Some Recommendations For Headphones

Headphones

I am pretty happy with my Sennheiser HD202 headphones that I use at work, my Sony MDR-XD-200 that I use at home, and my travel  audio-technica Quiet-Point ATA-ANC7.  

I picked each one specific to issues I was trying to resolve where I use headphones.  The HD202 cover my ears very comfortably, but aren't so noise reducing that if someone knocked on my office door I would still hear them.  The MDR-XD-200 were 50% off, have excel sound quality, and are something you can wear for hours without much fatigue which is great for movies and audio editing.  The Quiet Points were cheaper than the Bose that I had before the were stolen, and fold up pretty well in thier protected case for travel.

Even though I'm content, I find it very interesting to get other folks opinions, suggestions, recommendations, etc. on headphones.

A recent This Week In Google (TWIG) [#234] recommended the following after discussing the recent ad during the Super Bowl for Beats:

Leo also mentioned that Headroom was a good site with more info.  And the Home Theater Geeks podcast have several very detailed podcasts in their library about headphones.  If you want to get very technical on headphones (and even some ear buds) these podcasts are highly recommended.

So ... do you have a favorite headphone? And why?

 


Google Nexus 7 (2013) Review

I have decided to upgrade my Google Nexus 7 (2012) to the new version (2013) that was released at the end of July 2013.  Here is a link to my previous review of the 2012 version.

Nexus_7_2013_Blog_Post_Diagram

The main reasons I think this new version (2013) in the base model configuration (WIFI only with 16-GBs)  is a big improvement over the last base model version (2012):

  • Form factor: the width is less so it is easier to hold in one hand
  • Upgraded internal specs (processor, sensors, etc)
  • Front and back facing cameras
  • Improved speakers
  • Improved screen
  • Also comes with Android v4.3 (the 2012 edition is also supported)

That being said, one of the reasons that it took me more than six weeks (I'm writing this on 9/2/2013) to feel comfortable recommending this version was that the GPS interface had a bad hardware bug that made it pretty much useless for navigation.  Since this is a critical feature for me I wanted to make sure there was a fix (released late in August) that addressed the problem. The fixes to v4.3 list below from Google did solve my issues.  These fixes were also suppose to fix some touch screen issues but I never had those.

2013-11-24 22.07.05

One of the reasons that I decided to not get the 1st generation of the Apple iPad Mini (released in November 2012) and try out the Google Nexus 7 (2012) was mostly: form factor (pretty wide to hold in one hand), cost ($299), no integrated GPS on the WIFI model, and non-Retina display. Plus I was able to get my Nexus 7 (2012) for $150 used via Craigslist (see review).

The one thing that I'm still not 100% happy about is that the camera on the back for "standard pictures" (5-MB) is not that great except in ideal lighting situations.  But that is pretty much my only complaint.

So, with all things considered, I do recommend the Google Nexus 7 (2013) tablet if you are in the market for a 7" tablet.  I use it everyday effectively for: email; personal productivity; social media; consuming media (news, podcasts, blogs, RSS, video, etc); navigation; games; and tracking stuff (notes, references, health, etc). 

UPDATE (11/24/2013): Now that there is a 2nd generation Apple iPad Mini with Retina display I did consider purchasing it, but decided that since I use the GPS everyday for navigation that I'm staying with the Google Nexus 7 (2013).  Plus the price difference is something to consider.  There are rumors that the 2013 edition will get a new list price of $199 which will mean there is a $100 price difference.


Google Reader Replacement Analysis Starting

As a long time Google Reader user I am not very happy with the recent news that Google will be shutting down the service on July 1, 2013

I just finished reading some of the latest coverage, analayis, and recommendations at:

At this point I don't have a good solution recommendation for myself or others that like what they have currently in Google Reader.  I'll be check options out over the next month or so.  I don't have a huge sense of urgency as there is still time to make a discriminating decision.

