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February 28, 2006 (TravelTuesday)

Every year around this time, RainyDayMagazine heads to South Beach for a little fun and relaxation.  The time seems to be perfect this year as Boston heads toward the single digits.

We usually stay at the Richmond, but this year we wanted to try something new.  So we ventured a little further from the main drag and made our reservations at the newly renovated boutique hotel called Indian Creek.  We'll let you know how things are at Indian Creek... we are hoping to be able to post a few updates during the trip.

If you wanted to do some reading while on vacation but don't want to bring along thick copies of paperbacks, consider downloading some audio books from Jiggerbug.com.

We told you about JiggerBug.com last August when they had just launched the site.  They have been busily updating the service.  The site now offers the New York Times Best Sellers as well as the list from Oprah's Book Club.


February 27, 2006 (MakeItYourselfMonday)

The Canon Digital Elph is one of the more popular digital camera series on the market today.  We have been using the Canon S100 for about six years and it has been one of the most reliable digital camera in our collection.  The one problem with the camera is the rechargeable battery does not last very long.

We decided to convert a used up rechargeable battery into an adapter so it can be hooked up to an extended battery to power the camera.  We have written up the steps for those interested in doing something similar for their camera.

The steps should work for most types of digital camera that has an external power option.  Check with your camera for the specifics.

We'll are using the Tekkeon MyPowerAll as our external rechargeable power source.  The MyPowerAll is a very versatile rechargeable power source because of its selectable voltage and changeable tips.

You will need an extended battery if you want to keep up with the Urban Ninja. 

If you have not seen this guy...go check him out here!  Thanks goes to Becka (via Dave) for the link :-)


February 25, 2006 (WeekendEdition)

The office will be buzzing this weekend as everyone here is getting ready for the Year Of The Dog celebration.  Chinese New Year was almost a month ago, but we have not had time to celebrate RainyDay style until now :-)  Some of the RainyDayKitchen folks went out to a local market to shop for the stuff they needed for today's banquet.  We asked them to take a few snaps so we could share with you their shopping experience.

The best Chinese grocery market outside of Chinatown in Boston is the Super 88 in Allston.  They have pretty much everything one needs to make a dinner for four or forty.  We'll post more pics as they come in from the field :-)

The key to cooking for 30 is preparation...chop everything ahead of time,  make sure all the sauces are measured out, and don't let any one into the kitchen.

This was the first year that ALL of the food were consumed...and as Lisa said "This may be the Year of the Dog, but it sure wasn't the Year of the Doggie Bag!"


February 24, 2006 (FestiveFriday)

The folks in the RainyDayKitchen have been prepping all week for The Year of the Dog celebration this weekend.  These events are also be a good opportunity to try out some new products :-)

We love the flickering glow of votive candles , especially when we are having folks over for one of our famous RainyDayEvents!  Making sure all of the candles have been extinguished after the party is sometimes a hit or miss thing. 

With the Smart Candle, we no longer have to worry about some of our staff's more creative candle placements.


We realize it may be difficult to judge the quality of the "flame" from a still photo, so here are a few clips of the Smart Candle in action :-)

When the party is over and we need to get the RainyDayMagazine office's air quality back to a more "professional" state, we'll be plugging in the Aroma Pill from Method.

We have been testing this "pill" all week, but the REAL test will be this weekend :-)  Will it stand up to the stir frying, kung pao-ing, and god knows what else eminating from the RainyDayKitchen???


February 23, 2006 (TravelTechThursday)

Some of you may have been hunkered down at home during that huge snow storm a few weeks ago.  Not so for one of our contributing editors!  Carolyn raced the oncoming weather and found her way to the Elemis Spa so she could complete her assignment on "non gaming activities" at Mohegan Sun.

Unfortunately, Carolyn had to stay at Mohegan Sun the entire weekend due to the weather.  Fortunately, she was able to keep herself entertained by dining at fine restaurants and going to shows.  Carolyn also volunteered for RainyDayMagazine's South Beach SpringBreak assignment in March.  She is very dedicated :-)

On Tuesday, we reported we had been working on getting the SmartPhone version of the CoPilot GPS Live software up and running.  The first two parts of the CoPilot SmartPhone series are now posted.  First is an overview of the Motorola MPX220 SmartPhone.

Second is a review of the SanDisk miniSD card we needed for holding the GPS map data.  We'll have more on the CoPilot GPS Live installation process next week.


