Photos Spare Cycles MythBusters

Category: Gadgets

April 8, 2010

Nexus One vs. iPhone, and why no iPad for me

I switched from an iPhone to a Nexus One and haven't regretted it since. So many reviews seem to miss the point, in my opinion, because they focus too much on "X has faster processor" or "Y has better touchscreen." The Nexus One is nothing like the iPhone. They are very different devices. .

I could talk about the Nexus One hardware vs. the iPhone hardware, e.g. the Nexus One has a better camera, the iPhone has a better touchscreen -- but it's not really about that. It's about Android 2.0 vs. the iPhone OS.

There's two main differences:

  • Data model: Computer-Centric vs. Cloud-Centric
  • App model: Separate Apps vs. App Ecosystem

Data Model

Android and the iPhone OS have entirely different models for your data. The iPhone follows the Apple model -- your iPhone is a mirror of your (Apple) computer, just like your Apple TV is a mirror of your computer, etc... Even the iPad, which is supposed to be a netbook alternative subscribes to this model and, to me, is its glaring weakness. Even reviews with lavishing praise point out this same issue. How self-sufficient can an iPad be if it is meant to be regularly synced to another computer?

In the Apple model, if I want to sync a Google contact, you sync your computer with your Google contact, then you plug in your phone, and it syncs. I hate this model -- I only plug in my phone once a month (at most). If you look at Pages on the iPad, review after review complains about the 7-step process it takes to 'sync' a document with your computer.

Android follows the cloud model. When you get your phone, you enter in your Google accounts (and even Facebook), and everything starts syncing against that. My Picasa photos immediately appeared in my Gallery app. The same goes for starred location in Google Maps, contacts, and my even my search history -- great for auto-complete! The best is Google Voice, which you can have take over your phone. When someone leaves me a voicemail, I can get a text message with a transcription, listen to the voicemail in a Web browser, or read it in my e-mail. With the cloud, access is everywhere.

App Model

The other difference is the app model. Android Apps can do more, like replace your keyboard, customize your homescreen, or change your phone dialer. They can also hook into one another (and often do). I've downloaded a widget that puts my calendar agenda directly on my home screen (very useful). When I play music in the music layer, can listen in as well and update my recommended channel. Similarly, apps can plug-in to the main Gallery app, so I can now upload directly from the Photo app to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, etc...

The Apple experience is more siloed. If I want to upload to Flickr, I switch to the Flickr app. If I want to upload a photo to Facebook, I have to switch to the Facebook app. It's cleaner, but it's more time-consuming.

Each app runs in its own sandbox, never to interact with another. It's also inherently single-tasking -- the "multi-tasking" in iPhone 4.0 pre-specifies what can be multi-tasked. This preserves certain performance guarantees for each app, but its a limitation that expresses Apple's approach to apps: apps can do what Apple says they can do, and nothing more.

No iPad for me

There are several reasons for me not wanting an iPad: the Apple App Store offends my software development principles, I don't see it being that useful with what I already own, it's terrible for real writing tasks, etc... But ultimately it's that I grew tired of Apple's approach to devices. I have an Apple TV, I had an iPhone from the first day they were released, and I have a MacBook Pro. But I've grown sick of Apple's ecosystem. It's all consumptive.

Each device assumes another Apple device that you must own, hooked into an Apple-run online store, because the only way Apple knows how to share data is with Apple. Apple simply doesn't understand the cloud, or doesn't want to, because the cloud is bigger than they can control. When they do support the "cloud", it's only their MobileMe cloud, which you have to pay for, and offers less than Google's free cloud.

Android Ain't Perfect

There's definitely room for Android to improve. The back button is a mess, there are some bugs here and there, and it needs a little more spit polish. It terms of stability, it's a bit better than the iPhone 2.0 OS, a bit worse than the current iPhone OS. I have plenty of memories of having to hard reboot my iPhone on a daily basis, and I've had to pull the battery out of the Nexus One from time to time. It's clear Google had to play catchup, but the iPhone 4.0 announcement puts Apple in the position of trying to reach parity. When Apple gets there, they may do it with more polish, but my Android phone already does it, which is why I switched.

December 22, 2008

ColorMunki Photo Review

Another day, another review:

ColorMunki Photo Review

September 16, 2008

Canon 5D II vs. 50D


There's just been an avalanche of camera announces with Photokina and they've been trickling out week-by-week. It's amazing that I can stay surprised, but I am. Even when expected, announcements like Sony's 24MP, full-frame, 5fps A900 can still impress. Then there was the Nikon D90, which amazed me with it's HD video capabilities -- I've been holding off on an HD camera for awhile in the hopes of improvements, but this is just a huge leap towards my needs. Too bad I'm Canon.

Canon definitely didn't start off with the biggest bang. The Canon 50D shows some improvements: 15MP, Digic 4, 4x resolution on the LCD screen, 1-1.5x noise improvement, ISO 12800, AF microadjustments, and improved Live View with two new autofocus modes. But with a 40D and 30D already in my gear bag, this is probably a wait-for-the-60D decision. It also ends up being slower than my 40D due to the larger MP size: 6.3fps/60 jpeg burst vs. 6.5/75 for the 40D. (update: a commenter below notes that the 40D was actually 6.3fps in actual use, making the two equal)

But, of course, Canon came out with the announcement that everyone expected -- though, given that it's been expected for over a year now, is it really fair to say that it's still expected? Yes, the Canon 5D II is real!. Well, I definitely didn't expect 1080p video! Forget the Nikon D90. In addition to the better resolution, the 5D II one-ups the D90 by allowing longer clip lengths (12-30 minutes vs. 5 minutes), external mic jack, continuous auto white balance, simultaneous photo capture, and autofocus.

The rest of the camera specs are a little more bland. It mostly looks like the love child of the 50D and the previous 5D, with some niceties like ISO 25600 thrown in. Still, I've long wanted a full-frame body as carrying around a 30D and 40D is like having two of the same camera.

January 24, 2008

Canon, I don't get you (Canon Rebel XSi announced)


The Canon Rebel XSi was announced today, bringing Canon 40D features over to the Rebel line, such as a bigger LCD, highlight priority, 14-bit A/D, and live view. It also ups the megapixel count to 12.2 and switches over to SD/SDHC media. The latter seems a good prosumer move, given how much cheaper SD media is nowadays.

But I'm not sure I grok Canon's SLR strategy. This is the second time I can recall that Canon has one-upped their professional line. Six months after Canon 30D debuted at PMA, they announced the Rebel XTi. The 30D premium over the Rebel line became harder to justify when the XTi added automatic sensor cleaning, a superior megapixel count, and an equivalent autofocus sensor. Now, six months after the release of the Canon 40D, they've released the XSi, which again puts the Rebel line in the lead with megapixel count and matches some of the 40Ds biggest improvements: highlight priority and live view. The 40Ds advantages are mostly whittled down to build quality, viewfinder brightness, and +3 fps.

I understand the need to stagger their new products into the marketplace to keep the buzz alive; what I don't get is why they choose to let the Rebel line be the leader with new features and more megapixels. Perhaps they figure that consumers and semi-pros will stay in their camps and in my case they're right, but a 50% price premium hurts, Canon, it hurts. Or perhaps they are secretly using the Rebel line to debug the newer sensors so that they're rock-solid by the time they land them in the next xxD model :).

