Honeywell-Nest Lawsuit

12 February 2012 Leave a comment

Honeywell-Nest Lawsuit

On Monday 6 February 2012, Honeywell filed a suit against Nest for allegedly infringing upon several of Honeywell’s patents.  GigaOm summarized these offending patents:

  • Natural Language Installer Set Up for Controller
  • Controller Interface with Dynamic Schedule Display
  • HVAC Controller
  • Thermostat with Mechanical User Interface
  • Thermostat with Offset Drive
  • Power Stealing Control Devices
  • Profile Based Method for Deriving a Temperature Setpoint Using a ‘Delta’ Based On Cross-Indexing a Received Price-Point Level Signal.

Nest provided a kick in the pants to the HVAC industry, which we haven’t seen since the iPhone debuted to shake up the mobile phone world.  This is not too surprising since one of the founders of Nest is Tony Fadell, who had worked on the iPod and iPhone at Apple, Inc.

If Honeywell could prove that Yoky Matsuoka had filched algorithms from Honeywell on determining on how to regulate temperature, then there might be some validity to Honeywell’s claims.  Yet, none of the patents seem to focus on the elements which truly separate the Nest from the competition.

Nest has been quite open about the process they used to design and construct the Nest.  As Tondy Fadell has mentioned in interviews, there is essentially a smart phone crammed into the Nest smart thermostat.  I see nothing even close to the Nest thermostat provided by Honeywell.  The only comparable programable thermostat that comes to my mind  is the Ecobee, and I haven’t heard about Honeywell trying to sue Ecobee.

When was the last time someone was excited about a Honeywell thermostat?  Have any tech sites done a tear down to see what makes a Honeywell thermostat tick?  Honeywell has even admitted to have looked into smart thermostats years ago, but decided to pass.  Then a newcomer enters the market and does what Honeywell did not, and now Honeywell is fuming and wants a piece of the pie.

Honeywell was passed by Nest, and now they are trying to catch up, not by developing their own innovative product, but by trying to beat their competitor with their patent portfolio.  As we can see in the mobile phone industry where everyone is trying to sue everyone else, the attitude of being trigger-happy with frivolous lawsuits will only result in far more damage than it will help to protect the greater interest and well-being of all parties.

References


Categories: Nest

Changers Startup Kit

31 January 2012 Leave a comment

Changers

As my collection of solar-powered devices grows, I need to become more selective on what to try out to determine if this could be a useful device on an everyday basis.

In October 2011, the Berlin startup Changers GmbH introduced the Changers Starter Kit.  The hardware is a little unusual in its appearance, but the true differentiator is the social networking aspects tied to the device.

This is solar charging with an attitude.

Unboxing + Manual

Like any good eco-conscious product, the packaging is constructed from corrugated cardboard, formed from renewable resources, and of course, completely recyclable.  An interesting phrase on the box says “Ich bin ein Berliner.”  I find this curious, since that is the famous line by JFK, where the correct phrase probably should have been “Ich bin Berliner.”  Or maybe this solar kit was developed by some hyperpandimensional jelly donuts.  Or perhaps they are Germans with a sense of humor.  Or my German instructors were lying to me all this time.

The fold-out manual is constructed from 100% recycled paper.  Also, to reduce paper waste, the fold-out manual is only available in English, but other manuals can be downloaded from the Changers website at http://www.changers.com/en/downloads.  Considering that Changers is based out of Germany, I was curious if the manual would have any translation errors.  The first word on the manual is “Initialize”, which is interesting that the American version of that word was used.  However, there is a small goof which says “0 to 0,3 Watt”, which would be correct in some languages, just not American English.  Yet, this is not a mere manual, but part manifesto with declarations of life, liberty, and the pursuit of delicious creme-filled donuts (I could go for a Bavarian or Boston Cream about now).

