Category Archives: Technology


So you all saw my glowing review of the Sennheiser headphones that Nate got me a while back.

I still totally love them.

So Nate, don’t take this as a knock against those headphones. I just…I have a problem.

Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones
There was a demo pair of these at Costco in Lewiston. Very surround-sound heavy and super comfortable.

Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones
Now that I’ve got some incredible Sennheisers, I want all the Sennheisers.

Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone

I mean, like, what if there’s a more optimal way to hear Sleepyhead? What if there is some subtle beat or slur or riff that I’m missing but would send my brain into the stratosphere of happiness if I were to hear it? It’s not too far-fetched; every time I “upgrade” to a new set of headphones, I get a little bit more joy out of that song.

NAD – VISO HP50 (Red)

Master & Dynamic MH40 Over Ear Headphone
I’m sorry, I still love these. They’re gorgeous. It’s been so long since I’ve tried them in person (haven’t been able to find them since) that I can’t remember if they actually sounded as good as I remember, but they might have. And they’re gorgeous.


If I had infinite money and infinite ears…oh, the things I could listen to.


Readers digest what?

It’s like 3 AM and I’m staying up all night so that my mom and I can leave early in the morning to go back to Moscow for a bit. I’m bored and shockingly don’t feel like listening to music, so here are my results from a 1-minute typing test.

118 ain’t bad I guess.


So, does anyone have a cool $3,000 that they’d like to use to buy me this? Haha.

I’d be all over this thing. I love his reaction; mine would probably be similar.

Can you imagine Sleepyhead blasting out of this? With that chorus?


Boston Dynamics, u ok?


Like, I get the whole robot thing. New technology is great! But good lord, put a cheerful sunbonnet on it or something so that it doesn’t look like it’s about ready to murder a family.

Hahaha, 0:19: angry figure skater is angry.
1:10: “I stuck the landing…HAHAHA SCREW YOU, PARENTS, I’M OUTTA HERE”


iPod Appreciation Day

Well hi there.

It’s my birthday, blah, blah, blah.

(It’s also Mayor Nenshi’s birthday, though, which is much cooler!)

But EVEN COOLER is the fact that I’ve owned my little iPod Touch now for a total of 5 years. That’s a long time for me to have an electronic, and a long time, in my opinion, for an iPod of mine to last, considering how many walks I’ve taken it on and just how much it gets used.

It gets used a lot. In hot weather, in Tucson’s version of hot weather (100 or so), in cold weather, in Calgary’s version of cold weather (-15 or so), in rain, in Vancouver’s version of rain (never-ending torrential downpour), in snow, on the bus, in the gym…and currently, it’s running with its screen on for anywhere between three and four hours per day (for the iTreadmill app to be tracking).

I don’t know the exact mileage because the universe ate my 2012 walking data, but just a rough guesstimate based on 2013-2016 puts my total mileage on this iPod well over 6,000. That’s pretty impressive for a little device like that.

So yeah. I just wanted to acknowledge the awesomeness of my iPod.

And to remind myself that while we tend to overlook it just because it’s a pretty constant and common thing in our lives, technology like this is really pretty damn amazing.

Sennheiser HD 231i: A Review

Nate got me an early birthday present today: a pair of new headphones! Specifically, a pair of Sennheiser HD 231i (which is apparently not available in the US??).

Anyway, we were at a Best Buy looking for a headphone/microphone combo for Nate’s brother, and I of course wandered over to the “music headphones” section of the store. That’s where I saw these Sennheisers.

Honestly, my first impression was that this tiny pair seemed rather out of place alongside the other Sennheiser models, which all looked capable of space travel. That impression remained as I picked up the demo pair from the little rack. They were super light. As in, “light as my $5 Walmart headphones” light.

But the sound was awesome.

I’ve never owned Sennheisers, but I’ve only ever heard good things about them. And the demo pair did not disappoint with the music selection that it had. But how would they fare with my music?

