Pushing back my PC Build

My initial intention to build a brand new gaming PC by the end of the year has slammed to a halt. Now I don’t even know when I will end up building a brand new gaming PC 😦 I was looking forward to playing Final Fantasy 14 at 144 fps with all the graphics settings maxed out or Dark Tide when it releases on PC Game Pass at the highest fidelity possible.

I had pre-ordered a brand new RTX 4090 graphics card with an AIO cooling set up from an Australian online retailer (I won’t name them), however on Thursday I received an email that stated that they will not be able to fulfill my pre-order and that they do not know when they will be getting any new graphics cards from the supplier.

At first I was a little confused at this news because the money for the new graphics card was already taken out of my account, so I was under the impression that come the middle of November (which was when the graphics card would be available) I will be getting shipped a brand new RTX 4090. But nope, instead I had to ask for a refund from the online retailer.

I did get all the money back after requesting for a refund but I feel that the online retailer should not have even taken any money out of my account before even shipping the product or at least knowing that they will indeed have the stock necessary to fulfill my pre-order. I know other online retailers like Apple and Microsoft do not take the money out of my account until the product has been shipped and for smaller retailers on pre-orders, I am guaranteed a product at the time the money is taken out of my account.

I mean that is the whole point of a pre-order. If the online retailer could not guarantee the number of graphics cards that they will be getting then they should not have put them up for pre-order, and if they did know and had already exceeded their limit then they should not have allowed to have more pre-orders put through. This whole ordeal feels like that Seinfeld episode where he has reserved a specific type of car and when he goes to pick up the car they do not have the car available.

Perhaps this is all for the better. I have been reading a number of articles around the RTX 4090 power adapters melting. I don’t want to start a potential fire in my house.

PC Build: Graphics Card

My current gaming PC has a GTX 980. This graphics card came out in 2014, that is going to be over 8 years ago by the time I have fully built my brand new gaming PC. I can now start to see the games that I am playing (Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch 2, Vermintide 2, etc), I need to lower the graphical settings to play on my 1440p display with a framerate just reaching 60 but not consistently. Ideally, I would love to play these games at 1440p at 144 fps which my monitor supports without compromising on the graphical fidelity.

The past week I have been reading and watching YouTube videos on the performance of the new RTX 4090 graphics cards comparing the founder’s edition and the various manufacturers own RTX 4090 cards with fan and water cooling using an AIO solution. With what I have seen, I am extremely impressed in the performance Nvidia has managed to push out with these graphics cards even if it comes at the cost of price, power draw and temperature.

I could purchase last generation’s graphics cards which do offer ray-tracing and are significantly better than my current graphics cards. However, the way I figure it, is that if I am going all in to purchase branch new computer parts across the board then I may as well spend more money in getting the newest generation of the products which will last me slightly longer. I know it is near impossible to future proof your gaming PC but if you do buy some of the higher end performance parts it will last you that little bit longer (hopefully) as they should be able to squeeze out that little bit more (again hopefully). I have always tended to purchase the newest and highest performing products as they have never let me down and lasted me the longest.

The graphics card that I have chosen to go with is the AORUS GeForce RTX™ 4090 XTREME WATERFORCE 24G and I went with it for a number of reasons as there was a number of factors I needed to consider.

The first is the form factor. The sheer size of the new RTX 4090 graphics cards is insane. The length and weight of these new graphics cards makes it fitting in a mid-tower case and having plenty of room for optimal airflow may be a struggle and the sag that will happen unless you vertically mount the graphics card will be crazy. With the AORUS GeForce RTX™ 4090 XTREME WATERFORCE 24G I don’t have to worry about the size of the graphics card as it is essentially the size of the actual board and is light in comparison to the other RTX 4090 cards. I have options to mount it directly to the motherboard or vertically mount it to my case. This I have yet to decide.

