KW1102 Thinking Inside the Box

Apr 05

It’s time to get virtual.

On this installment of the podcast Knightwise delves into the topic of virtualization and talks about how to make the most of a single piece of hardware by letting it do the job of multiple different machines.

We are also joined by special guest Matthew Williams of Open FOSS Training who tells us about his new video tutorial and provides some tips for working with VirtualBox on Windows 10.

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The Samsung Galaxy S7, The simcard-enabled-submarine.

Mar 11

You’ve got seven vices and seven virtues, you also have seven dwarfs and seven riders of the apocalypse. You also have a movie called “Seven” where they cut off Gwyneth Paltrow’s head and ship it via Fedex, but that is beside the point. What is important to remember that there are also seven siblings in Samsungs Galaxy family. We got our greedy hands on one of the few models in circulation and decided to tell you all about it.

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy S7

Look and feel
The S7 is a lot like Iron Man. Where the 1950’s versions of Iron Man looked bulky and edgy, the modern implementation of Iron Man is slick and smooth. Same goes for the S7. Although its the same size as its predecessor the S6, the rounded edges of the S7 make it feel just a little better to hold on to. The raised mounting of the rear camera in the S6 is gone which turns the back of the phone into a solid, unbroken slate of black. Close your eyes and roll the phone around in your hands and it will be hard for you to distinguish it from its greatest competitor, the iPhone 6.

Some things are just same-same
Aside from the size, the screen specs have not changed either compared to the S6, but with a beautiful Amoled screen with such a high resolution, why would it? The screen is packed so tight you cant distinguish the individual pixels and the colors are vibrant. Thanks to the Amoled technology black is black and you can even read the screen in bright sunlight.

Same but no same
Samsung has upped the specs on the cpu and the onboard ram (we won’t bore you with the technical details, suffice to say the phone is fast and snappy). The biggest change however is the fact that the micro SD card slot has returned. You can once again slide your little Micro SD card into your S7 to upgrade the storage capacity. Although slightly slower to respond opposed to the onboard storage, the micro SD card gives you the chance to store music, movies and more without worrying that you will ‘fill up your phone’. Because Samsung did not implement one of the latest Android features into its OS, it  not possible to install apps on the micro sd card.

We are talking about the first submarine equipped with a simcard.

Just drop it in the toilet
Every week we hold a silent vigil for those moments where a loud splashing sound emerges from toilets all over the world. No, we aren’t referring to the proliferation of successful bowel movements, instead we point towards all those incidents where phones end up in the toilet. That one place where modern day technology touches that one earthly element that signals doom for many: Water.
The S7 is waterproof. When we say waterproof we aren’t talking about a couple of drops of water. We are talking about the first submarine equipped with a simcard. The S7 can stand over 20 minutes of underwatertime, more then enough for those slow to react to fish their baby out of the john when they accidentally dropped it in. We tried it (not the toilet test, just plain water) and it works indeed. The phone knows when it has been submerged and refuses to charge via the USB port until all components have dried up. Pretty impressive.

VR
The S7 is also compatible with Samsungs gear VR, its Occulus-powered virtual reality headset. Slide the phone in and sito presto you are emerged in a VR world where you can play games, watch Netflix or literally walk around in a 360 degree movie. That is until your phone gets too hot or your battery dies out. (See our review of the Gear Vr for more info on this.)

Conclusion
We give the S7 an 8/10 because its a decent phone. It’s not cheap but you do get a lot of bang for your buck. The VR technology that Samsung loves to pimp is interesting but still in its infant phase.

Links: Want to know more ? We found this excellent (Dutch) video review of the S7

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KW1101 The Knightwise Identities

Mar 05

We’re Back!

After a long winter’s nap the Knightwise.com podcast is back for another season of cross-platform goodness. Season 11 kicks off this week with Knightwise doing something he hasn’t done in a few years. Come along for the ride as our intrepid host talks about managing work, life and your multiple selves in the digital age.

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Things to consider when hunting for the perfect laptop bag.

