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July 31,2007(TimeBanditTuesday)

In Today's "How To" in the band replacement series, we will show how to replace the regular clasp with a butterfly clasp.  This great looking polished stainless steel clasp is available directly from Strapped For Time.

A butterfly clasp opens when the locking buttons on either side are squeezed, opening it like the wings of a butterfly. In the closed position, the clasp is almost entirely hidden behind the band.

The two ends of the clasps are different.  One end is adjustable and the other is fixed.  The original fastener on the band must be removed before the fixed end can be attached.

The same forked tool used in the the band replacement project is used to remove the original fastener and to attach the fixed end.  To attach the adjustable end, the "cap" snaps back so the pin may be placed in the proper hole on the band.

Once the butterfly clasp is adjusted, the watch band will be properly sized and can be worn without having to search for the right hole each time.  Did we also mentioned that it looks great?

If you thought the Stainless Steel version of the Timex TX had a nice-looking clasp, you should see the orange band TX with the Strapped For Time's brushed stainless version of the butterfly clasp!  Come back on Thursday and see it in the final segment of this series.   - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 30,2007(BodyMechanicsMonday)

Laptops have replaced desktop computers for many people.  We ourselves have a large collection of them, and we even take some of them on the road.  Because we spend so much time with a keyboard, we have always emphasized proper ergonomics

However, it is difficult to attain good ergonomics when using a laptop because you can never quite angle the keyboard so that your hands are in a more natural position.  LapWork's Futura is a portable laptop desk which also does double duty as a desktop stand. 

We have been using it as such for a few weeks.  The stand is easy to set up and very stable.   The rubber pads are very "grippy."  None of the laptops we tried had any problems staying put at the stand's steepest angle position, not even the meaty 6lb Apple Pismo G4

The keyboard and trackpad were both much more comfortable to use at an angle.  With the Futura, every laptop can be an ergonomic laptop.  This is especially important if your laptop is your primary computer because carpal tunnel syndrome is no fun!

Our next report on the Futura will be on its performance as a "lap desk."  Look for it in August!  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 29,2007(LastSupperSunday)

We got a lot of emails over yesterday's little RainyDayProject and PLENTY of links.  One such interesting link was from Derek Bair.  Apparently, Derek had been playing with Da Vinci's images for a while now and have compiled a bunch of rather intriguing observations regarding Da Vinci's Last Supper and the Mona Lisa.

Derek's site, various observations, and questions raised are fun even if you don't buy into all of Derek's conclusions.  We personally think that Da Vinci may have repeatedly reused various symmetries and "constructions" because they were a convenience, much like reusing code.  Also, we always thought it was kind of fun to leave hidden "Easter Eggs" in our postings for other to find.   Oh, if that was not big enough of a hint, then I don't what is? - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 28,2007(SuperimposeSaturday)

Photoshop is a great tool for manipulating images.  A lot of fun can be had using this piece of software.  One of our favorite feature of the product is the ability to superimpose and blend one image on top of another.  Recently, we have been playing with some Da Vinci paintings because we were interested in studing his use of perspective and symmetry.

In Da Vinci's painting, the Last Supper, both symmetry and perspective played some very interesting roles.  To further study this work, we decided to play around with an image of the painting in Photoshop...and came up with some rather fun little observations!

You can easily try this yourself: make copies of the image on different layers, change the opacity so you can see both layers, slide one layer around using the large dark rectangles as alignment guides.  LOTS of stuff lines up perfectly.   A lot of different new combinations get created.  Most of the combinations are probably just accidental, but some of them lines up amazingly well!

When we slid the image around, we did find one new face which emerged that looked A LOT like Da Vinci's self portrait.  The odd thing about this is the image is only visible if the mirror image was merged with the original! 

In the samples below, we isolated the relevant sections to make the appearance of the face more obvious.  Using the center white line as a guide, we noticed that when the image is shifted just so...the eyes will emerge!

A short motion clip of this would make it even clearer.  We might give that a try today if the forecasted rain storm does hit :-)  Anyway, the effect is pretty fun.  We wonder what else did Da Vinci hide in this painting?

Da Vinci was a major prankster...did he playfully hide an image of his likeness in the painting in this fashion?  It would be JUST the kind of thing he would do...a hidden message that would be understandable only when viewed as a mirror image (like his notes!)

