Posts filed under ‘Reviews’

International Design Excellence Awards

Light Lane (prototype)New Scientist picked their nine favourite items from the 2009 International Design Excellence Awards.  They include a cookbook you can taste,  a better cheese grater, and (my favorite of their favourites) a laser-based personal bicycle lane projector.


August 5, 2009 at 8:32 am Leave a comment

And you thought you had all the flashlights you need

Coleman 2AA LED flashlight

Coleman 2AA LED flashlight

One of the things I got for Christmas was an LED flashlight.  I already had an “Extreme Series” 10-LED flashlight I got a few years ago from Cabela’s, a couple of hand-cranked never-need-batteries flashlights, and an assortment of Maglites in sizes that range from pinky to “Driver’s license, registration, and insurance.”  Lantern batteryAnd I’m ignoring the old-school flashlights I’ve stuffed in the corner of the coat closet, like the one with that huge lantern spring battery.

What I got for Christmas was a Coleman’s 2AA LED flashlight, and it’s become my favorite.  Its single LED (a Cree XR-C, whatever that is) produces twice the light of the 10 LEDs in my Cabela’s and is lighter by two-thirds (though in defense of the Cabela’s I’ll note that the latter’s hefty case also doubles as a hunter’s coup de grâce weapon). And something else I’ve grown to like: the on/off button is on the back, parallel to the bulb, so you hold it CSI-style (like a javelin instead of like a frying pan) and turn it on with your thumb.

March 7, 2009 at 11:15 am Leave a comment

Winter ales and other grown-up beverages

I tasted over a dozen winter ales and a couple of meads this past week and have a few to recommend:

The Agave Mead from Mountain Meadows Mead was pretty good.  A little bit sweet, but with something more complex in the smell and the taste that complemented the sweetness.  The Mountain Meadows meadery is located near one of my favorite national parks, Lassen Volcanic NP.

Beer-wise, one group of good beers were overdrive versions of beers available at retail.  Two I liked in that category were Mirror Mirror Barley Wine from Deschutes (11.5% ABV, IBU 90) and Oaken Bomb from Golden Valley (8% ABV, IBU 45).  One that let me down in that group was the Pyramid Snow Cap(‘n and Tennille) (7% ABV, IBU 47), which was aged with cacao nibs, an idea intriguing in theory but not in practice.  I didn’t get a chance to try Deschute’s other overdrive beer, Big Red Double Cinder Cone (ABV 9.8%, IBU 75).

December 8, 2008 at 2:15 am Leave a comment

Digital cameras and Moore’s Law

Quotes from Michael Reichmann at his website, The Luminous Landscape. His experience with the Canon PowerShot G10 leads him to conclude we’ve reached another major milestone in the digital camera industry:

No one could reliably tell the difference between 13″x19″ prints shot with the $40,000 Hasselblad and Phase One 39 Megapixel back, and the new $500 Canon G10…In fact it was the H2 system’s narrower depth of field that occasionally was the only clear give-away.

These comparisons fall down when prints over about 13″x19″ are made. Once the output resolution drops below 200PPI the advantages of a 39 Megapixel sensor over a 15 Megapixels sensor become evident. And, even when smaller prints are made, cropping becomes an issue.

Also, though on prints up to 13X19″ differences are almost impossible to see, on-screen at 100% one can fairly easily tell which files are from the G10. There are artifacts visible at the micro-detail level and one can easily see other hints of what one is paying for.

But, … in medium-sized prints it’s been almost impossible for experienced photographers who I’ve shown these comparison prints to to tell the difference. Scary.

Reichmann concludes:

As Ray Kurzweil has illuminated in The Singularity is Near, once Moore’s Law states to kick-in in earnest the rate of change becomes almost exponential. That, my friends, is what we’re now starting to see in the camera industry.

November 15, 2008 at 9:39 am Leave a comment


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