Geeks With Blogs

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Lorin Thwaits A geek says what? Gadgets Lotsa cool little stuff in the world, and here's info about some of it.
3D Camcorder, anyone?
If you have one of these, you can capture *amazing* full-color high definition 3D video: The general idea is: 1. Record a scene with two high definition camcorders running at the same time. Have them mounted on a board, pointed the same direction, and spaced about 1 foot apart. 2. Acquire the footage into a computer and edit the streams to synchronize them with each other to within 1/30 of a second. You now have two streams, one for the left eye and one for the right. 3. Use a filter to combine the ......

Posted On Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:22 AM

Want to cut your electric bill by $300 a year?
Over a million Japanese homes have a cutting-edge appliance that I'll bet you (along with 95% of America) have never even heard of. No -- it's not a singing toilet seat with a remote control, butt warmer, and built-in bidet. Why... here's one of those gleeking now: So I bet that most of you have heard about -- and some out there even used -- that particular Japanese contraption. Instead, the contraption I speak of is a heat pump that you add on to your water heater. It saves about $350 a year on ......

Posted On Thursday, February 28, 2008 4:05 AM

Ever crack the screen of a favorite gadget?
Sometimes I'm a really early adopter. So early that I buy stuff in Japan the moment it becomes available. I've got a well-loved HDV camera that I got two and a half years ago that way. Hard to believe that I've had it around that long. It's now been on 3 continents, and has captured probably around 100 hours of really great content. Quite a few "battle scars" along the way though: One scratch in particular cut a little too deep. On the fold-out screen in the upper-left corner under "HDV 1080i" you'll ......

Posted On Thursday, February 14, 2008 7:00 AM

SideShow - It should come in watch form
Atomsk and Robert McLaws have been musing about the Zune becoming a wireless Vista SideShow appliance, and having a port on laptops where you can dock to charge it. Since SideShow requires very little power to get the job done, what about going the distance and making a SideShow-enabled watch? For awhile we were hearing about the PocketPC architecture miniaturizing into watch form, but I don't think we even need to have that much OS to have something very useful. Just having your calendar, weather ......

Posted On Monday, December 11, 2006 10:51 PM

Introducing the $1800 MacBook Air
At the MacWorld keynote this morning Steve Jobs saved the best for last. Of the 4 major things he spoke about, the final thing was the announcement of the crazy-small MacBook Air. This is the world's thinnest notebook, sporting an LED edge-lit screen, custom Penryn processor, and all that weighing only 3 lbs. Small enough to fit in an envelope: (Steve carried it out on stage in an envelope actually.) MacBook Air specs: A claimed 5 hours of battery life. The battery actually consumes about 2/3 of ......

Posted On Tuesday, January 15, 2008 6:33 AM

Sony displays the world's first OLED panel, the XEL-1
Demo unit on display this week at CEATEC Japan Commercial unit to be sold in December Finally, an OLED panel that's reliable enough to sell. Unlike backlit LCD, which uses the same amount of power all the time, OLED only uses power for the individual pixels that are lit, saving energy. It's not a technology that has to "shutter" light, so contrast is incredible. As well, viewing angle is 180 degrees, both horizontal and vertical. There's no angle that you would see any funny coloration, so it becomes ......

Posted On Monday, October 1, 2007 2:59 AM

My favorite dead amplifier came back to life as an amputee
I've got a receiver / amplifier that I bought like 15 years ago from a friend. Transistor-based, and only 120 watts per channel, but still it's got amazing sound. All discrete components. Cleaner than just about anything I've heard. Will drive down to a 4 ohm load very nicely. Or at least it _was_ nice... until about six months ago when an exposed speaker wire briefly made contact wth the FM antenna. Ouch. At the time I had some little 8 ohm bookshelf speakers cranked to around 90 decibels, kicking ......

Posted On Sunday, September 30, 2007 7:53 PM

Anyone else going to the Maker Faire in Austin?
I heard about the first Maker Faire, which was spring of last year, after it happened. And from all the great stuff I heard it made me determined to go with my oldest son out to the second Maker Faire. He's into gadgets, and I figured it would be great for him to see all that ingenuity on display. That was back in May of this year out in Silicon Valley. It was tremendous. Well worth going. Contraptions of all sorts were out on display. Ended up that I found cheap $70 round trip seats on a Southwest ......

Posted On Wednesday, September 26, 2007 3:23 AM

Time to buy an iPhone
Looks like the iPhone has been set free by the persistent guys at iPhoneDevWiki. No doubt the discovery will send the stock prices of Apple and T-Moble upwards. This post is aimed to those technical souls out there who want to give it a try. It's a concise look at all the steps necessary to get the job done and enjoy much cheaper iPhone service when traveling overseas. (Don't get stuck with a $12000 bill!) A quick look at the second phone ever unlocked in this way: George Hotz who worked closely ......

