Airlines don't allow Bluetooth headsets (the air regulators don't. Some mention this in a passive-aggressive kind of way but do nothing. Others are less passive and more aggressive.

Modern phones are getting rid of the 3.5mm jack. Sure there are usb-c dongles, and the dongles are tiny so not really an issue. but... this leads to the second issue, which is that your active-noise-cancelling headsets typically have a battery and a charge cable. So why not combine all this in a relatively cheap package?

Enter the Xiaomi USB-C ANC headphones that arrived last night. Its an in-ear headphone that has active noise cancelling and is directly driven by USB-C, no dongle. It also doesn't have the 'wart' on the string my Sony in-ear noise canceller's did. And it uses power from your phone, so no separate charge system needed.

Also, its kind of neat, since they have a DAC in the cable, you can plug them into your desktop PC or laptop, and they work just as well. No driver, just plug and go (which is good because the English instructions are missing). Good by analog!

Are they as good as Bose 35C? No. Do they cost less than 5%? Yes. Are they light, portable, good enough? Yes they are. When you flick the little switch to enable the DSP-based active noise cancel, the fan noise etc vanishes.

I got mine on aliexpress for ~$25, but amazon has them for not much more.

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Earlier I wrote about my shiny new e-bike. It was great, I have ridden it to work every day since it arrived. Upgrades (like the 3-D printed thermos holder, suspension seat post) made it even better. I gotta say you should get one.

And now, someone else (may his sphincter develop taste buds) has mine. You can see him in the video, its not a casual walk-by. He came up the street for this purpose, then walked around the building to see if anyone was there, followed by riding off. Yes it was locked, but, well, that back-pack conceals a tool of some sort.

It was a long slow walk into the office this am. bike-less. disheartened.

So, if you know the chap in the video below, WRPS has a case open, I can give you the case#.


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So we talked about the bike. 120km under my belt on it now, story checks out. Go go gadget bike makes pedalling easier.

But one of the sad things, cargo. I mean, I don't take much with me. A laptop. And a thermos of iced-tea (because the local iced-tea places are too fancy and have things like hibiscus and carbonated tea on tap).

A saddle-bag was acquired, and the laptop can be kind of shoehorned in there. But the 2.2l thermos. That is another story. Its big and heavy.

In many bikes, you get a 'cage' that mounts to the post. But this thermos is *way* bigger than a bike water bottle. And this bike has rectangular channels (full of batteries). I could remove the battery and drill+tap it I suppose. But, well, we have a 3D printer, this should be solvable.

First we get the calipers. The Thermos is 112mm diameter. The rectangular channel on the bike is 50.5mm wide.

So, lets make some math (or just download on Thingiverse).

module triangle(o_len, a_len, depth)
        polygon(points=[[0,0],[a_len,0],[0,o_len]], paths=[[0,1,2]]);

mlen = 70;
od = 122;
id = od - 10;
cw = 50.5;
ow = 60;

rotate([-90,0,0]) {
difference() {

    // outer cube W, L, H
    cube(size = [od, mlen, od/2]);
    // cylinder channel
    translate(v = [od/2, mlen+1, od/2]) rotate(a = [90, 0, 0]) cylinder(d = id, h = mlen+25); 


rotate(a = [180,0,0]) translate([od/4,-mlen,0])
difference() {
    // outer rectangle W, L, H
    cube(size = [ow, mlen, 50]);
    // inner rectangle channel
    translate(v = [(ow - cw)/2, mlen, 0]) rotate(a = [90, 0, 0]) cube(size = [cw, 50, mlen+0]);

translate( [od/4,0,0]) rotate([-90,0,0]) mirror([90,0,0])triangle(25,30,mlen);
translate( [90,0,0]) rotate([-90,0,0]) triangle(25,32,mlen);

And this produces the below shape. What do you think, slap that over the channel, slap the thermos in it, and run a velcro strap over it?


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So the new office doesn't have free parking. Its not far from home, and I've been walking, but as its getting hotter that is getting stickier. Time for a solution involving electrical gadgets I hear you say. You are right!

So I acquired a VoltBike Urban (black). Spiffy right? It folds up to make differently-shaped (perhaps trunk of car?). And, its got secrets. Lurking within is a modest 350W assist motor and a 36V 11.6AH battery. And does it ever propel you. Even in top gear you feel a little bit like a hamster in a wheel on full assist. Its speed limited (the motor that is) to 32km/h, which is plenty I think.

So now the questions. Can it/should it be hacked somehow? The controller is one of these in the LCD family.

The bike is pretty decent quality. But the charger... Whoa. Its hot if you just leave it plugged in not charging 🙂 And its suspiciously light in that charging brick for something that is outputting 42V @ 2A. I might spring for an 'upgrade' on on aliexpress to 42V @ 5A w/ a fan in a metal case.

So what do you think, will I look like too much of a hipster on this? Pee-wee herman accessories? Tassles?

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OK, I have a problem. I'll admit it. I order gadgets and components from Aliexpress. And then they arrive some random time in the future (1 week to 3 months!). And usually the sellers give you a quick email "your thing is on the way, give me good feedback please, shipping speed is not in my control".

The National People's Congress is being held in Beijing right now. The very same one that seems to have anointed the leader for life.

Recently we saw in the news that restaurants are not allowed to have > 10 foreigners in them at a time until the Congress is over (and none after 8pm!). That is some hard core racist authoritarianism there.  The poor expat stoners with no late-night 'za.

But back to me, and my gadget need. I ordered a 120V->6V transformer (because I'm finally getting around to the automated ceiling fan speed controller, and I need the zero-crossing time so I need a transformer rather than a switching supply). And, I was sort of expecting the usual, a quick email to say its in the mail, and please don't worry about the when. But imagine my surprise to see:


We are sorry to tell you that we have to ship your parcel after Mar. 21th, which is the day after our china important two sessions. Because during the two sessions, the delivery of the parcels is restricted. 

So the People's Congress, for security purposes, is restricting commerce, all the little Alibaba, Aliexpress vendors. And, more importantly, my little transformer!

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