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April 30,2009

It's nice to have a leader who "gets it."  This POTUS speaks to us as adults and is not afraid of telling us the truth... because, not surprisingly, we CAN handle the truth.

It has been just over 100 days in office for President Obama.  We can't speak for others, but we can sense a change in the mood of the country.  Sure the problems from the last adminstration still plague us.  Yes, we were forced to mortgage our future to pay for the mistakes of the past.  But... [More]- White House Photostream


April 29,2009

When we took a look at Kindle v1.0 back in October, we realized we were witnessing the start of something amazing.  Playing with the Kindle reminded us of when we were introduced to the 128K Mac in 1984 and the first-gen iPod in 2001.  Like the 128K Mac and the first-gen iPod, the v1.0 Kindle was well designed, thought out, and fully functional.  Like the 128K Mac and the first-gen iPod, we believe the v1.0 Kindle is a "game-changing" product. 

Amazon listened to the feedback of v1.0 users and have rev'ed the Kindle to address some of the issues the v1.0 users had.  Yesterday, the UPS guy dropped off v2.0 of the Amazon Kindle at the RainyDayMagazine office.  The Kindle came packaged in a style similar to products from Apple

There is not much to the Kindle package (reader, cord/adapter, quick start guide).  This is a good thing.  This kind of device needs to be as simple to use as a... [More]- Unpacking the Kindle2


April 28,2009

This Google Maps view of the spread of the Swine Flu infection is a valuable tool for tracking the reported cases of the infection.  We wish there was a way to animate it to see the spread, but as it is really just a mapping of the "reported" cases, it is not a true representation of the movement of the disease.  Interesting nontheless.

So far, the areas of infection are pretty much where you would expect, but there are reports from some surprising spots around the world.  If you are sick, stay home.  If you are well, stay home.  [Permalink]- Where has it spread?

April 27,2009

What to do if you have the flu?  The Center for Disease Control has some pretty good suggestions.  Basically, you need to REST, drink fluids, and see a doctor if you get really sick.

A flu shot can help protect you from getting the flu.  However, it is too late for this outbreak as there are no vaccines available.  There are some drugs which may be effective against the flu if taken early (within 48 hrs) after getting infected.  These drugs will NOT help in preventing an infection.  Using them before getting the flu does nothing. 

There are lots of over-the-counter medicines which will treat the symptoms of the flu.  They won't make the flu go away any faster, but they will make you feel better while you body waits out the infection.  If you are sick, stay home.  If you are well, stay home.  [Permalink]- What to do?


April 26,2009

How can you tell if it is the flu?  The flu is characterized by a collection of symptoms that can come on quickly.  Ask yourself if the following are true...

  1. Do you have a temperature?  
  2. Just can't feel warm?
  3. Does your head hurt? 
  4. Do you feel REALLY tired? 
  5. Are you coughing but nothing is coming up?
  6. Is your throat sore? 
  7. Do you have a runny nose?
  8. Muscle aches?
  9. Nausea?
  10. Chest discomfort?

If you are sick, stay home.  If you are well, stay home. BTW, the photo is of two of our editors napping on the job...they don't have the flu :-)  [Permalink]- Is it the flu?


April 25,2009

What is Swine Flu?  Why is it so virulent? How did it move from pigs to human?  We thought these were interesting questions so we did some digging and got some answers.

The "flu" is caused by the influenza virus.  Virus are strands of DNA or RNA molecules that can take over a cell's machinery and instruct it to make more of itself.  By making its "host" sick (sneezing, coughing, etc...) it can spread itself so it can continue to replicate. 

There have been three flu pandemics in the past century: the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed more than... [More]- What is Swine Flu


April 24,2009

Swine flu is moving around the world at a rapid pace.  What was just an outbreak in Mexico will potentially be global in a week.  There are things we can do to limit the damage, but it will have to be done quickly.  Travel will have to be limited, events will have to be cancelled, and the infected will have to be quarantined.

