Sony WF-1000XM3

I have been a wireless headphone geek for a long time. To give you some idea how bad it is, I have all of:

  • Beats Solo3
  • Marley Smile Jamaica
  • Trekz Titanium (bone conduction)
  • Plantronix Backbeat Fit
  • Soundcore Liberty Air
  • Corsair Void Pro (times 2)
  • Steelseries Arctis 7

… and that’s only the ones that I still currently use.

When the Apple AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3 came out, I tried them both and decided to pick up the Sony’s based on a perceived slightly better sound quality. Since then, I’ve seen several reviews of them both, with some level of agreement on the sound, and indications that the noise cancelling is also better.

However, my overall experience with the Sony’s has been quite poor, to the point that in retrospect I’m confident the AirPods would have been the better answer. Honestly, the UX on the WF-1000XM3 is so bad that I can’t help but think Steve Jobs would have fired any team that came forward with something in the same state.

The first issue is the companion app which, despite several updates since I first ran it, is still frequently unable to connect to the headphones, or drops the connection at some point after it gets connected, or simply crashes completely. It also includes something called “Adaptive Sound Control”, which has the following Engrish description:

The app detects your actions and [Ambient Sound Control] is switched.

Whatever this is supposed to do, the behavior manages to be simultaneously be both intrusive and not useful. I turned it off almost immediately.

The headphones themselves are also unreliable. Sometimes when you take them out of the charge case, they don’t BT connect at all. Sometimes they connect (i.e. show up as connected in the BT device list) but don’t become available as headphones (doh!). If they do get connected, the connection will later sometimes drop for one or both of them.

And speaking of “one or both”, the strangest thing about them is the way they start up. They behave a bit like they are two different bluetooth devices that notice while they are connecting that they can work together. The start up sequence has three voice prompts:

  1. Indicate they are powered on (“Power on.”)
  2. Indicate the current battery level (“Battery fully charged.”)
  3. Indicate they are connected (“Bluetooth connected.”)

However, because they sync up part way through the start up, you will hear somewhere between zero and three of those messages in each ear, and by that I mean a *different* number of messages in each ear. It’s a terrible experience.

[Aside: Hey Sony, there is absolutely no reason to ever say “Power on.”. If you say any of the other prompts, we know the power is on. 😉 ]

One final comment: the WF-1000XM3 — btw, who thought that was a good name for *anything*? — are quite a bit heavier on the ear than, for example, the SoundCore Liberty Airs. I didn’t realize how much of a difference this was until I used the Airs again recently. I now find myself going back to the Airs often, even though the WF-1000XM3 have clearly better sound.

Rebuilding an old MBP

I had an old, broken 2009 MacBook Pro sitting on a shelf because I had never gotten around to trying to fix it. It had three significant issues:

  1. It randomly kernel panicked every once in a while
  2. It had an SSD drive in it that no longer worked
  3. Three of the keys on the keyboard didn’t work.

Last weekend, I finally decided to see if I could get it into working shape again. To start, I took the back off and removed the failed SSD drive. The MBP is too old to run a current version of MacOS, but it still has a working HD drive, so I decided to install Linux there.

To fix the keys, I tried removing the key caps and cleaning the switches, but after putting them back together they still failed. By chance however, I noticed that if I *smashed* the key beside one of the failed ones (in frustration? 🙂 ) then the original keys would start working for a bit. This led me to pulling that other key cap off and cleaning it, and after putting it back together all the keys worked.

This only left me with the random kernel panics, so I booted the Mac into hardware test mode and let it do a full test. Even after 10 minutes of hammering RAM and CPU (with the fans screaming), there were no failures, so I chalked the problem up to either a Mac driver issue, or something to do with the now removed SSD.

For linux, I just went with Ubuntu, mostly because there was a tutorial about installing on Macs that seemed pretty reasonable. The only wrinkle was the lack of a driver for the MBP’s discrete graphics card. I went for the easy option of doing nomodeset in grub, and ended up with…

I don’t think it’s worth putting a new battery in it, but if I needed a home computer for email and web browsing this would be perfectly useful. Nice!

GCW gets a new home

After many years of running Great Castle Wilson on some flavour of Mac, I’ve finally decided to give it dedicated hardware of its own. In part, this is because I enjoy proving to myself that I can still set up and configure a webserver and all the other required accoutrements — yes, I’m weird like that — but mostly it’s because I’m fairly confident that macOS Catalina is going to break my current configuration anyway, so it seemed like a good time to make a change.

For those who aren’t aware, Catalina is the first version of macOS that only supports 64-bit applications. There are some fairly significant changes under the covers, and the odds are low that my personal mix of random open source software and existing Mac tech is going to continue to work.

