Facebook Portal

Technology is advancing every day with new products being developed. It started out with smart
speakers with a voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant, like Amazon Echo and Google Home. These
devices brought a hardware version of their websites to the home. Now there are smart display devices
that have the smart speaker features with a display, like the Amazon Echo Show and the Google Home
Hub. Even Facebook decided to make a product to compete with Amazon and Google. Facebook’s
product is the Portal and the Portal Plus (Portal + ).
This product is advertised as a voice-activated smart camera with touchscreen display to keep you
connected with the people that are important to you. Focused on video calls the Portal is capable of
video chatting with other Portal users or people using Facebook through the Messenger app.
One of the biggest differentiators of the Portal and the competition is the smart camera. The wide-angle
camera and software of the Portal simplify video chatting. It has the ability to automatically identify the people in the room. If there are multiple people it is capable of capturing everyone on the call. It also has the ability to zoom in on your face when you are talking and track while still focusing on you as you walk around the room, with the automatic pan feature. This allows for a more natural and personal video chatting while making it more comfortable than having to carry a phone or computer.

The Portal also has smart sound technology. The microphone on the Portal is designed to reduce
background noise while enhancing the voice of the person talking. This allows the users to not have to
yell or be distracted by other noise and focus on the conversation.

The Facebook Portal also comes with additional features and apps. One feature is having the ability to
share and listen to songs at the same time as the person you are chatting with using Spotify. The apps
and features available are limited today but include:

 Facebook Watch
 Food Network
 Newsy
 iHeartRadio
 Spotify
 Pandora
 YouTube
 Alexa enabled
 Digital photo frame
 Snapchat like AR effects

One of the major concerns for consumers is privacy with the product because of Facebook’s data privacy
scandal and recent data breaches. In order to ease the mind of the consumers, the Portal comes with a
camera cover and the ability to completely turn off the microphone and camera. Facebook also claims
that all the video calls are encrypted and that they aren’t listening or keeping records of the calls. They also allow the user to delete voice history and Alexa history.

https://www.androidcentral.com/should-you-buy-facebook-portal

However, Facebook has said that does collect some types of information. They are harvesting data
and feeding it to ad algorithms. But what says the other devices aren’t doing the same thing.
The Facebook Portal seems like a work in progress from a privacy and security standpoint and from an
application and feature standpoint as well. If you are ok with the applications currently being offered
and have less of a security concern, this may be the video chatting device you have been looking for.

Yamaha Drum Set

Yamaha is a Japanese company that was first founded in 1887 by first creating reed organs, tuning forks, and pianos. Now Yamaha is a huge brand name in the music industry. They manufacture or have manufactured keyboard instruments, harmonicas, guitars, band instruments like the trumpet, and drums.

It wasn’t till 1967 where Yamaha made its first acoustic drum. Then in 1986, Yamaha made their first electronic drum pad, and in 1996, the Yamaha DTX electronic drum set series started. Today Yamaha not only continues to develop and advance acoustic and electronic drums, but they also manufacture percussion instruments, marching band equipment, drum hardware, and rhythm machines.
Today, Yamaha continues to make the DTX electronic drum series. Currently available is the DTX400 series, DTX502 series, DTX700 series, DTX900 series, and new DTX402 series. Out of this extensive line of electronic drums the Yamaha DTX522K is a great low to mid level electronic drum kit.
The Yamaha DTX522K comes with the RS502 drum rack made of high quality material giving it more stability.
The RS502 drum rack is flexible and the snare can be mounted on a ball joint for more mobility. It also comes with strong and sturdy cymbal stands. This wide drum rack allows for future expansion to this drum kit.

The DTX522K comes with the DTP522 pad set that includes three tom pads made of gum-rubber, that are single zone. The way it differs from other electronic drum kits on the market is that it comes with an electronic mesh head snare pad. This snare pad is divided into three zones and supports open rimshots and closed rimshots. The three zones include snare, rim, and “cross stick”, you can assign different sounds to the different zones.

The DTP522 pad set also includes a three zone hi-hat, crash, and ride cymbal pads. The cymbal pads three zones are the cup, bow, and edge zones. These zones allow cymbal muting and natural cymbal swells giving it great feel and ability to play different sounds. The hi-hat comes with a controller pedal. Finally, it comes with a large rubber kick pad. The only thing about this kit is that the kick pedal is sold separately, which is not advertised.