Mar 03

Call it geek envy, but sometimes you see somebody walking around with a piece of gear and you think by yourself : I want this too. No matter if you need it, or even have a use for it, you want it. Just because the other geek has it to. I regularly get a case of the “geek envies” when I see people use cool smartphones, fancy laptops or … Laptop bags. Yes: My name is Knightwise and i’m a laptop bag junkie.

My wife regularly makes fun of me when I am relentlessly drawn towards the ‘bag’ section of some store, looking for the ‘ideal geek bag’. For some reason I’ve collected several messenger bags to lug around all my gear. Yet for some reason none of them is ‘perfect’ and I’m always on the look for that “ideal bag”.

So as you might have noticed: Laptop-bag-geek-envy struck me this week after watching a couple of episodes of Mr Robot, where the hero walks around with one of these giant “Tactical backpacks” that hold his laptop. It triggered me into an hour long Amazon click-fest researching which backpack Eliot was using and what the pro’s and cons were of using a setup like that. What it basically comes down to is that there is no ‘perfect’ laptopbag because every bag has its ups and downs

Plopping one of these babies down on a table might confuse people because the don’t know if you are going to pull out an  iPad or a couple of fully automatic machine guns

Tough but Rough

Picking up on the ‘Tactical Laptop bag’ that our hero uses in “Mr Robot” you run into your first problem. These rugged military grade laptop bags are very cool to cary around and basically indestructible. They make you look like a special ops member on his day off. Plopping one of these babies down on a table might confuse people because the don’t know if you are going to pull out an  iPad or a couple of fully automatic machine guns. As a result having a military grade laptop bag might not be the best choice if  you are in a corporate environment where a little elegance is required. So at come point you might need to choose between Rough & Tough or elegant and smart.

Roomie but bulky.

The other factor you might need to consider is the size of your laptop backpack. These things come in all shapes and sizes depending on what you want to tuck in there. Ranging from a size that can barely hold an adult tribble to a backpack that would allow you to cross the himalaya in a single go, there is a lot to choose from. Going for a backpack that is roomy might be  very convenient when you want to cram in your entire mobile office for the day: Laptop, Lunchbox, extra sweater, perhaps some  books, your tablet .. you name it. Some of these larger size backpacks eat it up like black holes eat stars .. the downside is that they also increase in mass. What you might end up with is a backpack that weighs  a ton and is very very hard on your back and  shoulders. The fact that you can keep cramming stuff in does not mean that its actually healthy to haul all of that around without the additional use of an antigrav unit or a pair or repulser lifts.

Slick but tight.

The one way to decrease the weight of your backpack is by going for something smaller. The less crap you can shove into your backpack, the better .. right ? Perhaps, but the downside here is that there is a ‘bare minimum’ of stuff you need to  carry with you. Having a small and slick backpack does increase the chance that your gear does not have enough protection because  there is hardly any room between the corner of your laptop and the edge of your backpack. One strategically placed ‘bump’ and you might end up with a cracked screen. The other thing that is also a risk here (or with any other backpack) is the fact that you cram in to much stuff and pressure is applied to the center of your laptop screen, making it bend as you walk around. Not something you want.

Thule EnRoute Escort 2 Daypack Review

Thule EnRoute Escort 2 Daypack Review

So I looked at all the pro and cons and went for something ‘in the middle’: Sufficiently geeky-and-tactical, not too big and not too small. I ended up going for the Thule Enroute 2 Blur. Like all products it is sufficiently rugged and durable to use on a daily bases. It has plenty of compartments to keep your stuff organised (I hate it when crap rattles around in my backpack) and going for the ‘Blur’ version meant it was roomy enough for my 15 inch laptop with some room to spare. The backpack has some nice adjustable straps that don’t cut into your shoulders. When it comes to size it hits the sweet spot between where I still have enough room for my gear, but am unable to pack up everything AND the kitchen sink before I leave the house. At about 99 euro’s online it was not  the cheapest backpack around, but it was the only one that ticked all the boxes I mentioned above. Geeky, Roomy, Safe and slick.  Its the perfect laptopbag .. until I go crave another one.

Links: Thule Enroute 2 Blur.

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Review : The Samsung Gear VR. One way ticket to VirtualSpace.

