My first compact disk was Joshua Tree and I played it on a portable Sony D-50 (the first Discman) that my father purchased for me on a trip to Japan. Man that thing was sweet.
I don’t know what my last compact disc purchase was, but it was a few years ago. I used to rip all my CDs, first as lossless and then as a compressed VBR AAC or MP3 file. I have long since given up on that choosing to purchase music through Amazon MP3 or just listening to music via subscription services like Spotify and Pandora. I don’t really want to own more music any more, since I can listen to virtually anything I want wherever I want for less than I used to spend on CDs a year.
But, I still have 396 CDs that have been sitting in a box in our basement. They have moved from house to house and from state so state. For no good reason really.
On Monday I packed them all up in a free box with paid shipping and sent them off to Murfie.com. Murfie is an interesting service. They have a giant warehouse in which they store all your physical CDs forever.
They do this so that you can essentially “sell” or “trade” CDs with other Murfie members. When my wife and I combined CD collections we had about 30 duplicate CDs. We sold all of those on Murfie a while ago when I was testing the service out.
Because Murfie has the physical CDs, they will rip them for you and let you download them in a variety of bitrates (FLAC, AAC, MP3). They will also send them back to you if you really want.
Murfie also sells brand new CDs to you for the same price as Apple or Amazon. The best part is that: 1) you never get the CD, 2) you get to download a lossless or lossy version, 3) later on you can trade or or sell it (note if you download a digital copy, some labels prevent you from selling or trading it).
Recenly Murfie added to notable features:
- You can stream all your music via a Sonos
- You can stream all your music to your Phone (currently iPhone and Android).
I have a Sonos and think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
So there you have it. No more CD, but all my music in the cloud. Lossless listening and download and I never have to deal with CDs again.
You should check Murfie out. It’s pretty neat.
This post was inspired by a conversation today with some co-workers about the fact that rubber washing machine hoses eventually fail, and what happens next is up to you.
A few years ago, when I was getting a new home owner’s policy I read about what causes the biggest losses (and problems) for homeowners.
Turns out water has a lot to do with it. Rubber washing machine hoses don’t last forever. They are under high pressure and the solenoids open and shut dozens of times during a cycle. Cheap rubber hoses (the kind Sears uses when they install your washer) that cost a few dollars can fail if not replaced every few years. A safe number I heard was 5 years.
Well if you are like me, and live in a newer multi-story home, changes are you have a washer on your second floor. It’s an incredible convenience if you have kids. Anyways the thought of a hose bursting on the second floor made me nervous.
I learned of these devices that you can purchase that have a water sensor and can then shut off the water supply and notify you via an audible alarm. I purchased and installed one of these Floodstop Washing Machine Valve Shutoff Kits a few years ago. It’s been working great. One day some water got behind the washer and the Flood Stop worked flawlessly.
You should probably also invest in good quality hoses.
If this isn’t enough protection for you, then you might also want to protect the washing machine discharge from flooding. You can do this by getting a Furman Power Relay and cut off power to the washer, thus shutting off the drain discharge when a leak is detected.
Occasionally this blog will go into things that are not about technology. I happen to have a side habit of seeking out useful objects and gadgets for our home, our kitchen and so on. My wife and I are both avid cooks and the Kitchen is a rich avenue of interesting “gadgets”. Those that know me would not be surprised that after many years I have finally found the perfect “food storage” product. More on that later.
Anyways, a few years ago when we got our new Christmas stockings we were looking for a way to hang them from our mantle without damaging the mantle. I’m not a big fan of putting nails or screws into my house if they are only temporary.
I think I am going to give this blog thing another go.
The Kindle Paperwhite is my 4th e-ink Kindle. All in all between my wife and I we’ve owned every Kindle except for the original touch. Each on has brought some kind of major improvement in technology. Each one has improved on the e-ink technology.
It’s amazing to think that the original kindle cost $399, had a keyboard and lots of buttons and the latest Paperwhite has no keyboard and no buttons (except power).
The first few times I used the Paperwhite I have to say I was underwhelmed. My wife has the “el cheapo” Kindle. Whatever the name is for the $79 one. On our 15 hour flight from Seattle to Dubai she was really jealous. The back lit screen is really great for a dark cabin. And my other favorite feature is the estimated time to finish a chapter. This feature is unique to the Paperwhite and it’s really amazing. When you are trying to negotiate trips to the bathroom or reading in between meals it’s awesome to know how long it will take to finish reading something.
And in the end, this to me is what makes software so magical. An analog book can’t tell you it will take you 3 minutes to finish the chapter. And this is a great example of a feature that I never knew I needed.
Coming up with these kind of features is very hard. Because everyone in software has a long list of things to do that people have asked for or are deficiencies in the product. Most software folks could dedicate 100% of their time to addressing these issues. But you have to make time to invent things people will appreciate and thank you for, and counter the risks that you could build something useless that could drive away your customers.
It’s these kind of features which really endear people to what you make. I hope Amazon brings this feature to other Kindles but for now this uniquely differentiates the Paperwhite beyond just the backlit display.
I’ve had a love affair with gadgets since I was in 3rd grade and I’ve been fortunate to grow up with many of them. The Newton, the PalmPilot, the Comaq iPaq, Treos, Motorola Phones, Sony Ericsson Phones, Apple iPods, iPhones and iPads, Amazon Kindles, Google slates, and Nokia devices have been a part of my life (I think Sony was also a big part of my life, but not in a “connected way”).
