Monthly Archives: October 2015

October 2015 Round-up

Hmmm, October seems to have given up on this whole “being a month” thing, and is about to skulk off, so it must be time for the every-popular monthly summary thingy.

Weight

It’s been another month of wide variations, with some possible silliness from the scale’s undocumented RNG[1] mode:

October 1: 212.3 pounds (15 stone 2.3 pounds, 96.3 kg)
October 31: 211.5 pounds (15 stone 1.5 pounds, 95.9 kg)

That’s a statistically insignificant decrease of 0.8 pounds (0.4kg). But that’s better than last month’s rise, so I’ll call it good…

Eating

Yeah, I’ve done some of that.

Exercise

Ummm, not a lot. Far too many lunchtimes where I haven’t even managed a short walk. but I have managed a couple of little photo expeditions. More to come, possibly…

Posting

This report brings the monthly total to the auspicious value of 42, which is relatively high by this year’s standards.

Stuff

Not a lot. More things to report later. Probably…

[1] Random Number Generator

Weight and Stuff Report – 31 October 2015

Back up a bit to a more believable figure today. I started, as is semi-traditional for a Saturday with breakfast at Frankie & Benny’s and shopping in Tesco’s. It was looking like it might be a nice day, so I headed to Tynemouth, where it promptly changed yo hazy and a bit dull, so I gave up after taking a few photos and returned to Newcastle for a bit more shopping.

This character seemed to be quite happily standing on a car, which I presume he didn’t own.

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/500s
Focal length: 98.6mm
ISO: 640
Taken: 31 October, 2015
Location: 55° 1.0607′ 0″ N 1° 25.5167′ 0″ W

Samsung HW-J6000 300 W Curved Design Sound Bar

Modern TVs are really good at showing pictures. Well, that’s pretty obvious, but bear with me, I’m getting to a point. What they’re less good at is putting out good sound – whether you’re watching action movies with lots of loud explosions or live music, that shiny new ultra-thin and remarkably large screen won’t sound all that good. It’s all about physics, you know. To make sounds you have to move air, and that needs speakers that are a bit big to fit into a TV.

Once upon a time, the solution to this was to get an AV Receiver (basically an amplifier with lots of inputs) and surround speakers, which generally required lots of wires, and took up a lot of space. I used to use one of those, but when it got to the point where upgrading the speakers might have been an option, I decided to simplify things, as I mentioned recently. And that Yamaha soundbar (which Amazon won’t let me provide a direct link to for reasons of err, dunno) has been pretty good.

But as I’ve just arranged to upgrade the TV, it had a bit of a problem. The new TV I’ve ordered, being all modern and fancy with not much of a bezel around the screen, and a low stand, would have a bit of its screen obscured by my soundbar. Now I suppose I could have got something to raise the TV a bit, but it seemed far more sensible to get a soundbar that would fit.

Looking in John Lewis, I saw something suitably compatible (same manufacturer as the TV, designed to fit with its stand, all very nice), but I didn’t much like the price. So I did a bit of shopping around, and found this one on Amazon. It’s a different model (J6000 rather than J6500), but as it was just over half the price of the other one, it seemed like a Good Idea. So, I ordered that, it was delivered at usual Amazon speed and I arranged to get it home a couple of days ago.

Although I don’t have the new TV yet, I thought I might as well set up the new soundbar. This is a very simple operation. Connect the optical lead, connect the soundbar and its separate subwoofer to the mains, and turn on your kit. The supplied remote offers options to select different inputs (the soundbar has several) and modify the sound (treble, bass and soundbar level are all independently adjustable). There are also sound modes (Standard, Music and Night, amongst others – all a bit vaguely described) which you can select. There’s a text display on the front of the soundbar which briefly lights up when it’s powered on and when any changes are made with the remote – otherwise it stays dark to avoid being distracting, which is an improvement on the Yamaha’s green LEDs. Volume control is a great deal more granular, going from 0 through 20 to, err, well, I haven’t tried cranking it up all the way, so I’m not sure.

