Working in artificial intelligence, it might stand to reason that the tech team at Musiio would be up on the most cutting edge tech, or constantly scanning the horizon for the next gadget.
However, the Musiio team is remarkably down to earth. And, even though they’re leading the way in AI for the music industry, they tend to favour elegant solutions to day-to-day problems rather than high-tech contraptions.
Here are 11 pieces of office and home tech that our in-house specialists in the tech and sales teams recommend for work and home.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: Noise-cancelling for productivity
“I love noise-cancelling headphones, says CTO Aron Pettersson, “I have the small in-ear ones because the big ones are way too hot for Singapore.”
“They’re great for making you more productive, especially when you combine them with Slayer. There has to be consistency in the music to help you focus.”
Aron also highly recommends them for travel and working in cafes, as noise-cancelling can block out anything from other people’s conversations in the office and cafe hubbub to aeroplane engine roar.
Ikea Bekant: A sit-stand desk to change your perspective
“When I’m struggling to solve a problem, I find changing my environment can help; just standing up can make a big difference to my thinking,” says Frontend Developer Ivan Surin. That’s why he’s considering a sit-stand desk.
The research around sit-stand desks also suggests that spending more time standing at work can ease lower-back pain and lower blood pressure. While these types of desks might have health benefits, they can also be expensive, so it’s always worth perusing the second-hand market to bag a deal.
Linux Mint: Lightweight OS that mirrors the cloud
“As a backend developer, the first thing you do with a new computer is to uninstall Windows and install Linux,” says Vignesh.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, Google Cloud Platform – the cloud environment that Musiio uses for processing tracks – runs Linux.
“I can run the same commands I would run in the cloud on my computer, and I’ll get the same result,” says Vignesh. That’s great for development as it removes the time spent dealing with issues related to mismatch of local/production environment while letting you focus on building features and making crucial bug fixes.
Linux Mint is a lean version of Linux that strips away all unnecessary bells and whistles that use valuable system resources.
Figure It Out: Timezone calculator for Chrome
CEO/Co-Founder Hazel Savage loves Figure It Out, the timezone calculating Chrome plug-in. It’s invaluable because Musiio’s clients are spread across the globe, from Sony Music UK to Beatstars in Texas and Kanjian in China.
“I use Figure It Out every day,” says Hazel, “People think I am some sort of time-zone genius; using this tool, I can calculate (on the fly) the time for a call across US/UK/Australia, for example. Also, the fact you can edit any of the zones and the rest adjust is what makes it so powerful.”
BM40: A configurable, DIY mechanical keyboard
Another favourite among the dev team is the BM40 keyboard. It’s possibly the cheapest DIY mechanical keyboard out there, and it’s perfect for those who love being able to drive their computer without reaching for the mouse too often.
Not only is the BM40 extremely customisable, allowing users to change the keyboard layout and adjust how the keys behave, but its layout is also more compact and grid-based than regular keyboards, rather than using standard staggered keys. Once users move to this so-called “orthogonal” layout, they rave about its superiority.
However, CTO Aron Pettersson isn’t such a fan of the clacking of mechanical keys. “Unless you live alone, you’re not going to get away with it,” he jokes.
Calendly: Never schedule a meeting again
Scheduling meetings is a pain, especially if you’re working across time zones. Calendly solves that problem neatly for Commercial Director Mack Hampson.
“Sending a Calendly link is so much easier than batting emails back and forth with clients,” says Mack. “It saves me so much busywork because it syncs up to Google Cal as well. You just need to be diligent about blocking out periods for focus and downtime.”
However, what works for one role doesn’t always work for another. CTO Aron, by contrast, much prefers to deliberately schedule meetings back to back to avoid breaking up focused work.
“When I’m planning, coding, or doing any kind of strategy work, I need longer times with no interruptions, or I can’t be effective and efficient,” he explains.
Platinum Preppy: Coloured fountain pens for encoding knowledge
Pens might not be the first things that spring to mind as “tech”, but having several different colours can help with encoding memory and problem solving, even if it doesn’t necessarily make note-taking any faster.
Some Musiio devs even use a colour coding system: Red is for bugs or problems, blue is information, green is questions or research topics, purple is to-dos, and black is non-actionable notes. The theory goes that using multiple colours helps you rationalise thoughts. And Platinum Preppy fountain pens are a cost-effective and pleasant way to do this (though there is some contention over whether Pilot Frixion erasable pens are superior).
Integromat: Automate routine tasks
“I automate all sorts of routine tasks with Integromat,” says Chang Choon Fah, Business Ops at Musiio. “Integromat is essentially a cheaper version of Zapier.”
With Integromat’s many integrations, Fah has automated messages reminding contractors to submit invoices, compile data for reporting and loads more. Consequently, Fah is known for always being on top of everything.
Planable: The cheapest social media scheduler
Another of Fah’s top picks is Planable, the cost-efficient social media scheduler.
Because Musiio only posts a handful of times every week, we don’t need the immense plans offered by Hootsuite or SproutSocial. It also streamlines the approvals process saving the team time.
Outside of work, there are another couple of bits of tech that the Musiio tech team are equally excited about.
Line 6 Go: Compact guitar amp and FX modelling
Musiio counts many musicians among its staff, from punk vocalist/guitarist/CEO Hazel to DJ/Commercial Director Mack. AI Developer Vignesh is also a guitarist and turns to his Line 6 Pod Go for playing guitar in downtime at home.
“I’m so happy with the Pod Go. It’s light enough to put in my gig bag and take to a rehearsal, so that’s a huge advantage, and the UI is extremely simple,” he says.
Withings Body Scan: App-connected digital scales
“It’s easy to form unhealthy habits when you’re a developer. But with smart scales, you can see all the different health factors related in numbers, which helps you make better choices,” says Frontend Dev Ivan.
“I bought smart scales from Xiaomi for $20; it was the best investment of the year. They helped me lose 10 kilograms,” he says.
Smart scales can measure BMI, body composition and more, but the newly announced Withings Body Scan is in a different league – at least if you believe the hype from CES. The Body Scan tells you far more by making you hold a retractable handle while on the scales.
“It can accurately measure the composition of the top part of your body – something that other scales aren’t so good at – and your ECG.”