Hardware

The Changers Starter Kit comes with two main components: the Kalhuohfummi™ solar battery and the Maroshi™ solar module.  (For the background history on these unusual names, read this blog post.  I’ll wait….)  Upon first seeing the detached design between the battery and the solar module, I thought that this might be somewhat unwieldy by separating the components.  However, after using it, this approach does have distinct advantages by allowing the solar panel to remain thin, flexible, and light.  The battery easily detaches, which then can be carried around in a coat pocket.  Another advantage to having a separate solar panel component is the potential to chain together several panels to charge up one battery.  The Kalhuohfummi™ has two USB ports on it, a standard USB port for power out and a micro-USB port for data.  The included USB-to-micro-USB cable works well for my set up since I can use this cable to transmit data between Kalhuohfummi™ and my computer, and then switch the cable around and charge up my mophie Juice Air, which has a micro-USB port on it.  Like most other chargers, there are a variety of other adapter tips, but I haven’t had to use them so far.

One thing which did not work out too well for me is the suction cups on the Maroshi™.  One of the suction cups works, but the other one keeps detaching.  Or perhaps I just have an aversion to licking suction cups.

However, for this set up to work best, the device needs to be exposed to strong sun rays, otherwise, it will collect very little to no energy.

Early pictures of Maroshi™ displayed the Holstee Manifesto, however, my device did not, which is too bad, since I enjoy seeing these nice touches.  Yet, including such a manifesto echoes the solar revolution Changers is heading.  [UPDATE: Another review mentions that the manifesto is only printed on a special edition version of the kit.]

Software

The key element which separates Changers from other solar chargers is in the software.  A desktop application (available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux) collects data from Kalhuohfummi™ and then uploads the information to the Changers website.

The Changers website is Facebook for solar power addicts.  The design of the site and manuals even has a Facebook meets Google aesthetic.  Each night, I enjoy plugging in the Kalhuohfummi™ and seeing how much energy I generated that day.  The community appears to be fairly small right now, but the Changers crew are the first ones I’ve seen to actively embrace this idea (so far).

One nice touch is that the CO2 savings on the website are measured in kilograms, not pounds.  Let’s face it — instead of stuffing our faces with donuts (no matter how delicious they might be), Americans should be doing something useful like encouraging the adoption of solar power and the metric system!

Summary

This is no mere solar charger.  This is a mission from (the sun) god.  Harvest the sun and have fun while doing it.  This is a way of life. Embrace the change and make a change for the better.

Pros

  • Unique design
  • Social networking aspects
  • Detachable battery
  • Eco-conscious packaging
  • Micro-USB cable works well with my mophie battery pack
  • Standard USB port
Cons
  • Solar panel not very strong (needs excellent light source to work)
  • Suction cups suck (or perhaps, because they don’t suck)
Details
  • Name: Changers Starter Kit
  • Price: $149 (USD) / € 119
  • Manufacturer: Changers GmbH
  • Websitehttp://www.changers.com

 

Categories: Changers, Solar

Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 for Mac

31 December 2011 Leave a comment

NewImage

For my birthday, I added to my arsenal of solar-powered products Logitech’s Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 for Mac.  I had seen the Windows edition several months prior, and was glad to see that Logitech (a company who has developed products for the Mac, even during the bad-old-days of the mid-90s) produced a Mac-specific version of this keyboard.

My primary interest in this product was due to the solar panels.  They pretty much look like enlarged versions of the solar panels found on small calculators, but they certainly perform the job, even in low light conditions.  It doesn’t take much light to keep this keyboard charged.  The companion Solar App is pretty clever and can be launched by pressing a special key on the keyboard to launch the application, which will display the charge of the battery and how much light the keyboard is receiving.  Mac OS 10.6 and 10.7 users can get the free Solar App through the Mac App Store.  The Solar App can also be downloaded directly from Logitech’s website for those with an older version of Mac OS X.

The tactile feel of the keyboard is on par with the current Apple chiclet-style keyboards.  It has a decent feel, better than the older PowerBook and iBook keyboards, but nowhere nearly as satisfying as the satisfying “click” that I receive on my main keyboard: the Matias Tactile Pro 3.  However, the keys are fairly quiet, which is more office-friendly than the much louder Tactile Pro.

