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March 25,2013- Gold Astro FirstLook...

Astrophotography is an interesting challenge, but a challenge anyone with a telescope can take on. The pursuit has been made infinitely more rewarding since the move from film to digital. By letting a camera's sensor "collect" photons over time, the telescope can reveal images not visible to the naked eye, no matter how dark the sky. And unlike the days of shooting with film, digital imaging results can be seen almost immediately.

However, taking images of dim points of light at night still has plenty of difficulties, one of which is getting the focus spot-on. Getting it right was a LOT of trial and error. Things were made less frustrating when Pavel Bahtinov gave the world the Bahtinov Mask. The mask made use of an interesting phenomenon known as diffraction. It is very clever and the use of a diffraction mask made focusing by eye easier, but still subjective. That is because even though such a visual-only technique can be pretty good for observing (subject to the expertise of the user), it is usually insufficiently precise or repeatable for astrophotography.

In order to to address those deficiencies, Dr. Winter of Gold Astro designed the GoldFocus system. For those interested in the details, there is an extensive discussion on focus and collimation on the Gold Astro site. The Gold Astro method, by using a combination of a proprietary mask and software, is an objective approach to achieving critical focus, unlike the subjectivity of the experience of the user. While the principle of the GoldFocus mask is the... [more] - Gold Astro FirstLook


March 18,2013- Casio Edifice 720 FirstUse...

As most readers know, our policy is to look at gear and gadgets which we think provide something unique or interesting to the mix. As with other watches we have reviewed, the Casio Edifice 720 featured something we had never looked at before. It took us a lot longer to evaluate this watch not because of the various functions available in this timepiece (which are many), but because we really wanted to see how we would like traveling with it. After almost a year, we finally feel that we are in a position to give some comments on the Casio Edifice 720.

We had to put off the FirstUse writeup for so long because we had to wait until we had a chance to take the Edifice 720 on a couple of trips that crossed time zones. The 720 had other functions (chronograph, calendar, etc) we could have discussed, but since they operated pretty much as... [more] - Casio Edifice 720 FirstUse


March 11,2013- Feeding Birds in a Snowstorm...

Putting out food for our feathery friends is a great way to bring some life to the RainyDayGarden during the dead of Winter. This is especially important (to the birds) during really cold days or when there is a blanket of snow covering everything.

On cold days, birds have to eat more to keep from freezing. When it is snowing, what is available on the ground is not accessible to the birds. That is why our feeders are extra busy on snow days. We have been putting out black oil sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts (with and without shells). The black oil sunflower seeds have a thinner shell and a higher oil content than... [more] - Birdfeeding in a snowstorm


March 4,2013- NUI FirstThoughts...

Jeff Han set the user-interface world on fire with his FTIR-based multi-touch technology presentation at the 2006 TED conference. The interface's ease of use was partly responsible for the unprecedented success of Apple's iPad tablet. It was clear that "touch" was the next big thing in user interfaces. A few years later, there are plenty of clips on YouTube showing three-year olds frustrated when they cannot "resize" images in a paper magazine. The next generation of computer users are declaring the days of the mouse and keyboard as the primary methods of interacting with computers are numbered.

Multi-touch-enabled devices are just a part of a class of human-computer interactions known as natural-user-interfaces (NUI). The RainyDayScience folks followed the progress of the various types of NUI research over the past few years with great interest (SixthSense, Kinect, NeuroSky). Some of the research have begun to move from the labs out to the marketplace. When Microsoft released the Kinect camera for their xBox 360 platform, the device created a huge swell of interest in... [more] - NUI FirstThoughts




Motor Couplings...

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WiFi at McDonald's...

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Elgato EyeTV Mobile...

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Yogurt Maker...

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LifeWay Kefir...

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