January 21, 2008

Eye-Fi WiFi card for cameras

I went to an Eye-fi demo in November [yes, I'm behind] and its been on my wish list ever since. It's a 2GB SD card and wireless card in one. In essence, it hooks your camera up to the cloud that is the Internet -- you can even send photos directly to Flickr (and many more). This is a huge time saver for me: I have scores of photos that never make it to Flickr because I am too lazy. It is also the final piece of the puzzle for cloud-computing photography: take photos, find any computer with a Web browser, and edit online. You don't even need to own your own computer anymore. It can even automatically rename your photos based on your location (no more 'IMG_1235' image titles).

There are already many, many reviews of this device on the Web, so I'll quickly get out of the way some questions that I still had going into the session:

  • What about compact flash?: the Eye-Fi will work with a SD-to-CF adapter, though the range may be less due to the way the antenna is obstructed
  • Can you control privacy settings for Flickr, i.e. upload private?: Yes
  • What about wireless networks with logins? (e.g. Google WiFi): you're outta luck here. In the future they plan on adding this as a 'premium' feature.
  • Can it auto-delete successfully transferred photos, i.e. become an infinite-storage-capacity card if you're on a network?: 'unloading' may be a feature they add in the future.
  • Can it use WiFi geolocation services like Skyhook?: they may add this in the future, possibly as a paid feature

At the demo I went to, the presenter took shots of us with his SLR that almost instantly showed up on his laptop screen. The claimed transfer speed was 2Mbit/s, though they hope to ramp it up to 4-8Mbit/s with some firmware updates. The range is ~45 ft indoors, though this will vary significantly. You get all of this for only 5% more battery usage.

Eye-fi is very focused on the consumer demographic. They worked hard on some slick packaging and streamlined setup, going as far as attempting to ID your camera so that the setup can tell you if you need to adjust any camera settings and also attempting to guess your WEP key. The consumer focus also means compromises: they chose to go with a 2GB SD card instead of 4GB+ SDHC cards to eliminate any confusion over compatibility; they only transfer JPEG images (no RAW, MOV); it won't attach to ad-hoc networks, and they don't offer a compact flash form factor. If you want to take it into the field you'll probably have to purchase a USB WiFi basestation for your laptop.

Most of the management of your Eye-fi card is via an Eye-fi Web page. This page lets you configure multiple WiFi access points with your card as well as setup your transfer settings. The card can upload directly to sites like Flickr, Picasa, SmugMug, etc... or to your computer, or both.

There are professional alternatives to the Eye-fi. Canon SLR users can get the WFT-3a grip, which adds wireless transfer to Canon SLRs with much greater transfer range than an Eye-fi, but at a steep cost: $750. At $100, the Eye-fi is a bargain and adds many features (i.e. Flickr, Smugmug) that you generally don't see in professionally-oriented accessories.

January 3, 2008

The 40D is coming

canon40d.jpg2008 has arrived (Happy New Years!) and soon my Canon 40D will as well. The $1149 price held and the Tour of California is only 45 days away, so its time to break in some 2008 gear.

I'm hoping that this is my main purchase for 2008 as 2007 was an expensive year: 70-200 f/2.8L with 1.4x extender, 580EX II, and 16-35 f/2.8 II. The 40D bumps my old Digital Rebel 300D out of the lineup and will mean that I no longer have to bug m every time I need to borrow camera equipment. I've heard recommendations for a 300mm lens to shoot finish lines, but I'm going to have to do a lot more pushups and earn a lot more cash before that becomes a reality. I still have a 35mm-70mm gap in my lens lineup, but with two camera bodies I'm happier going long and wide.

December 22, 2007

Canon 40D: It keeps getting cheaper

canon40d.jpgI've been following the price of the Canon 40D on Amazon closely over the past week, trying to avoid the temptation of buying new camera equipment. I told myself that I would at least wait until January 1st so that I could claim it as a business expense in 2008, seeing as my lack of restraint gave me more than enough expenses in 2007. The main features that are enticing me are better dynamic range + highlight protection (important for shooting in the noon sun), live view (important for when you just have to hold the camera over your head to get a shot), and dust reduction (I hate swabbing the sensor). 10MP is a plus, but not a huge improvement over the 8MP I'm used to.

Anyway, in the past week, it seems that the 40D has been plummeting in price. When it was $1299.99, I was considering getting the $1424 40D + 28-135 IS USM kit, seeing as you get a $400 lens for only $130 or so. Then the price dropped to $1219 and I was thrown into indecision. Now it's dropped to $1149 -- who cares about the package deal at that price? The closest reputable dealer I could find selling at that price was B&H, which has it for the same price, used. BuyDig has it for $1199. I'm hoping that these price reductions last after Christmas.

Side note: Canon hit the 30 millionth EOS SLR this week -- I'm doing my best to contribute.

November 12, 2007

Robot Guitar

robotguitar.jpgApropos some dinner conversation last night, Gibson launched the "Robot Guitar" today. The name implies a guitar that plays itself -- instead its much simpler and more useful: a guitar that tunes itself. It should help you get up and running from a broken string much quicker, or keep you from having to change guitars between songs with different tunings.

A glowing LED knob lets you set the desired tuning and also illuminates the current setting. Some advanced perks include changing your fundamental frequency, custom tunings -- you store it by strumming the guitar in the desired tuning -- and string winding/unwinding for when you want to change your set of strings. You do have to charge the guitar every 200 tunings or so, but that can be done over your normal guitar cord with a special adapter.

The Web site features a countdown to the 12/7/2007 release of the limited edition first run -- a general release won't be until 2008.

Gibson has previously innovated with an ethernet-capable guitar.


August 31, 2007


casio.300fps.jpgCasio is showing off a 60fps still shot/300fps VGA camera at IFA 07. DDDDDDDDaaaaaaaannnnnnnnngggggggg.

Japanese press release

June 22, 2007

And the iPhone tension increases

I just made it through the long guided tour that Apple posted today for the iPhone. There weren't any real surprises, but it manages to start connecting all the dots and gives a greater impression of day-to-day usage.

Of course I want one. But I have to defy all my experience-gained common sense about Apple products (never buy a 1st-gen Apple product) and gadgets in general (8GB is not enough for a convergence device) if I were to get one. I also find the 2-year contract doubly insulting. Usually the 2-year commitment is to pay off the subsidy for the free phone you just got (e.g. the $500 RAZR is now free with 2-year commitment), and it's not as if I'm not going to buy phone service for this. It poorly frames the device for me: I just think about how much the iPhone will improve over 2 years. Maybe Apple will get rid of this requirement at the last minute.

So do I get one? Not sure yet. Maybe they'll sell out everywhere and I won't have to worry. If I can wait a year to get a TiVo HD, surely I can wait for an iPhone, right?

May 31, 2007

Garmin Web services -

garmin.jpgGarmin has just opened up, which is now their warehouse for Garmin Web APIs and toolkits. Under Device Communications you can find tools for transferring data to and from your Garmin GPS device. Under Web Services you can find APIs for interacting with, using its Activity Player as your own, and transferring Garmin data from your Web site to a device. There's also stuff in there for SmartPhones/PDAs, Fleet Management, and location-enabling your Java app.

