Archive for the 'gadgets' Category

I Have Cupcake 2

After saying it was coming, then delaying it, then people claiming to have gotten it, then those claims being debunked, then some people installing the UK version, TMobile has apparently finally begun shipping the Android 1.5 “Cupcake” update to US G1 owners.

This afternoon, I downloaded and installed the update by hand, a process that took maybe 5 minutes (tops). The instructions claim that there’s a risk of causing damage to your phone (bricking it, most likely); I followed them verbatim and didn’t have any issues.

So far, it’s really good. I doubt I could live without the hardware keyboard, but I was also really annoyed that I had to open the phone to be able to type even the simplest “ok”. The soft-keyboard completely solves that, and while I’m still in the process of calibrating my fingers, it’s worked well enough so far. The suggestions seemed accurate and have already saved me some pecking time.

Other than that, there seem to be a lot of spit and polish updates, and a few new features. The T-Mobile forums have a full list of changes. Since I have iPhone envy, I immediately turned on the screen transitions. I also played briefly with the video recorder, and also just made sure that I can play music through my Bluetooth headphones. I also turned on the auto-rotations, but I’m not sure I’ll keep them.

In short, if you have a G1, I’d say you check out the update now — don’t wait! (But, then, I’m impatient.)

Balancing Act 0

Here’s a replacement lens cap that purports to help you set the perfect white balance on your DSLR every time, without carrying around a gray card. Interesting idea and tempting, sure, but the $45 price tag (at the low end) has me thinking up some home-grown alternatives — a spare lens cap and a piece of milk jug, perhaps?

Psuedo-update: Amazon carries several cheaper versions of the same idea. Cheap enough that a ghetto hack might not even be worth it.

Smaller, Better, Faster. 3

Well, perhaps not the second two, but the first for sure — Olympus and Panasonic have jointly announced the new Micro Four-Thirds format. Basically, they took a standard Four-Thirds sized sensor, shrunk the lens mount, removed some old mechanical fluff holdovers from the film days (mirror and prism), and left with a small, interchangeable lens camera design that seems poised to make us rethink our digital SLRs.

You may not remember or be familiar with the Sigma DP-1, announced way back in 2006 (though it didn’t make it to market until this year), but it met with considerable excitement and was heralded as the first pocketable camera with the image quality of a DSLR. That’s because the largest contributing factor to the difference in image quality between that monster hanging around your neck and the sleek compact in your pocket is the physical size of the sensor: bigger pixels make better pictures. Unfortunately, while the DP-1 did feature a large sensor, many found it lacking in just about every other area — it was slow, focused poorly, and for all the sensor hype, the images really didn’t pop. Widespread disappointment ensued.

But now we have a second chance at the holy grail — and that alone is exciting — but Olympus has already upped the ante before they’re even out of the gate. Not only will the cameras be small, but they’ll feature interchangeable lenses, and you can even use your existing Four-Thirds lenses (if you have any; with an adapter). In addition, they’ve hinted at a movie mode in future models, which will put them a step beyond current DSLRs and level the playing field with existing compact digital cameras. (Personally, I know of people who have staved off a DSLR purchase for that very reason.)

And while the camera is all theory for now, what’s not is that Olympus, with their existing Four-Thirds lineup, has proven themselves a competent digital camera manufacturer, was the first to bring “Live View” to the DSLR market (which these new cameras are sure to rely on), and has shown that they can get good, if not great, image quality from their sensor format. Looks to me like the Micro version has a lot more than a fighting chance.

“High-Def” Webcams 3

(The term High-Definition appears to be able to be applied to anything these days, so why not webcams?)

For the past few days I’ve been obsessing watching this webcam over at the Red Rock visitor center, and just now I wrote a quick script to fetch the latest image and update my desktop background with it. It’s almost like having my desk near the window back. (OK, not even close.) But, truth is, it makes a pretty crappy background at 1920×1200. Look at this other one in comparison — now that’s a webcam.

Then I remembered. Since buying a used 20D, I have an old D30 just sitting around. With a bit of Canon software magic, that can easily be setup to take a shot at any interval and automatically transfer it to the PC. I just have to write a little plumbing to get it up on the web.

I want to do this!

Wireless Cards 2

The days of inserting a memory card into a memory card reader might be over. Instead, allow the Eye-Fi SD combined-memory and Wifi card do the legwork for you. When your computer is on, the Eye-Fi can automatically upload your pictures not only to your PC, but to the web.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a camera that takes an SD card. What do you think the chances are that this will work in an SD to CF converter?

New Hire 2

I’d like you to meet my new coworker. We just started working with together yesterday (Friday), but we’re getting along famously. I’ve found that bouncing my code off him is increasing my productivity immensely, and — this might sound a little weird — I just can’t stop looking at him.

New Coworker

Forget the lame attempt at humor. Yes, that’s a Dell 24″ LCD. I’m quite excited about it, if you couldn’t tell. Makes me feel important or something.

Becoming a cable provider 2

I just got off the phone with my brother, who’s now at school out in Colorado, where he doesn’t have cable in his room. Which is funny, since I just got done installing and configuring Orb, a free Windows application that will stream live TV off a tuner card. I gave him my login, so I may actually become my brother’s cable provider.

I’m kind of jealous, actually. I’m also wondering if this somehow violates my agreement with Cox. Should it?

By the way, if you haven’t tried Orb, it’s really cool. It lets you access all the pictures, music, video, and even files (slightly disconcerting) on your machine from anywhere. I can even stream live TV to my phone (and it doesn’t work on the iPhone! TAKE THAT!).

iPhone Price Reductions 7

Apple’s reduced the price on the 8GB iPhone by $200 — and decided to drop the 4GB model altogether. Until supplies are exhausted, the 4GB iPod is available at the Apple store for $299. I’m having a hard time coming up with a reason to get one. Except for that cancellation fee. And crippled bluetooth. And no SDK. Hmm…

A big small camera 3

Sigma is releasing the DP1, a compact camera with a “full-scale sensor” (about 7-12x larger than most compact digitals), a 28mm (equivalent) F/4 prime lens, shutter and aperture priority or manual exposure control, and a 2.5″ LCD.

I want that in my pocket now, not later.

SD to CF adapter 1

Found on DealNews today: an SD to CF card adapter. Note that it appears to be CF II, so not every CF device will support it. My D30 will, though, and if I pile in a MicroSD to SD adapter, I could take pictures and then email them directly from my phone. As a side benefit, it’d also allow me to consolidate to a single card format, although I’m not sure that MicroSD cards approach nearly the same speed as some of the high-end CF cards.