Some have claimed that Da Vinci used himself as a model for the Mona Lisa... did he also embed himself in the Last Supper? We'll leave that for you to decide :-)  This is a fun little RainyDayProject for the weekend.  Let us know if you find anything else fun and unexpected! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 27,2007(FunFriday)

We love getting emails from our readers.  We especially love it when they send us pics for the RainyDayWinners gallery!  Yesterday we received the best RainyDayWinner pic yet... maybe we should have a contest for the "Best RainyDayWinner Pic ?"

Just a reminder...there is still time to enter this month's RainyDayPuzzler.  As for past winners who have not yet sent in their pics...well, you know what you need to do :-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 26,2007(TimepieceThursday)

Judging by the emails, a lot of readers are eager to see how the YES Cozmo would look with the new strap and clasp.  A few readers also suggested using the Cozmos as a starting point for a Steampunk watch project!  Hmmmm.....a great idea for a future "how-to" article! 

Today's "how-to" will focus on replacing the bands on the YES Cozmo with the Hirsch Carbon Fiber from StrappedForTime.  In the next article of this series, we'll show how to add a distinctive stainless steel butterfly clasp to the strap.

The difficult part with this project is getting at the "spring pin" holding the band in place.  It is possible to free the retaining pin using a tiny flat-head screwdriver, but there is a tool designed specifically for this purpose. 

This special tool has a flat tip which allows it to slip between the watch and the band. The split at the tip enables the retaining pin to be pushed down without slipping.  The next step is more "feel" than anything else.  You'll know when you have moved the pin out of the hole.  Take care that you don't let the pin shoot out as you free the band.  You will need them to reattach the new bands.

When replacing the old band, note which strap goes on which side. Typically, the strap with the clasp goes on the "12" position and the strap with the holes goes in the "6" position.  To reattach the new band: push the retaining pin down with the tool, slide the strap under the arm, gently move the strap until you "feel" the pin click into place.  Give the strap a light tug to insure that everything has "seated" properly.

This YES Cozmo now has a completely different look.  A little less "sporty", yet still very "high-tech", and definitely suitable for both work or play!  So if you are looking to give that favorite watch a quick "face lift", click over to StrappedForTime and pick out something that catches your eye.  It is a fun little RainyDayProject that anyone can do! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 25,2007(WowUsWednesday)

This week's WowUsWednesday link came to us from Steve R. of Akron Ohio.   Steve had been following our articles on watch maintenance and thought that RainyDayMagazine readers would get a kick out of this amazing site full of handmade Steampunk wristwatches!

The site is in Japanese, but you don't need to understand the text to enjoy these fantastic creations! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

Today we took possession of a shipment of the complete collection of Harry Potter audio books.  This series is published by Random House and is ALL read by Jim Dale.   As we mentioned on Sunday, we thought it would be interesting to listen to the ENTIRE series in one sitting!  Quick...somebody tell us how many CDs that is and how long it would take to listen to the entire series?

BTW, what we had failed to mentioned to our Summer intern is that we thought that it would "interesting" for her to listen to the entire series in one sitting :-)  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 24,2007(TechToysTuesday)

Last Thursday we gave everyone a quick preview of the Hornet3.  Those of us who were not consumed by Potter fever were busy earning our Hornet3 pilot's license. 

The Hornet3 is a tiny helicopter perfect for indoor flying.  Click on any of the images for a closer look at the various components (RC controller, main rotor, rear stablizer).

Before we could get this bird in the air, we needed to charge up its internal Li-Poly battery.  The charging cable is built into the RC controller and conveniently allows the unit to double as a charger for the Hornet3.  The charging port is integrated into the underside of the body of the helicopter.

The green LED indicates charging is in progress (red indicates power). Charging is complete when the light goes out.  It took about 20 minutes to fully charge the battery.

Once the Hornet3 helicopter was fueled up, we gave the manual a once over, the controls a quick "preflight" safety check, and powered up the bird.  The rotors roared to life with a flick of the left control stick.  We applied a little more power and we were off!  The rest of the day was spent inadvertantly dive bombing the cats and annoying those trying to read.

We can get the Hornet3 up in the air, but have yet to master getting it to go where we want it to go.   This tiny helicopter is great fun for indoor flying.  Just make sure you have a clear space to practice before attempting to navigate the cubical canyons! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

The object below showed up at the RainyDayMagazine's office on the same day as the Hornet3.  We thought it was a most interesting design for...well, we won't ruin the surprise for now.

