Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Canon 5D Review (Does the “D” stand for drool?)

I can't claim to own an actual Digital SLR--yet, but I have been looking at the market for a couple of months now. The Canon 5D looks like an excellent camera.

Frontview-001Digital Photography Review has a very in-depth review of the camera. The camera weighs in at US$3,299 bones, but according to them it lives up to, and maybe past the price expectation. The lens is extra dough.

If money were not an issue I would probably end up with one of these in my own hands, but I would also like to check out Nikon's latest offering.

As an aside, if you are looking into purchasing any form of digital camera, Digital Photography Review is a great place to look at reviews. Very detailed, very informative, and they don't seem to be nearly as slanted as some review sites out there.

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Mac OS X Tips for the Switchers

Well, I should say that I learned a couple things in this article, and I have been using OS X for several years now.

Lots of keyboard shortcuts, and things to make life easier while interacting with your Mac. Whether you are a “Switcher,” thinking about being one, or a seasoned user, take a look at this article.

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Cyberhand to Shake Up Prosthetics

Here is a worthy use of time and money. This project seeks to build a prosthetic hand that is as close as possible to the real thing.

Quoted from the website:

1. be felt by an amputee as the lost natural limb delivering her/him a natural sensory feedback by
means of the stimulation of some specific afferent nerves;

2. be controlled in a very natural way by processing the efferent neural signals coming from the
central nervous system (reducing the discomfort of the current EMG-based control prosthesis).
For videos, pics, and other information, have a look at the link above.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

How to talk to a human.

You mean you don't like waiting forever, and wading through all the menus on the phone before speaking with a human being? This guy has saved your... day. Its a cheat sheet on how to get right to a human listed by company.

Pretty cool.

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How do you back up your photos?

I, for a long time, did not have any form of backup plan for any of my files. That changed when the person on the phone with me said something like, “From what it sounds like, you could loose all your files. Your hard drive could go any moment.”

After thinking for a few moments about how much of my life is stored on my precious lappy, I went to the store and purchased a new external hard disc drive. I have had no further problems with my hard drive, but I am glad to have the back up in the event I do.

The next step is to get an off-site back up system. This is important because, what happens if my computer and hard drive are stolen, or destroyed?

There is a company called Safesnaps that claims they will never delete your files, and they have a program that auto updates from your computer. The service is under $8 a month. This will get you unlimited storage, but they can also raise the price down the line. Look at the terms and conditions before getting into this one. It could be good.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Olive Musica and Symphony

If you are not already on the Sonos music system, another cool option (and possibly cheaper) is the Olive Musica, or their Symphony.

This little box will convert your CDs to your chosen format, including lossless, store it on the internal hard drive, and play it back for you. It has PC and Mac compatibility and can auto-find music on your home network. If you have old media, like tapes and records, you can record them directly to this hard drive.

It has an optical out to get your music to the amplifier with the best quality, and you can purchase remotes for each room in the house, which enables playing different music in every room of the house.

The 160GB Musica is going for $1099 on the website, the 80GB (the website is not clear on this) version is $899, and the Sonata (the remote that can go in a separate room) is $199.

Of course its marketing speak, but they have a bunch of audiophile types that are quoted as saying this is a great machine.

For my pennies, though I am looking at this as quite a value over the aforementioned Sonos, especially if you already have stereo amplifiers in the rooms where you want them (part of the cost of the Sonos system is that they have integrated amplifiers in each unit).

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Friday, November 25, 2005

XML or RSS Feeds Now Available

Just a quick note to let you know there is a link for viewing in XML or RSS, Newsgator, or whatever format you may use.

If you don't know what all that means, the basic explanations is that it is an extremely simplified way of viewing news, or blog web pages, which can either provide a summary, or a full version of the web page. It auto-updates, so that you know when there is new information available.

Firefox is the most ubiquitous browser for Windows with this feature, and is much more secure the Internet Exploder. You might want to check it out.

I will put a link to the Firefox Browser on this site.

The Firefox browser is also available for Mac users. If you have questions post them in the comments, and I will try to help.

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adidas_1 goes 1.1

Computers in shoes. Now we have really done it.

Actually this is a pretty cool thing. I helped out (was paid to help out) with the staging and product launch of the adidas_1 shoe. It was one of the cooler shows I ever worked on. Personal insight aside, though, this product is pretty innovative.

They have a computer in the shoe that tells a servo motor how much force to exert to determine the hardness/softness of the sole. It changes on the fly, so when you go from a paved road to a sidewalk to a grassy knoll the shoe changes its cushioning with changes to the running environment.

Anyway, there is a very cool flash presentation over at the adidas_1 site where you can check out all the features of the adidas_1 1.1

Have fun, but its best with broadband.

