Saturday, December 12, 2009

Geotagging Photos with your Nikon DSLR

A recent Engadget post requesting info on camera geotagging solutions prompted me to do a little digging. Nikon's GP-1 unit is pricey, and it's performance has not be impressive. If you have a Nikon DSLR, check out some of the offerings on these links.
(Note, some Canon models and others also have products here).
(near clone of Nikon GP-1)
(also have Canon products)
(Nikon and Fuji-Film)
(two Nikon units, and the pro unit may be used with any camera)

There are a few other makers out there, but these seem to be the most reliable. If you check forums on DPReview an Flickr, you can find some user comments. I also found several blog reviews on the interwebs.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New iPods & iTunes - Oh joy...

This morning Apple had press event to announce its new music products. Prior to the event, there was much speculation about a new touch pad computer, iPod Touch with camera, and even some suggestion that the Beatles collection would finally make it to iTunes (I thought this one had legs).

Instead, Apple announced
  • discounts on iPod Touch models, and increases in speed 32gb & and a new 64gb size model. However, no cameras to be seen at all.
  • new iPod Nano models with a built in video camera (no stills), motion sensing with pedometer function
  • iTunes 9 with a revamped interface
  • iPhone/iPod Touch OS 3.1
My overall take - meh! The iPod touch is a big seller, and it’s great to see it hit 64gb, but many folks were expecting some sort of camera. Rumors that a Touch w/camera may have been shelved at the last minute may get more credence now. The camera on the new Nano is not so great - it shoots video but no stills. I can’t see people really wanting to use this much, or buying the Nano for this feature. The iPhone/iPod Touch software upgrade is free for Touch users, but on my 1st generation Touch it sucks up 200-300mb more storage, critical for those of us with only 16gb storage. Furthermore, using the iTunes interface for synch-ing content was comparatively sluggish. As for iTunes 9, I’ll have to tinker with it more. Most of the changes are cosmetic, IMHO.

Let’s hope the next slew of products Apple releases are truly revolutionary.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WWDC 09 June 09

The wife and kids were at Baba and Jiji’s, so I could stay up to listen to the WWDC coverage unimpeded and undisturbed. I felt Phil Schiller’s Keynote started off very well at first, but then really bogged down in the product demos about half way through. I could barely stay awake during the last half.

I followed coverage on gdgt’s live feed and wasn’t disappointed. Except for one glitch, their coverage was thorough, kept pace, and had lots of photos. Big improvement Ryan and Peter! Tod Ogasawara pointed me (via Twitter) to a live (and unauthorized) video feed that was in the background of folks from TWiT on TWiT tv. The video feed was also available by itself via ustream (?), but I had issues getting that to play correctly. The video quality itself was poor, but the audio was fairly intelligible. The TWiTtv feed pissed me off, because Leo LaPorte’s commentary was annoying - too loud and uninteresting. I guess you could say I’m not a very big TWiT fan.

OK, several things were announced...

MacBook Pros
Pretty much the entire line of MBP’s (and the MB Air) was revamped, plus a new 13“ MBP is announced, faster and cheaper than the 13” Aluminum MacBook. In fact, the aluminum MacBook is no longer listed.

The good: Faster processors, longer battery life, SD card slot (except for 17“), less expensive across the board, Firewire 800!

The bad: Battery is no longer removable (like in the MBA), the SD slot replaces the express card slot.

The ugly: Apple isn’t getting it on the weight issue for the MBP line - all got heavier. WTF. Looks like Apple wants all train commuters in Japan to only carry MacBook Air laptops.

Snow Leopard
Blah, blah, blah, blah blah. Lots of new features, some of the awesome, some not - ship date maybe in September.

The good: Cheap upgrade pricing ($29/59 for single and family packs), install is 6gb smaller, 64bit, better Quicktime, better multicore processor support.

The bad: Lots of fluff I don’t need, like integrating Coverflow more into the OS (I never use it in iTunes or the Finder), Exchange support (what a waste of coding resources).

The ugly: Intel ONLY. I guess with the $70 you save on the upgrade, you can buy a new Intel Mac, ne?

Safari 4.0
Available now! If you were a beta tester, you know all about it.

The good: Sometimes snappier, free.

The bad: I don’t need this coverlow shit on my spash page!

