Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Thu, 12 Aug 2004

Ugly gardens of Bedford

The things people put on their web sites. Here's someone who's driven around my home town commenting on the state of some peoples' front gardens. Actually, he makes some funny comments that made us laugh. We recognised a few of them. Hope nobody sues him.
[20:56] | [Humour] | Comments | G

Tue, 10 Aug 2004

Got a Googlenym?

I read somewhere about people having a word or phrase that, when searched for on Google returns links that relate to them. Mine would be steevc due to me using it for many years on various sites. For some people it could just be their name, but mine is far too common. It can be handy to see what that person is up to or their history on-line.
[21:33] | [Internet] | Comments | G

Not much happening here

I've not added anything for a while, mostly due to being on holiday for two weeks. My web activity is mostly over at Multiply just now. I'm trying to build my network of friends and family there. If I have not contacted you then please drop me a line so we can link up. Then you will be able to see the family photos and other content that I am not making available to the whole world.
[21:23] | [Site News] | Comments | G

Thu, 15 Jul 2004

More new headphones

As the Sennheisers are not suitable for use in the office I was looking for something else to replace the JVCs. Some of the Koss budget range get good reviews. They have various models for portable use that use the same drivers. The $50 Portapro is at the top end, but the KCS-50 (hangs on ears) and KCS-55 (neck band) are both sold in the US for $20. My friend Eli managed to find some 55s for me in Miami.

They are not much to look at. Very lightweight with a 4' cable ending in a gold plated, right-angled mini-plug. I've not used this sort of behind the head style before. They are certainly very secure there, but I'm not sure about long-term comfort. They press quite hard on my head, just above my ears. There's also the band, which you feel every time you move your head back. Maybe I'll get used to them. First I need an extension so that they can plug into the back of the PC.

I've tested them so far with the Palm and a laptop. The sound is pretty good. It's very clear and there's enough bass for my tastes. My reference tracks are Pagan Poetry by Björk for it's mix of quiet and loud voices and All in a Day's Work by Eels for it's driving bass drum. That drum was really kicking me in the ears, but was perfectly defined. I can also still hear what's going on around me, including the phone ringing. They can be heard from across the room when turned up.

I'm reserving my final judgement for now until I see if they get more comfortable. I did try them upside down. This removes the pressure whilst staying in place, but I'm not totally convinced. I'd say that, for the price, they are very good value, but maybe you should try them on first. My colleagues are free to try mine out.

[13:33] | [Gadgets] | Comments | G

Sat, 10 Jul 2004

Other methods of blogging

I've been trying to make my surfing more focused in an effort to save time. For a while I was using News If Free to keep up with various news sources. Then I recently discovered Bloglines which offers more versatility. Recently they overhauled the site and added the ability to compile your own blog, either from news items or manually. You can see mine here.

Via Bloglines I discovered Multiply. This combines blogging with social networking. You have 1GB of storage to store photos and articles that can be viewed either by everyone or by your circle of friends, colleagues etc. I've put a few bits up there and am waiting for someone to join my contacts. My page is here.

I like having this site to play with stuff like semantic web, but the other options allow quicker posting. I shall try to bring them together somehow. Bloglines has an RSS feed that I should be able to add to this site. Just need to work out how.

[21:44] | [Internet] | Comments | G

Wed, 07 Jul 2004

Blogging via the web

This is an attempt to submit an entry via the pyblosxom web form.
[10:27] | [Site News] | Comments | G

Mon, 05 Jul 2004

See where I've been

I read an article here about how to add details of countries and US states visited to your FOAF file. FOAF Explorer will use that data to draw a map with those countries and states coloured in. This is what I featured on the old site.

You can see my maps if you click on my name at the top of the page. I'm gradually adding to the file as I find interesting features.

[21:46] | [Site News] | Comments | G

Thu, 01 Jul 2004

Sennheiser PX200 Headphones and some history

Over the years I've owned many sets of headphones. Some of these came with various gadgets, i.e. 'walkman', radio, portable CD players. I expect that none of these would be rated as any good. The manufacturers are not likely to allocate much of the budget to them.

