Archive for the 'If only' Category

Travel Abroad

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Now that you know where to go, its time to prepare for the trip. What will the temperature be like? What vaccinations are recommended? Am I going during any national holidays? What type of money will I need? Do they drive on the left or right? Do I need to worry about any of their unique laws? When going abroad there are so many issues to deal with, it helps to prepare.


Where was that picture taken?

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Anytime you travel, pictures accumulate quickly. A few weeks after they are taken, you still have a good idea where each one came from. However, after a few months some of the place names start to fade, and the approximate location gets a bit hazy too. However, if you bring your GPS along, then determining where those pictures were taken becomes easy.

Geocoding the pictures

Geocoding is storing location coordinates with the picture.

Fading Away Into Oblivion

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Floppy Disk DriveRecently Toshiba called it quits with HD DVD. This means that the million plus people who gambled on the format now have movies and data whose time in this world is short. Any data on a HD DVD disk now needs to be moved elsewhere while readers are still available. This isn’t the first time a format has come and gone. It happened with Beta cassettes back in the VHS vs. Beta war. Cassette tapes largely replaced by CDs, vinyl records have become harder to find. An old magnetic tape drive or even older paper tape reader is pretty much only to be found in museums. Punch cards have long since left this world. It will not be much longer before you will have to mail in 35mm film to get pictures developed. 35mm used to be a common format, but has nearly been replaced by digital cameras. Digital methods of adding simulated film grain will likely convert the few holdouts. With Blu-ray’s recent victory in the format wars, the DVD’s days are numbered, just as VHS tapes’ days have been for a while.

Powering gadgets on long trips

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Travel Charging KitOn long bus and plane rides it helps to pass the time by watching movies, getting work done, and reading. Except for the reading part, all of these activities require power. Unfortunately most long haul buses and economy flights don’t have power connections for everyone. Often in economy you are lucky if there is one outlet every three rows. Unless you are in Taiwan, it is unlikely you’ll find a bus with power outlets. In the waiting lounges it is getting harder and harder to find an outlet to recharge computer or cell phone. Airport outlets that used to be available are being removed or locked. Similarly, it would be hard to imagine finding an outlet at a bus stop.

Blu-ray vs. HD DVD? Does it matter?

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Image of Blu-ray diskImage of HD DVD diskDoes the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format battle going on right now really matter? If we think about things from the media center point of view, then probably not. Instead of the physical medium, why not just purchase and download the movies online. But, if we think about the media for data backups, it might be interesting.

Digital Book

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Digital BooksAmazon recently released the Kindle digital book reader. It looks to have many good features, but for international travelers the biggest drawback is Sprint’s national high-speed (EVDO) data network. While in the US this isn’t a draw back, but once outside its ability to wirelessly obtain books. This can be worked around by connecting to a computer, but triggers the inconvenience factor. For now a WiFi connection or Bluetooth connection makes more sense. This way when traveling or at home one can obtain new content.

Self-setting Clocks

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Self-setting clockThere is confidence in knowing your wall clock is self-setting and self-correcting. Pull it out of the box, and within a few minutes the time sets itself. That is if the clock can receive the 60kHz signal broadcast by WWVB from Ft. Collins, Colorado. However, the signal only is reliable in the continental United States, and not all the time even there. If you take your clock with you to another country, the time updates are not received and the clock begins to drift.

Digital Grocery Shopping

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

LCD Price TagOur local grocery store uses digital price tags on the shelves for all products. These tags update wirelessly whenever the prices change. They even start blinking when the product is on sale. This reduces the likelihood that the price I pay at the register will differ from what is displayed on the shelf. Labeling systems like this are great for the store, but only slightly help us as consumers.

Digital Wallet

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Overstuffed WalletToday my wallet is too thick, but does it need to be? I have cash, receipts, pictures, business cards, credit cards, ATM cards, insurance cards, store loyalty cards, and more stashed in there. I would love just to have a single card and a few photos, or even better everything in my cell phone. This expectation is not a stretch considering that this service is already mostly available in Japan via O-saifu Keitai (Mobile Wallet).

Today’s Digital Menagerie

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Today’s camera is a bit more convenient now that it has gone digital, but it definitely has not taken full advantage of its digital potential. Ideally after taking a picture it would be possible to transfer the picture to a cell phone to send to those who posed for it. Makes it a convenient time to make sure all the addresses are available, and prevents one from having an excuse for forgetting to send the picture out.