July 17, 2006

WriteRoom is "for Mac users who enjoy the simplicity of a typewriter, but live in the digital world. [It's] is a full screen, distraction free, writing environment." I love this application and can see myself using it a lot. It's kind of like megazoomer, except that WR is itself an editor.

Peoples Archive

July 13, 2006

Peoples Archive "is dedicated to collecting for posterity the stories of the great thinkers, creators, and achievers of our time. The people whose stories you see on this site are leaders of their field, whose work has influenced and changed our world."

BlackBerry 8700c

July 12, 2006

I've really zero time to discuss this right now (see bottom of post), but I wanted to say a few quick things before I lost the desire.

Anyone that has talked to me personally in the last week would undoubtedly tell you that I was absolutely smitten with my new BlackBerry 8700c because I haven't stopped talking about it. After having stayed well ahead of the mobile phone curve for as long as I can remember (it's hard work, really, and apparently out of my control), and used every mobile OS imaginable (from various Symbians to multiple PalmOSs to embedded Linux to every Windows Mobile effort to... you get the point), I decided to take a 'chance' and play around with a RIM device.

Turns out it wasn't so much a chance as it was a welcomed change -- the device is wonderful. When I have time I plan to go into its beautifully simple and practical UI, its very fast EDGE implementation (much faster than every other comparably-equipped EDGE phone I've had in the past), its crystal-clear sound, its excellent built-in browser (Opera Mini works fine of course, but I actually prefer RIM's app) and its rock-solid construction.

Something tells me that the low-tech business types, for many of whom BlackBerries have become as indispensable as desktops, have no idea how good they have it.

Sure, I've got my usual persnickety gripes, but these are far outweighed by the positives. That said, one thing I would really like to see is native Gmail integration. I realize that this would require some cooperation between RIM and Google, but I'm hoping beyond hope that it will happen eventually. It would be a godsend to be able to have Gmail mail pushed to the device (i.e., without forwarding) and manipulatable through the BlackBerry mail client so that starring, labeling, replying, sending, etc., would all be sync'd up with Gmail (without ever having to jump out of the mail client and into the browser).

In any event, it's fantastic and has far exceeded all my expectations. To be honest, I'm quite upset that I waited this long to get one (though, to be fair, there were legit reasons for that, not the least of which being Cingular's $45/mo. all-you-can-eat BlackBerry data plan, which, by the way, includes no SMSs).

Part of me hates to say it, but I'm kind of blind to other next-gen devices right now (let's not kid ourselves, despite the incessant hype, there's nothing too exciting going on in this space right now); as soon as RIM gets an 850MHz UMTS/HSDPA radio into one of these sweet little berries, I'm going to buy it and probably be content for some time to come.

This will likely be the last non-“bit” post from me for a while. I'm currently mired in bar prep and crunch-time is upon us -- the exam is on the 25th, 26th, and 27th. If I survive with my sanity in check (flip a coin... seriously), I'll get back to writing here as soon as I can.

George W. Bush is dead to me

July 09, 2006

George W. Bush is dead to me. "What a difference a handful of years makes. Now, overseas, we are a joke. A threat. A toxin. We are considered reckless and arrogant and ignorant, dangerous not just to the rest of the world but to the overall health of the planet. No one anywhere understands how a man like Bush can be the leader of the Free World, stolen election or no."

Uncrustables are god's handiwork

July 05, 2006

I've been told by at least a few people (surely more if they knew me better) that I'm at once the laziest person and the most productive person they've ever met.1 Enter Uncrustables, the pre-packaged, no-crust, frozen peanut-butter and jelly sandwich.2 That's right, I'm too lazy to make my own sandwiches and if this little wonder-in-plastic doesn't count as the perfect snack then I don't know what does. Once you convince yourself that whatever makes them dry and fluffy (instead of wet and soggy) after they've been "thawing" for an hour isn't going to kill you, you're left to enjoy a painless, simple, get-in-get-out snack.

I swear, every time I tear open one of these bad-boys I can hear the guy from the Guinness commercials yell, "Brillyunt!"