The second is cooling solution. Everything points to these graphics cards having the potential of running very hot and that is even with water cooling through an AIO solution. If I can try to have the graphics card running cooler using an AIO water cooling solution and it also makes it easier to fit into the case then it is a win-win. A cooler graphics card while in use is always going to be better and it will also help the graphics card last longer. Hotter temperatures for sustained periods of time are not good for electronics.

The third is performance. These new RTX 4090 graphics cards are absolute beasts. I do not think that AMD will be able to match these new graphics cards in performance even with their new RNA3 technology. Compared to my GTX 980 this AORUS GeForce RTX™ 4090 XTREME WATERFORCE 24G blows my one out of the water multiple times over. I wanted to have a graphics card that I know I would not need to update in the next couple of years (hoping to keep this card for at least 5 years). Seeing as my GTX 980 has lasted me for a solid 8 years nearly, this AORUS GeForce RTX™ 4090 XTREME WATERFORCE 24G may hopefully last as long if there are no crazy new developments and jumps in graphical fidelity.

However there are a number of issues/worries I do have with these new RTX 4090 graphics cards (and not just my AORUS GeForce RTX™ 4090 XTREME WATERFORCE 24G). These are:

The price. These graphics cards are not cheap; and if you thought that the previous generation of graphics cards were expensive at launch then these new graphics card prices will make you fall off your seat multiple times over. It is insane the price I paid for this graphics card; I do however know that I spent several hundred Australia dollars more for a AIO water cooled graphics card. In the current economic climate there are far better and more important things to spend your money on. I am lucky that I have enough disposable income that I can purchase and build a brand new top of the line gaming PC. If I had more pressing items that I needed to spend money on, I would not have bought this graphics card.

The heat and temperature. There has not been a single chart or video I have watched that did not mention the high temperatures that these graphics cards can reach. The graphics cards various components can reach very high temperatures but are within the acceptable limits. However, I do have concerns in the long term that the graphics cards are being worked too hard and will be negatively impacted with them dying earlier than expected. Thankfully, the AORUS GeForce RTX™ 4090 XTREME WATERFORCE 24G has 4 years of warranty which is 1 year short of how long I expect at a minimum the graphics card should last.

The power draw. One of the common themes is high numbers. A high cost, high running temperatures and also high power draw. With the AORUS GeForce RTX™ 4090 XTREME WATERFORCE 24G I am looking at a 850W recommended power supply. I was already going to buy a brand new PSU but this value is significantly higher than what I was originally expecting. I initially thought that the AIO cooling solution may have been the culprit here but even other fan cooled RTX 4090 graphics cards are recommending the same wattage. I don’t know how high I will overclock the graphics card but that 850W value is for a fully overclocked RTX 4090.

Time for a new gaming PC

The last time that I upgraded my gaming PC was well over six years ago. Even then the only “upgrade” I did was add a new SSD primarily for installing all my games on.

At the moment I am gaming on a PC with:

  • CPU: Intel i7-4790K
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 980
  • RAM: Corsair DDR3 16GB 1600MHz
  • SSD: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB, and Samsung 840 EVO 1TB

However with a “new” 1440p LG gaming monitor and wanting to get back into some PC gaming without playing games on medium settings or compromising on some of the settings like anti-aliasing, shadows, texture filtering, draw distance, etc. I really need to upgrade. Sure I can game at higher settings at 60fps but with a monitor that has the capabilities to reach 144fps, I want to take advantage of it.

With the latest AMD CPUs recently released and their amazing performance, I might be switching to team red from team blue for the very first time ever. Also now that DDR5 is also out and are supported by the newest CPUs and motherboards, and the new NVIDIA GPUs being announced with a release imminent it seems like the perfect time. Along with this I will be looking at some AIO water cooling for the CPU for the very first time.

As I progress through the purchasing process I will be documenting everything; from why I have gone with a product over the other products, to how it is all fitting together (with images showing the build). I am hoping in the next 6-8 months I will be gaming on a brand new PC. Buying everything in bulk I feel is going to be a little bit too expensive and I am in no rush to actually build a new gaming PC (it is a nice to have).

