Category Gadgets

Smoothing out Hyperlapse videos

Considering the proliferation of 1st-person Go-Pro style video that is being shot, this processing algorithm developed by a team of Microsoft engineers is going to make a big impact. Full story here.

 

The iOS Battery Life – by a Genius Bar Genius

Filed for future reference: If you’ve ever struggled with the challenge of tracking down the cause of rapid battery drain on an iOS device, this excellent post by ex-Genius Bar technician Scotty Loveless is extremely thorough. (via Daring Fireball)

How to take great photos (hint – not with a smartphone)

Posting mostly for my own future reference – here’s a great article on how to get yourself a proper camera rig and shoot better pictures for less than a grand. Despite the title, some of the suggested body and lens combos will only set you back about $600.

I learned to shoot with a Pentax K-1000, a classic all-manual 35mm film camera, have owned a few OK point and shoots and have used a few high-end Nikon and Canon DSLRs for work. This looks like a great guide to getting close to top-end performance for a lot less than you’d think.

That said, there are a few things you can shoot with a midrange P&S or GoPro that DSLR’s can’t touch…

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Somehow Pebble is making a better smartwatch than gadget giants like Samsung and Sony

I love stories like this.

update Jan 6/14: Pebble just released the Pebble Steel line of smartwatches – much more of a classic look. $250.

pebblesteel

Product Idea: Radio Rewind

I’ve had this idea for a while, but listening to The Sunday Edition on CBC this morning I had a clear idea of the actual user experience. The radio was on, but I was in and out of the kitchen when I heard an interesting bit of an interview (NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, as it turns out). Just as I really began to pay attention, the interview was over.

It would be simple enough for radio manufacturers to add a little flash memory to their products and allow users to ‘rewind’ the live stream they are listening to. Most live-streaming video interfaces already have this feature. For your standard tabletop radio, imagine a couple of simple push buttons:

https://www.lucidchart.com/publicSegments/view/52a5037a-53f4-4052-86c5-4cdb0a00c811/image.png

Tap the 30 second button to go back a bit, or twice to go back a minute. The 5 minute button takes you back a bit further. The specific durations aren’t important, but that’s the simple idea. A car radio might have a slightly different interface as it already has multifunction knobs for volume and tuning. Tap the rewind button and use the tuning knob to roll back in 5 second increments.

I’m surprised someone hasn’t created this already – (update – Sirius has this in many of their models). I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve zoned out as they read the weather and don’t catch what the announce has said until they’re onto Peterborough and the Kawarthas. Or missed that artist name, or wanted to hear a really interesting 15-minute interview from the top.

update Jan 12/14: Just to note a couple more user stories to this – once you have set the rewind function it will continue to buffer and time shift your radio stream (i.e you will always be 30 minutes or whatever behind the live broadcast) until you a) turn off the radio b) press and hold one of the rewind buttons for 3 seconds (some sort of audio cue would confirm). Also, a slow-strobing LED would indicate when the radio steam currently playing is time shifted. A digital readout telling you exactly how many minutes the audio has been shifted might be nice, but seems like overkill.

TivoilModelOne

I prefer minimal but well thought-out interfaces, the less clutter the better. The Tivoli Model One (with the very handy addition of Bluetooth input) is a can’t miss example of a perfectly designed product.

The USB power revolution

This I like: the next major USB standard is called USB PD, which will be able to de (most importantly, smartly manage) up to 100W of juice. That’s a lot!

The biggest thing it means for you and I is the end of those bulky DC adaptors that seem to be required for every electronic device we own. USB PD can charge a laptop, intelligently manage a solar charger, control lighting, all kinds of stuff.

usb

I installed one of these in my kitchen a year ago below the shelf where my wife and I leave our cell phones (this one manages 10w / 2.1A) – expect to see these become the new standard starting in 2014.

 

Reverse Showrooming

Showrooming – the practice of cruising brick-and-mortar stores for a hands-on look at a product but buying it for less online – has been cast as a threat to traditional retail. Target went so far as to pull Kindle eReaders from their shelves to protest Amazon’s active encouragement of the practice.

My personal experience is quite the opposite. I’m a patient shopper. When I think of a thing I want to buy, I research the crap out of it. This is a lot easier with sites like The Wirecutter that can narrow down your choices to a few solid contenders and layer in some candid opinion. But when you find yourself looking at an unfamiliar product in a store at what seems like a reasonable price, what do you do? Of course, you pull out the smartphone and Google it.