Tag Archives: Gadgets

iBox

I’m in love…

iBox by Thodio


Making 2MP better

Sometimes I miss the smell of the chemicals and the funny martini shaker can where film would begin it’s journey to the printed medium. The red light over the dark room always made me feel like I was a part of a submarine movie set. Such were the days of that magic semester in college when I figured out why I was there…

Flash forward 19 years later and I will admit that a new mistress has taken the place of so many burning and dodging exercises. In the same way I strayed from a career in communications I also gave in to digital photography.

Of course, I compromise more than Karen does for the sake of our hobby. While she is willing to be everywhere with her D300 in tow, I often find myself  with nothing more than my iPhone.

While my favorite gadget does well despite it’s limitations I am always interested in ways to “spice things up”. My latest escape from boredom comes in the form of a great little app: Hipstamatic.

Though enchanted I have been with our Brownie, our Holga, our home made Lomo cam, my Dad’s Hasselblad and Rolleiflex and of course our Nikon I get bored very easily. That, and I don’t feel like carrying something around all the time… yes, my Photography professor would cringe, but hey – I like to travel light.

There are some pretty good photo apps for this silly little phone, and all of them add a little more life to a very underrated 2 Mega Pixel sensor. If you get bored like me, or you just want to do something different give ’em a try. It certainly can’t hurt…


Blu-Ray Goodness

Long before the dust settled in the war of the new gen video disc formats, I knew that at some point I’d migrate to the winner when the time was right. So I waited, and at first I cast my vote in with HD DVD. Time moved on and between all the bickering going on between both sides the hardware stayed expensive and the media was priced beyond what I thought was acceptable.

Now, the war is over, Sony managed a great coup and Blu-Ray is here to stay… After doing some homework I realized that the migration would be a bit costly since Blu-Ray brings new audio formats to the table. With all the space available on the new media, studios are now able to release uncompressed versions of their soundtracks with fancy new titles likes Dolby True HD and DTS Master HD. This of course means that if you’re going to squeeze the new sound out in your living room, you’ll need a receiver that understands these codecs – mine did not.

My Christmas came early this year when my friend Dennis started his own company and managed to land his first gig at Sony Studios. Thanks to his employer I was able to get my hands on a Blu-Ray player and new ES line receiver at pricing that I could only dream of. After spending 3 hours setting everything up and calibrating both units I must say that I am blown away yet again, much like the first time I experienced my first DVD. Now as I look into the not so distant future I may have to cash in my final TV return to Costco and get a shiny new Bravia Television to enjoy the higher res of 1080p.

While I can’t recommend the new format to everyone based on price consideration, when you finally get around to it, you won’t be disappointed.


iPhone mischief

Still no native blogging tools from blogger – what gives? I thought I’d give Blogit a chance…


iWoes

From the moment after Steve’s words lingered in the air during the keynote speech, I knew I wanted one. Mind reeling with the possibilities, I held my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop. What about the price? Who will the carrier be? As the moments wore on the situation worsened. If price wasn’t the only barrier to overcome there was also an issue with the carrier. I immediately set a max amount of what I was willing to pay for the newest glimmer of tech joy from one of my favorite companies. When it was obvious that the new iPhone was to exceed my $400 ceiling and that the main supplier of the line would be AT&T; my heart sank. Oh well, not for me.

After vowing that I would never return to AT&T; (actually, Cingular), I decided to wait until other companies decided to enter the foray and try to deliver the same golden promise that Apple would be putting in the the hands of the few over the coming months. So, I have been patiently waiting for the device to be improved and a new carrier to be added. Well, one of those things happened…

I have had my iPhone 3G for 4 weeks now. I came by the phone through work so I have not had to endure the monthly costs but I have lost the phone number that I have had for the past 8 years. Well, I guess you can’t build a democracy without eliminating some native people, right..?

My experience with the famed gadget has been bittersweet. I imagine that it can be compared to dating a super model, or at least the stereotype of sorts. While the iPhone shines as a beacon of what a communications device should be – intuitive, intelligent and adaptive – it also serves as a reminder that sometimes you can’t be everything to everyone. In all my experience in the IT field and after owning more than my fair share of gadgets I would have to say that the ‘phone’ part of the iPhone equation is utter crap. Never have I owned a product that has worked so miserably and without apology. In the past 4 weeks I have been a victim to slow speeds, lock-ups, restarts, usb connect/disconnect issues, horrible reception, no reception, SIM problems, charging issues, syncing problems and of course the famed no service error. Out of every phone that I’ve had to date (I’ve had 13) this phone has worked the worst.