Another great part about this kit is the DTX502 drum module that comes with all the DTX502 series. It comes with 691 drum/percussion sounds, 128 melodies, and 50 presets. It has USB connectivity, which lets you connect to a PC.
This kit has the ability to be customized using free iOS apps that work with the system. These apps enable users to design training programs, import songs, and customize the set to their desired ability level.
Yamaha is a reputable brand with great quality, which makes this a great kit at a good price point. I would recommend this kit to anyone because of all the features it has over some comparable electric drum kits. The drum module and the three zone snare pad and cymbal pads make it one of the closest drum kits to the real thing. If you don’t believe me, check out this other review on this kit at https://bestedrums.com/yamaha-dtx522k/

Streaming Music

Remember the days when people bought CD albums to use them in portable CD players or the built-in CD players in their car? Utilizing CDs to listen to music seems like something from the past. The decline of CDs started around the 2000s when Internet-based files, like MP3s, started becoming more popular.

With the growing popularity of the Internet and MP3 files, there were sites being created where people could download free music. The most popular site was Napster where people started to share copyrighted music on this peer-to-peer service. Now with the ability to download free music on MP3 files came MP3 players. The iPod was one of the most popular MP3 players that came out. I even owned the original bulky iPod that connected to your car using an FM transmitter before Bluetooth was invented.

Eventually, these peer-to-peer services ran into legal trouble and were shut down. This is when Apple launched their iTunes Store, which was an online music library. The iTunes Store allowed people to download music for $0.99 per song. This became very popular since it allowed people to download music in a legal method or pumping their computers full of malware and viruses.

Then, another music company, Pandora Radio was created, which is a free personalized online radio application. It was the first of this type of streaming service that individualized a radio station for each user. It also had built-in algorithms that figured out other music you might like and stream it automatically based on a song or artist you listened to. Pandora eventually started airing ads between songs and then offered a paid subscription offering for listeners that did not want to listen to ads. This paved the way for other streaming apps and services that are being used today.

The introduction of smartphones and smart devices has also played a part in the evolution of music. These streaming applications could now be used on these devices instead of just on a computer, which became instantly popular because of mobility. People could now just stream music from their phone. They could even link the music from the phone to their cars through Bluetooth.

Now music streaming services have taken over the music industry. Streaming options today is not just Pandora and Spotify. Companies are now investing in music streaming like Apple with Apple Music, YouTube with YouTube Music App, and Amazon with Amazon Prime Music.

Music streaming is also affecting music labels and artists. Some artists have opposed the streaming of music and continued to release music albums while some artists have started to embrace streaming, selling the rights to their music to these streaming services. Jay-Z has realized the potential in streaming by launching his own streaming service, TIDAL.

This revolution of on-demand music streaming does not seem to be going anywhere. These streaming service companies are seeking new rights agreements with some major music labels. Downloading of music might have been in the past. Free music streaming with advertisements and subscription-based music streaming looks more like the future.

Roland V-Drums

The V-Drums is an electronic drum kit line manufactured by Roland. Roland has different lines of kits from a higher end to lower end which includes the following TD-1, TD-4, TD-11, TD-17, TD-25, TD-30, and TD-50. Each of these lines also comes in different variations of triggers with the same drum brain module.

Every Roland V-Drums kit is made up of a module, stand, and triggers. The electronic drum module is the central processing unit for all the triggers. The module takes the electronic signals from the triggers and synthesizes the sounds. The stand is where all the triggers and module are mounted. The triggers on the electric drum set are hit with the drumsticks to make electronic sounds that mimic the acoustic drum set. There are drum pads, kick drum pad, cymbal pads, and electronic hi-hats as the triggers. The major types of triggers are mesh-head drum pads, rubber pads, cymbal pads, and acoustic drum triggers.
Roland’s newest entry-level drum kit for sale in the V-Drums portfolio is the TD-1K. The TD-1K has an attractive price tag compared to the other V-Drums kits, while still maintaining the quality, feel, and the sound of the Roland electronic V-Drums. Roland also has a variation of the TD-1K called the TD-1KV. This electronic drum kit is identical to the TD-1K except the standard snare pad is replaced with a mesh head pad, the PDX-8 on the TD-1KV.