The keyboard is amazingly thin, yet it feels quite sturdy, even though it is not made out of metal.  The two flip-out feet also keep the keyboard solid while typing.

One concern I had was whether or not this computer would be able to send commands to the computer as it is booting (such as holding down the Alt/Option key).  Fortunately, this does work, so if you have more than one operating system set up on your Mac (such as a dual-boot between Mac OS and Windows), this will work.  Brownie points earned for the Logitech team for ensuring that important feature was present.

The keyboard communicates with the host computer with a small USB dongle which connects to the computer.  The dongle is fairly small and unobtrusive, which I’ve seen before with another Logitech mouse, but since this is a keyboard intended for the Mac, this brings up the question.  WHY DOESN’T THE KEYBOARD USE BLUETOOTH?!! Practically every Apple computer since Who-Knows-When has used Bluetooth.  Since this keyboard is intended to be used with Macs, why not have use Bluetooth instead of this proprietary USB dongle which takes up an extra USB port?  Also, if this keyboard used Bluetooth, it perhaps could be paired up with an iPad, which would have greatly increased the usefulness of this product.  If power consumption is an issue with Bluetooth, perhaps Logitech may consider Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a new feature in Bluetooth 4.0.  Considering that Logitech does make a keyboard for the iPad, it is curious that they did not decide to use Bluetooth for the K750.

However, there is one positive point for using the USB dongle — this keyboard will also work with older Macs which don’t include Bluetooth.  I tried using the K750 with a Gigabit PowerMac G4 under OS 9.2, and it worked without any additional drivers needing to be installed.

If you are looking for a new keyboard for your Mac, the K750 is a decent choice for a replacement.  The key feature is generating power through solar energy, but the lack of Bluetooth is a major detractor of this keyboard.  For the time being, the K750 will serve as a back up keyboard for my purposes.

Pros

  • Made for Mac
  • Works in low light
  • Companion software is a nice addition
  • Works when holding down the Alt-Option button at start up
  • Works on old Macs
  • Thin and sturdy

Cons

  • No Bluetooth support
  • Still no Bluetooth support
  • Requires USB dongle

Details

Categories: K750, Solar

Solio Bolt

17 November 2011 2 comments

Solio Bolt

In August 2011, Solio released the Bolt, the successor to Solio’s Classic solar charger.

One of the new features to the Bolt is the Apple charging mode. Hold down the power button for five seconds, release, and the button should flash blue, instead of green. This provides for an optimized way to power up Apple devices, such as the iPhone and iPod touch. Unfortunately, it doesn’t officially charge up an iPad. Solio has hinted that they are working on a solution for iPads, though (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!).

With roughly a third larger area for solar panels than what the Classic possessed, the Bolt does appear to charge up its internal battery a little faster than the Classic. However, since the Bolt has a larger battery than the Classic (2000 mAh versus 1650 mAh), the additional solar panel coverage might be necessary to help top off the larger battery. Despite the increased size in battery and solar panels, the Bolt can still fold down enough to be placed within a coat pocket. When the Bolt is in its collapsed form, it is actually thinner and not as tall as the Classic, but it is wider.

One of my favorite changes with the Bolt is the inclusion of a standard USB port, which reduces the need for specialized cables and adapter tips. I have had no difficulties in charging up a device by using a standard USB cable. A micro-USB port is also present to be able to externally charge the Bolt. I haven’t tried to power up the Bolt using another solar panel yet, which I’ve used to assist the Classic in charging its battery. However, trying to get to the USB ports is a pain, due to the rubber cover is secured quite tightly. I ended up using a set of pliers to open the cover. Like the Classic’s port cover, it is hinged by a thin strip of rubber. Time will tell how long this lasts, or if it will eventually break off in a year’s time.

