The Blog of Maxim Porges

Archive for May, 2010

  • Bluetooth Headphones and iPad

    After successfully pairing my new Bluetooth headphones with my iPad, I had issues getting them to reconnect after the headphones were turned off and on again. I would turn Bluetooth back on on the iPad, and hold the headphones near the device, but they would never reconnect. I tried un- and re-pairing the devices, and while the pairing operation worked and would stay connected following the pairing until the headphones were turned off, the headphones still wouldn’t reconnect after turning them off and on again.

    To make sure it wasn’t an issue with the headphones, I tested reconnecting them to my Mac after turning them off and on again. This worked flawlessly in the usual fashion – turn them on, put the devices near each other, and the Mac connects to the headphones automatically.

    In staring at the Bluetooth menu on my iPad, it suddenly occurred to me that the name of my headphones in the list of devices might have been a button. Sure enough, I turned the headphones on again and clicked the name of the device in the list, a spinner showed up, and then they reconnected.

    Checking the iPhone manual, there’s nothing in there that describes this process. I suppose it’s one of those things that should be intuitive, but in this case it was not intuitive for me since I’m used to my Macs greedily reconnecting to any devices they have been connected to before without being asked. I actually prefer this process with the iPad, since I have several devices that I share Bluetooth accessories with, and once the accessory is connected it won’t make itself available to be connected to anything else until it is disconnected. I’ve had issues with this a few times when I’ve turned my work laptop and personal laptop on at the same time in my home office. They’re both paired with my Bluetooth keyboard so whichever one binds to the keyboard first wins, regardless of which one I actually want to use the keyboard with. The only way around this is to turn off Bluetooth on one of the devices until the one I want to use the keyboard with has claimed it, which is kind of a pain.

    2010.05.30 / 4 responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Fixing “Bluetooth audio failed” Error Message on Mac OS X with Sony DR-BT50 Headphones

    I’ve been using my iPad to watch movies on YouTube and Air Video while wandering around the house, usually on my studio headphones (quite simply the best headphones I have ever put on my head – super comfy for as long as you care to wear them and amazing sound). I like close-ear headphones since they don’t fall out of my ears like earbuds do, and I can watch movies without disturbing my wife’s mission to watch every reality TV show episode ever produced.

    More often than not, I’ll get hungry or a hankering for a cup of tea halfway through a movie, and I’ll wander in to the kitchen to make something to eat. Typically, I throw the iPad on the counter and will wander around fixing a snack while listening to the movie. Although my studio headphones have a nice long cable, I’m always worried that I’m going to pull the iPad off the counter and smash the screen.

    A week or so back I caved and bought a set of Bluetooth headphones. My criteria were great sound, comfort (most closed designs hurt my ears since I have a giant head), travel-ready, and reasonably priced. I found two pairs I really liked on Amazon: the JayBird SB1Bs and the Sony DR-BT50s. The JayBirds looked cooler and got similarly good reviews to the Sonys. I was expecting to spend about $100 for a decent set, so pricing was decent for both. Ultimately, I bought the Sonys because they were foldable for travel; I plan on using these headphones both at work and at home, and I was afraid I might crush the JayBirds in my backpack.

    Headphones arrived today, and paired seamlessly with my iPad on the first try. One of the reviewers of the Sonys said that they introduced latency when watching movies (causing lip sync issues), but I’ve seen none of that with either my iPad or my MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard so the latency must have been an issue with their device. Sound quality is excellent, they are comfortable, and they came with travel bag which I was not expecting – so, mission accomplished. The only minor glitch I have noticed is occasional static when working in proximity with my Bluetooth keyboard. This hasn’t been a big deal so far.

    Although iPad pairing was seamless, pairing with OS X was not. I went through the Bluetooth Setup Assistant, which paired right away and gave me the all-clear that the pairing had worked. About five seconds after closing the assistant, I got the following error:

    Bluetooth audio failed.
    There was an error connecting to your headset. Make sure it is turned on and in range. The audio portion of the program you were using may have to be restarted.

