August 2009 - Gadget Victims


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Micro 4/3 cameras: a bridge too far ?

8/30/2009 02:03:00 PM 0

The new Micro Four Thirds comes to bridge the gap between SLR and digital compact cameras.

SLRs (and DSLRs) normally have interchangeable lenses while Bridge cameras have a unique fixed lense. These later are generally more compact, but use a smaller sensor (4/3 vs 35mm for SLRs).

Apparently there was still an unexploited niche in between, and potentially big enough for two major camera makers to start the experience of the Micro Four Thirds cameras.

These are as compact as bridge cameras but offer the lens interchangeability of their big brothers. So, the best of both world apparently? well, not exactly...

It takes the slower autofocus mechanism as well as the typical Electronic View Finder of the compact digital camera world (a plug-in optical VF is sold separately), and -for the moment- does not allow any video recording. This last point could be show stopper for people who like the compact all-in-one factor of bridge cameras. So the Micro Four Thirds has potential to frustrate both SLR and bridge fans.

So far there were two main categories of photographs (or so I thought): the casuals (using bridges) and the serious (using SLR's). In between must sit the seriously casuals (or the casually serious?), to which Micro Four Thirds will give a unique opportunity to spend big bucks for lenses and filters just like the SLR's (but with more space for accessories in the travel bag thanks to the smaller camera) and still enjoy the ISO limitation of a bridge.

Time will tell if there is an audience for this new type of camera...

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So Muhammad Ali is Irish !?

8/28/2009 09:18:00 PM
If you are living on the Emerald Island, and in the Banner county in particular, it is quite difficult to ignore that Muhammad Ali is coming on the 1st of September in the Information Age Town (everything is decoded below). My off topic category is there for events like this.

I like the 2 videos below (not embeddable, sorry) showing the boxer's great sense of humour:

Muhammad Ali talks about his Irish origins (Interview on RTE Irish TV 1960s)

Interview clips of Muhammad Ali (1971, 1974, 1975 and 1981)

If you happen to cross the town of Ennis on that 1st of September, and depending if you're a fan or not, you should know what places to reach, or to avoid with the program of his visit:
  • All Day - Muhammad Ali Exhibition, at Glor Irish Music Centre
  • 1.00-3.30pm - Public event at Abbey Street Car Park
  • 3.00pm - Civic Reception at Waterpark House, Drumbiggle (Muhammad Ali will embark on drive through Ennis town following this event). Please note that the Civic Reception is a closed event.
  • 3.00-4.30pm - Street entertainment at O'Connell Square, Abbey St. and O'Connell St.
  • 3.15-4.30pm - Live entertainment, Temple Gate Plaza
  • 3.15-4.30pm - Live entertainment, Turnpike
  • 3.00pm (free admission), 8.00pm (ticketed only) - Showing of 'When We Were Kings' at Glor Irish Music Centre. Proceeds in aid of The Parkinson's Association Of Ireland

Emerald Island = Ireland
Banner County = Clare
Information Age Town = Ennis (but that's Irish Geek humour!)

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Third-Party software for IP Cameras

8/18/2009 03:26:00 PM 144
The IP Camera BSTI PT100V2W appears to be a clone of the Foscam FI8901W which, in turn, is the older brother of the FI8908W.

Therefore the IP Camera Super-Client found on BSTI web site does work with Foscam cameras. The interface is not the clearest and I had a few crashes with it, but it appears to be free (even if a registration is required after some time), so it's still good to take.

More decent is H264WebCam also works with the Foscam FI8908W (selecting BSTI PT100V2W), excepted for the Pan & Tilt function. It exists in free, standard or pro version. It offers motion detection of pre-selected zones, FTP/email alert, recording, and some access control.
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Gestural Interfaces and Augmented Reality

8/18/2009 11:37:00 AM 0

The Nintendo Wii seems to sit in the middle of two worlds: the (old) world of solid interfaces (mouses, keyboards, buttons,...) and the coming world of virtual interfaces where we will interact with devices through gestures in the empty air with our bare hands.

While the Wii still requires you to hold a controller, Microsoft's Natal Project is one first step into the new world...

