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My previous post discussed modifying formats and metadata of music files to improve compatibility with Sonos music streamers. This post focuses on podcasts. I liked the idea of having podcasts automatically downloaded and made available for the Sonos, as it feeds into the idea of being a highly-available source of audio.

Several years ago I had a Squeezebox music streamer. I liked it, but gave it up as it was a pain to keep running due to the requirements and foibles of the server software. After that I just used a generic media streamer for living room music playback, but the interface is awful as you have to slowly scroll through directories with the remote.

I knew Sonos existed, but wasn’t really tempted until I saw someone else’s setup with a Connect Amp (streamer and integrated amp) with Play 1 and Play 5 speakers. The Connect Amp sounded pretty good with bookshelf speakers and the Play speakers were as good as you could expect for the size. Two things I particularly liked were how easy it was to start playing music, a touch on the iPad interface and music comes out, and the multiroom effect. Having the music coming out of all speakers mentally frees you to move around the house without losing the thread, even if it means shifting to a smaller playback device.

Back in 1995, when CDs were still relevant, a company called Pacific Microsonics introduced a new CD encoding method called HDCD that claimed to store 20 bits of audio data on the 16 bit format, whilst still maintaining compatibility with CD players.

At some broadly similar time, I had support for HDCD I was using an the first Musical Fidelity X-DAC. For the curiosity value I deliberately hunted out CDs that had it such as Green Day’s Nimrod, Joni Mitchell’s Hits and, erm... the Independence Day soundtrack. It was slim pickings if I’m honest.

I’m old enough to have played the original Elite when it was released. In fact, if memory serves I reached ‘Deadly’ on BBC B (disc version), ‘Dangerous’ on Atari ST and ‘Deadly’ on Archimedes.

Anyway, as I was on-call for work over Christmas I had to stay near a computer so it seemed a good excuse to give Elite: Dangerous a whirl.

Between the times I’m sitting at a computer, and the times I have my phone with me I rarely need a watch for timekeeping. For those edge cases I have a Casio W86. If you asked me about the W86, I’d tell you it’s the best watch ever made; accurate, lightweight, good backlight, waterproof and so cheap that you can wear it anywhere without worry.

That being said, I came across skeleton watches and found them appealing on a aesthetic level. Knowing almost nothing about watches I had to do some digging through the group wisdom and prejudice to work out my options.

It’s best music of the year time again. This year I’ve kept it to ten tracks, all by artists I hadn’t heard of before they appeared on one of Tom Robinson’s Fresh on the net mixtape downloads.

Following on from my previous post on getting fitter and healthier, here are a few things I’ve learnt about gym based exercise. Might be of interest to those starting out.

About a year ago I started the process of getting fitter and healthier. These posts cover why, the changes I made, how it turned out and things learnt along the way. If you’re already fit and healthy there’s probably not much here that’s news. On the other hand, if all you can see in your future is a slow descent into an increasing unhealthy middle-age, this may be relevant to your interests.

I decided to sell the unexpected GH3 when the E-M5 was repaired. Thanks to the lens and grip bundle deal I got on purchase I came out even, or near enough. I put the money towards upgrading my portrait lens from the Olympus 45/1.8.

As I’ve mentioned before, the choice for me is either the Panasonic 42.5/1.2, or buy into the Fujifilm X system with the X-E2 and get the 56/1.2. I went for the Fujifilm option based on my experience with the X100S. It’s a lovely camera to work with and it significantly out-performed the Olympus E-M5 for the fireworks and tall ships.

So despite being fully bought into mirrorless cameras, I still have a Canon 7D hanging around. This is now used as a dedicated telephoto camera, mainly for moving targets, and the only two lenses that have survived the move to mirrorless are the Canon 70-200/4 IS and the Canon 400/5.6.

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