    I tried removing the device and pairing again; same issue. So, I selected the headphones in the Bluetooth menu under System Preferences and clicked the little drop-down menu beneath the list (next to the + and – buttons). One of the options says “Configure this device…”, so I opened that up. A Bluetooth Headset Setup application opened, showing me two checkboxes for the device: “Use device as a headset for this computer” and “Use device as headphones for this computer.” I deselected the headset option, leaving only the headphones option selected. Sure enough, everything worked, and my headphones showed up with a green light in the list of Bluetooth devices, connected and ready to use.

    For those of you who might be considering a pair of these headphones for an iPad or Mac, know that the controls on the headphones for volume and stop/play are the only ones that work on the iPad/iPhone at the moment. The fast forward/rewind controls also work on the Mac, and I haven’t tried the previous/next group ones yet so I can’t comment on them.

    2010.05.29 / 16 responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Programming the Meggy Jr.

    I built my Meggy Jr. about a month or so back, and since I was having a pretty lazy weekend I figured I would mess around with programming it.

    The device comes with an “advanced” API that can manipulate the finer details of the device, and a simple wrapper API. The simple API is the one that 99% of people will use to program games and other applications, since it lets you do things like play sounds, turn the LEDs on and off while specifying their color, check for button presses, etc. Code is C/C++ written in whatever editor you want, and compiled and shipped to the device over a USB cable using the Java-based Arduino IDE. It’s a really neat little package and very easy to get started with.

    Here’s a picture of my Meggy hooked up via the USB adapter cable. The cable plugs in to the headers on the top right, and can be easily unplugged for taking the device with you.

    I wrote a basic program to test things out, and then decided to start on a library for a game (since I have been thinking about some kind of multi-colored Othello/Reversi that might be fun to figure out). However, as soon as I tried going from a monolithic one-file procedural application to something using classes, I started to get compiler errors about duplicate method implementations. Cracking open the code, I found out that the guys who wrote the Meggy API put all the simple API calls inline in a header file. As a result, whenever you want to include the header more than once, you end up with compiler errors for the duplicated object code.

    I posted a question to the forums about whether there were any specific reasons why this design approach had been chosen over a classic header/class file, but after taking a quick look at the code I couldn’t see any reason and decided to port the library to a header/class setup. If anybody is interested, the final code for the solution is posted on the Meggy forums. Also, if you want to download the library files you can get them here.

    I originally wanted to be a computer engineer in college, but chose software engineering instead since the market was so full of jobs at the time and I seemed to have some natural ability with it. My recent foray in to learning electronics has resulted in a keen interest in building devices and writing software for them, so apparently this passion for hardware has been laying dormant for over ten years. My original goal when I bought Make: Electronics was to get enough expertise to build an Arduinome, which looked really daunting at the time. Having assembled the Meggy last month, and having looked at the plans again in detail this weekend, building an Arduinome now looks like a walk in the park. To that end, I ordered an unsped Arduinome shield PCB from on Saturday, and will order the rest of the parts when the board goes off to China for fabrication.

    After that’s done, I’m going to get really ambitious and try to build an MB-6582. The project itself looks somewhat tougher from every angle (construction, case assembly, etc.), although by far the hardest part will be tracking down 8 SID chips. I’ve got one in my SIDStation, but that’s not going anywhere. There are plenty of C64s to be had on eBay, but when you only want the SID chip it’s a little hard to justify dropping $30+ 8 times. Luckily, the main board for the MB-6582 is set up to have as many or few SID chips as you have on hand, so I can start off with 2 and work my way up as my budget allows.

    2010.05.23 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Drag and Drop in iPad Safari is a Drag

    One drawback of the iPad touchscreen is that you can’t use web 2.0 interfaces supporting drag and drop. I tried using Greenhopper in JIRA earlier, and dragging simply moves the screen around instead of letting me move the issues on the web page.

