Category Archives: Lifestyle

Anything to do with the way I live my life whether that be travel, health or fitness

Sony MDR-1000X noise cancelling headphones

New pair of noise cancelling headphones and couldn’t be happier with the improved noise cancelling performance over my previous 770BN’s. To be honest, I felt like the 770’s took a step backwards compared to the 750’s that I owned; sound quality was great but noise cancelling no so much. I only realised how lacking they were when I put in a set of Bose QC35’s which are the benchmark for active noise cancellation.

So, first thoughts putting on the 1000X?

Wow, near-silence. Hums and whirrs from the plane completely gone and voices and chatter reduced to a mere murmur, the gentlest touch of music drowns it out. Compared to the previous set which seemed to only reduce the low frequency hums, I really couldn’t hear a thing outside.

 

Features wise, the improvements are a gesture controlled interface, ambient sound settings and LDAC capabilities. It retains the ability to go into corded mode (with or without power) and basic micro USB charging. LDAC is irrelevant for now but rumours have it that Sony have contributed its use in the next revision of Android (fingers crossed!). Ambient sound modes allow you to pass through voice while blocking everything else and lastly, the gesture controls allow you to cup or palm the touch panel and it’ll allow sound through while muting your audio. Great if you need to have a quick conversation without removing the headphones.

Sound wise, it’s not perfect but pretty damn good, its strengths are in its mids and highs. The mids have a real warmth to it and fills the space nicely, it then rolls really nicely into the highs which seem to go on forever without being harsh or fatiguing. To me they sound incredibly smooth and have a nice presence.

So what’s the weakness? Bass. It’s a little peculiar too, it seems to be missing the sub-bass notes so it lacks the punch. However in certain tracks, the mid-low bass range is super punchy and sounds good enough, it definitely doesn’t sound tinny.

One of my favourite songs to audition is Daft Punk – Contact (from Random Access Memories) and it’s bassline is pretty tight so any systems that over exaggerate bass falls apart pretty quick. Bass was lacking here but the rest of it was very warm sounding and individual notes and hi hats was distinct and clear yet seemed to roll off nicely into each over.

All in all they’re great and they were a great buy at $400, definitely hard to justify at retail though. If bass is super critical, suggest you have a listen to them first.

Mermaid pools

To make the most of what’s left of the sunshine, we went for a hike to the Mermaid Pools, it’s located in a suburb called Tahmoor, about 1.5 hours south west of Sydney. It’s not too long a hike, you’ll need about 3 hours return (if you’re just heading to the pool and back), allow more time if you want to do the whole canyon.

Bear in mind that the track is not signed, you’ll be relying on the map below and a series of small yellow markers and occasional arrow on the ground to guide you. The track is mostly visible but it is possible to stray away from it without realising.

There’s an old map provided by the council. It was originally done with North facing down so keep that in mind when navigating, I might retouch it the right way later.

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Trail map, start at the top left

Download a pdf here: Mermaids-Pool-Map

Once you arrive, there’s a little dirt patch/car park on Charles Point Road (just off Rockford or Arina Road). Park your car here and follow the dirt road (keeping right) until you get to a bridge (Pheasants Nest Ford Crossing Bridge).

We initially went left and found a little lake, this doesn’t really lead anywhere though.

_NTR7863Just past the bridge is an area called The Potholes, a bunch of swirl holes from the creek water (you can see the bridge in the background).

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I found one particular hole amusing as water would gush in but not out, a little like magic.

Keep to the right until you reach the track, there are small yellow markers and you’ll reach a point where the track splits. There are arrows spray painted on the ground marked M (for Matilda track). Follow either, the tracks meet up, the top is meant to be easier.

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Shortly after the tracks converge, a path splits to the left, this is an area called the See Through pools, a very nice place to stop with pools to swim in and a small waterfall. We stopped here for lunch and it’s definitely a nice place to chill. We climbed down a few rocks to get here, but I do believe there is an easier path. We got too keen and just decided to come down, but if you follow the path a bit longer there’s one that goes left and back down.

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After a short break we kept going until we reached the Mermaid Pool. Some markings denote the split, one to the pools and one to the canyon that surrounds.

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What’s here? A lovely secluded pool.

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Entry via a 10 meter cliff jump only, also the pretty stern warning from the top.

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Water’s pretty cold, but refreshing. On the other end of the pool is also a rope swing. When we arrived there was only a small group of guys and a couple, so it’s a pretty quiet place to relax.

Exit via climbing some rocks with the assistance of a rope. Harder than it looks and there’s a few holes into the rocks so it’s a bit like rock climbing.

