Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker

I teased you in my last post that I’d been playing around with some pretty neat technology this summer, it’s time I got down to business. Let’s start off with my favorite new audio accessory, the Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker.

Forget about docks and cords, wireless accessories are where it’s at these days, and the Bose SoundLink is my personal favorite in the wireless speaker category. It’s small and compact, with a solid feel and a sleek look, and it has pretty good overall volume and sound reproduction for a device of its size and portability.

It pairs with and remembers up to 6 Bluetooth devices. After 6, every new device you pair it with bumps an old one out of its memory. I currently have it paired with my laptop, iPod touch and my Smartphone, all were a snap to pair, and all reconnect to it instantly after initial setup. Its sound is warm and impressive with nice full bass, not sonically perfect, but nice, and it has enough volume and clarity to use outdoors.

The controls are simple, just a few buttons on the top of the device for power, volume, mute and Bluetooth pairing. No remote, but that’s fine with me. The paired device performs that function quite nicely. It also has a built in cover with a magnetic latch that does triple duty. It protects the speaker when it’s closed, acts as a stand when it’s open, and turns the unit off when you close it again.

Like most Bose music systems, speaker placement is key to maximizing its sound; you want to have a solid surface a few feet behind it to reflect the bass, especially when you’re using it outdoors or at a large party. The SoundLink’s range is at least 30’, which gives you a lot of options in the placement department.

I’ve actually had the device for a few months now, but have been holding off on a review until I’d really put it through its paces, and this baby passed my summer torture test with flying colors. The only problem is, I waited so long that Bose has just released a second generation device, the SoundLink II, and a software update for the original device. The SoundLink II has been sonically improved, and now comes in 2 flavors, Bluetooth or AirPlay (Apple’s proprietary Wi-Fi).

The sonic improvements come in the form of new transducers and better digital signal processing, and the addition of an AirPlay version gives the device even more flexibility when paired with an iOS device or iTunes.

The software update for the original model is easy to install, the SoundLink has a micro USB port on the back labeled service, and it’s great to know that the device is upgradeable, seeing as the electronic landscape seems to change every nanosecond these days.

Bottom line, there are other Bluetooth sound systems out there, and most are a lot cheaper than the SoundLink, but for my money the SoundLink has just the right mix of sound, portability, function and form. Small and sturdy enough to travel with, perfect as an add-on speaker for your laptop, iPod or Smartphone, powerful enough to use as a boom box at your next party, and it pulls it all off with style.

That is all.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Not Such Deep Thoughts: How I Spent My Summer Vacation Edition

It’s been a summer to remember; hot sunny days, very little rain, and way too much to do to be spending time staring into this screen, but Labor Day is upon us, and my brain pan is filled to overflowing with random thoughts, so I will now proceed to entangle the entire area.

Let’s start off with my lack of posting. I’ve really been struggling with that old work/life balance thing lately, and I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to squeeze any sun and fun into this summer, something(s) had to go. I outsourced the weekly mow (again, but this time I think it’s permanent), took a hiatus from working on my websites, and put off all but a few crucial home projects. I also employed a couple of other time management tricks and tradeoffs, which we’ll get to later. The end result was that I was able to take some time off and enjoy the summer. It was definitely the right choice; summer is much too short, and much too precious to waste. Being outdoors, spending time with friends and family, drinking in the beauty of the season, and life in general, there’s nothing quite like it.

Speaking of not working on my websites, I picked up some really interesting electronical gadgets this summer, and it killed me not to post about them, but I held off. It was tough, but at least I’ll have lots to post about going forward. Good things to come!

While I’m on the subject of gadgets; I’ve figured out that my Blackberry is the root of all evil. I had shelved my personal cell phone a while back; I hated carrying two phones, so I threw mine in a drawer and started relying solely on my work Blackberry. Problem is, the flow of information is non stop, and once I pick it up, even for something as innocuous as checking sports scores, I’m sucked right in. It’s kind of like a virtual rabbit hole that takes me directly back into work. It drives my family crazy, and it makes it impossible for me to disconnect. As we were getting ready for vacation this year, my wife suggested that I upgrade my old cell phone and start using it again, because if I didn’t, she was going to throw my Blackberry into Nantucket Sound. Very convincing argument, and seeing as Samsung had just released the new Galaxy S III, I was immediately on board. Smartest thing I’ve done in a while. The S III is a beautiful device, and yes, Apple is correct; it is a lot like an iPhone, except its better, more to come on that soon. The most important thing is that it helped me break the chains that bind me to my work, and possibly prevented my wife from committing a crime of passion. Now when I’m off, so is the Crackberry.

