Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Archive for the ‘New toys’ Category

New toys

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With the end of my stay here slowly appearing, it’s starting to get time to put in orders for anything I want to get from over here. Since I’ve been accumulating possessions here I have a lot of stuff to bring back this time, and consequently my shopping will be very limited. Buuuut, a few select items should be ok, right?

Now with 70% less wire tangle and 100% more picking up calls in the lab without fumbling the phone out of my pocket. Also, 95% less background noise (or so they claim).

Item #1 is a noise-cancelling Bluetooth headset, the Phiaton PS 210 BTNC. A number of irritations to be banished by this one: constant entanglement of wires when I bike with my headset, and the consequent poor sound quality since I won’t risk pulling the cords of nice headphones. Also, the annoyance and potential safety issue of pulling my phone out of my pocket while in the lab (let alone while biking). As an added bonus, I’ll hopefully be rid of the subliminally frustrating AC buzz at work. As far as I can tell these ‘phones are as close to everything I need as I can get at present: the audio quality is top notch, and the noise cancelling noticeably reduces background. The microphone seems pretty good too. The only downsides are that the dongle doesn’t eliminate wires completely and has to be attached somewhere, plus the fact that I have to connect to my computer either as headphones only or as a headset with poor sound quality (for calling). Annoying, but as far as I can tell inevitable for at present.

Once again, in need of a shine or ten.

Item #2, a pair of Vernons from Allen Edmonds. What is there to say? I love the heck out of my Strands for being super versatile and looking great. The idea behind these was something slightly sleeker and more striking, without being contemporary. The lighter brown should go well with my new glen plaid suit, and with my branching out into lighter trousers in general. With all that said, I probably would have held off had they not been on sale… Have only worn them briefly as I’m considering going down half a size, but they fit wonderfully.

Rome demands more gaming time!

And finally, as promised, item #3 is my very own copy of Glory to Rome. Can’t wait to play it.

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Written by Martin

2012/10/06 at 22:57

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Goodies

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Brief intermission in the road trip posts, just to show off some new stuff. Since I’m going home soon, I’m trying to buy everything I’ll need in the near future here (at least the stuff that won’t take up too much space in my suitcase). Most recently I got a rash guard:

Never get a rash again, with the Manto Meia Baiana rash guard!

What the hell is a rash guard? Something you wear for Brazilian jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts to prevent rash burn from the mat, infections from the opponent, and just plain getting sweaty. It’s like UnderArmour, but tougher.

I also got, boots!

No rashes on my feet either, thanks to the Vasque Wasatch hiking boots!

Will certainly need these when going back to Danish weather. Aside from these two items, I also got an SD card, some RAM for my computer and most of my Christmas presents. All at around 50% of Danish prices, hooray!

Written by Martin

2010/12/02 at 01:56

Posted in New toys

Kicks

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Managed to get one more package before taking off for the trip, this one in a distinctly shoeboxy shape.

Allen Edmonds, it says. So it wasn’t a great surprise that it contained the dark brown Strand shoes I’d tried on in NYC this weekend. Full brogue captoe oxfords, with medallion. I’d thought of getting them in walnut instead, which is honestly a better looking shoe, but given that I tend to always wear dark pants, it would be a lot less versatile.

They’re in need of a shine of course (or 50, to get some really nice patina), and definitely some breaking in. But overall I must say that I’m quite pleased; they appear a bit darker in person, which is just as well for aforementioned reasons. Here’s a shot in their natural habitat:

 

(New camera -> focal point on jeans = fail. Out of battery now though, so this will have to do.)

 

I have a couple more packages coming, but they’ll have to wait around until I get back.

Written by Martin

2010/10/15 at 14:04

Posted in New toys

Package from Hong Kong!

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I’d ordered some shirts from my tailor there a while ago, but I’d sort of forgotten about it, so this came as an unexpected surprise.  I’d originally ordered 3 shirts, but one fabric was out of stock, so I guess they finished these two while I was considering a replacement. I got one white with black windowpane, and one white with brown, yellow and light blue stripes. Both straight collar, single button cuffs, french front and button sleeve, no pocket:

Both are twill, which is easily my favorite weave. The sheen and softness are just so nice. And I was never one for particularly conservative looks, so I’ve get to get excited about a unicolor Oxford or the like. Of course this won’t work for all patterns, but for most it looks wonderful. Case in point (in the warm evening light):

I’ve pretty much entirely stopped buying shirts off the rack by now. Whenever I try one on it seems to fit like a sack compared to the ones from Jantzen, which is of course not surprising when the latter has been tailored specifically for me. But when the price is similar and quality is higher from Jantzen, what would be the point? Ok, I have to wait a few weeks like this, and rely on small sample pictures for fabric, but did I mention that they don’t fit like a sack? Perhaps not so much a slim fit now that I’ve lost weight from intermittent fasting, but that can be remedied as desired. Here’s one of the new ones, with the handicaps of being crumpled in transit and me having to contort to take the picture (EDIT: and the picture being garbage. Sorry about that):

Written by Martin

2010/10/13 at 11:44

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Third Eye

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This week at work is kind of like Christmas. I’ve ordered a whole bunch of stuff for the trip and otherwise, so I should should be getting a package a day or so. Today it was some clothes, plus the new camera I bought for my upcoming road trip (more on that later).

After much deliberation, I finally opted for an Olympus E-PL1 micro four-thirds camera. Micro four-thirds means that, like Single Lens Reflex cameras, it has interchangeable lenses and a large sensor, but that it doesn’t have the mirror reflex system that gives those cameras their name. In practice it means that it has great image quality compared to a consumer point and shoot camera, but that it’s a lot smaller than professional cameras (though a lot bigger than aforementioned P&S cameras; it definitely won’t go in a back pocket).

