Archive for Technology

Click and Grow Smart Garden 9 First impressions

Testing our click and grow for the first time
We received our new Click and Grow Smart Garden 9 yesterday as a Christmas present.
The Click and Grow is a smart garden that grows organic fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers inside an appartment with a minimum of effort. Therefore, it uses a led lamp, smart capsules and water to grow plants inside.
First of all, we wanted the Click and Grow Smart Garden 9 because we were disappointed about the poor quality of herbs in the supermarket. Furthermore we also wondered how to grow plants inside during winter and how we could eat more healthy and organic. We ordered our Click and Grow 9 on the site of Click and Grow and received it 2 weeks later.

On the box it came with the following quote:
“if you want to be happy for a month, get married. If you want to be happy for the rest of your life,
become a gardener”

Unboxing and setting up the Click and Grow Smart Garden 9.

After the unboxing, the only thing we had to do is place the lamp on top of the smart garden and plug it in.
The capsules delivered with the click and grow are extremely easy to use. First, we placed the capsules with the smart soil in the plastic goblets and clicked them into the click and grow. Next step was to fill it with water and wait … until we can eat our fresh, organic and house grown vegetables. We are growing tomatoes, peppermint and strawberries.

click and grow smart garden 9 capsules how to

click and grow smart garden 9 capsules how to

In total, it took us 10 minutes to get our click and grow up and running.
We have set up our Click and Grow Smart Garden 9 in the kitchen but we are thinking to move it to our stock room because the light is very bright. You can use the click and grow in any small and even dark place to grow your own fresh plants.
We’ll keep you posted!

Beside our Click and Grow we are both passionate about Gardening indoor or at an appartment so check out our other Apartment Garding tips and the Xiaomi Plant Sensor review

Xiaomi air purifier 2 review

So last year i decided to purchase an Air purifier. This had been playing my mind for a while so started googling around and ended up choosing the Xiaomi Air Purifier 2.

So why made me choose for this air purifier above the others:

  • Sleek design.
  • Being able to use and application on my phone.
  • HEPA filter quality

What is the difference between the Xiaomi Air purifier 1 and 2?

The difference between the Xiaomi Air purifier 1 and 2 is that the 2 is slightly smaller and less noisy, however this also means that the 1 can handle a bigger room in terms of air movement.
The filters in both devices are exactly the same. When you buy the Xiaomi it comes with one filter pre installed and an Chinese plug.
So keep in mind that you might need an adapter for using it, or changing the cable like i did.

Why did i need an Air Purifier ?

I sometimes have a shortness of breath and exactly when the flower seasons start, i have to take my inhalers and other medication more intensely.
By buying the air purifier i hoped that would help me use less medication and create a healthy living environment.

Beside this, i don’t live that far from the ring around Brussels and since sometimes the PMI values of Brussels are near Shanghai and Beijing, for this reason i decided that this would be a good investment.

Conditions beside filtering air.

Beside filtering the air i wanted to be able to control it with my phone. The air filter has the Xiaomi home app which can be controlled by and I Phone or Android. It can be configured in a way that it monitors the air and the depending on the quality goes into a more intense cleaning mode.
It can also be used in combination with other Xiaomi home devices, like for example if you open a windows the cleaner automatically turns itself off.

The Air Purifier has 3 modes: quiet/sleep /automatically and high.


The Design of the Xiaomi Air Purifier.

Xiaomi Air Purifier 2

Xiaomi Air Purifier 2

The device itself can fit easily in every modern room, you would be able to say that it was inspired by the MUJI air Purifier, but than that would be in a good way. It is made in plastic.  The design i would describe as slick and minimalistic.

How does the Air purifier work?

The Air gets sucked in from the bottom in an 360 degree way and then gets sucked trough the filter and gets blowed out from the fan on top. For the device two types of filters exist. The standard filter is made into three layers consisting of an primary filter which holds back the major particles, then is the high density EPA filter that filters the Pollen and PM2.5 , than the last filter will clean the air of formaldehyde, odors and more.

Noise levels of the Mi Air Purifier:

On the most quiet mode the device is almost unbearable, i kinda use it also to generate a white noise and help me sleep. on the Turbo mode its almost the sound of an small vacuum, but keep in mind that you wont use this stand normally.

So does it work and should i get one ?

Well before i got the air purifier i had to live on my inhalers and medication to even live indoor after i opened the window for a while.
After i got it and turned it on for around 30 min i could start noticing the difference and i was able to breath normally and more comfortably.