Jan 08

With the advent of the Occulus rift, a set of “virtual reality goggles” within the consumer price range, the breakthrough of Virtual Reality was imminent. Or so we thought. Turns out that VR, to many is nothing more then a gimmic and that scenes from “The lawnmower man” are far from part of our daily lives. The glasses where too expensive, the content available to niche.
The former part of that statement started to change when things like Google Cardboard came out. Basically a cardboard version of a futuristic ‘viewmaster’ with your smartphone as the screen. At an extremely low price people could dip their toes into VR-Space for the first time.
Since then some time has passed and recently Samsung has released their second iteration of “their” version of Google Cardboard : The Gear Vr. Using your high end Samsung Smartphone as a screen you pop this futuristic piece of plastic on your head and off you go.

 

1297778671014_ORIGINAL
So how does it work ?
Once ’emerged’ into Virtual-Space the Occulus app store automatically kicks in allowing you to choose a variety of activities. By ‘browsing’ through the VR app store you can install apps, games and demo video’s (some are free, some are not) and give them a try. Navigation is done by moving your head around, selecting and scrolling can be done using a touchpad on the side of the glasses.
So what’s it like ?
Although this truly an ‘early adopters toy’, it is quite surprising how immersive your experience is. The default “room” you are in to select your app and activity is a giant hall in which you can look and move around. Pop in some headphones and you get the distinct feeling that you are really ‘there’. The old saying ‘What they eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes’ is pretty accurate.

Although this truly an ‘early adopters toy’, it is quite surprising how immersive your experience is.

 

Screenshot 2016-01-03 08.22.46
Any Content ?
There is some content out there like games (You can fight off the zombie apocalypse, even with an added wireless controller should you want to) You can visit the cirque de soleil (and be ON stage instead of in the crowd) or even try out your public speaking skills in a sort of ‘presentation simulator’.

A little bit of minority report.
Samsung also provides you with a “browser” that allows you to surf the internet. You can “search” using Google voice commands and browse around different pages. It becomes really cool when you can set different tabs side by side in a giant video wall. We enjoyed watching a Youtube movie this way, while having the IMDB page of the movie open on a second ‘screen’.

 

Samsung-Gear-VR-internet-web-browser-1

Everything is big !
It is hard to explain what it actually “feels” like using the glasses. First of all : Everything is big ! Since you have no sense of scale every screen looks like its about 4 meters wide and 2 meters tall. “Monitors ? Where we are going we don’t NEED any monitors.” Doc McFly would cry. A perfect example is the Netflix application that lets you sit on a virtual couch in a virtual cabin watching a giant virtual srceen. We actually managed to sit through en entire movie in this application and be surprisingly entertained.

“Monitors ? Where we are going we don’t NEED any monitors.”

netflix-vr
So are we there yet ?
Probably not, this is still early-on technology and the fact whether this is a gadget or a tool can be best evaluated by asking the question : Would you actually use this. The answer is : For browsing and games I would use it occasionally. But I DO see me using this on a plane to watch Netflix (and chill). T
The technology is very immersive and that is also a little bit of the downside. Using this in public makes you look like a total zombie since you are completely spaced out. You don’t hear OR see ANYTHING of your surroundings. Its the antisocial teen with headphones on during a family diner, multiplied by a factor of 10. You are in VR space or in real space .. but you can never peek ‘over’ your screen.
At a 100 euro’s it is surely worth a try to play around with Virtual Reality technology AND get away from your messy room OR noisy kids. The gear VR is only compatible with selected Samsung phones and only works with content from the Occulus app BUT there is quite a bit to try out.

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Five new years resolutions for a (budding) Cross Platform Geek.

Jan 01

With another successful orbit around the sun completed, its time for us carbon based lifeforms to dream up some list of ‘Things we would like to improve on’ in 2016. Since we all lack the telepathic mind controlling abilities to force these improvements upon others on a global scale, it is perhaps more prudent to start with ourselves. So here are 5 things you might want to “improve on” for those of you who have not taken the plunge into the wonderful world of cross platform computing.

