End Fat Wallet Syndrome with NU Lifestyle

I love gadgets. Sometimes they are things I will use for work, sometimes it is software. Sometimes it’s just something fun – or that I “always wanted”. But rather than keeping it to myself, I thought I’d share it with you – as part of my Gadget Weekend posts.

At the beginning of each year I investigate my wallet. After 12 months of action it’s usually inches thick, bursting with paper, cards, receipts and so on (I’d like to say cash). At new year, I pull out the receipts, cards and extraneous bits of paper. I get rid of the credit or membership cards that I never use and begin the process of replacing the cards that have been damaged or cracked from constant use/wallet wear.

I am always amazed at how much more comfortable it is to carry my slimmer, more manageable wallet.

But these days, our credit, debit and membership cards are “smart” cards – storing personal information in the chips embedded into the fabric of the cards. And while this is convenient, it also represents a security risk. Advanced card skimmers can tap into the RFID information contained in your card and the details revealed.

One solution to these problems is the NU Lifestyle card holder with RFID blocking protection. An Indiegogo project, it’s been designed to simplify the most complex wallet – trimming it down to the most essential of cards and a bit of cash. It has some other cool features:

  • RFID blocking through the creation of a Faraday Cage (yep, it’s a real thing)
  • Aircraft grade aluminium for strength (and to reduce drag during hot eBay bidding)
  • Ass-hugging design (believe it or not, it fits very nicely into your rear pocket)


As usual with Indiegogo projects, there are a range of options. You can support the project by pre-purchasing:

  • Nu Chroma: the non-RFID blocking card holder for $25
  • Nu DuoChroma: the base level RFID blocking card holder for $40
  • Nu Persona: the premium aircraft grade aluminium RFID blocking card holder for $90

There are also personal editions, limited editions, gift packs and and a promo pack which may be perfect for your next customer swag bag.

With an estimated delivery date of May 2013, it could make it just in time for my birthday.

Bye Bye Paper with ExoDesk

I’m always buying gadgets of some kind or other. Sometimes they are things I will use for work, sometimes it is software. Sometimes it’s just something fun – or that I “always wanted”. But rather than keeping it to myself, I thought I’d share it with you – as part of myGadget Weekend posts.

I can remember when we thought the “paperless” office would be a revolution. Unfortunately it just seemed to create more reasons to print more paper.

But these days we are more used to reading (and comprehending) information on a screen. Even still, my desk still seems to be littered by paper, pads, pens and other paraphernalia. It’s part of my creative process. Or so I tell myself.

The soon to be released ExoDesk may change all that. Turning your desk top into – well, a “desktop” – this looks kind of cool. And at $1299 it’s not badly priced. The only problem for me would  be finding a spot for all my paper and other junk.

Get Unwired for Sound with Sonos S5

1311393259I’m always buying gadgets of some kind or other. Sometimes they are things I will use for work, sometimes it is software. Sometimes it’s just something fun – or that I “always wanted”. But rather than keeping it to myself, I thought I’d share it with you – as part of my Gadget Weekend posts.

This week I look at the Sonos S5 and Sonos Bridge wireless music system.

I have always loved live music. Rock. Punk. Opera. Strings. Acoustic. As long as it was live (and played well), you could count me in. I think there is something about the way that vibrations affect your body that thrills me. That and the tightrope of performance – wondering how the performer will thrill or disappoint – soar or die.

But you can’t have live performers on call – so I have the next best thing. A bunch of recordings of my favourite live performers. I have CDs, DVDs, MP3s and even vinyl. But to get a good sense of these live performances, you need a pretty good sound system. Good amp. Good speakers. And a good distance between you and your neighbours.

But with these sound systems comes a lot of wires. It gets messy. And it is inflexible.

So I was excited to hear about the Sonos S5 – a wireless digital amplifier and speaker system that taps into your digital music collection.

1311393129 I did my usual research – read the forums, website reviews and so on. I asked people on Twitter what their thoughts were (Tony Hollingsworth claimed that Sonos had changed his life – so it seemed like a no-brainer).

You need a way of connecting your digital music library (eg iTunes or a network file server) to the network, so you need not just the Sonos S5 speaker and amplifier combo, but also the Sonos Bridge that connects to your router. This gives access to digital radio stations from around the world – and a number of music subscription services (anubus.fm, iTunes and last.fm – but not Spotify as yet).

The research looked solid – and with the iPhone controller app available for free – I checked out the Store Locator and headed over to JB Hi Fi to pick up the system that would revolutionise the way I listened to music.

Forget Retail, Buy Online

When I arrived at JB Hi Fi, I found the small in-store promo space. It repeated the same information from the website. It gave you the chance to hear the S5 up close (even though you were standing in a wide open shop space which is not ideal). Biting the bullet I accosted a young sales assistant. He seemed to know enough about the device – he read the main points off the box and offered to press the buttons so I could hear the sound. But was there any stock?


He checked via his handheld device. None to be found in the local neighbourhood. In fact, none to be found for miles around. And by miles, I mean about 50.

No wonder retail sales are down – retailers keep little to no stock on hand and then expect customers to return when it suits the retailer. What did I do? Went home and found Scott from Platinum AV on the web. I shot him off an email and got a response back in hours. And a day or so later the Sonos S5 and Sonos Bridge arrived at my front door ready to go. It couldn’t have been easier (Scott also offered to help configure the online music services for free!).

