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December 25,2008 (Christmas)

In lieu of Christmas presents or a holiday bonus, we have decided to give everyone a two week break. 

We'll be back after the new year.  We want to wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! [Permalink] - Merry Christmas

BTW, all open RainyDayContests end when the ball drops in NYC.  So readers have from now until then to enter.  If you didn't win anything this year, don't worry... we'll have lots of great stuff to give away next year!


December 24,2008 (HolidayGiftGuide)

Merry Christmas!!!

Happy Holidays!!!


December 23,2008 (HolidayGiftGuide)
Need some last minute gift ideas or stocking stuffers?  Today's collection of items will fit in a stocking and the budget. Just click on any of the items in the collection below to find out more about it.

OK, maybe a Navigon 7200T GPS or the Supertooth3 speakerphone are not your typical "stocking stuffers," but some stockings are better stuffed than others :-)  If you are giving a car to your significant other for Christmas this year, why not... [More]- RainyDay Stocking Stuffers


December 22,2008 (MoreSnowMonday)
Boston was blanketed with over a foot of snow from the storms on Friday and Sunday.  We did not venture into the city all weekend, but did manage to make our way to the Arnold Arboretum on Sunday for a walk.

The day's forecast was for freezing rain and we wanted to get some photos of the snow before things turned sloppy.  By the time we got out of the car the storm had picked up and visibility was starting to drop. 

Inspite of the storm, the Arnold Arboretum was teaming with activity.  Folks were out hiking, x-country skiing, and walking their dogs.  Even the cardinals were out... [More] - First Storm


December 21,2008 (RainyDayGiftGuide)

"GuyGear" was the term the women in the office coined when they saw what the guys were putting together for today's gift guide photo shoot.  None of the items are things guys "must have," but trust us when we say that these are the things (multi-tools, lasers, watches, etc...) the guys here would love to unwrap on Christmas Day.  Click on any of the items in the image below to order them from Amazon. 

Our favorite multi-tool is the Skeletool from Leatherman.  It is functional, made of stainless steel, and totally awesome looking.  For watches, we favor the Timex TX and ones from YES (Tati, Zulu). The best flashlights are not made by MagLite, but by SureFire.  Their main business is making military and tactical gear, but they also have a civilian line.  We have been using their small-but-extremely powerful flashlights for years now.  We have found no equal.  A surprise late entry to the GuyGear collection is the... [More]- RainyDay GuyGear Gear Guide


December 20,2008 (RainyDayGiftGuide)

There were plenty of photography accessories reviewed in 2008.  We expect to continue this trend in 2009.  The best of the lot were chosen for this year's RainyDayMagazine Holiday Gift Guide.  All of the items were tested using the Nikon D40, but there should be a version which will fit most of the popular camera brands.  As with the other RainyDayGiftGuides, clicking on an item in the photos will bring you to that item on Amazon.  Occassionally it may bring you somewhere (hint, hint) even better.

When we purchased our D40s, they came with the 18-55mm as part of the kit.  But we wanted a longer zoom so we picked up the 55-200mm Nikkor VR lens.  Both lenses have turned out to be real workhorses, but... [More]- RainyDay Photo Gear Guide


December 19,2008 (RainyDayGiftGuide)

Books entertain, educate, and elevate all those who spend time with them.  Books also make great holiday gifts.  So whether you are interested in physics or fantasy, you will find something in this RainyDay Gift Guide for your favorite bookworm.

We have embedded links to Amazon to all of the items above.  A click on the image of book will bring you to the Amazon page for that item.  For a closer look... [More]- RainyDay Books Gift Guide


December 18,2008 (RainyDayGiftGuide)

Our staff has reviewed a lot of camera bags over the years, but we have stopped reviewing bags from makers other than Kata this year.  It is not that other makers don't have good camera bags, it's that we think Kata makes the best ones out there. 

We have used them to carry all kinds of digital and film cameras: small point and shoot like the Canon S100, larger fixed lens such as the Canon S2, and... [More]- Photo Bags Gift Guide


December 17,2008 (RainyDayGiftGuide)

We are closing in on the last week of shopping for Christmas.  If you have not gotten something for your significant other (yes... we are talking about your laptop), there is still plenty of time.

For readers who may need a reminder of the different types of bags we looked at this year, we have assembled them all in one place.  We reviewed ones for... [More]- Laptop Bags Gift Guide


December 16,2008 (PenTechTuesday)

The FirstUse of the Livescribe Pulse was an eye-opening experience for us.  It is not often we've come across a product where our first thought was "Hmmm, I wonder if they are hiring?"

