Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Old Apple Promos

I suddenly wondered if some of the old Apple promos presenting a vision of the future were on YouTube.

The classroom of the future:

And this one!  We used to show this to freshmen students during their IT orientation at Emory University in the 80s.  Interestingly, the video implies that it's 2009.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Wow, a organic LED TV from Sony. It's three mm thick!

RIP Rick Wright

I only found out this weekend that Rick Wright died on 15 Sep 2008.

I never saw Pink Floyd in concert.  In the 90s they played at Grant Field during the “Pulse tour.”  I had taught a lab at Georgia State University that evening.  Afterward, I drove by the stadium and stopped briefly where I could see some lights and hear some of the music from North Avenue.  I should have gotten a substitute and gone to that concert.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Carmel is one of the more beautiful places I've seen over the years.  Imagine being simultaneously in the mountains and by the ocean, where trees smell like fruit and flowers are everywhere.  This is also a (the?) home of Thomas Kinkade for fans.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Android (Dream) Phone

So I received a new Android Dream phone for Christmas. Here are some initial thoughts after using it for about 3.5 weeks.

  • It's very neat.
  • The accelerometer still amazes me. I have a bubble level app which makes the phone into a bubble level that really works.
  • The GPS support is very neat, especially in conjunction with Google Maps while driving. The little blue dot tracked my wife and I right into the shopping center where we parked, into the very parking spot. The updates were very fast with high precision.
  • The downside is that GPS really sucks out a lot of power from the battery.
  • A major minus is that the battery barely lasts a day. If you use the phone much, a charge doesn't last a day. With only occasional use, it will barely make it to the end of the day.
Another minus is: Making calls is really hard. I'd say that making a call while driving is sort of like trying to change clothes while driving. Okay, I've never actually changed more than removing a sweater while driving, but I can imagine what it would be like. If I use this phone much in the car, I seriously doubt I'll live much longer. Granted, there's a voice dialing feature which has come and gone from various Android releases, and it's due in a coming release.

That said, I really miss being able to flip open my Razr and press a quick-dial key, basically by feel.

  • Having to constantly swipe the pattern to unlock the phone is annoying. I finally turned off screen blanking so that I have to blank/lock it manually with the red hang-up key. Okay, given I can swip the pattern with one hand whereas the Blackberry Curve requires two hands to key in the unlock password.
  • Voice quality while holding it is good.
  • The Bluetooth integration works well.
  • I had zero problem with WiFi so far. I was able to put it on my home net easily.
  • PacMan is a really neat game. BUT, I couldn't download it until I put in my T-Mobile SIM card and subcribed to the data service.
  • Data service is too expensive! 8-(
Overall I like reading on the Android phone less than on the Blackberry. On the Blackberry I've forced a serifed font which is beautiful on it's screen and perfectly readable. I can use the space bar to page down while reading.

On the Android, the pages are almost universally in a sans-serif font (i.e., in the native page font). I can zoom in by pressing the zoom button but this usually takes more than one try. For some reason, one finger will stop working and I have to use my other hand. I suppose it has to do with my hands being too cold or fingers too dry or something. So, using the touchscreen is sometimes wonderful and sometimes highly annoying.

Scrolling the touchscreen however is nearly always annoying when reading. Finger scrolling takes a lot of work and movement. Also, though the browser nicely reformats the text to fit the screen after zooming, scrolling with the finger will cause the column to slip left or right so you have to work to keep it centered. Arg. Scrolling with the track ball also works but it's never the right speed or sensitivity.

It's probably telling that, after all of that, I'm still using the Android and not the Blackberry to read. We'll see where I am after say six months or so.

Also, I think there are other browsers that I haven't looked into yet. It should be noted that most of my complaints about reading are related to the browser software and not the phone or Android itself. I think.

  • Having YouTube is really great and it works pretty well.
  • Having to flip out the keyboard for landscape is annoying. I've heard about improvements so that merely turning the phone will switch it, a la iPhone.
  • ShopSavvy is a pretty and highly useful app though I've only used it once, but it was correct and did help!
  • Gmail works. I am still using and responding to the message notification but I don't like keeping up with email that much. That's like the so-called Blackberry adiction that I've never had. On the Blackberry, the only time I check email is when I log into the Gmail app.
  • Gmail is nicely integrated in to Android and works well. I think I actually like the look and feel and functionality of the Blackberry version, though, especially the brand new one.
I'll add and report more later.

New MacBook

The new MacBook 13-in. Wow!

Okay, how did I become such a Mac fan…?

Hocus Pocus by Focus

Hah! Earlier I posted about Rick sending me a link to Frankenstein by The Edgar Winter Group. Everyone knows Frakenstein was a major hit in 1973. While I was watching it, I thought about Hocus Pocus by Focus which was also big on the radio then and which I always thought was pretty fun. Amazingly enough, after Frankenstein, You Tube popped up a link to a video of that very song!

ELP Videos

One of my favorite Emerson, Lake and Palmer videos, Take a Pebble from Belgium TV c. 1971 is back on-line! It's great because it's around the time they were new, it's based on the first album, and the performance really shows off their range of music and what they did with the traditional keyboards-bass-drums trio! (Compare to Vince Guaraldi, e.g., the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack).

Friday, January 09, 2009

Wireless Power

Hm, charging with magnetic induction.  It's an interesting idea.  I guess we don't have to worry about floppy disks any more since no one uses them.  What else is susceptible to oscillating magnetic fields?

One can easily argue:  Well, they are in every transformer! 

Three-D and Wii Head-Tracking

This video came to me via my brother from my nephew Brent.  This is amazing.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Perfect Pen?

I needed to buy a pen for a family member and it occured to me to do a little web search for the perfect writing pen.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Evening Planets!

I saw them! The Moon and Venus (easily) and Mercury and Jupiter (very dim, relatively, and close to the horizon). I forgot all about the apparition last night, New Year's Eve, but thought of it tonight while I was out and looked up and saw the splendor of the Moon and Venus.

I found a great place with a good horizon. For anyone that lives near us, the parking lot of the Best Buy, though there are shopping center lights below the horizon, provides a wonderful western horizon!

I saw two candidates for Mercury and Jupiter though I would have expected them to appear much brighter. It was about 18:45 EST and this is 1 Jan of course. I was also looking in the general vicinity of Hartsfield, so I waited to see if they seemed to move. In fact, they didn't move or twinkle so I concluded they were definitly astronomical and probably the planets.

Back at home just now, I consulted the Sky and Telescope interactive star chart (which now requires that you set up a login account) and verified that indeed I had seen all four bodies.

Center for Relativistic Astrophysics at Ga Tech

The Georgia Tech School of Physics has created a new Center for Astrophysics.