May 31, 2006


I took this in my front yard today. We have a rose bush outside the front window, and this year it bloomed more that it has in the entire time I've been here.

Taken with a Fugi FinePix 2650, near dusk. Minimal exposure adjustment in iPhoto


May 30, 2006

Griffin EarThumps Review

So in the year and a half since I got my iPod, I've gone through several pairs of earbuds. The ones I got with it sounded great, but I quickly blew the left driver. Thinking it was a dud, when my housemate got a new iPod (Apple replaced his when the hard drive went), he gave me his new earbuds, since he didn't use them anyhow. No joke, within a month I had blown the driver in the left earbud again. (Seriously, what is up with that? It doesn't make much sense to me that the left side is always getting destroyed)

Since then, I've been using this pair I've had for probably 5 years, branded by RIO (I got them with an mp3 CD player once upon a time). The presence leaves something to be desired, and they don't stay in my ears very well (most earbuds don't for me), but they're okay. And they haven't broken yet.

So this last week, I ordered a pair of Griffin EarThumps. They're light, and they actually fit into your ear, so they're supposed to have good bass, and noise cancellation. And the drivers are made out of the same stuff as the iPod earbuds (Neodymium), so hopefully they maintain the same clarity and presence. I'm also not crazy about the white earbuds, so I got them in black.

That all sounds great (which is why I bought them), but how are they really? Well, I got them last week. I was excited, I really was. All in all, they're okay. Nothing special, and probably not worth the $20 (plus shipping) I paid for them.

To begin with, they live up to their name. They do thump. The amount of bass they kick is quite a bit for a pair of earbuds, but they're in-canal, so that's to be expected. But the high-end and presence is worse than the RIOs I was using before. Also, since they're in-canal, they do a decent job of noise cancellation, but not so much that I can't hear what's going on around me at all.

As for comfort, they do give you three different size pads that you can swap, depending on how big your ear canal is. The medium ones (that came on them initially) seemed best at first, but after a few days of use, I might give the small ones a try again. On the plus side, they don't fall out of my ears like a lot of ear buds.

All told, I'm kind of dissapointed.

They're not too comfortable, but they don't fall out on my bike ride to work, and I actually get to hear more of my music, and less of the road noise around me. Luckily I can still hear sirens if they're going on nearby.

In the office, I can hear Eric or Dave say something to me, so I don't feel bad, like I'm ignoring them or anything. They still make me wish I had a spare pair of cans I could spare to leave here at the office to listen with.

With some tweaking of the EQ on iTunes, I can get a good sound from the computer, but the iPod presets leave something to be desired. They need a treble/presence boost, and I can tweak it pretty well with a 10-band EQ (and they sound surprisingly good then), but less than that, and I'm not exactly happy.

For the most part, I'd say don't spend your money on them, unless all you like is a lot of low end, or if you really want a pair that won't move around in your ears.

EDIT: After a little more than a week with them, I find them to sound a little better. I guess I just got used to them, and on my iPod one of the EQ settings sounded a lot better (I believe it was the "Rock" setting). They're still not perfect, but I like them more than I did before.

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May 24, 2006

Ghost Rider

Okay, so I never read much of the comic, but I like the Ghost Rider. I like the concept, and he could be sweet, I just never read it much.

But then they go and do this. I actually might be okay with that trailer if it wasn't Nick Cage playing Johnny Blaze. I don't get why they would put him in that role. Sigh.

But beyond that, the effects look alright, and from what I understand about that particular Ghost Rider (there've been more than one person and origin for the character) it seems more or less accurate. But Nick Cage? Come on.

The trailer looks okay. Like I said, the effects look cool, and the tone is kind of dark, but still kind of aware of how silly the premise is. Like a comic book.

All this seems alright, but I can't be convinced that he's Johnny Blaze. At all. I just look at him and I KNOW I'm going to be thinking "What is Nick Cage doing?" instead of thinking about the character.

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May 23, 2006

Another reason I'm glad I'm a Mac user.

And on a related note, Sony/BMG are actually making some kind of good on their massive bungle with that DRM/rootkit thing from a whlie back.

