Headphone recommendations

Dear Lazyweb,

With the new phone, I find myself in need of new headphones. My last three phones, two Treos and a Centro, used 2.5mm 4-band jacks. The Pre uses a far more sensible 3.5mm 4-band jack, but that means my headphones no longer fit. I don't want to use an adapter because they are bulky and, in my experience, make it more likely that you'll break the headphone jack.

My previous headphones were "Shure e2c", and I loved them. The sound quality was great, they fit well, and they blocked out outside noise better than any other headphone of the size that I've ever used. The cables tended to fray, though. I had the 2.5mm 4-band version, but they also used to make them in a 3.5mm 4-band version. However, apparently the whole e2c line has since been discontinued.

Shure's new product line baffles me. I can't tell what corresponding new product is, if there even is one. It kind of looks like they have decided to only make headphones with 3-band jacks, and if you want to use it as a headset on a cell phone, you have to use an adapter. That sounds bulky and irritating (and also would put the mic quite far away from your face, I assume.)

Before the e2c, I tried "Etymotic ER-6", but I hated them. I gave them away after two days. They had no bass response at all, and were not nearly as sound-isolating as the e2c were. And I they had the wrong sized jack, too.

So, because Shure's site confused me, I took someone's recommendation and picked up the "V-Moda Vibe Duo" headphones (3.5mm, 4-band). I've been using them for a week, and I kind of hate them. They block out basically no outside sound. They sound muddy. The midrange is weird. And about a quarter of the time when I take them out of my ears, the rubber ear-bud tips stay behind in my ear canal and I have to go digging, even using the smallest size.

My requirements are:

  1. 3.5mm 4-band, so I can talk on the phone with it too (though the primary use is music).
  2. In-ear-canal. Not those iPhone-like buds that just sit on the surface. Not over-the-ear cans. Don't bother telling me about those, no matter how much you love them.

  3. Extremely sound-isolating. With the e2c, wearing the headphones without anything playing sounded like wearing earplugs. I loved that.

  4. Good sound quality. I'm no audiophile, but I can tell when it's crap. Bass is better than "perfectly flat", but bass to the exclusion of all else is bad.

So what should I get?

Update: I picked up the Ultimate Ears SuperFi 4vi. Conveniently, the Apple store stocks these. (Not any more. Bastards.) I've only used them for a few minutes so far, but they seem pretty good. Nice isolation, and sound quality is very similar to (possibly better than) the e2c. So I'm hopeful.

One nice thing about the Modas was that the cable was cloth, so they didn't tangle as easily. More manufacturers should do that.

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Current Music: SSQ -- Walkman On ♬

Facebook "pages" versus "groups"

Dear Lazyweb,

Do any of you know a clue-enabled individual within the Facebook hivemind who would be willing to talk to me, and allow me to browbeat them into fixing a bug / design flaw?

DNA Lounge has a so-called "page" on Facebook. We post our events there. However, there is apparently no way for us to send event invitations to everyone who has friended ("fanned") DNA Lounge.

If this DNA Lounge "page" were a "group" instead, I could send event invitations to everyone who had friended ("joined") the group. But clearly "pages" are intended for businesses: they have build-in fields like address and hours of operation. "Groups" don't.

baconmonkey has a hunch that "pages" are a legacy thing: something that Facebook thought was a good idea once and have since abandoned. I'm not sure why he thinks that, since they still seem to be pushing them as the thing that businesses should use.

Maybe we should just delete our "page" and create a "group" instead. I don't know. I can't tell.

What I would like is for someone who actually works for Facebook to tell me their understanding of how a business like mine should use their service.

I want them to either fix this bug (the bug that you can't send event invitations to "fans" of your "page") or tell me the right way to promote my events to these people who have explicitly expressed their interest.

I'm asking here because Facebook apparently has no tech support and no way to contact them that is more direct than spitting down the gaping well of a web forum that no employee ever reads.

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im in ur browser, melting ur digits

Dali Clock Javascript!

I factored out the Javascript from the Palm Pre port of Dali Clock, so now it works as a web page too, including all the display options.

If any of you browser-internals types have suggestions on how to get better performance out of the <canvas> tag (specifically in the Palm Pre version of Webkit) I'd love to hear them.