The CDC has a lot of good information on how to stop the spread of germs.  Most of the steps are common sense, but they are worth listing:

  • Avoid contact
  • Stay at home if you are sick
  • Cover mouth and nose when sneezing
  • Wash your hands
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth

We'll keep an eye on this but it is going to worse before it gets better.  So for the next week or so, if you can...stay inside and stay healthy.  [Permalink]- swine Flu


April 23,2009

After thoroughly enjoying the first of the Spellman series, we had to get the other two (Curse of the Spellmans, Revenge of the Spellmans) as quickly as we could.  The Spellman Files was laugh out loud funny.  We have similar expectations of these other two.

It is best to go into this series with no background or idea of what the story is about.  One of the pleasure of "living" with the Spellmans is being a part of their... [More]- more Spellmans


April 22,2009

A copy of Apple's iLife comes with every Mac computer.  This collection of applications (iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iWeb, iDVD) are without equal in the PC world.  We upgrade whenever there is a new version not because we need or use all of the new features, but because there is always that one really cool feature that we really wanted to try.

While each of the iLife 09 apps has something new, the one feature we were most intrigued with was... [More]- iLife 09


April 21,2009

One of the most useful diagnostic tool the RainyDayGarage guys have in their toolbox is the DriveRight CarChip from Davis Instruments.  Whenever any of our cars act up or throw a "Check Engine Light" code, we can quickly get a readout and get a better understanding of the cause of the problem.

The kit comes with everything needed (OBD II compatible reader, USB data transfer cable, diagnostic software) to download the data and perform all kinds of... [More]- DriveRight CarChip


April 20,2009

When you hear terms such as "focus" or "get a grip"...what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  If you have been following our Winter projects then the Feather Touch MicroFocuser/Meade LX200GPS scope upgrade would have been your first thought :-)  We gave readers a FirstLook of Starlight Instrument's Feather Touch MicroFocuser back in Mid-March.  Today we'll show how easy it was to install. 

The replacement/installation is conceptually very simple and if the instructions are followed, should only take about 15 minutes.  However, if the scope is not properly "prepped," things could go awry very quickly.  The step-by-step instructions from SI were very thorough, but we have a few suggestions which may make the task even easier.

As per SI's warning, the scope must be in a HORIZONTAL position.  This is to prevent the main mirror from moving forward or backward accidentally.  So triple check this before loosening any screws.  The kit came with a 5/64" allen key.  It fits, but was a bit cumbersome to use as it was... [More]- FeatherTouch Installaiton


April 19,2009

Tomorrow is Patriot's Day and the annual running of the Boston Marathon.  Athletes and tourists have been trickling into the city all week.  We covered the Marathon craziness last year, so we thought we would go down and take in the "calm before the storm."

We were at the Boston Garden at 10AM and it was pretty empty.  In fact, we even managed to find on-street parking!  By this time tomorrow, downtown will be... [More]- Boston Garden


April 18,2009

About a month ago, we did an article about replacing the orange color watch bands on our Timex TX watch.  We are not sure why, but after a month of wear they were filthy again and we can't get them clean! 

The first time we tried replacing the bands, we had some problems.  After a bit of work and with the right tools, we did manage to loosen the retaining pins and make the exchange.  Now that we know how to take the bands off and on, this swap only took us... [More]- Black TX Bands


April 17,2009
When the weather forecast is for 70º on a Friday before a long weekend, there is no option but to take the Friday as a vacation day.  We got out early, took the hardtop off the Boxster, and when for a drive out to the Great Marsh and the beaches of Plum Island.

The Great Marsh is the largest salt marsh in New England with over 20,000 acres of marsh, barrier beach, tidal river, estuary, mudflat, and upland islands spanning from Gloucester to Salisbury.  The Great Marsh is an internationally recognized Important Bird Area (IBA) as it contributes to the... [More]- Plum Island


April 16,2009

We only listen to audio book when we are in the car.  As we had just finished listening to Stephanie Meyer's Twilight saga, our friends Andrea and Carmen thought we would enjoy the Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz.  They were absolutely correct. 

