Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More on the Galaxy Note

I've seen mention of Samsung's Galaxy Note in a few places online, and people seemed to look at it like it was a joke.  Reminded me of the way that reviews treated the HTC Flyer.  They looked at the specs and didn't understand the price, failing to see the value that a stylus could add. I'll admit, I wasn't sold on a 5" stylus-bearing device, until I saw this:

Image blatantly copied from Samsung's site (this page), which I assume they're fine with because a large chunk of advertising for the Galaxy Note involves the phone's users copying and pasting images from the web.

Look at the right side of the image.  The phone appears to be on a Moleskine-style notebook.  Brilliant. That's what this phone is trying to replace.  Sold.  Right there, I get it.

For those of you scratching your heads right now, Moleskine notebooks are those little leather-bound ones you've probably seen art students writing in furiously while out and about.  They're resilient.  They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and a lot of different configurations.  They make books with blank pages for sketching, books with music staffs, books for graphing.  See image below (nabbed from this page on Moleskine's site).
I was once given a Moleskine notebook from a very close friend.  I liked it so much that I can never use it. Too much pressure.  I do too much crossing out, I throw too many pages away.  I prefer to type now, but when I wrote, I did it on legal pads, then later I collected individual pages in folders.  I write too much shit to put it in rugged notebooks with archival ink, saved forever as reference material.

I liked the size of the notebook, though.  I am a big fan of the form factor.  Hey, for years I've been begging for a phone the size of the Nokia N800 (5.7 x 3 inches, pictured below), except all screen, no buttons or speakers on the face.  The Galaxy Note is almost dead on (5.74 x 3.266 inches).

Wait a second.  I haven't seen a Galaxy Note in person, I didn't realize that their dimensions were so close until I just now looked it up.  The Galaxy Note is pretty much the same freaking size as the Nokia N800---THAT IS SO FREAKING COOL!!!  Bravo Samsung, you just made a 29-year-old boy's dream come true!

Anyway, the Galaxy Note is almost the same size as the N800, but it comes with an additional feature I don't think I would have asked for from a phone--an active digitizer.

There are some problems.  For one, it hasn't been released in the US.  It's rumored to be slowly making it's way here, but it needs to be sooner rather than later.  Processors are getting outdated faster than ever.  Also, I understand a delay of a few weeks or even a month, but why a delay of many months between releasing a device in one country and then another?  Wait, they have to physically manufacture these devices to work with different regional networks?  And there are oceans IRL (unlike in cyberspace)?  Okay then.

Another potential problem would arise if they don't stand behind this phone in the US.  Look, I have this phone I might have mentioned a few times, the Nokia N900?  Well even though it was fully compatible with T-Mobile's network, potential customers had to find this out through their own potentially complicated research.  This phone wasn't available in any T-Mobile store.  There were no tv commercials that I'm aware of.  It was Nokia's first (and now only) Maemo 5 device, and they dumped it.  That's right, for some reason manufacturers don't always stand behind their devices.  The N900 was kind of an odd duck (and an ugly duckling, thinking of it), but it could have done great with some muscle behind it.

The Galaxy Note may not be the jack-of-all-trades that the N900 was, but it still fulfills a lot of roles one wouldn't expect of a phone, and people need to see that in their advertisements.  The videos on Samsung's web site are doing a great job of showing the Note's capabilities, but if the phone is released in the US those ads need to be everywhere.  I'm not too worried in this regard, because reports from people in other countries say this phone is well advertised and it seems to be selling well.

Hey, even if the phone doesn't get released in the US, even if they don't stand behind it, I can still buy one. I'm just thinking of the future.  If this gets mishandled, what about the next generation's stylus phones?  Will there be any? Will there?  Think of the children!!!

Very rarely I see a device and it's love at first sight, so to speak.  Most of the items in my "Things I Have Loved" post fit that bill.  The Galaxy Note hasn't been love at first sight--I saw it weeks ago and wasn't impressed.  It's been love at first advertisement, strangely enough.  Usually I skip the marketing bullshit and go straight to the specs.  This time, I actually needed the marketing bullshit to make me see the potential.

Now I wonder how long it'll take for me to actually get my hands on one.  Ho hum.

Till then,


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


There was a time during and directly after high school where I used Minidiscs (and for a while, they were the best portable music solution).  Then, all of the sudden, nobody else seemed to be using CDs either--except they had all migrated to iPods.

