Total thefts of relevant electronic equipment reported nationwide in the year to 28 February 2015 was 193,210, compared with 290,651 last year.The total number of thefts of relevant electronic equipment reported by London police in the 2015 study was 77,243 out of a total of all thefts reported to Metropolitan and City of London Police of 285,312.Total thefts reported nationwide in the 12 months leading up to the end of February 2015 was 1,031,632, compared with 1,350,434 in the 2014 study. After last week's SftWS column was spiked, The Reg was kind enough to re-run one of my old musings about ***ual double-entendres. And by coincidence, here I am in Tesco with a robotic woman’s voice giving me the old nudge-nudge wink-wink. "Verify your bags," indeed.I'm reminded of a friend who, upon entering a massage parlour and being shown where he could undress, was asked if he needed "a pouch". Assuming this was to safeguard his modesty, he nodded his assent. They handed him a pencil case: it was for his wallet and keys.
Then there was that time when I was studying French at Perpignan University and managed to make the classic slip (uh-huh-huh) of referring to La Bourse – the Paris Stock Exchange – as Les Bourses, which literally means "purses" but commonly means "bollocks".Just picture the scene as my tutor put her feet up next to the fire to read my essay one evening with a glass of chilled muscat, marvelling at my insistence that French president François Mitterrand personally investigate the pernicious influence of my gonads on the country's economy. I can only imagine her wonderment, too, that I should have capitalised them as Les Bourses. If it was a Marks and Spencer advert, I'd be saying my testicles weren't just any testicles. Mine were The Testicles.I’ve been saving up samples of office innuendo for the day when I am successful, rich, old and ugly enough to deliver them in public so that I come across as old-fashioned, charming and harmless. If you try ***ual innuendo in the office while you’re still young, you come across as creepy, sad or desperate. If you try it in middle age, you get pepper-sprayed. Old is where the real action is at."Miss Jones," I will call to my young secretary. "I need you to take something down."
If those models sound familiar, they were released in May and June, respectively and are MusicCast ready, all they need is the latest firmware update available from today to enable it.So there’s a treat for you if you bought one. The update can be installed over-the-air directly to these receivers or downloaded from the product page support tab.If you don’t fancy a sprawl of speakers then the new YSP-5600SW sound projector is the first Dolby Atmos soundbar and features an array of 44 speakers including 10 dedicated to Dolby Atmos ceiling speaker duties plus two built-in subwoofers and a wireless subwoofer.For those whose pockets aren’t so deep, Yamaha also offers the YSP-1600 soundbar and SRT-1500 sound deck with MusicCast. Still, Yamaha doesn’t expect every bedroom or kitchen to be kitted out with heavyweight receivers, so there’s the NX-N500 Hi-Fi Active speakers for minimalist audiophiles and musos, the Restio Mini ISX-80 for minimalist home bodies, and the WX-030 network speaker for the rest of us.
Interestingly, the soundbars and high-end gear can also connect to third-party Bluetooth speakers. Considering that to stream reliably Bluetooth isn't likely to function too well through walls, it remains to be seen how useful that will be when you could simply end up with the AV kit blaring away at one end of the room and the Bluetooth speaker at the other.Yamaha MusicCast Yamaha RX-A50 series receiver
Aventage RX-A50 series receiver demo'd simultaneously playing to a Bose portable Bluetooth speaker
As an ecosystem, Yamaha's MusicCast offers a broad product base that's certainly going to find appeal as a one-stop-shop, although all that effort could easily go to waste if the portable models are deemed too costly.Yamaha and its dealers will find out soon enough if its £200 SRP for the WX-030 speaker is acceptable as an entry-level price point.The YSP-1600 (£500) and SRT-1500 (£600) sound bars will be available this month along with the NX-N500 Hi-Fi active speakers (£600). The WX-030 (£200), Restio Mini ISX-80 (£400) portable speakers, YSP-5600SW Dolby Atmos sound bar (£1900 with sub, £1600 without) and CX-A5100 11.2-channel pre-amp (£2500) are out in September, with the R-N602 Hi-Fi Network receiver (£450) and MCR-N870/N670 (£1000/£700) micro component systems due in October 2015.
