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Apr 29, 2011- Kryptonite: Bike ID Kit...

Now that Spring is here, many are getting their bicycles tuned-up for another season of pedaling. With the ever increasing gas prices, the incentive to get on the bike for short trips is higher now then ever before. Bicycling is a great way to keep in shape, save some money, and does not add more pollutants to the air we breath. Unfortunately, according Kryptonite, it can take as little as forty-three seconds to steal a bike and it happens twenty five times every hour! Fortunately, there are things we can do to make it harder for thieves to ride off with our bikes:

  • Join and register the bike with the Bike Revolution
  • Tag the bike for extra protection
  • Lock the bike properly

Registered bikes statistically have a greater recovery rate...or at least not be sold by the local police at auction for pennies on the dollar. Kryptonite, the bike lock people, and Bike Revolution, a UK based global bicycle registration provider, partnered up last Fall to tackle the theft problem. They are providing cyclists with a FREE... [more]- Kryptonite: Bike ID Kit


Apr 28, 2011- NEAF 2011: Expo wrap up...

This is the final installment of the 2011 NEAF Conference write-ups. It was our first time attending the Expo and it was excellent. We got to meet and chat with like-minded folks, listened to some interesting talks, and had plenty of hands-on time with all kinds of equipment. In this last post, we thought we would cover a few of the more unusual things we saw at the show.

We first came across Fullum-built telescopes last Summer at the World Science Festival om NYC, and were happy to come across them again at NEAF. By combining world class hand-made optics with... [more]- NEAF 2011: Wrap up


Apr 27, 2011- NEAF 2011: Soar Party...

Not all astronomy has to be done at night. Some of the most interesting stuff happens during the day. The downside is there is really only one thing to look at during the day, the Sun. Of course, just because there is only one thing to see does not mean it will be boring. The Sun is an amazing to look at and utterly fascinating object to study.

Solar activities are not just visual curiosities; they can have immediate, direct, and substantial impact here on Earth. In fact, NASA is devoting a lot of resources (Solar Dynamic Observatory, Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, Hinode) to monitoring and reporting on what is happening with our Sun. While not as popular as night astronomy, amateurs are increasingly... [more]- NEAF 2011: Solar Party


Apr 26, 2011- NEAF 2011...

Astronomy may be the most accessible of the scientific disciplines to the general public. All that is really needed is a clear night, a comfortable chair, and a pair of binoculars. Of course, that does not mean a little gear wouldn't add to the enjoyment of looking up at the night sky. Every year those who have been bitten by the astronomy bug gather at the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) and Telescope Show to look at gear, share stories, and to generally have a great time.

NEAF and the Telescope Show is presented by the Rockland Astronomy Club of Suffern NY, and is the biggest telescope show in the world. We decided to drive down from Boston to see it for ourselves. The two-day event featured world-renowned speakers, workshops, special events, and over... [more]- NEAF 2011


Apr 25, 2011- WORX: Jaw Saw...

This Winter was a tough one in New England. The ice storms brought down a LOT of branches. Now that Spring is finally here, it is time to deal with the mess, prune and trim things before they start to bloom, and clean up what has fallen to the ground. A hand saw will get the job done, but a chainsaw will make short work of the task. Chainsaws are excellent tools in the hands of a properly trained user. However, the handling and use of a chainsaw can be intimidating for many. WORX recognized this and created the safer JawSaw specifically for us weekend gardeners.

The JawSaw takes the basic design of a light-duty chainsaw and made it safer for the occasional user. The cutting action is still the same as that of a normal chainsaw, but the angle in which the chain makes contact with the limb will always be optimal. Also, instead of an exposed and openly rotating cutting chain, the chain and bar are wrapped in a U-shaped "jaw." The "jaw" acts both as a... [more]- WORX: Jaw Saw FirstLook


Apr 22, 2011- NYIAS: Opening Day...

