Apple AirPods Review – first 12-hour

Available. Finally.

There were news last week about AirPods availability at Apple Retail Store this Monday. Maybe ture, maybe fake. Fortunately it turned out was true! Thank you 9to5Mac!

I got my AirPods in the morning of 19-Dec-2016 at Apple Retail Store, Causeway Bay.

AirPods from Apple Retail Store

It is a three-component device: Right AirPod, Letf AirPod, the Case. It is a wonderful product as I expect. I would like to share my first 12-hour experience with AirPods.

AirPods are very light. It is very comfortable to wear AirPods. It just feels natural. Sometimes I even wonder if they are in my years. They stay firm in my ears. I did a 5km run this evening and found it stayed firm and stable, better than Jaybird X2 and BackBeat Go 2. And there is no wire banging on your neck! Apple does not emphasis AirPods are desiged for sports. But I find it is great for track running! AirPods sound better, clearer, louder, for both streaming audio and phone conversation. I believe AirPods are better than most sport-focused wireless headphone products .

And I ran faster wearing AirPods:)

run faster wearing airpods

One AirPod is a better than Two AirPods!

The best feature to me is I can use a single AirPod for audio streaming! I don’t need stereo sound for podcasts/news. It is more “friendly” to wear a single earpiece when you’re walking or shopping with your family/friends and you are really want to listen to podcasts! You can also hear the ambient sound which is important in some occasions.

Longer battery life.

The best wireless earbuds are the ones always working! Battery is the Achilles’ hills of wireless headphones. AirPod last 5-hour and the case can charge it to work for 24-hour! If use a single AirPod only, a full charged AirPods set can stream podcasts for two days! The battery level is available at multiple interfaces, it is less likely to forget charging the device.

notification center

control center

AirPods are the best holiday gift for iPhone users!


Text-to-Speech apps for iPhone 7 Plus

I was lucky to get my iPhone 7 Plus two weeks ago. Thanks God.

How is it? Long story short, it is fast. Every time I unlock the device with its new Home Button, I feel fast!

I do believe we will have more audio interaction with iPhone, especially using iPhone to listen to news and to get information. Apple AirPods are not available yet. However, with the new Stereo Speaker System, iPhone 7 can speak louder and clearer than many other devices!

Overcast, HKEJ, Pocket and Audible are the apps I most frequently listen to. In the last few days a few more apps get more timeshare from me. They are iBooks, Workflow and SCMP.

iBooks has been working with Speak Screen since iOS 8. I find the Speak Screen feature in iOS 10 is more stable. It won’t stop unexpectedly. I can now use Speak Screen confidently to read out iBooks content. iBooks tracks the reading status of each book. It is very handy feature when reading several books. With 3D Touch, I can easily resume reading. (ISC)2’s InfoSecurity Professional Magazine now supports ePub format. It is more iPhone-friendly than PDF. I use iPhone more to read/listen to this magazine.

SCMP, the most popular English newspaper in HK, removed its paywall last April. Thanks to the Alibaba’s acquisition. SCMP is a great app but it does not support text-to-speech. However, Workflow does! There is Workflow action extension “Speak Body of Article”. With three clicks – Share Button, Run Workflow, Speak Body of Article – iPhone will read out the good SCMP content! Workflow’s “Speak Body of Article” works with Nuzzel and Medium too.

I customize the extension to speak Chinese (rather the English), and it works with the Apple Daily app (蘋果動新聞)!

I am listening to news spoken by iPhone when I am writing this blog post on my Mac.

PS:
Some iPhone 7 Plus Matte Black users encounter unresponsive Home button problem. Try Reset All Settings and set it up as a new iPhone!
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7676523?start=0&tstart=0


One More Thing: AirPods will measure your Body Temperature and Respiratory Rate

Wireless. Effortless. Magical.

It is mid-Sep. It is Apple time. iPhone and Apple Watch get the spotlight. They are great products. But I am more interested in AirPods because it is something new, and magical.

Hearable? Yes
Audio Computing? Yes
Life saving???

In my previous posts (this and this) in 2014, I predicted “iWatch” would be health centric and could measure life vitals – pulse rate, body temperature and blood pressure. Only pulse (heart) rate came true. I think we will have in coming Oct two more vitals – body temperature and respiratory rate.

Vitals” width=”169″ height=”300″> iPhone Health app > Vitals

According to HowStuffWorks.com, eardrum is a good point to measure core body temperature from because it is recessed inside the head. We put a tympanic (ear) thermometer inside the external ear canal to measure the infrared radiation from the eardrum. Tympanic thermometer is fast and creates no discomfort. The key measurement component is infrared sensor.

Ear Thermometer (source: drugs.com)

Ear Thermometer (source: drugs.com)

There are recent researches to estimate respiratory rate using tri-axial accelerometer. Recode reported in mid-2014 that Spire developed breath monitoring device. One of the key component is accelerometer.

With W1s, infrared sensors and motion accelerometers, AirPods are capable to re-invent tympanic thermometers and respiratory rate measurement devices.

