Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dyson DC25 Ball All-Floors Upright Vacuum Cleaner

Here's one I'm considering for my wife. After all, don't we all score points by purchasing them household cleaning gadgets?

Well, much like the camera from the previous post, she's dropped hints she really wants one of these. We have three dog and two cats. The Chow/Sheltie mix sheds a lot of fur during the Spring and Summer. We've considered investigating a Chow/Sheltie fur clothing line. On top of that, the Pit has big feet and drags a lot of dirt. We (meaning she) spends a lot of time cleaning the floors. We also spend a lot of money on vacuum cleaner bags

The Dyson DC25 comes highly recommended (average of 4 stars with over 500 reviews listed on Amazon) for its features and durability. It has a ball at the junction of the upright handle and vacuum head which makes for easy maneuvering. It is bagless and so we won't be out any money on bags.

Here's a list of product features from the product's web page.
  • Upright vacuum cleaner with Dyson Ball technology for smooth steering
  • Root Cyclone technology ensures no clogging or loss of suction
  • Effective for all floor types; motorized brushbar; Telescope Reach wand
  • HEPA filter; certified asthma friendly; hygienic dust bin; on-board tools
  • Measures 12-1/5 by 15-2/5 by 42-2/5 inches; 5-year parts-and-labor warranty 

My only decission now is whether to buy the standard vacuum or the version made specifically for animal-friendly homes.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Canon Powershot SX 150

The Christmas season is upon us so I thought I would show a few of the gifts I'm considering for others.

The Canon Powershot SX 150 is a special request from my mother-in-law. She's older and likes the form factor. The camera has good reviews so it seems like a good gift for this year. The camera has a 12x optical zoom with a stabilizer that makes it a good choice for shaky hands. It also has a large 3" display which helps those with poor vision.

It is powered by AA batteries. I consider this a plus although others may want a built-in battery. You can find AAs in any store. Since my mother-in-law doesn't have a computer, charging from a USB-style connector is a drawback. On the flip side, it apparently eats low quality batteries so buyer beware. You might consider a package of rechargeables along with a charger.

Below is more information from the Amazon product page:

12x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom and 28mm lens with Optical Image Stabilizer reduces camera shake so you achieve brilliant images whether you are up close or far away. 14.1 Megapixel image sensor and Canon DIGIC 4 Image Processor delivers stunning quality images. Improved Smart AUTO intelligently selects the proper settings for the camera based on 32 predefined shooting situations. Capture breathtaking 720p HD video in stereo sound with the dedicated movie button and zoom while shooting. Intelligent IS automatically chooses from six different modes to optimize image stabilization for the shooting condition. Large 3.0-inch wide LCD enables easy viewing. Movie Digest Mode records a short video clip right before shooting a photo and then combines one day’s worth of clips into a video. AA battery power provides added convenience.

The table below details the modes of operation.

Smart AUTOThe camera automatically selects the best shooting settings for optimal quality based on subjects and environmental factors to provide point-and-shoot simplicity.
Kids & PetsReduced focusing time freezes fast-moving subjects, so you won't miss those special shots.
Portrait The camera sets a large aperture, focusing the subject and artistically blurring the background to make your subject “pop.”
Manual You have complete contrl of exposure, selecting both aperture and shutter speed manually.    
Low LightFor high quality image capture in an amazing range of dimly-lit situations.
Toy Camera EffectSimulates photos taken with "toy" or pinhole cameras, darkening the image at the edges to create a vignette effect.
Poster EffectPoster Effect combines several similar shades into one color, turning subtle gradations into eye-catching, scene-popping contrasts.
BeachBeach Get clear shots of people at a sunny beach without darkened faces.
FireworksGrab brilliant images of skyrocketing fireworks.
Aperture-Priority You set the aperture, controlling depth-of-field. The camera automatically selects the shutter speed.    
ProgramAccess advanced exposure compensation features while shooting mostly automatically.
Fisheye EffectAdd a classic photo distortion without a fisheye lens.
Shutter-priorityYou select the shutter speed to stop or blur action, and the camera finds the appropriate aperture. With slow exposure times, Canon's noise reduction system activates to ensure low image noise.
MonochromeChoose from three single-tone effects: Black-and-White, Sepia, or Blue.
Color AccentChoose to retain a single color in your image while other colors turn monochrome.
FoliageCapture brilliant shots of autumn foliage, greenery and blossoms.
LandscapeIncreases depth-of-field for sharp and sweeping landscape shots.    
Movie DigestRecords a video clip before capturing a still image and then combines one day’s worth of clips into a video.
Smart ShutterThe camera automatically takes the photo when people smile, wink, or get into frame.
Discreet ModeDisables flash, AF assist beam, and all camera sounds with one mode dial setting — so you can capture images in quiet areas.
Miniature Effect for Movies & StillsEmphasizes perspectives for a miniature effect by blurring upper and bottom portions of the image.
Super Vivid SuperVivid intensifies existing hues, saturating the scene with bright colors.
Color SwapSelect a color and replace it with a color you specify for special effects.
SnowShoot clear snow scenes without darkened subjects or an unnatural bluish tint.
iFrame MovieThe Apple® movie format, iFrame, makes it easier and quicker to import and upload videos while retaining high image quality.
Movie Record video in stereo sound. Unwanted scenes can be deleted in playback mode.
Easy Mode In Easy mode, shooting is simple and relaxed—the camera handles all the settings automatically.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

CRT19N GPRS/GSM/GPS Watch Tracker

Recently I purchased a CRT19N GPRS/GSM/GPS Watch Tracker from Daily Steals. Overall I'm pretty happy with the product, This device has a built in cell phone and can call two pre-programmed numbers. You can also send an SMS text to it and receive back a latitude and longitude along with a link for google maps. You have to purchase your own SIM card for the device along with a plan.

 The device has one bug, however. You can't set the timezone and it comes preprogrammed for Beijing time so it's useless as a watch.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Screencasts in Ubuntu

This one took me a while but I finally found a software stack that works well for screen casts in Ubuntu 10.10 and YouTube. recordmydesktop is great for capturing the full screen, a single screen, or a small portion of your display. The other product is Winff for converting the ogv file to an avi. This was actually the most painful part of the process as many products came and went but still exist in the wild world of the Internet.  The stack works really well. Just record, convert, and upload the YouTube.

Both are available from the Ubuntu repository via the Package Manager.

Below is a screen cast of me actually type this blog. It records audio from any microphone you have configure and thus you'll here me typing in the first part of the video. 

And here's a screen cast of using WinFF to convert OGV to an AVI file. You can view this file below.

Good luck and may the Force be with you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Problems with ATT Uverse and Ubuntu

I recently switched from Time Warner Cable to ATT U-verse. I'm very happy with the picture quality on my TV but the Internet connection on my Ubuntu 10.10 system was very slow even though speed tests said I was getting the band width I paid for. The problem turned out to be the DNS. For whatever reason the DNS lookup was very slow using the new service. I switched to Google public DNS and everything worked fine.

To fix the problem I went to System->Preferences->Network Connections and selected Auto eth0 from the list and then the Edit button.  A window will pop up wiht 4 tabs. Select the IPv4 Settings tab. A drop down list will show Automatic DHCP. Change the drop down to Automatic (DHCP) addresses only and add your favorite DNS addresses to DNS Servers. I used, for the addresses.

Your final window should look something like this.

This fixed my problem instantly.