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Oct 29,2010- Interactive Test Issue...

This is the last installment of our brief tour of the Adobe Digital Publishing Solution. Yesterday, we worked through Adobe's tutorial on putting together a single page using their DPS tools. Now that we are confident that all of the pieces of the process are functioning properly, we are ready to tackle a second and more challenging tutorial.

Today, we will show the workflow involved in assembling an issue with more interactive (slideshows, video, etc...) elements. Also, instead of just transferring the issue directly to the iPad, we'll upload it to Adobe's magazine server and download it wirelessly using the iPad. As with the single page issue, the layout of the various component were done using... [more]-Adobe DPS: Interactive Test Issue

Oct 28,2010-Digital Publishing Solution...

We've spent the last few days getting the pieces of Adobe's Digital Publishing Solution (DPS) downloaded, installed, and running. The DPS is Adobe's set of tools for publishing interactive magazines for the iPad. It is currently in beta testing and is scheduled to be available in Q2 of 2011. The following are the main components of the DPS workflow:

  • InDesign CS5
  • Adobe AIR 2.x
  • Interactive Overlay Creator (beta)
  • Digital Content Bundler (beta)
  • iPad Preview Tool (beta)

This set of tools was developed by Adobe to enable magazine publishers to leverage their print material for the digital tablet market. The basic idea is, with a little extra work, publishers can add value (interactivity, links, etc...), repackage their print material, and deploy to a host of current and future digital devices...all without having to do any programming. It is an attractive proposition. We want to see if Adobe's solution will only work for the big publishing houses or will it also work for the slightly smaller operations like RainyDayMagazine.

The DPS workflow is based around the latest Creative Suite InDesign application. While InDesign CS5 is the main component of the workflow, there are a few other pieces which help connect everything together. One of the "glue" components is... [more]-Adobe DPS: Test Issue


Oct 27,2010- Adobe CS5 QuickStart..

The tools for digital publishing have evolved quite a bit over the past thirty years. At the beginning, PageMaker, Quark Xpress, and Word were the tools of the trade. It was possible for one person to be an expert on all of these applications. Granted, the digital portion of the entire publishing workflow was was limited, but still it was possible to learn it all. The suite of applications used to create, layout, and manage the digital publishing process keeps growing. Today, just familiar with a few of them is difficult enough, being an expert in every application necessary to produce a digital magazine is next to impossible.

Keeping current with the updates to the applications we currently use (Dreamweaver, Photoshop) is challenging enough. With our venture into publishing for the iPad, we will now need to get up to speed on a component of the Adobe CS suite called InDesign. It came as a part of our Adobe CS4 package. As the application is for laying out pages for printing, we never even bothered to install it. However, now that Adobe has extended InDesign CS5 for... [more]-Adobe CS5: QuickStart


Oct 26,2010- iPad Magazine Publishing..

The iPad has changed a lot of things in the six months since its introduction. A whole cottage industry of game and utility apps has sprung up for the device. Companies are jockeying for position around which technologies will be/should be/never will be supported on it. Publishing houses are scrambling to understand what the iPad will mean for books, magazine, and the web.

Magazine publishers are especially interested in the iPad as a platform. The tablet form factor is a natural fit for reading magazines. The iPad/AppStore combo is especially suited as it can allow subscribers to connect to the web, purchase, and download new issues. Sites such as Wikipedia and TED have iPad apps which enable users to view their content in a magazine-ish format. Flipboard has even made it possible for iPad users to create their own personal magazines using content from Facebook, twitter updates, and other feeds. The biggest splash this week was... [more]-iPad Magazine Publishing


Oct 25,2010- Digital Foci PhotoBook:InTheWild...

It has been almost a year since we took a FirstUse look at Digital Foci's PhotoBook. Today's better digital cameras, larger memory cards, and simpler ways to share the images have resulted in people taking more photos than ever. How we take our images (cell phones, digital camcorders, etc...) may have changed over the years. What has not changed is the interest in finding new ways of viewing, displaying, and enjoying them with friends and family. Most can now email them from our cell phones, post them on social sites, and show them as a slideshow on the LCD TV.

However, there is something special about holding a photo album in your hands and flipping though the pages at your own pace. A year ago, Digital Foci's PhotoBook was the only digital product which was able to satisfy that desire. Today, with Apple's iPad, one can do pretty much the same thing as the PhotoBook and much much more. So, is Digital Foci's PhotoBook obsolete? Today we'll... [more]-Digital FOCI PhotoBook: InTheWild


Oct 22,2010 - Jura Z7 FirstLook...

