Ha ha, the speaker gift is a speaker, get it?


As a thank-you for presenting at TechReady11, the conference organizers gave me (and presumably the other speakers) a portable speaker with the Windows logo printed on it.

The speaker underneath the logo is the X-Mini II Capsule Speaker, and I have to agree with Steve Clayton that they pack a lot of sound in a compact size. Great for taking on trips, or even picnics.

It's been a long time since I last recommended a Christmas gift for geeks, so maybe I'll make up for it by giving two suggestions this year.

The second suggestion is a response to a comment from that old article: My bicycle lock is just a laptop combination lock that I repurposed as a bicycle lock. It's a pretty clumsy design for a laptop lock, since it comes in two parts, one of which is easy to lose, but if you just "accidentally" lose the clip part, what's left is a simple cable combination lock that easily tucks into a side pocket of my bicycle trunk bag. Yes, that lock isn't going to stop a dedicated thief for very long, but fortunately, the Microsoft parking garage is not crawling with dedicated thieves because, as a rule, Microsoft tries not to hire dishonest people.

So, um, that's a suggestion for a bicycle lock for somebody who lives in a low-crime area. Hm, maybe that's not a very good suggestion after all.

Comments (11)
  1. Austin Donnelly says:

    I live in Cambridge (UK), where a lot of people cycle, and it is a generally accepted rule that you should spend as much on your lock as you did on your bike :)

  2. mrfixitfox says:

    I've got one of the speakers and its great for travelling, or just around the house. I get around 3 months use, at about 15 minutes per day playing spoken word podcasts, before it needs a recharge. And the blue LED on the base is so bright it doubles as a torch. The standard mini USB socket to charge it also commends it. On the minus side, the battery is captive, but the cost of the whole unit doesn't make that too bad a drawback.

  3. JS says:

    If you spend the same on your lock and your bike, you either have a ridiculously expensive lock or a 10-year-old bike from a garage sale.  There's nothing wrong with riding an old beater bike; that's what I do when I need to park in public places.  But my nice bike gets parked in an indoor rack at work with a cheap lock; I figure an opportunistic thief would just grab one of the other bikes that isn't locked at all, and a dedicated thief would steal the bike regardless of the lock I used.

    The difference between a cheap lock and an expensive lock is what, 30 seconds?

  4. Malcolm says:

    @JS

    In reality you just need a better lock than the bicycle parked next to yours.  I also live in Cambridge and the bicycle theft significantly skews the crime figures – spending 10-20% of your bicycle cost on the lock is considered prudent.

  5. Gabe says:

    I believe the proper formula for a bike lock is that its weight should vary inversely with that of the bike. In other words, if you have an extremely light bike, it's very expensive, so you need a heavy chain/lock to protect it. If you have a cheap bike, it will be rather heavy, so you only need a lightweight chain/lock to protect it.

    The corollary is that all bikes in New York City weigh 40 pounds.

  6. CmraLvr2 says:

    I like the nested "Microsoft tries not to hire dishonest people". Over time this could become something like a Choose Your Own Adventure story.

  7. Chris Lineker says:

    As my father always said, Locks only stop honest people.

  8. steveg says:

    I currently can't find my bike lock keys, so I just hang my bike at work and drape one of those locks people leave behind over my bike. Looks like it's locked.

  9. Wisefaq says:

    @Chris Lineker

    "Locks only stop honest people."

    The corollary to that is "that locks only buy you time with the dishonest people".

    ie. a good quality lock will take more time and effort, than a cheap lock.

    Thus encouraging thieves to move along to the next (easier) target.

  10. Drak says:

    Heh, this reminds me of the time when I got back from university, stepped off the bus, walked to my bike and found that someone had stolen the lock (but not the bike).

  11. Mott555 says:

    During college, I got back to my dorm one day and left my bike unlocked. I was inside only for a few minutes, but during that time someone had stolen it (pretty unusual for our town, lots of people don't lock anything). Three months later I happened to see it parked at the student union bike rack, and it still had my lock locked to the frame for storage. So I took it back.

    I didn't have it long after that. Had a freak accident where I went off a curb going at most two miles per hour and my rear wheel tilted a bit, part of the drive mechanism spoke-jammed it, and parts snapped and the tire popped. I can't imagine what the person who stole it did to it. Thankfully it was only a $60 bike to begin with.

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