We just got back from NYC after spending a few days at the NYIAS. It was a blast. We sat in every exotic car we could, played with the knobs, and imagined what it would feel like driving them on an open road. The press preview started on Wednesday and the show officially opened to the public today. As with any show of this magnitude, there is something for everybody: sports cars, fuel-efficient hybrids, trucks with built-in gun racks, concept cars, and some which defies description.

As always, our favorite car from the show were the concept cars. Concept cars are the manufacturers' way of showing off to each other. The majority of the concept cars (Porsche Boxster being one of the rare exceptions) never make it into production, but they serve as a showcase for... [more]- NYIAS: Opening Day


Apr 21, 2011- NYIAS: Black Edition Boxster...

Porsche is the reason we go to the NYIAS whenever we can. This year, visitors to Porsche's booth will get a close-up view of the Black Edition of the Boxster S. There will only be 987 of these specially outfitted vehicles. Each will be numbered and labeled.

Boxster owners will immediately notice the subtle difference: black instrument dials and shifter, black rear side intake grills, embossed logo on the convertible roof, black twin tailpipes, body-matching... [more]- NYIAS: Porsche Black Edition


Apr 20, 2011- New York International Auto Show...

We are spending a few days here in NYC for the NYIAS. If you are interested in the basic coverage, there are dozens of major networks, mainstream press, and folks from the usual car-focused publications to tell you all about it. Our plan at the 2011 NYIAS was to find the unusual or extraordinary.

Of course, like most plans, it went out the window once put into action. When we arrived at the show, we saw a long row of Jaguars parked out front. We soon discovered that fifty years ago, the New York Auto Show played host to the launch of an automotive classic: the Jaguar E-Type - or XKE as it was known in America. If any country took the E-Type to its heart, it was the... [more]- NYIAS: Jaguar


Apr 19, 2011- ACM:Hand-Gesture Apps...

A few years ago, Jeff Han gave a demo of a low-cost way to create large multi-touch surfaces using the FTIR technique. The talk generated a lot of excitement and a surge of DIY projects on how to build multi-touch screens and tables. We started a RainyDayProject and assembled the parts needed (directions, projector, LEDs) to put a multi-touch table together. The project never got past the planning stage because we realized a practical flaw with the system. The resolution of inexpensive LCD projectors are so much lower then most computer systems. This would make any system we make very expensive to upgrade, and so the project was shelved.

On Nov 4, 2010 Microsoft released the Kinect accessory for the XBox 360 gaming system. In a matter of days (three to be exact), the Kinect was hacked to enable it to do a lot more than just talk to the XBox. Since we are not big gamers, we hadn't paid much attention to the Kinect until... [more]-Hand-Gesture Apps


Apr 18, 2011- Spring iPad Issue...APPROVED!

It is Patriot's Day here in New England. We know that some (many) of you don't have this day off, but we do. So we are out cheering the runners of the Boston Marathon on. We'll be back tomorrow.

BTW, the Spring 2011 iPad issue has been approved by Apple and is now available for download. Enjoy!!! [Permalink] - Spring iPad Issue Approved


Apr 15, 2011- Spring iPad Issue...

Last Friday we submitted the first iPad issue of RainyDayMagazine to Apple for approval. The issue was constructed using a beta version of Adobe's DMP tools. Future issues will be published quarterly and available for download from the App Store.

Our goal for RainyDayMagazine on the iPad is to leverage the unique capabilities of the device to enhance the digital magazine experience for our readers. We want to make it seamless for readers to move amongst the... [more]-Spring iPad Issue


Apr 14, 2011- iPad Microscope...

Yesterday we mentioned that the Flip camcorder was taken off the market by Cisco. One of the reasons for the Flip's demise may be the ubiquity of camera and video recording capabilities in portable devices such as smartphones and iPods. When Apple upgraded the iPad, they added no less than two cameras to the tablet: a front-facing camera for use with FaceTime video-conferencing, a rear-facing camera for photos and video recording.