Jura makes some of the most advanced home espresso and cappuccino machines around. We reviewed Jura's Impressa Z5 unit back in 2006. In general, the Z5 has been a workhorse and has provided us with freshly ground coffee, espresso, and cappuccino whenever we wanted. With normal periodic cleaning and a little bit of maintenance, these machines were made to last a good long time. Our unit works smoothly and quietly even after four years of daily service. After so many years, we thought it was time to check in with Jura and see what/if any improvements have been made to the Impressa line. Jura's answer to our query was the Impressa Z7 OneTouch.

The big box from UPS showed up earlier in the week, but we got tied up with...well, many of you know what has been occupying our time lately :-) We did not unpack the box until today. Normally, we don't make a big deal with unpacking something (unless it is from Apple), but in this case we thought it warranted a special mention. We have unpacked a lot of stuff over the years and have noticed that... [more]-Jura Z7: FirstLook


Oct 21,2010 - Wild Planet TRAKR:Imaging...

Remote controlling a mobile video camera while remaining safely hidden in an undisclosed secure location is what playing "spy" is all about. It is even more fun if the "mission" can be recorded for post-op analysis. The Wild Planet SpyVideo TRAKR is designed to let budding SpyKids do all that and more. The FirstLook and FirstPlay write-ups gave RainyDay readers a quick glance at many of the features of the TRAKR. Today we are going to take a look at the imaging capabilities of this RC unit.

The TRAKR has built-in photo and video capture capabilities. However, there is no onboard memory for storing photos or videos. Thus, the image-capture functions (PictureTaker, VideoRecorder) are activated only when there is a memory card in the SD slot. When a card is inserted, the TRAKR does a bit of setup. If everything checks out, a green LED will illuminate to indicate that... [more]-WildPlanet TRAKR: Imaging


Oct 20,2010 - Wild Planet TRAKR:FirstPlay...

Apparently, many readers are as interested in Wild Planet's Spy Video TRAKR as we are. We got quite a bit of email asking about the internals of the TRAKR. We would like to see how it works before we take it apart, people! We will take the TRAKR apart at SOME point, just not now. We haven't been doing anything else but playing with the TRAKR since it showed up. Which is why we are able to give our FirstUse, or rather FirstPlay, impressions of the TRAKR today.

The TRAKR came fully assembled. As soon as we installed the batteries (six for the TRAKR, four for the controller), the TRAKR was ready to go. The controller was easy to figure out (no manual needed). We had no trouble maneuvering the unit into/out of/around tight spaces. Its big wheels enable the TRAKR to get over most of the obstacles we threw in front of it. The rubber tracks worked equally well on both hardwood floors and carpet.

The interns started getting a little nervous with this non-human life form following them around, but they soon realized that they were safe behind the "tatami blockage". The two-inch edge of the tatami mat proved too much for the TRAKR to overcome. Reversing the TRAKR so that its drive-wheels approached first did get the vehicle above the edge, but... [more]-WildPlanet TRAKR: FirstPlay

Oct 19,2010 - Wild Planet TRAKR:FirstLook...

We have been SpyGear fans ever since we first got our hands on Wild Planet's Lazer TripWire. Over the years, Wild Planet has added to its popular SpyGear line (SpyVision, ATV-360, etc...) with tech of increasing sophistication and capabilities. In February, Wild Planet announced that the Spy Video TRAKR will be available this Fall. We have been patiently waiting ever since. Today, we are happy to announce that the TRAKR is available for purchase and we have one in house. However, if you want one, get your orders in now because they WILL fly off the shelves. Over the next few week, we'll show you why.

The Spy Video TRAKR is a remote-controlled mobile color video camera/camcorder similar to the ATV-360 we reviewed a few years ago. However, the capabilities of the TRAKR are quite a bit more advanced than that of its older sibling. In fact, it wasn't that long ago that the TRAKR's capabilities were only available in the real spy gear of the Pentagon and the CIA:

  • night-vision capability
  • real-time image processing
  • digital transmission color video, audio and data
  • polyphonic synthesizer for voice synthesis

The "killer" feature of the TRAKR is not its new hard-wired capabilities. It is that the TRAKR's capabilities can be extended with... [more]-WildPlanet TRAKR: FirstLook


Oct 18,2010 - Mandelbrot ...

Fractals are everywhere and you don't have to be a math geek to appreciate their beauty. However, it took Benoit Mandelbrot (who WAS a serious math geek) quite a while to convince everyone that fractals (a term he coined) was a branch of mathematics worthy of serious study. Many of his contempories thought he was brilliant, but that his line of work was 1) nonsense, 2) crazy, and 3) a waste of effort. Some of Mandelbrot's seniors were out right hostile to him and his "fractals."

We were first introduced to Mandelbrot and fractals in the mid-80's when we were studying computer graphics. The use of fractal geometry to create alien landscapes and worlds in movies (Star Trek II, The Last Star Fighter, etc...) got everyone buzzing about this emerging branch of mathematics. However, it wasn't until the... [more]-Mandelbrot


Oct 15,2010 - Farewell to the PPBB...

