just one more geek in a sea of austin techies

September 25, 2020

eero 6: Will it work with original eero? #NetworkGeek

Will eero 6 work with
first-generation eeros?

The new eero 6 (link) and eero 6 Pro (link) lines of mesh routers and access points are now available bringing improved connectivity, faster wireless speeds and integrated Zigbee smart hubs.  

There are plenty of articles and reviews covering the improved features but I've yet to see anyone answering one burning question:  

What about existing eero owners?  Specifically, can existing (first-generation) eero mesh networks incorporate new eero 6 devices?  Or do existing owners have to replace their old eero units in order to upgrade to eero 6?

Read on for the answer...

December 8, 2019

6-month review update: UltraLoq U-Bolt Pro

Last May I shared info on my then-latest purchase of a crowdfunded item, the "UltraLoq U-Bolt Pro Combo".  This was a new, fancier smart lock from a company that was already shipping smart lock solutions with good reviews.  The new "U-Bolt Pro Combo" was notable in that it included a Bluetooth-to-WiFi bridge adapter for a smart deadbolt with access options including fingerprint scan, code entry, wireless entry (cell-phone proximity detection), and traditional key entry.

Was it any good, though?  YES!

Read on to get my impressions after 6 months of heavy use...

November 12, 2019

SQL Server snippets #SQLGeek

This post will be an ongoing, growing collection of SQL Server code snippets that I happen to find useful. There is no particular theme, order or categorization -- just a random collection of helpful items that I hope others will find useful, too.

My apologies if I eventually include anything particularly unique or complex without citing an original author -- please comment with links to original posts so I can verify and add citations accordingly.

Read on for the snippets...

May 16, 2019

Save 64% on a COOL smart deadbolt

I love to window-shop crowd-funded products and, occasionally, purchase.  So far I've had great experiences with the products I've gambled on.  For instance, I pre-ordered a full eero mesh WiFi system 14 months before its actual release and the system has been every bit as good as I'd hoped.  I threw some dollars at a Coolest rolling cooler and was one of the lucky bunch that actually received a unit right away (the blender worked, too!)

Smart Lock
Today I laid my credit card info down on a recently-released smart door lock -- a deadbolt for the front door.  Sure, smart locks aren't a "new" gadget category but this product and pre-order deal is the best combo I've seen:  a deadbolt lock supporting Bluetooth access, code-entry access, physical key access, fingerprint access, a WiFi bridge and a companion smartphone app for an early-bird price of $159 shipped ($449 MSRP).

The U-Bolt Pro Combo lock has typical smart-lock features like auto-unlock when your phone gets within Bluetooth range and it offers the ability to remotely lock/unlock with a smartphone app for Andriod and iOS.  It's with the less-typical capabilities, though, that things start to get interesting:  IFTTT integration, support for both Alexa and Google Assistant, and an exterior-accessible power port (micro-USB) to power up the lock if the primary batteries go dead and you don't have the physical key handy.  Got a big family?  Lots of close friends?  This lock lets you set up access for up to 60 users including one access code, one smartphone registration, and two fingerprints for each user.
Even More Interesting: Feature Scheduling
You can create schedules to determine when certain features are enabled.  For instance, you could allow a maid service to unlock via entry code or fingerprint only during certain hours of the day.

Using IFTTT, you can cobble together a wide range of scheduling options.  Imagine automatically allowing a trusted friend the ability to unlock via code if the door hasn't been unlocked in more than 3 days (i.e., when you go on vacation but forget to alter access settings for your friend). 

Note that, at this point, I don't have a U-Bolt to test myself so I'm only throwing out ideas with the expectation that the listed features can be trusted to work as advertised.  There is also no guarantee that any crowd-funded product will ever actually be delivered.  I tend to lean heavily towards the, "I'll believe it when I see it" camp but, in this case, the company has already produced a couple of more basic deadbolt products as well as 500+ units of this "pro" version of the smart lock.

I'm expecting my own unit to ship sometime over the next two months (!) and will update with my initial impressions when it arrives.  If this is something you're into and you decide to buy during the early-bird discount period, consider using the ATXGeek referral link below so I'll earn some credit towards whatever my next gadget will be.  Early-bird pricing is only available through May 31st.


April 21, 2018

Quick line count via Windows command line #DevGeek

Every so often I need to get a quick line count estimate across a collection of files. Line counts are helpful in broadly defining the scope of reviewing or updating existing code files.  In such cases I only need a ballpark estimate of total lines of code across multiple files.  It turns out that all we need is the Windows command prompt and a one-line command:

At first glance this solution isn't overly intuitive but it's actually quite simple.  The TYPE command parses each line in the specified file and pipes each line through the FIND command which searches for string values matching the specified string.

In this case, we extend the TYPE command's usefulness from parsing just one file to parsing collections of files by using a wildcard search for all files ending with ".log".