February 22, 2006 (WowUsWednesday)

Here is our good deed of the day...read on Gizmodo. Apparently, some nice folks found a Sony digital camera on Sunday (2/19) on Notting Hill Gate road in London.  They have created a website with some of the pics from the camera in hopes that the owner will get wind of it and go claim the camera. 

So forward this web experiment on to anyone you think may be able to help and let's see if we can get this camera back to its rightful owner :-)

An exotic sports car for less than $70,000?  Well...that is the base price (no engine or transaxle).  When fully optioned, the car will run closer to $100K.  However, it will do 0-60 in less than 3 seconds and tops out at 180 mph!

This beauty did not come out of the RainyDayGarage, but from Mullen Motor Company in LA.  If you are going to be in NYC on April 14, you can see one at the NY International Auto Show.  Look for us :-)

While not actually in the "Supercar" category, the British car make Lotus is making their vehicles "emission friendly" for the American roads.

How?  By putting in the Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine.  Surprisingly, the Lotus Elise will only be around $45K!  Of course, you will lose a few seconds going from 0-60 compared to the Mullen, but you can get two Elise for the price of one Mullen.  We know, we know... sometimes it is not about the price :-)


February 21, 2006 (TechTuesday)

Many of you have been following along our CoPilot GPS project with the iPaq 3850.  This week we are going to take a small side step and install a version of the CoPilot on a Motorola SmartPhone.  

Our main interest here is to evaluate the cellphone as a platform for GPS software.  If forced to choose just one device (cell phone, digital camera, PDA, laptop, etc...) to carry, most of us would opt for the cell phone.  Since many of you have asked us about this, we decided to take a closer look at putting a GPS on cellphone and determine whether that combination is an acceptible alternative to a dedicated system.

We installed the software on the SmartPhone and got it working with the CoPilot GPS Bluetooth module and software.  We have not had a chance to take it out for a spin yet. 

Once both the iPaq and the SmartPhone versions are up and running, we'll test them side by side. It should make for an interesting comparison!

To get everything working with the SmartPhone, we needed to pull together a few other pieces.  The MPX220 phone needed a type of Flash memory called miniSD.  We'll have a full review of the SanDisk miniSD card as part of this series.

We also had to assemble a few cables and misc devices (cardreader, laptop) so we could get all the applications loaded into the proper places.  If you don't want to be bothered by all of this, you can always purchase the CoPilot Live software and maps already loaded on a miniSD card.  We should have the full CoPilot Live SmartPhone series posted later this week.


February 20, 2006 (MusicMonday)

We love music here at RainyDayMagazine.  Unfortunately, none of us has any time to learn how to play an instrument.  Fortunately, our friend Junko's new year resolution was to learn how to play the guitar and has agreed to help us review a product called iPlayMusic.

We'll post a running log of her comments once Junko has had a chance to give the software a try.

What's music without the mood?  With SmartCandle, we can now create the proper mood without the associated hazards.

RainyDayKitchen reviewed a similar product from Vessel last year.  The difference between the SmartCandle and Vessel's Candela is that SmartCandle flickers like a real flame.  We'll post a video of this in the writeup later this week.

Of course, the type of mood lighting is dependent on the type of crowd.  After a few nips of the cooking sherry, the RainyDayKitchen folks will start reaching for the harder stuff.   At which point, flickering tea lights will give way to the glow of the Envious shot glass! 

Slam this glass down on any hard surface and the LED will glow brightly for a few seconds, signaling that a refill is needed.  We'll be testing these out at our Year Of The Dog celebration this weekend :-)


February 19, 2006 (SkinsSunday)

We got some pretty cool iPod nano cases recently.  These iSkin Duos come in a lot of different colors.  We have looked at a LOT of different cases since September and these are some of our favorites! 

We'll have a full write-up next week, but we thought we would put up a quick teaser for the weekend :-)

Last November we reported on a company called BestSkinsEver making iPod covers much liked the InvisibleShield... but costing less.  They have been improving their covers and now have a second generation of "shields" available.

We had sent a few off to some RainyDayMagazine readers, but they have not yet reported back on how the skins are holding up.  The folks here don't have any more uncovered iPods. 

However, since we got a cover for the PSP... I guess it is a good excuse to go out and buy one so we can test the cover :-)  We'll let you know how they are when we get it applied.

