Motorola MOTOPURE H12 Bluetooth headset

November 10, 2007

So the MOTOPURE H12 headset was released on Tuesday, and I, of course, picked one up on Tuesday.

The six word review: I'm not giving up my Jawbone.

I'll be honest, I'm kind of tired of buying these things and always being disappointed (what is this, like my 20th Bluetooth headset?). Here's to hoping Aliph can use its recent $5 million cash infusion to remedy all of the original Jawbone's shortcomings; if they make it smaller, louder, and impervious to wind, it's going to be untouchable.

The good

First off, I quite like the design. Though I could certainly do without the black tip (why not just use the metal grate for the length of it?), it's not too bad, and I've no complaints about its size, which allows it to take a decent fit to my ear. Save the ear hook, I really like the materials used, especially the "diamond-cut" metal (whatever that means).

The microUSB-powered desktop charger looks cool, has some heft, and uses magnets to couple the headset to it; you just set the headset near it and it sucks it down and begins charging. The package also includes a useful travel charger/case and a micro-to-miniUSB converter.

The multi-color LED is unobtrusive, and as far as these things go, is done quite well; I don't quite understand it, but manufacturers are convinced that Bluetooth headsets need blinking, public-facing lights (the Jawbone's is horrible — very distracting). What amounts to a small dot on the H12 indicates various things, such as an incoming call, call status, battery status,1 etc.

The one overriding problem I have with the Jawbone is its low speaker volume. I've never had a complaint from the other side, but more often than I'd like the volume just isn't loud enough on my end. The H12 is definitely better about this, but noticeably clips the audio if you push it too far — one step forward, two steps back.

Overall, it's quite easy to use (not least because it has dedicated power, volume, and talk buttons) and performs moderately well.

The not so good

There was a lot of hype surrounding this headset (mostly from Motorola), but unfortunately the device just doesn't live up to it, especially when it comes to the most hyped bit: noise-cancellation.

This is Motorola's first headset with CrystalTalk, its newfangled noise-cancellation technology. Like it or not, companies need to realize that the Jawbone has set the noise-cancelling standard — if your device can't at least compete with its abilities in this regard, then you probably need to return to the drawing board.

Everyone I've talked to while using the H12 has either asked me what's wrong with my phone (because they've been spoiled by my Jawbone (seriously)) or responded negatively when I've asked about background noise. I don't mean to say that CrystalTalk doesn't work, or even that it works poorly, but to even try to compare it to the Jawbone seems silly; this performance disparity is the main reason I decided to not hang onto it.

The final comment I have concerns the ear hook, which despite its appearance, isn't rubbery at all; it's hard plastic that can rotate around the earpiece, but doesn't change shape. Save its ability to rotate, it offers zero customization, and unfortunately, the way it connects to the headset reminds me a lot of the fragile ear hook on my Jabra JX10 (which, to Jabra's credit, they tried to make right).

  1. This is probably real-world useless; basically it tells you, using green, yellow, and red, that there are up to 5 hours remaining, between 30 minutes and 4 hours remaining, and less than 30 minutes remaining, respectively.   

James Duncan Davidson on the Bitstream Vera Sans Mono font#

Ever since I found it, Bitstream Vera Sans been my favorite monospaced font and I use it in all my text editor windows when working with monospaced text. The best part about it is that when you kick up your font size a bit—say to 12pt, which is what I usually run to ease up on the eyestrain—it just gets better.

I've been using this fixed-width font for years, especially for coding, but am now trying out (and loving!) Inconsolata, which I found through the comment thread.

Paramagnetic paint changes color at the touch of a button#

Before the vehicle is painted, a special polymer containing the special ‘paramagnetic’ iron oxide particles is applied to the car’s body. An applied electric current then adjusts the spacing of small crystals within the iron oxide particles and therefore affects their ability to reflect light and change color.


When the vehicle is switched off, the car returns to a default color of white.

Lift the Leopard download quarantine#

A Vista-esque feature of OS X Leopard is that it tags web downloads (not just from Safari) as such and then warns you about running downloaded apps or scripts. Archived (e.g. zipped) files inherit the tag from their tagged container. This is an annoyance to power users. Luckily, being a power user, I can do something about it. ;)

Anatomy of Linux synchronization methods#

This article explores many of the synchronization or locking mechanisms that are available in the Linux kernel. It presents the application program interfaces (APIs) for many of the available methods from the 2.6.23 kernel.


iphonelogd "will read your iPhone's call log and will copy the calls into an iCal calendar of your choosing, with a description and the caller's name, if available."

Gmail Greasemonkey API#

[We at Google] would like to provide a little help to make [Greasemonkey] scripts more robust. Instead of finding elements by XPath or DOM traversal, this API provides accessor methods for getting common screen elements. Instead of forcing you to monkey-patch (ahem) our internal functions, this API provides callbacks to call your functions when specific events occur.


