Thursday, December 31, 2009

Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera with 20x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.5-inch Articulating LCD

The easy of use, the ability to save custom settings, the optical zoom range, the articulating LCD screen, the high definition video capability, steady shot...the macro shot...i'm running out of breath...

My point is that the features this camera has is as close as you can get to a full blown slr without having to carry multiple lenses, filters and all the other features that an slr requires to reach it's potential.

The built of the camera is totally solid. It feels sturdy. The workmanship is first class. The playback menus are truly noteworthy. Zooming and cropping your pictures is as easy as can be. The video playback menu is stellar. Most cameras its push to start playback, push to stop. The SX20IS has a full ranged menu that includes playback, pause slow mo, ffw, rew, advance to last frame, go back to first frame. It is the most extensive I have ever seen.

The price is as good as it gets. and with Amazon prime, it doesn't get any better than that. The only drawback was the lens cover. With such an outstanding product, greter care should have been placed to protect a critical element of your investment.

Bottom line, this camera is an excellent investment if you care about preserving your memories.

Under the Dome: A Novel

I think Under the Dome is one of the best books Stephen King has written since "The Stand." I loved the concept of "Under the Dome" and unlike many of the reviewers here, I loved how he drew the character of Big Jim Rennie. I know that guy. I've known quite a few Big Jim Rennies during my lifetime. In my opinion, the bad guys were characterized quite a bit better than the good guys. My biggest disappointment was with Barbie. At the beginning of the book, I thought he was going to be a fascinating hero.

Turns out, he was a bit too quiet and unassuming for my taste, which leads me to my next criticism. I like a book with a full stage of characters, but still, I need that one hero(ine) to stand out as the main character. To me, the only main character in the book was Big Jim, which I suppose is okay for the villain to claim center stage. Still, I wish that Barbie had shined just a bit more, or even Rusty (although his character just never really did it for me ..... sorry to the "real" Rusty for this comment, for I'm sure you're far more interesting. :))

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It could have and should have been a bit shorter, I think. (There were too many characters who took up pages which should have been devoted to the main cast.) Yet, it's a fascinating read, and the last three hundred pages are real page-turners.

One last word to the author: I love the fact that you can get away with so many things other authors wouldn't dare attempt, as in that intrusive narrator. I mean, how many writers can get past an editor's desk with sentences such as, "Thanks to the magic of narration...." Kudos, Mr. King. By golly, you've earned the right, and I applaud you. :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Learn Objective–C on the Mac (Learn Series)

I consider myself to be an intermediate to upper level programmer. My expertise has been in Java and C++, doing mostly Windows applications. I decided to try to pick up Objective-C and later iPhone programming after buying a new mac.

I absolutely loved this book.

It plays very well to the intermediate level programmers who have done a lot with object oriented programming and object oriented languages. It gives fantastic detail about the Objective-C framework and really walks you through it. I just finished this book about 30 minutes ago and already feel very empowered. I also loved that this book explains a lot of the Xcode features, as they're very helpful.

If you're a programmer looking to start out into the Mac world, I would highly recommend this as a good starting place. It's a pretty quick read and will teach you a lot.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera with 20x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.5-inch Articulating LCD

I received the Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera a few days ago. I wanted a good quality camera for all-around, basic shooting. The main features that attracted me were the wide angle/zoom lens and the video option.

I am not an expert, or even an experienced amateur. I just want to be able to point, shoot, and take decent pics and some occasional video, so I was thrilled when Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera arrived this week.

In my opinion, the best eye-pleasing pictures are those that show the vibrant colors and color variations - all other things being equal. I've experimented with various settings and taken the same shots with those various settings, and compared shots taken with Auto, Landscape, Portrait, etc. against the Foilage setting [SCN/Foilage], and the Foilage setting is by far the best for bringing out the colors (which it is meant to do anyway). Compared to those pics taken using the Foilage setting, the ones taken in the other settings are dull - not that they aren't decent pictures in the other settings, just compared to the Foilage pictures they are dull(er). So for basic shots, I will probably use the Foilage setting most of the time for all-around shooting - the pictures are beautiful.

One problem I expect with this, is to get to the Foilage setting, you must use the top dial set to SCN, then using the free-spinning dial on the back, select foilage. Problem is, after taking shots and letting the camera hang against your body, the free-spinning dial may be prone to be moved to select another setting...