Is it a remote control UFO? A USB-powered nuclear reactor? What is it???  Find out on our next TechToysTuesday! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 23,2007(MakeoverMonday)

When we announced that we were going to do a series on watch maintenance and upgrades, we asked for some suggestions on possible projects.  By far the most popular request was band replacement.  Quite a few readers also suggested we show how to add a deployment clasp to a standard strap.

For the band replacement article, we wanted to find a replacment for the diver-style bands on our YES Cozmo watch.   A big "thank you" goes to George M. for pointing us to the StrappedForTime site. StrappedForTime has a huge selection of great looking straps and clasps

After some discussion, we decided on two sets of straps (Hadley Roma Carbon, Hirsch Carbon Fiber) and the polished stainless steel push button deployment buckle.  The carbon fiber bands preserved the "high tech" look of the YES Cozmo and the polished deloyment clasp adds a whole different dimension to the entire assembly.

We received the items last Friday.  The quality of both the bands and the clasp definitely exceeded our expectations.  The straps are thickly padded, cleanly stitched, with well finished edges.  The clasp is heavily plated and highly polished.  Click on any of the images for a closer look.

In the upcoming band replacement "how to" article, we'll show you how to remove the band on the watch and replace it with one of these new straps.  We'll also show how to remove the buckle and add the deployment clasp.  Replacing the straps and adding a clasp are great ways to update an old watch or give a different look to a new one.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 22,2007(WeekendEdition)

VERDICT: Satisfiying read, worth the wait

Both our grammatically-correct Contributing Editor and our sassy-yet-fun-to-have-around West Coast Intern spent the the ENTIRE day yesterday reading the last installment of the Harry Potter series, all seven hundred and fifty-eight pages of it. They are spending today in a bit of a haze/daze, just turning over in their minds the story; they can't even talk to each other about it yet...

Now that the final story has been told, we are going to watch all of the movies and reread all of the books in one go.  If we can get our hands on the audio books, we may have another "Potter Marathon" some time in August! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


In June, we had a RainyDayPuzzler asking if anyone could tell us what was different about our OtterBox laptop case.  We received about sixty entries, but only THREE correct answers. 

The "difference" is the Otter folder and pen accessory pouches on the top of case. This accessory converts the laptop case into a waterproof briefcase.  Very useful for when we need to securely transport papers and items of value other than a laptop.  Its slim profile will not interfere with the storage of most laptops.

The pouches are made of heavy cordura material, have strong stitching, and large velcro stripes across the back for mounting to the inside of the case.  To remove--contents and all--just pull.  

This accessory to the OtterBox waterproof laptop case is available directly from the OtterBox site.  It makes the OtterBox laptop case more versatile.  In fact, we think it is a "must have" addition.

BTW, since we have 3 different (1000, 3500, 9000) OtterBoxes on hand, we are going to send one to each winner.  Congrats! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 21,2007(WeekendEdition)

Harvard Yard was temporarily transformed into Hogwarts Yard last night.  An estimated 15,000 people were on hand to hear some very very bad but still entertaining bands (The Hungarian Horntails, Draco and the Malfoys, Harry and the Potters).  The crowd didn't seem to care.  They were there to share in the experience of the magic of Harry Potter.                     

Muggles and wizards mingled freely on the grounds well into the night.  Everyone was trying to find ways to pass the time until midnight when "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" went on sale. 

When it started to get dark, we left and headed to the Barnes & Noble at Chestnut Hill.  The store was at near capacity at 11:30PM.  People of all ages were milling about looking at everything but the thing they really came to see...the last Harry Potter book.

At the stroke of midnight, a horn sounded and the buying frenzy began.  Both Carolyn and Sarah were able to snag early copies because Carolyn had gotten there earlier in the day and got a low number.  I have not heard a peep out of them since.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 20,2007(FotoFriday)

As most readers know, we have been doing a series of repair articles on the Canon S2 camera.  Many of you have written an asked about the different lens attachments and accessories for the S2.  We are going to take a look at a bunch of them...starting with these handstraps from Fotodiox.  Fotodiox is a big seller on Ebay. Check out their offerings there for the best prices!

We got two different straps from Fotodiox.  Both are light weight, easy to mount, and very reasonably priced.  In order to use either strap, the neck strap on the camera must be removed as the hand straps mount using the eyelets on the camera.

