I give my review of the TMAX 9HD Android Tablet from APEX that’s only $100, I explain why we HAD to get a new Airport Extreme…for the children, how to find your family members with Siri. In Taming the Terminal Part 13, Bart unravels the mystery that is the PATH.
Hi this is Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast Mac Podcast, hosted at Podfeet.com, a technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias. Today is Sunday December 29, 2013 and this is show number 451. Before we get started I wanted to let you know that next week’s show will most likely not be on time – not sure, but maybe Tuesday night. Going to the New Media Expo this weekend in Vegas and it doesn’t finish till Monday afternoon! If you subscribe to the NosillaCast News, by clicking the NosillaCast News Signup link in the menu bar on podfeet.com you can register there you’ll be sure to find out when it will come out. I’ll tweet and app.net and G+ and Facebook about it for sure so if you’d better not write to me asking where the show is next Sunday or I’ll make a LOT of fun of you! let’s dig into the show.
TMAX 9HD – 9″ Android Tablet
This week I got my hands on a 9″ Android Tablet called the TMAX 9 HD, model TMS9775 from a company called APEX. You’d think this would be silly for me to review because a) I’m a card carrying Apple Fanboi, and b) because I just got an iPad Air for Christmas (thanks StevenP!) The reason this tablet is interesting is because it’s only $100. I wanted to see if it’s possible to have a $100 tablet that’s actually worth using. The TMAX 9 HD is available at Amazon and places like Sam’s Club, one of the big box stores in the US. Keep an eye on the price though, the Amazon price was $20 higher than Sams Club when I checked it out.
The TMAX 9″ Tablet is listed as being “high-definition” but the screen resolution is 1024×600. I thought the definition of HD was at least 720p. It’s definitely not what I’d call a bright display, but again, it’s a hundred dollars. The display is not as bright as I’d like, but I’m pretty nuts about running the brightness way up on any device I pick up, so it’s probably just about right for normal people.
I was delighted that the TMAX Tablet shipped with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is only one revision behind the current Kit Kat OS that came out just a short time ago. That’s actually pretty unusual for an Android device to be that close to up to date when you first ship it so that’s pretty cool.
I expected the screen to be unresponsive and laggy – but that is definitely not the case. I find that the screen is very responsive, and I don’t ever notice that I’m waiting for it. The screen also rotates relatively quickly, perhaps not as snappy as the iPad but not slow so that you’d really complain about it. I did notice that while in landscape mode, the listing of your notifications actually fall off the screen, as though the OS doesn’t know you’re in landscape mode. I can scroll through the list to see lower items but the stuff at the top is cut off unless I rotate to portrait mode. Assume that’s a driver kind of thingy that could be easily fixed in a software update. The build quality of the device is surprisingly good – I don’t find that it flexes or anything like that, the buttons for volume and power on are tight and let you feel them depress just like you’d hope.
Let’s talk about the cameras. They’re horrible. I took my first two pictures in low light and it was nearly impossible to see the subjects at all. I’m not exaggerating here at all, it’s dreadful. Later I took a photo outside of Tesla and it was really blown out. I noticed some settings and discovered I could lower the subject and also mess with white balance and it was much better. I took another photo indoors, but of a very well lit Christmas decoration and Kyle described it perfectly – it looked like a photo from a flip phone. The TMAX takes video and will even has a panorama mode, but other than for a small child to feel like they’re taking photos you really wouldn’t want to use them. Again the software and the touch was very responsive, but the camera hardware itself is just awful.
The TMAX only comes with 8GB built in, but it also has an SD card slot so you can add more memory. I wish I knew more about this but what I understand is that there are limitations on what you can put on an SD card vs. the built in memory, like you could put photos and videos on it but maybe not applications? Like I said I’m not speaking from experience here but it’s something to consider before assuming it would work exactly like the built in memory.
