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Beware the iPhone headphone dongle (adapter).

January 18, 2020

So, I wanted to continue using my $20 Sony headphones with my new iPhone 11 Pro. I put this phone on credit, and will spend at least the next several months paying it off. I like my cheap, wired headphones and don’t want to bother with any bluetooth headphones and spend more money.

I’m not the sort of person to buy top shelf anything. There are very few things I’ll pay a premium price for. I buy almost all my clothes at my favorite thrift store, and drive a car that is 17 years old.

But, one thing I will spend extra money on is name-brand underwear. I have sensitive skin, and the boxer shorts at Wal-Mart, Hanes and the like, just will not do.

I bought a cheaper phone, a Google 3a Xl, one of the best-selling phones on Amazon, but after following the online tutorials, could not make or receive a call, and could not find any info online to figure this out.. I became frustrated, so..

Since I’ve been buying Apple products since 1995 – an Apple Performa computer – and since the first smartphone I bought, in 2017.. was an iPhone 5s, a 2013 model, and also since I like taking pictures – almost always nature photography, and want a phone with a really good camera (the 3a and 3a Xl have a much better than average camera for a budget phone, btw) and since I am a colossal worry-wort, and want to make sure I have a phone that has 4 antennas or transmitters or whatever, so that my calls will go through, I bought, well, purchased with a zero-interest credit card, an iPhone Pro. The Pro-Max was just too big. The regular size iphone pro works well, thank you. Comfortable to hold.

But expensive.

There is no headphone jack on this phone. Bummer.

There is an adapter, also known as a dongle. I don’t know where the silly word “dongle” came from, nor do I know when it became common use, but anyway..

I tried the adapter.. the dongle.. it plugs into the lightning port on the iPhone on one end, and on the other receives a 3.5mm (1/8 inch) headphone on the other.

This was fine at first, until I went to the gym.

Then.. not so good.

As you might guess, I move around quite a bit there. Even just walking on the indoor track, the cord of the headphones moved too much.. which moved the dongle plugged into the phone, which made the sound go strange, like when headphones are not plugged in correctly.

Not Good.

I do not want to mess up my lightning port.  I haven’t worn my cheap headphones or used the dongle at the gym since.

So, I suggest to you to skip this headphone adapter, this “dongle,” if you are going to be moving around.

The dongle and headphones work fine at home, when I am cooking, for example, but when working out, no.

The Apple wired ear buds that came with the phone are not exactly comfortable, but the cord is short (though long enough – perfect length, really) and plugs directly into the phone, no dongle needed. I tried the ear buds at the gym this past evening – no problem with movement as far as the lightning port is concerned, just the feeling of the cord moving, and that affecting how the ear buds feel in my ears – just slightly annoying.

I suppose I shall live with this feeling. I do not, at this time especially, given my current level of debt, want to add to the debt by buying a cordless version of the earbuds. The cheaper model costs $149, and the noise-canceling fancier model costs $100 more than that.

No thank you.

So, if you are considering going the cheap route when it comes to headphones, like I am doing, if you are going to be out and about and active, please beware of the headphone dongle. You don’t want to damage your lightning port.

“A Dream in Static” – One of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard.

January 6, 2020

I found this song in 2018, while looking for more fantastic prog metal than I’d already heard.  “Prog” is short for progressive, but has nothing whatsoever to do with progressive politics.  I’m not that familiar with the prog rock genre which prog metal is based on, but do know that some of the early bands were Yes, Genesis (their early years when Peter Gabriel was still the singer), Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Rush. I guess Pink Floyd could be considered prog rock too?

Prog metal, is, as you might guess.. heavier.. but not always. Don’t let the word “metal” scare you away. This music is vastly different from Metallica, Judas Priest, and related bands (I like those bands a lot too, of course, but needed something different).

Prog metal is not an angry form of music. More ethereal, sometimes with fantasy themes inspired perhaps by Led Zeppelin, sometimes majestic, a very big sound. And to play this form of music, musicians have to be brilliant and very very highly skilled. It is quite a creative art form.

The big prog metal band when I was in high school and college was Dream Theater (this band is still quite popular and has inspired a great many bands), but I never got into them much, even though their musicianship is among the best in the world.  I found other bands I like much more.

In a wonderful moment of serendipity, I wandered into a Barnes and Noble – I almost never go there -preferring to get books from the library and if I buy any I buy them used.. but I remembered Barnes has for decades sold music magazines with sampler CD’s. I have found so many excellent tunes from sampler CD’s, especially back in the ’90’s. I was near B&N when I decided to go in.. hadn’t planned on going there.