I'm most excited about the Activity Player API. As cool as the MotionBased site is, I would like to gain a little more control over my data.

April 23, 2007

Cheap Garmin Forerunner 305 until May 15

garmin.forerunner.305.jpgThere's a whole lot for Garmin going on under my roof: I'm having a blast with my new Garmin Edge 305, d has a Forerunner 305 on the way, and my dad likes his Nuvi 305.

With all this Garmin happiness, I feel like pointing out that you can get a pretty good deal on the Forerunner 305 on Amazon: $257.06 - $50 rebate = $207.06. The rebate ends on May 15. Garmin's own Web site lists these for $376.91, so that seems like a pretty good deal to me.

Why get a Forerunner 305? From my Edge 305 review you can get the gist of what it does, just subtract all the cycling features (e.g. cadence). The Forerunner 305 is like an iPod + Nike kit, except you don't have to get Nike shoes. In fact, you don't have to wear shoes. It gives you fairly accurate GPS maps and combines these with heartrate data for improved training. If most of your running is done on treadmills, something like an iPod + Nike kit is the better choice*, but if your running is in the great outdoors, you might want to consider something that doesn't tie to a particular brand of shoes. In fact, you could even use it cycling, snowboarding, or any other type of workout.

* You can get a footpod with the Forerunner, but that adds more $$$ obviously

April 2, 2007

Arrived, finally

My Mimoco Chewbacca usb drive has arrived at long last (Mimoco wrote a letter to apologize for the long preorder delay). It's all good -- the protohoodie is even more hilarious than I thought it would be.

IMG_4539 IMG_4538

March 15, 2007

Hot new Dyson Slim


My Dyson is jealous of the new Dyson Slim. They managed to squeeze their Ball into the new slim design for extra maneuverability and it's more... orange-y.

Gizmodo Photos

December 26, 2006

Newest gadget

Luckily for d, gadgets do not have to be limited to things that play music or store photos. A gadget for me is anything that displays cleverness with respect to its function: double points if the gadget itself gives you more insight into the nature of the function. Thus, my latest 'gadget' is a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Why is d lucky? Because I consider the Dyson a gadget, it provides as much entertainment as using an iPod, much in the same way some might consider the weather channel on the Wii a game.

My aunt and uncle showed me their Dyson vacuum cleaner a couple years back and I've wanted one ever since. It feels like a vacuum cleaner designed by someone who really, really likes vacuuming. There's no height adjuster, just a simple switch you can hit with your foot to raise or lower the brushes. It also has a wand with extra long reach that you remove from the Dyson like Excalibur.

The best feature, though, is a clear bay in front in which you can watch the collected spin round and round, growing into a larger and larger gray-black Hedora monster. When it fills up, which actually happens frightfully quick, a simple switch detaches the bay from the vacuum cleaner. Your role then switches from vacuumer to hazardous waste disposal. You carry the chamber by its handle at arms length over the trash, stick the bottom of the chamber deep into the trash where you don't have to see it, and pull the trigger.

This visibility of collection is both fun and dangerous. I like watching the dirt swirl together like a mini tornado, but this dirt swirl also makes it clear that your carpet is never clean. The first time I used it, I got it to the 'max' line in a quick spin around the apartment. The next time around was less, but I have the feeling that no matter how many times you use the Dyson, it will collect something, even if it has to rip every stray fiber from your carpet. A particularly OCD person might be compelled to vacuum every hour, which could convince your neighbors that you're on amphetamines.

My only worry with the Dyson is that like most vacuum cleaners nowadays, it is mostly made of plastic. I don't see it lasting the 20 years my Kirby vacuum cleaner did. But I guess like any good gadget, it requests that you upgrade it every couple of years.


Photo of the Dyson's first run:


December 12, 2006

Now I want Lego NXT Mindstorms

Back in April I was a little excited when I saw the NXT scorpion (video) and other NXT creations at the Lego booth at Maker Faire. You would put your hand in front of the scorpion and it would 'attack' you with its tail. Clever, but not awesome.

Then I saw this creation: self-parking NXT car. Screw you Lexus! I may not be able to afford your latest offerings, but I can make my Lego park.

I realize that what the NXT is doing is much simpler -- it's probably just bouncing its ultrasonic sensor off of the faux cars and running a preset parking routine, whereas Lexus actual uses actual video. But I don't care. I'm going to build a self-parking car that can stab SUV Lego cars with its tail.

November 23, 2006

mimobot R2


meta and I thought for certain that the last of the series would be Princess Leia (there's always Series 2). An R2 seemed possible, but I thought they would have to be really creative with the ear buds to pull it off. Even as a passionate R2 collector, I'm not sure that this one works well enough for me to regret my Chewy pre-order. For all its cuteness, it needs more, for lack of a better word, R2-ness. It's as if an ewok painted itself to look like R2. I would happily buy one if it were not for Chewy, but as I mentioned before, there is always Series 2.

November 8, 2006

Stormtrooper mimobot


The Stormtrooper mimobot has been announced -- one more left to go (big bets on Leia). I couldn't hold off any longer so I ordered Chewy.

November 6, 2006

Belkin 'Flip' KVM with wireless remote

belkin flip d and I needed a good KVM to switch between our desk setups and the Belkin Flip easily caught my eye as I browsed the aisle at Fry's. Most KVMs are ugly, obtrusive, and desirous of desk real estate. Belkin distilled the KVM down to its barest essence: the button to switch between two computers. It was an easy decision to go with the Flip.

My next decision, though, wasn't as wise. In my glee to hide as much of the KVM mechanism as possible, I decided to spend the extra $20 to get the wireless flip button. Yes, I spent $20 to eliminate a single cord. I actually sat in front of the display at Fry's for a good 10 minutes making this decision. I should have let the more parsimonious side win.

The wireless Flip frequently goes into a fit where it wants to switch over to d's computer. My best guess is that it is picking up stray wireless signals, though I can't explain why it never seems to want to switch the other direction. My computer is a PC and d's is a Mac, so perhaps Belkin embedded the Flip with its own Apple switch campaign.

Update: The Flip switch has been switched for its cheaper, corded cousin.

Belkin Flip

October 25, 2006



Methinks they are saving Leia for last.

October 17, 2006

New Sony Bravia Ad

The new Sony Bravia ad delivers, after much anticipation from this clip, but now I want them to do it with Diet Coke and Mentos

Mimoco Star Wars

I'm a sucker for mimobots -- designer flash drives -- even if I own none so far.  How many flash drives out there come with their own hoodie? I've biding my time for over a year now just waiting for just the right design. I really wanted Magma, but it was a bit too expensive for me at the time and, alas, the limited series is now forever out of stock.

Mimoco has announced they are selling out the Star Wars franchise, which is guaranteed to get me to irrationally ignore pricing and make me spend, spend, spend. So far they've announced the Darth Vader model. There are three more TBA. Vader is on preorder now.

