OK, this may open a can of worms, as writing about speakers is akin to saying what the “best” programming language is, so I’d better be precise about what I’m writing about – it won’t be about:
- The “best value” “cheap crap” speaker you can get for your Mac or PC
- Nor will it be about anything resembling “home stereo speakers” (although you can use some of them)
- And it certainly won’t be about “audiophile speakers” as they’re generally overpriced pretentious crap
What this post is about is a set of “Studio Monitors” which I bought for use with my various synthesisers and then discovered of course that they were also about what I was using with my Mac (or PC if you’re less fortunate ;)
If you read my post on Headphones, one if the key points I made was that selecting any “sonic translation device” depends on your hearing (unless you want to be able to impress a bunch of kids ;). You should buy something for the people who listen, so if that’s you, and your partner, and your kids – then they are the only people who’s opinion matters… Snooty guests who may come over for dinner don’t count (unless you’re amazingly shallow).
Right! Having got all the qualification out of the way, I’ve managed to stumble my way in to what are probably the best value Monitor Speakers for <$500 (AU). How can I say that? It all starts with a guy called Keith R Klawitter who founded http://www.krksys.com/ that have made some amazing studio speakers and headphones (which are the ones I eventually chose in that previous post) but unfortunately (for KRK), Keith left them and became independent (and also happens to own all the patents on the speaker technology he developed). One of the things Keith did was a collaboration with Behringer to develop the NEKKST range of which my choice, the K8’s are part of it, having the following qualities:
- Ultra-linear 150-Watt reference-class studio monitor
- Designed by renowned acoustic icon Keith Klawitter, founder of KRK
- Advanced Waveguide technology creates ultimate acoustic dispersion and extremely large “sweet zone”
- True bi-amping mode with 2 separate amplifiers for ultimate sound reproduction
- Ultra-high resolution, 1″ silk dome tweeter for ultimate sound reproduction
The astute will notice the 150 Watts which would probably deafen you if you turned them up full blast at a few feet from you (which they would be), but the whole point of this is that they’re “over spec’d” and that what I’m after is quality and one of the ways to get that is a top spec’d product which is being under utilised. This is certainly proven as the speakers are way better than my KRK headphones which are amazing!
But that’s not really the point for this post. The point is to choose a pair of speakers which are Rolls-Royce in quality for your Mac or PC on a comparatively “beer budget” and if that’s what you’re after, the K8’s are probably what you’re after. Furthermore, if you want some really good Bass response, then you can always get a NEKKST K10, which although I’ve never heard them, I’m sure would vibrate your SOCKS OFF!
Having been in to electronics and audio since I was about 14, there’s a lot more I can write on this, and probably will, but to give you a hint – here’s a few things to consider:
- The K8’s and a K10 could form an AWESOME budget stereo which would be beyond what most people have
- If you’re connecting digital sources, then you have to have good Digital-To-Analogue converters (going beyond just connecting them into the 3.5″ jack on your Mac or PC) to get the best
So stay tuned, as I will write about both of these topics some time. Meanwhile, listen easily, with precision and power :)
WOW! I just realised that it’s been a year since I did a blog post. I knew it had been a while, but I figured around 6 months max… Well, I suppose I needed it, and the good news is that I’M BACK!
I’m not going to go in to what has transpired over the past year since an agile adoption, as it’s quite involved and will come out in some successive posts, but will focus on where I am now and what my Posting Plans are.
Near the end of last year we started planning a return to Australia after almost a decade in the UK – what a BLAST! So many lovely experiences, people, places and new friends :-) Eventually though, it was time to return to Australia as it really is my home and although I may have a few gripes about it, Australia really is an amazing place and as the old cliche goes: I now really appreciate how lucky I am to live in this country after being away so long. That shot above is from my local beach which is 3 mins drive, and I can get in to the city (in the distance) in around 1/2h with a walk and public transport – that’s a pretty good lifestyle.
