How To Use Mac

July 20, 2007

Introduction

So you decided to switch from PC to Mac? Here are some tips on how to do so. Note this FAQ won’t compare operating systems because everyone has a different opinion.

The number one issue for switching to Mac is the underlying UNIX foundation in Mac OSX. It’s quite different from what you might be used to.

One advantage of owning an Intel-based Mac is you can run Windows (or Linux) as well. There are at least three good ways to do it: Boot Camp, Parallels, and Fusion.

Buying

Lack of Apple Shops makes buying locally difficult; your best shot is to order online. However, picking which Mac to buy (and when) is pretty straightforward. Just visit their site, your selection is pretty basic.

Keyboard Tips

Use Exposé. Learn how to use F9, F10, and F11 to switch windows and use widgets. It’s a real time-saver.

Windows users will like to know that Alt-Command-Esc will display the “Force Quit Applications” dialog.

You can also force quit an application by clicking on its dock icon while holding down Ctrl+Alt.

Command-H will hide applications.

Command-Shift-3 to snapshot the whole screen

Command-Shift-4 to get a selection cursor. In this mode: Hit Space to snapshot a specific window.

If you’re keyboard-oriented, go into System Preferences | Keyboard and Mouse | Keyboard Preferences and Turn on full keyboard access so you can access menus and toolbars using the keyboard.

Keep In mind

Mac applications run differently than PC. When you click the red “X” button, it will not close the app like in Windows. It remains running in your menu bar with the small black triangle underneath it.

Other Stuff:

On cool feature on the Mac is how it installs application or lack thereof. To install an app simply drag it into the apps folder. That’s it.

Buy a mouse. Macs mighty mouse is single click only even though OSX supports dual click.

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Compact Cameras with SLR Quality

July 20, 2007

Where cameras stand today

Buying a camera today is too much work. There are so many brands with so many models, who can decide without lying awake at night wondering if it was the right choice.

Digital SLR cameras are like the big brother. They cost more but start up faster, shoot more fps, produce RAW image files, utilize larger sensors, and offer more (manual) control. SLR market mainly consists of Nikon and Canon.

As good as they are, their size holds them back. Not everyone wishes to have a massive camera tag along all day. They are awkward and hard to travel with.

 If you are on the market for a new compact camera that’s SLR quality without the bulk, unfortunately there aren’t many on the market.

A good compact camera would have:

– Fast, high-quality lens that reaches 28mm

– Large sensor

– RAW image support

– A quick shutter response

Some possible choices

1. Canon’s PowerShot G7

Rating: 7.5/10

Good: takes excellent close up shots

Bad: No RAW image support

2. Nikon Coolpix P5000

Rating: 6.9/10

Good: Small design, external flash with hot shoe

Enough megapixels already

A good sensor focuses on sensitivity rather than simply creating more megapixels. Some believe a good camera uses larger image sensors with more sensitive pixels. However, when you squeeze as many pixels as possible onto a sensor, it creates unwanted speckles called image “noise”.

Fewer megapixels also would reduce some burdens of processing and saving images, potentially improving responsiveness. Consumers need to understand that a camera may lack megapixel quantity but that make up in megapixel quality. It’s tough to keep that in mind when companies market on megapixel count.


OMG Apple iPhone is here!

July 20, 2007

The Good

The most important thing about any product is design.  Apple has time and time again proven to understand this concept. Not only is their new product very functional, but it is simply beautiful. Elegance lies in the detail. The iPhone’s curves and geometry make it comfortable to hold, and its slim profile makes it portable. The device is sturdy and built to last. Finally the battery life is respectfully rated at 8 hours of talk time, 24 hours of music playback, 7 hours of video playback, and 6 hours of Internet use.

The Bad

The good usually comes with the bad. In this case the bad is the 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s far too recessed too fit a variety of headphones. Sure anyone can spend 10 dollars on an adapter, but who want another small part to lose.

The display

The iPhone features a 160ppi resolution wide screen and is extremely bright. Its 3.5-inch display runs at an incredible 480×320 which is one of the highest pixel-density devices on the market today. Text among everything else on the iPhone is extremely legible.

The glass face is an absolute fingerprint magnet. This is because unlike most other smart-phones, you can’t use a stylus. Thankfully the glass armour seems indestructible. It’s very hard to scratch this thing.

The sensors

The iPhone utilizes orientation, light, and proximity sensors flawlessly. The end result is a highly interactive and expensive device.

