Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Product Notification: Skype for Asterisk - end of sale - July 26, 2011

Doctors and dentists tell patients, "all your review are belong to us"


I guess this was bound to happen...

Posted via email from ninjahippie's (pre) posterous

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

BMW left turn assistant uses lasers to help you avoid running people over -- Engadget

Monday, May 09, 2011

Squeezebox Review

As promised - my Logitech Squeezebox review:

My annual tax return present to myself this year turned out to be a wireless digital music system.  I've been longing for the ease of flipping a switch and playing music for some time.  Like most geeks my music has moved over the last few years to be a combination of ripped CDs / downloads (mostly Amazon MP3 in my case) and online services like Pandora, Slacker and LastFM and a few streaming stations - like my local public radio station.

If I'm not at a running computer or connected to my Droid this is a hassle.  When I'm home I just want to flop down with a rusty nail and good book in my favorite chair an not fiddle with a pc (or even be in the same room with one).

I looked at both the Squeezebox and the Sonos. I had several basic requirements.  First I tend to listen to Slacker the most so any system would need to support that.  Second my collection of music lives on my Netgear ReadyNAS.  Third but less important - Android support.

Well - the Squeezebox is 3 for 3.  Sonos does not support Slacker (at this time).  Logitech actually has specific server software for the ReadyNAS as well as Mac, PC and generic Linux.  Sonos would be able to get to my music via SMB shares but that's not nearly as efficient.  

I also did not like that Sonos requires you to purchase both the "Zone Player" and a proprietary router.  Both offer the ability to play different music on each player or sync them to have the whole house experience.

I purchased the Squeezebox Boom model.  Yes it's been discontinued but I liked the idea of being able to plunk it on the kitchen counter or in the garage (Get one soon if you can).

The system came in beautiful "apple-esque" packaging, including a really cool cloth bag.  Setup took just a few minutes.  I plugged the Boom in and turned it on.  It found my wireless net and prompted me for my WPA key.  This was actually fairly easy to enter on the boom with it's large jog dial.  Not sure what it's like on the other players.  After that I immediately connected to and had music playing about 5 min after opening the box.  I then visited the website directly and did some customization.  After that I was listening to MY Slacker and Pandora stations.

I then attempted to connect to my Squeezeserver running on my ReadyNAS.  The Boom reported that it was "updating firmware" and then was totally useless.  I went back to and continued to listen whilst I scratched my head. 

After a fashion I logged into my ReadyNAS and selected the squeezeserver.  I immediately "facepalmed" when I realized the problem was that I had not configured the server software.  You need to do a couple of little things like tell it where your music is stored.  Once that is done you allow it some time to scan your collection. 

The next day I again pointed the boom at my server and voila!  All of my music plus Slacker, Pandora and anything else my heart desired.  I even did a quick search for my local NPR station.  About 2 seconds later it's a preset assigned to a button on the front panel of the boom.

Next I installed the Logitech Android software and found I could control pretty much everything from my phone.  The day after that I installed "Squeeze Commander" from the Android market and was even more amazed.  Can't recommend this app enough!

I was a little irritated at first that I was limited to the speakers in the Boom.  Until I looked at the settings available in the android app and discovered that you can configure the "subwoofer" jack.  It defaults to sub output but can be configured for headphones or "line out" as well.  The boom is now connected to a nice set of Logitech speakers and sounds terrific.  

The Squeezebox has exceeded all expectations for me.  It's beautiful, simple, powerful and sounds awesome!  I will be purchasing at least another Touch model and probably a Radio or two in the near future.

The Squeezebox gets my highest recommendation.   I LOVE this thing!


Ubuntu 11.04. 

There are enough full reviews out there.  This is an opinion piece.  Short. Not so sweet.

Overview: Being an unabashed Ubuntu fanboy I've been getting asked about my opinion of 11.04.  In short 11.04 is a decent release. 

The Unity UI?  Well, it's been stated that it's a version 1.0 product.  In my experience it's more of an early beta or even alpha product.  I cannot use it as a daily environment.  Doing so would be a giant step backward and would result in a big loss of productivity for me personally.  Besides the bugs it just lacks features or they are badly implemented.

A great example is the workspace switcher.  Super+E no longer works. I cannot put a switcher on the top menu (at least I can't find a way), and the one on the Unity panel requires 3 clicks and time for both a screen render and for my brain to take in a full screen.  Currently (in Gnome2) I just (single) click the workspace I want on the top menu.

 With that said - I think that Unity will be a great thing in the future however and I applaud Canonical for doing this. 

My recommendation: Unless you live to be on the cutting edge - skip the 11.04 and (most likely) 11.10 releases as a daily trusted environment.  Wait for the the next LTS release.  Unity should be amazing by then.  If you want to quickly get the latest releases of all things Ubuntu but skip Unity then download Pinguy

Opinion:  Canonical is doing great and ballsy things here.  However I wish that they would "fork" the releases while they do this.  Maintain the Ubuntu "it just works" reputation with a mainstream release and offer Unity as an add on to the base whilst they work out the issues.  I know, they kind of did this by allowing you to select "Ubuntu Classic" at login but that throws you into Gnome 3.  Also not really up to the task for those of us that want the "just works" desktop.  Canonical, you have forced us to choose between two un-productive roads.

The inevitable comparisons with Apple will come.  Most drawing to the 1.0 release of OS X. I don't agree.  Apple would never have released a beta quality product as a full release.  Nuff said.  For now I'm sticking with 10.10 and my beautiful Gnome 2 / Docky desktop.