Tuesday, September 23, 2008

HTC Dream/Tmobile G1/Android Google Phone

I was excited about T-Mobile's G1 phone, and I honestly thought I'd be one of the first to own one. There's a lot to like about it and little to dislike. However, there is one serious deal-breaker for me.

I use google for a lot of things. It's my primary search engine, my primary email app, and my only calendar app. Having a phone that gives me immediate access to all this information is very appealing. Portable broad band internet is very appealing. Because I'm a geek, an open computing platform where anyone can create applications is great.

From what I've seen, the phone looks easy to use, and already has quite a few useful applications. The google maps compass driven street view has a lot of exciting potential. Check out this youtube video to see what I'm talking about.

I like the G1 hardware too. It has a fast processor, and I can't live without a qwerty keyboard on a device like this. It has built-in wifi and bluetooth. And the whole thing is very thin.

However, there is no audio jack. And there is no stereo bluetooth support. You can't use the phone as a 3G modem (no accessing the internet from the laptop via the phone.) Right now, there is no video support beyond playing youtube videos. The screen resolution (480x320) could be better (like 800x480).

Most of those things can be corrected some point in the future with the right software.

The real deal breaker is the mandatory $25/month internet add-on to your voice plan. They will not sell you the phone without the data service. I just don't think it's worth the extra monthly outlay.

So, I think I'll keep waiting for the right phone, and right now, it looks like it won't be a google phone.

The X Files: I Want to Believe

It's for me hard to remember the TV Series or even the last movie. I want to compare this latest movie with either of those. All I can say is that this movie is good, and it stands alone fairly well. I'm sure there are some in-jokes and inside references that I missed; but honestly, it didn't rely too much on that. This movie was like a 90 minute episode from the first couple of seasons.

The acting and special effects were both done well, and the story was intriguing. The movie kept my attention the whole way through.

If you like the X-Files or horror/scifi, rent this movie, and I think you'll be pleased.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse 5000

I purchased this mouse over the weekend, and I've had a few days to get use to it. I like it a lot.

It's high resolution, so the cursor movement is smooth and precise. It's a little larger than a normal mouse. That's good for my large mitts; but it could be better. It is a good shape that fits into my palm, and my pointing finger and middle finger rest comfortably on the left and right mouse buttons.

The mouse wheel has variable friction. This took a little getting used to. When you move the wheel slowly, it feels like it's filled with grease. When you move the wheel quickly, it feels fast like oil. this is good because the drivers that come with the mouse enable accelerated scrolling. That means that the faster you move the wheel the faster it scrolls. Move the mouse slow, and the document slowly scrolls; but zip the wheel, and you'll instantly reach the bottom of the web page. I wish all mouse wheels behaved this way.

The wheel also has tilt. I don't find myself using this much. I'm thinking of remapping the tilt to some other function - like back and forward in the web browser.

The mouse has fourth and fifth buttons above the thumb. By default, one is programmed to go backward within the browser, and the other activates a magnify function. The magnify function is useless for me, and I'll reprogram it to do something else when I think of something good for it to do.

I recommend it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Virtual Box - Open Source Virtual Machine

A friend turned me on to Virtual Box. It's an easy to use virtual machine application that allows you to run all sorts of guest operating systems on all sorts of host operating systems. I use it to run Ubuntu Linux within Windows XP. You could use it to run WinXP on OS X, if you wanted.

I had been using VMWare. I think virtual box is much faster, and it offers a lot more configuration options. And it's a smaller install.

It's free, so give it a try.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

TV Shows Fall of 08

True Blood - HBO
Recent TV shows about vampires (Moonlight, Blood Ties, Forever Knight) have been cheesey. I expected more of the same and was pleasantly disappointed. Not only is it a good vampire show, it is probably the best of the new shows. The acting is very good. The plot is a little slow at first; but if you watch the whole first episode, you'll be hooked for the season. I'm sure.

Sons of Anarchy - FX
Ron Pearlman stars in this crime drama about a motorcycle gang in Florida. It's basically The Sopranos on Harleys. RP is a great actor; but he's weird looking. Whenever I see him in something, I keep thinking of Vincent, Hellboy, or One. Unless it's very good, this can be very distracting. I was distracted a lot in Sons of Anarchy. If you love crime dramas the way I love sci-fi, watch this. Otherwise, give it a pass.

Fringe - Fox
It feels like Alias with a science fiction twist. The pilot had me entertained. The story was good, and the acting was above par for television. This is definitely one I will be watching.

Sarah Conner Chronicles - Fox
This show is returning for a second season. I love sci-fi, and I like the terminator movies a lot. The first season mostly satisfied. The new season started out a little rough for me. The acting is not great in this series, and the story lines are hokey. If it weren't for the killer robots, I wouldn't be watching at all. I may not continue to watch this season.

Californication - Showtime
I rented the first season from netflix. I watched the whole thing, and found it to be smartly written and entertaining. I've seen the first two episodes of the 2nd season, and I'm unimpressed. I am not going to continue watching; but I may rent the dvds later.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pool Fun at the Berry's

Our friends threw a pool party, and my baby daughter went for a swim.
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Don't Mess With the Zohan

I don't know what they were thinking.  This movie was horrible.  It is filled with unfunny racial stereotypes and stupid special effects, and it has a retarded plot.

Don't waste your money.  Unless you're an israeli or palistinian  new yorker - the apparent target audience.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What to do after taking hundreds of photos

Digital cameras are fantastic. You can freely take hundreds of photos without worrying about how much it's going to cost to develop. The one negative is that you have to manage the photos afterwards.

The first thing I do is arrange the files in folders by date and location ( or any relevant info):
  • 20080530 Bratislava
  • 20080531 Vienna - Natural History Museum
  • 20080531 Vienna - Old Town
I put the date in the folder name with the format "YYYYMMDD" so that they naturally sort chronologically. This is how I remember things, so it makes it easy for me to find.

Next, I use Picasa, iPhoto, or similar program to scroll through large thumbnails of the pictures, and tag (label or keyword) the ones that are good (or give them stars). If I have time, I will add more relevant tags to the picture - like who is in it or whether it's a landscape shot.

Then I filter the thumbnails by the "good" tag, and I tag the ones I want to share with "share". The ones I want to print, I tag with "print".

If your software doesn't come with tagging, you can accomplish the same thing using sub folders. just copy the pictures to the "good" or "share" subfolder.

Then I filter the list by the "share" tag and copy these to a separate folder. I make copies because I want to preserve the originals in case I make a mistake later. I edit these for contrast and color. Then I crop them to get the composition I like or remove that pesky power line. Then I give them meaningful names.

The last step is to upload them to a shared album in picasa, flickr, or whatever service. I'm in a transitional state right now in regards to photo service. I'm currently trying out picasa.

I back up my photo directory to DVD; but I'm considering using a pay service like smugmug or picasa for photo archival.