Use a projector with Sonos Play bar and Surround

Sonos 5.1 Projector.001

When I first learned about the Sonos Playbar and its ability to connect with other speakers to create a surround sound system I was pretty excited.  I discovered however that the only means of input for sound to the Playbar was via an optical cable.  That means that the Playbar can only be connected to a more modern TV, not older TV’s and Projectors that typically don’t have this type of output.  Or does it…?

I did a little research, forum reading and called Sonos support and found out that others were having luck with HDMI switches.  This is how it works and you may need to glance up at the diagram as I explain.  Since the projector I have doesn’t have optical out, I would need a device that could supply a video signal to the projector and audio signal to the Playbar (optical) and the signals need to travel on separate wires.  So the J-Tech switch has just that ability.  It allows up to 5 HDMI sources to be connected which was more than enough for my needs.  From there it takes the incoming signal and pulls the audio off and sends it back out with the optical output.   You can choose “pass-thru”, “stereo” or “5.1” mode with the optical output.  Additionally the original HDMI input gets channeled to the HDMI out (with audio) to the projector.  Now you have satisfied the Playbar’s needs and supplied video to the projector.

Possible issues could come up from this arrangement.  Some switches might impose a little “lag” or delay in audio which could be distracting while watching video.  Luckily my model did not cause any issues.

Good luck with your setup and feel free to comment or ask questions.

 

PANERA KIOSK ORDERING

In search of a Starbucks this morning I passed by a Panera Bread and decided to go there instead.  I just wanted a cup of coffee.  (Duh, like I needed to clarify that) The line was long but I noticed a small table with a couple computer screens and some coffee mugs.  It was the new Panera Kiosk system.  

  
No one was using them.  Stepped up the the screen, plugged in my order, grabbed a mug and I was done.  All the other tech averse people were still in line while I was halfway through my cup.  If you haven’t tried it yet check it out.  It’s very easy and intuitive.  I’m not sure how long they have been doing this but I like it!

  

Have you ever wondered why your old iPod Video 5g or 5.5g sounds so much better than your iPhone for audio?

The older iPod video 5G and 5.5G have superior audio to the devices that came after them.  The original iPod video used Wolfson audio chips for processing.  These chips deliver a much better audio experience and you can really tell!  Check out this article to get a rundown on the various models.

Source: Which iPod has the best quality audio? – Macintosh How To

Apple Music On Sonos | Sonos

Enjoy Apple Music on your Sonos speakers. Stream music selected from over 30 million tracks by artists, deejays and Apple Music experts.  If you have already read my blog post about Sonos (click here to read) then you know I am a fan.  One of the things that make Sonos so good as a music player is the amount of applications that it uses to bring the music to you.  Just announced is the beta version Apple Music that is now available on your Sonos device.  For those of you who said “no” to Sonos because Apple Music was not available…well you are running out of excuses.

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Source: Apple Music On Sonos | Sonos

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Take a look at the Sonos offerings.

“Man Gift!” BenQ W1070

All guys like big screens!  The BenQ w1070 may just be the perfect Christmas gift for your man this year.  It features 1080p HD, 2000 lumens (bright) and its 3D!(glasses not included)…all for under $700!  The perfect gift and it will keep him busy putting together the home theater over the holiday break.  It is a discontinued model but there seems to still be plenty of stock available.  Check out the link to B&H Below for pricing an specs.  Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend the ladies with “man gift”  but my blog IS called “your typical guy”.

I own one myself so I promise its great!

B&H Photo BenQ 1070

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Panasonic Lumix G7 Mirrorless Camera Review

If your looking for a new camera that won’t break the bank…The G7 just might be the perfect choice.

Read Entire Article at VideoMaker’s blog site: Panasonic Lumix G7 Mirrorless Camera Review

The Lumix G7 may be the first 4K camcorder you consider that makes you plan a vacation just to use its features. At about a pound and the size of a pregnant Smartphone, it’s one of the most capable budget cameras we’ve reviewed.

Currently on Sale at B&H Photo for $597 and that includes a FREE Rode Video Mic Go valued at $99!

 

Review: Keeper password manager is powerful and simple, but pricey | Macworld

Both my Father and Friend have been hacked this week.  Passwords may not have been the problem but keeping your information safe is always a good idea.  I use keeper to produce my secure passwords and it minimizes my need to remember so many.  If not this applictation then you should be considering something to help secure your sensitive sites.

-JOE-

Keeper helps you keep your logins safe from prying eyes with a simple and effective user interface that works across just about any platform you can thing of. Unfortunately, syncing — a feature that just about everyone needs these days — comes at a steep price.

Source: Review: Keeper password manager is powerful and simple, but pricey | Macworld

Amelia Schmidt

Two years ago an MRI changed a little girls life forever.  Amelia Schmidt discovered that she had a brain tumor and later that it was a rare form of cancer.  I created this video for the family, their friends and all that were involved to remember the battles, devastating blows and victories along the way.  It’s only a glimpse of the actual reality that Amelia and her family faced but if you have 15 minutes to watch,  its worth it.  It makes your worries in your life seem small.

DROBO – Is your data safe?