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A New Way to Surf The Web

Okay, its not really a new way per se. Its really more of a new address system.

It looks like some people are not satisfied with the .com .org .net way of addressing sites, so they came up with a different way to do it.

A company called UnifiedRoot could make the .com suffix as bust as the .com era. The wording on their website says it best:
“Instead of having multiple domain names like ”company.com“, ”company.net“, ”company.biz“, ”company.co.uk“, one can register a single TLD and build around the dot to adopt a more flexible, logical, and simple addressing standard like ”home.company“.”
It costs quite a bit--enough that it would be out of reach for most humble bloggers, but don't be surprised if you start seeing domains without the .com.

My gut reaction: Its pretty cool, however, it could be confusing to the uninformed user.
What do you think?

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Brazilian Version of NASCAR

Stock car racing is not just for the US. Formula 1 Racing is huge here in Brazil, but Stock Car Brasil is big as well.

I have only had the opportunity to watch a couple of events, but I find the racing to be much more intense than NASCAR. I think the primary reason is that it is not strict circle track racing. The tracks are very similar to (if not the same venues) the F1 tracks.

The actual cars are different from NASCAR as well. They are smaller. Chevrolet Astra, and the Mitsubishi Lancer are the only models that are raced. The side windows are shut, and the doors open (swing-up style).

There are two classes of cars: The V8, and the V8 Light. The basic difference is 100 HP, and 500 RPM, with the V8 class having up to 450 HP at 6000 RPM, and the V8 Light being 350 HP at 5500 RPM. The displacement of the engines is 5.7 liters (350 cubic inches).

Having been in Brazil quite some time, I am used to the driving by now (most of the time), but the first few days here are always an interesting adjustment, as everyone seems to think it is a race to the next stoplight. I might work up another post about day to day driving here, but suffice it to say at this point that its similar to a NASCAR race--lots of close calls.

Stock Car Brasil website.

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Top 10 Things To Do When Your XBox 360 Is Dead

10. Open the nearest window (opening is optional), account for trajectory and velocity, then hope it grows wings.

9. Use the heat from the unit to re-warm the Thanksgiving leftovers.

8. Use the power supply as a substitute football for the annual family game.

7. Spray paint the unit orange, and use as a traffic cone.

6. Drop from a very high place to see if terminal velocity is really all its cracked up to be.

5. Get a refund, give half to the poor, the other half invest in Google stocks. In a few months, buy the PS3 with the profits.

4. Remember those AOL disks... ?

3. That wireless controller might make a good hackie-sack.

2. Try putting Linux on it.

1. I am poor. (See #5)

This post is entirely humor. Do not attempt these things unless you actually want to destroy your Xbox 360. I actually am poor. Do not invest in any stock without proper research and advise. Any damage done to any persons or property as a result of your actions is your responsibility, and the writer of this post does not accept any liability for your actions.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Coolest Hot Wheels Toy

This link is for anyone who had Hot Wheels when they were a kid. And for kids who have Hot Wheels now.

Wow, is all I can say...

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Creative Commons Licensing

I have seen the license on a few web pages here and there, but never really thought much about licensing my work. This blog is not at the level (nor is my other one) where I would really need to worry about someone using my work in a way that I would not desire.

I am getting ready to write an entry about some of the fruits and vegetables here in Brazil that are not available in the US, and as part of that I am preparing some photos on another website to link here. The other website offers the option of licensing one's public photos under the Creative Commons license.

If you have a website, blog, or other work that you want to retain your rights to, as well as let users know how and if they can re-use it for their purposes, I highly recommend doing the following:

  • Click here to go to the website.
  • Click on the “Publish” link in the new window.
  • Choose your preferences (plain English descriptions prevail here!) regarding your copyright.
  • If you have a website, or blog, they provide the HTML code to paste into your template
It took me far less than half an hour to do, and it is well worth the effort. The result of a user clicking on the button on your website reveals your preferences of fair use. Its that simple.

I also note that there are options for other types of work (video, photography, etc.) available on the site. I have not checked into that part yet, but I probably will in the near future.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Greenhouse Gas in the Ground

I am not an extreme environmentalist. I like to do what I can, recycle when possible, reuse often, not drive when I don't need to, and so on. I even like ideas that promote better environmental responsibility.

This is not one of those ideas. The gist is that we could collect the harmful gasses, and put them in the empty caverns where there used to be oil. I guess it has some merit, in that it gives us something to do with those gases while searching for another fuel source.

At the same time, could not we use the dollars spent on research and development for this project, and speed up development of the hydrogen economy?

It just seems a waste of our time and resources to spend on something like this.

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JVC Digital Camcorders

Skip the tape, the DVD, or mini-DVD, and go right to the hard drive. That's what you want anyway, right?

