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Daves Picks : Best Portable Headphones - Brainwavz Delta IEM

November 11th, 2016 (02:42 pm)

I’m going to start sharing some of the things I’ve found on the net that are exceptional finds, buys, whatever. There’s so much crap out there, sometimes it’s hard to find the true gems.


A bit ago I started looking to replace my wired headphones. The requirements were pretty rough:



  • Inexpensive (< $50 would be best)

  • Durable

  • Comfortable

  • Good for long term wear (talking several hours here)

  • Excellent audio range.

  • Doesn’t look like ass


Simple, right? Uh huh.


After going through a couple el cheapo versions (which, I have to admit, told me how BAD headphones could be), and playing with some super-expensive ones (which… were good, but not as comfortable or durable as I had hoped), I started reading reviews for the Brainwavz Delta IEM Noise Isolating Headphones (say that 5 times fast!), and started to get interested.


Brainwavz Delta Red IEM Noise Cancelling Headphones
Brainwavz Delta Red IEM Noise Cancelling Headphones

The price tag certainly is attractive. Brainwavz has ones with remote for $19, but could something that inexpensive really be any good?


I’m here to tell you – they are. Easily ne of the top 5 headphones I’ve ever owned, they’re rock solid in their build, come with a tough zippered carrying case to hold the headphones and the spare silicon earpieces, and sound magnificent. They have excellent range – the highs and lows are crisp and strong across all volumes. The cord is long enough that even plugged into my laptop, it doesn’t get tangled. And they are COMFORTABLE. I can (and have) worn them for 3-4 hours at a stretch and I don’t get sore ear canals or other discomfort. Volume wise, they can keep up with me just fine… I don’t feel like at low levels I have to crank them to hear the full range of what I’m listening to, and when I really want to blast things out, they step up to the task just fine!


So, if you’re looking for affordable, top quality ear buds, I can say with some confidence the Brainwavz Delta IEM headphones will do well by you!

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Dashcam Catches Tire Blowout on Mass Pike

November 11th, 2016 (02:42 pm)

(“You won’t believe what happens next!”)


I’ve been interested in getting a dashcam for my car(s) for a while, and when Woot had a had an Armorall Dashcam up for $29, I decided to give it a try. The verdict? This thing is worth about as much as I paid for it. Yes, it records video and audio. Yes it datestamps it. Yes it turns on and off automatically when I start the car, and yes it loops data on the MicroSD card just fine. Other than that, I can’t find a lot to recommend it. The field of view is narrow, the interface is painfully obtuse, and the mirror mount is… weird. Works, but weird.



Anyway. What did happen though was while driving to work this morning, a trailer in front of me had a tire blowout. The sound was funny, a squeaky whoosh (as opposed to a bang), and I missed seeing it happen (it’s at 7:53:17 in the video). I only understood what was going on when I saw smoke and bits of tire flying off the trailer. I backed off and put my my 4-way flashers for folks behind me, and let the guy pull over to the side. The wheel was pretty wrecked, and the sparks and tire debris were pretty dramatic.


If this had actually damaged my car or something more serious had happened, having the recording to show my insurance company and/or police would have been a huge win. But that’s what dashcams are all about, right?


And getting really cool videos like this. 🙂

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Test Link from http://planet-geek.com

November 11th, 2016 (02:39 pm)

Test post please ignore

(Sorry folks, my crossposter was broken and I didn't realize it. I'll be catching up some postingst hat have not made it to LJ. Sorry for the spammage).

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So, About that Tethered Mode?

August 14th, 2016 (12:54 am)

Litttttle too much Youtube
Litttttle too much Youtube
Remember a couple days ago Iposted about using tethering with my Moto X phone on vacation?  Just a brief reminder that it’s always a good idea to remember you are tethered and “on the meter” when things get rainy and quiet, and you decide to do a little Youtubing.


Just a gentle reminder from someone who cares.

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Revisiting Tethering

August 8th, 2016 (02:25 am)

For the longest time I was stuck in a weird no-mans land regarding WiFi Tethering on my cell phone. I’m referring here to the practice of enabling a hot spot on the phone so other devices, such as a laptop, can share the data connection the phone is using. This is super-handy when in an area that either has no Wifi service, or the service is sketchy as hell.


Problem is, I had an Unlimited data plan with AT&T. And with that unlimited plan, hotspot service was not available.


A year or two ago I made the change and moved my data service to a family plan with a shared data pool. 5 gig a month spread over 4 phones. We haven’t come anywhere near that limit, even with some heavy duty usage, so all in all, a good choice. What I forgot though, was that by going to a metered billing structure, I was able to start using tethered mode.


My cell phone is a Moto X, aka a Moto X Pure Style.

Speeds over tethered wifi with my Moto X
Speeds over tethered wifi with my Moto X
I’m deliriously happy with it, so setting it up as a Wifi Hotspot would just bring it to a new level of functionality.


