Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

A SD card with wi-fi built into it? Now that’s cool!

November 20, 2007

On a recent TechGuy podcast I heard about this Eye-Fi Wireless SD card that comes with built-in wi-fi capability. Yes wi-fi right inside the SD-card!

So the gist of it is that you can transfer pictures to your pc or mac without even taking the card out of the camera. And this would be camera independent.. so you don’t need a camera with wi-fi built into the hardware. This is right up there in the good idea hall of fame with the Sandisk Ultra II SD Plus card that folds open to reveal a USB plug right on the card.

It also does auto uploads from the camera to online photo management services like Flickr. And I’m assuming this would work anywhere you can get wi-fi connectivity (not necessarily your own PC). Personally I don’t like just mass uploading pics to Flickr. I like to cull my photos and toss out the horrible and mediocre ones whenever possible.

I’m not sure how well it would work with Linux and haven’t read about all the other potential issues like security etc. But the one stumbling block I have is not Linux related at all. It is the fact that my Canon Rebel XT uses Compact Flash and not SD.

Oh well, it’s still very very neat. 🙂

ps – With the extra room in the significantly larger CompactFlash card, they should be able to give me a 0.5″x0.5″ OLED preview of the photos right on the card too! 🙂

Blogged with Flock

The Personal Aspects of Space Travel and Shooting Stars

October 4, 2007

Here’s a good explanation of one of the more mundane aspects of space travel… and you’ll learn something surprising about shooting stars along the way too:

Blogged with Flock

PC Envy

September 6, 2007

Kent Newsome just bought a new (and quiet) toy. Of course, I’m immediately jealous. 🙂

I’ve been pondering for the past month or so about what my next system purchase will be. I’m torn between a laptop or a desktop machine. The Dell XPS M1330 has caught my eye – no pedestrian Inspirons for this tough guy! 😉 But buddy at work got a nice XPS 710 desktop system a while back and I have to say, when you pair that up with a Dell 24″ LCD monitor, it’s pretty damn nice too.

My current machine is still plenty usable. It’s a P4-3GHz, and with running Openbox on Feisty, I’m very happy with the speed. It’s very capable for most of the stuff I do. Of course extra processing power (even in the M1330 I suppose) would do me fine for encoding all those damn screencasts too. 🙂

So right now I’m torn between a laptop and a desktop. The laptop makes infinitely more common sense to me. And I’m not looking for a desktop replacement style laptop either. I like the 13.3″ screen because I’m interested in a light, portable and capable device. We have a 17″ HP laptop at work and it’s a behemoth. Completely at odds with what I’m looking for (the guys at work say I’m nuts).

Another problem? I’ve been out of the computer buying market for quite some time and haven’t paid enough attention. A T5300 or T7200 processor means almost nothing to me. And worse still, I’ve never owned a laptop so I’m at a loss as to what to really look for technically. One thing is for sure, it’s gotta be a Dell – family discount y’know. 🙂

iPhone’s style was originally based on something else…

July 17, 2007

… the Zenith Space Command remote control from the 70’s! Plink!

Wonderfully chunky, rounded-rectangle device. Friends of the family had one and I was jealous. We were still using one of those rectangular brown plastic boxes with the 20 buttons along the top (kuh-chunk!) with the wire running to the tv.

Little did I know at the time, but the Space Command remote didn’t even require batteries. It worked on sound frequencies, something akin to a tuning fork. To me it was very cool. Almost like something from Space: 1999.

I wax nostalgic.. Sorry.

Pre-Hammered Sinatra

July 12, 2007

I finally got around to watching Steve Gillmor’s Bad Sinatra 1. Since I don’t own an iPhone (and have no desire to), I decided I’d use the nifty program DeVeDe to burn it to a DVD and experience the full glory of Gillmor on my living room TV. With a slice of cold pizza in hand, I hit the play button and watched.

After it was over, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t feel as though it was ’38 minutes I’d never get back’. Clearly it’s not polished. Hopefully it never will be. Steve still has his magic. His ability to annoy, cajole and make me chuckle has remained untainted over his months of relative silence. I’m glad.

High points? Dan Farber, definitely. Devoid of the scene-stealing, attention hungry bravado of Calacanis, Farber continues to forcefully right the apple cart that Steve is constantly trying to upset. I admire his attempts at pinning Steve down on some of the issues. Never quite successful mind you, but it’s sure fun watching him try.

Other things I liked – Doc Searls of course. Pre-hammered shit and the state of VRM. Now there’s a white paper for you. He made me laugh – more than a couple of times.