In the meantime, the InvisibleShield folks have not been sitting on their hands.  They have released their "Application Liquid".  This was the "mystery fluid" we reported on back last Oct.  The fluid came in the same package with the InvisibleShield we got for the LCD of a new Canon digital camera.

We are going to let someone who has never put one of these InvisibleShields on try their hands on applying one with the new liquid.  Look for the report next week.


February 18, 2006 (SportsSaturday)

RainyDaySports' own Jay Rogers was the victor in a recent Squash tournament at the Cambridge Racquet and Fitness Club.  Jay attributes part of his success his new fitness gear by UnderArmour!

Clearly the "moisture wicking" properties of the UnderArmour Performance Polo were put to good use that day.  We reviewed the UnderArmour Metal line a while back and were extremely impressed with their performance.

UnderArmour has been expanding their offerings beyond the underlayer category.  They now have an athletic gear for all types of activities.


February 17, 2006 (FineArtsFriday)

RainyDayMagazine had an opportunity to attend the press conference for the upcoming David Hockney exhibit at the MFA.  While many people associate the artist with his iconic landscape paintings, this press conference was to announce the first exhibit devoted solely to portraits painted by the artist.

The curators for this exhibition did an amazing job of presenting 162 of Hockney's portraiture works, spanning 50 years.  There are oils, drawings, watercolors, and photographs.  We encourage all our New England RainyDayMagazine readers to go and see this wonderful exhibit when it opens on February 26!  To get small preview, check out our RainyDayDestination report here.


February 16, 2006 (TuneUpThursday)

Memory upgrades are probably one of the most cost effective tune-ups one can do to make a computer run faster.  We did just that to the Apple G3 Pismo laptop we have been working on these past few weeks.

There are a LOT of memory vendors out there...it pays to go with knowledgeable vendors like RamJet which offers a lifetime warranty on their products.

In January, we showed how to increase the G3's internal drive from 12GB to 100 GB using the Seagate 2.5" drive, but we didn't just swap out the 12GB drive and leave it on the bench. 

We found an awesome $20 enclosure for it.  Now the 12GB drive is a great little pocket-sized external USB 2.0 compliant portable unit!  Go see just how easy it was to do this.


February 15, 2006 (WacomWednesday)

The Wacom Graphire4 Tablet came with both a wireless pen and mouse.  The tablet itself also has a scroll wheel and buttons.  Each of these different controllers can be individually adjusted to suit the user's preference.

We tested the wireless pen in a few of Painter's brush mode.  The "feel" was quite amazing! Go check out the FirstUse review here.


February 14, 2006 (Valentine's Day)

It's Valentine's Day.  If you have not decided what to get your girl, I have 3 words.... Spa Gift Certificates.  Most of the guys here at RainyDayMagazine have no idea why they work, but Spa Gift Certificates have magical powers :-)  Just give one to your sweetie and see what happens.

Here is another tip... there is a really great Spa at Mohegan Sun.  If you are dying to go play a little Blackjack, but your girl is a little reluctant...get her a gift certificate to Elemis.  It'll be our secret :-)

BTW... what are the top three things NOT to get you cutie pie??? The VERY top of the list is a gym membership.  If that thought even crossed you mind, go get the hammer and hit youself on the head with it.  Another is lingerie.  If she buys it, it's fine...if you buy it, it had better be in your size because it's not really for her, it's for you.  The last on the list is ANYthing with a plug.  We don't get it either, but these items have been time tested failures.  The basic rule for today is, don't try to understand it... just go with what works, go get a Spa gift certificate :-)


February 13, 2006 (MoheganMonday)

Today was our last day Mohegan Sun.  We've been here since Saturday afternoon, totally isolated from all the weather raging outside, checking out all of the "non-gaming" activities.  We have had a great visit but regrettably it was time to head back to Boston and dig out the driveway :-)


February 12, 2006 (MoheganSunday)

We had not planned on it, but it worked out that we spent the entire stormy weekend at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.  It actually turned out to be a fantastic way to ride out a storm!!!  We'll have a write-up of our trip in a few days :-)


February 12, 2006 (WeekendEdition)

This Saturday was the first New England Boxster TechFest organized by the folks from RainyDayGarage and Bentley Publishers.  The event was host by Bentley Publishers at their office in Cambridge MA.

