Category Archives: Just for Fun

Bowers & Wilkins announces Zeppelin Mini

‘ve been a big fan for Bowers & Wilkins for years, having outfitted several rooms with their speakers.  I recently discovered they’ve announced a new iPod speaker system, as the baby brother of their award-winning Zeppelin speaker system.  The Zepplin mini seems interesting, as they’ve again lowered the price point to help put B&W quality into the hands of everyday consumers.  The speaker begins shipping October 20th, for $399 and I hope to pick one up shortly thereafter and will be sure to post a review.

Here’s the official B&W announcement – Posted on Monday, 14 September 2009 @ http://blog.bowers-wilkins.com/theinsider/?p=179

Bowers & Wilkins’ iconic Zeppelin redefined what could be expected from an iPod speaker system. Digital music needn’t be harsh, brash, or unpalatable – it can be delivered in glorious high-fidelity. Plus, the device that provided this amazing sound could be a thing of beauty. Two years and an unprecedented collection of glowing reviews and prestigious awards later, Zeppelin is joined by Zeppelin Mini.

Zeppelin Mini attains the same high standards in sound quality and design set by Zeppelin, but in a more compact form. It is reduced in size, not in sound, and has amazing volume levels for such a diminutive package.  It’s ideal for lounges just like its larger sibling, but it can easily be slotted into a bedroom, kitchen, or student digs.

Key differentiating features include an updated docking arm. On the original this innovative solution worked incredibly well, allowing hassle-free mounting of any iPod, and easy access to Apple’s user-friendly interface. These qualities remain, but the addition of USB connectivity allows Zeppelin Mini to bypass the analogue output stage of any iPod, providing access to the very best digital sound an iPod has to offer.

From this beneficial acoustic starting point Bowers & Wilkins’ decades of experience producing the very best speakers for demanding customers such as Abbey Road Studios, and advanced Digital Signal Processing combine to create a sonic experience that belies the compact stature of Zeppelin Mini.

The recent work Bowers & Wilkins has undertaken in the area of DSP-intensive projects such as the in-car system for the new Jaguar XJ have provided knowledge and advances found in Zeppelin Mini, in the same way the legendary NautilusTM informs all Bowers & Wilkins current speakers. For example, a key Bowers & Wilkins technology such as FlowportTM combines with digital advances such as Digital EQ to provide a clean, room filling sound, with base levels that have to be heard to be believed.

But Zeppelin is about more than amazing sound – it has been hailed by many as a design classic – and the iconic design of the original is reflected in the Zeppelin Mini’s subtle curves. Add to this the attention to detail in terms of materials and construction that Bowers & Wilkins is justifiably famous for and it’s a worthy addition to the Zeppelin family.

There are major design advances, too, including an updated version of the docking arm. On Zeppelin Mini it rotates 90 degrees, allowing you even easier access to your music through the Cover Flow menu system. You can also watch videos and enhanced podcasts in this manner.

zeppelin mini office small 150x150 Bowers & Wilkins announces Zeppelin Mini
zeppelin mini small 150x150 Bowers & Wilkins announces Zeppelin Mini

The Zeppelin Mini also adds the ability to stream music direct from your PC or Mac via a dedicated USB socket. This allows you even more flexibility in terms of how you play your music, and any computer system will benefit from the improved sound quality and digital processing that Zeppelin Mini’s advanced Digital Signal Processing and drive unit technology offer. This USB connection also has the advantage of letting you synchronise your iPod or iPhone with your computer.

As Bowers & Wilkins has proved with Zeppelin, constant attention to iPod developments and customer demands through the medium of freely available firmware upgrades allows Zeppelin users to keep pace with new technology. This level of support will again be key to the continued success of Zeppelin Mini.

Zeppelin Mini boasts all the quality of the original Zeppelin, but in a more compact package perfect for smaller spaces.

Four Stages of Twitter Adoption

Twitter can be an invaluable tool for business networking, but most new users don’t get it at first. Learn why in this look at the four stages that the average Twitter user traverses on the path from newbie to devotee. [Originally posted by Jason Hiner here.]


There’s a strange phenomenon that happens almost every time someone joins Twitter. They hate it. At least at first.But many of the people who once hated Twitter — or at least, didn’t quite get it in the beginning — are now many of its most active users and raving fans. So what’s going on here?