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1: Stop being such a fanboy.
Are you “This guy/girl” at every party that religiously promotes brand/platform XYZ and gets into countless arguments on which is the better brand/platform/phone with your friends and relatives ? Have you spent most of Christmas eve explaining to your cousin why Android is far superior to IOS ? How about you stop doing that in 2016 ? Seriously. Somehow you are playing out the exact scenario that marketeers have planned out for you. Somewhere, somehow you have developed this religious devotion to a certain brand or platform that is just (for a lack of a better word) STUPID.

If you have ever gotten into a situation where app/platform/brand X has NOT been more then satisfactory, yet ignored this issue (To yourself and your peers.) because it didn’t line up with your beliefs / previous statements, then you’re a fanboy and you need to stop.  So stop droning on about how your iPhone is superiour to all other phones on the planet and actually take the time to try out some of the alternatives. God forbid .. you might like them.

Have you ever gotten into a situation where app/platform/brand X has NOT been more then satisfactory, yet ignored this issue ?

2: Stray away from your favorite applications.
“I can’t move to platform X because I use application Y”. I’ve heard it a dozen times over. ‘Nope, Can’t switch to Linux because I NEED Outlook.’ Surprise: You don’t NEED an application, you need to perform the process that is TIED to that application. You don’t NEED Outlook, you NEED to be able to communicate via Email. The correct statement would actually be: ‘Nope, Can’t switch to Linux because I am afraid to learn how to work with another Email client.’ So try to get out of that sticky situation by NOT devoting ALL your time and energy using JUST your favorite apps. Whether its an app on your phone or one on your desktop .. there are probably plenty alternatives out there that you can tinker with, just for the fun of it.  God forbid … you might like them.

You don’t NEED Outlook, you NEED to be able to communicate via Email.

3: Give one flavor of Linux  a try this year, for real this time.
Any self-respecting geek HAS taken the time to “Play around” with Linux. For some this means a devotion to the platform where they live out their entire geek-lives in the command line, but for most this means just slapping in a live-boot thumb drive, fiddling around with it for 20 minutes before deeming it “too slow” and going back to whatever OS you used before.

This year, try something different. Devote an old PC (and some of your time) to actually giving it a go as a primary operating system for a week. Write up a blogpost about what you like and what you hate. If a complete desktop experience is too much for you, try out something small like playing with a Raspberry Pi and tinkering with one of many interesting projects you can build. God forbid .. you might like it.

Devote an old PC (and some of your time) to actually giving it a go as a primary operating system for a week.

4: Lean on the communities.
You might be spending a lot of your online time aimlessly scrolling through 9gag, Facebook or Tinder. So why not spice things up a little by going out of your way to find some online geek communities you can learn from ? If any of the cross platform endeavors stated above trigger you to learn more or get some help .. lean on the communities ! There are plenty of forums, sub-Reddits and Google+ groups about the topic you are diving into. They will be able to provide you with excellent feedback and support. Why waste hours on Googling when you can just ask the experts. God forbid .. you might like it there.

There are plenty of forums, sub-Reddits and Google+ groups about the topic you are diving into.

5: Give something in return.
And if, on your adventures into cross platform computing, have learned something new ? Why not give some back ? Post your experiences back to the forums, comment in the discussions and put your new found experience to good use by helping others. If you are feeling truly daring, why not try your hand a podcasting. Recording a simple episode on your phone and submitting it to the Hacker Public Radio podcast is a great way to get started. You will learn that the best way to learn,is to teach. God forbid .. you might like it.

You will learn that the best way to learn,is to teach.

So let 2016 be the year for you where you step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Try a new OS, a different brand of phone or some geeky new project that lets you control your home lights from the internet. We at Knightwise.com wish you good luck in your endeavours.

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Review : The LG 55EG960V 4K Ultra HD Tv.

Oct 17

Lets face it, Reviewing stuff is cool. From time to time we get stuff in the mail that we can tweet or blog our opinions about. This lets us play with some pretty cool stuff, and sometimes we even get to review stuff that you can’t just ship. So when LG asked us to review their 55 inch 4K Oled TV, we thought we were going to need a bigger mailbox. It turns out WE got to go and review IT for a night in a fancy penthouse suite in Brussels. The life of a blogger is hard.

