Stuff that works :: Marshall Monitor Bluetooth

by Volker Weber


The AirPods are my favorite earbuds. And the Marshall Monitor is my favorite over-the-ear headset. It fits my large head and my ears, it plays well with my very own set of music, and the battery seems to last forever. No active noise cancellation but excellent passive isolation, a single brass knob to control everything. Not to forget that is goes to eleven.


Update for Ralph: yes, it shows its battery level both in the header and the widget. More importantly, volume is coordinated. It does not matter if you adjust it via the brass knob, the iPhone volume rocker or the Apple Watch. Be careful here. I hardly ever have this headset over 50 percent volume.

Wishlist for #Sonos :: The results

by Volker Weber


Thank you for your votes on this poll. A few comments:

The strong vote for AirPlay is even more significant if you take into account that only Apple users will benefit from this. Android users couldn't care less. I deduct that almost all Apple users want AirPlay support. We know that Sonos is working on Alexa integration as announced last year in New York, but we don't know about the other options.

I also got a lot of other suggestions as replies to this poll. Here is a short list: battery-powered PLAY:1, Apple Watch and Siri integration, a kids' mode for the app, a touch-friendly Windows 10 app, support for IPv6, Audible, Bluetooth, SMBv2/v3, 24/96, and TV remotes, list albums by year, HDMI switch in/out on Playbar/Playbase.

I think the strong vote for AirPlay and Alexa means that people are OK with their current remotes but want additional alternative options. I am using Sonos mostly via Spotify Connect these days. And the biggest item I have isn't even on the list. I want to be able to direct any sound, from a Windows PC, a Mac, an Android or an iPhone to a Sonos speaker. And I want the choices to be presented to be smart. There are many ways to detect a speaker near me.

Bad streaming and good streaming

by Volker Weber


When Apple started AirPlay, it would stream everything three times across the network. From your library or music service through your access point to the app on your device, then back to the access point, then to your speaker. When you stream to a Bluetooth connected speaker, you are also streaming everything to your app and then via Bluetooth to the speaker. That's bad streaming.

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What Spotify Connect does is good streaming. You start streaming to your app, but then you tell it to cast to your speaker instead. A Spotify Connect enabled speaker knows how to pull your music from the service, without going through your phone. There are plenty of Spotify Connect certified speakers and amps on the market, and Sonos only entered this game in 2017. The downside of Spotify Connect is that it only works with Spotify, not with anything else. If you want to switch to Apple Music, you are locked in.

Sonos is agnostic to streaming services. When you add them to your household, they will all use good streaming. Your controller tells your players what to pull from where, and the music traverses your network only once. If you stream to multiple rooms, the music is pulled from the service only once and then distributed inside your local network from Sonos speaker to Sonos speaker. You will also notice that you can play multiple different streams from Spotify and it only counts as one user. The downside is that you have to use the Sonos controller plugin to select your music and fill your queue. That plugin is often less capable than the native app.

How do you know you are using good streaming? Take your device off the network by going into flight mode. If the music stops, you are using bad streaming. Sonos calls this the beer test. Can you leave the party to get more beer without the music stopping?

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Spotify is not the only service that can cast to your Sonos speaker directly from the native app using good streaming. On Android you can also use Google Play Music and then cast to your Sonos speaker, at which point it will pull directly from Google without going through your device. If you try the same on iOS, you will find that Google Play Music has no mechanism to cast to Sonos.

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What is badly missing is a way to tell Apple Music to play to Sonos from its native app. That is going to become very obvious when Apple HomePod ships. iOS users are likely to be Apple Music subscribers and Sonos speakers will be at a terrible disadvantage. If a customer buys a HomePod instead of a PLAY:1 he is unlikely to buy a PLAY:5 or other Sonos speakers later. And if an existing Sonos customer with Apple Music buys a HomePod, he may be using his Sonos speakers a lot less.

When AirPlay launched you needed to buy a piece of silicon from Apple to enable your speaker to receivce the encrypted stream. That is no longer the case and you can build an AirPlay-compatible device in software. I always thought that Apple was hard to work with but I have learned they are actually pushing vendors to support their architecture.