I plugged my TMAX tablet into my Mac to charge it, only to have the tablet offer to go into USB mass storage mode so that I could actually drag files in and out of it. I’ve forgotten that Apple keeps us from doing easy, useful things like this! I was able to access the photos I’d taken, listen to ring tones for Google Hangouts that were pre-stored on the device, and even drag a movie onto the tablet. I figured it would be only fitting to drag an episode of the Knightwise podcast over, since he’s my biggest influence to try things like this! I chose Episode 705 where he reviews the Galaxy Gear. I took a guess and dragged it into the Media folder, then the device suggested I turn USB mass storage back off, I disconnected and opened the video player. It showed me the entire file structure so I guess it wouldn’t have mattered where I plopped it, but I opened it up on the TMAX and it played beautifully. No stuttering, no problems at all, it was fantastic! I felt such relief that I didn’t have to fight iTunes to do this!
Remember I mentioned it only has 8GB of memory – well the great folks at APEX have not crapped it up with a bunch of useless stuff. When I did the USB mass storage trick, I found I still had over 5GB of space available, even though it comes with things like Chrome, Gmail, a video player and a several other USEFUL apps preinstalled.
The speakers on the TMAX are pretty tinny, so I plugged in my iPhone headphones and Knightwise’s video sounded great. I decided to hook it up to my Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker, only to discover that this tablet doesn’t have Bluetooth. That was a bit of a disappointment, so it means not only are you not using speakers, you’re not going to be using an external keyboard. I have a keyboard and rarely use it, so it’s a good thing the TMAX’s onscreen keyboard works pretty well. And since it’s Android you can add any software keyboard you like.
The TMAX 9HD is supposed to get 6 hours of battery life and I believe it. I didn’t do a comprehensive battery test but I used the tablet a lot and rarely had to charge it up. It comes with a micro USB cable and an AC Adapter charger so you’ll be in good shape when you do need to charge it up.
I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t experienced it with my own hands, but this is a pretty darn good tablet for a hundred dollars. I see very few compromises from my first gen Nexus 7 for half the price (and by the way my SECOND Nexus 7 died just like the first one). The screen is responsive, the OS is not a bit sluggish and even though it has just 8GB of on board memory it has that crucial SD card slot os you can add up to 32GB more storage. I’ll probably be an Apple fanboi for the rest of my life or as long as they exist but for 1/5th the cost of an iPad, the TMAX 9HD an incredibly good buy.
New Airport Extreme
We’ve been visiting our daughter Lindsay and her fiancé Nolan quite a bit more often lately, it’s great to work in a visit to the Podmom and to get to see their dog Dodger so it’s a blast to go to San Diego for us. Lindsay is a good geek and so of course pays for good Internets, but for some reason things always get weird – like YouTube run over Airplay to the AppleTV stutters a lot. The last time we were there they had to unplug and plug in their router about 4 times to get on the internet at all. The router is only about a year old, but it’s a Netgear that I haven’t messed with and it got me thinking it might be the root of their problems.
Steve and I talked it out and decided we should get them an Airport Extreme. If only for the security improvements it seems like a good idea (remember how ever time Bart has some scary story, the Airport is always safe, or at least it has been so far?) Then I realized that Apple has replaced the small flat Airport with a giant tissue box-shaped version of the Airport Extreme that has the new 802.11ac wireless protocol, which if you have a newer device like my new Retina MacBook Pro will give you much faster speeds than 802.11n. It can also transmit both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies at the same time, which means our older TiVos that are still on the 802.11G standard will be uninterrupted but not get in the way of our newer devices.
Another advancement is that the new Airport Extreme has an array of beamforming antennas which will actually seek out the devices capable of using 802.11c and give them 1.3Gbits/second, which is about triple the speed of the 802.11n. Now Lindsay and Nolan don’t HAVE an ac devices, so it would just be dumb to buy this for them. We looked on Amazon and we could buy the older model for a good price used, and I was about to do that when we thought, hey…what if we buy the new Airport Extreme for US and give them OUR relatively new Airport Extreme? I mean really, we’re willing to do so much for the children, don’t you think?