The TD-1K is a lightweight drum kit that comes with a sturdy drum rack that can be adjusted with three knobs to fit every user. The compact and ergonomic design allows for setup in small spaces as well as less space needed when you store it away.

The quality of the TD-1K is what really sets it apart from other entry-level, low-cost electronic drum kit on the market. The rubber pads are sensitive and responsive allowing for a better feel while playing. The cymbal pads have a dual zone, which allows for the crash, choke, and the ability to play bell sounds. The rubber pads are low noise and quiet. This kit also allows for advanced hi-hat playing. The control pedals for the bass drum and hi-hat can are quite as well and they can be placed where needed. The TD-1K and TD-1KV has a stealth playing mode allowing for practice anywhere and anytime.

The quality of the drum module is also why it makes this a great entry level drum kit. Don’t let the minimal buttons fool you. The module has a built-in metronome to help establish and hold tempo. It comes with 15 quality drum kits on board to suit all types of playing genres. It also comes with coach mode that is great for beginners as a training tool.

The TD-1K and the TD-1KV are great for beginners as well as advanced players who are looking for a compact kit for practice. It is not only great for all skill levels but also great for all ages. This is a perfect kids drum set. It may be a little more expensive than other entry-level kits, but the quality makes it worth it because it will last. The ability to upgrade and expand the TD-1K is also appealing because as you advance you can upgrade your kit. Check out this great reviews on the TD-1K and this review. Hope this helps you pick your drum kit.

Bluetooth Speakers

Loudspeakers have come a long way over the years to the speakers we know of today. The ever-evolving technology started from analog speakers to digital speakers and speakers using different techniques and methods to emit the amplified sound. Speakers are in all types of devices and used to boost audio from computers, smart devices, and televisions just to name a few. There are also speakers that are wired and now speakers that are wireless.
The creation of wireless speakers coincided with the development of Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth uses radio signals to transport data. This is how wireless speakers work. The audio from the device transmits a radio frequency to a receiver in the speaker device. An amplifier that broadcasts the radio signal powers the wireless speaker.

Now people have to make decisions on what speaker is best for their use cases. There are pros and cons to both the wired and wireless speakers making it difficult to choose between them. Hopefully, we can help you determine which speaker is best for you.

Wireless Speakers:

Pros:
Wireless speakers work without a single wire connected to the device. This makes for a cleaner and easier installation.
Wireless speakers are portable, which makes them more convenient to move around where needed without having to carry around all the cables.
Smaller battery-powered speakers are also easily transportable to places without power. You can easily boost your music from your phone to your speaker.
Wireless speakers with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology can connect to multiple different devices.

Cons:
The sound quality of wireless speakers is not as good as wired speakers. This could be because of the signal errors or poor signal with the radio frequency connection between the device and speaker.
There could also be issues with interference when going to wireless speakers. Since many devices use radio frequency today, there could be potential issues.
There is zero control over the amplification and conversion with wireless speakers.
Some wireless speakers may require AC power. This would require an outlet where you would want to install them.

Wired Speakers:
Pros:
Wired speakers mostly have a high-quality sound and the performance is more dependable.
Wired speakers offer you a level of control over the finer aspects of the sound than wireless speakers do.
Unlike wireless speakers, there are usually no interference issues.
With wired speakers, there is no need for batteries or AC power like some wireless speakers.
The setup can be easy because all you need to do is connect them to the amplifier.

Cons:
A major downside of the wired speakers is the speaker cables. Trying to hide these cables can be hard from an install perspective. If you don’t hide them you have to deal with the aesthetic appeal where installed.
There could also be limitations where you can install them because it needs to connect to the amplifier.
Wired speakers are also less portable.

As you can see there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best speaker. The reason for needing a speaker is one. How good of a performance and quality you desire. For home theater sound systems, you need to consider the room layout, AC outlets, and installation.

