• RODE NTUSB Microphone and PSA1 Boom Stand

    My “home office” is working rather well, but I did think it would be nice to go the extra mile and do some minor upgrades, particularly for remote presenting.

    First up is audio recording.

    My requirements were a better microphone on one of those flexible arms, but it needed to fit on my existing desk layout. I have three 27” monitors mounted on a standing desk. Something coming down from above was almost certainly going to obstruct my view, so I figured if it could come in low from the side, that could work. Something that “hovered” above the keyboard so I could still see all three external monitors as well as the laptop display. It might obstruct the keyboard a bit, but I can touch type so that’s not a show-stopper.

    Whilst an XLR microphone would have been nice, that would also require purchasing a separate device to plug into my computer. I didn’t think I could justify the extra expense.

    After a fair bit of research I settled on the following:

    (Affiliate links)

    NTUSB Front view

    RØDE produce world-class audio gear, and it’s pretty cool that they’re actually an Australian company.

    My one hesitation was whether the boom stand was going to be flexible enough and reach far enough. My desk is 1800mm wide, so it would need to span 900mm to get to the middle. Using a measuring tape it sounded like it would, but there’s nothing like actually getting one and trying it out. Good news - it does just reach!

    Boom arm wide

    I was a little surprised at how sensitive the microphone is. I’ll definitely need to keep the door shut when I’m using it. It will also be interesting to see if it picks up a lot of ambient noise (fans, keyboard, etc). I’ve read some comments online that mention getting better results by turning down the gain a lot (eg. 50-60%).

    David speaking into the microphone

    The microphone comes with it’s own 3.5mm audio jack, perfect for plugging in some headphones. This output appears as a USB audio playback/output device in Windows. There are two dials on the side of the microphone for managing the headphone audio. The top dial is used for adjusting the mix between the microphone and other audio. The bottom dial is the volume for the headphones. The documentation mentions that the audio output is “zero latency”, so you’re hearing yourself directly (without the audio having to be processed by the computer and then sent back).

    Side view of NTUSB microphone showing volume and mix controls

    The NTUSB comes with a pop shield - useful for reducing popping sounds and keeping moisture off the microphone. This is optional so you don’t necessarily need to fit it, or you could use different filter.

    Some people like to use a microphone shock mount (those fancy wire cradle things that hold the microphone - often used by radio announcers). I figure I’ll see how I go without that for now.

    Mounting the microphone onto the PSA1 boom stand was straight forward, as was mounting the boom stand on my desk. The stand comes with two options, either a clamp style (which is what I used), or an insert (for a larger desk where you’d drill into the desk and mount it that way). I was able to use the clamp mount, putting it on the left edge of my desk.

    When I’m not using the microphone, the stand folds up sits to the side. In doing so it’s out of my field of view for using the monitors.

    Boom arm collapsed

    Not only does the arm + microphone reach and “hover” as I’d hoped, but it turns out it’s barely (if not at all) in shot when doing video presentations, which is ideal.

  • Upgrading a Synology to DSM 7.0.1

    I have a Synology DS1621xs+ amazon.com or amazon.com.au (affiliate links) currently running DSM (DiskStation Manager) 6.2.4.

    The latest major release of the DSM is now being rolled out as a publicly available update. Being a major update, it doesn’t automatically install, and indeed if you are still on 6.2.4 they’re still making bug fix releases for that series.

    There’s a detailed overview of new features and enhancements in DSM 7 that’s worth reviewing. The headlines for this are:

    • A brand-new Storage Manager, new performance optimization features, and more safeguards against data degradation.
    • Manage Synology NAS across locations with a performance monitoring and automated warning system hosted in the cloud.
    • Powerful domain, system, and identity management features help you guard and maintain your IT setup as your business or project grows.
    • Synology Drive’s enhanced security and management features help admins keep track of users, permissions, and data.
    • New Synology Photos combines the functions you trust with powerful new features in a beautiful new layout.
    • Synology Hybrid Share stores shared data in the cloud and retains frequently used data in a local cache for fast and low-latency access. Combine the speed of on-premises Synology NAS with the scalability of Synology C2 Storage.
    • Efficiently build and administrate iSCSI and Fibre Channel SAN with our most comprehensive and effective virtualization storage proposition yet.

    I decided it was time to move to the next version. Here’s what I did.

