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It took the quick Copenhagen atmosphere and truthful feedback from a trusted colleague to instruct Benji Rappoport the lesson he need already known.
In very early 2017, Rappoport had been many months into his very first project as a item supervisor at Sonos. Their task: re-imagine the Connect:Amp, a decade old plastic package that hit racks if the iPod Touch ended up being bleeding-edge technology. Unlike more recent Sonos services and products, it absolutely wasn’t a good speaker. It had been an amplifier that tethered up to a set of “dumb” speakers, making a more traditional-looking stereo system with the wireless multiroom features you might expect from Sonos.
Rappoport and lead commercial designer Philippe Vossel collected in a meeting space in business’s small Copenhagen workplace along side Cristoffer Arensbach, the CEO of Danish high-end audio dealer and installer Hi-Fi Klubben. Like other installers Rappoport had met with—and greater than a hundred their group surveyed—Arensbach liked the aging Connect:Amp, but felt it absolutely wasn’t as powerful or capable as it might be for robust speaker installations. After having a decade on the market, it had been very long in tooth.
Expert installers should be able to buy the $599 Sonos Amp beginning December 1, months before its February 2019 public launch.
Next, Rappoport pulled down three distinctly shaped cardboard boxes. One appeared to be a shoebox, and another resembled a personal-size pizza box from Pizza Hut. The last was taller and thinner, such as for instance a rectangular liquor container field standing upright. All three among these forms had been being proposed due to the fact kind factor for the following Sonos Amp.
Rappoport liked the radical, unique shape of the high bottle package. It produced statement, he thought, in which he had been hopeful for validation from the longtime Sonos dealer. But Arensbach didn’t like it. “He literally pointed on the one that I was savoring and was like, ‘Yeah, not that,'” Rappoport claims. The immediate getting rejected of the Bottle put him regarding the defense. “I was like, ‘Well then?’ He stated, ‘I can’t suppose living on a rack.'”
The shoebox design didn’t impress Arensbach either. (Since he had been calling it “the shoebox,” Rappoport jokingly miracles, achieved it ever stand an opportunity?) The pizza package ended up being the clear champion, perhaps not because it was the coolest looking, but because it made probably the most feeling for the installer.
Customers choose Sonos’ sleek standalone speakers, but one of the greatest consumer bases the Amp is professional installers. For them, practicality is vital, and that means the merchandise has to fit flawlessly into the standard 19-inch sound racks the professionals use for his or her customized multiroom sound installments.
Next meeting, Arensbach took Rappoport and Vossel to see among Hi-Fi Klubben’s shops. It possessed a space of streaming amplifiers and speakers lined up in nicely organized wood racks and cubbyholes. Although the Connect:Amp still offered well, Rappoport noticed it had migrated on to the very bottom part associated with display. Later on, he observed many standard rack setups (commonly found in the garages or hallway closets of bespoke home sound installments) additionally tended to cover the old Connect:Amp whenever possible. Like a dinosaur which had in some way survived extinction, it looked unwelcome and out of destination.
Dealing in Details
Sonos users are surprised to understand there exists a thriving market of affluent folks who employ professionals to install Sonos systems within their domiciles. Sonos doesn’t spend much effort referring to installers, and you also will make the argument that Sonos became a family group name—and a publicly traded business—in the last ten years by attempting to sell millions of households in the idea that they do not need to employ a professional installer generate an incredible multiroom presenter setup.
But from extremely start, with 2005’s ZP100 amplifier, expert installers became a few of Sonos’ strongest advocates. Sonos systems did not always result in the installers the maximum amount of money as large-scale customized builds, but customers liked the features and dependability. If an installer offered a customer a Sonos system as opposed to a far more high priced setup having CD changer and complex amp hardware, it usually designed they would get less annoyed telephone calls about speakers no longer working. As time continued, Sonos allow its Amps languish and shifted focus to standalone speakers. Yet installers nevertheless stuck using the old equipment, working harder and harder to generate approaches to jury-rig the underpowered Connect:Amp into increasingly complex house networks.
Today, Sonos is debuting a new version of the Amp, and expert installers can get first break at it. They will be able to purchase the $599 Sonos Amp beginning December 1, months before its February 2019 public launch. In the past 12 months, Sonos has expanded what it now calls its “Installed possibilities” department, launching a freight program and co-op funding for its installation lovers. Quickly it’ll treat them to a new web portal providing devoted help, community features, early info on future items, and marketing assistance. All Sonos clients will begin to notice additions to Sonos.com that assist match all of them with installers, just in case they have grander ambitions for their home presenter community.
