J-Cord Headphones

A few years ago I accidentally bought a pair of earbud-style headphones with what I later came to learn was a “J-cord” design — one side was longer than the other, so that you could wrap the longer side around the back of your neck and let the earbuds hang off your shoulders when they weren’t in your ears. They were a little awkward to manage at first, but when I eventually mastered them I also became a huge fan of the asymmetrical design. It’s incredibly convenient if you pop your earbuds in and out regularly.

Apparently, J-cords have fallen out of fashion now, as it’s become almost impossible to find a manufacturer that still makes them. Several weeks ago I asked Twitter for recommendations on finding new models, but got back almost nothing — there were plenty of suggestions for good earbud headphones, but almost all of them were the more traditional, symmetrical Y-cord style.

I did get one useful suggestion though: @joranovski recommended RHA’s MA450i earbuds, which sound excellent and are reasonably priced. They have a traditional Y-cord style design, but the cord is long enough that you can wrap it around the back of your neck before splitting the two cables, giving you much of the benefit of a J-cord. It’s not quite as elegant because I find myself sometimes losing track of which way I’ve wound the cord, and unwrapping it can be somewhat comical. The cording is also made of a braided fabric material which is quite pleasing to the touch, though it will pick up ambient sound on a blustery day, echoing a bit like a faint, howling wind. On a busy New York street, though, it’s hardly noticeable.

Anyway, there’s no big moral to this story other than J-cords are great. Someone should bring them back. In the meantime, though, the RHA MA450i’s are a decent substitute.

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A Brief Valentine’s Day Message

I’m not much for this holiday, really. It’s kind of hard to get enthusiastic about it when you’re not dating anyone, as happens to be the case with me at the moment. In spite of that convenient pessimism, I have two Valentine’s Day-related bits to share with you, both of which also happen to be A Brief Message-related.

First is today’s adorable new Message, written by Esther K. Smith about giving pink hearts a chance, embracing cliché and reliving the abandon of grade school arts and crafts. This one was illustrated — also adorably — by Clément Fabre. Don’t be afraid — go read it.

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Think Like a Dog

When you live with a dog for five years, as I have with Mister President, you get to know him pretty well. They’re a beautiful, complex species, but really, they have some fairly simple, predictable behaviors: eat, sleep, play, eat some more. That’s part of what makes them so lovable.

Over the years, I’ve marveled at how straightforward and consistent Mister President’s behaviors are. I often joked with my ex-girlfriend how easy it would be to plot out most of his operating logic in flowchart form; heck, his decision-making flow is so simple I could describe it to most folks in a few words and they’d get it.

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End of Summer Remainders

As I mentioned on Wednesday, it’s quiet around here this week. That’s why I’m going to dump a bunch of links into another round-up post, and then set off to enjoy the three-day weekend… though I may be back at my desk as soon as tomorrow. Anyway, just a warning that some of these are older tidbits I’ve had kicking around for a while. That’s why I’m burying them here on the last Friday in August!

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The August Work Ethic

Are you on vacation these last few days of August? If so then what are you doing staring at a computer screen, reading my blog?

Me, I’m at the office throughout this slow, concluding week of the summer. But if I weren’t, if I had time off, I think I’d do what I haven’t done yet all year, even on the ostensible holidays I’ve taken: fall off the grid entirely and relax properly — without telephones, without text messages, without the Internet.

We don’t do that enough in the States and I sometimes regret it painfully. European readers know what I’m talking about. Just before the calendar turns to September, the cities empty out and the shops close in a kind of workers’ solidarity like no labor strike ever seen on American shores.

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Round-up Time!

I’ve been fighting what’s apparently a twenty-four hour bug since midday yesterday. Shivers and aches pained me all through the day and into night, and I didn’t even know if I could make it through a whole day of work today. But I underwent sustained, Cold-Eeze-powered counter-attack, and I feel loads better tonight, remarkably. Zinc is the magical cure for all my threatening colds, I’m finding.

Actually, I’m not back completely at one hundred percent. I’m still tired, and bound to my couch for the most part. But, at the very least, I have my senses about me enough to want to clear out some blogging items that have been hanging around for a while. So this is going to be another round-up style post. Get ready for random.

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Return of the Friday Free-for-All

Fri 03 Nov 2006Hey, it’s time for the Friday Free-for-All round-up again! Just kidding, this is the first one ever. A round-up blog post isn’t something I usually do, but what the heck, right? These are a few things I’ve been keeping in Mori that I’ll never be able to turn into full-fledged weblog entries before they go stale.

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Selling Out and Selling More

The first batch of my Hel-Fucking-Vetica tee-shirts are just arriving in mailboxes today; if you ordered yours before last Thursday, you should be seeing it soon.

So far the shirt has been selling way beyond my expectations; I’m terribly grateful to everyone who’s shown their support or just liked the shirt enough to order one for themselves. As I mentioned, I printed just one-hundred and fifty of these tee-shirts; in just the first week, about a hundred of them had been sold to lucky buyers, and they’re still selling briskly. Supplies are limited, so you’d better act fast if you want yours.

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Card Sorting Exercises

It’s not explicitly a design problem, but since I have something of a soap box, I’m just going to use it: I’d do most anything to lighten the load of extraneous crap stuffed inside my wallet — not the dollar bills, of course, but rather the various faux credit cards that have instantiated themselves in my billfold. I carry a few proper credit cards — one personal card, a debit card, and two issued to me by the Times — but I’m also burdened by lots of cards foisted on me by marketers: stored value cards that act more or less like gift certificates, and membership cards — to museums, to professional groups, to my local video store — that try to impart a greater sense of worth than the membership itself probably deserves.

Add to that a handful of business cards, my subway fare card, a map of the New York City subway system, my driver’s license, health insurance card, and some wallet-size photographs carried for posterity, and the wallet is already three-quarters of an inch thick — and that’s before I add a single dollar bill, even. It’s a constant annoyance.

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Odds and Ends

Traditional Design & New TechnologyI don’t often write ‘round up-style’ write weblog posts, but I’ve got a crazy week this week, so I’m going to make an exception. Most of the craziness is the fault of my coming trip to Austin, TX to attend this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival; I’m just running around trying to take care of everything before I go. For those of you attending, please see me come talk out of my butt on Saturday morning at 10:00a, when I’ll be participating in a panel called “Traditional Design &amp New Technology.” It’s in an early time slot, but I promise you, I’ll be glad you made it there. And you might learn something!

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