Open Source Quote

This quote was found on the first post of this Zenoss forum. It was written by user ‘bithajcsar’.

Open source in general, is only for those, who do not have any serious responsibility.

Now, I do feel that I should express that I love the idea of Open Source, and I think very highly of enthusiastic open source programers. But, their is a reason why open source is not as widely used.

Flip Ultra Video Camera Review

Last month I received a Flip Ultra digital camera as a birthday present from Hannah. There are two different models of the Flip video camera made by Pure Digital Technologies. The Flip Ultra and the Flip Mino. I have seen the Flip run for as high as $180.00, and as low as $120.00. Just depends one where you do your shopping.

Hannah got me the Flip Ultra because it takes 2 AA batteries and she knows I’m currently on a kick of any electronics that take batteries you can easily find in a store. The Ultra comes with a built in 2GB of flash memory that allows for an hour of recording of video in 640×480 resolution at 30 frames per second, using the MPEG-4 ASP video compression. In other words, it dose a damn good job for what it is.

The first thing I really love about this little digital video recorder is the size. It is so small and easy to take with you anywhere you go. I pretty much have it with me all the time now. It’s push button easy of use. Record, play, zoom in an out. That’s pretty much it.

The unit comes with a built-in USB plug that connects easily to any computer. It’s built in software that runs from the camera allows for basic video editing and uploading to youtube (weather you use Macintosh or Windows). However, I had no trouble copying the video of the Flip Ultra onto my computer and editing it with iMovie on my Apple Macintosh.

Since I have received the Flip, I have edited two movies with it. One that ended up on youtube and you can see that here. The other, I made and burned to DVD. They both look great. I can tell you from my experience that the quality of the video looks a lot better then what ends up on youtube. I am also impressed with the lack of shakiness I got from the camera. True, it dose not come close to handling hand shakes like my Cannon DV camera, but I was still impress nonetheless.

Pros:

  • Small size
  • Impressive video quality
  • Ease of use

Cons:

  • Horrible zoom
  • No steady cam, or anti-shake features

Buying Advice: I really think these little flash video cameras are going to be come more and more populer as time goes on. For a first time owner of a video camera this would be a great starting point. For someone who has video camera experince I think they will enjoy the flip because of it’s convinunt size, and simplicity from shoot to edit. Because of this, I feel like not only myself, but others will be makeing more personal videos then with a normal handy came or mini camcorder.

My iPhone Experince (Part 2 of 2)

Before I get started I do want to say I am an Apple fan boy. I think Apple makes the best computers on the planet, I think they make the best portable MP3 players on the planet, and now I think they make the best cell phones on the planet. With that said, here are my findings with owning the best cell phone.

The iPhone is easy to use. Which is really a good thing because it doesn’t come with a manual. No RTFM here. I think that says something about a product when you don’t need a manual to operate it. Using this phone and all the software it comes with has been very intuitive. Typing on this thing is very impressive. Mistakes are few and far between and the built in spell checker really dose a great job when I do make a typing mistake.

Battery life is not bad at all. My test for this was this last Labor Day weekend. I charged the iPhone Friday morning before I went to work and I did not charge it again till late Monday Night. So 3 days(ish). Again, I had 3G disabled, and I had WiFi disabled accepted when I actually needed access to the internet.

The phone is slippery. It really is. I don’t mean this so much when it is in your hand. The unit is very smooth. The lady at the AT&T store that I got the iPhone from really stressed to me that I should get a case for the iPhone because of this fact. She explained that I should get one to keep the phone from slipping out of the inside pocket of my jacket. She stressed this to an almost annoying degree and she was very shocked that I left the store with out purchasing any kind of a case at all. My logic at the time was that I have been caring an iPod Touch for almost a year now and I have not broken it yet.

I added some velcro in my inside jacket. Well, actually Hannah did at my request. This was a result of the paranoia that I started feeling after talking with the lady at the AT&T store. But it’s also one of those ideas I wish I had a long time ago. It really is smart and keeps stuff from falling out of my inside jacket pocket now.

Still no pause button. Apple still has not solved the ‘no pause’ button on the iPhone 3g when your listening to music. I honestly don’t know if they think it is a problem, but it is annoying to have to activate the the screen and then press the pause button to stop music.