I got the new Extreme yesterday and set it up in the afternoon. Right as I was unplugging the old one and plugging in the new one I remembered that I’d done all that shenanigans with static IPs and dual NAT and such so that my Verizon FiOS router would relinquish router and wireless control to the Airport. Luckily, and this did NOT start out as a Blue Mango Learning ad, I promise you, I was able to go to podfeet.com and under Tutorials find the screenshots where I explained what changes I had to make to our new Airport Extreme take control of the network. It took me just a few minutes using my own instructions so I was super happy that worked. I had also opened a port for my VPN server according to Donald’s amazing instructions, and luckily I’d documented them in ScreenSteps as well, so I was able to open the port and get that working too.
When I got my new MacBook Pro I asked around about which Ethernet adapter to buy for it, the Thunderbolt one or the USB one, and a lot of people mocked me for even asking the question – when’s the last time you needed wired Ethernet? Well guess what – to modify my new Airport I needed to use Ethernet because the Verizon router expected it to be on a static IP and I couldn’t set it until I could connect to it but I couldn’t connect because I hadn’t set the static IP. Good thing I got that Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter!
I guess the question at this point is whether the new Airport Extreme is faster on my new machine and I hate to admit that before I broke downy he old one, I didn’t measure the speed of the old network. I’m sure it’s exactly triple the speed, right?
So after that all we had to do was change the wireless access settings on Steve’s Macbook Air, and his iMac. Oh, and the VPN server Macbook. And the iMac connected to the TV. Then Steve tried to access Amazon video through the Roku…yeah had to connect there. And on the TiVo, and the Apple TV. oops – we got Steve an Apple TV for his den so he can get Star Trek TOS on netflix, and we have one in the bedroom for Airplay of video podcasts. And the three TiVos. Oh crud, didn’t we just set up those cool WeMos to control the lights? Those are on wifi too. And our Hue Lighting system…and our iPhones and iPad. um, maybe we should just move…
I’ve been listening to Katie and David on Mac Power Users talking about how great Siri can be. David talked about how he uses Siri to find his family members. Cool idea. My son Kyle was on a camping trip with his friends this weekend and I wanted to know when he’d be home, so I thought I’d use the Find My Friends app and Siri to help me do that. First I have to teach it that he’s my child, and then it should work JUST the way David said it would. Here’s how our conversation went:
Kyle Sheridan is my son
Ok, I’ll remember that Kyle Sheridan is your child
Find my son Kyle
I don’t know Kyle’s son
Find my son
Ok, which child? (shows Kyle Sheridan and Lindsay Sheridan)
Ok, do you want me to remember that Kyle Halkola is your child?
Find my son
Ok, which child? (shows Kyle Sheridan and Lindsay Sheridan)
Ok, here’s contact information for Kyle Sheridan
Find my child
Ok, I found Kyle Sheridan
So remember earlier how I talked about using my own tutorial on setting up my router and I said it wasn’t a Clarify ad? Well now it’s time for the official Clarify ad! Last week my friend Nancy was applying for a refinance loan on her house, and she didn’t want to paper mail in the documents. Instead she scanned them all in and was getting ready to send them when she remembered that she really should encrypt them. These papers have all kinds of Personal information – birthdays, social security numbers, bank account numbers – pretty much everything you’d need to steal her identity. I loved what she did next. She sent me a text message that simply said, “I’m sure you have a tutorial on how to compress and encrypt a folder full of documents into one file, right?” She KNEW that I’d have done it so that my little pea brain didn’t have to remember it and because I just love helping people with this kind of stuff. I jumped onto podfeet.com, and did a search on the home page for the word “encrypt” and amongst the three hits I found a link to the page How to Encrypt a File or Folder in OSX and shot the link back to her.
I love that people EXPECT me to have done these tutorials – don’t you think it would be fun to have this much cool info at your fingertips – not having to answer the same question over and over again? People will think, heck they’ll know you’re brilliant! Head on over to clarify-it.com and download the free trial, and when you find out how awesome it is for yourself, make sure to tell the folks there that you heard about it on the NosillaCast when you buy it!
