August, 2010

  • Steve Clayton

    The only computer speakers you’ll ever need



    To call these things computer speakers is really rather underselling them – work’s or art may be more appropriate. Of course for $500 or £400 you’d expect a little bit more. What you get with the Bowers and Wilkins MM-1’s is hifi quality speakers hooked up to your PC.

    When mine arrived, I whipped them out of the packaging in a flash and hooked them up to my PC – they sounded terrific. Then I spoke with a chap at B&W and he reminded me to set them up as a soundcard rather than just PC speakers. Wow…boom! These things really kicked in to life and offered a wonderfully rich sound with impressive bass given the lack of subwoofer. As you’d expect from B&W, they look stunning, are beautifully engineered, even down to the pebble sized remote which can control Windows Media Player or iTunes remotely.

    If What HiFi gives them 5 stars you know you’re on to a winner. Their verdict


    • For
      Fantastic sound for a PC speaker system; impressive bass for a subwoofer-less design; classy build; easy to install
    • Against
      If price isn’t an issue, nothing

    That pretty much sums it up. They cost the price of a decent laptop/netbook but if you can, you must. My JBL’s are now looking for a new owner…

  • Steve Clayton

    Xbox 360 gets an outing at Hot Chips


    Microsoft beats Intel, AMD to market with CPU/GPU combo chip

    Pretty geeky this one but interesting nonetheless to see how the new Xbox has been put together and requires throttling to keep it compatible with the existing 360. Presented at a conference with the awesome title of Hot Chips

    via arstechnica who called it the “first mass-market, desktop-class processor to combine a CPU, GPU, memory, and I/O logic onto a single piece of silicon”

  • Steve Clayton

    You know you have a cult following when…


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    ….when you can create a limited edition version of your product. And it’s a hoover.

    This is the Dyson DC25 BluePrint Limited Edition which I came across whilst researching vacuum cleaners this weekend (don’t ask). I admire James Dyson as he’s revolutionised an industry and branches out nicely in to the world of fans and hand driers with equal amounts of innovation. When people talk about innovation they often refer to things in terms  of their inventiveness and newness and also their personal relevance. Dyson does a fine job on both counts.

    My point here though is you know you’re on to a good thing when you can take a fairly utilitarian product like a vacuum cleaner and make a limited edition version that people blog about effusively.

    It’s not a perfect measure of success though. I have a Joy Division Zune and whilst there is a solid cult following around Zune, it’s not a smash hit commercial success…but that didn’t stop the team creating a only 500 of these things in collaboration with Peter Saville and making them quite collectible.  (hint: none of them are for sale on ebay…though there are two Dyson Blueprints).

    Either finding a way to nurture your fans, of helping create them though collectible things like these isn’t a bad idea. Seth Godin nails it with Are you an enthusiast? These people help products succeed and in the world of social media and word of mouth marketing, they’re worth hunting down and feeding as they’re voracious. 

  • Steve Clayton

    Is the writing on the wall for books?



    As we moved in to our new apartment (I mean flat) last weekend, the moving company guys remarked that for a guy who works for a tech company, I have an awful lot of books. It’s true, we (my wife and I) do have a LOT of books. All sorts of books – travel guides, reference books, novels, technical books, photo/coffee table books and frankly they weight a LOT. That’s why the guys who moved us in asked “don’t you use technology, have you never heard of the Internet?”. Clearly the answer to both of those is yes and though I don’t own an ebook reader like the Kindle or an iPad, two posts on the web today made me wonder whether the book is about to decline as a medium.

    First up, is a piece about Kindle Outselling iBooks 60 To 1 which isn’t what piqued my interest. It was more that a previously mildly successful author could become more wealthy through ebooks than traditional books. Not really surprising but interesting to see an clear example in action.

    Second up is the New York Times bestselling author and marketing guru, Seth Godin vows to never publish traditionally again. I own most of Seth’s books and would count myself as a fan. It’s no surprise to see him take this route given his mantra is built on topics such as distribution, technology and making things viral.

    So, do these things add up to the imminent downfall of books? Of course not though they’re both good indicators that the guard is changing from the publishing end of things even if the consumption is still limited to the tech savvy.

    Does it mean I’m going to dash out and buy an iPad or Kindle? I doubt it…I can’t bring myself to buy an iPad from a cost/benefit point of view and though I like the idea of the single use efficiency of the Kindle and the bookstore, I just can’t get excited about the device itself.

    Am I a luddite? Maybe…but books aren’t going away just yet from the world at large or the Clayton household…however, the resistance to digital has taken a few body blows for me personally over the last few weeks so maybe I’ll change my tune before Christmas.

    [update] Rory does a much better job at diving in to the details than I did

  • Steve Clayton

    King of Bing Maps App Contest Winners announced



    I’m a huge fan of Bing Map Apps – I think it’s a great platform for people to innovate on and the King Of Bing Maps App Competition has shown that. The winners have just been announced and the Taxi Fare Calculator from Ricky Brundritt took top spot – rightly so as it’s a simple but effective example of what you can build. Mind you, I’m not so sure on the London pricing. 20 quid from Chiswick to Shoreditch is definitely optimistic!

    I also really like Ricky’s data viewer from Infusion Development where you can plot data on to the map. Here for example is the path of Hurricane Ivan which hit in 2004.


    Hats (or crowns) off to all the winners and if you think you can do better, go grab the SDK and make it happen. You can also Check out all of the entries in the Map App Gallery

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