RaaD Movies, News and Technology

Dany's RaaD Roundup

Apple’s New Toys for the 2010 Holliday Season

Steve Jobs made quite a few announcements about newer smaller  iPod shuffles, iPod nanos, iPod touches, a new iTunes and a new Apple TV along with many more updates on September 1st. You can watch the whole 90min conference here (subscribe to their keynote podcast here) including a performance at the end from the lead of Coldplay, Chris Martin. You can watch the musical performance here:

Of all the announcements, I thought the most interesting were the new social network Ping that is built into the new iTunes store, also accessible on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. They made a big deal about having over 160 million customers already with access to the store itself who now have access to this music social network. Considering that you’ll now be able to follow your favorite artists and friends, get local concert information, post videos, music and photos and get customized music suggestions based on who you follow, the facebooks, myspaces and twitters of the world should be wary, especially since Apple has a clear business model already tied into this network since it’s another way to open up people to new songs, albums and artists. It’s only a matter of time before this expands to include TV shows and movies. Facebook’s 500+ million worldwide active users still seems to top the charts, but I’m guessing Mark Zuckerberg‘s ears perked up when he heard this news.

The other interesting story from the conference I felt was the new Apple TV. Jobs admitted that since 2006, when the original Apple TV launched it wasn’t the biggest hit, but now they have added a lot of new features to integrate it with all the other products, with the ability to stream content (movies, TV shows and photos) from their computers, iPads, iPhones and iPod touches.  They added Netflix streaming support for Netflix subscribers along with TV show and movie rentals ranging from 99cents up to $4.99 for new movies being released on the same date as their dvd, there is also the ability to listen to and watch all the podcasts you subscribe to, which brings online content almost onto an equal playing field as movies and TV shows for access to your HD TV. The new Apple TV box is a lot smaller than before (the box almost fits in the palm of Steve Jobs’ hand),  probably because there’s no storage space on the device (everything works via streaming internet), the menu system seems easy to use. You’ll need a TV with an HDMI port since that’s the only output port, but it has built in WiFi and an Ethernet port for faster connections. I think with the new $99 price point for the Apple TV, they will basically put Roku‘s streaming box and anyone else like them right out of the market.

The photographer in me was very impressed with the demo of the new camera feature that was added to the iPod touch camera, high dynamic range (HDR) option. Using this, you can take a picture in bright light and the camera will take 3 quick pictures in succession, one at normal exposure, another underexposed one to bring out the colors from a bright sky and a third picture that is overexposed to bring out the dark sections of the picture and then blending the three pictures together to have a final photo with an enormous dynamic range of color and detail in the shot. Here is one example Apple has up on their site:

and here is an example that the great folks at AppleInsider created with their iPod touch with the original on the left and the HDR image on the right:

Thanks to Apple and AppleInsider for the above pictures. Also, if you want to see some professional HDR images from higher-end cameras check out this Flickr page and SmashingMagazine.

Enjoy

Dany

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September 2, 2010 9:26 pm Posted by | apple, art, clips, HD, movies, music, music videos, photography, podcasts, software, technology, tv | 2 Comments

Tech Roundup for the Week, Roger Ebert’s New Voice, US National Broadband Internet, Apple vs Google and even Nanomicrochips Inside Living Cells

There were a few interesting technology related stories I came across while sifting through Engadget recently, so I thought I would share what I found.

First, Roger Ebert, one of the most profound and prolific film reviewers in history has had many medical problems of late, thankfully he is still with us and reviewing films again, the problem is after all his health ordeals, he was left without a lower jaw and unable to speak… until now with some interesting help from CereProc. Here is the Engadget article, but just watch the video below, it’s hard to deny that this is an amazing step forward in science:

Recently, the FCC submitted its National Broadband Plan (download the pdf) to Congress, which includes a laundry list of goals for the next decade, essentially to provide access for “every American” to “robust broadband services,” meaning 100 million US homes with “affordable” access with 100MBps download and 50Mbps upload speeds, which sounds wonderful, but let’s see what their definition of affordable turns out to be. Here is the Engadget story with the reactions from Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Google and Comcast executives.

The above illustration is from Daniel Adel of the New York Times and it adds to the hyperbole around the idea that Google and Apple chief executives that were once close are now at war, iPhone/iPad vs Android. Here is the Endadget article that goes into the details.

Lastly, it looks like we’re on the road to implanting microprocessors… or in this case even smaller nanoprocessors into living cells. At this point, current research has been able to obtain 90% cell survival after such a dramatic procedure. It will be interesting to see where this ultimately takes us in the coming decades. Here is the Engadget story along with the original research article by Gómez-Martínez R.

