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  • Review: Katinkas Kaboom Bluetooth Speaker

    MoneySuperMarket.com are doing a roundup of Bluetooth speakers priced under £50 and they kindly invited me to take a look at the Katinkas Kaboom unit.

    I listen to music quite frequently on my phone so the idea of having that sound a little better without the hassle of having to hook it up to something like a stereo certainly appealed to me. 

    In the box was the speaker itself, a USB charging cable and a carry strap.

    WP_000393

     

    WP_000394First impressions were pretty good. The speaker itself is shaped like a hockey puck and fits nicely in the palm of the hand. It comes in orange, pink and blue as well but the black looked pretty good to me.

    I then ran into my first problem. No instructions! I did a quick search on the Katinkas website and couldn’t find anything on there that was of any use.

    Having found some videos (in German) where other people have reviewed the same product I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to come with instructions and I’ve just been unlucky. Fortunately it wasn’t that difficult to figure out how to pair it with my phone (I’ll write a separate post for that in case anyone else runs into similar problems!) and it’s simple enough to use.

    On the bottom of the WP_000396speaker are three little rubber feet that double up as buttons for turning the unit on, starting and stopping music, changing the volume and skipping tracks. While it’s resting on the feet this means touching the edge of the device pushes the buttons underneath which give a reassuring click as the microswitch is pressed and makes it really easy to use.

    Each button has two functions. A short press is to stop or start the music, increase the volume and decrease the volume. A longer press turns the speaker on and off, moves to the next track or moves to the previous track. Simple enough! Most of the functions are also accompanied by assorted beeps to let you know it’s actually doing something. 

    Over the course of the next couple of days I threw my “eclectic” taste in music at it and it handled all of it pretty well and the sound quality was solid enough even at high volumes which was good. Lots of small speakers can get tinny and distorted. I was surprised at how loud it was at the highest volume setting. As a test I put it on the front seat of my car for a couple of days during my commute to the office and I was able to listen to music and podcasts just as well as the built-in stereo speakers and I think I actually preferred it to the headphones I normally use with my phone hands free kit.

    Another nice touch is that it’s chargeable. Meaning no batteries needed and it’s size make truly portable. According to the box two or three hours charge will give six to eight hours of usage. In the few days I’ve been using it I haven’t had to recharge it yet so it looks like that claim is reasonably accurate. It’s already become habit to pick it up move about the house taking it into different rooms with me.

    I haven’t used the carry strap. It was a bit too fiddly for me to thread into the little holes for it but looks like it’s made of sturdy stuff if you needed to make use of that.

    I’ve had a set of Bluetooth speakers in the past that I used a handful of times and they were so fiddly I couldn’t be bothered with the hassle so in comparison these were a real breath of fresh air.

    A quick search showed these on sale for about £40. If I’d been specifically looking for a Bluetooth speaker that may have been a little more than I’d initially been willing to pay.

    So in summary!

    Looks – 5 out of 5

    Discrete, small and functional. Doesn’t become the focus point of a room, is easy enough to be portable if needed and the feet controls are a neat touch.

    Sound – 4 out of 5

    This is a portable Bluetooth speaker so you’re not going to be getting a cinema experience but sound quality was decent with everything I’ve use it for so far and volume capabilities are impressive for something so small

    Features – 4 out of 5

    Ability to charge this for several hours use makes it truly portable which was a big win for me. Simple controls are nice too. A line-in feature would have been nice to allow use with non-Bluetooth devices.

    Ease of use – 4 out of 5

    Only marked this down as it was missing the instructions and a lack of information on the website. It didn’t take me too long to figure it out though and the finger touch controls are really use simple to use.

    Value for money – 3 out of 5

    If I was shopping for Bluetooth speakers I would probably have missed this. Now that I’ve used it I’d certainly continue to use it though.

     

    Thanks to MoneySuperMarket.com for letting me take a look at this. My previous Bluetooth speaker experience wasn’t great so I really pleased with this in the end.

    I’ll post a link to the full round-up once they have put it together. 

  • Crime Doesn’t Pay? It Certainly Costs

    I’ve been unfortunate enough to be the victim of crime three times over the last year

    Car Damage

    Last year someone took a car without the owners permission and drove at speed down the street opposite my house. They didn’t stop at the junction and ploughed into the back of my car that was parked on the driveway. It was hit with such force my car was pushed into my house, damaging the front door.

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    I was woken to the sound of my car alarm going off. I ran downstairs to investigate and when I opened the door it took a few seconds for my half asleep brain to figure out what had actually happened.

    After a police investigation the person involved did actually own up and they went to court, had to pay a fine and had several points added to their license (or will have when she actually takes her driving test!)

    Card Fraud

    I noticed a transaction on our bank statement I didn’t recognise. It was for around £50 and for an insurance company I’d never heard of. When I called them they didn’t know who I was and had no record of trying to charge me for anything. My card was cancelled and I did eventually get the money back from the bank. A few weeks later Bryony and I were out doing some shopping and I was unable to take any cash out. This was a bit odd as there should have been money in the account. When we got home a check on the account showed it had happened again. On Bryony’s card this time for a much larger amount. We were actually fortunate we’d tried to take money out that day as this was a couple of days before Christmas and we’d got a large food shopping order due to arrive. Christmas dinner would have been very different if the money hadn’t been available. Bryony’s cards were cancelled and we thankfully got the money back. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened.