Experiencing the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation

The Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation are the best Bluetooth earbuds that I have used. Apple seems to know how to provide a user the complete package and offer a near flawless integration with their entire ecosystem. The entire experience has been well thought of, but I do have some minor gripes. What other manufacturers of Bluetooth earbuds fail in is providing a great app or UX and/or good sound and microphone quality. Apple seems to have this nailed down, even Google is no where near as good as Apple with their own Google Pixel Bud line but come very close and are getting better.

My very first Bluetooth earbuds were the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds. In my opinion they produced some really good quality audio and they felt extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. However, the Android app was very buggy and had a poor UI/UX, the earbuds could never truly turn off either and would drain while in the case. Also, after one of the updates to them I would have to constantly keep re-pairing them to my Android phone as it would forget the device. For the price that I paid for them I was very disappointed. The Apple AirPods Pro absolutely destroy these earbuds in nearly category. The only thing that these come close to compared to the AirPods Pro is the sound quality.

The next Bluetooth earbuds that I purchased were the Google Pixel Buds. While they did not produce the same sound quality as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds, they had a giant leap in overall UI/UX. I never had pairing issues; the battery did not drain when they were in the case, etc. Overall, I was extremely happy with the Google Pixel Buds, but the battery life of the earbuds are not quite what they used to be and now I can barely get through a two-hour podcast before one of the buds dies (normally it is the right earbud). When I switched to using an iPhone, I could no longer use the Google Assistant that the Google Pixel Buds provided integration for, so some functionality was lost (which is a little sad). Between not being able to take full advantage of what the Google Pixel Buds provide and the poor battery capacity now it was time to move on.

Now that I have several Apple products it only made sense to purchase a pair of Apple AirPods. From my friends who do have a pair (either the standard AirPods or AirPods Pro) they all rated them, and when Apple announced the new Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation, I knew I needed to buy these. I would have full integration and capabilities with the earbuds and would have a nice pair of new earbuds.

I’ll start with the aesthetics. The case is perfectly pocketable much like the Google Pixel Buds case. I do appreciate that there is a quick access pairing button at the back, a speaker to allow for finding the case when lost, and the ability to charge the case using the Apple Watch charging pad. However, I wish that the case had a more matte finish like the Google Pixel Buds case as I find the Apple AirPods Pro case is far too slippery and having a lightning port for wired charging in 2022 is inexcusable. The wired charging should really be done through USB-C. One more gripe that I have with Apple is that the actual cable they had provided in the box is a lightning to USB-A cable. Now most of the charging bricks that I have only have a USB-C port and even my new Apple MacBook Pro only has USB-C ports. What they need to do is have some port consistency here, especially if they don’t want to include charging bricks with their products or have people purchasing additional charging bricks for “environment reasons”.

The actual AirPods Pro fit in my ears extremely well and I appreciate the different sized ear tips in the box however the medium sized ear tips are perfect for me. The seal is good and very little sound leaks. The stems of the earbuds are not annoying or don’t get in the way either and was a concern that I had as these were the first earbuds that had stems. If there was one thing that I wished Apple would do was provide these in different colours as I would in a heartbeat buy these in black. I mean Apple does allow you to add an engraving to the case (which I did by the way). The different controls that can be triggered on the stems can take some getting used to unfortunately. Right now, I have the left stem controlling the different transparency levels and active noise cancellation while on the right stem I have Siri access. Sometimes turning active noise cancellation on and off does not work, perhaps I am not holding it for long enough; and changing the volume level using a swiping gesture is very hit and miss. I find that I am correctly moving my index finger up and down the stem and the volume does not change all the time. These gestures will take some more time to get used to and I perhaps need to pay more attention to what I am doing when the volume does change. I never had these gesture issues with my Google Pixel Buds though.

