Thursday, August 26, 2010

Electronic Cigarettes featured in the Wall Street Journal

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal posted an article about e-cigarettes. I've been an e-cig user since April '09, and the device completely changed my life. From waking up in the morning and losing that feeling of choking caused by years of cigarette smoking to regaining all of my lung functionality and getting my vocal range back to where it was before I started smoking, I haven't felt this healthy in years.

The article was very well written, and was able to present views on the use of e-cigarettes from users, vendors, members of the scientific community, and the government. It's no secret that the FDA has a vendetta against the continued use and sale of e-cigarettes, and that this stance is at odds with common sense and what we know about the devices and how they compare to traditional cigarette smoking. Authors David Kesmodel and Danny Yadron were able to cut through the fog of misinformation wafting through the air and present a very fair journalistic piece on e-cigarettes. (I'm sooo sorry about the pun, but I just couldn't resist)

The American Council on Science and Health have written a response to that article that highlights some inaccuracies in the WSJ piece. They make a great argument that, even though more long-term studies should be performed on the use of these devices, removing them from market while these studies are conducted would be a dangerous move that could do much more harm than good to e-cigarette users.

It's my hope that the tide is turning on public perception on the devices, and people will begin to realize just how much these devices have to offer smokers who just can't give up their cigarettes through other methods.

Links to the Wall Street Journal, and ACSH's response, are below.

E-Cigarettes Spark New Smoking War -

Dispatch: WSJ finally lights up e-cigarette issue > Facts & Fears > ACSH

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Westboro Baptist Church meets Brick Stone

I gotta say, this video is just full of win.  Brick Stone is my new favorite person of the day.

The cheaper things get, the more they stay the same...

Ran across this excellent article from Gizmodo on sub-$50 earbuds, and the likelyhood that they are all pretty much manufactured by the same few factories in Asia using the same basic components.  Essentially, pick a canned design, tweak it a little in the visuals department, slap a company logo on it, order a few thousand, and away you go.

The Secret Scam of Cheap Earbuds

Now, I'm an e-cigarette user, and this made me think of the state of that industry, as well.  It's a well-known fact that a majority of the parts for e-cigarettes are manufactured by a small group of key Chinese manufacturers.  These parts, just like the cheap earbuds in the Gizmodo article, aren't manufactured for quality or longevity, but for disposability and quick sales.  If your battery on your e-cig breaks, just turn around and order a replacement for 15 bucks.  Nevermind the fact that the new one will only last you a couple of months, they are banking on you coming back time and again to spend a little money here and there for your devices, or your earbuds, or your 30 dollar DVD players, or whatever.  And I'm confident this trend probably stretches across many, many product types.

My advice?  Spend a few extra bucks on something that has some thought put into the design, and some care into the construction.  A friend of mine has went through 3 sets of earbuds in the last year for various reasons, but my $80 Sennheiser headphones have been working great for over 2 years, and sound phenomenal.  My mom has spent $200 in e-cig batteries in the last year, and my $100 Puresmoker Prodigy e-cig mod has been going strong since May 2009, with $30 dollars of common rechargable batteries.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

And so it begins....

Well, I've been a musician for almost my entire life, it seems.  I did well at academics, but spent most of my time singing, or learning various instruments.  By the time I graduated high school, I had passable skills on 13 instruments and had even managed to get really good at a couple of them.

During the same time, I began a love affair with technology.  Just like music, I wanted to soak up as much knowledge as I could on computers and gadgets.

I attribute these interests mostly to my father.  He drilled it into my head that I was never, ever, under penalty of death, ever to touch his guitars without him being there.  Same for the old (new at the time) 8088 IBM-compatible PC he had.  Of course, in the 80's, fathers also went to work for a good portion of the day, at which time I would proceed to touch his guitars and his computer without him being there.  With that, I learned another valuable skill:  covering my tracks.  (I told this to him years and years later.  He said he knew.  So kids, beware, no matter how sneaky you think you are, they know.  They always know).

After high school, I struck out onto the club circuit with a few bands.  After a few years, I learned another valuable lesson:  if you want to play music your way, and you are relatively unknown, you will make dick for money.  Thankfully, I had all that, up until this point, useless tech knowledge floating around in my head, and managed to get hired by a small tech company in Orlando doing network, workstation, and server implementations and maintanence.  Fast forward to today, and I'm still working there, although I've taken on application development as part of my core duties here now.

For me, music and application development go hand in hand.  They balance well together to keep my creative juices flowing.  Take, for example, a song I was recording several years ago in a former band of mine.  We were in the studio, and I had just finished laying down a take of a guitar solo.  The engineer working with us, Roscoe (the second Roscoe I've met in my life, the first being the actor that played Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazard, who taught drama at UCF near where I live), looked at me and said, "That sounded great, but that last bit, could you make that 'looser'?"  Well, that's a rather vague term.  So I had to think how to auralize the term 'looser' on the guitar.  Another take later, and Roscoe and the rest of the guys in the band agreed that, somehow, I had nailed it.  Development work, to me, is a lot like that.  Someone has a need to do something on a computer, or a phone, or some sort of device, and it is up to me to take that vague idea of 'something' and turn it into something tangible, basically out of thin air.

So,with that, comes this project.  Why a blog?  Well, for one thing, I've always had an interest in writing, but never really had an outlet for that.  Blogs have been around for years, but for whatever reason, I never saw fit to try the medium until now.  Second, I never had an idea of what I wanted to say until now.  And that hasn't really changed now, either, except for the fact that I realize that if I don't say *anything*, then I'll never say *something*.  So I've created this space as a place I can go and talk about things of interest to me (and hopefully, all of you reading) about various things in the world of music, technology, or just goings-on in the world around me.  So bear with me over the next few posts as I work on getting my writing chops up to speed, and hopefully some of you will find what I have to say interesting and/or entertaining.  And if you don't, I'm sure you'll let me know in the comments.