Respect the Rack
Everything about the new Sonos Amp should please pro installers. The Amp can connect to four speakers, two times as many as before. The ability output has been doubled; the brand new Amp provides 125 watts per channel by having an impressive signal-to-noise ratio of 116dB and low harmonic distortion dimension of 0.1 %.
These improvements are available in a stackable package that’s about 1.5 rack devices (2.5 ins) high. Rappoport likes to joke that the 60-person item and operations group possessed a objective to “respect the rack.” The Amp accepts standard banana plugs for speaker connections and can be secured up to a rack with standard screws. Even the color is affectionately called “rack black.”
“exactly what became entirely apparent was that the rack actually representation associated with the craft,” Rappoport claims. “It’s not just four steel uprights with some racks plus some panels around it. It’s an outward phrase associated with craftsmanship of this installer.”
Respecting the rack wasn’t easy. Squeezing more energy within small frame inevitably results in overheating. Considering that the team could not attach a lot of cumbersome heatsinks or fans to keep the Amp cool, they used the internal steel chassis of the Amp itself as a heatsink to dissipate the higher degrees of heat radiating from in the package. The circular design adorning the top (making the Amp appearance a little like a classic Sega Dreamcast) also vents heated air.
These changes had been the result of some severe anxiety testing. “we have tested relentlessly,” says Rappoport. “we have gone beyond emissions assessment, thermal screening, and fall evaluating. We have poured cola in the thing. We have tried to drop coins alongside metal items into it. We did all this since the outcome we all know we have to deliver could be the insane, impressive power that we wanted with Sonos dependability.”
The clean design and new abilities could even free the Amp from rack purgatory and let the device integrate more fully using the increasingly complex ecosystem of connected devices for the home.
The Amp has become television friendly, just like the Sonos Beam, by having an onboard HDMI ARC connection and IR receiver, and makes an excellent selection for house theaters with wired front or rear speakers, or ceiling-mounted speakers. Acknowledging it cannot get it done all, Sonos happens to be partnering with a company called Sonance to increase TruePlay tuning and networking abilities up to a new type of embedded speakers.
The brand new Amp additionally supports AirPlay 2, Alexa, Google Assistant (quickly), alongside Sonos network features, though it generally does not have onboard mics it self. The brand new mono mode and amount restricting settings will also aid some setups, because will the new designer settings Sonos plans to start. With that development screen, developers can compose rule to make Sonos speakers offer notifications from smart-home products, or play customized audio videos. Help for the customizable web solution IFTTT can be planned.
Sonos is not working this tightly with installers out from the goodness of its heart. Aided by the expansion of smart-home technology and a move toward high-end “architectural” sound integrations in homes, more clients are counting on professional installers generate complex setups where audio devices, movie screens, lights, and appliances all interact.
“whenever we started, multiroom audio was complicated. We managed to make it a lot easier,” Rappoport claims. “Now the context is completely various, and what’s complicated could be the smart house.”
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In June, privacy advocates celebrated the passage of a historic bill in California that gave residents of that state unprecedented control over how companies use their data. Two months later, the party’s over.
Lobbying groups and trade associations, including several representing the tech industry, immediately started pushing for a litany of deep changes that they say would make the law easier to implement before it goes into effect in January 2020. But privacy advocates worry that pressure from powerful businesses could end up gutting the law completely.
“This is their job: to try to make this thing absolutely meaningless. Our job is to say no,” says Alastair MacTaggart, chair of the group Californians for Consumer Privacy, which sponsored a ballot initiative that would have circumvented the legislature and put the California Consumer Privacy Act to a vote in November. Big Tech and other industries lobbied fiercely against the initiative. In June, MacTaggart withdrew it once the bill, known as AB 375, passed.
At the most basic level, the law allows California residents to see what data companies collect on them, request that it be deleted, know what companies their data has been sold to, and direct businesses to stop selling that information to third parties. But the task of shaping the specifics is now in the hands of lawmakers—and the special interests they cater to.
“The new sheriffs showed up and drew a gun. Then they put it down and walked away,” Kevin Baker, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union in California, says, referring to MacTaggart’s initiative. “Now that they’ve done that, and the initiative threat has gone away, we’re back to politics as usual.”
