Sonos One needs serious b/s detection

by Volker Weber

260863-SonosOne 9-8c4a03-original-1507319284

Today I switched my b/s detector back on, and boy was it off the charts reading about the new Sonos One. In many reviews it comes across as a premium mix of Sonos and Alexa. And it clearly is not. So what is it anyway?

Play One looks like a Play:1 Tone Limited Edition when viewed from the side. It's either pure white or pure black. That is a good choice. The top has changed. There are no physical buttons. You control it via a large touch panel. You also no longer have the recessed top that would keep small items like earrings from wandering around your night stand.

Now things become difficult. Sonos One's claim to fame is that it can be controlled by voice. But that part isn't finished. It's "in beta" as Sonos likes to say, but I only call feature complete software as beta. What we have today is software "in development". Before we get to that, there is hardware involved. Sonos One has a microphone array that lets it pick up your voice from the room. And when that microphone array is on, it is hardwired to a white LED on top of the new touch panel, that cannot be turned off in software. This is to ensure the custoner that Sonos One is not listening when the light is off. It kind of kills usage in the bedroom, since that light is going to be on if you want to make use of voice control. In contrast, Amazon Echo speakers switch a light on when in privacy mode. Amazon rightfully assumes you want to use the product.

How does voice control work? The speaker is in continous listening mode. It puts the data in a buffer and analyses what it hears, quickly deleting the data until it finds its wake word. For now that wakeword is "Alexa". As soon as it discovers the wakeword, it streams your room sound to a server process in the cloud which tries to figure out what you are saying. Today this is an Alexa skill. What makes the software "in development" is that it is incomplete. Echo speakers can play from Spotify, Sonos One can play from Spotify, but you cannot tell Sonos One via voice control to play from Spotify. Neither from Apple Music or Google Play. Nor from your own library. Echo speakers have lots of features that Sonos One doesn't. And Sonos does not add any. Example: you cannot group or ungroup speakers via voice.

Digging deeper you will find that voice control on Sonos wants to be independent from Alexa. It will add Google Assistant next year for instance. That means it has to do its own wakeword detection and while you can call Alexa on Echo also with the wakewords "Amazon" or "Computer" the Sonos One only hears "Alexa". And it's a bit hard of hearing. More false positives and negatives. It will more often wake up when not called or not wake up when called.

I am sure this will get better over time. This product ships in time for the holidays, but not before software development is nearly done.

This is by no means a concise review. Example: you cannot pair a PLAY:1 and Sonos One.

Restart completed

by Volker Weber

Thank you all for your positive messages. They helped me pull through these difficult days. What should have been a routine surgery unveiled a much bigger monster. I had trusted my fate with skilled medical professionals and they saved me. After the first 24 hours it was on me to dig myself out of this hole and I had more strength and courage than I would have thought. Within 48 hours I was on safe ground and now I am completely restored.

The crisis is over. I am coming out much stronger than I went in.

From my inbox

by Volker Weber


How I’m dealing with my long-term project

by Volker Weber


#dontbreakthechain means you don’t skip your daily routine because you are lazy or the weather is bad or you don’t feel like it. However, if you have a medical emergency, that does not mean you are breaking the chain. You are watching your body with respect. The counts may go to zero, but your spirit does not.

I won’t get my rewards for October, but I am already picking up the pieces.

Dramatische 24 Stunden

by Volker Weber


Es begann mit meinem Freund und Hausarzt Dr. Rainer Müller, ging über den klaren und kurzentschlossenen Internisten Dr. Andreas Niedenthal, den phantastischen Chirurgen Dr. Norbert Runge bis zu meinem exzellenten Intensiv-Pfleger Alexander Bruccoleri. Diesen Menschen verdanke ich mein Leben.

Twitter updates from last 24 hours:

Tissue can have many colors. Black is not a good one. You already started dying.

init - der Wochenausblick: von Moskau nach Kuba

by Volker Weber


Ein riesiges Innovationsforum in Moskau, mindestens zwei wegweisende Highend-Smartphones, den Rollout der neuesten Windows-Versionen mit passenden Headsets und reichlich Erinnerungen. Die neue Woche hat viel zu bieten.

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#dontbreakthechain einmal ganz anders

by Volker Weber


Am Freitag schickte mir Thomas einen Artikel, der eine unglaubliche Leistung beschreibt. Der 84-jährige Joses Hein aus Solingen hat 66 Jahre in Folge das deutsche Sportabzeichen erworben, zunächst in Bonze, dann in Silber, Jahrezehnte in Gold. Eine Ehrennadel für 65 gab es nicht, deshalb bekam er vom DSB einen Pokal.

Den Artikel dazu gibt es online bei der RP.


by Volker Weber

Fünf Jahre lang saß Murat Kurnaz im Lager Guantánamo, heute ist er Sozialarbeiter in Bremen. Mit einem Appell wendet er sich an Migrantenkinder, wie er selbst eines war – und an junge Flüchtlinge.

Durch die Hölle und zurück. Und (wieder) in Deutschland angekommen. Eine bewegende Geschichte.

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How do you say iPhone X

by Volker Weber


Last night I started this Twitter poll to find out how many people say 'iPhone 10' vs 'iPhone X'.

Apple reps are trained to say 'iPhone 10' and they will even correct you when you say 'iPhone X'. It's a fun game. You can try it as often as you like and they always respond with 'iPhone 10'. I did this recently in a briefing and then I confessed I was trolling them. We had a good laugh and one admitted it took her a while.

We have been there before with OS X, which followed OS 9. Apple went through 12 versions (10.0 to 10.11) until they called it macOS again. It is going to be interesting to see how Apple brands the successors to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

PS: Best comment was from Scott:

My initial reaction was to think "but they're both pronounced the same!" I guess Roman numerals are a bigger thing in the US than in Germany. :-)

Apple trying to make Germans say 10 seems futile. For Americans it's completely natural. The 51st Super Bowl was called Super Bowl LI and Americans have no difficulty decoding this as 50 plus 1.

Speaking of numbers: about one in ten people who saw the poll voted on it. And the results are stable after about 50 votes.

Surface Pro :: It's my preferred computer

by Volker Weber


Ten months in, the Surface Pro 4 is my preferred computer. I have quite a few of them and rotate them to keep them updated. But I am always going back to the Surface Pro as fast as possible.

I would not be using Windows 10 without this hardware. I have yet to come across any other machine as pretty and as usable. It has it all: a beautiful screen, lightweight, touch, ink, great keyboard and trackpad.

I had a good laugh when Nadella proclaimed he wanted people to love using Windows. Yeah, fat chance. Hahaha. And here I am, it's not getting in the way. Dare I say I love it? Nope. But I do love this machine.

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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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