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Mar 8-9,2008(WeekendEdition)

Back in the 1970s, teachers used to inspire us to study hard by telling us that "anyone can grow up to be President of the United States."  We wonder if teachers have stopped saying that to students today.  Not that it is no longer true, but maybe it is just so obvious that no one needs to be reminded. 

Why?  Because after experiencing 8 years of "leadership" from someone who was basically a C student in college, a D-quality CEO, and is clearly scoring an F as a president, it is pretty evident that anyone CAN become president.  

Now that the race for the 2008 nominations has narrowed down to just three, we encourage readers to support the one who appeals most to them.  Looking at the remaining candidates running for president, we are very encouraged because we realized that any one of them will do...better.   - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Mar 7,2008(FixItFriday)

When Leatherman announced the Skeletool last year, RainyDayMagazine was one of the first in line waiting for a unit.  We were hoping to get them under the trees of a few our our readers.  Unfortunately, Leatherman decided to delay the holiday shipment.  WHAT? Holidays are when merchandizers biggest sales.  Why would anyone pass that up???

Apparently, Leatherman was not satisfied with the quality of the some of the units coming off the lines.  Some companies would have let those slip by to unsuspecting buyers and handle it when they fail in the field.  However, that is not the Leatherman way. 

They would rather delay one of their biggest launches in recent memory AND pass up on the 2007 shopping season rather than put something into the wild that may not live up to expectations.  We can live with that.

Fast forward to March, the Skeletool is now shipping and it is phenomenal!  The build quality, fit, and finish of the stainless steel version exceeded all of our expectations.  This tool will feel right at home on display at MOMA or tucked in the glove compartment of a 20 year old pickup truck.

The Leatherman Skeletool is a minimalist's multi-tool.  It has a pair of plier, a blade, wire cutters, bit driver, and a bottle opener.  It is made of aluminium and stainless steel.  Weight have been strategically removed from the structural components such that strength has not been compromised.  It also made the tool look totally awesome.

This Skeletool feels great and looks great.  We can't wait to put it to work!  The FirstUse review will be in a few weeks.  Something tells us Leatherman better crank up its production line because we expect dealers will be have a hard time keep these in stock.  If you want to get your hands on one, you better get your order in today. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Mar 6,2008(PhoneTechThursday)

Mobile application developers know today is the unveiling of the long anticipated iPhone SDK from Cupertino.  This means we'll be seeing a flood of iPhone specific widgets and software in the coming months.

NavNGo has been demo-ing a GPS app running on the iPhone at CEBit.  With the release of the SDK, we should see a lot more cool things for the device soon.  RainyDayMagazine will have an iPhone-sized version available to readers in early Summer.  If you want to get a look at what we've done to date, check it out here.   We are still working out the navigation interface and a few other things.  Reader comments and suggestions are encouraged! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Mar 5,2008(WowUsWednesday)

Microsoft will be holding their annual research TechFest today and tomorrow.  It is a chance for Microsoft's researchers to demo some of the ideas and innovations which have been brewing in their labs, ideas such as an interaction technique for use with small device called "LucidTouch."

iPhone users sometimes may have wished they had "transparent" fingers for their multi-touch actions.   LucidTouch technology allows small screen interactions to be accomplished without covering up the content on display.  This illusion is achieved with some clever use of software and camera in the back of the device. Check out Microsoft's LucidTouch and other TechFest demos here.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Mar 4,2008(HarnessTechTuesday)

There are a variety of ways (jacket, packs, knapsack) to carry the gear we use everyday.  This harness system from Civilian Lab may be the most unique amongst all of the methods we have reviewed to date. 

If you need to have easy access to lots of different gadgets, there is a Civilian Lab system which will suit your needs.  If you want a system which is adaptable, Civilian Lab has a harnessing mode (chest, belt, thigh, etc...) which can accommodate the situation.

The construction and materials used are both very high quality.  All of the external storage compartments have velcro closures for secure containment while still enabling quick access to the gear.  The flaps are padded to give the contents bump protection.

The inside of the bags have even more pockets, slots, and openings for holding pens, probes, or whatever.  The design is such that the contents are secure but accessible, a very important feature in bags for active users.

There are multiple ways to strap on these Civilian Lab harness bags.  For extended use or when carrying a lot of weight, padded shoulder straps may be added to the harness to distribute the load.

Some here are wondering just how much gear can be loaded into this harness system.  You'll see when we fill it up and take it out for a FirstUse test in the Spring. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Mar 3,2008(MultiFocusMegaPixelMonday)

Multi-lens, multiple-focus, 100 megapixel camera may sound like the realm of sci-fi.  However, Adobe has already built a prototype to show off some of the capabilities of light-field photography.

This prototype works using 19 lenses to take images at multiple depths and angles simultaneously.  Adobe's software will dynamically enable the viewer to select a combination of independent focal points in various portions of the images.  A totally awesome concept. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Mar 2,2008(WeekendEdition)

180s are well known for their innovative winter gear for active folks.  We have reviewed a few of their offerings (ExoLite, Training gloves, Mortise sunglasses) in the past.

This year, 180s introduced a line of gear to make it easier for those who want to take their digital devices with them when they venture outside during Winter.  The Tec Stretch ear warmers with integrated speakers are such an example.

The elastic spine can accommodate most heads. The Tec Stretch is fleece-lined and super comfortable.  The speakers are flat, well integrated, and cannot be felt when worn. 

The socket end of the supplied extension cord attaches to the speakers via a plug on the edge of left side of the ear muff.  The plug goes into the standard mini-plug socket of the iPod or MP3 player.

Boston was supposed to get about 6" of the white stuff this weekend.  We were excited because we had planned to take this new piece of 180s gear out for some FirstUse testing.  It didn't snow and the forecast for the upcoming week is somewhere in the 50º...are you kidding me???  We'll send the interns out and get these 180s TechStretch tested once some decent New England weather rolls back into town. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Mar 1,2008(WeekendEdition)

In our FirstLook of the Harman Kardon Drive+Play2 we gave an overview of the various parts which came in the package.  Today, we'll do a bench test and take a look at how the pieces (display, hub, controller) work together.

Unlike the DP1, the DP2 hub is much smaller and may be powered in a few different ways.  The simplest way is to power the hub directly by the cigarette lighter of the car.  This is convenient if you don't plan to permanently install the DP2 in the vehicle.

Harman Kardon also supplies an extension cable if the hub needs to be placed further away from the outlet. 

The design of the connectors of the various cables make hooking things up totally foolproof.  Each connector is uniquely shaped for its appropriate socket.  It is impossible to get it wrong.

Once we had the various cables connected and the power supply switched on, the screen came to life.  We were pleasantly surprised by the crispness of the display.  The DP2 screen is a huge improvement over the DP1. 

There are a lot of display options (color, day/night, etc...) which we'll walk through in the next installment.  We'll also hook up the iPod and run through the features of the wirless controller in part 2 of our Drive+Play2 BenchTest report.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


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