Nuforce 8 vs. Shure er210 vs Brookstone Pro plug

I lost my beloved etymotic 4s on the plane. Maybe I should buy them again. These sealed isolation things are great but in buying $40-150 ones I’ve found the biggest variable is a good seal:

1. Brookstone Pro Plug. $40 so inexpensive. Fit is not really sealed bit they r just so bassy. Not recommended.

2. Nuforce 8. $70. Supposed to be amazing. I tried with the stock earplugs and can’t get a good seal. Recommendation is to buy a $15 set of super pro plugs. Ill try that but that puts it a pretty high price point like the Etymotic 6i. They r more balanced than the Brookstone. So not recommended with stock plugs. Will see with the add-one.

3. Shure Se-210. Widely distributed. Sound ok and better fit than Nuforce. At $120 I wouldn’t say they r much better than the $90 etymotic 6i

4. Etymotic 4s. Although only a single driver the main thing is that they really fit well. Thy have foam plugs that r as tight as soundplugs. Sounds is remarkable at $180

TomTom POIs

While TomTom has a bunch of these points of interest in their TomTom Home, it takes forever to download them. “TomTom Forums”: makes it way easier, just download the file and then copy the files onto your TomTom into the directory /North America. There should be a .ov2 file and .bmp file for each one as explained in the “guide”:

There are also gigantic sites “listed”: such as “”: that seems to have data everywhere. For instance, here are all the “Starbucks”:

My favorites have to be “US Speed Traps”: and “Red Light Cameras”:

You can also ask for all points of interest in a given “location”: and map, so you can see everything in say Seattle.

Another site is “TomTom POI Forums”: which has other like Wamu locations.

Blackberry Rebuild and TomTom 720 Rebuild

Been torqueing lots of hardware lately. After my sync catastrophe, my Blackberry refused to sync more than 3800 or the 7100 contacts on Exchange. So I had to wipe and rebuild it. Forgot a bunch of lessons, but to review, if you have to do this:

# Download the latest Blackberry Desktop Manager
# Make sure you select Control Panel/Mail and make sure the profile is set to Always connect directly. Make sure it is not set to cached Exchange mode and Blackberry needs a live connection. The default is Office 2003 is Cached mode which doesn’t work. So you have to muck with the profile
# When you connect the Blackberry after the wipe, it will automatically over the air activate it and you will get your calendar, contacts and mail from your Exchange account. You can check progress by looking at the Enterprise Activation icon on your Blackberry. It will take a couple of hours for 7,000 contacts to sync.

I also was trying to upgrade my TomTom 720 and I also installed audible 4.0 to try to get audiobooks, Audible 4.0 just rebooted the machine which corrupted and bricked my TomTom, so how do you get it back. A good post on this previously, but it is pretty simple:

# Start your TomTom and plug it in. The low level firmware will make sure that the flash in the TomTom looks like a flash drive
# Delete all the top level files *but not the folders!*
# Now reach deep into Tomtom’s program directory (c:\program files\TomTom2Home on Windows) and delete the download directory
# Start TomTom Home and it will think that it just has to update the device, this puts all those files back!
# You are good to go!

Also, if you noticed there is a new 715 map available and they want to nick you $99 to buy it. Wow, that’s a great business. If you have the map, then if you want to do a manual install, you have to futz if you don’t get the maps right. “TomTom Forums”: says all y ou have to do is to find where maps usually are installed and copy your map copy there. That is usually , HOME/downloads/map/North America

If you stuff a map there, then the TomTom Home application should be able to find it when you click on Add Maps and will put it on your TomTom. There is apparently a magic activation file called the “.dct”: file which contains the activation. If it isn’t right, you won’t see the map even if it is inside the right folder on your TomTom.

PSP Firmware

Darn it, we upgraded our PSP to 3.51 and it turns out that “”: says you can’t go back now and run homebrew above this release without addition hardware. Amazingly there is a special “Pandora’s Battery”: which unbricks and resets PSPs. You have to run a program on an already hacked PSP that converts a standard PSP into a jigkick battery.

N00bz! – Pandora’s Battery

# You run a program on a homebrew-enabled PSP that will convert a standard PSP battery into a jigkick battery. Note that you can’t then use that battery normally – so you should use a spare one.
# You run a program to generate the unbricker memory stick image, built from the v1.5 update EBOOT (note that this, and the custom IPL, means the release is completely free of Sony copyright materials).
# You run some programs on a PC to install the image to your memory stick.

For us, we probably won’t go to this trouble since the PSP is getting old now, but just be warned, before you update, read this and do the homebrew thing to preserve your options!


