Mycroft - A open source option for a voice assistant

I have been a pretty big Google fan over the years, some would argue a huge fan. I use only Gmail, owned only Android smartphones, and I even have a Google sweatshirt! When the Google Home was announced, I was sold. I wanted one even though I knew of the Amazon Echo since it came out and was never much interested. The Google Home seemed different.

At Thanksgiving of 2016, a deal popped up for getting a Google Home with a free Chromecast 2nd gen. I only had the 1st Gen Chromecast so I was in! The Google Home lacked features at the time, but as time went by, new abilities kept appearing. Eventually, I was able to cast Netflix up to the TV just by asking. Pretty cool.

Beginning a few months ago, upon the arrival of Firefox Quantum, I decided to give it a try, even though I had been a happy Chrome user for many years. After a short time of use, I was hooked and eventually made the decision to move over to it as my primary browser.

Since I run Linux, and I have a dark theme, I like most th…

Install Guide for TeamSpeak 3 Client on Linux

Here we will step through the process for installing TeamSpeak 3 on Linux. Most of this will work on any distribution, but it is geared towards a system running Gnome. This should work on any recent version of TeamSpeak 3 as well, and any upcoming ones unless they make a major change to their package.
What is TeamSpeak 3 TeamSpeak is VoIP software designed with security in mind, featuring crystal clear voice quality, scalable up to thousands of simultaneous users and endless customization options. Packed with powerful features and incredible performance, TeamSpeak is your Swiss Army Knife of voice communication. Download TeamSpeak 3 The first thing will be to get Teamspeak 3 from the companies download page. Select to download the Linux application in either 32 bit or 64 bit, depending on your system. Install TeamSpeak 3 The file likely downloaded to your Downloads directory under Home. The package will need to have executable rights, so we will…

T-Mobile the underdog changing things

I want to explain some of the few details behind what makes a carrier a carrier and how the perception of connection changes based on different factors. These factors often depend on resources that are limited and largely owned by the bigger corporations.
To start, I will need to give brief overview on how you connect to a carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile. They each own certain amount of airwaves known as spectrum, much like a TV station or radio broadcast. Each carrier can only then broadcast over spectrum that each of them own. And spectrum for cellular carriers is a very limited resource. The original spectrum to go up for sale was bought up by many different regional carriers. Most of these carriers have now been swallowed up by either AT&T or Verizon, who own the majority of the available low band spectrum.
What is low band spectrum versus the high band? Well, low band spectrum can reach much further distances, and penetrate walls much better than high band, but high band ca…

T-Mobile's Ambitious LTE Deployment

It is fun to go back and review how things have changed over the years. Lets take a look at T-Mobile my carrier of choice due to their focus on improving the customer experience.
Back in 2012 they had a major problem. They were losing customers and had a failed merger with AT&T. They were now in a rough spot with everyone wanting LTE and T-Mobile had none. In comes John Legere in fall of 2012 with big plans for the carrier to bring LTE to the carrier, get the iPhone and do things that other carriers won't.
Below is a chart for T-Mobile refarming plan. Since they didn't have any open spectrum to deploy LTE to like Verizon or AT&T from the 700Mhz Auction, they needed to find space in their current spectrum. AWS was the clear best choice for deployment which currently housed their HSPA+ network. After this rollout was complete it would get LTE onto all the current AWS towers along with the current HSPA+. 
By the end of 2013 T-Mobile had a decent LTE footprint but it was f…

Stop buying phones and signing contracts with Carriers

Most people, when they think about phones, think about a carrier. That's because almost everyone phone currently on the market only work on one carrier and has all sorts of influence on the phone from the carrier. These are mostly geared towards things working out better for the carrier than the customer.

The big exception to this rule is the iPhones, as they are carrier independent, have no bloat or changes specific to a carrier. No features integrated into the device that talks back to the carrier saying when you activated certain features, like tethering.
In buying their phones, you also get stuck with all their apps and services they are pushing, which usually means they force out competitive items, for instance, Verizon blocked Google Wallet from there Galaxy Nexus because it competed against their Softcard service.
On top of that, each carrier get special made phones for their network, that has hardware that works on just their network, meaning that if you want to switch car…

Nexus 7 LTE

There are a bunch of tablets out there with many variations and options. I made my decision on the Nexus 7 for its price and features. Plus the fact it runs stock Android and gets updates fast made it a clear choice. There are also very few tablets out there with cellular capabilities and the Nexus 7 shines in that category.
First off, lets talk about the hardware. With the quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro, it has plenty of performance and the 1080p IPS looks great and is very crisp. The tablet is light and thin making it very easy to take on the go.
The main feature this device offers that most tablets lack is cellular connectivity. This tablet offers LTE capabilities to Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. This makes this tablet very useful on the go and not tied down to the home. For T-Mobile and AT&T it also supports there HSPA and Edge networks so you have a very wide range of support.
At the price of $350, this offers a price lower than most iPad models that lack cellular connectivity…

Google+ Hangouts - Google's Unified Messaging

Google has released there new product which will be rolling out over the next few days to all Android 2.3+ devices. This addition has had a lot of hype and has a lot of good changes and qualities about it.

Basically, this new move brings all of Google's different chat methods into one unified system. So, now you can get the new extentions for Chrome, Gmail, Google+ or phone apps, and they all works seamlessly together for chat, voice or video communications.

The best feature about the new system is the notifications. Once read on one device, it is taken away as a notification on your other devices, so you don't have to disregard messages you've already read somewhere else. This is something that has bothered me for years and am glad to see a solution, that in my short testing, works very well.

The Chrome extension is very interesting. It runs and give a pop-up window on messages, which stays persistent across tabs. This is a great improvement over Gmail built in chat, whic…