Getting Back on my Bike

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Photo of my electric bike in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

It’s been only a month since my crash and it still feels like yesterday. The strange feeling of my newly crowned teeth, the sensitive parts of my face and the mild pain in my shoulder are constant reminders of the potential danger of riding bikes around San Francisco. For the most part, I’ve told everyone that I’ve fully recovered, but these ailments haunt me. My wreck was a wake up call—to put safety first, and minimize the chance of getting hurt.

While there is danger in riding, I think there is inherent risk in everything we do… including driving our cars, crossing the street, and playing sports. The lesson I’ve learned is that I should have taken extra safety precautions—if I had a full-face helmet, there’s a good chance I would never have gotten a concussion, multiple stitches, had to go to the dentist multiple times, etc. I’m not saying that a full-face helmet would save me from everything, but a little extra protection would have probably gone a long way.

I want to be clear that I was wearing a helmet, had all my lights on, gloves, and clothing that covered all my body. The one place that wasn’t protected was my face. More on that in a moment…

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Black and white photo of the Golden Gate Bridge and its reflection at Presidio an hour before the sunset.

There are still so many places in San Francisco I want to explore. And there’s really no better way to do that than on a bike. The convenience of riding to work is also amazing, not to mention all the health benefits. I also really like the idea of minimizing my carbon footprint. When I combine these reasons I realize that biking still makes sense in my life.

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Photo of my bike at Presidio.

The photo above is something I shot after work on Friday. I decided to take a ride and watch the sunset from one of my favorite vantage points, Hawk Hill. On my way there, I snapped this picture, and I was reminded of how beautiful this place is.

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Photo of my bike and helmet with the Golden Gate bridge and San Francisco in the background.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve upgraded my helmet. This is a full-face model designed for extreme down hill mountain biking. After doing researching and consulting with my comrades, this seemed to be the best choice. I was seriously considering a motorcycle helmet, but there’s a camp of riders that believe that motorcycle helmets can potentially obstruct visibility and sound—which could ironically be more dangerous. The helmet I purchased (Bell Super 3R) is pretty legit, and has new technology to prevent concussions and minimize head trauma.

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again… but if it does, I’m more prepared.

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Photo of Marin County, towards Rodeo Lagoon as the sun touched down on the horizon.

This was probably my favorite photo of the evening. If I had more daylight, I think I would have ridden further… but I’m saving that for next time. This was truly a majestic view, and the only way to preserve that moment in a bottle was with a pic.

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Close-up of my new helmet. It includes a new technology called MIPS to reduce rotational head trauma.

My new helmet also has a built in Go Pro mount. I’ll be investing into one of those soon. The really crazy thing about my accident is that I don’t remember what happened. If I had at that time Go Pro, I could have examined the incident frame by frame.

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Photo of my bike in one of the historic artillery bunkers.

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A quick photo while crossing the Golden Gate bridge on my way back home.

I’ll have more photos share with you guys soon. And I promise that I will be as safe as I can when I’m riding.

The New Macbook Pro 13″

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Opening the new MacBook Pro 13″ for the first time.

I’ve been waiting for this new Macbook Pro for a looooooooong time. I’ve owned or used every single Apple laptop since the Lombard… and I can say that this model is pretty amazing. I still need to run it through its paces, but it feels great. The most impressive thing about the new MacBook is the screen—finally… it’s bright, with beautiful colors, full of contrast.

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Refined on the inside and out.

This is the first time that I’m using a 13″ for design, photo, video etc. Typically, I opt for the 15″ because it usually offers more power (and a better graphics card), but this is the first time I’ve felt like I don’t need that extra juice. This package offers the right balance between portability and performance.

I wanted to thank my team and Expa for hooking me up with a new machine. I’m looking forward to building beautiful products with this new MacBook Pro.

Monday Music: Jazmin Solar

Once again, I’m late on my posting. I found these songs a while ago, but I’m loving them. I’m not sure what they’re saying, but it’s beautiful. I think I found her while stumbling around on Spotify about two years ago. Enjoy!

An Afternoon of Headphone and Amp Testing

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Testing over dozen headphones with different amps.