With just three days left in the legislative session, California lawmakers are scrambling to vote on a new bill, called SB-1121. The original bill had been hastily written and passed in an effort to keep MacTaggart’s initiative off the ballot. The original goal of SB-1121 was to deal with typos and other small, technical errors, with the hope of introducing more substantive changes in further legislation next year. But over the last few weeks, groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Internet Association, which represents companies like Google and Facebook, have pushed for significant alterations, even as the tech industry works to develop a federal privacy bill that would, if passed, override California’s law.
“The lack of precise and clear definitions in this legislation will make compliance difficult for companies looking to do the right thing,” Robert Callahan, vice president of state government affairs at the Internet Association, said in a statement. “This could lead to serious and costly consequences for internet businesses in California, which contribute 11.5 percent to the state’s overall GDP, as well as every other sector of the economy.”
In early August, a coalition of nearly 40 organizations, ranging from the banking industry to the film industry to the tech industry’s leading lobbying groups, sent a 20-page letter to the lawmakers behind SB-1121, effectively a wish list of changes. While the suggestions weren’t ultimately included in the draft that legislators will vote on this week, they’re a clear sign of the battle in store for 2019.
‘If these changes are permitted, a business could offer incentives that are unjust or unreasonable.’
Mary Stone Ross, Privacy Advocate
Among the most significant proposed changes was a reframing of who the law considers a “consumer.” The bill as written applies to all California residents, a provision that industry groups wrote would be “unworkable and have numerous unintended consequences.” Instead, trade groups wanted the law only to apply to people whose data was collected because they made a purchase from a business, or used that business’s service. They also proposed making it so that only businesses had the right to identify people as consumers, and not the other way around.
Such a change might seem small, but it would substantially narrow the law’s scope, says Mary Stone Ross, who helped draft the ballot initiative as the former president of Californians for Consumer Privacy. “This is significant because it [would] not apply to information that a business does not obtain directly from the consumer,” Ross says, like data sold by data brokers or other third parties.
Another major change sought to tweak disclosure requirements. Whereas the original bill requires companies to share specific pieces of data, the industry groups prefer to draw the line at “categories of personal information.”
There are other, subtler suggested changes, too, that Ross says would have sweeping implications. The law includes language that would prevent a business from discriminating against people by, say, charging them inordinate fees if they opt out of data collection. But prohibiting blanket discrimination is too broad for the business groups, who want to add a caveat specifying that they may not “unreasonably” discriminate. In another section, which discusses offering consumers incentives for the sale of their data, the industry groups also proposed striking the words “unjust” and “unreasonable” from a line that reads, “A business shall not use financial incentive practices that are unjust, unreasonable, coercive, or usurious in nature.”
“If these changes are permitted, a business could offer incentives that are unjust or unreasonable,” Ross says. Weakening these non-discrimination provisions, she says, could “turn privacy into a commodity that will disproportionately burden the poor.”
On Tuesday night, during an Assembly hearing on the bill, the final sticking point, particularly for the tech giants, was the law’s handling of data collected for the purposes of advertising. While the law prohibits users from opting out of advertising altogether, it does allow them to opt out of the sale of their personal information to a third party. But the industry wanted to create an exception for information that’s sold for the purposes of targeted advertising, where the users’ identities aren’t disclosed to that third party. Privacy groups including the ACLU and EFF vehemently opposed the proposal, as did MacTaggart. They argued that such a carve-out would create too big a loophole for businesses and undermine consumers’ right to truly know everything businesses had collected on them.
“I was surprised they were this blatant, this early,” MacTaggart says. “I expected this attack in 2019, but not in August 2018, two months after we passed the bill in the first place. “
As of Tuesday night, the industry groups failed to get that amendment into the bill. But MacTaggart and others expect to fight this battle all over again next year.
Room for Improvement
It’s not that the privacy bill is perfect. The ACLU, for one, criticized the bill’s exclusion of a provision in the ballot initiative that would have given people the right to sue companies for violating their data privacy rights. It instead leaves enforcement up to the Attorney General, except in the case of a data breach. In turn, attorney general Xavier Becerra proposed his own list of changes to the law in a letter last week, including the restoration of people’s ability to sue.
