How four Microsoft engineers proved that the "darknet" would defeat DRM

by Volker Weber

Ars Technica:

we're resurfacing this story of four Microsoft engineers who predicted the downfall of DRM more than a decade ahead of its time (their paper turned 15 this month). This story originally ran on November 30, 2012, and it appears unchanged below.

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[Thanks, Amy]

Don't buy a PLAY:3

by Volker Weber


Sonos has lowered the price for PLAY:1 and PLAY:3. I consider both to be clearance items. Trueplay Tuning has leveled the sound differences and PLAY:3 simply isn't much better than PLAY:1. If you want to do better than a PLAY:1, then spend a little extra and buy two PLAY:1 to be configured as a stereo pair. For 360 you get way more sound than for 300.

What you really want is this. A pair of PLAY:5 beats everything else in their price bracket.


How Panos and Ralf made me love Windows 10

by Volker Weber


Two years ago I was a Mac user. I had been a Windows user from version 1 but I had converted to Macs when they were still running on Motorola chips. But then something happened: I watched Panos Panay present the Surface 3. This was finally a machine worth a look. I liked it a lot as a travel companion. It was light, it had the right ports: microUSB for charging, USB A for the occasional thumbdrive, microSD for storage, but it wasn't powerful enough to challenge my MacBook Pro.

Then two years ago I met Ralf Groene. He heads industrial design at Microsoft and I immediately connected with him. Ralf is German, he comes from a mechanical craftsmenship background (Werkzeugmacher) and he is a person I could spend weeks with. We only had two hours over lunch in Frankfurt where we spoke about the Surface Book. But I was hooked. I needed to upgrade my computing. MacBooks are great, so are iPads, but I wanted something that does both.

IMG 20171121 232900

Much deliberation later, actually one year later, I had decided I wanted a Surface Pro. It's much lighter, it finally had a great keyboard and touchpad with the Signature cover, and it certainly is fast enough for my no-gaming, no-video-editing world. Eleven months ago I started to move my workload over from MacBook to Surface. I made one restart with a fresh install when Windows was causing me trouble, but with Creators Update in the spring I was sold on Windows 10.

The software wouldn't have done it. But the hardware Microsoft is building sure did. Watch this video from The Verge to see more of Ralf.

Huawei leaves a good impression

by Volker Weber

IMG 1651

I always like to make fun of Leica fans who shoot their Leica. How do you do that, if your favorite camera is in the picture? The answer is simple: you use your second Leica camera.

I shoot most of my photos with my iPhone. I do have serious cameras from Fujifilm (and an old Nikon), but the iPhone has excellent results. No need to fetch the heavier glass and deal with a complicated workflow. But what if the iPhone itself is in the picture? Simple: I use a Huawei smartphone. I have used the P10 and now the Mate 10 Pro and their cameras have mostly impressed me, with one exception where monochrome shots did not come out as I had hoped.

I should be using the Huawei a lot more, but here is the thing: if you have an Apple Watch or if you use iMessage and Facetime, you are not going to make anything else your first phone. Lots of YouTubers who pretend otherwise are struggling with that. Rule of thumb: only if the iPhone is in the frame, the photo was shot with a Huawei. I would probably be fine with a Pixel or an S8 but I have neither.

I consider the Mate 10 Pro to be on par with the best Android phones. It's about the size of a Plus iPhone. If you are looking for the regular size, check out the P10. Is the camera better than an iPhone 8/8Plus/X? Nope. Nothing is. But consider this: these cameras are better than most photographers.

Intel just forgot to review the security of their firmware

by Volker Weber


In response to issues identified by external researchers, Intel has performed an in-depth comprehensive security review of its Intel Management Engine (ME), Intel Trusted Execution Engine (TXE), and Intel Server Platform Services (SPS) with the objective of enhancing firmware resilience.

As a result, Intel has identified several security vulnerabilities that could potentially place impacted platforms at risk. Systems using ME Firmware versions 11.0/11.5/11.6/11.7/11.10/11.20, SPS Firmware version 4.0, and TXE version 3.0 are impacted

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Sonos before and after

by Volker Weber

Brian Krebs has indeed been a huge Sonos fan. As have I. Then something changed. And I can smell it. This is former CEO and Sonos founder John MacFarlane commenting on Apple's decision not to ship the HomePod before it is ready.

Sonos is missing his guidance. Sonos One shipped before it was done. So did the Sonos 8.0 software. Alexa is half-baked. It will eventually be OK. But Sonos should fix things before shipping.

BTW: Alex Warning until this Friday.

init - Der Wochenausblick: Hohe Zeit für Schnäppchenjäger

by Volker Weber


Wer diese Woche einen Termin plant, an dem garantiert keine Amerikaner teilnehmen werden, der muss die zweite Wochenhälfte ins Auge fassen. Thanksgiving ist der Familienfeiertag schlechthin und es folgt der als Black Friday bekannte Räumungsverkauf.

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BlackBerry Motion :: Don't worry about the battery. Ever.

by Volker Weber

Screenshot 20171119-064308

I got the BlackBerry Motion on Tuesday and charged it overnight. Took it off the charger on Wednesday morning and then never recharged it until this morning. Four days. Even more impressive: within one hour on the charger it was back at 75%. That means you can use it all day and then recharge it in maybe half an hour. And that is the charger that came in the box. No additional purchase necessary.

Even if you forget to recharge it, the battery should always last a second day. That is just practical. I am not suggesting to run it for four days. But you never need to worry you will run out of power before you go to sleep.


How do you make a machine this efficient? First of all you start with a big 4000 mAh battery, then you add decent components like the Snapdragon 625 chipset. It's not the fastest on the market, but it sure is fast enough. And then you work on the software. That is often overlooked. You can have a medium size battery and still outrun a much bigger and faster machine that has better specs on paper. Not all Androids are alike. The Moto Z Play was always famous for never running out of juice.

Four days is so ridiculous that people immediately asked if I even used the device. And I did. Screen was on eleven hours. That is very light use, but the Motion is only my secondary phone. If you are looking at your screen eleven hours in a single day, you may have bigger issues than battery life.

Screenshot 20171119-053824

Tl;dr: This is a great phone. It's pretty, it's practical. It even has a headphone jack.


by Volker Weber

Control Spotify via Alexa on Sonos

by Volker Weber

Sonos has started beta support for Spotify and you don't have to do anything to make it work. I'd advise to set Spotify as your default music service in the Alexa app, but you can also tell Alexa to play from Spotify.

If you have a Sonos One, you are all set. It just works.

If you have an Echo speaker, you have to direct the output, otherwise it plays the music itself. That's on my wishlist: pair my Echo Dot with my Playbar, so that it automatically plays there. Then I could add more Echo Dots to other rooms and have them all play through my existing speakers as easily as on Sonos One.

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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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