The first strap was easy to attach and adjust.  The base attaches to the bottom of the camera via the tripod mount.  Built into the base is another threaded hole so the camera can still be attach to a tripod.

The second strap took a little more work to get on.  The straps itself was a little wider than the S2's eyelet.  We managed to pull the strap through with the use of the needle-nose pliers.  The main difference with the second strap is the extra adjustable wrap around the wrist.

The first strap looks to be simpler to use as no adjustment is needed.  However, the second strap does feel more comfortable to use...especially in allow the hand to swing away from the camera's grip without the camera fallin out of our hands. We'll use both strap and report back on our preference. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 19,2007(TechToysThursday)

This little snippet of news is for those of you out there who do not care about the iPhone or Harry Potter.  A package containing a cool-looking RC helicopter showed up at the office yesterday.  This HobbyTron unit is even smaller than the MicroMosquito we played with back in February.

The Hornet3 comes complete with the helicopter, remote control, and spare parts.  You will need six AA batteries (for charging the Li-Poly battery inside the helicopter and powering the RC unit).  Normally, everyone will be fighting over the controls.  I will take the opportunity to play with this over the weekend while everyone is reading! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 18,2007(WowUsWednesday)

Do we really have to tell you that the final book of the Harry Potter series will be coming out at Midnight this Friday?  We didn't think so!

The crew at RainyDayMagazine will be revelling in Harvard Square this Friday evening, partaking of all countdown festivities.  The interns will also be in line at Barnes & Noble in Chestnut Hill for the midnight purchase of the book.  Carolyn and the interns drafted up a detailed plan (hmmm...why couldn't all the projects here be this well planned???) for this weekend:

  1. We attend the Harry and the Potters thing in Hahvihd Skway-uh on Friday evening, enjoying ourselves until exhaustion or hunger overtakes us.
  2. We retire to the office until 11:48pm, at which time we drive to the Barnes and Noble in Chestnut Hill, where we will have previously obtained our pre-order tickets for one book each.
  3. We take the money from petty cash and buy the books (at a steep discount because we are Barnes and Noble members).
  4. We rush back to the office, declare our reading spaces, and open the book.
  5. We read until we fall asleep, then we wake up and continue on reading until the books are completed.
  6. When all of us are finished (and no one has said anything to the other about ANY thing in the book), we take the rest of the money in petty cash and go out to eat and discuss book (or perhaps not discussing it in public, since we may be surrounded be people who do not have as good a Harry Potter plan as us and therefore have not been able to get to the bookstore on opening day and we wouldn’t want us to spoil it for them).
  7. We sit there semi-stupefied, saying “Wow, I can’t believe it ended that way,” over and over again until The Managing Editor (TME) can’t take it anymore and says “Enough! It was a good book, okay already. Let’s go make a radio out of a potato(e).”
  8. We go back to our normal lives.

Just so everyone is aware, there will be no updates to the site this weekend as everyone here will be nose deep in the book. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 17,2007(TravelTuesday)

Frequent travel is part of our job.  Sometimes we hop on a plane, but more often than not, we jump into the Boxster and head on out.  Our problem is not just what to pack, but which bag to pack?

Different folks here have their favorites, but the two bags I take most often are the Tom Bihn Aeronaunt and the Ego.  I take them because they are tough, great looking, and AMAZINGLY ROOMY. 

One thing I have noticed is I definitely tend to bring more stuff when I travel by car than when I fly.  Perhaps this is the reason why I reach for the Tom Bihn gear.  The Aeronaunt and the Ego lets me keep my gear well organized without having to worry about running out of room.

For a recent two-day trip, I packed the clothes and gear you see below.  The clothes were comfortably accommodated in the main section of the Aeronaunt.  The side pockets were used for power bricks and AC cords.  The Aeronaunt could have easily taken on twice as much stuff.  The Ego had separate pockets for all of the gadgets (Blackberry, GPS, desktop tripod, ipod, laptop, etc...). After we took this picture, I realized that we didn't even show the headphones, backup camera, magazines, and bluetooth headset which were all still in the bag.

We think Aeronaunt-Ego duo from the Tom Bihn collection is a great travel combination. Those who roam about frequently should definitely consider this set.  With some careful packing, we think we can live for a week or two out of these bags.  Hmmm...that may make for an interesting article.  We ARE heading to Spain for a couple of weeks in the Fall:-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 16,2007(MobileMonday)

Being mobile often means being away from a power outlet.  We have reviewed a lot of gear over the years designed to power gadgets such as cell phones, iPods, and laptops when an AC socket is not within reach.  The XPower MobileMini we mentioned last June is such a portable power source.