I spent the afternoon with Patrick and company testing out all of our headphones and amplifiers. For me, the takeaway was that a high quality pair of headphones make the biggest difference… and most of the amps sounded relatively close to each other. Here’s a list of all the gear we brought out (though I don’t think we tried ALL of them):

Headphones

Shure SRH-940
Shure SRH-840
Shure SE215
Sennheiser HD-558
Sennheiser HD-598
Sennheiser HD-600
Sennheiser Momentum 2s
Sennheiser HD-650
Etymotic ER4PT
Ultimate Ears UE 900s
Ultimate Ears UE 9000
Ultimate Ears Triple-fi 10
Ultimate Ears UE6000s
Logitech G633
Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80ohm
Fostex TH-X00 Ebony
HifiMan he-400
Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7
Audio-Technica ATH-AD990
Ultrasone HFI-700

DAC/AMP

Schiit Modi Multibit
Schiit Modi 2 Uber
Schiit Magni 2 Uber
Schiit Fulla 2
Schiit Vali 2 (stock tube)
Schiit Modi (gen 1)
Schiit Magni (gen 1)
iBasso d2+ Boa
FiiO e17 / Fiio e9
FiiO E17K
JDS Labs O2

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Raymond listing to my Sennheiser 650’s.

The popular choice for headphones were the Sennheiser 650’s for open cans. Everyone felt like they were neutral and provided fantastic quality.

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Blind testing DAC/AMPs.

The popular choice for closed headphones were the Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro. It was surprising how much quality they offered. Normally closed headphone quality starts falling apart when you play music loud, but the DT-770 were solid.

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Patrick comparing different DAC/AMPs with his Sennheiser 600’s.

For me, it was really hard to tell which amp was which. However, we discovered that if you listen to music loud enough, you could start to see a difference. In the case of Patrick, he listening things so loud that an AMP was absolutely required just to generated enough sound.

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Schiit AMPs stacked on top of each other.

After listening to the different amps, I’m not sure if you need more than something entry level. I’m sure that there’s a difference between the higher end hardware, but it wasn’t night and day. You’d literally have to listen to them back to back in order to hear a delta. The return on your investment will diminish so quickly if you go down this path. Nonetheless, the Schiit amps looked beautiful… and I’m sure that they probably offer better quality—the question is, how much more quality do you really get?

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Headphones everywhere.

If you’re in the market for buying headphones/amp, get together all your friends and test them out. I think I got lucky with my Sennheiser 650 purchase 3.5 years ago.

I’m hoping we can get the gang together again to test out other equipment. This was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Macro Photos of Jasmin Flower Buds

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Photo of Jasmin buds after an evening storm.

After a stormy evening, the morning sun punched through revealing gorgeous flowers in our back yard. After posting one of the photos on instagram, one of my coworkers identified it as jasmine. The smell of this particular flower is divine, reminiscent of an expensive yet subtle perfume.

Jasminum polyanthum, also known as pink jasmine or white jasmine, is an evergreen twining climber native to China and Burma (Myanmar).[1] It produces an abundance of reddish-pink flower buds in late winter and early spring, followed by fragrant five-petalled star-like white flowers which are about 2 cm in diameter. It has compound leaves with 5 to 7 leaflets which are dark green on the upper surface and a lighter green on the lower surface. The terminal leaflet is noticeably larger than the other leaflets. The plant is very vigorous and can grow up to 6 metres in height when supported. Depending on the climate, this vine has a semi-deciduous to evergreen foliage. –Wikipedia

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Close up of a jasmine flower.

I used my dad’s 55mm f3.5 with an extension tube to shoot these macro photos. It’s astonishing to think that this lens is probably over 30 years old and can still produce stunning images.

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Close up of tiny water droplets on a leaf.

As much as I like the 58mm f1.4, this old 55mm f3.5 is a ton of fun to use… and has the ability to create curious images like this. I’m thinking the next step is to try shooting more macro photos with a strobe and stopping down the lens to create even sharper images.

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Photo of the foliage growing out of control in our back yard.

I’m not sure what kinds of plants these are, but they’re growing like wild fire. I’d like to grow a garden, but these things have literally taken over.

Anyway, I’m hoping everyone is enjoying the weather. It finally feels like spring.