Wacom Bamboo

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Yup, another product review. I am almost out of freeware, and I have been resorting to web apps. Therefore, there may be blogging less frequently. But to keep it this way (weekly), please click some of the ads in the sidebar. Every click counts!
The Bamboo ($80) is definitely the best 1 week in advance of purchase thing I’ve ever bought. Basically, wacom makes pen displays and tablets. the Bamboo is a Pen Tablet. While at a friend’s house, I tried out their older version of the intuous. I was amazed at what accuracy and speed you could achieve. Of course it was a little hard when I first picked it up, because it is a little different from a mouse. The bamboo has a square surface. If I hover 3-5 mm over the surface of the active area (the inner square) with the pen in the exact middle, the pointer will go straight to the middle of the display. Basically, while hovering, the position of the tablet is the same as the position on the display. to click, just touch the pen tip to the surface of the tablet. Do this twice in a row quickly and you have just double-clicked. The bamboo is pretty much just a faster way to navigate, draw, touch-up photos and even hand-write notes.
Let’s take a look at the pen.
As you can see, then pan has 2 programmable side switches. By default, hover over the tablet (3-5 mm) and push the top button to right click. hold the bottom button while moving the mouse from bottom to top of a document/webpage/anything window. Basically, it is a pan/scroll. Personally, I have found that it’s a lot easier to have the bottom button to be right click and the top button scroll/pan. Other than that, there really is nothing much to it.
Let’s take a closer look at the tablet.
The inner and lighter square is called the active area. This is where the pen is responsive. But over all that you see these buttons called ExpressKeys™. You can assign these to do pretty much anything from forward/back to open an application/do a keystroke. The inner circle is a touch sensitive ring. you can have this zoom in or scroll. It is not the nicest piece of touch sensitivity I have ever used (the iPod touch is!) though. But being a 2 monitor person, I ned a way of switching between them. To do this I have to go into system preferences and select which monitor I want–Monitor 1, Monitor 2, or I can even have it go across both monitors if I want. But If I was on my extended monitor (Monitor 2) there would be no way for me to access the system preferences to change back to monitor 1. So I only had 1 thing left to do: The ExpressKeys™. If I could use the left arrow to go to the left monitor, right arrow to go to the right monitor, and the FN1 do span across both, it old be perfect. But how? There is no setting for those keys to do that. So I used something I’ve never used before: Automator. Id never used it, but it was actually really easy. To do monitor 1, I just hit record, open system preferences from the dock, go to Pen Tablet, go to details, monitor 1, close, then go into the menu and hit quit Then I stop the Automator logger. I can then save it as an application, which I then programmed the right ExpressKey to do that.
Overall, for the price tag of $80, i’ll give this one a 6 out of 5. AMAZING! The things I can do with it are amazing.
Check out what I’ve done in photoshop with it so far!:
Wave Of Emotion
Waterfall of life

Sea of creativity

Psychedelic

Flocks Of Love
Flashback

Explosion

Cruise of life

Braindump

Google Chrome (Dev Release)

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This one is not a necessity. Why, because it’s in developer release. It’s a little slow and incomplete.
I have in fact been waiting for the official Chrome to come out for Mac (not CrossOver Chronium!!), and here is the Dev release. It does have some of the features as the Windows version, but let’s compare them side-by-side. First thing, it’s grey. Too grey. I like the blue, and having a blue one would be nice. Second, th File and Settings buttons were fropped for the menus in the Mac menubar. Also, no SpellCheck as demonstrated in the spelling of menubar. The tabbing system seems about the same, butI don’t know if each tab is a different process like on the windows version. Also, it is overall a little bit clunkier. For example, when loading a page, next to the name of the site in the tab it should show a little spinny thingy. in this dev version, the sinny thingy freezes. Also, when you boot an app it usully bouncesin the dock a couple of times. Nope. Nada (where is the spellcheck?!?!). But wow, it takes up absolutely no CPU at all! Also, the dev version comes with no flash: the reason I am not going to use it as my primary Web Browser. But there is 1 big good thing about this: it means an even better version should be on the way (I hope)! PLEASE DO NOT DOWNLOAD THIS! Unless of course you are a developer or take great pleasure in incomplete, unpredictable, and potentially crashing software. Download for Mac OS X right here!

