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SONOS and Design: Part 4 of 5

Posted on March 15th, 2018

Dave!Welcome to Sonos Week here at Blogography! Each day I will be talking about my leap to the Sonos platform for "smart speakers" and how it integrates with Amazon's Alexa assistant. If you haven't read past entries in Sonos Week, you'll probably want to start at the beginning by clicking here.

And now on with the show...

Sonos One speakers are designed to provide great sound in a small package and integrate a microphone so you can talk to Alexa... all while looking good. The speakers, as I mentioned in yesterday's entry, are pretty great for sound. The microphone array for Alexa, on the other hand, could use some improvement. Apparently things were much worse when the One was first released, and they've since improved it with software updates. My hope is that they continue to work on this, because it's irritating how ambient noise can obliterate any Alexa commands you might make. My Sonos One in the living room sits on my media center... exactly where my Echo used to sit. With Echo, I could have the television blasting and Alexa would still respond to commands easily. With One, that's not the case. Both my living room and kitchen speakers will hear me say "Alexa..." (I get that "beep" from both) but, if the television is on, half the time it's the kitchen speaker which is the One to reply. This sucks because I can't hear it with the television on.

Yes, this is a testament to just how good the microphones are at picking up when I ask for Alexa from across the house, but their ability to recognize where I'm at when I'm saying it is really poor. Sure I can disable the microphone on the kitchen One so there's no confusion, but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a One in my kitchen in the first place.

Another issue which may or may not be tied to the design of the Sonos One... there seems to be more lag between when I say an Alexa command and when the speaker will respond and act on that command. It seems faster on Echo and Echo Dot. No idea what that's about, because you'd think Alexa is Alexa no matter where she is. Perhaps Amazon prioritizes commands from the units they sell over third party devices? No clue.

And then there's Alexa not responding to Sonos control commands on the Sonos One speakers, but that's such a complex topic that I'm saving it for my final installment tomorrow.

When it comes to Alexa on Sonos One, the microphone problem and lag are annoying, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. If you listen to Audible audiobooks with Alexa, you can't do it on the Sonos One. At least not yet. If you use Alexa for drop-in (intercom between your Alexa units) or calling, they're not supported on a Sonos One. At least not yet. Some Alexa skills also don't work (like Sleep Sounds). At least not yet. Maybe it's Amazon that's refusing to allow these things, I have no idea. But it's scary to think how the Alexa features people rely on might one day disappear from their Sonos One speakers if Amazon decides to axe them for one reason or another.

As for the physical appearance of the Sonos One speakers, they're very pretty. Also... the design of the touch controls and indicators on the top of the unit are wonderfully unobtrusive. Rendered all in black, it's much better-looking than the multi-toned PLAY:1. Real thought went into making this a gorgeous piece of hardware.

Unless you want to mount it to a wall.

Then you have to add a bunch of shit which destroys the sleek lines of the product.

Because there's no screw mount on the back, all the screw-mount hardware used to hang the very similar Sonos PLAY:1 on a wall won't work. You have to use a specialized mount which has stupid restraining wires to hold on to the unit (something which seems ugly, flawed, and unsafe). I have run this over and over and over in my head trying to figure out why the screw mount was omitted, but keep coming up empty. This is profoundly stupid. Your options for mounting hardware goes from dozens to one or two, and neither are that great (the Midlite cable-conceal mount is not compatible, which is the one I wanted to use, but can't). Perhaps this was a ploy by Sonos to get kickback money? Maybe Sonos hates their customers and wants everybody replacing their PLAY:1 speakers with One speakers to have to buy all new mounts? Maybe they think the Sonos One is too pretty, so they want you to have to ugly it up if you mount it on a wall? I mean, come on... just look at this janky crap hanging off the back...

Janky-Ass Ugly Stupid Sonos One Wall Mount

   
That stupid wire will never stay straight, as you can see if you look close. Maybe Sonos just hates OCD types like me? And it takes two wires... TOP AND BOTTOM to restrain the damn thing...

Janky-Ass Ugly Stupid Sonos One Wall Mount

   
This idiotic shit is rage-inducing. Why even bother designing such a pretty speaker if you have to fuck it up to mount it on a wall?

Regardless of how ugly or stupid, I'm sure more mounts are coming. Hopefully somebody can find a more creative way of solving this which doesn't require a big ass wires and massively ugly clips hanging off the back.

Another design decision which may be problematic... you cannot create a stereo pair between a Sonos One and a Sonos PLAY:1, or any other Sonos product other than another Sonos One. While this may be a bummer to some, I don't know that I'd want a stereo pairing between two speakers that aren't identical anyway. I'm OCD like that. What Sonos should do is come out with a Sonos One "Lite" speaker which looks the same as a Sonos One, but doesn't have Alexa in it. That way it would be cheaper (no Amazon licensing fees or additional microphone hardware) and a much better option for those wanting to create a stereo pair. It's not like you need two Alexas in the same space (you'd probably turn one of the microphones off anyway), so this seems like a no-brainer.

