The weblog for Nooz you need. Period.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Since I now have a phone that plays MP3 files - and I have to tell you I really, really like that part of the phone after using it - I wanted a decent pair of stereo headphones for it. The ones that Verizon sells with the Music Essentials Kit suck, quite frankly. I couldn't use them to answer phone calls because people couldn't understand me, and they sounded like cheap car speakers. I didn't want to experiment and have the same problem all over again, so I hunted around and found something: Sennheiser MM 50s to the rescue!

I ordered these from an online vendor and they arrived this afternoon. The MM 50s cost me about $35.00 with shipping. The picture in the above link doesn't do these little bad boys justice, they are sleek and invisible in your ears. The headset comes with three different sized earpieces, and they almost literally disappear into your ear. I'd bet that anyone who ever tried earbuds and hated them (such as myself) would love these little cans.

How well do they work? They're amazing. If you're not familiar with Sennheiser's products, they are well known for producing good to audiophile quality head and microphones. I think $35.00 US is rather a paltry sum for the sound quality when listening to music. Voice calls will take a little getting used to, as the rubber ear sleeves block outside noises extremely effectively. The few phone calls I have made since trying them out were done in stealth, so the callee wouldn't know I was on a headset. The fact that no one said anything about me being in a tunnel or hard to understand is a promising sign, but we'll see what happens when I'm out and about.

I don't know if you could get away with these on a plane or train, but I don't get on those very often so I don't care. The sound is very clear, with good bass response and clear highs. You can turn them up loud enough to do hearing damage without distortion, which could be a bad thing for people who like it loud. You won't know you're going deaf because it's so much fun. I'm hearing things in my MP3 collection that I haven't heard on my bigger Sennheiser HD 590s.

The one problem that came up was my discovery that if I plug them into the phone as I normally do (by using my thumb to press the jack) they do not connect properly and the sound is distorted and quiet, since the electrical connection is not perfect — much as if you pull a headphone jack out just enough to break the connection. I don't know if this was the headphone jack or the phone's design, however... your mileage may vary. Highly recommended.

posted by Mark  5/23/2006 10:31:00 PM

Thursday, May 18, 2006


It didn't take long...

As you may have noticed from the previous post, I recently acquired a new cell phone. Well, that means a new toy and another thing to hack, since it's essentially a small computer wrapped up in a phone. All of this comes from my need to avoid paying Verizon for every ringtone, wallpaper, and song that I want. I can also create custom ringtones of the songs that I want, or from sound effects that I already have.

If you've got an LG phone, VX8100 or not, or even just a CDMA phone from Verizon, the check out the guide to hacking the VX8100 that I've recently put up. There will be some small revisions going forward, and soon... a page where you can download custom ringtones that I've created, or even request your own. Have fun!!

posted by Mark  5/18/2006 05:19:00 PM

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


A new toy... and a new hack

After three years of being fairly happy with my cell phone (an LG VX6000), I decided it was time to visit the local Verizon store and upgrade. Frankly, I had all but killed the battery in my poor old 6000 and rather than spend the money on a new battery, I wanted something new to play with.

So what did I end up with? A shiny new LG VX8100. Overall, it was the best option for me, with a bunch of slick features - although I think Verizon is fairly mercenary with the way they set up their phones. Regardless, the handset supports Bluetooth headsets - a first for me - as well as sporting a decent camera, and a media player (also a first for me). The winning factor for me was the mini SD slot that the phone has, so I can load up a bunch of music and pictures and tote them around. Now I can put off buying an iPod for a few more years.

The basic reason for this post is because I promptly found a way to "hack" the phone and enable the built in MP3 player. Straight from Verizon, this feature is not available, but it's easily enabled using the following steps:
  1. Access the main menu by pressing the OK button
  2. Press "0" to access the service menu
  3. Press "0" six times for the service code
  4. Go to setting 11, "Music Setting"
  5. Press the OK button
  6. Select "MP3 Enable"
  7. Press the OK button
  8. Press "END"
  9. Restart your phone.
Now that you've rebooted the phone, the MP3 player is enabled. To use it...
  1. Enter "Get It Now" by pressing the right navigation button
  2. Select "Get Tunes & Tones"
  3. There will be a new option available, #8: "My MP3s"
Now you can play any MP3s that you have loaded onto your external mini SD card. For me, this is huge, because I didn't want to be forced into converting my existing music collection, nor do I feel like paying $1.99 a pop for music from the VCast service, which is in WMA format at a low bitrate. Not that fidelity through the onboard stereo speakers is great, and only marginally better with the earbuds - but now, I have one device that I can tote around, and listen to my music when I'm doing... whatever.

posted by Mark  5/10/2006 12:40:00 AM


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