A year and a few months ago I bought my first bone conduction headphones – a pair of Damson Headbones. I was initially quite happy with them, but they began to develop some quirks that got worse and worse over time. I recently replaced them with a pair of Trekz Titanium bone conduction bluetooth headphones from AfterShokz, and I’m much happier.

Trekz Titanium (Ocean Blue)

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As described in a post earlier today, I have made some significant changes to this site. The short version is that I’ve started to use WordPress as a CMS (content management system). While the WordPress APIs provide a good range of functions for doing CMS-like things, the web interface is disappointingly lacking in even basic CMS features. Thankfully, WordPress’s plugin architecture has allowed the community to fill in the gaps.

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I finished the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson quite some time ago, but I didn’t bother to blog a review because I didn’t think I had anything to contribute to the discussion that hadn’t already been more eloquently argued by others. But, when listening to John Gruber and Dan Benjamin discuss the book on the Talk Show podcast a few weeks back, they raised a question that piqued my interest, why did Steve choose Walter Isaacson to be his authorised biographer? You have to remember that this biography did not get written because the author was really interested in Steve Jobs and begged and pleaded for cooperation, if anything, the inverse is true. In the introduction to the biography Isaacson explains that it was Steve who asked him to do the book, and that he repeatedly turned Steve down before finally giving in (to the inevitable?). Isaacson specifically mentions that Steve had cited his love of his biography of Albert Einstein as one of his reasons for wanting him as his biographer, so I figured I’d give that a read too, and see if it helped me to understand Steve’s decision to head-hunt Isaacson.

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DOS Gaming on the Mac Made Easy

Filed Under Computers & Tech on April 16, 2011 | 5 Comments

DOSBox + BoxerI grew up in the 80s, so I’ve always had a soft spot for the old DOS games I grew up with. I just loved the Apogee games, particularly Commander Keen and Secret Agent. We’ve been able to play these games on the Mac for years, but the experience has been a little too authentic. The free and open source DOSBox provides the basic emulation needed to run DOS games on modern PCs and Linux, as well as the Mac, but the experience is far from simple. You have to manually create a configuration file to even get started with DOSBox, and you need to know DOS to get your games installed and to run them. Not a problem for a terminal geek like me, but quite an obstacle for regular folks.

A few weeks ago my Grandfather asked me about running some of his old DOS games on his new Mac, so I looked into DOSBox again, and specifically went hunting for a nice GUI to simplify things. The first three I tried were horrifically poor. The worst kind of ‘by geeks, for geeks’ free software. Then I found Boxer, and I was just blown away. Boxer makes DOS games as easy to use as any other app on your Mac! The whole design of the project is just genius, and it’s been executed wonderfully. Attention to detail and usability are right at Boxer’s core.

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What a Difference a Glif Makes

Filed Under Photography on March 17, 2011 | Leave a Comment

When I first got my iPhone 4 I played with the video a bit, but it never quite lived up to my expectations because I just couldn’t hold it still enough to get nice video out of it. This is the kind of thing I was able to get free-hand:

I was able to do a little better by bracing the camera against something solid – like the edge of a bridge, but still – the results were not ideal:

If only I could attach the iPhone to a tripod! Well, this is where the Glif comes in. It’s a small piece of moulded plastic that has a standard tripod screw hole at the bottom, and that grips the iPhone securely. You can use it on a full-size tripod, and it works very well, but it does look quite silly. I find it much more useful to use a mini tripod instead, so I can literally carry me entire video setup in my pocket!

My iPhone 4 Video Setup with the Glif

As well as acting as a tripod adapter for the iPhone, the Glif can also function as a handy little iPhone stand, in a surprising number of configurations. If you’re curious about what all the Glif can do, they have a nice little video on their site. The Glif is $20 + shipping, which is quite steep for a simple piece of plastic, but I have to say, I’m very happy with it, and I’m certainly getting good value for money out of it.

Finally – here’s an example of the results I’m getting with it:

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Review of Money3 by Jumsoft

Filed Under Computers & Tech on July 24, 2010 | 12 Comments

THe week before last I posted a description of the final stages of my quest for a new personal finance app, and explained how I came to choose Money3 from Jumsoft, what I didn’t do was actually review the product though, so I thought I’d do that now. On the one hand I’ve only been using this product for a week and a half, but on the other I’ve been using it a LOT during that week and a half. In that time I’ve entered all the transactions for 2010 on six accounts covering all my personal and business transactions so far this year. That’s a lot of time using the software, so I think I’ve got a good flavour of what it’s like to really use it.

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A few months ago I started my quest to replace Cha-Ching because of how bad my experience with their 2.0 beta was, and how poor their support response was (I got no response at all). I outlined the choices I’d been considering at that stage in part 1 of this article. Since that post there’s been a few developments, and as of this afternoon, I think my quest is at an end.

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I’ve been saying for a long time that the iPad looks cool, but that I wouldn’t be buying this first incarnation of apple’s tablet. I had two reasons for that, firstly, for me, it felt like a solution in search of a problem, and secondly, I’m very grumpy about Apple not allowing the iPad to share the iPhone’s data connection via tethering. Before people jump on me, I want to clarify that I’m not saying that the iPad is a solution in search of a problem in any sort of universal sense, but just in terms of my life at the time. Well, I stuck to my word and didn’t buy an iPad, but I do now own one thanks to the generosity of Allison & Steve Sheridan of the NosillaCast. I’ve had it for a few days now, so I thought it might be worth sharing my first impressions.

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I’ve lost count of the amount of Twitter clients I’ve tried, and none are perfect. There may well be a client out there that does everything I need exactly how I want it to, but I’ve yet to find it. In recent times I’ve settled on Syrinx because it ticks most of the boxes, but it’s not perfect. I haven’t been actively search for a new client, but I’ve still been keeping my ears open. Hence, when Tim Verpoorten talked about Itsy on a recent episode of the Mac Review Cast I decided to give it a go.

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My Aperture 3 Disaster

Filed Under Computers & Tech, Photography on February 21, 2010 | 7 Comments

When Apple announced Aperture 3 I was excited. The more I read about it on their site, and the more video demos I watched, the more I fell in love. The feature-list has everything I really wanted, and more besides. For me the really big deal was a power local adjustments feature, as well as Faces and Places. They also fixed some of my quibbles with Aperture 2. On paper this app was perfect for me. In reality however, it turns out not to be ready for the main-stream yet. The design is spot-on, but the implementation feels like a poor beta. As I write this I’ve down-graded back to Aperture 2.

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