I wasn’t impressed with a lot of the other stuff, not because it wasn’t important (to someone), but it wasn’t to me. If it was up to me, it would be the Steve, Dan and Doc Show all over again – there is long standing magic there I think – you can hear.. er.. see it. And just to ice the cake, put Jon Udell on speakerphone in every episode and pan away to a lovely scenic shot just as he’s about to make his big point on the crackly speaker. That was classic too.

Annoyances? Damn Robert.. straighten the hat and adjust the camera if you need to. I know it’s cool to be a nerd these days, but c’mon, that just couldn’t be comfortable.

I’m interested to see where it goes. If it’s anything like the Gang of old, I’m sure Steve has no idea where that is. 😉

Oh yeah… Note to Steve. The USB input on my new Kia’s stereo, combined with my 100km daily commute says to me that audio podcasting is anything but ‘dead’. I must have listened to 35 Diggnation episodes and have only ever watched two and they even have hot babes on there sometimes 😉 – The power of video podcasting is not as strong as you’d like to think.

I guess the true test will be if I create an audio version of your video show and feel I’m not missing anything. Wanna pull a Diggnation and save me the work by providing an mp3 only feed too?

Didn’t think so. 😉

All revved up, not sure where to go…

June 22, 2007

I spotted a good deal on a 500GB external USB 2.0 drive, and decided to pick one up this morning. It’s an IOMagic drive and cost me $170 CAD (plus taxes of course). While I know kind of what I plan to do with it, I’m still mulling over the finer points. If you’ve got suggestions I’d love to hear them. Here’s what I’m thinking:

My machine has been a mess ever since I set it up as dual boot XP/Linux box. I’ve never been fully pleased with the performance of linux on this box and I think part of the reason is that the boot drive is a SATA drive, which caused weird problems with early versions of Ubuntu. I could never really get the dual boot setup working right, and performance on the machine is quite spotty.

Since upgrading to Feisty, things have been much better, but still at times it feels like it’s got a P3-800 chip on it and not the P4-3Ghz chip that’s actually on there. Processing operations are sometimes slow and other times rebooting seems to cure the problem – something that should NOT be a problem on a Linux box.

Anyway, I plan to use the new drive to back up all of my data that resides on my XP and Ubuntu partitions and wipe everything clean, starting from scratch. I’m going to install a fresh copy of Feisty on it, and then run XP in a virtual machine – yes, there are still a couple of things I need XP for… 😦

So here’s where my questions begin – pardon any stupidity:

1. Do I have to format this 500 GB drive? I’m assuming that I do. Should I do it in multiple partitions? And what type. I was going to do the whole thing in ext3. I can see all my XP data from within Linux now, so I’m assuming that’s the best route.

2. Once the backup is done, is there a definitive ‘best’ partition setup to use for the fresh Ubuntu Feisty install on my internal drives? I’ve got 2 – 160GB internal hard drives. One is SATA the other is IDE. I can let Ubuntu do it’s thing automatically. Is this the best way? Anybody got any pointers on this?

3. Is there any point in trying to preserve the various app settings and configurations that I have? I was just going to really start fresh. And that means reinstalling and configuring a lot of things from scratch. I’m a bit worried that if I try to migrate system settings that my past performance problems might follow me.

4. Is there anything I definitely need to save before wiping out my existing system? I’ve got all my ISP info on paper, and I generally don’t use saved passwords and logon info from my browser so that’s likely not a problem. But should I grab device info (like hard drive info) before starting the install? Is there a way to easily get this data? (maybe the dmesg logs?)

Those are my main questions right now. I will be taking the plunge this weekend whether or not I get any suggestions or advice. I’m far too impatient, especially when it comes to geeky stuff like my pc, to wait ;).

Ubuntu To Jump Shark – free admission

May 2, 2007

Given the impending news of Dell shipping systems preloaded with Ubuntu, I guess there is no doubt now that Ubuntu has jumped the shark. What’s next? Trying to get Linux slapped on the side of an IRL race car? At this rate, there will be people using Linux who’ve never even compiled a kernel before!

Oh the humanity!

Honestly, I don’t see the march towards free and open source salvation (or disaster depending on your point of view) stopping any time soon either. I’m not going to join the geeky hordes in calling this the ‘Year of the Linux Desktop’ – even though this year it seems somewhat more realistic than the last ten, but looking at the surroundings, it does give you pause for thought.

Some interesting things from my perspective:

1. Free and open source development is not slowing – people not getting directly paid for developing things hasn’t been a major stumbling block to this point.

2. The general public is getting more tech saavy. It doesn’t matter if they are switching to Macintosh. At least they are beginning to realize that there are completely viable non-Microsoft alternatives. While awareness is growing at what seems like a snail’s pace, it is growing – inexorably.