But it's hard to give much credit to Sonos for brains when they screwed up the mounting so heinously bad.

And tomorrow we wrap all this up on an even more sour note, so be sure to tune in for that.

   

Scenes from a Shithole Country

Posted on January 12th, 2018

Dave!As a wise man once said before the election...

"Donald Trump is a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted piece of shit. And electing Trump is the equivalent of hanging a giant banner outside the country advertising the fact that we're a nation of racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted pieces of shit. And that doesn't even address the embarrassment factor of having this ridiculous buffoon representing Americans on the global stage. You think we were the laughing stock of the planet during the Bush years? Try 1400+ days of Toxic Cheeto Jesus."

— David Simmer II, Blogography: No… God, No… Please Save Us…

The old me might have said something like that (or never said anything like that... these days apparently you can deny what you said even if others have heard you say it or the statement is recorded). But my New Year's resolution was to start being less ranty and more constructive so let's work from there, shall we?

Before we go any further, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. There is no doubt in my mind that President Trump called Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations "shitholes" and bemoaned that he'd rather have people immigrating to the US from countries like Norway.

This is exactly who Donald Trump is and has always been. Even FOX "News" initially confirmed that President Trump uttered these heinous words (even though the network is backtracking on their confirmation now, of course). Senator Dick Durbin was there and has said that he heard the president say it. Senator Lindsey Graham is reported to have confirmed this was what the president said (and hasn't contradicted any reports stating so).

And so... if I'm not going to rant over what a racist piece of shit* we elected to run this country or how diplomatically stupid you have to be to lob such insults at other countries when you're representing this country... what else is there to say?

Uh.

Something positive and constructive? On this?

Wow.

Well... Zimbabwe may not have a Trump Tower, but it's actually a beautiful country and has some amazing people...

Zimbabwe at Night

There's many a day lately I'd like to escape the "shithole" of Trump's America and return to Africa, that's for sure.

   

*Racist as in... three guesses as to what the predominant color of the people are in Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries... vs. the predominant color of the people in Norway.

   

Winter Weather Blues

Posted on January 11th, 2018

Dave!Snow is frickin' dumping down today.

I mean really coming down.

I had to drive to The Big City and back for a dentist appointment and ended up regretting that I didn't cancel it. The roads were plowed earlier in the morning, but conditions worsened since then and there's a pretty big accumulation of snow and slush you have to drive through... even on the highway. Also? People are driving like frickin' morons. One person in a small van thought that they would cruise around us cars driving at a SANE speed for the conditions. I watched as they got sucked into the slush and rammed their vehicle straight into the center barricade. I was laughing my ass off as I passed. Maybe I shouldn't have... perhaps the driver had an emergency... but 99 times out of 100, this kind of thing happens to people who get what they deserve for driving stupid. It's just fortunate they didn't take anybody else down with them.

Oh... and on the way back from the dentist I stopped for lunch. As I was getting out of my car, I heard a guy screaming "OH YEAH! FUCK YOU! DON'T SLOW DOWN, ASSHOLE! I DON'T FUCKING CARE! FUUUUUUCK YOOOOUUUU!" which was subsequently repeated all over again.

Turns out he was shoveling the sidewalk and when cars drove by he was getting totally douched in dirty slush water. He was not happy. Didn't help that he was absolutely not dressed for the job in non-waterproof clothing and was probably soaked down to his tookus. Oh well. Live and learn, buddy. Live and learn.

I honestly don't mind winter weather. I've lived in it since I was 5 years old and learned how to drive in it since I first started driving. No, I don't like having to clean snow off my car, but snow is pretty, and I've grown accustomed to having it around town...

XXX

Except...

I usually end up hating it from Day One as well as liking it, because people are stupid assholes.

That's true for most things though.

   

THOU DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH, SIR!

Posted on January 10th, 2018

Dave!Uh huh.

If virulently anti-gay pastors and Republicans have taught us anything about their disturbingly homophobic behavior... it's that it's usually driven by they themselves being gay. This asshole's reaction towards a cursory touch by a man speaks volumes. It's so over-the-top absurd that you'd think he was grabbed by the crotch...

So synchronize your watches, folks... It's only a matter of time before Representative Daryl Metcalfe is caught with an underage gay prostitute in a public bathroom.

They always are...

   

I Have To Do Better in 2018

Posted on January 1st, 2018

Dave!I never get mad at my cats.

It doesn't matter what they do that's "bad," I can never bring myself to get upset at a cat for being a cat. My cats make that pretty easy. They're well-behaved, for the most part, and don't get into to much trouble. Now that they're grown, they never scratch at the furniture or pee on stuff or anything like that (so far, anyway)...

