Saturday, August 29, 2009

Props to Decalgirl

If there's anyone out there who actually reads my blog, you know I'm the owner of an Eee PC 1000HA, among other things. I like to dress up and protect my valuable items when I can, and for that I often use Decalgirl's skins. I've dealt with them several times in the past, but lately I came across a design that I really, really wanted to use as a skin for my netbook. This was my first custom order from them, and I did a lot of the work making the psd file for their template to keep the cost down, which was really quite reasonable when it was said and done, and dealing with and getting advice from the staff during this process was an absolute dream. There are a lot of companies I can think of who would do well to use Decalgirl as a model for how to do customer service. After I submitted the final artwork for the job, I was a bit nervous to say the least about how it would turn it out, but it would be a serious understatement to say that the finished product they shipped to me was absolutely gorgeous and far exceeded my expectations.

So, anyway, this post is mainly to give a shout out to Keith, Kara and the rest of the crew at Decalgirl. They do some fabulous work and I can recommend them without hesitation. They most definitely have a customer for life.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Replacements

Despite my misgivings about Skullcandy now, I decided to keep them anyway. All in all they're really not bad phones. I was able to get the plastic snapons from the cloth earpads on the G.I. headphones to work with the leather earpads, but I still wasn't 100% happy with the G.I.s, so I went shopping for another set. Like I said, I still harbour some doubts about the brand, but I found a set of "Metallica Artist Edition Hesh" headphones on sale with a 20% discount, which means in Oregon (the land of no sales tax) I was able to pick them up for $29.99. Not too bad considering that 1) I'm a pretty big pre-1991 Metallica fan (despite Lars' dumba$$ Napster rants) and did enjoy their latest album which is more reminiscent of the Metallica of old and 2) the drivers in the Hesh models are 50's versus the 41's in the G.I.s. So I picked them up, and my 17 year old son, who was very envious of my phones to start with, inherited the G.I.s, and thus my wife inherited his pair of Lowriders to replace her half busted old headphones, so everyone's happy. So far the driver's in these parabolic earcups are LOUD, and actually produce some pretty decent sound. I swear I heard a guitar lick in a song I've been listening to for at least two decades and never noticed before. The padding on the Hesh earcups is about 10x more comfortable than the G.I.s, too (although I've read varying opinions on this point based on individual ear size - mine seem to fit perfectly). The fact that the design painted on the cups is pretty badass looking doesn't hurt either, and neither does the fact that they came with a code to download the "Death Magnetic" album in DRM free 320kbps MP3 format, but I do kinda wish I could get rid of the lame embroidery on the headstrap (which is pretty thick and comfy in it's own right). Anyway, the headphone situation in the household has been resolved and everyone's happy - that's a good thing.

On a side note, I just wanted to share an observation. Something I've noticed from reading reviews in various places is that people are pretty divided when it comes to Skullcandy's products. They're kind of like the old AMC Pacer - you either loved or you hated it, there's no middle ground. I don't think I've seen a single neutral review of a Skullcandy product yet, either the reviewer thinks they are a gift from God, or on the opposing side the worst products ever made in the history of electronics. But anyway, like I've mentioned before, I'm pretty happy with mine and with a lifetime replacement warranty you can hardly go wrong for the low prices you usually pay for them. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Well, that didn't take long

Had my Skullcandy G.I. headphones less than a week, and today I discovered that the the leather earpad replacements that came with the headphones that I put on upon receiving them had one of the plastic tabs that hold the pad to the earphone had snapped off. And not just one side, either - both of them had a broken tab, one was just broken and the other one had snapped off and was completely missing. I've babied the heck out of these things, and probably would not have discovered it had I not noticed that the pads on the headphones were a little loose. So when I removed the pads to find out why, that's what I was greeted with. Not really a great first impression for a first-time user of a brand.

Oh, and for anyone who is curious, I still haven't heard a thing back in regard to the Split Stick. With the mood I'm in right now, I'm really tempted to head over to the site and cancel my order (providing it's not too late, as it appears they've already charged my debit card). Not a good day so far, and there isn't much day left.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Glad that's finally over

Don't really have much gadget stuff to blog about aside from receiving the 2GB memory upgrade for my 1000HA. Sure cuts down on the lag and the swap. Oh, and a new version of eee-control was released yesterday that is supposed to be a little more compatible with newer Eee PC models, but I haven't really noticed any difference from the previous version yet. Guess that's not really fair to saysince I haven't even been running it a full day, but it still seems the same. One thing I did notice is that it actually recognizes and correctly reports the version of my machine. I guess that's something.

But what I'm really glad about is the fact that I've finally completed the 70+ Ubuntu CDs I've been burning and labeling to hand out at community events. Sad thing is I don't have anyone nearby (or even within the state, it seems) with enough motivation to get out there and promote out favorite OS, much less do anything toward advancing out LoCo team toward approval status. It's getting a little disheartening, truth be known but all I can do is push on and do what I can do. There's a new Ubuntu user every day who converts over, and hopefully it won't be too long before I have a few in my neck of the woods who are as enthusiastic as I am. Hope. I guess it's all I can do. Just need to worry about myself for the moment I guess. Well, enough self pity for one post. Need to get my hands on some new toys soon, seeing as how this is what this blog is about in the first place, eh?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Skullcandy Winter Camo G.I. Headphones

Well, our youngest dog was in the mood for electonics a week or so ago and decided my earbuds would make a great snack. At first this angered me of course, but then it dawned on me that this would give me an excuse to go one of my favorite things - shop for gadgets! Only this time I didn't go for earbuds, I wanted something a little more robust and a bit more comfortable that I could use on my netbook as well as my Fuze, so I went shopping for headphones instead. Being as I haven't won the lottery yet, though, I went out cruising Amazon for a pair that had three things: a decent price tag, acceptable sound quality (my hearing is fading anyway) and a bit of flair. I came across the Skullcandy G.I. line of headphones (my son has a pair of their Lowriders and loves them) and so I believe that what I settled on met all three criteria.

