Belkin and Ipevo Skype phones really work

I’m actually amazed, but got the Belkin F1PP010EN-SK Desktop Internet Phone for Skype and this no name Ipevo S0-20 wifi Skype phone. I have to say I’m really surprised at the call quality and the firmware. They are easy to setup and at least with Comcast Seattle and even with Vietnamese broadband, they work.

The Belkin is only $70 and the Ipevo is $135 so this is very worthwhile.

Micro 4/3 cameras deliver high quality in a compact size

The new 4/3 cameras seem like the best compromise for high quality…

Olympus E-P1. 13Mp and 12oz. The major drawback is that it doesn’t have a viewfinder and it has a slow focus in low light and the zoom is slow too. The good news is that image quality and noise levels and speed are equal to a dSLR. So this is a 1st generation camera that shows great promise because of the picture quality. Just doing JPG, between ISO 200-1600, it is terrific.

Panasonic DMC-GF1. This is a 12MP camera with AVCHD lite for movies. It also doesn’t have a viewfinder and lists for a cool $900 with $200 for the viewfinder. So way more than a dSLR 🙂 It is really the DMC-G1 in a much smaller body. It is more expensive, but if has built-in flash, a electronic viewfinder and fast focus plus it does do movies so you don’t need a camcorder for casual situations.

Lightweight tripod Gitzo 1541T or 0531 and GC1200T bag

OK, I have my heavy duty tripod Gitzo 2-series tripod with a nice Markins M10 ballhead and gave away my lightweight set as a gift 🙁 so what to get to replace it. With my LowePro AW 250, I can carry a Canon 5D II, 24-105 F/4 as the base camera and also the 16-35, 50mm F/1.4 and even the monster 100-400, but a tripod is still needed for those great HDR shots. Bob recommended the Gitzo1541T and the Really Right Stuff BH-40LR as a lightweight ballhead. I use Markins and like them, so will probably get the E3 Traveler instead and I need some sort of bag, so the GC1200T seems right. Here are what others have to say including Photo.net and DPForum:

Review: Gitzo 1541T Tripod, Markins Q3T Ballhead w/ RRS B2 LR II Clamp – Canon Digital Photography Forums

The Gitzo GT1541T Traveler 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs uses a unique patented 180° folding mechanism that accommodates a head inside the folded tripod legs, which makes this the smallest folded tripod for its open size and number of sections. Weight 2.1 lbs, Folded Height 41cm and the Markins Q3T Traveler Edition Ballhead which is custom designed for the Gitzo 1-series. Weighs 0.84 lbs

NatureScapes.Net • View topic – Gitzo 1541 vs Gitzo 1541T (any experiences?) (Now 0541)

One other main difference is how the legs are attached. The 1541 legs are attached in the traditional manner to a ring that holds the center column. The 1541T legs are attached to that ring in a way that will let them fold back “on themselves” to get an even shorter collapsed length

NatureScapes.Net • View topic – Gitzo 1541 vs Gitzo 1541T (any experiences?) (Now 0541)

I have the slightly smaller Gitzo GT0530\Markins Q3 ballhead and it handled my 40D and 70-200 f/4L setup just fine as it does the 50D now. Its a very lite weight setup making it great for strapping on my Gregory Z30 backpacks hiking pole straps. It is a pound lighter, but while the 1541T handles 8kg and can handle a 100-400 OK (but it is not recommended, the 0531 isn’t really crecommended for this (0530 was old model, new is the 0531).

lightweight carbon fiber tripod choices – Photo.net Filter, Bags, Tripods and Accessories Forum

The two lightest carbon fiber ‘pods Ive found are the gitzo GT0531 ($350) and the Slik 613 pro CF ($220) ; both weigh about 1.6lbs, without a head, which sounds great, but I can’t find a store that stocks them so I can check out their stability. The lightest model I’ve been able to try is the manfrotto 190cx3, which weighs in at 2.9lbs and seems to be quite sturdy.

lightweight carbon fiber tripod choices – Photo.net Filter, Bags, Tripods and Accessories Forum

I opted to go pretty light with a Gitzo GT 0530 (CF Mountaineer) and Really Right Stuff BH-25 Ultralight ballhead (no separate pan feature). I’d like a lighter clamp but have been using a RRS B2-LR-II. I regularly use a D200 (no vert grip) with 12-24/f4, 17-35/2.8 or 28-70/2.8 (sometimes an 80-200/2.8 with care). I find the set-up to be adequate as I usually don’t extend (or even carry) the center column and prefer minimal leg extension in the interest of rigidity if windy.