Sony 90mm MACRO

On occasion there are problems. One of them will get to a place they're not supposed to be and break something, for example. But... how can that be their fault? More likely my fault for not anticipating the problem and preventing it. If I'm mad at anybody, it should be me.

It occurred to me a while back that if I can't get mad at my cats, shouldn't I be able to translate that passivity to people?

The Trump presidency has caused a lot of anger in me this past year. His dangerous ignorance, utter stupidity, and inhuman ability to not give a crap about people he is supposed to be representing as president... it grates on me like nothing else ever has. I find myself consumed with rage on a near-daily basis because every day it's just more of the same horrendous shit raining down on the world from The White House. Or, more likely, whatever golf course President Trump is occupying this week.

As somebody who honestly believes that anger is more destructive on the person who has it rather than those it's directed at, I know this it not healthy. Not for me. Not for the people I care about. Not for my cats.

And so, after completely unplugging from the world for two weeks in Antarctica and becoming accustomed to not being angry every waking moment, I made myself a promise to try and be more pragmatic, caring, and less angry in the new year. To attempt to let my anger go and focus on positive things so that I can help be a solution instead of being part of the static that divides us.

And then... just as I was making my mind up, it happens. A tweet President Trump unleashed finds its way into my news cycle...

Trump Idiocy in Action: In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!

And see... here is why my "letting go" of my anger is so tough. When it comes to my new commitment to setting aside hatred, I've already failed the test. Because stupid-ass shit like this just reinforces how utterly brain-dead and dangerous this fucking asshole actually is for this country and the world, and I can't help but be angry about that.

He has no clue... none... what climate change entails, nor does he care. And yet he speaks as if he's an authority on the matter. This is the same idiot who thought that hairspray quality today isn't as good as it used to be because ozone-depleting CFCs have been banned from aerosols... the same CFCs that he said could never affect the ozone layer because his apartment is "all sealed."

You can't make this shit up.

And yet... here we are. And here I am. Right back to where I was in 2017.

There's more stupid-ass tweets to come, I'm sure. There always are. And that's not even the start of it. I'm sure he'll find a way to keep assaulting all the Americans he loathes in short order... the non-Christian Americans, the unhealthy Americans, the Mexican Americans, the gay Americans, the poor Americans... whatever... the list is never-ending. And that doesn't even touch crap like his assault on net-neutrality, something that I am beyond passionate about.

And so... what?

What to do with the torrents of overwhelming Trump-initiated anger that very nearly destroyed me in 2017?

I honestly don't know. I wish I could argue against his fucked-up agenda without getting so enraged about it, but that's something I'm apparently incapable of doing. President Trump is an affront to everything I care about.

And yet I have to try.

I have to do better in 2018.

I could never ignore what's going on in the world in order to make myself be happier. Ignorance just allows ignorance to propagate. But the same could be said for hate.

And so... a plan.

  1. I will try my best to accept the negative for what it is rather than what I make it into.
  2. I will educate myself on the negative in order to better understand it from an objective viewpoint rather than an emotional one.
  3. I will act upon the negative in a positive manner from a positive mindset in the hopes of bringing about positive change in myself and others.
  4. I will attempt to detach myself from the negative (Buddhist-style) in order to accomplish all of the above.

Easier said than done to be sure. But, as I said, I'm going to try. Finding more positive inspirations in my life that encourage me to make the jump will probably help...

And here we go...

   

Bullet Sunday 533

Posted on November 26th, 2017

Dave!This may be the last Bullet Sunday you're going to see for a while (depending what my internet is like in Argentina), so indulge yourself in an all new Bullet Sunday, which starts... now...

   
• Save It! I have spoken out a lot on this blog about net neutrality and how crucial it is to the free and open internet we all enjoy. Most Americans agree. Every time killing it is brought up, there's a huge backlash and the FCC backs down. But our current government doesn't give a flying fuck about honoring the wishes of its citizens, nor does it care about selling out the internet and fucking us over. All Trump & Co give a shit about is stripping power and liberty from the people and giving that power to big business so the rich get richer and have more control over our lives. And so... prepare yourself for the end of the internet as we know it. I don't wish harm upon any living thing... but I sincerely hope that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is repaid in spades for the evil he does.

   
• Dogs! Back before I was headed to Africa, I Googled for photography tips and was introduced to Will Burrard-Lucas. He is a nature photographer unlike any other, and the shots he gets are mind-blowing. Getting to actually meet him on my upcoming photographic expedition will be a real honor. One of his most recent posts was of African wild dogs photographed in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. It's incredible...

African Wild Dogs by Will Burrard-Lucas

I was beyond lucky that I got to see these dogs in the wild when I was in Zimbabwe. My driver told me that his previous charges were a documentary film crew that searched for these beautiful pups for two weeks and didn't get to see a single one of them.