iPod Touch OS 3.0

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Well, this is sadly not free. But the extra (and very desired) features are worth the 10 bucks. There are new features in pretty much every default application. Better stability as well. Here are the new features:
1.
A new default application! It’s called Voice Memos. Everybody has been waiting for this, but there are $0.99 apps in the app store, but I really wanted something straight from the Apple HQ, not some third party paid app. For the iPod touch, you need to have the headphones with remote and mic, which I do. To start recording, simply touch the red button and start talking. There is a little volume meter that goes up as you speak. Try to go in the middle. If you go too loud and the meter goes into the red zone, a small red light comes on telling you that you are talking too loud. Now, since this is for voice memos and talking 8 inches away from the microphone, it is not god at all for recording room conversations. Then again, it’s meant for leaving yourself notes such as, “Remember to reply to the important email from Google” or “eggs, milk, butter, bread batter, oranges” etc. Basically this is not meant for recording convorsations. To listen to your voice memos, click on the button that looks like this:
Then, you can listen to, delete, and even share voice memos. by share, I mean email it as an m4a file. Overall, it’s good for making voice memos, and voice memos only.
2. Calendar. Not a new one, and nothing big, but the events have now changed colors. eh.
3. Mail! FINALLY! a landscape keyboard! and landscape viewing of messages! This has been so wanted and everyone can be really happy now. :-)
4. Contacts. Now you can view/edit them in landscape.
5. YouTube! Now, you can sign in and comment, rate and flag videos! Check it out.
Sorry, The order is kinda opposite.

6. Stocks! Same kind of interface, but where you see the graph at the bottom, you can go left or right to view news, extra info (high, low, open, vol, P/E, etc.) and of course the original graph. But then, rotate it landscape. Finally! Landscape graph, with a little more info. When in landscape view, the graph now also shows volume in the form of bars at the bottom. Check it out:

Extra Info
News

Landscape
7. Maps! Now uses a small blue dot to find your current location. Also can now try to estimate the current address, which for me got it exactly. Also, Maps is able to track your current location even without a WiFi connection. It simply finds the latitude and longitude of the networks around you (without connecting to the WiFi network) then locates it on the map. Sadly, since it doesn’t actually connect to the WiFi, It can’t load the map around your current location. But if you are using directions, it saves all of the needed map images to the RAM. Sadly, on the highway,there isn’t always a WiFi network around. Therefore, the Not quite GPS tracking is very unreliable on the highways. The feature works a lot better when traveling around the city.
New Current Location Marker
8. Notes. You can now use the landscape view and keyboard to make your notes.
9. Settings. Fetch New Data has been replaced with Notifications. Apps from the app store can now take advantage of that. Bluetooth capability now. Before the 3.0 update, there was no bluetooth. Get the 3.0 update, and there it is. I am convinced that the bluetooth hardware was there all along, but no software to drive it. now the 3.0 can! You can use the bluetooth to connect with certain compatible stereo headphones.
10. App Store. A little change in the interface while browsing through categories. Also, you can now view your iTunes account information.


Other than all of that, the only new thing is a Spotlight Search.
Overall, the 3.0 update rocks. It was worth the $10. The update went really smoothly, too!
But what it doesn’t tell you to do (and it should!) is to restart your iPhone/iPod touch after the update completes. I mean hold the power button, slide, then hold the power button again.
Thank you Apple for the update!!