lightweight carbon fiber tripod choices – Photo.net Filter, Bags, Tripods and Accessories Forum

The gitzo 0531 is not what i’d call a full sized tripod; it stands only about 40″ high and the leg sections are extremely thin. for overnight backpacking trips this might be acceptable, but for day hikes and other use my choice will be the feisol (or the Gitzo 1541T). it extends past my eye level (without a center column), is quite sturdy, and only weighs half a pound more

Consider GC1200T or GE10P: Canon SLR Lens Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

s that better? I have a Lowepro Vertex 200 bag and with that I would
just attach it to the bag but when I’m more casual going around with
my Crumpler six million dollar home I need a tripod bag…

The GC1100 would be too long for your setup. It kind of forfeits the compactness of the tripod.

The GC1200T is designed specifically for your tripod but can be a tight fit with your Q3 head, but really compact and cool.

The GE10P is longer and should work really well, less cool though.

Snow Leopard is out and here are the bugs

Snow Leopard is out and upgrade went smoothly on two Macbook (unibody 2008) and just horribly on an older MacBook Pro (2007):

EOS Utility crashes when trying to download photos from my Canon. This is on version 2.6.1 so that is not the problem. 2.5 also crashed.

Blank Screen on Install. So wierd I don’t know what to say, but apparently on older MacBook Pros, Snow Leopard turns off the backlight and you can’t see the screen.

Update. Went to AppIe Store. Look coincidental. Had a total motherboard failure. I love AppleCare!

I powered up my Apple 17” MacBook Pro with Mac OSX10.5.8, installed the Snow Leopard disk and started the install. I answered the licensing agreement and pressed continue. At this point I walked away for a few minutes to let the install continue. I returned a few minutes later to a completely black screen! What is this? Oddly my AC power light was RED but other than there were no signs of life.

I Pressed the power button – nothing. Hmmm…held down the power button for a long time (6-8 sec) and I got the machine to boot. The Apple logo showed on a gray screen with the small circular progress circle. After 10 secs the machine turned off! I tried this again several times with the same results. I then held down the power key while holding the option key and got the icon for the hard drive with EFI boot and the DVD boot icon. I tried the EFI boot option and got the same results. The machine just keep turning off. I repeated this method and selected the DVD boot option…same thing.

At this point I was seriously regretting installing a brand new OS on MacBook Pro and I set the machine aside so I could come back later with a solution. Meanwhile I search the internet for anyone else with this problem. I could not find any posts related to my problem.

An hour later, I went back to my machine to try again. I noticed the laptop was very warm. Very odd considering it was off….or so I thought! It was actually on but there was no LCD backlight! I got out a flashlight so I could see what was on the screen and what do you know?…the Install screen was there. The Power light was still RED not GREEN. I used the flashlight to finish the install. When it finally rebooted, the LCD turned back on and my upgrade was complete: data & apps in tact! There is obviously a problem on some Mac laptops where the proper video driver is not working during the install process.

Macbook Pro 13″ Snow Leopard Blank Screen – Mac Forums is another report, but unlike me, I don’t get anything when I try to restart. But the computer is running

When I installed Snow Leopard, it did the installer for a bit, but then the screen went black and the CD drive stopped spinning. After 10 minutes or so, I held the power button and rebooted, only to see the flashing folder with a ‘?’ in the middle. Now when I try to run the Snow Leopard DVD, it shows the normal boot procedure, but then when it should be going into the installer, the display goes blank instead, but I can still hear the CD drive spinning as if it’s doing everything correctly except starting the display. I got it working again by reseting my PRAM, so give that a shot.

Black screen while installing Snow Leopard on a Macbook Pro? It’s not frozen, the backlight is simply switched off : apple

The display was not in power save mode, but active, just without the backlighting. The content was very faintly visible in a bright enough environment.

It happened after the reboot when the second phase of the installation began. No keypresses and no amount of wiggling were helping; the backlight controls (FN+F1/F2) weren’t working either.

Interestingly, an external Cinema Display worked just fine – it didn’t do me any good, though, since it wasn’t mirroring and the dialog boxes were still stuck on the internal display.