    Burglary

    A couple of weeks ago I was in our living room playing my Xbox. Bryony had gone to bed and the children were fast asleep. We’d been having some work done in our house so our bathroom was out of commission so when I’d had enough for the evening I went upstairs to get changed, put my phone on charge with the intention of coming back downstairs to brush my teeth, go to the toilet and make sure everything was switched off and locked up.

    I was sat on the bed checking out the match reports for the football that had been going on that evening when I heard what I thought to be footsteps near the house. This is common though as our street has quite a bit of through traffic. A couple of minutes later I thought I’d heard something else but couldn’t quite make it out. When I heard the third noise I was pretty sure it was coming from inside the house. I went down the stairs to investigate and as I was stood behind the door to the living room I could hear movement. I had a split second to decide what to do. I didn’t know how many people were there, what they were capable of or what they were prepared to do when disturbed.

    Either way they weren’t welcome so hoping to use the element of surprise I shoved the door open and shouted as loud as I could (I won’t repeat exactly what I said..this is a safe for work blog!)

    Thankfully this worked and they turned and ran. I gave chase and ended up half way down the street, barefoot in the snow, hardly wearing anything (thankfully it wasn’t summer..I’d have been wearing a lot less). I had no intention of catching them for the same reasons I was a little apprehensive about confronting anyone in the house so I let them go and called the police.

    This is where I discovered what they’d gotten away with

    A laptop, Kindle, two Xbox controllers, A Wii Remote, a purse (cards – no cash) and about £15 in cash.

    Not a bad haul for a couple of minutes work?

    All three of these incidents cost me and my family in one way or another.

    The money side of things is obvious. For the car incident there was the excess on my car and buildings insurance. I was quite lucky I’d got an uninsured driver clause in my policy that meant my non-claims bonus stayed intact and I eventually got my excess back (several months later). The buildings excess had to be paid though. When the cards were defrauded we were without that money until it was all sorted with the bank. As mentioned already Christmas could have been very different. The stolen items can all be replaced by our insurance but again we’ll need to cover the excess and it’ll be highly likely the premiums will go up over the next couple of years.

    Having varying levels of inconvenience throw at us each time is a mild but noticeable irritant. If you’ve ever dealt with insurance companies you’ll feel my pain here.    

    That’s not the main issue though. The invasive feeling each episode left behind has taken it’s toll and with the burglary being the most recent I hate the fact we don’t feel particularly safe in our own home any more. This will pass with time but doesn’t help right now.

    We’ve obviously learnt some lessons too but whilst we could have prevented the burglary by being a bit more strict about when doors are locked in our house the other two incidents were entirely beyond our control.

    The last few weeks have been difficult. I’ve gone over the evenings events hundreds of times on how things could have played out differently and I’ve been waking in the night and having very vivid dreams (the fact I remember dreams is massive in itself – I hardly every remember dreams)

    Having a deaf wife also amplifies feelings of uneasiness and vulnerability. Both of the incidents that happened at home involved being alerted by some sort of noise. Being away from home of an evening for any reason now brings additional anxieties and that’s just for me!

    I don’t really have an actual point…I wrote most of this post in the days following the burglary as a way of getting it out of my head and didn’t originally intend to actually post it. However, this morning while talking about the latest incident Bryony used the word “closure”. So I’m going to post it to help draw a line and move on. We’ve changed some habits and added some additional security so for now we can’t do much more and need to move on.

    If you do make it this far down the page take a second today to think about how easy it would be for someone to get into your house on a normal evening and how quickly they could take items of value. I’m not talking about breaking in. Just some opportunist trying a door or window. It only takes a few seconds and it’ll potentially save some headache in the future.

  • Forcing a Firmware Downgrade for Buffalo NAS Devices

    I recently needed to return a Linkstation NAS back to a previous firmware version.

    When you download the update utility in the folder there is a file called LSUpdated.ini. In there I changed the “VersionCheck” flag from 1 to 0

    image

    After that running the update utility worked exactly the same as usual and it happily replaced the current firmware with an older version.

    This should also work with Terastation devices too.

    As always “use at your own risk, I’m not responsible for breaking your stuff, yada yada”

    Buffalo also have a very helpful article on their knowledge base which points out that you can change the “debug” flag which then allows you force the downgrade from within the utility itself.

    The main problem I had was actually getting hold of the older firmware.

    The download page on the Buffalo website on provided the latest version.

    The trick was to manipulate the URL as Buffalo still have the files on their site.

    For example.

    Version 1.64 is available on this link.

    http://www.buffalotech.com/support-and-downloads/download/ls_series-164.zip

    To get hold of version 1.37 i changed the numbers at the end to match.

    http://www.buffalotech.com/support-and-downloads/download/ls_series-137.zip

    I can’t make any promises on how long this will continue to work for though.

    Probably also worth noting, make sure you’re on the correct site.

    buffalotech.com is the USA site

    buffalo-technology.com is for Europe

    The Europe download site gives each file an ID number so it doesn’t quite work the same.

    For example

    Version 1.64 download link is

    http://www.buffalo-technology.com/en/download_file.php?r=153

    Note the 153 on the end.

    The release notes for that firmware are available on

    http://www.buffalo-technology.com/en/download_file.php?r=154

    154? Not helpful

    Just wanted to make a note of this someone as I’ll forget this by the end of the week! Hope it helps someone else.