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Chris Boyle

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Headphone recommendations please, again [Mar. 27th, 2009|12:38 am]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | distracted]
[Music |Ghosts - Musical Chairs]

Offices are noisy; I work better without a constant background of speech; the off-again-on-again plan to make the office less noisy is off-again for the forseeable future. Wearing headphones for most of the day is an obvious possible answer, but the ones I bought after pondering in June aren't comfortable enough for that much use. I'm looking for circumaural closed-back headphones, and the Sennheiser HD280 has been recommended. Best price delivered seems to be about £80, which is OK if they're as good as people say and will last. I'm no audiophile (and may well continue to listen over A2DP for the ability to get up from my desk without unplugging anything) but I do want something comfortable which will isolate outside noise (or cancel it, but I've not tried that and don't know how well it works). I do need to minimise the leakage of my own music, hence closed-back. Compactness is not an issue, and they must go around my ears, not squish them. The HD280 looks good, so two questions: firstly, where can I try these out? (Clive, I think you mentioned somewhere, but my brain is a sieve.) Secondly, which others should I consider (and relative merits)?

Edit: Just tried an HD201 in the office; the bass is predictably weak, but more importantly the contact pressure gave me a headache just from 10 minutes. With that in mind, look at the HD280 spec, and hover over "Contact pressure". Hmmm.
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New wheels [Jan. 10th, 2009|01:45 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | happy]
[Music |Apoptygma Berzerk - Back on Track]

I am now the proud owner keeper (because of how the cycle scheme works) of a Ridgeback Velocity. It's lovely. The current weather isn't. What do the cyclists reading this recommend I wear to keep the wind (and rain) off my face? I was thinking of a balaclava, but as Susan points out, that would make me look silly, or worse. Some people seem to wear Biggles hats (the ones with ear flaps) and leave it at that, but when it's this cold, which it occasionally is around here, I want more coverage than that. Also, interposing very much material between my head and my helmet is likely to fail, because my head is too big. Edit: I bought a Buff. Somewhat overpriced, but it works.
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Dear Lazyweb: bike buying advice please [Dec. 28th, 2008|10:58 am]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | thoughtful]
[Music |Iris - Wait Move On]

My bike is old (over 10 years), rusty, worn, bent, unreliable, possibly heavier than necessary and generally not fun, so I drive more often than is sensible (especially to work). This Christmas I've received some money towards a new one. I know Cambridge and the web are full of bike shops, but don't know which shops/bikes are any good, which is where I'm hoping you can help me. I have some requirements )
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Dear Lazyweb: New Year's Eve [Dec. 23rd, 2008|02:33 pm]

[Mood | lazy]
[Music |Zero 7 - Distractions]

Susan and I have no plans for NYE. We're considering the Pembury, which I'm guessing will be open; will any of you be there? Do you have any other suggestions?
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Python bug? (urllib2.HTTPDigestAuthHandler) [Dec. 12th, 2008|10:10 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | confused]
[Music |Iris - New Invaders]

This script, when edited to fill in valid LiveJournal credentials (or InsaneJournal, if you change the URL and user list) fails for me in a very odd way. It fetches the first two URLs quite happily, and returns a 401 on the third after querying my password manager about 6 times. Even if you shuffle the user list around, increase the sleep, etc etc... I seem to be able to request as many such URLs from LJ as I like, in separate Python executions, or with different HTTPDigestAuthHandler objects, but any given instance of HTTPDigestAuthHandler will always fail on the third use. Failing on the second use would be more understandable, but three? WTF?

Edit: Filed as Python bug 4683, comments go there.

Phobile moans again: satnav [Sep. 16th, 2008|12:03 am]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | frustrated]
[Music |VNV Nation - Secluded Spaces]

Some recent bad experiences with satnav have prompted even more consideration of my choice of smartphone. My biggest complaint against my current setup is that starting TomTom, if the separate GPS receiver has been turned off, is a fiddly, glitch-prone, lengthy process; it usually involves turning both the receiver and the phone's Bluetooth function off and on several times. Once that's done, I have to wait for the receiver to get a fix, which can take several minutes if I haven't used GPS for a while. Also, my map is at least 17 months out of date, and the frequency with which it doesn't match reality has become just high enough to be annoying. The decision to buy a system that uses a locally-stored map seemed obviously correct at the time, when I didn't have an unlimited* data service (indeed, there may not even have been any sensible products that used an online map), but it's less so now.

