Monthly Archives: August 2005

Bluetooth Headphones

Update: after just a few months normal use, the neckband on these phones cracked. This looks to be a fundamental design flaw – there is a joint in the plastic part way along the headband, which weakened under the mild stress of being flexed. First the headband looked a bit bent, then it went floppy, and no more sound came out. If I get round to it, I’ll take this up with the manufacturer, but for now, I can’t recommend these any more. Shame. Another thing I noticed when I started using normal phones with my Zen Micro is that the sound level from the cordless phones is much lower than normal.

Now this is something I’ve been waiting to see. I love portable music players – I’ve had many over the years. But I really hate headphone leads. They get tangled. The thin wires inside them tend to crack, leading to crackles or total failure of the phones. Or they just get in the way, and force you to put the player in an outside pocket, or whatever.

Now cordless headphones for home use have been around for ages. Usually bulky things that use infra-red or radio, making them slightly unsuitable for portable use. Now at last, Bluetooth headphones are becoming available. These have small rechargable batteries in the headset and a dongle that plugs into a standard 3.5mm headphone socket. There are a few around, but I opted for the Logitech Wireless headphones for MP3. Apart from being slightly cheaper than some others, the dongle has the headphone plug built in rather than being on a fragile dangling cable.

I ordered them from Computerlink on Sunday night, and they were delivered to the office this morning. The package includes the headphones, the dongle, a mains charger with two connectors, allowing you to charge the headphones and dongle at the same time, a spare pair of foam pads for the headphones and a extender cable if you can’t get the dongle to connect direct to your device.

I charged them up, which only took about an hour or so, then set them up. This is the usual Bluetooth pairing operation stripped to the bone. Just press the button on the headphones then the button on the dongle and wait for the lights to go blue. Then a quick test. Woo hoo. Very clear sound, and I could wander away from the player while wearing the headphones.

I wore them on the walk home[1]. My player was in my bag, the headphones were on my ears, and the sound was rather good.

First impressions: excellent.

[1] Well, the semi-walk home. I had to get the bus from Gateshead, as there was a wee thunderstorm going on with loads of rain..

Woo hoo! Progress!

First, the ever-popular weight report. This morning, I was down a wee bit to 199.2 pounds (14 stone 3.2 pounds, 90.4kg). That’s just below that psychologicackle 200 pounds mark, which is always a Good Thing.

Having been delayed with tedious domestic thingies[1], I thought for a moment that I might not get round to any exercise this evening, but I found the motivation somewhere[3] and managed 20 minutes on the rowing machine, which was pretty hard work, and got my heart rate up to 160. That’s the highest since February. All good stuff.

[1] Doorbell playing up[2]
[2] I said it was tedious!
[3] I think it was hiding behind the sofa

More of the same

This morning’s weight was 200.4 pounds (14 stone 4.4 pounds, 90.9kg). Still a bit high, so more exercise is required. :uhoh:

I think I might have worked out what I’ve been doing different that might account for the recent weight rise: I haven’t been eating as much fruit lately. So, I’m back on the banananananas[1] with my lunch. Oh, and resisting the allure of the apple strudel[2] with my lunch.

Did another full exercise routine this evening, with a peak heart rate of 144. Pant, sweat, etc.

[1] I can never remember when to stop spelling that :cheesy:
[2] Very nice, but probably very bad for me :laugh:

Starting another week

Well, sort of :smile: Today was a Bank Holiday, and I spent most of it reading, relaxing, listening to music and all that kind of thing. But it’s back to work tomorrow :sad:

This morning’s weight was 200.8 pounds (14 stone 4.8 pounds, 91.1kg), which is still a bit high, mutter. But that did inspire me to get back into the exercise routine, after four nights off. I did the usual routine and got my heart rate up to 154.


That’s what I did today. Decided to give myself another day’s break from exercise and generally didn’t do a lot, other than listen to some music on Napster Oh, and download some more to listen to later.

For everyone eagerly awaiting today’s weight report[1], it was down a wee bit to 200.4 pounds (14 stone 4.4 pounds, 90.9kg). Need to work on that.

[1] :rolleyes:

Iron Sunrise – Charles Stross

Charles Stross is a rapidly rising sf writer who is well worth watching. Iron Sunrise is the follow-up to Singularity Sky[1], which was a lot of fun[2]. If you haven’t read the earlier book, there’s no problem starting here[3].

It’s a multi-viewpoint story, with several threads eventually coming together to a suitably dramatic conclusion. In a future that has been thoroughly scrambled by the actions of an enormously powerful artificial intelligence known as the Eschaton, human societies are scattered through a large volume of space.

Wednesday Shadowmist (well, her real name is Victoria Strowger, but she’s a bit of a Goth type… ) and her family are refugees from the destruction of the New Moscow system, whose sun was destroyed by a forbidden weapon. Before leaving the space station, she found something that will prove to be significant. Significant enough for her parents and brother to be murdered by someone.

Rachel Mansour, the UN agent who featured in Singularity Sky is sent on a mission. When New Moscow was destroyed, the system’s retaliatory weapons were launched towards the presumed attacker. The weapons will destroy all life on the target planet, unless they can be recalled. But someone has been systematically murdering the ambassadors who have the recall codes.

U. Portia Hoechst is an an ambitious and ruthless officer for an expanding faction known as the ReMastered. She reminded me of Servalan in the classic Blakes 7 series, which I suspect may be deliberate.

Everything builds to a climax back at the station that Wednesday started at, overseen by the glow of the Iron Sunrise – the nebula formed from the destruction of New Moscow’s sun. Can the missiles be stopped? Is anyone who they seem to be?

It’s all good stuff – sprinkled with popular culture references, gags and excitement. Stross has done a fine job in developing his characters, and getting inside the heads of them all.


[2] Hmm, I didn’t get round to reviewing it when I read it last year. I might rectify that at some point.
[3] But you may well want to go back and read it :smile:

The Last Dragon DVD

Regular[1] readers may recall me getting excited about The Last Dragon when it was shown on Channel 4 earlier this year. Well, it’s finally out on Region 2 DVD[2].

So here it is, in all its high-resolution, widescreen glory. Much the same as the original broadcast, but without all those tedious advert breaks. Extra features are limited to a short “making of” documentary, but the main feature is more than enough to make the DVD worth buying.

The dragons (and the unfortunate T Rex[3]) were created by the same team who did Walking with Dinosaurs, and they did a nice job of making the creatures believable.

Note: at the time of writing,’s description has “1985” after the title. This is a bit of a boo-boo. :lol:

[1] And even some irregular ones :wave:
[2] The Region 1 release was ages ago, mutter
[3] See my original review for details