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Mon, 14 Feb 2005
Etymotic ER6i Isolators

Last year I wrote about my experience with the Shure E3C headphones, which I ultimately returned. After my adventures at Zeitgeist, I decided that I had worked up enough courage to try the Etymotic ER6i headphones. A number of people have written that these headphones are much better at blocking out noise, so I've been curious. I did try on a pair of the Bose noise canceling headphones at an Apple store, and they didn't seem to block as much noise as I would have liked, and they have the drawback of being quite large and requiring a battery. So, I ended up back at Microphone Solutions, which matched Buy.com's lower price, and whom (despite last year's experience) I knew would honor the 30 day money back guarantee. I got the ER6i's which are tuned for small MP3 players like the iPod, and claim a higher degree of noise isolation (compared to the regular ER6)

The sound isolation is very good at home. On the day that I got them, I had Michaela jumping up and down and yelling right in front of my face, and I didn't hear her at all. The iPod was set on a low volume setting, which seemed promising. The acid test was last week's trip to the Bay area, which included trips on ferries and airplanes, and a stay in the OSAF offices, which are a large open area. I was listening to a lot of IT Conversations, which has the pauses in conversation, during which I was able to pick up noise from my surroundings. Playing music at a relatively low volume took care of most of those noises. I noticed significant (to me) reduction of airplane noise just by having the phones in the ears. I've gotten over the hurdle of licking the flanged ends to get a better fit, and I haven't yet tried the foam earpieces, but so far I'd have to say that the noise reduction is better than the Shure's. I think that the Shure's had slightly better sound, but I'm willing to accept the tradeoff. The Etymotics seem to insert more easily (although the fit is still not perfect -- I really need to try the foam earpieces) and I haven't developed any pain like with the Shure phones.

At this point, I think they're a keeper.

[23:29] | [gadgets] | # | TB | F | G | 3 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
CodeCon 2005: Day 3

[ This post courtesy of the WSF, Mobiilsa, and unfortunately, Alaska Airlines ]

Here's my report on the last day of CodeCon:

Wheat is a language/runtime/server environment that tries to work the way that the web works -- to the point that you have to deal with it via a web server. As a language there are a number of unusual features:

  • Every object has a URL (the url may not be public, but everything has an URL). A goal is to be able to address anything on the Internet. This also means that when you instantiate objects into the URL space
  • Objects exist in a tree (like web pages) not in a heap. There is a notion of weak pointers (kind of like symlinks, and perhaps related to XPath) that provides the ability to designate in the way that pointers do. Also because the object graph is strictly a tree, the claim is that you need a garbage collector.
  • The object model is prototype based, not class based
  • The surface syntax reminded of Dylan
  • There is a builtin template system, and sort of reminded me of a mix of the EnhydraC approach, mixed together with Dylan macros.

During the Q&A, someone pointed out that Wheat seems quite similar to Zope.

Incoherence is a very cool system for visualizing music. The interesting thing about it is that it visualizes the frequency of the sounds, and the position of those frequencies in the stereo field. A sizable portion of the presentation was essentially a history of how people have used the stereo field. The presenters played tracks and used the Incoherence visualizations to show how the field was being used. I found this to be more interesting than the details of the visualizer itself. Incoherence is available as plugins for iTunes, WinAMP, and xMMS. The authors plan to do plugins for digital audio workstations (hopefully GarageBand) so that the stereo field information would be available at mixing time.

I was really looking forward to this talk, because I'm very interested in identity (which I see as a basic building block for reputation, among other things). Unfortunately, I didn't get a good sense of how the technology worked. The speakers said that their Powerpoint slides were initially aimed at money people, which might explain my confusion. I also tried to find the source code that they claimed was up on SourceForge/Subversion, but to no avail. I hope that all of will sort itself out given a suitable amount of time.

The presentation for SciTools began with a demonstration of how to purify DNA using common household items. Some of the items used included meat tenderizer and a vegetable spinner. Meredith demonstrated kind of tools available in Scitools by demonstrating how you would use them to design a a blocker for the BRCA1 breast cancer gene. Now, I remember the basics of DNA and RNA transcription from AP biology, and it was easy to follow the presentation, and I'm married to a microbiologist. Nonetheless, I found it quite amazing to watch genomes being cut and pasted between websites and seeing the explanation of what would happen inside the cellular machinery. At the beginning of the talk, Meredith compared the state of biology to the state of computer science when assembly language was the only tool that we had for programming computers. I believe she made a comment about needing a Lisp for biology. The world is definitely shaping up to be an interesting place.

Sadly, I had to leave early because the conference was running late and I had a flight to catch, so I missed the last talk on OzymanDNS. Somewhat predictably, I arrived at the airport only to discover that my flight was delayed by an hour, so I probably could have caught the last presentation. United, the airline I normally fly, would probably have paged my phone and let me know of the delay, but Alaska/Northwest did not. At least a fellow CodeCon attendee gave me a ride to the ferry terminal, where I am waiting for the 12:45AM ferry

On the whole, I enjoyed the CodeCon experience, and I think the goal of providing a place for people to talk about nascent projects is a great idea.

[00:24] | [computers] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

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