Black screen while installing Snow Leopard on a Macbook Pro? It’s not frozen, the backlight is simply switched off : apple

Same thing happened to me, and I have the same machine – 1st gen 15″ Intel MBP. Backlight keys didn’t work until the install was finished. I actually did a hard reboot before I figured out that shining a bright light at the screen gave me enough light to finish the install.

Black screen while installing Snow Leopard on a Macbook Pro? It’s not frozen, the backlight is simply switched off : apple

I had the same problem, this is what happened:

The nVidia graphics card went bad, you need to take it to Apple for a free replacement. I had the exact same issue, and it took me 2-3 hours to figure out the issue. They tested it and it was replaced in 2 days – the Apple person said this is a HUGE problem and they are billing nVidia to fix each one. The fact that you were doing an install is coincidental, and unfortunate since it would seem like the likely culprit.

Seattle spas

Why is it so hard even with the web 20 years old to get a good answer to the question, where do I get a good massage in Seattle. Anyway, here are some resources:

Seattle Times has a list of the best spas. Notables are Banya 5, a Russian inspired bathhouse downtown, Dahlia Spa a neighborhoold Mount Baker place and of course there is Gene Juarez downtown as a reliable source.

New iPods coming September 9th

Mac Rumors: Apple Mac Rumors and News You Care About

The current line of iPods is on its last legs, lending more evidence that an iPod refresh is just around the corner. Sources from Apple Authorized Resellers have confirmed to Ars that current stock is dwindling (if not completely gone in some cases) and that no more of the current models are coming in. Additionally, all current SKUs are being discontinued, with no word on when new models may arrive.
Apple has been rumored to be holding a music-focused media event on Wednesday, September 9th, at which many Apple followers expect the company to introduce new iPod models as it has done at similar September events in previous years.

A number of rumors have pointed to the inclusion of digital cameras in the iPod touch, iPod nano

Why a force shutdown makes your iPhone faster and use less battery

MacRumors iPhone Blog: Apple Forces Removal of ‘Free Memory’ Functionality From iPhone Applications

While third parties are limited from developing background applications for the iPhone, Apple allows their applications such as the iPod, Safari, and Mail applications to continue to run. After prolonged use, these background applications may take up most of the memory (RAM) on the iPhone that can create interface sluggishness and prevent some memory-intensive applications from loading.

MacRumors iPhone Blog: Apple Forces Removal of ‘Free Memory’ Functionality From iPhone Applications

users wishing to avoid a complete device restart force quit Mail, Safari, and iPod if necessary by holding down the sleep-wake button until the red slider appears and then holding the home button until the application quits.

High end compact cameras

Right now I carry a monstrous 5d ii with 3-4 lenses (24-105, 16-34, 100-400, 50 f1.4 for available light). But there is a big gap between a 3mp iPhone and 25 pounds of 21mp gear. What’s in between is finally getting filled in with micro 4/3 and high end compacts. The ideal is a point and shoot with optical viewfinder, true iso 400-800 with low noise and great fast optics with decent zoom say 24-105 equivalent. Interchangeable lenses are nice too.

We aren’t completely there yet but getting close. Here are some choices.

1. Panasonic Lumix lx3. $500. Is current leader. Sensor is about 0.5 inches so decent. Really fast lense. Sort of compact. Main issues are lack of viewfinder and sensor is still small.

2. Olympus digital ep-1. $800 Use micro 4/3. Like a small rangefinder. Sensor is relatively huge at 2x factor vs. 1.6x for aps-sized digital rebel. Almost a buy except it has no optical viewfinder.

3. Canon s90. This is a lx3 killer. 10mp which is actually unintuitively better because u want bigger pixels for less noisy performance. No reviews yet.

4. Panasonic micro 4/3. Even better but $1500 so hard to justify

Converting from exchange to google gcal and contacts

Given exchange isn’t reliable on calendar how can I use can iPhone, blackberry, iCal on mac, outlook on pc against googles backend mail, contacts and calendar.

First off since last year google has done all the work to allow exchange replacement. It is a mess to figure out and I’m sure there r many bugs. Bemut here is how to convert.

1. For calendar, sync entourage to iCal with entourage selecting sync preferences.
2. Export iCal calendar. It us an ics file
3. Import into google calendar.

For contacts.

1. Sync entourage to nac addressbook via preferences/sync/to address book

2. In addressbook choose o
Preferences google and this eventually sinks all.

Now both contact and calendar is in.

1. If u have iCal then set it up to in preferences/ caldav/ so u can see gcal.

2 do same for iPhone by picking right activesync server.