The most asked question from our readers was "Does this pen really work?"  Our answer is "It works AMAZINGLY well."  The tutorial on the first page of the notebook gives a... [More]- LiveScribe Pulse FirstUse


December 15,2008 (MorePulseMonday)

The Livescribe Pulse SmartPen was an instant sensation in the RainyDayMagazine office.  We were all intrigued by its potential.  Judging by all of the emails we got from readers wanting to know whether this pen is "for real," we believe that Livescribe could have a huge hit on it hands if the Pulse can deliver.

We think the Pulse SmartPen has the potential to be a great business tool.  So for the next three months, we are going to use it to take notes in meetings in place of a laptop.  To make the combo easier to grab and go, we found a standard size leather portfolio which will hold both the pen and the notebook.

The Livescribe Pulse kit comes with a SmartPen, pen case, 3D mic/headphones, USB charger, and a notebook with a 100 pages of special paper.  The pen can only be... [More]- LiveScribe Pulse FirstLook


December 13-14,2008 (WeekendEdition)

Christmas is just two weeks away.  So it is time for the much anticipated annual RainyDayMagazine Holiday Gift Guide.  As many readers know, our guides are unlike the others.  Not only do we recommend stuff we have used, but just like last year, there are opportunities to win stuff if readers keep a sharp eye out for clues. 

The first Gift Guide for 2008 is a collection of DVD recommendations based on our staff's favorites.  We have gathered them in to five different... [More]- DVD Gift Guide


December 12,2008 (Form&FunctionFriday)

OtterBox is well known for their strong water-tight boxes. We have reviewed many of them (1000, 3500, 9000)over the years.  They are perfect for protecting electronics which might be accidentally exposed to water during transport.  OtterBox also makes cases specifically designed for popular devices (laptops, iPods, etc...).  We looked at such a case back in January.

The Defender Series is a new line from OtterBox.  These cases are device specific, very form fitting, and offers protection against every day bumps and bruises.  While it is not a water-tight case, it will offer light water-splash protection.

We really like the feel of the case, the easy grip surface, and the matte finish.  Note that... [More] - OtterBox Defender Series


December 11,2008 (TechThursday)

Back in July we started looking at how to program the iPod Touch.  The books available at the time were based on Mobile Safari, not the iPhone SDK.  The iPhone SDK gave programmers access to all of the device's hardware (multi-touch, accelerometer, camera, etc...) and core software (Quartz 2D, OpenGL, etc...) support which Mobile Safari did not.

Books on how to program the iPhone using XCode and the iPhone SDK are now starting to become available.  We have been working through the lessons in the book... [More]- iPhone SDK Programming


December 10,2008 (WowUsWednesday)

We have seen the announcements regarding this LiveScribe Pulse SmartPen.  We have gotten emails from readers asking us to check it out.  We have had internal discussions about what would be a "killer app" for something like this.  However, up until now, we have resisted looking at it because it was Windows only.  We know, we know, 95% of the world is using PCs.  We also know the best of the lot eventually make it over to the Mac.

Well, we just ran out of excuses.  Starting on December 1st, the Pulse SmartPen will run on the Intel-based Mac!  The software is still in beta and not all of its... [More]- LiveScribe Pulse Smart Pen


December 9,2008 (AudioTechTuesday)

When we got this Hellboy II DVD in the mail, we thought it was because Universal Pictures knew we loved the first Hellboy movie.  As it turns out, it was from GenAudio to show off their new surround sound audio technology called AstoundSurround

We have a 5.1 surround sound system in our media room and we could definitely hear some very clear and distinct surround sound effects.  However, since we didn't have a version of Hellboy II without the new audio processing to compare it against, we could not say anything about being able to hear a difference.  Regardless, what we could say is the Hellboy II audio effects were awesome.

Stereo sound was the earliest attempt at replicating the "live" experience.  Soon engineers realized that placing additional speakers to the rear of the listener would create a... [More]- GenAudio AstoundSurround


December 8,2008 (MacTVMonday)

In our previous installment of our MacTV project, we took a quick look at the two ClearStream antennae from Antennas Direct.  Today we'll assemble the smaller C1 and hook it up to the Elgato EyeTV tuner.