Mimoco Star Wars Mimobot Series 1

September 28, 2006

Oh so close to breaking Sony boycott

I've long followed the slow path to release for the Sony eBook Reader (aka PRS-500). Every time I move (about once a year) I seem to need yet another bookshelf. I have resorted to selling off a bunch of books to Book Buyers, but still no room. eBooks have long seemed like a great idea -- I can 'keep' my books but make room on my bookshelves -- but without any good execution, i.e. low resolution. The Sony PRS-500 is a huge leap across the gap: the electronic ink display is 160 DPI and can display everything from book text to manga. Just imagine those bulky, throwaway weekly Jump Comics collections condensed into the palm of your hand. * Hot: display that looks more like paper than a computer screen * Hot: can play mp3s, for those of us that like music with our books. Just imagine the possibilities for something like my Japanese language podcasts -- you could have an entire new breed of 'audiobooks'. * Not: you have to use the craptacular Sony Connect store * Reviews: Engadget Hands On, Gizmodo Hands On

Boycott note: I've been on a 'soft' boycott of Sony products, which I technically broke by buying a used PSP and memory stick. Although it was for a charity auction, I will say that I mostly regret the PSP purchase, as I believe the PSP fell far below its potential due to Sony's predictable mismanagement of that system. Fool me once...

May 26, 2006

Gadget packaging

Consumer Reports and this derivative Wired article address one of my biggest pet peeves: plastic packaging. I hate it when something I buy takes first blood. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't ever recall having this problem with products I've bought in Japan. America seems to be the land of the sadistic plastic packaging obsession, though it's also the land of the wondrous Apple packaging that's just too pretty to throw away.

April 23, 2006

Maker Faire

Maker Faire was so much bigger and better than I thought it would be. I thought it would be great, but it was amazing. There were multiple pavilions crammed with eye-catching maker-foo and everywhere inbetween was interestingness as well. It was part Burning Man, part science fair, part RoboOlympics, part Web 2.0 conference, part RoboNexus, part DorkBot, part arts and crafts fair, part who knows. m, d, and I went on Saturday and I couldn't resist going back for Sunday as well. Some highlights:

Maker Faire-07 Maker Faire-10 Maker Faire-17 Maker Faire-13 Maker Faire-06 Maker Faire-15

  • Parallax had some great workshops, great in that you got to walk away with ~$70 worth of hardware for only $15. I made an RFID reader and a ultrasonic range finder. It's a good investment on their part -- I'm very tempted to get into BASIC Stamp programming now and also get one of their boe-bots: they showed off how you can mount the range finder on a swivel to turn it into a short-range (3.3m) radar.
  • I had a great time relearning how to solder while making my own Simon game.
  • The MythBusters were there playing Segway Polo and test driving a Xebra. The parking lot smelled like burning after their test drive.
  • The fine folks of The Crucible had a firetruck flame-shooting apparatus and there was also the flame-shooting SS Alpha Fox. The booms were loud enough that it was shaking the workshop building next door.
  • I absolutely loved the Meccano models of Difference Engine #1 and #2 (photo 1, photo 2).
  • Lego was showing off their next generation of Mindstorms: NXT. I snapped a video of their NXT scorpion 'stinging' my hand. The NXT set should be Mac and PC compatible and will support Bluetooth. I previously abandoned Mindstorms immediately after I discovered the kit I bought required Windows 98.
  • The folks at Amazing Magnets had a about a liter of ferrofluid to play with -- much more than the 30mL I bought.
  • There were plenty of modified bicycles on display, like a lawnmower bike and a chopper bike. My favorite was the Harry Potter broom bike. I failed to tame that unruly broom ride.
  • The cartwheeling robots (video) that I last saw at Robolympics were back.
  • There was a live demonstration of glass-flower making (video)

This entry doesn't begin to cover what was at Maker Faire. If you're interested in finding out more, you can check out the official Maker Faire site, the 3000+ photos on Flickr, or my mediocre photoset.

January 23, 2006



Canon's newest camera will have it all: from bp's/meta's pizza button to the latest in AI sensing/reminder technology for the "Pee Break Now" indicator. But which button calls my mom to tell her to come and pick me up?

I'm waiting for the model with GPS.

credit: bigconig's posting on dpreview

January 20, 2006

Case-ari iPod nano case review

case-ari caseI just received my Case-ari iPod nano case, which will replacing my homemade Altoids case. The Case-ari case is similar to the premium Vaja leather cases, but about half the price as they ship from Georgia instead of Argentina and they don't offer any customization.

I approve of the Case-ari case so far. It comes with a detachable belt clip and plastic screen protectors that you stick right on the screen and scrollwheel. Strangely there is no protector for the center button. The inside of the case is plush and there is a separate cleaning cloth. The customer service, from what I have seen, is good. Within a couple hours of my order they called to let me know that my chosen color was out of stock and gave me the choice of choosing a different color, cancelling, or waiting. The case also arrived with a free Case-ari keychain and signed personalized letter. All little things, but quite a lot for a $24.95 product when compared to the crap you might find for the same price in the Apple Store.

I liked the Altoids case, but I never quite finished it and it felt silly carrying around something as large as a regular iPod to transport a nano. I may revive the Altoids case for snowboarding or the like, but otherwise the Case-ari case will be absorbing most of the blows.

November 26, 2005

A nano case, sort of

I've been stopped by several Apple accessory stores over the past several weeks to try and find a case for my iPod nano. I've been using baby socks (0-3 months) as my Nano Case 1.0 and I've been wanting to provide it with slightly better protection for pocket travel. No affordable case has yet to catch my eye, so I've decided to upgrade Nano Case 1.0 from soft cover to hard cover. Nano Case 2.0 uses the same baby sock, but the sock now has a hole for viewing the screen. The modified Nano Case 1.0 with hole now sits inside of an Altoids case. A hole drilled in the bottom allows me to plug my headphones in. As soon as I find a metal file to file down the sharp bits it will be ready for primetime.

nano case nano case

November 23, 2005

Note to self

It is much easier to locate your lost cellphone if it is not in silent mode.

Note to others: yes, I have my cellphone again. It was wedged in the couch.

November 1, 2005

Hands on iPod with video, mixed impressions

I got my first hands-on experience with the iPod with video yesterday. My immediate impression was, "It's bigger," even though it's smaller. They aided this illusion by shrinking the scrollwheel (comparison pic). The more interesting comparisons came once I picked it up and started playing with it. Perhaps it was a matter of expectations. If someone had said, "Checkout the new iPod photo with new screen," I probably would be more favorable to it. Two disappointments came to mind:

  1. I felt strained watching video on it's tiny screen, though this may have been because the first video I watched was the Fantastic Four trailer. Although the screen had beautiful colors, I felt that I had to concentrate to watch, something I don't have to do when I watch video on the larger screen of my PSP. I was biased against it going in and nothing I experienced changed that.
  2. The ergonomics are much worse. I appreciate that they made the iPod thinner, but they also decided to change the plastic face of the iPod. Instead of the smooth, rounded edges of the third- and fourth-generation iPods, it's back to the old sharp edge of the first-generation iPod. It didn't feel as comfortable sitting in my hand as I tried to manipulate the smaller scrollwheel.

I hope that this is not Apple's final statement on handheld video playback. Apple usually tries to one-up it's competition when it enters a new space, but now I feel like they have to catch up. The only advantages they have are in video content and software, especially now that I see that Sony wants to charge $20 for software to put content on your PSP. These are not advantages that I underrate, but the handheld experience currently does not measure up to them.

