links for 2009-07-15

On reviewing headphones

Review: A week with the Etymotic hf2, by yours truly, on Boing Boing Gadgets.
Last week I was on line at Duane Reade and watched the man in front of me ask for a pair of headphones. He selected a Maxell model from behind the register; it was $14.99, I think, maybe a bit more. He contemplated them for a moment.
“Those are very good,” said the cashier, blithely.
“Okay,” said the customer, who paid and walked out.
Suffice to say I am not that guy.
I have always had, and appreciated, top-flight portable audio, from my fancy Sony Walkmans in the 1980s to several pairs of expensive noise-canceling headphones in recent years. And with my tinnitus forcing me to listen to in-ear music at low volumes, having good noise isolation has been a must.
At the tail end of bicycle commuting last summer, I ran over my headphones–my $150, pristine-sounding, noise-isolating, wondrous Shure E3c headphones–with my front tire. Oops. I used them anyway, broken and sad, for several months.
It took me that long to figure out which headphones to buy, and the ones I finally got were good but not great. Useful reviews of noise-canceling and noise-isolating headphones are hard to come by. I don’t need wonky audio spectrum surveys, or dissections of the nuances of Django Renhardt’s solos: what I need is, do they sound good? and how well do they shut out the outside world?
So I decided to do what any good blogger should: do it myself. I pitched Joel Johnson, formerly of Boing Boing Gadgets, and he gave me the go-ahead. Two months of emails later, I have $2880 worth of headphones in my dining room, a ridiculous categorical spreadsheet, and a fun, interesting commute to work. Goofy expressions like “in hog heaven” come to mind.
The first review went live today, with 10 more to run through the summer. My thanks go out to Joel and to Rob Beschizza, my new editor, who inherited this project and has been most gracious and helpful. Look for more posts on BBG and some additional commentary in this space as the project continues.

It’s all the same nowadays anyway

Nathan answering the cameraNathan has figured out how to “answer” the phone, by putting it up to his ear. He does it with the home phone, with our iPhones … and, um, with the digital camera.
Which, if you think about it, isn’t really far off.

NYC fireworks 2009



NYC fireworks 2009 (I) and (II), originally uploaded by netwert.

As seen from our seventh-floor window north of 91st Street. July 4, 2009

Recently elsewhere

Gee, I haven’t done this in a while.
I’m onto something interesting following Alice, the new ecommerce website that enables CPG companies to sell quasi-direct to consumer. On aiaio, I dissect whether the alice.com business model is really new, and next week I’ll be critiquing the site’s shopping experience.
On Timely Demise: Crabtree & Evelyn’s bankruptcy and a handful of old and local stores this week. And, with a sigh, Joe Jr.’s Restaurant in the Village.
Select recent oh-so-important tweets:

  • + They may *seem* just like other bread products, but pretzel rods are decidedly not breakfast food.
  • + Cyclists: can I dangle a bag of Chinese food delivery off my rear-tire rack and bike home without losing my dinner?
  • +I have an undying and boundless love for mom-and-pop hardware stores.
  • +I STILL LOVE MY PAPER TACO TRUCK it’s on top of my cubicle ready to serve paper tacos to paper college students
  • + Reviewing headphones. Having a blast.
  • + “Madoff has been sentenced to 150 years, although he hinted that he could turn it into 350 for you with almost no risk.” http://cli.gs/j20tm

And, of course, Nathan got a Cozy Coupe.