Archive for December, 2008

Glad I didn’t buy a Zune.

Posted in General on December 31, 2008 by camarojones

http://gizmodo.com/5121311/reports-30gb-zunes-failing-everywhere-all-at-once

zune Apparently, every 30GB Zune with the latest firmware refused to work at around midnight this morning. What a way to bring in the new year.

I was actually thinking of buying one to replace my Zen Vision W for a more-portable music player…but not now.

Want to try the Android OS?

Posted in General on December 30, 2008 by camarojones

androidSince the Android seems to be making headlines here and there…I decided to try it out.

Go here to download the Software Development Kit:
http://code.google.com/android/download.html

After accepting the agreement, you are given options for download. Windows, Mac or Linux. You will download a *.zip file. Once you unzip the downloaded file, go into the new folder.

Inside this new folder is another folder called “tools”. Run the emulator.exe file. Enjoy Android.

If you need help, just reference the documentation.html file under the main folder.

Not bad so far…

Posted in Computers / Tech on December 18, 2008 by camarojones

untitledWell, the 64-bit fun is actually going pretty good. I transferred my user folder and a few other small files to a seperate computer, and within 1 hour I was running my 64-bit Vista.

A few small things pop up here and there.

The 64-bit version of IE works quite well, but flash doesn’t support 64-bit browsers, so I end up using the 32-bit versions. There IS a 64-bit version of Firefox, but it’s not an actual supported product. The folks take a released version, then change the code/recompile the program to use the 64 bit code, then release it as Minefield (the codename for the “true” beta versions of Firefox). It works, but has bugs in it.

The computer recognized all of my RAM now…all 4GB. The 32 bit versions of Windows only recognize up to around 3.5GB depending on your configuration. With the increased memory available, and the fact that I’m using the 64-bit processor architecture, I’ve noticed that the computer doesn bog down near as much as it used to. 3-4 browser windows open with many tabs in each, several files, programs, etc. and no problems at all. I like the increased multitasking ability.

I haven’t found any programs that are blatantly slower or faster, but I do notice that many of my programs don’t have a 64-bit version. Some do though. Gimp has an experimental 64-bit version that is slightly slower than its 32-bit counterpart but just during loading, Paint.NET is running under 64-bits (any program that is NOT 64-bit shows a <program name.exe *32> under the task manager. As of this minute, AVG, Java, Firefox and Magic Disk are 32. Everything else is 64.

I’ve heard that HL2 and its episodes run in 64-bit, but I haven’t re-installed it yet to try…even though Steam is 32.

Other than the few minor differences, there isn’t many things to note. It runs just like it did.

If you are thinking of trying it, you WILL lose all data on the hard disk. The way 64-bit works is written differently than the 32-bit, and you can’t upgrade. It has to be a fresh install. Other than that, you just have to watch out for the 64-bit version of programs. If they’re there, give them a shot.

What’s next for Apple?

Posted in General on December 17, 2008 by camarojones

apple3So…this last expo at Macworld will be the last, and it will be without Steve. What does that mean?

I’ve heard rumors from Steve’s health waning to Apple wanting to save money (as the exibits are quite expansive for Apple). There’s also some words going around that they want more control over the release of their products, and that the pre-expo rumors are killing their stock. It’s been shown that when a rumor of a new device goes around, and that device isn’t released…their stock goes down. They could be trying to keep their release schedule under wraps and do product releases at their own leisure.

Even though there may be some merit to that last “rumor”,  I personally like this one:

Apple is deciding to move on, and may allow their OS usable on ANY computer. We can dream can’t we?

EMPLOYED!

Posted in Work on December 16, 2008 by camarojones

imagesWell…the season has finally arrived. I’ve been waiting for it. I haven’t been sick…until now! It always happens. The sniffles, the sneezing, the crap. It’s finally gotten here. Oh well…time for more Tylenol.

Anyhoo…since I was upstairs taking a nap to relax from this gunk, I got a call…from my buddy at Wyle Labs. I’M HIRED!!!

Not asking questions, I found out that the 3rd potential hire didn’t work out. No need to ask more questions as it’s not my job. The only thing I needed to know was that i’m hired.

Not even 2 minutes later the employment agency called to let me know. I go in tomorrow to fill out the paperwork, then go to work on Monday.

What a great holiday it’s turning out to be! Now we just need to find a house.

So what’s next for the cellphone?

Posted in General on December 15, 2008 by camarojones

Well, after using my LG Rumor for several months, I’ve came to the conclusion that it’s a great phone. I can browse the web (albeit slowly), I can text, and I can talk. Hell, I can even play some kick-ass games like Baldur’s gate and Age of Heroes. There’s the standard apps like NFL Mobile or NASCAR Mobile, but those are all over the place. Although there are all these good things, I’m still missing something.