I’m looking forward to manually playing with apertures, shutter speeds and ISO settings, even though my knowledge of these is both minuscule and purely theoretical. But hey, I have a month to learn before the trip right? I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to squeeze far better pictures out of this one compared to my current Sony, though, even with limited practice. I do kind of hope that I don’t get sucked too far into photography, as new, specialized lenses for these beasts typically cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to nearly a thousand. I’ll stick with the one that came with the camera for now, at least until I’ve figured out the myriad settings I can change…

Olympus E-PL1 & M.Zuiko 14-42mm lens

Note that the E-PL1 is (obviously) in no way responsible for the quality of the above pictures; you’ll have to wait a while to see what it can do.

Written by Martin

2010/09/13 at 22:30

Posted in New toys

Fuel My Fire

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Finally, after three entire days spent at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, I’ve managed to procure a Maryland license and get my car registered. The trouble comes from the amount of paperwork required to get anything done, the arbitrary way in which the validity of said paperwork is evaluated and of course the amount of people needing to get something done there. To get a license, you need:

  1. Source documents proving your age and identity
  2. Documentation of a valid, verifiable social security number
  3. Source documents for lawful status in the US
  4. Two source documents proving Maryland residency

The first time I went, I’d called in advance to ask whether I could have my bank print out a statement to use for item #4, which was fine they said. Only when I got there, it wasn’t fine. So I tried to get my vehicle registered at least, but alas, I was missing another document, the release from lien obtainable from Toyota Financial Services. So I had to wait to get a bank statement in the mail (and the letter from Toyota), since I didn’t have access to any of the other documents for residency (credit card bill, tax returns, voter registration card etc.). Back to the MVA to go through the famously rigorous US driver’s tests, which I promptly proceeded to fail. My written test was flawless, as was the parallel park etc., but leaving the training course I screamed past a stop sign at a ludicrous speed of approximately 2 inches per hour, which was an instant fail condition.

Note the stolen hubcap: Baltimore style.

So I got to drive home, in the same car I’d failed the test in (perfectly legal, since my Danish license was still valid), and think about the error of my ways. Went back the next day, better prepared this time, and got the license. Which in my mind marks my official status change to a rolling stone on the American highway, and thus prompts me to post a picture of my pimp ride.

It’s a far cry from the 1969 Corvette Stingray I’d imagined myself in during my stay here, but on the bright side I can do two normal work weeks on a 25$ tank of gas (which of course gets even better for roadtrips). And more importantly, given the way people (myself included) park here, I’d be living in constant fear of scratches if I had the ‘vette. So for now, this is a great solution.

So I’ve got a ride now, how about driving? Ok, waay too obscure… I’m referring to the song by Incubus, which is basically about remaining true to yourself, choosing your own path in life and following it with integrity. Great song. In fact, I’m going to listen to it right now…

Written by Martin

2010/03/31 at 17:17

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The Sixth Sin

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Today I got a new toy, my HP Envy15 laptop. Actually I got it a week ago, but that one was faulty and kept locking up. So I returned it, and took the opportunity to make this one that extra bit of sinful by adding a solid state drive.

Despite my habit obsessively researching every option before making any significant purchase, picking this laptop was actually pretty simple. I wanted USB3.0, which at the time left me with two choices: The Envy or a model from Asus. The Asus was significantly cheaper but didn’t have a FullHD display or various other sexy features, so I got the Envy. It’s basically a desktop-replacement laptop in a package that quite clearly took a page from the Macbook Pro design (but added a laser-etched floral pattern…). While this may not be the most original move, it does make for a laptop that looks better than most other PC choices, and which is roughly 50% more powerful than the current Macbook Pro range, at a lower price. On the other hand the lower price isn’t low, and it does have some baffling design features/flaws. Overall, though, the Envy does a good job of feeling luxurious, a fact that HP reinforces with their packaging:

The Envy box oozes decadence

Even the little extras add to the experience, like the manual that comes on an SD card, or the string-tied envelope with the warranty information. And of course the Envy itself:

So, how does it stack up?

Pros:

  • Very powerful. Especially with the solid state disc, it handles anything I throw at it without slowing down.
  • Sexy. Laser-etched pattern is subject to taste, but you can’t argue with the magnesium casing and design.
  • Full High-Definition display, with good brightness and contrast to boot. Hot in matte and glossy versions.
  • Superior audio. BEATS Audio by Dr. Dre… all I care about is that it sounds way better than most laptops.
  • USB3. Superspeed transfers to my external, and later on to thumbdrives as well.
  • Solid state disk. Windows booted in 28 seconds, and Photoshop in 2. Enough said.
  • Nightvision webcam. Infrared tech means it actually works in the dark.
  • Slim and light. Definitely mobile, though not on battery (see below).

Cons:

  • Screen only opens to 120°. Why?! Vertical viewing angle is good, so it’s not that bad. But why?!
  • No DVD drive. Haven’t missed it so far, though.
  • All ports placed on the right side; right where you want your mouse to be. Again, why?
  • Crap on battery. Max 2 hours of light usage, and the CPU is throttled down as well.
  • Not cheap.

So far everything is sleek, snappy and seductive, but time will tell whether beauty is indeed skin-deep; some users have reported a couple of weird errors occurring . Overall, I’m very pleased. The downsides are there, but they’re not dealbreakers for me.  It’s a bit like my favorite car, the 1969 Corvette Stingray: It’s brimming with power and looks incredibly sexy, but has some big design flaws that you don’t really care about because… did I mention how hot it was?

Written by Martin

2010/03/01 at 23:42

Posted in New toys