  • Sleepyhead (Passion Pit) – Even though I have quite a few songs that are higher on my Top 50 list than Sleepyhead, this is still my standby “test” song for any new headphones. And the HD 231i passes the test of making the amazing chorus sound just as amazing as it should. The bass is heavy but not too heavy, and it doesn’t overwhelm everything else.
  • O Magnum Mysterium (Lauridsen) – The voices in the choir sound very bright and “unique,” as in it’s like you can hear the individual people but it still all blends together. It’s almost like you’re listening to them live.
  • Act My Age (One Direction) – I like a pair of headphones that lets me hear a part of a song that I can’t hear with other headphones. I was unaware of this until I tried this song with the Sennheisers, but there’s this really cool bass slur behind the first “I won’t act my age” in the chorus that really makes the song like 50% better to me. So that’s pretty snazzy.
  • Hide and Seek (Dan Wright cover) – I’M GONNA CRAP MY PANTS the bass sounds so good. That’s probably because you’re able to hear all of Wright’s iterations of the song together—the bass parts, the treble parts, and everything in between—so nothing is too overwhelming.

Conclusion: no, I’m not getting paid by Sennheiser. I really, honestly like these headphones. I’m no audiophile or anything and I’m pretty sure I’ve blasted boulder-sized holes through my eardrums over the years, but I appreciate how balanced the sound is from these. I like headphones with a lot of bass, but pretty much every other pair of headphones I’ve tried that has that nice bass sacrifices the sound of everything else to achieve it. These don’t. That’s awesome.

Get ‘em.


How was it that I’d never found this website until just now?

I’m going to read everything on it.


I’m still hunting for the perfect headphones for me, if there is such a thing.


Aw hell, guys, I got a smart phone!

Well, Nate got it for me ‘cause he’s TOO NICE, but now I’m not stuck with my old slide phone thingy. The new phone is not an iPhone, but a Samsung Galaxy S6. There are no iPhones with the plan that works best up here for me (unlimited US texting so I can talk to my mom, plus unlimited data). But this phone is pretty awesome! I tried taking a picture of it so that you could see the pretty dark blue color of it, but I couldn’t get it to show up very well. So here’s a picture (from here) of a phone where you can see the color.



I may die.

Edit: Customized it so that it’s super ostentatious.




DUDE, the new iPhone is the best ever and I want it.


I’ve wanted an iPhone for quite some time now, as you all know. However, I haven’t really enjoyed the trend of them getting larger with each new model. Like, by the time we get to the iPhone 10, it’s going to be the size of a surfboard at this rate.


The iPhone SE is awesome. Why?

1. It’s tiny. Well, not tiny, but smaller than the iPhone 6 monstrosities.


2. It’s shaped like the iPhone 4. I LOVE THE SHAPE OF THE IPHONE 4.


3. It’s way more up to date software-wise than my iPod. Which is a pretty easy thing to be, considering my iPod is from 2012 and the software stopped updating like a year and a half ago. Yeah.

I want it. But the company I’m planning on using once I finally upgrade to a smartphone doesn’t have iPhones as options. And the phone itself, without a plan, is $700.

So that’s not happening, unfortunately.

Fitbit vs. iTreadmill

Yo, people! So as I mentioned on “Fake Christmas” day, My dad got me a Fitbit ‘cause he knows I’m obsessive about tracking stuff (also I think he got one for himself, too, ‘cause he used to have a Nike one awhile back that’s probably dead by now).

Anyway, I decided to go for a walk today and compare what Fitbit said to what my iTreadmill app said.

So here we go!

iTreadmill: 11.00
Fitbit: 11.01

iTreadmill: 24,240
Fitbit: 23,473

iTreadmill: 175 minutes
Fitbit: 207 minutes

Calories Burned
iTreadmill: 702
Fitbit: 2,420

The mileage and steps aren’t too different from one another, which is surprising, ‘cause I can’t calibrate Fitbit to my stride (but I’ve done so for the iTreadmill app). The time for the Fitbit is longer because it doesn’t shut off when I stop moving. The iTreadmill app does (which I kind of like better, ‘cause then I know how much time I actually spent moving rather than just standing at intersections, in line at the grocery store, etc.). The calories are the biggest difference, but that’s because the Fitbit tracks “resting” calories burned as well, so the 2,420 is what it thinks I’d burned up until the walk, and then on the walk itself (I don’t think I burn nearly that many calories in a day. My body doesn’t manufacture it’s own heat, dude).