But there is more:

...and this extrapolation doesn't look too far away after all:

If you want to try the gestural interface for yourself: all you need is a webcam and the software for this site
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Alternatives to Wayfinder on Sony Ericsson mobiles

8/17/2009 12:20:00 PM 0

Several Sony Ericsson GPS-enabled mobile phones come with Wayfinder as the main application. The software itself looks ok and could even (very) occasionally be used to guide you when driving. But there's a catch: after a trial period, you'll be invited to pay a yearly fee. And instead of availing for their "exclusive offer", you may prefer to buy an entry-level but decent dedicated GPS device for the same price!

However, there are free alternatives if you still wish to use your mobile phone as a PNA:

amAze is a free GPS application (ad-funded) working on most J2ME mobile phones.

An important trick to avoid expansive data traffic for streaming maps over the phone, is to use the arrows mode where only the small amount of data for the calculated route is sent to the phone. See more here.
Like Wayfinder, it also provides vocal instructions. Previous reviews of amAze highlighted the ugly interface and the slow response. All this has visibly improved now (I tried v4.5). It actually seems slightly ahead of its competitor: Nav4All . But this is open to discussion...
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Interactive Projector Technology

8/17/2009 11:08:00 AM 0

TI has, for many years, been present inside most technological devices (Speak & Spell toy, TI computers, BOLT-117 laser-guided bomb), and it's nearly impossible to open one without finding the little Texas-shaped logo on a component.

But most of us know the brand for having used their calculators at school. And that's in the classrooms again that the company is about to make a remarkable comeback.

DLP (Digital Light Processing) is already popular thanks to the pocket-sized pico projectors and soon to be cellphone-embedded, but below is an even more spectacular example of the DLP Interactive Projector Technology:

Below is a demo of a possible alternative (for the not-so-well-funded schools):


- GestureFX
- SmartBoard
- Gestural interfaces
- Other Pico projector
- WowWee Cinemin Swivel
- eBeam
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What nanoscience could do for you...

The 300 € Hula Hoop

8/12/2009 01:13:00 PM 0
wii fat

The video says at the end: "The Wii Fit looks great with anything from Ikea"
And, just on time, the first Ikea store in Republic of Ireland just opened in Dublin!

...and I'm fine with not going to the backyard at the moment, it's lashing rain outside anyway!
wii fat
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Touch Table

Media Library Management

8/08/2009 11:44:00 AM 0
If I don't want to pay for a professional software, I try to find it's freeware counterpart. It was quite a challenge 10 years ago, when a free software would often be ugly, unstable, limited and poorly maintained, but this has changed, in great part thanks to the excellent Sourceforge community. Now there are many professional-grade open-source applications available and it became impossible for me to do without some of them.

To start my own best-of collection, the first application that comes to my mind is Ant Movie Catalog. While apparently not part of the Sourceforge listing, it's an good example of freeware that outperform by far any payware I know of.

It evolved to cover now every important aspects of a good media database: Easy and complete interface, powerful import/export functionality, powerfull scripts (constently updated but you can create yours) that allow you to grab the DVD cover and information from various specialised web sites, loan management (very important!), and last but not least,a highly configurable print-out interface.

Also, have a look at the other less popular software from the same author.
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Geek flavoured Coffee

8/05/2009 03:10:00 PM 0
Coffee is very compatible with the geek lifestyle. It's actually the animal's primary food !

I discovered a year ago the last mug I may ever need. It comes with one typical travel mug lid, and a second one with a plunger. It also holds a concealed storage box for tea, instant coffee or sugar.

My only regret with my Double Shot model is that it is too large for the cup holder in my car.

The Senseo coffee maker is hard to find in Ireland, so I Senseo 7832 around €100purchased one on the web. It's the most economic on use, just after the traditional filter coffee machine, and makes excellent coffee, despite it's 1.5 bar pump (compared to 15 bar for typical espresso makers).
As I often travel to France and Belgium, I get the coffee refill there, but sometimes I run short on pods, and there comes a clever gadget to sort me out: the refillable pods.

There are several brands available and some can easely reach €10 piece. The ones I found, called ecopads, came in pack of 5 units for just €11! Having several pads allows to pre-fill them and store them in a box for future use.

And finally just for the eyes, a true geek trap, and - to me - the most beautiful coffee machine on the market:
the Francis Francis X1 (if only it didn't cost over €500!)
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