The story is told from the point of view of Isabel Spellman, a 28-year old PI who grew up in a family of of PIs.  Invading people's privacy came at an early age.  This has left its mark in her ability to trust and in forming lasting romatic relationships.  It has also... [More]- Spellman Files


April 15,2009

Today is tax day.  On this day, some will be writing a check to the government, others will be asking for some cash back.  For those in the latter group, we have a suggestion on what to do with the "found" money.  If the refund check is big enough, our suggestion would be to go get yourself a Porsche.  Everyone should have the pleasure of owning one some time in their life.  We joined the Porsche "club" and bought a Boxster eight years ago.  We are glad for it everyday. 

There are many nice things about being in the "club."  One of them is all the awesome swag Porsche sends you when they are in the middle of a new car promotion.  We have received... [More]- Porsche Panamera


April 14,2009

Last Summer we told readers about some awesome mats from a company called Jade Yoga.  While this was almost a year ago, we still receive emails from readers who tell us how much they love their Jade Yoga mats. Jade Yoga is one of the new breed of companies that makes money while being mindful of their products' impact on the environment.  They recognize that the world is what we make it and are actively trying to make it better.

This past Easter Monday, Michelle Obama welcomed approximately 30,000 people to the White House with the following words: “Our goal today is just to have fun. We want to focus on activity, healthy eating. We’ve got yoga... [More]- Jade Yoga


April 13,2009

As many of you know, there is a very cool Yoga class at the Shobu Aikido dojo on Mondays and Fridays at 6:30pm.  The class is taught by Jenn Pici and is a Restorative Slow-Flow Yoga style which is great for stress relief, stretching and toning muscles and healing minor injuries from, uh, too much aikido or just day-to-day stress and strain.

If you are in the Somerville area, you may want to make plans THIS Friday night to welcome... [More]- Restorative Yoga


April 12,2009

Today was supposed to be rainy and we had planned to be inside working on a few "rainy day" projects.  However, it turned out to be a beautiful sunny Easter morning so we thought we would take advantage of it. 

Last weekend, we stopped by the Arnold Arboretum to test out the Nikon GP-1 module.  At the time we noticed that many of the plants were starting to wake up from their Winter sleep.  We went back today to check out the... [More]- Easter Sunday


April 11,2009

At the beginning of February we started listening to the Twilight series on our commute to work.  A little more than sixty hours and fifty-two CDs later, we are happy to be done with the story.  As some readers may be aware, Stephanie Meyer's vampire saga is quite popular with the teenage crowd. 

The storyline is Romeo and Juliet meets Wuthering Heights with a vampire/werewolf backdrop.  It is sometimes clever, occasionally amusing, and... [More]- Twilight Audio Series


April 10,2009(Friday)

A few weeks ago we posted an article about the new RFID-enhanced US Passport.  As many of you know, data stored using RFID technology was designed to be read by scanner from a distance.  This is great for a lot of reasons, but it is also a potential point of vulnerability of the system.  We received a lot of emails from readers concerned about the security of the information stored electronically on the chip so we thought we would investigate how best to defend against RFID data theft.

We took a look around and found a lot of homemade solutions for blocking the RFID signal.  Some of them appear to be effective, but not anything we would be interested in using.  We also checked out some of the links to products sent in by various readers.  The most appealing ones... [More]- Kena Kai DataSafe Wallets


April 9,2009(Thursday)

The iPhone and iPod Touch are fast on their way to becoming the "third screen" for many RainyDayMagazine readers.  We have had the iPod Touch for more than a year.  It is one of the devices we carry with us all day every day.  There are now tens of thousands of apps in the Apps Store, with more being added everyday. Many companies and individuals are even using this as a venue for marketing and promotional purposes.

