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March 31,2010

The RainyDayGarage guys braved the storm and drove from Boston to NYC on Tuesday for the NYIAS today. Our main purpose of the trip was to get a live look at the new Porsche offerings. We secretly hoped that there would be a Boxster Spyder or a 918 at the show. The trip down was uneventful except for the one section of I95 in Rhode Island that was flooded because of the heavy rain. The Boxster forded the small lake which formed at the underpass and came out of it with no noticeable damage.

Today, we got to the show relatively early as Porsche's press conference wasn't until 2PM. We love attending on Press Day because we get a chance to see everything without having to step on any small children or little... [more] -NYIAS: Day 1


March 30,2010

ePublishing on the iPod has never been all that attractive to us. The screen was too small for creating interesting layouts for the kinds of stuff we would want to publish. Still, we had always meant to figure out the workflow for publishing for the iPod just to understand the process. Last night, we decided to figure out how to get it all working.

We needed to figure out how to:

  • Convert content stored in Word or .pdf to EPUB format
  • Transfer converted file onto iPod device
  • View file on iPod

As it turns out, the process was relatively simple. It took us about 30 minutes to figure out everything. The technical skills required to set up the workflow is... [more] -eBook Publishing

March 29,2010

Last November we did an article about ExoVista replacement lenses for our Oakley Juliet sunglasses. We got the ExoVista lenses because they were much less expensive than the OEM Oakley ones. Recently, we discovered a maker of Oakley lenses from New Zealand who may be our "go to" source for all our future replacement needs.

We discovered Caulfield lenses when we were looking for an affordable set of Ruby Red replacements. The folks at Caulfield said they were currently... [more] -Caulfield Lenses


March 26,2010

At the beginning of the month, we mentioned that one of the projects we hopes to complete was the installation of the IKEA Capita braces for the conference/dining room table. As we had delayed our 2010 Chinese New Year celebration to this weekend, we thought we had better take care of this project before the guests showed up.

The biggest unknown with installing the Capita brackets was how difficult it would be to drill a 1/2" hole through the stainless steel top. We used the rubber pad as a template to mark where to drill. In order to drill through and install the bolt, we needed to disassemble the top panel from... [more] -IKEA Brace Installation


March 25,2010

Starting plants from seeds is a satisfying part of setting up a garden. There are many ways to do it. The basic requirements are some soil, a container, a warm bright spot, and the seeds. The only care needed is to keep the seeds moist until they germinate.

Egg cartons made from fiber are readily available and biodegradable and free (once you have purchased the eggs), which makes them the container of choice for many seed-starting projects. However, fiber egg cartons will both absorb water and... [more] -Seeds and Starters


March 24,2010

We are thrilled with the signing of the landmark healthcare reform bill yesterday. The fight was brutal and those opposed to the new law are still actively seeking to hinder it in any way possible. We would like to ask...did any of the following pass without opposition?

  • Emancipation Proclamation by Lincoln
  • Women's suffrage by Wilson
  • Lend/Lease by FDR
  • Desegregation of the military by Truman
  • Civil Rights Act by Johnson

Who would stand against these today?

Regardless of how people feel about the new law, staying healthy is probably one of the items on most people's top-ten list. There are many ways to approach that goal: eat properly, exercise appropriately, and have regular medical checkups. When we do get sick, today's pharmaceuticals have a cure for many of the the things  that in previous genenerations would have caused our demise. There are also things we can do for ourselves when we have some of the more common conditions like acne, anxiety, cold sores, and general aches and pains.

Herbs and plants have been used for thousands of years to treat common ailments. The common view is that plant-based remedies are natural, inexpensive, and less harmful to the body than manufactured drugs. Plants have provided Western medicine with some of its most effective drugs: penicillin, morphine, aspirin. Of course, there are plenty of plant-based "treatments" that are poisonous, do not do much of anything, or are just... [more] -Grow Your Own Drugs


March 23,2010

Digital photo frames (DPFs) are one of those items which seems like an obvious "killer app" when they first came on the market. We were early adopters but were disappointed with both the image quality and ease-of-use. So much so that we decided that we would not review any until they had 24bit color, displays that were bigger then 3"x5", and a better user interface. It was several more years before we found one which satisfied all of those requirement.