October 12, 2005

First gripes

With euphoria of new announcements comes a bit of a hangover. Time to do a reality check (read on if you want my gripes and predictions):

Continue reading "First gripes" »

Apple gets video've long wished for an iPod with video out that I could sync with my TiVo to transport my TV shows around. Now it looks like I will get something close as there is now an iPod that can playback video with video out as well as an a new 'FrontRow' media-center-like app, a new iMac with remote, TV shows for $1.99 via iTunes, and music videos. Today's laundry list of announcements show that Apple has thought about the full video experience that they wanted and waiting until they could have all the pieces in place: iPod, iMac, and store.

$1.99 is a really good price for TV shows IMHO, even if the video resolution is a bit low (324x240). It matches well againt the per episode cost of DVDs and comes with the additional benefit that you are only getting the episodes you want and sooner. It should also give Apple some leverage with the music industry, which is already losing sales due to the pricing of DVDs versus CDs. It's hard to argue for more than $0.99/song when an hour long TV show is only $1.99.

The iPod is ultimately a generic storage device, not a music player, and with the addition of photo and now video capabilities it is a more complete portable device for media. Video was the last pillar of standard media and they now have them all.

October 5, 2005

Breaking news on DVDs

bp has sent me a bit of good news. One of our side projects while we both worked at PARC was researching stress deformations and fractures of DVD substrates. We demonstrated that DVDs with Microsoft logos had a higher incidence of fracturing than other DVDs, though we were unable to conclude a causal relationship. It appears that Gizmodo has used our initial findings to build towards this important announcement: Gizmodo Announces Support for Some Form of Higher Definition DVD. We wish them the best of luck in their research.

September 7, 2005

iPod nano, pico, pinto

galleryimage012.jpgApple introduced a whole slew of music stuff: iTunes 5, iPod: Harry Potter Edition and the Motorola ROKR photo (100 songs on your phone, rather paltry for an otherwise uninteresting phone). The one that caught my attention the most was the iPod 'nano', the successsor to the iPod mini. It's tiny. It uses flash instead of a hard drive, making it about the width of a #2 pencil. It's small enough that I worry about whether or not the scroll wheel on it will actually be usable. It also comes with a color screen and new features like a better clock, a lap timer, and stopwatch.

The Apple marketing team must have taken a cue from the iPod flea parody: one of the first accessory items that will be offered are 'nanotubes' -- green, purple, blue and pink slipcases -- presumably a step up from the iPod sock.

August 23, 2005

PSP: Partial Results

I've had more time to play with the PSP now that I got a 1GB memory stick for it. I succesfully downloaded some episodes of Battlestar Galactica that I had missed and re-encoded them for my PSP. Most of the setup was painless, but there is a lot of waiting between steps. At least I have several episodes now so that should hold me for awhile.

I had a much worse time trying to get TiVo programs onto my PSP. It appears that either you're lucky and it works or you're unlucky and you have to add some extra time-consuming steps and software. I'm an unlucky one so I'll have to re-experiment with my other options to see how they work out. I'd rather it not take 10 minutes for me to load 45 minutes worth of programming to watch on the train; at that point I'll just go back to reading books.

I dream of the process as simple as iPod + iTunes, though we as consumers have much less control over our video as we do our music. If Sony were consumer-friendly, they would have released a program for the PSP that would let me transfer my DVDs onto it painlessly. Instead, they want me to pay $21 for a UMD version of Kill Bill even though the DVD version is only $15. Go figure. The only comparison that comes to mind would be if Apple had released the iPod and told it's customers that it would only play $20 albums from the iTunes Music Store.

August 22, 2005

Anybody out there following Canon?

Update: From susanne I found out that IXUS is the product name for ELPH in Europe. The product shots from the press release use the European models, but it appears ELPH as a digital brand is still around in the US. What confused me is that if you go to the Canon camera listing page and click on the big 'ELPH' logo, you only get their non-digital ELPHs.

I noticed all the hot new cameras that Canon released today from the low to high end. There are a ton of new PowerShot cameras and there is this hot, full-frame 12.8 megapixel SLR.

One thing I noticed about the new offerings is that I no longer understand the low end of Canon's offerings. I used to have a Canon Digital ELPH (before I broke it under constant use) and the ELPH brand used to be a good, understandable way of saying "rugged but portable." Now as I look through the new Canon offerings, what I knew as an ELPH appears to be called an "IXUS 55" and the only cameras on Canon's Web site called 'ELPH' are these ugly film-only beasts.

I will be in the market soon for a successor to my old ELPH (S400): anybody out there savvy enough to which 'IXUS' camera might be a good replacement? I care more about "rugged but portable" than photo quality.

August 15, 2005

Giving in

A kinda sorta, but not really, broke my Sony boycott by getting a Sony PSP. But I don't think I actually technically broke the boycott as I got it at a charity auction, which means none of my dollars ended up in Sony's pocket. However, as I am now obligated to buy things for the PSP, like more memory with which to store episodes of the Daily Show and Battlestar Galactica, it all goes to show that I really have no backbone when it comes to gadget issues.

Steve Jobs can diss handheld video all he wants -- I watched Spiderman 2 on Sunday and I found it liberating to be able to walk around the house and do my chores (cooking, typing, photo retouching) while being entertained by a movie I love. The video quality is as good as a TV and is beautiful any which way you look at it. The true test, though, will be how easy I find it to load new videos onto it, which I will test out as soon as my larger memory card arrives.

August 4, 2005

Mighty Mouse, dissected

dissectedI'm not a fan of the new Apple Mighty Mouse, so I shed no tears when I saw that the folks at ArsTechnica had dissected one into little pieces. I don't understand why Apple feels the need to design devices with no physical clues as to how they are used (affordances), shape them to make my RSI cringe, and require you to learn rules like "you must lift your left finger in order to right click."

Actually, according to the Ars dissection, it's not actually a "right click" as much as it is a "click with no left finger present," which almost sounds like a Mac koan. Apple apparently did include a right touch sensor in the mouse, so perhaps they'll modify this behavior in the future.

renmouse-1.jpgCritiquing the Might Mouse is a bit pointless for me because there's probably little if no features that could convince me to part with my ugly but wonderfully comfortable 3M Renaissance Mouse. If any mouse deserves buzz, I think it's this scrollwhell-less mouse which even my RSI-wridden wrists can command around with authority. Coat one of these with shiny white plastic and I think Apple would have a killer product.

April 27, 2005

MS goes Nintendo

Auxiliary Display

Microsoft is demoing "Auxilary Display" technology -- a fancy name for what you get when you plug a Gameboy Advance into a GameCube. Dang that Tingle was freakin' annoying.

Microsoft demos Auxiliary Display

March 3, 2005

Mac poll (sort of)

While I'm at it, a second semi-poll inspired by meta's post (my condolences). Below I've recorded all of the Macs that I know of that I can find out the history of. I call this one a "poll" because you're free to add your own data or correct anything I've written, and I also left a lot of unknowns (which I assume to be probably good).

Yes, this is a slightly mean-spirited post, but you could rephrase it as a show of sympathy, or you could also rephrase it that despite the poor hardware quality, the good software and aesthetics override the trips to the Genius Bar for repairs. Note that in some of these cases, just like a trip to the hospital, more serious problems resulted from attempts to fix more minor ones.