Speaking of passion, I love our pool. No traffic or parking issues, no humping chairs and coolers, no sand in my sandwiches. Just mosey out the back door, hop on a float, and drift away. Heaven. And those midnight moonlight swims on hot summer nights are nothing short of decadent. Sometimes when I’m out there, I find myself looking around, positive that someone is going to catch me and throw me out, traces of my fence hopping youth. It pains me to think we’ll be closing it down soon. The season is too short, and it’s a lot of work, but its well worth it.

Another way I’ve been able to carve out some quality time this summer is by writing off the Red Sox completely. I’m no fair weather fan, I’ve been with them through thick and thin, good times and bad, but here’s the thing; There’s no crying in baseball! I won’t watch a bunch of whiney babies, and this is the biggest bunch I’ve ever seen. The average salary in MLB is 3.3 million, and these guys have the nerve to bitch and moan, it’s disgusting. I’m glad they blew up the team, and I hope the axe continues to fall. A coaching/front office shakeup is the next step in the process; maybe a new manager can get this team back on track for next year. In the meantime, I’m not paying the exorbitant prices to see a game, and I’m not wasting my time watching them on the tube. Instead, I’ve been spending my time watching the grandson play in the Jimmy Fund Little League Summer Tournament. It ran through August, ending just in time for the start of Pop Warner, and it has been a pure delight. No better way to while away the summer hours then sitting in a lawn chair, feasting on $1 hot dogs and 50¢ popcorn, and cheering on the home town team. There’s still a little bit of crying, but it’s nothing a blue raspberry slushy can’t fix.

Vacation: It’s all about the bacon. Normally, we don’t eat a lot of bacon, but when we’re on vacation, we seem to have it at least twice a day. In omelets, on sandwiches, wrapped around scallops, it just goes with everything. Did you know you can get bacon martinis? Wow, it’s the perfect food, and I’ve found that there is a direct correlation between bacon intake and overall vacation satisfaction.

File this one under; building a better mousetrap. We came downstairs one morning to find an end table tipped over and the cat camped out next to it, staring intently at the baseboard heater. We weren’t sure what had gone down, but she wouldn’t budge from the spot (not even for bacon), so I moved the couch out of the way and got down on my hands and knees with a flashlight. Sure enough, she had a little field mouse cornered inside the baseboard. Cute little gomer, but he had to go. My wife got out one of those no kill traps and baited it with cheese, but he was too afraid of the cat to move a muscle. What to do, what to do… enter my wife with her Mouse Eradication Device (patent pending), or as we like to call it, the canister vac. She took off the rug brush, added all the extension tubes, and got into position. When she had the business end of the tube close to the mouse, I flipped the power on and “foop, bonk, bonk, splat”, that mouse was history. Catches ‘em, kills ‘em, and bags the body; I really think we’re on to something here.

Who ya gonna call? Mousebusters!

We’ve made a couple of trips down to Gillette this summer for training camp, and I must say, the Patriots have really done it right. Free parking, free event, great sightlines, and the chance for autographs from your favorite players; it’s a great event to take the whole family to. The only drawback is the drive, but they’ve got that covered to some degree, also. Patriot Place makes it worth your while to make a day of it. Arrive early and stay late, take in The Hall before practice, then one of the many restaurants after. Nice. Red Sox? We don’t need no stinkin Red Sox…

Well, I’ve rambled on for long enough, gotta get outside and enjoy the last few hours of this Labor Day weekend. I’ll leave you with this: Just because it’s Labor Day weekend, that doesn’t mean that the summer is over. It ain’t over until it’s over, so get out there and enjoy!

That is all.