Things I liked about Google Reader:

  • mostly text-based outline views;
  • can view content & sync in browser, iPad, & Nexus 7;  
  • simple to add & delete feeds;
  • search through all my feeds;
  • can organize feeds in folders;
  • easy to mark folders read;
  • see only new posts;
  • star/mark posts for future reference; and
  • easy to share what I find interesting.

If you have a good recommendation then please let me know.

UPDATE (7/10/2013): I decided on Feedly.  It works well via the Web and on Andriod.  I've had no issues and would recommend it if you need an RSS reader.


Running Tip - Electric Cars Require More Awareness

Ecar+ipod+running=death

Just a friendly reminder to all my fellow runners, joggers, walkers, etc. out there exercising on the road -- the all electric cars are 'super quiet' and if you are listening to audio with headphones on they are even harder to hear.

I almost got hit by one the other morning.  Mostly my fault for not being as aware as I should.

Stay safe and be aware!


Quote from John Brown's Body poem by Stephen Vincent Benet

My friend Mark Horstman readily shares that his favorite part of John Brown's Body (Poem) by Stephen Vincent Benet is ...

If you take a flat map

And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,

The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.

The science of war is moving live men like blocks.

And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.

But it takes time to mold your men into blocks

And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies

Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,

They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,

And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.

It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,

But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow

To move, when they start they take too long on the way -

The General loses his stars, and the block-men die

In unstrategic defiance of martial law

Because still used to just being men, not block parts.

Very powerful, thoughtful, and meaningful words that have now become one of my favorites also.

I recently noticed that Mark (who is co-host of Manager-Tools.com) read this part of the poem in a Career Tools podcast entitled How Not To Multi-Task (Part 2).

I took the liberty to edit a version of just the poem from the podcast.  It is going in my Monday motivational playlists and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


"New" Things I Did Turn On Apple iOS 6

I was able to successfully upgrade to Apple iOS 6 (Apple's What's New Page) on my iPad without any issues.  Here are the "new" things I enabled:

  • Siri
  • No Not Disturb: 9 pm to 6 am
  • Limit Ad Tracking
  • Reviewed all my Privacy Settings
  • Clock (setup a bunch of cities)

I also had no problems updating Conrad's iPad 2.  Conrad is very happy with the new iOS 6, but when I asked him what specifically made him happy he wasn't able to pin any one thing down. ;-)

I am kinda bummed that Passbook isn't for the iPad yet. And the Panorama feature for the Camera that is in the iPhone/iPod isn't available on the iPad.

I also agree that Maps are in the need of work.  Here is a picture of downtown San Diego where the Star of India is at: just an outline of the Star of India (ghost ship?) and there is a monster of some sort coming out of the water at the pier to the north of where the Start of India is at.

UPDATE (3/23/2012): I was also able to update Christy's iPhone without any problems. 


Tip - Subscribing to Twitter Accounts in Google Reader

NOTE: As of October 16, 2012 the official Twitter API turned off RSS options per this article.  What I wrote here doesn't work anymore.

I personally like keeping track of some Twitter accounts (especially security related ones) using Google Reader.  Unfortunately, I've found lately though that Twitter keeps messing with RSS urls, and getting subscribed without errors can be hit and miss.

Here is my understanding of the current format as of this posting ...

If you have a Twitter account like @johnswayer that you want to follow in Google Reader.  Then take the following main URL (twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/) and add <twittername>+.rss -- for example:

"https://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/" + "johnhsawyer.rss"

Becomes:

 "https://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/johnhsawyer.rss"

And use that for the subscribe url.  I usually use a text editor to this (Notepad+ on Windows or TextWrangler on Mac).

Did I get this right? Did Twitter change this already? Is there a better way?  Leave a comment or send me email and I'll update this post.

 


Book Review - "Wait" by Frank Partnoy

Wait Book Cover Image After hearing a recent news blurb from The Economist on a new book called "Wait" by Frank Parntnoy I put this book in my queue.

I just finished reading the book -- well to be completelly honest, I listened to it via my Audible.com subscription -- and here is my review.

I found the book very interesting and a good balance between some of the "physical" and "mental" reasons for how we make decisions, and why waiting before making a decision is a valid decision making process.