The subwoofer connects to the soundbar by Bluetooth – it’s arrives paired, so no setting up is needed. When it’s in standby there’s a little red LED showing, and the inevitable blue one appears when it’s on and connected to the bar. Being a subwoofer, you can then park it anywhere in the room where it will fit.

First impressions of the sound? Ummm, meep. Wibble. Ooooooh. Yes, it’s rather good. Not just louder and with more bass (the Yamaha has teeny bass speakers, which aren’t as effective as a real full-sized one), but also clearer and more generally pleasant to hear.

I’ve tried it with some general TV shows, an archive music show (Guitar Heroes at the BBC) and some music streamed from my iTunes library. And that last one really showed off the sound – proper bass, clear sound for instruments and vocals and overall a much improved listening experience.

So, a suggestion. If you’re thinking of adding a soundbar to your TV, it’s really worth spending a bit more. While the basic Yamaha one offers a significant improvement over built-in speakers, one like this offers seriously nice sound.

One more thing – my venerable Logitech Harmony One remote control had no trouble at all setting up this soundbar. Volume control works as expected, and the extra controls are now configured on the touchscreen.

Weight and Stuff Report – 30 October 2015

Hmmm, no change today. Which may or may not be interesting, it’s hard to tell, really…

It was another one of those days where I didn’t get further than the sandwich shop at lunchtime, which has been happening far too much lately. Still, I won’t be going there for a while as I’ve just started a week off.  :tigger:

Things will be done. Places will be visited. Other things will arrive. It’s all (well, some of it) been cunningly planned, you know. Reports will follow…

This is the Micklegate Bar in York. It’s worth mentioning again that the Gates are streets and the Bars are gates. I blame the Vikings.

Micklegate Bar

Micklegate Bar

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/7.1
Shutter speed: 1/500s
Focal length: 22.4mm
ISO: 500
Taken: 24 October, 2015
Location: 53° 57.3528′ 0″ N 1° 5.4505′ 0″ W

Weight and Stuff Report – 29 October 2015

Down by a ridickerous amount today, which makes me suspect the scale has reverted to RNG[1] mode again.

This is how mail used to get around:

Mail coach

Mail coach

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/10s
Focal length: 20.1mm
ISO: 6400
Taken: 24 October, 2015
Location: 53° 57.6329′ 0″ N 1° 5.7611′ 0″ W

[1] Random Number Generator, in case you’re wondering

Weight and Stuff Report – 28 October 2015

A small rise today, but we won’t worry about that…

It was a dull, grey misty morning, which turned to light rain by the time I went out at lunchtime. This turned into somewhat heavier rain while I was doing a bit of shopping[1], and led on to even heavier rain while I was in the office this afternoon. But it stopped in time for me to go home, so that wasn’t so bad…

On my previous visit to the NRM, I spotted a Eurostar loco in the workshop, so I wasn’t too surprised to see it on show

Eurostar

Eurostar

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/9
Shutter speed: 1/25s
Focal length: 18mm
ISO: 6400
Taken: 24 October, 2015
Location: 53° 57.6366′ 0″ N 1° 5.7923′ 0″ W

[1] Details to be revealed at a later date. Probably. After something is delivered.

Weight and Stuff Report – 27 October 2015

(Take 2 – something went funny with the original)

No change today, which makes a change, or something.

Here’s a strange character I spotted on the recent photo walk thingy:

...and a Blue Peter Badge

…and a Blue Peter Badge

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/500s
Focal length: 88.2mm
ISO: 1000
Taken: 3 October, 2015

Bose SoundLink On Ear Bluetooth Headphones

Headphones. I must have had dozens of the things over the years. Big ones, small ones, wired ones, wireless ones, comfortable ones, uncomfortable ones, well-made ones and completely rubbish ones. But for reasons that don’t really make a lot of sense, I keep trying to get the elusive Perfect Pair.

