The Evocacs Deebot Orzo 920
My membership warehouse company, Costco, sells both the iRobot models but also the Ecovacs brand. I was intrigued so I brought home the Ecovacs Deebot Orzo 920. What do I have to lose, with Costco’s generous return policy protecting me? I ordered the Orzo 920 online and waited patiently for it to arrive.
The Orzo 920 is almost perfect as far as robot vacuums go, though I’m not sure why is has such a long name (how many brand names does one robot need?). A Chinese model, it nevertheless has clearly-written documentation and labels. The box contained the robot, charging dock, booklet, two HEPA filters and a tool for cleaning the brushes. Instinctively I set up the charging dock and put the robot on it, not realizing I had to flip the red switch on top to actually turn it on.
Modern robot vacuums need Internet access, so I had to go through steps to connect it to my home network. I downloaded the Evovacs app for my Android phone and set the vacuum up to advertise its WiFi signal. Connecting it to the app was simple and quick.
Once the Orzo was charged, I used the app to set it up. The Orzo uses LIDAR laser ranging to map the floors of your home. It maps your home the first time it’s run, after which you can edit the map to divide areas, mark off spots with “virtual boundaries,” and make other adjustments. Different advanced vacuums use different technologies to map rooms (iRobots use a visual camera) but in my experience the LIDAR is tough to beat. It was a treat to watch as the app filled in walls as the robot proceeded around the room. It does an amazingly accurate job figuring out where it is and what the room looks like. I could tell this was not a robot that would ever get lost on the way back to the dock.
One thing I learned right away is that the initial mapping takes longer than a normal cleaning. This may just be my experience but I wanted it to be thorough in its mapping at the expense of deep cleaning the first time. I discovered an option in the app’s settings which allows you to set the vacuum’s power on the “Quiet” setting. This uses far less battery than the normal power modes so I was able to get the vacuum to completely map my floor without having to stop and charge mid-way.
Multiple floors are supported, so once the Orzo had mapped the downstairs I moved the dock and vacuum upstairs and had the Orzo map it, too. Only two maps seem to be in the app so if your home has more than two you might be out of luck.
Many years ago through a “Woot-off” clearance sale, I became the owner of a first-generation iRobot Roomba robot vacuum. It was novel advanced for its day, bouncing randomly around the room, but it frequently either got stuck somewhere or lost its way back to the charging dock, sending me on a whole-house search to find it. When the battery died I packed it away and switched to old-fashioned vacuuming.
With the recent addition of two dogs to the family vacuuming has become a priority again. To keep up without spending an hour manually pushing a vacuum around the floor, I revisited the state-of-the-art for robot vacuums. I quizzed my friends with vacuums to see what they liked about theirs. I read several web reviews and product reviews.
iRobot’s latest models seemed okay but didn’t wow me. They seemed to have a high price tag for what they offered. iRobot is no longer the only game in town, so I thought I’d look at the competition. The Evocacs Deebot Orzo 920 is sold at Costo and seemed like a good candidate, so I ordered one. I also read some great online reviews of the Roborock S4 so I ordered one of those, too. After a few weeks with each I’ve decided to post my reviews of them, starting with the Orzo 920. I’ll post the link to my Roborock review here once it’s done, too.
The Water Hawk.
Teenagers like to take long showers. They can easily spend 20 minutes in there, idling away their time as well as the family’s hot water. I’d done a few rounds of knocking on the bathroom door. I’d even taped photos of baby Arctic seals on the door to remind the kids of the consequences. Didn’t seem to get the point across.
When one night came where one of the kids drained the hot water from our tank I knew desperate measures were needed. I threatened to switch out the nice Delta showerhead with a miserly spray one, guaranteed to save water at the price of a miserable shower experience. Certainly that would get the point across but I knew I’d soon have to swap it out. You know, the Geneva Convention and all.
I began to ponder how a proper geek might solve the problem. I am a Site Reliability Engineer in my day job and I love gathering metrics on the computers I wrangle. What if there were a way to track my kids’ use of water? Wouldn’t it be great to show them how much water their showers actually use? I began to dream up a product I could create that would do just that but then some clever Googling showed me one was already out there: the Water Hawk.