One clever marketing campaign disguised as an app is the "Kindle for iPhone."  This application is strickly a reader, which means you cannot buy books or browse the Amazon library directly from the reader.  If you have already purchased the books, you can... [More]- Kindle for iPhone


April 8,2009(Wednesday)

The Vespa we purchased last Fall spent the entire winter outside under an all-weather cover.  We had no idea what would emerge when we uncovered it in the Spring or how much work we would need to do to get it ready for riding.

When the cover came off this weekend, the bike looked pretty much like when we had covered it last Fall.  Everything was... [More]- Vespa after Winter


April 7,2009(Tuesday)

The ViewNX software is a free download from Nikon.  The software is available for Mac and PC.  It is pretty useful as an image viewer, but if you are playing with geotagged images, you will want to start with this app.

As we had previously mentioned, we wanted get a feel for the accuracy of the geotagging information.  To check, we took an image of the "You Are Here" map at the Arboretum and looked to see if Google Maps would tell us where the image was taken.

When just using the Google Map graphics mode, the location detail was pretty good, but not as impressive as when mapped using the satellite overlay.  If it had been a real-time feed, you would have seen us waving at the... [More]- Nikon GP-1 FirstUse


April 6,2009(Monday)

This weekend's trip to the Arnold Arboretum was more than just to get some fresh air, we used the outing as an opportunity for a FirstUse test of our Nikon GP-1 equiped D90 camera.

Digital images are often tagged with info about the capture conditions (F-stops, shutter speed, etc...).  When a GPS module is attached, the D90 also attaches the latitude and longitude data to the file.  The information may be... [More]- Nikon GP-1 FirstUse


April 5,2009(WeekendEdition)

It was still a bit overcast this morning, but the sun was trying its best to break out.  We were busy inside most of the day yesterday so we really wanted to get out and get some air.  When we want to take a walk in the woods without having to take a drive, the Arboretum is our first choice.

The first thing we noticed was there has been some upgrades around the Arboretum.  All of the maps were replaced with new ones and there were trail markers att... [More]- Arboretum in April


April 4,2009(WeekendEdition)

The last few days of March and the first few days of April have been overcast and rainy, perfect for all of the tulips and lillies waking up from Winter.  While the RainyDayGarden is still mostly brown, some spots are showing signs of life.

Last weekend was warm enough for us to put the Passiflora back into the ground.  Not much growth has occurred, but... [More]- RDG in April


April 3,2009(Friday)

Judging by the sudden swell of unread emails in our InBox with the subject "Nikon GPS..." there were a lot of readers interested in the subject of geotagging images.  We will go and try out the Nikon GP-1 this weekend.  First, we wanted to show how easy it was to get this GPS module up and running.

As we had indicated in the FirstLook write-up, the Nikon GP-1 gets its power from the camera.  When the unit is properly attached and the camera turned on, the GPS module will... [More]- Nikon GP-1 Installation


April 2,2009(Thursday)

GPS is useful for getting us around town, back to base camp, and tracking the vehicles in our motor pool.  A newer and increasingly popular use of GPS information is for location tagging of digital images so they can be mapped or sorted with applications such as Google Maps.  We take thousands of travel photos each years and do try to sort and categorize them, but it does get a bit tedious. 

Our new Nikon D90 does have GPS capabilities.  The GPS sensor is not built into the camera, just the ability to take GPS information and associate it with... [More]- Nikon GP-1


April 1,2009(Wednesday)

We were reminded by a reader a few weeks ago of a great TV series called Witchblade.  The story is about New York homicide detective Sara Pezzini (played by Yancy Butler) and her chance encounter with an object of enormous power called the Witchblade.

Seven DVDs contain all 24 episodes, bonus material, and trailers.  Even though the series was originally shown on a TV screen, the episodes on the DVDs are in... [More]- Withchblade TV series


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