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June 30,2009

After we mentioned Bento 2 from FileMaker yesterday it generated quite a bit of email traffic so we decided to do a quick follow-up of it today.  Just what exactly is Bento 2?  What makes it unique?  How is it useful?  We'll give you some FirstLook answers to these questions today.  We'll have a more detail analysis at the end of the Summer.

FileMaker is a company that started on the Mac platform, so one would expect that any software they publish would be very Mac-centric.  Indeed this is exactly what... [More]- Bento 2 FirstLook


June 29,2009

What makes us what we are?  Is it what we do?  Is it what we know?  Maybe it is what we remember we've done.  Whatever it is that makes us "us", we lose some of it when we can't recall it.  Perhaps it is one of the reasons why we spend so much effort organizing, compiling, and categorizing our things, our experiences, and our to-do lists. 

Some people are lucky in that they can remember things they see, read, and/or hear.  Others can train themselves to do these things.  Some collect massive databases and "mine" them for information, for an advantage, or for insight.  When personal computers first came on to the scene, one of oft-touted uses was that... [More]- Personal Databases


June 28,2009

Yesterday we were in Chatham to get a glimpse of the damages left by last week's storm.  On the way home, we came upon a little bakery called Marion's Pie Shop

The make all of their baked goods from scratch: breakfast treats, fruit breads, and lots of different kinds pies.  They have apple pies. They have bumbleberry pies.  They have... [More]- Marion's Pie Shop


June 27,2009

Chatham is at the "elbow" of Cape Cod.  Like the various parts of the Cape, it occassionally gets smacked in the ulna by hurricanes or what is locally called Nor'easters.  Sometimes these storms are strong enough to do more than just knock out the electricity.  They can literally reshape the landscape.

Last week a storm that moved up the coast came on shore near New England.  Boston and some of the inland area got mostly rain.  However, the Cape took a direct hit.  We went down there this weekend to... [More]- Chatham Storm


June 26,2009

Last night the National Theater of London broadcast its first “NT Live” transmission to select theater screens around the world, and it choose as it’s first production a stunning reworking of Racine’s “Phèdre” Starring Helen Mirren. What a great play to kick off their “experiment.” This is a French play written in the 1670’s that takes place in ancient Greece and packs as much emotion (i.e., acting) into a two-hour time frame as is possible. It has a loved-crazed woman, a lopsided love quadrangles, swords, blood, and death. This was a live performance, and if you couldn’t make it to London to sit in that audience, National Theater’s NT Live expanded its idea of what an audience is and let people in a lot of countries experience the same thing.

Helen Mirren plays Phèdre, the queen (granddaughter of Zeus!), but this is as opposite a queen as you can get from her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the film “Queen.” Consumed by love for her stepson Hippolytus (who just happens to be “the best of all men”), she practically goes... [More]- NT Live


June 25,2009

When we purchased our used MacBook Pro we learned it had a slot for something called an ExpressCard.  We were not sure what type of cards were available for the slot, but thought it would be great if we could turn it into a flash card reader.  A quick search on EBay resulted in this 18-in-1 card reader.  We don't have that many type of cards, but it is supposed to work with an SDHC card.

The ExpressCard is a bit bigger than a typical flash card reader that plugs into the USB port.  The nice thing about the ExpressCard is that it will... [More]- ExpressCard Reader


June 24,2009

A new magazine called Fresh Home showed up on our desk the other day with a big "LOOK!" written on a Post-It note attached to one of the pages.  We flipped through it and thought "Wow...this is what RainyDayMagazine would be if we were analog!"

They have projects for the home, garden, and garage.  The projects are "graded" according to skill level, cost, and time.  The explanations are ... [More]- Fresh Home


June 23,2009

The rain has been falling steadily since Friday.  All this precipitation has been wonderful for the RainyDayGarden.  A quick look at the rain gauge told us that we got quite a few inches of rain in the past several days.  However, we hope we start drying out soon. 

We don't usually pay much attention to the rain gauge and wouldn't have given it another thought if we hadn't gotten an email the other day by a reader asking us about it.  So we thought we would give it a quick mention today.  The rain gauge is from... [More]- Eva Solo Rain Gauge


June 22,2009

Kodachrome film has been around for 74 years.  Some of the world most iconic images were shot on Kodachrome.  Today Kodak announced that they will no longer be making the slide film due to lack of demand. 

One of the editors here remembers the exact moment when he decided to give Kodachrome 25 a try.  It was at an exhibition where there was an image of the... [More]- Last Day of Kodachrome


June 20-21,2009

Happy Father's Day weekend!!!  We are off to do some face-to-face "tech support" :-)

We will be back on Monday!   [Permalink] - Happy Father's Day


June 19,2009

To readers who have parents with computers, getting "tech support" calls is nothing new.  However, the difficulty comes when the parents are older, speak a different language, and may not actually understand what you are saying :-)  This is when being able to see what is on their computer screen can be a HUGE help.  "Screen sharing" is now a technology that is available on all OSX 10.5 equiped Macintoshes. 