The sound quality that the AirPods Pro produce is pretty good. I am not an audiophile, but I have used a variety of headphones (wired and wireless) and some earbuds, so I have experienced the good and bad regarding sound quality. The vocals are clear and crisp, and you can hear all the different instruments. I am impressed how Apple can provide an earbud that can produce such good sound quality. Out of the three different Bluetooth earbuds that I have used these provide the best sound experience followed closely by my original Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds. Regarding the microphone quality, it is passable but not amazing. I didn’t have anyone complain about how I sounded when on Zoom calls and neither when I was taking a call. However, the microphone is no where near as good as any wired headset like the Apple wired headset. The active noise cancellation is good on these and transparency mode also does its job well. I am not a massive fan of the spatial audio feature (when available) currently. Admittedly I need to listen to a little more music to see how I truly feel about the spatial audio feature.

Overall if you are in the Apple ecosystem then you should instantly buy a pair of AirPods or if you want to spend a little more and get some more features then the AirPods Pro are the way to go; you will have no regrets about it. I would not recommend another pair of earbuds. Apple have spent a good amount of time ensuring that the entire UI/UX experience from pairing to switching between your multiple Apple devices is seamless and fluid. Nothing will beat these if you are in the Apple ecosystem; however, if you have an Android device then these would be an okay purchase but there are several other earbud manufacturers out there like Sony, Bose and even Google that offer a better experience with your device (this has been relayed to me from friends and family that have Android devices but AirPods or AirPods Pro).

Why should I believe you 343 Industries?

This morning I woke up earlier than usual and I started to scroll through my YouTube subscription feed. I saw that the official Halo channel had uploaded a new video titled “Halo Infinite | Update september 2022“. Initially I was excited but that turned quickly to disappointment at the end of the video, hell even throughout it; but what was I expecting from a game studio that has consistently over promised, under delivers and underwhelms in what they produce in nearly everything put out. Not only that, I read their news blog post to find out a little more detail (where I could) and was equally disappointed from what I read (and lack of details).

If you go to any website that covers technology and/or video games then you will find headlines like this today:

and the list goes on. The two common themes in all the articles I read were delayed, and cancelled. Those two things are what 343 love to do with Halo Infinite.

First I will get something out of the way. I am not actively playing Halo Infinite anymore due to the lack of content, the abysmal network code causing massive desync issues and a poor multiplayer experience for me, and all of the people I did play with have left the game and don’t want to return at all. I will only be returning to the events that I have not completed but other than that I am out. I’ll be finishing my season 2 battle pass and that is it for me. No season 3 and I will be watching from the sidelines for a while until I find there is some meaningful changes to the game and hopefully at 343. I will also say that I am not entitled to anything from 343. I never bought the game, I have spent money on 2 battle passes. I am just a massive Halo fan that wants to best out of the game and franchise I love so much.

A new roadmap from 343 with a massive caveat (as per usual for the company)

“Subject to change” is another way 343 can weasel their way out of adhering and committing to any deadline or ensuring that they met some obligation to completing. Just like their old road map everything is up in the air including the plans that get announced by the team. By saying “subject to change” they can chop and change as they see fit with no real repercussion because they told us that the roadmap is “subject to change”. It leaves them with an out and a way that they are not held accountable for missing anything. If you don’t know you can meet the deadline, don’t commit to including it in your roadmap.

In what world should I believe that this new road map will stick either? You have lied on numerous occasions in the past, you have continued to give false hope to Halo fans, and you have continued to break promises that you should not be breaking. I can also imagine that you are impacting the stock price of Microsoft so you are also affecting shareholders of Microsoft here. I have little to no hope that by the end of the 2022 that we will have a stable network co-op experience. The Forge mode that you are putting out is a beta and not even the final or polished version of the mode; so expect that to also have a large number of bugs and glitches. I have not played it and have not been following what insiders have been saying about the mode. If you question any of those problems that you experience though, 343 can chirp back that it is still “in beta”, so there is another excuse. The new maps that are coming in the winter update (if I read/heard correctly) are also going to be made in Forge so the quality will not even be as high as the other maps that are currently available for Halo Infinite. Cheap and quick maps to please the fans instead of actually putting in the work and creating maps from the ground up with heart and soul. Nothing in this new road map is good news.