So what’s in the pipe? A much more varied mix than when I started out doing just “software stuff”:
- Reflections on life in the UK and Europe
- Observations on life in Australia now I’m back
- Reviews of gadgets
- Travelogues as I explore my own country – now I’ve probably seen more of Europe than I have of Australia, so it’s time to correct that
- Process – yes, I’m still on the agile path
- Architecture – looks like that will be my primary area of work still
- Software – which I’m gradually getting back in to, with the current focus being Clojure
- Probably the odd bit of music or photography to round things out
- Anything else anyone would like me to write about…
Note: If you think I’m some kind of “Apple Hater”, read My History with Apple at the bottom
Apple seems to be suffering an all-round lack of quality in their software and some would say hardware – what to do? Before we get in to this, let me tell you my tale of woe…
This post has been 6 months or more in the making, but has culminated with the problems I’ve been having with my iPad Air 2 over the past months. It all started so innocently – I was happily using iOS 7 and I’d installed a new App which said “In order to use this, you must use iOS8”. Fine, I thought – it’s been out for a while and there have been a few incremental updates (something like 8.0.3) so I upgraded. From memory, this one was OK, so when 8.1.2 or 3 came out I didn’t really think much and just upgraded, and that’s when my problems started.
It was a bit like a horror movie – you know, everything is fine, the sun is shining – living the good life (on iOS 8.0.3 :). Then, one day (some time in 8.1), something a bit out of place happened – I was finding it hard to close browser tabs – didn’t really think much of it. Unfortunately over the next few days, things got worse! Typing started either not getting the characters or doing multiple characters and it just got worse and Worse and WORSE! Basically, my iPad was bricked. “Luckily”, 8.2.2 had been out for a while so I upgraded, after checking the forums as some people reported it solving the problem.
Then, like a groundhog day, all started coming back with the same pathology – first, an error here or there and after a few days – bricked again. 8.2.3 came out so I went to this – same thing – worked for a while, then bricked. I was at the end of my tether and was at the stage of buying a cheap Android tablet to use at work until Apple fixed things on the iPad. Again, as luck would have it, 8.3 is out and I’ve just upgraded today. I’m not holding my breath though as I know that this bug can surface after days or weeks…
What’s the Problem?
My experience is not unique. In fact, I’m one of the “Lucky Ones” who didn’t have problems with iOS 7. Just Google “iOS problem” and you’ll find there are 194M pages!!! I know there are even more hits for Android (564M) and Windows Mobile problems (264M), but is that really something to compare to? Especially when both those platforms are on a wide range of uncontrolled hardware, whereas Apple is a “closed ecosystem” where they’ve designed every Apple Phone ever made. As a long-time (over 30 years – I started with an Apple II) Apple user I’ve seen an increase in the quality of their software, until the last few years. A bit like my touch problem, they surfaced occasionally, but were not of significance, but now we’re talking about many, releases with the same or worse problems – where will it end? Don’t think iOS 9 will necessarily fix everything as as iOS 8 was supposed to fix the problems of iOS 7!
What’s even worse, the “Crappy Quality Virus” seems to of infected the Mighty OS X. Touch wood and 3 Hail Mary’s I’m actually OK – running Yosemite 10.10.3 and no problems. Again, Googling “OS X problem” gives 264M hits – more than iOS! For both OS’s, there’s now a huge industry around documenting and fixing the various problems – all on platforms that Apple has total control over – THERE IS NO EXCUSE!
What’s the Solution?
As I mentioned at the beginning, I’m not an Apple Hater. In fact, I’m an Apple Lover – I used to have the attitude of buying Apple for anything personal. Unfortunately, I’m now in the situation where if this doesn’t improve I’ll be replacing my iMac with one of the many all-in-one PC’s, and my Tablet with an Android or Windows one. I already have an Android phone as I was about to get a 5, but the company I was working for got pre-release devices and they kept (physically) breaking.