Now would be a good time for Sonos customers to convince their vendor to support AirPlay.

Sonos, please update your ancient network stack

by Volker Weber


We love that Sonos keeps its old gear updated and functional. That is pretty much unheard of in this industry. However, there is one big omission. You really need to work on your network stack. Two problems:

  1. Every recent piece of malware used SMBv1 as its attack vector. If you disable it Sonos is unable to find its music libary anymore. No support for SMBv2 or SMBv3. This needs to be fixed ASAP.
  2. Your STP implementation is ancient. If you add Sonos to a network with smart components that use STP (spanning tree protocol) it messes up the network. Yes, you can fix the path costs everywhere else, but why don't you just fix it in your own stack? This discussion is already seven years old.

If you like to discuss this, you know where to find me.

IBM Dumps Remote Work, Blows Off Its Productivity Kneecap

by Volker Weber

With a focus on US policy:

IBM has destroyed a remote work policy that brought them provable gains, because a fashion exec says it’ll save the entire company. The IBM decision-makers are either voluntarily ignorant, or they think they’re above the market.

20 straight quarters of declining revenue says they are wrong.

Make that 21.

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Listen to podcasts on Sonos

by Volker Weber


Today we’re excited to announce that Pocket Casts support for Sonos has gone into Beta! Judging by the amount of tweets and emails we’ve had over the years this is one of your most requested features and we’re excited to finally share it with you.

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Drei Android-Smartphones

by Volker Weber

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Die Welt ist ein bisschen einfacher geworden für mich. Früher hatte ich ein halbes Dutzend verschiedene Smartphone-Betriebssysteme im Auge zu behalten. Heute sind es nur noch zwei. Damit ich nicht nur das iPhone kenne, benutze ich täglich mehrere Stunden auch ein Android-Gerät. Bisher waren das zwei: BlackBerry KEYone und Huawei P10. Jetzt ist mit dem Moto Z2 Play ein drittes dazu gekommen. Bemerkenswert beim Moto: wenn man es nur im Standby rumliegt, dann sagt es nach zwei Tagen, es habe noch Saft für sechs weitere.

Ich könnte mich nur sehr schwer für eines dieses Telefone entscheiden. Das KEYone hat die aktuellste Software und ist am dichtesten dran an Pure Android. Es greift sich am besten, das heißt man kann es sehr leicht aufnehmen und in der Hand halten. Deshalb nutze ich es gerne, um Nachrichten zu lesen. Das Hardware-Keyboard macht mich nicht schneller, wie man eigentlich meinen sollte.

Das P10 ist das mit Abstand eleganteste. Sehr zurückhaltend, ohne hervorstechende Merkmale. Die Kamera passt komplett in das dünne Gehäuse. Anders als bei den anderen beiden ist es nicht so leicht zu fühlen, ob man es richtig herum in der Hand hat. Und ich bin immer etwas besorgt, dass es mir aus der Hand fällt. Wenn ich auf dem Sofa lümmle, dann passiert das ziemlich oft, natürlich ohne Schaden. Mittlerweile nutze ich die P10-Kamera bevorzugt, weil sie gute Makro-Shots produziert.

Moto und Huawei sind bei den Security Patches hinten dran. Bei Huawei wird das wegen der umfangreichen Android-Anpassungen wohl auch nicht besser. Moto hätte die Chance. Ich warte auf die große Malware-Epidemie, bei der das Überleben stark von aktueller Software abhängt. Immerhin ist erkennbar, dass sich immer mehr Hersteller darum bemühen.

Was mich bei jedem Einschalten flasht, ist der Sperrbildschirm des P10. Huawei hat eine wunderbare Auswahl wechselnder Bilder, die mich tatsächlich den Einschaltknopf vor dem blitzschnellen Fingerabdrucksensor drücken lässt.

