MEElectronics M9 Review

Last week I made a bit of an impulse buy. I was not really in the market for new in hear earbuds/monitors but I bought some. Previously I had been using the older of my 2 pair of Sennheiser CX300s. I have had these for probably 4-5 years and really liked them. Recently I thought one ear as not outputting as much sound as the others and they had become more muddy in tone. I have been listening to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks recently so it was still ok. Well I was browsing around on Slickdeals and saw a thread all about new in ear monitors in this under $30 price range. Recently it seems that there are a lot of new upstart companies that are making fantastic sounding products for fractions of the price.

Build Quality
The build quality of the M9s are quite good. The heads are a hard metal shell and the metal looks to be anodized. I ended up with the silver buds because they were a little cheaper than black. The cord seems pretty sturdy. It is kind of slick feeling so hopefully this helps avoid knots. The cord is in a Y configuration. This is a personal preference but I much prefer the J cord style of the CX300’s. This will take a little getting use to. The plug end is bent at a 45 degree angle and I think this will work well for people who wrap the phones around a device or put the device in a pocket while using it. For my devices its a nice tight fit that really clicks in. The one area I can ding build quality is the speaker grill area. On my CX300’s its made of a wire mesh, on the M9 it looks to be a cardboard cover. I am a little concerned with how this will hold up over time, especially with sweat. I like to wear my IEM while biking.

Sound Quality
I would categorize myself somewhere between enthusiast and audiophile. I don’t have the budget to spend thousands on speakers and headphones every year but do enjoy quality. I would say I favor bass but like crisp clear full range either. Muddy strong bass for me is a pass. I tested with a variety of music. I am recently into electronic,dubstep, house stuff, but balanced this with Tech N9ne new album “All 6’s & 7’s” because of the hard hitting base but sharp clear fast lyrics. I also used Silversun Pickups, Incubus, and John Mayer. The later because this is an excellently mastered album with fine detail in the guitars.

The M9’s are advertised as for bass heads and I would not argue with that. The bass is strong but not overpowering for my taste. The bass improved as the headphones burned in (See below) the bass becamse more accurate and cleaner. The mids and highs are very crisp, with the highs maybe being too crisp and strong for my liking. This can be improved with EQ but isnt a huge thing. I think I will get use to it the more I listen. I prefer the crispness to the not as crisp mids and highs of my CX300s.

The soundstage is pretty good for in ear ear buds. Its no where nearly as large as my Sennheiser 595 cans but there is several factors of price difference too. The soundstage is large and improvement over the cx300’s.

These headphones do need a burn in period in my opinion. I was not impressed with them on first listen but I played music through them over night for 2 nights and the phones improved quite a bit. Tones mellowed out and some of the harshness of the mids and highs wore off. I would think the more I use them the more this will improve.

Fit/Noise Reducing ability
Many people do not like in ear headphones because of the fit. They say they the sound quality is poor. This is 100% down to fit. Companies need to really stress this in instructions. Without the proper fit all in ear earbuds will sound terrible. The proper fit transforms them. This said I am still experimenting with the fit of my M9’s. I really want the double flanged versions to work for me but I don’t think it will for me because they are a bit large. I do wish they had a couple of sizes of the double flanged versions but for the money your still getting a great value.
These are a ported design. The port is directly opposite of the speaker driver. It is a small hole in the metal housing. My CX300s were sealed and this worked great for noisy things and riding my bike into the wind. The ported design of the M9 still seemed to work pretty well when mowing but I did have some trouble when riding my bike. The wind noise was more noticeable than I expected. I may stick with my second pair of CX300s when riding at windy times.

The amount of extras these come with is impressive for the price. The case is nice, I don’t see using it much as its not big enough to put a phone or ipod touch into, but you could fit a shuffle easily into it. The airplane adapter is super nice. I have always wanted one of these but don’t travel enough to buy one. Looking forward to trying it out. They came with 3 sizes of one flange ear tips in the bass boost (black) silicone, 1 size of double tip bass boos material. Also 1 pair of double flange tips in a balanced silicone (gray). I found the little covers a little hard to fit on but they all seem to stay.

Comparison to the CX300’s
My CX300’s have been my old reliable workhorse. I do everything in them without worry. I accepted their falts of having some muddy sound (Part of this was due the excessive wear I think I might have on my original pair). I must say that the new M9’s are better just about everywhere and I wont hesitate recommending these to anyone in the market for in ear buds for $20.

I bought my M9’s at Amazon for $16.99 and for the money I would say these are a fantastic value. These are so much better than any of the included headphones that come with any music player it really should be an automatic upgrade for anyone. While I have not experienced the really high end in earbuds and IEM’s I can say that the M9’s as a whole are the best I have heard. They are not without falts but I think I will get use to some of these. Time will tell how much I end up using them in the next few months. For less than $20 its very hard to go wrong.

Will update with a photo tonight.

How to make Tinto De Verano

Tinto De Verano is a traditional Spanish summer drink. Its name translates to “Red Wine of Summer”.  The drink is similar to sangria but much simpler to make.  Everyone I have made the drink for love it. I was first introduced to the drink on a trip to Spain in high school by the local kids I was with.  They explained that in Spain only tourists order sangria, local order Tinto De Verano.  The drink is very easy to make and it only really as 2 ingredients. I will explain more below.  On my return visit to Spain in 2010 I noticed that they even sell this in the grocery store now, premixed in large liter bottles.  I did not end up trying this as the real thing is so easy to make and I would guess tastes better too.The list of ingredients to make a Tinto de Verano  is very short and simple.  The main ingredients are red wine and a carbonated lemon soda.

The Wine:
While in Spain I asked about learning to make this and it was explained to me that any red wine will work to make the drink. They also said the cheaper the wine, the better usually.  In Spain we bought Liter boxes of wine for just a few Euro that worked great. This is a great way to get rid of red wine that you don’t care for is just cheap. Shiraz, Malbec, and blends containing Merlo and Cabernet Sauvignon also work well. The wine variety is really unimportant. I have found the Trader Joes famous Two Buck Chuck works pretty well.

The Soda:
In Spain two of the most popular sodas are La Casera Gaseosa which is low sugar lightly carbonated lemonade type drink. The other popular choice is Lemon Fanta.  The problem with these is that they are not widely available in the United States.  For example Lemon Fanta in the USA is not made with real cane sugar.  Anyone who has had a Mexican or European Coke will tell you there is a huge difference, the same is true with Lemon Fanta.   I will explain what I use to make the drink in the US below.

What I use to make Tinto De Veranos myself are Trader Joe’s wines.  The store recently opened in my area and they sell a couple varieties of house red wines under the label  Charles Shaw.  It sells in my area for $2.99 a bottle so it sure fits the cheap criteria.  For the soda I have found that Sunkist Lemon soda works really well.  They also have a diet variety that tastes good too.  I have read that a lemon lime soda like Sprite or 7-up also works but since these are sweeter and have lime with them it changes the flavor a bit.  I have not tried these as much.

If you want to make the drink a bit stronger you can easily add a shot of white rum. Be careful as this drink does a good job of masking alcohol so things can get out of hand pretty easily.

So now that you know about the drink here is how you make it.

Using a high ball glass fill the glass with several large ice cubes.
Fill the glass about 1/3 of the way full with red wine,  add optional rum.
Fill the remaining glass with the Sunkist lemon soda that has been chilled.
Stir and enjoy.

The drink should be light, refreshing and bring the fruit flavors out of the wine.  Depending on the wine being used it is acceptable to use a little bit of simple syrup or sugar to make the drink a bit sweeter if desired.  Optional garnishments include a slice of Lemon or Orange.

Below is a photo of a Tinto De Verano I made last year.

Pinball Deluxe – Best Android Game to date

Yes Pinball Deluxe is the best Android game to date in my opinion. I know that this is almost sac-religious to say it is better than Angry Birds but to me it is.  I have nothing wrong with Angry Birds and think its a great game.  Before the most recent update however it was kind of jerky on my Motorola Droid X, and it displayed in game advertisements that got in the way, however it did have great game play and is an enormous value with the amount of game play it offers.

Pinball Deluxe is a Free Game for the Android platform. The game contains 3 different pinball machines each with their own different theme.  Each pinball board contains a mini game which I have not seen in many other pinball games before.  Its a neat little thing to set it apart from the others.   The game has your classic flippers at the bottom of the board and then on some levels middle flippers higher up as well.  This game runs very well.  It is super smooth on my Droid X and looks great while doing it.  It is safe to say this is the best looking Android game I have seen.  In addition to the game running well the designers have really thought it out.  You can pause and resume your games so you can come back later.  It also asks you on start-up if you want to enable sound.  This is a must have feature as far as I am concerned.  I often like to pull out my phone if I am in line and the last thing I want is the opening music to come blaring on.  Since Android has different volume levels for different items its easy to leave your phone on vibrate but have the media volume on a high level.  I have heard stories of people in public places where they probably should not be gaming on their phone (Church) and they suddenly hear the Angry Birds theme song start up someplace in the room. I am sure this happens in college classrooms across the country as well.  So this game prevents that.

