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Archive for December, 2010

Small Cameras with Big Sensors

December 27th, 2010, 5:00pm by Mike

Not sure if you guys would have seen David Pogue’s article in the NY Times the other day, in which he surveyed three new point-and-shoot style cameras with bigger sensors (near digital SLR size), and fast lenses, which supposedly have much better low light performance. What do you photo guys think?

The three cameras are the Canon S95, the Panasonic/Lumix LX5, and the Samsung TL500. What do you guys think? We’re thinking of upgrading my camera — I’d say the vast majority of our pictures are in relatively low light, so we could really benefit. The downside to upgrading seems to be the low optical zoom (3.8x vs our current 10x). The Canon sounds great except for the battery life, and I like my current Lumix DMC-TZ5.


Where are you guys?

December 24th, 2010, 11:02pm by Mike

I can’t believe I’m having to fly solo on this project! My aunt sent Adam a Little Tikes BBQ grill for Christmas, and Joanie, her sister Rowan, and I are putting it together. It just doesn’t feel right to be putting together a grill without you guys!

You may be entertained to know that we got the grill together in record time (for a pyslent grill-assembly team), about 15 minutes. You’ll see at the bottom that we were able to enjoy the fruits of our labor right in our living room!


The box. Instructions were inside, and weren’t lost throughout the assembly process.


Rowan and Joanie playing with fire (stickers).


Beer break!


The home stretch


Almost there!


Success! Enjoying some dogs and burgers! And ketchup.

Have Yourself a Pyslent Little Christmas

December 24th, 2010, 4:11pm by Jake

Twas the night before Christmas, and on our website

All had stopped posting, and comments were light

WordPress now running The Board with due care

No fear of server crash at the end of this year.

Four children were nestled, all snug in their beds

While visions of gadgets danced in dads’ heads

The Pats and Chiefs playing well once again

Should they meet in the playoffs, what will we do then?

Out on the internet arose such a clatter

I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter

Flipped open the Joli, ’twas on in a flash

Checked Twitter & email, this Chromium’s a smash

The internet was crazy, I’d never seen such a flurry

But I must be quick, I must be in a hurry

Then I just saw him, almost did not catch it.

It’s Rotiveo– the patron saint of gadgets!

Rotiveo wore Mobile Pants, size extra tall

And his clothes were vibrating, must be a phone call

Brought a load of gadgets, and even a game

And he whistled, and shouted and called sites by name

“Now Groupon! Now Apple! Now Target and Best Buy!

To Starbucks! To Costco! To Sprint Store and Fry’s”

All over the web, he searched high and searched low

To find all the stuff, now it’s ready to go!

All across the internet, Rotiveo he flew

A storm of traffic he did see in his rear view

He found the best deals, on the very best gear

It’s so cutting edge, it will still be good next year.

The net’s overflowing with really good stuff

Getting it to work might be kind of tough

With all sorts of cords and fifty kinds of plugs

(For us early adopters, we’re used to the bugs)

Rotiveo’s got just the right thing for us all

No Kin, Foleo, nor ‘lectronic pinball

Instead it’s Droids, Mac Airs and iPads galore,

Paper guitars, iPhones, Kindles and more!

Giant TVs, they are perfect for games

Phones from Samsung, RIMM, and a bunch of no-names

With a fast prime lens, photos come out quite well.

All of these gadgets are really, really swell

The three seven eights second Christmas together

There’ll be much joy and fun, no matter the weather

To Kelvin, Serena, Montana & Lucas

Happily splashing in puddles, even on Christmas

Jake prepares another half marathon run,

This one he organized, will be the most fun

Derrick, Emily, Brandon & Tiffany

Having fun, in their growing family

Lucas’ fourth & Brandon’s sixth Christmas Eve

Montana always dreaming, of food I believe

Tiffany and Adam they know Christmas is grand

Too many toys to hold in two little hands.

Rotiveo sprang to Roomba (hacked years before)

And away they went, after cleaning the floor

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Dead Airport Express, replace with Apple TV?

December 23rd, 2010, 1:40pm by Mike

Over the past couple of days, I’ve lost 2 Airport Express base stations (one of which was formerly Jake’s), probably due to some weird electrical stuff in my house. These were the older model (no 802.11n networking), so I’ve gotten my use out of them over the 4-5 years I’ve owned them. However, their loss cripples my music streaming ability. What to do?

I took the units by the Apple Store to have them verify that they were dead — I had hoped that they’d have some more sophisticated diagnostics than I did, but no luck. Since I want to stream music, I need a new Airport Express, right?

Or I could get an Apple TV! They’re the same price ($99), both can receive audio over wifi for AirTunes, and of course the Apple TV has all sorts of cool new features like Netflix streaming and AirPlay compatibility. There’s only one problem: the format of the audio out:


The Apple TV has great connectors if you have a relatively high-end home theater system (i.e., you’re connecting to the LCD TV or receiver via HDMI, or using optical audio).


The Airport Express’s mini jack handles both optical (Mini TOSlink) and analog outputs (3.5mm), so you can hook it up to cheap speakers, like a clock radio or computer speakers.

So what I would need for the Apple TV is an optical-to-3.5mm conversion, which also involves digital to analog conversion. There are boxes out there to do this, but the $65 sort of kills the same-price argument. There are cheaper ones, too (like this one), with very mixed reviews.

Doesn’t really affect me, but the upside to the Airport Express is that it is a fully-contained router, which is nice, for example, if you’re traveling and want to set up a wifi network in your room to share the one wired internet connection. I’ve done this a lot, and it works, but is a pain because you have to have Airport Utility to change the settings (no web interface), and there’s no Airport Utility for iOS. I’m currently using one of these.

