It’s Hard To Hate The Solar Eclipse.

After a hate filled week of neo nazi protests in Virginia, and terrorism in Spain, I decided to post something that everyone in the world can agree on. The Solar Eclipse on Monday is going to be pretty damn amazing. It’s pretty hard to hate the forces of nature as the shadow of the moon turns day into night in the Path of Totality. The video below features the voices of eclipse chasers as they talk about why they are so fascinated by and drawn to solar eclipse events. The animation was done by Sophie Koko Gate for Vox. Great stuff. Watch and enjoy a hate free 5 minute animated short film.

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Modern Technology With Mid-Century Styling from Klipsch

To celebrate their 75th anniversary, Klipsch has dropped three very mid-century modern looking speaker systems. The Capitol One, Capitol Three, and the Capitol Heresy III. All of these are quite stylish and would look good in anyone’s home, especially mine but alas I’m not in the market for any new stereo gear. Klipsch has teemed up with iconic recording company Capitol Records for the introductory promotion on these, and that means you get a free vinyl redemption code so you can pick up an album from Capitol. Frankly based on the price of these units Capitol should be offering up a rather large box set of your favorite artist’s complete recordings.

The units are fairly feature rich for considering their size, and the Capitol Three is set up for multi-room streaming using the Klipsch Stream Wireless Multi-Room System. An all-encompassing solution for distributing your music throughout your home. The Capitol Three Special Edition features a 2.1 stereo system with two 2.25” full range drivers, a 5.25” long-throw woofer, and 2 x 5.25” dual opposed passive radiators that deliver high-quality acoustic performance and solid bass.

I’m drawn to the classic looks and styling of the units. Klipsch nailed the mid-century look and it seems quite fitting for a 75th-anniversary product.  The speakers are constructed from real wood veneer and tactile spun copper switches and knobs. Each unit also comes with a limited, special edition badge, a 3.5mm analog audio input and the Capitol One has an 8-Hour rechargeable battery so you can move it to different rooms throughout your home. All of these are available in both ebony or blonde wood options. Personally, I like the look of the blonde over the ebony. It shows off the wood grain, and the contrast with the grill is simply classic.

 

Bang Bang The BeoLab 50

No matter what you might think of the audio quality or the price point, you have to admit Bang & Olufsen make some beautiful audio gear. The BeoLab 50 is no exception Combining innovative design and state-of-the-art technology, the BeoLab 50 continues the brand’s mission of creating “the future of sound.” This floor speaker system stands out from some of the newer offerings B&O has made in the last few years pulling from an older aesthetic while still looking forward. The cylindrical rounded shape ensures that the speaker fades into any modern interior. The look of the oak and aluminum certainly tower sets it apart from recent B&O designs while still connecting it to other styles in the lineup. The BeoLab 50 features a silver semi-matte body with wood lamellas on one side and a black fabric on the other. It is futuristic and yet has a slightly retro feel that blends into any period.

The high-end loudspeaker features seven dedicated amplifiers that have a combined power of 2,100 watts. With three 4’’ midrange drivers and three 10’’ woofer drivers and an Acoustic Lens at the top. All of which is designed to make sure the BeoLab 50 provides an incredible sound experience. In typical fashion, B&O has incorporated seamless controls that allow the user to connect the speaker to other devices in the home easily. The BeoLab 50 also features wired and wireless inputs as well as the Active Room Compensation option which applies custom filters to compensate for sound reflections in different areas of a room.

 

No word on price, but I can guarantee you these won’t come cheap. You might have to decide between that small compact economy car you need for your daily commute, or a set of speakers to help you unwind at the end of the day. If you get a chance, check out the website. Once again B&O has put together a nice microsite with full page video, parallax effects and just enough information to hook you and make you want to come back when this officially launches.

 

Absolutely Engaging. “Save Every Breath, The Dunkirk VR Experience.”

If you haven’t seen the movie “Dunkirk” yet I highly recommend it. If you haven’t engaged with some of the marketing materials for it, I highly recommend that too. Especially the WebVR experience that was created to promote the film. the website is an immersive VR experience that requires two people to play. You can engage with someone you know, or join anyone from around the world. When you join, you become one of the allied soldiers at Dunkirk surrounded by the enemy. In order to survive, you have to work with the other player, just like you would have if you had been there in 1940. The site and VR components were created by Warner Brothers in conjunction with Google Zoo and the Chrome VR Teams to make this work. It’s a really great example of how Google VR and Immersive experiences can be used as a marketing and promotional vehicle. And not just for movies. I could see this being applied to so much more.

DixonBaxi Designs Eurosport Home of the Olympics

I talk a lot about cohesive brand voice or cohesive visual voice across all touch points of a campaign. Many times I think I’m getting through to a client, and I’m not, so I end up looking up examples to show them. I usually track down digital and print components, static images, and PDF’s, then try and get them to wrap their head around how it also applies to video, motion graphics, audio, and all the other little bits and pieces that go into a full blown OMNI channel campaign. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Today I found a great example that I think will help in the future.