What I would like, ideally, is a non-Windows smartphone with built-in GPS. Edit: Such devices seem to be able to obtain a fix more quickly than my current device, though they don't maintain a fix at all times as that would kill the battery. As previously mentioned, the Palm platform seems dead, its successor doesn't look likely to ship any hardware soon; I'd hoped the first Android phone (appearing in the next couple of months) would be worth looking at but apparently that might not even have GPS. [Edit: it will have GPS and is launching on Tuesday 23rd...] As far as I know, if I'm looking to buy within the next few months, that just leaves the iPhone. Unfortunately, its Maps application doesn't look suitable for dashboard use. It won't even follow the route as you drive, let alone replan if you take a wrong turn or give you voice directions (which I used occasionally, until TomTom inexplicably lost the capability recently). There are vague rumours that TomTom are working on something for the iPhone, but I'm not holding my breath. Even if true, I would expect it to still use a local map so you must pay them per-update.

Table of options: Treo too buggy, iPhone too expensive and not hands-off )
I don't like any of those options. Does anyone have a better idea (other than a separate device or Windows)? :-(
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In which Sergei finally gets some armour [Aug. 2nd, 2008|01:17 am]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | cheerful]
[Music |Apoptygma Berzerk - In This Together]

Earlier today I looked up the date of my first LARP event. It was Foundation, just over two years ago. I was slightly surprised; I didn't think I'd been at it that long and still think of myself as a complete beginner who hardly understands any of the game. Nevertheless, I've caught the LARP bug and am likely to continue for the forseeable future, so I've decided that for my tenth event, I will actually get a proper armour physrep. Darkblade seem nice and sensibly priced, so I'm thinking about their Ryder armour and articulated vambraces, unless anyone has better ideas? I've already looked at the stands at events and the websites of LRPStore and Norton Armouries. I'd also appreciate any recommendations on where to find appropriate boots or boot-tops.

Edit: I now have some Elven Armour and Scales Greaves from Primal Forge, who were very helpful (answering questions and such) and shipped promptly.
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Next week (shortcipher in shocking case of organisational fail) [Jul. 17th, 2008|04:47 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | geeky]
[Music |Code 64 - Run to you]

I'm taking all of next week (21/07-25/07) as holiday. This is mostly to work on a side project, but if anyone feels like meeting up to e.g. see a film, or coming to visit, company would be appreciated at any time of day (except Friday evening), as Susan will be away and I don't intend to code 24 hours/day. Here are my contact details (or comment here). Films I currently want to see include The Dark Knight, Wall•E (seen) and Hancock.
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Headphone recommendations please [Jun. 25th, 2008|01:34 am]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | frustrated]
[Music |Neuropa - Control]

Further to my previous post, I now have convenient portable 3.5mm stereo output of music (phone/FM/PC) switching to phone calls (with a microphone for those). What I don't have is some headphones suitable for outdoor use. Complications ) Therefore, oh wise and generous friends-list, what should I use for my outdoor listening? Goals are comfort, sound quality, portability and road safety. Bonus points if they score sufficiently well on the first two that I'm happy with them for indoor use as well.

Edit: I bought the Philips SHE9600(s?).
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My shiny new email config [May. 12th, 2008|04:50 pm]

[Tags|, , ]
[Mood | frustrated]
[Music |Ghosts - Mind Games]

For just over a week now, I've had a Gandi VM handling my email and a few other services. Braindump: spam filtering / other tweaks, mostly for my own reference )

On the subject of spam, I can't help but wonder if some sort of global education campaign would help: Newsflash: The Internet is no different from the real world: not everyone is honest. Stop buying from spammers and the spam will go away. Someone, somewhere, is buying this stuff. That person needs to be cluebatted, hard, because spammers are seemingly not in jurisdictions that care about spam, so the only way I can see to stop them in the long term is to remove their market.

I haven't yet found a sensible way to keep a central list of contacts on the server; LDAP seems to be serious overkill but it's all Thunderbird and others will support. Does anyone know of a tiny LDAP server or similar for this sort of situation? For the moment I'll stick with my Palm Treo's contact list (which integrates nicely with mobile email clients) and keep typing addresses into the desktops I use.

Share a server with me? [Apr. 30th, 2008|05:05 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[Mood | hopeful]
[Music |Wave in Head - With You]

Further to my previous post about hosting, a friend's non-profit Xen hosting might be just what I'm looking for. Unfortunately, his server is full and he hasn't quite seen enough interest yet to start a second one. So, if you like the look of what's described there (that's about half the price and twice the RAM of most VM hosts, albeit with less of a guarantee about reliability), please contact him (#lamby-xen on
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Laptop buying advice please [Mar. 18th, 2008|06:52 pm]

[Mood | contemplative]
[Music |Covenant - We Stand Alone]

So, Susan's laptop is dying, and I could do with a laptop-sort-of-thing sometimes, so we'll probably buy one soon. Budget is limited (£300 max), requirements are fairly basic (web, email, unhurried compiling of LaTeX and C). Does anyone have something like this they want rid of, or know where to obtain such? This could be either something very cheap and basic for the short term or something closer to the budget to last a bit longer. The ASUS Eee PC would almost work as the latter, but the keyboard and screen are much too small.
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