Simultaneous out-of-range readings of multiple life vitals possibly indicate unhealthy or even adverse condition. If this happens, Apple Watch will alert you (to use the Breath app to calm down). If this happens for a prolong period and alerts are unattended, then Apple Watch SOS will initiate a call with local emergency. It may save a life!

Apple Watch SOS

Apple Watch SOS

It is more than magical.

Apple One More Thing always brings good surprise. Thank you.

Reference:
How to take an ear temperature | Drugs.com
Respiratory Rate and Flow Waveform Estimation from Tri-axial Accelerometer Data | IEEE
The AirPods are Apple’s first ear computer | Slate
A New Wearables Platform | Above Avalon
Gadget Lab Podcast – The Thing That Gets You to The Thing | Wired


iPhone 7 is gorgeous. Hong Kong Victoria Harbour too.

iphone-7

The iPhone 7 is gorgeous. At the end of “Introducing iPhone 7” video, there is a another gorgeous scene – the Hong Kong Victoria Harbour. There are similar scenes in other iPhone ad…

iPhone 7 ad – Introducing iPhone 7 (2min 6sec)

iPhone 6s ad – The Only Thing That’s Changed Is… (56sec)

iPhone 5 ad – Music Every Day (58sec)

Bokeh.

iphone-5

Bokeh.

散景即是「Bokeh」,這個字一字源於日本,解作「糢糊」;而在攝影術語當中,我們就稱之為照片中失焦的地方,即是「散景」。


How to use HolaCDN to load share from multiCDN

In my previous post I showed how to use HolaCDN to improve the performance of a mp4 video which is already accelerated using CDN service.

This time I would like to show how to use HolaCDN MultiCDN feature to improve the performance of a multi-birate HLS video. HolaCDN MultiCDN will automatically measure performance of multiples CDNs (defined by user) and select the optimal CDN to use.

In this demo, HolaCDN will select among the customer origin, a 3rd party CDN and HolaCDN.

In the screen capture below, Chrome Developer Tools shows the HolaCDN JS client loads video chunks from serveral hosts: s3video.cheungwaikin.com (customer origin), dc7tqspqe5l18.cloudfront.net (a 3rd party CDN) and 76.73.18.98 (a HolaCDN server).

chrome-network

The following picture shows the result generated by the command hola_cdn.get_stats() in the Chrome Develop Tools Console: 20% of traffic is from the customer origin, 18% from the 3rd party CDN, and the remaining is from HolaCDN.

chrome-console.png

How to set up HolaCDN MultCDN feature in this demo?
Step 1: create a new Zone named “hlsmulti” by defining the Page URL as http://aws.cheungwaikin.com/video-hls-flowplayer-cloudfront-hola-origin.html.

Step 2: in the MultiCDN selection algorithm, I input the $0.5 as the cost of HolaCDN and $0.05 as the cost of “My existing CDN”. Doing so to instruct HolaCDN to use My existing CDN unless HolaCDN improve performance (better video start/seek time, less buffering, higher video quality/bitrate).

Step 3: for demo purpose, HolaCDN will take actions – collects QoE statistics and deliver video content – if the user is using Chrome browser. For every 100 pageviews from Chrome users, all will colllect QoE statistics, and HolaCDN will try to deliver video content in 90 pageviews.

Step 4: define “My existing CDN”. In this demo, the are two “CDNs” – dc7tqspqe5l18.cloudfront.net and s3video.cheungwaikin.com.

Step 5: I use Static MultiCDN switching mode. If HolaCDN finds dc7tqspqe5l18.cloudfront.net and s3video.cheungwaikin.com perform better than HolaCDN, then 50% possibility that video will be retrieved from dc7tqspqe5l18.cloudfront.net and 50% possibility that video will be loaded from s3video.cheungwaikin.com.

holacdn-conf.png

That’s all.

In other to do a control experiment, I use Firefox to browse the demo page. Based on my setup, HolaCDN will do nothing and the browser will get all HLS TS chunks from the host defined in the html source code. Here is the result from Firefox + Firebug:

firefox-net.png

Want to try it yourself? Go to apply a HolaCDN free trial account now!


How to use Hola!CDN for MP4 progressive download

Hola is a Spanish word meaning Hello.

Hola! is a startup headquartered in Netanya, Israel. Hola!’s goal is to make the web faster, more open and cheaper to operate.

Hola!CDN is the first CDN purpose built for video. It is developed and operated by Hola!. Hola!CDN makes Internet video delivery Faster, Cheaper and More Reliable.

It is my pleasure to share with readers that I am now working at Hola!CDN!

In my last blogpost I talked my first Israel visit. The main objective of the trip was to attend Hola!CDN training.

The unique Hola!CDN architecture makes it possible to do Five things that other CDNs cannot do:

  1. Significantly speeds up your video delivery (start time, buffering, seek time, bit rate, failure rate)
  2. Provides accurate statistics on your viewers’ quality of experience
  3. Enables mid stream switching of multiple CDNs (configure Hola!CDN’s dashboard to work with several CDNs, taking each video chunk from the fastest and cheapest)
  4. Reduces video delivery cost substantially, with same low cost from first byte, to anywhere in the world
  5. Keeps your existing CDN – Hola will only participate where its faster and cheaper

The new architecture is comprised of a client side JavaScript code that manages the video delivery from the viewers’ browser. The integration of the Hola!CDN client side module with the Hola!CDN server module creates a fast, seamless user experience, and a low cost of delivery.