The book moves through examples of "waiting" from a series of perspectives that drive home the point that waiting is a natural course of activity and something that should be a valid alternative to snap decisions and first-imrpessions.

Here is a list of highlevel topic areas where waiting is analyzed:

  • Relationships (Baby to Parent, Dating, etc)
  • Financial (Lehman Brother's collapse, )
  • Athletics (Football, tennis, baseball, cricket , )
  • Humor (Commedian's and their punch lines)
  • Fast Food (just seeing a logo can speed you up)
  • Military (OODA loop)
  • Politicans (and the art of the apology)

In addition, one of the main themes of the book is that "managing delay", which we called today "procastination," is actually something we really need to cultivate more or we will continue to have growing problems with time-based decision making.

In summary, according to Professor Partnoy the best decision makers are those that can gauge how much time they have to react, and then wait the longest possible amount of time before making/executing on a decision.


Analysis Of "New" iPad Application Size Increase Claims

As a "new" iPad owner, one of issues outlined as a possible negative impact of having a Retina display was that application memory storage was going to be much bigger.  Since my plan was to move from iPad 2 with 16-GB to the new iPad with 16-GB, I was a little concerned since I seemed to have between 500-MBs to 1-GB free.

So, after a couple of recent updates where I noticed "Retina display' updates listed in the new feature list, I decided to try and track file sizes as updates were happening.  Here is the first sample of applications updated:

Recent-ipad-updates

And this is the summary of increases for these apps:

  • Stitcher v4.8.1 (13.9-MB) went to v4.8.2 (14.1-MB)
  • Wikipanion v1.7.5.4 (2.5-MB) went v1.7.6 (4.9-MB)
  • Khan Academy v1.01 (1.8-MB) went to v1.1.1 (1.9-MB)
  • iThoughtsHD v3.3 (7.1-MB) went to v3.4 (12.7-MB) 
  • The Weather Channel (TWC ) v2.3.2 (8.2-MB) went to v3.2.0 (97.7-MB) 

1st-ipad-app-analysis

My second sampling included (less than a week ago):

Ipad-app2-update

With the following analysis:

2nd-ipad-app-analysis

So, it does appears that in general 'new' iPad applications are larger, and based on my sampling it looks like about 1.5x larger on average.  Most of the applications I tracked are all new Retina-savvy applications, but they also have other upgraded capabilities, new features, fixes, etc.  As the saying goes "correlation does not mean causation."

It was interesting that the iThoughtsHD most recent update went down in size (but did increase when it added "Retina display" feature).  Also the Google+ application is not Retina-savvy  per the application notes but it did have a small increase between versions.

The impact to my own iPad seems relatively minor since I seem to have between one to two GBs free (mostly changing based on music or video uploads) since moving from iPad 2 to new iPad.  I'll keep monitoring and will do an update post if something significant turns up.

Thoughts?!?

 


Reducing Drag - SD-CF II Card Adapter

I recently purchased a Compact Flash (CF) adapter that holds an SD card.  The one I got was: SD-CF II: SD to CF Type II Adapter (Supports SDHC MMC) from Amazon for under $20.

Extreme-CF-adapterThe reason I got this was to reduce some drag that was holding me back from taking my camera when I went out over the last couple of months.  Before the adapter, I had a standard CF Type II card that worked great, but I had created a work flow issue when I moved to my current workspace location at home.

Moving to the new space gave me an opportunity to set up my computer with no USB hub, card readers, etc. (ie. much cleaner and less cluttered).  However, now to get pictures off the camera I had to get out the adapter and hook up several USB cables.  Ugh.

But then I realized my main system has a built-in SD card slot so the adapter streamlines getting the pictures to my computer.  Pop the card out of the camera, take out the SD card, and then put it in my computer for upload.  Simple.  Less drag.

Here is a picture (also on Flickr in a larger format) that I wouldn't have taken without this tweak: 

Cactus

Anyone else have any other tweaks or gear recommendations that have reduced drags in their systems?  Let me know if you do!