The ugly: Some software conflicts like VideoBox, and 1Password (which is now fixed), some website conflicts including the one I use for university admin stuff. This is disappointing, and I may go back to FireFox.
iPhone OS 3.0
Announced for 17 June, lots of new features - many that we know about already.

The good: Speed enhancements, interface enhancements, new language support, remote wipe (to keep your info from the hands of thieves), YouTube login, sync notes, landscape keyboard.

The bad: Features I don’t need or are useless with my iPod touch like Cut ‘n Paste, Spotlight (WTF do I need this for? My iPod isn’t packing tons of docs), voice memos.

The ugly: Hosing iPod touch users $10 for this, some features WON’T WORK with US ATT users (like tethering.. - cheap bastards!)

iPhone 3Gs
Two sizes (16 and 32gb) with many enhancements, available 19 June. Some of the camera features will appeal to the Japanese market - the iPhone is catching up finally.

The good: Speedier (hence the S), 3mp camera with autofocus and video mode, voice control, compass (available in my Japanese Casio phone already), the old iPhone 3G gets dropped to $99 in the US, slightly better battery life.

The bad: No hardware keyboard, non-ergonomic shape, have to use ATT in the US and SoftBank in Japan.

The ugly: ATT is really hosing people that want to upgrade their 3G to a 3Gs. You have to front at least $400 out of pocket if you haven’t used your old iPhone at least 18 months.

Summary: I rate the new MacBooks as the best news, with the iPhone 3Gs second, and rank the software upgrades last. Much of iPhone 3.0 is lost on iPod touch users, and although the upgrade price for Snow Leopard is great - I’m not sure the features are if you are using older Macs.

Will I go out and finally buy an iPhone? No - the price will stay high in Japan for half a year, perhaps. And I much prefer the feature set in the PalmPre, though I’d like to try them both side by side.

Friday, March 20, 2009

iPhone OS 3.0 Event - Meh!

Tuesday’s Apple Event drew a lot of attention from the tech media, but in some ways was disappointing. I was trying to get to sleep early (started @2am our time), but did follow one live feed for a bit. I chose gdgt’s live feed and wasn’t disappointed. Ryan & Peter’s feed didn’t crap out and was very good, compared with what happened during MW Jan ‘09.

First, OS 3.0 is slated to be released sometime this Summer, which technically means before 21 September. iPod Touch users will have to fork over an update fee ($10) again, because of this bullshit Apple accounting practice.

Second, the upgrade will have more than 1000 api’s for devs and 100+ new things for users, according to AppleInsider. I’ll go over some of the highlights of the preview (from AI’s article) and give a few comments.

In-App Purchasing - allows apps to sell you additional content, such as game levels or eBooks. This feature sounds great for developers and content providers, but is really just another way to get $ from users.

Peer-Peer Connections - supposed to help you find folks playing the same app or game via Wi-Fi or BT. It allows for more interactivity, but really means more battery drain for you and I.

App-accessory linkage - gives iPhone/iPod Touch accessory makers the ability to make apps to integrate with their hardware accessories. I’m not sure why this is something special, as it seems like something Apple just needed to ‘permit’ during the app submission process.

Push Notification - was supposed to be in the previous OS, but never made it. It allows internet servers to push their content to your device rather than having the device periodically poll the server. This is supposed to improve battery life. I can see this being useful, if you have to have constant updates from your email server.

Turn-By-Turn - allows devs to access the gps data for apps that provide turn-by-turn directions. I can’t help but think that turning the iPhone into a nav system is overkill. I could see it being useful while on foot, but for driving? Please. The iPhone/iPod Touch screen is much too small to be used as a gps nav unit in a car. Anyone using one to navigate while driving would be a hazard on the road. Perhaps this will work for upcoming Apple touch products with sufficiently large screens?

Copy/Paste - something folks have been clamoring for a while. But I have to wonder if it will ever be used much. The iPhone/iPod Touch touchscreen is only somewhat useable for text entry - who types long emails or documents? Not happening. Copy/Paste might be useful in catching a web URL or email address to paste in a message. I’d be happy for the ability to open a url in a new browser window instead.

Landscape Keyboard - some apps don’t allow this currently (e.g., Mail). I hope landscape mode will be allowed for more than just keyboard orientation. How about when I want to select from a list of podcasts (or audio) instead of having to wait for the @#$@# screen to reorient, which results in a useless Coverflow interface for audio.