RainyDayMagazine provided the Boxster.  Soheil Zendeh and Charles Burke from Bentley Publishers gave an informative series of technical talks and demonstrations (brake pads and rotor replacement). 

Wan Chi Lau from RainyDayMagazine gave a brief talk on Harman Kardon's Drive+Play iPod controller.  We met a lot of great folks from PPBB.  We already started thinking about doing this again in the Spring!

Now we need to get on the road and get down to Mohegan Sun in Conn before the monster snow storm turn the entire New England area in a giant snow bank.


February 11, 2006 (FurryFriendsFriday)

Is your dog a Zen Dog?  That was the question asked by Gordon Fontaine, founder of Boston's Zen Dog.  Zen Dog provides dog obedience training and behavioral adjustment services to folks in the Boston and surrounding areas.

We had a chance to chat with Gordon about his approach in helping a dog become a Zen Dog.  Go check out the RainyDayInterview here.


February 9, 2006 (TrackItThursday)

It has been almost a week since the astronaunts on the International Space Station (ISS) tossed the trash-stuffed SuitSat out into space.

Throwing the SuitSat out the space station is not as simple as one may think.  If not done properly, it can circle back in the other direction and smash into the ISS.

The suit was also equiped with broadcasting electronics to send messages and information as it heads towards earth.  These signals can be picked by ham radio operators all over Earth!  The SuitSat's path is being tracked here.

Everybody is encouraged to participate in this experiment!  If you are able to hear the message, go here to report it.

While we were surfing around looking at the Earth from space, we found a really cool site called Zillow. Like many other sites, this site will show a satellite view of a neighborhood from high on up.

The REALLY cool thing is if you enter in a specific address, it will give you the approximate value of the property and those around it!  This site is still in beta, so sometimes it will be down for upgrades.  Property values in Boston have been going crazy these past few years.  It's fun for us here in MA to track the steady increase in property values and come to the realization that we really can't afford to live where we are living.

There are some rumors floating around the web that Apple will be releasing a new Video iPod with a full screen.  It is also rumored that the click wheel will be done via software on a touch sensitive screen.

The folks here at RainyDayMagazine thought that should be simple enough to mock-up...so here it is :-)


February 8, 2006 (WowUsWednesday)

This link showed up in our emailbox this morning...we were stunned.  This is not a set on StarTrek, but Tony Alleyne's apartment.  Tony may have overstretched his credit just a tad to create this 24th century renovation as he maxed out his 14 credit cards.  He is available if you want the same conversion for your current living quarters.

If you want to go a bit more low tech, but still want major geek appeal, then perhaps building your own computational device out of LEGO blocks will be just the thing. 

It will still fill up your apartment, but it probably won't max out your credit card...just your patience.


February 7, 2006 (TrainingTuesday)

Most RainyDayMagazine readers are avid photographers.  We have both professionals (Gary Barsomian, Andy Martinez) and amateurs.  Regardless of their skill level, they will find something of value at the Lexar Digital Photography site.  This site has quickly become our favorite digital photography destination.  We love the huge range of articles available!  Go take a look if you have not already.

We just got a 400GB drive from Seagate yesterday.  We needed some room on the tech bench and were cleaning out old gear when we came across an Apple 2GB hard drive. 

The Apple hard drive was made in 1996.  We thought it was interesting to contrast what 2 GB looks like now in 2006! 

Many of you have asked just WHERE are we going to put that 400GB Seagate drive?  We got it for the MediaCenter project.  So we wanted to find a case that would fit with the look of the Mac mini.

ADS Tech has just the case we needed.  This case will take any 3.5" IDE Ultra DMA 33/66 or ATA-100/133 drive and make it USB 2.0 compatible.  Go take a look here

In the DriveInstall write-up, we'll putting a Seagate 400GB drive into this case.  We'll also be taking a look at the Intech UTILITIES which came with the ADS case a little later in the week.


February 6, 2006 (MakeItYourselfMonday)

The next step in RainyDayGarage's Carputer project is to create a DC power connection for the Mac mini computer.  The benefit is the computer can be trickle fed some power even when the car had been turned off...leaving the carputer in "sleep" mode.  The carputer can then instantly start up without going through the lengthy boot process.

The problem everyone has at this point is not how to power the computer, but how to get a hold of the weird little power connector for the Mac mini.  Some have decided to cut the connector from the AC power adapter which came with the Mac.  Others have decided to just stay with the DC/AC inverter.

