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July 5-6,2008 (WeekendEdition)

There are many new digital cameras on the market and more coming every day.  Most have good image sensors.  Many have the ability to capture movies.  SLR models enable users to change and use different lenses.  However, until now, NONE of them allows photographers to do what the Casio Exilim EX-F1 will allow them to do.  Intrigued?  Well, then read on.

The Casio EX-F1's package is similar to mosty digital cameras: camera, lens hood, battery charger, USB cord, remote trigger, and software.

The body is slightly smaller than our Nikon D-40.  It has a 6MP sensor, a 12x zoom lens (36mm-432mm), and lots of other impressive specs.

The layout of the buttons and controls are logical and accessible.  The camera feels comfortable and maneuverable.  The integrated grip is contoured to fit nicely for right handed users. 

At this point, you may be thinking, what is so special about this camera?  Well, how about a shutter speed of 1/40,000 sec?  60fps burst mode? 1200fps movie mode?  You can pick up your jaw now.

What kind of photos one can capture with a camera capable of 1200 frames per second?  How about the wing beats of a dragonfly? Or the motion of a hovering bumblebee?  Skeptical?  Come back on Monday and we'll show you some clips from our weekend's FirstUse outing with the Casio Exilim EX-F1.  And yes, it is a good idea to get a large SD memory card to use with this camera.  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 4,2008 (Independence Day)

Normally, RainyDayKitchen's "FirstGrill" events start way earlier in the season.  With the trips out to L.A. and the crazy review load, we just couldn't get our act together this year.  So our first official firing-up of the grills didn't occur until July 4th.

As it has been almost two years since we first reviewed the Coleman RoadTrip and Thermos' Grill2Go, we thought it would be appropriate to take a look at how they have held up.  Now for those who may have thought that we "baby" these units, let me assure you, we have not :-)  We use them, we clean them occassionally, but we basically treat them as if Coleman and Thermos dared us to abuse them. 

Of the two, the Thermos is hands down the easiest to clean.  The one-piece non-stick surface cleans up in a snap.  Because the plate has no opening, the grease and oil does not foul up the burners.

The Coleman, while harder to keep clean, is MUCH easier to fold up and move.  It is one of the main reason why it spent its winters in storage while the Thermos is out in the cold.  BTW, we are pretty sure that with a little effort by one of the interns, the Coleman burners can be spotless again :-)

The Thermos' gas canister did not leak even though it was out on the deck all winter.  Some of the parts did pick up a little bit of rust due to the exposure, but nothing which interfered with the grill's operation as it fired up on the first press of the lighter button. 

The Coleman's ignition button, however, no longer appears to work, but the burners worked just fine when lit using a butane wand.  The lids of both units  (Coleman, Thermos) showed no signs of chipping or wear.  The heavy duty cooking surfaces (Coleman, Thermos) held up well after two seasons of grilling.  All in all, both of these grills fared amazingly well.  We would have no problems recommending either one.

We expect to continue "reviewing" these units for many years to come :-)  As of today, all three grills are now ready for the Summer season.  Readers local to Bostyon should periodically check their "junk mail" folder to see if their email filter/bot has accidentally chucked our invitations to various GrillFests out with the email from "Nigerian generals" looking to share their loot.  Happy 4th of July!!!  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 3,2008 (TurnaroundThursday)

One of our RainyDayGarage readers sent us this link yesterday to a heated thread on the BimmerFest discussion board.  We have been known to poke fun at Porsche dealers in the past.  However, this story got some of the RainyDayGarage folks into a tizzy after reading it.  They said we MUST do a post about the outrageous behavior of this BMW dealership

In the thread, many different opinions were expressed by the members of that forum.  Much of it vilifying Flow BMW for the "stazi-like" behavior of the manager.  However, as we followed the conversation to post #877, Don Flow, the owner of Flow BMW dealership, personally posted a response to all of the rancor up to that point.

Mr. Flow then followed up in post #884 to further clarify his position regarding the incident.  We thought the two responses really changed the tone of the entire discussion.  We felt that he so well handled the incident, we decided to make his response the point of today's post.  The point being sometimes an apology can go a long way in turning things around.  Nicely done Don!  Have a great July 4th everyone.  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 2,2008 (WetWednesday)

Boston got a lot of rain during the last week of June.  This meant the RainyDayGarden really got a wet base heading into the typically drier month of July . 

The orange day lillies started to bloom this past week.  We love photographing the lillies and took their blooming as an opportunity to play around some more with the Nikon D40.  In this outing, we wanted to experiment with the apeture-priority settings and get some experience manipulating the depth-of-field (DOF).  Using the "Auto" mode, the camera will usually pick a combination which will give the best focus for the area of interest.  This typically mean favoring speed over a greater depth-of-field. 

We waited for an bright cloudy day to minimize the contrast.  There were also minimal breeze to disturb the flowers.  By selecting a smaller aperture setting and thus increasing the depth-of-field, we were able to almost get both the bug and the flower in focus.

In general, we found the Aperture-Priority mode quite intuitive to use.  The thumb wheel used to set the aperture was easy to manipulate.  Information about the current settings was available both in the viewfinder and on the rear LCD.  The graphics in the LCD representing the current aperture size were interesting, but not accurate enough to replace the numbers.  Of couse, what is missing with the D40 is a "LiveView" or a DOF preview feature.

We also played a little with the the shutter-priority mode, but were not successful in clearly capturing the bumblebee in flight.   The shot we were after was to have the body in focus and the wings a blur.  A bit more practice and patience may be needed before we can get that shot. [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 1,2008 (TechTipTuesday)

The broken iPod we purchased had its normal share of dings and scratches.  We were looking at various methods of cleaning it up and perhaps buffing out some of the scuff marks.  One of the interns happened upon this rather odd set of directions on how to use a banana (not porn related in anyway) to clean up an iPod.  We were intrigued enough to give it a try.

The steps were simple enough: cut a piece, expose some, apply generously, let sit a minute or so, wipe clean with a cotton cloth.

We have to admit, the iPod was quite shiny after the procedure, but we cannot report that this tip did anything to reduce the amount of scratches on our iPod.

Our fall back plan is to apply the InvisbleShield to the front of the iPod to cover up the nicks and scratches.  We already know how durable the InvisibleShield is.  We are now happy to report the InvisibleShield is also great for covering up defects as well as offering great protection! [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau

BTW, we have a few winners to announce from June's RainyDayContests.  James Kim from IL was our winner for "I know what landed on your desk."  Ariel Kayne was our winner for "It's a Tesla, baby."  Both answers were, of course, our Featured Product... the Lensbaby 3G.  Winners, if you want to enter again in the future, don't forget to sent a pic of you with your prize to us.  In exchange, we'll take you off the contest filter list and you entries will then continue to reach us instead of being unceremoniously chucked :-)



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