   
• Save It! Hey FOX "News"... stuff gets distorted on a curved reflective surface... YOU UNBELIEVABLE FUCKING PIECES OF IGNORANT SHIT!!! Fuck you sideways forever for propagating this bullshit...

FOX News says you be the judge as to whether or not the moon landing was faked... fucking asshole dipshits.

There are people saying that this is "conclusive proof" that we never went to the moon because it's not just an astronaut's reflection in the curved surface of a helmet... it's a stagehand on the "set" from when it was being faked here on earth. Just when I think that FOX "News" couldn't possibly be a bigger pile of shit, here it is. No wonder people who trust FOX "News" and use it as their only source are as stupid as a box of fucking rocks.

   
• 73! Vogue's 73 Questions videos are some of my favorite things on YouTube. Yes, it's staged and rehearsed, but you do get to know some nifty facts about interesting famous people. My hands-down favorite is Lupita Nyong'o...

And today I found out that Aziz Ansari has one!

And, of course, you can't watch the Vogue 73 Question videos unless you bask in the glory that is Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour...

   
• Vera! I wouldn't watch Touched by an Angel... but Della Reese will always be "Vera" from Harlem Nights to me. I love that character as much as I could possibly love any movie character, and it was ALL thanks to Della...



Rest in Peace, Miss Reese... you will be missed.

   
• Crisis! Holy crap...

I'm more excited for this than I am to see Justice League. For the hundredth time... put the people in charge of the TV DC Universe in charge of the Cinematic DC Universe! The mind boggles at the possibility of what they could do with a big-screen budget given the amazing stuff they come up with for television every week.

   
• Family Values! It's like fucking clockwork. Some asshole is always getting caught with his dick in a place he tells OTHER PEOPLE they can't put their dick into. Any time I see some rabid homophobe ranting against homosexuality, I just assume it's because they're overcompensating. 90% of the time, it's true. Case in point... "State legislator Wes Goodman (Republican, obviously) has resigned after admitting he was busted having sex with a man in his office. The married conservative Ohio state lawmaker was known for his anti-LGBTQ stances." Because of course he was. Aren't they always? Hypocritical bullshit like this is getting so very tired.

   
• Quo! And, lastly, I leave you with the hellish buttfuckery that's become our status quo...

   
Time to start packing...

   

Bullet Sunday 520

Posted on August 20th, 2017

Dave!There actually is something interesting happening before the eclipse tomorrow, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Defenders! How is it that Netflix can be so damn flawless when casting every single character in every single Marvel series and in writing every single character in every single Marvel series... except when it comes to Iron Fist? Danny Rand is written horribly. The actor playing him is a terrible fit for this character. I could barely make it through the Iron Fist series, and now the character made it tough to get through the newly-released Defenders series too...

Netflix Presents The Defenders

Every single time Iron Fist appears in The Defenders, everything that's moving forward so beautifully grinds to a halt and turns to shit. I mean... holy crap... they got Sigourney Freakin' Weaver, who elevates absolutely everything she appears in (including The Defenders), but even she is not going to be able to save this show when such a key piece of it is shit. There was a scene between Luke Cage and Danny Rand... fucking "Heroes for Hire" that we've been dying to see... and Mike Colter is just killing it as Cage while Finn Jones can't seem to deliver a single line with any conviction or semblance of skill. It's like he's trying to channel Keanu Reeves, which wouldn't be horrible... EXCEPT HE'S CHANNELING KEANU REEVES FROM BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. GAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

Look, I'm sure Finn Jones is a capable actor in other roles, but his take on Iron Fist sucks. The character takes a solid 5-star show and knocks it down to four. I hope they end up doing another Defenders... the idea is too good not to... but diminish, eliminate, or replace Iron Fist with something that's a better fit. Please. ☆★★★★

   
• Trolls! This. Is. Fucking. Genius.

I hope it catches on.

   
• Fake President! Making America... uhhh... great?... again?

So... Trump actually is accomplishing more than any other president! Finally, a truth!

   
• Ahnold! Just as an FYI... THIS IS HOW YOU FUCKING DO IT...

   
• Punch It! Seriously. I'm sick of this bullshit. We fought a fucking WORLD WAR over this. There are not "two sides" to this position. There is no "just as bad" when it comes to this. There is no confusion as to the appropriate response. We have memorials... history books... and a shitload of movies that make it quite clear...

Netflix Presents The Defenders

Nothing less than 100% unapologetic, uncompromised, unconditional condemnation of white supremacists and Nazis is ever acceptable. If you don't fucking get that, then you have no business being president. Hell, you have no business calling yourself "human."

I mean, Jesus Christ... IT'S THE FUCKING NAZIS HERE!!!

   
• Dropt It! In a feeble attempt at ending on a positive note, this is must-see TV...

   
Annnnnd... I'm spent. No more bullets for you.

   

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