Gadgets

Raspberry Pi

Well, I got one! I received a Raspberry Pi computer from my wonderful parents for Christmas, and I’m trying to come up with stuff to do with it. It’s basically a tiny $35 computer that comes equipped with 512MB of RAM, Ethernet jack, HDMI port, Composite Video (for you 1990’s folk), an ARM processor, and a handful of GPIO (general purpose input/output) pins for interacting with gadgets and the world in general.

I have no idea what to do with it.

2011 Geek Week

I don’t know who timed this majestic week in the life of nerds everywhere, but they did something right. If you don’t live in the same circle of heaven that I do right now, it’s because you’re not paying attention to the news coming out of E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) and Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference this week. Holy crap is there a lot to be excited about!

I’m not going to go over everything because you can hit any number of tech blogs on the net to find the info you want, but I am going to gush in general over how Apple totally knocked it out of the park this week. I often pride myself on being able to look at stuff objectively and get excited about what really counts. I’m just as likely to get excited over something Android or Microsoft is doing as I am Apple. I am admittedly an Apple fan, and I wear my badge with pride. But any company that pushes our tech forward, I can stand behind and get excited about. This week, Apple shot first.

iCloud, iOS 5, and OS X Lion was a triple shot of espresso straight to the heart of everyone that breathes in the Apple atmosphere. We live in a world now where you pick a universe to be a part of. Be it Google, Amazon, Apple, or Microsoft, you need to pick an atmosphere and roll with whatever they decide to do. Now that every service syncs with every other service inside one of their respective “clouds,” this choice is getting more excited. Apple’s announcement of iCloud pushes this point even further now that they officially have all of your Apple devices sharing info. You now actually benefit from owning a Mac, iPad, and iPhone at the same time. The “one more thing” of Apple’s mind melting keynote was iTunes Match. It’s Apple’s answer to Amazon’s Music Cloud. For $25 a year, iTunes Match will scan your iTunes library and make any music that is available in the iTunes Store available online for you to listen to anywhere. Unlike Amazon’s service that requires you to upload your music, Apple will simply let you listen to your music automagically. Needless to say, I’m excited about everything they had to say. iOS 5 also gives us features we should have had years ago. Not going to go into everything, but you can catch the keynote where they blew all this up at www.apple.com of course.

E3 is also going on this week and has been melting faces for two days with everything they have to offer. Microsoft is blowing people away with the Kinect, Nintendo just announced their new console, and Sony continues to try to salvage their name from the pits of hell after everything that has happened to them. The applications for Microsoft’s Kinect have grown far beyond what I’m sure they even expected. I’m just waiting for the day when I can tell the Xbox 360 to turn on with my voice and for it to say “Hi Stephen. Would you like to play a game” in a HAL 9000 voice. It’s coming sooner than anyone ever thought. Just for example, they are building voice controls into Mass Effect 3 so that you can SPEAK your dialogue choices. *BOOM* MIND BLOWN. People can live or die not based on a button press, but on your vocal decisions. That’s not even scraping the surface of what they intend to do with this thing either.

The new Nintendo console, Wii U, has also completely changed the landscape of gaming. When I first saw the controller, I have to admit that I was a little astonished and confused at the same time. Nintendo came out with another weird piece of hardware that I was sure I’d spend the next year trying to wrap my brain around. That is until I saw it in action. The Wii U has finally brought Nintendo into the HD era, allowing for games to be played at 1080p resolution with amazing graphics. Think of it along the lines of a 360 as far as graphics go. The controller is the truly revolutionary part of this thing though. It has a 6.2″ touchscreen and 2 cameras built right onto it. It makes for a goofy looking device, but one that has endless possibilities for gaming. Playing a golf game? Lay the controller down on the floor, *BOOM* the ball appears to be laying on a bed of grass! Swing the wiimote and the ball takes off, now look at the TV. The ball is soaring safely through the air and landing on the green. It’s hard to write about and get you to picture how incredible it is, but the videos will do it. Needless to say, I might have to pick one of these up in 2012 when they are finally released.

There’s not much else I can say about this stuff without writing a book on it. Any info you want on this can be easily found on the net. Just check it out for five minutes because this is the future. Technology soared high this week and gives you a glimpse of what is to come. I thank God for these imaginative people that can continue to push the limits of what we think is possible with tech. It’s unbelievable what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time since gaming was born. Let’s hope we never stop pushing foward 🙂

I’m On A Boat

Today marks the arrival of a new era in me taking pictures. I would call it photography but I put absolutely no amount of science into anything that I do when it comes to shooting still shots of stuff. Give me a video camera and it’s a work of art, but with a still shot camera it’s pretty much just me running around aimlessly hitting a button. Either way I think it’s going to improve the pictures that I take. Here’s a little more story.

My camera totally broke and I was forced into looking for something new. I looked at the Canon IS200 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3. These were the two that CNET gave the highest reviews to and thus were the only two that I put in the running to by my new camera of choice. The Canon had a bunch of features that I thought might be nice. It had image stabalization, facial recognition, burst photos, and a bunch of other things, but they were also things that the Panasonic had. I ended up picking the Panasonic Lumix because it seemed much more suited to an amateur photographer like myself. It’s a quick point and shoot with very few complicated settings and it takes amazing pictures. I checked both cameras out on Flickr to see what other people pictures looked like and it was impossible to tell a difference. Canon had more bells and whistles but they were nothing that I needed.

So the Panasonic is it. It’s a 10 Megapixel with a 12x optical zoom, image stabilization, facial recognition, excellent low light performace, and dozens of other awesome things that I can use. After taking my old junkie camera to take pictures of the place Steph and I are going to get married, I decided it was time to bite the bullet on this guy. It’s great and I’m sure my pictures that I post here and elsewhere will look 10 times better just because of it.