I particularly enjoy using the first version of something. My first Kindle gave me a glimpse into the future of eBooks. The device I paid $400 for is now something you see everywhere and loved by generations that grew up without computers. The Newton, expensive and ridiculed by many, provided a glimpse into the future. My father adored his Newton and he still can’t figure out how to scan something on his printer. The iPod fundamentally changed the way I thought of music. I never would have purchased one myself but I managed to get one “on loan” from Apple and it got me on the “train” where I upgraded to each subsequent iPod release for a few years. The iPod Nano was my first purchase from an Apple Store and that’s when the Store experience “clicked” for me. I was no longer buying a device, I was buying into an ecosystem.
I went out and purchased an iPad 1 on launch day after thinking “meh” when it was announced. I had owned a few tablet PCs in the past and wasn’t convinced in the promise of a device like that. But in the time between the Apple announcement and the release I changed my mind and got one. There were only a few iPad optimized applications and most iPhone apps looked ridiculous on an iPad. The first few months when the iPad was released was mostly dominated by what was going to happen with Flash and when the Facebook app would arrive.
The iPad had to start somewhere. And I got one because I was incredibly curious. Curiosity is something I value tremendously in my life and in my job. I have lived with Apple devices since the 4th grade, and I was insanely curious about what their point of view was on tablets. At this point in my life I no longer had a Mac, a product I grew up with and in many ways defined my perspective on personal computers and design.
I recall my first few days and weeks with the iPad. It was a window into the future, and one that was intriguing. I watched my young daughter embrace touch and tailored applications and books.
I brought the iPad into the bedroom, a place where my laptop never ventured. The iPad was an intimate, almost magical device. And it was incredibly limited, annoying, and utterly useless for productivity (at least for my definition of productivity). It was a very personal device, like the iPhone, and it failed at being “shared” as a family device (like a PC). I guess Apple figured everyone in your family should have their own (the only real way to avoid the dreaded PIN unlock / wipe device phenomena). I really don’t want my daughter to have access to my email, Twitter and Facebook when she wants to read the Bernstein Bears or play Cut the Rope. Spending another $500 isn’t an answer.
Here you can see that our two worlds are distinctly separate.
And my daughter has her pink personalized background and account managed by the Family safety settings on the PC. No need to apply any restrictions to my own account so she can play games and watch Netflix. Try getting another tablet “safe” for your child and you will end up making it unusable for yourself.
I’ve now typed more on this Surface than I ever have on an iPad. And the only person that now uses the iPad in our family is my daughter. I’ve moved on to using Kindle devices, currently a Fire HD, but soon to be replaced with a Paperwhite. The Google Nexus 7 I had lasted a month. It was a fun experiment but the experience was odd with most apps written for a 4 inch screen scaled up to 7 inches. Not quite good enough for productivity, and OK for reading. The Fire HD is the best expression of the Amazon ecosystem, which my family is deeply invested in, but the experience is glitchy and immature. It has the same productivity issues as the Nexus and web browsing is painfully slow. It’s clear to me that there is a layer of code sitting on top of something else trying to hide what’s beneath and not doing a great job of that.
But it doesn’t matter. I am curious enough to try these things because I want to know the point of view of each ecosystem and learn a lot in the process.
I have a hard time succinctly describing Surface. Before I owned one I had spent approximately 2 minutes using one. I actively avoided the opportunity to use one at work because I wanted to experience it like any new customer would. I wanted to compare my experience to the first iPad. I’ve read nearly every word about the Surface since it was released and I’m not surprised in the least by the diversity of opinions. A lot of folks are now internalizing, for the first time, what to make of a PC manufactured by Microsoft. Many of the folks writing reviews are trying to define the Surface in a box that represents their ecosystem choices.
Perhaps Jeff is right. The Surface is a replacement for your laptop (if you still have one, which many productive people do). Most people I know are not living with a Tablet as their only computing device. Tablet or Laptop is a choice they have to make a lot.
For me the Surface represents a glimpse into the future. I can’t help but be incredibly excited about it. I watch my kids use these devices and go back and forth between them. I see a lot of potential in the way computing is becoming more accessible, more natural and more powerful.
You can certainly look for negatives and find them. Just like with Mac OS X when it first came out (remember Classic mode aka Blue box? That Photoshop didn’t exist as a native app?), or that iPad still doesn’t and never will run Flash, or that the iPhone still doesn’t have Amazon Instant Video, or that I can’t watch HBO on my Roku because of Comcast, or 1000 other flaws or issues that I can find in any device or ecosystem.
But really, I am typing this blog post on a gorgeous Cyan cover of a device that has been running all day long without being plugged in that is running Windows on an ARM processor, and Word, and is a tablet transformer with 5 different ways of interacting with it. My 6 year old expressed immediate interest in this device and sat down next to me as I showed her how to use it. She doesn’t know what Apple or Microsoft are, and she is excited and curious about Surface. To her Angry Birds is Angry Birds and the biggest problem in the world is that she has to start from the first level on any new device. Surface will be the first PC my daughter ever uses.
When I first found out about Surface I had a smile on my face so big it hurt. Today as I use my Surface for the first time, I truly understand what it means to have a stage for an experience I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of for the past few years. Even though I have used Windows 8 for a few months now, this is the first time I’ve experienced it like this, a completely integrated experience.
I’m encouraged by this glimpse into the future, and I’m incredibly proud of my company for building this experience and participating in the conversation about devices and ecosystems.