Tag Archives: playstation

Happy Daylight Savings! Isn’t It Time for Self-Setting Clocks?

At one minute past 1:59 am on Sunday morning, our clocks “sprang forward” to 3:00, to usher in Daylight saving time (DST). When I woke up later that morning, I was pleased to see how many of my household clocks had already followed the time change and were on the correct time. These included the time readouts on my land-line phones (to say nothing of my cell), my cable boxes, my Nest thermostat, and even my “Radio Controlled” La Crosse Technology wall clock.

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It sets itself. Watching it rush ahead an hour must be what time travel feels like.

Sadly, there were still some devices that needed a more “hands-on” approach to catch up. This is the story of those stragglers.


Printer: HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw

The only reason this device even needs a clock is for its fax function. Admittedly, that is the least-used aspect of this printer in my home office, but that doesn’t mean it should be incorrect! As I describe below, some of the devices I had to change make it as simple as switching the “DST” setting to “on.” This printer had no such option; it simply required a manual entry of the correct date and time. It’s an eight-step procedure. (Following for each device is the text directly from the manufacturer’s online manual):

1. From the Home screen, touch the Setup button.

2. Touch the Fax Setup menu.

3. Touch the Basic Setup menu.

4. Scroll to and touch the Time/Date button.

5. Select the 12-hour clock or 24-hour clock.

6. Use the keypad to enter the current time, and then touch the OK button.

7. Select the date format.

8. Use the keypad to enter the current date, and then touch the OK button.

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The LaserJet Pro’s touchscreen control panel. That “wrench” icon at the top is where you change the time and date.

It’s tedious, but there is hope. HP has, in the past, included in some of their printers the option to synchronize with a network time server, using NTP (Network Time Protocol). When it’s time to shop for a new printer, I’ll include NTP support among my list of “must-haves” (or at least, “would-be-nices”). Until then, it’s those eight steps above, twice a year.


Game System: Sony PlayStation 3

The oldest “connected” device in my home entertainment setup, the PS3 gets much of its functionality from its wifi connection, and this includes the time. Indeed, the PS3’s Settings menu does include the option to “Set Automatically” its internal clock; but strangely, the option for DST is a manual “Standard” or “Daylight Saving” choice. So, just like my HP printer, this is an update I have to do twice a year, when I switch from Standard to DST and back again.

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Just because it’s from 2006, doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be on the correct date and time! (Click the photo for the relevant page of the PS3 online manual.)

According to its online manual, the PlayStation 4, on the other hand, has included automatic “spring forward” functionality:

Adjust Daylight Saving Automatically

Your PS4™ system automatically adjusts for daylight saving time. To disable this feature, clear the checkbox for [Adjust Daylight Saving Automatically].

This setting is available only if the region set under [Time Zone] is one that implements daylight saving time.

And for those of you wondering why I haven’t upgraded to a PS4 yet, stand by for a future blog post on that topic. But for now, moving on to another Sony device…


Television: Sony XBR-55X850B

Here, the option to access time settings was in the “Preferences” menu on its Home screen. From there, I had to select “Clock/Timers,” then “Current Time.” I have my set configured to automatically acquire the current time over its wifi connection; but again, I must manually change DST from “Off” to “On.” It’s a bizarre quirk that I must attribute to the older TV interface this time. Shortly after I got my TV, Sony switched to the Android interface, and today’s equivalent to my model now features full “Automatic date & time” setting.

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Sony’s “legacy” TV menu screen. The Settings icon on the upper right (boxed in red) is where the time and date changes are made.


Game System: Nintendo Wii U

Not even acknowledging the existence of DST, Nintendo’s previous flagship console has a procedure reminiscent of that HP printer I opened with—if even a little longer!

The Calendar screen allows you to change the Wii console’s date and time settings. The time is in military time (a 24 hour clock) and does not automatically adjust for Daylight Saving time.

To make a selection, point to the desired option and press the A Button.

What to Do:

Select the Wii button from the Wii Menu.

Select “Wii Settings.”

Next, select “Calendar.”

How to Adjust the Date:

Select “Date.”

Select the up or down arrows that correspond with the month, date, and year to adjust each setting.

Depending on the language the system is set to, the date format may be different. Check the List

Select Confirm to save any changes.

How to Adjust the Time:

Select “Time.”

Select the up or down arrows that correspond with the hours and minutes to adjust each setting.

The Wii console uses a 24 hour clock (military time). For example 1:00 p.m. is displayed as 13:00.