Like the Solio Classic, one checks the battery level of the Bolt by pressing the sole button on the back of the charger. (1 blink = 1-19%, 5 blinks = 80-100%) A major difference, though, is that pressing this button also acts as an On/Off switch for the charger. Even if one just wants to check the battery level, one must also remember to press the button again, otherwise, the Bolt will be turned on, which can be determined by the button blinking every couple of seconds. This is one change I did not care for and preferred the Classic’s method of only staying on if it was charging another device. Otherwise, accidentally turning on the Bolt can needlessly drain the internal battery. I appreciate the simplicity of this device, but it seems that Solio tried to cram too many functions into the sole button. This might have been a time where adding a second button or switch (say, to check the power level) would have made the Solio a little easier to initially use without needing to refer to the user manual (you did read the manual, right?).

The Solio Bolt builds upon and improves on the capabilities of its predecessor . Due to the massive surge of mobile phones, the Bolt would be a useful accessory to just about anyone, especially those who drain their phone’s battery in a day’s time.

Categories: Bolt, Classic-i, Solar, Solio

iGo Green® Products

2 October 2011 Leave a comment

Today’s review will cover three energy-conscious iGo Green™ products by iGo, Inc.  iGo Green technology is used to automatically shut off charging power to a device when it is no longer needed.

IGo Charge Anywhere

 

iGo Green Charge Anywhere ($39.99$49.99)

I first learned about the Charge Anywhere from iGo’s press release about their partnership with Verizon Wireless to supply the Charge Anywhere in Verizon Wireless tores.  I headed over to the nearest Verizon Wireless store and picked up one of these devices with the initial purpose to disassemble it and figure out how it works.  However, I didn’t take it apart, but have been surprised by its usefulness.

The Charge Anywhere doubles as both a wall charger and as a small portable battery.  With two USB ports, it is a great device on a vacation so two devices can be charged from it simultaneously.  With an internal battery (rated at 1800 mAh), the Charge Anywhere is also a great device to keep your mobile phone charged.  I made great use of this on a day trip to be able to keep the family’s mobile phones charged.

Since the Charge Anywhere charges via a standard USB port, it cannot deliver enough power to sufficiently charge up an iPad, which requires 10W of power, versus the 5W of power that USB can deliver.  If the iPad is put to sleep, the Charge Anywhere can slowly charge an iPad, but it probably is not the most recommended method.  One design issue I do not agree with is how the USB ports were placed “backwards”, so if a USB cable is inserted, the USB logo is facing down, instead of up.

Since the Charge Anywhere makes use of iGo Green® technology, it will stop charging a device once it is full — very useful if charging a device overnight.

Power Smart Tower

iGo Green Power Smart Tower ($64.99)

I first saw the Power Smart Tower at the Museum of Science+Industry’s Smart Home on display in the home’s office.  Four of the eight plugs on this surge protector make use of iGo Green® technology which will power down if they are not needed to reduce vampire power by up to 85%.  This is a great thing if one has a laptop plugged in, but it does not need to be on all of the time.  I currently use the Power Smart Tower for my home office to power my laptop, an external monitor, and an external hard drive.

iGo Green Power Smart Wall ($19.99)

The Power Smart Wall is similar to its big brother, the Power Smart Tower.  The Power Smart Wall plugs directly into an outlet and has four outlets, two which make use of iGo Green® technology.  Originally I had a power strip and lamp connected into the iGo Green® ports before I started using a Power Smart Tower.  Now I have a printer plugged in, which works out well, since the printer rarely needs to be turned on, but it can keep draining away power by being plugged in.

One criticism that has been noted by myself and other customers is that once an outlet has been powered down on either the Power Smart Tower or Wall, the Instant On button needs to be pressed on the surge protector to re-enable the outlets.  This can be impractical to “wake up” the outlets if the surge protector has been tucked away in a difficult to reach spot.  However, if this issue can be improved, these surge protectors would be just about perfect, in addition to being a great product for reducing energy waste while protecting your devices from electrical surges.

Categories: iGo

Solio Update

1 September 2011 Leave a comment

I have owned the Solio Classic-i for a little over a year and the iPhone 3GS for two years.  As one would expect, the capacity of a rechargeable battery declines over time.  Yesterday, I performed an experiment to see how well the batteries have held up over time.  My iPhone was completely drained and the Solio Classic-i was fully charged.  I plugged in the Solio into the iPhone and let the charging begin.  Once the Solio’s battery was drained, I checked the status of the iPhone’s battery: 53%.