Apple has had a feature call Remote Access for many years, but it cost extra and was designed for system administrators rather than the average users.  However, with the recent release of OS X 10.5, screen sharing using... [More]- OSX Screen Sharing


June 18,2009

The conversion to digital TV went live last Friday.  Many with perfectly good TV sets went and got the converter box and upgrade without any issues.  Some have reported issues with getting decent receptions using their old antenna.  If you are one of those folks, this may be a good time to invest in a better antenna.  We are in Boston and have had good experiences with our Clearstream C1 antenna.  If you live in a more remote area, you may want to give the larger C4 a look. 

The Clearstream C4 is a lot bigger than the C1, but still quite a bit smaller than a comparable traditional TV antenna.  The C4 antenna is also flat.  The flat design has the advantage in that it... [More]- Clearstream C4 Antenna


June 17,2009

The cool wet June may have been responsible for the lovely blooms in the RainyDayGarden, but it was the well-stocked feeders that brought in all the song birds.

The RainyDayGarden is now a well-known destination for all the freeloading feathered flyers in the immediate vicinity.  There are two feedings a day of a buffet of peanuts, sunflower seeds, and other assorted tasty bits.  It is first come, first served and there is a line...unless you are a... [More]- RainyDayBirds


June 16,2009

All of the rain and cool weather this June not only gave us a big Cottonwood "snow storm", it also gave us an enormous bounty of Peony blooms.  The RainyDayGarden was just bursting with huge blossoms this season.  We had to cut many of them all at once because most were too heavy to stay upright.

After we ran out of room for arrangements inside, we started placing them outside (front porch, back deck, etc...).  About a dozen of them were on the entry way to welcome the package delivery folks (USPS, FedEx, etc...).  They all seem to... [More]- Peonies


June 15,2009

Most of us carry a few gadgets with us all the time: cell phone, iPod, GPS.  Different companies have developed products to let us carry them more "effectively."  One of our favorite is the clothing line from ScotteVest.  Their multi-pocket jackets, shirts, and vests are perfect for carry gadgets without them banging into one another.  That's great for walking around, but what happens when you get into a car?  What to do with the cell phone, the iPod, or the GPS?

When we are driving, our Number One job is to drive...eyes on the road, hands on the wheel.  It is not the time for fumbling around feeling for a cellphone or an iPod.  We do agree that there are many situations where using a gadget is perfectly safe.  We have done plenty of articles (iPod, video, GPS) showing how to hook them up to the car stereo system.  One thing we did notice with our past solutions is that the gadget is often just... [More]- ProClip Mount


June 14,2009

The weather is odd in New England.  It can "snow" at any time.  Just take a look at the driveway outside the office.  The "white stuff" has been coming down ever since the sun came out.  The air is filled with the light puffy white fluff.  Soon the grass, the car, and the driveway will be completely blanketed with it.

The stuff is actually from the three cottonwood trees directly in front of the office.  The week of rain got everything primed.  When the sun came out, all of the pods opened and... [More]- Cotton Snow Storm


June 13,2009

Today was one of those perfect New England days...crisp, cool, and sunny.  It was also perfect weather for the first Roslindale Farmers' Market of the season.  As a result, the turn out was huge.

The kids out shopping with their parents today were kept entertained by a very amusing clown :-)  We have always been a little afraid of clowns.  However, the kids appeared to be quite amused by his variety of magic tricks, juggling acts, and... [More]- Roslindale's Farmers Market


June 12,2009

Today is that last day (REALLY) that stations in the US will be broadcasting TV signals in analog form.  While we are pretty certain that frequent RainyDayMagazine viewers are aware of this fact, new readers from other planets may not be so aware.  The switch to "digital" doesn't really have affect to you all that much.  It is likely that many of you get your TV signals via cable or satellite dish, some may watch TV only via their computer, and a small percentage may not even watch any TV at all!

If you want to keep your analog set a little bit longer, a converter box is what will be needed to change the digital signals being broadcasted back to analog form for the "old-school"... [More]- Analog's Last Day


June 11,2009

When it comes to driving, Boston drivers have a certain "flair."  So wearing a helmet while riding a Vespa just makes sense.  Many would argue that wearing one while driving a car wouldn't be such a bad idea neither. Having lived in this city for over 20 years, we have to say they are really not all that bad.  The traffic moves relatively slowly due to the windy (and we don't mean air speed) roads and the associated congestion.  Someone on a Vespa with top speed of 35 mph really can keep up with traffic.  OK, we wouldn't try it on Storrow Drive, but riding on Memorial Drive during rush hour would not be a problem.  Regardless, we would not do it without wearing a helmet.

When we purchased the Vespa last season, it came with a half helmet.  For riding in the city we wanted to get a full face helmet.  We checked around and found a good deal on a used Nolan.  A big reason why we went with the Nolan helmet is... [More]- Nolan Helmets


June 10,2009

The Vespa has been getting a lot of use lately.  It really is the perfect get-around-town transport for a city like Boston.  They get about 60 miles to a gallon of gas.  We filled it up last September and we are only at a half tank.  A motorcycle license is not needed gor a Vespa if it is 50cc or under.  No special insurance is required.  The best part of all, they can be parked anywhere, even on the sidewalk!