Apple clearly made some trade-offs (resolution, cost, power consumption, etc...) when choosing the cameras for the iPad2. According to Apple, the rear camera can take 720p videos. This translates to images with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels (0.92MB). Apple realizes the technical details of the cameras were nothing to crow about and has pretty much left it off the iPad2 spec sheet. However, just because the iPad2's current cameras are pretty lame from a specs perspective, the addition of a camera to the iPad's large portable multi-touch screen can be a powerful combination.

Last Summer, we reviewed a bunch of digital microscopes for RainyDayScience's BackyardBiotech project. We found the microscopes to be suitable but impractical for field use. We tried to find a way to attach one of those digital microscopes to the iPad. Even thought they were all USB devices, none of them were supported on the iPad. When Apple announced that the iPad2 would have... [more]-iPad Microscope


Apr 13, 2011- Flip no more...

In 2005 digital videos camcorders were bulk and complicated to use. So it was not surprising that when Pure Digital introduced its single-use digital camcorder to the market, it made a huge splash. The one-time-use camcorder was branded and sold through the CVS chain. The "problem" was that the camera was too good. Users purchased the inexpensive cameras and kept them instead of returning it to CVS for processing, killing the original business plan. The relationship with CVS ended, but Pure Digital gained an extremely valuable insight (something they could have learned by reading Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma) regarding consumer's willingness to trade quality for low cost and ease-of-use.

Pure Digital revamped and spent the next few years selling directly to consumers, building the brand, and creating a $400 million dollar business. In 2009, they cashed out and sold the company to Cisco Systems for $590 million. This story would have had a fairy tale ending if it wasn't for the bombshell announcement yesterday from Cisco that they would be cancelling the Flip division and laying off over 500 workers. The announcement was surprising because Flip has... [more]-Flip no more


Apr 12, 2011- iPad2 Unboxing...

We knew we wanted the iPad2 as soon as it was unveiled. When we missed out on Day 1, we tried for a week to buy one around Boston. We finally gave up and ordered one online. At that time, Apple informed us that it would take five weeks and would arrive on April 22nd. Last week, we got an email notification telling us that our unit had left Shenzhen, China, with an expected delivery of date April 12th, ten days ahead of schedule. The FedEx guy showed up with our package yesterday, an additional day ahead of schedule. It is GREAT when everything exceeds expectations.

The unboxing of the iPad2 went pretty much like that of the original iPad. There were only three things in the box: iPad, USB cable, AC adapter. One of the benefits of purchasing the iPad online is the free laser engraving. Our first reaction to the new iPad was that we could feel the... [more]-iPad2 Unboxing


Apr 11, 2011- Emerald Necklance...

The Emerald Necklace is one of Boston's treasures. This park system ringing parts of Boston was envisioned and created by Fredrick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) over a hundred years ago. Olmsted, as many know, was the designer of NYC's Central Park. While Central Park is a chunk in the middle of Manhattan, the Emerald Necklace is woven into the flow and rhythm of the city of Boston. Parts of the Emerald Necklace parallel some of the busiest sections of Boston, but others make you feel that you are nowhere near a city.

The Necklace runs for quite a distance. The complete system is over seven miles long from end to end and covers over 1,100 acres. To get a sense of the full Emerald Necklace, download this 31"x17" map of the entire park. There are busy spots (Public Garden, Jamaica Pond, Fens) and quiet sections (connecting paths, Arnold Arboretum, Riverway). Of course, when we say "quiet," we mean city-quiet where you may see a person every minute or two. Still, quiet enough... [more]- Emerald Necklace


Apr 8, 2011- GloKitty:Premier Collar...

When Milo joined the RainyDayCrew he was just a peanut of kitten. He was so small that getting up the stairs was an event onto itself and required a nap afterwards to recover. However, Milo did come up to speed quickly and was contributing to the team by the end of the month.

Eliot and Milo have both been key testers of various innovative feline-focused products (LitterRobot, SleepyPod, CraterDots, CatCaboodle, etc...). Now that Milo is almost a year old, he is venturing outside to patrol the RainyDayGarden grounds with Eliot. To ensure the safety of all of the... [more]- GloKitty: Premier


Apr 7, 2011- InnoPocket:Waterproof iPhone case...