I never bought a classic iPod.  I like the way the click-wheel works but I hated the look of them. They looked like retro washing machines.  I ended up buying a Cowan X5.

Now I find myself looking around and seeing Samsung everywhere.  True, the Galaxy Nexus looks cool, all my friends and family have heard me talking about it for the past few weeks, I'm sure.  Still, I haven't really considered Samsung past the coolness of that one phone and the Ice Cream Sandwich update.  I mean, they look cool, but I'm not into Android phones, so whatever.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Time for Android? Part Two

I touched briefly on why I'll probably switch to an Android phone soon, though really all I said was that Maemo and Meego are dead, and that Android can do most of what my N900 can, hardware limitations aside.

Wait, there's Windows Mobile 7, which I've heard is a decent OS,  Sorry but it's not for me.  Android is more open.  For all it's faults, it has a good community and a lot of apps.  It's maintained by Google, and I use and like a lot of their products and services (this blog is currently hosted on Google's Blogger, for instance).  I use Windows, I liked my old WinMo 6.5 phone, I just like what I've seen and heard of Android more.

Okay, okay, here's why I'm really considering the switch:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Time for Android? --Nokia Troubles

I have a Nokia N900.  It is one of the greatest phones ever made.  I wish that the mobile phone industry were moving in it's direction, but they aren't.  Still, I'm going to need a new phone sooner or later, probably sooner.  Not only that, I find myself wanting a new phone.  I want a bigger screen.  I want better battery life, and okay, better compatibility with a multitude of cloud services.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I seriously can't be the only one, can I?

Whether I'm in Chrome or Firefox, and in a dozen different sites, I click in a search box, type in my query and hit enter.  The result ends up a little like this:

Type yFinnegan's Wakeour search here.

I would be hypothetically searching for info on Finnegan's Wake, for some reason the default text in the search box doesn't disappear like I assume it should, and I get twenty seconds of my life wasted. Not a big deal, the first dozen times it happened.  Now it seems to happen at least a few times a day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Consider the Minidisc...

 I know it sounded like I was paraphrasing the Bible, but in fact I was paraphrasing TMWRNJ.

As I mentioned in my previous article, I got a Minidisc player because of an absence of technology to fill a certain need.  Mp3s were starting to get popular.  When I bought my MZ-R50 (just about to get my wisdom teeth pulled before getting braces, I remember that much), I lived up in a fairly small town.  There were two places in town where one could buy CDs, if I remember correctly, and they were general stores.  The nearest decent record shop was an hour away.  Downloading mp3s was pretty much the only way I could get music at that time.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Things that I have loved...

Hello there, faithful web audience.  Or not-so-faithful web audience.  Hello there me, the only person who regularly reads this blog.

I'm thinking about pounding out a few blog posts about things I want.  I've done similar posts in the past, about certain netbooks or phones.  Today though, I'm writing about things I have owned and loved.  Not romantically, just out of the utility they brought into my life.  Sure, I'm a weirdo, but not one of those weirdos...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What is uTorrent doing? (I like it)

Just updated uTorrent, which I haven't done since probably January of this year.  First, as I installed it, it asked me if I wanted to download some album for free, a sponsor of uTorrent I'm assuming.  I clicked yes, I'd download it.  That in itself is a really cool idea, a far better idea than browser toolbars and the like.

I can see this working in better ways too, if they get a lot of sponsors they could give you a list of albums or shows you could download for free for promotional reasons.  Or perhaps a "One day only, get this album for free!" type of deal.  (I listened to the album by the way, or a little of it.  Not for me, but still a cool idea)

Added Ads

Logged into Blogger to write a post, which I will do next, I promise, but I got distracted from writing by looking at my traffic.  Just making a note for my future self as well as all of you, finally got around to enabling ads for this blog.  More of an experiment than anything else.

I had ads enabled on this blog on my old site, and never earned enough to justify getting any payout.  Not that it mattered, this blog is an occasional distraction more than anything else, and now it doesn't even cost me anything for hosting.

Just the same, if you've just stopped by and realized something is different, it's the ads.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Super Mario Land

It might have been the retro warp levels in Super Meat Boy.  It might have been my listening to random Gershwin pieces(one piece of music in Super Mario Land 2 really reminds me of a song from An American in Paris).  Maybe it was just time to swim through some memories.  Whatever the reason, I dug out and started playing some Game Boy games tonight.