I don’t use 3g because I live in Juneau. The city of Juneau Alaska as of yet, dose not have 3G cell access. So I have that feature on my iPhone turned off. As I have read that also help a lot of battery life on the phone. It’s easy enough to enable 3G if I was in a location that had it. Same with WiFi access.

GPS is pretty neat. I can open up google maps and in a few seconds it will figure out where I am standing. I can then easily get directions from where I am standing, to where I want to go. I have found that there are places in Juneau I can be that the GPS system can’t triangulate where I am but, I have seen dedicated GPS units struggle with that from time to time.

Setting Up Voice Mail did not go very soothly. As it was explained to me at the AT&T store, click on the voice mail icon and the phone would guide me through setting up my voice mail. Well that did not work. Clicking on the voice mail icon did nothing at all for me. After researching this on the Apple support page Ilearned that when this happens with new phones you have to call your own cell phone number and then you would be instructed on how to setup voice mail over the phone. Which I did do and it has worked just fine ever since. Having visual voice mail is a wonderful thing.

Holding the phone to my face feels weird. At least at first it did. The unit is so thin, but very sturdy. It’s just thinner then any phone I have ever had before that It took a couple of days to get used to it.

Setting up custom ringtones has been fun. Each person in your address book can be setup with their own custom ringtone. I even found a great Life Hacker link that can walk users through creating their own custom ringtones from existing MP3s or any audio for that matter.

Pictures in address book help you quickly identify who is calling better then just a name flashing on the screen. This is really a great feature. It’s a small thing but it’s the detail to the small things that Apple really excels at. A person can recognize who is calling faster from a picture then from having to read a name. When someone calls in it fills up most of the screen.

No stand came with the iPhone. I got one with my iTouch, why not one with the iPhone?

Scratches and scuffs. None. This thing is pretty scratch resistent. I am impressed. Remember, I don’t have a case for my iPhone.

Screen Glare. It’s not been an issue for me. For the iPhone or the iTouch. I use the iTouch at the gym all the time with all their lights.

Things. This is an app I paid for and installed on my iPhone for my GTD needs. It works really well and syncs with my desktop client perfectly. I can’t say enough good things about this program.

My iPhone Experince (Part 1 of 2)

Last week my company cell phone died. It was an old BlackBerry 7100g. That BlackBerry and I never got along and I did not keep that fact a secret. So when it finally passed away this last week my boss offered to get me the iPhone 3G as a replacement work cell phone. I thought I might document the process we went through to get the iPhone, as well as my experience with it.

August 21 2008 – After calling our local AT&T dealer we were told we would have to go down to the store and order the iPhone. At the time they did not have any in stock. So we drove down and waited in line for half and hour. In our Juneau store there where only three people helping customers. When we were up to speak with a sales rep, she had us picked out the model we wanted and pay for the iPhone right there. We were told that we had save the receipt to be able to clam the phone when it comes in. (To me that sounds like a bit of BS. I mean, you spend 200 bucks on a cell phone, they can look up that you bought it or not.)  The rep put the iPhone on order. We were told it would take 10 to 21 days to get in and that we would get updates via e-mail.

August 22 2008 – Got an automated e-mail from ATT Order Status.

Your iPhone 3G order has been shipped and is on its way to the AT&T store in which you placed the order… You will be notified via email when it arrives. You will then have seven (7) days to pick up your order or it will be canceled…

August 26 2008 – Got another automated e-mail from the local ATT store

Your iPhone 3G order is ready to be picked up at the AT&T store where you reserved it.  Please bring your reservation receipt and a valid ID when you pick-up your order…

So less then ten days. That makes the whole experience a little more positive.  We went down to the local AT&T dealer and got my iPhone. They took it out of the box to activate it. They moved my old phone number over and that was that. The phone worked from that moment on.

At the end of the day when I got home, I plugged the phone into my computer. iTunes fired up and it started to download and install the new iPhone OS software update. I also downloaded one or two programs to try out. For me the whole process was shockingly easy, fast and painless.

I have been using the iPhone now for less then two day, but so far I am very happy with the experience. The brake out application for me on the iPhone has been “Notes“. Notes lends it’s self very well to anyone who is into the GTD system. In my first two days with the iPhone I have been using this program constantly.