In September i moved to a new place which was newly built and contained lots of dust and building chemicals remaining(Paints, other chemicals and so).
And in the first days i had problems as well breathing and i was coughing the whole time, well after i moved my Air Purifier in house i immediate started noticing the AIR feeling cleaner, headache reducing from the chemicals being filtered out and finally being able to breath normally again.

Afterwards i also invested in plants that clean the air for chemicals also and now my house perfectly pure 🙂

Find more information on the Xiaomi Website


Google Returning to China ?

Is Google Returning to China ? it sure looks like that way. There are multiple indicators that are showing that google is planning its return to China.

Of course China is huge market and google is willing to take a share in this market. Most of the services are officially blocked in China but for some reason Ad words still works.

I noticed it when looking on multiple pages at the adds and doing an inspect element on the ad that they originate from google and  that ad words still works.

Recently Sundar Pichai had an interview with Forbes about the future of Android in China. Android is huge in China . But no Android devices uses Google Services in China. Most of these devices are using the App Markets from Xiaomi or Baidu.  This is a huge market they are missing out on.

One of the questions asked in the interview was Would you like to re enter the Chinese Market ?
And the answer was: Beside the issues Google had in China in the past they also see a lot of opportunities.  There is a big demand from Chinese Developers on the Google Play store. Simply said the don’t see China anymore as a done market but rather as a market with huge opportunity’s in which they want enable their platform and services.   When asking when that would happen  he responded with no comment.

But recently Google posted multiple Jobs on LinkedIn for a position in Beijing.

Google Returns to China posting jobs on Linked In

Google Returns to China posting jobs on Linked In

In total 7 Job Categories have been posted for China

We can clearly see that one involves android so that might point out that google is serious trying to get back in to business in China.

Google Returns to China posting 7 job functions on LinkedIn

Google Returns to China posting 7 job functions on LinkedIn

China and Google had quite a history together

Some of the events even date back to this year .  You can read the most important events here.

Google Blocked in China History


Google said that the  Chrome browser and other products will not recognize security certificates issued by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China’s internet authority anymore .  This problem originated from the fact that unauthorized security certificates where being issued for several Google Domains.  This lead to a security issue where it was possible to perform a man in the middle attack.

December 2014

Gmail officially blocked in China.

June 2014

Gmail Temporarily blocked in China and Calendar and Translate, Google Docs are being blocked in China


Google is fully blocked according to the website GreatFire



Google Removes it self fully from China after hacking attacks  originating from China.

All Google Traffic from China is being redirected to Google Hong Kong

This might also interest you.

Alternatives to Google Services In China

 30 Days free VPN


Google Services in China

I have to admit I am heavily invested in using the Google Ecosystem, I use an android phone with the Google play store(currently the One Plus One CM11S), I use Hangouts when I am traveling to keep in touch with my family, Google translate for some basic words,  Google maps and so on. But when I knew my internship was confirmed I realized, hey Google does not work in China or at least not without a work around.
So I started thinking how do I move everything outside from the Google services to another Cloud service. Another solution was to use a vpn the whole time. But China is cracking down on VPNs and most of them are not so stable. I do use Expressvpn  which fortunately works in China. But I think it’s just easier and better for the future in case I ever change ecosystems. You can get a 30 days using my sign up link.

Calendar: The Calendar of Google is awesome its simple and does not need any knowledge just select the dates, invite the people ,add the location and its done. And the most convenient about this was that the app is cross platform.

So I started to look around for an alternative and found Sunrise. I used Sunrise before but lost interest since Google updated their calendar.But i decided to give it a second chance and I have to say Sunrise is awesome it has cross-platform apps, syncs with other calendars so I let it sync with my icloud and my Google agenda. And the most awesome part are the plugins. They have plugins for Google Tasks, Evernote, Facebook, Eventbrite and Foursquare. I love the Evernote and Foursquare plugins it’s so useful to see where you have been some days at what time if you don’t have a calendar event for that day. Also their suggested calendars are very useful. I can easily check the public holidays or when the next episode of Game of Thrones is released

Google Keep: Its minimal, so minimal and that’s why its awesome. Just write down the note and that’s it.

But since i switched to Evernote I cannot change back to Google Keep again, the tasks, the reminders, the different notebooks everything is convenient. And just saves me a lot of time and thoughts. I even write down my costs instead of writing it in Excel.

Google Maps: I admit I cheated I kept using Google Maps in the beginning I just downloaded the offline maps of the Cities I am in China but then I discovered Baidu Maps. If you are familiar with icons you can use this app without understanding any Mandarin. It so useful you just  enter the destination, choose the way of transport and youre ready to go. it even shows you which busses you need to take.