The video below from DixonBaxi shows the campaign they have created to support Eurosport’s coverage of the Olympics for the next eight years. This is a huge project with hundreds of touchpoints that people will engage with. All of them need to have a look and feel that resonates the same way. From the editing of video all the way down to the static graphical content in print items. As you watch the video you will begin to see a very specific cadence that takes place in the way the clips are cut together. There is the establishment of a color pallet that gets picked up and used through out the campaign as well. About 15 seconds in they begin to hint at the graphics and animation, and then they roll out each component of the entire system showing how and where it will be used. From bus stop signs to tablet interfaces and everything in between. If you want to get a more in depth look, or just browse through the system at your own pace, they have it broken down on a really well-designed web page for you.

I Cut the Cord

About a month ago I decided to cut the TV package off of my Google Fiber account. I simply couldn’t justify paying for all the channels I never watched. Like all TV services, Google is forced to buy network packages, so everyone ends up getting a flood of channels they’ll never watch. In my case, it was all of the Spanish language channels, a ton of sports programming and religious networks, children’s programming, and home shopping networks. When I took a look at the channel line up, out of hundreds of channels that were being offered there were probably 15 to 20 that I wanted, and 6 of those were available over the air for free with an HD antenna. So I did some math added up the cost of services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, DirectTV Now and figure I could save close to 100 bucks a month if I dropped the Google TV package and went 100 percent streaming.

Now, before anyone jumps on the Google Fiber bashing bandwagon, let’s get something straight this is the same situation for any cable and internet service provider because the networks have them hamstrung. The same thing applies to Rectum, I mean Spectrum (formerly Time Warner), Cox, SureWest, ATT, DirectTV, Dish, and on and on. They all have to buy the big network packages and offer more than any customer ever really needs. There simply is no ala carte TV solution available for consumers, which sucks. Given the opportunity, I would buy each channel I watch for a set price and be done with it. Unfortunately, that isn’t coming anytime soon from what I can tell.

Here I am about 4 weeks in, and I don’t think I’ll go back. I don’t have a DVR, although there are plenty of options available. I have access to the content I want to watch. I’m actually watching less TV and engaging more with content like TED Talks on my Apple TV. Since I never watched anything beyond the national news in real time I don’t feel like I am missing any programming that I am interested in, and thanks to my Smart TV from Sony I have Netflix and Amazon built in with both offering 4K content that looks great. My only gripe is networks like CBS are trying to force me to install their app and then pay for individual shows which means I am forced to watch programs like 60 Minutes, and CBS Sunday morning on my Computer or iPad through the CBS News websites, and I’m OK with that.

Over the last year Pay TV has continued to decline as streaming services continue to produce original content, and offer up programming available from other networks. I don’t see this trend ending which is going to force the major networks and cable providers to rethink their strategy. They are going to have to figure out a new model because I’m not the only one cutting the cord and moving on.

Out of all the channels shown below, the highlighted ones are those that we watched, and some of those were few and far between. 5 of them are available for free over the air in HD. 220+ channels and we were watching 15 of them.

8 Years and Counting

Since the start of July, I have been on vacation, had my power go out for almost 3 days due to a massive thunderstorm, and been absolutely slammed with work at my job. All of this leads to fewer posts, but it isn’t like I have been posting on a regular basis anyway. Over the last year, I’ve been lucky to get a couple posts a month done. But after 8 years of doing this and 2843 posts, I think slowing down a bit is just fine. Especially since this isn’t a full-time gig.

When this blog started out, it was primarily focused on the modern house my wife and I had purchased. It was originally going to last a year and then quietly fade away into internet oblivion, but you know how things go. One thing led to another and I started going on about design and other things and here we are today. One of the first posts I did focused on the Worx battery powered lawn mower I bout for the new house. The design and functionality of a standard lawn tool and using it. With that said, I think it is appropriate that for the 8th anniversary of this blog, I talk a little bit about a new tool I picked up from Worx, that I absolutely love. The 20 Volt Switchdriver.

When I first saw this I was pretty skeptical. After reading a handful of reviews I thought I’d give it a shot. I needed a new drill, and I was completely fascinated by the design of this product, and couldn’t understand why no one had thought of this sooner. I decided to pull the trigger and pick it up from Amazon. If I didn’t like it, I’d send it back and be on my way. Suffice to say that after 3 months, I’m hooked. The Switchdriver isn’t a heavy duty drill, but for light to medium work it’s killer, and the rotating chuck is so damn cool.

If you aren’t familiar with the Switchdriver, here is the way it works. The drill has two chucks on a rotating head so you can switch between drill mode, and screw driver mode on the fly, or between different bit sizes. This actually comes in handy for drilling a pilot hole and then switching to something like a spade bit.

This 20V cordless drill comes with two 20v Lithium Ion batteries and charger, automatic LED light, electronic torque control, and the main feature, the 2-speed rotating 1/4″ hex dual-chuck drill which allows you to quickly switch between two bits. It features a comfortable ergonomic handle which has a small shield to protect your hand from the bit that isn’t in use. It’s light weight which helps with fatigue, and it has variable 2-speed gearing which tackles all common drilling & driving functions. Like I said, it’s not nearly as powerful as my corded Milwaukee drill, but it is plenty powerful enough for most common jobs around the house.

My only knock is the hex bits that you have use with the quick connect chuck. There is nothing wrong with them, you just can’t use the drill with your current drill bits so it means you have to buy a second set.