Monthly Archives: November 2003

More Stuff The Woods Can’t Buy

In yet another round of Releasing More Stuff The Woods Can’t Buy, Apple today has quietly released revisions to their PowerMac G5 and iMac G4 lines:

20 Inch iMac|http://www.apple.com/imac/

Dual Processor 1.8 GHz G5, Lower-priced Single 1.6 GHz G5|http://www.apple.com/powermac/

You can now get a G5 for $1799. Go Apple!

Virtual Woodness

One of the other nifty things you can do with the PhotoStitch software that came with the Powershot A70 is creating a QTVR movie. This basically puts all of the photos together in a form that you can pan and zoom with your mouse. If that doesn’t make sense, just click below to try it. You must have Apple’s QuickTime installed for this to work (chances are, you do).

360 Degree Tour of the Wood Living Room|http://prwdot.org/mov/livingroomkitchen_qtvr.mov

It’s not too big to download, so don’t worry if you’re on a modem connection.

The Maine Event

Saturday was the first day I had to “officially” put my new camera through its paces. Becky and I took a trip up to Maine for a little shopping and for some fresh air. We stopped at a couple of parks near Portland – Two Lights State Park and the Portland Head Light. I shot some photos while we were out, and you can see the results here|http://gallery.prwdot.org/maine_parks. I am very excited about the quality of the photos from this new camera – let me know what you think!

Power Shot

Well, after crunching some numbers, and thinking about our overall financial priorities, I decided that buying a $600 camera was not the best decision at this time. Instead, I did some research on the digicams available for about half that price. What I found was the Canon Powershot A70|http://www.powershot.com/powershot2/a70-60/index.html. Some of you reading this, particularly Mom and Dad, might recognize the model… yes, in fact, this is the same camera that my parents bought earlier this year as their first digital camera.

The A70 is a really great camera. It’s perfect for first-time users, like Mom and Dad. If left in its automatic mode, it takes great photos and is simple and easy to use. But if you switch to its manual mode, you can control aperture, shutter speed, focus, exposure, and more. There is a ‘Stitch Assist’ mode that makes it easy to create panoramic shots, such as this one|http://prwdot.org/img/livingroom_panoramic.jpg. The image quality is great. The camera runs on four AA batteries, and can get over five hours of shooting time. It received the best rating, “Highly Recommended,” at Digital Photography Review|http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canona70/.

Hopefully this weekend I’ll get a chance to really put it through its paces. Becky is back from her NEMA conference (yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!), so we may bundle up and go do something outside. You can be sure that you’ll see the photos here!

Ramble Mode ON

Becky and I took a trip down to Boston last night to see They Might Be Giants|http://www.tmbg.com/. They were doing a free performance and autograph session at Borders/Downtown Crossing, in Boston. It was a pretty fun event, as most TMBG events are. This one was a bit nicer, in a way, because instead of playing in a smoky, dark, drunkard-filled bar, they were performing in a nice, clean, sober, smoke-free bookstore. Definitely a lot more enjoyable. The musical set they did was only 30 minutes long, but it was still a good time. They did some old favorites, such as “Particle Man” and “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”, but also did some newer songs, from last year’s album “NO!”, and from “Mink Car”. A good time was had by all. I didn’t get anything autographed, but I did take some photos|http://gallery.prwdot.org/tmbg_borders.

Speaking of which, if you check out those photos, you’ll notice that the picture quality is not quite up to par with my usual photos. That is because I was taking the photos with the camera built in to my Sanyo SCP-8100|http://www.sanyo.com/wireless/handsets/scp-8100.htm phone. And why was I using that? Well, sadly, after Becky and I arrived back in Boston from our trip to San Francisco, I had the misfortune of misplacing my camera bag somewhere in Logan Airport. Despite my best attempts at contacting the State Police (I actually went in and they let me look through all of their lost and found items, and then I filed a police report), Logan Express, the bus company that runs Logan Express, and American Airlines (both in Boston and San Francisco), and of course searching throughout our apartment and our cars, I have been unable to locate the camera bag. So, my trusty Nikon Coolpix 775 is lost.

