“Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea— massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it.”

— Gene Spafford, 1992

Life with Arlo Pro


Now that I’ve had the Arlo Pro cameras for a few months now, what do I think?

Pros

  • Setup and placement is easy, although I recommend buying better anchors for their dome mounts.

  • The cameras trigger reliably and record video and audio with plenty of quality for their intended use.

  • Battery life is excellent at the default settings, and they recharge at a reasonable speed.

  • Notifications are usually quite quick, to the point that when I get home, the alert arrives on my phone before I can unlock the front door. I have one camera set to high sensitivity, and when it goes off in the morning, I know a cat has shown up (or the wind is strong enough to blow the bamboo in front of the camera).

  • The week of cloud storage from the free base tier is sufficient for my needs.

  • Viewing, managing, and downloading recorded videos is quick and easy.

Cons

  • The app/website frequently reports that the cameras and base station are not reachable, and insists that they must not be connected to the Internet. Never mind that the base station is pingable at all times and I can see it sending traffic to their servers. This appears to be a problem with dropped connections at their end.

  • Connecting to the camera can take a very long time even when the app/website can reach them, and often times out. For instance, just now it took me nearly ten minutes of trying to get it connect to one of my cameras, and it repeatedly claimed my base station must be “offline”.

  • Even when the app does connect, I’ve never gotten the intercom functionality to work. For instance, when the neighborhood kids were playing hide-and-seek, I couldn’t tell the kid who kept setting off my cameras to go hide somewhere else.

  • Since you can only configure the base station and cameras through the app/website, all administration is blocked when it claims you’re “offline”.

  • When notifications don’t arrive instantly, they can show up hours later, but the app doesn’t tell you which videos are new; they’re silently sorted in with the ones that showed up on time. Basically, when you get an alert on your phone, you have no idea if something just happened or if an hours-old video finally showed up.

  • The USB storage is basically useless. When I recently pulled out the drive, it had video from March and July, but nothing in between. And the only way to view what it recorded is to log into the app, hope it connects successfully, tell it to stop writing to the drive, then connect it to your PC.

Conclusion

A security camera that sometimes alerts you promptly is not terribly useful.

I suspect their servers are overloaded, and all of the problems they blame on my (rock-solid) Internet connection are on their end. I also suspect that the service would magically improve if I upgraded to a paid tier…

Bottom line, if your primary requirement is prompt, reliable notification of security events, buy something else right now. The Arlo Pro will record the event, but you might not find out about it for hours, and might not be able to get a real-time view of the scene without wasting several minutes waiting for a successful connection (which can require force-quitting the app).

If, like me, you’re mostly interested in package deliveries and wandering cats, it’s flaky but acceptable. Hopefully they’ll resolve these problems with server, client, and app updates, but right now it’s pretty Beta.

Gendering The Doctor


A bit belatedly, it occurs to me that there’s no one to react to the results of this new regeneration. Unless they bring back a human(ish) character from a previous season, no one who encounters the new Doctor will have a reason to notice, much less care.

Dear Yurina Kumai,


I see you’ve found the new Hello!Project box set.

(via)

Kawaiiiiiiii…


Not what I’m usually looking for in the “cute girls in kimonos” genre…

(via)

Three-Gun Nanoka


Nanoka (菜乃花) has a distinctive face, and photographers and stylists have managed to coax a variety of pleasant looks out of her over the past six years. Since she was already over 21 when she debuted, there are no pictures where you have to guess her age before shamelessly ogling. More here.

Enthusiasm Level: Tepid


The teaser trailer for Thor: Ragnarok was cool, but—having seen the other movies—I was worried that the finished product would be nothing like it. Now that I’ve seen the comic-con trailer, I hope that the movie will be nothing like this one.

On the DC side of the fence, everything looks solid in the Justice League trailer except for Flash, who seems to be woefully miscast, as well as cursed with terrible dialogue and a clunky costume. However, since the only current-generation DC movie I liked was Wonder Woman, I’m not getting my hopes up. There’s still plenty of ways for them to screw the pooch.

Dear Atlassian,


Auto-rendering emoticons in a bug-tracker is dumb (because of course someone who pastes 50 lines of log output into a ticket wants to see smiley faces, blue stars, and thumbs-down icons, and SQL always looks better with broken hearts). Repeatedly closing support tickets asking for a way to turn it off is dumber. Forcing your customers to remember to manually comment out this misfeature in an XML file every time they upgrade Jira: priceless.

Neko Atsume Live: Achievement Unlocked


I petted Scrawny last night. I won’t say she was happy about it, but consent was sought and received, without bloodshed.

She wasn’t up for it this morning, though. The fact that her response was silently scooting away from me on the bench rather than hissing or running away can be considered progress.

The lesson to be drawn from this is that in The Glorious Future, we should be careful not to let catgirls go feral.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”