From the monthly archives:

January 2010

How To Get Ad Free Pandora For Free (Well, Sort of)

by Ryan on January 13, 2010

I didn’t know you could get ad free Pandora without paying $36 per year until I decided to BUY A SONOS. If you haven’t heard of Sonos, you’re not the only one.  I didn’t know about it until I read Jason Calacanis‘ blog and I just happened to be in the market for a home stereo at the time so I thought I would give it a shot.

Sonos Zoneplayer
-Photo: Sonos Zoneplayer

There are pro’s and con’s to my experience with Sonos to say the least, but over all it’s good…very good.  I’m a happy owner.   The biggest upside is AD-FREE PANDORA streaming throughout the house anytime we want it, and we can control it all wireless from any computer and my wife’s iPhone.  I’m not sure if the lack of ads is on purpose, or if it’s just a glitch in my household, but it’s been one whole week of music streaming in my house and I have not been served one single advertisement from Pandora (fingers crossed).  The biggest downside to the Sonos is its COMPLICATED SETUP PROCESS (I won’t bore you with it but it’s a total pain if you do not have the right router / networking hardware).

In short, Sonos is an easy way to wirelessly stream audio throughout your home and to stream music wireless to your stereo from any computer, an iPhone, and best of all, you stream the music from pretty much any music service the web – like Pandora (my personal favorite), (not bad), Napter, Rhapsody, AM / FM Radio and even International Radio.

Here’s why I really like it…it’s affordable ($399) and the sound quality is great considering the size of the speakers (it’s as small in size and about equal in quality to a Bose wave radio).

With a Sonos, you do not need to have your own local .mp3 collection to have access to tons of streaming music (particularly Ad Free Pandora).  This is huge.  You can easily stream cloud based music services and control them in a pretty slick interface (the Sonos Desktop controller and iPhone app) and pump the music through your home.  You can wirelessly add additional Sonos speakers (called Zoneplayers) and stream audio through any numbers of rooms or even outside, wherever you have power.

At first I was skeptical because I’ve experimented with the wireless iTunes streaming capabilities of Apple’s Airtunes hooked into a home stereo.  However, there is one main problem with this approach – the need for the following items / abilities:

1.  Local set of music (i.e. huge local library of content on your computer’s hard drive or an external hard drive, which are prone to failure over time), and

2.  The inability for AirTunes to stream music services (other than your local .mp3/CD collection) though AirTunes. This issue may one day be solved with LaLa Airtunes integration, but for now, it remains an outstanding issue and Sonos solves this problem by enabling streaming of pretty much every web / cloud based music service out there.


Given my experience with Sonos, the company seems ripe for an acquisition by Apple one day. If Apples want to gain market position in home entertainment and compete with Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Playstation, then this acquisition makes a lof of sense.  The only issue being that I am not sure Apple has ever acquired another hardware manufacturer before; there’s always a first time for everything right?.   The Sonos product line is already designed to look just like Apple’s products – white and minimalist.  Perhaps it was designed this way intentionally by the folks at Sonos to set themselves up for a potential Apple partnership one day?  I think Apple should acquire them, work out the networking bugs, and push the Sonos to Apple fans as a home entertainment/ streaming music solution.  Sonos would fit well into Apple’s present product offering.

How Many Times A Day Do I Visit Facebook?

by Ryan on January 6, 2010

I post to Facebook and Twitter a lot.  I mean A LOT.  When I run into my Facebook friends in the real world, I’m often asked how many hours per day do I spend on Facebook?  The answer may (or may not) surprise you.  I spend, ZERO, absolutely zero hours on Facebook each day / month / week. The only time I go onto Facebook is to accept friend requests and check our advertiser and / or developer account at AudioMicro (AM integrates with Facebook).

Question: Then how does my Facebook account get updated 5 times per day (with an average of 4 shared articles and at one status update)?

Answer: RSS, more specifically RSS feeds viewed through Google Reader on my mobile phone with shared RSS items fed into Friendfeed, and distributed to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and just about every other social network on the web.

Ryan Born RSS

In 2009, a great deal of discussion has been going on regarding the death of RSS. Proponents of the death of RSS believe that services like Twitter and Friendfeed are replacing RSS. This is certainly true for the Average Internet User (AIU) because the AIU never adopted RSS.  Despite its simplicity, the AIU still finds RSS confusing. RSS often requires copying and pasting a feed and or clicking on an orange button that brings up a bunch of text, and the AIU does not know how to utilize this text by copying the feed sources, pasting the into an RSS reader, and using the RSS reader to organize and automatically update feeds from across the web. The idea that one must have another account to login to (their RSS reader) and visit through a web browser is far too complicated for the AIU. The AIU would simply prefer to load up Google, Facebook, or Twitter on their homepage and either search for news (in the case of Google) or be spoon fed news by their friends / followers (as in the case of Facebook and Twitter).   This works great for the AIU. RSS is dead to the AIU, but RSS is certainly not dead to more advanced internet users.

But what if you would rather be the one doing the spoon feeding?  i.e. The influential user that locates news worthy topics, shares this news, and drives traffic the the publishers that create content.  RSS is the answer for this and here is how you do it…

1.  Register for a Google Reader Account

2.  Subscribe via RSS to the publications of your choice (HINT:  Click one of those little orange icons you find on most blogs and web pages)

3.  Register for a Friendfeed Account

4.  Link you Google Reader Shared items to your Friendfeed Account (HINT:  Locate the feed URL for your Google Reader Shared items, and copy and paste this URL into Friendfeed’s Google Shared items feed)

5.  Link your Friendfeed stream to both your Twitter and Facebook Accounts (this is really easy to do once you have a Friendfeed account and you can also link to any other social media outlet that you are registered with – e.g. LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo, etc.)

6.  Now you are set up for one click mobile syndication.  Visit your Google Reader account from your mobile phone, iPhone, or web browser, find an article you like, click the “Share” button below any post you see within your Google Reader and this item will be automatically posted to your Facebook and Twitter.  If you set things up correctly, it will automatically title your post and shorten the URL’s through so that you can track how many clicks you get for each item you share.

My Personal Stats:

For every item that I share through Google Reader, I receive an average of 30 clicks.  The majority of these clicks come from any one of the 15,000+ twitter followers to the @audiomicro account.  A few others come from my Facebook friends and personal @bornryan twitter followers and a couple come from LinkedIn and a few stragglers from MySpace.  Pretty much what you would expect in terms of the influential sites where discussions are occurring on the web.  In short, I can drive 30 clicks to any article on the web, simply by clicking the “Share” button in my Google Reader account.  That’s not bad considering that 30 clicks could sell for $10 or more on Google if you were buying clicks through Google Adwords.

Would you like 30 new hits to your website? If so, just let me know and I’ll share a link for you.