the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Better Living Through Impending Deafness

I've found myself not listening to my iPod as much over the past year or so, even though I love it and it has done more to preserve my sanity at work than any three other gizmos, and I lay the blame on headphones. I disliked the original iPod earbuds (uncomfortable, crappy); my over-the-ear, fold-up replacements sounded great and traveled well, but were painful to wear with glasses (which is to say, they were always uncomfortable), and the wire flaked out last spring; the series of cheap earbuds that followed were both uncomfortable and flaked out quickly. I won't do the gigantic, over-the-top-of-my-head style headphones because they either don't fit well, don't sound good, or are too expensive (*cough*Bose*cough*)--plus I'm more than a bit sensitive about my hair, and I hate things that squish it.

So Liz wins first prize this Christmas for dropping a pair of new headphones in my stocking. I've been dubious of in-ear headphones for a while, but I have to admit that these have really surprised me with how much I'm enjoying them. They sound great, and the bass is shockingly full. They seal out the exterior world quite nicely--I find the office's white noise to be almost deafening when I remove them to head off to a meeting--and I'm able to turn the volume way down and still enjoy listening. They're comfortable enough that I can wear them for most of a day and not feel any fatigue or discomfort. Plus, Target had them for a price far lower than what's suggested on Sony's online store.

As a consequence, I have been listening like a fiend this past week; highlights include:

The Signal, a podcast about "Firefly"/Serenity that I've subscribed to but haven't listened to for several months. If you're turning into as much of a "Firefly" geek as I am, then you'll probably enjoy this--news, interviews, music bits, episode reviews, and even lessons on useful Chinese phrases (such as "the explosive diahrrea of an elephant"). And it's strangely shiny to have my usual mish-mash of NIN and VNV Nation interrupted by an hour of sci-fi geekery.

Seu Jorge - The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions. Seu Jorge, from the cast of The Life Aquatic, covers David Bowie songs, translated into Portuguese, and plays acoustic guitar. Yeah, exactly. This is a transcendantly interesting record, its excellent novelty value far surpassed by how downright good it is.

The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan. Every now and then, I break down and pick up something "popular" and "mainstream," and this is one of those occasions. I must confess, I hadn't even heard the White Stripes until their recent "Daily Show" appearance. This album is warm, bluesy, raw, and a damn lot of fun, and I never expected a glockenspiel to rock so hard.

VNV Nation - Pastperfect. Okay, so this hasn't left my iPod since I originally fell for it, but the live version of "Electronaut" came around on shuffle play on Friday afternoon, and with the deep bass and sealed-in feeling I get from the new headphones, it was mindblowingly awesome at a level only second to being at the live show last summer. This track sounded so good that when I closed my eyes, I was transported to a place of serious ass-kicking goodness, a sort of glorious EBM nirvana. Most excellent!

Okay, enough for now -- I have to get up early for jury duty in the morning (whee!).

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Iconage: Nausicaa + Serenity

I have occasionally been bored enough or in need of something completely different from my normal mode of being focused on code and servers and misbehaving software. When it gets really bad, I end up staying up too late playing with Photoshop.

A couple months back, I did a few Nausicaa icons; last night I was overcome with the compulsion to do some Firefly/Serenity icons. For those who haven't seen Serenity yet, do note that some of them may be borderline spoilers.



Typical LJ netiquette applies--please credit me in your userpic keywords or comments if you snag any. Enjoy.

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For ages, I have pooh-poohed Joss Whedon's "Firefly", thinking it a silly trifle of network TV, the kind of thing that can't stand up to "real" sci-fi. "It's no 'B5'," said I, despite how my coworkers tried to change my mind. Then the trailer for the movie arrived, and I started to wonder what I'd been missing all this time. And then I bumped into the Serenity in LEGO, and I thought, Damn, that's pretty neat. There might be something to this... And then even my mom told me it was outstanding.

So, I figured I ought to watch at least a little of the show before the movie comes out, so that I'm not completely clueless among the throng of browncoats who will surely be in attendance. A coworker has been trying to remember for about three or four weeks to bring in her DVD's. Finally, the waiting got to be too much, so I broke down and bought the damn thing.

And, I have to say, I was pretty much dead wrong about this show. It rocks! Snappy dialogue, great FX, good stories, a fascinating blend of cultures, top-notch acting... In a way, it's a lot like Cowboy Bebop, only without the jazz music. And completely, utterly addicting--we've watched over half the series since about eight o'clock last night.

So -- "Firefly" fans -- I admit it! I was wrong! It's a freaking great show!

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Obligatory Google Earth Post

Google Earth (formerly Keyhole) is now free (for the base level of jaw-droppingly great service)!

You need Windows (so I'm out of luck until I get into the office tomorrow), but in the mean time, here's a great first peek to whet all of our collective geek appetites. Google also provides some great samples for you to preview and interact with.

I haven't even had a chance to play with it, and already this product completely and totally blows me away. This is a gigantic step closer to the amazing real-time interfaces described in Snow Crash, Ilium, and especially Ghost in the Shell.


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