Ten years ago, I got my first Bluetooth phones, which turned out to be carefully designed to crack in such a way as to stop them working. I’ve had quite nice in-ear ones, but I’ve been finding those increasingly uncomfortable to use – no matter what kind of material is used, the bits that go in my ears either don’t fit very well or are irritating. So, after trying all manner of things, I’ve reverted to on-ear phones. That’s the moderately large kind rather than the enormous over ear kind that cover your whole ear. I tried a Sennheiser wireless set, but found they had two problems: one was that even at maximum extension, they weren’t a good fit for my admittedly large head, and the other was a distinct lack of volume – OK when pottering around at home, but not so good when out and about. And it’s not that I listen to music at extreme levels – I like it loud enough to hear clearly, but not so loud as to drown out my surroundings completely. I then got a much better pair of Sennhesier (see, no hard feelings about the wireless ones) on-ear phones, which were pretty good, if a bit bulky.

But then I got this watch thing, which I still haven’t posted about. And that lets me control the music playing on the iPhone (and yeah, I’ve got one of those to talk about, too), so the previous need for controls on a cable, and indeed a cable at all, seemed to have gone away. So I started looking at wireless phones again. I saw these in a shop, and tried them out. Ooooh. Comfortable. And Oooooh, loud enough.

So after Much Dithering[1] and muttering[2] I bought them from Amazon.

So, what do we get for the slightly expensive price?[3] Well, you get a well-built pair of headphones which expand enough to fit my head comfortably. There’s a nice bit of padding on the headband and the earcups (removable and replaceable covers). The ear bits fold nicely inwards for storage, making them a lot more travel-friendly, as does the supplied soft zip-equipped case (nicely designed for an exact fit, with a nice little piece to separate the ear cups. There’s a cable you can use to connect to your devices in the event that the battery dies or the device doesn’t have Bluetooth and a standard mini-USB cable for charging (no mains plug, which seems sensible enough, as it wouldn’t fir in the pouch and most people have computers or chargers already.

They arrived with more than enough charge  to get me home, which was nice. Pairing is simply a matter of sliding the on-off switch all the way up. The phones can remember multiple devices and some variety of jiggery-pokery[4] lets you switch between them. There are the usual volume and control buttons for managing music and phone calls, but I find it easier to use the phone or watch to do that.

The sound quality, as you might expect from Bose, is excellent[5], and capable of being much louder than I want or need it to.

Now the other thing about wireless headphones that’s often a cause of weeping, wailing and quite likely gnashing of teeth, is battery life. In most cases it’s basically useless. These, perhaps partly because they’re on the larger size, are different. For a start, when you switch them on, a little voice in your ear announces the current battery level as a percentage before reminding you what device they’re paired with. During the first week, they kept insisting the level was 100%. I assumed they were lying, as battery powered devices often do. But four weeks later, without a recharge, and with around an hour’s use on each working day, the level is down to 40%. So it’ll probably be another couple of weeks before I need to connect that USB lead. To be honest, I’d have been happy enough with a week’s use on a single charge, so a month or more is really very good.

So, count this as a medium-term report. No annoyances so far, and lots to like. The only negative point is the slightly unfriendly price…

[1] A village in Suffolk, I think
[2] Much of which was about whether I wanted the black (discrete but boring) or white (vivid by matching my phone) ones
[3] Bose appear to have an Apple-like degree of control over prices – I looked around a fair bit, and didn’t find any variation in retail prices…
[4] I’d have to RTFM
[5] For my music and my ears, anyway.

Weight and Stuff Report – 26 October 2015

Down again today after the weekend increase. Most peculiar…

Here’s another bit of York:

Tower

Tower

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/7.1
Shutter speed: 1/1600s
Focal length: 88.2mm
ISO: 400
Taken: 24 October, 2015
Location: 53° 57.5775′ 0″ N 1° 4.801′ 0″ W