Verkehrte Welt :: Lenovo Soft Keyboard vs BlackBerry Hard Keyboard

by Volker Weber

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Laptops haben echte Tastaturen, Smartphones virtuelle auf dem Bildschirm, so die Regel. Bei diesen beiden Geräten ist es umgekehrt: Lenovo Yoga Book und BlackBerry KEYone. Ich mag beide. Jetzt bin ich wild entschlossen, auf dem Halo Keyboard des Yoga Book schreiben zu lernen. Warum? Weil es schwierig ist. Aber ich habe gelernt, dass man auf einem BlackBerry Keyboard nicht schneller ist als auf einer iPhone-Tastatur. Und was dort geht, sollte auch auf dem Halo möglich sein. Ich muss halt nur üben.

Das Yoga Book hat mittlerweile viele der Bugs abgelegt, die meinen ersten Eindruck geprägt haben. So schläft und wacht es zuverlässig wieder auf. Das Halo Keyboard hat aber zwei Probleme behalten. Wenn man in ein Textfeld klickt, dann springt immer erst mal das Soft Keyboard von Windows 10 auf, um dann beim ersten Tastendruck wieder zu verschwinden. Dazu kommt, dass der erste Buchstabe häufig verschluckt wird. Bei Fließtext sieht man das, bei Passwörtern nicht. Da muss Lenovo noch mal ran, wenn sie diese Lösung weiterverfolgen wollen - was ich nicht weiß. Auf der Supportseite steht immer noch die Version 1.0.0 des Treibers zum Download.

Windows 10 on iPad Pro?

by Volker Weber

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Since iDisplay was free today on the iTunes App store, I had to turn my iPad Pro into a second screen for Surface Pro. Why? Because we try stuff so that you don't have to. Works for macOS or Windows, with Android or iOS devices.

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Moto Z2 Play :: Let's talk about the phone

by Volker Weber

IMG 20170717 080909

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Three most useless things in an aviation emergency:

  • Fuel on the ground
  • Runway behind you
  • Sky above you

When I looked at all the Z2 Play reviews I found a common theme: Moto dared to make the device thinner and the battery smaller. And I was reminded of the old adage above. What does it help you if you have 30% battery left when you are about to charge your phone anyway? What difference does it make that a phone runs 36 instead of 30 hours?

I think the Z2 Play is much nicer than the Z Play. The matte aluminium back feels and looks much better than last year's scratch-happy glass back. And without a mod attached, it is really thin, much like last year's Z proper. This is by all means a premium device. Don't throw tech specs at me. This thing is fast, no matter what you do. And the camera hump does not bother me at all. You always know which way is up.

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What I like most about the Z2 Play is how clean it is. There is no bloatware added to Android, no duplicate apps, no arbitrary redesign of the skin. Moto just adds a nice touch to the clock that reflects the design of the camera hump. And it adds some great Moto stuff.

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Moto Actions let you hide the Android buttons and navigate with the fingerprint sensor. It becomes the on/off button, the home button, you swipe it for other actions. If you chop the phone twice (Karate Kid) it will turn on/off the flashlight, it you twist it twice it starts the camera and even the Hasselblad mod. You can flip the phone over to go into Do Not Disturb mode or silence the ringer when you pick up the phone. The display fades in/out with notifications and you can respond to them without unlocking. And then there is Moto Voice that I haven't tried yet.

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The 2016 Incipio battery mod is pretty clever. You can either keep the phone battery at 100 percent, or better yet, you keep it at 80 percent which is more efficient. The new 2017 Moto battery mod adds an important option: you can charge it seperately when it's not on the phone. I bet the 2018 version will add a loop for inductive charging.

Bottom line: there are no bad smartphones anymore. Benchmarks are b/s. All cameras are very capable. But there are interesting phones and less interesting ones.

Other recent entries

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Moto Z2 Play :: A modular smartphone
Closing the Sonos chapter
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Six weeks with the Huawei P10
Stuff that works :: Apple AirPods
Android update situation
End of Life: Windows Phone ist offiziell tot
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Looking forward to the HomePod
BlackBerry Security Summit
Stuff that works :: Microsoft Surface Pro
Sonos without WiFi :: Revisiting an old topic
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Wenn das WLAN zu schwach ist :: Vier Lösungsmöglichkeiten
Huawei P10 :: Die leidigen Android-Updates
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Installing iOS 11 Public Beta
Habits are stronger than goals #dontbreakthechain
The 1+ reality distortion field

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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