Categories
Tech

BXS-HD1 True Wireless Stereo Earphones

I don’t know much about audio, and my hearing has been damaged by too many noisy nightclubs in my twenties but I do listen to a lot of podcasts using earphones.

In the past I preferred to use wired Apple earpods and I still use them. I bought Urban 1 wireless earphones back in September but then I remembered why I hate those earphones that stick deep into your ear. They’re never comfortable. My ears got sore, and they would always fall out with the slightest movement if I wasn’t wearing a hat against the cold.

So, last November I read about the BXS-HD1 True Wireless Stereo Earphones from Onesonic. There were glowing reviews from Irish tech journalists, and similar reviews by people on Twitter. At €59.99 they’re not too expensive either.

I must say I’m very happy with them. Podcast audio is crystal clear. Music is too. They’re reasonably good at dealing with bass.

They sync with my Galaxy S9+ when I lift them out of the case. Double tap pauses the audio usually, though sometimes that gets temperamental and I need to unlock my phone to pause. Volume controls (single tap) worked fine.

I wasn’t too impressed with the microphone. I tried it twice. Once while out for a walk on a cold morning. The hat I wore rubbed against the earphones and the other party could barely hear what I was saying. Back in my office on a Zoom call my team reported my voice sounded low.

Besides that I recommend them. They’re shipped from Ireland so if you’re in the EU you won’t have to worry about extra customs fees due to Brexit.

(This is not a paid review, I’m just happy with my purchase.)

Categories
Life

Your mouse is too small

Prompted by someone sharing this tweet at work I decided to try making the mouse cursor on my machine bigger.

On a Mac go to System Preferences->Accessibility->Display->Cursor.

I only bumped the size up one notch, but it’s made a nice change and really makes a difference to the “feel” of the mouse cursor when hovering over text containing links.

After doing that I wondered what else I could do. I left the display at it’s default resolution but in Firefox I did increase the minimum font size, and that has made some websites more pleasant to use.

My son uses a 15.6″ laptop screen with tiny fonts I can barely read when I’m sitting at his desk. I know I used to do that too in my twenties on a Linux desktop using Netscape Navigator but times change and my eyes change. This blog has been going more than twenty years. I wonder what accessibility features I’ll be writing about in another twenty years, eh?

Categories
tv

The Office Matrix

Fan of the US Office? Check!
Fan of the Matrix movies? Check!

Here’s a never-before-seen cold open from the US Office that was only released on January 1st 2021!

Categories
Tech

Just use Signal

Just use Signal, the privacy first messaging system.

What’s in it for Signal? They’re a non-profit. Money isn’t their main goal. Read about their very interesting history on Wikipedia.

(But if they ever break that trust I’m going back to SMS texts!)

Update a few days later: This post was obviously prompted by the move WhatsApp made to change their privacy policy and ultimatum they gave users to “accept it or go away”. They have since announced the changes won’t take effect until May this year.

This Gizmodo post is the best yet at explaining what changes are to come. It’s a long article worth reading but in summary (and I’m open to correction if I get this wrong), your messages to friends and family were never in danger of being revealed to Facebook. Businesses who use WhatsApp have a special way of using the platform (a business API) and they may use an outside agency to help them deal with this messaging. As soon as that happens the outside agency can see the messages back forth between you and the business so the messages could in theory be stored by that agency. Someone else can see those messages then.

What I’m left wondering about is if companies have been doing this for years already why is a change in the privacy policy required now? Is it because a business can manage this messaging through Facebook.com?

I checked and I didn’t opt out of WhatsApp sending “anonymous data” (which is never really anonymous) to Facebook in 2016 for whatever reason. Maybe I didn’t start using WhatsApp until after this date. I wonder if the GDPR stops this data transfer?

Categories
Ireland

Putting Accents on Characters on Mac

Accents, everyone has one but some characters have more than one, and writing them on a Mac can be hard unless you know how.

I really only need one type of accent, the “sine fada” in Irish that goes over the vowels. They look like this: á, é, ó, ú and í.

For a long time I used Option-key using an Irish keyboard map I got off Justin Mason years ago. I haven’t used it for some time now and every now and again I wonder if there’s a better way of doing it using the standard keyboard maps on a Mac.

Turns out there is.

This page explains how to use the accent menu, but you can also use “dead keys” to type accents.

The accent menu is dead simple. Press the key down for a little longer than usual and a menu will appear with the accents required. Press the corresponding number and your accented character appears!

The dead key approach is probably faster however. Use the keyboard viewer to see your keyboard layout. I have a large split Microsoft keyboard and I’m using the British PC layout now so when I hit the Option key the accents are highlighted.

If I want to type “I like to eat cake” in Irish, and not “I like to eat shit”, I must use “Option-e” followed by “a” to get “á” in one word:

“Is maith liom cáca a ithe.”

I’m sure by now you’ve realised just how important accents are in daily life. It’s the difference between delicious chocolate and something that looks similar but tastes quite different. Yeah, you really needed that mental image didn’t you? Sorry. 🙂

Categories
Photography

Pick your best photos faster

James Popsys explains how he picks the best photos from his shoots. Video is pre-pandemic. It’s refreshing to hear someone mention going out to photograph and not mention social distancing.

  • “In the field” shoot a black image if you see “the one” that works.
  • In Lightroom import your photos immediately. Do not sort and choose when you get home.

He uses stars in Lightroom. In the first round he awards up to three stars:

  • Single star – photo must be interesting and sharp (in the right places)
  • Another star – does the composition work?
  • Another star – is it exposed correctly?

For the second round, he only shows photos that have two stars or more. So that should show photos that are interesting and sharp, and either composition works or exposed correctly. In this round he changes composition by cropping and/or fixes exposure. Should have a few more three star photos.

At this point he’ll do more editing, and the best photos get another star. The very best get five stars.

I’m blogging this because I’ve had this video open in my browser tabs for months, meaning to try out this technique but I learn a process like this better if it’s written down. Hope it helps somebody!

Categories
General

A week into 2021

Happy new year! As if living through a pandemic wasn’t bad enough, and Ireland is worse than ever with more than 7000 confirmed infections yesterday. Christmas and New Year celebrations really did a number on the country. Last night the US Capitol was stormed by Trump supporters. Check out Saul Loeb‘s photos of the event. I grabbed screenshots of the pages. Getty has more photos here.The contrast between politicians and rioters is striking.

The FBI is seeking information related to the rioting. There will be arrests, especially when they documented themselves so clearly!

I despair at what’s happening in the world. I don’t have anything insightful to say about what’s happening now except the obvious:

“Stay at home!”

On a brighter note, it snowed last night. Looks lovely.

Categories
Linux

Infinite Bunner

Don’t need A PS5 or the latest Xbox, whatever it’s called, to have fun. Playing around with the Pi400. 🙂

Categories
Comics

No coal for Calvin this year

Categories
Life

It’s after 8am

Is it ever too early for chocolate on Christmas Day?