Tech Review: Beolit 12

Beolit 12

What is it?

The simple explanation is that the Beolit 12, by Bang and Olufsen is a dock for your iDevices. It allows you to play music via Airplay or USB. About the size of an old-fashioned lunchbox, the Beolit 12 delivers incredible sound.

How does it work?

It works via Airplay or USB. Music can be streamed via Airplay from a computer or iDevice or you can plug in your device’s USB cable directly to the Beolit 12. It also sports a rechargeable battery that is good for 8 hours which makes the Beolit 12 highly portable. The Beolit 12 has a substantial heft to it but it is easy to pick up by the leather strap that goes across it diagonally. If you plug in your iDevice it will charge it, even on battery power.

The Macworld review cited difficulties with plugging in the power cable and looping it over a peg in the rear compartment. I did not have any issues with this – perhaps it just needs smaller hands.

Why should I care?

The sound!!! The sound is why you should care. If you are an audiophile you will absolutely love the crystal-clear sound delivered by the Beolit 12. You can turn it all the way up and it does not distort or lose clarity. To quote Macworld: “The Beolit 12 can get hilariously loud – as in, ”I need to go into a second room before I turn the volume all the way up” loud.”

I first read a review for the Beolit 12 in January. I lusted after it until close to my birthday. Deb found one and I got it 2 weeks early. I absolutely adore it.

That’s all great but how much does it cost?

The Beolit 12 is not for the faint of heart. You are looking at $1000 CDN for this fabulous piece of speaker hardware. It is worth every penny. In addition to its fabulous sound it has a great visual aesthetic. Clearly this is something you buy because you have to have a fabulous dock. As music is my sanity it is a great investment in my self-care.

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Published in: on June 10, 2012 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Review: BulletTrain Express Keyboard Platform

What is it?

The BulletTrain Express Keyboard Platform holds an Apple Wireless keyboard and Apple Magic Trackpad. Essentially, it gives you the same set up as you find on Macbook Pros and Airs.

How does it work?

Basically you snap in your Magic Trackpad and Wireless keyboard.[1] The two devices then sit in the platform. It allows the user to access the trackpad beneath the keyboard just like a Macbook.

BulletTrain Express with Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple Magic Trackpad

Why should I care?

It all depends on your approach to computing and your style. Personally, I love how the MBPs are set up. I find I am way more productive with the trackpad beneath the keyboard. I tried using a trackpad in place of a mouse but I found it cumbersome and really not all that effective. I particularly found the trackpad problematic if I was working in a spreadsheet application; I would up reverting to a mouse.

The BulletTrain Express feels very solid. It does not move when you are typing and holds both the keyboard and trackpad level. It also provides some much needed wrist support. After 2 days of using it I have to say I am thrilled.

You could also effectively use the BulletTrain Express as an input device for a computer in the living room or media centre. It is totally lap friendly!

The only thing I don’t like is that the BulletTrain Express does not house a full-size keyboard. I do a lot of work with numbers and I need a keypad. I have purchased an SMK-Link Bluetooth keyboard/calculator.

That’s all great but how much does it cost?

The BulletTrain Express costs $79. However, you also have to purchase an Apple Wireless keyboard and a Magic Trackpad. The total setup cost: $223 and with the Bluetooth keypad is about $300. Not inexpensive. But if you already have the trackpad and keyboard and can live without the number pad then you are just looking at the $79.

So how do I get it?

You can order it here.

Conclusion

I love this product! Quite often I am disappointed in tech products as they are not often as they are described. This product is different. I noticed this right from the beginning. The product was on back order and when I emailed to find out when I would get mine, the product creator called me. We discussed the Express and he was confident that I was going to love. He was right. So, if you have used a MacBook Pro and loved it you will love this set up for your desktop.


[1] These items are not provided.

Celebrating the 1000th Dispatches from the Swamp Post

To celebrate this huge milestone, I thought I would give you the top 10 posts from the blog. I can hardly believe that I have been blogging since August 8, 2007.

#10 Mobile Me: Back to my Mac Views: 338 Published: April 14, 2010

It is amazing to me how quickly tech moves. Apple is retiring Mobile Me at the end of June in favour of iCloud. I am still not a huge fan of iCloud in that I don’t use it for documents or files I need/use on a daily basis. iCloud is not as straightforward as Dropbox. It only automatically syncs iWork documents. Since I move back and forth between Word and Pages and hate Numbers  this does not work for me. Dropbox on the other hand is easy to save any file. Plus they recently doubled all the storage space you have earned through referrals!

