Audio Audio Server Mark Music Technology

Sonos, one year in… post one of two

I suppose this starts with the scale of system you want.  Sonos, as a kit, can allow you to hide all the amps, the wires, while even your speakers can become invisible; see the Amina branded by Triad “DesignerSeries” in walls (as hidden by plaster skim coat).  The trade off, like many things, is flexibility of the system and certainly its future upgradability.  The strength of the Sonos, as most people will tell you, is the software controller. It is available for nearly every platform, mobile and desktop.  The Sonos units tap into to countless internet streaming music services as well as your locally (or cloud) stored music library.  The controller app is built for humans and allows seamless multi-room/multi-zone control.

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I received a Sonos Play:3 kit with wired to wireless Sonos Bridge for work rendered last year and also got a used Sonos ZonePlayer 80.  My tower speakers in the living room are old Advent Heritages.  I bought a used pair of 100 watt AudioSource monoblocks at some point on eBay  (replacing the 1979 Denon PMA 850 that finally stopped working).  In my office I ended up with a pair of Pioneer SP-BS41-LR’s that a friend didn’t want and an Emotiva mini-X a-100 50 Watt ‘Stereo Flex Amp’.  I took the spare RCA output of the external DAC that lives next to the ZP80 in the livingroom and sent it to the Emotiva in the office.  The Play:3 lives in the upstairs bedroom.

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I’ll start this by saying, for most people looking for kitchen or small room audio, the Play:3 and the newer and more compact Play:1 represent exceptional value.  This is of course not “architectural audio” with invisible plastered speakers, or even in-wall (grilled) speakers; rather the Play:1 and Play:3 are small powered speakers that sit on a shelf or desktop, sound good and happen to look nice as a bonus.  The price points of the Play:1 & 3 represent the “blue ocean”; people simply want to listen to their music collections or to Pandora, TuneIn Radio & Spotify (and literally dozens of other streaming services) – but control it easily from an application on their phone or tablet.  There will be those who argue the $200-300 is a lot to pay for a small powered speaker, but there is nothing else out there that does it quite as easily and elegantly as Sonos.

For bigger rooms that don’t have a television or projector the Play:3′s can be setup in software as a “stereo pair” giving an even larger sound stage.   Granted for most kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms a pair of powered speakers may be overkill (and/or examples of where you’d rather not see the speakers).  For users with existing audio setups the ZonePlayer 80 (now called Sonos Connect) has two digital audio outs (SPDIF Coax & Toslink) and a pair of RCA stereo outputs and inputs.  If you already own speakers you want to power, the Sonos Connect:Amp adds in a high-efficiency Tripath  (Class T/D) 55-watts per channel amplifier to the Connect (taking away the RCA stereo output jacks but adding a single RCA mono-subwoofer LFE output).

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In the next post of this series I’ll go into why using the Sonos system is a pleasure and what I’ve done to get the most out of it (including the local  Mac Mini audio server) and my thoughts after a year of usage.

Pennsylvania

wiss

G & I had  a good snowy, slippery run in the Wiss.  Less mud, more snow than expected.  It took longer, as we didn’t have spikes / screw shoes.  Which would’ve been nice.  A good 20.5km loop nonetheless.

New Balance appears to be discontinuing the MT1210 Leadville series, but it’s unclear.  Perhaps they are simply delayed in shipping; I presume they usually have “spring shoes” in stock by the end of March at the latest.  But they also haven’t updated them on the official NB page, which is a bad sign.

I figure I’ll try some of the Altras and see if they fit my wide foot better (or at all).  Certainly the toe box will be wider, mid-foot probably not so much.  I did buy two pairs of the Saucony Kinvara 3 in wide, so there’s that, and they don’t seem to be discontinuing that model any time soon.   Ideally I’d love to see something like the Kinvara 3 with thicker forefoot cushioning and sticky rubber trail lugs.  That would be swell.

Also, a hilarious bulldog at the dog run when George was getting more exercise because the winter has taken its toll and made him a fat Kenyan hunting dog  (G took the photo):

Hilarious dog at the dog run

 

Computer Linux Technology

Increase an NTFS partition while decreasing & moving EXT4

About one year ago I installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on a friend’s machine that came with Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit pre-loaded.  It is a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad T430s to be precise.  I decreased the NTFS partition to about 40GB and gave the rest of the 500GB drive to  dual boot Ubuntu (leaving the Lenovo Recovery and Win7 recovery partitions intact).  Long story short (and no fault of 12.04 LTS which has been running very well) the friend and spouse needed more space on the NTFS Windows 7 partition (because everyone loves a bloated Win7 install).

Here are some steps to make this work.  The best piece of advice I found was this, “Use Linux tools to resize Linux partitions and Windows’ tools to resize Windows’ partitions” (gparted’s support for NTFS resizing is/was deemed experimental which is why I decided to use PWHE 8.11) and of course it goes without saying but I’ll say it, “backup your $***”:

  1. backup the EXT4 ‘home’ folder of the Ubuntu user.
  2. boot gparted live to backup/copy the 3 NTFS partitions (MS recovery / Win7 “C:” / Lenovo recovery) onto an external drive.
  3. gparted resize and move EXT4 partition to give an equal split for NTFS and EXT4.
  4. Unallocated space must now be “to the right” of the nearly full NTFS partition.
  5. Burn Partition Wizard Home Edition (8.11) via Ubuntu & Unetbootin to a USB key.
  6. Boot into PWHE 8.11 and “extend” the NTFS partition to reclaim about 100GB for Win 7.
  7. Test both OSes. It is now an even split between NTFS & EXT4 ~230GB each.