Google Play is easy to replace because there are many alternative app stores available but i chose the Mi Market which originates from Xiaomi.
Xiaomi has recruited many people that had a lot of experience in the industry. From apple , microsoft and Google. The Current vice president they even recruited directly from Android where he had the same position.  Xiaomi is a big player in China and also in the world.
When writing this article it is the 3rd largest cellphone maker in the world. For the moment they have only launched in the Asian market but announced that they will offer their accessorizes in Europe and America.  Describing them as a cellphone company is no longer correct they are better fitted as an Internet of Things company.

Google Hangouts:  the app could have been easily replaced by Whats app but it’s more convenient to use Wechat. Wechat is a Chinese made chat that is very similar to Whatsapp but is enormously popular in China and Asia.

It’s slowly getting a foothold outside of that. Its owned by Tencent worlds 4th largest internet company. And it’s just like Hangouts Whatsapp and Messenger Merged but with a sense of privacy. The Messages you send are not stored into the cloud so if you don’t back them up and lose your phone you will not able to retrieve them. and for the sms part I just replaced it with the default messenger app because Hangouts recently started freezing in China.

Because it’s not always as easy to get a Taxi, especially in Hangzhou i use Uber.  you have a lot of different  transport option in Uber including boats. I will write an article later dedicated to using Uber in China.

And finally instead of watching Netflix and YouTube i watch Youku. Youku is  a Chinese streaming website where you can watch user generated content but also movies and tv shows. The Great part of this that most English movies and Tv Shows on Youku are free.  They also have a VIP zone which allows you to watch movies that are currently playing in the cinemas and let you watch advertising free.

Funny part about Google Services in China are that most of them are blocked but somehow i still can see Google adwords working on some websites.


Visiting Alibaba Headquarters Hangzhou

In the second week of my internship, I mentioned to my boss that I was very interested in a job or visiting Alibaba. By the end of the week my boss had a surprise for me; he knew somebody in Alibaba and arranged that I could have a small visit to the company. Alibaba itself is located in the Zhejiang Province in Hangzhou in the Binjiang District. For those who are not familiar with the company Alibaba is best known outside China for its the biggest IPO so far noted. But what’s more interesting is the way the company reached this IPO. In the Peoples Republic of China Alibaba is best known for its website Taobao and Tmall, the best way to describe it is as a mix of Ebay and Amazon. Everyone knows it and purchases lots of items on it, from household appliances, Food to Cars and so on. Alibaba has also got many other websites and is invested in many other Companies/Websites. The investments I find most interesting are Youku, Meizu and Ouya, Lyft more about those later.

Jack Ma the founder of Alibaba has been influenced by many in San Francisco and in the Silicon Valley area. You can clearly see this when visiting the company that it has similar styles to Google and VMware campus.

Taobao Alibaba Headquarters Hangzhou

Taobao Alibaba Headquarters Hangzhou


The visit to the company itself.
Beware you need an invite to be able to go to the company, it’s not accessible anymore for any visitors.
The Company is located in the Binjiang district and is known among the locals as Taobao city.
When entering through the main gate we were friendly greeted by our contact. She is a young ambitious woman who is responsible for the Customer Relationships. Unfortunately we were not able to go into the company itself but had a small introduction around the campus and the visitor center. The building style has a similar style like the ones in silicon valley. Especially like Google many aspects are the recognizable, like for example instead of the Google Bikes they have they Ali Bikes which can transport you easily at the campus. The Campus has a small supermarket, Starbucks, Gym.

Orange Bikes of Alibaba in Taobao City

Orange Bikes of Alibaba in Taobao City

When arriving in the main visitor hall the first thing that you notice is the Orange Super Car. Similarity  to a Lamborghini can’t be ignored. The story goes that all items of the car had been bought separately on Taobao and then were made into this car.

Alibaba Lamborghini

Alibaba Lamborghini

Alibaba’s Future expansion

I wondered now Alibaba has almost dominated the whole e-commerce of China what their plans for the future are. Are they interested in the Western Markets like Europe, America and so on?
According to my host for the moment there is no interest in Europe. The most valuable markets after China are Russia and America.
I think the idea of a platform like Taobao would not work so easily in Europe. I don’t think Europeans would be preparing to talk to a buyer each time the buy something online. We buy online to save time and review our items before. But in China, things are different you cannot judge the quality so easily and thousands of people sell you the same products. Even prices are not the same for everyone and are negotiable. I think the idea of this to most western people would be a nightmare just the fact that you paid more than somebody else for a product the exact same day.