Considering that the iPhone 3GS’s battery is rated at 1219 mAh and the Solio Classic-i’s battery is rated at 1,650 mAh, these results are not optimal by any means.  Ideally, the Solio should be able to fully charge the iPhone and still have some energy remaining.

What does this mean?  If a fully charged Solio Classic-i can barely fill half of my two-year old iPhone 3GS’s battery, that seems to indicate that the Solio’s battery has lost a lot of its original capacity over the past year.  However, considering I have used the Solio at nearly every opportunity that I have had, this might be expected with the constant charging and discharging of the battery over the course of a year.  Bettery Energy Systems, the maker of the Solio products, has a YouTube video available on how to change out the battery in a Solio Classic-i.

In other Solio news, the Classic-i model is being replaced by the new Solio Bolt.   The Bolt eschews the triangular-petal design of the Classic-i and makes use of a more rectangular shape, which allows for a larger set of solar panels and a larger battery.  The website claims that the Solio Bolt contains a 2000 mAh Li-Poly battery.  The first batch of Solio Bolts has already sold out, so I’m waiting for my order to be delivered.

Categories: Bolt, Classic-i, Solio

JOOS Orange

21 August 2011 Leave a comment

Product Size

One of the most disappointing things about the state of many solar devices is that they more closely resemble a bizarre, hobbyist’s electronic project which was constructed in the basement on Saturday afternoon rather than a device intended for consumer use.  Fortunately, there are a couple of companies who are applying a proper level of aesthetic taste to their products which make them both useful and visually appealing.  Solio’s line of chargers were the first set of devices I noticed which embraced both form and function, but Solio’s devices certainly aren’t alone now.

Enter the JOOS Orange, by Solar Components, LLC, which has already been on the market for a year, which surprised me that it took so long to discover this brilliant device.

Construction

The JOOS Orange has similar size and weight to a Kindle, yet it has a very durable feel to it.  It’s compact enough to be easily carried in a backpack, but too large to be tucked into a pocket (like the Solio Classic or iGo Charge Anywhere).  This device is ideal for using at home, in a car, or on a backpacking trip.

It can continue charging when submerged in water and even survived getting shot.  I didn’t try shooting the Orange, but mine did get a little wet in a rain shower and has shown no problems.  One distinct advantage I’ve found with using the Orange is that it has a maximum operating temperature of 60 °C (140 °F), which is ideal for charging the device in a hot car.

The device has a decent sized hole which serves as a security hole, placed in a steel substrate.  I could imagine making use of the security hole by running a security cable through it and locking it to a porch so it doesn’t accidentally “walk away” while it is charging outside.

The two adjustable legs on the back are a welcome feature to be able to prop up the device without the need of a pencil or other object.

The microUSB port is covered by a rubber “foot”.  Unfortunately, this plastic feels like it will eventually bend, tear, crack, and eventually fall off.  I estimate that the rubber foot lasts about a year before it falls off.  I have also found trying to plug in the cable to the microUSB port can take a couple of attempts to insert properly.  If the Orange was very thin, then using a microUSB port might have made sense, but I imagine that a standard USB port could have also been used, which would have been ideal to use with cables which already can be powered over USB.  I also found that the cable connection could be somewhat tentative and could easily stop charging a device if the device or cable was nudged or bumped.

The JOOS Orange comes with a bevy of adapter tips — 6 in all.  I ended up purchasing another tip to be able to charge up a Nintendo DS.  However, for my needs, I have only used the adapters for the Nintendo DS and for the iPhone/iPad.  I appreciate the number of tips they offer by default, but it does mean I have yet more tips laying around the house.  Perhaps if Solar Components had gone with making use of the iGo adapter tips, I could have conserved on the number of cables and tips I owned.  Also included in the packaging is a plastic pouch to keep all of your cables and adapter tips neatly stored.

I found that when the JOOS Orange was connected to either an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, the connection could be intermittent, often connecting and disconnecting on its own.  However, I have not encountered this problem when connected to an iPhone 4S.