Select Confirm to save any changes.

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The Wii U’s friendly, if not particularly advanced, settings screen.

So once again, despite the console being connected to the internet, no NTP or automatic DST setting is offered. This is just one more way in which the Wii U’s successor, the Switch, is an improvement: when I turned on my Switch Sunday morning, I saw that it had updated its clock to DST either while asleep, or immediately upon waking. Well done, Nintendo. It’s about time (heh).

Leaving my office and my living room, I was confronted with those clocks not connected to internet-enabled devices: namely, my gas range, my microwave, and two clocks in my bathroom.


Gas Range: Frigidaire FFGF3011LWC

Okay, this one is pretty straightforward.

To set the clock:

1. Press clock once (do not hold key pad down).

2. Within 5 seconds, press and hold the ⌃ or ⌵ until the correct time of day appears in the display.

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It’s a tiny black-and-green display, but it’s so irritating when it’s wrong. (Source: specsserver.com)

And that’s it. So it’s a two-step procedure twice a year. But isn’t this the age of the “Connected Home?” The “Internet of Things?” Shouldn’t there be ovens that go online at this point, and download their time from the internet?

Actually, we’re getting there.

General Electric is leading the “smart oven” wave. According to their website:

WHEN THE REMOTE ENABLE BUTTON IS ENGAGED ON WIFI-CONNECT OVENS, YOU CAN USE YOUR SMART PHONE FOR THE FOLLOWING:

• Preheat your oven remotely by turning it on from the App

• Get notifications when preheated, when Timer finishes, or when meat probe* reaches temperature

• Determine time remaining

• Monitor and change the oven temperature

• Turn off your oven

• Adjust your oven control – Set Clock, Tone Volume, Sabbath Mode, and more

Here’s GE’s promo video showing the app in action:

Strictly speaking, they’re not saying if the oven can set its own time; or if you just have the option to do it from your phone, as opposed to the control panel on the oven itself.


Not to be outdone, I had to see if there were similar advancements in microwaves.

Microwave Oven: Panasonic NN-SN661S

My microwave is actually the newest kitchen gadget in my home, but it’s still pretty “dumb.” The clock-setting procedure takes three steps.

Setting the Clock

Example: To set 11:25 a.m. or p.m.

  1. Press timer/clock twice. Colon flashes.
  2. Enter time of day using the number pads. Time appears in the display window; colon continues flashing.
  3. Press timer/clock once. Colon stops fashing; time of day is entered.

From what I could find on their website, GE has not added microwave ovens to their “GE WiFi Connect” family yet (nor may they ever, given how microwaves can interfere with wifi signals).

Indeed, none of the big appliance makers is currently offering an internet-connected microwave, and the closest I could even find was a bizarre 2015 Kickstarter page for the “MAID” oven:

So this one may be stuck in the old-fashioned time changing method for now (or even forever). But it raises an interesting question: other than the cooking timer, why does one even need a clock on the microwave in the first place?


In the bathroom, I have two clocks: one facing my mirror, and one in the shower on my radio.

“Mirror Clock”: Martek Nurdanian Clock

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This is what the clock really looks like at 9:27…

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…and this is what it looks like in the mirror.

This “backwards clock” lets me see the time in my reflection, displayed correctly due to the inverted numbers and retrograde motion. This is a novelty item, and it doesn’t look like La Cross is planning to make a radio-updated version. But there are interesting moves in the world of mirrors with smart clocks built right in.

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The built-in clock is just one of the features advertised at ElectricMirror.com (click photo to visit that site).

While there are indeed commercially-available mirrors with integrated clocks (see above), none of them appears to have native internet connectivity, so they’re no more convenient to set than my cute plastic clock.

Dutch engineer Michael Teeuw built his own “Magic Mirror” with a Raspberry Pi DIY kit; but the work involved  is a far greater headache than spinning the hands of an analog clock ahead or behind one hour, depending on the time of year.

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Yes, it’s very cool. But the process of making it is not for amateurs. (Source: michaelteeuw.nl).


Finally, my shower radio clock:

Shower Radio: Sangean H201

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Sangean’s waterproof shower radio. (Source: sangean.com)

This one took seven steps.

  1. The clock will start running when the batteries are installed or when the radio is connected to the mains supply. The display will show ” – : – – “
  2. The time can be set with your radio switched off or on.
  3. Press and hold down the Time Set button for approx. 2 seconds until the hours digits flash in the display with a beep.
  4. Press the Tuning Up/Down buttons to set the required hour.
  5. Press the Time Set button, the minute digits will  ash in the display.
  6. Press the Tuning Up/Down buttons to set the required minute.
  7. Press the Time Set button to complete time setting. The second will start to count.

