My dream gadget

Mini-summary of small multi-function video/photo cameras

I’m a documenter. Or rather, I’d like to be. I’m always seeing (or hearing) something and wishing I had my camera or mini-disc recorder with me. I’ve got a digital camera, a mini-DV camera, and a mini-disc recorder and microphone. So, I’m set, sort of. Except that they are too big to carry around. I want something I can slip into a pocket, the size of a cell phone or smaller. Luckily, technology has come to the rescue, although not completely. I’m waiting still for something with good quality, small size and not crazy expensive (because I know it will get outdated quickly). So still I wait. The outlook is getting better though. Here’s the current crop of portable devices I’m eyeing:

The Philips GoGear Digital Camcorder – This looks good, good enough that I actually visited a few stores this weekend to see if I could find one and see it up close. Unfortunately, the only place to actually buy one is on-line, which I’m not too happy about. I’d like to see it before I plunk down cash for it. I’m also a little suspicious because there aren’t any clips of captured video from it on the web. I know that it is QVGA MPEG-4 and I might be willing to accept that, but I’d like to see what the quality of the video actually is. Other cons are the fact that it is PC-only and my main machines are all macs. Also, it says that it records audio with the video, but I have no idea what the quality is. I’m willing to deal with no mic-in and having to record audio with video when I only want audio, but the audio better not suck. With this, I have no idea. Also, you can’t expand its memory through an SD slot. A big pro is that you can use AAs to extend its battery life (No more proprietary non-replacable batteries ever!)

The Fisher FVD-C1 – Feature-wise this looks pretty awesome. It addresses some of the things I don’t like about the Philips, it has an audio-only mode, for example. It uses Li-ion batteries, but you can buy extras and switch them if you run out. The cons: I can’t get any real specs off their website. They claim DVD quality video and CD quality audio, but then again so does everyone. I want sampling and data rates please. Also, I actually got to check one out at the Apple store and the form factor didn’t blow me away. Also, it is crazy expensive.

The Panasonic D-Snap Line – Panasonic has got a bunch of different cameras at different price points. There must be something wrong with their specs pages though, because their top of the line video camera, the AV-100 doesn’t seem to have a Microphone or a way of adding audio to its MPEG 2 video which seems moronic in a $1000 video camera, especially since their $400 models have them. I need to track these down in person and check out their boxes to make sure. Their AV-50 models make more sense, but tempted with MPEG2 in the AV-100, I don’t know if I want to settle for MPEG4 in a larger form-factor even if it does cost less than half.

Samsung just announced their Miniket, which might be the one for me if I could get some real specs or street price estimates on them. Right now they just have a tantalizing flash demo. I’m going to keep a watch on them for more info though.

Aiptek is the king of the inexpensive SD photo/video recorders. Unfortunately, I had one of their earlier models and had to replace it twice in two months because it kept falling apart. I gave up after the third time. I’m never buying from them again.

Mustek has the DV5500, which is too big and just doesn’t blow me away. After my Aiptek, I’m a little scared of anything in a plastic shell.

I was on a plane to LA with a well-known animator (name drop omitted) who swore by his Archos. It is true that with attachments, the Archos AV300 does almost everything I want, plus it is a decent media player too. The cons: it isn’t meant to do what I want to do, so with the attachments I’ll be spending a big chunk of change. With the attachments, I’m still only taking QVGA video. Also, it is big, bigger than I want.

Believe me, I’m watching this market, so when I see something new I’ll post it to the blog and if I can get more details, I’ll post ’em.

Here is my wish-list (in order):

  1. Fits in a pocket (a real pocket)
  2. Full NTSC video (720×480) at 30 fps with GOOD compression
  3. Real CD Quality audio (44 MHz, 16 bit STEREO)
  4. Mic input
  5. Replaceable storage media (anything but Memory stick)
  6. Replaceable Battery or Add on adapter that takes a STANDARD battery set (AA, AAA, etc)
  7. 2 Mega-pixel still camera
  8. Flash
  9. Viewer/screen (small is ok)
  10. Under $500

Sure, I’m probably not gonna get it for Chanukah this year, but I bet it might be available for next year.

Is Iraq another Vietnam?

The more land we capture the more land we lose… Are we going to be stuck in Iraq?

Our “coalition” is disbanding, the U.N. isn’t so sure they want to help us anymore. The Iraqi people don’t seem to excited to have us there either. Are we stuck in an un-winnable war that will continue to draw American lives and resources? It looks increasingly so to me and to anyone else with a brain. There is a good article on greenleft about it.

The Persuaders

This looks like an awesome show about how marketing is getting progressively more insistent.

I saw a link on wired this morning about a Frontline episode called Persuasders. It is about how marketers are becoming more and more insidious as we are becoming immune to their approaches. I missed it on TV, but luckily they are streaming the whole episode on the web. Check it out, it looks good.

Free media is awesome

Did you know that Dawn of the Dead is now in the public domain?
I found a link to Undead Art in one of my rss feeds today (sorry, I don’t remember which). It turns out that Dawn of The Dead is now in the public domain! Download it, burn it, and enjoy! Undead art is doing a sort of public domain remix content to support Creative Commons licensing. If you’re looking for more cool public domain content, check out The Internet Archive, they have tons of awesome public domain video and audio. It’s perfect for burgeoning culture re-mixer.