Not Game Boy Color games, or Advance games, or DS games.  Classic black and white (or yellowish and black) dot matrix Game Boy games.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Something More My Speed

It was about time for me to re-stage my netbook, and I've been looking around for more lightweight distros.  In an ideal world I'd go with Arch and LXDE or something lightweight.  In an ideal world I'd have time and energy for all that.

In this world I decided to go with Lubuntu.  I have to say, I like it a lot.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend Update...Witcher

Weekends are for playing video games and catching up on a few small chores, not for painting, which is something key members of my family can't seem to wrap their heads around.  All joking aside, I was hoping to give The Witcher a significant portion of my weekend, seeing as the more I hear about it's upcoming sequel the more interested I am.  Looks like that's not going to happen.

I've only gotten an hour or so into it so far.  No impressions, except that it took quite a while to get cutscenes to show properly.  They were black (but I could hear sound) on my M11x R1.  To solve this, I had to find witcher.exe, right click it, and go to Properties.  Then I found settings to run in compatibility mode for XP Service Pack 2, checked "Run in 640x480," and checked "Run this program as administrator."

I don't know which of the three setting changes solved this problem, but it works now.  My problem was specifically presenting, by the way, as a black screen with text over it in the first cutscene.  Not the initial pre-game cutscene (which played fine), but the first cutscene after you start a new game.  There should be trees and stuff behind the text, not a black screen,

Hope this helps somebody out there,


Monday, April 25, 2011

Nokia App of the Day - Calendar Home Widget

One thing I'm constantly trying to describe to people about the N900 is the amazing community surrounding it.  It may not have as many apps as the iPod, but there's enough programmers using the N900 that if there's something I don't like about it, someone else surely has done or is doing something about it.

Case and point, Nokia shipped the N900 without the ability to send or receive MMS messages, nor could you set a different ringtone for certain contacts.  Both those things are possible now thanks to community development.  Looking at the fact that people are still tweaking and developing for the 4 year old N800, I doubt my N900 will ever stop surprising me.

Hey, do you have problems with the N900's calendar desktop widget?  Me too!

Friday, April 8, 2011

KompoZer as an outliner...

I told you in my last article that I'd found a new outliner-style-thingy that gives me rich text options and even allows screenplay formatting, though it brings with it a few limitations.  Here's the story:

Outliner Rundown

I've been using outliners for years now.  I could probably track down when I first started using them by looking at my backups and seeing when my first outliner files started showing up, but I won't.  It's not important.

I don't remember exactly what I was doing when I discovered the concept of software outliners.  I remember I was looking for a tabbed interface in word processors, ideally something that would allow me to have a different document open in each tab as well as letting me have the same document open in different tabs, each tab open to a different part of the document.  Great for writing long documents or reports (table of contents in one tab, bit currently being written in another tab, bibliography in another tab, for example).

Somehow in this search I stumbled across the idea of an outliner, and I've been a devoted user of them ever since.  Continue reading for a list of the outliners I've used and what I eventually landed on.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Testing an app.

Testing this app on my N900, called MaStory. It's awesome, at least if this post works it is.

To be honest, I would be happy with an app that just pushes posts from my phone to my blog. MaStory is quite a bit cooler. It lets you view and edit old posts. You view and edit the post as plain text (WYSIWYM), but it makes a handful of often-needed codes easily accessible through the GUI. It will upload images from your phone. It's linking is very intuitive ( select some text, hit the link icon, enter in the URL, it will apply the link to your selected text).

You can schedule posts to appear in the future!

It even has a preview--not a true blog preview, but a formatting preview that even shows embedded images. Really helps proofreading a lot.

One thing so far is missing. One thing.

That's right, dear readers, it's missing the tags for the "read more" link that keeps things short on your front page. Not a big deal. Makes no difference to the rss feed readers, but I'd like it.

Oh, also would be nice if CTRL+I made highlighted text italic, and CTRL+U for underlining, CTRL+B for bold. That would make things a bit easier as well. Maybe I'll send in a feature request.

All in all, if MaStory works (and you're out there reading this right now), I'm sure I'll be using it quite a bit.


This post was written on my N900 (duh).

Monday, March 28, 2011

As it should be...

Finally got a replacement N900 today.  Was planning on hastily throwing up some whiny posts trying to decipher tracking info, but didn't have the time.  Rest  assured, I handled the wait childishly.

