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January 29,2010

The Apple iPad was announced with great fanfare a few days ago. While the rest of the world is debating the relative merits of the hardware, we downloaded the iPhone 3.2 SDK to see what one can really do with this new puppy.

The SDK is around 2.2 GB compressed, but it took forever to download. We expect the Apple servers were being pounded pretty heavily by developers around the world. There were the usual requirements (Intel-based Macs only, Snow Leopard required, etc...). We decided not to bothered saving our...[more]-iPad SDK FirstLook


January 28,2010

The RainyDayLA office is in Manhattan Beach and it is very different from Boston. To us Bostonians, everyone appears unnatually happy and is just "wicked friendly": cars stopped for us when we were just standing on the curb, people we don't know said "hi" to us and didn't ask for any money, and apparently it IS sunny, dry, and in the mid-70s all the time.

We decided to walked around a bit before settling down to do some work. It was around 8:30AM and things have just started to stir. Some folks were already out boarding and surfing. Hard to imagine it was now close to lunch time back in Boston. Clearly the pace here is more relaxed. It may explain why...[more] -"Working" in L.A.


January 27,2010

While everyone is getting ready for tomorrow's big unveiling from Cupertino, we decided to head West to visit our friends in the RainyDayLA office. The recent weather in Boston may have something to do with the trip, but don't tell our managers that!

Somebody made a mistake and booked us on a 7:20AM flight (meaning we had to get to Logan by 5:30AM for the TSA pat-down), we managed to...[more] -RainyDayLA Visit


January 26,2010

The Xtend-a-Sight™ is an adapter that slides into the hot shoe of a camera enabling the attachment of red dot sights. Those sights are mostly used by hunters to track moving targets while keeping both eyes open. We have red dot sights on our telescopes, but as we are not hunters, it never occurred to us that it would be helpful to mount such a sight on a camera. However, once it was pointed out to us, we could appreciate the utility of such a pairing!

The adapter is milled out of aluminum and has a black anodized finish. There is a split at the end which fits into the hot shoe. A small hole has been tapped in the split end and fitted with a...[more] -PhotoSolve XTendASight FirstLook

January 25,2010

We are a little jaded when it comes to photo accessories. Don't get us wrong, we love the idea of them, we just don't come across many that we like. Most are gimicky, don't really do what they claim, and/or are cheaply constructed. The well-made ones are either too expensive or camera specific. So when we come across ones which do what they claim, are well made, and reasonably priced, we feel an obligation to spread the word.

The above collection of digital camera accessories are from a company called PhotoSolve. We learned about them from one of our readers...thanks Jason! Jason told us about an interesting adapter which enabled him to mount a Red Dot sight (typically found attached to...[more] -PhotoSolve Accessories


January 22,2010

When growing up, our room had lots of toys. As we got older, the toys were replaced with books, cloths, and other "stuff" of growing up. At some point, and it was unclear exactly when that was, we gave them all up and replaced them with throw pillows, duvet covers, and three-piece sectionals. Apparently, guests need and appreciate a place to sit.

All of that is fine and good, but it clearly explains why we are now surrounded by toys in our office (monopole, magnets, gyroscope), some of it well disguised as "equipment", some not so much. The office "acquired" a few more items over the holidays which are now part of our collection. The first item is this fantastic globe from Stellanova. The globe is 4" in diameter, covered by constellations, and...[more] -Geek Toys


January 21,2010

A week ahead of Apple's mysterious product unveiling, Amazon has announced they will have an SDK available for developers looking to bring "interactive content" to the Kindle platform. The new Kindle Development Kit (KDK) will give developers access to programming interfaces, tools, and documentation. There will also be a Kindle Simulator to enable developers to test their content by simulating the 6-inch Kindle and 9.7-inch Kindle DX on Mac, PC, and Linux desktops.