From what I could find, even the “smartest” waterproof radios and bluetooth speakers draw the line at automatic time adjustment. Oh, well. I like to run my shower radio a bit fast anyway, so I don’t linger under the water.


So in the final analysis, if I really wanted to, I could upgrade several of my appliances and electronics to save the hassle of having to re-set their clocks twice a year. And honestly, I’m considering it!

I admit it; I’m spoiled. But then, perhaps I’m just cranky because I missed an hour of sleep. If only there were a a gadget to fix that… ■

Two interesting, if imperfect, online search apps can help find streaming content… sometimes.

Over the holiday weekend, I engaged in an activity shared by many households lately: I binge-watched shows and films on some of the major streaming services. If you’re especially curious, I caught up on the latest seasons of Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon Prime Video; enjoyed the classic horror/comedy adventure Gremlins on that service; and plowed through most of the first season of Netflix‘s original series The Crown. Suffice to say, other than this blog entry, I got very little done.

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On THE CROWN, I keep waiting for Prince Philip (DOCTOR WHO’S Matt Smith, left) to get out his Sonic Screwdriver and uncover alien monsters at Buckingham Palace. But I’m not through with the first season yet, so please don’t spoil it if he does. (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

Watching original programming like those shows is easy to do: the services advertise them on their main screens, boasting award nominations and all-star casts. Even Gremlins, an older film, showed up in Amazon’s “Recommended Movies” section–but I’m guessing they did that because it’s set at Christmas time, as were many of the films in that Amazon section. So those are easy to come by. But what if I had a film I specifically wanted to watch, but I didn’t know where to find it?

Searching each of the sites individually can be a very tedious procedure, especially when you have to enter in each letter of the film or show’s name one at a time with your remote control. Now let’s say I wanted to watch Gremlins, but in this scenario, I didn’t have an Amazon Prime membership, only Netflix. So I type in “Gremlins” on the Netflix search screen, and the results are creative, if unhelpful. I suppose it’s useful to learn the value of compromise. After all, as the Rolling Stones sing, “You can’t always get what you want.” But then, they also sing, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

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It’s not my place to tell you what films are appropriate to show your kids. Just be prepared for JAWS to ruin your plans for a beach trip… and for SOUTH PARK to teach your kids some colorful new words.

The trick isn’t just knowing what you want, but how to get it. Not long ago, I discovered a website dedicated to streamlining (if you’ll forgive the pun) the streaming content search. Can I Stream It? (CISI) is a search engine for finding a specific show or film across a wide variety of services. In their own words:

CanIStream.It is a free service created by Urban Pixels that allows you to search across the most popular streaming, rental, and purchase services to find where a movie is available. If the movie you’re looking for is not available, just sign-up, set a reminder and voila we will shoot you an email when your chosen service makes the movie available. It’s simple and fast.

Can I Stream It? breaks down the services into five categories:

Instant Streaming: Subscription based and free instant streaming services.

Streaming Rental: Services that offer time limited rentals (24-48 hours) for a small fee.

Digital Purchase: Services that offer the ability to purchase a movie forever.

DVD / Bluray: Services that allow you to purchase or rent a physical dvd/blu-ray disc.

XFINITY Subscribers: Cable Subscription services with online viewing brought to you by Xfinity.

I applauded the thorough depth of CISI’s search. For example, when I searched for Gremlins, it found several sites like iTunes and Vudu, who had the film for rent. But something was missing, and it’s why I don’t use CISI as my primary search method anymore.

cisiscreenshotnew

CanIStream.it’s search results page. Notice anything missing? Hint: it rhymes with “shmamazon.”

 

If you’ll recall, I was able to stream Gremlins on Amazon Prime’s streaming video service. Now, either the movie came to Amazon so recently that CISI hasn’t yet added it to their search results; or it’s been on Amazon for a while, and CISI just missed it. Unfortunately, it looks like the former is the case, thanks to the Celebuzz.com article, “10 Movies from the 1980’s to Stream on Amazon Prime Video” … from November 2015.

CISI also has an app, but two of the three reviews on its iTunes front page are one-star:

Don’t trust this app for being correct
     

When checking for titles it seems to be almost uniform that the title is available on “XFinity” and not available on other services.
As example just having checked for the TV series “Crossing Lines” it showed that none of the subscription services had it but it was available on XFinity. Yet in checking directly with Netflix Streaming subscription it was available.