Orientation: This sensor switches to and from landscape view when you rotate the device. Odd angles sometimes confuse the machine, but overall it proved impressive.

Light: This sensor dims the backlight to save power. I argue this sensor to be the least important of the 3

Proximity: This sensor prevents you from interacting with the touch screen while it is pressed against your ear.

Button layout

The iPhone’s buttons are mostly incorporated within the touch screen, but the few that aren’t are mechanically sound and produce that distinct clicky sensation. You all know what I’m talking about!

Home: Returns to main menu

Volume: Take a guess

Ringer toggle: Puts the phone in silent mode for incoming calls only

Sleep/Wake: Press and hold to put it to sleep, or press and wipe the screen to wake it. It can also (one click) turn off ringer or (two clicks) force a call to voicemail.

The dock

The included dock meets Apple’s high standards; it feels solid and has a rubber base to keep your iPhone from potential sliding across / (or worse) off the table. The angle (80°) is to vertical for comfort.


Microsoft’s Milan

July 20, 2007

About the project

Microsoft has been working on its “Milan” project for more than five years, and hopes to continue for many more. The hottest gadget release in 2007 is in the form of a coffee table! The Microsoft surface tabletop unit is controlled entirely through touch. There’s no mouse or keyboard compared to a desktop computer. Microsoft has created both hardware and software for this stunning achievement in the world of technology today.

It offers tons of revolutionary tools that are in my mind creative and unique

To paint you can pick up a paint brush or just dip your fingers in virtual paint. I feel old when I can remember being excited and entertain for hours with Microsoft’s MS Paint as a young adolescent. It pales in comparison with any other tool out there, yet I spent hours practicing and creating what I believe to be decent artistic photos.

Photos on Milan

Virtual pictures are almost as realistic as real photos. Just place your camera device on the surface and new photos automatically transfer the your desktop. A stack of pictures can be easily sorted through and shared. To resize or rotate a photo, just stretch or pivot two fingers. What’s even cooler is more than one person can be interacting with the surface at a time.

Don’t expect to own one any time soon

Multi-touch surface technology is new and complicated, resulting in a hefty $10,000 price tag. Since the average Joe doesn’t have that kind of cash in his pocket, Microsoft is targeting businesses (hotel lobbies, restaurants, casinos, etc). They hope in 5 or so years, the price will drop enough for households. The company’s initial customers are T-Mobile, Starwood hotels, Harrah’s casinos, and slot game maker IGT.

Here is a diagram and some hardware details I took from the Popular Mechanics website

 

Milan Specs

 

1. Screen: A diffuser turns the Surface’s acrylic tabletop into a large horizontal “multi-touch” screen, capable of processing multiple inputs from multiple users. The Surface can also recognize objects by their shapes or by reading coded “domino” tags.

2. Infrared: Surface’s “machine vision” operates in the near-infrared spectrum, using an 850-nanometer-wavelength LED light source aimed at the screen. When objects touch the tabletop, the light reflects back and is picked up by multiple infrared cameras with a net resolution of 1280 x 960.

3. CPU: Surface uses many of the same components found in everyday desktop computers — a Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM and a 256MB graphics card. Wireless communication with devices on the surface is handled using WiFi and Bluetooth antennas (future versions may incorporate RFID or Near Field Communications). The underlying operating system is a modified version of Microsoft Vista.

4. Projector: Microsoft’s Surface uses the same DLP light engine found in many rear-projection HDTVs. The footprint of the visible light screen, at 1024 x 768 pixels, is actually smaller than the invisible overlapping infrared projection to allow for better recognition at the edges of the screen.


Intel QX6850 & Penryn

July 20, 2007

Intel’s latest quad-core chip:

The Core 2 Extreme QX6850 is not a significant leap forward from the previous QX6800. The speed was increased from 2.93GHz to 3.0GHz and the front-side bus of 1,066MHz increased to 1,333MHz. This is not much of an improvement so..

You may be wondering why I’m writing about the QX6850 if nothing new or interesting was added? The improvement was not in hardware but in the price. For $999, Intel’s new chip is significantly cheaper than the QX6800, and slightly faster.

Cost is just as important

I think Intel made a smart move because AMD is becoming consumer choice. Intel’s benchmarks may be faintly superior to AMD’s soon to come quad core chip, but try and justify the $300 to $400 price gap. Competition is fierce since quad core will soon become standard as a result of Windows Vista and DirectX 10.

