Small, Pretty, Hybrid, Cars

Hybridcars has a post up detailing more information on some cars we’ll be seeing from Honda in next two years:

The first new dedicated hybrid vehicle, due in 2009, will be offered as a 5-door hatchback with seating for five passengers and will employ an exterior design concept that evokes the FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle. With the new hybrid, Honda is aiming to produce the most affordable hybrid on the market. Fuel economy for the new car is expected to exceed 40 miles per gallon.

Ikea Pax wardrobe-cum entertainment center

Like much of the first worlds’ over-fed population, last year I went out and indulged in a flat-screen television. Consequently, like the rest of flat-screen T.V. buyers I found out that my old C.R.T.—based entertainment center was inadequate for the new wideness of L.C.D.

The temporary (over a year) solution was to simply put the L.C.D. television on top of the old outdated Ikea unit and fill the now empty square with miscellaneous D.V.D.’s and video games. Needless to say, this looked pretty ridiculous and the absurdity was only compounded by the bowing of the now top-heavy center.

With all of my loot blown on the T.V., I could not afford a fancy stand nor would any of these compact new flat-screen friendly entertainment centers fit all of my capitalist wares of component stereo, D.V.D./V.C.R. combo, C.D. player, cable box, record player, center channel speaker, video game systems, and gobs and gobs of media. What was I to do?

Well, inspired by ikeahacker.blogspot.com, I had to look no further than my Ikea Pax wardrobe. This 93” tall utilitarian behemoth is nothing more than shelves where I put my clothes. However, the idea came to me that it might also serve as a good entertainment center, just in need of a little hacking.

The Pax unit I purchased in 2006 was $111.28. This included the box itself and six shelves. I figured for that price I would have all of the entertainment center storage I needed plus I would undercut the price of a smaller (inadequate), however, T.V. specific unit by at least $60, according to what I had seen listed.

So I saved my pennies and took my measurements to make sure my 37” television would fit inside my, what happens to be, 39” wide wardrobe and I put caution and shelf strength to the wind and headed down to Ikea.

It turns out they have inflation in Sweden. In 2008 my aforementioned Pax configuration cost me $149.80. However, I was still beating the price of some of the smallest T.V. stands by a nice margin.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “this entertainment center idea is not a hack, it is a repurposed wardrobe!” However, you would be wrong because the load-bearing composite-board (the integral life force of all Ikea furniture) had to be drilled to make way for wires. These holes are very important as without them my little electronic boxes do not receive power or connectivity.

So, with my Dremel-esque (borrowed) tool, I took bit to flimsy composite and watched many, many particles of dust fly. My cuts were less than precise, however, I knew (read hoped) they would be largely concealed. I measured shelves’ distance by the screw hole (not to be confused with my drilled holes, these line the interior of the cabinet for shelf hanging purposes) for tight fit and maximum storage and up went my Ikea hacked Pax wardrobe-cum entertainment center.

Sitting here enjoying the completed project, I am very happy. It probably took way to long to finish (as I kept putting the shelf sinkers in screw holes that did not line up their pairings) but the completed unit is just what my little apartment needed. A towering faux antique wood stained monstrosity that screams “coach potato.” Shine on you Swedish diamond!

Sony MDR-NC6 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

I bought these just before getting on an 11-hour plane ride to California from Seoul. Unfortunately, they don’t include the AAA battery needed for the noise canceling functionality, but they were handy for the plane ride none-the-less.

Why were they useful on the plane still? Well, the NC6 headphones retained some noise-blocking functionality even though they are open cans. They also included an airline adaptor which was useful for the in-flight movies once I discovered that bit-torrenting the TV Series Lost wasn’t a great choice for viewing during a flight.

The sound quality is decent, certainly not as good bass as I’d like. On the plane I watched the movies “Mad Detective” and “Three Kings”, both of which sounded good on these ‘phones. My main complaint would be with the noise-canceling functionality: it can give me a headache if I use it with anything that doesn’t have constant noise (music, movies, etc). So, for example, listening to This American Life at work with the MDR-NC6’s gives me a headache after an hour or two due to the white noise produced when the noise canceling functionality is enabled.

Also note that these headphones do not fit the iPhone (Edge) by default, for that you’ll need some kind of vile adapter.

Overall, I’d say they have good enough sound quality, and are definitely worth an airport purchase. Office workers may enjoy the MDR-NC6’s especially for their ability to quickly toggle between hearing everything around you and what you’re listening to, to noise-cancellation mode where you can focus on your work, with the switch on the right earpiece.

If you want some other recommendations, check out David Pogue’s recent video review of some similar sets, or the text version of his article.

Score: 3/5 Alien Skulls