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Palm WebOS Dali Clock

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have ported Dali Clock to the Palm Pre.

Truly, this program will last forever. If I have anything to say about it.

It's a little slow. It is, in fact, a bit slower than the PalmOS "Classic" port. And, for that matter, the original Xerox Alto version. Why, you may ask?

Because this port is written entirely in Javascript.


Let's take a moment to ponder this version and the Alto version, and just how many wasted instructions, layers of abstraction, frameworks, toolkits and outright cruft have gotten between the algorithm and the frame buffer in the intervening twenty-seven years. This program makes my phone hot. Hot, I tell you.

Oh. The huge manatee.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein the War on Fun gets some more press, and a legal smackdown is delivered.

7x7 Magazine posted a great video interview about the current ABC crackdown with Dawn Holliday from Slim's, Guy Carson from Café du Nord and Amy Miller from SonicLiving.

As usual, they didn't think DNA Lounge deserved a mention, but the SF Bay Guardian finaly did! (I think this is the first time they've mentioned ABC's assault on DNA Lounge at all, but better late than never.)

Busting bars: State agency imposes its strange morality and bewildering bureaucracy on SF clubs

At issue is an arbitrary policy of the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control. For the past two years, ABC has been on a campaign against a growing list of well-established clubs, bars, and entertainment venues in the city, an effort driven by vague rules and stretched authority. The community has rallied behind the bars and local politicians have spoken against ABC's crusade, but the agency isn't showing any signs of stopping. [...]

DNA Lounge's license is currently being held over its head because ABC saw operators as "running a disorderly house injurious to the public welfare and morals" after sending undercover agents in during queer events. State Sen. Mark Leno responded by telling the Guardian, "The ABC should enforce the law, not make statements relative to morals."

Café du Nord, Slim's, Swedish Music Hall, Great American Music Hall, Rickshaw Stop, Bottom of the Hill, and a list of more than 10 others are also fighting long, expensive battles to stay open -- but not because of underage drinking or drinking-related violence. In fact, most of these venues never had a run-in with ABC until two years ago. These bars' livelihoods are being threatened because of an arbitrary technicality on their alcohol and food license.

ABC was established in 1957 with the mission to be "responsible for the licensing and regulation of the manufacture, sale, purchase, possession, and transportation of alcoholic beverages." ABC is funded through alcohol license fees, and has been run by governor-appointed director Steve Hardy since 2007, about the same time the crackdown started.

Also, John Hinman, one of the lawyers representing several of the local clubs against ABC (you saw him in the NBC TV piece last month) gave me permission to post this email that he sent to the ABC legal team a couple days ago. It's long, but it is a good summary of how out of touch with reality the ABC lawyers are.

From: John Hinman
Date: Tue, Jun 23, 2009 4:05 PM
To: Dean Lueders, Matthew Botting, Robert Wieworka
Subject: Re: Settlement of Bottom of the Hill and Café du Nord


I appreciate that you are attempting to find a way to settle these Rule 64.2 cases. However, your view of the facts and articulation of department policy shows how far apart we really are.

This is your representation of the facts and the policy:

"...the Department routinely elects to not file accusations for minor deviations in business operations that occur from time-to-time, but the deviations in your two cases are not minor nor did they occur from time-to-time."

The representation that the "deviations" were "not minor" is belied by the accusation discovery and the claims.

Café du Nord:

Based on the discovery provided by the Department, the "changes" that purport to substantiate the accusation are variations from the planned opening hours and food service hours listed on the ABC Form-257 signed by the licensee at the time of licensure more than five years ago.

While the ABC-257 lists the opening hours as 5PM-2AM and the food service hours as 5PM to close, the investigators determined the premises opens closer to 7PM, with food service starting around 8PM and winding down around 11PM.

The evidence (including the evidence that we will introduce) will also show that opening and closing hours are routinely adjusted to account for circumstances such as season, special shows in town, availability of personnel, vacation schedules and the like. Moreover, the premises are open from 5 to 7 pm to serve dinner to the entertainers before the shows.