The recent trend of standardizing on the use of the mini-USB connector has eliminated the need to carry a different charger for each piece of gear.  However, this does not solve the problem for older gears which may still be in use.

Tekkeon's has solved that problem with the myCharger USB power adapter.  It comes with adapter tips for most of the popular devices.  We'll take a look at the Tekkeon myCharger a little closer next week.  If you can't wait for the tech details, jump to the Tekkeon site and check it out now.- Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

Another problem with laptop computers is they sometimes get so hot they can fry your lap.  Some people here use the Belkin CushTop when sitting on the couch, but the CushTop is too big to take on the road.  For a mobile lap saver, LapWorks' Futura is a very good solution.

The Futura is a lightweight stand designed to be useful when at a desk and on the road.  The slots provides plenty of air circulation. The rubber pads keep the laptop from sliding around

This laptop accessory's simple elegant design looks useful enough that we are going add it to our travel-gear packing list for the Summer.  Check back in the Fall to see how it performed out InTheWild. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 15,2007(WeekendEdition)

The stainless steel version of the the Timex TX 770 was a little big for our wrist.  We estimated we needed to remove 3 links on one end and 2 links on the other.  Removing the excess links was a simple procedure.  The difficult part was not accidentally scratching the band when trying to poke the pin out.  To do this properly, it is best to purchase a pin removal tool.

The removal tool has slots that allow the band to both stand up and lay flat so that the pin can be easily accessed.  The best way to remove the retaining pin is to first push it in a little, then use the pin removing tool to push it all the way out

To remove the pin, lay the band flat in the removal tool and line up the pin on the tool to the pin hole on the band. Turn the knob on the tool to push the removal pin into the hole, which will push the watch's retaining pin out the other end.  The band is held with even pressure on the sides so it will not slip. 

When the "locking notch" on retaining pin is out, the pin should just slide out the rest of the way.  To keep the clasp in the middle, it is best to remove a few links on each side.  This means the pin removal process usually has to be performed four times.

To reattach, just push the pin back in using the flat end of some object.  We used the flat end of a tool we had on hand.  Another way to replace the retaining pin is to tap it in with a small tapping hammer (which we didn't have).

The entire project took about 35 minutes.  It could've been done without the removal tool, but that would have taken longer and stood a greater likelihood of something slipping and scratching the band.  And that is a risk not worth taking with a a quality watch.   - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 14,2007(WeekendEdition)

RainyDayMagazine first mentioned Timex's new TechnoLuxury line back in 2006.  Since Feb 2007, quite a few of us have had a chance to wear and evaluate this new Timex watch.  We have worn it during work, on vacation, and even while working in the RainyDayGarden.  The distinctive orange band, black face, and stainless fittings got plenty of looks and positive comments from those interested in fine watches. 

Everyone has heard of Timex, but most were surprised to learn that Timex had a luxury line.   We were happy to talk about the watch and not surprisingly, all responded favorably to the design, features, and the feel of the TX.

In the upcoming InTheWild review of the Timex TX, we wanted to show a some of the different band/bracelet options available in the line. Since we also planned to write up a "how-to" on adjusting and sizing a watch band, we thought we would take the opportunity to preview of the Stainless Steel TX we'll be using to show how to adjust a watch bracelet for a perfect fit.

When working with fine watches, it pays to invest in the proper tools.  Using the proper tools will reduce the possibility of accidentally scratching the finish of the watch.  Proper tools will also make the entire process more enjoyable and successful.  Isn't that the whole point of doing it ourselves?

Properly sizing a metal watch bracelet is a project that anyone can do in less than an hour.  This is a fun starter RainyDayProject for those interested in doing their own watch-related maintenance. We should note that for those interested in pairing aftermarket bands with the TX, we would recommend purchasing the TX 730 series, as the 770 series has a non standard band. Timex says they will have different 770 series replacement bands available, but we have not found any shops which carry them as of today.   - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 13,2007(FineFeatheredFriday)

The delivery of birthday gifts interrupted the flow of the office for most of the day yesterday.  In the midst of all the celebrating and the well wishing, someone noticed an interesting item in the pile of presents which we thought we would of interest to many RainyDayMagazine readers.