As the bill was being finalized, all sides did agree to some tweaks, like clarifying language that would protect data collected through clinical trials and other health-related information. Another change ensures that information collected by journalists remains safeguarded. And while the Attorney General didn’t get everything he asked for, the legislature did agree to provide his office with an additional six months to implement enforcement regulations.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation also concedes the law needs more substantive work. The organization wants to change the bill so that consumers would be able to opt into data collection, rather than opt out. The EFF also wants to ensure the law applies not just to businesses that buy and sell data, but data they share freely, sometimes at no cost to either party. That’s how some app developers were able to gain access to tons of Facebook user’s friends’ data for years.
‘I was surprised they were this blatant, this early.’
Alastair MacTaggart, Californians for Consumer Privacy
And yet Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the EFF, says the business groups’ hamfisted efforts to jam so many changes through in a matter of months is counterproductive. “There will be battles over the definition of consumer and personal information, and we’re prepared to talk seriously about those definitions,” he says. “But that can’t happen in any kind of responsible, grown-up way, in a short period of time.”
For now, all sides at least agree that SB-1121 is effectively a stopgap. The fact that big businesses didn’t get their way this time hardly signals a resounding victory for privacy. Next year’s legislative session will likely see new bills with even more serious changes proposed by influential industries. “They’ve got another chance to succeed, and they’ll be back for sure,” Baker says.
“One of the reasons why AB 375 passed unanimously is everyone knew there’d be a cleanup bill, and they had plenty of time to lobby to get their changes through,” adds Ross, who opposed pulling the ballot initiative in June.
Some engaged citizen, of course, could always mount another bid for a ballot initiative, but with the 2018 deadline already passed, that couldn’t happen until at least 2020, and it would take millions more dollars to put up another fight. That’s left activists like Ross and MacTaggart relatively powerless in the very battle they began.
“I can talk to people and wave my arms around,” MacTaggart says. “But the day I signed to give up the petition, I’m like Cinderella back in a pumpkin.”
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Bad news for those hoping to see President Trump‘s planned military parade this November: It’s postponed, perhaps because it was apparently going to cost more than $80 million more than originally estimated. And that was just one of a couple setbacks last week for Trump, who also got dinged by a federal judge who ruled the administration screwed up the wording on its controversial NDA forms. (The president also picked a fight with veterans over what happened in Apocalypse Now.) Also, the defense rested in the trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort last week without calling any witnesses, so the jury is expected to return a verdict very soon in that case. There’s no telling how the outcome will affect the president until the verdict is out, but surely the waiting isn’t fun for him. Perhaps he could find some solace in the FDA’s approval of a cheaper, generic EpiPen or the release of a new Ariana Grande album? We’ll have to wait to see what this upcoming week has in store. In the meantime, there’s all of this.
Let’s Go to the Tape
What Happened: Forget receipts. Omarosa apparently has tapes of her time in the White House. Yes,”tapes.” Plural.
What Really Happened: Omarosa Manigault Newman continued the promo tour for her new book, Unhinged, last week with a strategy that is, shall we say, somewhat unique. It all started when, on last weekend’s Meet the Press, she shared something genuinely unexpected.
Why, yes, this was immediately agreed to be a really big deal, and not just because it was potentially illegal. Some people had concerns about the recording actually coming from the Situation Room, and what implications that had.
Considering that this came in connection with her assertion that President Trump is “mentally declined,” this all went down really well with Omarosa’s former boss, as you might expect.
As it was, people had obvious concerns with the way—and the particular language—Trump was using to talk about his former employee, and the fact that she was, after all, his former employee.
We’ll come back to this in a second, but could there be even more tapes? Apparently so.
The Takeaway: There’s something so wonderfully trashy, yet compelling, about seeing a reality star take on Trump in this way, isn’t there? (At some point, Omarosa and attorney Michael Avenatti will cross paths, and reality might implode.)
Now, About What’s On Those Tapes…
What Happened: Folks spent a lot of time last week talking about the fact that Omarosa might have tapes of Trump. They spent just as much time talking about what might be on them.
What Really Happened: But let’s go back to Trump’s racism, and the discussion thereof. As if calling Omarosa a dog wasn’t enough of a reminder that President Trump is clearly racist, the discussion in Omarosa’s book about Trump’s alleged use of the N-word has brought the subject to the fore yet again.