    I wonder if Apple will come up with a neat solution to this? Best thing I can think of is a two-finger drag, or a drag while “holding” the web page still with another finger.

    2010.05.04 / 5 responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • iPad Enhancements

    I just sent some feedback to Apple with my wish list for iPad and i thought I would share.


    I love the iPad! Great job, guys. Just a few things I’d like to see added.

    1. Voice control – I love it on my iPhone, and it would be great to have it on the iPad too.

    2. The iPhone clock, stocks, and weather apps in iPad form.

    3. The ability to filter movies by their name. I have loads of movies on my 64 GB device, and it’s a pain to scroll.

    4. The Photos app doesn’t remember where you were. I find this is a pain, since I have a lot of photos as well, and as I use the device and flip between apps I always have to flick a long way to get back to where I was.

    5. Task sync with Exchange in iCal. The iPad is great for running around with in the office instead of my laptop, but I need to be able to manage my tasks, too. If you can get this on the iPhone at the same time that would be awesome.

    6. The option to have tabbed browsing in Safari. I like having tabbed windows, and while the window switching in iPad is neat, it requires two clicks to jump between web pages whereas tabs would require only one click. I comparison-shop a lot and having tabs makes this easier.

    7. The ability to search for photo albums/events by name in Spotlight.

    I think that is it for now. I’m looking forward to the OS 4 release later this year. Keep up the great work!


    - max

    2010.05.04 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Initial Thoughts on the iPad

    The 3G iPad came out yesterday. I went up to the Altamonte Apple store thinking that nobody would be lining up for one there, and was surprised to see a line of about 300 people. And so, I reluctantly became one of those douchebags who waits in line for an Apple product release; and yes, I’m sorry to say that I participated in the wave the Apple employees made the line do back and forth to amuse us while we hung out. They ran out of 16 GB models before I got to the front of the line, but I was there for a 64 GB since I have more disposable income than common sense.

    After I got home, I unpacked it, set it up, changed its name to iPadonkadonk, and then stared at it for a bit wondering if I had really needed to buy this thing – kind of a weird buyer’s remorse. That feeling didn’t last very long. Having loaded it up with apps and used it for a few hours though, I’m very happy with my purchase.

    The form factor really is just perfect for tooling around the Internet while hangilng out on your couch or in bed. I watched the 1984 version of Dune on it over Netflix streaming last night, downloaded War of the Worlds as a free book on iBooks, and read the news on the NYT app. I also looked at some photos and did some of the other typical stuff I do on my iPhone like Facebooking.

    A few things I didn’t expect.

    1. With an iPhone, you’re always looking for an app to give you a more targeted experience for the form factor. I’ve found that this is less of a problem on the iPad. Facebook, for example, runs much better as an in-browser app on the iPad than it does in the stupid iPhone app that has all sorts of issues.

    2. The iPad doesn’t seem to recognize the “shake” gesture. I noticed this when trying to refresh the Facebook app before I gave up and deleted it in all its uselessness.

    3. Video quality is awesome, as is readability for digital books and the Internet.

    4. It’s heavier than I think is ideal, but this isn’t really an issue. The combination of gravity and a free hand allows you to prop it up comfortably for hours of movie watching or reading. You can turn pages with the iBook app with the slightest gesture, so I find I can rest the iPad on my chest, prop it up with one hand, and hover my thumb over the very edge for an occasional flick when I’m ready to turn the page.

    5. The keyboard is remarkably easy to type on with Apple’s case in typing mode. I’m blogging on it right now.

    6. Surprisingly, you can’t dock it with the case on. I’ll be taking back the iPad dock I bought yesterday as an accessory.

    I have not signed up for 3G service on it yet. To be honest, I doubt I will use that apart from occasional month-to-month stints when traveling, although we’ll see what happens once I’ve had the device for a bit. Overall, I’m really happy with it so far and I can see why so many people have been raving about it.

    2010.05.01 / 3 responses / Category: Uncategorized