Archived entries for Gadgets

Personal Music Services; The Long Tail

The music service Personal Activaire will be more interesting when it podcasts. I don’t feel like putting my mp3 player in a FedEx box. Make it a podcast, and now we’re talking. (By the way, I only want the good songs, not the whole album. Haven’t you read The Long Tail?.)

New Digital Camera: Ricoh Caplio R1V

I’ve been thinking about getting a new digital camera. Mine’s not bad, (the Canon PowerShot S30 has actually been a great camera), but I’m quickly becoming a full-fledge gadget freak and it’s time for a new one.

I was interested in some of the wearable cameras that I saw when I was in Hong Kong.

The draw of the wearable camera idea is that you would miss let shots. The other day, I walked out of my flat and saw a Christmas tree half-sticking out the window of my neighbor’s house. Seconds later, the tree came crashing down to the curb. I actually had my camera in my pocket, but there was no way to get off the shot in time.

An important distinction of wearable cameras is that they’re “instant-on” if not “always-on”. Also, since they tend to be hanging from your neck it’s always available. The combination of “always on” and “always within reach” should make it possible to capture the fleeting moments.

In addition to the Wild-West “quick-draw” availability, a wearable camera should tend to generate more pictures. I know we’re talking severe laziness here, but pulling the camera out, turning it on, blah blah blah… If instead I just grab the thing dangling on my chest, click it at something, and then let it drop back to my check, well, I think I’d get around to taking more snapshots.

And so with that in mind, I stumbled on the press release for the new Ricoh Caplio R1V ( It sounds great. I’ve never held a Ricoh before, but pending that I love the stats:

Ricoh Caplio R1V

Successor to the popular Caplio R1, the Caplio R1V is a powerful 5.0 megapixel digital camera with a 28mm wide-angle, 4.8x optical zoom in an exceptionally slim 25mm body (cite)

The best part though is the speed: “the world’s fastest shutter response” snaps photos in less than .05 seconds, measured from the moment the shutter is fully pressed down. I’m not positive, but it seems like some digital cameras make you hold down the shutter button for ever. If not forever, then at least long enough to lose the shot and definitely all the “natural”-looking smiles.

The second most important thing after Shutter-Lag time is the length of time it takes to turn on the camera. I want the time between power-off and my first shot to be as small as possible. The Ricoh sounds good here, claiming “Switch on the power: You’re ready to shoot in approximately 0.8 seconds”.

Other attractive features are the battery system, the 28mm –> 135mm (4.8x optical zoom) wide-angle lens, the pre-set shooting modes, and the ability to shoot 1cm macro shots. Sounds like all I need and more, with it’s strengths in the areas that are critical to me.

There is no street price yet, and it won’t be on shelfs until February. I guess I can wait that long :(

Finding and Removing Duplicates Songs with iTunes


Over the past weekend I downloaded the update to Apple’s iTunes software. It’s up to version 4.7 now. Whenever an update to anything is released, the questions are 1) What has changed? and 2) Is it advisable to update now?

For the 4.7 update, the answers are 1) Not very much; and 2) Immediately!

According to the release notes, this was a pretty minor release, with just two new items. The first is support for copying photos to an iPod photo. This would be necessary if I had an iPod Photo, but I don’t**. The second item is “the ability to show duplicate songs in your library”.

I don’t know about you, but I often end up with duplicate files in my iTunes library. Sometimes I’ll import a CD twice by accident. Other times I’ll add files from Limewire or some other source. Not too long ago, I merged external hard drive libraries with a buddy. In all these cases, and many others, it’s possible to have an album (or just song) in your library twice.

It always seemed like purging duplicates should have been part of the base iTunes functionality. It doesn’t seem like it should be that hard (the files have unique profiles — name, length, etc.

There were always kludgey ways to do it, but all very time consuming and labor intensive. Now, it’s a dedicated menu toggle (under Edit).

Thanks Apple, better late than never.

**I don’t have an iPod photoApple Store in San Francisco It seemed nice enough, though I have a little difficultly seeing how it would fit into my life, especially considering how awesome Flickr is.

“The age of dedicated music player has hit its zenith.”

More from Can you tell I’m spending time this evening catching up on reading?

This entry, Audio Players, Mobile Phones and Microsoft, goes around and around for the first few paragraphs, with Russ saving his best line for last. (“The age of dedicated music player has hit its zenith.”)

That said, the entire post is interesting, with good warning and commentary on M$’s DMW and Plays-for-sure initiatives.

The Hitherto Impossible in Photography is Our Specialty

Here is an amazing page of photos taken from a kite-mounted camera in post-earthquake 1906 San Francisco. As you can see in this photo, the city has been literally leveled by the quake and fire.

This novel aerial perspective drew world attention. Flown two thousand feet above the bay, the lens scanned the waterfront.

The photos were taked by George R. Lawrence at least three weeks after three days of fires — caused by the earthquake — left at least the two hundred thousand homeless.

Improve the Quality and Functionality of the Treo 600 Camera

There are at least two pieces of software that will increase the quality and functionality of the Treo 600 camera.

The first is qset, which allows you to modify the compression ratio used when saving your photos. Treo photos are stored in JPG format, which is a lossy format. By default, the Treo uses a compression/quality factor of 20, which results in files weighing approximately 20kb. Using qset, you can specify a factor up to 99. Any increase beyond 20 will be immediately noticeable, with 99 generating photos up to about 200kb. (I don’t know what scale this quality factor is on.)

I definitely recommend this piece of software. After you’ve added it, launch it from your apps menu and enter a new number. I recommend 90. With this new number added — which is a low-level system preference — all photos will be at the new quality.

The second program is called Pickem. Pickem provides quick sharing of photos as attachments, and more seamless web sharing, but it’s two other features are more noteworthy. First, it provides zoom functionality. Pressing “z” while in picture-shooting mode toggles the zoom mode. It’s digitial zoom not optical, of course, but it still helps in certain situations. Second, many users have suffered from the ‘blue dots of death’ problem that plagues the Treo 600’s camera. Pickem cures that problem.

If you’re using Pickem, it can exist in parallel with Pictures the default camera program. You can remap your launcher buttons to always use Pickem if you want, by going Apps -> Prefs -> Buttons.

Happy shooting!

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