So now I'm going through, changing all the settings back to what I'm used to and installing all my favorite apps.

Just started walking to a PC to do a quick Google search, remembered I had a N900 again, then instead made my search where I stood.

As it should be.


PS - This post was typed on my N900.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


You know, it was only a few posts ago that I mocked my earlier self for freaking out over confusing tracking info.  You know, because I was really anxious to get my N900.  I have to say, some of those posts are embarrassing.  I was acting rather childish, right?

Except here I am again, waiting for payment from a warranty company who I will name and will talk all about in a future post, just not until we've actually finished our little transaction.

So I'm checking both my email and my dashboard on their site every few minutes.  Refreshing Gmail even though I don't think it needs to be refreshed anymore to update it.  I'm generally freaking out.  There's a 6pm cutoff here.  If I don't order a new phone before 6pm on amazon, I won't be able to get that phone next day.  No sir.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What the hell?

Anyone looking at my blog in the wee hours of the night might have noticed a bunch of gibberish-y posts disappearing and reappearing.

That was me, I admit it.  Admin stuff.  Oh, what was I doing?  Only this:

(this probably won't work if you're viewing this in a feed reader)

Click me
A sentence magically appeared!!!

If that worked, then you're looking at the product of hours of work.  A sentence was supposed to appear under "click me" btw. If you click on "click me" again, then the sentence should disappear.  Why hours of work, you ask?

Because, dear reader, I don't know javascript.  The last few hours involved me cutting and pasting bits from different scripts that basically worked but had little problems.  Most required a different script for each block of text.  For example:

Click this one now
Some scripts required multiple embeddings of the same script in order for multiple blocks of text to be shown or hidden in one post.  With the script I have now, all I have to do is keep a unique id in the text's wrapper (a new unique id for each block of text)

It wasn't easy.  I honestly can't believe it worked.  I literally tried one last thing, saying to myself "If this doesn't work I'm going to bed".  And I meant it this time.

Another good thing about this script versus others:  Other scripts will expand the text once the link is clicked, but if said link is at the bottom of a post, the browser will for some reason jump to the top of the page, losing your place. This one doesn't. Or shouldn't.  Hopefully it works for all of you like it does for me.

Well, bed time for me.  Time to get up I mean, but I think I'll go to bed instead.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Welcome to the Blunderdome

Blog migrated? Yes! YAY!!!!!

Okay, here's the deal:

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Those of you who have an eye for drastic changes may notice there's something different about this here blog.  That's right, I've switched over to Blogger.

Note to self, how are rss feeds being handled?

Still working on getting the favicon to work (this little gem here )

Some internal links may not work.  Still need to work on a few things.  Content form perhaps?  A little theme tweaking?  For now I'm just happy to have something reliable that I don't have to worry about as much.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thinking about thinking about thinking about moving to Blogger

I suppose I will, seeing as how I just transferred all my posts from my old Wordpress blog to this Blogger one.  Why?  Perhaps more on that later, but for now a few observations:

I have, not counting this post, 154 posts published, and 69 drafts drafts for potential posts saves.  I have at least 60 more drafts in my outliner (which is Cherrytree by the way).  Seriously.  Probably 40 more scattered across my PCs saved as plain text files.  And another dozen in my phone.

Well, they were in my phone.  My N900 is dead.  Got wet.  Just did my absolutely final, last-ditch effort to revive it with no success.  Needless to say I'm fairly depressed.  A friend of mine is graciously loaning me his old MyTouch.  I must say, having used Android quite a bit over the past few days, I can confidently say Maemo is the best game in town.  Which just makes me more pissed off at Nokia for screwing over MeeGo, which could have been even better.

So I imported my blog posts, and I had to go through and re-publish them on blogger.  I stumbled across this one.  The post I hastily threw up when my N900 arrived in the mail.  A bit of salt in the wound.  The N900 did live up to the hype, by the way.  Worth the god-awful obsession over UPS tracking info voiced here and here.  Not going to lie, the supposed N9 prototypes looked awesome (another thing the MyTouch has shown me is that I need a physical keyboard), the mock-ups looked way better than the ugly N900 (it is ugly, but it's useful in a way no other phone is), but if the N9 isn't on the table I'd still pick the N900 over any other phone out today.

Anyway, looking through all my old posts, what did I see?

