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December 31, 2004

With South Asia's disaster still unfolding , it is difficult to celebrate and ring in a new year. In a tragedy where we have no "enemies" to point to for retribution or technology we can deploy for prevention, we come to understand the clear limits of our abilities. We can shake our heads and remark in our helplessness or we can step up and offer a hand to help.

Tragedies such as this tsunami puts into perspective the petty conflicts that often dominates the headlines. It connects us to those we know nothing about and reminds us that ultimately we are all part of the same fabric.

In pulling the world together in a common experience, for a brief moment, we get a glimpse of the potential and strength of a united humanity.

In some small way, it's a hopeful start to the new year.  We wish you, our readers, all the best in 2005!

If you want to help, here's a link to CNN's list of organizations. If you can't choose one, the America Red cross (http://redcross.org/) is a good place to start.


December 24, 2004

Happy Holidays to all our readers! We'll be off for a few days.


December 23, 2004


If you are in Boston and are looking for some great food... go check out the what's cooking at the BlueRoom in Kendall Square. Tell Nick that Wan sent you :-)


December 22, 2004

Walmart made an amazing product announcement yesterday...a 14" Windows XP laptop for $548.00! This laptop has built in WiFi, 40GB, and DVD drive.

You can find out more about this here.


December 20, 2004

Travelling to a different country is exciting...new foods, new languages, and sometimes new power systems. If you travel with a lot of digital gear, then you need to plan ahead to make sure you have the right adapter/converters to enable you to plugin and recharge your hardware.

There are a lot of converter types available. The three that I have covers most of the world. Some of them work with just one system, others will adapt to multiple types. I like the ones that don't have pieces to lose. If you plan to plug in things like laptops and power hungry devices...get one with a fuse. You can find a lot of different ones here.


December 17, 2004

The future is digital, it's tapeless...and it's here. This week we showed how to record TV shows directly to your computer and play it back on a PDA. Now those tapeless digital camcorders (Sony DSC-M1, JVC MC200) we mentioned back in Sept are finally hitting the stores!

There is a complete review (sample images, video, product pics) of the JVC MC200 on I4U's site. As expected with first generation products...JVC got some things right (video quality, size) and some things need improvement (battery life, price). We hope to bring you a head to head comparison of the Sony and the JVC units early next year!

It is near the end of the year and reading the review about JVC's videocam reminded me it's a good time to update the "Insurance Video". What is the "Insurance Video"? It is the video of all the "stuff" I have in and around the house...especially of the new stuff I have accumulated since last year's "Insurance Video". You know... the video that I will give to the insurance company documenting all my "stuff", should something happen to it.

One can use a digital camera...but I find it easier with a digital videocam because I can describe the items as I am videotaping it (condition, date of purchase, price, etc...). Once I'm done taping, I pull out the "erase prevention" tab on the tape, label it, and put it in the safe deposit box...at the bank :-)

If you own a business or work for one, you might need something a little more extensive. If you do, you might want to take a look at this publication... and YES, I'm talking to you folks down in Florida!

This catalog (Disaster Recovery Yellow Pages) is THE definitive listing of disaster recovery resources (planning, equipment, services, supplies, etc...) throughout the US. Give Gordon Fontaine a call to get a copy. Tell him Wan at Rainy Day Magazine sent you! Put your planning in place now so you'll be ready if that "rainy day" turns nasty!


December 16, 2004

I have trouble pronouncing some words... words like "shark", "sharp", and "shock". I don't know why, I just do :-) I have recently figured out how to say "both" instead of "bof" by thinking about "booth" first. I have NO idea what's going on with "shark" and "sharp". The "r" gets all weird when I try to say it .