Enabling it was easy. I was initially worried about performance, but after connecting to it with my laptop and running Speedtest, the numbers are pretty good.

Working from my laptop over the tethered connection is just like sitting at home. I’ll need to set up a better “show how much data I’m using” mechanism, but right now, this is pretty cool.

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Jeep Build Log

July 29th, 2016 (04:27 pm)

As noted in my post “Finding the Balance in Toys and Escape“, I’ve acquired a lovely 2000 Jeep Wrangler TJ, which I’ve taken to calling “Ol Yeller”, for obvious reasons.  I’ve managed to connect with some wicked smaht folks over on the Wrangler TJ Forum, and they’ve been giving me great advice for fixing and upgrading this thing.


I’ve started a build log  where I’ll be posting pics, chatting about mechanicals, and probably going over all the points where I screw this up.  Feel free to browse along and be amused.


Lars Anderson Museum Best in Show
Lars Anderson Museum Best in Show

One last bit.  I took Ol Yeller to the Lars Anderson Museum for one of their lawn events (this one on American cars) and… I won Best Jeep in Show!  Go me!  Course, um, I was the only Jeep.  But hey, I’ll take it!


 

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Finding the Balance in Toys and Escape

July 6th, 2016 (09:44 pm)

When I was a kid growing up in what most people would call ‘the countryside’ (yes it was New Jersey, but we had horses, cows, hayfields, cornfields, and dirt roads), I had the advantage of being able to hop on whatever toy machine I had that year (snowmobile, ATC, mini bike, whatever), and just… ride.  I could go through the woods, around the fields, over to my friends house, explore new streams… it was pretty much wide open.  My friends and I had made trails between all our houses, and I could be adventurous, finding new paths to local towns or abandoned locations.


Now as a grown adult, I miss those things.  A couple years ago, when my VW Passat was dying, I bought myself a 2012 Jeep Wrangler JK.  It was a beautiful truck, and I took it on fun adventures in the mud and the woods, but… in the end, it just didn’t make sense as my primary vehicle, and I sold it, replacing it with an electric car. I don’t regret this decision, as the Volt has been a wonderful commuter vehicle, and as many say, once you drive full time electric, it’s hard to consider a combustion engine as a primary means of transportation. It just didn’t make sense to drive a Jeep to work every day.


In the midst of this, I was also reconsidering my motorcycles. I had two, my venerable Suzuki GS850 (1976! A Classic!) which I’ve owned since I was 25, and the newer DL650, which I got 5 years ago for more adventurous riding, and perhaps finding an efficient way to get around. Alas, I haven’t ridden either of them in almost 2 years, so they were just taking up space in the garage.


And I missed the Jeep. I missed the woods rides, I missed the fun of having a vehicle to just bang around in, and I missed four wheel drive.


So, I changed things.


I’ve sold both Suzuki bikes. Both went to neighbors – the GS850 has been serviced back into useability and I take great joy in seeing it rumble by. The 650 is going to a close friend as his first bike, and I’m looking forward to it getting a new lease on life.


And I bought another Jeep.


My yeller Jeep
My yeller Jeep
Now, lets be clear here. This is not a ‘new’ Jeep. The JK I mentioned above cost somewhere around $34,000 and was enormous. It was my primary vehicle, and was expensive as heck to drive on a daily basis. I still have my Volt, and that gets me to and from work all on electric. But now I have a lovely 2000 Jeep Wrangler TJ I paid $7k for that has almost no rust, and runs beautifully. The previous owner has done a bunch of work on it, adding things I would have added myself, and setting it up for the next steps.


Night before last, I was home and feeling a little quiet and sad… so I hopped in the Jeep and went driving in the night. The doors and top are off it, so it’s wide open. It was the 4th of July, and I drove past fireworks and breezy weather… stopping at the top of a hill and turning off the engine just to listen to the night and distant fireworks. I thought back to the times I did this when I was a kid – I’d take my snowmobile or my ATC out into the woods or fields and just stop… or drive quietly around in the night.


Over the weekend I spent a couple hours with Zach working on it. We fixed a few problems, determined a few other problems, but had some great 1:1 time. Tonight we’re taking the Jeep up to MakeIt to put it up on the lift and do some wheel work. I would never do this with my ‘primary’ ride, but the Jeep is like a big tinkertoy. It’s fun to work on.


Am I reliving my childhood? Sure. Nothing wrong with that. I’m filling a need that my previous Jeep awakened – the want to be out playing in the dirt and woods and having fun. I get some of that hiking, but boy I missed the trailrides and the driving.

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How To Determine the Size of an S3 Bucket

June 15th, 2016 (04:08 pm)

This one came up while working on my home network / photo management setup. I’ve set my Synology DS216+ NAS to use Cloud Sync to back up my files to an Amazon S3 bucket (see this post for some more information on using S3 for backups). The problem was it was taking a very long time, and I needed to figure out how much had transferred.