Since this is a green-minded product, even the packaging of the box has been constructed from recycled paper.  Brownie points earned for that nice touch.

Battery

With a 5400 mAh battery, it can easily charge up the entire battery of my iPhone 3GS, with plenty of power to spare.  After charging my iPhone from 10% to 100%, it drained the Orange from full to around half (3 green blinks).   Ideally, the Orange should be able to charge up an iPhone several times (depending on how old your phone’s battery is).

Due to the larger set of solar panels and decent sized battery, I have not been able to completely drain the Orange in the several weeks I’ve had it.  The battery is of a sufficient size that it can charge up a phone with plenty of power left over, which then allows the Orange enough time to recharge itself.

One major advantage of the JOOS Orange is that it can provide sufficient power to be able to charge up an iPad, which has been a shortcoming of many other chargers due to the higher power requirements demanded by the iPad.

While the device is charging, a green light will occasionally flicker to indicate how full the battery is.  This works if the device is charging, but it does not provide a very effective way to determine the battery’s charge without using the companion myJOOS software.  A more ideal method to determine the battery’s charge would be a button which can be pressed that will then display a row of LED lights to indicate the battery’s state (i.e. the battery on a Mac laptop).  The most befuddling thing about displaying the battery’s charge is that it will not blink when the Orange is full.  My Orange had been charging in a car, and when I took it out, none of the lights were blinking, which concerned me that either the heat of the car had caused the Orange to either shut down, or even worst, die.  Fortunately, the device had charged in the hot car just fine and was full.

Software

An April 2010 Wired review remarked that the myJOOS software was not originally available for the Mac, but the good news for those Apple-loving users is that myJOOS has been brought to the Mac.  Plug the JOOS Orange into your computer and start up the myJOOS Dashboard, which will give extra information, such as how full the battery is, or how much solar energy the device is currently producing.  This last feature isn’t too ideal unless you have the Orange sitting in the sun while connected to a computer the same time.

Now for the not-so-good news.  I make my bread and butter as a Mac and iOS developer, so I can be quite picky about software.  When I try out a new piece of software, I like to poke around and see if it has that expected look and feel of a proper Mac application.  Perhaps some of the details I will point out may not be important to everyone, but I feel that this software requires a lot more polish so it can properly compliment its hardware sibling.  As I mentioned, I write software for a living, so some of my opinions might be quite critical.

Installer

Installers are rarely seen for Mac programs these days, unless the program needs to install a set of necessary files in specific locations (such as support files or drivers).  If the installer is needed, it might be better to just compress and archive the installer package as a Zip file, instead of packaging it into a disk image (DMG).

Whenever I do see a installer, I hesitate, unless an uninstaller has been provided, as well.  I wanted to know what files are being installed on my system, so with the installer program running, I went to  the Files > Show Files menu.  The first thing I see in the list of files is ./Dashboard.app.  This made me nervous, since every Mac with Mac OS 10.4 or later already has an application called Dashboard in the main Applications folder.  As a precaution, I backed up the original Dashboard before continuing with the myJOOS Dashboard install.

I continued through the remainder of the installation procedure.  When it was complete, I was initially a little lost at what got installed and where it was located, so I looked through the Applications folder.  The original Dashboard had not been affected, so that was good.  I didn’t see anything under myJOOS, either.  After a little further searching, I found the Solar Components folder, which contained the myJOOS Dashboard folder, which ultimately contained Dahsboard.app and a host of other folders and files.  Ideally, a Mac application should be be encapsulated as a single application bundle which is placed into the Applications folder.  The nested folders architecture works well for Windows, but it feels out of place on the Mac.  If there are support files that are needed by the application, then they should be either located within the application bundle or placed into an appropriate location such as the ~/Library/Application Support/ directory.

Considering that this software works with external hardware, I assumed that the installer was necessary to install an appropriate driver to communicate with the JOOS Orange.  After looking through the list of installed files and checking the list of running kernel extensions, I could not find any proof that a another driver was used to communicate between the hardware and software.