Also note that, unlike Windows-based systems, the hard drive failures below were all preceded by a period of warnings (usually little dialogs warning of imminent doom), which gave time to save all data.

Problems: * meta's Al PowerBook: dead harddrive * dm's Al PowerBook: failed harddrive * i's Al PowerBook: failed harddrive * PARC PowerMac G4 at PARC: failed videocard * a's g4 iBook: failed motherboard->battery drainage->new iBook * honeyfield's iBook: case wouldn't close properly->screen backlight->broken sound * ln m's Ti PowerBook: failed motherboard * a's Ti PowerBook: external video output problems * 3 work Al PowerBooks: failed harddrives (same batch)

Doing great: * 17 work laptops (mushy, approximate stat) * a's replacement iBook * dm's Ti PowerBook * s's Ti PowerBook * pqbon's Ti PowerBook * bp's Al PowerBook * j's Al PowerBook * d's Al PowerBook: (spots on screen) * bp's iBook * parakkum's/honeyfield's G3 iBook (replacement keyboard from aggressive space-barring :) ) * kenji's PowerBook * cyndi iBook * justin's PowerBook * davextreme's G4 iMac * katherine's PowerBook * paul's Al PowerBook

February 7, 2005

Anthropomorphic iPod (Shuffle edition)

Newsweek has has revived the Anthropomorphic iPod argument in light of the "Random is a Virtue" iPod shuffle marketing gimmick.

More than a year ago, I outlined these concerns to Jobs; he dialed up an engineer who insisted that shuffle played no favorites. Since then, however, millions of new Podders have started shuffling, and the question has been discussed in newspapers, blogs and countless conversations. It's taking on Oliver Stone-like conspiracy buzz.

Apple execs profess amusement. "It's part of the magic of shuffle," says Greg Joswiak, the VP for iPod products. Still, I asked him last week to double-check with the engineers. They flatly assured him that "Random is random," and the algorithm that does the shuffling has been tested and reverified.

January 31, 2005

Found a use for my new GPS receiver

gps tronYou know, I could actually see myself playing this if I had the proper equipment (need bluetooth + proper cellphone): GPS:: Tron

January 27, 2005

Awesome snooze button

Awesome alarm clock from a researcher at Ivrea

January 21, 2005

A comparison

photo photo

December 13, 2004

Boycotting Sony

I've already thought ahead for a New Year's Resolution and have chosen one that will be easy to keep: I'm boycotting Sony (just their devices, not ready to give up Spiderman movies just yet). Just a few years back this would have been unthinkable, as every remote I owned was a Sony remote (TV, VCR, PS2, TiVo), and I even had a Sony VAIO laptop. This comic would have captured me perfectly. Now, however, the TiVo has been replaced with a brandless Series 2, the laptop has permanently died (replaced by a Dell), the Gamecube grabs more of my attention, the VCR is an archaic device, and my TV emits a high-pitched noise that calls for its eventual replacement.

This symbolic exit of Sony devices of yesterday is matched by a general lack of interest in the Sony devices of today and tomorrow. I visited the Sony Style store last night in search of X-mas gifts and tried out both of their hard drive music players, the one with the weird grid buttons, and the one that's as small as a iPod mini. Both were awkward and ungraceful to use -- neither could tempt me away from my broken iPod.

Add on top of all of this poor PSP battery life and load times, stupid legal pressure and belated mp3 support, and my boycott is no longer New Year's resolution but, rather, a smart consumer choice.

November 10, 2004

F- you Apple

My iPod battery is going dead after one year of service. It lasts about two hours now.

October 29, 2004


The new iPod Photo is pretty much everything I wanted in an iPod. Beautiful color screen, photo storage/display, TV out, and sync support for Photoshop Album. Oh, and there's better battery life. When I go home to visit my parents I can now take with me my recent photos to show them on their TV, and when I travel with my Belkin flash adapter, I can offload images onto my iPod and view them later on. Now I just need to scrounge up $500.

Update: (10/29) It's a little less perfect. The new iPod cannot display photos that you've imported using the Belkin flash adapter, I guess because it is not able to create thumbnails for them. So while it's a cool iPod, it's not my dream iPod.

October 4, 2004

Hot laptop


Dang Sony's got a hot laptop in the X505 (I know it's been out for awhile, but I just saw it at Fry's yesterday). I loved my old Z505, and at the time it was a leader in compact design, but it's been quite awhile since I've seen a laptop that's stunned me with it's design.

You have to be the type of person who appreciates a small portable laptop, as the screen is 10.4" (1024x768), but the base is barely thicker than a PC card and all total it's less than an inch thick. A composition notebook feels more bulky than this laptop. The keyboard response suffers a bit as a result, but I would sacrifice for that level of portability.

If only I had $3k to splurge...

September 21, 2004

How do I mod my iPod?


The clickwheels look way cooler without the touch surface on top of them. I wonder how I can modify mine?

MP3 Insider: The Secret Behind the iPod's Scrollwheel

September 3, 2004

Our sentiments exactly

iMac comic

ln m, honeyfields, pqbon, and I got into a long discussion over the aesthetics of the new iMac (with some Powerbook tangents). This comic succinctly summarizes much of our 30 minutes of conversation, right down to the post-it notes.

I would also like to add that IMHO, it looks like the iMac got hit with the stupid stick (I'm sure Jay Leno likes it). I also boldly assert that this is the least user friendly computer design manufactured by any company (including PCs) in the past five years (no easily accessible USB ports, headphone jacks, or power button -- in fact, everything is equally inaccessible).

Any other praise/not-praise?

August 27, 2004

Anthropomorphic iPod

My post frequency is down, so I'm going to cheat and mine a post from an e-mail thread.

This New York Times has an article on people and their iPods, and more specifically, how people attribute a higher level of intelligence to their iPods than actually exists. For example,

The iPod "knows somehow when I am reaching the end of my reserves, when my motivation is flagging," Mr. Greist insisted. "It hits me up with 'In Da Club,' and then all of a sudden I am in da club."

People also seem to think that the iPod favors certain artists, and point to the fact that the songs by the same artist will frequently play in proximity to one another. Often this artist will be someone the person likes, so they think that the iPod has learned their music tastes.

Personally, I think this viewpoint may be a result of how humans have a hard time comprehending random.

There is a problem that math/CS majors study called the Birthday Paradox, which asks "given N people, what is the probability that 2 have the same birthday?" It only takes 23 people for the probability to reach 50%. When we did this in class it only took ~15 people before we had two of the same birthdays. (Rubin reminds me that birthdays are not actually distributed evenly throughout the year, so the probability of having two people with the same birthday is actually much higher "since people in certain weather areas always seem to get randy around the same time").

This problem has applications to the iPod shuffling problem. Assuming that you had an equal number of songs from 100 different artists, then you would need 12 songs for there to be a 50% probability of at least two songs by the same artist (100 different artists). This doesn't mean that the songs by the same artist are 12 songs apart; it just means within that span of 12 songs there are at least 2 songs by the same artist, which means on average they will be a lot closer than 12 songs apart. If there are only 50 artists, then it only takes 9 songs, and for 200 artists it takes 17 songs.

