Merriam-Webster's Visual Dictionary Online#

The Visual Dictionary Online is an interactive dictionary with an innovative approach. From the image to the word and its definition, the Visual Dictionary Online is an all-in-one reference. Search the themes to quickly locate words, or find the meaning of a word by viewing the image it represents.

nXZEN nX6000 Bluetooth headset

November 28, 2007

(Yeah, here I go again, but I promise to keep this one short.)

A couple of weeks ago I quickly reverted to the ever-reliable Jawbone after being disappointed by the Motorola MOTOPURE H12; never giving up the fight, I decided to give yet another headset a shot at the crown (there's two levels there, think about it ;), and so I purchased the nXZEN nX6000.

When I first heard about this product earlier this year, I kind of dismissed it without much thought, but repeated high praise (and from people presumably in the know) compelled me to give it a chance. I wish I hadn't.

It felt OK in my ear, but it couldn't decide if it was an on-the-ear or an in-the-ear device, which made long talks quite uncomfortable.

It will come as no surprise that I liked its super-plain looks; I thought it kind of steampunk'ish actually. A negative side-effect of the simple look is the lack of buttons — the "multi-function" button does everything, and uses a hard-to-learn hold/press/tap system that only Samuel Morse could love. Overall the buttons felt nice and had a good action to them, but I would have liked to have seen at least one more button take the load off the multi-function hero.

And now, the noise-cancellation. Every headset I've used since the Jawbone has disappointed me in this department, and sadly, the nX6000 is no exception. I knew it wasn't going well, when, as I was talking to my girlfriend while walking outside, she said, "I can hear all the cars and the wind." There were no cars and no wind to speak of (and as far as I know she's not that kind of crazy). Further, she could hear everything I was doing while wearing the headset — opening my car door, turning the car key, typing on my keyboard — and could even tell me what the TV was saying in the background.

I'd half a mind to think the headset was broken — could this really be what FrontWave Extreme was all about? I seriously doubted it, but didn't care enough to order a replacement to find out.

My girlfriend, and everyone else I talked to with the device, told me there was a faint echo to everything I said. It was also noted that it sounded like I was talking from inside a closet or a bathroom, and my voice was repeatedly described as "tinny" (a complaint not uncommon of Bluetooth headsets).

On the positive side, the nX6000 could get quite loud, and so being able to hear the person on the other end was a non-issue.

Should I quit, or try out the BlueAnt Z9?

The theory of moral neuroscience#

[E]mpathy works to prompt us to help our neighbors but attenuates with social distance. That we should be but little interested, therefore, in the fortune of those whom we can neither serve nor hurt, and who are in every respect so very remote from us, seems wisely ordered by Nature. Wisely ordered or not, modern neuroscience is showing that Nature has so ordered our moral intuitions. But we do not have to be the slaves of our evolved moral intuitions. By showing us the neural workings of our moral sense, neuroscience is giving us the tools to understand and improve our moral choices.

Google launches "GPS" for non-GPS phones#

The My Location feature takes information broadcast from mobile towers near you to approximate your current location on the map -- it's not GPS, but it comes pretty close (approximately 1000m close, on average).


[It's] available for most web-enabled mobile phones, including Java, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Nokia/Symbian devices.

Until GPS radios come standard in every mobile "phone" (and they will), this seems like a viable stopgap.

What makes us moral#

What does, or ought to, separate us then is our highly developed sense of morality, a primal understanding of good and bad, of right and wrong, of what it means to suffer not only our own pain—something anything with a rudimentary nervous system can do—but also the pain of others. That quality is the distilled essence of what it means to be human. Why it's an essence that so often spoils, no one can say.


For grossly imperfect creatures like us, morality may be the steepest of all developmental mountains. Our opposable thumbs and big brains gave us the tools to dominate the planet, but wisdom comes more slowly than physical hardware. We surely have a lot of killing and savagery ahead of us before we fully civilize ourselves. The hope—a realistic one, perhaps—is that the struggles still to come are fewer than those left behind.

The Email Standards Project#

The Email Standards Project "works with email client developers and the design community to improve web standards support and accessibility in email."

Our goal is to help designers understand why web standards are so important for email, while working with email client developers to ensure that emails render consistently. This is a community effort to improve the email experience for both designers and readers alike.

Man killed by exploding mobile phone battery#

Update: "South Korean police say what they thought had been a death caused by an exploding mobile phone was actually a ruse used by a co-worker to cover up an accidental vehicular homicide." See here.

200,000 words

November 25, 2007

It's just been brought to my attention that this site's entries now contain over 200,000 words. Damn.

Are aliens among us?#

A more exciting but also more speculative possibility is that alternative life-forms have survived and are still present in the environment, constituting a kind of shadow biosphere. At first this idea might seem preposterous; if alien organisms thrived right under our noses (or even in our noses), would not scientists have discovered them already? It turns out that the answer is no.

Understanding web design#

Web design is the creation of digital environments that facilitate and encourage human activity; reflect or adapt to individual voices and content; and change gracefully over time while always retaining their identity.

A wiring diagram of the brain#

New technologies that allow scientists to trace the fine wiring of the brain more accurately than ever before could soon generate a complete wiring diagram -- including every tiny fiber and miniscule connection -- of a piece of brain. Dubbed connectomics, these maps could uncover how neural networks perform their precise functions in the brain, and they could shed light on disorders thought to originate from faulty wiring, such as autism and schizophrenia.

Never say die#

The search for immortality — or at least the exponential extension of human life — is hardly new. But now the hedge fund set has joined the quest, and some big money and names are betting on a "cure" for aging.

OmniFocus public beta released#

Task management shouldn’t be your full time job. We’ve built OmniFocus to take a load off your mind by managing your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Finish that novel. Spend more time with your friends and family. Grow your business. Let us worry about keeping your goals and tasks, both personal and professional, in one ordered, easy to access system that you can depend on.

I've been waiting on this app for a while (and apparently I'm not the only one). For the past few months, I've been using Vitalist without issue, and really like being able to access/edit it from anywhere (it's web-based), but a "local" solution could probably work just as well, using a combination of Back to My Mac and the rumored ultra-portable.


By using Google Gears with the Firefox Greasemonkey plugin, you can inject Gears code into any website that you want. Don't wait for your favorite website to enable offline support -- do it yourself.