Friday, June 17, 2005

sniffing the whiteboard marker

aaaaah. thanks geoff

3 discoveries today - skype for 3 hour conference calls, a medusa 5:1 surround sound headset, and idiots who cycle on the pavement are on the increase. I registered for skype a couple of days ago because I wanted to wear a headset to do conference calls. sick of that plastic crab in my ear and a rubber noose flapping around my neck, I wanted alternatives to the land line phones and headsets that I seem to have tried every combination of. The best I managed to do was a dect cordless wired to the BT office line with a mobile phone earpiece. everything else was rubbish. I tried a netcom headset phone but you couldn't get it close enough to your ear without taking the headset apart and wiring the tiny speaker up to your brain. the end of the mic had a light on though. ooh. I tried a jacob jensen ├╝ber slick handset phone with an amplified input, but the handset rubbed the skin off one side of my face and the blood trickling into the holes in the plastic triggered some kind of continental moodiness and everything went ingmar bergman. I even tried just using the mobile phone but if I said that out loud the telecoms team in EMEA would probably have me sell my body to medical research to pay for the charges. so, I figured I'd be able to use skype, get myself headset/phone/handset combination #17 and crank up the soundcard to 11, so that I can hear how we're deploying the latest fix from SDL for once. no problem. just bought 10 euros of skypeout credit so I just need the headset.

so, it looks like those 'skype ready' headsets are a good bet. hang on. this guy on the 'don't buy skype ready headsets' forum says don't buy a skype ready headset because of course all headsets are skype ready. ok, that narrows it down then. I just want one that looks cool. that one's nice. it's a bit thin though. how about that one? it folds up and everything. no, rubbish. hang on though. wait a good goddam surround sound minute. a 5:1 surround sound headset? that works with skype, and DVDs, and games, and my audigy 2? and looks like you could wear it in a ridley scott film? and its only 40 quid? and is on play.com so postage is free? I think thats' sold, mate!

moment of truth. I've unpacked everything, plugged it all in - nearly lost it in the excitement of plugging new kit into my soundcard - and now I'm ready to go. I got black hawk down from play for 6.99 for the hell of it, just to test these things out, and so its green light, green light to proceed to the crash site and put this thing into action. I get myself into a cinematic shellshock state, just to cleanse myself of mortal insignificances, slide the DVD tray into the dell, place headgear on head, sit back, and get ready to rawk.

bzzzbzzzzckcbzzzz. arse. interference. hang on, I'm going in. interference at 11 o'clock. typical. it's the panasonic dect phone firing a last dying volley of electrostatic at the medusa hub. diiiiieeeeee! panasonic lies shattered in the dust, smoke from a virtual RPG billowing out in a vortex. right. go, go, go, go, go!

I have to say, the sound on this headset has just consigned my existing sony audophile headphones to the 'also ran' pile in the cellar. the eeriness of having off-camera dialogue and whizzing bullets coming at you from the back, front and side of your head is mental. I sit and watch the whole film, laughing like an idiot to myself and sporadically darting a look over my shoulder where I'm expecting to be shot by a somali sniper from the opposing rooftop, which is just the pub over the road, of course, but hell, it sounds like I'm in africa in a hellstorm. ok, so this thing works like it says on the box, so lets get plugged into the world of rebranding post-mortems and kick some project management ass. speed dial through the freephone sun switchboard to the internal routing to AT&T and then its 'who just joined?' and I'm in. and I sound magnificent. and I can hear everyone. and I can turn the sound on this conf call up at least 15 times louder if I want. and listen to robyn hitchcock at the same time without anyone knowing. upmixed to 5:1. genius.

as for the idiots, I've read a couple of others who have commented on the red light cyclist right of way contradiction, but as I rarely leave the house unattended and only then to walk the children to school, I have a different, more blood boiling problem. everywhere I go in Norwich right now, cyclists seem to prefer the path (sidewalk) to the perfectly good roadway 6 inches to the side of them. our house is on a good sized arterial road to and from the city centre. its wide. its nice. you could cycle on it. but no. there is no common denominator or demographic that defines the offenders. sure, they are often hoodies on joke mini bmx bikes that look like circus chimps, but its also middle aged lecturers, 20-something women with afros, anyone, but they all ride straight past our gate, which has shubbery (bring me..another shrubbery!) on either side, obscuring our view until we go through. but then its too late. the kids are young, and still run out of the gate just to be the first. the bikes come down that path at 20 miles and hour. one of my children will get killed one day. and that's why I want to stab these mindless, irresponsible and ignorant people in the eyes with a pencil. I mean, I wouldn't of course, but that's the kind of thing you think when your children are put at risk by others. this happens on many paths, next to many perfectly good roads in Norwich and I'm sure many other towns and cities. there's only so many times times I can spread myself across the width of the pavement as one of these bastards approaches at speed, until I forget my middle class sensibilities and push them into the road, into the oncoming traffic, as they do to me.

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