So without further ado, here is the brand new GCW:

Yep, it’s a Pi 🙂

Specifically:

So far the setup process has been relatively painless, but I did learn that WordPress does *not* like it when its API URL points at a different instance of WordPress than the one that’s making the request — that took a couple of hours to debug. 🙂

Anyway, if you can read this, then we’re live. The site seems quite responsive and the only posts that aren’t displaying properly are ones where some of the original content they linked to no longer exists

Welcome!

Some history…

I don’t post to NfGCW very often any more, but I love the fact that there’s years of history from our family here. I’ve blogged about many topics over the years, including the site itself. Here are some previous posts about the hardware GCW ran on.

Watch Bands

I just bought a watch band for my Apple Watch. I can’t believe that a strap made out of nylon with plastic hardware is worth $70. And that’s only a fraction of what you’d have to pay for an Apple branded one. It’s just silly.

I just bought a watch band for my Apple Watch. I can’t believe that a strap made out of nylon with plastic hardware is worth $70. And that’s only a fraction of what you’d have to pay for an Apple branded one. It’s just silly.

*sigh*… Yes, I lost data.

Once again, I’ve lost data from the blog. This time it was the more recent posts. The wayback machine captured most of what I lost, so I may be able to recover it, but I may not bother. I hate mysql.

Once again, I’ve lost data from the blog. This time it was the more recent posts. The wayback machine captured most of what I lost, so I may be able to recover it, but I may not bother.

I hate mysql.

Building a Static Website using IBM Cloud

Update 2: Another round of updates to make sure the URLs and other content match the correct IBM Cloud branding. Update: I have upgraded my project to be a new IBM Cloud Continuous Delivery toolchain and updated the Deploy to IBM Cloud button below to point at my new repository. Learn more. Somebody asked me … Continue reading “Building a Static Website using IBM Cloud”

Update 2: Another round of updates to make sure the URLs and other content match the correct IBM Cloud branding.

Update: I have upgraded my project to be a new IBM Cloud Continuous Delivery toolchain and updated the Deploy to IBM Cloud button below to point at my new repository. Learn more.

Somebody asked me the other day if it was possible to build a simple, static website using IBM Cloud. With a bit of thought, I managed to get one going that used the nginx buildpack, but it turns out there’s an even simpler solution. On the CloudFoundry community site on GitHub there’s a “static file” buildpack that is just what you’re looking for. Given this, it’s just a handful of steps to get a static website going:

  1. Create a toolchain at IBM Cloud Continuous Delivery, with a repo and a pipeline.
  2. Create a manifest file with the buildpack: set to the static file buildpack
  3. Pour in some html content
  4. Configure the pipeline to deploy the app
  5. Commit your source to the repo

Ok, even though that’s pretty easy, it might be a bit hard to get right if you’ve never done it before. So here’s an even simpler solution…

Just click this button:
Deploy to IBM Cloud button

🙂

That will take you through all the steps above, setting you up with a toolchain and all the tools you need to work with on IBM Cloud, along with example starting content for your website. It also takes care of deploying the site so you can see it running right away. All you have to do is edit the html files to be what you want, commit them to the repo, and you’re done.

It even works if you don’t have an IBM Cloud account yet (although you’ll be asked to sign up for one).

Now that’s simple!

(… Ok, it’s not quite that sample. IBM Cloud uses API keys to access its services, including Cloud Foundry deployment. You’ll need to create one along the way. Luckily, that too is part of the flow that happens when you push the Deploy to IBM Cloud button above, so it’s *almost* that simple.)

A theme away, A theme away,…

I upgraded to the latest wordpress and ended up with a completely trashed theme. This is just the standard “2011” theme. It will do until I can find something better. One of these days I’ll get around to doing my own. (note to self: Orion needs a project type for creating wordpress themes.)

I upgraded to the latest wordpress and ended up with a completely trashed theme. This is just the standard “2011” theme. It will do until I can find something better. One of these days I’ll get around to doing my own.

(note to self: Orion needs a project type for creating wordpress themes.)

*** Site stability warning *** (updated)

Just letting you know that the various sites we host may be unstable for the next few days. We’ve just upgraded our network connection, which should significantly improve performance, but it’s going to take a while to get all the kinks worked out. Wish me luck :-), McQ. Update: The most important sites are all … Continue reading “*** Site stability warning *** (updated)”

Just letting you know that the various sites we host may be unstable for the next few days.

We’ve just upgraded our network connection, which should significantly improve performance, but it’s going to take a while to get all the kinks worked out.

Wish me luck :-),
McQ.

Update: The most important sites are all working again. If you have any problems, please let me know.