I bought a copy of a British magazine called Prog, with a sampler CD. the sampler turned out to be prog metal. Hmm.. I discovered several bands, including an astounding band called Prospekt. Some of the other bands were amazing as well – or least their songs on the sampler album – Sisare, Circle of Illusion, Flying Colors. But I liked Prospekt the best.. by the way.. yes, spelled with a “k” on purpose.

Is this post about a song by Prospekt? No. I wrote about them over a year ago.

Sometime after I listened to the sampler CD, and bought the download for Prospekt’s debut album called “The Colourless Sunrise” (don’t buy the one after that – different and much worse vocalist) I wanted to find more excellent prog metal, and so I typed in Prospekt into youtube, and hoped for related videos.

One band I found was called Earthside. An instrumental group that teamed up with a few singers.

The title of the song, “A Dream in Static” is also the title of the album.

I have never heard vocals and music put together like this before!

The singer is.. I don’t quite have the words.. you’ll have to listen.

This song is about tremendous longing and loss. Trying to hard but not reaching one’s dreams or goals.

And yet, ironically, it is just.. soaring.. very moving. The singer blasts into the stratosphere.

Being that this is a prog metal song, it is long, various genres are mixed in, parts of it have heavy guitars, and a singer with an incredible vocal range. These are all traits of many prog metal songs.

The vocalist is Daniel Tompkins, from another prog metal band called TesseracT. I’ve listened to many TesseracT songs – none of his vocals are as remarkable as on Earthside’s song, and none of TesseracT’s songs are as good as this one. And that’s a shame, but..

A musical miracle happened. Tompkins and Earthside.

Here it is.. the video includes the lyrics..

 

And here is how the song was made..

 

 

 

 

 

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iPhone 11 Pro: Camera Zoom Test: 1/1/20: Northwest Boise: 4 Images.

January 1, 2020

I don’t usually go for any top of the line product, but the battery in my iPhone 5s has finally been wearing down and it was time to get a new phone.

After doing a lot of research, I bought an iPhone 11 Pro with 64GB storage ($999). This, along with the Max version of the 11 Pro ($1,099), the larger version (too big for me) is the newest iPhone model. I bought the 11 Pro this past Thursday.

3 cameras built into these phones! I take a LOT of pictures, and love Apple products. (As I mentioned in my previous post, I do not make any movie by positively or negatively writing about a product). Luckily, this phone is within my budget.. just barely. I have a no interest credit card, and can pay off the phone in less than a year.

Ok.. the pictures.. I did not enhance the photos, or use any filters, etc. Just tested out the wide angle (0.5x) and the zoom (10x).

I took the photos on the east side of the State of Idaho Chinden Campus, located on the border of Boise and Garden City, ID. (Garden City is a small town completely surrounded by the city limits of Boise, which I find odd, but anyway).

The church you will see in the second image is just barely visible in the first image. Look straight down the middle, in between the trees. It is not only behind the trees in the distance, but across the road.

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And here are two shots of an apartment complex across the road, (which is across from the field) with the Boise foothills behind it:

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Ok.. a bit pixelated yeah.. but I took these pictures using a phone!! 

Pretty damn impressive, I think.

 

Happy New Year and Blog Update.

January 1, 2020

Happy New Year to all of you!!

I didn’t spend much time on this blog in the past year. I’ve decided that I am going to be posting much more regularly in 2020.

I’ll mostly be writing about music, and will also write about movies a bit. The rest of the posts will be photography, and random topics.  I take pictures in Boise, and in the surrounding area of Southwest Idaho.

I will be writing about various products from time to time. I do not get paid a single cent to endorse any product, nor will you see ads (except those that show up in youtube vidoes, and are beyond my control) or affiliate links on this blog. 

Ok.. just wanted to point that out before I go any further..

So.. yeah..

Have an awesome year, and don’t take the politics too seriously! Take a deep breath.

Yes. things are going to get… interesting.. but we don’t have to get caught up in all of that divisive stuff.

I think there is still some hope for all of us to get along if we are patient with each other.

As far as this blog goes.. I’ve written very few posts on politics in the past, and that’s how I’m going to be in the future.

Music, movies, photos, some random topics.

I hope you will come by for a visit once in awhile.

As always, thanks very much for your time!

Politics and Attachment to Views.

May 28, 2019

I remember a Buddhist teaching, and I’m not sure if I’m getting it exactly right here, but it has to do with avoiding having opinions. Peace can be found when one does not have attachments, including “attachments to views.”