Ceiva started making digital photo frames in 2000. For the past 10 years, they have continued to invent, refine, and redefine the capabilities of DPFs. The main difference between Ceiva and all of the other makers is that Ceiva's approach is from the "how do the images get into the frame" standpoint. When they started, the phone line was the only viable option. Today, CeivaShare will support all of the obvious routes: phone, Broadband, WiFi. In this write-up, we'll take a look at the... [more] -CeivaShare FirstLook


March 22,2010

The temperature was in the high 60s most of the weekend. We took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to prep the ground and assembled the GrowBed that we got last week from The Gardener's Supply Company.

The 3'x6' GrowBed came in two separate boxes. The larger box had the 3'x3' unit. The smaller box had the extension to make the 3'x6' bed. The panels for the GrowBed are made from recycled plastic materials, are quite rigid, and should last for many seasons.

The 3'x3' kit contained four 3' panels, connecting spikes, and corner covers. The extension kit consisted of two additional 3' panels, two support plates, and a U-shaped connecting rod. All the panels have integrated joints which... [more] -Grow Bed Assembly


March 19,2010

A watch with an integrated flashlight is an unusual combination: flashlights require power and watches are small. Finding a way to pack enough battery power into a wristwatch to illuminate a flashlight is a difficult task. So when we heard about the Firefly Triad, we were intrigued.

The Firefly Rechargeable Electromagnetic Quartz (REQ) is first a high-quality wristwatch: scratch-resistant crystal; stainless steel band with an integrated locking clasp; water-resistant to 100M. Unlike any other watches we have in our collection, the Firefly also came with an AC charger and a charging stand. The stand serves as a nice platform for when the watch is not being worn. The Firefly is powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery. The charging mechanism is via... [more] -FireFly FirstLook


March 18,2010

One of the easiest ways to decorate a wall is with pictures and photos. While hanging them up is easy, aligning them can be a bit more challenging. If you have tried to align more than one photo on a wall, you know first-hand how frustrating this seemingly simple task can be. Even the slightest mis-alignment will be glaringly obvious and an annoying reminder of your miscalculation every time you look at it.

The process of alignment doe not have to be an exact measurement. Sometimes it is quicker done by visual inspection. The folks at Under The Roof created a tool to simplify the task of hanging pictures on a wall. The Hand&Level is a visual positioning tool designed to mark exactly where to place the nail or hook. The utility of this tool will be immediately evident to anyone who has ever... [more] -Hang&Level FirstLook


March 17,2010

The average human body is about 70% water. Water is so central to our well being that while a person can live for a few weeks without food, a person can't survive more than a few days without water. Having access to clean water is something many of us take for granted. The water that comes out of the tap is perfectly fine, but there is an easy way to make it almost perfect.

There are dozens of water filters out in the market. Unlike conventional gravity-fed water filters, ZeroWater's 5-stage ion-exchange filter is designed to remove... [more] -ZeroWater FirstLook


March 16,2010

Working on a vegetable garden is a wonderful and relaxing diversion for many. However, if you are a beginner, getting started can be somewhat intimidating. How to set one up? How big should it be? What and when to plant? Fortunately, Gardener's Supply Company has made it easy with their planners and "How To's." This year, we want to do a series that follows the process from starting a vegetable garden in the Spring, tending it during the Summer, and all the way through to harvesting in the Fall.

We chose the Gardener's Supply "Plant It and Forget It" garden setup, but we may reconsider and go with their "High Yield" garden. We still have a few weeks to decide what plants to get. The supplies we got would work for... [more] -GSC Gear FirstLook


March 15,2010

If this past weekend was any indication, March is coming in like a lion. It appears the April showers have gotten an early start as well.  We are glad we got things cleaned up a bit before the rain came. According to our gauge, we got well over 2" of rain in less than 24 hours. All this precipitation is great for the garden.