Now onto seasons. 343 seems to not understand what a season is. They can say Halo Infinite is a live service game and want to get to a 4 season per year state but I just don’t see this happening. They can continue to say what they want out of a season until they are blue in the face but until they actually produce something of a meaningful season that is expected then I don’t believe a word they say. There is absolutely no excuse season 2 should last 10 months. How in the world has the studio gotten into such a state where they cannot even produce and provide a new season in 3 month increments? How bad is the management or project planning that there needs to be this much under the hood changes to accommodate seasons and being a live service game? Didn’t 343 already know the product was going to be a live service? What in the hell were the teams over at 343 doing for the last 5 years to have Halo Infinite in such a poor state? Also remember the game was supposed to be released a year earlier. Imagine if that did happen. This game needed to be in development for another 2 years minimum. There is no excuse from the teams working on this that they need at least 9 years (current development time and the time it still needed) to produce a quality Halo game.

Where is the apology from the heads at 343? Where is the apology from Phil Spencer on the shit show that is Halo Infinite? Neither care about Halo or the Halo community. If they did they would put their hands up and put out a video looking the fans directly in the face and beg for forgiveness, open and start a dialogue where they transparently say what has gone wrong and the steps that have been taken so that future Halo titles are not going to be affected in the same way. Someone with real leadership working on the title needs to step up and actually do this and reassure the fans because the quality of the posts and videos right now are not doing anything to stop the uproar of fans. I love Halo. I want Halo to be the best first person shooter it can be and to see it in such a state is a shot in the heart and makes me weep. The people writing the Halo blog posts on Halo Waypoint and appearing in the videos are all saying “that the team feels and understands the fans frustrations and the game is not where it should be” but all those words ring hollow right now (to me anyway).

As someone once said “Don’t make a girl a promise, if you know you can’t keep it”. 343 should listen to this and have it plastered all over the walls at offices because right now all we get a broken promises.

Microsoft AU Store: Where are the games in the catalogue?

Today I was feeling generous, so I thought to buy my brother an Xbox game and gift it to him. He had been talking about a couple of games recently, so I wanted to look and see what the Xbox store had. I was already on my PC, and I didn’t want to go over and turn my Xbox Series X on just to gift him a game. I hopped over to the Xbox AU store page to browse their catalogue of games to see what a good game to gift would be, and that is when I noticed something very odd.

This is the page that was presented to me.

I was sort of confused. Maybe the filter was broken or there was something wrong with the options on the left-hand side that had been selected. I checked all of them out and everything seemed to be fine with those filters and options. I went into incognito mode and tried the page again with the same result. Last resort now and that is to try another browser; both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge showed the same broken web page. I have seen my fair share of broken web pages working in the software industry but this one is a big oof to me. I can only hope that it is a security setting or privacy setting I have enabled that is causing this; but if that is the case then I am a little more concerned about what information Microsoft is needing from the user just to show the games on the page.

Microsoft, if you want people to purchase and look through your catalogue of games you have available on your Xbox platform through a web browser then you need to have this functionality. Again, I hope that this is just something on my end and others are also not experiencing anything like this but if they are then it is not a good look when a core component of your website is not functioning as intended.

On the plus side, I did gift my brother a game, Cult of the Lamb. He has been talking about it for a little while now so searching for that specific game and buying it as a gift was a smooth and easy process. Searching the catalogue of games though is not.

Regretting buying the Halo Infinite Season 2 Battle Pass

Oh man do I regret buying the Halo Infinite Season 2 Battle Pass. I knew going in that the state of the game was (is) bad but I did not realize (or want to believe) how bad the game has gotten for me and others after reading thread posts after thread posts on Halo Waypoint and even the Halo subreddit.