City of Raleigh logo
Yesterday, the City of Raleigh approved its very first logo after working on it with a design firm for a year. Initially I was not so sure about the design since it appeared to be very antiseptic. As I’ve studied it more it’s grown (so to speak) on me a bit.
My comments is that the tree resembles the hated Bradford Pear rather than an oak that is part of our “City of Oaks” nickname. Nothing says quality like a smelly, brittle tree that collapses with the slightest breeze! The logo is also a bit more angular than I would prefer. Too many sharp edges, like a pile of green razor blades.
But you know what? My opinion doesn’t really matter. I wasn’t involved in the process, I’m not a design professional, and I don’t have a vote at the table. No one logo is going to please everyone and I applaud the Council for bravely making the change. I would consider anything
an improvement over using the Raleigh City Seal on everything as the seal was never meant to be used as a logo. Any logo is better than no logo at all (i.e, the seal), so I’m happy that Raleigh has something it can now use. If the Council decides in 10 or 15 years that it is ready for something new, it will at least have something to build on.
I can live with it. Not bad for a first try.
Now if Raleigh can refresh its flag…
Serious journalism, like spinach, is good for you.
Update 10 Aug: Perhaps I was a little hard on the N&O. I’m giving it a chance.
What’s everyone talking about today? Spinach, that’s what. N&O Executive Editor John Drescher compared “obligatory” stories about government process to spinach and apparently our spinach days are over. Instead, the paper is apparently now all about chasing clicks.
And local voices don’t matter anymore, apparently, so away with the metro columnists, Barry Saunders and the like. Quirky cat stories will now rule the day. I’m left with the impression that local matters – the stuff where a local newspaper shines like none other – will no longer be a priority for the N&O. If it doesn’t have national appeal it’s gone.
Can I be honest here? I hate, hate, hate the N&O’s new clickbait headlines (and yes, John, no matter how hard you go lipstickin’ this pig these headlines are absolutely clickbait). This is one step away from putting emojis and text shortcuts in headlines (“Y U NO PASS BUDGET, COUNCIL? LOL”). My intelligence is insulted every time I see one. In fact, I make it a point not to click on any story with an asinine headlines. Nothing good is ever behind a clickbait headline.
The N&O website is also bogged down by the worst pop-up advertising you’ll find on the web, here or anywhere else. While some of my media pals might look down on my use of ad blocking software, I would not need it if sites like the N&O weren’t full of exploding ads and self-playing videos. There are rules of decorum on the web and assaulting your web visitors has always been frowned upon, no matter how lucrative it might seem.
Recently I had a scare when our home storage server went on the fritz. Years of photographs, videos, and files were suddenly in jeopardy as they appeared to vanish. Being a resourceful geek, once I caught my breath I was able to revive everything. Still, it was enough of a scare that I accelerated my quest for a good, offsite place to back up our files.
Part of this quest was getting gigabit fiber Internet at home, which I recently did when I could no longer wait for Google Fiber and signed up with AT&T Fiber. Untangling this brave new world has kept me busy recently, not leaving much time for blogging. I will have lots to say about this in the near future but suffice to say that having a fat pipe at home makes it easier to do any kind of backup to the cloud.
Can I tell you how much I love MusicBrainz?
I have been dabbling on online radio for a few years now and the challenge is always finding interesting content. One of the most cost-effective ways to find varied content is in compilation albums or soundtracks. One-hit wonders that were one staples of radio make good radio content but buying a one-hit wonder’s shitty album just to get their only hit isn’t cost-effective. With MusicBrainz, I can look up a one-hit wonder and find out exactly what compilation albums or soundtracks it’s a part of. I can buy that compilation and not only get the song I want but most likely other good one-hit wonders along with it. Awesome!
Another good use of MusicBrainz is finding just the right mix of a song. Often, record companies will release a remixed or edited song as a single, either designed to fit on a 45 or to be more radio-friendly. For example Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride has a great break that goes on and on in the album version but is often cut short in versions played on the radio (2:55 vs. the original 4:27). This drives me nuts! MusicBrainz knows which versions are which, though! I can find the entire catalog of Steppenwolf, find their The Second album, click on Magic Carpet Ride, and see all the versions of the song that have been released. Goodbye, hacked-up, radio-edit song versions!
