• Great earbuds that suck: AKG K 324 P

    When I started using my iPod for running, I bought the Sennheiser OMX 70 headphones because they're made especially for athletes. They have adjustable clip-on earphones and are sweat- and water-resistant. But over time, I discovered two problems. First, they're not as rugged as they should be. A few weeks ago, one of the cables got twisted and tore open right at the earphone. And yesterday, the grip of the plug got loose.

    I already had a replacement, because there's a second issue I had with the OMX 70: because the earbuds hang outside over the ears, not inside the ears, they don't irritate them -- but they irritate the people around me on the train if I turn the volume up too much. And I hate being an annoyance that people have to ask to please turn down my music.

    That's why I bought the AKG Acoustics K 324 P in-ear headphones. They were advertised as having a great sound and effectively blocking outside noise. And that's true. When I made my first steps outside with them on, I almost walked into a car because I couldn't hear it coming. (I normally rely quite heavily on my hearing when I'm in traffic.) If you press them slightly into your ear canal (and there are three different sets of rubber buds to fit many ears), outside noise gets almost completely blocked, and on the other hand, the music only goes into your head, not into the environment. And when I apply a bit more pressure, I even get the feeling that there's a kind of suction that keeps the earbuds tight in the ear.

    There could even be an effect on battery life, because while with the Sennheisers I had to fullly turn up the iPod when I was listening to a podcast in traffic, the AKG earbuds get really loud already at the half setting.

    After the first day of using the K 324 P as an Environmental Stupidity Shield on the train and in the office, I can really recommend them. Let's hope they last longer than their predecessors.

  • Upgrading from Kubuntu "Dapper Drake" to "Edgy Eft"

    When it was time to upgrade my work laptop to a newer Linux distribution some months ago, I decided to install Kubuntu 6.06. I've been using the "Dapper Drake" release on my web servers for more than half a year now and never had any problems. The combination of Debian tools and Ubuntu application repositories is awesome.

    When I realized on Friday that some applications only come in packages for newer Ubuntu versions, I decided to ditch the Long Term Support release and try to upgrade to Kubuntu "Edgy Eft" 6.10. At first, I wasn't sure if I'd regret starting an upgrade on an Friday afternoon, but soon gave in to the challenge.

    Having a really big pipe at work has its advantages. After issuing the apt-get dist-upgrade, it took exactly 3 minutes and 31 seconds to download the 1002MB of upgrade packages. Installing them took about an hour and went without a flaw, but when the system finally rebooted, I got a mild shock that my encrypted home volume (that I didn't take the time to backup, of course) didn't get mounted. A little web search revealed that the kernel options "quiet" and "splash" prevented the passphrase necessary to decrypt the data from being displayed. Removing both options from /boot/grub/menu.lst took away the pretty boot splash screen but the problem, too.

    My desktop looks a a whole lot more shiny now. I could finally install Firefox 2 from the official repositories, and when it first encountered a Flash applet, I was surprised to be able to download and activate the plugin successfully with just one mouse click. I was used to having to do a manual download and installation. As easily, I replaced GAIM with its successor Pidgin, so my online life has an up-to-date foundation again. WiFi and Bluetooth continued working without a change.

    This upgrade went even faster and more smoothly than I had expected. You just have to love Ubuntu Linux. Knowing myself, it probably won't be long until I make the next step up to "Feisty Fawn".

  • The Future of New Media

    If you liked epic (see here for the German version), you may also be interested in this prediction for the future of the media world:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj8ZadKgdC0]

    I just watched "epic" again and I'm amazed that some of those predictions are already reality or will be soon. It's interesting times we live in!

    (via Chris Brogan)

  • Fatblogging: 96

    I still don't fully get that fatblogging concept yet, but at least it really seems to work: I'm now down to 96kg. And that's all I expect, so I wonder if I should waste my time trying to find out if it's fatblogging frequency, entry length or another factor that makes me lose weight. We'll see if the secret will eventually be lifted.

    On the jogging front, I'm now at five 5-minute running segments, each followed by a minute of walking. I'm doing quite well -- although I have to run slightly uphill, I often miss the breaks, running 6 or more minutes. Following the advice in my running guide, if I feel like doing more, I run longer than the half hour in the plan, instead of increasing my speed. The weather is great at the moment and it feels really good to do my early morning route under the rising sun, in fresh air and the quietness of just nature and me.

    Nutrition-wise, there are rare phases when I just can't resist buying my beloved fruit gums. But many times, I realize it's just my weaker self trying to take control, and I fight it successfully. Separating carbohydrates from fat sometimes is a challenge, since neither our company restaurant nor the restaurants in the neighborhood offer many dishes that don't mix noodles, dough or potatoes with oil or fat. My best bet always are salads (sometimes with turkey breast or other meat, but I always leave the bread untouched) or completely vegetarian dishes. Since those can be delicious, too, I don't mind the diet change.

    So, everything is fine on the weight loss and fitness front. And hopefully, the motivation I gain from this success will result in a self-energizing circle!

  • Flickr censors Germany

    Flickr seems to be concerned with the morality of us Germans:

    Note: If your Yahoo! ID is based in Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong or Korea you will only be able to view safe content based on your local Terms of Service so wont be able to turn SafeSearch off.

    Well, we're glad censorship is more or less history in our country, thank you very much!

    My Flickr Pro subscription ends in July. If this censorship won't be removed, my subscription is certainly not going to be continued.