I’ll start with the amount of lag and desync that I experience; this is the biggest gripe I have right now and is my major pain as playing the game can be like pulling teeth. The past week I have played a couple of hours, I can count on one hand how many games I played where I had ping less than 20ms. The average ping that I was experiencing, no matter the time of day, was (is) 170ms. On top of the high ping I experience at a minimum:

  • rubber banding and dying around corners
  • grenades causing no damage and bullets causing no damage even though there is hit markers (allegedly)
  • melee trades when they should not happen or melee hits not registering at all

For a PvP arena shooter having these issues is inexcusable. I have played online games for a long time and I have not seen servers and network behavior this bad for a long time. Halo Infinite should have launched with the ability to disable cross platform play (sorry PC cheaters) and a server selection. I remember clearly the launch of Battlefield 4 and the Halo Master Chief Collection which were also abysmal in regard to their online experience.

Before purchasing the season 2 battle pass I looked over the rewards and did like a good portion of what they were offering. I knew how annoying the weekly challenges can be but thought that I could easily complete them. But I do not know if there has been a backend or server side change where the challenges have been changed to be more frustrating to complete. Why are there challenges for game modes that I cannot specifically choose from a playlist? This just causes lop sided games where people quit when they do not get the game mode they want. It makes games worse with an already horrible online experience. Not to mention tracking for the challenges doesn’t work. Kill with the skewer, check. Finish the match and the challenge is not complete, um what.

If I could go back in time I would not have given 343 Industries any more money after the season 1 battle pass. From everything they have shown in Halo 4, Halo 5, Halo Master Chief Collection and now Halo Infinite, they are not the developers for the franchise, there have been too many missteps and issues that could have easily been avoided. I’ll finish the season 2 battle pass (through gritted teeth) but come season 3 there is no way I will be giving 343 Industries any more money even if they fix the game. I know I could buy the season 3 battle pass for free if I complete the season 2 battle pass but I will most likely skip it purely because the game is so bad to play. I’d rather spend the money on another product where the developers actually care about the product they are working on. Developer health is important but when self inflicted wounds cause the game to be in such a horrible state due to constant internal missteps and foolish decisions, why should any player care or play the game? Take all the time off and avoid any form of crunch to keep the health of the team high but don’t be surprised when no one is playing your broken game.

Google Nest Support Hell [Update: 31/07/2022]

Update [31/07/2022]

Good news 😀

In the last week or so there have been a number of updates to the iOS and the iPadOS Google Home apps. Either with the changes to the Google Home app or some back end system updated, having a Google Nest Hub with more than two radio alarms you can now successfully access the alarm settings in the Google Home app.

I knew it was not an issue with the device, my set up or anything on my end. I am happy that the problem has been resolved but I find it very frustrating that Google could not be transparent and open about having a potential bug in either the Google Home app or their back end system. Not all software created is perfect, as a software engineer myself I should know; but not acknowledging that there are issues or problems to customers is not great either.

At the end of the day my dad is just happy that he can access the alarm settings again in the Google Home app, until it breaks again 😛

Original Post

I am writing this blog post purely out of frustration and what I feel is the Google Nest support team not being very helpful in trying to resolve the problem or at the very least providing me with information about what the team is looking at or even how to proceed. Right now I feel completely abandoned by the Google Nest team and the more I experience this (along with the bugs and issues) the less likely I would recommend the products to other people (which is unfortunate as I really do like their products). I do not want special treatment or anything like that but just a status update or something to know where my case is at or even how to proceed further.

Over half a month ago my dad came up to me and asked if I could access the Alarm & timers settings page in the Google Home iOS app. I don’t really use that setting so I was like, “I have no idea”, and he showed me what he was seeing on his iPhone. He would open the Google Home app, wait for it to say connected and choose his Google Nest Hub Gen 2. in his room. He would navigate to the Settings page for the device, go to the Audio settings and then finally the Alarms & timers page. The Google Home app would just completely hang and eventually just crash. It is as if there is a bad response coming back from either the Google Nest Hub Gen 2. or Google’s services and the app does not know how to handle it.

