Sonos is good

Why the recent litany of posts in the Music category?  Sonos.  It is all it claims to be and much, much more.  It has helped me rediscover my CD collection and has provided me reason to explore new music.  TB bought it for my birthday since I was seriously missing the whole-house audio system we had installed in our previous home.

Sonos Logo The Sonos system is amazingly well designed and, quite frankly, runs circles around our previous AMX/Panja Landmark system.  I’m embarrassed each time I think how much we paid for the Landmark system compared to what the Sonos costs.  This is particularly true when one considers all the additional stuff the Sonos system has & does compared to the Landmark and similar “high-end” systems.  To be fair, Landmark is infinitely more customizable and programmable than Sonos.  Sonos more than makes up for that shortcoming by being elegant, easy-to-setup and easy-to-use.  Indeed, a rare combination for anything involving a computer, a proprietary network protocol and thousands of MP3s.

Then again, I’m a computer geek and have been meticulously ripping my CDs to MP3 format since 1998.  In fact, I rip all my CDs with EAC, archive to FLAC and transcode to MP3 with LAME (–alt-preset extreme) and WMA (-a_mode 2) for portability.  To calibrate my nerditude, I did an impromptu survey and found 1 out of 1 significant others in my household agree:  Sonos is good.  You cannot argue with 100% customer satisfaction among significant others in our house!  It has to be good when I pick up the controller and notice someone has been listening to Anita Baker CDs in one of the zones.  Hmm, I wonder who that could have been — if I didn’t know her father I would swear the “B” in TB was for “Baker.”

The system is not inexpensive in absolute terms but for the price of 2½ iPods (or 1½ PS3s), the Sonos bundle is a better deal many times over.  If any MS employees are reading this, open a browser and type cooldevices.  Can’t beat that discount  — membership has its privileges.

Don’t have a bunch of MP3s?  That’s okay.  Sonos, seamlessly integrates dozens of Internet radio stations you can listen to over the system at no cost.  Additionally, you can also subscribe to Rhapsody (or use an existing account) and take advantage of the built-in support for accessing the entire Rhapsody catalog without being near a computer.  Let’s see your iPod do that.

Sonos Controller

Eight Months on the Job: Q1FY07

Here I am eight months in and things are still moving at breakneck speed.  I can’t believe it’s already the middle of August which also happens to be the mid-point of the first quarter of the fiscal year at work — hence the title of this post.  Why does this matter?  We ended the previous fiscal year with very little money to execute our marketing plans.  That situation required us to rely on some clever and creative ways of promoting the various products we support and limp along until we could get more budget.

Well, July 1, 2007 changed all that as our marketing plans & budgets were approved giving us the resources necessary to breathe new life into some of our retired, withdrawn projects and begin seeding a few more.  With great resources come great responsibility — to paraphrase Spiderman — and I have spent the last month-and-a-half putting the things I am accountable for in motion.  It’s a weird predicament to be in to first ask for money to do some big things, be allocated the money requested and have the only stipulations be:

  1. Do what you said you would do.
  2. Do it at the price you said you could do it.
  3. Do it now.

Anyone who has had to forecast, predict or project a budget for a set of future activities knows it’s more an art than a science.  The problem with marketing (as is the case for big-budget activities like running a government, I suppose) is if one doesn’t nail each of those requirements, chances are good the budget will be “adjusted” accordingly while the deliverables/commitments remain unchanged.  Nothing more motivating than being held accountable for requirements #1 and #3 after #2 is changed to “Do it at a price less than you said you could do it.”

Now I know many of you are reading this and thinking, “Yeah, right!  I wish somebody would give me the money I requested and then just leave me alone to execute my plan.  I would be all over it.”  That’s what everyone says and thinks yet many find it surprisingly difficult.  In fact, #2 (the money) is the easiest of the three — at least where I work.  However, I’ve found a blank check is worthless if there’s not enough time to execute or when the proper nouns (i.e., people, places and things) are all tied up with other projects.  I know, I know.  Cry me a river.

I am doing what I said I would do at the prices I said I could do it (barely).  My schedule over the next month requires me to do more than I’d like now than I would if I had my druthers since I’ll be out of the office for 3 weeks traveling for work.  I’m presenting at conferences for a week in Auckland, New Zealand & Sydney, Australia followed by a week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a down week in-between.  I have to tie up as many loose ends at work as possible over the next few days before heading out as I will only have a couple weeks remaining in Q1 upon my return.