Alesis Nitro Kit

Alesis was established in the 1980s and founded on a semi-conductor chip technology that gave musicians and artists the opportunity for affordable studio level recording equipment. In 2001, Alesis started producing affordable analog mixers with built-in Digital Signal Processing, computer audio interfaces and controllers, and a full line of electronic percussion products.
Electronic drum kits are great for drummers who want to play and practice anywhere they can. The electronic drums offer the ability for noise control and portability over acoustic drums. The Alesis Nitro Kit is one of the best selling drum kits on the market because of its affordability while still maintaining quality. This makes it great for all different levels of drummers starting from beginners to experts.

This affordable eight-piece electronic drum kit comes complete and ready with everyhigh-quality to play like Chad Smith. The Alesis Nitro kit comes with four 8” drum pads with high quality rubber. Three of the pads are dynamic single zone tom pads and one of the pads is a dual zone snare drum pad, which gives this drum kit great natural feel and response.

It also comes with a large and sensitive kick drum pad and bass drum pedal, supported by a stark pad tower. There are three 10” cymbal pads, which include a single zone ride cymbal, hi-hat cymbal with hi-hat pedal, and crash cymbal with choke. Both the snare drum and the crash cymbal come with multi-zone sensors for rim shots. These components are mounted on a sturdy four post aluminum rack for flexibility and stability.

This kit also includes Alesis’ powerful Nitro drum module. It comes complete with 40 ready to play classic and modern preset kits. It also comes with 385 drum and percussion sounds, so you can tweak any kit or even create your own. The Nitro drum module includes 60 play-along tracks, which is great for beginners that want to buy this kit.

There are also additional benefits built-in to the Nitro module. The module has an onboard metronome to help play rhythms accurately and improving drumming skills. It also has an advanced sequencer and performance recorder. The USB/MIDI connection allows for the module to be used with external devices, computers, and mobile devices. Headphone output on the module allows for use of headphones when noise control is needed and private practice. Finally, the stereo line outputs allow for connection to PA system, amplifiers, or recording consoles and the stereo aux input allows for connection of a CD/MP3 player.

Here is a video review where you can check out how the kit sounds.

Best E-drums also has a great review on the Alesis Nitro Kit. https://bestedrums.com/alesis-nitro-kit-electronic-drum-set-a-best-buy/

The Alesis Nitro is one of the best electronic drum kits in this price range. If you decide to purchase this kit, you are getting a quality kit from a manufacturer that tries to provide the best product at an affordable price. At this price point, this kit is great for beginners and for advanced users looking for a practice drum. Alesis also offers the Nitro Mesh Kit, which is similar to the Nitro Kit but with mesh heads.

Streaming Service

Cable Television has been around since the 1940s. During that era, cable was considered a luxury item and only few households could afford them. However, cable has become the main provider of digital television, movies, and the Internet to most households today. The popularity and use of cable has grown tremendously over many years, but we are starting notice that popularity for cable television has began to decrease over the past couple of years.

I still have cable television at my house with the premium channel package that comes with a sports package, cooking channels, and HBO. The major cable providers used in my area are Comcast xFinity and Verizon Fios. The cost for Internet, phone line, and the television package is over $150 a month. And yes, telephone lines still exist. This is definitely a luxury expense for households. With the growing industry of cell phones and internet, cable services don’t seem to be as needed nor desired; hence the decrease in popularity of cable. Almost every person in a household has their own cell phone; eliminating the need for land line phones in the house. Even though I pay for a land line at my house I don’t have my home telephone phone connected. The reason why I keep the full cable package is because it is cheaper to have the full package rather than selecting specific services that I want.
Land lines in the house are not the only thing that has been removing within the households. Cable television is also being replaced by other options. Many of my friends have been disconnecting their cable television service and moving to a free or subscription based streaming service. They have been talking about the streaming service nonstop and even trying to convince me to cancel my cable package and switching over to the streaming service option.

Streaming of television, which is the digital distribution of television service, started with YouTube where people started uploading illegal content for viewing. Netflix was not far landline their streaming content after starting from DVD rentals. Then independent sites began to stream televised shows and movies that were being aired on television networks. Now that there are a bunch of sites that offer this type of service, many people, especially middle aged groups used these sites rather than paying for cable television service.

There are monthly subscription based streaming services, and there are devices that are sold that can stream television. Some of the available devices include Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV. The monthly subscription based streaming seems more popular and still cheaper than what the cable providers are charging. Some of the major streaming sites include YouTube TV, Hulu, and Sling TV. PlayStation also offers a streaming subscription called PlayStation Vue that uses the PlayStation gaming console. Amazon even offers streaming of videos for their Prime members.

