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How to Open Wine in an Emergency with a Key

1 min read

Youtuber Dave Hax has created this awesome video demonstrating a useful life hack on how to open a bottle of wine with a key.

  • You'll need a strong key (or one you can risk breaking) then force it into the cork diagonally.
  • This could hurt your hand, so use some material (your jumper or a cloth) as padding.
  • Shove it in as far as you can go and rotate the key and the cork applying upward pressure simultaneously.
  • Once the cork comes loose, try and pull it out with your thumb and fingers.
  • Enjoy your wine :-)

Sonos S5 - is it the ultimate kitchen radio?

5 min read

[caption id="attachment_682" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="The Sonos S5 fits nicely on your kitchen counter"][/caption]

The Sonos S5 is a compact speaker that delivers more than just music, read on to find out why.

The S5 is a high-performance, all-in-one wireless music system that delivers crystal-clear, room-filling sound. Simply plug it in wherever you want music and enjoy. The 5-driver speaker system is individually powered by 5 dedicated digital amplifiers and includes 2 tweeters, 2 mid-range drivers and 1 subwoofer for high-quality sound that rivals much larger, more complicated audio equipment.
Source: http://www.sonos.com/products/zoneplayers/s5/default.aspx

So how does the Sonos S5 live up to these bold claims made on the Sonos website?
I've owned the S5 for around nine months now and I am thrilled with its performance, from the sound quality right through to the additional music services that compliment your existing music collection.

[caption id="attachment_725" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The Sonos iPad app really is a joy to use. It's free in the App store. An Android app is also available."][/caption]

So how does it work?
In addition to the Sonos S5 you need a device called a "zonebridge" which connects to your router and provides the S5 with the wireless internet access that really shows off the S5 for the magical device it is.

I should come clean now, the Sonos only works work with additional software. In other words you need to install software on your computer, your iOS device or your Android phone. You can also buy the Sonos controller, but that's an expensive remote. However, once you have these installed you have probably the best remote control you will ever have seen. If you have multiple Sonos speakers around the house, you can control them all from the one remote controller. This means you can specify what you can listen to in each "zone" or room.

It only takes about half an hour to get the Sonos up and running - from un-boxing to installing the zonebridge and the sonos software on your PC. While it's not quite plug and play, the effort is worth it as in the future everything can be controlled via the apps.

Getting music "into" your sonos is simply a matter of selecting the music on your computer or selecting an internet radio station. All music is streamed either over the Internet over over your home network.

[caption id="attachment_680" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The front view of the Sonos S5"][/caption]

So, what makes the Sonos so compelling?

It's not that you can listen to your favourite radio stations and it's not that you can stream your own music collection. What sets it apart is the additional music services that integrate into the Sonos such as my favourite Napster. This is a paid service (£5 per month) that adds significant value to my limited music collection. Many of you will be familiar with Spotify but at £10 a month I do not value it more than Napster (yes I could take my collection on a mobile device, but for the same price I can do that with Napster). Other services includer Last.fm and deezer - both of which offer streaming with limited functionality.  I am a recent convert to Sticher radio and I use that to easily listen to my favourite podcasts.

One of the lesser known functions of the sonos is the ability to input audio, therefore allowing you to plugin your phone, iPod or laptop and use the Sonos as an external speaker. This function works well.

Sound quality.

[caption id="attachment_679" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The rear view of the Sonos S5. This is where the power, headphone and auxiliary ports are located."][/caption]

The Sonos S5 provides good quality sound (as you'd expect from a speaker in this price range) even when streaming lower bit rate tracks. Obviously the better the quality of the digital audio the better it sounds but overall I am very satisfied with this speaker. I am no audiophile but both bass and treble appear to perform well.

 

Conclusion
This post was sparked by the theory that the Sonos S5 could be the ultimate kitchen radio, so is it? I have to say that in my kitchen it most certainly is the daddy of all home music systems. It has reintroduced me to music and I now consider myself to be an avid radio listener. I much prefer powering on the Sonos S5 compared to watching the TV (in the kitchen). The breadth of options that the Sonos S5 brings definitely means that this is superior to the standard FM or DAB radio and the sound quality is superior to our Sony Hi-Fi, therefore making this the ultimate kitchen radio for me.
If you are considering a speaker dock or a wireless speaker system you should gives serious consideration to the Sonos S5, you will not be disappointed.

 

[caption id="attachment_681" align="alignleft" width="255" caption="Not much to note of the side on view, except the nice, clean design."][/caption]

 

 

The newspaper is dead. Long live the newspaper.

