Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

A few new gadgets

July 4, 2008

As a photographer and a tech geek, any new purchased pricy gadget feels like a party. A little update on a few things that I got lucky to own recently.

Lens: Canon 16-35mm f/2.8

Super-wide angle lens – something I needed for quite a while. Now I can boast a wide range of lenses, that cover everything from super-wide to telephoto: 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/4.0. Anyways, the lens is just impressive. The bokeh effect is so dramatic at 16mm that you just want to play on and on with this baby. I’m pretty sure this lens is going to prove itself to be a very smart investment.

Portable hard drive: WD Passport

A recent purchase –  great gadget. Simple, elegant, fast. Not much to say here: no need for power cables, fast speed. I’m getting about 1gb per minute of write speed.

Keyboard: Mac aluminum keyboard

A very beautiful and slim device. I’m currently using it with my MacBook while connected to the 22″ widescreen monitor. It’s a bit hard to type when the keyboard is positioned too low. Generally a great feel, I like the two USB ports on the sides, although it is not possible to connect certain USB flash drives without using a cable.

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iPhone is no desktop, it’s a phone!

March 27, 2008

“iPhone is no desktop”, says John C. Dvorak. And I say that I don’t even see Apple trying make iPhone as a desktop replacement. If they were, I think Adobe would be pushed on hard to make a Flash available at launch, Mail application would have all sorts of filtering options, Photos application would allow to do some advanced picture editing and retouching and they would probably have Garage Band preinstalled :). What do we see instead? GUI and applications are made as simple as possible, but very accessible and fast. I don’t think that we are ever to create complicated CAD drawings or 32-tracks music compositions on the devices as compact as Smartphone unless the data input/output technology gets more advanced and we get bigger displays (mini-projectors) and a more convenient way of input. Let’s not forget that primary task of the Smartphone is to keep you connected with the world in more ways than just being able to talk to your buddies.

Windows Mobile was more the beginning of a desktop replacement than iPhone was. Microsoft implemented multitasking support, “Start” menu and the UI that more or less resembled the desktop environment. Why did PDAs get extinct? Because of the lack of connectivity with the world. People don’t bother about carrying a device that runs a scaled down version of Winamp or Doom, but rather a well-designed AIM client or Facebook, and an iPod that you can navigate through with a touch a finger :).

The question is whether iPhone is good at connecting people to the world. Half way it does good (UI of the SMS application resembles the conversation; a well-written browser that runs Facebook web app that allows to perform some basic tasks of the “real Facebook”, Digg web app that gives me a laugh or two during the day, Twitter web app that helps me twit for free without using the text messages from the package). But what about MMS (something, that even $50 phones can do)? Looks like it was easier for Apple to make YouTube convert their movie database into H.264 than writing a simple MMS application…

Almost a month with the iPhone

July 22, 2007

Yes, I got it the first day it was released. Got it almost without waiting in the line in Everett Mall in the AT&T store. As many others in Seattle, I was first forced to buy three accessories with it, but the next time I returned to the store 2 hours later they said it was not necessary anymore. Unlike many others, activation did not take long for me. It was not the promised 2-3 minutes, but 20. Well, it’s still better than waiting for two days to get your device activated.

The first surprise was that it did not work with the 64-bit version of Windows, which I am currently using. Good I had a laptop which was running Windows XP Media Center Edition. Laptop is where I still use my iPhone to upload movies, music and podcasts. I still have not used it to sync calendar and contacts.

Couple of things to say after using the iPhone for almost a month:

  • The device is more practical than I thought. Before purchasing the iPhone I was worried about the screen – it might break, get scratches… Well, no any scratches after a month. Obviously I’m carrying the device not in a pocket, as I used to before with my previous cell phone, but in a $30 case (that looks like this) and I find it to be rather convenient, even more convenient than carrying the device in a pocket. Though the iPhone does not have too many hardware buttons, it is quite practical to use it. Screen is very sensitive – almost as sensitive as your skin. It can recognize even the light touch with the tip of your finger. Obviously it is more sensitive than on any other PDA or smartphone that I ever had a chance to use.
  • Browser is amazing. It is much better than Pocket Internet Explorer on Windows Mobile or Blazer on PalmOS. While on EDGE pages open at an average or below average speed, but still the navigation is very convenient and user-friendly. Better surfing speeds can be achieved while using WiFi connection. The only problem with the Safari on the iPhone is the absence of Flash support, but many tend to think that it will be fixed when the official SDK is released.
  • Battery life is short. The longest the iPhone could live without charging was two days for me and that’s with less than 1 hour talk time. It seems that the most power is consumed when using the WiFi connection and browsing the Internet. It seems that turning off WiFi when not needed saves the battery life. A good thing is that watching movies does not consume too much power. Some tests have showed that after watching a 1:20 hour movie only about 1/4 of battery power was gone.
  • It is hard to control music when iPhone is in the case. iPod is definitely a better choice for those who listen much music. The remote button that is on the headset wire can only play/pause and skip the track. Taking an iPhone out from the case and switching an album is kind of painful.
  • Camera is nice. It’s not the quality of Nokia’s N95 5-megapixel camera, but still better than any 1-2 megapixel phone cameras that I have seen before.

As many others I’m waiting for the software update and for the official SDK to be released, so we can have some games and more applications on-board.

Technology: Programming instructors at college do not allow projects to be turned in on floppy disks…

October 12, 2006

…intead they require to bring them on a CD or a thumb drive (USB flash drive). Finally we got to the point that floppy disks are gone from our daily usage. Instead they are replaced with more advanced technology like pen drives. I remember me reading in the tech magazines the review of one of the very first thumb drives which had a total of 32MB of available space :). That was a huge step back in 2001. Not that many people bought it back in those days, because of their not so low price. But in few years things got way better and now we even do not notice this technology advance. They got deeply into our daily life and we can find pen drives with MP3 players, faster transfer speeds, smaller sizes and greater capacities.