The State of Wireless Headphones

Geoffrey Fowler, writing for The Wall Street Journal, looks at the current state of truly wireless headphones:

Earin and Bragi have accomplished leaps of technology to make earbuds truly wireless. The problem is our heads. It’s not just that they’re hard; they’re full of water, which stops wireless signals dead.

Earin’s solution uses familiar tech. Made by a Swedish startup, it connects its left bud to your phone via Bluetooth. That bud then uses special antennas to bounce a second Bluetooth connection off walls and other surfaces to the right earbud to complete the stereo pair.

By all accounts they’re still not quite there yet. This is one of my dreams of earbud listening, but not until it feels like a clear win am I ready to pony up the cash.

Things to Do in Portland, OR

Portland

Things to Do in Portland, OR

I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon for most of my life. There was a brief foray during the college years to do the pop-punk thing and get out of the town I grew up in, but I always end up finding my way back. There’s just something about the city, the people, the way of life, that fits so well with my personality. It’s home. With the popularity of Portlandia I’ve gotten more questions about the city than any other time in my life. Everyone wants to know how accurate the show is (some of it is pretty damn dead on), and quite a few others ask about things to do if they ever visit. I’ve got a few recommendations for if you ever visit the city, but take it as a very incomplete list, there’s always new things showing up and there are plenty of things I don’t cover here. This is also mostly confined to the Portland area and doesn’t expand out to the fantastic hiking, wildlife, and nature that so much of Oregon is known for — I always highly recommend finding a good hiking trail when you visit, it’s beautiful.

Adding Chapters to Podcasts

John Voorhees, writing for MacStories, looks at the new Mac utility Chapters, which allows you to easily add chapter marks into podcasts:

Historically, adding chapter markers to a podcast has been more trouble than it is worth for many podcasters. The ‘hassle factor’ is a legitimate concern. Producing a podcast can be a lot of work even without chapter markers, but that is beginning to change with the introduction of tools like Chapters, a new Mac utility from Thomas Pritchard that makes adding chapter markers a breeze.

I used this app to add chapters to the latest episode of Encore and was impressed at how easy and dead simple it was to use.

Get That Superhero Money (Episode 114)

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This week’s episode of Encore looks at quite a bit of the news that broke over the past week. We talk about Kanye West releasing information about what is now Waves, Brand New and Modest Mouse going on a huge tour, Yellowcard’s Lights and Sounds turns 10, and Brian Wilson is doing a 50-year tour for Pet Sounds. We also do some follow-up on last week’s great “wrong tracklistings” discussion and all sorts of other fun stuff like guessing if Brand New will release an album and what it would sell, plus Thomas’s thoughts on Panic’s album now he’s heard it, and a few brief thoughts on the new 1975 album at the end.

Building a Better Egg McMuffin

J. Kenji López-Alt, writing for Serious Eats, on how to make a great homemade Egg McMuffin:

These days, the Egg McMuffin is more than a sandwich; it’s a cultural icon.

But, for all its recognition and all that it gets right, it’s an inherently flawed product. One that, with a little time and effort, can be improved upon at home. Here’s how I make mine. Hopefully, we’ll learn some lessons that can be applied to all breakfast sandwiches, not just Egg McMuffin clones.

A Batman Army (Episode 113)

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This week’s episode of Encore has us looking at a variety of interesting, and diverse, topics. We talk a little about the next Star Wars being pushed back, a little about Thomas’s collection of Funko collectables, and a little about Thomas wanting to buy an iPad Pro. We also discover that Thomas has had the wrong sequencing in his iTunes for Everything in Transit for almost a decade now. He discovers this live on the podcast. We tackle a variety of user questions related to Panic! at the Disco’s new album, the TV show “Making a Murderer,” and if we prefer soft or energetic album closers. We also talk some more about Brian Fallon and his upcoming album since Thomas caught him live recently. We finish with some Blink-182 talk and discuss the three big tours that got announced this week.

Miscellaneous Recommendations

Most of my recommendations can be found in nice little categories: Albums, movies, tv shows, books, software, podcasts, blogs, and audio-equipment. Or, when I post one-off recommendations they’re all under the “recommendation” tag. However, this is kind of a “catch-all” post for a bunch of different things that I think are great but don’t really have a place to put them. It doesn’t make sense for them to all be separate posts, so instead it’s a giant long list of links! I’ve added some commentary in a few places as well. I have personally used and recommend all of the products on this list and I’ll try and keep it updated semi-regularly for when you’re looking to buy new toys or find a cool gift for that special someone.

Favorite Headphones & Turntable

When it comes to audio equipment my recommendation has always been to do your research, know what you’re looking for, know your budget, and then try and go test things out before making a purchase. People like different sounds in their music and I don’t think there’s a tried and true “best” out there for anyone. Some people prefer a more natural and accurate sound in their headphones, others actively are searching for a heavier bass sound. Only you will know which you prefer and how a specific set of headphones will sit on your ears and feel after a few hours of listening.