    1. Click Download

    DSM 7 Update

    1. Wait for download to complete

    DSM 7 Update

    1. Click Upgrade

    DSM 7 Update

    1. Review the Update Notice.

    DSM 7 Update

    In summary:

    • DSM updates take 10 to 20 minutes, while package update may take more than an hour
    • Some of your packages are automatically updated, while others will require a manual update (via Package Center after the update)
    • QuickConnect will get a new SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt
    • Review this article for third-party package support on DSM 7

    (I have Plex Media Server installed. It is listed as supported)

    1. Select I understand and agree to update the system then click Next

    2. On the confirmation dialog reminding you not to power off the system during the update, click Yes.

    DSM 7 Update

    1. The update then proceeds, with progress being shown

    DSM 7 Update

    DSM 7 Update

    DSM 7 Update

    1. Eventually you’ll be prompted to sign in

    DSM 7 Update

    1. And now you’re greeted with the updated interface! You can now click Start.

    DSM 7 Update

    1. You can optionally enable additional services. If you decide to skip this you can always configure them later in Control Panel.

    DSM 7 Update

    Now head over to Package Center to attend to any packages that need manual updates, and you’re done.

    Do also check out my other Synology posts.

  • Upgrading to a new iPhone SE

    I got my iPhone 7 just over 5 years ago. It’s done a great job, and hopefully still has a bit more life left in it (I did get the battery replaced about 18 months ago). Today its replacement arrived - an iPhone SE (2020) (Affiliate link). No it’s not the fanciest iPhone available at the moment, but I’m on a budget and also preferred a similar form factor to the 7.

    iPhone SE

    Looking at the specifications side by side, they’re actually remarkably similar, apart from the following:

    iPhone 7 iPhone SE (2020)
    Apple A10 Fusion (16 nm) Apple A13 Bionic (7 nm+)
    Bluetooth 4.2 Bluetooth 5.0

    They’re physically identical in as much as if you buy a case, it will fit either model.

    Migration

    To migrate to the new device, I used the 3rd options from this article - using iTunes to create a local backup, and then restoring this onto the new phone.

    For the restore, I just plugged the brand new phone in (before I’d gone through the setup process) and iTunes then recognised it as a new phone and offered to do the restore process. A short while later it was all done.

    Most apps restored automatically, but there’s a few that need extra help. (I’ll update this post if I find any others later on)

    Microsoft Authenticator

    Microsoft Authenticator has its own backup/restore process that is linked to a Microsoft Account. So make sure you’ve enabled backup on the old phone, then on the new phone sign in with your MSA and all the details will be restored.

    Well, almost all. Microsoft 365 accounts will need an extra step where you have to re-confirm the QR code.

    Because I have some logins where I’m a guest in the 365 tenant, I couldn’t figure out how to switch to the right tenant. This Stack Overflow answer summarises the steps required to switch organisations.

    Australian Tax Office

    The ATO app does separate backups to iCloud. Make sure you’ve done a backup on the old phone, then on the new phone go to myDeductions then Back up and select the existing backup to restore.

    TestFlight apps

    Any preview apps you’ve been testing won’t restore automatically. You’ll need to launch the TestFlight app and use that to install the preview app.

    Banking

    Your banking apps might also need some extra attention.

    The following added 11th Jan 2022 17:00 +1030

    Microsoft Teams

    You will need to re-authenticate for each tenant you’re subscribed to

    OneNote

    Select which notebooks you want to synchronise to your phone

    OneDrive

    If you’re using OneDrive to sync your photos, it’s worth opening the app so it can re-synchronise.

    MyMaccas

    You’ll need to sign in again

    Signal

    You’ll need to sign in again. As part of this it asks if you want to transfer your account and message history from your old iOS device. For this to work, both devices need to have the ‘local network’ setting permission. You then use a QR code (on the new device) to pair with the old device and the data is transferred over.

    Cibo

    You’ll need to sign in again

    Entertainment Book

    You’ll need to sign in again

    Bluetooth devices

    Will need to be re-paired

    The following added 13th Jan 2022 13:00 +1030

    myGov Code Generator

    The MFA app used for Australian Government services authentication (a pity they don’t make it easy to use a generic authenticator app rather than having to use their custom one).

    Before you deactivate the old phone (or delete the app), sign in to https://my.gov.au/, go to Account Settings, then sign in options, myGov Code Generator app and click Remove. Once you’ve done this you can then activate the app on your new phone (which will require authenticating the app)

    YouTube

    You’ll need to sign in again. YouTube/Google may try to confirm the login with your old phone/app, so best to do this before you’ve lost access to the old app/phone.

    And that iPhone 7?

    Won’t be thrown away, but passed on to one of the kids to use. I’d like to think there’s another year or two left in it.