Aug24

Bose QuietComfort 15′s

With a recent trip to Italy I finally decided it was time to buy some over the ear headphones. I wasn’t content getting some cheap and cheerful ones, I wanted a set that had an in-line control and noise cancelling. After putting it out to twitter I ended up buying the Bose QuietComfort 15′s (QC 15′s).

As you would expect from Bose headphones the sound quality is amazing and totally immersive. They sit perfectly over my ears, with just the right amount of pressure so it won’t hurt (even after hours of listening). My only qualm with the comfort comes when you turn the headphones on. The noise cancelling seems to produce what feels like an increase in air pressure on your ears. The change is almost interpretable and after a while you forget it is there.

The noise cancelling is better than that of the Beats by Dr Dre and really comes in to its own when your travelling. However the price tag is even higher than of a set of the better looking Beats. The QC 15′s also require batteries to work so it is worth carrying around a spear one with you. Mine have lasted me two weeks so far with a lot of heavy listening time clocked.

If you have the cash and you want the best quality get the QC 15′s but otherwise Beats are cheaper, look better and do almost the same job.

Aug9

The BBC and the Olympics

With the hashtag #NBCFail  trending it has brought to light the awesome job the BBC do. Something that might fascinate you to know is that both NBC and the BBC are showing the same footage, and that footage is shot in fact by the OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Service).

At Beijing in 2008 the OBS did its first games broadcast in a joint venture with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG). The 2010 Vancouver Winter games was the first games to be broadcast solely by the OBS.

The OBS are producing all 24 video streams for London 2012. They also produce some of the info graphics that are shown, such as teams and scores (an interesting side fact is that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) do not recognise a medal table so you won’t see one on their coverage, but the BBC and NBC all produce their own.). This means that the actually video coverage is unbiased and no country get more coverage than others. The OBS footage is in turn spliced into the content produced by the countries distributor e.g. the BBC or NBC.

Having said that, some countries do get better service than others. This is down to your countries distributor, and what they do with those 24 streams. For instance the BBC shows all 24 streams over the red button, as individual channels (in SD, HD and available content in 3D), on mobile platforms and through its online interactive player. And a further stream showing the summary coverage they run either on BBC One or Two throughout the day, showing the “best bits”.

This coverage this then augmented by live statistics on the BBC sports website or in the interactive player. This linking of data into live coverage shows you what an interactive viewing experience might be like in the future. They also allow for you to skip backwards and forwards to key segments in the coverage.

So with all this tech and absolutely amazing coverage you wouldn’t be surprised to see some statistics broken. These were the stats at the end of week one and some of these have been re-broken already:

  • BBC Sport Olympics web pages see 80% uplift in browsers across PC, mobile, tablet and connected TV
  • So far, 1.5m people have downloaded the BBC Olympics smartphone app
  • BBC Sport website has seen 29m requests for its Olympics interactive video streams
  • BBC Sport website saw 729,000 requests for video of Wiggin’s medal win
  • Every BBC Red Button stream drew 100,000 viewers at some point during Olympics week one

The BBC have also posted a few great insights into their coverage on their internet blog. It is also worth taking into account that in the UK everyone pays £145.50 ($227.67) a year for the BBC, this allows for quality content without adverts. A TV license is mandatory in the UK if you are watching TV through a satellite, an IPTV service or an aerial, but also more recently also for streaming live coverage.

Jul27

Chinese Wispers

One of the best bits of being an Apple fan boy is the dedicated rumour sites. They make it impeccably clear that what they are publishing is rumour and speculation. Main stream news never seem to be able to distinguish between rumours and news.

This means if you are an Apple fan boy you will inevitably have your not so nerdy friends coming up to you and telling you that the next iPhone will be this and that. I feel it is my duty as a fan boy to correct these miss guided souls and tell them that that it “could, might, someday, possible have X feature”. The truth with Apple is no one really knows, because they will happily scrap a product or feature days before launch because it isn’t up to standard.

Keeping this level of secrecy has gotten harder as Apple have grown and the information has become more valuable. This makes being a fan boy slightly less fun as speculation just isn’t part of game anymore. Tim Cook said at D10 that

We’re going to double down on secrecy on products

Tim Cook

Lets hope that this more secretive Apple can keep the design of future products under wraps better than the next iPhone’s design.

Jul21

Carrier Pigeons

I wrote this blog post pre the announcement that Google were to buy Sparrow so please take it in context. I would like to think that the reason Google acquired Sparrow was so they could create an email client with tighter integration into Google’s own Gmail service, but only time will tell.

I have always been happy with Mail.app; it is a great app and usually works seamlessly. However unusually I couldn’t get it to connect to my rmaspero.com email on the new MBP retina. It worked fine with a couple other Google Apps accounts. I couldn’t see a reason why it wasn’t working. As an alternative Sparrow has had a lot of hype, I thought it worth a try. Setup was quick and easy and all my email accounts worked perfectly.

With a track pad the pull to refresh in Sparrow feel natural especially next to Twitters official app. The use of user icons on emails makes them easy to find at a glance. With the retina update coming through the Mac App store last week it is now the best email client out there for me. The only real downside I can see is the lack of folders. Having said that it is not something they are likely to do, as Sparrow is primarily a gmail client (Google favours the approach of labels instead of folders). Another of their innovative ideas was the quick reply. Initially I thought quick reply’s would not be something I would use, but during a recent email conversation it came in very handy.

The cloud attachment is Sparrow’s best features. It allows you to upload large attachments to either Dropbox or CloudApp. I prefer CloudApp as I don’t really want to put lots of email attachments in my Dropbox. The free version of CloudApp limits file size at 25MB which is small, but larger than most email servers will allow. At $45 for 12 months a Pro subscription is an appealing offer. The only con I have seen with the cloud attachment is that Sparrow won’t let you click send on the email till the file upload is done. It would be much better if you could click send, the file upload in the background and the email was sent when upload was complete.

Even though Sparrow won’t see any more new features, I will continue to use it as my email client simply because it is the best option out there at the moment. Hopefully someone will fill the hole left in this space by developing a kick ass alternative.’

Jul16

MacBook Pro Unboxing

Because unboxing videos rock here is one of my new MacBook Pro. Review can be found here.