Bose Soundlink Mini II speakers turn off at low volume levels

Listening to music a couple of nights ago (streamed from Spotify on my MacBook, though I’m not sure how relevant that is), I found that my Bose SoundLink Mini II speakers kept turning off after 5 minutes (running on battery power, connected with a cable). Spotify kept playing but the sound stopped until I turned the speakers off/on again.

I hadn’t seen this issue before – and I was using the same 3.5mm AUX cable setup that I often use with our small TV (to improve its sound quality), so I hit the interwebs to see what I could find…

Some hunting around suggests that the issue may have been the low volume level on my MacBook (I was in the room directly under my youngest son’s bedroom, after bedtime).

“The Speaker does have a power-save mode, but it will generally only enter this when no audio is detected. The most likely explanation here is that the speaker is getting a very weak signal […] and boosting it enormously with its internal amp.

[…]
If you are using a headphone jack or similar […], try increasing the […] output level while turning the speaker’s volume down. This should provide a stronger signal on the AUX port which would prevent the speaker from sleeping automatically.”

Sure enough, increasing the volume on the MacBook to around level 4-5 and decreasing the volume on the speakers seems to stop the power-down. Indeed, to make sure this was the case, I turned the MacBook’s volume back down to 1 and waited for the music to cut out… then, when it did, I just increased the volume to around level 4-5 again and the speakers came alive!

On a related note… I stumbled across these Spotify tips and tricks that might be useful…

The curious case of the Spotify squatter

Yesterday, I was playing music on Spotify and it kept stopping because someone else was using my account… that’s not an uncommon occurrence as my kids are often using it but I didn’t think they were this time. After the usual squabble over “Play it here”, Nno, play it here”, “No. Play. It. Here.”, I managed to listen to the tracks I wanted to hear.

Then, this morning, I tried to sync some music to my Spotify account, only to find that my iPhone told me Spotify was being used on a complete stranger’s Phone!

One quick password change later and I was sure no-one else was using it. I later removed all devices from my account and re-added them, just for good measure.

Later in the day though, I noticed that all of my playlists were missing. I also saw that my activity stream showed a lot of music that I hadn’t listened to:

These are not my songs!

Someone else has definitely been using my account. Or at least that’s what Spotify thinks!

I could live with the account activity but missing playlists were a big concern. Luckily, Spotify support pointed me to a link to recover playlists where, sure enough, I saw they had been deleted yesterday! It took a few visits to that link before all of my playlists were located and recovered but I seem to be back to where I was before the mix-up.

Now, I don’t think that Spotify has been compromised – if someone had hijacked my account they would have changed my password and locked me out, surely? But I do suspect a database corruption. Spotify aren’t admitting anything is up, of course… but my trust in the service has been severely damaged.

The benefits of IP TV in my living room

Our living rooms have become a battlefield: Microsoft, Apple and Google each want to control our entertainment experiences, integrating TV, PC, smartphone (and games consoles); then consider Samsung, Sony and the other consumer electronics giants – all of whom want a slice of the digital media consumption cake – there’s certainly a lot at stake as existing media consumption models start to crumble and new business models are established.

Until fairly recently, I was resisting any temptation to bring more technology into the living room, especially as my “black loud crap” (19″ hi-fi separates to you and I) was banished when Mrs W and I became an item all those years ago. I’m not much of a gamer but I do have an Xbox 360, which also doubles as quite a decent DVD player/media hub (especially since the BBC released iPlayer on Xbox). We don’t have a BlueRay player, I think 3D TV is a gimmick and music is on an old iPod, hooked up to some speakers in our garden room, served up from Spotify on my phone/PC/iPad, or streamed from a iTunes/Spotify on a Mac using an Apple Airport Express. All very 2005.

But then I bought a new television.

Much to my surprise, the SmartTV capabilities on the new telly impressed my wife (who saw the potential for the kids accessing the CBeebies website, etc. from the TV, still under our control) as the Samsung rep took us through the motions in a local Currys/PC World store (by co-incidence, the same rep was working in John Lewis, where we actually bought the TV, a week or so later). I wasn’t sure how much we’d use other apps, but having BBC iPlayer, and to a lesser extent ITV Player (hopefully to soon be joined by 4oD and Demand5), running directly from the TV has real benefit.

Since finding that the Wi-Fi connection in my living room wasn’t up to the task, and putting in a HomePlug Ethernet solution from PowerEthernet, I’ve become more and more convinced that IP TV is the way forward. Catching up with the latest BBC natural history series, Africa, with my kids a couple of evenings ago I was streaming BBC iPlayer content in high definition without a hiccup. When the PVR failed to record a critical episode from Masterchef: The Professionals, our TV’s YouTube app came to the rescue. And, over the weekend, I decided that watching Vimeo on my computer screen was too restrictive, so I connected the Vimeo app on the TV to my account and started to surf through my “Watch Later” list. That’s more like it! New apps seem to be coming all the time – Spotify was a recent addition, as was TED (only a few days ago).

Of course, I can access the same content on a tablet, or a smartphone, or a PC – but the television is still the focal point of our living room and, by integrating my online video consumption into the broadcast mix, it’s suddenly a lot more convenient. I haven’t even started to consider the possibilities of streaming music, photos and video from the computers in the house although a neighbour did drop by to test his XBMC configuration on my TV before he commits to purchasing, and plugging a USB flash drive into the TV to look at some photos/home videos is certainly very convenient.

In less than two months I’ve gone from “there’s nothing wrong with my old Sony Trinitron” to “what, no high definition?” and “I’m sure we can stream from the Internet”.  Something else has changed too: whilst the majority of our TV content still comes from the BBC, or Channel 4, I’m watching more stuff from the ‘net – whether it’s Vimeo, YouTube, TED, the Red Bull Channel, or the BBC Sport app (which, incidentally, showed a great video of [Sir] Bradley Wiggins performing The Jam’s That’s Entertainment at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year after-show party).

For a long time I’ve heard talk of IP (Internet Protocol) taking over from broadcast TV. Now, it seems, this may actually have become a reality…

Streaming Spotify to remote speakers using Airfoil

Much of the music I play these days comes from Spotify but there are times when I’d really like to stream my music to some speakers on the other side of the house that are plugged into an Apple Airport Express.

A few months ago I found out how to do this, using a nifty piece of software from Rogue Amoeba, called Airfoil.  For just $25, Airfoil will stream audio to other Macs and PCs running the Airfoil Speakers companion app or to an Airport Express, Apple TV or other supported receivers.

I did find a few gotchas along the way though:

  • Airfoil will only recognise the same devices as iTunes and iTunes will recognise the same Airport Express as AirPort Utility. It took several reboots to get AirPort Utility to recognise my Airport Express (although things seem to have settled down since).
  • When adjusting the volume/pause/play etc. there is a short delay before the changes take effect (due to latency in the network) – so this is unlikely to work for live DJing (it was fine for my 40th birthday party a few months ago though!).
  • Spotify has a nasty habit of duplicating itself when it upgrades, leaving a copy in ~/Applications as well as in /Applications.  To resolve this, delete the old version of Spotify in /Applications and move the new version from ~/Applications to /Applications. Restart Spotify and Airfoil should, once again, be happy to take Spotify as a source application.  This has happened several times now, each time Spotify release a new client app although it could be a side effect of me running as a Standard User and not an Administrator (as all users should!).