Enjoy

Dany

March 18, 2010 9:43 pm Posted by | apple, art, cartoons, clips, crazy celebs, DC, economy, Law, movies, nature, newspaper, politics, science, software, technology, vaporware, Verizon, Washington, Washington DC | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the Apple iPad Announcement

Yesterday Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, announced the upcoming iPad, Apple‘s take on a tablet computer, smartbook, slate or whatever you want to call it… maybe just GIANT iPod Touch.

After seeing the keynote (watch it here), there were some interesting things I noticed and wanted to talk about with this new device. First off though, I currently use a 4+ year old Dell Inspiron 700m laptop and I carry around a 60gb iPod Video. Both of which I will need to replace sometime soon as both are starting to slowly die on me. With that, I’m always looking to see what I can replace each device with without breaking my rather small bank account in half as a poor medical student.

The most surprising part of the whole announcement for me was that this iPad is running an Apple customized A4 processor. So, Apple is almost completely vertically integrated now, they make their processors, their own batteries, their own multi-touch technology, they control every piece of hardware that goes into their machines, they write their own operating systems and control their own online store where you can buy music, movies, television  shows, applications, games, podcasts (free), educational materials (iTunes U) and now electronic books (iBookstore). Jobs now claims that Apple is now the largest mobile devices company by revenue… something that should concern Jobs at some point because the US has laws against monopolies and while being as vertically integrated as I mentioned just now is fine for a small company, once that company gets large enough, that kind of power starts to get noticed by government officials.

This new iPad is very similar to the iPod Touch/iPhone (it just doesn’t have a phone). The iPad basically runs on the same operating system as the iPod Touch, it’s just BIGGER (almost 10inches compared to the 3.5inch iPod Touch), can play HD video and with a longer battery life (10 hours of use with 1 month of standby time). The iPad will also run virtually all of the 140,000 applications that are already available for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

Since Apple’s current 3.5inch hardware has 2 different skews that have been immensely successful, it’s not too surprising that there are going to be 2 separate skews for the new iPad, a wifi version that starts at $499 (basically a GIANT iPod Touch) and a version that also has a 3G internet data subscription option starting at $629 (almost like a GIANT iPhone, just minus a phone or camera).

The other thing I noticed that was interesting after reading Engadget, is that Apple now has a way for you to buy into their vertically integrated ecosystem for almost any amount of money. To gain direct access to all the different online stores from Apple’s mobile hardware you can pay as little as $99 to buy an iPhone (with a 2 year contract), you could pay $199, $299 or $399 for an iPod Touch, now you can pay $499, $599 or $699 for a wifi iPad with 16, 32 and 64gb of storage space respectively, you could buy any of those previously mentioned iPad with wifi models and add 3G internet access from $629 – $829, after that if you shell out $999 you can spring for their basic 13inch Macbook and from there you can pay buy into the 13inch Macbook Pro for $1199, the 13inch Macbook Air for $1499, $1699 for their 15inch and $2499 to start for their 17inch Macbook Pro and you can customize those laptops to your hearts content to set the price to any amount under $6,500 FULLY loaded for a single purchase. So it seems that Apple is basically bridging the price gap between their $399 iPod Touch and their $999 Macbook to give customers new ways to access all of their online stores.

From previous experience with the iPhone/iPod Touch, I was not surprised when the wifi only iPad didn’t have a either a front-facing web camera (for video chat) or a rear-facing camera (to take pictures) since the iPod Touch doesn’t have either of those features, BUT I was VERY surprised that the iPad with 3G DIDN’T have either or BOTH of these cameras since all iPhones have rear-facing cameras and ALL of their laptops have built-in front-facing web cameras. Maybe this is a feature that will come later, maybe not. Who knows?

It is also disappointing that with the larger screen and faster processor that you can only run one application at a time. That means you can’t surf the web while also keeping a chat client open.

I am not going to try and guess how successful this device will be since Apple has done quite well ever since Steve Jobs returned to Apple, but at this point, when I replace my 6ogb iPod and my old Dell laptop, I will probably just go with a new iPod Touch and a Windows 7 laptop for now, iPad or no iPad.

Thanks to Apple for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

**Update 2009-1-28 – Upon further analysis it will also be interesting to see how specialized industries, like the medical profession write applications and start utilizing this type of device, it is specialized markets like this that have already shown the willingness to utilize tablet technology in the past. Maybe companies like Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health will write special charting applications to use for accessing medical records in a more hands-on sort of way. Time will tell.

January 28, 2010 3:03 pm Posted by | apple, ATT, books, clips, medicine, movies, music, music videos, podcasts, software, technology, tv, Windows | Leave a comment

SpinRite Saved My Laptop in Grenada!

I call this 18 hours of med school hell.  First off, I did a bad thing, I hard shut down my 4+year-old WinXP Dell laptop because I had to rush out to meet my friend. I went back after an hour and turned my computer back on only to get a blue screen of death (BSOD) during Windows startup.