Like the metaphor, the iPhone is beautiful and when it works (with WiFi and no less) it is a thing of magic; web browsing, RSS feeds, movie trailers, calendar, e-mail, games and my venerable iPod make this the singular fusion of technologies. Of course, the entire experience is tainted when the phone acts up and refuses to cooperate for even the most mundane of tasks – being a phone.

As I continue to struggle in a relationship that I know I should stop, I continue to be persuaded to give it just one more chance. Now, with update 2.1 around the corner I have a small glimmer of hope. Who knows maybe my gadget mistress will see the light and realize that we can co-exist happily together if it just decides to uphold it’s part of the bargain. Then again, maybe I’ll just wind up getting an Ocean… only time will tell.

[ winamp is currently decoding: Armorous in Bauhaus Fashion by The Faint ]


Dancing with the commoners

It may look like a joke but I’m hoping its not. I’m thinking, the IDP + My favorite drink of choice = hours of non-stop fun. Now, if they could only integrate some kind of video projector along with it…

idp

[ winamp is currently decoding: Succumb To The Night (Mike Koglin Remix) by DT8 Project ]


The gift that keeps on giving…

I’m not sure how I managed to overlook this little gem but now that I’ve found it, I’m hooked. Since I don’t have the space to dedicate an entire room to a home theater I’m left with a not too shabby multi-purpose setup that does us just fine.

You just can’t help but lust after and be inspired by some of the trick setups documented by the Audio/Video Interiors Blog.

I’m a definite move nut and my current DVD collection and 4,323 movie ratings on Netflix proves it. When Karen and I finally cash out of this state to our dream house I’ll definitely put this at the top of my list. In the mean time, take a look at some of the setups and let your mind think about the endless possibilities.

[ winamp is currently decoding: What You Won’t Do For Love by Go West ]


I love it when a plan comes together

With the advent of digital photography and music downloads I’ve been facing the dilemma of needing a new hard drive more often than I would like. Now, I’m finally at the point that losing our media library due to a failed drive would probably involve a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth…

A couple of months ago I decided to remedy this problem but trying to find a perfect solution has been difficult. My main criteria was 1GB on the NIC, Media server capabilities, USB 2.0 hub and some type of redundancy – preferably a RAID configuration. There were few solutions that were fast enough for my tastes (I stream content to my XBMC) and not complicated by the addition of client software or loud cooling mechanisms.

On a fluke visit to Micro Center over the weekend I found a solution that works out great (in the clearance section no less) and will protect my data so I can rest at night without worrying about losing all my music files: Buffalo Tech’s TeraStation Home Server

tera

If you’re interested in something similar you should either look into something like the TeraStation or the Drobo. Both are equally good but I just couldn’t see spending top dollar for the Drobo. There are also smaller NAS units available from Netgear and similar vendors but they all have quirks or don’t have the higher Ethernet connection speeds.

So far its working like a champ and its quieter than having a dedicated workstation sharing folders on a local drive. As an added bonus; it looks cool too…

[ winamp is currently decoding: By This River by Martin L Gore ]


The Future is Blu… Whatever.

Well, by now the fall out of the Warner Brother’s announcement made at CES is becoming painfully obvious. There are already shouts of victory from the Blu-Ray camp and the HD DVD group is definitely back-pedaling as they slash prices on their media and their hardware.

Now, this news is bittersweet for me. I was a staunch supporter of HD DVD (for my own tech geek reasons), so for now, it looks like my side has lost. Oh well, I was on the right side for the DIVX vs DVD debacle but that was a little obvious. Of course, when you hear about Sony’s “pay-offs” it’s not hard to realize why Blu-Ray got the leg up. The down side is that my format of choice has lost, but on the other hand… now that it looks like we have a clear winner we can get on to the business of lowering prices and fattening up the movie libraries.

While I may be tempted to revisit such releases like “The Fifth Element” or possibly the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy I will not be re-buying everything. After all, that would be expensive – at currently count I have 1132 DVDs… The only real drawback to this whole thing is that the only way to get the new lossless audio formats is to upgrade my receiver – damn. Don’t get me wrong, I love buying new gadgets but I was hoping just to skate by on a new player, alas, that is not going to be the case.

I’m still hoping there will be a miraculous turn around in this whole thing but when you pony up millions of dollars like Sony did, you expect to keep everyone in the fold. My hats off to you Sony, it was a pretty good coup.

As a closer, I leave you with this brief clip detailing the derailment of the HD DVD format. Its insight is priceless. (Warning, the following clip contains some expletives – small children might find it hilarious even if they don’t get the gist of the various references made)


Drool

I want one: The Apple iPhone