Now, while I am disappointed at the loss of my camera, there are a few rays of sunshine to be felt. First, this has motivated me to get off my duff and finally sign up for a renter’s insurance policy. Not only does this protect the contents of our house, but it also protects items we are carrying with us while traveling. When I do get a replacement camera, it can be placed in its own separate insurance schedule so that if it is destroyed, stolen, or lost, it can be replaced at full purchase price with no deductible. By the way, if you or anyone you know is renting an apartment, house, or otherwise, I’d highly recommend getting such an insurance policy. It is a very inexpensive way to gain a great deal of security.

Second, I had already been planning on purchasing a new camera before this all happened. I have some money saved up, and hopefully by the end of this month, I will be making a purchase. My top candidate at this point is the Sony DSC-V1|http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/eCS/Store/en/-/USD/SY_DisplayProductInformation-Start;?ProductSKU=DSCV1KITIS&Dept=dcc&CategoryName=dcc_DIDigitalCameras_CybershotProDigitalCameras. While many people complain about Sony’s use of a proprietary memory format (MemoryStick), they are simply overlooking the fact that Sony makes excellent cameras. The DSC-V1 comes as “Highly Recommended” — the top rating at Digital Photography Review|http://www.dpreview.com/. It’s got a compact design, a nice 4x Carl Zeiss zoom lens, 5 megapixels, Night Vision capability, holograph autofocus, manual exposure, aperture, and shutter controls, and lots more. MacMall|http://www.macmall.com/ has the camera for $100 less than retail, so that’s probably where I’ll go.

Of big cats and operating systems – since we returned from San Francisco, we have been running Mac OS X 10.3 on both of our Macintosh systems. The experience has been good for the most part – overall, speed has increased, programs are more responsive and do less of the dreaded “beachball of death,” and the underlying BSD subsystem has been updated to be in sync with FreeBSD 5. At the moment, there is a bit of a quirk, which revolves specifically around the Sawtooth G4. When you are running Panther on a Sawtooth G4, nVidia GeForce video cards do not seem to be recognized properly, and various problems can result from their use. These problems range from black or grey screens at system boot, to strange video artifacts when dragging or scrolling windows. Our Sawtooth system has the latter problem, with its GeForce4 MX video card. There are a few possible workarounds. One is to simply revert back to the stock card that came with the system. Another is to take your system down to 256 megs of RAM or less. I opted for the second choice, and it’s actually working fine. Having such low RAM does bring a performance penalty, but it’s somewhat balanced out by the improvements in speed from having a fully functioning video card. Apple has already released Mac OS X 10.3.1, with a few urgent bug fixes, but as yet, they have not provided a real fix for this issue. I have submitted various bug reports, and they have acknowledged to me that it is a known bug, and that engineers are working on it. So I guess the game at this point is just to wait.

Also on the Mac OS X front, Ars Technica|http://www.arstechnica.com/ has released their full and exhaustive review of Mac OS X Panther|http://www.arstechnica.com/reviews/003/panther/macosx-10.3-1.html. If you are curious about what the upgrade really entails, take a read.

Becky’s going to be away for a few days at the New England Museum Association|http://www.nemanet.org/ annual conference, so I’ll be all by my self in Beverly up until Friday evening… don’t worry, though, I’ll find things to do to keep myself busy. 🙂

Culture and Family

On Friday, by a very lucky Halloween coincidence, Peter and I scored nice tickets to “West Side Story” at the North Shore Music Theater. The show was fantastic. Our seats were nice and close to the stage. And it was fun to dress up and go out!

We rented the movie “Whale Rider” on Saturday night. I thought it was a great flick. It was deep and sad and uplifting all at the same time. Thanks to Jackie|http://jway.blogspot.com for the recommendation.

Sunday was spent with many family members in Worcester at Angela and Jack’s wedding reception. Congratulations you two!