Although streaming services seems ideal and is very appealing, I am not certain about cancelling my cable service and switching over to the cheaper streaming service. The other great thing about this monthly subscription is that you can try it out through their free trial services, and even if you decide to commit to a service, you can easily cancel the service whenever you change your mind. Cable providers still require a two-year contract for better pricing. So, even if you change your mind in the future, you are tied down for the next two years. Sometimes, for being loyal customers, there are lots of perks. However, cable services do not offer better pricing for loyal customers. I have experienced having to switch back and forth between two competitive services in order to get a better deal.

History of Electronic Instruments

Electronic instruments have been around since the early 1900s, but the electronic music never seemed to gain popularity until the late 1960s through 1980s. Best E-drums has a great article about the history of electronic instruments. There was also a growing use of electronic sounds and electronic instruments in all types of music from rock, pop, hip hop, etc. Drum machines, also known as rhythm machines popularized electronic music along with electronic drums and synthesizers. Electronic music started to have great influence on popular music with the use of synthesizers, electronic drums, drum machines, and turntables. With the influence of electronic music, disco, hip pop, and electronic dance music (EDM) were created. The article under this link explains how electronic drums are manipulated, which is very similar to the electronic sounds that are made up of the electronic instruments. The beats of drum machines and electronic drums are one of the most important elements to the most electronic music we hear today.

Electronic dance music (EDM) is often played at clubs, raves, and festivals to encourage and energize people to dance. Electronic dance music is made up of a wide range of sounds. For instance, EDM can be combinations of repetitive percussive electronic music or repetitive sounds. Electronic dance music is mainly produced by disc jockeys (DJs) in a mix for live performances. Without a whole band or different instruments, a DJ is able to liven the atmosphere with their electronic turntables and mix tables. Electronic dance music was mainly popular only in Europe until the early 2000s. Starting in the early 2000s, dance music began to gain global popularity, and it started to increase significantly mainly in the United States. I believe electronic dance music blossomed and really gained popularity through the collaborations with popular artists. Another important factor of its popularity growth was by sharing its music through the Internet and various social media, as the Internet is a powerful tool nowadays. This article from CNN has an extensive explanation of the history of dance music and its growing popularity.

I always thought of dance music or trance music as more of an underground type of music, but through the source of the Internet, I believe music is evolving. It is apparent that electronic dance music is taking over the music industry and hitting the top of the music popularity chart. More people prefer dance music to other genres of music even if they are not at a club, which has evolved from many years ago. Check out this article from Billboard, which explains how dance music is beginning to dominate other music genres in 2018.

I can certainly see the evolution because I witness them on social media. I have friends who will share their love of electronic dance music through social media. As mentioned above, social media is such a powerful tool. They share their experiences from EDM concerts or EDM festivals that were led by popular EDM DJs. Some of the highly talked about DJs are Steve Aoki, Armin van Buuren, deadmau5, David Guetta, Marshmello, Tiesto, and Afrojack, and they attract thousands and thousands of audiences.

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Nintendo’s very first video game console was the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). My very first video game console while growing up was the Nintendo NES with the first Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt video game. I was so excited when I got this video game console as a kid.

After the Nintendo NES was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). I never had this video game console but I have heard that this was a great gaming console. Check out this article from Rolling Stone stating that the SNES is the reason why we still playing video games. I believe it was both the NES and SNES why people still play console games. They even re-released both the NES and SNES video game consoles in a classic version.

Then came the Nintendo 64 was released. The Nintendo 64 was my favorite video game console growing up. It had a great balance of games with the classic Nintendo characters like Mario and Zelda, but it also had some great first-person shooters like Golden Eye 007. Nintendo 64 I felt was the first console great for parties where four people could play at once. My favorite party games were Mario Tennis, Super Smash Bros, and Mario Party. The Nintendo 64 was a great console and I heard that a classic version might also be coming out from CNET.

The GameCube was the next video game console that Nintendo released. I never got this console but it seemed like an upgraded version of the Nintendo 64. To me, it just did not seem as popular because it had to compete with not only Sony’s PlayStation 2 but the release of Microsoft’s Xbox.