Messaging (MMS) - Supposed to allow multiple messages with pictures? I suppose they mean SMS allowed to carry pictures.

Voice Memos - if you have the iPhone with speaker this would allow you to take notes or record lectures. But with the awful battery life, I can’t take this feature seriously.

Spotlight Search - For what? I don’t quite get this. I suppose if you have lots of pdf docs and can’t recall which of them have certain content - OK. But if you are searching for content in an email, won’t a search in the mail app do?

A2DP Bluetooth - this will let you use stereo BT headphones, and supposedly activate BT function in 2nd gen iPod Touches (where it is now dormant). I dunno, maybe useful. But I’ve not seen a decent stereo BT headphone on the market (let alone monaural earpieces). If you can’t control the iPod from your BT headphone, I don’t quite see the need.

In summary, it seems that Apple has been very busy adding features to the mobile OS. Many of these address user demands (even though they may not realize they don’t really need them). I can’t help but wonder if the update will be very hefty in terms of drive space and processor demands. Let’s hope they don’t leave 1st Gen iPod touch users (like me) out in the cold.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New 3rd Gen Shuffle Requires Apple Authentication Chip in Headphones

It gets worse. Apple requires any 3rd party headphones for the iPod shuffle have an authentication chip to be compatible, according to iLounge and Engadget. This means higher costs for 3rd party headphone makers. Given that the Shuffle is relatively inexpensive, it is ironic you won’t be able to use inexpensive 3rd party headphones with it. This bogus proprietary technology requirement is a big step backward for Apple. Although many folks only use their Apple earbuds that come with iPods, getting a cheap replacement for the Shuffle’s headphones won’t be likely. The move even prompted former Engadget guru Ryan Block (now of gdgt) to speculate that Apple may implement the same nonsense on all its future iPods. Let’s hope not, otherwise a consumer backlash is possible.

My take - why didn’t Apple take the high road and use the standard for music player controls that already exists on many headphones?

[Note: iLounge gives a fairly negative review of the new Shuffle - surprising given they are typically Apple cheerleaders.]

Friday, March 13, 2009

iPhone OS 3.0 Event

Apple has announced an event on 17 March to announce v3.0 of the iPhone/iPod Touch OS. Actually, it seems they are just announcing that they are working on it with a probably release date. What I can’t quite understand is why? Why does Apple need to do pre-announcements for software? With Jobs on the sideline, is Apple insecure that the tech world has forgotten them? Or maybe they are going to announce a new iPhone app developer program, code named, “RESPECT”.

Nah. That’s not the Apple way.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Shuffle Shrinks More?

ipodshuffle_image3_20090311.F2z5KuHeZhVV.jpgToday Apple released a new form factor for the Shuffle with even smaller (!) physical size and larger capacity, plus a new VoiceOver function for navigating. The (3g?) Shuffle has shrunk to smaller than a typical house key, and is so tiny you can only control it via the included Apple earbud’s cord (yuck!). This suggests that you need to use Apple’s crappy earbuds, or some 3rd party head phones with compatible controls. The new Shuffle also has a 4GB capacity, the same as my old 1G iPod Nano. Apple currently is only offering two colors, grey and black. The Voice Over feature will announce the upcoming tune, and (for the first time) allow you to navigate through different playlists via CG voice choices. VoiceOver works in 14 languages, apparently.

My take - I haven’t seen or used one of these yet (nor do I have a shuffle), but I feel shrinking the shuffle further seems pointless. With the current monochrome color choices, these will be easy to misplace or lose entirely if you drop it. Limiting users to certain headphones with inset controls (or just Apple buds) also feels like a bad move. Those buttons on the Apple Earbuds look pretty tiny to me! The last gen Shuffles seemed just right for manipulating controls with average sized fingers, plus the color choice was good for individualization. My guess is the cost to manufacture the new Shuffle is considerably less, with very few moving parts in a one piece shell. However, until I can see one in person, I’ll hold further judgement.

UPDATE: Looks like you MUST use the Apple Earbuds, at least until 3rd party controllers step up. Plus using the new Shuffle ain’t no party compared to the last one. Engadget’s send up of the situtation is priceless. It’s seems analogous to using QuickSilver on a Mac with no keyboard or monitor - just audio output.