To the solution: I believe this malaise set in with the passing of Steve Jobs. For all his faults, the amazing thing about Jobs was that he got understood the Business, Design, Hardware and Software of making “Insanely Great Products”.
What have we now? We have Tim Cook who’s background is in Sales and Manufacturing and Jony Ive, the reclusive yet internally influential and widely acknowledged design genius (although I do question the “new blue folders” on Yosemite and the Apple Watch). What’s missing?
Hardware & Software
Name the people associated with those… There’s a hardware guy who we see in their videos, but I can’t find him on Google. For software, there’s Craig Federighi and I must admit I thought Phil Schiller was until I looked up Google and found he’s VP of Marketing! Therein lies the problem – there’s no outstanding person across Hardware and Software. Although the ideal would of been to find another Jobs to replace them all, I don’t think that would ever happen. What is needed is someone responsible for “Integrated Design” who can work with Ive, ensure the highest standard of hardware and software is produced to go in to the Objects of Desire that Apple makes and has the same visibility as Cook and Ive.
Why did I write this?
Probably mostly to get all this off my chest and also as a warning of what may happen to Apple if they don’t get back on track. We’ve seen so many companies like IBM and Microsoft fall so far when they lost their way, it would be a pity to see the same happen with Apple…
Finally, I have the tiny hope that someone at Apple sees and relates to it – I’d love to continue the conversation…
As mentioned at the beginning, before anyone thinks of criticising this piece (which you’re free to do after you’ve read this :) here’s a brief history of my (hopefully ongoing) time with Apple products:
- Started with an Apple II
- Used a Lisa – a rich friend had one when I was in my senior school years
- Got caught up in the “PC Revolution”
- Shipped some of the early NeXTs* to Australia, did the Australian product launch, taught NeXT programming, created software for NeXT, attended most NeXTworlds and met Steve Jobs
- Got caught up in the “Java Revolution”
- Employed by a company in the 90’s who used Apple gear, got my own and went to a few WWDCs (before they were hip)
- Have continuously bought Apple products again since the 90’s
- Currently have an iMac, Mac Mini, iPad 2, iPad Air, two Apple iPods and an Apple TV
* For you young’ns, NeXT was what Jobs created after Apple fired him and NeXTstep was the operating system which became Cocoa – all those NS prefixed classes stand for NextStep
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m an Amateur (cheap ;) Horologist. At the moment, Baselworld, which is one of the most exclusive watch events in the world, is on. There are many resources out there (which I’ll include in another post) but a key one which I’ll be using is the “100 Brands at Baselworld” by watchpro.com. Although it’s a great watch site, technically it’s not a great site as the search is broken and it’s clear the pages were manually made rather than generated from a database. As a result of this, there’s no index for the 100 Brands! :-(
With a bit of “site: Googling” I’ve captured all this in to a spreadsheet which I then sorted and tidied. Below is an index for the 93 Brands at Baselworld – I don’t know why, but there are a few missing. Enjoy :-)
Note: Some links just go to pictures and others to a short article
What’s your favourite, most intersting etc..? Please post in comments below…
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted much, mainly due to a contract which requires me to drive on the M20 and M25 (aka “the carpark” for those outside the UK) and as a result, I just don’t seem to of had the time and energy…
I look forward to getting on something where someone else is doing the driving so I can use my time effectively
Amazingly, it seems like only 7% (4.5 Million) people in the UK use public transport. Given that nearly 1/3 (22 Million) live in the South-East, where transport is generally pretty good, that seems pretty low. No surprise given the number of people on the motorways – I’ll be happy to take one more off them next contract.
So what’s up for 2015 for me and this blog?
For one, I plan to start getting back in to a bit more of a rhythm, both with my posts and the associated (play) work (generally outside “real work”), and I will continue to post based on my experiences – recent and past…
- Lifestyle & Reviews
- Process & People & ScramJet
- Architecture, including Enterprise & SOA aspects
in no particular order. I won’t get in to specifics as much of it is not yet planned, or I’m working on it but don’t want to reveal it until I have enough meat on the the bones so I can be sure it will fly.