MusicBrainz would’ve come in handy with a recent purchase I made at the (now defunct) Ed McKay store earlier this year. I picked up what I thought was a compilation album of early 70’s hits. I expected these to be the original master recordings of the songs but that’s not what I got! The entire album was re-recordings of the hits, none of them sounding the same as the ones I know and love. I was disappointed I hadn’t noticed the small print on the CD cover, and that I hadn’t gone to MusicBrainz first!
MusicBrainz is an open source project as well as a 501c(3). It’s worthy of your time and contributions!
It’s nice when your server fits in your mailbox.
I’ve always liked to have a home server hanging around for things like email, file sharing, and the like. Over the years this has taken the form of a beefy desktop computer, a PowerPC-based MacMini, an embedded Linux-based router, and recently a beat-up old laptop. All had their challenges, power consumption and fan noise being the two main ones, though the PowerPC machine and the router also couldn’t run all the software I needed. I was limping along on my busted laptop for as long as I could but decided it was nearing the end of its useful life. It was time to go shopping for something that would last me a while.
The embedded idea still appealed to me for the two main reasons I mentioned above: power consumption and noise. I wanted something that sips electricity and was quiet yet still provided enough computing power to do what I needed. After reading up on some online reviews, I went with the Intel NUC.
Intel’s NUC (“Next Unit of Computing”) systems are embedded x86_64 machines which are about half the size of a brick. They have plenty of ports: HDMI, USB 3.0, and even a Thunderbolt port. They come with your choice of Intel processors, whether it is an i3, i5, or i7 series. Memory can be boosted to 32 GB and it accepts newer SSD drives. Some models can fit 2.5″ laptop drives as well. The hardest part about making the jump to an Intel NUC was simply deciphering which Intel model had which options. Sometimes having too many choices isn’t a good thing, I suppose.
Like many Triangle residents, I’ve been eagerly awaiting Google Fiber service, ready to ditch my indentured servitude to Time Warner Cable. I’m a fairly advanced geek, too, hosting this site and others on Amazon Web Services. I want my website to be as speedy as possible to me and my web visitors, so low network latency is very important. For those who aren’t advanced geeks, network latency is how long it takes for a packet to travel between two points on a network, usually measured in milliseconds. Networking often hits upon the limitation of the speed of light (or radio propagation, depending on the medium), meaning a server located far away (like Singapore) will have a noticeable delay for visitors in America.
My Amazon virtual server is physically located in Ashburn, Virginia but due to some favorable network routing it responds very quickly in the Triangle area, almost as if it were right across town. I have found it very hard to find a server that’s any closer, network-wise.
I want to love Apple. I really do. But then Apple does something boneheaded like phase out a perfectly-good 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of its own, $160 proprietary headphone technology and I want to throw out every Apple product in my home.
Apple doesn’t want its customers to have choices. It has become the Microsoft of the 2000s. “Courage,” my ass. How about greed? How often do you think Apple’s customers will lose these loose, pricey earbuds?
“Airpods,” a.k.a. overpriced junk
SAN FRANCISCO—Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller took the stage at Wednesday’s iPhone event to announce the news most tech geeks had been expecting: the iPhone will leave the 3.5mm headphone jack behind. It was Schiller’s job to justify why Apple was doing so, and he defended the company’s decision by citing three reasons to move on—and one word: “courage.”
Schiller explained to the San Francisco event crowd that Apple would push the Lightning port standard for wired headphones and push a new proprietary wireless standard, driven by the new “W1 chip” in iOS devices, which Schiller called Apple’s first wireless chip.
The 3.5mm port, on the other hand, has to go, Schiller said, because the company can’t justify the continued use of an “ancient” single-use port. He described the amount of technology packed into the iPhone, saying each element in Apple’s phones is fighting for space, and it’s at a premium. And while every iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will include a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter, Schiller was a lot more bullish about the company’s wireless-audio standard.
Source: Apple defends decision to remove 3.5mm headphone jack, cites “courage” | Ars Technica