Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blackberry passport silver edition and external audio DAC FiiO E17

The FiiO E17 works on my BlackBerry Passport silver edition running OS! I connected it to an USB to go cable and could hear music e.g. from the Spotify app (Amazon Android app store).

The setup is shown below. I used an USB hub cable as this is required to run the setup at iOS devices. But I guess a normal USB cable should work as well.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Blackberry passport silver edition a working horse for productivity

If you commute like me in a train or other public transport, you might like to use the time to read and answer e-mails, write meeting minutes and other business related work.

So far, I was using touch screen devices for that. I found out, that I was struggling with the touch screen keyboard on longer text inputs. I also used an ipad with external keyboard. But it was only comfortable if you have a table to write. So, I decided to give the blackberry passport a try. And so far, I really love it. I used blackberry in the past (my latest was the Bold 9900) and I am owning a playbook (which has a similar operation system like the passport).

No chromebook innovations anymore?

From my post frequency (which dropped recently) you can see there are not too many exciting news anymore for Chromebooks. The systems are running well. I am personally still using my lovely Acer C720 Chromebook (I type this article on it).

If google (or Alphabet) needs some input for innovations, here is my list:

- Make the chromebook Android compatible. Some apps are ported from Android already. Not many though. Why not having a virtual machine on Chromebooks running android?
- Chromebook in the cloud. All the Chromebook settings etc. are synced already today. Why do I need a Chromebook to run my environment. Why can I not use any browser? A virtual Chromebook (available on all browsers) might be cool to have access to the lovely Chromebook environment from everywhere. Jolicloud Linux was a great example into that direction.

Please add you innovation wish list in the comments.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chromebook Pixel 2 launched

Just after Apple having announced the new Macbook 12inch version, google announced the new high-end chromebook Pixel today.
It is mainly upgraded in processor power and battery life. It comes with the same USB-C connection as the Apple Macbook with 12inch screen. Price is slightly reduced, but still hefty starting at 999 USD. There is a LS "Ludricrous Speed" Version with Intel i7 and more RAM for 1299 USD.

Have a look at the very honest review at The Verge.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

PDF tools for a cup of coffee (or free) on chromebooks

Do you still remember the times when you had to buy expensive software just to get small things done? E.g. Acrobat software of Adobe just to manipulate pdfs? Do you remember that operating systems and computers were expensive? This time is definitely over.

With a chromebook and a cool cloud tool you can manipulate pdfs as well. Have a look at smallpdf.com. The best tool I found to manipulate pdfs in many different ways.
Do not forget to donate a coffee for the programmers!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Update: Google Music upload from chromebooks

So far there was no way to upload music from a google computer (chromebook) to google music. Which was somehow odd.

Text below is obsolete now. Google music is now supporting uploads from chromebook (even from the gdrive). Thanks to the developers. More details at google plus post here.

Now, at least a lab version of the upload exists. So, there is no download (upload) manager needed anymore (which was until not recently compatible to chromebook, only windows, mac, linux was supported).

Here is a step by step tutorial for you.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cloudbeats, the iOS app to stream audio files from the gdrive (flac and other formats)

Cloudbeats is the only one iOS app so far which allows streaming of audio files from Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, Mediafire, ownCloud.

You save a lot of mobile storage space on your mobile device by storing audio files such as flac / mp3 in the cloud (see my blog post). Then you can hear your music by multiple devices on all operating systems. For iOS the cloudbeats app is needed which does a nice job. Chromebooks can read it nativly, for windows and mac there are many players available.

I use it to enjoy lossless sound in the office / bed or other areas with WIFI access (the app can copy files for offline usage though)  from my library on my gdrive. No need to sync files anymore.

You can get cloudbeats from the Apple app store.

Use cases of gdrive storage space: audio streaming

With your chromebook you probably received a lot of storage space on googles gdrive. Either 100 GB or recently 1 TB as mentioned in my blog. This is a lot of space. I would like to give you some ideas for use cases.

Todays use case it is about storing your audio flac files (uncompressed audio format which can even hold high definition audio with sampling frequency and resolutions higher than CD, which is 44.1kHZ / 16 bit). MP3 was invented to reduce storage space as it was limited that time (in the ninetees). Bandwidths of streaming were limited as well (I just remember my modem with 56kbaud). MP3 sounds great considering the 11times compression factor, but today we can afford to store and stream full quality of the audio information.

For mobile devices the flac files are still huge. An CD music album can be up to about 500 MB / 0.5 GB big (with high definition audio the number is growing even more). For an iphone or other mobile device with limited memory space you can store not too many albums. Same situation we have with the chromebook. They are usually equipped with 16/32 GB SSDs only. So, better do not use as your flac library. If you cam limit your flac consumption to WIFI equipped area there is one nice solution to the issue: cloud storage.

If you rip the CDs to your gdrive you do not stress your storage capabilities on your devices. Unfortunately so far it is not possible to RIP CDs on a chromebook. But other OS can rip CDs with free software like foobar to the gdrive. Then you can enjoy it on your chromebook by using the internal audio player (see my blog) by streaming it from the gdrive directly.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The cheapest DAC and smallest solution for digital audio on iOS devices (ipad, iphone) with lighting connection?

I already reported here in this blog about my FiiO E17 Alpen Portable Headphone Amplifier USB DAC which can be used as a very audiophile USB soundcard and headphone amplifier, even on chromebooks.

The issue so far was, that it was not easy to connect it to recent iOS (ipad, ipod, iphone) devices. They all complained with an error message, that the device is draining too much power after the direct connection between the 2 devices by a regular USB cable.

There are several solutions to it, which all add a lot of weight and inconvenience. One is to convert the digital audio to SPDIF signals (needs an additional adapter which costs 50 bucks) or use a powered USB hub (needs a power source which is not available usually during mobile usage, or a battery needs to be attached).
I think I found an even better solution now.

There is a very compact passive hub which has no housing (just cables, see picture on the right). It is sold by Conrad Electronics e.g. in Germany or Switzerland and probably in other countries as well. It cost 6 EUR only. If the 3 "hubs" are cut away it even looks like a cable. I have not cut them yet on the picture below, I will cut them soon to have a very small and compact adapter.

The adapter has even the right USB connector to the Fiio E17, so there is no addtional cable needed.

To make it work, the USB charging function on the E17 has to be switched off and the hub can be directly connected. Then the music can be enjoyed. See my full setup in the picture below. Very compact, isn't it? With the removal of the non used 3 hub connectors it will behave like a short additional cable (for 6 EUR only).

If you find other sources to purchase the cable globally, please post them in the comments. I was looking for such a solution a long time and found it by accident.

The headphone in the picture below is a Philips Fidelio X1 which I recently purchased. It is one of the best in his price-class. I really like it. To be perfect it is just enhancing a bit too much the bass, but a more perfect headphone (like Sennheiser Sennheiser HD 800 costs 6 times more).