There seems to be four natural stages that the average Twitter user goes through from the point of first trying it until the point of fully embracing it and making it a part of daily life. Obviously, not everyone sticks with it and becomes a Twitter devotee, but there’s definitely a growing cadre of people who believe that there’s some magic happening in the Twittosphere

You can find me on Twitter at twitter.com/StevenRobert

Because Twitter can be used as a valuable business tool, it’s worth talking about the four Twitter stages in order to help recognize users in these stages when you’re choosing who to follow and to keep new Twitter users from getting discouraged and missing the opportunities available on Twitter. So here they are:

1. Confusion and indignation

When a person first signs up for Twitter, the first challenge is figuring out who to follow. Twitter now has its “Suggested Users” feature to help people get started. Jason put together a list of technology personalities worth following on Twitter to help new techies when they sign up for Twitter.

However, even when they find some people to follow, new Twitterers usually look at their Twitter stream and start wondering, “Why would I care what my colleagues are eating for lunch?” or “What’s interesting about a software engineer posting that she’s walking her dog?”

That experience usually leads people to shake their heads and not come back to Twitter for a few days, or even weeks or months.

2. The first “Aha!” moment

Eventually, the user comes back periodically to check Twitter out of pure curiosity. During those casual forays, the person often has a first “Aha!” moment, where they find something really interesting or timely on Twitter that wasn’t available from news, RSS feeds, or word of mouth from their friends.

This could be a piece of news that someone reported on Twitter before it actually hit the wires, it could be a rumor about something that a company like Apple is doing, or even something like NFL teams announcing their picks for the draft on Twitter before they even went up to the podium to make the official selection.

3. Remembering to tweet

After the first “Aha” moment, the user typically starts checking Twitter more often, but still tends to post very infrequently. The next stage of Twitter initiation comes when the user reads something useful online or makes a mental observation about something and then thinks, “I should post that Twitter!”

At this point, the user is still relying mostly on the twitter.com homepage to access Twitter but is starting to go there at least a couple times a day to check on the latest buzz, and has typically found a good mix of friends, news feeds, industry celebrities, and thought leaders to follow.

4. Thinking in 140 characters

Once the person becomes a daily Twitter user, it’s over. The person is almost always hooked, and is now on the path to becoming a power user. This is when most (though not all) users switch from using twitter.com to using a desktop Twitter client like Tweetdeck or Seesmic.

Meanwhile, the user also often has a mobile Twitter client like UberTwitter (for BlackBerry) or Tweetie (for iPhone) in order to stay connected to the Twitter stream on the go. Those that don’t have smartphone often use Twitter via SMS text messages. [Personally, I like 1.) Twitterrific or 2.) TwitterFon – both for the iPhone, of course.]

At this point, the person is a Twitter power user who regularly adds new people and brands to follow and also regularly unfollows people who post too many inane messages about their meals or just doesn’t post enough useful stuff.

The power user also tends to regularly think about and look for things to post on Twitter throughout the day, to the point of self-editing thoughts for brevity in order to fit into Twitter’s 140 character limit.

Final word

The beauty of Twitter is in its simplicity of use and the direct connection it provides to people whose activities and opinions you care about.

Apple recently wrote a case study about Twitter because Twitter uses a lot of Apple products. In the article, Apple wrote, “Twitter’s meteoric rise to ubiquity is proof positive that the world, in all its complexity, is eager to embrace simplicity.”

Twitter can be an very useful tool for business and technology professionals. For more articles by Jason, see:

And here are a couple external links worth looking at:

If you use Twitter, which of the four stages are you in?

MiFi Hotspot

Verizon is now the first carrier to launch Novatel’s MiFi personal hotspot gadget, and there’s no subscription required.

Yes, if you want to, you can pay $99.99 for the hotspot and $59.99 a month for 5GB of data. But to me, the killer combination for occasional travelers is $269.99 for the device and $15 for an unlimited use ‘day pass’ – no commitment required. There’s also a 250MB plan for $39.99/month.

The MiFi is a Wi-Fi router with a twist: it’s battery powered and has a cellular modem built in. So just turn it on anywhere Verizon has a signal, and pow, you’re broadcasting Wi-Fi to up to five PCs. The battery lasts for about four hours of use and 40 hours of standby on a charge, according to Verizon Wireless. And the MiFi is pretty tiny: only 3.5″ x 2.3″ x .4″ and 2.05 oz.

All five computers will share one EVDO Rev A connection, so you’ll be splitting about a megabit down and 500 kilobits up between whomever’s on the hotspot. And they’ll all contribute to filling the monthly data quota. But still, this makes getting online with Verizon’s network easier than ever.