Carolyn received a book of Bird Songs (250 North American Bird Songs) which came with its own audio player.  The player has a built-in speaker, control buttons, and an LCD display.

To hear the song of any of the birds in the book (finches, sparrows): first note the bird's number, press the selector until that number shows up on the LCD, then push the play button to hear the song.

Some may remember our photo of the Blue Heron from Walden Pond. This is what its cry sounds like.  Somehow we would have expected something a little more...majestic?  Well it is what it is :-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

July 12,2007(ThruTheLensThursday)

Birdwatching is a popular activity all over the world.  Even in our office there are a few who spend their fair share of the work day looking out the window at one interesting feathered friend or another.  Often by the time everyone gathers around to look, what was interesting is no longer there. 

Today is Carolyn's birthday, our senior copy editor who does a very good job of hiding our failures in proper possessive word forms from the world...send her your birthday wishes here.  Carolyn had been dropping hints that she would really like a pair of binoculars, so that she could actually see the birds she was looking at and not just squint in their general direction.  Of course, this was the perfect excuse the gadget-geeks needed to spend a week looking for binoculars with a combination of features THEY would (want for her) in a pair of peepers.  The fruit of this extensive research was the Meade CaptureView CV-6.

The Meade CaptureView is not just any pair of 8x30 binoculars.  It has a 3.2MP digital camera, can capture videos, has 32MB of memory, a flash card slot, and it is waterproof!  We'll tell you more about it later...we have to go wrap this back up and give it to her.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 11,2007(WowUsWednesday)

Corporate lawyer to Lego artist...this is the career path of Nathan Sawaya.  We think he definitely moved up! 

Nathan buys his bricks from Lego in bulk.  In his studio are millions of the little pieces, some assembled, others sorted by color neatly stacked in bins.  Check out some of Nathan's creations... Brooklyn Bridge, Liberty Statue, etc...

We urge our readers to look for Nathan's touring show, The Art of the Brick, coming to a museum near you in the US.

The world could use a lot less lawyers and a lot more artists.  If you have made a similar move up in your career or know of someone who has, drop us a line.  We would be happy to share the inspiration.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 10,2007(WatchToolsTuesday)

The topic of watches is near and dear to many here at the office.  Judging from the emails we get from you, it is fairly high on your list as well.  When we asked what you would like to see covered in our RainyDayProjects, simple watch maintenance and repairs were mentioned again and again. 

This Summer, we'll review some typical watch repair tools, show you how to adjust the band for a perfect fit, and to open a few different types of cases to replace the battery.  In the Fall, we'll try to replace a broken crystal or something along those lines.  If you have a particular task you would like to see covered, drop us a line!   - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 9,2007(MediaConversionMonday)

When we mentioned we were using the NeurosOSD to record videos for playback on the Harman Kardon Guide+Play, we didn't realize that there were so many of you out there wanting to do the same!  Instead of replying individually to all the emails, we will give a quick overview of our setup and workflow for such a task...your specific rig may be different depending on your gear and needs.

We use the NeurosOSD to record from DVDs, movies purchased via Cable, live TV...pretty much any video source of interest.  The OSD can pipe the data to an SD card, a USB drive, or even a networked storage connected via ethernet (not verified).

Recording directly to a flash memory card is convenient if your playback device can accept a CompactFlash or SD card.  However, we have had mixed success with this method, but have not really isolated the root cause of the problem.  It may be we exceeded the storage of our 2GB card, or there may be a problem with the version of firmware on the OSD that we are using.  Our recommendation is to record to an external USB drive.  Having the data on an external drive makes it much easier to move it around, especially if more conversion is needed post data capture.

Since our playback device (iPod, MP4 player, etc...) is not directly supported by the NeurosOSD, a little further manipulation was required to get everything to work.  The transcoder we use is called MediaCoder.  If any readers have found something similar on the Mac, we would love to know about it!

A typical 90 minute movie takes up around 500-700 MB, so we can get two full length feature film on one 2GB SD card.  Two cards' worth of movies should be sufficient entertainment for a typical outing:-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 8,2007(WeekendEdition)

We discovered Sophia's Grotto a few years ago and have been back many times since.  It is our favorite neighborhood restaurant for many reasons.  The food is delicious, the prices are very reasonable, and the atmosphere is wonderful.