I tried multiple different startup settings after hitting F8 during startup, but none of them got me anything other than a BSOD. I knew this was not good. As a medical student studying in Grenada and I went to my suitcase to get my XP recovery CD… too bad once I opened my bag I found it cracked in half. With all the studying I do, I didn’t exactly have time for this kind of problem, but who WOULD want to deal with this problem anyway, right?

I wasn’t too worried though, since I have been a longtime listener of Steve Gibson‘s audio show Security Now (subscribe here) and I knew that he created SpinRite. At that point I just wanted to go to bed and told myself that I would get SpinRite after class in the afternoon. So, once I got out of lecture, I headed over to our school library to buy SpinRite. I bought it and loaded it on my USB flash drive which I got from my good friend Sara, but once I tried booting from the USB I got an error message that the Pen Drive Does Not Have an Operating System, so I emailed the SpinRite tech support and got a response less than an hour later that totally fixed my problem.

Once SpinRite got up and running, it took about 3 hours for it to scan my hard drive and move files around and fix or mark all the errors on my drive and now it’s back up and running. So thank you Steve for SpinRite! It is worth every penny.

Thanks to Just Ask the IT Guy for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

January 23, 2010 12:27 pm Posted by | medicine, podcasts, software, technology | 1 Comment

Dove Evolution – Perfect Beauty of a Photoshoot After Some Photoshop Magic

It was been a dirty little secret for years that magazines and advertisers were digitally editing their photos for touching up the finished product, to make the beautiful, ravishing. This is nothing new, for years the movie industry was using trickery like placing Vasoline and stockings over lenses to “soften” the look of their female stars, but it feels like this practice has been placed into overdrive

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, well, this Dove Evolution is 75 second video that is worth millions, putting these dirty little secrets of “the industry” into the bright light of day.

For an even better concrete example, take a look at photos from a 2008 Campari ad campaign with raven haired beauty Jessica Alba (below), the image on the left is before Photoshop, on the right the post-Photoshop version. If the industry thinks this gorgeous celebrity needs all these massive photo touch-ups, what chance do regular girls around the world have to build their self esteem?

Thanks to Skinny vs Curvy for the above pics.

Enjoy

Dany

*Update 10/7/2009* Thanks to the talented Dave, I got another good example of how much goes into the Photoshopping of already beautiful women from the Washington Post:

Aisha Tyler Before:

Aisha Tyler After:

**Update 2009-1-29 – Here is another story from Boing Boing on this issue and here is what happened when Rachel Maddow saw that same story. Here’s the pic:

October 7, 2009 10:33 am Posted by | clips, magazines, movies, photography, software, technology, tv | Leave a comment

DARPA and the DEKA Arm from the Creator of the Segway

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I found this 60 Minutes news story about the recent advances in prosthetic limbs from Dean Kamen‘s (the inventor of the Segway) company DEKA. It totally floored me just how far this new upper limb technology has come.

Regardless of your politics, this is an amazing new advance coming out of the DARPA funded research.

Enjoy

Dany

April 14, 2009 5:07 pm Posted by | clips, medicine, politics, robots, science, software, technology, tv, Washington, Washington DC | 1 Comment

Automatically Switch Users in Windows XP Just By Closing Your Laptop’s Lid

I have a Windows XP Service Pack 3 laptop and I am usually the only person who uses this laptop, but there are times when friends and family want to use my computer. I am a power user and I run as an administrator, but I do not want anyone else to have total, unfettered access to my computer, so I created a limited user account for everyone else who wants to use my computer. Windows has a nice feature that enables you to switch between different user accounts (go to Control Panel, User Accounts, Change the way users log on or off, check Use the Welcome screen and Use Fast User Switching) while keeping all the programs and processes from each user open and running in the background.

The problem is that there are times when I forget to switch users when I leave my computer or I might get quickly pulled away from my computer for some reason at times. I usually just end up closing the lid of my laptop, leaving my computer unprotected and open for anyone to use.

In the Windows Advanced Power Options, there is a menu setting where you can set what your laptop does when you close the lid, but the only options are “Do Nothing,” “Stand By” and “Hibernate” (this last option only appears if you have previously enabled hibernation mode). I don’t like any of these options. “Do Nothing” does not help me at all since anyone can just open my laptop back up and start cruising around with full admin privileges. “Stand By” mode in general is no good, because there are many times, when I have set my laptop to Stand By with a bunch of programs open and the computer wouldn’t wake back up again, so I would have to turn the computer off and turn it back on again, thus losing all my unsaved progress in the process. I also turn off Hibernation mode, since I don’t like reserving at least a gigabyte of memory for this process, considering I’m usually running out of disk space on my computer as it is.

I Googled my way all over the internet looking for solutions, I checked a whole bunch of tech sites, then tried Lifehacker, Microsoft and I even contacted Dell tech support to see if they had any solutions, but I found nothing.