- Review of Bob Marshall’s “Thinking Different” happening last year
- Review of the: BMW i3 electric car; Samsung Galaxy Alpha
- Corporate Subversion – in a positive manner of course :-)
and that’s really just the “boring stuff” – there should be some very interesting posts coming as I hit my stride.
I hope you’ve all had a great XMas & New Year break and look forward to some great interactions in 2015!
Today I’m (@RiczWest) starting a new twitter account. It’s called ChangeArc. For those who follow me, you’ll recognise this as my “Blog Name” – so what’s the purpose?
Simple – when I started using Twitter, it was primarily as a bookmarking tool. To some extent I still use it as such, but also for so much more…
There’s one problem though – as I look at a lot of content, that means a lot of tweets, and not everyone likes that, including me! There are a number of great people I’d like to follow, but I can’t because they tweet too much.
To that end, I’m going to start a much lower volume (only a few tweets per day) account which is ChangeArc. So what can you expect apart from less tweets? Extremely high quality tweets that will include any posts I do.
I don’t know how this will evolve, but it will be interesting to see…
I rarely impulse buy anything. I always want to thoroughly research anything thoroughly before I buy it. In the case of the Western Digital My Cloud, I didn’t thoroughly research it (I did do a quick review check in Maplin’s though which showed it got 4/5) it was an impulse buy. I’d remembered those ads from the trains though which had got me curious, so full marks to WD’s marketing people.
Styling wise – need I say more? It’s a nice minimalistic design about the size of a hard cover book (remember those? ;). The setup is surprisingly easy* on iOS, Android, Mac and even Windows.
Usage however, is dependent on the OS so the experience on Windows (7) is not as good, with drives sometimes dropping off and difficulty uploading files. On iOS and Android you run a client which is pretty close to DropBox, except of course it’s connected to your cloud :-) On Mac and Windows you get a custom app, shortcuts to the Web Admin console (below) and the ability to map your cloud drives.
So what’s actually in the box? This is where it gets really interesting as it’s running Debian Linux! Yep, all you need to do is activate SSH and after accepting the fact that you may void you’re warranty by using the command line, you’re in! You should theoretically be able to install anything using apt, but you’d need to be careful not to clobber or mis-adjust any of the existing packages which the WD My Cloud software depends on.
The physical security seems pretty good as the connections to your drives (if over the internet) are encrypted using SSL. My only gripe is that the default settings for “user folders” (which are automatically created for each user you add) are to “Public”, which is probably not what you want as there is already a Public Share shared folder on the device. It’s just a matter of remembering to unshare user folders when you create the user. The permissions (on the interface – you could probably tune them using the shell) are quite basic – No Access, Read or Full Control but it’s pretty easy to set up a few users with private areas and shares amongst a group. You need to do it manually though as there’s no such thing as groups.
WD My Cloud is a great little device and fairly consumer friendly. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone with no knowledge of computers, but anyone with a bit of experience and enthusiasm could easily set up and maintain this securely. As for value, I got mine for £170 (for a 4G unit) reduced from £250 at Maplin, so with the sale price it really is a bargain. At the full price I’d be investigating other alternatives.
Later, I’m planning on carefully enhancing this and will do another post outlining my adventures. In the mean time, if you don’t like command lines or are worried about voiding your warranty, you may want to check out the WD My Cloud EX2 which would set you back £260 at an equivalent sale price and has the ability to install some “apps” like WordPress, Joomla, PHP BB and a number of torrent programs. There’s only 8 in all, so you’ll probably want to do some custom installs anyway.
* One piece of information which I didn’t see anywhere is that the “user” you set up on installation has no real “home directory” so it’s ideal to have as an Admin user if you’re planning on having more than one user on the system. Later users will be allocated their own home directories which have public access by default.