Tag: Tech

Half a Year with Dash

I’ve been using Dash in my car for almost six months now to track my driving habits and monitor my car’s status. The app interfaces over Bluetooth with an OBD device to read engine codes and access metrics such as speed, fuel efficiency, and engine status. The app tracks every trip and assigns a “Driving Score” based on driving behavior to encourage “better” driving habits. Currently the only way to access the data is via an IFTTT channel that logs each trip to a line of a Google Spreadsheet. The developer is working on an API (aptly named Chassis) that will hopefully make access to the data even easier in the coming future. In the meantime, I just used the IFTTT spreadsheet output to assemble some stats and charts.

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Automatic Android Location Mode Toggling 2.0

A few months ago I had a blog post about automatically toggling Android Location Mode on my smartphone between High Accuracy and Battery Saving when using certain apps. Using the super-app Tasker and a 3rd-party plugin called Secure Settings I was able to swap the Location Mode of my Nexus 5 between the two modes. However, this was a poor solution since closing an app would result in disabling GPS access, which was undesirable if navigation was currently active. Furthermore, closing an app and returning to it would result in deactivation regardless of the timing. Despite numerous suggestions in the comments, none of them provided a viable answer.

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Automatically Toggle ‘High Accuracy’ Location Mode on Android

Check out this blog post for an updated Android Location Mode toggling task

One of Android’s most innovative features is Google Now, a service that attempts to provide relevant information to the user based on location and time. Unfortunately, in order to utilize the location-based service, your smartphone must provide location information to Google at expense of battery life. When Android 4.4 “Kitkat” was released in late October, the location settings were updated to include three different modes: High accuracy, battery saving, and device only. The ‘high accuracy’ mode utilizes GPS, Wi-Fi, and mobile networks to determine location, ‘battery saving’ only uses Wi-Fi and mobile networks, and ‘device only’ relies exclusively on GPS.

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Upgrades and Overclocks

After about two months of using my new Hackintosh without any custom modifications, I decided I wanted to overclock my 3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K processor a little bit to see if I would notice a performance increase. However, in order to do this, the horribly inadequate stock Intel CPU cooler needed to be replaced. After a brief search online, I settled on the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ as a suitable replacement for my CPU cooling needs. After an excruciating two-day wait, the part finally came in and I began the installation process of this gargantuan new cooling unit that just barely fit into my case. The new heatsink offered easily 10x more surface area for heat dissipation, which drastically increased the cooling efficiency of the running CPU. With the stock cooler, I saw the CPU idling around 45-50C. In stark contrast, the overclocked system now idles around 35C.

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The Hackintosh

In the weeks leading up to my winter break from classes, I decided I was going to build a gaming computer since I was tired of playing on my laptop. While I was originally planning on just building a beastly Windows machine, I realized it was now ridiculously easy to throw together parts to make a “Hackintosh,” or a computer running Mac OS X minus the Apple hardware and price. I spent several weeks researching the viability of the Hackintosh build, predominately on TonyMacX86, and selecting the components for my system. I ended up settling on the following list of hardware, rocking a SSD for my operating system and a regular HD for everything else.

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Sampling Ice Cream Sandwich

I recently started looking for an Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” ROM for my HTC Inspire (Desire HD) after using CyanogenMod for quite some time. The last nightly CM7 build for Ace was back in November and they’re still working hard at getting CM9 up an running. While perusing the XDA Forums for some alternatives to CM7, I ran across an awesome Desire HD build called aospX by Existz. After a quick backup and swap to the recommended radio, I flashed the new ICS-based ROM and was quite pleasantly surprised by the improvements in the latest iteration of the Android operating system (4.0.3 in this case). Aside from feeling considerably more responsive, this ICS build really seems to fix a lot of issues that afflicted the older Gingerbread ROMs I’ve used in the past. The built-in data tracking system and seemingly longer battery life are huge factors for me. The ability to launch a camera from the lock screen is incredibly convenient and the new-and-improved Google apps and widgets are orders of magnitude better than their predecessors.

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