#9 Extreme Begging and Other Dog Stories Views: 364 Published: June 9, 2008

Begging for food is a theme in our house. However, I have to say, no one does it better than Zoe!

#8 How do you solve a problem like Maria? Views: 397 Published: July 7, 2008

Well, I did continue to watch the show to the end. What can I say? I like a good train-wreck.

#7 Raw Feeding 101 Views: 444 Published: August 19, 2008

I have been accused of being a raw-feeding evangelist. I’ll own that.

#6 How do you solve a problem like Maria part 2 Views: 477 Published July 29, 2008

It was such a train-wreck.

#5 ICBC Hit and Run Coverage Views: 679 Published: October 4, 2010

I never did get the damage fixed. It was too minor to spend $300. I still hate ICBC.

#4 Living with a Dying Dog Views: 732 Published: January 5, 2010

We lost Gemma a couple of months later. She was such a great dog.

#3 The Inmates have taken over the Asylum Part 2 Views: 1673 Published: May 10, 2009

We have been so blessed to have known so many great dogs.

#2 My Mr. Lube Experience Views: 2557 Published: August 27, 2007

This post is still generating comments! I should blog more about cars!

#1 Dropbox vs iDisk Views: 2697 Published: April 12, 2010

As I mentioned above tech moves so quickly these days. Dropbox has certainly held up for me. I cannot imagine moving to another file system at this point. Plus given the recent doubling of space, I have 13.75 GBs of space and I am not using half of that at this point.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading my ramblings over the last 1000 posts. I look forward to the next 1000 posts!

 

 

Published in: on April 23, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Review MacBook Air

What is it?

The MacBook Air is Apple’s answer to the netbook. However, where most netbooks failed, the MacBook Air soars. The Air is an ultrathin laptop that is built for portability and function. It sports a full-size MacBook keyboard, including the backlighting as the MacBook Pro. I bought the 13-inch with 256 GB of flash memory.

How does it work?

The MacBook Air works just like other laptops with one major difference. To create a laptop that gives the user a great experience while focusing on portability something had to be sacrificed. In this case, Apple chose to nix the hard drive. Instead, the Air relies on flash memory. At 256 GBs, the Air’s storage is quite small.[1] However, it is not meant for hoarding loads of data. If you need to access or keep lots of data then you can connect a portable hard drive to the thunderbolt port.

Apple has steadily improved the MacBook Air since its inception in 2008. With this new line they appear to have hit upon a winning formula. The Air is light and streamlined and its zippy performance rivals the competition.

Why should I care?

If you attend meetings, make presentations, or need to work in different places you will love the MacBook Air. I was at a meeting last night and 3 of us had new MacBook Airs. We had one projector and sharing it was so easy with the MacBook Airs.

If you hate having your arm pulled down by a heavy laptop or dragging a wheeled bag around. If you ever hesitated to take your laptop because it is too clunky then the Air is the answer for you.

That’s all great but how much does it cost?

The Air is more expensive than other netbooks. However it is comparable to other full-sized laptops. The entry level is $1199 in Canada. It comes with all of the typical Mac software like iPhoto, Garage Band and iMovie. Plus, of course, you get the superior performance of a Mac.

So how do I get it?

You can order it from the online Apple store or go to your closest Apple reseller!


[1] The low end of the line sports 64 GB of flash memory.

Published in: on January 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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iTunes Match

What is it?

iTunes Match is a new service from Apple. iTunes Match makes your digital library of music available in the Cloud. It facilitates easy sharing between all of your computers and devices.

How does it work?

Once you turn it on, iTunes will scan your library. If your music is available on iTunes then it will immediately be available to you. If some of your music is not on iTunes, iTunes Match will upload it to the Cloud.

Why should I care?

You should care for several reasons. iTunes Match is the first, easy to use, backup plan for iTunes. Many of us have several hundred gigabytes of music with no back ups. If you have ever lost your music library and had to re-rip all of your CDs or had to re-purchase your music you will be all over this!

Another great feature is iTunes will match your music with higher bit rate, DRM-free[1] versions. If your library consists of illegally downloaded copies you can replace them with clean copies. It is a little bit of work but who cares.[2] It is so worth it if you have crackly versions of songs that don’t sound great.

That’s all great but how much does it cost?

Of course, Apple is not giving this away. In Canada it costs $27.99 per year to have iTunes Match active. I think it is a great value for the money even as a backup tool. Plus it is a completely passive system, in that it requires nothing from you except the initial act of turning it on and then paying your money. If your computer crashes you can then download everything you own again.