Marriott adds wireless charging to Hotels

Marriott announced that it will outfit wireless chargers to their hotels in their lobby’s at first the wirelesses charger will be installed in October  in 29 Hotels.

Marriott Wireless qi charging Station

Marriott adds wireless charging to Hotels using this small Wireless qi charging Station

So no need to worry or hassle with cables forgotten. just lay your device on top of the charger and it will start charging using the Qi technology. Some of the Qi supported devices are the Nexus range from Google and Nokia Lumia series, but many other cellphones do have qi charging capabilities, or Qi charging can be installed using a small shield or case.

Also the hotel guests that don’t have a phone that supports wireless charging  are able to charge their phone regularly by using the built in Lightning and USB cables .

The wireless charging stations are able to to power up six devices simultaneously.

As this  will only be installed in 29 of the 500 Marriott Hotels its sounds like they are testing and see if the charges will be used and if their worth installing in all of their lobby .

The idea to place wireless chargers dint came from Marriott themselves but was suggested by the  clients of their travel website Travel brilliantly  . according to surveys taken by the Marriott group business travelers use 2 to 3 portable  electronic devices.

Since the creation of Travel Brilliantly multiple changes have been made to Marriott hotels the website has been launched in June 2013 and according to Mariott it has been a big succes leading to engaging customers which resulted in following products:  Stylish and modern looking Lobbies.

Marriott Lounge

Marriott Lounge

Mobile check in and checkout from anywhere using just you mobile, a vending machine which serves a healthy range of fresh and healthy food by the push of a button.


CEBIT 2014

This year i will be visiting CEBIT in Hanover.

A lot of interesting people are coming like Neelie Kroes , Seol Pil Kim (Samsung Electronics) , Steve Wozniak, Dere Liu ( Huawai) , Jimmy Wales

The top themes for Cebit will be

Datability  – Cloud & Big Data , Mobile

and my guesses are for 5G and the internet of things.

unfortunately i will be unable to attend the whole week but i will post a coverage of the new technologies and the most important phrases of the conferences unveiled at Cebit.

Cebit is one the biggest

So i will update this page later on.

Cebit 2014 Recap

Of course there is a lot of talking about Big Data.  but there also mentions about Google’s partnership with Tesla and Audi.

David Cameron announces that  Germany and England will start a partnership  between universities to pursue 5G. And announces that the Uk government will invest 45 million pounds into the Internet of Things Research

Intresting sentence from Kapersky

“How to protect your enterprise from a Stuxnet attack? Simple. You have your power plant, and you’re running on Linux, say. So you have your operating systems, and you have your Internet connected devices, both on Linux. How to protect it? Put Windows between them. So you have to copy all your files from Linux back into Windows, then back into Linux again. There’s no guarantee, of course, but it will make cyber espionage much more expensive, much more difficult.”

Wozniak Speaking

Steve Wozniak thinks the European Union is ahead of the United States in term of data protection.

Difficult question have been asked to Wozniak like:

Are there back doors open for the NSA at Apple: which he replies with the sentence that hes not sure, but it there is one it probably a coding mistake.

Should Tim Cook be Fired  ?, If Steve Jobs had lived, would Apple be better or worse?

Is Apple cool anymore ? Once you’re number one it’s very hard to hold it.

Wozniak also think that internet access should be a basic human right.

An opinion i share with Wozniak is that they should open Itunes to more platforms.

Lots of people at the IBM stand

That’s right this is computer screen that allows a the screen to change it’s opacity so you can see through.

Volkswagen latest concept car only uses 0.9l/100km and has a top speed of 160 km/h

Sony SRS-BTX300 Review

Recently i bought the Sony SRS-BTX300it is a Bluetooth speaker with NFC(Near Field Communication) capability.

Introduction (why i left the Apple ecosystem)

I used to have an iPod  and speaker dock and it was one of the best purchases i have made, but lately it hasn’t always worked correctly ( like the iPod crashing, iPod not standing in the dock correctly) and since apple has decided to change they’re 30 pin to the lightning connector. I was kinda disappointed to see the incompatibility between old iPod’s and their new accessorizes (since my parents also have an iPod).

Not so willing to buy the new iPod (and having an Android tablet) I bought a nexus 4 and by using the streaming functionality of Google Play Music 16 gigs on the nexus 4 is enough if you have 20.000 song library available using online streaming or the +-8 GB of offline streaming.