!>! After our most recent trip, nearly all of our earbuds have simply died. Usually, the little cable breaks, so what to do if you need a lot of these and they take abuse. “”: has some of the best reviews I’ve seen. It is how I originally got the Etymotic ER-6i and ER-4p and ER-4s. Sadly, I’ve lost one ER-6i and two have broken, so what are the best headphones now:

h2. “Ten Best Headphones”:

Most of these aren’t practical for travel but the real winner seems to be the “Shure SE310”: It got 5 out of 5 (The Etymotics ER-4Ps are 4.5 out of 5, so close) and it comes in “white”: Amazon has them for $200 and the list is $299. While has them for $250.

h2. “Entry Level”:

If you can’t stand paying more for your headphones than your iPod or you’ve got kids who will likely rip and destroy them, then try the “Sennheiser MX300”: which lists for $10 and Amazon has for “$9”: They don’t say it but I’d expect the white “MX500”: probably works just as well although it is $17 because of the color :_) and because there is a volume control on it. “Macworld”: also likes the MX 500 and it is nice it comes in a little case too. “iLounge”: also liked the MX 500 giving it an A- saying that while they are uncomfortable for long usage, they sound as good as the Apple ones. BTW, if you don’t mind, you can get blue MX 500 for $10 from “”:

If you want in the ear, so called in-canal headphones, these are a great step up and much less bulky that on the ear headphones, so a budget set would be then try the “Jays j-JAYS”: which are just $50 and do have that snug fit and noise reduction. or the “d-JAYS”: which sound better at $100 and got a 4 out of 5 rating.

Cool Bluetooth Headsets

My friend Akemi is working at Open Interface, with the new stereo bluetooth coming out, you can get just amazing headsets. Here are some that use their technology

“Logitech Freepulse Wireless Headphone”:,CRID=2412,CONTENTID=12492

“Bang & Olufsen Earset2 Bluetooth Headset”:

PSP Video Encoding

It is very confusing what you can encode on the PSP, it has all kinds of strange restrictions. Like, the file names have to be of in a directory called MP_ROOT/100MNV01 and the file name has to be MV*.MP4. The PSP is really a picky device. Also, when you are encoding, you have to be pretty careful what you use. Here is the data

How to encode a movie for the Sony PSP with ffmpegX (MacOS X)

# If your source is 16:9 sources, you may also use non-standard size of 368×208 . Note that the PSP screen has a resolution of 480×272, but for movie playback, width x height must not exceed 76800 pixels, so the smaller sizes listed above have to be used. Note that no matter the non-standard resolution used, the picture will be always scaled to the full 16:9 PSP screen size.
# If your source is 2.35;1 you must prior reverse it to 16:9 by using black bars.
# For 4:3 sources, always use the standard 320×240 resolution. To gain a little quality if you don’t mind for the bigger filesize, you may use a video bitrate of 400 kbps. And you can use a bit rate of up to 128Kbps

PSP Firmware

Want to really be a geek then get to know all the firmware that is available on the PSP. Sony is a constant battle trying to close up loopholes, but you can easily download hackware, although you can also brick (e.g., destroy your PSP). Pirates! for instance requires version 2.82, so I upgraded, the only note, is don’t go beyond 3.03. I actually took the upgrade but I probably should have used “Open Edition” on 1.5 instead of a hard upgrade. Oh well. Don’t make the same mistake look for “Dark Alex”:

PSP-Vault :: PSP downloads, community, news

Given the current situation, PSP-Vault recommends you do not upgrade past firmware version 3.03. No downgraders are available for firmware versions beyond 3.03. Think of firmware version 3.03 as the “one way door” of homebrew — go beyond this door and you will not be able to come back inside. Going to firmware 3.11, for example, will deprive you of your ability to downgrade.

PSP-Vault :: PSP downloads, community, news

At the time of this writing, there are five downgrades possible for TA-081 or below PSPs: 2.00/2.01 to 1.50, 2.50/2.60 to 1.50, 2.71 to 1.50, 2.80 to 1.50, and 3.03 to 1.50. Necessary files and instructions for the 2.00/2.01 to 1.50 downgrader are offered here. Necessary files and instructions for the 2.50/2.60 downgrader are offered here. Necessary files and instructions for the 2.71 downgrader are offered here. Finally, necessary files and instructions for the 2.80 to 1.50 downgrader are available here or here. Finally, necessary files and instructions for the 3.03 to 1.50 downgrader are available here, though you will need an unpatched version of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for this particular downgrade.

PSP-Vault :: PSP downloads, community, news

Is there a way I can “sample” the new features offered by 3.10 and above without actually upgrading my PSP?

Yes. If your PSP is running firmware version 1.50, you are able to install “Open Edition” firmware on your PSP, which brings full homebrew capabilities to your PSP while retaining the functionality of the higher firmware version. The current highest Open Edition firmware available is 3.10 OE-B, availabe at Dark_Alex’s site. Dark_Alex regularly updates his Open Edition versions to that they conform to the latest available official firmware release by Sony.

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Logitech Playgear, Sony PSP USB Cable and PSP Games

This lists for $15 and is the best PSP Case apparently. From Pricegrabber, the price is actually pretty bad. Logitech carries it direct for $15 plus $6 shipping. “Mpire”: had the very best prices which is $10 from Amazon. Of course, bulk up to $25 and shipping is free!

Finally there is the dual “Intec USB Cable”: which lets you charge from a computer. Just $6 from “Madcatz”:

“Gamespot”: seems to have the best games reviews. Some top ones are listed there, but I also like “”: as another source. Here are some games to try. Also look at most popular at “Pricegrabber”: is another way to do it.
Good ones for kids:

* Sid Meier’s Pirates! One of Calvin and Alex’s favorites on the PC. Don’t know how this translates. But “Pricegrabber”:,__32366651/search=sid+meiers+psp+pirates/sort_type=bottomline has this list price
* “MLB 07”: which “Amazon”: has a $40.

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