Last Summer we gave our huge Japonica bush a heavy hair cut. The question for us is, what are we going to do this Spring to fill in the space? We considered planting annuals, but doing the same work every year does not seem to be the best way to go. It is a bright sunny spot, so the suggestion was to... [more] -Spring Prep


March 14,2010

Today is Pi day...so here it is to 1,000,000 digits:

3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582 097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808 651328230664709384460955058223172535940812848111745028 410270193852110555964462294895493038196442881097566593 344612847564823378678316527120190914564856692346034861 045432664821339360726024914127372458700660631558817488 152092096282925409171536436789259036001133053054882046 652138414695194151160943305727036575959195309218611738 193261179310511854807446237996274956735188575272489122 793818301194912983367336244065664308602139494639522473 719070217986094370277053921717629317675238467481846766 940513200056812714526356082778577134275778960917363717 872146844090... [more] -Pi Day

March 12,2010

When I was growing up, the Swiss Army knife was the tool of choice for anyone looking for something a little more versatile than just a simple folding pocket knife. Leatherman changed all that in the early 1980s with the Pocket Survival Tool. They have continued to lead the multi-tool category with innovative updates such as the Skeletool. The great thing about the multi-tool market is that it is constantly evolving, and is also a favorite proving-ground for up-and-coming tool companies and innovative knifemakers.

Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) is such a company, and their designs are certainly innovative. They have only been in business for fewer than 10 years, but have already made quite a reputation for themselves amongst certain circles. They built their reputation as makers of functional edged-tools that were simple and tough-as-nails. Their first hit was the... [more] -CRKT I.D.Works FirstLook


March 11,2010

Summer is still months away, but now that The Clam Box has opened its doors for the season the waiting just got a lot easier. One of our editors is a Quincy girl, and last summer she introduced us to Wollaston Beach and the amazing food available at this restauant favored by the locals.

When we realized on Monday that The Clam Box had opened, we packed everyone up and went for lunch. We were not disappointed. The crowd was a lot lighter than in the Summer, but the food was every bit as ... [more] -The Clam Box


March 10,2010

The beautiful weather of the past few days gave us just the excuse we needed to go outside and play with the 3D Nikon rig. We got a few sets of stereo images of folks enjoying the day at the Arnold Arboretum.

Setting up was easy, and getting the zoom factor to match was not difficult. However, matching the exposure of the two cameras was harder than expected. We didn't think it would be so, but the difference might have been because of the VR vs non-VR 18-55mm lenses on the cameras. At F22, the camera with the VR lens (left) took the shot at 1/30 sec, but the non-VR lens (right) required 1/15 sec. The sharpness was similar enough, but some color differences were clearly visible. Fortunately, biological systems (i.e., us) have evolved a high tolerance for mismatched contrast when it comes to achieving fusion of stereo images.

Now that we have some stereo images to play with, we are going to experiment with some techniques for seeing the 3D effect. Presenting a separate image to each eye can be difficult, especially without the aid of... [more] -Stereogram FirstLook

March 9,2010

Yesterday's article generated a few interesting questions from readers. Many were wondering how we planned to trigger the two cameras. A few readers suggested elaborate rigs with dual-plungers. We had a much simplier solution: the remote trigger. The D40 has five different shooting modes. The "quick response" remote trigger is the one we are going to use for this application.

Some were asking how we were going to make sure that everything would be level. We thought about line-levels and bubble levels. In the practice runs, we found that the simple circular bubble was the easiest to use. We planned to... [more] --3D Nikon Rig FirstUse


March 8,2010

The photo below was taken by Russ Beinder during the 2010 Winter Olympics of Sports Illustrated photographer David Klutho's stereoscopic Nikon D700. Judging by the inverted configuration, the camera on the right is the master and the one on the left is the slave. The cables and small black box on the bottom of the slave camera indicates a trigger-coupling between the two cameras. The two lenses appear to be bound by some kind of band. Its function is unclear. In any case, the rig looked pretty sweet.