However, like the Birthday Paradox, these assumptions are unrealistic: there are definitely artists that we have a lot more songs of, and soundtracks also inflate the number of artists. We also, as the article points out, buy more music of the kind we like. Putting this all together, even if the iPod is being completely random, it should be the case that you frequently hear songs by the same artist close together, and that artist will likely be someone you like. Thus, through complete mindless randomness, the iPod has 'learned' all about your preferences.

(I didn't verify any of the math I used in this entry)

August 4, 2004

TiVo good news

Woohoo, some good TiVo news: The FCC has approved the TiVoToGo feature, which allows users to share TV shows with friends and family (who own TiVos), as well as transfer programs to your home computer. The feature requires that you buy a bunch of dongles that you and your friends/family plugin to your TiVos. I'm not a fan of the dongle solution, but I am a fan of the actual feature, as the current requirements on the Home Media Option are overly constraining (TiVos have to be registered under the same name and have to be on the same subnet). The home computer feature will be launched first, followed by the friends and family feature at some indeterminate time.

An interesting consequence of this feature is that it would allow pooling of cable connections. For example, some of my friends don't get Comedy Central, but would like to be able to snarf my recordings of the Daily Show. This feature would allow them to get these recordings without having to pay the absurd $41/month that Comcast wants for analog cable with Comedy Central. I can see cable companies being angry about this, but I have no sympathy for them seeing how poorly they are treating analog cable.

It also allows storage pooling. We are experimenting with this right now with our three Series 2 TiVos (40/40/80). Each person participating could be responsible for maintaining a particular set of shows, which means that you could build a massive catalog of TV series to watch from. It also means that a person with a ton of storage could act as a storage service for everyone else.

August 2, 2004


DirecTV delt a big blow to TiVo by announcing that they are going to use DVR boxes from NDS, starting in 2005 (both NDS and DirecTV are owned by News Corp.). This pretty much explains why DirecTV hasn't updated their TiVo boxes to use Series 2 features (despite having the proper hardware), and perhaps explains why their HD TiVo option is overpriced and un-enticing.

I'm disappointed in the move because it demonstrates how anti-competitive the TV market is. Cable broadcasters have kept TiVo out of the digital cable market, which requires proprietary decoders, and instead have released their own branded decoders, and now both the DirecTV and Dish offerings will be no better.

To me this is akin to having to purchase a VCR from your cable company. I would like to stay with analog cable forever, but it probably isn't long before Comcast eliminates this offering entirely.

TiVo dented by DirecTV move - News - ZDNet

July 1, 2004

New Sony "mp3" player
Wired is calling it a "credible competitor," and while it is sexy, svelte, and all the other physical adjectives you might want in a portable music player, it still sucks in every way that I have ranted that Sony's current generation of music players sucks, and I even have a new word for it: muda.

I learned this Japanese word yesterday at our all hands meeting, and it means waste, inefficient, unnecessary, an activity without value. Businesses use it to describe the processes that need to be streamlined or eliminated. I think it describes the Sony experience perfectly.

It's not an mp3 player as you still have to do the slow/stupid/inefficient/wasteful ATRAC conversion. It also still relies on the screen-wasting Sony Connect music player software for your computer that can't seem to do anything right.

If Sony focused on removing the muda from the user experience, they could have a great product, but they insist on continuing to focus on features that have negative value to the consumer and software that is bloated in every possible way except for functionality.

- Another photo of Sony's NW-HD1 Network Walkman
- Sony Japan Press Release

June 17, 2004

BMW + iPod (Update)

The rumors were true: Apple teams up with BMW on iPod adapter.

There's no details, but I'm hoping that I can get the adapter installed in my older BMW.

Update: only 2002 and later are compatible (my car is 2001), and you have to have a stock stereo system. Shucks.

The kit installs into the glove compartment and allows you to control the iPod from the steering wheel.

May 20, 2004

Sony loses

If my reviews of Sony Connect and the VAIO pocket weren't negative enough, you can read this combined Sony PSP, VAIO Pocket, and Sony Connect review:
How Sony Cemented iPod's Supremacy

May 10, 2004

Sony bloggin'

After blasting Sony in my review of the Connect service, it's only fair that I list some of their cooler announcements that have hit the Net today.

VAIO PocketSony has finally launched a real iPod competitor. The VAIO pocket appears to be slightly larger than an iPod and features a color screen, ability to sync with digital cameras via USB, 20GB of storage, video playback (where does this video come from?), and weird G-Sense touchpad that you have to watch the flash animation to even begin to grok (instead of a dial, it's a 2-D raised grid that you move your thumb across). It's only in Japan, and it also costs over $500, so Apple probably isn't going to worry just yet. It also doesn't appear that it will win any beauty competitions.

In typical Sony fashion, it comes with an uber remote with LCD display. Also, in typical Sony fashion, they've stubbornly insist on converting all of the music into ATRAC format when transferred. I've already discussed how annoying this is. To me, this one annoying feature ruins the whole deal. Another deal-breaker for me is the fact that you have to use Sony's SonicStage player, which I also already discuss my annoyances with, as have others (Note: apparently Sony has already announced that there will be an update to SonicStage by summer's end to address the rampant criticism).

sony u70Another bit of news, and my reaction on this isn't as mixed, is that Sony has released a not-quite tablet PC, that IMHO is pretty innovative. It's very small as computers (click on the photo for more images), and I think it would be a good device to have around the house for channelling your media. In that regard, it may be difficult to find a niche: the screen is too small to make it usable as a day-to-day laptop, and despite the remote and earbuds it's not really a portable music player, so it all comes down to how many people have an extra $2K to spend on a computer that's easy to tote around the house as well as read e-books on (a market that still as yet has not materialized). I withhold judgement for now as to whether or not it would be useful for watching movies on airplanes, as I can't tell whether or not it has a built-in DVD drive.

Finally, Sony has finally released a widescreen laptop.

March 19, 2004

Pens and phones

I saw this Siemens PenPhone browsing through the CeBit news and it seems rather neat. The idea is that the pen is the phone, and you dial phone numbers and send SMS messages by just writing the numbers/text down on any surface. Not quite sure how in the world this would have a descent form factor, and you would probably have to carry around a headset in order to use it practically, but the idea is at least interesting.

The features of the Siemans pen would appear to complement the Anoto pen well. Some versions of the Anoto pen can use Bluetooth to link up to your cellphone, but they require that you use special paper for the pen to register your text. Also, the Anoto pen does not attempt to do any handwriting recognition and sends any text messages as a photographic image (MMS).

I would prefer a combination of the two products (separate pen and camera, handwriting recognition, no special paper), but I find them both conceptually interesting in their own rights.

February 9, 2004

Ooo, pretty new toys...

Today was a good day in software and hardware:

Firebird is now Firefox, and version 0.8 is now available for download. Haven't noticed that much that's different, other than the new download manager. 0.7 was already really solid for me.
- Mozilla Firefox - The Browser, Reloaded

At last - something I've been waiting for ever since I saw the first demonstration images. There is finally an affordable consumer camera using the Foveon chip, which makes digital photos look a lot more like real film photos. This page explains the differences between Foveon's X3 technology and other digital cameras.
- A Gamble on a $399 Digital Camera

Keyword search is back on Technorati, which is better than Google when it comes to finding fresh blog entries.
- Sifry's Alerts: New and Improved! Technorati Keyword Search...