I have some Sony closed headphones that I bought years ago for general home use. They were picked as being affordable at the time (about £20). I've never been that impressed by them, but they get occasional use on the computer or guitar.

About three years ago I bought a Napa CD player that did MP3. That came with some ear buds with the delightful brand of laPhony. I used that player for music and audiobooks. I kept using the headphones with my Palm as they were so portable. They sound okay, but let in a lot of outside noise which is not a great thing on planes and trains.

At work I listen to a lot of music from my large MP3 collection (almost all from my CDs) on the PC. FOr that I bought some lightweight JVC headphones that have 'Super Bass'. Not too sure about that feature, but I chose them for the relatively long cable that reaches to the back of the PC. I think they sound okay and do the job. They let in enough outside sound for me to be aware of what is going on in the office, but don't disturb others too much.

I decided I was going to get some decent headphones for travelling. The site Head-Fi is a very good source of opinion, even if a lot of people there aim for the higher end kit. Grado get good reviews. I tried and failed to find get some in the US as they are half the price there. I'm not sure they would be so good for travel as they leak a lot of sound and are bulky, but I'd like to try some to see how good they are. The SR60 model is only about $70.

I eventually settled on the Sennheiser PX200. They don't get the best audio rating, but they block at least some outside noise and fold up nicely. I bought mine from Unbeatable as they had about the best UK price.

First impressions are very good. They do block quite a bit of outside noise if you position them right and others can barely hear them, even at fairly high volume. On the Palm they are much louder than the laPhony, which is a benefit given the low output power. The sound is very clear with adequate bass. I've not had much chance to road-test them yet apart from one trip on the train where they did quite well. The underground trains can be very loud so nothing short of canal-phones will block it all. I did try them in the office, but they were so effective that I couldn't hear my telephone and managed to miss a couple of calls, so it's back to the JVCs for now. The folding mechanism is very neat. It only takes a few seconds to get them in or out of the case and they are well protected in there. Build quality seems good and they come with a two year warranty in case something does go wrong. So I'm happy so far. We'll see how they perform on my next flight, whenever that may be.

On the Palm I am using Aeroplayer. It supports MP3 and OGG formats and has a few nice features such as a volume boost that manages to get a bit more output as the expense of a little distortion. The distortion is more apparent with the Sennheisers, but can be useful with spoken material. I can listen to music whilst reading ebooks or doing other tasks on the Palm. The player could do better at remembering what playlist and track location I was listening to when I turn it back on, but maybe the next version will fix that. I use the Marshmallow skin from here as it allows fingertip control with it's large controls. I know a dedicated MP3 player would do more, but with my 256MB SD card I can carry enough music for most trips and not need yet another gadget.

[09:59] | [Gadgets] | Comments | G

Tue, 29 Jun 2004

Keep your PC safe

I tend to end up acting as technical support for several people I know. There's several things I'd suggest to them to make their lives easier:

Disable CD auto-run - The kids may have to find and click on something to play their games, but this 'feature' can be more trouble than it's worth. If nothing else it may stop you playing 'protected' music CDs on your PC. It's a bit technical this one as it involves the registry.

Get a firewall - The free Zonealarm software sits between you and the great wide internet, checking for naughty behaviour. The best option is to have it tell you each time a new program tries to access the internet. This should stop software installing itself and getting up to no good. It also makes you invisible to any nasty crackers (hackers are not bad people).

Install a virus checker - AVG is free and seems to do the job. Make sure you set it to get regular updates.

Don't use IE or Outlook Express - There are some very good products from Mozilla that let you surf the web and read your email without attracting every worm, virus or other bug that's out there. They also offer a lot more in the way of spam filtering and pop-up blocking.

Check for spyware - All sorts of apparently useful or fun software also installs other, less friendly, software that may monitor your surfing and bombard you with adverts. Ad-Aware detects and destroys most of these. Get it and run it often.

All the above are absolutely free, so there's no excuse.

[21:53] | [Computer] | Comments | G

Mon, 28 Jun 2004

Failed to install comments

I just tried to get the pyblosxom comments system working on here, but no luck. I'm probably missing something obvious, but nothing appeared after I installed the required files.

If you want to comment on something, then please mail me at this domain.

[20:58] | [Site News] | Comments | G

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