One of the issues I do have, is not being able to choose to set the Auto-Focus frame to the center of the screen for many settings - such as Auto... I'm not crazy about the "smart focus" which chooses which subject(s) that it thinks is the main subject(s) - in my case of shooting mostly non-people so far, this "smart-focus" has been wrong. I think most of us non-pro photographers usually center our subject anyway, and even if we don't, we should still have the option of keeping the AF frame in the center...

One other thing that hasn't worked for me is connecting it to HDMI on my TV. I'm going to take it to Best Buy and try it there. If it still isn't working, I hate to send it back because it is a good camera, but I would like the HDMI feature to work to see my videos in true HD.

In summary, the wide-to-zoom feature is great, takes very good pictures (especially in Foilage), takes excellent video. The video option is excellent - you can take pics while filming, and you can simply press the video button in the back to start taking video even if you're in a picture-taking setting - very nice feature. See here for a sample of pictures taken with Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera.

If you're not a pro photographer and want to have a great all-around camera, this is definitely a good buy. I hope I can get my HDMI/TV feature to work so I can keep my camera...

Friday, December 18, 2009

highlights of the literary year

Start your reading: The organizers of the Tournament of Books, one of the highlights of the literary year, have for the first time announced their long list, the 50 books they are considering for their 16-book bracket in January. They have most of our favorite fiction of the year covered, with some intriguing wild cards too, but among those from our own list that didn't make the cut: Cutting for Stone, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, Too Much Happiness, The Magicians, Blood's a Rover, and The Vagrants.

"Read across rather than down": Milorad Pavic, the game-playing Serbian novelist best known for his first novel, Dictionary of the Khazars, died recently in Belgrade at the age of 80 (the Times obituary just appeared today). The Dictionary, you may recall, was released in "male" and "female" editions that differed by a single, hidden paragraph. Dorkily, I of course have both versions on my shelf (not that I've read either), but only now I find that Pavic himself considered that owning both was "like incest."

Room for one more Teen Wolf reference: Bill Simmons, whose Book of Basketball our own Dave Callanan pretty much single-handedly made into a #1 bestseller, gets 2,200 words in his ESPN column to run his deleted scenes from what was already the fattest sports book since, well, you know Simmons would make a joke about Wilt's little black book here... [P.S. After posting, I just ran across New York mag's roundtable on The Book of Basketball, featuring Jonathan Lethem, Sherman Alexie, FreeDarko's Bethlehem Shoals, among others, which is worth a post of its own but probably won't get one.]

Moving & shaking: An appearance on Ellen this morning raises Lewis Blackwell's lovely coffee-table book, The Life & Love of Trees, into our Top 100 and up to the top spot in today's Movers & Shakers list.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Apple iMac MB950LL/A 21.5-Inch Desktop

Apple iMac MB950LL/A 21.5-Inch DesktopI will never go back to a PC again. I love my new Mac. Its sleek and very awesome. lol. Its very fast and quiet. I love the new magic mouse. Nothing like the plan old mouse. I love everything about my computer.

At first I was afraid of buying a computer online. But I got a great deal. I didn't get charged for tax and buying on Amazon was cheaper then buying in a store. Plus I saved an extra $50 buying off of Amazon. Get product and great service!!! Once you go Mac you wont go back!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Amazon Associates and Google Blogger Now Integrated

Today Amazon announced Amazon Associates for Blogger, a direct integration between Amazon Associates and Blogger.  This new collaboration enables Bloggers to monetize their content by adding relevant Amazon products to their blog posts without interrupting the blog editing process.  Amazon Associates for Blogger is available now at Amazon Associates who don’t have a Google Blogger account can set up a free Blogger account with their Associates ID and start earning right away.

How does it work?
The new tool allows Bloggers to add links and images to their blog posts in just 2 easy steps: 
1.Bloggers highlight the relevant text and the Amazon Product Finder will search Amazon’s millions of products and recommend the ones that are most closely associated with the text

2.Bloggers can then insert a link or image to that product which includes their Associates ID, enabling them to earn up to 15% in referral fees from Amazon e.g.
Vodafone Stakes Leadership with DRM-free, Dual-downloadable Music (Competitive Update)

Bloggers will also be able to show dynamic content in their blog sidebar using a new set of integrated Sidebar gadgets, such as gadgets for MP3 clips from the Amazon DRM-free music store, an Amazon Deals gadget, and an Amazon Search box.