What do you guys think? Have any of you ever done any D-to-A conversion from this sort of audio connector?

One of these things is not like the other

December 16th, 2010, 12:12pm by Kelvin

I made a snide comment on Twitter that “Although they may argue what the best smartphone OS is, every Engadget editor agrees that webOS is the 2nd best.” Part of it was a joke, meaning Palm is (was) always the bridesmaid and never the bride, and of course, there’s some truth to that. Even though everyone gushes over webOS, no one would ever really choose to use it. There are lots of things to like about webOS, but there are a lot of deal breakers too.


Sprint’s Technology Deadend

December 15th, 2010, 6:29pm by Kelvin

Recently, Jon Rubenstein of HP said in an interview how excited he was about the next gen wireless networks like LTE and HSDPA+. I took that to mean that Palm had no immediate plans to roll out a WIMAX compatible 4G device for us long suffering Sprint users. Does that reflect worse on Sprint or HPalm? Is Sprint not interested in a webOS phone / tablet or is Palm not interested in making a one-off device for Sprint?


December 11th, 2010, 3:27pm by Kelvin

We went to a tree farm where we could cut our own X-Mas tree and Lucas decided to bring his own saw. Here he is posing after we chopped down the tree he picked out.


Palm Sales at Verizon

December 10th, 2010, 10:06pm by Kelvin

This graph from an ITG analyst confirms what Jake showed previously, that Palm sales at Verizon didn’t even register until they cut prices and threw in mobile hotspot in April. These data show manufacturer share of smartphone sales at Verizon. Pretty fascinating seeing how successful Android OEMs are. We can probably use the area under the Palm curve to calibrate the scale (total sell-in in january was about 900,000 units. I doubt they bought any more, but I could be wrong). We have other data points as well that we could use for reconciliation (Moto’s smartphone sales, Samsung’s Galaxy S sales, etc).


Pyslent Meets R.E.M.

December 10th, 2010, 5:17pm by Mike

I just saw today that R.E.M has sent their Christmas package to their fan club, which is one of the coolest traditions of a band that I can think of. If you want to hear the songs, they’re here, but oddly, Michael Stipe isn’t on the main song (a cover of Darlene Love’s Christmas Baby (Please Come Home), also famously covered by U2 — the U2 version is one of my favorite modern Christmas songs).

Anyway, this seemed like a good opportunity to recount the story of Pyslent’s encounter with R.E.M., back in 1999.

This was the era of my entering and inevitably winning radio contests on 91X in San Diego. One game that I was particularly good at was played every morning, right at the time I got up, and my alarm was set on 91X, so I’d at least hear it every day. The DJ would read, in slow, measured English, some lyrics from a song, and you had to call in and identify the title and artist. The combination of the time of day (between 6 and 7am, when nobody else was awake), my overlap with the DJ’s taste in music, and my brain simply being wired to do this, made it so that I could basically win at will, and would do it whenever the prize sounded good.

One day, they had a special game, since R.E.M. was coming to Irvine — they were giving away two tickets and backstage passes. The lyric was an R.E.M. lyric, and was “High on the roof, thin the blood.” I was shocked that I didn’t know it immediately, but R.E.M. lyrics are often indecipherable anyway. After a second, I realized that it was a background vocal on “Orange Crush,” and called in, got through and won the tickets!

So Joanie and I went up there, and as it turned out, Kelvin and Serena went to the show as well. I was told that we could meet the band after the show, and we got our passes. As the show went on (honestly, it was an OK show — it was the “Up” tour, so we were psyched when they played their older stuff), we were getting psyched. Joanie isn’t a huge music fan, and knew that Kelvin was, so she forced her backstage pass on a reluctant Kelvin.

After the show, the four of us walked to where we were supposed to go, and Kelvin and I went in. Once inside, we convinced a security guard to give us two more passes, since our girlfriends were waiting outside and it would be a lot more fun if we were all inside. So, the four of us went in and waited around for what seemed like forever.

I don’t remember a whole lot about actually meeting them — by that time, Bill Berry had left the group, and so it was only Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, and Peter Buck. Peter Buck was, for some reason, in his trailer and didn’t want to come meet us, so it was the two Mikes. Of the two, Mike Mills was by far the more social, and he was all interested in how we won our way back there on the radio. He remembered that 91X had given them their break in San Diego, and apparently, “Heard it on the X” was their catchphrase way back then — so when they signed my CD booklet, that’s what he wrote. Michael Stipe, true to the sort of non-exciting guy he was (that night, anyway), just wrote his name.

I can’t believe that we didn’t bring a camera (I thought it would get confiscated on the way into the show), and this was the era before cell phones, so no photos of the night exist. Also, I can’t believe that I lost my backstage pass itself — it must be around somewhere. Anyway, here’s the ticket and the signed CD booklet.


New Server, Take 2

December 9th, 2010, 1:35pm by Mike

Welcome to the new server (take 2)! As I mentioned on Twitter, I think I’ve squashed most of the bugs and gotten us back on track. Unfortunately, a side effect of restoring the database was losing yesterday’s post and comments. Here’s the summary:

  • Mike: We have a new server.
  • Kelvin: Like the retro Board look.
  • Jake: old links don’t work.
  • Lance: Can’t log in.
  • Derrick: (hasn’t noticed)

Otherwise, not too many changes. Comments are automatically closed after 30 days (you’ll have to start a new post), and hopefully everything else works.

So, long story short, get to work making fun posts! I realize we all have grown to use other sites for lots of what we used to use The Board for (Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, etc), but I think there’s still a place for The Board. Enjoy!

For anybody who cares — when migrating WordPress, export/import the databases through MySQL or a MySQL GUI, don’t export/import via WordPress. PostIDs get all messed up. Or just use Permalinks from the start.

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