Using the Apple Digital AV Adapter for HDMI in a 2018 Honda Odyssey

We’ve owned a 2018 Honda Odyssey that includes the Rear Entertainment System (RES) for awhile now, but have only used it a handful of times because the built-in functionality is pretty much garbage. Starting a Blu-Ray requires craning your neck from the front seat to see the disc menu while trying to navigate the awful remote or front touchscreen by feel, and even worse — the discs don’t retain their playback position when you turn the car off, so you have to do this impossible exercise every single time you get in the car (“Hey kids, no bathrooms breaks today!”) There are also a few built-in streaming apps you can try, but they’re probably not worth using unless you add the car as a mobile device to your wireless plan because getting the car to tether over Bluetooth or as a wireless hotspot guest always takes an extra couple minutes.

In search of a better way I started to investigate using an Apple Digital AV adapter connected to an old iPad mini that we’ve already repurposed for kid use at home. I found a lot of conflicting information out there about HDCP and offline playback issues that almost made me reconsider purchasing the adapter (Apple criminally charges $49 for it), but the connection has worked flawlessly for us so far. The RES screen resolution is limited to 720p, but it scales down and displays any content encoded at a higher resolution without issue.

I tested Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and iTunes movies both in online and offline playback modes with no issues, so the kids were able to queue up a bunch of movies and shows while still at home and then watch them on the road without any Internet connection. I ran each case with iOS 11.4.1 on both an iPad Mini 4 and iPhone 8 to see if the device hardware age had any effect on the adapter results, but the two devices behaved identically. Unsurprisingly, all the discs we’ve converted to MP4 via Handbrake and stored on the devices also worked just fine.

While this approach works really well once you’re on the go, there are three downsides (four if you count Apple’s price gouging for the adapter):

  1. Cable management is frustrating. The HDMI port for the RES sits behind the center console and since there is no rear-opening to the console interior, your HDMI and Lightning cables are very visible and prone to being kicked by kids. We stuffed the iPad + adapter in the back pocket of the passenger seat, but it’s ugly.
  2. CarPlay and device mirroring are mutually exclusive. If you’re using the adapter to show content on the RES, you can’t use the same iOS device with CarPlay. This wasn’t a big deal for us since we had the extra iPad, but be careful if you’re thinking that you can simultaneously use your phone for CarPlay navigation or audio for the front seat.
  3. You have to carry an extra device around. I suppose you could leave an old iPad or iPhone in the car for this functionality, but it’s probably not a great idea if you live in a climate that gets hot or cold.

Hope this helps some other poor souls who have begrudgingly ventured into the magical land of owning a minivan. 

Lync Mobile Clients and TMG Server Farms

Quick update here for those of you publishing Lync web services with TMG and having trouble with mobile clients:

If you're following the Mobility load balancing requirements you'll find that cookie-based persistence is recommended in order to ensure the clients are always directed to the same Front-End server and session. This isn't an issue for a single FE, but once you start publishing a farm of FEs within TMG you'll notice the Lync mobile clients can't sign in. Android clients can for some reason, but WP7 and iPhone cannot.

The issue you'll face is that while TMG offers you cookie persistence when publishing a web farm, it really only works when the web listener is enabled for forms-based authentication. Since the Lync Web Services cannot be published via FBA the cookie never gets inserted. The end result is that TMG will now round-robin requests between the published farm members and the mobile clients will never sign in due to a ping-pong behavior. You can verify this behavior by draining all Front-End servers from the farm except for one and you'll see the clients can now sign in.

For a small deployment where a single FE can handle your entire user load I recommend switching your TMG persistence to source IP. All requests will hit a single FE, but the mobile clients can now maintain their session. And if an FE fails TMG will then fail over to the next server in the farm automatically. For the folks where multiple FEs are used more for capacity reasons you'll need to use something other than TMG for publishing Lync going forward.

Here's to Captain Obvious

Craig Moffet on AT&T's negative press concerning the lack of MMS and tethering feature support so far:

Apple has radically tilted the strategic playing field away from the network operator in favor of the device manufacturer. Remarkably, Apple has so thoroughly stolen the customer relationship - who would argue that Apple iPhone customers’ first affinity is to the device rather than to the network - that the network is not only irrelevant, it is rather a source of derision.

I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who actually switched to AT&T because their service or rate plans were actually a draw from another carrier. You expect the service to be about the same across any carrier and you make your choice based on either a rate plan or a device you want. I'm one of the people who switched to AT&T solely for the iPhone when the 3G came out. There was never anything about AT&T that made me want to use them and I was perfectly content using an unlocked device on T-Mobile until there was actually a limitation on speed because of my carrier.

Kudos to Apple to actually pushing out a phone that tries to make AT&T improve their network and feature set on a reasonable schedule. As it is, we're still well behind the rest of the world.

Via Tech Trader Daily.