Don't ask me why I have no trouble with " A big black bug bit a big black bear, made the big black bear bleed blood" and can't say the work "shark"! Now if you want to try your tongue with some of these twisters... go here. Don't hurt yourself :-)


December 15, 2004

A lot of you have been commenting on the RainyDayMagazine ConvertXPVR reviews this past week. Well, we just finished the "Playback on your iPaq" segment today... I could have used it yesterday :-) Yesterday was my day for Jury Duty. I thought I had brought enough reading materials with me to fill up the day...but I was wrong :-)

What I really would have liked was to catch up on the recorded TV shows that I've not had the time to watch! By exporting the EyeTV recorded program, storing it on a CF card, and using PocketTV on the iPaq...we can be liberated not only from the time, but the location constraints of staying current on our favorite TV shows. Whether this is a good or bad thing...I leave that as a question to the reader :-)

Just know this...three one hour programs can fit comfortably on one Lexar 2GB CompactFlash card. Be sure that we'll be posting more projects with this card in the future! The iPaq screen was designed for outdoor use, so brightness, as you can see, was not a factor.

Playback with the Lexar CF card on the iPaq was excellent for mobile viewing. Go check out the RainyDayMagazine project and watch TV, not just whenever, but wherever you want!

At the beginning of the month, we mentioned Wired Magazine had a great review issue out called "TEST". Kevin Kelly over at CoolTools managed to convince Chris Anderson of Wired to give CoolTools readers an exclusive online link to a PDF version of the issue! Go check out Kevin's site, his books, and grab a copy of the file before the end of the year!


December 13, 2004

The Holiday Party season started this past weekend with the annual gathering at our friends Lisa & Jay's place. Jay served some tasty pheasants that he bagged over Thanksgiving. Lisa made her famous cupcakes...which were exceptionally good this year! This gathering has been a tradition for the "Core" group of friend for the past 8 or 9 years. About four years back, the group got too large for individual gifts so we decided to do a Yankee Swap. Now, if you have never experienced one...read these rules, get some friends together, and host one this year. I'm sure it will become a favorite part of your gatherings! Just one word of advise...don't bring any gifts that you don't want to bring home...just trust me on this :-)

Our friends at DogFish (see Nov 22) sent us some Old School Barleywine and Au Courant last week. We cracked them open and passed them around at the party. Both were delicious and perfect for this time of the year. If you can find some at your local store, we would definitely suggest you give it a try. However, besides being delicious...they also contain aobut 15% alcohol! So enjoy responsibly :-)


December 11, 2004

Many of you have made some great suggestions and comments regarding the site! We value your input and are constantly evolving the interface to make your visits more enjoyable!

We have added a direct link to a page with ALL of the "Bargain Sites" which advertises on Rainy Day Magazine. You will find the "Bargain Sites" link in two locations on this front page...the uppermost section of the right column and the middle of the left column. So, if you are going to shop online anyway... get there quick via RainyDayMagazine!  Most of the major sites are just a click away.... Amazon, Apple, Walmart, Kmart, Buy.com, and lots of others!  

Also, sign up to get email notification of  the “Deal of the Day”! The deals only lasts for 24 hours!  Featuring just one item...First Come, First Served....until they are gone.  A new “deal” is posted at midnight EST, the email notification goes out at 11:55 PM EST.  This will start on DEC 15th...sign up to make sure you don’t miss any great buys!


December 10, 2004

The South End of Boston, like a lot of other parts of the city, have been experiencing a lot of revitalizations the past few years. This year the South End Open Market is having their first Holiday Show for local artisans.

Our very own Carolyn and her Pure Bath line of aromatherapy products will be participating at this year's show. Pure Bath is announcing some new products at the show as well as selling holiday gift items.

Make some time this weekend...get yourself down to the SoWa area (500 Harrison Ave) and get your holiday shopping off to a festive start! [More...]


December 9, 2004

Some people are good at folding a sheet of paper into fun objects. Others are really good at it and can make really cool sculptures. Then there are people like Robert Lang that can articulate WHY and HOW to fold so the rest of us can make things we never thought we could!If you drop some hints...maybe somebody will get this book for you for Christmas! If not, you can pick up a copy here. In any event, you'll be all set for the next rainy day!

Here is another idea for a fun project..for indoors or out, rain or shine! The folks that put together the first World Wide Panorama event is calling for entries... between Dec 18 and Dec 21, take a 360 panorama and submit it for consideration.