After we had settled into the little penthouse and managed to tear away our eyes from the wonderful view, it was time to check out the tv. The lightly curved 4K 55 inch monster is quite elegant for its size. No overdone “HERE I AM” pimped out casing, no blinking lights.. Just a 55 inch slightly curved monolith … and its “full of stars” !

We had a Dave Bowman moment here : "It's full of stars"

We had a Dave Bowman moment here : “It’s full of stars”

 

Black is Black.
Once you turn it on you see what OLED is all about. For those of you who don’t know. Regular LED tv’s have “lightbars” at the edges of the screen, “lighting up” the pixels as it where. This means that pixels that are set to “black” still “bleed” some of this light through resulting in dark grey tones instead of actual black. Depending on the quality of your LED tv this might vary.

With Oled every pixel generates its own lightsource. So when the pixel is told to go BLACK it just switches off … resulting in true black. This is of course a lot of technobabble, so what is the result ? The end result is that the colors are amazing and that black is really black. During our first demo, a scene from “House of Cards”, where Claire is standing with her back to the edge of the frame wearing a black dress, there was no way to distinguish the black dress with the black edge of the tv. Impressive !

What do you do on a 4K TV ? play 8 bit games !

What do you do on a 4K TV ? play 8 bit games !

So how about this 4K stuff ?

Double the resolution of an HD Tv and you get 4K. That’s a resolution of 4096 by 2160 pixels. Result ? Watch yourself some 4K Netflix and you get to see a whole new level of detail. During the pilot episode of “The Blacklist” we saw small motes of dust floating through the scene. Each individual hair that was somehow out of place on the head of the lead character was visible. 4K will be a makeup artists nightmare !  The level of detail is so uncanny that at some point we noticed a booger (yes a booger) up the left nostril of one of the characters. We seriously shit you not: Much resolution, So 4K wow !

One thing that was familiar on the LG was the Smart OS that runs it. One could not tell by the looks but the “smart” part is actually HP’s WEB OS. Yeah, that’s the OS that never made it to the tablet space and died in a dark corner at Wallmart. But its offspring is alive and kicking. You can control it with the remote, using the buttons OR using it as a pointer. The interface is fine and responds pretty snappy. We liked it.

The only thing we were not that impressed with was the sound. Although the Tv features Harman Kardon speakers, the sound was a little ‘flat’. But I guess when you have the budget to buy one of these beauties, getting a 600 euro sound bar is peanuts.

Our view from the penthouse suite ..  SWEET !

Our view from the penthouse suite .. SWEET !

So in the end ? 

The LG 4k TV is a little bit like driving a Tesla for a day. Its awesome, its fantastic, its the best of the best and .. its also the price of 3 kidneys. At 3999 euro’s for the 55″ model and 5999 for the 65″ model, things might be a little bit outside our price range. We worry a little about the amount of 4k content that is available right now. Sure there is some on Netflix (Costs you a little extra though) but does it satisfy the purchase today ?

Our review of the LG 55EG960V Ultra HD 4K TV (as it is officially called) showed us a peek in whats to come in the near future of TV entertainment. Bight colors, solid blacks, awesome resolutions and hopefully a more affordable price range. And lets not forget new drinking games where you have to take a shot every time you see a booger up the nose of one of the lead characters !

Links : The official LG page and the Appart Hotel where we got to review it.

 

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KW1006 Reviewing the Dell XPS 13

Aug 15

This edition of the knightwise.com podcast brings another product review. This time Knightwise cracks into the Dell XPS 13. This laptop brings with it one distinguishing feature that not many mainstream laptop vendors provide: it’s preloaded with Linux.

Pop in those earbuds or crank up the car speakers. It’s time to dive in with the Dell XPS 13.

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KW1005 Knightwise on Podnutz Daily

Jul 18

This week we have a special treat. We have a chance to listen to Knightwise answering some questions instead of being on his usual side of the microphone. This week’s show is an interview that Knightwise gave on a recent episode of Podnutz Daily.

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KW1004 Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Jun 26

This week’s show is an in-depth look at the Surface Pro 3 from Microsoft. We tackle the hardware, the software and the applications that make this device a contender for a daily driver. We also have another great track from Daniel Messer. Let’s get into it!

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