 When originally announced last December, Novatel pointed out that the router is actually a tiny Linux PC, capable of running its own software. The router could check e-mail and store messages on a memory card without a PC, in theory. But Verizon’s version looks like it’s just a Wi-Fi router – for now, at least.

The MiFi will go on sale May 17. This post originally appeared on Gearlog.

Social Media BootCamp – Session #3

Joel Comm, author of Twitter Power has been publishing a series of social media sessions, covering facebook, linkedIn, youTube and of course Twitter.  Joel has partnered with industry gurus in each respective segment, including: Mari Smith, Lewis Howes, Perry Belcher and Carrie Wilkerson.

Joel recently published their 3rd session, by Perry Belcher who discusses thePower of Video to drive massive traffic to your website.  You can view the webast here: http://twitterpower.com/social-media-bootcamp-session-three-youtube/ – check it out!

iPhone 3.0 Tethering How To

After recently upgrading my iPhone to OS 3.0 I was interested in evaluating all the new features, esp. A2DP and tethering.  Since my car is in the shop, A2DP is going to have to wait a couple more days which left me some time to tinker with tethering.  

At first impression, os 3.0 is pretty slick, small subtle changes throughout the UI, you can activate spotlight search by swiping your finger right (as opposed to left to see additional applications screens.)  Several applications have been updated making them even more usable, stocks, mail (auto-rotate calendar) and of course, copy/paste.  One thing i did notice, the keyboard didn’t auto-rotate when working with calendar, which I have sync’d to our office exchange server, so it seems not everything got the keyboard auto-rotate update, at least not in the initial beta drop.

On to tethering, since it was not obvious (to me) how to enable and activate tethering, i reverted to the web and quickly discovered the link below which includes full details on how to get it setup!  I’ve included a few pics below to show you how it looks.

http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/03/19/complete-how-to-tethering-an-iphone-with-30-firmware/ – how to activate iPhone 3 tethering, step by step.

Or, you can skip the config file updates and just download this file, ATT_US.ipcc, (assuming your carrier is AT&T ) – then connect your iPhone to iTunes, option-click on the “Check for Updates” button, and select the ATT_US.ipcc file you just downloaded. Next, restart your iPhone.  After reboot, you then should be able pair your iPhone over Bluetooth by going to Settings-General-Network-Internet Tethering on the iPhone, and pair your iPhone with you Mac as you would with a normal Bluetooth device.  Once paired, click your blueTooth icon (on your mac) choose your iphone|Connect to Network – now you can surf the web using your iPhone and 3G!

Windows 7 – initial thoughts.

Well, this past weekend I finally got around to installing windows 7, virtualized of course.  I obtained a copy via vmWare/bit torrent which came nicely packed for use on my macBook Pro/vmWare fusion.  It probably makes sense to quickly describe my machine, I’m running a late 2008 macBook Pro (aluminum body) with the 2.93Ghz proc w/4GB ram, 320GB 7200 RPM hard drive.  I have Windows Vista installed via bootcamp so I can boot into Vista natively for development purposes, mostly visual studio team suite, which works like a dream.

Since I’m not quite ready to use win7 as my primary [windows] OS, I decided to opt for a virtual image to test the waters.  I have seen a number of [microsoft] presentors lately running win 7 as their primary OS’ and early feedback seems positive, but needless to say, I can’t [yet] take that risk.  Inital install was seemless, as the vmWare image was nicely packed and easy to mount.  I initially wanted to run the image from my western digital 500GB mybook studio (w/fire 800) however, I have the drive formatted with fat32 so I can utilize it from both the osX and Vista partitions, but that’s a whole other story.  Instead, I dropped the image on the mac partition and off it went.

First observation was, “wow” it boot in a fraction of the time my vista install does so I was off to a good start.  One thing to keep in mind is, if you’re using vmWare fusion, be sure to increase the default settings, in my case i granted win7 access to both cpu’s and 2gb of memory.  A few quick performance tests (nothing harsh) indicated prety good performance, noticely better than when i run Vista through vmWare (via Boot Camp partition) – but Vista still beats it when running natively, obviously.

With only 2gb of ram (ha, i said only) the OS easily worked through standard ‘administrative tasks’ outlook/visio, expression2, and sql 2008.  MS clearly spent time optimizing the ‘percieved’ performance of screen transitions and file transfers.  The system if very fluid and i barely noticed i was working within a virtual instance!