For the FIND command, we use the "/V" switch to invert behavior and have the command look for lines that *don't* have the specified string.  We use the "/C" switch to tell FIND to give us a count of matched (unmatched in this case) lines instead of the content of the lines.  Finally we specify any string value we can reasonably expect to *not* exist in our searched files.  I used "zzxxccvvbbnnmm" in my example.

Here's the result of the command on a directory where I placed two sample log files:

See?  Quick and simple as long as you can remember the "/V" and "/C" switches.

Counting lines of files across multiple file types
What if we need to count lines between files of differing file types?  For instance, if I'm counting lines in both ".log" files as well as ".xml" files?  Easy: just specify the additional file search as part of the TYPE portion of the command:

For your copy-and-paste convenience, here's some copy-ready text:

  TYPE c:\temp\*.log | FIND /V /C "zzxxccvvbbnnmm"


March 27, 2018

JBL Everest firmware update #SoundGeek

Owners of JBL's good-but-flawed Everest headphones have long-complained of the processing lag that prevents sound from being in synch with video when pairing with a TV or watching videos on a mobile device.  JBL previously addressed this with a firmware update (yea!) but then, without explanation, removed the update from various product support pages (boo!)

If you have "normal" (i.e., not "Elite") Everest 100, Everest 300, or Everest 700 headphones and have sound lagging behind video then you're in luck:  I have located the elusive firmware update over on JBL's Japanese site.  The site isn't in English but the firmware package itself is and includes English instructions.

Here's the link to the firmware:

For a Google-translated-into-English version of the web page, click here.

I was able to upgrade a set of Everest 300 headphones from firmware v1.1 to v3.1 with no issues (via USB connection to a Windows 7 PC). The update fixed the audio lag issue for me but your mileage may vary.


February 14, 2018

Facebook's crippled "fake news" feature #SocialMediaGeek

This week Wired ran a very interesting story peeking behind the curtain of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg.  The story tracks the past two years' turmoil of Facebook being increasingly leveraged as a tool to deliver intentionally-divisive content and how Russian agents garnered hundreds of millions of likes and shares for fake articles by simply using Facebook's standard advertising features.

One of Facebook's responses has been to partner with a number of fact-checking entities and provide users with a feature to flag Facebook posts as "fake news". The more times a post is flagged as "fake news", the more likely it will get reviewed by a fact-checking partner.

Unfortunately, the "report fake news" feature is a lot less useful than you might think.  Read on to see why...

January 23, 2018

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tech #GearGeek

When I recognize an off-the-shelf electronic item in TV or film, I like to verify I'm seeing what I think I'm seeing. When I happen to be able to ID an item I feel like I've somehow validated myself in some small way though I know, in reality, it's all just more useless geeky knowledge crowding my brain.

Why keep that useless knowledge to myself?  Read on to crowd your own brain with some useless tech trivia...

January 12, 2018

WAVE Web Tool results vary by browser #WebDevGeek

One-line summary:  The WAVE tool from WebAIM is inconsistent across different web browsers.

My website work often depends on ensuring web accessibility requirements are met.  These were typically referred to as "508 requirements" but the US government has finally moved on from the old 508 rules and has now embraced the newer WCAG specifications.  Specifically, if you're earning money from the US government to provide any kind of web content, as of 1/18/2018 you're required to meet WCAG 2.0 "AA" web accessibility standards.

Recently I found an issue with one tool, WAVE, which is widely used by some federal government entities to scan websites for accessibility issues...

October 5, 2017

The Verge Overlooks the Beats Angle #HeadphoneGeek

In a post earlier today, The Verge's Vlad Savov argues that Google's dropping of headphone jacks from the upcoming round of Pixel phones "proves Apple was right".  Vlad is a prolific contributor of tech-related reports and opinions and, in my opinion, is often right on the money in his assessments.  However, I take exception to today's article and wonder how Mr. Savov could have possibly forgotten to mention the huge elephant-in-the-room that is "Apple/Beats".

Steady yourself, because I'm about to delve into some tech conspiracy theory I think is borne out by Apple buying a company that produces wired headphones and then electing to drop the wired headphone jack from future iPhones.  Read on for the full story...

June 12, 2017

Finally... an accurate cellular plan review #PhoneGeek

I've spent more time than I care to admit analyzing cellular services. Today I finally read a "Best Low, Medium & High Cellular Plans" article that I actually agree with.  Normally such articles focus only on the "big four" US carries and so overlook too many alternative carriers and plans.  For instance, my wife's phone service is from Republic Wireless while mine is from Google Fi.  I'll forgive you if these options don't sound familiar -- you can read more about them in my previous posts here and here. My son's *free* plan (yes -- it's really free) is on FreedomPop which you can read about here.

Yes, you read that previous paragraph right: our family uses three different cellular plans from three different carriers.  The end result is we spend a total of about $50 a month for cellular service.  Refer back to, "I've spent more time than I care to admit analyzing cellular services..."

Getting back to the point, though:  the article I read did a fine job boiling down current cellular plan offerings to the best "low-medium-high" options.  Read on to see the results...