Everything has a lifespan...even a online comment board. For those who own a Porsche Boxster, THE gathering place for the past decade has been Porsche Pete's Boxster Board. When we first got our Boxster, PPBB was the place where we learned all about its quirks, eccentricities, and how to "manage" them. Over time, PPBB became a place where we would go visit even when we didn't have any problems with our Boxster or have any Porsche-related news to contribute. We would stop by just to see what others have been up to...much like our "local" in town.

After today, PPBB will go dark. The reasons are many, but ultimately it came down to the people. Most of the "old-timers" have heard all of the common problems, discussed in-depth all of the possible solutions, and have become bored with repeating the same things to the "newbies." The focus of the discussions started to... [more]-Farewell to the PPBB


Oct 14,2010 - SuperFocus FirstUse...

We posted comments of the TruFocals as sunglasses yesterday. After two months of use, we thought we would give our impressions of the variable-focus TruFocals as reading glasses today.

It took us about two days to get used to changing the focus on the TruFocals as the slider was a bit stiff. At first, it was a two-handed operation. Once the mechanism had loosen up some, we could do it with one hand. Now we don't even think about it when we work the slider from... [more]-SuperFocus: FirstUse


Oct 13,2010 - Contrast Enhancing Lenses...

Sunglasses are standard equipment for any excursion to the beach. Since we knew we would be right next to one for a few days for Columbus Day weekend, we brought along a few pairs (Julbo, 180s, TruFocals, Oakley) to do some side-by-side InTheWild comparisons. Of special interest were the TruFocals and contrast-enhancing lenses for our Oakleys.

We did a FirstLook review of the TruFocals and have been wearing them a few days a week for the past two months, but only indoors. This is because we wear contact lenses during the day and the TruFocals at night. We love the "teashade-ish" look of the TruFocals. They remind us of the glasses worn by Seraph in the Matrix. Of course, the ones worn by Seraph were... [more]-Contrast Enhancing Lenses


Oct 12,2010 - OtterBox iPhone4 cases...

Everyone knows we favor Apple gear. When we gathered this past weekend at the Cape, even we were surprised by how much of it we had. We had two iPads, two iPod Touches, three iPhones, and two MacBook Pros amongst the six of us.

Even though we were supposed to be on vacation, we could not resist bringing a few items for folks to check out between naps. Two of the items were the OtterBox iPhone4 Commuter and Defender cases. These OtterBox cases, like other OtterBox enclosures, are custom-designed for the specific devices. Like the iPad Commuter and Defender series, these iPhones cases are... [more]-OtterBox iPhone4 Cases: FirstLook


Oct 11,2010 - Columbus Day Weekend...

Food and relaxation are the two most important goals of our annual Columbus Day Weekend retreat. We used to head up to Maine to Ogunquit, Wells, or Monhegan Island. However, for the past few years, the group has been driving to our friends' place in Provincetown. The trip to the Cape is much shorter than the trek up to Maine. We left Boston at 2PM, and even with the holiday traffic, were able to make it out to Provincetown in less than three hours.

While other tourist destinations start to wind down after Labor Day, most of the shops and restaurants in Provincetown don't close until after Columbus Day. There were plenty of options for eating, shopping, and entertainment. One of the traditions with our Maine trips was the search for the weekend's best lobster roll. Fortunately for us, we were able to continue the quest as lobster roll vendors on the Cape were just as plentiful as "down east." This year's winner was... [more]-Columbus Day Weekend


Oct 8,2010 - Cisco: Valet Installation...

Setting up a home WiFi network should not require a computer engineering degree. What's more, it should not even require the user to know ANYTHING about networking. However, what it should be is easy to do. The network should also be fast, secure, and convenient to use...even for the occasional guest.

The Cisco created the Valet with the aim of enabling anyone to be able to setup a home wireless network with just a few clicks. To do that, Cisco has almost completely automated the process of setting one up. We were a little skeptical at first, but after having gone through it, we are now believers.

We inserted the USB key to initiate the setup and installation process. Our first instruction was to hook up the Valet router to the cable or DSL modem. We wanted to have both the old and the new WiFi network running at the same time. So instead of taking the signal from the cable modem, we looped it from the Linksys router. This point is... [more]-Cisco Valet: Installation

Oct 7,2010 - Cisco: Valet FirstLook...