So I wanted something that is compatible with a lot of devices and has a future in it so i have chosen for a Bluetooth enabled speaker (an extra I wanted was the NFC pairing capability).

About the Speaker (design & connectivity  )

The speaker itself looks neat, decent material is used to produce this speaker the side look is brushed aluminium which gives it a premium touch.

The buttons are well placed on one side of the speaker so its easy to reach them with the frequently used buttons like volume control answering calls on top.

Before you can use the speaker you have to kinda unlock the speaker by moving the lock release slide, this is a great idea because this protects the power button so you don’t accidentally drain the battery and it gives the speaker a slight angle (it won’t play if the slide is closed). However i ask myself if you move this a thousand times and more who steady will it still be then ?

On the back you have the power input ,  audio in  3.5 mm audio for non Bluetooth devices , an Bluetooth standby option, a reset button and a DC out USB port  that gives out 5v and a max of 1.5 A.

Although on my model it didn’t seem to work without the speaker being charged.

A nice feature about this speaker is the led on the down side of the speaker it glows white when no devices are connected and blue when a device is connected.


If you have an NFC capable phone pairing is as simple as opening a door.

Install the easy paring app from Sony Play Store Link and then just tap the speaker and Bluetooth is turned on and paired to the speaker and your music starts playing. One small disadvantage of the NFC tag is that is quite small and you sometimes scan  it wrong which then is followed by android asking you what to do with the NFC tag, so then you just tap it again and it dis/connects.

When using Bluetooth you can easily pair the device by holding the Bluetooth button for a second till the it blinks and then connect using your device.

Sound Quality

With a 2.1 speaker setup built into this device it sounds really good although when seeing a .1  I expected the bass to be a little heavier. The treble is loud and clear and the bass is nice, not too heavy and you can easily make it heavier by placing the speaker near a corner or a wall .

When the speaker is on full volume the speaker still sounds very clear (phone laying next to it using Bluetooth)

The speaker has 3 sound settings (normal , mega bass and mega bass + surround ) when using bass + surround the base tends to distort (at max volume)  sometimes when playing bass intensive music.

How to

Battery Life

When fully charged the Sony site says it gives 8 hours of music and i would say that it is absolutely correct playing at normal and loud volumes I managed to get 8 hours without problems.


At $199 this is a quite expensive Bluetooth speaker but the functionality and the sound definitely makes this a buy.

Design: 8/10

Functionality 9/10

Sound 7/10 (keep in mind I’m giving this rating to a portable device, this is the score is not to be compared with high end stereo towers and other wired audio systems)

Start up your Pc using NFC

One of the reasons i bought a new Android phone was NFC, i think it is has so much possibility’s for simplifying your life or automatizing it(Ex: unlocking a locked door with your smartphone or tapping a remote to show a picture on your  TV .

So what do you need to start the PC using NFC ?
First lets set up our pc to make sure it accepts wake on lan packages

First lets set up our pc to make sure it accepts wake on lan packages

Search for the tab advanced and set the value of the property Wake on Magic Packet to Enabled .

– an NFC equipped phone (in my case a Nexus 4).

– NFC tags  (i used  NTAG203’s)

-WoL Wake On Lan  Play Store

-Tasker  Play Store

-NFC Task Launcher Play Store

for windows 7  go to network center and choose  change adapters settings choose the network adapter that is connected to the network you will use and right click on it and choose properties.


Hit OK till you are back on the network adapter screen.

use command prompt and to check your Mac Address  (start -> run -> type cmd and hit enter) and use the command ipconfig /all

and write down the IP address and the mac address, subnet (we will need it in the android app )

Next download the WoL Wake On Lan app  Play Store

open the app and choose add new

Choose the name you want to use( use a name that’s easy to type because we are going to need it later ) .

Fill in the MAC and IP address and check send as broadcast (in case the ip changes), and finally save the profile.

You can easily test it now by tapping the selected profile when the pc was shutdown  so you are sure you have correctly configured WOL.

Now for configuring the NFC part we will need tasker so grab it from the playstore.

when tasker is opened add create a new task and name it “Wake PC”   add a new action to the task and select plugin and choose the correct PC in wake on lan

now we will have to make sure we allow Tasker to be accessed by other programs  so hit setting and then preferences and allow external access

now install NFC task launcher  and create a new nfc task, hit the plus button and scroll down till you see Tasker check tasker task and hit next  click the magnifiying glass and choose the selected task and hit hit add to task. hit the arrow to the right and then scan the nfc tag to write the profile to it.

And thats it ! now you are able to boot you pc using an nfc tag.