Headphones redux ER-4P, Hf5

Having lost two sets of $180 Etymotics (4s and 4p) and two sets of $125 Shures (SE210s). I’m feeling miraculously stupid about holding on to anything. But at least I can try a new set of phones. I tried the $120 Shures for a while and they just don’t fit my ear that well. Too short a barrel, so not enough isolation really. Also tried these $50 headphones nuForce with special $15 ear thingies. It is still not comfortable for me as the ER-6i and the ER-4. So what to get now:

Gizmodo review is really great. They really like the new Etymotic hf5 which is $150 and between the $90 ER-6i and the $180 ER-4s and ER-4p. There is also a hf2 which is the same but with a microphone. I don’t normally use the microphone when listening to music. Most listening is in the gym or on the plane. As an aside at the lower end, they like the Ultimate Ears Metro.fi 2 and in the middle the Shure SE110 for $110 (although I can’t get them to fit).

TAFB on Amazon compared tthe ER-4P, Jays Q-Jays and Ultimate Ears 5 Pro and 4vi. His basic point is the $20 more for the ER-4Ps. So if you want the ultimate quality, then the Hf5 and the ER-4Ps. Head-fi.org says that the ER-4Ps are slightly better. Taikero says the Hf5. Finally Oldschool does really the best comparison across saying the issue is price performance. ER-4Ps are the best quality but cost the most at $180. While ER-6i are decent (and they fit me) at $90. And the hf5 is in between with nicer design and less microphonics (this means that when the cord rubs, do you hear it in the earphone because the cord is transmitting vibrations). He also says that for him the new sealing works better on the hf2/5s. One point is that technically the ER-4Ps are brighter at the high end, so this can sound bad. Google Shopping shows $175.

Headphone.com has a good review and is supposed to be more flat in terms of frequency response and have drivers that are hand matched which is why they cost more and they need a headphone amp because they have higher impedence (100 ohms) vs. 27 ohms for the ER-4P and in fact you can buy a $60 cable that adds 75 ohms of impedence to the line that converts the ER-4P into a ER-4S. Here’s the frequency response curve for ER-4P as an example. At left is the measured frequency response of the ER-4P. 35-42 dB of isolation for all of these is the main advantage of in-canal earphones.

Here are some dark horse alternatives and a good overview of iPod specific headsets from headphone.com. Denon AH-C452k is another headphone recommended by headphone.com. It is hybrid design that doesn’t require deep insertion and is just $60, so a good choice in continuing to find a cheaper alternative.

Sleek Audio SA6 is another dark horse. They are in the ear as well and their main thing is that you can tweak the frequency response by attaching various things. They have 15-20dB of isolation and cost $200 and measured, it seems a bit more bassy.

4TB drive for $700

Wow, amazing, for $700, you get a Western Digital enclosure with 2x2TB drives. It  is also mirrored out of the box so you get redundency. Amazing.

Western Digital rolls out new dual-drive My Book World Edition II

Western Digital has already dialed things up to 4TB with its My Book Studio Edition II hard drive, and it’s now done the same with its new My Book World Edition II dual-drive storage system. One of the big advantages with this one is that the dual drives are shipped in a mirrored RAID 1 configuration for an extra level of protection, although you can of course reconfigure ’em yourself if you’d prefer twice the space instead.

16GB Flash nail drive and really fast SDHC

OK, cool things that you can get, which is Flash drive that is so small the connector is larger than the flash. Called the

With prosumer cameras all use Compact Flash and there are SDHC to CF convertors, so you can go to all SDHC card purchase if you can get a SDHC that’s fast enough. CF is much faster than SDHC, so get the SanDisk Extreme SDHC and the CF adapter and now with the new MacBook, you also get a dedicated SD slot, so it can be an all SDHC world.

AT&T network is the big weak spot left for iPhone

Now that 3.0 has shipped, the iPhone is a pretty remarkable device, the big holes left are lousy battery life (maybe the 3GS will really be better???) and lousy, lousy coverage. In Seattle, you get deadspots driving from downtown Seattle to Bellevue on I-5, you are guaranteed to lose the call in three places. Right at the I-5 ramp at Mercer St, right at the SR-520 and I-5 interchange and then at the western high rise of the SR-520. And of course, if you try to use your iPhone in Manhatten, it feels like it drops every block.

So what to be done about it particularly given how great Verizon and even T-Mobile coverage is. Well, AT&T claims that they are doing 3G on 850MHz. With a massive megaloth with locked up phones like iPhone, who knows if they are at all serious (why should they be?). But, they say that getting all the TDMA customers off of 850MHz might help. Smartdevicecentral.com has a great review of 3G networks that seems accurate to me. First is that although AT&T has specs for up to 3.6Mbps (going to 7.2Mbps) in practice, they don’t have nearly that bandwidth. On a sustained basis, AT&T in that test got 471Kbps-537Kpbs on average, while Verizon got 1.1Mbps download and 470Kbps upload.

And the coverage map data shows Verizon as much better but AT&T even in the most optimistic map doesn’t extend much beyond major cities. Cellreception.com is a great site that monitors real world coverage and NYC show that on a scale of 4, Verizon gets 3.4/4 while AT&T get 2/4. Interesting, the site says that in Seattle no one is particular good, T-Mobile is 2.7/4 (it’s the headquarters of T-Mobile USA) while AT&T gets 2.25 and Verizon 1.8/4. And in San Francisco, Sprint and Verizon are neck and neck at 3.1/4 while AT&T is 1.4/4.

As an aside, I often get better reception and longer battery life by going to EDGE (turn off 3G on the iPhone). The main drawback seems to be that you can’t have internet access while making a call with EDGE, but you can with 3G.