So how do I get it?

It is so easy to turn it on. Open iTunes and go to the iTunes store and go to the ‘store’ menu. Then select turn on iTunes Match. It is that easy!

If you have questions put them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!

 


[1] DRM=Digital Rights Management – this is the system that limits what you can do with your music like only burning it 5 times etc.

[2] Essentially you have to ferret out those songs, delete them, and then re-download them.

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Is Google trying to take over the World?

Google is ubiquitous. Its name has become a verb and, for some, a destination. Starting out as a search engine, Google has conquered much more Internet territory in the years since it launched. Need an email address, Gmail has you covered; need help scheduling yourself, others or the universe, just check out Google Calendar; don’t want to shell out money for a word processing program, just head over to Google docs and everything you could need is there including online storage if you are so inclined.

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make. I love Google. I use Google as my search engine, my email provider, my calendar and my RSS feed. I lusted after a Google Wave invitation and I was sad when it ultimately failed.  I have been a Google evangelist – spreading the word to the uninformed about the beauty have having all your mail in one place. I was one of those people who every time someone complained about their email, I told them Gmail’s fix for whatever was vexing them at the time. After years of my mother complaining about not having all of her email on each of her computers in different geographical locations, I finally got her to switch to Gmail. She loves it.

Certainly many people, some might say conspiracy theorists, have argued that Google has nefarious intentions. Until this last week, I actually just thought they were a great company offering a lot of great products for free. In hindsight, I suspect I was naïve. Now I think Google was keeping its plans to take over the world under wraps. That is until NOW!

Google has once again taken a foray into social networking. This is not something Google has succeeded at in the past. Does Google ‘Buzz’ ring a bell anyone? Almost every one I know turned off Buzz as soon as Google gave us the option. I am surprised that Buzz survived after they breached so many people’s privacy.

Now Google has made a huge foray into the social networking field again. Except this time they don’t just have Facebook in their sites but Twitter too.[1] Launching Google+ with the ability to both keep posts private or within certain ‘circles’ and the ability to broadcast publicly. But it does not end there.

Yesterday a post went out from the Gmail blog[2] about convincing people you know to switch to Gmail. The poster relays a story about how just one friend was not on Gmail and how he wore him down over time to get him to switch. I going to resist the urge to talk about how the inherent creepiness in this kind of behaviour because it gets worse! Yes, not only are we all supposed to track down all of our friends who do not worship at the altar of Google, we are supposed to stage interventions for our recalcitrant friends.

It is starting to look like Google wants inroads into every aspect of our lives. I am not really concerned about the data they have as it is simply too much to be of any use to them.  What does concern me is the cutthroat behaviour Google is using to convince more people to drink at the Fountain of Google.

I am not really sure what all this means. I think if Google continues its proselytizing[3] they will alienate people – even people who love Google may begin to question their use of Google’s services. I really don’t want to think that Google is plotting how it is going to take over the world but their behaviour is certainly indicating that indeed that is their plan.


[1] Thanks to Veronique for the observation about Twitter in a Google+ post.

[2] Which of course I follow on Google Reader

[3] They are behaving as though they are a religion and they need more soldiers to spread the word.

Google+

I use both Twitter and Facebook and now I am thinking about adding Google+. The problem is that I don’t think I can keep up with 3 social networks. The case for using Google+ over Facebook is definitely there but very few of my friends are earl adopters which means I am hanging out in Google+ with only a few people.

Today’s Lifehacker article discussed how you could easily migrate your FB friends over to Google+ by exploiting Yahoo mail. I already had a really old Yahoo mail account so I did what they suggested and it worked very well. But I am still left with the problem that most of the people I interact with on social networking sites are all on FB and many of them are not really the early adopter type.

I like some of the features of Google+. Being able to create your own circles is a great idea and easy to do. Adding people to circles is simple as well and is a really great way to manage your privacy better. You select which circles you want to share a post with before you hit the button.

I love Google products. I even love Google products that no one else liked – think Google Wave. I love Gmail and Google reader. Google is my search engine of choice. Google+ is well integrated into Gmail, which makes using it very easy. I hope that over time more people will gravitate over to Google+ but for now I guess I will just have to keep up with as much as I can!


Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 5:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My first thoughts about Lion

Lion

  • The first thing I noticed about Lion is that they have reversed the way trackpads scroll. Now, you scroll the way you want the content to move – if you want it to move up, you scroll up etc. It is reversed side-to-side as well. I could not cope with this last night and turned it off on my laptop. Today I have coped with it better. It really is a much more intuitive way to scroll so I think I will get used to it.
  • I love mission control! It shows you every program you have open and the windows associated with it. It will quickly become the way I navigate through windows. You can access it very quickly by swiping up on the magic trackpad with 3 fingers. There was expose in Snow Leopard (SL) but I never found it particularly useful. I also found it would load at the most in opportune moments. Mission control will be much better and infinitely more usable.
  • Apple Mail – again the upgrades here for Lion are stellar. I love the new conversation view and it seems much less clunky. I tried mail out in SL but I did not really like the interface. It is much nicer now.
  • There have also been changes to the Finder. I find it much more responsive and easier to use. You can resize columns from anywhere i.e. you don’t have to go to the top or the bottom in order to do it anymore.
  • Airdrop is going to be fabulous once everyone here is upgraded to Lion. Basically it allows you to just drop a file on someone’s icon and it will transfer. I have not tried this out yet.
  • I don’t particularly like the Launchpad feature. If you are familiar with an iPhone or iPad it is the same interface you use to launch programs. I tend to launch most things from the dock or with Launchbar. Your mileage may vary.

I am sure I am only scratching the surface. There were over 250 changes so I am sure I will find more changes as I use Lion over the next couple of weeks.

Published in: on July 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My Need for Speed

Front and side of a Mac Pro. It looks very industrial.

I love computers. I spend several hours in front of a computer every day and if the computer is slow I pretty much want to pull my hair out. In fact, it was my need for speed that caused me to switch from Windows-based machines to a Mac. I got an iMac initially and I was very happy with the Mac side of the computer. However, I still have a need for programs that run only in a Windows environment. The problem with the iMac was that it was not fast enough nor did it have enough RAM to run Parallels and Windows.

I knew the answer was a Mac Pro. However, they are hideously expensive when put up beside an iMac. The price of the Mac Pro does not include the monitor. Every once in a while, I would go to the Apple website and build my dream Mac Pro. I was so happy when Deb said she wanted to buy my Mac Pro!!!

I got a 2.8 ghz Quad-core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processor Mac Pro with 12 GB of RAM and 5 TB of hard drive space. The RAM and processor speed means that I can run Parallels and Windows without the computer grinding to a halt. Just starting the Windows profile would take several minutes. Moving back and forth meant a 45 second minimum wait. Shutting down took longer than starting it up. It was enough to make me want to pull my hair out!

The 5TB hard drive will allow me to house my ever-growing movie and tv show collection. It was getting tedious having to move stuff off the main computer and on to an external hard drive all the time. Now that we have Netflix, hopefully I will have to buy less and be able to watch more for free.

My laptop was also not as fast as it could be. So, while I was on my ‘need for speed,’ Deb took my laptop and had the RAM doubled from 4GB to 8GB. I haven’t tried to boot up Windows on it yet but I am sure it will behave well.

I get so excited by technology. I love all the new things that are coming out. I especially love it all in an ‘Apple’ world. A lot of people don’t like the proprietary tendencies of Apple but I don’t care. I find the products superior and cutting edge. I am so excited about the release date for Lion, the next iteration in Apple’s OS X.

Published in: on July 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In case there was any doubt

I am weird. I got up early[1] this morning because I was looking forward to doing some work on my new computer. I was excited to get work done all because of my new, very, very, fast Mac Pro. The report I am doing requires that I use Microsoft Access. For some reason, Microsoft has never developed Access for the Mac. We can have Word, Excel, PowerPoint and even Outlook but we can’t have Access.

So, if you use a Mac because you can no longer stand to use Windows everyday but you still need to run Access you need a fast computer. There are a couple of ways you can do this: you can use Apple Bootcamp and set up a separate partition. Windows will run quite well there but you then have to log out of Mac OS. There is a better solution. There is software that allows you to run Windows within Mac OS X. I use Parallels.

On my iMac, loading Parallels and starting Windows would take about 7-10 minutes to completely load. While Windows was loading, my computer literally ground to a halt – I couldn’t do anything. Once it was up and Access was open, I could get the data I needed but it was very slow. If I switched back and forth between Mac OS and Windows it would take a very long time. Sometimes my computer would completely freeze and I would have to shut down in order to get it back.

With the Mac Pro, it is completely different. Running Windows in Parallels is just like running any other program. Windows launches quickly and there is no difficulty going between each OS. This makes my life so much easier as there are many times I need to get into Windows.

 


[1] Now I realize that early is relative. Early for me was 10:15 am.

Published in: on July 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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