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$150 Audiophile Headphone System

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Shlok Vaidya  -  
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Music makes things happen in my life – cooking, writing, sex, working out. (There’s a reason I’ve worked for two music-focused companies.)

And the tools that make that happen are important to me – speakers, headphones, amps. Audiophile equipment is one of those nerdy things I like to dig into, spend too much time researching, and find bargains that get me high dollar sound without spending a lot.

Anyway, I’ve built a 2.1 home system and a headphone system for working, all in, for about $500 or so. That’s how much people spend on just headphones.

Today I’m covering my $150 headphone system.

Three components:

  • Headphones.
  • Cables, adapters. Connect to your source and your headphones.
  • Headphone amplifier. Enhance the quality of your headphone output.

Headphones. DBI-700. $45-$60 shipped. They’re competitive with headphones at the $250+ level. I’m not the only one to say so. And they’re built like tanks. Apparently record stores use them, but as those blink out of existence, liquidators are getting them out the door for cheap. You can find them on eBay. Or someone may sell them over at headfi.org

They sound pretty good un-amped, but with an…

Amplifier. $108 shipped. Schiit. It’s sexy. It’s small. It’s well built. It makes your headphones sound fucking amazing.

Cables, adapters. I like Monoprice. It feels meaty, its cheap, and it’s delivered to your door. You need a standard 3.5mm headphone jack to RCA adapter. And if you lost your headphone’s 3.55 to 6.55mm, you need one of those too (Radio Shack of all places is best).

All in: $160, shipped. It’s competitive with systems ~$500+.

300% ROI isn’t bad.



-Shlok
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Announcing: Origins of the Lean Startup

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Shlok Vaidya  -  
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The Lean Startup has presented an approach so accessible that it has spawned thousands of companies and hundreds of millions of dollars in both investment and revenue. The simple practices and guidelines encapsulated in the book are now, quite simply, the way to build startup businesses.

But in going mainstream, as is necessary in making any concept accessible to the mass audience, complexity had to be cut out. Which means the process known as the Lean Startup is incomplete.

This short, free ebook is designed to address what was not covered in-depth. I’m going to make explicit the reason why the lean startup methodology is so powerful.

Specifically, there’s a tool embedded at the heart of the lean startup. A tool so powerful that it has reshaped physics, warfare, and now, technology. A tool that you can utilize to achieve success in any domain.

As will become clear, the Lean Startup is just one application of this concept. There’s thousands more. It can yield personal growth, success for your organization, and actionable intelligence about the future.

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-Shlok
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The Intellectual Prisoner

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Shlok Vaidya  -  
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From the Washington Post’s “Join Wall Street, Save the World” -

The 25-year-old certainly had other career options. An MIT computer science graduate, he could be writing software for the next tech giant. Or he might have gone into academia in computing or applied math or even biology. He could literally be working to cure cancer.

Instead, he goes to work each morning for a high-frequency trading firm. It’s a hedge fund on steroids. He writes software that turns a lot of money into even more money. For his labors, he reaps an uptown salary — and over time his earning potential is unbounded. It’s all part of the plan.

Why this compulsion? It’s not for fast cars or fancy houses. Trigg makes money just to give it away. His logic is simple: The more he makes, the more good he can do.

He’s figured out just how to take measure of his contribution. His outlet of choice is the Against Malaria Foundation, considered one of the world’s most effective charities. It estimates that a $2,500 donation can save one life. A quantitative analyst at Trigg’s hedge fund can earn well more than $100,000 a year. By giving away half of a high finance salary, Trigg says, he can save many more lives than he could on an academic’s salary.

The synopsis of the article: Go work with the morally fucked, and, as long as you give plenty away to charity, you’re a great human being . That model is worth emulating, it says, turning to us expectantly, shamingly, “Isn’t it amazing that quant donates 50% of his salary?”

We’re expected to fawn over these people. “Oh look, this giving dude and his wife moved back in with his parents so they could give away that much more.”

“That’s so admirable,” we’re supposed to say.

But it’s not admirable.

In fact, it’s pathetic. It’s the sign of a prisoner. An intellectual prisoner. The kind of person who is pretty smart – in the sense they can do stupid shit for Wall Street money – but can’t conceive of applying their ‘smarts’ towards changing the world.

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-Shlok
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Fiction: Distinguished Warfare Medal Citation

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Shlok Vaidya  -  
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For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an Element Leader, Bravo Squadron, 4th Delta Wing, on October 4, 2013.

Airman Ridgeway’s element was conducting a routine patrolling mission through the financial system near FINRA’s primary servers when they discovered shellcode decrypting itself and probing a backdoor to the securities trading authentication subsystem. Upon finding indications of a botnet brewing, Airman Ridgeway led his anti-penetration specialists towards the nearby IP block. Upon arriving, he discovered a senior executive had been phished and was allowing infiltration of the system. The black hats quickly shifted their attention to Airman Ridgeway’s team. Remaining calm under attack, he ordered his element to reinforce the shielding on their own servers while he captured logs to transmit to command.

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-Shlok
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Review: Detroit – An American Autopsy

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Shlok Vaidya  -  
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Detroit: An American Autopsy

“And it is awful here, there is no other way to say it. But I believe that Detroit is America’s city. IT was the vanguard of our way up, just as it is the vanguard of our way down. And one hopes, the vanguard of our way up again. Detroit is Pax Americana. The birthplace of mass production, the automobile, the cement road, the refrigerator, frozen peas, high-paid blue-collar jobs, home ownership and credit on a mass scale. America’s way of life was built here.”

I’ve read and written a lot about how America is dying. Regulatory capture, Wall Street, global arbitrage and deviant entrepreneurs collaborated to massacre the middle class.

But I always came at it from the perspective that the country is mid-collapse. That we still have time. That we can still swing the wheel and, for the most part, make it through. Sure, we’ll pay $8 for a gallon of gas, we’ll overpay for armies of contractors we don’t need, but we will make it through. We’re America after all.

Charlie LeDuff convinced me we may be too late. The book is aptly titled, Detroit: An American Autopsy. What if the land of the free, of prosperity, of two cars and a picket fence succumbed to the corrupt, the incompetent, the immoral?

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-Shlok
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