Tools

PressPausePlay

PressPausePlay from House of Radon on Vimeo.

The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent in an unprecedented way, with unlimited opportunities. But does democratized culture mean better art or is true talent instead drowned out? This is the question addressed by PressPausePlay, a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world’s most influential creators of the digital era.

This is an amazing film, really worth making the time (an hour and 21 minutes) to watch. It’s well thought out, well shot, well edited, and the message is nuanced, not a slam dunk for digital or against it.

[via PetaPixel]

Changing the octane rating of the gas we buy

I’ve been having problems with the fuel systems in both of my chainsaws and while I have them serviced regularly every now and then one of them needs its carburetor cleaned.

Unfortunately both of my saws were in the shop when the big storm hit us so I borrowed a neighbor’s saw to do a bit of the cutting I had to do and then got my big saw back for the bulk of it.

When I picked up my saw the mechanic who fixed it asked me what kind of gas I used in it and I told him regular (87 octane) with the 40:1 mix gas:oil. He recommended that I try 89 octane, the mid grade of gas at most stations.

So, I dumped my 87 octane gas (and some old mix) into my truck and went to the station and filled the truck up with 89 octane and filled my gas cans up too. Anne filled her Jetta up with 89 octane too.

My report is that it makes a significant difference: the saws are running better and the truck and VW are running a lot better.

I’ve run nothing but regular through every car I’ve ever had except my first car which was a Triumph TR4A and it took premium. Today I stepped up to 89 octane and I feel better already.

Seriously, I’m concerned about my power tools working well and not needing carb work all the time and I may have found a piece of the reason they’ve been tough to start at times. A season or two will tell.

Kindle Fire

Seen in a comment thread this morning:

Person 1: “Anyone know: what planet or star system is Jeff Bezos from?”

Person 2: “Kindle.”

Brilliant!

In all seriousness, the Kindle Fire looks like a very interesting device.

The iPad and Kindle Fire are two different things and will appeal to two different types of users. My guess is there will be plenty of room for both devices: the iPad will continue to grow its already large user base and the Kindle Fire will grow a large user base as well, some of which will be iPad users who want both devices.

It’s not all or nothing, one or the other. Framing it that way is a mistake. There will be room for many devices and different operating system styles in this category.

These types of devices are the first steps toward replacing general purpose and cumbersome computers with smaller, cheaper, and much less cumbersome tools for doing the same things. I use my iPad in places I would never carry the MacBook Pro and have used a MacBook Pro for many years in many places where one could not use a desktop computer. The fact that these devices are getting smaller and cheaper coupled with the fact that access to the internet is getting cheaper (free in many places) and more widespread seems to me to be a leveling of what used to be a rather tilted playing field.

I like the fact that people are tweeting the Green Revolution from the streets of Iran (with smartphones) and these tablet devices are another category of device that allows computing anywhere.

Never sell Jeff Bezos short, he may not be as charismatic as Steve Jobs (his laugh is hilarious) but he’s done amazing things with Amazon and I’m pretty sure the Kindle Fire is the beginning of something important for the industry and for us users, whether we ever buy one or not.

Apple’s iPad Replacing Cash Registers at Major Retailers

Apple’s iPad Replacing Cash Registers at Major Retailers

At larger stores cash registers are connected to an inventory server either locally or in the cloud. At some point someone’s going to write an app that allows an iPad to hook into that system.

I’m reminded of what Apple does in their own stores: employees carry around small devices that allow the entire transaction (including credit card swipe and signature) to take place anywhere in the store wirelessly.

Then we have “near field communication” and the ability to pay for things with a smartphone by simply having an account and being near a terminal and saying “ok.”

This is just the beginning of a new way of transacting business, how it looks ten years from now will be quite different.

How pencils are made

Many years ago a friend and I cleaned out a very old barn in Woodbury, Connecticut. Inside we found thousands of cedar blanks which we found out later were blanks for making pencils. This barn was well over 100 years old and the pencil operation had been run by water wheel. I still have many of the blanks although I use some each year as fire starter for my wood stove.