The value of having a WiFi network at home is pretty obvious: no unsightly wires, whole-house access, ability to surf the web out in the yard, etc. However, setting up and administering a wireless network can be more of a challenge than many non-techies may want to take on. Apple's Airport WiFi is a snap to get up and running, but their gear requires a Mac for setup. Even with Apple's typical elegant ease of use, one still has to know a little about IP addresses, security protocols, etc... Cisco, the giant in networking, now has a line of self-configuring WiFi routers which was design to do Apple's Airport one better. The claim of the Cisco Valet line of wireless routers is that they setting up a home network as simple as plugging them in and turning them on.

We have setup many WiFi networks and have, along with many others, struggled with getting all of the parameters setup right. When we heard about the Valet, we were intrigued. Could Cisco really have designed the Valet to let anyone without technical knowledge of networking to... [more]-Cisco Valet: FirstLook


Oct 6,2010 - Canson: PaperShow FirstLook...

The Digital Pen was invented and developed by a Swedish company called Anoto. A digital pen looks, feels and writes like a normal ballpoint pen. However, it contains an integrated digital camera, an advanced image microprocessor and a mobile communications device for wireless connection. The pen is able to determine its exact position when used with special encoded paper. The non-repeating dot pattern printed on the paper is a set of coordinates trackable by the camera at the tip of the pen. This information, combined with the image of the ink, enables the pen to record exactly when, what, and where something was written. Anoto licenses this technology to a variety of companies who then use it to make products which target different markets. Many of the uses are purpose-built for vertical sectors such as healthcare, finance, etc. However, some companies have created products aimed at general business and consumer market.

Most know Canson as a French company with a large line of fine art paper and related products. Today, we are going to take a FirstLook at a product from Canson called PaperShow. RainyDayMagazine readers will... [more]-Canson: PaperShow FirstLook


Oct 5,2010 - modulR: Wall Mount Installation...

Most cases, folios, and stands for the Apple iPad are designed for protecting and using the iPad while on the move. What about the times when the iPad is just laying around? If you are like us, your desk space is precious. Wall-mounting the iPad will get it off the desk yet still have it visible and accessible.

modulR offers a system of a case and bracket which makes it easy to put the iPad on a vertical surface. We had taken a FirstLook at the two-piece modulR case back in August. Today, we show how easy it is to mount the bracket and our impression of using an iPad on the wall.

Most of us have lots of apps on our iPhone and/or iPad which we rarely use. We have the apps around "just in case." Well, we FINALLY had a use for our bubble-level app when we had to mount the modulR bracket!!! The app made it very to easy mount the bracket level. The tricky part was to keep it from moving when taking the iPad off to lock down the bracket. Our suggestion would be to mount one screw, level it, then lock it down with another one on the other side.

We added a velcro pad because the iPad slid out just a little too easily for our comfort. We are not sure if it was because we got one of the earlier pre-production cases. Personally, we would like to see a... [more]-modulR: Wall Mount Installation


Oct 4,2010 - Shobu Aikido: Fall Gasshuku...

Those of us who are in Boston know what a priviledge it is to be able to train under Sensei Gleason all the time. A few times a year, Shobu Aikido hosts a weekend gasshuku (intensive seminar). Often these seminars are taught by visiting teachers. However, this Fall the gasshuku will be taught by Sensei Gleason. It will be three days of training. To get the most out of the seminar, attendance for all three days is highly recommended.

If you are interested, go sign up now on the Shobu site. While the dojo is pretty large, spaces fill up fast. Fee for the seminar is $100. Individual days are available. You can register online through the calendar at www.shobu.org. Please call 617-718-1918 or email Shobu Aikido for more information. [Permalink] -Shobu Aikido: Fall Gasshuku


Oct 1,2010 - Aikido3D:A New Point of View...

We recently got into a brief discussion online about what it means to be "in control." After 10 years of Aikido practice, the one thing we have learned is that you can't control others. Control through force is an illusion, because it is weak and temporary. Real control is the lack of the need to control because the compliance is offered freely.

In Aikido, Sensei Gleason often reminds us that we can get out of their way when opponents fall, but we can't make them fall. Ever tried shoving a tree? A sand dune? or water in a swimming pool? That is the feeling you get when you try to shove someone who knows how to absorb and redirect that energy. The end result is usually that the person shoving does the falling, and the other person just steps out of the way. The feeling of falling is exactly what you experience when part of a well-executed Aikido "throw." The attacker falls because they lose their balance and are tripped up rather than thrown down. This is an interesting but often misunderstood distinction when trying to learn the essense of or the "secret" to Aikido techniques.

Those who study the martial arts know it is next to possible to learn by reading books or watching videos. They are merely mechanisms to help with visualizing the basic forms or to supplement the description of the movements.They fall short as good teaching tools because they can only offer a snapshot of movements in time or a point of view from a single perspective. Still, it would be helpful to have an effective way of showing various techniques and concepts without having to have it demonstrated live. The most innovative approach we have come across to date is... [more]-Aikido3D: FirstLook


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