The assembly of the C1 was very quick and straightforward.  The channel in the base fits over the aluminium rod.  A bolt is then threaded through... [More] - ClearStream Assembly


December 7,2008 (WeekendEdition)

The NEIAS caters to all different types of car enthusiasts.  While most of the floor space showed conventional cars from the major makers, there is always some area off to one side reserved for the smaller vendors, customizers, and merchandizers.  It is there that one finds the odd, the exotic, and the strange.

The gamut of vehicles and aftermarket works on display was pretty wide. Not all of them were our cup of tea, but that is exactly the point; anything goes in this... [More] - NEIAS Exotics


December 6,2008 (WeekendEdition)

The auto industry has been feeling the brunt of the credit logjam.  Sales have dropped off a cliff, partly because people don't want to buy new cars and partly because those who want to buy are having a tougher time getting financing for the purchase. 

We were going to pass on this year's New England International Auto Show, but decided to go because it has been a few years since we covered this event.  The show used to be at the Bayside Expo Center, but has since moved to the newer Seaport Convention Center down by the waterfront.

Attendance at the show was light during the early hours, but picked up around noon.  All of the major players were there with their... [More] - NEIAS


December 5,2008 (FindYourWayFriday)

These days, most GPS will guide you to where you want to go.  The difference between and within various brands have more to do with ease of use than technology.  As most readers know, we have looked at a few GPS units over the years.  Navigon first caught our attention with their "reality view" feature.  

Navigon has continued to innovate.  Features such as glare-reducing screens, free traffic updates, and removable flash (SD: 2100Max, MicroSD:7200T) are part of every Navigon unit.  The 2100Max mount grips the unit from top and bottom.  The 7200T's mount grips from the back.

The GPS mount is one feature which does not get much coverage in most reviews.  This item is actually quite important in the overall usability of the GPS.  A mount should be... [More]- Navigon Mounts


December 4,2008 (TimeSeriesThursday)

Last weekend we posted a movie of a series of drawings done by our intern.  Quite a few readers asked how we did it.  So on Monday, we did a quick tutorial on how we used iMovie for the project.  Coincidentally, we had been taking a series of photos of a Christmas cactus in the process of blooming.

We took two photos every day for about a month.  Today, we put those 60 photos together into a time-series movie using the same technique shown on Monday.  After putting the sequence together, we realized a few more photos each day would have made the sequence smoother.  These series are easy to make, but for best results, it is best to mount the camera on a tripod and leave it in one place for the duration of the shoot (and not bump into it). There are lots of interesting potential time-series subjects...just look around, out the window, or under the bed :-)  Give this RainyDayProject a try.  You may be surprised at what you will see when you put it all together.  [Permalink] -Time Series


December 3,2008 (WowUsWednesday)

idee has some great approaches to searching for just the right photo from amongst the millions which are freely available on the web.  The one we really like is the Multicolr Search Lab.

The color gradient on the right is the selector for the set of images which will appear on the left.  Click on a color tile and the searcher will bring back a set of images relevant to that color.  There is no control over the image's content.

If you need to search for images of a certain color, the Multicolr Seach Lab tool is exactly what you need.  A lot of fun things can be done with a tool like this.  Go ahead.  Show us what you got!  [Permalink] -Multicolr Search


December 2,2008 (DigitalTVTuesday)

February 2009 is coming and so is the nationwide conversion to digital TV.  In August, we did a quick mention of the Elgato TV tuner for the Mac.  At that time we had plans to do some articles on watching digital HDTV on a Mac.  For over-the-air TV viewers, the switch to digital has many benefits: sharper pictures, better sound quality, more content. 

Even though we are cable subscribers, we wanted to know what would be the best antenna to pull the signal out of the air.  The antenna needs to receive... [More]- HDTV Antenna


December 1,2008 (iMovieMonday)

We got a bunch of emails asking what we used to make the Teapot Series movie we posted yesterday.  Since a movie is just a bunch of still images shown in sequence, pretty much any series of images can be made into a movie.  There are a few free utilities available on the Web which will take JPEGs and turn them into a movie.  However, if you want to have transition effects, music, and a title, iMovie is the easiest option.  iMovie is one of the software applications that come with all new Apple Macintoshes.  It is also available as part of the iLife software package.  We would not even bother attempting it on a PC.

To make the Teapot Series movie, we took a series of still images of the drawings and resized them in Photoshop.  The images were imported into... [More]- iMovie From Photos


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