Be careful this app can be misleading and lead you to pay for a video you have in one of your subscription services.

…More

And here’s another gem:

Freezes, lags, and crashes…
     

This app has great potential, but unfortunately, as soon as you start typing it freezes, when you hit search it freezes, when you click the title it freezes. Sometimes it crashes instead freezes, which is nice for a change of pace, but then you have to start all over again.

So it’s not a great site, and its app isn’t winning any prizes. What is one to do?

Luckily I subsequently discovered a superior site/app, JustWatch.com. The website is much cleaner, with more accurate results than CISI; and its app is much more well-reviewed, holding firmly at an average of 4 stars out of 5 on iTunes.

Thanks to JustWatch, now I know that not only can I stream Gremlins on Amazon; but in addition to the handful of services CISI recommended, it’s available for rent from Microsoft, PlayStation, and Fandango Now.

justwatchscreenshot

See at the bottom? THERE’S Amazon, both streaming for Prime subscribers, and available to rent for non-subscribers!

The biggest issue so far is the limitation to which all search engines are prone: I need to know what to type. I recently spoke with my father (whom you may recall from an earlier blog post, is also a streaming video connoisseur), and he was recommending a film he saw about D-Day. It was on Amazon or Netflix–he knew that much. But damned if he could recall the title–or which service had it– off the top of his head. Typing in just “D-Day” on CanIStream.It and JustWatch.com each came up fruitless… but at least JustWatch brought up as its top result, 2004’s Ike: Countdown to D-Day. I’m embarrassed for CISI to reveal that their top result was the anime classic, Vampire Hunter D (Banpaia hanta D) (1985). Come on, guys, really? Suffice to say, that film has nothing to do with Normandy.

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There weren’t NEARLY enough vampire hunters at Omaha Beach.

For the record, the film my dad saw was D-Day 6.6.1944 (from 2004, just like the Ike film). Ironically, that title is the first result when you type in “D-Day” on the search field on IMDB.com. Typing “D-Day 6.6.1944” into either CISI or JustWatch’s search fields brings up nothing but incorrect results. As it turns out (thanks to my dad’s tenacious hunting), it was indeed Netflix who had it, as just D-Day… and only if you search for just that. The longer, correct title brings up Netflix’s “your search did not have any matches” screen.

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Looks good. Shame it’s so hard to find.

The emerging home AI boom (and stand by for a future blog post about that) has us shouting all sorts of random requests to Alexa, Google, and Siri. Hopefully that technology will be perfected soon enough that I can shout to my AppleTV, “Hey Siri, I want to watch that movie about D-Day,” and she’ll cue it up from whatever service has it, without my needing to know a specific title, or where to find it.

Or maybe I’ll just watch Gremlins, again. ■

Dispatches from the Future: Media Molecule and Sculpting on the PS4

At the big PlayStation 4 event the other day, several companies announced new games, upcoming technologies, and their promises to utilize the power of the upcoming (holiday 2013) PS4 console.

The one that stood out for me the most was Media Molecule, the company behind the adorable platform game Little Big Planet. In this demo, Alex Evans, one of MM’s Technical Directors, demonstrates how to use the PlayStation Move wand for content creation, by treating video game content like a hunk of clay, as opposed to a screen of code. It promises to bring content creation to the layman, and, if truly successful, finally to justify the existence of the Move.

New Year’s Technology Resolutions, #1: Check Your Clocks and Calendars

As we crawl, bleary-eyed into a new year, we should take this opportunity to make sure our devices are on the same page (of the calendar) as we are, and that they’re not stuck in a Jumanji-esque time warp.

New Year’s Day is one of three good times each year to make sure everything is set properly. The next is the beginning of Daylight Savings (where applicable), this year on Sunday, March 10, when our clocks “spring forward” an hour. The third, naturally, is the end of Daylight Savings, on Sunday, November 3, when the clocks “fall back” again. Also, if you do any travel outside your own time zone, you should make sure your mobile devices update properly when you reach your destination. Here’s how to check your clocks and calendars.

If the linked instructions either don’t work, or aren’t clear enough, feel free to contact me directly (there may be a specific issue interfering with the adjustment of your settings), or leave a comment on this post.

I’ll be offering more resolutions you can–and should–adopt, throughout January. If you have some tech resolutions of your own, feel free to drop me a line and let me know!

Happy New Year (whatever year it is!)