January 17, 2010

Review: Altec Lansing Orbit MP3 Speaker

I call this: computers,tech — Posted by KP @ 6:08 pm

This week we had a Skype conference scheduled between our cast and the NY office.  Nick and my reaction to this was kind of like, “um… uh… OK,” cause we’re not really set up to have video conferences with 14 people on our end.  But being the technological type, we set our computers up, and reserved a good room to have the call in.  But we knew our laptop speakers would not be loud enough to let a room full of people hear well.  I travel with a cheap external speaker, but it’s barely louder than the laptop’s own, and I’ve been looking for a while for other options that are small enough to tour with.

I came across the Altec Lansing Orbit MP3 speaker at the Apple Store, and took a chance on it.

It’s about the size of a doughnut, and comes in a cute carrying case with a carabiner, so easy to travel with.  The short cord curls up under the bottom and the 1/8″ stereo mini plug snaps into place to hold it in.  The bottom also has little rubbery feet, which is nice.  The overall build quality feels very good.  It’s not lightweight for its size, but it’s also not made of cheap materials.

It’s an omnidirectional speaker, so you can place it on your desktop with the speaker pointing up, and the sound will fill the room.  The speaker takes 3 AAA batteries (included), and only works when powered.  My old speaker would produce a tiny bit of sound when unpowered, which was handy for listening without batteries to devices that don’t have their own speakers, such as older iPods and CD players.  But that’s really not something that has been an issue for me too often, so I don’t really mind losing it.  I haven’t had it long enough to get an idea of the battery life, but the power button supposedly also indicates when the battery is low.  There is no volume control on the speaker, so you must use the built-in volume on your computer or music device.

For basic tasks of making computer sound audible to a larger room, or having better sound while watching video or listening to music, I find it works very well.  I think at $40 it’s a fair price for the features, and the accessories are of surprisingly good quality.

There’s also a USB version, which is good because it doesn’t need batteries, but it’s not as flexible because it can only be used with a computer. It’s also $10 more.


I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 3:33 pm

The Guthrie has several different kinds of talkbacks. The ones we do most often are for student audiences. Every student performance concludes with a talkback, which is always really interesting because the kids naturally have questions about the play they saw, and especially for those who have an interest in pursuing acting or other work in theatre, it’s a chance to talk to working professionals about how they got where they are, what kind of training or experience they had, and so forth. Sometimes the conversation takes unexpected turns, but a student talkback usually lands on a more predictable set of questions because there are certain constants in their circumstances — they’ve been studying the play in school, they’ve been brought here by their teachers, and usually have some experience in putting on plays themselves, or at least in performing scenes from the play in class.

I always find it fascinating to have talkbacks with regular audiences, because it’s much more of a mystery about who these people on the other side of the footlights are, what interests them, and how they came to be sitting in a theatre, and why they decided to stay after the show to hear more.

It’s kind of an amazing thing these days that we have a forum where a random bunch of people, outside the context of a school or any organized educational environment, can come together in person and have a discussion with a bunch of strangers for nearly an hour, about the process of theatre, the changing nature of families, love and marriage in the last 500 years, and the impact of Shakespeare on our idea of what it means to be human. This was probably the longest talkback I’ve ever done, but it was really cool in that it wasn’t just a question-and-answer session about “what’s it like to be an actor?” It was really a discussion about the play we all just saw, and the larger issues that it raised about our world today. I think it’s a great thing that such a program exists, and that people care enough to attend.

If you’re nearby and interested, here’s the link to the Guthrie’s page on the post-play discussion program, of which there is one more date for our show (Jan. 30th matinee), and for all their other upcoming shows.

Game Day

I call this: On the Road Again — Posted by KP @ 1:03 pm

Here in Minneapolis we’ve been living 2 blocks from the Metrodome through most of football season. Today as I walked to the theatre I was greeted by a sea of purple going the other way.

Here’s the view from the crazy yellow windows on the Guthrie’s 9th floor, just before kickoff.

I enjoy watching football but I don’t have really strong allegiances, so I’ve been rooting for the Vikings all year, knowing they would be my “home team” for the second half of the season.