  1. These two characteristics aren't mutually exclusive and in a future post I'll explain how they actually work together.   

  2. Hah, I told you I wasn't above writing about such things on this site (you know who you are :).   

Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones

July 05, 2006

Update: I've returned the QC3s and have since purchased a pair of Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 Pro earphones, which are, umm, sonic heaven. I'll likely do a full write-up after the bar.

I don't have too much to say, or too much time to say it, so let's see if I can stream-of-consciousness my way through this real quick.

When I got wind of these a couple of months ago I couldn't wait to try them out. I've long resisted noise-cancelling headphones and have instead opted for the noise-muffling, in-ear models (I've had the Eytmotic ER-6i, Shure E2c, and Shure E3c to name just a few). So, I went down to the Bose store the day the QC3 headphones were released and was told that I wouldn't be able to buy them for a couple of weeks, though they had a pair on display. I put my name on the call-me-when-they-arrive list and picked them up a couple of weeks ago when the store got them.

I'm well aware of Bose's shortcomings when it comes to home-audio fidelity (it's been well established by those in the know that the the brand is much stronger than the product), but I have tended to like their headphones (I've owned two pairs of TriPorts) even if they are a little bass-happy and fragile. I never got into the QuietComfort 2 noise-cancelling set because (1) they looked like ear-muffs you might wear in an Antarctic blizzard and (2) they took regular batteries. I'm not completely against over-the-ear designs and have owned some pretty nice cans of that variety over the years, but the QC2s just seemed a bit cumbersome to me.  *shrug*

Shut up already and tell me what you think

First off, and this was certainly no surprise to me, they don't sound as good as my Shure E3c earphones. They're alright, but there's definitely no jaw-dropping going on here. What did surprise me though was how much better the Shures were at blocking out noise. The Bose are great for equalizing ambient, background noise, but if you're looking to shut out the conversation three feet over, you might as well not have them on. Obviously this depends a bit on the type of music you're listening to and how loud you have it turned up, but overall I was underwhelmed.

For whatever reason, I thought I was going to be able to charge them through a power cable that plugged directly into the headphones; I'm guessing that it was a pre-launch review somewhere that had me thinking that as nothing in the Bose ad copy gives me that impression. That said, charging them is not a big deal -- you simply slide the lithium-ion battery out and plug it into the wall adapter -- but it would have been nice to simply plug them directly into the wall.

Battery life is great and I would say that it meets their quoted time of 20 hours on a single charge. The flashing LED is nice too; it alerts you when there are ~4 hours of juice left.

The audio cable only plugs into the left ear-cup; for the price, it would have been nice if you could plug into either side (I prefer the right).

One feature held over from the QC2s that I really like is the ability to remove the cord while still being able to take advantage of the noise cancellation. However, given the above, in that situation you might be better off with old-fashioned earplugs.

All in all, they are quite comfortable over prolonged periods of use and they sound pretty good. I've got two more weeks to decide if I'm going to keep them or not (30-day return policy), but I think I probably will.

Come on Bose, give me a break

Just when I thought the company couldn't get any more pretentious, what did I find on the inside of the rather nice travel case? A "wallet" velcroed to the wall of the case that contained 10 business cards that read, "Customers tell us they're often asked about their Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones. For your convenience, this courtesy card is yours to pass along." How do they know that already? In any event, the backs contain phone numbers for Bose operations in various countries.

Ooooh, I can't wait for the first person to ask me about the headphones. I'm going to tell him to hold on, dig around in the travel case, and then pass him one of these sweet cards that will not only tell him how self-righteous the company is, but will also keep him completely oblivious as to what makes the headphones so appealing. He'll stand there confused, wondering why I don't just talk up the headphones, and I'll tell him, ever so cooly, to flip that bad-ass card around and see what's waiting for him on the other side. He'll smile, nod, and tell me that's he's tired of the whole Internet thing and would much rather call up the company, wait on hold for 15 minutes, and then ask the friendly operator about my headphones. I'll smile back and just think, "Yah...," as I nod my head in agreement.