Sidebar:
Thanks to the knucklehead air travel restrictions introduced by our beloved and beleaguered Department of Homeland Security following the foiled hijacking attempt planned by a band of super knuckleheads, I will be enduring some of the most inconvenient carry-on baggage rules/safeguards at the same time I’m taking some of my longest flights ever.  No toothpaste, no mouthwash, no lotion.  It could be worse though.  Travelers in the UK can’t bring aboard laptops or portable music players either.  That would be sheer torture.  My longest leg going is 13 hours.  Coming back, 16!

Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere

After reading my earlier post on The Grey Album by Danger Mouse, you may have downloaded it, liked it, then began to wonder where else you could hear his work.  Earlier this year, while TB and I were visiting her family in Chicago, my cousin-in-law, Kevin, told me about an album entitled St. Elsewhere by a group named Gnarls Barkley.

Neither the album name nor the group name meant anything to me at the time but I can always trust Kevin and my brother-in-law, the same brother-in-law here visiting this week, to continue pushing me toward the musical edge given their eclectic and expansive musical tastes.  We don’t always agree but they’ve introduced to me to enough good music that I don’t mind taking their advice.  If nothing else, it always gives us something to debate at the next family gathering.

When I returned home, I decided to research Gnarls Barkley (once I figured out how to spell it).  Lo and behold, one of the group members is DJ Danger Mouse.  The other is rapper Cee-Lo.  You already know how I feel about Danger Mouse’s talents.  Cee-Lo is probably one of the most unique, talented and creative acts in hip-hop.  From his early days as frontman for Atlanta-based Goodie Mob, to jamming alongside Lauryn Hill on (Carlos) Santana’s wildly successful Supernatural, there is not too many places Cee-Lo won’t go artistically, which says a lot in today’s formulaic, mainstream-induced musical climate.

Continue reading “Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere”

Mariners 5, Devil Rays 1

I don’t even like baseball but tonight’s game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had a spectacular ending that even got me out of my seat.

TB secured seats for the game courtesy of her group at work — membership has its privileges — since my brother-in-law is here visiting for a few days and he had never been to Safeco Field.  The tickets were in the Terrace Club, Section 241, Row 2, Seats 9-12 with free parking (sweet!)

Ichiro Suzuki - Seattle Mariners The Devil Rays were the first on the scoreboard with a run in the 3rd inning. It took the Mariners until the 7th to even the score at 1-1.  Then came the bottom of the tenth and Seattle’s favorite Japanese import, Ichiro Suzuki, swatted a double down the 3rd base line.  Some other Mariner I don’t know did one of those sacrifice bunts to advance Ichiro to 3rd base.  The Devil Rays’ manager huddled with his infield around the mound when, I suppose, they concocted the plan to walk the next two batters and load the bases.  They carried out the plan successfully.  Apparently, intentional walks are about as easy to execute as they are lame.

Of course they were now forced to pitch to the next batter in the lineup or it was game Richie Sexson - Seattler Marinersover.  That batter happened to be Mariners first baseman Richie Sexson.  Honestly, I didn’t know who this guy was and, frankly, still don’t care but his picture graced the front our tickets so I figured he was somewhat important.  His batting in the game had been horrendous — as in “Hi, my name is Pop Fly” bad — and I believe his average was .222 when he came to the plate in the 10th.

Richie earned his place on the ticket stubs tonight.  He hammered the game’s only home run up centered field which, with those earlier intentional walks and Ichiro on 3rd, also equaled a grand slam.

Game. Over. Mariners. Win.

Safeco Field erupted in a short burst of pandemonium then everyone must have realized this wasn’t the World Series.  It sure felt like it for a moment though — I even high-fived my brother-in-law several times as if I had money on the game.

Whatever elation I felt quickly subsided as we crawled along in the massive caravan of cars departing the parking garage.  Yeah, I don’t even like baseball.

New Look

It was time for a makeover.  Regular visitors will note I have changed the layout of Keith’s Amusing Musings to make it easier to read and navigate.  I think it’s less busy and makes better use of the available space.  I also made some improvements to the back-end that should help pages load more quickly.

The new theme is called Barthelme created by Scott Allan Walick as I’m not much of a designer.  I had to hack a bunch of the styles and code to personalize the look and structure.  I don’t look forward to doing that again any time soon.

Leave a comment to let me know what you think.