Participants in the limited beta will be able to download the Kindle Development Kit, access developer support, test content on Kindle, and submit finished content. Those wait-listed will be invited to participate at a...[more] -Kindle Development Kit


January 20,2010

Everyone has been climbing over themselves with predictions about the upcoming Apple event on January 27. The smart money is on Apple announcing the mythical "iTablet" or "iSlate." This new device will be a larger version of the popular iPhone and iPod Touch. It will be a direct competitor with Amazon's Kindle in the eBook space, revive the newspaper and magazine industry, and replace the laptop as the "second screen" on desktops across the land.

The RainyDayInterns have been working quietly behind the scenes for the past eight months, infiltrating every possible source (OEM, ATM, etc...), but have uncovered nothing...until yesterday. A box showed up at the office that changed everything. We think the PR company working with Apple were supposed to...[more] -Apple iPatch FirstLook


January 19,2010

We are not sure what the final turnout will be, but the lines were pretty short when we got to our local voting spot this morning. This normally snoozer of a Senate race has gotten such national attention that is is hard to imagine we won't get a strong turnout in spite of the crappy weather.

It is equally hard to imagine how Coakley could lose to Brown in this race. Just look at the difference in the quality of the signage for god sake! Professionally printed (Coakley) vs hand-drawn by 3-rd graders (Brown). Where we voted, there were no..[more] -Special Election Day


January 18,2010

When the "special election" was annouced for Senator's Kennedy's seat, we didn't think it would be all that interesting. Being Massachusetts, we figured it would be a choice between a few obvious Democrats and some token Republican.

We are now a day away from the election and things are anything but quiet. We have received a bunch of emails, several calls, and a pretty impressive bunch of direct mail pieces from both candidates. Unfortunately, none of which said anything substantive or persuasive. It appears the biggest beneficiary of this election will be...[more] -Coakley Vs Brown


January 15,2010

Glass is not technically considered a solid because internally it has no crystalline structure. The proper description for glass is an amorphous solid. Given enough time, a glass pane on a window will actually pool and be thicker at the bottom than at the top. You can see this effect if you look at any historical structures that still have the original glass in their windows*.

We got on the topic of glass because at the end of the month, many are anticipating that Apple will finally reveal their mythical "iTablet/iSlate" device. The expectation is this 10" device could rewrite the rules of the game for tabletPC going forward. We have no insights as to what...[more] -Gorilla Glass


January 14,2010

Once in a while we happen upon a story that surprises us. It does not happen very often, but when it does, it makes us happy. Based on our "movie-watching" profile Netflix recommended The Golden Compass as a movie we would likely enjoy.

Netflix was absolutely right. We liked it so much that we decided to learn more about the original book and its author, Philip Pullman. We checked out Pullman's other writings and found that The Golden Compass was the first in His Dark Materials series. The trilogy has received a host of...[more] -Philip Pullman : His Dark Materials


January 13,2010

Remember those plastic protractors from geometry class? We had to dig up ours when we needed to set the platform angle on our Mettler wedge. That got us to wondering whether there had been any advances in "angle-setting technology" since our trusty half-moon tool.

In the analog space, we found two other (square, bubble) angle-finders which were easy to use and effective. The metal speed square was designed for use in roof and stairway construction. The bubble angle finder has a magnetic base, a full-view acrylic vial protractor dial, and is graduated in 5-degree increments. The bubble tool is great for any situation where...[more] -Craftsman Digital Angle Finder


January 12,2010

Meausuring cups are not normally "high-tech" items. Their function is simple: they measure amounts of things. Most of us have a few of them in the cupboard, drawers, or shelves.  Some of them stack together well, some do not, but none of them flex...unless they are made of bendable, heat-resistant silicone.

From a fortunate turn of events at a recent holiday party/Yankee Swap, we became the proud owners of a set of three Flex-it measuring cups:1, 2 and 4-cup capacity.; 6 1/2", 7" and 8" high. These cups can stand the...[more] -iSi Silicone Measuring Cup


January 11,2010

We read a lot of magazines. One of the monthly ones we look forward to is Communications of the ACM. The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) publication has articles that are technical, informative, and timely.