Posted On Saturday, August 25, 2007 3:53 AM

Two new contenders vying for sickest handheld PC
I've had one of the litte Sony UMPC machines for ten months now, and it has been great. All my apps right there in my pocket. (Granted that it has to be a fairly large pocket, and it's unnerving how many people ask if that's an ultra-mobile PC or if I was just glad to see them!) Anyway, it's nice and zippy when running XP, enough oomph to develop .NET code or C++ using the scaled-down Express products from Microsoft. They're all I really need when I code on the run, so no complaints. The video is ......

Posted On Thursday, March 29, 2007 5:57 PM

Now THIS is a good idea! (SkySail / BWB / Boeing X-48)
Cut fuel costs on big boats by re-introducing a big sail? I absolutely love it! But even better, put it high up where it can catch more air. And make the sail wider than a football field so it really makes a difference. That's exactly what SkySails will be doing as early as next year for large shipping barges. The assistance will probably be highly directional, but still end up being quite helpful. This is another good trick to help further downsize the "big oil" elephant that's been standing in ......

Posted On Monday, December 4, 2006 4:18 PM

Apparently eBay has an 100 million dollar limit on bidding
Was just checking out the fray of the PS3 sales, and this was in the list: This Arkansan is going to get a pretty penny for his PS3: Okay, so maybe the last 75 bids are bogus, but still someone is going to cough up 3 or 4 grand for that chunk of plastic and silicon. Maybe Blu-Ray really will win this format war after all. And maybe I should have gotten in line waiting with the rest of those folks starting yesterday ......

Posted On Thursday, November 16, 2006 10:54 PM

I'm a UMPC junkie. Any others out there?
D'Arcy had asked in a post earlier today if anyone had picked up an UMPC. Three months ago I bought the Sony UX50 while on vacation in Japan: Truly the perfect machine for on the go. Loving it. You can effectively develop with VS2005 on the thing! And footage from new high definition camcorders (HDV) plays back smooth and clear. I only wish the battery lasted longer. I get almost 2 hours out of it, or an hour when playing back high def ......

Posted On Wednesday, September 27, 2006 3:04 PM

Microsoft's new Keyboard: $250 and it doesn't even have Function keys?
I don't know whose raise people are paying for when they buy this, but I certainly don't want to be a part of it! $250 why??? No function keys makes it just about as useful as this little wonder: But seriously, Microsoft does lots of things right with software, but I've been completely unimpressed with any keyboard they've released in the past six years. Along the path of innovation we've seen them mess with the proper layout of the 6-key block of “Ins”, “Home”, “PgUp”, ......

Posted On Thursday, September 14, 2006 3:01 AM

How to fix an LCD projector with a washed-out yellowish image (blue LCD gone bad)
This post gives a little info about how to repair an LCD projector that has a washed-out and yellowing image, which results from the blue LCD panel weakening over time. I would have to guess that at least 30% of the used projectors on eBay have this annoying problem! I bought a reconditioned Proxima 9260+ projector three years ago, and it has served me well with a wonderful bright, colorful, and high-contrast image. I've probably used it a total of 800 hours now, and it has been great. Liking the ......

Posted On Thursday, August 24, 2006 12:49 AM

Steorn schmeorn... (Just another hokie perpetual energy claim)
Earlier this week an Irish company called Steorn claims to have found a way to generate free energy. But don't cancel your order for solar cells and wind turbines just yet! Steorn's marketing approach smacks of being an all-out publicity stunt. It seems like every few years some crackpot comes along claiming that magnets can create energy, or that some magic green pill can turn water into gasoline. (How in the world could a little pill hold all that carbon, plus have enough energy to break all those ......

Posted On Saturday, August 19, 2006 7:22 PM

Congratulations, Eclipse Aviation!
Several years ago Bill Gates invested into a little aviation firm founded by his friend Vern Raburn in his old stomping grounds of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Today their Eclipse 500 jet just received provisional FAA certification! This 1.3 million dollar plane holds 4 passengers and travels faster than commercial jet aircraft. It is small but comfortable, with an interior designed by BMW. Notable is that during certification it achieved the status of being the quietest jet aircraft in the world. The ......

Posted On Thursday, July 27, 2006 9:52 AM

Let the mobile video blogging begin.
The first cell phone with a lens cap?(And an optical zoom!) Available soon in the states is this way-cool Nokia N93, which captures video at 640x480 resolution and 30fps. Record up to an hour and a half in a 2 gig mini-SD card. Then share your creation online, uploading it via speedy 3G. I was in Japan on vacation last month, and stopped in at Tokyo's "electric town" (Akihabara) to gawk at the gizmos. While there I saw other evidence that a true video revolution is happening on a cell phone near ......

Posted On Monday, July 24, 2006 4:15 AM

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