This isn’t a new allegation. Former Celebrity Apprentice contestant Tom Arnold has been talking about it since 2016, and the rumor existed even before then. Penn Jillette has said the same thing, and then there’s Omarosa’s recording of Trump insiders apparently confirming that they’ve heard a tape of him saying it, too. At this point, Occam’s razor would indicate the tapes exist. So now might be a good time for the president to address things, right?
Well, that’s a response. As others have pointed out, when you need someone to call you and tell you that there are no tapes of you saying something, that means you’ve definitely said it more than once. But how do you think the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders chose to spin this? Everyone saying, “really badly,” you win a prize.
Yes, it’s come to this: The White House press secretary has to admit that she can’t say for sure that there’s no tape of the president using a racist slur. And then there’s what she added to that weak rebuttal…
To be fair to Sarah Huckabee Sanders: It is actually a big deal when this administration apologizes for anything. So there’s that.
The Takeaway: Let’s give this one over to David Axelrod.
Top Secret (Slight Reprise)
What Happened: As the White House removes the security clearance of one of its critics, politicians and the intelligence community respond in the manner you’d likely expect.
What Really Happened: Some of you may or may not remember that, last month, there were stories in the press about the president considering stripping security clearance for former intelligent officials who had been critical of him. Some said it made no sense, others—including House Speaker Paul Ryan—poo-pooed the idea; Ryan, famously, said Trump was just trolling people with the idea. Funny story: He meant it after all.
Yes, former CIA Director John Brennan was stripped of his clearance last week, with the clearances of others apparently also under review. There were, initially, theories as to why this happened when it happened.
As it turned out, maybe none of these ideas were necessarily true.
Huh. Wait. July 26…?
The plot only thickened from there, as the White House apparently recognized its error.
But let’s not get distracted by when it happened, and go back to the fact that it happened in the first place. As is only customary, the president gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal where he explicitly linked Brennan’s clearance being revoked with the Russia investigation, saying, “I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham… And these people led it! So I think something had to be done.” Of course, people noticed these comments, perhaps because Trump can’t stop giving away that he’s obstructing justice publicly no matter what.
As would be expected, the administration’s actions were widely condemned by politicians and intelligence officials, but perhaps no condemnation was more damning than that of retired Navy admiral and commander of US Joint Special Operations Command, William H. McRaven, who wrote in the Washington Post, “I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency,” adding, “Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”
The Takeaway: This is, as one might expect, already being portrayed by some as President Trump taking on the Deep State. For everyone else, it’s a particularly chilling moment in a series of chilling moments. The most obvious questions might be, what (and who) is next, and why are certain people sticking around in the administration at this point?
What Happened: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul—and the woman in possession of one of the finest voices ever committed to vinyl—passed away last week. Amid a flurry of tributes, there was also one confusing comment and one utterly embarrassing mix-up.
The internet was, deservedly, filled with stories about her legacy, both inside popular music and outside it—she played an important role in the civil rights movement, and inspired and gave voice to women across the world. As is sadly customary in times like this, Twitter was overtaken with those paying tribute to her talent.
Of course, politicians paid tribute, as well…
And then, there were President Trump’s comments…
As much as the comments drew a lot of analysis and attention—amusingly, Franklin was reportedly not a fan of the president’s—it could’ve been worse. A fact ably demonstrated by Fox News, of all places.
Aretha, you really deserved better.
The Takeaway: As great as the NYT and LA Times entertainment section covers were on Friday—
—the Detroit Free Press front page has them beat, appropriately.
Millennials’ Next Victim? Mayo
What Happened: From the death of a soul giant to the reported death of something you put on a sandwich. Is mayonnaise really doing that poorly?
What Really Happened: When will the murder spree by millennials end? Not content with killing department stores, vacations, marriage, and the European Union—not to mention all manner of other things—now they’re turning their attention to … condiments, apparently.
Yes, millennials have apparently killed mayonnaise, although it should be noted that the writer of this piece had previously claimed that millennials had also ruined the workforce and people are still working as far as we know. Nonetheless, if the death of mayo was something to be mourned, it seemed that not everyone got the memo.
Some people just wanted to point out the failures of logic in the central argument, understandably.
Still, at least there was some upside to the whole thing: The success of the original piece, even if written just to provoke a backlash and uproar, means we can perhaps expect more such stories in the near future.
Finally, we have our new Condiment King!
The Takeaway: Yes, this is ridiculous. But let’s just take one second to think about what might be the most ridiculous part of the whole thing: