§ My tomatillos plants are finally, for the first time this year, beginning to grow fruit. In past years, I would be drowning in my favorite husked nightshade by now. There has been something distinctly different about this year’s growing season. My pet theory is that it has something to do with all of the smoke from the Canadian wildfires earlier in the summer.

§ I was in an all-staff meeting during FEMA’s emergency alert test on Wednesday. My phone received the alert a full two minutes after everyone else. No idea why. I do know that I was not the only person with an iOS 17 iPhone connected to the Verizon network so I don’t think it was an operating system or carrier thing.

§ Almost nonstop CNC milling this week taught me an important lesson: a large number of inexpensive bits is more useful than fewer fancy bits. This really sunk in after dulling a $100 compression bit in two days. I put in an order for eighteen cheapo bits to replace it.

§ Alright I finally did it, I traded in my long-neglected iPad and got a pair of the new AirPod Pros.

The first thing I noticed is that they connect to my phone immediately, every time. Above everything else, this is the largest quality-of-life improvement overall. My previous pair of AirPods had been getting less and less reliable in this regard over time. It would sometimes take minutes of fiddling before they would finally connect. There is none of that here.

Now, the sound quality overall? Eh… maybe I could tell the first and second generation Pros apart in a blind test. Maybe. If anything, songs that feature a particularly deep bass might sound a bit richer. Overall, there is absolutely not a huge difference here though which I will admit is a bit disappointing.

The new integrated volume control is very awkward to use but I’m glad to have it. Maybe I just need more practice.

Over the years, I’ve found myself typically using AirPods in one of two ways:

  • Wearing a single AirPod with Transparency mode enabled so that I can maintain as much awareness of the world around me as possible.
  • Wearing both AirPods with Noise Cancellation mode enabled to maximally block out my surroundings.

On these new AirPods, Transparency mode is noticeably improved. There are also a few new features that were totally absent on the originals…

Adaptive Audio is bizarre. My neighbor using his leaf blower sounds exactly the same as it does when Transparency mode is enabled. When running my CNC machine, on the other hand, Adaptive Audio blocks more sound than Noise Cancellation mode does. Other times, it is as if it can’t decide what to do. Adaptive Audio attempts some kind of disorienting half noise cancellation thing whenever I am washing dishes. Overall, I probably prefer it to Transparency mode although I hope future software updates significantly improve it. It is still in need of lots of tuning.

Conversational Awareness: I wasn’t expecting to like this but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. It is smart enough not to activate for quick exchanges—think: a passing “excuse me” in the grocery store. The moments where it does fade down audio makes the AirPods feel prescient. I would start reaching towards my ear to manually pause when I would notice that the audio had already automatically stopped a moment prior.

Personalized Volume: I am not entirely sure what this is doing. I only notice it when it randomly makes my audio way too quiet. Maybe it is doing great work behind the scenes 90% of the time but I don’t think it is worth it when it feels broken the other 10% of the time. I turned this setting off.

So, are the AirPods Pro 2 as much of an upgrade over the AirPods Pro 1 as the AirPods Pro 1 were over the original AirPods?

Going from the original AirPods to the first generation Pros was revelatory. As much as I adored my original AirPods, as soon as I got the Pros they instantly felt like garbage.

Upgrading from the first generation Pros to the second? If I accidentally left the house with my old pair of Pros I would be annoyed but if I were more than a block or two away I wouldn’t turn around to swap them out.

§ Station Eleven is a really well made television show. It is somehow better than I remember it being on my first watch. The seventh episode could stand on its own as an unassailable masterpiece of a short film.

§ Tangentially related: It occurred to me that fewer things have ultimately changed as the result of our recent global pandemic than I would have anticipated. Of course a number of things have changed and it is probably still be too early to see all of the eventual consequences but, sitting here today, sweeping societal effects feel relatively few and far between.

§ As we approach the end of the year, I’ve been trying to track down a replacement for a particular planner my fiancé prefers. It turns out the company that makes her beloved 2023 planner is named Bluesky. So, not only do they make pretty good planners, they also must be the reason the invite-only social media upstart Bluesky (“bsky.app”) has such an awful domain name.

§ Links

  • How to see beauty, a beautiful multimedia blog post by Ralph Ammer
  • Happy birthday to my firstborn baby boy - “One thing that prevented us from receiving more casual help is that so many people are so anxious about holding a baby, in a way that seems related to their confusion about their own bodies. My baby did not need to constantly be held as carefully as one might hold a precarious stack of cut-glass doves, but could without difficulty be transferred from one person or place to another by grabbing him under the armpits like the small monkey he is.“

§ Recipes