Wed, 22 Nov 2017

Airpods Are Awesome (With a Couple of Caveats)

See Airpod in ear. I need a shave. I’m often an early adopter when it comes to Apple gear. I picked up my Apple Watch, iPad, and a few other things on launch day. When Apple introduced Airpods in 2016, though, I held back a while, for a few reasons.

  1. I’m not a huge fan of earbuds. I think I’ve got slightly funny-shaped ear canals, so they never quite feel right in my ears (i.e. they always feel like they’re on the verge of falling out)
  2. Though I’m by no means an audiophile, I’m not a big fan of open-ear headphones. They don’t really isolate you much from outside sound (which has its pros and cons, more on this later), and... I like bass.
  3. At $159, they’re not an impulse buy. The only time I’ve ever spent more than $75 on a pair of earphones was for a pair of Sony studio monitors (which were totally worth it, BTW.) These are also tiny, which potentially translates to “easy to lose.”
  4. Bluetooth largely sucks (but Apple seems to have eliminated most of the pain points -- see below.)
  5. They were a 1.0 product with a lot of unproven tech.

Let me get the other disclaimers (the caveats mentioned in my title) out of the way first. If you’re not completely inside the Apple ecosystem, these are probably not for you. Like a lot of Apple products, a lot of their virtues come from their integration with the rest of the ecosystem. If you’re an Android person with a Windows or Linux laptop, keep looking.

If you primarily buy earphones/headphones for audio quality, keep looking. These are (quite) decent as far as earbuds go, but they’ll never sound as good as a set of high-end closed-ear phones.

fins for yr. airpods The solution to my “earpods fit weird in my ears” issue was surprisingly simple.

That said, I finally found a use case that justified picking them up. We live in an open plan house, and I like watching TV at night (really, it’s the only chance I get.) I’ve tried other solutions for balancing the TV volume, but generally speaking I’m either in a situation when I can’t hear programming well enough to enjoy it, or I’m annoying others in the house. The killer feature for Airpods, for me, is that I could pair them at the iCloud account level. This means that after pairing them once on my iPhone, they automagically became accessible from my Apple Watch, my iPad, my MacBook, and, most importantly, my Apple TV. Plop them in your ears, then hold down the play/pause button until the audio output device selector pops up. There is no step 3.

I use them sometimes from my phone (mostly when grocery shopping), but where they’re most useful is at the office (paired to my MacBook Pro) and on the aforementioned Apple TV. Since they’re not completely audio-isolating, they work well in an office where people may actually have need to get your attention, and since you’re sitting down, you’re not really worried about them falling out. They also work surprisingly well for conference calls.

I haven’t even gotten into how clever the charging case is, or how slick and painless it is moving them between your various devices, or how much better the AAC compression sounds than A2DP.

In short, they’re great and I’m very glad I bought them.

:: 17:19
:: /tech/gadgets | [+]
::Comments (1)

Sat, 07 Oct 2017

Fez-Wearing Dragon in the Living Room

I don’t know if AR is “cooler” than VR, but at least you don’t need a stupid looking hunk of geek strapped to your face to try it.

AR Dragon

:: 10:21
:: /tech/computers/os/ios | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sun, 23 Jul 2017

Little Boy, Doing Little Boy Things

Aerosmith plays as things explode in the background
a big smile krakens ahoy!

:: 10:44
:: /personal/family | [+]
::Comments (0)

Thu, 18 May 2017

Red Tea

Red tea

My current obsession is rooibos tea, served with a teaspoon of heavy cream and lightly sugared. Really hits the spot towards the end of the workday.

:: 18:08
:: /entertainment/foodanddrink | [+]
::Comments (0)

JSON Feed

As someone who lived through the Syndication Wars, I find this interesting.

I’m way older and balder than last time. I also have a 4-year-old, so I’m sitting this one out. It looks like a PyBlosxom plugin would be a Saturday afternoon project or so, but I don’t really have Saturday afternoons free anymore.

:: 17:24
:: /tech/computers/internet | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 17 Apr 2017

Never. Sleeping. Again.

Woke last night to the sensation of something scurrying across my abdomen. Swatted instinctively, felt a handful of… something. Carried it into the bathroom, hit the light, and found a dead centipede in my hand.

:: 11:44
:: /misc | [+]
::Comments (0)

Thu, 05 Jan 2017

Jake’s Cake

We really liked the way Jake’s birthday cake (from a little over 2 weeks ago) turned out.

A little red cake scooty

:: 12:15
:: /personal/family | [+]
::Comments (0)

Fri, 23 Dec 2016

Happy Holidays 2016

hanging star

We wish you all things merry and cuddly.

:: 11:27
:: /beauty | [+]
::Comments (0)

Thu, 01 Dec 2016

Some Time Shortly After Robots Destroyed The City’s Highway System But Before They Helped Rebuild It

As they will do.

highway

:: 13:50
:: /personal/family | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sun, 13 Nov 2016

Scripting A Light Bulb

This is adapted from an email I sent to an internal "gadget fan" mailing list at work in response to a question someone asked about controlling lighting electronically.

I went “simple” and I’m pretty happy with it.

I bought this bulb from Amazon.

It’s made in China and sold under several different brand names, most commonly “Flux” and “Magichome.”

You can get the WiFi RGBW version from Amazon (and a domestic seller) for ~$35.

If you feel comfortable shopping via Alibaba (I don’t) you could probably get it for ~$20.

There are several client tools for interacting with them. I’ve used one written in Go and an (easier to work with, IMO) one written in Python.

It doesn't do the dumb thing (UPnP on the open internet) so no, my light bulb isn't helping to bring down Twitter.

In addition, if you live in the iOS universe there’s a plugin that makes it work with Homebridge (and hence HomeKit.)