1311393354 The Sonos Setup

Setting up was a snap. Plug the Bridge into your router and it creates a wireless mesh network that runs independently of your wifi (meaning that your high bandwidth music files won’t interrupt the throughput on your wifi network). You install the controller software on your PC, sync the Bridge with the S5 by pressing a couple of buttons and voila!

If you have ethernet running through your house, you can also use that. In fact, with two ethernet ports, you can very easily connect your network storage device, game console or setup box to the Sonos S5. It’s a very well thought out piece of gadgetry!

Multizone Wireless Music

You setup the S5 according to zones within your house. You can then use the controller to simultaneously play the same music everywhere or different tracks or playlists in different “zones”. So while you are rocking out to Radiohead in the study, the kids can listen to a Roald Dahl audiobook in the family room.

All of this is managed directly from your PC via the controller software, or ingeniously through a free iPhone or iPad app. These apps are genius. You don’t need to have your computer on (unless it is powering your library) – you just plug the S5 into a power socket and fire up your iPhone.

And because the Sonos S5 is lightweight, you can easily move it around the house (or garden). It’s like a high quality boombox connected to every song in your collection. Awesome!

And the Sound?

1311393951 The Sonos S5 has a five driver speaker system powered by dedicated amplifiers. It includes two tweeters, two midrange drivers and a subwoofer – all in one stylish, easy-to-carry box. The clean white (or black) design lines remind me of Apple’s popular products.

And the sound is perhaps, the most surprising of all.

A single device can easily fill a room with sound. The speaker combinations spread the music in such a way that you cannot immediately tell the source of the sound – which means you can feel surrounded by music (one of my favourite feelings). And because the sound is pushed out in this way, you don’t have to find the “sweet spot” in quite the same way as you do with a dedicated, fix speaker setup.

Playing classical music delivers outstanding performance. The subwoofer delivers real depth and the tweeters ensure that you get a full sense of the dynamics of the music. Rock music is best played loud, and the S5 can get surprisingly loud without distortion.

Do I Love It?

1311393543 To be honest, the Sonos S5 is better than I had even hoped for.

Many of my CDs have been stored in boxes for years, and they were literally out of sight and out of mind. Until now, I hadn’t realised that I have been living without many of the songs that I have loved. The Sonos S5 has changed all that. 

It’s so easy to use – from the PC or from the app – and gives me immediate access to my complete song library. And the joy that I get from listening easily outweighs the slight difference in sound quality delivered from my dedicated sound system.

I now just need to save up for the Zoneplayer 90 so that I can connect up my existing sound system and I will be in audio heaven.

Will You Love It?

If you have wanted to get rid of the wires all over your house – but still experience quality audio – then this is the answer for you. And if you want an easy way to access your music collection without the needing a degree in device management, then the iPhone app controller will make everyone happy. It’s not cheap – but with the release of the new Play:3 speakers, it may just be a little more affordable than you’d expect.

Drop Scott at Platinum AV an email and sit back and wait for your new toy to arrive. Hollingsworth was right – the Sonos S5 will change your life – or at least reacquaint you with the music that you loved.

Take the Net with You with Telstra MiFi

I’m always buying gadgets of some kind or other. Sometimes they are things I will use for work, sometimes it is software. Sometimes it’s just something fun – or that I “always wanted”. But rather than keeping it to myself, I thought I’d share it with you – as part of my Gadget Weekend posts.

At the recent Gathering11 event in Melbourne, Telstra provided excellent wireless network and internet connectivity through their Elite mobile wifi devices. These neat personal routers use prepaid SIMs to connect to the Telstra NextG network and allow up to five people to share the connection at one time. We were even allowed to keep devices (though need to sign up for data plans or prepaid ourselves).

elite But even better than that – multiple devices can be meshed together to support a larger number of connections. Telstra had provided about 50 or so devices for the conference and handed them out to attendees. As they provide about 4-5 hours of solid connectivity on a single charge, we turned the devices on in shifts – delivering plenty of bandwidth and speed for media-rich note taking on Twitter, photo sharing and even video capture for over 100 conference attendees.

So now – all you conference producers out there – there really is no reason not to be providing internet access at your event. Just grab a handful of these MiFis and grid them together. Moreover, with capacity for a a 32Gb MicroSD card, you can also load your conference presentations directly onto the local network for sharing.

The admin interface is pretty straight forward – anyone who has setup a home modem/router should be able to deal with it. When you login to the admin panel you are automatically connected to your Telstra prepaid account as well – so you can see how much bandwidth you have left. This is quite a welcome feature.

glenrowan The speed and throughput of the device depends entirely on the strength of the mobile signal. In driving back from Melbourne to Sydney, I used the device to upload twitpics from my rest breaks – finding surprisingly good coverage and upload speeds throughout rural New South Wales.

There were only a couple of spots where I stopped that I had trouble – and I obviously had no need to upload or download while driving!

So now, I carry this little baby with me everywhere. I have registered the wifi SSID with all my mobile devices so that I can connect wherever and whenever I want. And now that the Telstra data plans are so much more affordable, there’s no reason to be unconnected.