the history of tech and it slipped by us. This is the year that tech started to put its foot to the floor, so to speak. “What’s past is prologue” applies as never before. And this was only ten years ago. Only the introduction of transistors and chips is more monumental. Streaming content, the absolute victory of digital imaging and HD video becoming common … they rule modern tech today, and for the foreseeable future. Yep, 2007 was a year to remember.

When sucking isn’t a bad thing …

I’ve been a fan of robotic vacuum cleaners since their introduction several years ago.

Despite careful cleaning/maintenance, I’ve managed to wear two iRobots completely out. I’ve totally rebuilt them so many times, I’ve lost count. After the fifth or so time of doing that, the fun wanes.     But, hesitant to buy another solely based on the substantially higher prices than originally paid, I just did without. But technology waits for no one, and iRobot has more competitors than ever. Some even well-known brand names have finally entered the market as well. However, I found a unit (iLife V5) that had tech that would put my older iRobot to shame for only $106 shipped to my door with zero tax. The comparable iRobot was four/five times more expensive. So the question you’re probably asking, is the iRobot worth the extra cash?

The only feature lacking on my bargain cleaner was the infrared wall to keep the vacuum in just one room … so I just pile a few items in the open doorway to block it from escaping. As far the cleaning capability, it’s shockingly efficient. Even after deliberately and thoroughly cleaning an area with a Dyson clone, the new robot cleaner found an incredible amount of dirt/hair. I expected that based on experiences with previous iRobots. So my bargain dirt sucker worked easily as well as a far pricier iRobot. I even got extra HEPA filters (only supposed to get one extra, but received two!) and extra spinning brushes. The package also included the remote control and its base station for automatic recharging. It’s fully programmable as well. Cleaning was as simple as it gets … empty bin in trash and I use a can of compressed air to blow the HEPA filter clean (always outside!) to extend its life. Literally one or two minutes and it’s ready to devour dog hair again. Companies mistakenly say these time savers’ batteries will run for two hours. But I have always gotten at least 45-90 minutes on hard surfaces. Carpets will shorten run times for obvious reasons.





















Some big pluses of the iLife V5 was a HUGE drop in noise levels and the amazing sensitivity of the sensors detecting furniture/walls. Even when it did hit stuff it wasn’t a huge “BANG!!!” as with the iRobot. You can run it in the same room as you’re having a conversation in without effort.

As with all robotic cleaners don’t trust them with stairs regardless of what the manufacturers tell you … these things are persistent as crazed terriers and will find a way to jump to their destruction.

Also bear in mind, these are not substitutes for a full size, plug-in vacuum on carpet, but rather to greatly extend the time between hauling out the corded version. On hard surfaces, it essentially does away with a full-size vacuum … with the exception of mopping. That is unless you opt for a robotic unit that can do that as well!

So when guests say my iLife V5 sucks, I say “Thanks!” ….

When is Crowdfunding only a form of theft?

As a once enthusiastic supporter of “crowdfunding” through sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, I can now say that the experience has left me with a sour taste. There are legit “programs” that have sincerely tried to fulfill their goals, some who were either incompetent or even lacking morals and waaaay more than just a few others, that I have personally participated in, that were just scams. The “Zano” drone scam being the most recent and by far the largest crowdfunding scam to date. I was a victim of this almost 3.5 million dollar fraud as well as thousands of others. They claim “difficulties” caused their demise, but I know otherwise from firsthand knowledge and investigative journalism by a third party that fraud was deliberate and pervasive within the company. Some programs like the “Growlerwerks” lack integrity and morals by shipping products that actually belong to their supporters instead to retailers … effectively using some else’s money to build a product that ultimately may never be delivered to many, if not most of the people who contributed to the project. So, they get the bucks from the retailers for the product and can stiff the supporters. They make twice the amount of money. Immoral or criminal?

I participated in a “smart ring” project with a company called “MOTA” for almost two years. I’ve had face to face contact with them at the last two CES shows, but at the last meeting they told me something that made my jaw drop. They actually told me to my face that the project wasn’t “hot” anymore and they were shifting to building drones. Problematically, drones that they had on display, like the ring mockup, didn’t work either. The Attorney General of California may have to decide as I’ve filed a complaint of fraud with them. I also notified Indiegogo of another ongoing scam and their (paraphrased) response was “Fraud on guys!!! No recourse!!!”. In my view, this is the actions of criminals. But who here are the crooks? Indiegogo for knowing it was a scam, refusing to acknowledge it and allowing it continue? Or the crooks who knew that Indiegogo, once they got their bucks, would claim ignorance and let them run away with the bucks?

Pix and picks from the show for coolness

Just a few pixs from the show that I thought worthy of a look.

This is the LG booth:

LG at 2016 CES


Printing with a 3D sugar printer. They just get more amazing ever year.

It’s worth noting that the spoons themselves are 3D printed ceramic.

Sugar 3D Printer





































Full color 3D printing … Honestly, I thought this was years aways, but here it is … cheap? Ahhh, nope.

Full color 3D printer


This is at the Toyota booth with the Kikai concept car:Kakai #1

Kakai #2 Kakai #3