Quick review "Little Stick. Big Surprise." That's what Intel says about its Compute Sticks, the new 'smaller than an iPhone' mini-PCs designed for portability and ease of useThe Intel Compute Stick (ICS) is perhaps best thought of as the mutant offspring of a Raspberry Pi on steroids and Google Chromecast. The offspring emerges as a tiny computer CPU, RAM and storage on a small motherboard contained within a reasonably well finished case. Protruding from the case is a HDMI male adapter ready to plug into any display boasting its female counterpart.The ICS is a full working PC with Windows 8.1 for Bing a quad core Atom processor Z3735F running at up to 1.83 GHz, 2 GB memory, 32 GB of on-board storage, b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth and a microSD card slot. An Ubuntu version shaves the RAM to 1GB and storage to 8GB. The RAM's soldered on so forget upgrades and ponder buying the Windows version and installing Ubuntu rather than making do with a wimpily-specced machine. Not many people complain about having ‘too much storage’.If you like lots of USB ports on your devices, then you'd better invest in a USB hub. There's only a single USB 2.0 port on the ICS, but this is due to the very limited real estate on the stick - size always counts, regardless what your mother told you.
The ICS has an active airflow design, as it sucks in air at one end, goes over a heatsink and then blows it out the other. To its credit, the fan can barely be heard when idling (I wasn't actually sure if it was on or not). When under bigger load, I could hear the fan a little bit, but only being in a dead silent room. For a device like this that will be hidden away behind a screen, I'd rather it was more compact and a little more grunt with a fan, than completely fanless.The Wireless and Bluetooth capabilities are a must have, as you probably don't want your stick to end up looking like a deformed octopus. Although the wireless works quite well, it may not be enough if you're streaming high amounts of data, such as 3D graphics. I found it to work perfectly on using a remote desktop/thin client at the standard 1920 x 1080 resolution, and still works fine for Netflix in HD, but those two mediums are going to be more latency and missing packet friendly than some other streaming functions.Out of the box, you can plug one end into your visual device of choice through its HDMI port, and provide it power through the micro USB port. The power plug provided puts out power at 2A, which seems to be the standard in newer smart phones and tablets these days. It still seemed to run fine when plugged into a 1A USB port too, which you too can try if you like to live dangerously. As a note, the device can't be powered over HDMI. There is hope that Intel will implement this in future versions of the stick.
Most technical people in business don’t want more devices to worry about, as each time a new one is introduced, a mad rush ensues in the background to try and crowbar the solution in – often based on an executive’s whim. Many new devices bring in new issues, and devices like iPads still aren’t fully managed like a desktop (ever tried remotely supporting an iPad?).The good news is that the ICS makes very little change to a business that’s already looking after Windows PCs. The ability to deploy an image via USB booting, add drivers and install an agent such as Microsoft’s Configuration Manager for ongoing management makes it more ‘drop in’ than some other solutions.Comparing it to Microsoft’s Windows To Go USB stick idea, this is marginally better. You don’t get the grunt of a full PC still, and since you’re providing your own PC instead, you just need a display, mouse and keyboard. For the businesses who have adopted Windows To Go, this could eliminate the need to refresh many of the PCs of the lower power users.
A smaller scale business can just plug and play the device. It won’t connect to an Active Directory domain because it’s running Windows 8.1 with Bing - but treated like a BYOD it will give its user an easy way to plug into a screen or laptop dock and hit the ground running.The bad news is it’s hard to find an area where the ICS excels, and is a best fit for a problem that needs a solution. For the current iteration of the ICS, there are still some niche uses it will cover reasonably well. As long as they’re filling a small scale need, they provide an easy way of just getting something up and running – such as digital signage on a single screen.Going large scale is a much harder sell. There’s no PXE booting, so you can’t easily drop your SOE onto many devices, or re-image easily. As mentioned earlier, Active Directory (AD) along with group policies and user management isn’t out of the box on the device, so you’ll need to re-image with a different and paid for version of Windows to provide that functionality, along with other utilities that will need access an AD connected computer would already have, to deploy management clients on the device.
For thin clients, the above makes the ICS a decent ad-hoc type solution, but not a business solution because the machine doesn't lend itself to automation.This is not to say that the device is ‘bad’. It is good, and does what it says – just don’t expect it to be the choice to drop into 500 screens to provide thin clients in a company.Your experience of the ICS will depend on how you use it. One of the most obvious use cases is to shove the stick onto your TV, and start streaming shows. The CPU is surprisingly decent, despite its Atom name - it didn't miss a beat playing 1080p videos locally. This changed when testing over Wi-Fi - 720p videos played fine running from a SMB share; but 1080p was completely unplayable.The fix was to use a USB2 100mb network adapter, which resulted in those 1080p videos working perfectly again via SMB. I don't believe this is a shortcoming in the ICS, which is tucked away with little room for an aerial or three - Wi-Fi isn’t the most reliable method of transport for streaming data anyway.