Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thoughts on eero WiFi System

Wifi in our house sucked.

I live in a townhouse which is three floors.  The top floor is the "office" which is where the Cable Modem is setup and where our router was located. We had a well reviewed Netgear. Granted, the layout of our office kinda sucks, and is a checklist of all the wrong things to have around a WiFi signal such as right next to a cordless phone, by a subwoofer sitting on top of a glass table.

If you were in the same room as the router, WiFi was pretty fast. Not blazing, but fast enough.

If you left the room, it got worse, and if you went to a different floor, such as the second floor which has the living room and kitchen and the Xbox and the iPads, it was abysmal.  I don't just mean it was slow, I mean you got almost no signal.

So we bought a different router.  Same results.

We changed the location of the router from on top of a table, to underneath it. We added tin foil to it, seriously, to see if that would help. We adjusted the settings and the "channel", switched from 2.4Ghz to 5Ghz.

Nothing helped.

Meet eero.

After reading about it, it seemed like exactly what we were looking for. We tried range extenders in our house but it didn't help.

So I picked up the 3 pack for $499.  Expensive yes, but a good router is about $200 and this is basically 3 routers which work seamlessly together to create a mesh network (pretty much how your office blankets your office with WiFi)

Setup is incredibly simple. Put your Cable Modem into bridge mode and plug the modem directly into an Eero unit.

Now a quick word on the lack of ethernet ports on the Eero. There are only two.  One of them is immediately taken by your modem leaving you one.  I solved this by picking up a simple $20 switch.

After setting up the first Eero I went into our master bedroom about 20 feet away.  The first location I tried to use couldn't see the other Eero.  So I moved it a bit closer and it connected.

I ran a simple test on and was getting 170mbps down.

Yes, 170.

We pay for 150.

But, 170 is what we were getting.

I probably didn't need to, but I then installed the third eero on the second floor.

Remember the second floor not only had terrible speeds it had no WiFi signal most of the time.

We're getting between 40-80mbps on the second floor now.

After a few hours, we did see some significant slow downs and connection issues.  Within around 24 hours, I received an email stating all my eeros were updated to version 1.10 of the firmware. (most of the negative reviews you'll see are related to the 1.0 version of the software which by all accounts was more beta than ready for primetime) but it seems they have fixed many of the complains you might find on Amazon reviews.

I was also told by eero support that it takes a few days for the mesh network to settle in and optimize. Personally I think that's bullshit, but I'm no network engineer.

After a few weeks, we still have incredibly fast internet speeds and the house is blanketed in WiFi.  It also gave me the confidence to now add things like the Nest Smart Thermostat since our WiFi issues are at hing of the past.

Could we have solved the problem with some network settings within our netgear routers? Maybe? But I shouldn't have to.  The things should just work, and Eero just works. I'm not a huge fan of only being able to update the network settings from the Eero app, or the fact that the system only works if it can connect to the Eero cloud platform ( if Eero goes out of business, than these things will be useless)

But, for now, this is an incredible product that completely solved our problem and I'd highly recommend it if you have any issues with WiFi in your house.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Compatibility is live on Kickstarter. Wait? Another Kickstarter??

Asking people for money is never easy. It doesn't get any easier the second time, and a third? Downright terrifying.

When my short film (the second time I asked for money) "The Evolution of a Gen-X Music Purchaser" reached its crowdfunding goal in April of 2014, I figured that'd be the last time I'd ever crowdfund.

I'd make a really cool film, get into a major festival, network, meet people, and my next project would get financed with grants or investors.

I was right on most of that.

It got into Tribeca.

I met a lot of people.

I met a lot of people interested in working with me on my next project.

The investors and grants didn't happen though.

I'm still just a guy who made a short film.  Granted, it did incredibly well, almost better than I could've ever imagined, but again, sitll just a guy with a screenplay I want to direct with no money or name-talent attached.

I've met with investors. They like the script. I think they like me. But alas, it's a hard script to "sell". It's a romantic com/drama about technology.  It's about a Facebook engineer who creates an algorithm that accurately predicts romantic compatibility among Facebook users. It was a 2015 Academy Nicholl Fellowship Quarterfinalist.  That's a big deal. That's the most prestigious screenwriting contest in the world. That means I placed in the top 300 out of close to 8000 scripts.

And while I think it's a film a lot of people would want to see, it's not a thriller or a horror movie which re much easier to sell and produce since they don't require name talent to get off the ground. The genre alone is the star.

One thing investors did mention was the idea of creating a proof of concept, or a sizzle reel, or a short film to "show" them what the movie would look like. I actually floated this idea around years ago for a thriller I wrote called Dead Peasants (formerly 4 of a Kind - the first time I asked for money)

And that's where we are today.

This is my third time crowdfunding on Kickstarter.  I failed the first time, succeeded the second time.

So why the hell am I making another short?

The purpose of the short is to not only show investors what the movie looks like, feels like and sounds like but to also get into another major film festival and attract investment. And frankly, it's also to prove that I can direct actors and tell the story.

This approach has worked before and is exactly how Whiplash got made. (I don't think they crowdfunded that though)

I have no idea how this will end.

It could be met with an utter "meh" or people could rally around it and be part of something bigger, right at the ground floor. I think it'd be cool to have been a supporter of Whiplash in its infancy considering how utterly fucking amazing that feature turned out.

I'll find out in about 18 days. Why such a short time? Well...

 As they used to say in The Wire, you only do two days in prison: the day you go in and the day you get out.  In crowdfunding, the two days which really matter are the day you launch and the day you finish.

It sorta either happens or it doesn't.

I'm hoping it does and I hope you come along for the ride.

Wish me luck.