4 min read

Being someone who has embraced digital content I fail to understand the love affair people have with paper.  I'm not just talking about news papers, I mean books, print outs anything that involves physical copy.  I just don't get it.  Take books for example, they're heavy, awkward to hold and are prone to damage.
Why put yourself through that experience?

Yesterday I did something I haven't done in a long time: I purchased The Sunday Times.  I don't normally read newspapers, especially Sunday papers which for some reason are huge unwieldy things.  None the less, of to the shop I trundled and struggled back with the times.  After some time sorting through the various sections, I actually started to read.  At this point I should state that I enjoy reading and have always been an avid reader, from fiction to non-fiction, to news and sport I read them all!

Which leads me on to the story which appeared in yesterdays Sunday Times: The plastic fantastic future of newspapers.  In his article, Alex Pell discusses the future of newspapers.
What intrigued me was not the e-reader or the new digital ink being discussed, but that publishers and presumably writers / journalists still do not understand digital content, the internet and where their future lies.

The article tells us how companies are competing with each other to develop a mobile newspaper of the future.  This will be kindle like, will always display the latest edition of your newspaper and will have a colour screen and great battery life.  BUT, it wont be available for a couple of years.  Let me ask you this, if you have a computer at work with access to the internet, if you a have a mobile phone with access to the internet, if you have a computer at home, then what need will you have for (what promises to be an expensive) device that will display your favourite newspaper?

Take the iphone, it is already the biggest ebook reader beating the kindle and Sony's ereader.  It is not hard to realise why, give consumers a decent screen, the ability to load their own content and a device that they will always have with them and you have a success story.

So what are publishers failing to understand?  Consumers will always demand "content" whether that be the latest news or the latest thriller from a leading novelist, but as can be seen, consumers continue to read the classics.  A quick trip over to Project Gutenberg proves this.  (What is Project Gutenberg?  An ebook site that allows users to download out of copyright books in a digital format.)
Therefore whether it be new content or existing content, consumers want it.  Surely this is a market that is just waiting to be exploited.  

Is there money to be made?  Yes is the simple answer.  Just as the music business has found out and now the movie business, consumers will purchase digital content.  The newspaper industry has for a long time failed to embrace the internet.  In the early days, their websites were not uptodate, with them preferring to maintain the newspaper position of breaking news.  Thankfully today, the internet is full of newspapers delivering their content online, but some sites require users to register, or do not provide rss feeds which make it unneccessarily difficult for users to get the content they demand.

What cannot be allowed to happen is a situation where a leading newspaper tries to get its audience to pay for online content.  That business model is dead.  There are plenty of reputable news sites that exist already that are free, therefore a digital newspaper will have to rely on advertising revenue.

The quicker publishers get their content digitised and availble to the consumer the faster they will cash in, whether it be in advertising revenue or by selling ebooks.  As more and more devices come to market that are "connected" the market for digital content will explode and therefore the future in publishing is in digital.

Time will tell which newspapers will successfully migrate their entire business onto the net, but failure to do so will ultimately ensure their demise.

Pure Highway – In Car DAB

2 min read

I've recently taken delivery of the Pure Highway, which is an in car DAB radio solution. This is a handy device if you enjoy listening to 5 live or talksport, or any station that broadcasts on MW and DAB. It connects to your existing stereo through the aux in or via FM transmitter. you can also plug you MP3 player into it and you can also take it with you as it can operate on batteries and work as a portable DAB player.

Highway is a unique, easy to fit in-car DAB digital radio that also enables you to listen to your iPod/MP3 player.
...easily attached to your windscreen with a removable flexible mount (just like sat nav).
Highway is packed with great, easy-to-use features such as ReVu‚ĄĘ to pause and skip back through live DAB radio, quickSCAN to find free FM transmission frequencies

One criticism is that it's not a pretty solution. You have to have the aerial stuck to the windscreen and the cable then runs around the screen and plugs into the unit which is attached via sucker to the windscreen. A power cable is then attached to your car power supply (in my case the cigarette lighter!). So, not ideal but I don't care about that!
As a DAB radio it performs admirably. It auto scans on start up and quickly finds DAB stations in your area. If your new to DAB then all you need to know is that there is no need to know your favourite radio stations frequency, you simple scroll through list by station name. The Highway comes with 20 presets, plenty of room to add your favourite stations.

The Pure Highway is available now priced at a respectable £69.99.

Welcome

1 min read

iChrisTaylor will deliver thoughts and ideas on a range of topics, from the latest gadgets to the latest news. I hope you enjoy reading this site and please feel free to leave any comments you have.