Compliant Motherboards

The QX6850 uses the same standard LGA 775 design, which means that you don’t necessarily need a next-generation motherboard to use it. But this baby works best on Intel G33, P35, and X38 chipsets or Nvidia’s 600 series board. Other boards won’t utilize all its overwhelming features. Intel’s X38 motherboards will soon be released. Obviously, this is the board of choice for running their chip and it also implements PCI Express 2.0.

Why is Intel better than AMD? 

One huge advantage to buying an Intel chip over an AMD chip is software. For the end of 2007, Intel promises a next generation chip architecture code named “Penryn”. Some of the new features include SSE 4.0 (multimedia) and 45-nanometer processing. This results in a cooler chip and allows faster clock speeds.

As personal advice:

Don’t buy this chip just yet. I suggest waiting until AMD releases Barcelona, its competitive quad core chip. You never know what system will get top scores in the end.


The Future is 2057

July 20, 2007

I wish I was born in 2057

Over the weekend I watched the TV series 2057 on the Discovery Channel. As the title might imply, the show discusses what technology we can expect in the future based on current technology. Tomorrow’s world is elegantly narrated and dramatized. There are 3 main 45 minute long shows called: the body, the city, and the world.

The information in this series is supported by the world’s leading scientists and research institutes. They answer some of the most fundamental questions asked this past half-century, including when we can expect flying cars! State-of-the-art computer graphics normally seen in feature films help the viewer imagine what may be soon possible. This documentary is not science fiction but our future based on fact.

About the respected Michio Kaku

The host of 2057, Michio Kaku is a Japanese American theoretical physicist, tenured professor, and co-creator of string field theory. Kaku received a B.S. from Harvard University in 1968 where he came first in his physics class. He went on to the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley and received a Ph.D. in 1972.

The Body

This episode documents how we will live in the future. Medical plays a big role in the future, and its cost is estimated at 25% of a regular salary. While expensive, future medical will work miracles.

Flying cars exist today, and will be in production next decade. The first to utilize this technology will be emergency services such as ambulances. That means they can arrive on scene within 4 minutes!

Intelligent clothing will monitor you vital signs and will alert 911 automatically if something goes wrong.

Hospitals will be able to custom build organs from scratch using a printer! Surgery will remain human operated, but assisted with robotics for fine precision. The robots will even detect a human error, and stop the doctor from making a life-altering mistake.

The City

The future city will be much safer than today’s. Cars in both the sky and on the ground will drive themselves. This eliminates motor vehicle accidents.

Humanoid robots will be in every household.

Efficient cities will be run through the Internet, forcing the police to become cyber cops. Intelligent camera surveillance systems currently under progression in England will track criminals down at anytime anywhere.

The World

New camera technology can create and invisible soldier. Cameras are placed on backside of an object with displays in the front. This sounds Simple and effective, but is actually complicated.

Nasa is currently developing a new material that is over 100 times stronger than carbon fiber. This material will be used as the shaft on a space elevator to the stars.

Lasers and zeppelins in the sky will send information in the future world. Scientist have already achieved this but remains unperfected. This method is so fast; you can transmit the entire Library of Congress’s library in seconds.

The fuel source of the future is efficient and never ending. Solar energy today is hard to harness but current studies hold promise to increase effectiveness. Prevention

Summary

My personal opinion of 2057 is of high standing. I really enjoy these scientific documentaries. Kaku has many other interesting programs on TV and is featured on Nova quite often. I recommend watching this series if you haven’t already.


Technology is awsome

May 26, 2007

I love this time of year when summer is just around the corner. This past month was flooded with rain and sickness. June is a week away, and the weather forecast proves it. This week im going to write my first gadget segment.

Sony takes the lead!

To start things off, Sony has just released a 2.5” paper-thin screen that bends. It’s 0.01 inches thick! It combines 2 technologies: organic thin film transistor and organic electroluminescent display. I could be wrong, but doesn’t organic material deteriorate? Sony has no commercial use for their new technology just yet, but I’m sure they’re giving it a solid effort. It’s kind of like the iPhone: Cool and exciting but completely impractical!

It’s pronounced Sie-men not sea-men

Siemens tracker inovationTo finish, Siemens has created a wireless tracking system directed towards Hospital Patients and Students. It combines (RFID) and Wi-fi technology to track objects or people in real time. Battery powered (RFID) tags are located with three or more access points on a wireless network. Boundaries can be set to sound an alarm if crossed. The technology is still in development and privacy issues are top priority. What is stopping the government from sticking chips in our brains to keep track of what we do and when we do it? Does privacy even have a definition anymore?