Unfortunately, Amazon has no simple mechanism for determining the size of an S3 bucket. I found a couple posts on StackOverflow showing how to do it, but they seemed overly complex.


While you can get a bucket size using several third party GUI tools, the command line approach is quick and easy. It does require the Amazon Command line Tools to be installed, and access keys generated, but once that’s done, you can quickly query Amazon for just about anything.


Here’s the command I used to determine the size of my bucket. This is on a mac:


$ aws s3 ls s3://BUCKETNAME --recursive | awk 'total+=$3 ENDprint "total =",total/1024/1024," MB"'

This will give back something like:


total = 245032  MB

Voila! Time for that command can vary depending on the size of the bucket. For me, with around 20,000 photos stored, it takes about 20 seconds.

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Wherein Dave learns that Podcasts are Kinda Awesome

June 5th, 2016 (08:33 pm)

Face it, I’ve been on the net a long time. Usually by the time some buzzword I’ve heard gets enough attention that I check into it, it turns out the hype doesn’t even remotely match the reality. And thus it’s been for me with Podcasts. You can’t swing a dead cat without hearing someone say “And subscribe to our podcast!!!”


Maybe it’s just my early trauma dealing with downloaded files / iTunes syncing problems / PalmPilot lack of audio, whatever, but I never listened to podcasts, even when a friend would say “Hey, did you hear that podcast by Bubbitah Bingah? Dude was awesome.” “Uh huh, what’s the link to the text of the article again?”


Well, even old dogs can learn new tricks. I’m into the third year of dealing with a 40 minute commute, all along highways, with nothing but XM radio or NPR to listen to, I decided to finally take the plunge and check out podcasts. Herein lies what I’ve learned.


Get a good a podcast app


First things first. You need a way to listen to podcasts. For me the important mechanism would be something that allows for downloads ahead of time (say, over Wifi), and then I could catch up as the week went along. I’m fully wedded to Android now, happily using my Motorola Moto X for gaming, music, mail, calendaring – heck, everything. So a decent Android app was needed. I settled on Podcast Addict. It’s a great app that categorizes all my subscriptions, and lets me download all or some of the episodes ahead of time.


Now all I needed was content


So, what do you want to listen to?


There’s seriously no shortage of podcasts out there. And, frankly, most of them suck. When you have no need to limit your time to a 10 minute slot on a radio show, and can blather on for an hour and a half about navel lint, the field gets crowded pretty quickly.


I recommend starting with things you know – being an NPR addict, these were easy:


RadioLab

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me

Marketplace

CarTalk

This American Life


But after that, we start getting into things that are related, but you don’t get to hear quite as often.


The Moth

Ted Radio Hour


And then we get into fun stuff. Up until this point, all of that stuff I’d hear on the radio from time to time (either on NPR or on Public Radio Remix – a station I highly recommend, btw). But what about independent stuff? This is what I came to share with you.


First, I have to highly highly recommend Our Fake History. This podcast focuses on deep dives into historical myths, legends, and stories, and digs out what parts of those stories are true and what has been embellished over time. I got completely sucked into their first ‘big’ series, “Was There Really a Trojan War”. I learned more about the Iliad, Greek mythology, and 19th century archeology than I had ever known before. The current series is going into Helen of Troy, and it’s equally fascinating. Highly recommended!


Following along after is Lore. In a similar vein, this podcast talks about history with a sort of dark bent. Vampires, missing persons – where did all these stories come from? It has a darker, more ‘sitting around the fireplace telling stories’ feel, but all of it is well researched and detailed.


Moving off the dark history bit, I also listen to the Petapixel podcast. This series follows the website pretty closely, but has extra commentary and thoughts by Mike “Sharky” James. Great stuff.


One last shout out. My friend Tim pointed me to Welcome to Night Vale. This is the fictional broadcast of a public service radio station in the town of Night Vale. Think of it as a sort of Prairie Home Companion meets HP Lovecraft. It has it’s ups and downs, but has some great moments in it.


So, if you’ve ever thought about fiddling around with podcasts, I recommend getting Podcast Addict (it’s free), anv giving these podcasts a try. There’s lots to be learned.

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I went Sailing Again.

May 29th, 2016 (03:02 am)

Sailing on Boston Harbor
Sailing on Boston Harbor
This afternoon Zach and I took advantage of a Meetup group in Boston to go sailing on the ‘C’est si bon’, a 46ft Formosa out of Marina Bay, south of Boston. I’d sailed with Ralph before, but this was the first time I was able to go with my son Zach. It ended up being awfully hot, and not much wind, but as many have said before me, a bad day out sailing is better than a good day in the office. We had enough wind to take us from Marina Bay all the way to Deer Island and back again over around 5 hours.


We had a great time, and Ralph was as always a wonderful skipper. We had a crew of 6 total, which was just the right number of people, with skills ranging from newbie on up.


I ended up being completely wiped out by the trip, and once I got home, fell into a zombie-like sleep. I’m still sore and worn from 5+ hours on the water, but it was a great day out.