A lot of talking about the N900, mostly speculative.  A lot of talking about netbooks.  A lot of posts about my sleep schedule, which maybe I shouldn't have bothered keeping in the move but whatever.  I'll let someone out there be bored beyond all belief if they want to read them.

I saw a lot of extremely long posts.  I do go on.  Really.  I should be writing novels or something.  I should take all my draft posts about Asus netbooks, replace all the individual model names with "Thomas Crescent" and pretend like it's a cyber-novel about an android on a quest to reduce his size so some boring blogger somewhere can type on him.  That novel would be doubly-awesome because I would be in it (the boring blogger!!!).

 I would take the time to count the number of words those draft posts would net me, and I'm sure it's 5K-10K+ words, but I should probably go to bed instead.  Then again...NO LARK!!!  DO NOT START ANY MORE PROJECTS!!!  The filing cabinets!  For the love of god, just look at the filing cabinets!!!

Looks like it's time for me to go to bed.  Links may be broken for a while, or forever, once I switch the new blogger blog to my domain.  I'll try to fix them but, you know, Thomas Cresent.  HE WANTS TO HELP ME TYPE ON THE GO!!!  It's got action, it's got drama, it's got me typing on an android's impossibly strong pectoral muscles (but not at all in a gay way) (Wait, why do I have an erection right now?  Maybe it is in a gay way) (Oh never mind, that erection's left over from me thinking about walking around with the N9 and N900 in the same pair of pants.  Mine.) (You think I'm joking).

Oh wow, it is late.  Apologies, mostly of all to myself.  Good night.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Switching Browsers

I've been a fan of Firefox for a long, long time. Way longer than this guy, I'm sure. Look at him. He probably thinks Firefox is an animal from one of his precious Harry Potter books.

Let's be honest though, Firefox is getting a bit slow. It's bulky, it's sluggish, it takes up a lot of screen real estate for itself rather than the web pages it's meant to be displaying. It is, I've decided, no longer what I'm looking for in a browser.

I've played with Google Chrome a bit in the past, but there were always a few things keeping me from switching over. For instance, the last time I tried it out, there was no plugin support (was there, or was it just that no Firefox plugins I used had Chrome corollaries? I'm not sure.)

Well now my two major Firefox plugins, Xmarks (for syncing bookmarks) and LastPass (for managing passwords) both work in Chrome.

And Chrome is so much faster at everything! Of course the Google suite of products,which I use quite a bit, works much faster, they'd be stupid not to optimize for each other. Google Reader, Gmail, Google Calendar, all are pretty snappy. Even Google Instant, which usually slows my netbook down to a crawl, is practically usable!!! I'm smitten!

Okay, not entirely smitten. It is just a browser after all. Hold on, I'm going to install Xmarks in Chrome real quick so I can get a link I'm going to put in a future post, Of course, I'll have to restart Chrome before I can start the plugin, and it'll be a bit messy, with pop-up windows all over the place...WHAT!?! I don't have to restart Chrome in order to use plugins I've just installed. I"M OFFICIALLY SMITTEN!!!!!

Also, What!?! no stream of annoying pop-ups about installing a plugin, just a bit of text that shows up at the bottom and walks me through it?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I scoff at people when they say that Apple has too large a foothold in the smartphone market, and that Google has too large a foothold in the search market, for either to ever be dethroned. Firefox has been around for quite a while. It has been awesome for a large portion of that while. But it's gotten stuck in a rut, and it's user base slowly being usurped (as Android is usurping iOS and a handful of search engines are slowly chipping away at Google).

Case and point, the plugin system. Firefox has one. It's great. Better, I think, than Chrome's in some way because I still don't believe there's anything like NoScript for Chrome, nor is it possible to make something like that for Chrome. Or so I hear.

On the other hand, on the usability side, Chrome is way better. No popups! That's so much easier. No restart needed to activate plugins. That is a much bigger deal than it sounds.

You can imagine someone looking at Internet Explorer (or more appropriately, Netscape) and ending up with Firefox, a much better and much more advanced browser. You can then see how Google looked at Firefox, threw that dawn-of-the-internet bullshit UI away, optimized the hell out of it, and ended up with Chrome.

So yeah, I'm a bit excited. And happy. For now.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Liking XMPlay

Winamp's been my default mp3 player since I discovered mp3s, but it's been getting ahead of me over the past few years. I think it started one time when I updated it and it made itself the default video player. It pretty much sucked as a video player then and as far as I know it sucks as one now (see the bottom of this post for my default video player).