There are dozens of companies which make protective cases for the iPhone. We have reviewed many of the better ones over the years. However, of all of the ones we've looked at, NONE of them were designed to be waterproof. For those looking for a case which will protect the iPhone when submerged, there are a few options out there. Some use the "zip-lock" bag approach. Others have adopted a "vault" design. They all seem functional, but everyone of them have a similar problem: bulk. The "zip-lock" bags were the least form-fitting. The "vaults" were better, but still turned the swevlt iPhone into a hulk.

InnoPocket looked at the problem and came up with a cleaner solution. While their Amphibian waterproof case for the iPhone4 is thicker than a typical case, it is much thinner than everything else on the market. Their approach is to... [more]- InnoPocket: Amphibian iPhone4 case


Apr 6, 2011- MFA:Chihuly...

Born in 1941 in Tacoma, WA, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design a the University of Washington. Chihuly continued his studies at RISD, where he later established the glass program and taught for over a decade. Over the years Chihuly has worked with hundreds of museums worldwide. On April 10th, Bostonians will get a spectacular view of Chihuly's work at the newest exhibit Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass at the MFA.

The MFA exhibit features 12 breath-taking installations in the new wing. They are in the Shapiro Family Courtyard, the surrounding gardens, and in the Ann and Graham Gund Gallery downstairs. Stepping down to the exhibit, visitors are greeted by the Persian Wall, a welcoming collection of flower-like glass shapes in orange, yellows, and reds. Immediately inside the gallery is... [more]- MFA: Chihuly


Apr 5, 2011- Sigma 50-500mm FirsttUse...

Yesterday's "Macro at the Mall" write-up got us thinking: wouldn't it be interesting to follow the macro piece with something from the other end of the spectrum: images brought in close from a super telephoto lens. Some readers might remember that we snagged a little-used Sigma 50-500mm zoom (Bigma) lens via Craigslist a few weeks ago. We were going to do a side-by-side shoot off with that and the Sigma 80-400mm, but the 80-400mm has found a new home.

A week ago, we got an offer for the 80-400 from a local photographer that we just could not refuse. Money changed hands, and so the planned comparison article has been permanently shelved. Still, we thought it was time we took Bigma out for a spin. Our favorite testing ground is Memorial Drive in Cambridge. Foot traffic on weekdays is generally pretty low and the stretch lets us... [more]- Sigma 50-500mm zoom FirstUse


Apr 4, 2011- Macro at the Mall...

Taking closeup and macro photos is a lot easier when the air is still. Even a light breeze can set things swaying back and forth, ruining the focus. Waiting for things to settle back down is both time consuming and frustrating. Thus it is no surprise that when the proper condition presents itself, you have to take it. We were out Saturday night when we noticed that a local mall was hosting a flower show, we took advantage of the opportunity, went back with gear Sunday morning, and were able to get in a photo shoot before the place got busy.

Shooting inside a mall, while more controlled, will also present its own set of challenges, the biggest of which can be lighting. When we were there on Saturday night, the stores were closed (except for the restaurants) and the main sections were pretty dark. We thought compensating for the interior lights and properly illuminating the flowers would be a problem. Fortuitously, the mall actually had a... [more]- Macro at the Mall


Apr 1, 2011- Not Quite Spring...

It's the first day of April (yes, April Fool's Day) and yesterday's forecast of snow in New England actually came true. Bostonians woke up to a few inches of the white stuff covering everything in sight. This freak storm made a mess of things for those commuting to work. Instead of fighting the traffic, the RainyDayCrew decided the weekend should just start a bit earlier and called it a day.

Before things got too sloppy, we thought we took a few shots of the RainyDayGardenin order to have a record of the storm when we look back a year from now. The snow was the slushy kind that... [more]- Not Quite Spring...


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