I thought it would be best to contact Google Nest support to see what the issue may be and if there is a simple explanation to the issue. Contacting them was fairly easy and straightforward. I feel like the process started very pleasantly but right now I feel completely shafted and lost for what to actually do even though as I will explain I have complete steps in how to reproduce the issue and may explain why the issue is happening.

Much like any good support team member they ask me the standard set of questions:

  • Have you factory reset the device?
  • Have you tried doing the same thing on any other device?
  • Have you tried connecting to the device from another device device?

I factory reset my dad’s Google Nest Hub Gen 2. so there was no alarms and low and behold I could access the device’s Alarms & timers settings. My dad added his alarms back and then the Google Home app once again froze when trying to access the settings. I did the same steps he did to his device to my own Google Nest Hub Gen 2. Same result, the Google Home app just froze. If there are no alarms then there is no issue but as soon as I add a number of alarms the Google Home app completely freezes on the Alarms & timers settings page. I no longer have an Android device that I can readily access but I tried accessing the settings on my iPhone, my dad’s iPhone, my mum’s iPad Mini and my iPad Mini. All had the same result; the Google Home app would freeze on the Alarms & timers settings page. So this is not just an iOS issue now but it also affects the iPadOS version of the app too (unsure if they are identical binaries though).

I let the support individual know what I tried and they gave me more settings to change. The Assistant language should be changed to English – US (which it already was) and to show them a video of the issue which I could easily and readily reproduce no problem.

After a couple of days I got a response and they asked me to try a completely different Google Home home structure. I was a little confused why this would matter and if this indeed fix the problem I would be completely annoyed because I would need to move a large number of devices. So I created a test home structure in the Google Home app and factory reset (again) my dad’s Google Nest Home Gen 2. plus added his alarms back in. This did not work 😦 A further step they asked was to try setting the device up using a mobile hotspot and boy was this process completely messy. I was getting constant communication issues between the Google Nest Hub Gen 2., my iPhone which was the hotspot device and my wifi. I would also need to factory reset the device once again. None of what they have asked me to do helped so far. I was not completely annoyed or frustrated at this point as I didn’t know what was causing the issue yet.

I did some more playing around with the alarms on the device and the settings in the Google Home app. It was with this I noticed something very odd. With no alarms set on the Google Nest Hub Gen 2. the Google Home app would load the Alarms & timers settings page no problem. Adding one alarm and the page still loads, adding a second alarm and it is still fine, but adding a third alarm and the app completely freezes. Okay this is something to forward to the Google Nest support team. So I did. I could reproduce it reliably on all my devices across all platforms (iOS and iPadOS) that I have access to plus how not to reproduce the issue. I thought finally I would get a response saying they are looking at this in more detail now.

Even more time passed now and I got a response back. I was hoping to read in my email that the Google Nest support team got a hold of a commercial Google Nest Hub Gen 2., the public version of the Google Home app on iOS and attempted to add three or more alarms on the device and check the settings page showing that the issue is present; but nope. Not even a recognition that they attempted the steps to reproduce or even if it was helpful at all. All I got was a response saying to turn on device usage and crash report (was already on) and provide feedback when I navigate to the page. But if the support team member had paid attention to my chat, the emails or the video that I sent, the option to send feedback from that page is not possible as the app freezes and crashes after a period of time. Now I am a little frustrated and annoyed. I still politely mention that I cannot perform the feedback step because (as mentioned in the chat and previous emails plus the video) the app freezes and if there is anything more that I can do and if my steps to reproduce were relayed.

Originally I was not going to show excerpts from the emails but I felt it was necessary. The second last email response I got had

We do understand the issue we’re working on. We just need to send feedback and our higher team needs to capture it. Then, I’ll update them for us to proceed to our next steps.