Winamp's been adding more and more new features, some of them cool, most of them annoyances. How sick am I of clicking away the dialog that pops up every time I plug in an USB drive, flash or otherwise, asking me if I want Winamp to manage it. I'll tell you if I want you to manage it, Winny Old Chap.

I've been looking for a player on and off for years now. The trouble is I love Winamp's interface, I just hate all the extra bullshit they've started shoehorning into it. I used foobar for a while, it's nice and super-customizable, but perhaps a bit too advanced for me and takes up a lot of screen real estate unless you want to install a dozen plugins.

SnackAmp is interesting but a bit dated. In Linux I use Audacious and it's awesome, but there's no windows build available. VLC can kind of work as a mp3 player and even has some skins that seem to be dedicated to that function but the playlist editing isn't as capable as I'd like it to be.

Well I finally stumbled on the perfect program. XMPlay (you have to click on "XMPlay" in the sidebar to get to it's page).

So what's so great about it? It's small, a downloadable zip file weighing in at 330KB. It's very customizable. I set the playlist to shuffle and I noticed when I try to go forward or backwards a track it goes in their proper order. That's right, you can have it shuffle when tracks are continuously played but seek tracks in their order in the playlist. That's pretty cool, though I don't use it that way.

It also has fully customizable global hotkeys--global hotkeys allow you to control the player no matter what application you're in. I have it set up so I hit ctrl+alt+z to skip back a track, ctrl+alt+x to skip forward, and ctrl+alt+space to play/pause a song. In XMPlay you set individuals key bindings as global hotkeys, which is a pretty cool idea.

The Euphoria skin (pictured above) is pretty awesome--you'll find it on XMPlay's download page. There are playlist and equalizer windows you can show and hide at will. To shrink the whole thing, player and all, you just double-click anywhere there aren't any buttons. By default it stays on top of other windows in this "mini" mode, but not in full mode. You can change that in the settings too, making it always on top or never in both modes.

In all honesty I've only been playing with this for less than an hour, and barring a lot of terrible bugs cropping up, I already like it a lot better than Winamp. It's lighter weight, no install process (compared to Winamp's minefield install process), and I like it's mini mode way better than Winamp's.

It took a handful of years, but I finally found a replacement for Winamp, one that is in no way a compromise.

Who says I never did anything with my life?


P.S. - I use SMPlayer as my default video player btw, I like having audio track and subtitle selection panels embedded in the skin, and it's cross-platform (I even have it installed on my Nokia N900, yes I am a tool). I also keep VLC and Media Player Classic (via CCCP) handy on all my PCs just in case though.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick Logitech F540 PC mic workaround

Okay, this is a little kludgey, but nonetheless I've found a relatively simple way to use the Logitech F540's mic on a pc in a pinch.

To do this you need a Xbox 360 controller that you can use on your pc, meaning it's either wired or you have a PC wireless adapter to go with it.

Plug your 360 controller into your PC. Probably has to be a Windows pc for this to work. Plug the 360 mic cable into the controller. Plug the other end into the mic port on your headset. Viola! Windows 7 on my pc recognized the mic immediately, and a quick recording test shows it's working well.

It's not pretty, but like I said, in a pinch...


Monday, January 10, 2011

Logitech F540 Review and Notes

[caption id="attachment_1217" align="aligncenter" width="455" caption="Image taken from"][/caption]

Yesterday I bought the Logitech F540. It's a wireless headset aimed at gamers. It particularly appealed to me because it has ports for up to 3 inputs. Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, those are my audio requirements, all covered. Thought I'd write mini review.

First of all, the headset is very comfortable. I've been wearing it for a few hours straight now, no problems. The sound is okay. Not mind-blowing, but not muddy either. There is a slight--super slight--hiss in the background, constant at any volume level, but I'm not bothered by it. Really, the sound is nothing special--it's perfectly adequate. The volume wheel could be a bit more responsive but I think I just need to get used to it. Really good wireless range--the receiver is on the first floor of my building and I can go up to the third floor (the top floor) without even the slightest signal degradation. This was after I fixed the interference problem mentioned below. Hey, and it has an USB port on the front of the receiver you can use for charging the headset, that's pretty handy, right?