One of our editors has an interest in stereoscopic imaging. He doesn't talk about it much, but rumor has it that he was one of the few who programmed a machine called the PIPE. The PIPE was one of two in the world, hand-built and housed in a "room without a window" for an unnamed agency in D.C. He is a little twitchy, so we don't ask him too many questions or sneak up on him...ever.

Anyway, he thought it should be possible to rig up something similar to Photographer Dave's with gear we already had in house: two Nikon D40s, mounting rails, screws. We obviously would not have any... [more] -3D Nikon Rig


March 5,2010

March can be a difficult month because it is no longer Winter, but Spring is not yet here. We use it as a "transition month" where we look at gear which we'll use in the Spring, finish a few indoor projects, and start some others that will give us a jump on the upcoming longer and warmer days. Judging from the gear and gadgets queued up in our review pipeline, we are going to have a lot of fun this month. Folks here have been kicking around quite a few project ideas. Today, we thought we would give readers a preview of what's on deck for Spring 2010.

When we looked at the Handpresso portable espresso maker a few years ago, more than a few readers commented that it would be a great item for the picnic basket. We knew the Handpresso people were thinking in the same direction. This Spring, we are going to give you a closer look at their luxurious Outdoor Set.

Great tasting espresso starts with good clean water. ZeroWater is looking to raise the bar on home water filtration with their new filter/pitcher system. To back up their "zero contaminants" claim, they have included a meter to let users monitor the particulate levels for themselves. We'll take that challenge and put ZeroWater to the test.

One of the more satisfying DIY projects you can do is to print and hang a group of your favorite photos to liven up a wall or a room. However, getting them to all line up can be an exercise in frustration. The great news is ...[more] -What else is coming in Spring


March 4,2010

Dramatic changes in user interface design has happened only a few times in personal computing history. The most notable one was when the interface went from the command lines of CP/M and DOS to the Apple Macintosh. A decade or so later, smaller computing devices with touch-sensitive screens (Apple Newton, Palm Pilot) ushered in new ideas on how one should navigate and interact with those devices. It was another 10 years before the Apple iPhone brought "multi-touch" gestures to the general public. Later this month the Apple's iPad will be shipping. We believe it will be another significant marker in the evolution of the computer user interface.

Creating a great user interface experience is more an art than a science. Sure, there are plenty of guidelines to follow and examples to mimic once the path has been paved. However, when the landscape is brand new, as when the...[more] -iPad Human Interface Guidlines


March 3,2010

The end of the month is the annual International Auto Show in NYC, which the RainyDayGarage folks last attended in 2006. They skipped the show in recent years because the auto industry was in a tailspin and there was nothing new on the horizon to justify the trip. However, this year they will be back at the Jacob Javits Center to bring you some of the latest in automotive news. The focus for the RainyDayGarage folks will be to see what is new in the world of hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles.

The 918 Spyder, a two-seat mid-engine supercar with hybrid and electric drive technology, debuted at the Geneva Auto Show. Porsche has reported that the 918 Spyder Concept can manage 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 3.2 seconds, with a top speed of 198 mph. The 918's course time at Nürburgring was less than...[more] -Porsche 918 Spyder


March 2,2010

The updates to the iPhone SDK are coming faster now that Apple is gettting closer to the iPad release date. Version Beta3 came out a few days ago. As expected, it contained a bunch of code changes that fixed various things in the framework. The most visible update is the working Photo app in the iPad simulator.

Like the Photo app on the iPhone, this is an image viewer, not an editor. In the real app, images will be loaded via iTunes. In this simulation, the only way to...[more] -iPad Photo Simulation


March 1,2010

One of our monthly readings is a magazine call The Scientist. We read it because it is a way for us to keep up with what's happening in the life sciences without having to wade through the heavy stuff in Science. The cover article of the first issue of 2010 was about whether it was time to update some of the current thinking in Evolutionary Theory. We found the article in The Scientist absolutely fascinating, as we had not seen a summary of the various extensions to the Julian Huxley's 1942 book Evolution: The Modern Synthesis. However, that is not the part we wanted to discuss today.

The item which sparked today's article was a line in Richard Gallagher's list of the problems with the study of the life sciences today. The ten problems...[more] -Darwin 3.0



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