ICANN changes its rules

The ICANN has changed the domain transfer rules because they are evil.

I found this article on Slashdot this morning about how ICANN is changing the rules on domain transfers to inexplicably make it easier for hijacking. There is some good info on netcraft about it. Here is the actual change language. It freaked me out, of course, so I went to make sure that all my domains were locked. Smartly, Network Solutions automatically locks their domains to make hijacking impossible. Moronically, MyDomain doesn’t. You have to specifically add it for each domain. At least it is free. I guess you get what you pay for. Now is a good time for you to check out the settings on all your domains and make sure they are protected.

Laurie Anderson

My kind-of review of last night’s Laurie Anderson performance in Seattle.

I saw Laurie Anderson last night here in Seattle. She continues to be an excellent performer, but something has changed in the way that I relate to her as I get older. I first discovered her when I was 16 and I checked out her United States 1-5 on vinyl from the library where I worked (hint on my actual age here). It blew me away. She became, and remains, one of my heroes. Her observations were revelatory to a suburban teenager in Reagan’s America with aspirations toward the avant-garde.

Her new piece, “The End of the Moon” deals with her time as NASA’s first (and last) artist in residence. While much of it was engaging, when she would wander off into deep-sounding non-sequiturs I caught myself wondering if she was actually trying to say something or if she was in sort of automatic art mode. I never noticed this in her work before. I’m not sure if she was just filling space in the piece or was actually going somewhere and just lost me on the way.

More interesting to me was how her music has progressed. I’ve always admired the sound beds she creates that form the backdrop of her more introspective music and her narratives, but a lot of her music didn’t thrill me. Last night, I was a lot more impressed by her music than her words for the first time. She has been playing violin for decades, but last night was the first performance of hers where I actually felt her virtuosity on the instrument. It could be that technology has finally caught up to her vision, but her extended music solo music pieces (with computer accompaniment) were amazing. It really inspired me to re-think my own extended playing techniques.

I don’t know if she’s picking up new audiences anymore. We were definitely on the younger side of the audience age range, which is saying something. It’s too bad, because while some of her new work is a bit too much like some of her old work, the rest is really worth exposure to some new minds.

Posted: Tue – November 9, 2004 at 11:20 AM

The truth starts to come out

Who wouldda thunk it that maybe the Republicans stole the vote after all?
Well, it seems that those pesky lefties are starting to dig through the numbers and surprise, surprise, they don’t seem to make any sense. In Florida more ballots were cast for president than the number of people who voted. In Florida and several other states mostly democratic counties seemed to have voted overwhelmingly for Bush. Could it be that the exit polls (which are usually a highly accurate predictor) were correct and the voting machines were wrong? There are stories coming out about how people selected Kerry on their screens and had a Bush vote shown back to them. Now, I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories as a rule, but the evidence is mounting. Moby has some numbers in his journal. Michael Moore has got some good references as well.

The question is: who is going to investigate this? Can we trust the government to do the right thing? I doubt it. It seems to me that the right is consolidating their power by all means possible legal and otherwise. We’re being turning into a single party country against our will. I’m doubting that there is a way to fix this from within the system. The system has been corrupted.

Where do we go from here, we true fans of democracy, when the republic has become an oligarchy?

Me, I’m pondering creating an initiative to have Washington secede from the US.

Embracing Canada

Thinking about moving to Canada rather than face four more years of Bush? You and me both!

As someone who has spent a lot of time in our neighbor to the north and briefly considered moving there about 10 years ago, this election has made me think again about moving somewhere less moronic. It turns out that I’m not alone as this article on news.com mentions. There are some other cool sites too, like Immigration Canada, The Canadian Government’s Citizenship and Immigration website, this Harper’s article, and this Bushwatch site. Here’s a great top ten reasons to switch to Canada site which includes a link to download John Bender’s excellent Apple switch ad parody.

Moby’s thoughts and Cascadia

I like most of what Moby’s been saying. I’m thinking about secession.

My friend Heather pointed me over to Moby’s Website. His journal articles are doing a good job explaining how a lot of us feel. (I’m more pissed off than him, but thats ok). I’ve been thinking about secession a lot. There is that book, Cascadia, that I read a few years ago. It’s about how northern California, Oregon and Washington split off from the US and form their own country. It was written in the 60s, the new country of Cascadia is like one large Burning Man Festival except without the frat boys and with more free love. The hippy parts didn’t make too fond of it, but I’m thinking more and more how that might not be a bad idea.

Take California from San Jose northward, Oregon and the western half of Washington and you’ve got a pretty awesome country with abundant natural resources, a thriving tech economy, agriculture, manufacturing, ports and tourism. I think I’d be much happier in Cascadia, and I think those Southern states would be happier without us “freaks” making them have to go vote every four years to make sure they get another good ‘ol boy in the white house. Plus, we wouldn’t have to be supporting their asses with our taxes while getting so little back from D.C.

Anyone with me?