I then decided to post my problem on a few tech forums. Exactly 5 minutes after posting on the Hak5 forum, my question was answered! It turns out that motionman95 (email: motionman95 [at] yahoo.com) recently wrote a program to solve this. The original stable program is MonitorState (download it here), but the beta version 1.2, (which is supposed to fix some bugs and glitches) has been renamed to StandbyLock (download it here). *Update 1-5-2008 – There is a new stable version, StandbyLock2.0 (download it here).*

*Update 1-6-2008 – StandbyLock v2.0 (download it here 1-8-2008 – updated download link) is now out of beta and available.* While this program is running, if you set the laptop’s advanced power options to “Stand By” when the lid is closed, the program bypasses Stand By mode altogether and just switches off users and when you open the lid up again, you’re greeted with the Windows XP Welcome Screen and you can pick which user you want to run as.

I did not have any problems with MonitorState and I have not had any problems with StandbyLock either, but I have noticed from the Task Manager that StandbyLock seems to use more and more memory the longer it is left running, which is very similar to the problems Firefox 2 had with memory leaks. At this point, I will continue to use MonitorState, but I am waiting for the release of a stable version 2 of StandbyLock that doesn’t cause a performance hit to my machine the longer the program runs in the background. Let me know in the comments which version works best for you if you decide to try both. When I get new versions, I will keep you updated. *Update 1-5-2008 – start using StableLock2.0 (download it here) *Update 1-6-2008 – StandbyLock v2.0 (download it here) has now gone gold (now with some nice taskbar menu features and an F2 hotkey to enable/disable the program) and I have switched over to this version,* it is a smaller program, it has a MUCH smaller memory footprint and the memory leak problems have been solved.

After thanking motionman95 for sharing his software creations, I found out that he also has some other programs that he has written and is in the process of creating a website of his own to showcase all these applications. I can not wait to see what other goodies motionman95 has created!

Enjoy

Dany

January 4, 2009 11:41 pm Posted by | software, technology, Windows | Leave a comment

CollegeHumor – The Matrix Runs on Windows

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’m very partial to The Matrix. It was the first movie I’d ever seen on DVD. Well, the good people over at CollegeHumor (subscribe here) have created a funny video showing just how bad a place the matrix would be if it ran on Windows.

It’s geek hilarious, enjoy.

Dany

November 17, 2008 12:39 am Posted by | clips, comedians, dvd, movies, podcasts, software, technology, Windows | Leave a comment

Claymation Chess

I might just be a sucker for claymation, but I found this great movie of a claymation chess (Digg it here) game after watching Best of Youtube (subscribe here). It reminds me somewhat of the old Battle Chess game from the pre-Windows days, I still remember playing it for hours on my first IBM computer, running on DOS.

Enjoy

Dany

October 23, 2008 10:23 pm Posted by | cartoons, clips, games, movie reviews, movies, podcasts, software, technology, toons, video games, Windows | Leave a comment

Saturday Night Live’s Vice Presidential Debate and Hilarious show with Anne Hathaway

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The political commentary has not been sharper than what is coming out of Saturday Night Live during this presidential election and the hilarity of their take on the recent Vice Presidential debate (video) is only surpassed by their initial Palin/Clinton joint press conference. I never would have thought to make the connection, but Queen Latifah playing Gwen Ifill (who I still hope takes over as the Meet the Press anchor after the election) was an inspired choice along with Jason Sudeikis playing a funny Joe Biden and the AMAZING job that Tina Fey did again as Sarah Palin.

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I just WISH that NBC would post full episodes of Saturday Night Live on either NBC.com or Hulu. If they did, I would be able to SHOW you this entire episode, because it was easily the best entire episode of SNL in the past few years. Anne Hathaway did a great job as host, I even liked her intro, when I usually find that SNL intros are annoying or boring. I’ll post the rest of the funny clips I’m allowed to show. I’d post more, but that’s how I got my youtube account canceled (master1228). If anyone from NBC is reading this, please start posting entire episodes of Saturday Night Live. Hulu has been such a great success, you’re making money off the comercials on Hulu and you’d make your SNL fans extatic.

I know you sell each episode for $1.99 on iTunes and Amazon, but Joss Whedon did this on iTunes AND offered (and still offers) up Dr. Horrible on Hulu and monitizes through their commercials as well and the fans LOVE it. I know no one at NBC really cares what I think, but they should. NBC was one of Hulu’s founders, you’d think they’d support it fully by offering up ALL their shows on the platform that they want to succeed, especially the shows they air on free network television.

Enjoy

Dany

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October 6, 2008 12:39 am Posted by | apple, clips, comedians, DC, New York, NYC, politics, software, technology, tv, Washington, Washington DC | 1 Comment