In the Summertime, the restaurant has outdoor seating on the brick patio and along the wall.  This year they have added some large umbrellas to deal with the unexpected New England weather.

The courtyard is shared by a few restaurants, but it is never too loud or too crowded.  There is plenty of on street parking, and a free public lot just a two-minute walk away.  Any time is good for a meal, but the prettiest time is around dusk when it is dark enough for the lights to come on. 

The owners, Sonia and Joe, are always out greeting the patrons.  For directions and hours, check the info listed here.  When you go, tell them the folks at RainyDayMagazine sent you, you'll get a good table...OK, they are all good tables :-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 7,2007(WeekendEdition)

Eating locally grown food is both good for the local economy and good for you.  The food is fresher, tastier, and better for you.  In the Summer, the best place to get locally grown food is at your Farmer's Market.

In Roslindale, the Farmer's Market has been growing steadily for the past several years.  This year, the market has grown so big that it was moved into the town's main square.

There are now all kinds of vendors at the Roslindale Farmer's Market.  The stands are stocked with all sorts of seasonal produce, flowers, and tasty baked goods.  This year, there are also local artists offering hand-made crafts.

If you are looking for something fresh this summer, whether it be a few juicy tomatoes or a new barrette, you should head down to Roslindale Square on Saturdays between 9 and noon and check out what's happening in the town center.  It's (s)hopping!  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 6,2007(FindItFriday)

YouTube is the place to go for all kinds of videos on the web. Searching on the computer is how most people do it, but sometimes you'd just rather do it while lounging on the couch.

If you are looking for something specific, you can try browsing iTunes with Apple's iTV, but you'll probably have a better chance of finding whatever you're looking for on YouTube.  In order to browse YouTube from the couch, you need the Neuros OSD.  Check out how easy it is with this clip...on YouTube, of course.

For the past month or so, we have been slowly making copies of our DVD collection for viewing on the Harman Kardon Guide+Play.  The more we use this device, the more amazed we are at what it can do...but that is an update for another day :-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 5,2007(July4th Holiday)

There was way too much eating of the hot dogs yesterday (Chestnut :66 beats Koby :63 ...USA now holds the World Record and the title!!!) so we gave everyone the day off today...see you tomorrow! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

This month's RainyDayPuzzler will favor long-time readers. Study the photo above.  The reader that correctly names the most items in it that have been reviewed on RainyDayMagazine by the end of July will win one of them.  When you think you have named them all, send us an email with the subject line "I've got a grip on them all."  In the body of the email, include the links to the reviews. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 4,2007(July4th)

RainyDayMagazine and 10,000 of its closest friends were on hand at Castle Island to celebrate the annual turning of the USS Constitution.

Happy 4th of July!!!

This event is well known to the residents of South Boston and surrounding neighborhoods, but is otherwise kept "secret" from everyone else :-)  This year, you can watch a clip of the firing of the guns captured using our repaired Canon S2. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 2,2007(MuseumMonday)

Here is a museum tip for you out-of-town RainyDayMagaziners:  The new ICA museum is now open.  We grabbed this shot when we were down there a few weeks ago wandering around.

This brand-spanking-new museum building is a must see for anyone interested in contemporary art.  It is located on Boston's newly developed waterfront and is easily accessible by public transportation. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 1,2007(ServiceIsKingSunday)

Rewarding companies which provide good service by continually purchasing their products is one way we customers can influence the kind of behavior we want from them.  By now, many of you have read about the differing iPhone purchase experiences at the Apple Store vs that of ATT.  When we are ready to get iPhones for everybody here at RainyDayMagazine, we know where we are going to go...

The same can be said of after-purchase support.  We have written about the great service we have received from companies such as 180s and SimpleHuman.  Both of these companies promptly handled our warranty repair claims.

When our $2500 Apple Cinema display went on the fritz, Apple sent us a custom shipping box complete with paid return shipping.  The unit was repaired and retuned in less than a week.

However, our recent experience with Hanns G's idea of warranty service is completely different. While offering a 3 year warranty on their LCD monitor may sound great on paper, getting Hanns G to actually come through on it has been worst than pulling teeth blindfolded.  Apparently, we are not alone in this situation.  Keep sending in the emails of your experiences, we'll figure out where to go next with this pile of documentation. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


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Rainy Day Magazine is a Publication of Rainy Day Entertainment© 2007