ACM's articles do much more than just highlight a topic, issue, or problem. They examine the cause, offer insights, and suggest solutions. They delve much deeper into...[more] -RFID Passports


January 8,2010

The heart of our portable Hyperstar imaging system is the Celestron C6 Optical Tube Assembly (OTA). We chose the Celestron C6 not just for its size and weight, but because it is the smallest OTA with Fastar capability. Fastar is a system invented by Celestron in the 1990s to quickly and easily convert their Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT) f/10 OTA into a very short focal length, fast f/2 imager.  The system enables the SCT to gather light 25 times faster than the original optical configuration. Imaging at f/2 allows for very short exposures—30 seconds to 1 minute—for deep sky objects.

The Fastar system consists of two parts. The first is the secondary mirror cell assembly in the OTA. The second is a two-element lens that replaces the secondary. Fastar has an...[more] -Celestron C6 OTAFirstLook


January 7,2010

Quite a few questions came in asking for more details on the CDD imager we plan on using with our Hyperstar astrophotography setup. We had scheduled the write-up of the CCD camera for later next week, but due to the interest, we decided to move it up the queue.

We will be using a Starlight Xpress H9C camerawith the C6 and M10 Hyperstars. We would have preferred to use our Nikon DSLR, but the body would have been an obstruction when mounted in front of the telescope. The Starlight camera's body is cylindrical and has a... [more] -Starlight Xpress CCD FirstLook


January 6,2010

One of the first fields of study was the heavens. The movements of the sun, stars, and planets were recorded just by observation with the naked eye. The invention of the telescope extended our reach deep into the cosmos. Today, amateur astronomers have access to research-quality gear at relatively low prices. Some home-astronomy setups rival those of major university observatories. 

At the end of 2009, we acquired some new equipment for our astrophotography efforts.  Today, we are going to take a FirstLook at something called the Hyperstar. The Hyperstar is a lens designed by the folks at Starizona that turns an f10 SCT scope into the...[more] -Hyperstar FirstLook


January 5,2010

The Mettler wedge we looked at yesterday was acquired for our permanent pier project, scheduled for this Summer. Until we get the pier constructed, we will use the wedge with the giant field tripod of the LX200 GPS scope.

Setting up the Mettler wedge on the LX200 tripod required us to undo a modification we had installed a while back. The Peterson Mounting Assistant (PMA) is a plate which made it easier for one person to put the scope onto the tripod. We had to take off the PMA as it would interfere with...[more] -Mettler Wedge Setup


January 4,2010

We are going to start this year off with a series on Astronomy.  The interns have been keeping an eye out for a used wedge for the permanent pier we'll be building this year, and they were delighted when they found this 35-lb beauty on Astromart.

This wedge was designed by Jim Mettler many years back.  Jim has since stopped making them, but used ones come onto the market every so often, and when they do they are snapped up by those who know the name.  Maybe it was the holidays or maybe it was the recession, but the interns were surprised when they saw...[more] -Mettler Wedge FirstLook

January 3,2010

It has been snowing for three days straight.  Most of the stuff coming down is light and fluffy, but it is starting to pile up!  All this snow is making it more difficult for some of our friends in the RainyDayGarden to get their daily fill.  The feeders are filled everyday and the news of the free food is making its way around the neighborhood.  All kinds of creatures are stopping by to check out the menu.

The Jays and the Cardinals are big birds and can usually fend for themselves.  The sparrows make up for their small size with sheer number.  Five sparrows on a feeder will...[more] -Feeding Time


January 1,2010

Aren't robins suppose to be the harbinger of Spring?  Well, we were down on Commonwealth Ave in Boston today and came upon a tree full of those red-breasted feathery friends.

Even though the new year just got started, a lot of good things are already in place.  We have an intelligent president, healthcare reform looks like it may finally become a reality, and the market is starting to show small signs of life.  There is still a staggering amount of work to be done, but we are taking today's robin sighting as a good sign...

Happy New Year!!!! [Permalink] -New Year's Day



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