I know that this will seem like sticking one’s head in the sand, but perhaps having a lack of attachment to views and opinions will be the only way for me to be psychologically healthy, considering how I am faced every day with staggeringly different and conflicting political views.

I am a very very sensitive person. I often get quite upset by progressives and about progressivism, even though I agree with progressives about some things. I am, in some ways, an old-fashioned conservative at heart.

I do not consider Trump to be an old-fashioned conservative, and even though I have agreed with a few of the decisions he has made since being elected, I chose not to vote for him, because even before he was elected, I found him to be appalling, and likely unfit for service. I felt that way about Hillary as well, but in the end, chose to vote for her, because she scared me just a little bit less than Trump did.

I think the far left progressives are dangerous, and I think Trump is dangerous as well. And I get upset about both political parties.

I already have difficulty with severe anxieties about unrelated things that I am dealing with. I don’t need to stress about politics, too.

In years past, I studied Buddhism off and on for quite a while, but encountered several teachings which caused me great distress, and I felt unable to continue in my Buddhist studies, or become a Buddhist. However, some Buddhist and other eastern teachings still remain in my mind and heart – teachings from Buddhism and Taoism.

Maybe I shall try to do a very un-American thing, and refuse to take a side or to hold strong political views and opinions. Perhaps for me, that is a way to be at least somewhat sane.

I have for many years believed that good and goodness are not to be found in politicians or political parties. Goodness is to be found and cultivated within each of us, regardless of our views on politics, and on other issues.

So, the thing to do is refuse to allow myself to be paralyzed by fear and internal conflict, and instead roll up my sleeves and get to work doing some things that are simply good.

Cleaning the kitchen, making art, sharing beautiful photographs of nature, taking my dog for a walk. Doing these things with faith that I am not only making my own life better, but also blessing others as well.

I can do these things without taking a stand on any sort of issue. These are simply good things to do, and when we do simple, good things, we all make the world better, regardless of what we think, or believe, or stand for.

I hadn’t expected to meet a Pulitzer Prize-winning author this past Tuesday..

February 21, 2019

..but I did.

I tutor ESL on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the downtown library in Boise. People were remarking that the library parking lot was filling up much more, and much more quickly, than usual.

The class supervisor looked online and found out Anthony Doerr, who won the Pulitzer for his novel, “All The Light We Cannot See” some years back, was to be giving a talk in a few minutes.

I didn’t want to leave the class, in case there was someone who needed to be tutored. But this term, we’ve had a lot of student absences. There were just enough students not in attendance so that one teacher could leave.

In the past when this has happened, I’ve always stayed, and one or more of the other tutors has left. But this time, no one else wanted to leave. I got to go downstairs to the Hayes Auditorium (which is not an auditorium, but a multi-purpose room on the first floor of the library) to hear Mr. Doerr speak!

Hearing and meeting Anthony Doerr has been one of my goals, not only because I have read some of Doerr’s short fiction, (his first book, “The Shell Collector,” his first book) and am currently over halfway into his second short story collection, “Memory Wall,” but also because Doerr is a Boise resident – something I did not know when I started reading his books.

The presentation, featuring Doerr and author Charmaine Craig, was put on by the National Book Foundation.

The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards each year, has gone on the road, bringing authors not only to cities on the coasts, but to the hinterlands as well (it is good to live in the hinterlands of America).

Doerr spoke, as did Ms. Craig, a California-based author, who I had not heard of before, but who, like Doerr, was quite interesting.

Both authors read a bit of their fiction, talked about their lives, and took questions from the moderator and the audience.

Rediscovered Books, a small bookshop in Boise, set up a table to sell books to be signed. I bought 4 of Doerr’s books, and Charmaine Craig’s novel, “Miss Burma,” which is somewhat based on her mother’s life in Burma.

I got to meet and talk a bit with both authors, and have them sign my books. Quite an experience!

If you live in the Boise area, you’ll likely have some opportunities to meet Anthony Doerr. As you might guess, he spends most of his time writing, and travels some, but does show up here and there in town. Only one talk scheduled soon though, listed on anthonydoerr.com, and that one is in Dallas. Don’t worry. He’ll show up again in Boise.

Doerr writes unusual fiction. In the same book, one story will have an element of science fiction, the next will incorporate some mysticism, and the next will not have any fantastical elements, and be a more realistic story. He is kind of like Ray Bradbury that way. This shows true talent, I think. Lots of authors stick to one genre, but Doerr doesn’t.

I can’t comment on his prize-winning novel though, since I have not read yet read it. Nor have I read “Miss Burma.” I’ll be reading these soon.

I really felt blessed to be at the library Tuesday night, and am very grateful for moments of serendipity.

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