Why Worry?

Baby, when I get down I turn to you
And you make sense of what I do
And though it isn’t hard to say

But baby, just when this world seems mean and cold
Our love comes shining red and gold
And all the rest is by the way

Why worry
There should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now
Why worry now

Dire Straits
spotify

One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums. It’s nice to be able to hear these songs again. This is all thanks to Aftershokz headphones. I have several pairs now. It’s been a musical desert for me until just recently. I was a serious audiophile once. Now nothing sounds right if it isn’t coming to me through these headphones.

Bone Conduction?

I have been relying on Aftershokz headphones for nearly everything that I hear for almost a decade now. The Titanium series was reliable even if the pads fell off of the conduction ends of the headset pretty routinely. If you held your mouth the right way you could sometimes get the pads to stick back on, or you could try your hand at gluing them back on yourself. I wore each set until the speakers quit working one way or the other, and I was thankful to be able to enjoy music again for the first time in over a decade since I started suffering from hearing loss due to Meniere’s.

The new Open Move design doesn’t have pads that can fall off, so they get higher marks from me than the old Titanium’s did.

I couldn’t figure out how to get the headsets to work with the PlayStation 3 or 4 though. I also couldn’t get the Bluetooth connection to work properly with my laptop and the various games and chat software that I have used over all these years. I bought a wired set of Aftershokz Sports for that purpose. Even though the first generation of Sportz didn’t have a mic, they worked like a charm for what I needed them to do. They worked like a charm until I accidentally pulled the wire out of the in-line battery pack a few days ago.

when I went online to try to get a new set of Sportz I discovered that Aftershokz has discontinued them. Now that is a problem. The Wife had noticed that they had been discontinued earlier in the year (before her trip to the hospital) and so she had bought an alternative headset that advertised itself as being bone conduction; bought them prophylactically in the eventuality that I destroyed the set I was relying on for gameplay and late-night movie watching. She likes not being woken up by the deaf guy trying to hear his movies and games at night.

Now there is bone conduction, and then there is bone conduction. On a totally different level there is the fraud that calls itself bone conduction, the trendy thing people are paying for in headsets these days. On Amazon I ran across four different stores all selling the exact same headset: LBCW, LBFXQ, LBCD and GZCRDZ. Who knows how many more there are if I were to go looking further down the search results list. All of these stores are selling the exact same headset and all of them are not bone conduction. How do I know this? First off, the images are identical on all the store pages, as are the color offerings for the device. The wiring harness is the same as is the microphone embedded in the wiring.

I know they aren’t bone conduction because the headset the wife bought from a fifth store on Amazon has proven it isn’t bone conduction through rigorous testing. I’ve used bone conduction headphones for years and they don’t work if you stick them in your ears. If you stick these headphones in your ears (as uncomfortable as that is to do) you can hear them better than if you place them correctly just above the jawbone. They are not bone conduction, and they aren’t even worth the extremely cheap price charged for them. Do yourself a favor, pay the extra money and get a real bone conduction headset.

As I said though, I can’t get the Sportz that I like unless I buy a used pair off of eBay, and there aren’t a lot of those either. Not having a wired headset will put a crimp in my late-night movie watching and Red Dead Redemption II playing at 4 am, but I think I have solved the Bluetooth issue on my laptop.

After some sleuthing, I have discovered a work-around to get the headset to work for both gaming and chatting. In the Windows sound panel, set headphones as default. Then in your chat software set it to use the default output and you should be able to get sound from both channels simultaneously. If your laptop doesn’t have a built-in mic this work-around might be a problem for you. In the meantime I will be looking for a suitable wired headset replacement to connect to the PS-4 at least. I’ll let you know if I find anything.

Postscript

Still working on that sound system problem. I have two used Sportz that I bought on eBay in the meantime, and I found a wired set of Sportz I bought by accident two years ago still sitting in their return box in the back of the car (The Wife is allergic to Post Offices, apparently) So I have three sets of Sportz to take me through the next few years. Hopefully there will be new tech to replace them by the time they wear out.

Going Deaf

How old were you guys when you were diagnosed and when did your hearing start needing help?

