Alex Kaloostian

Apple Certified Master Trainer | Systems Integrator | Video Editor | Motion Graphics Artist


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I want to like AppleTV more

When Apple released the AppleTV4, I was excited and snapped one right up. It was $150, which was MUCH more than comparable products from Google and Amazon and Roku, but there must have been a reason, right?

  • It must support 4k, right?
    • Well, um, nope.
  • But its from Apple, so I bet it integrates well with their other services like Homekit.
    • Um, nope, we had to wait 10 months for that, and its still not great.
  • What about iPhone?
    • Well the Remote app wasnt compatible for 6 months. Airplay works… usually.
  • Can I stream Netflix, Hulu and amazon?
    • Two our of three aint bad?
  • Well, I sync my keychain to the cloud, so at least I can auto-signin to all my channels.
    • Actually, that doesnt work yet. Still waiting for it. Youre going to have to sign into EVERY app one by one. And many of them will make you sign in again and again and again. Oh, also? Xfinity doesnt allow you to sign into many of them. Forget Comedy Central or AMC, for instance. Even though youre paying for them.
  • But it can play games!
    • Yeah, but game developers are required to support the tiny remote, so most of the games are simple and not very good.
  • The remote looks cool.
    • It looks cool. In actuality, its the worst thing Apple has ever designed. Its tiny and falls between the couch cushions. its not lit so you lose it int he dark. And its a touch screen, so you pause your show every time you pick it up… and half the time you’ll pick it up backwards.

So yeah. Was that harsh? I don’t HATE the AppleTV. but I don’t love it. And for $150 I should love it. But I cant get rid of it yet, because I have iTunes media to stream, and I can Airplay from my phone and laptop to it. Thats cool. But if they don’t get their act together soon, I’m getting a Roku. I’ll buy a used AppleTv3 on Ebay for short money and that’ll be that.


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First good review of Amazon Echo I’ve read.

I’m very intrigued, but not enough to blow $100.

The Echo is one of the most compelling cases I’ve ever seen for the power of voice control, of talking to our gadgets the way we talk to each other. It’s also a powerful and infuriating reminder of its limitations, of how long the road to our robotic future really is. Alexa’s going to turn out just fine, I think, but she’s got some growing up to do.

http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/19/7548059/amazon-echo-review-speaker


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Nest Protect: My Review

I was suffering from gadget withdrawal, so after Christmas I used some of my loot to buy a Nest Protect, and I’m digging it.

Nest-Protect-image-001

The Protect is a smoke and CO detector in one, with some really smart features. The biggest improvements are the way it deals with false alarms, and the way it alerts you of battery issues.

When we moved into our house, I walked around looking at the ceiling, mouth agape. There was a smoke detector and a CO detector in the basement, okay, sure, makes sense. There was one of each in the living room. Okay. There was one of each in the master bedroom, a smoke detector in each guest room, the stairs leading to the attic, one of each in the attic, and FOUR in the upstairs hallway.

Did you lose count? I did. I don’t know who lived in this house before us, or what their concern was, and I’m not knocking it, but this was insane. And to make matters worse, some were wired, and others battery-powered. And one of those batteries would die, and it would start beeping, always in the middle of the night.

Isn’t that always the way? Actually, I did some research, and I found out why this is- at night, the temperature in the house tends to drop a little bit, which causes the life in the batteries to drop, just a little but. but its enough to fall below that threshold, and then the detector thinks the battery is dead, so it beeps. And then you walk around the house, half asleep, eyes bleary, trying to figure out which one it is. Which one of 15. Next week, it starts all over again. Even the wired models were beeping, and I can’t figure that one out!

Issue number two was false alarms. I cook, a lot. Sometimes I get a little distracted, and things start smoking. A little bit of smoke, and the alarm goes off, LOUD. And freaks out the kids. And the cats. And gives me a headache.

So how does the Nest Protect solve these issues, and why does it cost $129?

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Streaming media around your house

This past spring, I guest blogged at Funkyspacemonkey.com, and never linked to it here! I wrote a semi-in-depth article about converting media, sorting it in iTunes, and streaming music & video around your house with Airport and iPads. Here it is.

Part 1: Music, audio formats, metadata & lyrics

Part 2: Video, Handbrake, batch processing & Subler

Part 3: Home Sharing, AirPlay & streaming music

Part 4: AppleTV, Remote app & streaming video


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Apple, automate my house!

If you are reading this, it is a day of the week that ends in Y, which means the internet is buzzing with Apple rumors. Depending on who you read, Apple is working on an amazing new TV that will blow us all away:

Apple-iTV-iMac-hybrid-concept-640x480

or an embedded device for the car:

Apple-iOS-in-the-Car-02

or a watch:

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Or a watch:

Apple-Smart-Watch

Or whatever this thing is:

Curved-glass-iPod-Federico-Ciccarese-003

Personally, the idea of an Apple TV is ridiculous to me. Who would spend thousands of dollars on a TV, when you can already buy an AppleTV for $99 and connect it to any TV you want? And iPhones are replacing watches… more and more people my age don’t even wear a watch any more, because we can look at our phone for the time. Myself included.

Well, maybe its a fitness device? The fitness device market is huge right now, with companies like Nike, Fitbit, Garmin and Wahoo making money hand over fist. Apple even reportedly hired Jay Blahnik, who worked on the Nike FuelBand. While I’ll admit that is interesting, I don’t think it guarantees Apple is working on their own fitness device. Look at their history: iPod, iPhone, iPad. In every case, Apple got into a market where there was great potential, but no good, friendly devices to fill the need. There are already plenty of fantastic, easy to use and cheap fitness devices on the market. A glut of them, in fact.

But time will tell. Me, I really wish Apple would sweep in and take over an entirely different market, where I think there is great demand and potential, but no clear leaders: Home automation.

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