Chit Chat Across the Pond – Taming the Terminal Part 13 – PATH
- Apple releases OS X 10.9.1 which includes many bug fixes and security updates to Safari – http://support.apple.com/kb/HT6065
- Apple releases Safari 6.1.1 (and 7.0.1 for Mavericks as part of 10.9.1) – http://support.apple.com/kb/HT6082
Important Security News:
- Target lose 40 million credit cards during the busy holiday buying season (including CVV2 numbers) – breach happened between 27 Nov and 15 Dec, and only involved the brick and mortar stores, not their online store –https://corporate.target.com/discover/article/Important-Notice-Unauthorized-access-to-payment-ca
- Researchers demonstrate proof of concept for disabling the camera activity light on old MacBooks via Firmware update – this is not good news, but it’s not hair-on-fire news either. The fact that a firmware update is required makes this attack impractical across the internet, and the biggest concern would be if you are given a mac to use that you do not control, e.g. in work or in a public library or in school – if you’re worried – there is a very very simple hardware patch – a tiny square of black tape: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/researchers-hacked-into-macbook-camera-but-that-doesnt-mean-theyre-spying-o
- Google reduce Gmail user’s privacy by auto-loading all email images by default (images have been used by spammers to track users for over a decade) – though it can be turned off – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/12/16/gmail-takes-image-loading-out-of-users-hands-heres-how-to-take-it-back/
- Researchers (including Adi Shamir, the S in RSA), demonstrate proof of concept attack that allows email encryption keys to be stolen using a microphone – as your computer does different things (add, multiply, access memory), it makes a very subtly different sound – using this sound, and a carefully constructed stream of email, it was possible to crack a full RSA private key. This is a so-called side-channel attack, and during their research they also looked at measuring power fluctuations to do the same attack, but that proved less effective than just listening. DON’T PANIC – this is not a practical real-world attack, it requires a lot of ducks to be in a row to work. It requires thousands of emails to be sent and decrypted, and, the next email cannot be crafted until the previous one’s decryption recording has been made and analysed – The Naked Security article on the research is very well written and a fascinating read – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/12/19/the-sound-made-by-your-computer-could-give-away-your-encryption-keys/
- Kaspersky find a stupid bug in recent (but not current) versions of Safari – when saving the state of tabs on exit, passwords were saved in a plist file in unencrypted form (fixed in Safari 6.1) – this is a good illustration of why updates matter – http://www.securelist.com/en/blog/8168/Loophole_in_Safari
- Intego make the argument of why you might want an out-bound firewall. Given the products they sell, this is as much a sales pitch as anything else, but it is an interesting read, and, if you decided you would like the added security of an out-bound firewall, don’t only consider Intego’s product, remember long-standing reputable competitors like Little Snitch (http://www.obdev.at/products/littlesnitch/index.html) – http://www.intego.com/mac-security-blog/why-you-need-an-outbound-firewall/
- Twitter ruffled some feathers by changing how their blocking function worked, then they caved and changed it back – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/12/16/twitter-ditches-watered-down-block-feature-after-outcry/
- An interesting new malware development – a FireFox plugin that tries to hack every site you visit – http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/12/botnet-enlists-firefox-users-to-hack-web-sites/
- The Snowden blow-back continues – Apple & other tech giants pressure Obama on NSA face-to-face: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/apple-ceo-tim-cook-and-other-tech-leaders-press-obama-for-nsa-surveillance & a judge orders the NSA to stop collecting phone metadata (just the first legal domino in a LONG process) – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/12/16/us-judge-orders-nsa-to-stop-collecting-phone-metadata/
Main Topic – Taming the Terminal part 13 of n
That’s going to wind this up for this week, many thanks to our sponsor for helping to pay the bills, Blue Mango Learning at bluemangolearning.com makers of ScreenSteps and Clarify. Don’t forget to send in your Dumb Questions, comments and suggestions by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on twitter and app.net @podfeet. Check out the NosillaCast Google Plus Community too – lots of fun over there! If you want to join in the fun of the live show, head on over to podfeet.com/live on Sunday nights at 5pm Pacific Time and join the friendly and enthusiastic NosillaCastaways. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.