Detail Hola!CDN implementation guide can found at GitHub:  https://github.com/hola/cdn/blob/master/install.md

In this blogpost I would like to SHOW how to implement Hola!CDN in a webpage with MP4 progressive download.

Step 1: apply a Hola!CDN account account. We offer 14-day free trial account at holacdn.com

Step 2: configure Hola!CDN service. The minimum step is to add your Video Source(s). Video Source is the hostname of the CDN or customer origin that your video is cached/stored.

Hola!CDN customer portal

Hola!CDN customer portal

Step 3:  insert the codes in the header section to instruct the browser to downland the Hola!CDN JavaScript client with your specific configuration, and insert another codes at the end of the body section to instruct the browser to download the Hola!CDN JavaScript client asynchronously

HTML codes to implement Hola!CDN

HTML codes to implement Hola!CDN

Three steps. That’s all. No DNS change is required!

 

Below is the screen shot of Chrome DevTools of the original page:

Chrom DevTools of original page

Chrome DevTools of original page

This is the screen shot of Chrome DevTools of the page implemented Hola!CDN:

Chrome DevTools of the page implemented Hola!CDN

Chrome DevTools of the page implemented Hola!CDN

There are 6 HTTP requests in the original page and 65 in the page implemented Hola!CDN. Why?

Let’s talk more next time.


Shalom Israel! HKG-TLV-HKG

Shalom is a Herbrew word meaing peace, armony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.

I visited Israel recently. My first time in Canaan, the Promised Land.

The distance between Hong Kong and Israel is 7764km, almost one-third of the Equator length. It is lucky that there is direct flight between Hong Kong (HKG) and Tel Aviv Yafo (TLV), Israel. EL AL Israel Airline operates the direct flights from Sunday to Thursday. I guess due to Sabbath (Friday 6pm to Saturday 6pm) there is no flight on Fri and Sat. HKG-to-TLV is about 12hr 30min, TLV-to-HKG is 11hr! Long flights!

Passengers should arrive the boarding gate at Hong Kong International Airport one hour before the departure time. EL AL will do security check of hand carry baggage again at the boarding gate and the process is about 20 to 30 minutes. One should arrive Ben Gurion International Airport two hours before departure time. There is security check of hand carry baggage at the custom and it will also take 20 to 30 minutes. Keep hand carry baggage minimal!

Israel area is about 20,770 square kilometers (21 times that of HK) and the population is 8.4m (while HK is 7.4m). 75% are Jewish and 20% are Arab. The electricity plug in Israel is Type C (CEE 7/16 “Europlug”). It is better to bring a plug adaptor if you travel to Netanya. It is not easy to get an adaptor in hotel or buy one in shopping area.

Hola! is a startup based in Netanya. Mission: to make the Internet more Open, more Transparent, and Faster!

Hola! is a startup based in Netanya. Mission: to make the Internet more Open, more Transparent, and Faster!

I spend most of the time in Netanya. There are many technology companies. Cisco and Microsoft have huge campus there. There are many ambitious and energetic startups as well.

Beach at Netanya

Beach at Netanya

Netanya is a beautiful city. There are great beaches and many surfers! Mostly sunny day. Bright blue sky, white sand, navy blue Mediterranean Sea. Apartments are built with large balconies. Enjoy the sunshine and the breeze!

Apartments with large balconies at Netanya

Apartments with large balconies at Netanya

I was lucky to have a Tel Aviv leisure trip by end of the trip. Tel Aviv Is the major commercial centre in IsraeI and a popular travel destination. It took me about 30min by taxi from Netanya to Tel Aviv.  I visited the Sarona Market area in the morning. There are many old German-style buildings. They are turned into shops, boutiques and designer stores. (Sound familiar? Xintiandi in Shanghai!) I bought some very nice Hamsa there!

The old German style building in the Sarona Market area are turned in different kind of shops.

The old German style buildings in the Sarona Market area are turned in different kind of shops.

I had Hummus as lunch. Falafel and Turkish coffee too.

Hummus. Delicious.

Hummus. Delicious.

I visited Jaffa area in the afternoon. Jaffa, with many thousand years of history, is one of the oldest port in the world!  The area was called Joppa in the past. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical stories of Jonah and Saint Peter.

Saint Peter's Church, located Jaffa area of Tel Aviv. Built in 1645.

Saint Peter’s Church, located Jaffa area of Tel Aviv. Built in 1645.

I wondered how difficult and dangerous it was for Saint Peter and other disciples to spread Jesus’ teaching under the Jewish and Roman persecutions. I was in the place where all these were happening nearby two thousand year ago. Thank God.

Saint Peter’s Church interior

Saint Peter’s Church interior

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20