But the best part about the Fitbit is that it tracks your heartrate, which is something the iTreadmill can’t do. So if I’m not going to use it as my “official” tracker for steps/mileage, I can at least use it to track my heartrate.




We went far enough back in time that Apple forgot how the year worked.


Where’s April and May, Apple? Where’s April and May? And why does February have 31 days?



The only thing I really know in ASL, apart from about 5 signs, is the alphabet. This app is a cool way to practice recognizing the letter signs in a QWERTY layout, even if you don’t need to send any sign language messages. It’s also got a few word signs as well.

I’d really like to learn ASL to the point where I could have a conversation with someone using it (at least, a conversation in which I wouldn’t have to look ridiculous spelling out every single word). I CAN spell relatively quickly, though; I think that comes from the fact that when I’m walking and listening to music, I like to try and sign the first letter of every word in the song as it plays.

Because what else am I supposed to be doing with my hands when I’m walking?

In This Blog: Nate and I Break the iPad Calendar

Things we didn’t know until we played with the calendar app on my iPad:

  • There is no upper limit on this thing. It will go until you get a blister on your scrolling finger.

image (17)

  • It will also go pretty far into the past.
  • Once you get past 1 A.D., you go into B.C. mode, in which the months are all shifted and December doesn’t exist. (That’s 810 B.C. in the picture)

image (16)

  • B.C. Leibniz was born on a Sunday.

image (15)

New idea for a webcomic: a comic about the European Enlightenment, had it occurred in B.C. times rather than A.D. times. There’s a priority dispute between B.C. Newton and B.C. Leibniz over who discovered fire.

It’s a good thing I can’t draw, or this would totally happen.


I got a new computer. BEHOLD!


His official name is BIG COMPY THE REDUX 2015 EDITION XXL MEGA BIG AWESOME-TRON, but I just call him Big Compy for short.

This is actually the first time I’ve ever bought a desktop computer for myself. Old Big Compy was my mom’s from like 2008 or so; it somehow survived about 8 moves around the continent before crapping out on me, forcing me to get the new guy.

But this is also the second computer I’ve bought this year, which is a little stressful (recall I had to replace my laptop back in February).

Actually, this whole year has been about most of my stuff finally breaking/falling apart/becoming unusable. Hopefully my iPod will make it to the end!



Heyyyyyyyyy, what’s up, fools?

So remember Project Euler, that site that has hundreds of programming challenge problems? Well, I haven’t had much time for it lately (blame school), but today I decided to log back in and see if there was a problem I could try. And I found one!

This is the problem:

Passcode derivation (Problem 79): A common security method used for online banking is to ask the user for three random characters from a passcode. For example, if the passcode was 531278, they may ask for the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th characters; the expected reply would be: 317.
The text file, keylog.txt, contains fifty successful login attempts.
Given that the three characters are always asked for in order, analyse the file so as to determine the shortest possible secret passcode of unknown length.

This is one that I was able to solve by hand pretty easily, but since it’s a coding challenge site, I figured I ought to give it a shot using R. It took me a bit to get my code just right (there was one particular thing I was trying to do and I couldn’t figure out how to do it in R, so I had to modify things a bit), but I finally got it right!

Anyway, I’m not going to share my code here (it’s discouraged to share solutions outside the problem forums, each of which can only be accessed once you’ve input the correct answer for a  given problem), but I thought that this was a super interesting and fun question to try. It’s easy to do by hand, but in my opinion a bit harder to do with code.

If you like this type of stuff, try it out!