The ones I chose came in the "Winter Camo" design, which was not too flashy but at the same time a bit stylish. I see from Skullcandy's website that this particular design changed fairly significantly, so what I was purchasing was last year's model which didn't really make much difference to me, but probably also partially accounted for the $11 price difference between what I paid for them and the retail price quoted on Skullcandy's site. I've only had them a few days, so what I'm going to blog here is pretty much a brand new user's experience rather than someone who's dealt extensively with a particular brand or been through a variety of models from different manufacturers. So far here are my initial impressions. They feel and appear to be relatively sturdy. As far as fit goes, I appreciate the fact that the individual headphones rotate separately so that you can get them oriented on your ears just right. I'm sure this will differ from one individual to another depending on the size of your head, but these fit me just right - not too loose, not too snug. One of the things I was most impressed by was the fact that they came with cloth earpads installed, which I did not find comfortable AT ALL, but much to my surprise I found that there were also a pair of leather pads packed in the box as well. It was simply a matter of snapping the old ones off and snapping the new ones on. This made a HUGE difference in comfort for me. I've been using these to listen to movies and fairly long playlists while doing some writing as well as wearing them to bed to listen to my podcasts, so based purely on comfort I would probably have to give them 5 stars. However, here is the rub. A) they are a bit quiet and B) they are somewhat lacking in the low end department. I'm not a big fan of bass or heavy beats, but in songs that require it, such as some of the older R&B and Disco tracks I occasionally listen to (yeah, I'm an old guy - 45), I'd a appreciate a bit more bass, but the midrange seems great for a pair of phones with 41mm drivers. I also appreciate the fact that you only have one cord to deal with coming from the left headphone. They come with a cable extenison (thank goodness, because the main cord is super short), but it is a bit long which some may find inconvenient if you use them for more portables listening. The connectors are all gold plated, and one feature that I REALLY like that had been present on a favorite pair of Panasonic headphones I had owned some years back is an in-line volume control, especially useful when I'm lying in the dark listening to my podcasts at night so I'm not fumbling around with my media player in the dark.
On a final note (no pun intended) those who are worried about the durability of these headphones from reading other reviews should keep in mind that Skullcandy does carry a lifetime warranty on all of their products. Of course they will replace them if they become faulty due to a manufacturing defect, but what I find particularly impressive is that they will go as far as replacing them at a 50% discount even if the damage was intentionally caused due to abuse by the owner. Overall, a good purchase for the price you pay (in my case $54 - had to get them from Amazon, Overstock was backordered/canceled). So if you're looking for a decent pair of reasonably priced headphones, I can definitely recommend these if you don't mind they few caveats mentioned above.

Friday, August 7, 2009

More than usual

I usually don' t post terribly often, but I've had an awful lot happen over the past couple of days, including suddenly becoming the manager of two Social Groups over on the Ubuntu Forums. It seems I am increasingly getting more and more involved with this distro, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I have had some of my toys show up, but like I said, it's getting kind of crazy so I'm going to keep this short and break up my reviews and other posts into chunks and post about them one at a time.

And speaking of getting involved, check this out!:

My first Ubuntu Brainstorm. And if you own a netbook and love it and use Ubuntu on it like I do, please help out by voting for my idea. Thanks!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Scratching the itch again

Picked up a couple more toys this weekend, supposedly due to necessity (or at least as far as my wife knows, since our dog decided to have my earbuds for a snack). First one was a gadget I came across a couple of weeks ago from a company called Quirky, Inc. Essentially from all appearances all it is is a 4GB thumb drive, but there's a bit of a twist. It's called the Split Stick and if you look at the product image it's pretty much self explanatory. It's split into two 2GB memory cards with one on each end, and a slider switch in the middle to switch between the two. What makes this unique is the possibilities it presents. For example, on mine I plan to have a System Rescue CD installed on one side for emergencies, and on the other I'll install a bootable image with Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it that has a small persistent partition to store data on. My wife saw them and ordered one as well, although I have no idea what her intentions are for hers since she has plenty of SD cards to carry her data around on.

The other was a pair of Skullcandy headphones (the G.I. model in Winter Camo) to replace a 5+ year old set of Panasonic cans that are starting to short out on me. Reviews are mixed on these headphones and there doesn't seem to be any in-between either, people either absolutely love them or absolutely hate them. But they were reasonably priced ($69.95 at Skullcandy, but got them for $33 at and I suppose I will see whether or not you get what you pay for, plus they come with a lifetime warranty. One consenus is that the low end seems to be a bit weak, but that has never been an issue for me as I a) mostly use headphones to listen to podcasts and watch videos and b) don't listen to rap or any other genre of music that involves a lot of bass, so a pair of 40mm drivers with a decent midrange should suit me just fine.

Don't know when I'lll get a chance to review them for you as I'm a sucker for the "Free Shipping" opeion meaning it's a crap shoot as to when I'll receive either of the items, but hopefully it will be before the end of next week.