Sunday, February 5, 2017

Fixing the Edifier Exclaim E10BT BlueTooth issues

About 9 months ago, I bought a new set of speakers for my PC called Exclaim E10BT from Edifier. They sound superb and they have a very small footprint. Both of those features were equally important to me when I was searching for a set of speakers.

However, it has a feature that I didn't really want or use, but it has started causing me a lot of inconvenience. That is BlueTooth connectivity. You can connect to it from your phone and play back music via BlueTooth. It sounds like a handy feature to have. But it doesn't ask for a key to input when you connect to the speakers. Anyone with a BlueTooth device can connect to it.

This would not be a problem if you were living in a big house. But I am currently living in an apartment and there are other people living near me. Someone has paired their TV or device to my speakers. Every now and then, they would connect to my speakers and I would start hearing nonsense through the speakers.

There is no way I can disable BlueTooth on these speakers. The manual doesn't have any information relevant to my issue.

However, I figured that I might be able to do something about it.

When the speakers are connected to a device via BlueTooth, another device cannot automatically override it. You have to terminate the existing connection by pressing the power button on the speakers, and then try to connect. So, if something from my end can connect to the speakers before that other pesky TV does, at least I have the control. Luckily, my desktop PC which the speakers are connected to, has support for BlueTooth. So, that device on my end can be the desktop PC.

I connected the desktop PC to the speakers via BlueTooth and observed its behaviour.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My wife's driving

Not having the car for a couple of days didn't affect our day to day life much. We had bought all the groceries for the whole week during the last weekend and it's only a 20 minute walk to work. However, we were worried about one particular thing. My wife's drive test was scheduled for Friday morning!!!

I towed the car to Chadstone Toyota on Monday. Thursday was Australia day, which was a public holiday. So, if I didn't get the car by Wednesday, my wife wouldn't be able to practice driving on Thursday and we probably wouldn't be able to go for the test on Friday. (Friday was a holiday at work, although it went out of our annual leave.) My wife has never taken the bus or the train by herself, which is the reason why this was a problem in the first place. I have to take her to the test. The VicRoads test centre we picked was about 40km away from home, as the routes there were less complex. Besides, the instructor was more familiar with the test routes there.Luckily, we got the car back on Wednesday and my wife was able to practice driving on Thursday.

On Friday, we could go for the test as we planned, and by some miracle, she passed it!!! This particular Friday was a good day for the drive test because there were less cars on the road, because many people were taking the Friday off to make it a four-day long weekend. The schools were still in holidays until 1st of February.

I would like to talk a bit about the events that led to this day.

My wife had to start the journey to obtain the Victorian driving license from taking the road rules test at VicRoads which happened in September. After passing that test in the first attempt, she applied for a learner permit which allowed her to practice driving with a full license holder on the passenger seat. If you are on a permanent resident visa, you can drive up to 6 months in Victoria with your overseas license. The 6 months is calculated from the first point of entry, which happened in October 2015 for us. By the time my wife moved here in April 2016, her 6 months were already up, so she had to get the learner permit anyways. (I had a couple of months before mine expired as I arrived in February, so I could practise driving myself.) After getting the learner permit, she took the Hazard Perception Test and passed it in the first attempt as well. This brought her closer to obtaining the Victorian license. Only thing remained was passing the drive test. (It's much easier to get the full license for people who have a overseas full license, otherwise it is a lengthy process.) Since she had not driven a car in almost 5 years, we decided to take some driving lessons first. The driving school we decided to attend was a Sri Lankan one called Learning Pedals. The instructor assigned to my wife was a female, and at the beginning she came to pick my wife up. After a couple of lessons, we had to decide where we would take the test, and we had to practice on the test routes to familiarise about the tricky spots. We could take the test at Heatherton or Burwood, but the routes were known to be a bit complex. We were hoping to take the test before my parents returned to Sri Lanka on the boxing day. So the instructor recommended that we go to Pakenham for the test because the routes were simple and it was easy to pass in one go. Since Pakenham was about 40km from our place, I had to drive her there for the lessons on Sundays. We had to take our baby girl with us as well, because she would need a feed. We left our son with my parents.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Gave another shot at a mechanical keyboard

After that bad experience with my first mechanical keyboard purchase, I decided to buy another one from a local store. Luckily for me, there are many computer shops within a 5km radius. PC Case Gear, Scorptec, PLE, CentreCom, MSY and CPL to name a few. Furthermore, I wanted to buy a keyboard from a reputed brand name this time round. (I'm not saying Turtle Beach is not a reputed brand, just that it is not widely known.)

I kept a keen eye for deals for a couple of days on ozbargain, but none showed up. So I decided to visit the online store of those computer shops and searched for a decently priced keyboard.

The Logitech G610 and the Corsair STRAFE (non-RGB) were around $130. They were good products but I wanted to get the best bang for the buck. That's when I came across the Corsair K70 Lux (non-RGB) for $135 on CentreCom. This is better than both of those keyboards for just $5 more. Better than the G610 because it has dedicated media keys and better than the STRAFE because it has an aluminum construction compared to plastic. There were cheaper mechanical keyboard from reputed brands such as Ducky but they had some kind of a compromise - some had no backlighting, some had switches other than Cherry MX, some weren't in stock with no ETA and some didn't come with Cherry MX Brown switches. I was all set on the MX Browns, because I actually type more than I play games so I needed tactile feedback, at the same time I didn't want to noise MX Blue switches. Browns were the middle grounds, and middle grounds are better in life.

The only concern I had about the Corsair keyboards was their software suite and the keyboard requiring two USB ports.

But after some research, I came to know that you could do just fine without the software (you mainly lose the macro functionality and fancy lighting patterns) and you don't need to plug in both USB cables if you plug it into a USB 3.0 port. Honestly, I do have many unused USB ports on the back of my PC, so that 2nd point was not really a big issue; just something that I didn't like.

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