We went a little further to find the lookout that overlooks the pools from the other side but didn’t quite make it. You’ll see the vantage point we were after in the Eat Sleep Hike link below. We got to the spot below and decided that would be good enough. The sun was setting soon and we didn’t want to walk in the dark so it was time to go back.

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We were going to make another stop at the See Through pools but found a different path down where we saw this old engine just sitting there. Not sure where it’s from, perhaps a ship or similar, way too big for a car.

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Ended the day with some longer exposures of the flowing water along the creek._NTR8035-HDR _NTR8041

Also a head-stand, why not?

For more information about the walk, see these links below. I should have been a little more detailed in providing guidance, but half the fun is trying to figure out where to go.

Nokia Lumia 1020

Been kinda wanting a new phone a while but nothing on the market had really appealed for me. As a photographer, when the announcement that the new Nokia Lumia 1020 would be released with the same tech as the PureView 808 and be based on Windows Phone 8; I was immediately sold. The PureView 808 was based on the dead Symbian OS and wasn’t something I wanted to touch.

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The packaging is pretty simple, colourful box with the inside a slide out tray, inside is just the phone, micro USB cable, charger and earphones in the colour of the phone. I grabbed a yellow phone so unfortunately for me that means yellow earphones.

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It’s design is similar to previous Nokia phones, polycarbonate body which feels quite nice in the hand and supposedly hides scratches quite well. The screen is quite nice and outdoor viewing is excellent, much better than my previous Galaxy S3 which wasn’t that great. Slightly rounded sides and screen leave for a nice touch; most of the phone is thin enough.

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The camera does bulge a little and when on the table doesn’t sit flat, not such a bad thing as it means the camera lens doesn’t make contact.

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So Pureview? It’s a 41 megapixel camera with the sensor size comparable to some of the better point and shoot cameras. The number is ridiculous, but it’s not as much of a gimmick as it initially sounds.
_DSC3530 Admittedly that was my first reaction, but reading into the finer details of what Nokia decides to do with the 41 megapixels is pretty clever. Essentially Nokia ‘super samples’ or combines multiple pixels to recreate a larger pixel with more colour detail and less noise.

What results is an image which has more accurate colour and better low light detail. The standard image which comes out is a more respectable 5 megapixel image which is stunning for a phone. The image below was in a room that was barely lit and it was able to produce a pretty good image.

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Further, they use this tech to allow a ‘semi lossless zoom’ by using native pixels as you zoom in digitally. You’re not losing quality as that’s how the sensor would perform normally but you’re not getting the benefits of super sampling.

Here’s an idea of the kind of detail you can get:

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What else is great? Xenon built in flash, this kinda tech had popped in and out of phone tech over the years; however the difference it makes compared to a LED bulb is night and day. Xenon flashes are brighter and have a shorter duration, allowing you freeze motion a lot better.

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The bits which are great about the phone’s camera is the inbuilt lens stabilisation (which uses ball bearings), this allows for shutter speeds as low as 1/4 and provides great stability when recording photos and low light images. Strangely enough you can hear the rattle of the stabilisation system, very odd.

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The Nokia Pro Camera app which allows full manual controls (not aperture as that’s fixed) including shutter speed and ISO and white balance. The lens is a snappy f/2.2 aperture and wide enough for everyday use. Due the fast lens and large sensor, it’s quite possible to get a nice depth of field without having the camera centimetres from your subject.The device also has Nokia’s PureAudio tech, this allows the phone to record super clear audio during video recording with plenty of dynamic range, this is something most cameras struggle with (let alone phones). I haven’t had a chance to play with this personally but the results can be heard online.

So that’s enough about the camera, what about everything else? Well to be honest it’s Windows Phone 8, there’s not much to differentiate it and it runs wildly smooth despite it’s weaker hardware. With pre-ordering, I did get a wireless charging kit to go with the phone.

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I really like Nokia’s idea of making the wireless tech optional, if you want it, purchase a cover which snaps on and attaches to two pins exposed at back of the phone.

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Snapping on the cover does add a little bulk but it’s not too bad.

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The charging pad is a bit smaller than I expected and does require a of careful placement, not the ‘just drop it on the table and it’ll charge’ mantra I was hoping for. Wireless charging standard used here is qi so it’ll work with any other qi chargers.

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Overall, so far I’m heaps happy with the phone, still getting used to the Windows Phone interface, it’s design intention is a lot different to Android and Apple and does have a bit of a learning curve. Compared to the Galaxy S3 its profile is pretty much thicker due to the camera.

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The Windows Phone OS is certainly snappy and doesn’t choke like the Android did at times.

Armin Only and Cafe Del Mar announced!

Two very exciting announcements out today for Sydney today which has got me pretty stoked. The first? World’s number 1 DJ Armin van Buuren has announced his Armin Only world tour for his artist album ‘Intense’. The second? World famous beach front bar in Ibiza known for its chill out music and amazing sunsets.