The other thing is that they might at last ship their femtocell technology. Wow, they are sometimes so tantelizing close sometimes. OTOH, the Mifi on Verizon is working amazingly well right now.

Apptix switch over for asp-net

Here are the new magic URLs for the conversion by Apptix of their ASP-one to Exchange 2007. Everything changed again. What a strange set of URLs:

  • There is now a magic new user name that is randomly generated. You have to get this from your admin. He or she gets it from cp.collaborationhost.net which is the new control panel.
  • Https://mail.apptix.net/exchange/userid@domain.com is where you get your Outlook Web Access.
  • imap.collaborationhost.net is the imap server
  • smtp.collaborationhost.net is the smtp server
  • mac.collaborationhost.net is the LDAP server for the Exchange directory

turn off your lock codes when updating to iPhone 3.0 or you will brick your wifi and bluetooth

You’ve been warned. I have a lock code on my iPhone 3G, when i did the 3.0 update, it trashed the nvram so that there is no wifi hardware detected. Only solution is to go to Apple store and get a new phone. Took some digging, but here is an answer that makes sense

Apple – Support – Discussions – NO WIFI OR BLUETOOTH after 3.0 update …

Apparently, Apple didn’t test this scenario, and there’s a bug in the upgrade process for those of us who’re security-conscious and use a lock code. The bug forces us to abort the upgrade process and start over; my guess is that this leaves the baseband nvram in a dorked-up state.

Folks who’ve yet to upgrade to 3.0 – my suggestion is to disable the
security code on your iPhone prior to performing the upgrade.

Oahu notes

If you spend a week in East Oahu, some notes:

  • Wet-n-Wild Hawaii. Its a nice splash zone. Only about 40 minutes from Kailua. Just acquired and renamed Wet’n Wild. In the coupon books, get a free icey if you buy a regular admission. You don’t need the additional $5 charge for doing the wave riding thing though. Also hours are tight 1030-430, but it seems to die down after noon when the school groups leave.
  • North Shore beaches. Where surfing really started. See Surf’s Up, if you want to see it as surfing came up πŸ™‚ Of course Ehukai is the most famous (the Banzai Pipeline in the winter is ridiculous). Waimea Bay Beach Park is more sane and close to the waterfalls that you can hike to called. Haleiwa is the main beach town there and you can eat at Haleiwa Joe’s or Jameson’s By the Sea. Of if you are adventurous try Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. $12 for Shrimp Scampi on a paper plate πŸ˜‰ Or try a fancy place like Ola at Turtle Bay Resort if you are splurging.
  • Kailua is just a suburb of Honolulu, but it has an amazing beach there. Try Tokoname for very decent Japanese food. Kailua Sailboard for fun windsurfing lessons and kayak rentals to get you out into the Bay. By the way the L&L next door has terrific chinese won ton mein. And Boston’s Pizza is a very decent pizza place for thin crust. The tomatoes are particularly good. And at the beach, the Kalapawai Market has great sandwiches and things. Finally, Los Garcia’s, is very decent mexican food. Their other branch is in Omaha as I recall! Finally, Buzz’s is where one president dined, although in truth, I’m not much of a steak guy and some say the quality is declining. 
  • Polynesian Cultural Center is the place for the typical tourist luau. The pricing structure is beyond complicated, but I’d say the best deal is the Ambassador Alii Luau because you get a guided tour. You need this because doing all the activities is really hard. Skip the IMAX and get there at say 1PM so you don’t miss the canoe parade. The highlights are the spear chucking and drumming in Tahiti and the coconut husking and firemaking at the end at Samoa. There is a logical order to it all and if you wander about you miss a bunch. The really high end Deluxe Luau only has better food (or rather more rich food like prime rib), but you lose out on the dinner show which is kind of fun. The evening show is like Disney production of Lion King in the tropics, so is fun, the ride back is slow, so plan on 1PM-10PM πŸ™‚ A side note is that it is actually run by the Mormon Church through their BYU-Hawaii branch so everyone there is going to school there. It sets you back a cool C-note, but probably worth it at least once.
  • Honolulu Sailing Company. There isn’t any small boat charters which is too bad. The best we could find is a skippered ride on a Beneteau 43″ out of Waikiki for a half day private charter. Beats just sitting in a catamaran I think.
  • Gunstock Ranch. Who thinks cowboys when you think of Hawaii, well turns out on the Big Island, there are paniolo who are Hawaiian cowboys running herds. On Oahu, Gunstock does all kinds of rides. There is a the fun ride for kids over 9 or if you’ve ridden before, there is the advanced ride. It’s right next to the Polynesian Cultural Center and another taste of the country in Hawaii.
  • Bike Hawaii. If you want to limit major tourism to the PCC, then try Bike Hawaii for a mountain bike ride through the Koaloa Ranch where you can see the site of Jurassic Park and Lost’s filming. They have rides through the Kaaawa valley (try to say that fast! Ka’ A’ Awa is the hint). It’s an easy 6 hour ride for 2-3 hours.
  • Islander Sportfishing. Never tried it but you can get a half day private charter out of West Oahu or Kuuloakai leaves out of the North Shore.
  • Kuilima Cove. Snorkling is normally at ultra crowded Hanauma Bay, but Kuilima is on the North Shore by Turtle Bay and is fun too. Lots of fish and rocks abound.

Nerf heaven

 Perfect for your office fun are the new Nerf guns. Life has sure moved ahead. Head over to Target to get these or Amazon if you are too far away and there is an entire website nerfhaven dedicated to modding theses things.

Magstrike. I’ve never seen anything fire so fast in my life. $18 worth of fun. Main problem is that the clips are not sold separately, so if you fire for 3 seconds, then you are in trouble πŸ™‚