To continue with my “beta” box, is started to load up browsers; firefox 3.0.7/chrome & safari 4 – in which i began to experience issues.  Firefox and chrome seemed to work without flaw, (ie 8 is also quite nice) but safari 4 crashed it three times, the os would just lock up and forced me to restart via vmWare.  A little dissapointing, as I was looking forward to checking out the new safari drop.

Essentially, win 7 is pretty sharp.  I’ll leave all the ‘new features’ to the analysts, as there are a few noteworthy new things.  To me, it is all about UX (user experience) – even though I’m not a vista-hater, hell I’ve been running it for months before RTM, i’ve learned to work around most of the [minor] issues, once upgrading to beefy hardware of course.  I do expect however, win7 to win over a wider audience, as it appears Microsoft listened to feedback from users, speeding up common tasks and removing alot of the pain points – sure they “reverse-engineered” some features, but overall it has been a surprising usable beta, which i expect will be a much anticiapted upgrade.

To me, you know microsoft is doing something right when you begin to hear Mac folks begin to describe the idea of checking out the new OS, seems win7 has a respectable ‘buzz’ on the street!  In any event, i’ve enjoyed my initial time with it and am going to try to incorporate it into my daily life to see how it holds up under some additional stress.  If you haven’t had the chance to check it out, i’d strongly encourage you to take a look.  Whether you’re interested in running a beta as a virtual machine (parells, vmWare, virtualPC, hyperV, etc.) – i suspect you’ll be impressed – again, assuming you’re running it on a healthy machine.  If beta’s aren’t your thing, i’d suggest you take some time to read up on the improvements coming down the pipe and jump at the opportunity to get a copy of it in your labs, once it ships.  I understand it’s going to have about the same footprint as a vista box, so it probably won’t be a great upgrade from aging XP machines, but if you’re still running alot of XP boxes, it’s probably time to upgrade your hardware anyway – heck, Dell is practively giving away machines.  btw – we also just picked up a new studio XPS (from dell) with the new i7 quad-core processor – that thing screems!  Be sure to go with 64bit, and buy as much memory as you can afford.

Netflix continues to push the envelope..

Netflix, in tight competition with BlockBuster, Apple TV and even Amazon – continues to push the boundaries with video on demand. Last year, Roku announced a device which enables you to stream Netflix video directly to your tv, all you need is a $8.99/mo. netFlix account, the Roku device ($99) and a broadband internet connection. Also last year, LG and Samsung began offering blue ray players with BD Live which uses the internet to extend your movie viewing experience through downloaded content; in addition to, you guessed it – streaming NetFlix!

The Samsung BD-2500, and LG BD300 offer bundled blue ray + netflix capability in one device. As if that wasn’t enough, Netflix has also partnered with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 to watch (stream) Netflix movies directly to your game console. pretty cool, huh? Most recently, LG has announced Netflix streaming directly to a new line of HDTVs.

And, not to be out done, Mac/linux (and Apple TV, kinda) get Boxee! Boxee (from their website) gives you a true entertainment experience to enjoy your movies, TV shows, music and photos, as well as streaming content from websites like Hulu, Netflix, CBS, Comedy Central, Last.fm, and flickr.

So, what’s next? My guess is competitive pressure. Apple and Amazon seem the best positioned, but BlockBuster hasn’t rolled over yet, so I’m guessing somebody somewhere at BlockBuster is willing to buy their way into the video streaming game, if they can’t roll their own!? Apple TV has yet to hit critical mass, and with Jobs on medical leave, it’s anybody’s guess. Amazon, in my opinion is probably the biggest wild card, they’ve also begun offering their video services within settop devices and has the technical staff and financial capital to compete with the best of them. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out, my guess is we’ll see video-on-demand take a huge step forward in 2009, for us early-adopters, with mainstream audiences benefiting in 2010.

If this is all new to you, dont’ feel bad you’re not alone, however no video-on-demand conversation would be complete without considering today’s options, which include: Comcast On Demand, AT&T Uverse, Verizon’s Fios and heck, just for fun slingBox, which is not technically a video “provider” but they sure make watching video alot more fun!

*Update* Today I saw a demo of a blockbuster Mesh/silverlight (Microsoft) application, which actually looked pretty cool. So, blockbuster isn’t rolling over and playing dead after all! It seems MS and Blockbuster announced a deal in December to collaborate in the great “video war” with netflix. While this is pretty cool, from what I’ve seen it’s only supported on a computer (web) with mobile most likely coming soon. Cool, yes for techies, still a ways from mainstream appeal such as netflix set-top boxes.