Finally, an Affordable Ambisonic Microphone

twirling720lite-200pxLong, long ago, in a city far, far away I was a college student. I was studying media arts, and somewhere along the line decided to do a paper on an emerging new approach to recording called Ambisonics. This is a most elegant approach to recording conceived by Michael Gerzon, a brilliant, English mathematician. Beyond simply the theoretical, Gerzon developed a microphone in support of his idea, which became the Soundfield Microphone.

How I lusted after a Soundfield microphone, and the four-channel recorder necessary to make field recordings. Manufactured in England by Calrec, the Soundfield microphone cost upwards of $10K on its own. As a not quite starving, but certainly hungry student, this was far beyond my reach.

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My New Laptop is a Vintage Chromebook Pixel

Back in June Stella and I took a vacation. Not just time off work, but a real vacation, the first in years. We spent a week in Hawaii. It was great, but this is not about that, exactly. It’s about the computer that I bought to facilitate our trip.

Stella has never owned a laptop. Nor has she been issued one by her employer. As a public relation professional, she lives and dies by staying in touch, but it’s always by desktop or mobile phone.

In contrast, I’ve traveled on business extensively, which means a laptop is a standard part of my equipment compliment. My former employer issued Dell or HP laptops, but for the past several years I’ve owned a Lenovo X1 Carbon.

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Deal Alert: Amazon On Logitech’s MX Master Mouse & C920 Webcam

As a rule, I only recommend devices or services that I have actually used. Today I see that Amazon is offering nice deals on two Logitech products that I’ve been using for a long time.

Logitech C920 Webcam

As you may know, I’ve had a long-running exploration of the world of webcams. In fact, I’ve tried an irrational number of models myself. The dregs of those experiments litter my office. That said, for everyday use atop my monitor, the venerable Logitech C920 remains my choice.

Logitech C920 Webcam 600px

Since it was superseded by the C922x model last fall, the price for the C920 has fallen from the $80 range to around $60. Today Amazon offers it for just $47, which is an excellent price.

The C922x model is, in actuality, the C920 hardware with a minor firmware update that allows it to stream 720p60. This new capability, while novel, is of very little real value in most use-cases.

Logitech MX Master Mouse

Early in 2016 I fell prey to a bout of tendonitis. Given my change in working circumstance, my physician was not at all surprised. He quickly recommended that I use a more ergonomically correct mouse. He was very specific about the Logitech MX Master, which he uses himself.

Logitech MX Master Mouse

The doc was right, the new mouse has helped a lot. Further, it’s a joy to use. Highly recommended, especially at today’s offer of just $49.

A Boom Stick on the Cheap

A little over a year ago I offered up an observation of a little audio gadget called a Boom Stick from BoomCloud 360.

I remain more than a little incredulous with respect to the makers claims about the device. Still, it might be fun to try and reconcile it’s behavior against the companies various statements.

I see that is now possible for much less than the $99 that was originally asked. Today Daily Steals is offering the BoomStick for just $18. That’s down in the Mad Money range, so maybe worth a try.

Forced To Rethink A Long HDMI Cable

A while ago  I bought a new desktop computer. It’s lovely. Shiny. New. Silent. One of its many fine attributes is the fact that it can drive five (!) separate displays. Now, my desk has only two monitors, but it’s not too far to the credenza whereupon sits our old HDTV.

The old beast is an ancient 42” Sharp Aquos. While not pretty, it’s still basically functional. I could not simply discard it. So it sits out here connected to a Tivo Mini, only occasionally used to watch TV.

The new computer presented a new opportunity to put the old TV to use. I ordered a suitably long HDMI cable to make it monitor #3 on the desktop.

It was nice to be able to drag a YouTube window over to the big screen, even making the TV play the computer sound. In fact, it was nice enough that I was considering acquiring another Vizio M Series for the office, when budget allowed. We like the M50-D1 a lot. No hurry though, as the price is sure to fall when new models are launched in Q3.

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Wanted: A Superior Anti-Virus

For the past few years the computers hereabouts have used Avast Pro anti-virus. Our subscription to that software is about to end and I’d like to consider alternatives.

The Good

There are some things that I like about Avast. In particular, I like the fact that it has a “Gaming” mode that eliminates all the prompts. I leave it that way all the time. It’s an anti-virus. I just want it quietly go about it’s business. I don’t want to be bothered by it.

Lenovo X-1-Carbon-AvastPro

The Bad

There are some things I don’t like About Avast Pro. Like so many companies, they’ve expanded beyond the traditional role of anti-virus to offer a plethora of additional services.

  • I don’t want their VPN service.
  • I don’t want their advice on how to “tune up” my PC.
  • I don’t want them to ensure that all of my applications are updated.
  • I don’t want it to try to connect me to known good Wi-Fi providers.
  • I most definitely don’t want them to be a login & password manager.

Some months ago there was a major version update to Avast Pro. In that update the app became a LOT heavier. On my old desktop it rendered my video production toolset unworkable.

The system had been a finely tuned balance, running vMix, a Hangout and VoiceMeeter. vMix and a Hangout are both heavyweight applications. The updated Avast Pro 7 pushed it over the edge, at least as far as that older machine was concerned.

And for what? I neither wanted, nor needed any of the super, new features offered in the new release. It was mostly about  selling new services.

Over the course of the past year we’ve also migrated to Windows 10, which has the built-in Windows Defender. Windows Defender runs as long as no third-party anti-virus is installed. It provides a baseline of protection, although most advise that something better is required.

I wonder what anti-virus they use inside Microsoft?

The Options

All the usual suspects remain in this space. I checked out reviews at PC Magazine, CNET and Tom’s. After all that reading I’m left uninspired. The easy thing to do would be to just renew our subscription to Avast Pro.

Maybe there’s a better approach. I’m open to options. What’s your opinion?