Finally, Thunderbird 0.5 (Mozilla Mail Client) is out. They haven't renamed it to Thunderfox yet I guess:
- Mozilla Thunderbird

February 6, 2004

headsets + computers

bp knows why I think this is important...</cryptic>
J : Da Blog: Apple Bluetooth Update

November 13, 2003

Back to the future

photophotoThe old Mac Classic had a handle which turned it into an awkward, but portable desktop computer. The iMacs are also arguably portable, but Sony has come out with a successor to their Vaio W line that is a computer made for lan partying. A large handle is built into the design of the monitor, and the computer folds up like a briefcase for moving. Only available in Japan right now.
I4U News - New Sony portable Desktop Computer VAIO P PCV-P101
(via Gizmodo : The gadgets weblog)

November 11, 2003

There was a time where everything I owned was Sony The Pride That Killed Sony

Personal complaints: their DVD players are boring (Gateway sells a more interesting player), their laptops haven't improved since they used to be bleeding edge, Toshiba makes a cooler TiVo (w/ DVD recorder), the PS3 and PSP are way off, even Apple has a cheaper price point, their MP3 player line is stagnant and user-disfriendly, memory stick is almost as fragmented as all of the other flash memory types combined (Memory Stick, MagicGate, Duo, PRO), their wireless technology is absurdly overpriced...

October 16, 2003

iPod wishes come true

My "dream" iPod would be one that I could take on a trip with me and use to dump photos off my camera so that I wouldn't have to constantly steal metamanda's laptop or ask my Uncle to burn my a CD. Now it looks like my wish is coming true. Among today's iPod announcements:
- new $99 Belkin flash card reader accessory that plugs into the iPod and syncs with iPhoto (what about Photoshop Album?)
- iTunes for Windows, including Rendevous support
- microphone recorder for iPod

One of the most intelligent things (IMHO) that they announced today was a new "allowance" feature that allows parents to give their kids a music allowance in the music store. While I was at PARC I found out about studies that showed parents often used cell phones as a way of educating their kids about budgeting, and this seems to be a smart extension of that principle that will probably be very popular.

Update: They also announced that Apple has partnered with AOL to offer iTunes Music Store on AOLMusic. Woah.

October 1, 2003

iPod stuff

inMotion for the iPodThe rubin-deutsch conglomerate had the good idea of buying a pair of speakers when we were at a wedding in Wisconsin so that we could have blasting tunes in our hotel rooms served up by our iPods. Now it looks like Altec Lansing has caught onto the idea and are selling something a bit more portable (Spec Sheet). The only downside is that it's more than a bit expensive at $149, but for 3rd gen iPod owners it can serve as a traditional dock as well. Seeing as Apple wants $40 for a dock, it doesn't seem quite as expensive.

Don't have an iPod? There, there now. If you have a printer, I hear you can make your own second-gen 10GB iPod.

(via Gizmodo)

August 22, 2003

Finally, a real iPod competitor

this entry contains an image, click to view
Toshiba is releasing the "Gigabeat" in Jpaan. It's 20 grams lighter and ~20% thinner, and it's got consumer electronic styling that can actually take a beating without having to buy a separate case. As far as I can tell, they only have a 20GB model, and it suports WMA, MP3, and WAV. The only downside is that it's meant to be used with Windows Media Player 9, or Toshiba's own audio application. I can't tell if it's a bad babelfish translation, but this appears to mean that the audio data is re-encoded on the Gigabeat.
- KoKoRo: A very small mp3 player with a huge harddisk from Toshiba

August 19, 2003

Little kids are getting more annoying

Research by marketing consultancy reveals that one in nine five to nine-year-olds has a mobile.

It predicts that this will rise to one in five by 2006, making this the fastest expanding group of mobile phone users.

BBC NEWS | UK | Five-year-olds given mobiles (via Avi Greengart)

July 16, 2003

ipod + car

Motor Trend: Volkswagen's New Beetle and Apple's iPod Unite

July 11, 2003

Another Bluetooth Camera

Concord Camera Corp. Announces the First Entry Level Bluetooth Digital Camera - Digital Imaging -

July 8, 2003

Classifying stuff

By way of Avi Greengart, I came across Michael Gartenberg's technology classification. It's simple, but I like it:
Stuff you can't carry (ex: desktop computers, DVD players)
Stuff that needs its own bag (ex: business projectors)
Stuff that goes into your bag (ex: notebooks, some Pocket PCs)
Stuff that fits into your pocket (ex: some Palm PDAs, cell phones)
Stuff that's invisible (ex: watches, key chains, clothing)

I want to make one of these

I've been wanting to make one of these for awhile, those this person did a much cooler job than I was planning:
Wi-Fi Rover
I was planning on hacking an RC car to do mine, this guy built it from scratch. If I can figure out how he's doing the battery supply then I can use some old motherboard parts to hook most of this up. (via KoKoRo)

July 7, 2003

Two cool cameras

Doubt these are out yet, but these are cool cameras that would enable instant publishing/moblogging:
- Ricoh WiFi/Bluetooth/GPS digital camera
- Sanyo WiFi digital camera

June 27, 2003

Best Camping Accessory

Wish you could enjoy a nice, cool, beer now that's 100+ degrees outside here in sunny California? Forget the ice for the cooler? Well here you go.

June 26, 2003

Portable WiFi Server

Sony has a portable 802.11b file server available in Japan. In addition to supporting most major file protocols (CIFS/SMB, NFS), it can also act as an ethernet bridge. You can also install any other Linux software you can get your hands on. Joi Ito's got one and claims it has about 9 minutes of battery life. The specs seem very similar to OpenBrick. If you're in Japan you can order one here.

Looks like Sony beat Intel/Roy Want to market with personal portable servers, but I hope Intel hurries up with one that runs for more than 9 minute sans power adapter.

Ive Watch Out

With Apple introducing the Ive's iCheeseGrater this week, I was wondering what other kitchen utencils/appliances could be co-opted. BoingBoing pointed me at Toaster PC:


June 2, 2003

Panda with rocket punch

Panda's are loveable animals, but this almost seems evil:


According to the spec the robot comes with "rocket punch." Found this at: KoKoRo: Panda type Robot "PANDA-Z"

May 9, 2003

Wired: Sony Civil War

This is an interesting Wired article on why my favorite electronics company is forced to make terrible mp3 players: full text.

It's slightly dated, but especially relevant given Apple's new music store and Sony's failures with Pressplay. Apple has it a lot easier, though, because nearly everyone who buys an Apple:
- uses iTunes
- if given the choice of mp3 player would buy an iPod
- is used to Apple controlling their entire digital life

Sony, on the other hand, makes PCs, and OpenMG is a terrible music player when compared to the best-of-breed PC applications. Thus, being forced to switch over to OpenMG or RealOne just so I can buy music online and transfer tunes to my Network Walkman isn't a great user experience for me (as I own a Sony mp3 player, I speak from experience: it's sloooow to transfer songs with the unnecessary mp3->ATRAC re-encoding).

what is this?

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