I was diagnosed in 2003 and didn’t get a recommendation to sacrifice the ear until 2017, two years before going bilateral. It varies person to person. No one can tell you how your disease will progress or that you will or won’t be losing your hearing over the course of years. Unless you go bilateral like I have, you will always have at least one good ear to hear with. Only time will tell, so take comfort in that.

I can’t hear music right anymore. The bass tones are gone in the left ear and impaired on the right. If I want to hear a television program I have to plug in headphones or turn the volume up very loud. I won’t use hearing aids because I’m frequently plagued with ear pain from loud noises, so I have to be careful with the volume and the mastering of modern soundtracks varies so much in volume that it can drive you crazy trying to keep the soundtrack audible and yet not painful to hear.

Bone conduction headphones are my savior. I can only listen to music through them and hear it correctly. I need to figure out how to get them to work seamlessly with the gaming console we use to watch television; get them to work for me without turning the volume off for everyone else when I turn them on. I’m still working on a solution for that.

If you do lose your hearing, you don’t want to be caught flat-footed having to learn a whole new method of communication on the fly. So if you are concerned about going deaf, study hearing loss. Learn American Sign Language. Get comfortable with the worst case scenario so that you can remove your fear of it. Once you are no longer afraid of what might happen, you can try to get comfortable with the reality that you have to face right now.

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Where is my Phone?

When I bought my latest phone and paired it with my Aftershokz bluetooth headset, a bone-conduction headset that allows me to hear sounds my ears no longer pick up, the nearly pure Android OS on the phone worked beautifully. Now that I had a phone that was something near current in technology, I discovered that the tech allowed me to do things that I had never thought to try doing before.

Things like telling my phone to find itself for me. It’s a bluetooth headset, it is securely linked to the phone, all you have to do is trigger the voice dialer on the headset and ask the headset “where is my phone?” then the helpful Google assistant speaks again and offers to ring the phone for you. Or rather, it did until sometime in the last few weeks.

The brain fog that is a side-effect of Meniere’s symptoms leaves me pretty much a basket case for days at a time. I spend a lot of time looking for things that I’ve set down somewhere, but I can’t remember where. As I’m standing there looking for my phone I remember I can ask the headset to find the phone for me. So I ask the question. This is the response I got.

An app? Why the fuck should I download an app? Why would Google seperate out the functions that were available right from the headset, and put them in an app? When I finally found the phone, conveniently located exactly where I last left it, I downloaded the app and then tried to use it to find my device. The app helpfully told me that the phone was in my hand. Well, duh. There was no function at all within the app to allow it to do the thing I used to do by triggering voice dial on the headset. Or as I said to Google in my feedback,

This app is fucking useless. If I had two phones, maybe not. But now when I ask Google “where is my phone” it unhelpfully directs me to get this app rather than offering to ring my phone as it has done for me for the last couple of years. Why in the hell would you take that functionality out of the OS? Now I have to own two phones or use a desktop computer to access the device connected to my Bluetooth headset? Why in the hell should I have to do that, when the two devices are securely connected?

Feedback that Google promptly deleted, probably because I violated their feedback standards by cursing at them. What do they expect when they break shit that works? It’s not like this is the first time. I doubt that it will be the last time, either.

For the last week Android has unhelpfully directed me to download this useless app, the app that only tells me when the phone is in my hand, the app that cannot possibly locate the phone’s precise location using current technology even if I had two phones so that when I lose one I can find it with the other, that app was what Google wanted me to go use. Until today. Today, on a whim, I asked the headset “where is my phone” and it responded “I can ring your Motorola phone for you. Would you like me to do that?” as if the last week of hopeless irritation had been a bad dream. I nearly cheered, but instead just told the voice “no”, which it quite typically didn’t understand and unhelpfully informed me that it could only ring the last two phones I had, to which I responded with what it could go do with itself for all its troubles…

…but at least that one useful function has been restored. I would prefer not to lose the phone in the first place, but at least I haven’t driven down the road with my phone sitting on top of my car. Driving along wondering where I had put the thing but confident it was in the car since my audio kept playing on the bluetooth connection. At least I’m not that forgetful. Yet. Who does that? Did someone do that? How would I know?


Editor’s note. I discovered that the phone, when it is on, goes through this behavior. When the phone is locked it instead offers to ring the phone. I’ve just started making sure the phone is locked before I set it down now. Beef is now crow.