Godspeed.

Travel

Boom

Boom

Apple Beer Computer Leopard Linux Mac Mark OS X Technology

MacBook 5,1 upgrading to Mavericks and some notes…

A buddy of mine was upgrading an older MacBook (Unibody Aluminum, Late 2008, Model ID 5,1) from 10.6.8. In theory, you press the “upgrade to 10.9″ button from the App Store and everything goes swimmingly. In his case it resulted in a serious disk error and wouldn’t boot into recovery mode; it would only boot the initial OS install utility screen and then fail to install the OS. Repeatedly. A recovery partition had not been created as the machine was running 10.6.8 and he also did not have the original 10.5 DVD that came with the Mac nor access to another Mac to create USB sticks from.  So there’s the rub.

He had  10.6 Time Machine backups, of course, so this wasn’t a catastrophic issue but the quandary here was that he couldn’t initiate the Time Machine recovery without the the original 10.5 DVD or from the new 10.9 installer. And the old hard drive still had errors.

Here’s a list of a few things we tried until it finally sorted itself it:

1) Create boot USB sticks of 10.8 from Ubuntu – (no go, same problem as 10.9)
2) “Restore From Backup” option on 10.9 Installer did nothing
3) Put in a new 320GB Western Digital Scorpio Black and 8GB of fresh RAM
4) 10.6.2 retail iMac install DVD – (loaded Time Machine Recovery but would not install 10.6)
5) Confirmed “secret EFI firmware” version of the MacBook 5,1 can use 8GB ram, 64bit mode

So at this point the machine is back online. He has recovered 10.6.8 from the Time Machine backups onto a new 320GB drive. He confirms that the EFI firmware has been updated to the latest version and the RAM gets upgraded to 8GB. He’s back running 10.6.8 at least.

The question then is if he hits “Install Mavericks” from the App Store will the machine kill itself again? He has the backup so he rolls the dice and it works, the machine updates successfully from 10.6.8 to 10.9.

From here it is rote. Make a fresh backup of functioning 10.9 (don’t delete your 10.6.8 backup just yet!). Do a fresh install from a working USB stick of 10.9. Migrate the crap from the old installation.

That’s it. Not more than 20-30 hours of your life. But hey, the late 2008 Unibody MacBook is now running the latest and greatest.

12.04 LTS for everyone.

Travel

Full diff.

Full diff.

Travel

May everyone braze a bicycle in 2014. Thanks @paul_carson.

May everyone braze a bicycle in 2014. Thanks @paul_carson.

Travel

Process is not dead.

Process is not dead.

Travel

Jake. #Prisoners

Jake. #Prisoners

Travel

Big Bottom's La Marzocco

Big Bottom's La Marzocco

Travel

Russian River into the Pacific near Jenner.

Russian River into the Pacific near Jenner.

Travel

Orin Swift. St. Helena.

Orin Swift. St. Helena.

Travel

Un verre de vin rouge. Sonoma.

Un verre de vin rouge. Sonoma.

Travel

Wildcat Canyon Rd. Sunset. Yesterday. #latergram

Wildcat Canyon Rd. Sunset. Yesterday. #latergram

Travel

Tilden.

Tilden.

Travel

Mossy creeper.

Mossy creeper.

Travel

Tether

You are not here

We are not here

Backups Technology

These things fail.

Drives. Negatives. All of it. It expires. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to implement simpler, more efficient means to organize and backup important items. Everyone wants a houseboy. They should be exceptionally talented in the mysteries of the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500, rapidly converting their heretofore analog paper trail into an endless cloud sync’d searchable PDF. Amazon Glacial. Google+ and Picasa auto photo backup. Flickr uploader does not work well. It is slow and tedious. There is this feeling of a freight train rolling in the darkness, never stopping. Go. Get outside. Run. Try to outrun it.

Music

“When I listened to these old tapes…”

http://thewire.co.uk/in-writing/interviews/burial_unedited-transcript

“When I listened to these old tapes, I took what these jungle MCs were telling me seriously. Rolling a tune out, I took it as a commandment about how to make a tune: roll it out, do it fast. I was into old hardcore, darkside, trying to do a properly dark record. Not this new, pumped up tech sound. I liked the old tunes, properly darkside like finding a body in a lift shaft: dank moody tunes, suburban tunes. I want to go back to that hardcore era of darkside someday, which would be rugged, film samples just pitched up and down with strings. It wasn’t just that pure monochrome thing, it was something else, it sounded like tearing through an empty building…”

http://pitchfork.com/news/53347-burial-shares-message-about-rival-dealer-ep/

“I put my heart into the new EP, I hope someone likes it. I wanted the tunes to be anti-bullying tunes that could maybe help someone to believe in themselves, to not be afraid, and to not give up, and to know that someone out there cares and is looking out for them. So it’s like an angel’s spell to protect them against the unkind people, the dark times, and the self-doubts.”

Bikes Pennsylvania

26 klicks

26km's at Belmont Plateau

*note: this track is somehow missing one section on Open Cycling Maps called “The Cul-de-sac” to the northwest of the house, after the recycling center and tunnel.  So go for it.