This is a fascinating video of the more modern version of the same process.

[via core77]

Load Carrier

Load Carrier for Labour

Design for less developed nations is incredibly difficult to do well. You can’t just transplant highly developed materials and constructions, as tech almost always requires a support and maintenance structure to keep it working. So how do you help billions of people improve the way they carry, to improve their efficiency and reduce their injuries? Vikram Dinubhai Panchal has a carry idea that just might help.

Spectacular idea.

Travels with iPad and two cameras

outside Sagrada FamiliaMy friend Steve, his wife Cathy and daughter Kristen who live in Oregon recently went on a three week trip to Spain. They wanted snapshots of the trip and wanted to be able to communicate with the outside world as they travelled (email, upload pictures, etc.). These folks like to travel light so no taking their Canon 7D DSLR, lenses, or a computer. Here are Steve’s notes on their trip.

Equipment

- Canon PowerShot S95 (Steve’s camera)
- Sony DSC-TX5 (Kristen’s camera)
- 5 SD cards ranging in size from 1GB to 4GB
- AC chargers for both cameras
- iPad 2 (16G Wifi model)
- Zagg iPad case with built-in Logitech Bluetooth keyboard
- iPad camera connection kit
- 2 iPad AC chargers (also used for charging iPhones)
- USB charging cable for the Zagg (using an iPad charger)
- 4 US to Spain (Type C) plug converters

Sevilla from the cathedral bell tower

The plan and its execution

1. The plan was to offload each camera every day onto the iPad for back up. And to change SD cards occasionally during the trip. We considered shipping the cards back home during the trip but did not do this.

2. The first misstep of the execution was forgetting to change the date/time on the cameras when we arrived in Spain. I had thought about this ahead of time but forgot when we arrived (jet lagged) in country. To compound this problem one of cameras was setup for DST and other other was not. So not only where they on the home timezone, they were about an hour different from each other. I plan to programmatically adjust the image file timestamps now that we are home.

3. The iPad and camera connection kit turned out to be a very smooth way to offload the photos and view them. This was a complete success for us. Altogether for the 22 days we took 1244 photos with a total size of 4.3 GB. The iPad started getting full at one point – we had a movie on it that we were planning to delete if needed and that did the trick.

4. For sharing photos with folks back home I setup a ‘Spain trip’ set on flickr that we would push photos onto during the trip. The good news is that we had Wifi access at all of the locations we stayed (this was part of the criteria for selecting lodging). As a note, this was much different from our experience 4 years ago in France and Italy were we struggled to find internet access. We pushed a couple of pictures up to flickr each day – everyone back home liked seeing the photos and keeping track of our progress on the trip.

5. I had found an app for the iPad called Snapseed that provided some basic photo editing capabilities and sharing to flickr. This worked out pretty well. It would be nice if Snapseed had better photo library browsing UI (it uses the standard iOS UI in a popover and does NOT remember your place from the last browsing session). The editing facilities worked just fine. The flickr upload worked pretty well overall, but seemed to have problems adding the photo to the flickr set on marginal Wifi connections (it would report a timeout). Richard noticed that photos uploaded to flickr with Snapseed did not seem to have their original EXIF data. I need to do some testing to see if any of the iPhone/iPad apps get this correct. Finally, the EXIF data is intact on all of the photos that were loaded onto the iPad (and then subsequently brought onto my Mac in iPhoto).

6. The Zagg case with the Bluetooth keyboard was a huge success. It is a rigid aluminum cover for the iPad so it is well protected for travel. And the keyboard was a pleasure to use for writing email and other typing chores – huge benefit over using the on-screen keyboard. The keyboard battery did not require charging for the full three weeks.

Except for forgetting to set the time/date on the cameras, things work out really well. This was a light kit of gear that provided a bunch of functionality and a good way to backup and share our photos while traveling.

If you have questions or comments please post them here.