Sunday, October 29, 2006

Technology Review

Just to give you even more perspective on my life, because I know how enthralling my life can be I will review some of the equipment I bought for school. This will be even way totally better than the movie reviews at my website. I wonder if this means I can get a tax write-off on the equipment?

Palm TX
I bought my first Palm three years ago, a Zire 21, the lowest end model available at the time. The model was well reviewed, but nobody at the time mentioned it needed to be kept "a significant" distance from one's cell phone or else the memory would get wiped, to which a good friend and former choir director of mine, Rachel, said "who owns one of these that doesn't own a cell phone". Actually, she said a lot more than that, but I had to clean it up so this blog would remain G rated. She's a wonderful organist and choir director, but she swears like truck driver who just ran over his own foot with his own truck and then stubbed it on the foot of the bed after dropping a hammer on it. Poor truck driver.

What was I posting about, again? Oh, right, all that stuff I bought, anyway Palm wouldn't repair or replace it under their warranty because, technically, the product was not defective in their universe. Fortunately, Staples' extended warranty was happy to replace it. So I threw in a few more dollars and got the Zire 31, now I had a colour screen and the ability to play MP3 files too. This was all great until I dropped it and cracked the screen. Fortunately, Staples' extended warranty was happy to replace that one too. (I know, so far, this is just a review of Staples' extended warranty, but stick with me, I'll get there.)

So why would I keep using Palm's products? Because they just work, there is no configuring this, and getting a driver for that and hoping it will all be stable. The product just works. When Palm announced the TX model, I was intrigued. Besides the excellent operating system, it offered a much larger screen, increased memory and WIFI and bluetooth connectivity. I wanted the larger screen for pictures, and the bluetooth connectivity for my soon to be purchased computer and phone.

My new Palm as been excellent, providing all of the best features I had come to enjoy with my previous Palm models with the added benefits I mentioned earlier.

Nikon D200
i chose Nikon rather than Canon because I found a 70-300mm zoom lens on sale at London Drugs in Surrey for $100. That's all there was to it. I had read reviews of Canon and Nikon digital SLR, but there was no clear winner except when you have to deal with digital "noise", which happens in poor lighting conditions. Canon is clearly superior. But I didn't find a $100 zoom lens for a Canon.

I love my D200. The stuff I have found frustrating is the stuff I didn't know how to use. That is why my instructor, Frank O'Connor tells us to keep the instruction manuals with us in our camera bags. The camera reminds me of my old Minolta XG-7, but with all the cool stuff you expect on a modern digital camera. The auto-focus is fast, there is no lag from start and the review screen is large.

Actually, there is one thing I'm not crazy about. On both my late, great Nikon Coolpix 8800 and my beloved Canon G1 the view screens rotate and flip so you can compose a picture from any angle, but as far as I have seen, this feature is not available on any digital SLR model.

Just to explain about something in the picture, yes, that is a Canon strap on my Nikon camera. I have no corporate loyalty. I paid a lot of money for my Nikon camera and I owe them nothing, so I will not be product placement for them.

Apple MacBook
I am writing this review OF my MacBook ON my MacBook. Ironically, the spell checker on Apple's TextEdit doesn't recognize "MacBook". This, kind of, brings me to my point: Mac's aren't all they told me they would be, the computer is, sort of, inconsistantly excellent. My first computer experiences were on an Apple IIe, (that's odd, the spell checker recognises "IIe" which, as far as I know, is not a word) and so I have an affinity for Apple, but I always owned PC's because they were cheaper. I bought an Apple, finally, because I was told they are the standard in photography, as in most art. They were the standard in photography once upon a time, but not anymore.

If it sounds like I am going to rant on about Apple, I am a little bit. $600 for two gigabytes of RAM is obscene. Just because you can plug a device into your Apple, doesn't mean your Apple will do anything with it. Neither Palm, nor Apple made software to synchronise my Palm TX when I first got my MacBook, Apple's iSync still won't synchronise Avantgo, for example, I had to buy software from a company called Mark/Space. My Apple does not recognise my scanner or my portable hard drive.

Now that that's out of the way, it is a nice computer, the operating system is stable, software updates are simple (yes, Apples require software updates), and right out of the box you can work with the computer. I mean literally right out of the box, it even came fully charged. It is aesthetically pleasing, which is great considering how much time I spend with it. The podcasting (it doesn't recognise the word "podcasting") support is a simple one touch process. I can get up to four hours of battery life if I have the screen on the dimmest setting, which is still bright enough to easily work indoors.

I expected more than the computer delivers, and I would not automatically buy another, but I would consider it.

1994 Geo Metro
Hey, it got me here. It has over 310, 000 kilometres and I still in excess of 500 kilometres per 30 litre tank of gas (you can figure out miles per gallon if you want). The 1-2 synchroniser is worn and one of the tires has a nail in it that can't be repaired because it is too close to the sidewall, but i think I got my money's worth out of it.

It just has to last 16 more months.
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