Friday, February 27, 2009

MW Jan '09

Yeah, not posting much recently. But my job on top of having our second child in September has really knocked me out. Stayed up late with Jason to catch Apple’s supposed “last” MacWorld conference in January and have been ruminating about Schiller’s presentation.

First, the coverage was fairly broad with all the usual crew sending feeds, along with newcomer gdgt (Ryan Block & Peter Rojas). Unfortunately, their feed bogged down totally about 30 minutes in and never recovered completely. Too bad for them, as they had the best photo shots, IMHO. The other feed we followed was Ryan & Peter’s old blog, Engadget. Their feed updated fairly regularly, though not with autorefresh. The other coverage we were following was MacRumors, which got hacked in the first 15 minutes and the feeds were full of bizarre things, including a claim that Jobs died (not funny) as well as some truly hilarious stuff which had me rolling on the floor. There was a column of ‘desu desu desu“, for example among other things. Some folks felt sorry for MacRumors, but I don’t particularly. Although they do have original content, on slow news days they simply parrot what AppleInsider publishes - often with identical headlines. I’m not saying they deserve the hacking, but it was comical. I don’t know what happened to other feeds.

Second, most folks were expecting actual Mac hardware products, not software, so I think overall people were disappointed. From what I can tell Wall Street was also disappointed as Apple stock went down a buck fifty. Given the real need for an updated MacMini, it’s surprising Apple didn’t do something more. Even the Engadget folks were quipping about how bored they were getting after an hour of iLife / iWork demos.

The only hardware introduced was the new ‘unibody’ 17“ MacBook Pro. Price is the same, but new aluminum enclosure, and option for matte screen (vs. glossy), non-removable battery, higher res screen. Given that this MacBook is not a huge seller, and has features better suited for a desktop - meh. It weighs in at a hefty 6.6 lbs, a decrease in 0.2 lbs. This isn’t as much as I would have expected from this new lightweight enclosure. However the 15” MacBook Pro ‘unibody’ actually gained weight, a tenth of a pound to 5.5 lbs. I can’t understand why Apple needs to make heavy notebook computers when they are already horribly behind on this feature. (Note: the unibody MacBook actually lost weight from its predecessor.) I’m guessing for the new 17“ MBP, most of the weight is in the new battery. Some Mac sites seem to be touting the new tech in this battery. The new tech, however, seems to be that the battery is actually larger than in previous 17” MBPs. Larger battery, longer battery life is what Schiller said. He left out “heavier”. I also found it laughable that Apple was proud its new aircraft carrier deck laptop was the thinnest in its class. Dude, if you are lugging one of these around, its thinness is the least of your worries. And with the extra graphics processor, your gonna need all the power you can get. My guess is that the Japanese market remains unimpressed by stats like this.

Most of the presentation was focused on Apple’s consumer software, iWork and iLife. This puzzled me because I’d always heard we shouldn’t expect Apple hardware announced at the developer conferences. Now we have a software (and not much hardware) focus at MacWorld. I guess this really shows Apple’s disdain for MW or indication that they would release stuff when they want and not when others expect it. Although the flashy features demo’d for iWork and iLife seem impressive, one word permeated my thinking: bloatware. The geotag and integration with GoogleMaps/Earth is nice, but the inflexible paradigm of organizing your photos pisses me off. I still use iLife '06 on my desktop Mac, because it allows me to organize by date in the side bar (best way to organize photos!) and it's enhance function works BETTER than that in '08  for underwater photos. I can rely on tagging  for my events, places, and people. Face recognition sounds good, but apparently isn't good enough to rely on completely.

OK, this is brief, but I finally published it! If MacJournal had allowed me to send the post from the app, I'd have had this up a month ago. Next up, my review of the EyeFi Explorer card.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

MacKenchi Recommends CardRaider

For the next 4 hours you can get a discount on CardRaider on MacZot - discounted to $11.95 from $19.95. If you use digital cameras, this is a great tool for recovering media you accidentally deleted - or got corrupted.

I used it last weekend to recover a movie file accidentally deleted from a card in one of our point and shoot cameras. I tried several other recover apps (including Disk Warrior II) - only CardRaider found the file. Some of the other dedicated camera card recovery apps didn’t even recognize .avi files or other movie formats.

If you use Macs and digicams, I recommend you take advantage of this price while you can. Otherwise, you might be paying the full price later on, when you really need this app to save your bacon.