This is exactly the normal kind of "deviation" that every single licensee we have ever represented routinely undertakes in order to adjust to daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal variations in economic conditions and premises demands.

Here's what Judge Lewis (who as you know was a department prosecutor for many years) had to say on the record about this when he dismissed the accusation at the first hearing (before the identical charges were refiled):

"I just don't see the substantial changes... They still serve food. It's still a restaurant... They have a band. They have events. So what? Lots of restaurants do. You know, if they weren't planning to do it before and they do it now, you know, it's a restaurant. Things change. They have to survive...They can open at 6:00 a.m. if they want to, because there are no conditions. You now, that's entirely up to them. They can decide what's necessary for them to survive, as long as they comply with the law and/or any conditions that are on the license. And there aren't any... They can open an hour a day if that's all they want. They can open two days a week, if that's all they want." Transcript pg. 38-40.

That is exactly our understanding of the law as it exists and as it has been applied throughout California in all ABC districts; apparently other than San Francisco, which seems to have been singled out for special treatment for some reason.

The Bottom of the Hill case is similarly flawed.

Based on the discovery provided by the Department, the "changes" that substantiate the Rule 64.2 fifth count (the other counts relate to the 50/50 condition - which itself is flawed by no supporting nexus or substantial evidence and is an "underground regulation") include:

  1. a lack of tables and chairs during band performances. The ABC diagram indicated that there would be a "dining area" in a corner of the premises so the lack of tables and chairs during the performances appeared to the department to contradict the concept of a "dining area."

  2. failure to open the business early enough in the day. The ABC Form 257 prepared at the time of the original application for licensure in the 1990's, and carried forward in the 2002 stock transfer, anticipated that the business would open daily at 3:00 PM, but Bottom of the Hill didn't open until 8:30 PM at the time of investigation because there was no demand for service earlier.

  3. failure to serve meals during the listed early dinner hours (the ABC Form 257 listed dinner hours as 6:00 PM to midnight, but because the premises didn't open until 8:30 PM no meals were served at 6:00 PM) and

  4. failure to serve enough Mexican food. The ABC Form 257 includes a checkbox for type of cuisine; Mexican was checked, but investigators only considered two menu items (quesadillas and chips/salsa) to be Mexican food.

Again, you characterize these "deviations" as "not minor." We completely disagree. This is the identical type of unwarranted micromanagement presented by the Café du Nord case, as well as the other Rule 64.2 cases. These are not "deviations," these are normal daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal operating adjustments. The "not enough Mexican food to check the Mexican restaurant box" allegation is the most ludicrous thing we have ever seen from the department.

There is no precedent for your 64.2 theory as applied to Bottom of the Hill or Café du Nord. Under your theory every licensee would be checking in with the department every week and submitting a new 257 operational statement as they planned out what they needed to do to continue to survive through the next week. Do you really think that is what Rule 64.2 means? Do you really think that the department has the personnel to process and investigate licensee requests of that nature?

I have been practicing ABC law in California for over 30 years and your articulation of department policy is simply not accurate. Until these cases there has never been an "operational change" accusation absent a physical change in the premises EVER brought by the ABC. The sudden change in policy coupled with aggressive enforcement has caught the attention of the licensee community as well as the press, which is very interested in what is unfolding. What the department is doing here is creating new law from whole cloth.

If the department wants Rule 64.2 applied to permit this sort of constant micromanagement of premises that are operating within the clear boundaries of state law, we suggest that the matter be submitted to the legislature. If the department instead elects to carry these Rule 64.2 accusations forward, the department should be prepared to be attacked by licensees, their elected representatives and the media for enforcing rules that are not on the books.

You asked why we are not settling except on the terms described below and these are the reasons. What is happening here affects every licensee in this state because Rule 64.2 applies to every licensee in the state.

That is also the reason we submitted the legal question to Senator Leno, who sent it to the AG (attached). The fact is that Rule 64.2 does NOT apply to operational changes absent specified changes in the physical premises. If we must pursue this simply to make sure that the appellate courts instruct the department how to interpret Rule 64.2, we will do so. The principal issue is that important to every licensee in this state. No business can survive without operating flexibility within the parameters of state law.