This list is what I consider my favorite sets of headphones (and a record player recommendation). This is based off of my personal judgment of sound accuracy, comfort, and relative price. If you’re looking for an in-depth review of a bunch of headphones in all price ranges, I recommend reading Steve Guttenberg and Marco Arment’s reviews. There are also recommendations at The Wirecutter and various internet forums.

Favorite Software

One of the more frequent questions I’m asked is what software do I use for insert a task here. This post hopes to keep a running list of my favorite apps, programs, and tools that I use on a regular basis. I’ve tried to break up the list into helpful sections and linked out to the app store when appropriate. Everything listed here I personally use and recommend. I’ll try and update this post on a semi-regular basis.

Favorite Books

Trying to keep track of my “favorite” books is next to impossible. However, this list is a pretty good record of books that I would put into that category. It’s definitely nowhere near complete, but I will try and keep it updated with new entries that I consider my “favorites” on a semi-regular basis.

You can also follow me on Goodreads for a running list and ratings of the books I read.

Favorite TV Shows

There’s something about a cold beer and watching a good TV show that is the perfect end to a day. This is a running list of some of my favorite TV shows. It’s by no means a complete list, but I’ll try and keep it updated semi-regularly with stuff that I would definitely recommend checking out.

Favorite Movies

This will attempt to be a running list of movies that I consider my “favorites.” It’s by no means complete, but it’s a good starting point for a bunch of movies that I really like and enjoy. If you’re looking for something to watch and haven’t checked these out yet, well, I think it’s a damn good group of movies. I’ll do my best to keep this list updated on a semi-regular basis to track the movies I consider my favorites.

You can also follow me on Letterboxd for a running list and ratings of the movies I watch.

Favorite Albums

Looking for some great music and not sure where to start? Here’s a running list of some of my favorite albums of all time. This list spans almost all genres and eras and is by no means “complete” — but if you haven’t heard these albums, I recommend getting on that. I’ll be updating this list over time to try and keep a record of what I consider my “favorite” albums. Oh, and these aren’t in any real order.

Just Dive In (Episode 112)

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On this week’s episode of Encore we look at the best stretches of three or more songs in albums, our preference of albums over playlists, bands going on hiatus, and if the internet has gotten more hostile lately. We then move into discussing the passing of David Bowie and how to get started on his massive catalog. The podcast ends with us talking about the new Kanye West song and Nielsen’s 2015 report (and of course a little Star Wars thrown in).

Sound of Sirens (Episode 111)

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Welp, here we are with the first episode of this year’s Encore podcast. This week finds us giving a little follow-up on our past two episodes (Star Wars and End of the Year Lists), before diving into questions about albums we’re looking forward to in 2016, music predictions, the meaning of “production,” and what 10 year tours we’d like to see. We finish the episode giving our first impressions of the new Brian Fallon album, Painkillers, and talk about the new Kanye West song, and the possibilities for Green Day making a comeback this year.

Best of 2015 (Episode 110)

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We hope everyone is having a great New Year’s eve – probably playing a lot of Death Cab for Cutie, right? This is officially the last episode of the Encore podcast for 2015. This week Thomas and I look at our favorite albums that came out during the year, discuss how we picked them, why we picked them, where we put them, and then also talk a little about other “favorites” in the year (movies, TV shows, etc.). I’d like to wish everyone a happy end of the year – stay safe out there! – and say thank you to everyone that checked out the podcast this year.

The Force Awakens (Episode 109)

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With the holiday weekend coming up we wanted to make sure you had enough time to download this week’s episode of the Encore podcast early! So, we’re coming at you today. That way you can download the episode for any long flights, drives, or just needing a way to drown out some drunk relative. This week’s episode, as promised, is actually a special edition episode all about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It contains many, many, many spoilers. So, do not listen to this podcast if you haven’t seen the movie yet! We basically run down every character, every plot point, and discuss what we liked, why, what we didn’t like, what didn’t quite work, and if our expectations were met and what we think this means for the franchise going forward. Both Thomas and I would like to wish everyone a happy holidays and a warm thank you for listening to us each week. You’ll find show notes, ways to subscribe, and links to stream and/or downloaded this episode in the replies.

You Don’t Want Demoitis (Episode 108)

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Today’s episode of Encore looks at the lead up to Star Wars (of course), before looking at this week’s topics: Brian Fallon’s new song, The 1975’s new song, Paramore losing a member, Cartel releasing an acoustic album, The Starting Line releasing a new song, and some weirdness in the Bad Timing Records camp related to Bonfires. You’ll find show notes, ways to subscribe, and links to stream and/or downloaded this episode in the replies.