August 26, 2009

Cell phone cameras

I have mixed feelings about cell phone cams. I'm by no means a professional photographer, and my digital camera is nothing spectacular. But the pictures it takes are works of art compared to the pics my cell phone takes (well, that actually depends on the person taking the pictures, but play along). And people with cell phone cams are annoying sometimes. I can only imagine how much celebrities must hate them. But there's a reason they're so ubiquitous. It's handy. You have it with you. It's in your pocket. There are so many times I want to take a picture but don't have my "actual" camera with me. One such example, from outside a Faint concert:

Granada Theater

This isn't awful, but the pictures I took inside were. Some venues get a little edgy about cameras, but nobody minds cell phones. So they can be annoying but they're crazy convenient. Now if I could only keep my lens clean. I realize there will (for some quite some time) be a difference in the image quality between a cell phone cam and even a relatively inexpensive camera, but I look forward to the technology getting better. My current cell phone's picture quality is already miles ahead of my last one, and that one was miles ahead of the one before that (since it didn't have a camera).

August 21, 2009

Idea to make this more boring

Yeah I know that sounds difficult, but what if I used this to keep track of how many ounces of soda I drank a day? I'm trying to cut down, but I tend to thwart my own efforts by buying Orange Crush at the grocery store and keeping $1 bills handy to buy Mountain Dew in the morning. Mmmm Mountain Dew. Will you sponsor me, Mountain Dew? That's beside the point. Oh and I'm also addicted to Coke (the soda). Anyway, here's what a typical day (today) would look like:

Coke: 8
Mtn Dew: 20
Orange Crush: 24

Do the math and it gets depressing, especially since I don't remember drinking any water today. I'm gonna die. Okay so it's not such a great idea for this blog, but maybe not a bad thing to keep track of on a Post-it or something.

August 13, 2009

flashes of light, flashes of RAM

Was able to do a little star watching tonight, and even in my apartment parking lot in the middle of town, I saw quite a few meteors showering. There's so much sky to keep track of...many of them I saw out of the corner of my eyes, but some I saw full on with a blue trail across the night sky. Awesome, in the sense that Brother Osbeck would approve of.

I also got to play "IT Pro" tonight (as a profession, not some kind of lame computer game) for my wife's office. It was fun. I installed a new router with a similar setup to mine (Linux-based firmware upgrade). We'll see how it goes. One thing I discovered that I probably wouldn't like about such a profession: being alone in an office at night.

My wife is leaving DFW tomorrow for MSP. Her sister's getting married. I hope she has fun. I'm going to St. Louis over the weekend to say goodbye (for a while at least) to my cousin Emily, who's moving to China. She says she's gonna keep a blog, I look forward to reading it. Was listening to "The Opus" (a podcast by a friend in California) last night and he touched on John Hughes. It got me thinking I'd like to do a mix of songs from John Hughes movies and the moments they come from. Need to do some more research though, I haven't seen some of them in a while. One that particularly sticks out in my mind (besides the obligatory Simple Minds closing credits in The Breakfast Club) is the last scene in Sixteen Candles with the song If You Were Here by The Thompson Twins. Love that song!

August 4, 2009

Upcoming battle for my disposable income

I've got my eye on two competing products that should be out within the next month: the Kodak Zi8 (Kody) and the Samsung HMX-U10 (Sammy).

These are digital camcorders that shoot 1080p video onto expandable flash memory (SDHC up to 32 GB) for around $200. Both feature a roughly 2" LCD screen and one-click upload to youtube, as well as HDMI to connect directly to an HDTV (which I like even though I don't own an HDTV).

Mind you, neither of these is out yet, so this certainly isn't a review, just expressing my excitement and indecisiveness.

The case for Sammy: Samsung's product is more aesthetically pleasing to me. The body is angled, which looks cool and seems useful. The camera also features a set of on-camera editing tools. And it has animated thumbnails for easy video-selection. Both of these cams take stills in addition to video, but Sammy takes 10 MP images, as opposed to Kody's 5. It's not official yet, but it appears that Sammy is also coming out sooner than Kody, so my impatience likes it better. That having been said, Sammy seems to be getting more attention from gadget sites, while having almost nothing "official" said about it on Samsung's own web site (beyond the above-linked press release). Perhaps Samsung's tight-lipped-ness is garnering more attention from outside sources? But it leaves questions about some features unanswered: removable battery? Mic jack? Included/available accessories? Zoom? Get us some info, Samsung!

The case for Kody (made-for-TV movie title?): I think Kodak sometimes gets a bad rap because their products are made to be "consumer-friendly" and perhaps shunned by those looking for more "pro" features and image quality. But, Kodak has the advantage of specialization, concentrating more on cameras than electronics in general. Another advantage: experience with this particular style of cam. Kodak already makes the Zi6 and Zx1, which are similar in features and hardware, so you have to think they've worked out some kinks with these first two models. As far as features: Kody has an external mic jack, which I don't know how much I'd use, but love that it's included. Kody also features one-click uploading to facebook in addition to youtube, image stabilization, and includes an HDMI cable. Kodak also (even though it's (apparently) coming out later than Sammy) has lots of information about the Zi8 on it's website (linked above), including tech specs, included accessories, and accessories for purchase. One such for-purchase accessory is a remote control which seems useful for playback.

In general: I'm amazed that these cameras can shoot full HD footage for $200-ish. I realize it's nowhere near the quality of anything professional- or pro-sumer-grade, but still! That's cool! I'd like to see threaded lenses with some kind of zoom/wide angle add-on possibilities. Optical zoom would also be cool (Kody has 4x digital), but again, I realize there are limits to a camera this size at this price. Time will tell whether I become friends with Sammy or Kody (I'm sure they're holding their breath). I'll let you know (I'm sure you're holding your breath)!