Welcome to the 405th issue of the PC Improvement News. PCIN consists mainly
of news and tips. There is something for everyone, and if this is your first
issue, I'm sure there will be something for you. If you give me two or three
issues, I know that you will come back for more!
Lisa had a nice birthday. We were out for dinner both Thursday and Friday
and she got a free dessert at both restaurants. The cheese cake at the Boston
Pizza was amazing!
Last week I talked about all the gadgets my sisters have, and that I wanted
a laptop. Unfortunately no one took pity on me and sent me a laptop. But my
sister has gone away for a week or so, so she lent me hers. It's just nice
not to have to sit at the computer to do the newsletter and other sites I work
The weather has been unbelievably hot lately. The last few days have been
over 32° C (90° F) and have peaked at around 34° C (93° F).
The humidity here always makes it feel even hotter than it really is. But I'll
take this over snow any day.
Hewlett-Packard has invented a wireless data chip that can store 100 pages
of text or 15 seconds of video on a dot about half the size of a rice grain,
with potentially dramatic applications in everything from health care to
photography and marketing.
The chip, called a Memory Spot, is at least two years away from widespread
consumer use, but it could be deployed more quickly in specialized fields
such as pharmaceuticals, said Howard Taub, vice president and associate director
of Hewlett-Packard Laboratories.
In an age when most cameras are digital and small enough to fit in a pocket,
one couple is crisscrossing the country with a custom camera that needs its
own van and uses film reels the size of shoeboxes.
That might seem like an awfully cumbersome load, but the results of the innovative
project are groundbreaking-images containing an eye-popping 4 billion pixels.
"The original intent was to see if you could even do it," said Graham
Flint, a retired nuclear physicist, who along with his wife, Catherine Aves,
set out to photograph 1,000 American cities as part of a vast undertaking known
as the Gigapxl Project's Portrait of America.
Flint, 68, and Aves, 52, are now six years into their "retirement project." Their
photography, at once a hobby and an engineering project, is relying on the
highest-resolution photography in the world to create a genuine, interactive
article of Americana.
Artificial intelligence is 50 years old this summer, and while computers
can beat the world's best chess players, we still can't get them to think
like a 4-year-old.
This week in Boston, some of the field's leading practitioners are gathering
to examine this most ambitious of computer research fields, which at once
has managed to exceed, and fall short of, our grandest expectations.
Paralyzed man moves computer cursor through thought
A paralyzed man using a new brain sensor has been able to move a computer
cursor, open e-mail and control a robotic device simply by thinking about
doing it, a team of scientists said on Wednesday.
They believe the BrainGate sensor, which involves implanting electrodes in
the brain, could offer new hope to people paralyzed by injuries or illnesses.
Practice Makes Perfect - Digital Photography Tip of the Week
The old adage about practice makes perfect applies to photography as well.
Very few cameras today have fixed focal length lenses but they are still available.
Quality in zoom lenses has become much better with the passing of time and
now super zooms (in the 10 and 12x range) allow consumers to get in even closer
than ever before without sacrificing a lot of image quality. For the DSLR user,
prime (fixed focal length) lenses will typically provide the best quality image
albeit at the expense of having to change lenses for a wider or narrower angle
Changes in focal length affect not only the image size, but the field of view
captured in the image. A wide angle lens captures just that, a wide angle of
view, up to 180 degrees with a fish eye lens. As the focal length increases
through normal and telephoto ranges, the angle of view decreases. This leads
to different ways to compose an image.
So how do you know when it is best to use a wide angle, normal or telephoto
focal length? Practice. Of course, you could simply zoom through the different
ranges to find what looks best, but understanding why it looks best will help
you to set up better shots to begin with. To get a greater idea of how a lens
reacts at a given focal length, pick one focal length, and stick with it for
an entire shoot. One day, use only a wide angle lens or focal length and compose
all of your photographs with that focal length. Moving closer to your subject
to mimic the effect of a telephoto lens, or backing away to mimic the effect
of a wide angle lens. Another day use only a normal lens, and another, a telephoto.
For a more controlled lesson, shoot a subject from the same location with each
lens or focal length and compare the results. Next, shoot the same subject
making it identical in size in your viewfinder (you will need to move closer
or further for the subject for this) and again compare the results.
By using only one focal length in practice, when it comes time to apply that
knowledge, you can do so without hesitation.
The digital photography tip of the week
is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long
time photographer and is currently the President of the Niagara Falls
Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo
of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography
he can address in the newsletter, send it to email@example.com.
Throw away your long-distance telephone bills and computer headsets. Well,
almost. I've looked at computer telephony services in recent years, and
the just-released update from upstart JAJAH is my personal choice. It's
incredibly easy to use: enter phone numbers for you and your destination,
then click a button. Your phone rings. Pick it up and talk.
So it comes down to money, at which JAJAH excels. After your first five
free minutes of test driving, you must register (no charge). Then, there
are no or minimal charges for either POTS (Plain Old Telephone System)
or mobile calls to more than 100 destinations.
Adobe has released 3 betas for their
new Lightroom product
that is set to compete with AppleAperture.
I have been eagerly awaiting for them to release the windows beta. I just
received the press release; Adobe Lightroom for Windows Beta 1.0 is now available
for download. I will keep everyone up to date on my findings as soon as I
get a chance to use the software.
Announcing VMware Server General Availability (GA)
I received this email today from VMware:
Try out virtualization with VMware Server!
VMware Server is a free virtualization product for Windows and Linux servers
with enterprise-class support. It enables companies to partition a physical
server into multiple virtual machines and to start experiencing the benefits
of virtualization. Also, by deploying VMware VirtualCenter, administrators
gain centralized management to efficiently provision, monitor and manage
their IT infrastructure.
PCIN is brought to you by Graham Wing. The opinions expressed are those of
the Editor, Graham Wing and the Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Graham Wing
and Chris Empey accept no responsibility for the results obtained from trying
the tips in this newsletter.
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