Continue reading Armin Only and Cafe Del Mar announced!

Drive down to Robertson’s pie shop

On a nice sunny day we went for a drive down to Woollongong (well Robertson to be precise) to check out a pie shop known as Robertson’s Pie Shop. The drive is about 1.5 hours from my local area and passes through the Royal National Park and Macquarie Pass (now you know why we’d make this trek down :P).
Unfortunately for us Sunday traffic through the national park meant cyclists blocking the road while they struggle with the uphill and family sedans moving at a snail’s pace.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

Fortunately though Macquarie Pass was a little better and to my surprise, it was a bus that was leading the pack, man that bus driver was a gun. So we eventually arrived to this pie shop, plenty of bikes and cars parked out front so we knew it was where we wanted to be.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

Looking at the map below you can see how much fun Macquarie pass can be, a bit scary at times as there’s a section with no line dividing the two sides of the road.

View Larger Map

The shop front is just your local pie shop/cafe looking kinda place, plenty of awards and articles about the shop were scattered at the counter.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

Plenty of pie choices but I went for the Volcano, a chunky beef pie with a kick.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

I was too busy munching on the pie to get a photo of the pie itself (odd I know) but damn it was tasty. Definitely a lot of kick but the filling was thick and flavoursome. The pastry flaked well but wasn’t overly crispy, a nice balance between softness and crispiness.

photos by ntranced photography (facebook.com/ntrancedphotography

Well priced and overall pretty damn good pie and a lovely drive to get there. For takeaway we bought two large pies, a beef and mushroom for savoury and a blackberry and apple pie for dessert. Popping that into the oven at home was delicious, the apple pie pastry broke well and wasn’t a hard biscuity mess and the filly was just divine.

Definitely have to head back here.

 

HSV/NSCC drive day

Another track day at Wakefield had popped up and I decided (at last minute) to join the crew and sign up. The day was hosted by the HSV club of NSW in conjunction with the Nissan Sports Car Club (NSCC) – 8 sessions on the track for $200, not a bad deal, so off I went.

This time round there wouldn’t be much difference from the first track day with JDM yard – only difference was a set of tyres, instead of some aged Goodyear F1’s, I’d have fresh Bridgestone Potenza RE002s. With NatSoft timing as well, I could be sure that the laps I was putting down were real and timed accurately. Continue reading HSV/NSCC drive day

A spoiler and some carbon fibre

Well not real carbon fibre 😉 but decided to add some touches using the 3M carbon fibre vinyl wrap. The first point of attack is the centre console, just the bit that surrounds the gear stick.

The stock form for the titanium edition MX5 is a silver trim.

The plan was to wrap it in the carbon fibre vinyl which has the nice fibrous texture as well. Here’s how it looks wrapped.

Process wasn’t as easy as I was expecting as the adhesive wasn’t as strong as I had thought, tricky corners were hard to wrap nicely. Pretty happy with the end result and the flaws are almost invisible when re-installed. Need to buy myself another sheet to do the stereo surrounds.

The other mod that I had put off for a while is the install of my spoiler, it’s an OEM Mazda one, I was deciding what to do with it but thought I might as well install it as is while deciding.

The instructions aren’t the best, with dodgy translations, but it’s pretty simple. Stick on the template for the middle hole, drill til it’s about 10mm wide. Line the two side templates into the spoiler and lightly attach, place the spoiler onto the boot and stick the templates down. Remove and the location to drill is there.

The most difficult bit was the replacing of the tension balancers which push the boot up, I was a bit careless when taking them off and didn’t realise how they sat exactly. However, once I realised there was a groove for them, it was exactly the same as removal.

Here’s how it looks from the rear.

And another shot.

New shoes for the MX5

I was starting to need some new tyres for the MX5 as I hard forgotten to rotate them and the rears are now rather worn, the fronts were still okay but the tyres were getting a bit old and hard. Looking around on some forums I found a rather good deal, $675 for a set of 4 Bridgestone Potenza Adrenaline RE002’s.

Not only that, but they came with a set of original NB8B rims as well! To top it off, when I came to pick them up, the rims were spotless, hardly a mark on them at all, very happy.

Initial impressions was they’re pretty grippy compared to the old Goodyear Eagle F1’s which were originally on. Did notice it was harder to slip starting from standstill and they just seemed to have that little bit more edge around corners. Will have to do a proper trackday to put it though its paces and report back.

I’m a bit torn about the rims though, I do prefer the look of the Enkei rims which came with the Titanium edition, but I don’t think I’m bothered enough to switch the tyres over.

Yes, the dent from months ago is still there when some tard reversed into it at Canley Vale and never left a note.