After the GameCube was the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo Wii U. With these consoles I was not a fan of the direction Nintendo was going and I moved over Playstation. The Wii U seemed short lived with Nintendo’s newest release of the Nintendo Switch. This article from theVerge explains why the Switch is overtaking the Wii U, as well as this article from gamerant.

After reading reviews I thought I would try it out, which I am glad I did. The Switch has one of the best video games I have ever played, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. There is a reason why it got game of the year. With the classic Zelda gameplay from what I thought was one of the best Zelda games in Ocarina of Time to the flexibility of a free world game where you aren’t forced into a certain path of quests in the game. This article from theguardian shares the same point of view I have.

They are even coming out with some of the classic Nintendo games I loved when I had the Nintendo 64 like Mario Tennis, Super Smash Bros, Donkey Kong, and Mario Party. I would highly recommend the Nintendo Switch because of all the great games that are out for it and will be coming out for it. The Switch is not only a home video game console, with the docking station to play on your TV, but it has the portability that no other console has because of its tablet-like design with an LCD touchscreen. It’s great for all ages and should be considered if you are looking for a new video game console.

Roland TD-11K honest look.

Roland has been a major sound and music brand since their establishment in 1972. They manufacture many instruments and devices like pianos, keyboards, drums, organs, guitars, synthesizers, amplifiers, and more. Roland’s first electronic drum set was created in 1985. Roland has kept up with the evolution of the electronic drum set but I also believe that Roland has had a major impact on the evolution as well. I can confidently say that Roland is one of the leaders in this market.

One of Roland’s popular electronic drum sets is the TD-11K. This drum kit is perfect for everyone no matter their skill level. It may be considered to be on the expensive end compared to similar electronic drum sets on the market, but I believe it is still affordable. The TD-11K is portable; only weighing around 48 lbs. It is also versatile because of its flexible materials and the simple steps of setting it up.

The drum kit comes with the TD-11 sound module with a large LCD screen. The V-Drums V-Compact Series is enhanced with SuperNATURAL technology through Behavior Modeling where the response becomes more precise and faster, and the ambiance enhances the sounds more realistically. It is also equipped with onboard backing songs and loop phrases. It also has the ability to play back audio files (WAV, MP3) directly from one USB port. The second USB port can be used to connect to your computer for transmitting audio and MIDI data. The TD-11 module also has integrated practice tools like Coach Mode, including Time Check, Quiet Count, and Warm Ups. In addition to Coach Mode, the TD-11 has QUICK REC, letting you easily record and play back your own performance.

The Roland TD-11K comes with PDX-8 mesh V-Pad snare features Roland’s dual-zone technology. This 10-inch snare provides accurate and even sensing between the head and the rim. There are three toms with this set. The PD-8A durable 8.5-inch rubber pad toms offer super-accurate triggering like the snare, but they are single-zone and do not offer rim shot technology.

This set also comes with three cymbal pads. The crash cymbal and the ride cymbal are the CY-8 with 12-inch playing zone. The CY-8 offers “swinging” motion with great response and choke capabilities. The hi-hat cymbal pad is the CY-5, which has a 10-inch playing zone and swing movement. The hi-hat pedal is the FD-8, giving drummers realistic hi-hat sounds. With the FD-8 Hi-Hat Controller, drummers can get realistic hi-hat sounds with smooth transitions between open and closed positions. The CY-5 and CY-8 cymbals offer dual-trigger technology for separate bow and edge triggering.

For the bass drum, the TD-11K comes with the KD-9. The KD-9 is designed with new mechanics and a beater-resistant woven cloth, providing great feel, dynamic response, and accurate triggering. This set does not come with the bass kick, which I view as a negative of this drum kit.

The TD-11K drum set uses the MDS-4V drum stand. The MDS-4V is the most space-efficient drum stand giving the TD-11K its flexibility. The metal center-horizontal joint bar along with lower weight balance is for improved stability and solidness during frequent set-ups and tear-downs.

I would recommend the Roland TD-11K to anyone because of its affordability, flexibility, and versatility. Check out another review of the TD-11K I also heard about the new Roland TD-17 series that will precede the Roland TD-11. Check out this site for the review of this new drum kit at here.