Unless there is something specific to be installed, my recommendation would be to wrap the myJOOS Dashboard software into a single application bundle and distribute as a disk image, and do away with the use of an installer.

Icon

For whatever bizarre reason, the application’s icon has been limited to a highly pixelated 32×32 image.  The icon file needs to be properly formatted for various resolutions (512×512, 256×256, 128×128, 32×32, 16×16) for a proper visual experience.  This is one of those little issues that is easy to fix to provide for a cleaner look.

Main interface

The interface is pretty simple, which shows how full the Orange’s battery is, and it can also display how much power the device is generating at that time.  In my tests, I’ve noticed the battery charge meter fluctuate, depending on the current voltage.  At times, this produces erratic results on determining the state of the Orange’s battery.  Overall, it does give a decent estimate ofthe charge of the battery.  There are several fields indicating the number of Watt-hours uploaded.  Since this program doesn’t come with a Help system, I wasn’t able to get any further information from this besides what little was mentioned within the EULA.

Menu system

myJOOS Dashboard contains the traditional application menu, but the About Dashboard and Preferences menus are non-functional.  Instead, most of the functionality is in the single Program menu, which contains two menus: About and Exit.  Exit works as expected, but on a Mac application, it should be named “Quit”.  Fortunately, the Quit Dashboard menu under the application menu is present and functional.  The About menu (which should also be linked to the About Dashboard menu under the application menu) displays an About screen.  On the About Dashboard window is an Installation Details button, which gives a lot of nitty-gritty details about the installation, which really is not even necessary.  How many users would really care about seeing the Installation Details?  Probably not many.  This is an option best left out.

Java

If all of the org.eclipse references and non-traditional menu system didn’t already tip me off that myJOOS Dashboard was developed in Java, there was one more test to prove it.  Run myJOOS Dashboard under a fresh copy of the newly released Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”.

On the Mac, Java has always been a second-rate citizen — at least, until recently.  With the recent release of Lion, Java has been even further demoted since the Java runtime is not part of the initial Lion install.  To run the myJOOS software under Lion, the Java runtime will need to be installed first.  Another mark against Java is that any application developed with a deprecated technology (such as Java) will not be accepted into the Mac App Store.

This process of the Java runtime being an optional component is reminiscent of what Apple did with Rosetta in Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard”.  Now with Lion, the PowerPC-emulation capabilities provided by Rosetta have been removed all together.  Might we see something similar happen with Java in the future?  I hope not, but don’t bet against Apple to not do such a thing.  Apple has become notorious for discarding what it has deemed old technologies (even when those technologies might still be used frequently).  While I can understand that Java might have been used to provide for a cross-platform solution for myJOOS Dashboard, it might be in the best interest of the future of the Mac version of myJOOS to be ported to a native Cocoa-based application.  (And did I mention that I’m a Mac and iOS developer?  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

Update [ 3 December 2011 ]

The JOOS Orange website current makes note that the Dashboard software does not currently run on Mac OS 10.7.  I tested this and was greeted with the following error message:

Error Message

 

I contacted the company and they let me know that they are working on a fix.

After all of that nit-picking, do I like anything about this software?  As a long-time Mac user and software developer, I greatly appreciate that a Mac version was created.  It is very heartening to me to see that Apple has returned to a stage where it is worthwhile for third parties to write software for Apple’s hardware.  The JOOS Orange is an excellent device, and I would like the companion software to reflect that same level of quality.

One further note about software: the myJOOS website mentions an iOS app is also in the works and should be available by the end of 2011.

Pros

  • Large battery
  • Large solar panels which produce a decent charge rate
  • Strong, durable, and waterproof
  • myJOOS software available for both Windows and Mac
  • Adjustable legs
  • Works in hot conditions
  • iPad compatible

Cons

  • No lights blinking if device is full
  • myJOOS software needs work
  • microUSB difficult to insert
  • Loose cable connection to iPhone3GS and iPhone 4 (iPhone 4S works fine)
  • Yet more adapters

Details

Categories: JOOS Orange, Solar, Solio