Let me know once done.

Google Nest support team member

If they know the issue can they not reproduce it locally on their end? I again ask for clarification in how I can provide them with the feedback necessary if I cannot do it through any of my devices as the app freezes completely. The last response I have got from them was

You may try to use another device.

If not, use your voice command to send us a feedback, “Okay Google, send feedback”.Then, say “<case-number-redacted> unable to access the timer on the Google Home app”.

Google Nest support team member

Not only are those steps to try completely useless but I am under the impression that no one on the team understands how their Google Assistant works on the Apple platform and that no matter what device I use the issue persists.

Right now I have little to no hope in them resolving the issue and for the time being accessing the alarms will need to be done through the actual Google Nest Hub Gen 2. and not the Google Home app. It seems like there may be some communication issues and some small quality control problems happening at the moment. Fingers crossed this gets resolved soon but I don’t have my hopes up. If you too are experiencing the same problem as me, please let me know. I also posted in the Nest Community forum to ask if others are seeing the same thing and if they know of a workaround, the post can be found here.

Smoking Beef Ribs on my Traeger Ironwood 885

A little while ago I was discussing the meat that I smoke to my work colleagues and some suggested to do a YouTube video as they wanted to see the entire process. I would normally just show them the before and after photos, but a video was a neat idea (even though there are plenty of videos out there that show how to smoke meat – much better than me I might add too).

With some help of my family I was able to capture the entire process as I don’t have a camera other than my phone to capture everything and I don’t have a stand to hold my phone up. From trimming the fat off the meat (the video was on beef ribs) through the entire smoking process I tried my best to show everything. The one part that I unfortunately did not capture (thanks mom – I should have double checked before I went in front of the camera) was the rub that I made and how I seasoned the meat and what binder I used. I did do an after the fact part when I realized the rub portion was not captured. But other than that the process was captured and uploaded on YouTube.

So if you are a fan of beef ribs, smoking meat or just want to see the process of how to smoke some meat on a smoker then please check out the video – link below and if you do enjoy the video then it would be great if you could like and comment on the video. I will be doing more of these in the future too which will cover brisket and pork butt for example, so if you want to watch more smoking meat videos then consider subscribing. I don’t have a set plan or release schedule. It really all depends on when I can smoke the meat, the weather and if I can get good quality meat as I don’t buy my meat from the supermarket.

I hope you enjoy the video and maybe it will inspire you to smoke some meat too 🙂

Is a Dark Mode/Theme necessary?

Dark mode or a dark theme is generally fairly common in most reputable apps or websites. I am a big fan of using a darker theme no matter the time of day because I find it puts less stress on my eyes and I can continue doing what I doing for longer on my device plus it looks way better. My blog even uses a dark theme 🙂 If a product I use does not have a dark mode I find I use it less or if I have to use it for longer periods then my eyes get much more irritated.

However I know a number of people who are the complete opposite. They always use a lighter theme and swear by it. Some of these are developers too which have all their development tools using a lighter theme. To them they find using a darker theme more difficult to read and puts more stress and strain on their eyes.

Everyone has their own personal preference it would seem and I have read a number of different studies that will say a lighter theme is better for you while another study will say that a darker theme is better for you. So trying to figure out which is the optimal theme for your health can be a little difficult. Perhaps the best theme to use is one you personally prefer if there is so much conflicting information out there.

Something I feel is critical for all current apps and websites is the ability to allow the user to choose the theme they would like to experience their product in. If each individual person has a certain preference on the theme they would like to use then it would be in the best interest of the team working on the product to ensure that their users are happy and use their product for longer. Many software teams are big on including as much accessibility options for their users and I would consider having an option for a darker theme an accessibility option just like having a color blind mode, toggle icons showing on/off indicators and bolder text.

What is your opinion on having a dark mode or theme and how does having the option of choosing a light/dark mode/theme influence your decision on using the product or service for longer periods of time?

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