I can tell Siri to control my lights. Useless, but fun.

More practically, I wrote a Python script that turns on the lamp in my son’s room in the morning and gradually eases him up with subtle color changes.

It kicks off from a cron job running on a Raspberry Pi. (It doesn’t have to be a Pi, of course — any Linux machine or Mac would work.)

I’m sure it could be made to work from Windows, too, but that’s Somebody Else’s Problem. 😁

:: 19:57
:: /tech/gadgets | [+]
::Comments (0)

Tue, 04 Oct 2016

The Warren Wide Web

The Web

This gal is enormous, probably almost as big across as a nickel (not counting the legs.) There are always flies buzzing around the bush below this web, so I imagine she eats very well.

I hate flies more than spiders, who generally mind their own business, so I’m not going to bother her.

:: 15:42
:: /beauty | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 26 Sep 2016

Home Server Addendum

GkrellM AdamMicro Center is selling the Raspberry Pi Zero for 99¢ as a loss leader. I bought one, then spent another few bucks for a boot disk and a USB-to-Ethernet adapter and a minimal case. Total investment: about $15.

I’m using it as a Pi-Hole machine.

:: 15:44
:: /tech/computers/os/linux | [+]
::Comments (0)

Fri, 16 Sep 2016

Exposed 1946 1981 2016

Exposed album and art

I bought this sampler back in 1981, when I was 13 years old and had a paper route. It was a double vinyl LP for $2.99, which was quite a steal.

In retrospect, it was a pretty much all over the place musically, but then, so was I.

Someone mentioned this comp on Facebook a few months ago and I ended up looking it up on Discogs.

I decided to try to see how many of the tracks I could track down, 35 years later, and was pleasantly amazed to find that, with only a little work, I was able to find that every track was legally streamable. (Re-assembling this on Spotify, Tidal, or other services is left as an exercise for the reader.)

When you think about it, that’s pretty incredible: a compilation of new artists, selected specifically for their relative obscurity, and 35 years later all of the songs are easily available through the mechanisms most used by modern listeners to play music in their homes and on the go. What are the odds that a slate of 22 catalog artists from 1946 would have been available in 1981?

(Apple Music playlist link)

:: 17:12
:: /entertainment/music/streamingplaylists | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 05 Sep 2016

Labor Day Picnic 2016

Burgers were roasted, corn was eaten, little boys played with bubbles.

Aunt Carolyn, Jacob, and Mommy
Aunt Carolyn, Jacob, and Mommy.

Jake with bubbles

:: 22:48
:: /personal | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 15 Aug 2016

Garden Tomatoes

We’ve got a ton of them, and more every day. Better make some homemade spaghetti sauce or something.

Fresh tomatoes

:: 15:59
:: /entertainment/foodanddrink | [+]
::Comments (0)

Wed, 10 Aug 2016

A Home Server in 2016

gkrellm display for raspberry piOver the years, I’ve had various boxes around the house that you could consider a home server. Often, these were just my desktop machine doing double duty. Occasionally, they’d be some old semi-retired tower machine shoved under a spare table, gobbling frightening amounts of electricity with spinning drives and cooling fans making way too much noise.

Raspberry Pi 3 in a pretty box

It’s really funny to think that this ~$50 guy is really just as powerful as the >$100,000 “medium iron” HP-UX box I was sysadmining barely more than a decade and a half ago.

HP 9000 / 800 Series

These handled the typical home server tasks: holding photos, music, backups, whatever. Serving media inside the house. For many years, this very weblog lived on home servers. With the advent of ubiquitous cloud storage, I’ve outsourced most of these tasks.

It’s still useful to keep some of these things within the home network. What doesn’t really make sense anymore is devoting floor space and lots of watts to some ugly, oversized tower.

Earlier this year I finally bought my first Raspberry Pi system. They’re basically teeny tiny Unix boxes (roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes) for hobbyists. They basically pack a smartphone-level SoC on a small board that can be deployed with minimal fanfare for all sorts of applications.

:: 18:25
:: /tech/computers/os/linux | [+]
::Comments (0)

Tue, 26 Jul 2016

Science!

Jacob @ Michigan Science Center

:: 11:49
:: /personal/family | [+]
::Comments (0)

Wed, 13 Jul 2016

Ḭͯ'͓̤̹̗͓ͣ͆m̨̼̺̆́ I͈̦̭͘n̥̳̯̓ Y̮͚ͦ̈́r T̵͓͈̪̯ó̻͒o̾̆l̜͓̩̳ͯͅc̙̙̮̟̅ͣḫ̖ͤ̚͡a̪ͧ́in̥̦͕̱͎,̢̩̠̫ B̪̥̖̟͈̾͘r͉̠̱ͫ͘e̠͚͙̹̻a̙̦̻͔k̬̜͕̠̭i̟̫̰̲̝̋n̖̱͓̲̗̋̑'͆̊͝ Ỹ̨̪̺r̕ I̖ͧ̔n͇̿̐͠te̦̩͚̓ͦr͔̝͖͕͙ͧn̆͒͜è͈̪̫ͅt̄ͬs͎̻͙̭̭

Every now and then, you need to stress test your tools.

:: 16:16
:: /tech/computers/internet | [+]
::Comments (0)




The characteristic property of hallucinogens, to suspend the boundaries between
the experiencing self and the outer world in an ecstatic, emotional experience,
makes it posible with their help, and after suitable internal and external
perparation…to evoke a mystical experience according to plan, so to speak…
I see the true importance of LSD in the possibility of providing materail aid
to meditation aimed at the mystical experience of a deeper, comprehensive
reality. Such a use accords entirely with the essence and working character
of LSD as a sacred drug.
- Dr. Albert Hoffman, the discoverer of LSD