Even though a 50cc Vespa tops out at 35mph, we would never get on one without a wearing a helmet.  The reasons are many...streets can be bumpy, cement is... [More]- Vespa Helmets


June 9,2009

Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference is happening this week in San Francisco.  One of the much anticipated announcement at WWDC was whether there will be an upgrade to the iPhone.  The crowd was not disappointed the crowd.  Apple updated both the iPhone and the OS.  The platform is now both faster and more feature-rich.

iPhone users can now record video as well as still images, edit right on the device, and send the clips to all of the expected places (contacts, youTube, etc...).  The iPhone can... [More]- - iPhone 3GS


June 8,2009

Electricity is a puzzle to a lot of people (certain editors here at RainyDayMagazine included).  Learning about it from standard physics books can be illuminating...for those who enjoy reading physics books.  Budding scientists(as well as "normal" people) may find the Manga Guide to Electricity from No Starch Press a lot more digestible than the standard text on the subject.

The Manga Guide to Electricity combines an entertaining plot with authentic manga comics and lessons that offer readers a unique introduction to the world of electricity.  Readers learn alongside Rereko as her tutor explains the basics of electricity by examining everyday devices like... [More]- Manga Guide to Electricity


June 6-7,2009

Boston's waterfront has always been used more for industry than for recreation.  For years those looking for a place to eat down by the waterfront could choose between the No Name and Anthony's Pier4.  Newer additions to the dining scene have slowly made their mark, including our favorite the Barking Crab.  However, a few places to eat is hardly reason to spend a day down by the waterfront. 

Fortunately things have been changing, slowly (this is Boston).  In 1999, the John Joseph Moakley US Courthouse construction was completed.  Along with that was a... [More]- Boston Waterfront


June 5,2009

The Livescribe SmartPen is one of our favorite gadgets of 2009.  We got it in-house at the end of 2008.   Our FirstLook convinced us of the usefulness of this pen for our way of taking notes.  We immediately purchased more for others in the office.  Anyone using the SmartPen will see there are lots of potential for this device.  We have been working on a SmartPen based ideas of our own :-) We posted one such idea in May.

Many of you have sent in some pretty good suggestions after reading that article.  Some of those ideas required features not currently available.  Today, Livescribe announced that a pre-release version of the software development kit (SDK) for the SmartPen is now available for... [More]- Livescribe SDK


June 4,2009

Twenty years ago , a man stood in the way of tanks on the Avenue of Eternal Peace in China.  He did it for what he believed to be a worthy cause.  Few of us will ever be called upon to put our core beliefs and convictions to such a test.  How well would we fare?  Sure, we like to think we will either "do" or "not do" something, but until we are actually standing alone "in front of a tank" for those beliefs, we don't really know for sure.

The protest was eventually crushed with force.  Nobody knows what happened to that man.  In fact, we don't know much about what happened to a lot of people on that day.  The Chinese government has successfully erased its brutal response to the protest in Tiananmen Square from its own history books.  Not many of the young in China even know of the events of that day.  Fortunately, they can't remove what happened from the world's collective memory.  It is our duty to remember.  Not for justice or retribution, but for history.  This is what happened in Tianamen Square on June 4, 1989. [Permalink] - Twenty Years Later


June 3,2009

Cute videos of animals are everywhere on the Web.  We usually resist propagating them here on RainyDayMagazine.  However, this clip from the BBC was just too darling not to share...and as most readers know, we have a soft spot for ducks.

The video is of Joel Armstrong, a banker in Spokane, rescuing a brood of ducklings which had hatched on top of a ledge.  Leave it to the BBC to find a cute duckling story that does't actually make you want to poke your eyes out :-)   [Permalink] - Catch a Falling Duckling


June 2,2009

There are a lot of little "conversation pieces" on the table next to our desk.  They are all fun to play with and help us keep our hands busy when we have to sit and think.  The one item which we find ourselves playing with more than the others is this CyberCube.  We reviewed it back in October.  Making the basic cube and some other patterns were not as easy as we thought.  The magnets behaved in interesting ways when grouped in large configurations.  We did start to get a hang of some of the patterns after playing with it a while and were able to make many of the basic shapes. 

If you want to see what other shapes can be made with a bunch of round magnets, check out the new gallery on the CyberCube site.  They are having an inventory clearance over the next few days.  It is a great puzzle for a rainy day.  It is also something that will keep you entertained way after the rain has passed.  [Permalink] - CyberCube Puzzles


June 1,2009

A rearview camera is useful when you have a large SUV and want to avoid running over stuff that is low to the ground.  We wanted to add one to the Boxster because we had a couple of LCD screens already in the car and thought...hey, we could use one for a rearview camera!  What made the project irresistable was a local MicroCenter had a sale on Swann Security Cams a while back.  When everything was said and done, the total cost came to $5.00 after discounts and rebate.  Not much of a financial risk even if the project goes completely belly-up. 

The Swann camera uses a 9V power source.  In order to adapt it for in-car use we needed to get a 12V-to-9V DC-DC adapter.  We managed to snag... [More]- Rearview Cam


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