Dead American Airlines Headphones (Who Cares?)

Why would somebody bother lamenting the loss of a $2.00 pair of headphones picked up on an American Airlines flight? (Even I do not know the answer to that one, but it is certainly not going to stop me.)

The trip was from Tuscon to Orlando, stop over in Atlanta (or Dallas, or Denver – all the flights I have been on in my life have melted together into one single brain cell of a memory labeled “flight”). And not having anyone flying with me at the time, and not having any headphones with me at the time, I purchased the cheap pair of $2.00 headphones, so I can watch some really crappy in-flight entertainment. They were showing the canceled shows from ABC television off a video tape that was played 5 times per day over the course of 2 months (Hmmmm… 5 x 30 x 2… carry the 1… square root of pi… bad math and illiteracy join forces to make “aprigliano – the blog”). The videotape did not sound good, the sound system on the flight did not sound good – there was a buzzing on the left side – so the headphones did not sound good. They sounded like they were $2.00 too expensive. So I get off the flight, put the headphones in my coat pocket and preceded to the hour drive home from the airport.

2 months later, I found a pair of headphones in a coat pocket. The silk-screened American Airlines logo, which would eventually scratch off, was still on, and this logo fired the brain cell labeled “flight” and I remembered I bought these things when I was flying. So I plugged them in to my stereo, which did not have any buzzing on the left side, and I was impressed. These cans sounded pretty good. Not boomy. Not tinny. Comfortable fit. And it had the cool American Airlines logo silk-screened on it to impress the ladies with my street cred. I am sure they are not audiophile accurate, but they worked really well with my ears for some reason, so we have been to together since. Until disaster happened.

The following photo essay not only demonstrates how durable these headphones were for $2.00, but also to demonstrates how we all can waste bandwidth with Flickr and Blogger to make inane posts.

Get the kids…

American Airlines Headphones
These is them. They are about three years old now – somebody actually sells them on eBay. I will not link to that stuff here. Just book an American Airlines flight and these could be yours too! Unless you fly first class.

1/8 inch stereo plug via Radio Shack
This is the replacement headphone jack because the 90 degree jack it came with became frayed and unusable. I literally learned how to solder because I wanted to get these cans working again.

1/8 inch stereo plug via Radio Shack (internals)
This is the handiwork on the inside. I probably soldered the wires backwards. Couldn’t tell because there was not a “L” or “R” on the phones themselves. And I probably lost 3 inches off the 1 foot cord because there were so many “do overs.”

American Airlines Headphones (featuring the rip)
The final nail in the coffin. The spongy stuff is quickly deteriorating – it is probably made of used Wal-Mart plastic bags and nail salon clippings. Without the sponge they are pretty much useless.

Sennheiser HD477
Now I am going to be forced to use my Sennheiser HD477 which were $70 five years ago and sound great for consumer level headphones. It is just not the same. They are big, bulky, do not travel well, and the cord is 4 feet long, plenty for me to trip over.

Ok, I am not really suffering too much here, but I really liked the A.A. cans. But you know that by now.


Robert X. Cringely and MythTV

Bob Cringely used half of his weekly post to talk of a very interesting project about serving up video to Sony PSPs from a PC server, mobile, in his van, for his kids. Now this kind of thing gets to me, not because the forever smarter than me Cringely (seen the PBS specials, read the books – he just is) comes up with (or implements) the idea of serving on-demand video in the van to his kids, but because here is yet another creative use of off-the-shelf technology in the hands of a creative person.

Want some ideas for yourself to implement, go to – this is the place for doing something with old Altoids tins and the Darth Vader mask you have laying around.

With all this creativity – why ain’t some of these damn things products you can buy? Imagine a Hi-Def TV recorder that you don’t have to sell you first born to afford and does things you really want it to do, like, I don’t know, automatically skip commercials! Well this guy has – and his sister sites helped me in making my own box (even though I did not go the Ubuntu route.)

And being the proud owner/builder of my own MythTv HDTV box that slurps up free Hi-Def off the air – I have two reasons why you would want one…

1) Auto commercial skip is the freaking bomb. You are watching a recorded program and the commercials just disappear. It has the 30 second skip button like a hacked TIVO but YOU DO NOT NEED IT!

2) Hi-Def program Archiving. What if you want to keep a program for a long time. Well, off air Hi-Def takes 6 to 8 gigs per hour of show. Depending on how much resolution you are willing to sacrifice, you can squish a program to a comfortable 750 megs allowing you to keep it without the space consideration. And you can get the box to do it automatically.

That just scratches the surface as to why you want want a MythTV Box. And that is enough to make an entertainment lawyer have many sleepless nights. And it is also probably why you don’t see these things in Target.

Why Circuit City Rebates Suck!

The above link goes right to tracking information for a rebate for a Nvidia card I recently purchased at Circuit City. The reason for the denial of the rebate is “Invalid Purchase Location.” How is this possible? It was a C.C. and the rebate form came right off their registers. I call Bullshit. Buyer beware.

Digg it.

Update 11/28/2006:
I lodged my electronic complaint (after posting it on digg and here) and the message has now changed to “Your rebate is valid and is scheduled for final processing.” Joy! At this rate, I will see the rebate for a product I purchased in September sometime in January (update: It was December). Thanks Circuit City!

Update 12/5/2006:
I got my check. I guess I should be happy. I guess the business model of buying a product with a rebate, then being told that you are not going to get the rebate, then having to submit a complaint to get the rebate, then actually getting a rebate just is not they happy consumer shopping experience I was hoping for.

Look – a check. Yippy…

A Quick Photo Tour of Asheville N.C.

We just came back from a quick vacation. Here is a photo low-down.

A Valley In Ashville
OK, Asheville is very pretty, especially in the fall. The colors are still beautiful just after peak leaf turning season. Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will find one beautiful view after another, just as the above. This image is an “autostich” of 12 separate photos.

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina
The Biltmore. Granted, it is big and vast, filled with artifacts from history, and its own bowling alley, but not one Apple Macintosh – the savages. The above image is for personal use only according to the brochure, so it is on my personal blog – accessed by millions (Hi Mom!)

The McDonald’s at the Biltmore – friggin’ classy.

The old Woolworth’s converted into an art gallery in Asheville. I thought it was a striking piece of history.

Woolworth's Diner.jpg
And the Woolworth’s had a pretty 50’s style diner inside.

Christel and John
This is Christel and John at the Biltmore. Christel is just darn pretty.

And me being silly. Notice the mountains being reflected in my glasses.

Next stop Sheboygan!