Flip Mino Review

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I recently got myself a Flip Mino. And I must say, it’s pretty good stuff for a budget camcorder. Try turning it on. Press the small on button on the side. Flip. Nice Name, eh? Now it shows you time left to record, battery life, and the video preview. Want to record something? Just press that big red button. When you are done recording, press the big red button again. Would you like to see what you just recorded? Press the Play/Pause button. You are now watching the most recent video you took. Would you like to turn up or down the volume on the playback? Use the + and – buttons. To fast forward through a video, just press the > or the buttons to navigate through them. Hey, I don’t like this video. Just press the trash button. You can also zoom in/out while in a video: just press the + or – buttons while recording. The buttons light up (except for the red one) when you can use them. For example, when you are recording you aren’t going to use the play/pause, trash, or left and right buttons, but you are going to use the + and – buttons. All of the buttons except for the + and – buttons are illuminated. When you are browsing through videos, you aren’t going to use the + and – buttons, but you are going to use the Play/Pause, delete and left and right buttons. For this reason, All of the buttons but the + and – buttons are illuminated. While in the middle of playback, all of the buttons are illuminated. You can trash it, play/pause it, use the + and – buttons to change volume, and hold the buttons to fast forward/rewind through. I do not have the HD version, but I am completely happy without it. I get 640X480, which is better than any video quality I have ever gotten in my life. I even had them print a custom image onto it. This can be done for no extra charge! It has to be a VERY big image, or the online software says it’s not high enough resolution to make a good print. Here is a picture of mine.
At one point, you are probably going to want to get the videos from the flip to your computer. In the box, there is no installation CD. No cable. And no port on the thing. But sometime, you are going to have to figure out why they call it a flip. They call it a flip because of how you plug it in. Pull a little switchy thingy and a USB digi “flips” out of the top. you can them plug that straight into your machine, buy one of their cables online (extra cost) and plug it into that, or even using any old USB Extension cord works. If you have a little station for all of your gadgets to plug in, I recommend just getting a usb extension cord (they come in handy for LOTS of situations other than this, too). After plugging it in, you will see a USB drive appear either in My Computer or on the desktop (depending on your operating system). Open it and you will see Flip for Mac and a Flip for Windows. These both require a driver to be installed (3ivx er something), but that’s no biggie. The application will run straight off of the drive. In the application, you can download the video files and save them. But I have never used that much, because on the first launch it said would you like to upgrade to FlipShare, and of course, being me, I LOVE updates. Now, Flipshare then deletes the other applications from the flip and replaces it with Start flipshare. It will only do this to the application compatible with your system. The other one (in my case the .exe file) turns to Setup_Flipshare.exe. FlipShare installs on your hard drive and opens each time you plug in the flip. FlipShare the application itself is actually pretty nice. It has a very newish feel, and allows you to do a lot with your video. Save them , make a movie of them, and even upload them straight to AOL video, myspace™ and YouTube™ all without even having to open an internet browser. You can take a snapshot of a certain place in a video. you can export the video. You can email a video. You can even make a video greeting card with it. FlipShare is pretty cool. But if you don’t want to deal with any software and just want the files, easy. Open up the drive, and there will be a folder called DCIM. Go down as many folders as you can and you will be greeted with a bunch of .AVI videos, waiting for you to manually copy them off. If you just want the videos and nothing else, here you go.
Now when it comes to charging and battery life, it’s pretty cool. The battery is like the one in iPods, sealed in and not replaceable. But to charge it, just plug it in to your computer. Recharging a completely dead battery can take up to 3 hours, but that doesn’t usually happen. Usually it take 1.5 to 2.5 hours for it to charge. You know if it is charging by looking at the USB digi. There is a small bright light, that blinks while charging. It stops blinking when it is done charging. The battery life is around 2 hours, not bad at all for how much it can do.
In the end, I give this a 5 Star rating. The sensitivity of the buttons is almost as good as the touchscreen sensitivity of the iPhone. Easy to use, and just like they say–video recording is now as easy and cheap as taking a photo.
Easy cheap video recording and sharing–The Flip Mino

Pandora

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This is probably one of the most well known web applications in the existence of existing. Pandora[.com] is a free (with a few ads) internet radio that quote “Plays only music you like”. First, put in your favorite song/artist (no registration required, but registration keeps track of all your stations for use on other devices). It will then find tracks like the artist or song you put in, and will make a “station”out of it called “[Artist/song here]“. Then, it will play a track with very close qualities to the artist/song you put in. You can them select thumbs down or thumbs up to modify the station. It will play constantly for about an hour and then say “Are you still listening?”. To avoid this, just click something over there. It only does that when it thinks you aren’t there and the app stays motionless for 1 hour. You can have LOTS of stations, I don’t know the maximum (if there is one). And with Fluid (clickable) you can turn it into a desktop application. What else could you ask for? No ads! To do this, you need to subscribe to pandora ($$). Ever hear music playing through my live feed? A lot of the time it’s pandora. Also, you can even create stations based on genre.

Links:

OpenOffice.org

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There is Microsoft Office and iWork, but this site is only freeware. OpenOffice is a completely free office program which features everything you need, including compatibility with all of the Microsoft Office files. It has a word processor Writer (Word/Pages), Calc for creating spreadsheets (Excel/Numbers), Impress for creating presentations (PowerPoint/Keynote), Draw for creating things like designs (Not in MSO or iWork), and Base, for creating databases (Not in MSO or iWork). OpenOffice is made by Sun, and here is the best part: it works for EVERY operating system imaginable. Say you run a business and you want to straighten out your budget. Bam. Just use OpenOffice. The software is easy to use, and really straightforward. Really struggling with money? Switch to Ubuntu, and Ubuntu even comes with OpenOffice. Also, if you have just switched to a new operating system and you need to start with office documents fast, just use OpenOffice. I have OpenOffice installed on all of my Windows 7 computers, which in fact, does include my MacBook. I installed it on my HP as well. Sorry, it was just rumored to be so much better and it was free, so what the heck. Why not. OpenOffice is great for someone who is a publisher, hi-tech business employee, freeware fanatic, or just someone who needs to write something down, make a presentation, letter, database, spreadsheet, or design. Or even someone with every single operating system imaginable. Easy free office pack- Openoffice.org.