Well, it is what I want. Especially after my experience with a certain Sony mini-DVD camcorder.

Gz-Mg30 1
BIOS is has a description of these cameras, or you could check out the JVC website.

The prices are kind of high, but if you account for what one would have to spend on media over the life of the camera, that brings the price down too. Its a way cool idea, and timely too. One of the more frustrating things about the small DVD's is that they run out after such a short time.

All that plastic ends up in the landfill at one point or another as well. I am diggin' on these (except for the pricey numbers).

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Corvette or camera?

Shopping for a new digital camera? If megapixels is all that matters to you, check out this story on Engadget. Its about a 22 megapixel wonder.
I checked out the preview on The Luminous Landscape and it takes some really nice pictures, but I am thinking that I would rather use the money for a new sports car, or maybe a down payment on a house.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Money and Entertainment

There is an article on c|net news by Damon Darlin that has some really good breakdowns on entertainment spending. I have always been amazed at how much others spend on movies, eating out, video games etc., but I guess they share that amazement of me when I tell them how much I spent on one guitar (so we are even, right?).

Anyway, the article has some good suggestions for saving money on that ballooning entertainment budget.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

One Laptop Per Child Project (OLPC), The $100 Laptop

First, this is a great cause. Making a computer that is cost-effective in the developing world is not only admirable, but important.

What a difference this can make to those countries where the per-capita income is much lower than the US, and most of Western Europe. Not to mention the poor in those countries. I currently live in Brazil, a country where many people merely scrape by on two or three incomes per home. Computers are pure luxury here.

I purchased a computer for my wife about a year ago so that we could stay in touch while I was in the States. It cost me a little more than US $500. Now, I know that is not all that bad, as it was an all inclusive package. I am afraid to check to see if the operating system, and other software is pirated, though. All of that came pre-loaded, and I don't know if there were any CD's or licenses included.

Five-hundred bucks, though, is quite a price here. In the city where I am, its rent for seven months, with enough for food for a week or two left over.

I am not sure how this whole thing will work as far as the different governments involved. I have seen that the Brazilian Government is involved, which is probably good. See, when I bought that computer a year ago, I was told that about half of the $500 I spent went to taxes. However, since this project is supposed to be entirely government funded (with some subsidy coming from a different version for sale direct to the consumer), the cost to the end-user should not be a problem.

I am excited about this project, not only for the cost, but for the inclusion of software (open source), and the compatibility with peer machines.

To learn more click here for the MIT website, or here for the Wiki entry.

The next important step is to make sure that these children have a cost-effective way of connecting to the internet. This is another high-cost item here, which needs to be addressed.


I originally intended to mention that this initiative could change the balance of the internet. More non-English speaking people would have access. More bloggers in the blogosphere.

These are good things, but the internet community will have to make some adjustments due to the influx of new users.

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Sory's Story

Being a musician currently in a country where CD and DVD piracy is almost more common than legit sources, I can see why Sony would want to protect their content. That is not an excuse for them, what they did was stupid. And, I am no PR firm, but they really messed that up as well. This whole root kit thing is crazy.

At any rate, they have posted a list of the titles with the offensive software. Looks like it includes some of my favorites, like Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Billy Holiday, plus 49 others. Includes instructions about how to tell if your CD is infected has the software on it. Better check your collection.

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DTV and Channel Frederator

I am sure that there are options for the Windows users of the world, but DTV is a Mac thing (Windows version "soon"). Its a program (free=very good price) that tracks and, if you tell it to, downloads podcasts for you. I guess if you have one of those new-fangled iPods with Video you can even put the vids on your new iPod from here.

Its a pretty cool program, but my favorite part is a podcast that is available via this program called Channel Frederator. Its cartoons! Free! Its cool stuff. Check it out.

You can download episodes directly from the C.F. site as well, then vote on the cartoons in the episode (after a very painless sign-up/login process).

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Terminal Tutorial

If you have Mac OS X, and have ever opened the terminal window and thought “Um... yeah... what next?” I have good news. Mary Norbury-Glaser has created a step-by-step tutorial on using the Tiger Terminal. It even starts out with where to find the terminal window.

The article is pretty long (the first of five installments is three pages!), but it is very step-by-step. It does get into some stuff that she says can damage your system if you run the wrong commands, so use with caution. You'll also need administrative privileges on your Mac.

So, have fun getting your hands dirty in Terminal.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Nature "Beats Up" Technology Again

I just found an article on the BBC website that talks about the similarities in design between the LED (light emitting diode) and the coloration on certain butterfly wings.

Its got some pretty heavy technobabble in there, primarily about the design of the LED, but once you wade through that, it talks about the cool way butterflies make those bright colors.