The Physics in the game seem to be very accurate.  The ball and paddle behave the way you expect them too.  Different surfaces and materials behave differently and velocity seems to be accurate as well.

The only negative I can come up with is with the ball Launcher/Plunger.  I would like some type of power meter here so I can tell how powerful the launch will be.  Currently it shows a spring that compresses but

Conclusion: At a 7.6Mb download and a price of Free this is a great game that all Android users running 2.1 or higher should try.  In my opinion the developer could easily add additional boards and charge for them.  You can download it in the Android Market here

Below are a few screen shots from the game on my phone.  I will try to get a few better ones.

Adobe Reader X Quick Review

I originally wrote this article for
Last week Adobe released a new version of Adobe Acrobat, version X.  This is a new version of the program that many of us use every day.  In the past people shied away from new versions of Acrobat reader because over the years the program had become bloated and slow.  However this new version offers important security benefits and speed improvements that make the upgrade worth it.

As many people know Adobe Reader has become one of the favorite attack vectors for hackers and malware over the past few years for a number of reasons including.

  1. The install base is huge! Most new PC’s come with it preinstalled, if not almost everyone needs a PDF viewer and Adobe’s is the most popular.
  2. Quarterly updates that Adobe releases are too slow and infrequent, Only if an exploit is really bad does Adobe decided to do an out of cycle update.  Even with these updates few people know that the program needs updated.  The automatic updates in version 9 have been better but still seem to fail most of the time.  Manual updating seems to be required.
  3. The ability to run things such as Javascript in a PDF exist and are on by default.  Just about everyone does not need this feature and it represents a large place to exploit.
The Good
The biggest feature of version X is the introduction of a Sandbox.  A sandbox provides isolation  of the program from the operating system, to lessen the chance of security exploits.  Adobe does a great job in explaining all about the sandbox features in these two blog posts, Sandbox Post 1,  Sandbox Post 2, Sandbox Post 3, Sandbox Post 4.  This is such a big thing from a security angle that the SANS institute has recommended that everyone install Adobe Reader X to get this feature.

Surprisingly this new version is faster than the old version 9.  It appears to be less bloated and quicker responding.

Other changes
I noticed the voice that will read text to you if you want seems to be more like a human.  The flow is greatly improved. The interface has been tweaked slightly to have more of a beveled edge, silver stainless steel look.  I like it.  Its nothing revolutionary but a nice, clean change.  The updater also now allows for you to set it to automatically download and install updates.  Hopefully this works well and allows the program to stay up to date without much user intervention.   I do hope Adobe changes their company policy and moves to a monthly update policy on the second Tuesday of the month, like Microsoft.  This will make the task of corporate administration much easier on the administrator.

The Bad
By default two security settings are on, when they should be disabled for increased security.  They pertain to features that a very, very small percentage of users actually use.  If for some reason you needed these someday you can easily turn them on, but for maximum security they should be off.  Adobe has even recommended doing this when the program has had problems in the past.
So to disable these settings go under EDIT—> Preferences —-> Then on the Left hand side choose JavaScript and then at the top of the page, uncheck the box that says “Enable Acrobat JavaScript

The second option that needs changed is under this same menu.  Choose Trust Manager on the left hand side of the page, then at the top of the page uncheck the box that says “Allow Opening of non-PDF file attachments with external applications”

The other bad thing is that despite these new security features the very people you are trying to keep out are trying to take advantage of this new release to push their spamware most of it dubbed “Adobe Acrobat 2010” THIS IS FAKE and Malware, DO NOT INSTALL.  The SANS institute has a nice post about this as well, even with photos!

In conclusion when combined with the new security features and increased performance this seems like a great thing to have if you like the official client.  Here is a direct download for Windows

Offutt Air Force Base Air Show 2010

The annual Offutt Airshow this year was on August 28th and 29th.  I went on the 29th with @Rossnelson and had a great time.  Security was really tight, we had to go through metal detectors and then most people were wanded after, they did not give second chances of removing more metal to go through again.  They were also  not allowing bags in so I had to carry my camera around my neck the entire day and only bring one lens.  I brought the 70-200 and was glad I did.  One last thing about the security was that Ross was wearing a t-shirt from the band Bad Religion and he got a talking to going through security about it.  The guard thought he might be trying to make a political statement and said he may have to turn it inside out if asked to do so. Luckily other service men knew of the band and let us through.  Security was nearly as tight as an airport.  I guess this was because we were on an active air force base.

The day was long and hot, people took cover as the day went on under the wings of aircraft.  I loved seeing people sitting in lawn chairs under the huge wings of a B-52 or under the fuselage of a B1.  We walked around and saw all the static planes which were too many to list.  We then watched the aerial show which was good.  My favorite by far was the F-22 Raptor. It was such an impressive fighter plane. The thrust vectoring really made it very maneuverability and agile.  It also was so stable at any speed it seemed.

This was the first time shooting anything similar to sports on with my Canon 7D.  I used Al Servo and a combination of Auto focus Expansion when on the center point. It put emphasis on the center point (or where ever you wanted it) but also included one above, below, left and right.  It worked well. for slower moving planes.  For the really fast ones I used the new zonal function AF selection and choose the center group. This grabbed the center 11 points and used them. As long as you kept the points on the object and the AF drive engaged (I did this manually with the AF button) it worked well.  I was amazed at how well it would track planes coming at you quickly or going away from you.  The hardest part was panning quick enough to keep it in frame.  For sports this camera is a huge step up from my old Canon 20D.

Here are a few photos from the day more can be seen at Flickr in this set here.

More can be seen at Flickr in this set here.

Rick’s Steak Out Review – Lincoln NE

Driving by Ricks Steak Out on 70th & Ost (right beside Taco Inn) twice on my way to work each day I knew I had to stop and try it out. I recently read the Lincoln Journal Star review and decided I had to try one of the Philly Steak sandwiches. Today, the weather was great so I decided to go take a visit. I arrived at 12:35PM thinking I would miss some of the lunch crowd and was wrong. There were 8 people in line in front of me. At a normal lunch place this would not be a problem but because Rick’s Steak Out is a mobile operation his grill is small and he was only able to make 3 to 4 sandwiches at a time, so there was a considerable wait for a sandwich place. It took about 25 minutes for me to wait in line and then get my food. The wait allowed me to socialize with the other Linconites, who like me had been driving by the place every day to and from work, heard about it from coworkers (including the Prairie Life Trainer), or had saw it in the news paper and wanted to try it out.

The menu options were brief but because each sandwich is made fresh to order it was able to be customized. Diners had 2 basic options mild (bell peppers) or spicy (jalapeno peppers). Each sandwich came standard with finely chopped breakaway steaks, sausage, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and secret seasoning on a large hoagie bun. I ordered a mild 12” with everything on it.
The 12 inch sandwich I ordered was pretty big. It came wrapped in aluminum foil and I had it cut in ½ so I could save some for a future meal. That was a good idea because with the included chips 6 inches was all I needed.

So how did it taste? The taste was good. Lincoln does not have a good Philly steak sandwich, from a local place that I know of. The super finely chopped steak was perfect. It did not have the fat or gristle that cheaper cuts of meat had. It was also cooked so the edges were slightly crispy and this was perfect. I was not expecting sausage in the mix but it was really good. It was similar a chopped up bratwurst type of meat. The smoky meat added to the flavor complexity of the sandwich. The peppers were good, I think next time I would try the hotter sandwich because the mild was mild. It was a messy thing to eat and I wish I would of saw some napkins to use, but you have to expect this with a large Philly steak sandwich.

7” Phillies are $6.50
12” Phillies are $10.50
Buffalo Wings are 15 for $8.50
( I did not try these but according to the newspaper review they are worth your time and money)

The Philly sandwiches include a small bag of chips as well.
Cans of pop or bottles of water are $0.50 each

I would rate the value as above fair. The sandwiches were pretty big and very fresh.

Atmosphere: Rick’s has some things going for it right now. The weather is beautiful this fall so far and a 100% outdoor place works well, but being at the edge of a parking lot that borders one of the busiest streets in the city it can get a bit noisy. Add to this the generator running, and this is not the place I would take a girl on a romantic first date. Rick does have a table setup so you can sit and eat if you want to. I did today so I could sit out in the great weather and that made everything else irrelevant.

Overall Impression: Rick’s Steak Out makes a really good Philly steak sandwich. I can’t think of a better one in town. The biggest complaint I have is how long it took to get my food. Some of the people in line behind me had to leave because they could not wait so long. If Rick’s Steak Out wants to capture the work lunch crowd his speed has to improve. Another thing that will be interesting to watch is what happens when winter gets here. Waiting in line is not something that the cook or customers will want to do. I hope Rick’s figures out a way to make it all work because he has one hell of a Philly sandwich.

Hours of operation are Monday to Saturday 11am to 6pm, closed on Sunday. Delivery is available, just call 402-601-8133