Google Chromecast Audio Includes Multi-room Music

Google Chromecast Audio includes Multi-room Music

For anyone who has struggled to find a suitable multi-room audio solution, your solution has arrived in the form of Google Chromecast Audio.  Ok, so maybe very few people have the cash laying around to purchase 3 or 4 Sonos devices in order to acquire the full multi-room music solution.  Most of us do not have $1200-$2000 just for in-home audio; that’s what a portable Bluetooth speakers is for.

At a whopping $35 per device, the Chromecast Audio is an easy choice over the least expensive Sonos device ($200) which starts at six times the price of the Chromecast Audio.  Certainly, the quality of the Sonos speaker is better than that of most Bluetooth Speakers, but why spend so much more, when you can use what you (likely) already have.

BEM, a manufacturer of Bluetooth speakers, has an interesting solution for multi-room music.  They offer 3 battery-operated Bluetooth-connected speakers (HLB2002B) that each inductively charge on a platform.   You’d think that this would be great for multi-room audio, but there is a drawback: Bluetooth.   Bluetooth is only good for about 30 feet, line-of-sight, and if your house is really old (like most homes in San Francisco) that range could be < 5 feet.   However, this BEM device still sports a 3.5mm audio jack and could therefore cater to the Chromecast Audio.

Alternatively, it is possible to connect a Chromecast to a TV in each room and even stream to all devices at once.  But how many of us have an TV+speakers in every room?

Are we now on the edge of our seats as to how this new Google device will change music playback?

Google Chromecast Audio



Self-Driving Cars come to public roads 02

Google’s Self-Driving Cars Come to Public Roads

Self-Driving Cars come to public roads

Self-driving Cars come to Public Roads

We got to see Google’s Self-Driving Cars last Summer and then again in the Winter, and now in the 2nd quarter of 2015 they’re leaving the private lot for public roads.  It should come as no surprise that Google’s Self-Driving Vehicles would eventually come out and play, after all they’ve been on the streets for years.  But these new smaller vehicles don’t need humans as backup pilots.

According to Google these little self-driving cars can navigate nearly any situation on public roads.  Per the video, wherever they may be, traffic, pedestrians, and other objects do not appear to cause the vehicle any trouble. And where they do cause trouble, the vehicle appears apt to handle it.

In the state of California, self-driving vehicles are legitimately allowed.  Only 4 states in the Union (and Washington DC) currently allow self-driving vehicles.  But as it stands some states are undecided and many are against the concept. At least for now and the short term future, self-driving vehicles may be required to have a human behind the wheel, for driving outside the state.

Source: Google Blog

Project Fi

Pay One Cent per Megabyte with Google’s Project Fi


Project Fi 2

1¢ per MB via Google Project Fi

About a year ago Google began testing wireless protocols for a future project.  A few months ago it made a deal with the third and fourth largest mobile carriers in the US, T-mobile an Sprint. And very recently, Google sent out a plan for a mobile service exclusively for it’s Nexus 6 phones. So how can you pay one cent per megabyte with Google’s Project Fi?

It’s a fairly well known fact that few people are overjoyed by the plans available from mobile carriers.  But most of us still bite the bullet and dive in anyway.  We want mobile service.  We want connectivity everywhere we go, for the convenience and the connected-ness.   But we also want to be treated fairly and that seems to be the hang-up for most carriers.

Nexus 6 Project FiGoogle’s Project Fi relies heavily on WiFi services to supplement it’s mobile calling, texting and data plans. It fills in the spaces in-between, not only with consistent coverage, but a reasonable and clear plan for data.

It is just as clear to Google that the talking and the texting features of mobile carriers are depreciated because that part of Project Fi is unlimited and costs a mere $20.  So if you got a Nexus 6 and knew for a fact that you would never use mobile data, the plan would be exquisite.  But if you do happen to use mobile data, you will not be locked into a set amount, nor a blocky fitting for more or less usage.

Project Fi TingThe best example of this blocky usage is Ting Mobile.  If you use between 1 and 100 MB of mobile data, you pay $3, if 101-500, $12. and so on.  But with Project Fi, if you sign up for 2000 MB (2GB) and pay the $20, but only use 1200 MB, you will see a refund of $8 on your next bill.

Google is willing to go down to the megabyte on incremental costs, but begin with a charge on the gigabyte level.  This means that any strange or mid-level amount of usage will only incur the cost of that exact usage, rather than a range of usage.   Such a finely tuned measurement has traditionally been incomprehensible by the other carriers, either for lack of processing capacity or laziness.

The deal is enticing, but requires the user to purchase only the Nexus 6.  Where Apple Fans might take issue with this, many people have little qualms with paying almost nothing for a mobile service plan.  Google’s Project Fi may very well either crush the current market, or the exceptions may detract too much from the intent.  If flashy graphics on television ads have anything to say for the public opinion of mobile phones, then it remains to be seen that Project Fi will become popular at all.

Cheers to Google for trying to bring down the big players, yet again.

Gmail All Inboxes

Gmail All Inboxes

Gmail App All Inboxes

In Gmail All Inboxes combined

Google’s Gmail app has now combined all inboxes into one.   Where this might seem like a commonplace change it comes as a long awaited feature. Now rather than having to select-through each inbox, individually, you can see them all at once.

If however you’re a Google Inbox user, you may or may not feel left out as this change is merely for the users of the Gmail app.  But then not so many people have more than just two accounts.   It is common enough now that many may have both a work and personal account and this inbox combo feature will allow you to see all, like some desktop programs have had the capacity to do for years.

Google Pac-Man

Google PacMan (April Fools Day)


Google PacMan_02

April Fools Day – Google PacMan

Just when you thought you’d make it through the end of March with out incident, April Fools Day happens.  Google has always contributed to this odd holiday and this year is no different.  The latest prank / joke is where Google Maps becomes a tribute to PacMan.

 How to Play

Go to Google Maps ( and mouse-over the Pacman image in the lower left-hand corner of the frame.  Once you’re ready, click this and the map will change to a Pacman layout with Ghosts on one side and Pacman on the other. Remember to save up those larger dots for when you’re either in trouble or got the Ghosts cornered.  The controls are pretty much the same, just Up, Down, Left, Right using the arrow keys .

Google Pacman is no less fun that the original and if anything a bit more interesting because of the sometimes bizarre layout of roads.  Per the image, I chose Lombard Street in San Francisco, but then realized that SF Airport might be a bit more fun.  Either way, you may spend more hours playing this game than working, so maybe just once more.

Update: For a real challenge position the map over Vatican City or San Francisco Airport.