Google announces the Open Handset Alliance#

[T]he Open Handset Alliance [is] a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies who have come together to accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumers a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience. Together we have developed Android, the first complete, open, and free mobile platform.

Not quite the gPhone many were expecting.

Ambient forecasting umbrella#

A built-in wireless receiver gets a daily weather forecast from, and blue LEDs will flash to let you know if the forecast is rain or snow. The LEDs located at the bottom of the handle will flash in proportion to the chance of precipitation for your area; if there is a 100% chance, it will flash quickly, and if a 10% chance, it will flash slowly.

I almost have to buy it.

Fixing Safari + Saft on Leopard

November 04, 2007

Update: Jeff Harrell and a few others have e-mailed me to let me know that Safari does now have some form of session restoration; see "Reopen All Windows From Last Session" in the "History" menu. Kind of a weird place to put it if you ask me (why not mention it in the preferences?). In any event, there seems to be some slight delay before it "saves" a newly opened window/tab to the restoration 'list,' but it does seem to do this even without a valid "quit" signal, which is great -- I killed the process, and it restored the tabs I had opened since I last "quit." I'm assuming it works the same way when the browser crashes (i.e., if the windows/tabs have been open longer than whatever the delay is, they'll be put in the restoration list). The only thing this implementation doesn't seem to account for is the case where a malignant site is causing Safari to crash; will Safari continue to load this page when you restore the session, or will it give you the option of skipping it?

Update: Hao Li has released a new version of Saft (v10.0.1) that likely fixes the problems outlined below (and conforms to the Input Manager requirements introduced in Leopard).

I finally started messing around with Safari 3 on Leopard1 this weekend and was kind of surprised and disappointed to see that it still doesn't have native support for window/tab restoration (for much more on this multi-year omission, please see Browser session restoration on Mac OS X, which I penned three years ago).

Warranted(!) griping aside, I looked to see if Saft (which I first mentioned in the article linked to above, and which takes care of the restoration issue) had been updated to support Safari v3.0.4 (the version that shipped with Leopard). Turns out, it has been updated to work with the new browser, and so I happily paid my six bucks to upgrade it, even though I could never really use Safari as my primary browser.2

If you didn't already know, Leopard kind of does away with Input Managers,3 which means that for Saft to work, it now has to launch Safari. OK, fine, but when I launch Safari with Saft I get no windows. None. Asking for a new window produces nothing on the screen. However, asking for a new tab does give me a window (with two tabs!), but takes away the address bar. Huh?

I played around with various files and preferences, but no matter what I did, the result was always the same: either no window or a window without an address bar. Finally, out of pure frustration, I just decided to scrap my file and start over. Funny enough, this actually did the trick, and now Saft is working as it should.

  1. On Tiger, I installed the Safari 3 beta as soon as it was released, but it never worked quite right. And by quite right, I mean at all. At its most fundamental, a web browser should render a web page; however, on my machine it sometimes took four or five reloads before I saw anything. Moreover, I was never able to get anything to render on first pass — I was required to reload the page at least once, always.   

  2. SafariBlock hasn't been updated, there's still no real extension functionality, and Google Browser Sync doesn't support Safari.   

  3. This was probably done to curtail runtime code injection.   

Gmail "v2.0"

November 02, 2007

Google is in the business of answering Gmail prayers, and business is good.

Nearly two years ago, in On using Gmail exclusively, I said the following:

If you are reading a “conversation” and see that a new e-mail has arrived, it would be nice if when that new e-mail is part of the conversation you are currently looking at, it would just refresh your conversation instead of requiring you to go all the way back to the list of conversations and click it again.

That request has been fulfilled (as have many others from that post), because, as I noticed earlier tonight, Gmail now displays a small rectangular box in the bottom, right hand corner of the browser window when the above-described situation occurs.

Inside the box it says "New Message from John Doe" and offers you two choices: "Update Conversation" and "Ignore." As you might expect, when you tell it to update the conversation, it refreshes the message-body window with the new e-mail. It works great.

Speaking of working great, it would be remiss of me to not mention the speed bump this version has received. I mean, wow.

[W]e [now] prefetch messages in the current view, so when you open an email your browser doesn't have to talk to Google's server; it just displays the message. These techniques really shine on newer browsers and computers. […] We're seeing sub-200ms times when opening messages — pretty quick.

Pretty quick indeed. I'd call it instantaneous. If you didn't know you were working from within a browser, you couldn't be certain either way.

Unfortunately, even in light of these big improvements, I'm still forced to use the "old" version (which is available by clicking "older version" in the menu at the top) because the Gmail Macros Greasemonkey script isn't yet compatible with the new version, and I can't live without it.

True, the keyboard shortcuts were updated in the new version, but they still won't let me add/remove labels and quickly move back and forth between them. My workflow depends on that sort of functionality being there; without it, I feel horribly inefficient, which negatively affects my mood.

Google has "contacted a number of the developers behind some popular extensions and provided them with an opportunity to create fixes," and so I'm sure I'll be able to really enjoy the new version soon enough.