 

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As my family grows, the need for more home movies, photos and media storage grows too.  After a few years of digital photography and video especially with the HD formats out there I accumulated quite a bit of data.  There is some confusion with what the term “back up” really means.  To some people, saving your data and media on to a single hard disk is considered back up.  Let me assure you, it’s not!  If (actually when) that drive fails everything on it is gone.  Forever.  Yes, you can try sending it to a data recovery shop but get ready to shell out big bucks and it probably won’t work.  A true “back up” is having your data duplicated and then one set of that data is secure while you’re using the other.  For most of us that’s not always practical.  A step closer to back up is a multi-drive arrangement with some built-in security to enable you to replace and repair a bad or failing hard disk.  This is where Drobo comes into play.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not “back up” but its at least a fighting chance.  You can achieve a multi-disk array with recovery several ways.  There are Raid Arrays, Drobo (their own proprietary raid type thing) and other manufacturers like Sonology …a NAS server with their own recovery method.  There are many to choose from. What I like about Drobo is the simplicity to their approach.

Drobo has been around a while.  I didn’t want to commit fully with Drobo before trying it out.  I purchased a Gen 2 Drobo 4 on eBay for $100.  It’s a 4 disk configuration.  Whats nice about the Drobo is you can put any speed, size, brand of disk in the unit and mix and match.  So if you have a few drives lying around pop them in and your off.  The other cool thing is it aggregates the storage space among the disks and reserves some space for recovery and expansion (more on that later).  Once you put the disks in place the Drobo takes over and formats the set and all the lights turn green when its ready.  One thing I love about the Drobo is its ability to expand simply by pulling out a smaller drive and replacing it with a larger one.  It can even do this while its on and running and you can still access your data.  Drobo connects to the computer via USB.  The Gen 2 Drobo is usb 2.o but the current Gen 3 is usb 3.0.  Once the drives are in and configured the Drobo more or less acts like any other hard disk drive you would connect to your computer.  There is a software interface called “dashboard” that allows you to adjust settings and check information too.

On the Drobo website they have a calculator that will tell you what space you’ll end up with based on the size of drives you put into the unit.  Below you see that I have 4 – two terabyte drives installed.  The capacity meter shows that out of 4 drives a drives worth of space is reserved in case of a drive failure.  So if all drives are the same size you get about 75% or your total capacity for storage.

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Here is something to note.  See the photo below…it has the same total TB for storage as the photo above but you end up with less storage.  How is that?  Well, the device has to protect all drives and allow for expansion but its largest drive in the mix is 3TB so it takes more to protect this drive.  In this case you end up with 62% of your total capacity for storage.

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Recently I had my first drive fail.  Yes a blinking red light and a note that said replace this drive immediately.  So I took the opportunity to pull it out and replace it with a new, larger drive.  I had never been through this process and it made me a little nervous.  After speaking with tech support I got the rundown on the lights and what they mean.

Green:  All is good

Red:  Replace this drive

Orange (not blinking):  Replace this drive for more storage space

Blinking Green and Orange:  Data protection in progress “DO NOT REMOVE THE DRIVES WHEN IN THIS MODE”

Blue Dot Lights:  Indicates the amount of data storage you have used

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After I swapped the drive all four lights started blinking green and orange so things were going as planned.  What I didn’t expect was it took close to 40 hours to re-build the array back to safety.  Wow!  Started on a Sunday night and finished on a Wednesday morning.  I guess it’s better than the alternative…lost data.  Once the lights were all green it was business as usual.   So far I have replaced a failed disk and expanded two others and have been through the data protection process 3 times and have not lost any data.  Nice.

There is a new Gen 3 which has USB 3.0 interface and is rumored to have much faster build times when protecting data or setting up arrays.  I was able to order one of those at a large discount at only $199.  When the new unit arrives I can simply power down my Gen 2, remove the drives and place the drives (in the same order) in my Gen 3 and turn it on and it should be ready to go.

 

 

 

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All is not perfect.  A couple of drawbacks.  It’s not a NAS, so no network storage.  They do offer units with network options but there are better brands and devices for that in my opinion.  If you’re looking for a device to access data across the network then don’t buy a Drobo.  The units are fairly slow and Service at Drobo is OK at best.  They get a little stubborn when they realize you’re out of warranty.  My take is that if you’re a company that claims to keep data safe then when a customer is stressed and trying to implement the procedures your company sets up to do that then HELP THEM!  I spent 10 minutes arguing with a rep once and then when his boss called me back it took her only 5 to help me with what I needed.  I don’t seem to be alone with experiences like this either.  That being said, the unit has performed well and I have not yet lost any data.

Don’t forget the upsides…any drives can be used.  They can be hot swapped while the unit is running.  Drobo will protect your data.  Its simple, anyone can manage their data with a Drobo.

If you need to store some valuable data and want a tad more protection than just a single hard disk drive, Drobo could be a good option for you.

 

**November 8, 2015  UPDATE – I moved my drives from the Drobo 2nd Gen to the new Drobo 3rd Gen **

A quick note.  I received my Gen 3 drobo a few days after writing this post.  To re-cap the Gen 3 gives you USB 3.0 connection speeds and a faster processor that is supposed to cut down on data protection and recovery times.  TRANSFER…Well all did not go as planned.  It was supposed to be as simple as moving the drives over from the old machine to the new machine and all would be well.  In my case the transfer did not work properly.  The new machine did not recognize one of the drives upon transfer.  After a restart and re-seating all of the drives it finally took.  Then the machine went through data protection process which I can report happily that all the data is still there and the process took about 8-10 hours as compared to the previous machine taking around 30-40 hours.  Huge improvement.  I never did lose any data so I still have to give Drobo props on keeping their promise on data protection.  As far as the USB 3.0 speeds…well after a speed test its not impressive but its better.  The speed and general functionality of the Drobo dashboard are far improved too.  Oh and one other nice thing…it allows me to allocate a section of storage to be used for time machine backups…nice.

A nice video I have recently come across that explains Drobo and how it works.