I haven't tested the mic, so no judgment there yet. Now for some disclaimers:

+ This headset isn't surround sound. It's just stereo. I knew this going in but nearly every gaming headset above $75 nowadays is surround sound so one might forget to check.

+ As far as I know, you can't use the headset's built-in mic with anything but the 360 or PS3. There is no mic output port for use with a PC or other device. It has 3 inputs, not 3 outputs. That's the biggest and really only problem I have with this device.

+ To clarify the previous point, you plug an included cable from the headset into the 360 controller to use the mic with your Xbox, and you plug a (also included) mini-usb cable from the receiver into the PS3 to use the mic there. There really is no way I can see to use the mic anywhere other than on these consoles. Well, maybe you find a cable to go from the 360 port to a traditional 3.5" jack, then plug it into a PC or whatever. That may work, either way it certainly wouldn't be wireless anymore.

+ You might have problems with interference. I was getting intermittent scratches and clicks. I was losing the audio for half a second here and there, probably 1 to 10 times every 5 minutes. That was a bit annoying. It seems wifi signals can interfere with the receiver. I managed to resolve this--read on for details.

If you have interference problems, it definitely depends on the receiver's position as opposed to the headset's position. Try to move the receiver as far away from any other electronic devices as possible. That's not so easy--the receiver is tethered to it's audio sources after all. My first attempt at eliminating the interference involved putting the receiver on the floor. My floors are carpeted cement, moving the receiver there eliminated all of the interference. Once I was sure my problem was signal interference I then moved the unit around until I found a more convenient spot with no interference. As a last ditch effort I probably would have built a box out of aluminum foil or something, leaving one side open facing the direction my headset normally would be in. Who knows if that would have worked, but it would have looked awful! (I still would have use it if it worked though).

Final thought: I have a stereo bluetooth headset that I abandoned. It was slightly uncomfortable, but worse than that it sounded awful. It took a handful of tries to pair it with my PC or phone each time I turned it on. I couldn't talk over the mic without the audio cutting out, so it was useless for gaming or making VoIP calls. The range was about 10 feet, not unreasonable but not what I wanted. I still used it for weeks, because it was so expensive and I was married to the idea of it working--it would be so convenient if only it did what it was supposed to--so I more or less lied to myself, pretending like it was a good device.

This is not that sort of situation. I'm really happy with this purchase. I've finally got a headset that lets me turn on a podcast and listen to it while I'm doing laundry in the next room. Once I took care of the interference I've had no problems. I really, really, really wish I could use the mic with my PC, but I've got a handful of old freestanding mics I can use, so it's not too big of a deal. I bought this headset for $150. If it lasts me a year, maybe even only six months then it was absolutely worth the price.

That's all my thoughts on this device so far. If anything really cool or annoying pops up I'll be sure to post about it here.

Till then,


Saturday, January 8, 2011

N900 as a mp3 player revisited

I had an iAudio X5. It was awesome. The device's built-in UI was pretty cool, but just for the hell of it I installed Rockbox on it. I've been a big fan of Rockbox ever since.

Rockbox, for those of you who don't know, is an open source OS, primarily for mp3 players. It allows audio recording, picture and video viewing, basic text editing, and supports a wealth of codecs.

It's by audiophiles, for audiophiles. You can choose to browse songs by file location or through an internal id3 database. It has an equalizer. It supports lossless codecs. It has gapless mp3 playback and crossfading.

What does this have to do with the Nokia N900? Someone ported it to Maemo. It should work on the N800 too, though I haven't tested it. It's this relatively new concept called RaaA, or 'Rockbox as an Application'. There's a team working on an Android app as we speak. The Maemo app has only been in development a few weeks and it's already fully functional as far as I know.

Gapless playback on the N900. Consistent album art detection. An id3 database that looks for new albums upon each startup without slowing your device to a crawl! Let that all sink in...the N900 has finally arrived as a proper mp3 player.

It's not much to look at--it was originally designed for old small-screened mp3 players after all, but the while-playing screens are really customizable (though it's not necessarily easy, I still haven't managed to make a theme that actually works). The menus aren't that finger-friendly, but you can increase their font size enough to make it at least usable without a stylus or keyboard. Too bad Rockbox uses a custom font format, and the only known convertor for it can't seem to handle fonts bigger than 34pt.

The current theme is a little wonky too, but give it time, there'll be a ton to choose from soon enough.

Made my day anyway.


btw this post was entirely written on and posted from my N900.