We decided we would buy another AC power adapter and remove the cable at the source.  It was also an excuse for us to take apart the adapter to see what was inside :-)

We are hoping we'll have time to hook everything up so we can show it off on Saturday at the New England Boxster TechFest!


February 3, 2006 (FieldTripFriday)

We've decided to do things differently on RainyDaySports in 2006: instead of doing individual FirstUse reviews for each piece of gear, we'll be taking a bunch of gear with us on planned outings and reviewing them as a group.

RainyDayMagazine got a reservation at the Wentworth Inn in Jackson, New Hampshire for a couple of nights.  We didn't get as early a start as we would have liked, but we managed to get all the gear into the Boxster and got on the road around 11am.  It took about 2 hours to get there from Boston.

We got to the Wentworth Inn in mid-afternoon.  There was plenty of daylight left for us to take a look around.

The next day we headed out to The Great Glen Trail for our snowshoe trek.  The folks at the Inn assured us this was the best place to go since Great Glen had really good snow making equipment.

It was not a very busy day so we were able to check in and were on the trail in less than 15 minutes.  We thought we would hike around on the groomed trails (green) in the morning and head out to the backcountry trails (orange) after lunch.

After lunch we decided to hike the Aqueduct Loop.  This loop had some mild elevation changes and should take us through some woods and some open fields. 

Finally we all emerged out of the woods intacted.  There was still some daylight left, but I think most of the afternoon will be spent soaking in the jacuzzi back at the Inn :-)

Go read the entire Winter Outing report here.  For the next outing, we'll be heading to South Beach for Spring Break and to check out some Summer gear.  This is exhausting work!!!


February 2, 2006 (TripReportThursday)

We know we have been covering a lot of tech stuff lately.  Some of you have let us know in no uncertain terms that you want to read more travel related stuff:-)  Since we are EVER so responsive to our readers, we have decided to give you a preview of February's RainyDayDestination now instead of when we got back :-)

Many of you readers enjoy visiting casinos and most would love to bring your significant other.  Quite a few of you have asked us to recommend non-gaming/alternative activities for your spouses and partners at various gaming establishments. 

As part of our 2006 RainyDayDestinations reviews, we have decide to take on that project first hand!  Yes...we are going to let some of the folks here take a break from installing software on 5 year old machines, trying to install the latest Bluetooth gear on discontinued hardware, and thinking of ways to backup a 400GB media server with a push of a button :-)

Instead, we are going to send them to Mohegan Sun in Conneticut for a few days to check out all of the non-gaming alternatives at the casino.  We are going to make them go to shows, eat at different restaurants, get wrapped in things and soak until they get all wrinkly.

I was bracing myself for the complaints, but since the project was announced last week, everyone has been strangely nice to me in the office.  Frankly, I'm a little worried.


February 1, 2006 (WowUsWednesday)

There was a lot of press about this OLED keyboard project a few months back.  It looks like a small 3-key version of that idea (Optimus) is going to ship this May. 

These keys with micro displays are not just really cool looking, they are an interesting extension of an applications user interface. 

The obviously cool part is each key has its own little display and are configurable to "do something" when pressed.  Thus instead of having function keys that are labeled F11 and F12, we can have an icon of its actual assigned function.  Of course, as the top image indicates, the function can be a macro such as "Get Mail".

Artemy Lebedev (above) is the designer of this project.  There is a team of 12 other folks involved (hardware, software, etc...).

Imagine if when you launch a word processor or web browser, all the displays on the function keys show a different icon for your favorite short cuts!  Another potential market we see is building configurable keyboard for use with a character based language such as Chinese.

Cost will be a major issue with the OLED approach, especially since this application seems like a perfect fit for e-ink technology.

This week's most interesting submission for "WowUsWednesday" goes to Shioda, our RainyDayMagazine reader in Japan, for sending us this link to all kinds of Apple related projects worthy of anything our RainyDayProject folks could dream up here in our labs!

The Apple computer above is not a cube version of the G5, but an Apple Cube in a G5 inspired case made out of painted plastic!  The craftsmanship and attention to details are amazing.  They have lots of other fun projects on the site.  If you are looking for something a little more difficult (construction-wise) than our NeurosCAM, G3, or iPaq upgrades, then go look around this site.  We are sure you'll find something to help you pass a rainy day!


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