Tag Archives: Gadgets

New compact camera

(aka Vegas toys, exhibit 2)

It’s a while since I got back from Las Vegas, and I still haven’t posted everything I wanted to write about.

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to pick up a small digital camera as a sidearm / for situations when I didn’t have a DSLR handy. I’d previously owned a compact – a Fuji 5700 which was ~3-4MP, and which I’ve now passed on to my father-in-law. I got frustrated with that due to the lack of creative options as I was getting into photography more seriously, and moved up to the Canon EOS 350D. However, I’ve been to Vegas several times in the last few years, and not had a camera with me, so I was beginning to get itchy. And some days I just want to go out without a large bag with SLR and a selection of lenses!

So, I popped in to the large branch of Fry’s just out of town and spent some time browsing their selection.

I was pretty sure I wanted a Canon IXUS. I actually wasn’t going to force myself into it, but the selection criteria were essentially:

  • very small
  • optical viewfinder
  • 7MP or better
  • NOT taking Memory Stick (so Sony was out), and preferably not xD either (so Olympus and Fuji were not high on the list)
  • preferably with image stabilisation (IS)

Ixus 850 ISThe Canon PowerShot SD800 IS Digital Elph / IXUS 850 IS met all of those criteria. Although the LCD is 2.5 inch rather than anything larger, it retains the optical viewfinder, which both Ola and I prefer to have available alongside the digital display on the back.

The other IXUS on display was 10MP (I think) and cheaper, but had no IS. Besides, that many pixels on a small sensor are going to lead to more noise.

When the sales guy rang it through on the till, it ended up $50 cheaper than on the label, and they also threw in a 2Gb SD card for a knockdown price (the camera itself came with a <sarcasm>HUGE</sarcasm> 16Mb SD card… I mean… wow). The 2Gb is a slow card, so I’ll almost certainly pick up a faster one at some point, but it’s enough to be getting on with. The camera is also compatible with the new high capacity SDHC standard, too, so should be fairly future proof.

Credit has to go to the folks who came electronics shopping with me, for waiting while I dithered over whether to buy a camera at all; and to Alex and Ben for having the patience to put up with my verbal deliberations on the subject.

So far I’ve made use of it in Vegas, and on travels to Windsor and Edinburgh, and Ola has taken it to Paris. Impressions are good. It’s totally pocketable. Image quality is pretty good. The only issues I have are that the lens shows some distortion at the wide end, there is a little bit of fringing on some of the detail, and the exposure can be a bit… err, playful (but then, I’d rather not have to shoot against plain grey clouded skies). It’s not the same as a DSLR, and I need to accept that. I’m sure I’ve barely explored the functions yet, so I’m looking forward to using it a little more.

Images taken with the IXUS are tagged with ‘ixus’ on my Flickr photostream.

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Mighty Wireless Windows Mouse

I mentioned the other day that I now own a wireless Apple Mighty Mouse. I wasn’t sure whether it would work with Windows. It does – for me, anyway.

I switched on Bluetooth on my Thinkpad T60p and scanned for devices. It found a mouse. I paired to it using the key ‘0000’. The drivers installed themselves.

A few issues:

  • The mouse works fine, but the scroll ball doesn’t go side to side, and the side buttons don’t seem to do anything.
  • On suspending and resuming the laptop, the mouse seems to lose the connection, and I have to re-pair. Really annoying. The Macbook copes with this with no issues.
  • Once it was paired with the Windows XP laptop, the Macbook lost it. I had to remove it from Windows via the Bluetooth options, and then re-pair with the Macbook. Once I’d done that, I kept getting prompts on the Windows machine that a mouse wanted to pair with it. Confusing!

An interesing experiment, but I think I’ll keep the mouse native to the Macbook. I quite like the Trackpoint on my Thinkpad, anyway.

Useful Mighty Mouse links:

How to Configure a Mighty Mouse (in OS X)

Bluetooth Mighty Mouse Review

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Vegas toys, exhibit 1


Originally uploaded by andyp uk.

Whilst in Vegas I picked up a couple of gadgets. The first one I’m highlighting is a lovely wireless Mighty Mouse.

Actually my first wireless mouse at all. Works perfectly with the MBP and did so from the moment I switched it on and pointed the laptop at it. The buttons on the side are a little hard to squeeze, but apart from that I like it. The rollerball for horizontal and vertical scrolling is a nice touch.

With the favourable exchange rate it was actually a reasonable price. I also picked up a spare battery in the Apple store on the Fashion Show mall at the same time.

More to come.

Going 28mm – new glass

I briefly twitter’ed last week that I’d got my hands on a Canon EOS 28mm f/2.8 prime lens. I won it on ebay, and as well as being in great condition and working out cheaper than retail, it came with a hood and a skylight filter. The reviews of the lens indicate that it is technically OK… again I didn’t want to spend a fortune, so I went for a good deal on a basic lens. Having bought a 50mm prime last year, I wanted something a little wider. Ideally I’d get something much wider, but anything in the 10-22mm range is a significant degree more expensive.

I’ve thrown a few test shots up on Flickr. Viewed at full size, you can see just how much detail is being captured. Parts of the image do look a little soft, but in general I’m impressed.

Guildford Road East

Plus, I’ve posted a couple of shots of the lens on the camera… unfortunately they show just how beaten up my camera is getting 🙂


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Technology gets Everyware

A few weeks ago, Roo and I met Kim at Hursley. During the discussion we covered Declarative Living, Twitter, etc. and she recommended the book Everyware by Adam Greenfield. I ordered a copy there and then.

Subtitled “The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing”, the book covers a number of themes around the emergence of pervasive technology and devices, and the path to a possible future which might be more of similar to that depicted in the film Minority Report, or aspects of the world from Philip K. Dick’s book Ubik (talking, self-aware doors, anyone?).

Having explained his vision of ubicomp, Greenfield argues that all of the components needed for a seamless experience (or, preferably, a seamful experience “with beautiful seams” for me to customise) already exist. He focuses on ultra-wideband as having the potential to provide near universal connectivity and RFID for identification. The last section of the book is particularly compelling, as it attempts to address the need for standards and concerns over privacy and so on – and his enthusiasm for Hong Kong’s Octopus card system is nearly enough to make me try Oyster, after all my wrangling and concern about it. I’m intrigued by his idea that we as developers and users can force the emergence of standards in the same way that web standards emerged and browsers were forced to support the same HTML functions during the 1990s. We’ll see what happens.

I have to say that it’s a great, great book. It is written as a series of 81 “theses” (chapters) of between 1 and 4 pages, so it is really easy to consume, and much like Ted’s book on blogging, I was able to spin through it a few chapters at a time in the evenings. The style is also very accessible, and Greenfield builds each argument very persuasively.

One surprise is that the book never mentioned technologies like motes, but perhaps that’s a little too recent. The future looks both exciting, and still somewhat frightening.

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