Also, happy birthday, mom!

More R stuff

HOLY CRAP I love teaching people R. My office mate Charles is wanting to learn so he’s been reading some books and picking up the basics, but he’s told me that a lot of the books he’s looked at are reasonable for the first few chapters and then start getting too hard too fast or explain things really counter-intuitively.

So today I spent ten minutes or so teaching him how to write functions in R and he said that the way I showed it to him was way easier to understand than how the books explained it.

So now I want to write a (new) R booklet thingy. I still have that one I wrote a few years ago, but that was before I knew loops/functions/shortcut-type stuff.


Well, hell.

UGH so today was eventful.

Last night, Vaio was acting kind of strange, giving me a bit of trouble and just running really glitchy-like. This morning it was completely dead. Basically, it was acting like it did back last May when we had to take it in and wipe the hard drive and basically start from scratch.

So I considered a few things:

  • Fixing Vaio last time, when I was in the States, was pretty damn expensive. It would probably be at least 125% as expensive up here.
  • After the first hard drive incident, I looked up the problem online and it sounds like such a thing was fairly common with that model of Vaio. In fact, there were some people who said it had happened to them up to four times with one computer.
  • I have a huge project due on Thursday and don’t have time for screwing around.

I made the decision to use my teaching award money to get a new laptop. I took the bus to a Best Buy on the other side of town and got myself a new shiny! It’s an hp with a touchscreen and a 1 TB harddrive. It’s pretty. Hopefully it will last me a long time!

Now I have to name it. I can’t call it “Vaio” ‘cause it’s not a Vaio, and just calling it “hp” sounds dumb.

I shall think on it.


Idea: someone should make a pirate-themed R how-to book and call it R Matey. There would be a little cartoon parrot throughout giving little hints and tricks.

*squawk* “Close your brackets! Close your brackets!” *squawk*

Sleep deprivation is fun.

Conduct of Code

OH MY GOD this looks like fun.

From the site (and in case you don’t want to click the link for whatever reason): “Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems. The motivation for starting Project Euler, and its continuation, is to provide a platform for the inquiring mind to delve into unfamiliar areas and learn new concepts in a fun and recreational context.”

The problems look fairly challenging (at least, challenging in R, which of course is my programming language of choice, I mean c’mon), but at least it will give me a good excuse to practice!

Edit: hahaha, I’ve done like five of them already. But the rest look super hard!

The Selfie of xXxDorianGray2000xXx

I’ve mentioned a few times recently that I planned on getting a smartphone once I got up here. I haven’t yet for reasons I don’t want to get into (loooong story), but every time I’ve mentioned getting a smart phone, I’ve implied that it was going to be an iPhone.*


I was watching the news last night and they announced that Blackberry (which is apparently a Canadian company…did not know that) is coming out with a unique new smart phone called the Blackberry Passport. It looks like this (source):


It’s called a Passport because it’s almost exactly the same size as a passport—a feature that’s either getting praised or slammed, depending on who’s reviewing the specs of the phone.

It’s got a physical keyboard that also responds to swiping/scrolling and the unique size allows for a square screen and more reading room than a “normal” smart phone. It also supposedly has a super long battery life.

It’s being marketed mainly to businesspeople/CEO-types, but even still, a lot of reviewers are wondering if it’s “clunky” size will be a turn-off for a lot of people.

Personally, I think it’s REALLY FREAKING COOL. It’s definitely unique, weird, and not for everyone.

My type of phone.

And yes, I know I don’t need a smart phone—in fact, a smart phone would probably be bad for me. But it would be nice to be able to check my email without lugging out Vaio.** Also, if I ever get lost on one of my walks, I would feel better having easy access to the internet to look up directions/find a bus route if necessary, rather than relying on my iPod picking up some store’s wifi.

*An iPhone 4, specifically. They’re free with a plan now, plus I like the shape of the 4 better than the 5.
**Haha, the fact that using a laptop is no longer the most convenient way of accessing the internet now is both awesome and scary.