The thing that I’ve been searching for might be around the corner, or it might already be here.

apple2The iPhone
The iPhone is a nice device. It’s pretty. It’s simple. It’s neat. It is definately revolutionary in the world of convergant devices. Just like Apple. Just like the iPod. Of course the iPod is still considered the standard in music players, or there wouldn’t be things coming out as the next iPod killer, now would there. I “had” an iPod, and it was nice. My wife still has hers. The HDD went out, and I wasn’t going to waste the money to buy another “normal” device. I upgraded to an actual media player. It costs just as much, and plays more formats, and has much better video options. Apple, to me, is a company creating awesome devices, and puching the technology into the next phase. But the iPhone is not for me. I don’t like AT&T/Cingular, and to be honest, I don’t like the way the iPhone works. It’s a great device don’t get me wrong, “I” just don’t like it. I’ve never owned one, but from what EVERYONE with one MUST show me…I’m not interested.

bbRIM/Blackberry
Blackberries, Crackberries, or plain ole Berries. They brought “push” e-mail to the world of business. To be connected to your work like an actual computer..to have access to work 24/7. I already have that with my phone. My Rumor e-mail client is set up to check for my mail once every 15 minutes. If you need something within 15 minutes, you need a vacation. Of course it’s my own e-mail, but still. Other than that, they have a wonderful OS. It’s pretty. A full QWERTY keyboard (another innovation), media/music player, and an OK browser. I’ve never owned one, but seeing those around and the few friends with one…It looks good. I’ll have to do more research, and maybe try one out.

palmPalm
Palm has been around for a while…a LONG while. Before Windows Mobile. Before RIM. Before the iPod or iPhone. It started as a touch screen PDA, got upgraded a few times. The OS modified for the Sony Clie line of PDAs. It was put on the Treo line of phones (for RIM competition), then just kinda fell on it’s face. I LOVE the simplicity…the speed. It works. It works well, but it’s not pretty, and there are a few things that PC users expect from the OS that isn’t there. I had a Treo, and I’ve owned a few Palm PDAs. I’d like to trade my x51v for a T|X, but I’m waiting. For what? The new Palm OS “Nova”. The word around the street is that Palm will be introducing the OS, and the new phones at CES in January. If it’s nice enough, it might sway me to buy a new Palm phone. Time will tell.

wmWindows Mobile
WM has been around since the CE days. It’s now on a lot of big phones. The Treo, HTC, etc. It’s on my x51v. It was on my hx4700…90% of my PDAs have been Windows Mobile. I’ve got programs. I’ve got games. I’ve got browsers. I’ve gotten bored of it. No more Windows mobile for me.

androidAndroid
The Android OS. Not just an Operating System…but Open Source…just like Linux. Just the way I like my programs. Gimp, Paint.NET, OpenOffice.org, Stellarium, Steam. All open source, all freely available for anyone to do anything with it. As long as it works, and is relatively bug free, it’s in. You don’t like something, or want to make something for it, do it. It’s not illegal. It’s needed. The thing I’m waiting on is for Android to come out on the Sprint Network. But there’s a catch. With Sprint, they like to keep absolute control over what can or cannot be installed to their phones. I can’t just add any ringtone. I can’t add just any app, or any wallpaper. It has to be approved by Sprint. This is NOT compatible with Open Source. From what rumors have been going around, a Sprint Android phone will be out in 09…as long as the CEO thinks it’s ready. Ummm, lets see. The G1 is on the T-Mobile network and works great (according to the 3 guys I know with one.) Any app, any background, any music, any ringtone, etc. Anything they want to use…it’s there. I’m waiting, Sprint!

Of these, I’m leaning toward a Blackberry, Android, or the new Palm device. Since the BB is the only one out right now, looks like that is going to be the choice. However over the next few months things might shape up differently.

A flash to capture lights?!

Posted in Computers / Tech, Photography on December 13, 2008 by camarojones

OK…you may not be a pro photographer. You might just be a person using a point-and-shoot. Either way, you have to at least know that a flash does no good when you’re trying to take a picture of lights.

Tonight, the wife and I went to our local park to look at light displays. Driving along, enjoying the displays when we receive the overpowering glare of a camera flash. Not once, or twice…but the entire time.

If you aren’t aware, the flash is meant for lighting an unlit/dark subject, or filling in the shadows of a brightly lit subject with dark shadows (a backlit person in broad daylight). It will not work if the subject is a light, or if the subject is over about 20-30 feet out (except in certain circumstances). In football/baseball/basketball games, NASCAR races, etc. The flash is worthless.

The joy of digital cameras is how easy it is to check the picture and settings to adjust for the best picture. For my Nikon D50, I use manual mode, 1/30 shutter and a wide open aperture. Christmas lights come out nicely as long as I’m steady. If I want more glow, I throw it on a tripod and use full auto without flash, then I adjust in manual mode from there for the best balance.

OK…so you don’t have a full DSLR then. There are settings in all PnS cameras that allow you to adjust the exposure or turn off the flash (as a minimum). In a car, turn off the flash and hold the camera against the car. You can then adjust your exposure settings from there. If you’re not sure how to do this, it’s better to leave the camera at home, or deal with bad pictures.

If you happen to take the pictures, and they’re dark, you’re in luck.

Most digital cameras, by the nature of the sensor, have a LOT of information stored in the dark areas. You can generally take an extremely under-exposed picture, and with a simple program, pull the exposure out of it into a normal looking photo. You can’t do this with highlights though. Once they reach the magical number for maximum information, it’s gone forever. There’s NO backing down from highlights. Underexposure is correctable, over is not.

Using Google’s Picasa program: http://picasa.google.com/ you can double-click the photo, then select the Tuning tab on the left. Move the “Fill Light” slider up until it looks good. Done.

Here is an example:

underexposedadjusted

This was straight from the camera, the photo was adjusted using ONLY the “Fill Light” from Picasa, saved to a different file, then both resized (using Gimp) to 1024×681 files. That’s it. Granted, this is an extreme case from a test photo for a party a few weeks back, but as you can see…it works.  There is some minor loss in the extremely dark areas, but unless you look for it, you don’t notice it. Besides, a photo this dark would be deleted right off the bat. No second chances…but it gives you an idea of the tool’s capabilities. (Yes, photoshop could do it better and with more accuracy, but this is the easiest way for most folks)

Just try to turn off the flash once in a while…you’d be amazed at what you will find.