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Monday, March 20, 2006

Bonus babies, aka new toys

They passed out bonuses at work on Wednesday — a little earlier than I was prepared for, because I’d like a new MacBook but want to wait on the next hardware revision. So to assuage the technolust, I settled for getting an iPod and all the stuff I’ll need to go with it. Seeing my iBook is fairly old, it took nearly four hours to copy all my music and photos over a USB 1.1 port... just an incentive to get that newer laptop, I guess. We also picked up a 250GB hard drive for Mrs. Fetched’s video editing system — that G4 dualie has churned along for nearly four years now with no hardware upgrades, and it seems like 80GB drives aren’t as big as they used to be — and a set of noise-cancelling headphones.

I’d like to say one thing about the headphones: They. Are. FANTASTIC.

It seems to be an axiom that whatever the absolute worst cube in the office is, it will be assigned to me. The dwelling place I’ve been stuck with for the last couple of years is certainly a candidate if not the runaway winner — as far away from the windows as possible, along a main traffic route, and directly across from a training room with at least one of everything we make. Many of those products have fans, and they run all day. The only thing that drowns it out is the blare of the trainer, whose voice carries through most of that part of the building — he “can’t” shut the door because it would get too hot. The new headphones don’t do much for the chatter, but they easily knock out 80% of the fan noise emanating from the training room. Switching off the noise canceller produced a roar that I thought at first was blood rushing through my ears (like you might hear with a seriously good headset with no sound coming in), but was actually the training room.

I was impressed enough to risk official opprobrium by wearing them on the drive home, playing my iPod into the ’phones instead of through the FM transmitter thingie. Like wearing earplugs on the motorcycle, I think I hear better with the headphones: all the wind noise and road noise and climate control fan noise simply fades away; leaving only the hum of the engine, a little residual background stuff, and the music... which I can play at a much lower volume.

The only drawback is that they're the kind that hook over your ears, with the connecting band going around the back of your head. For whatever reason, they irritate my ears after a few hours.

I would pay some serious money for a “cone of silence” headset — something that would cut out both white noise and external chatter.

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