You might note that we never even got to the 50/50 food condition (which does NOT exist in 23038) or your theory that Section 23787 somehow creates a different class of license but you should be informed that the language of Section 23787 and the legislative history of Section 23787 are completely contrary to your conclusion.

We also know how Administrator Gomez testified in the GAMH case with respect to the department's "interpretation" of 23038 that ended up transmuting the words "bona fide eating place" into "bona fide restaurant." Again, that is an unwarranted and unsubstantiated rewriting of a basic operating statute. The department must honor the rule of law, no less than we must.

If you want a meeting in Sacramento to discuss this matter at greater length we will be available. However there will be no settlement short of the terms below.

Kind regards,

John A. Hinman
Hinman & Carmichael LLP

Do you think ABC really cares whether enough Mexican food is being served? That's a smokescreen for what's really going on, which is a culture war. Lest we forget who the ideological forebears are of the batch of disingenuous bureaucrats we are currently fighting, here's a list of rules posted in Michigan dance halls in the 1920s:

That is who these people are.



Brand-new cable car will soon hit the streets

Cable car No. 15 is no off-the-shelf vehicle.

For more than five years, nearly 30 Municipal Transportation Agency crafts workers - carpenters, a patternmaker, metal workers, transit mechanics, welders and painters - labored on and off to build the cable car from scratch, working off blueprints more than a century old.

"It's a work of art," Christopher Hill, Muni's manager of cable car maintenance, said of the new 8-ton rolling monument.

Made of bronze, steel, red oak, white oak, knot-free fir, Alaskan yellow cedar, canvas and glass, No. 15 cost $823,000 to build. Just about the only materials not specially fabricated for the cable car were the lightbulbs, hinges, rope and screws.

No. 15 is the 12th cable car produced from the bottom up by Muni in the past two decades. It will be used on the Powell Street lines that run from Market Street downtown to Fisherman's Wharf.

The new cable cars ensure that the 136-year-old system - a designated National Historic Landmark and the only one remaining in the world that operates on public streets - will carry on. The average lifespan of a cable car is about 100 years.


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DNA Lounge: Wherein the camera goes click and the back wall is ornamented.

Some new photo galleries have made a recent appearance: Bootie, New Wave City (and a few more) Hubba Hubba Sideshow, and Foundry.

Also, the inverse sign is now hanging on the back wall, behind the stage. It looks awesome.

However, when the projection screen is pulled down it looks kind of funny, because the sign is a lot wider than the screen, so the sides of it peek out. The obvious fix is to get a wider screen that would cover the sign completely (about 12' wide) but those are over $800, and that's not really worth it. (Anyone got a used one? I checked Ebay and didn't find anything reasonable.)


today in batcock news



"We're Getting Reports of a Massive Space-craft..."

dreadwhimsy writes:

Looking back, was the short enslavement of humanity by our alien overlords, Mieux-Mieux and Praxis, really such a "reign of terror," the way the cable news media's trying portray it?

Let's not re-write history. It wasn't all that bad.

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My first Palm Pre app!

I wrote a restaurant tip calculator, since there wasn't one.

It was relatively painless, though the documentation is pretty spotty.

Since Palm isn't yet letting people upload things to the App Catalog, here's how you install this:

  1. Email yourself a link to the .ipk file. Don't mail the file itself as an attachment: just send yourself an email with the URL in it. You can do that by clicking here.
  2. Open that mail message on your Pre, and click the link.

  3. That will appear to have done nothing, but it did! Go to the first page of the Launcher, and you'll see that the new application has been installed.

Dear Lazyweb, I have several questions.

  1. How do I get it into the Palm App Catalog?
  2. How do I give a button a different background color, while still having it look like a standard Pre button?

  3. Native code, man. I need it. How do I do it? I seriously doubt I can do a port of Dali Clock using only Javascript and the <canvas> tag.

Update: Oh, the email I've been getting. Look, it only does whole numbers because if you insist that your tip be accurate to the penny you are a cheapskate weirdo. Here in the Colonies, we use paper money, not coins. If your bill is $44.22, just enter $45. Don't go all Scrooge McAsperger's on us, ok?

Update 2: Holy shit! The intardwebs have a new cesspool, I see!

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