Also as part of this new integration, Bloggers who don’t have a free Amazon Associates account can create one directly within Blogger so tell your friends that use Blogger how they can start earning with Amazon Associates today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

I had never before read a Dan Brown book when I read the lost symbol. I had seen the Da Vinci code film and that was enough to put me off ever even picking his book up in a book shop. My boyfriend bought it for his mum and as a passing comment it said, ooh that looks interesting.

The next thing I know, its arriving on my door step! I read it in a very short space of time, due to the fact I have my nose glued between the pages, unable to put it down. Its the hardcover version and I've got a very bad back, but I still thought it was worth lugging it around in return for the chance to enter the amazing world the book offers.

I was very interested in the information it contains on the free masons and other organisation in the book. I found it very interesting and very exciting! Since reading this book i have read the Da vinci code and angels and daemons and have just started on digital fortress. I have a new found love for the writings of Dan Brown. Don't let the films put you off!

They miss out all the elegant descriptions and writings of Dan Brown and just shred the story! I definitely recommend this book!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Free Assassin's Creed II

I was maybe one of the few who loved Assassin's Creed I regardless of the repetitive nature of the game. I could spend hours just exploring the cities, admiring the architecture and pointlessly romping around. So I was concerned at the trailers for Assassin's Creed II - it looked like it might be a more regimented storyline. Would AC2 limit your ability to just goof when ever you wanted off for the benefit of a plot? Would the missions be too long and be too convoluted? Would it lose the soul of the first which was exploration first, storyline second? Thankfully all of my fears were unfounded. Assassin's Creed II is quite possibly the best sequel in any art media. They've taken the budding roots of AC1 and built a tree - not just any tree but a huge redwood full of branches and interesting knots, twists and turns. And you can explore it however and whenever you want. Missions are short and sweet and reward your character with just enough growth to make continuing with the story preferable, despite the OCD collector in me desperately trying to get out.

There's simply so much to do and see and learn about, and such a varied way to do it all. From attacking to defending, stealth-play to exploring, everything is bigger and better. Even load times are faster despite the much more massive cities on offer, and there's no more forced listening to a god-awful cutscene before you can jump-in. Plus avid in-game item collectors such as myself are in heaven - I'd say I haven't seen this much to find in a game since Donkey Kong 64. Thankfully for the most part it's not just a case of randomly stumbling on flags either; now you can buy treasure chest maps for every part of the cities which pinpoint an item's location... and yet still finding some of the chests is still a challenge.

Ubisoft have made such a vast game that there's little point in highlighting the features and fun stuff, I'm bound to leave something out. We're talking a 30+ hour single player game here folks. I applaud that duration heartily especially after washing the bitter taste of COD4:MW2's 5 hour SP campaign. So it's clearly it's hard to fault AC2 but it's not impossible... the opening sequence and build up to going back in the Animus is far, far too long and tedious and the mandatory timed missions are the bane of the game (ugh), but that doesn't mean that AC2 is not absolutely THE game of the year and the sequel of the decade.

If you were put off by the first not quite working for you then don't hesitate to get this - it completely fulfils the promises of the first game and manages surpasses them beautifully.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Free Amazon Kindle Leather Cover

I read several positive reviews about Kindle2 before I purchased it and my expectations have been exceeded. It's easy to hold, read, turn pages, make notes, access the dictionary, move between books, change type size, search using google, and look for and buy Kindle books. Downloads are almost immediate.

Free books are available at the Kindle store. Free downloads of samples of books I'm considering purchasing is a great feature. There is enough to make an informed decision to buy or not so the samples have saved me money. I highly recommend the leather case. It protects the Kindle2 and makes it easier to hold.

The search feature is very useful in locating information to help my clients. I use it when I remember reading something that is relevant and want the actual passage. My only disappointment so far is having to turn it off for take off & landing when I'm travelling so I bring articles to read when my Kindle2 isn't available.

I am pleased I decided to purchase the leather case. I'm very particular about the condition of my books so obviously I wanted to protect my Kindle. It's pleasing on the eye, is made from good quality leather and it gives you the feel of holding a book as opposed to a mini computer. It's reasonably priced and arrived much faster than I anticipated.

I'd recommend that when you purchase your new Kindle, purchase the leather protection case at the same time.

Here's a movie clip in various colours.
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