The theme for this one is "Sanctuary". Go here for for info. Go here to see the panoramas from the first event.


December 7, 2004

This orchid bloomed over a period of two days... an image was captured every 15 minutes to create this time series.

By stacking all the images together, we made a QuickTime movie. This is another interesting way to see the changes in a time series. You can see the movie here.


December 6, 2004

A few days ago we pointed you to a site with photos taken by folks using Radio Controlled (RC) airplanes. Today, we are going to point you to the Discovery Channel's site where their Animal Planet section is featuring an eagle (Tilly) rigged with a wireless videocam so we can see its in-flight aerobatics.

There are some pretty cool in-flight videos of Tilly... you get a good perspective of what Tilly sees while making some dramatic aerial maneuvers.

It won't be long before we'll all be able to strap a remote cam to our pet's collar and get a glimpse of their wanderings :-) We are particularly curious as to where our cat Buffy goes after she crawls under the fence.


December 4, 2004

It used to be when we went away on vacation, we would program the VCR to record shows we didn't want to miss. However, we were limited by the length of the tape... at most we could only get 6 to 8 hours on a VHS tape. Then came Tivo and everything changed. All of a sudden, we were able to tape 40 hours of shows. This is great...but the data is still stuck inside the Tivo unit... which is fine unless you want to put it onto a CD or DVD. What we really needed was Tivo-like capabilities for the computer.

Plextor ConvertXPVR to the rescue. With the ConvertXPVR unit , you can turn your Mac or PC into a digital personal digital video recorder and record as much programming as you have hard disk space.

What can you do with a PVR? Just like a Tivo, you can watch, pause, and record live TV, but on your computer monitor! You can also use it to record shows the way you do with a VCR or DVR and play it back on your computer or the new generation of handhelds and media players.

We got a unit yesterday...in the next few weeks, we'll give you a series of detail reviews on the installation, daily use, recording, and coverting videos for viewing on a PDA of the Plextor ConvertXPVR unit. [More...]


December 3, 2004

Want to live past a hundred? There are a lot of new information on why some live longer than others. Three main factors emerged (genetics, exercise, and amount of calories you eat) in studies of groups with longer than average lifespans. It is hard to change your genetics...yet. Exercise is not for everyone. However, changing how much and what we eat is something that is possible for most people.

Dr Walford (PBS Special : Never Say Die) has a website with low-calorie nutrient-dense recipes and salads for those interested. So eat less, live longer... have more time to travel! [More...]


December 2, 2004

Everybody knows surfing the Internet on a Windows based PC is an open invitation to spyware, viruses, and other nasty things.

Get yourself an old laptop... like this 5 year old Sony Vaio PCG-505VE ultrathin (about $300 on EBay), follow along on this "Good Enough Gear" project , and make your web surfing worries free! [More...]

Walk all you want, but you don't have to worry that you'll get lost... not in the real world anyway.

This mobile floor came out of the research labs of the Univ of Tsukuba in Japan. The tiles have motorized wheels that moves, in combination with ultrasound and optical sesnors, to give the "walker" the sensation of motion. Couple that with the surround display...and you can have a "virtual nature walk" right in your living room!

Not every virtual trip is taken inside a computer. The pilots of radio controlled planes have been rigging up digital cameras with remote or timed triggers to capture some pretty impressive inflight images! John Ballou took this image of the Golden Gate Bridge with a Fuji FinePix A303 3.2MP camera on a LocalHawk IIL. My guess is it won't be long before we see RC plane capturing video with the new generation of small tapeless MPEG4 videocams! Check out the other images here.


December 1 , 2004

With digital devices "converging", sometimes it is hard to decide when the phone ends and the camera begins. Confused? Paralyzed? Have specs overload ? Wired magazine's special issue "TEST" to the rescue!

In it they examined 250 products in 13 different categories (PDA, MP3 players, laptops, digital camera, etc...), organized the results in an easy to understand format, and gave best/worst ratings for each category. READ it (available on newsstands now) before buying.


[November 2004...]

[October 2004...]

[September 2004...]


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