If you're not familiar and are a Windows user, Boing Boing has this little timeline to help explain. In summation, if you put one of these CDs in your computer, it installs a rootkit allowing Sony to see a lot of what you do. Boing Boing also mentions:

  • Sony lied about its rootkit. They said it didn't phone home with information about your deeds. It does. When they were caught in the lie, they said that they didn't pay attention to the information it sent back, so it's OK

  • Microsoft is building a Sony rootkit-remover into its anti-spyware product

  • Lawsuits against Sony are already underway in Italy and the US

  • At least one piece of malicious software that exploits Sony's rootkit has been discovered in the wild
  • [/quote]

    (keep in mind that was from last November)

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    Someone finally came to their senses.

    One major US record label finally admitted that digital downloads aren't hurting their record sales.

    EMI is crediting downloads for a 13 per cent increase in profits despite falling sales of physical products.

    While I'm not much of one for buying digital music online (I like to buy the physical disc when I can - and rip it so I can play it on my iPod), I have bought a few things from the iTunes Music Store, and it has been fine with me.

    Its kind of like when the home cassette recorder was going to ruin the record industry. Or VHS was going to ruin home movie sales. Hoorah for FUD!

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    May 14, 2006

    Must-have Mac software

    In the past, I've read a few articles of this nature in other places, and they always have one item in common: Quicksilver. I must admit, I don't get it.

    I tried it once, and I've found that the one thing it would be useful to me for would be launching apps, but for that I have either my dock for apps I use regularly, or I dig into my applications folder (which you can bring up right quick in the Finder by hitting cmd-shift-A). For apps I use daily, I use Xkeys.

    So I got to thinking, what would I call must-have apps for OSX? I'm a big fan of the open-source mentality, so a lot of these are free (as in freedom), open-source software. The rest are just free (as in beer).

    1. Xkeys
    I don't notice this app any more. Its so essential to the way I use my Mac, that I forget that its not actually part of the OS sometimes. It launches Safari, Adium, iTunes, my RSS reader, Terminal, Mail, and iCal for me at the touch of a button. You get to set function keys as application launchers, and since so few apps I use take advantage of the function keys anyway, it works great for me.

    2. NeoOffice
    NeoOffice is an implementation of OpenOffice for OSX that doesn't require the use of Apple's X11. In stead, it uses a combination of Cocoa and Java, so that it is all but seamless in how it works, even though it certainly isn't in how it looks.

    It might not look great, but I really hate Steve Ballmer, so I won't even steal his company's software. For word processing, I've been looking at switching to AbiWord, since it looks nicer and loads faster, and sticking to NeoOffice for spreadsheets and that kind of thing.

    3. StuffIt
    Perhaps this should be higher on the list, since you need it to unarchive a lot of other downloads, but here it is. Again, you kind of forget that its not part of the OS - partly because OSX already handles certain kinds of archived files, and partly because OSX used to ship with it included, but no longer with Tiger.

    Not something you love to use, but you need it, and you end up using it a lot.

    4. Flip4Mac
    Once its installed, you might forget its there, if you didn't always remember what a pain it used to be to open WMVs. Now this plug-in for Quicktime allows you to play most WMVs with no problem. And for stubborn ones, I keep VLC around, as well as MPlayer, but I rarely need to use those.

    5. Sizzling Keys
    I love this, and I always miss it when I'm on a Mac without it. Global hotkeys for iTunes. Can't beat it.

    6. Adium
    Excellent multi-protocol messenger client. Supports AIM, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk, ICQ, Samewise, Groupwise, Zepher, and Gadu-Gadu. I haven't heard of a couple of these. But, it works great, highly visually customizable, and it has good hotkeys (I hate having to reach for my mouse). A+ in my book.

    7. Gimpshop
    Now, I know its not Photoshop, but the GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP is pretty damn good. But if you're used to using Photoshop, the menu layout is a bit weird to learn. So Gimpshop is a slightly hacked version that moves things around and makes it a little more familiar. You still need X11 to run it, and don't expect to hook up your Wacom and use it (those things ship with Photoshop Elements anyhow, or at least mine did), but it works well for most anything, and I love free software.

    8. NVU
    Now, this won't be of any use to you if you don't do any web development, but if you do, its a great, open-source WYSIWYG editor, that also features an excellent source view. It color-codes your tags, so your source is easier to dig around it. Perfect if a plain text editor might seem a bit TOO lite for you, but Dreamweaver would be overkill.

    That's basically all the must-have free software I keep lying around. Useful stuff, and you can't beat the price.

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    May 11, 2006


    Let's give this a go.