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.

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.


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!



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.

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.

Eco-Vision Tech – What a Scam

It has really been my week for odd phone calls. First there was the Viagra phone call and yesterday we received a call from a ‘company’[1] called Eco-Vision Tech. The call sounded like it was coming from India. The caller informed that my router was sending out error messages and he was calling from my ‘operating system’s manufacturer. I asked him if he was calling from Apple he said no. At which point I hung up.

This is a scam that has been going on for a while. It happened to my mother as well. What they do is convince you there is something wrong with your computer. Then they sometimes will ask you to install some software[2], which will then make you think there is something wrong with your computer. Another tactic is to direct you to event logs on your computer and telling you that all of those messages are errors. Once they hook you they want your credit card or bank information so they can get money from you.

Calling me was rather useless. I know far too much about computers to be swayed by their scare tactics. But there are a lot of people who do not and may be swayed. I wonder how many people actually fall for this scam? They wanted to charge my mother $200 to ‘fix’ her computer. I am sure that was just the beginning. Clearly this is where they make their money. I am sure many people hang up on them and don’t get sucked in. I can imagine it could be pretty compelling if you have someone on the phone telling you your computer is sending out error messages and that your computer is going to die.

I think we all need to talk to our parents or others who may be vulnerable to this scam. They need to know that a random call like this is a scam and they simply need to hang up. Hopefully if enough people are warned this scam will cease to work.


[1] I use the word ‘company’ very loosely here.

[2] Referred to as scareware.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I can’t believe the change’ edition

  • I just got off the phone with my mother and I am astounded at her capacity to change. My sister had a temper tantrum the other day and she told my mother to fuck off.[1] There had been an incident on Saturday where my sister was supposed to pick my mother up to go to a party. Kathy decided she had too much to do and if she picked up mom then she would be driving for 2 hours. So she phoned my mother and told her she wasn’t going to pick her up. Now, Kathy had already made this commitment. She had also been asked to pick up someone else who lived 10 minutes away from the venue and she needed to pick up a veggie try. Instead of trying to solve the problem she just dumped mom and told her to take a taxi[2] or to drive herself.[3] My mother then opted not to go, knowing that Kathy would be in a foul mood if she pushed it. Later that evening they had a conversation on the phone, which is when my sister told her off. My mother has also decided that Kathy should not come when we come to visit later in the fall. She actually seems to be able to understand Kathy a whole lot better now. In the past, she would have been trying to please Kathy and calm the situation down. Then she would have been on my case to get along better with Kathy. None of this happened. In fact, she has not said a hurtful thing to me since the cruise.
  • Piper has to go in to the vet and be put under so they can get a good look at her throat and see the extent of the problem. This will likely be done this week or early next week. I cannot wait to get this problem fixed for her. Piper has always been a very active dog and she does not like being left at home when everyone else goes to the park.
  • I have been having an issue with my computer. It is having problems backing up to time machine. I have been working with a couple of Apple guys and I have to say they are remarkable for their communication skills, patience and knowledge. My problem has been elevated to the engineers so I am still waiting for a resolution. The troubleshooting has been fun with them!
  • Oh, and in unrelated news, Jonathan Bacon has been shot. I am happy to report that the Bacon sisters (Piper and Zoe) are all fine. Although they are wondering where the bacon went…

[1] Who uses that kind of language with their 75-year old mother?

[2] Which would have cost over $100.

[3] My mother has only really driven in the Southwest of Calgary. She rarely ever went to the north end.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘please don’t over share’ edition

  • Early this afternoon, sitting in my office, I started to hear the strains of ‘In the Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins. Now I have nothing against Phil Collins and in fact I have been known to blast that song myself a few times. Usually though I am a little more considerate. As Deb and I were leaving for Best Buy later they had changed to Bob Dylan. We seem to have the most inconsiderate neighbours. We have the partying swingers next door and then the losers across the street. Not only do they blast their music they also chain their dogs outside all year round. The dogs whine and cry and who can blame them? There is a special place in hell for people who leave their dogs outside.
  • Still on the over sharing theme; it seems that Deb and I are always treated to some dumpy, middle-aged white man with NO shirt on either walking or riding a bicycle. The guy today looked like he was mostly naked. Why they feel they have the right to subject the rest of us to their white-dough like bodies is beyond me. Oh, yes, I forgot, the patriarchy that allows white men to do whatever they want. My poor virgin lesbian eyes.
  • I blogged quite a while ago about Civilization V. I have played every iteration of this game since it was first released. This time I could not seem to get into it. I found that it was almost impossible to play. One of the things that seemed to really slow it down was that it was integrated through Steam. You had to launch Steam in order to play it. I am pretty sure that Steam was slowing it down. Now Civilization V is offered through the Mac App store with Steam. I took a chance and bought it again. It is the Campaign edition and includes two expansion packs. Now it plays very well on my new computer. I am looking forward to playing the game and listening to music!
  • We are still having problems with our ride on mower. A belt broke the other day. When we call our local Home Hardware and talk to the owner it is almost like he gets annoyed when we break our machines. It is really rather funny. We do get great service from him. Today he came and picked up the mower to put the new belt. He is going away for 2 weeks and he wanted to make sure it was fixed.
  • I still need to tinker with the Logitech Remote. There is one command we are missing that we had before. I noticed today at Best Buy that they charge $149 to program one of those things! I am not surprised as they are really complicated.

Not much for today…

We got our new Gateway PVR box today. I have spent most of the afternoon trying to re-program our Logitech Harmony One remote. When it is finally set up, it is an amazing piece of computer wizardry. Getting it to that point though is a hair pulling, anxiety inducing process of little steps and changes. The last time it took me days to get it right. I suspect that may happen again!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘summer has arrived’ edition

  • We are finally home. Thankfully we had a ferry reservation because the sailing was full an hour before we even got there. Piper got overheated while we were waiting to get on the boat. It was so freaking hot there. I walked across to the Market to get lunch and papers Deb. It was almost sick. Once we got on the ferry there was a great breeze. I went up and got the soft-serve ice cream and it was very good! We got off the ferry at 4:54pm and we were home in an hour with a stop at Hopcott’s for steak.
  • OMG! The stereo/GPS unit I got Deb for her birthday is amazing. It tells you when the traffic is backing up!?! Could there be anything better! It also navigates much better. It gives you information ongoing about the road you are on and what roads are coming up. I can’t stand it so I am getting my own.
  • It is nice to be home after spending several days in a small room with Deb and 2 dogs. She makes me crazy! I would put something down and she would ‘put it away.’ I really struggled with food. It was very hard for me to find stuff I could eat. The food from the Kingfisher restaurant (what made it worse was that the baked brie dish they had on the menu they were no longer serving!) was far too gourmet and rich for me. There was very little that appealed to either Deb or me. The best meal we had was at Boston Pizza. We did have some food with us like cheese and crackers. I also had my yogurt and cereal as well. Grilled eggplant and steak was very welcome tonight for dinner.
  • The dogs were so good – especially Sawyer. He is still quite a young dog yet he is so well socialized. He is pretty much bomb proof as he can adapt to any situation. He loves all people and dogs. Piper was a little stressed in the beginning in the truck but she did eventually calm down. She is getting really overheated so we are off to the vet to get her looked at. Piper and Sawyer get along so well. They don’t scrap over food or toys and they like to cuddle together.
  • It seems the heat has arrived now. I am going to try not to complain as we have pretty much had a month of no heat. I will be trying to hide in the house with the until the heat wave is over. Thankfully we have air conditioners!