I am a big fan of Things for the Mac. In the next few days I am sure I will pick up the Things program for the iPhone also.

I will do a follow up post in a few days. I would like to talk about things i don’t like about the iPhone (if any come up) as well as how I have been using it.

You Can RSS Google News

You can save Google news, as well as any Google news search as an RSS feed. This is hands down a very useful feature for people who visit their local newspaper website everyday because they don’t offer an RSS feed.

Living in Alaska, I have found myself wanting to read more about the local happenings and goings on. I am not a fan of visiting the Juneau Empire news papers’ website. The website has a horrible design that is hindered by the fact that I actually have to go visit the site and not just subscribe to an RSS feed like so many other websites these days allow.

I was just playing around with Google news the other day and saw the RSS icon show up in the URL bar of my Firefox browser. So I thought “Wouldn’t be cool if you can rss your searches?”. So I searched for Alaska in the google news search bar and sure enough, after the page loaded I saw the RSS icon. I click on the Icon, selected the RSS feed, and added to my Google Reader. It worked!

Floating Image Change For WordPress 2.6

I run or administer several WordPress based websites including this one. For the the last week I slowly began upgrading these sites from WordPress 2.5 to 2.6. The upgrade for me and these sites have been very easy. None the less, you should always do a backup before doing an upgrade.

I am writing this post because I noticed a change in how WordPress handles floating your images from version 2.5 to 2.6. If your using a custom WordPress theme and floating your image to the left, right, or center, you may notice that your text dose not wrap around your image like it used to. This is due to new class elements that are required in your CSS. You wont notice any of these image floating issues if your using the default WordPress theme. But many people are using custom themes. After plenty of troubleshooting and reading online about this I finally discovered the solution and thought I would share it. Just add the following code below anywhere to your CSS file for your WordPress Theme.

img.alignleft, div.alignleft {
float:left;
margin:0 0.5em 0.5em 0;
}
img.alignright, div.alignright {
float:right;
margin:0 0 0.5em 0.5em;
}
img.aligncentered, div.aligncentered {
text-align:center;
margin:0 auto;
}

Presto, that should resolve all your image flowing issues with the new wordpress 2.6.

Shortly after drafting this post up I discored I had been beaten to the buch by HackWordpress.com and WordPressrocks.com.

UPDATE: How to display the CAPTIONS for the image properly

.wp-caption {
border: 1px solid #ddd;
text-align: center;
background-color: #f3f3f3;
padding-top: 4px;
margin: 10px;
/* optional rounded corners for browsers that support it */
-moz-border-radius: 3px;
-khtml-border-radius: 3px;
-webkit-border-radius: 3px;
border-radius: 3px;
}
.wp-caption img {
margin: 0;
padding: 0;
border: 0 none;
}
.wp-caption p.wp-caption-text {
font-size: 11px;
line-height: 17px;
padding: 0 4px 5px;
margin: 0;
}

Add this to the end of your themes CSS.

North Sound Safety’s Website Redesign

Occasionally I get ask to do some website work. It does not happen all that often, but I am happy to do it when it comes in. Recently I finished the redesign for North Sound Safety’s offical website.

North Sound Safety is a motorcycle training company located in Washington state. They are professional at teaching riders young and old, beginner or seasoned, the importance of Motorcycle safety.

Their old website was very consistent with it’s navigation. However, the pages (the homepage particularly) had a lot of stuff going on and could make it hard for the user to focus on what he or she was looking for.

Old North Sound Safety Website

My first redesign design attempt was to just clean things up and tighten the over all look and feel of the website. I do most of my design work exclusively in PhotoShop.

First Redesign

My client really liked the new look and feel of North Sound Safety’s new design. He had a few changes he wanted made before I could go forward with writing out the HTML for the site. The finished product looks like this image below.

New North Sound Safety Website

The final product incorperates Google Maps, as well as Flash. The whole top banner graphic is a Flash animation. I need to thank Jason for givng me some lessions in flash so i could create that rotating banner. The completed website can be viewed at www.NorthSoundSafety.com. Take a look around. Let me know what you think.