3. If Vista hasn’t been a failure, it sure hasn’t been the runaway success that it needed to be to maintain utter long term dominance.

4. Virtualization may make the choice obsolete. If I can run XP in VMWare, or XP in Parallels on a Mac, then the sacrifice of moving from one platform to another will vanish.

5. The pace is relentless. Who can move faster? Microsoft, Apple or FOSS developers? Doesn’t releasing an OS every 5 years leave you a little hog-tied when technologies rise and fall so quickly? Apple sounds like it is trying to make some big steps with Leopard. It has to. I haven’t heard of one thing in Vista that could be considered a big step ahead. Linux will undoubtedly scramble, catch up and likely surpass Apple’s best efforts within a year anyway. Such is the tenacity of riled up developers when the gauntlet is thrown.

6. Free and open-source software is empowering the people who make and do interesting things. Open vs. closed models is becoming the big debate more and more often. Witness Silverlight v. Adobe.

7. If you can succeed as wildly as Ubuntu has, with a default brown theme, you can do just about anything! 😉

So the shark-jumping is not the end. It’s hopefully only the beginning.

Cool 3D photo collage modelling

April 12, 2007

Now no one can accuse me of not being an equal opportunity blogger:

[Via a recent episode of Leo Laporte’s KFI podcast]

Just in case you thought Microsoft wasn’t full of smart people (ok, maybe acquired smart people), wanting to push the envelope, check out the demo videos of the Photosynth project.

Think Quicktime VR but formed from a mass of normal digital photographs. From what I understand, they’ve got software that analyzes a group of photos of a specific location, recognizes datum objects, figures out camera position and angle of view, transforms them to account for parallax errors and assembles them together in a sort of 3D collage model. Put that inside a nice viewer with cool pan and zoom navigation and you have something really really interesting.

You can’t get this software yet (I don’t think), but it does show some really interesting possibilities for all those millions of photos being posted to the net. A use for photos in aggregate.

Now if only I could find the open-source equivalent.. 😉

Keys to a better Keyboard – what do you think?

April 11, 2007

So there's a war on about moving or getting rid of the Caps Lock key.

What about the Scroll Lock and Pause/Break keys? They sit pristine and untouched on my Dell keyboard here at work and on any keyboard I've ever used for that matter.

And while I would prefer a more OS-agnostic glyph for the 'Windows' key, I do find it useful (Windows+D on XP and a multitude of Beryl controls combinations on Linux).

However this Dell keyboard I'm staring at also has a key with a menu symbol on it. It's just to the right of the right hand windows key. Pressing it brings up the right-click context menu in your current app. Completely useless in my mind. The right-click context menu is one of the few mousey things I think is pretty efficient.

So out with Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, Pause/Break and the mysterious Menu keys. (The print screen key is good for screen captures).

Any others we should pry off and throw out?

What do we replace all those missing keyspaces with?? (a double question-mark key??)

I Bought a Nokia 6265i – opinions wanted…

March 21, 2007

One of the other things stolen from my car was the car charger for my cell phone. My desktop charger was ruined a year or so ago in a kitchen sink mishap (don’t ask), so the car charger was my sole means of keeping my trusty 5 year old Audiovox 8300 phone ticking.

Well since the battery was almost completely spent, I decided to head to a local Telus store up the road from my work. It turns out that the only charger for this phone was in a Telus store somewhere in Quebec and it was gonna be several days before they could get it. Aaargh – frickin car stealing idiots!!

So instead I decided to get a new phone. With my service plan unchanged and renewing for a 3 year contract (I’ve been satisfied if not happy with Telus for the past 9 years) I picked up a Nokia 6265i for zero cost plus the activation fee.

I am not a convergence device guy. I wanted a good phone that I would be using probably only as a phone. It would be nice to have data capabilities if I need them in the future, but it wasn’t crucial. I probably only text message a couple times a month so that wasn’t a key feature either. It’s got what is supposed to be a good 2 MP camera, but being a DSLR owner I know I probably wouldn’t be overly impressed and truly, it wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker if it didn’t have a camera at all.

So it has a slew of fancy features, most of which I probably won’t ever use (mp3 playback and an internal fm radio too).

It’s sad to say, with me being so interested in technology and the information age, but what really sold me was the sliding keyboard and internal antenna. Everyone and their grandmother has a flip phone these days – I wanted something different. And hey, you’ve got to admit those phones in the Matrix were kinda cool 🙂

Now if Brad Kellet or others could just chime in here and give me a much more educated opinion on my purchase it would be much appreciated!