Much Ado about Technology

That's One Expensive Upgrade

You've heard of Sonos, yes? Whole-house audio, wireless and able to bridge pretty-much any source. It'll play my music library, stream Pandora, talk to Alexa (or Google), and even stream the same music in all rooms. The little boxes can do it over WiFi or ethernet and form their own mesh network as well. All in all, it's pretty slick and incredibly well done. Further, once you buy a device, you're done. There's no subscription cost for their service and upgrades.

Of course, this makes sense, seeing as the boxes are expensive. The "Connect," which is a passive audio source (meaning you need to plug the audio output into an amp, like your home theater system) runs over $450. The powered version (into which you can just connect speakers) is a couple hundred more, around $650. Then they have powered speaker versions for a couple hundred up to $500. And I've not even gotten into their home theater sound bars and subs, which can run, as a set, over a grand.

So you feel me on the cost.

Over the years, I've acquired three Connects, one Amp, and one "One," which is their powered speaker. All are first-gen units.

Now we get to the dilemma: Sonos has noted that these first-gen units are underpowered for modern times and they've given them end-of-life. They now have a v2 (called S2, whereas the older units are called S1) and say that new features and modern features will only come out on S2. S1 gets bugs and security patches, but that's it. Initially, they'd said they'd brick S1 (seriously!) but they walked that back when customers rightly revolted. But if you have any S1 devices in your home, you can't use S2.

There are three options: first, just stay on S1 and life goes on like it is now, but no new features. Second, buy some S2 units and split your home. S1 is one Sonos network and S2 is another. There are problems with this, but generally, you can do it. Or, third...

Upgrade everything to S2. To encourage this, Sonos is giving S1 users a 30% credit on any purchase of an S2 device that maps to an S1 that they already have. So in my case, I could buy three S2 "Connect" equivalents and one S2 "Amp" equivalent and get 30% off each. The offer is only per S1 device you already have. Sonos will take the old devices and recycle them for you if you want, or you can do it yourself. Or... as it appears, you can still use them. That's right, you could grow your system by double, split it (S1 and S2) and get 30% off of the S2 stack as a spiff.

Or, in my case, take my S1 Amp and put it in my travel trailer on its own network. Then I could upgrade the three Connect units into S2 units and give them away to friends. A friend who doesn't have Sonos would be thrilled at S1, as it's still pretty cool. The unit wouldn't be eligible for the discount, but it's usable, albeit with today's older feature set.

But that's 70% of $650 + $450 + $450 + $450. More than just casual chump change.

You can't fault Sonos for not being able to use 15 year-old tech in a modern way. On the other hand, that's one expensive upgrade!

If you give advice here, please be snarky, because I already know what I'm going to do ;)

With Great Power...

Remember, you hold, in your pocket, a small device with the sum and total of all human knowledge within its reach.

PS: You use it to argue with people you don't know and look at pictures of cats, and that's on you. 

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On Writing

NerdSmart is fully dusted off. The old placeholder content is still there, though, so now's the time to clear it out and put in real content.

Some might like this phase of web development most. I don't. I prefer to do the infrastructure work and let more creative people do the content part.

But I've tried paying people to write. Those who are inexpensive produce utter garbage. Those who command a reasonable rate flake. This isn't a generalization, it's a truism. I've had a few exceptions to this rule, and they know who they are. Otherwise, I have to say F-you, Jobu, I do it myself.

I had a huge piece of salmon for dinner. If I exit this food coma before bed time, I'll start. 

Political Thought for the Day

If you want religion in schools, be prepared for all religions to have their time on stage, including the case for no religion.

If you want social media to be liable for what people say, be prepared for them to decline such liability and refuse your account.

If you want the freedom to deny a gay couple a wedding cake, be prepared to be turned away if you're not wearing a mask.

Hypocrisy is never pretty.

Unintended Stress Testing

One thing to come of this pandemic is the unintended stress and integration tests being put to our systems, especially home automation. In my house, we have, by being home 24/7 for the past two weeks, put enough unexpected stress on our house that some very interesting failure modes are starting to make themselves known

It started when a couple of my smoke detectors started giving false alarms. This wasn't a case of low or dead batteries, and it tended to happen early in the morning. Some research indicated that the particular model I have tends to give false alarms when dirty. Sure enough, taking them down, the amount of dust was higher than usual. My only hypothesis is that everyone being home 24/7 and the house being mostly closed because of cool weather means more humidity. That could mean dust is "sticking" to things. So, time to clean all the detectors.

And our smart thermostats are completely confused. The concept of "home" and "away" is nonsensical to it now, and its learning logic doesn't appear to know how to cope. I've turned them to full manual and nailed them to the temperature we want. I'll reprogram them later and turn off learning entirely. There is no "house arrest" mode. There should be!

One stress test that we've all been part of has been the Internet and cell system - and it's notable that it's held up pretty well for the most part. Usage patters have changed considerably, but we're all still online. We're all trying to work from home and binge watch movies. Bandwidth usage has spiked - but nothing's fallen down. This is good news.

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