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Sunday, May 31, 2009

BMW M3: Startup and Rev of 4.0L V8 414-hp

One of the first videos I quickly recorded on my new Flip Video MinoHD camera was that of my BMW e90 M3. Capturing the start-up ignition, idle, and rev of the engine -- I finally put it together into a consumable video while learning iMovie at the same time. :-)

The pertinent information from the video:

Vehicle: 2008 BMW e90 M3 Sedan in Jet Black with a 4.0L V8 producing 414-hp
Chapters: 3, First is ignition and idle; followed by a quick rev to 3,000 RPM, followed by a rev to 7,000 RPM
Reason: Always great to hear the sound of the M3 Engine at 7,000+ RPM!

Here you go, enjoy!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB - GeoTagging & WiFi - First Impressions

I had previously posted about my desire to geotag photos that I was shooting with my Canon cameras. It was a very rudimentary and painful process...but it worked. In fact, it was so painful that I still have not finished the posts on "how" I got it to work. However, that is a major digression about a decision to the fact that I have taken pretty much a 2-month hiatus on posting. Back, to the point of this post.

I was really looking for a much simpler solution when someone turned me onto the Eye-Fi series of SD-Card memory cards. They have a series of cards that have built in WiFi or Wireless cards that allow you to connect to a network in order to upload your photos.

Their "premium" card, the Eye-Fi Explore Video also supports geotagging of photos (based on the Skyhook network) and connects to open WiFi networks or hotspots through their partnership with Wayport (which has been acquired by AT&T). After a little reading, I was sold that it was definitely worth a try. You can get it for ~$99 at Amazon -- click here for an easy link.

Geotag information was added to my Eye-Fi Video Explore 4GB card

The only wrinkle at first is that they were coming out in March with a 4GB card that was the same price as the current 2GB card. So, I placed a pre-order for the card and waited some. Once it finally arrived, I popped it in my Canon Rebel XSi and was ready to get going.

It came in a nifty little package as you can see above, with a USB adapter. Upon plugging it into my USB Port, the Eye-Fi Manager software installed. The software is really just a little joblet that provides some basic drivers and the bridge between the Eye-Fi Website and your SD-Card.

Setup only took a couple of minutes to configure my local network and then the card confirmed that it was able to connect to my local network for photo upload. Additionally, there are some great setup features such as automatically downloading the photos not only to a computer, but also posting them on one of about 20 photo services like Flickr, Picasa, SnapFish, Costco, Kodak, ShutterFly, etc. So that once your photo is uploaded to Eye-Fi, Geotagged and beamed back to your computer -- it is also posted to your favorite photo sharing site.

Pretty cool.

It was time to run a couple of tests. I popped the configured SD Card into my camera, stepped into the backyard and snapped off a couple of pictures. I was mainly looking to test our the WiFi upload capability -- thinking that it was unlikely that the Skyhook network actually had our residence in their coverage.

After a couple of minutes of leaving the camera on, I wandered back to my desk and saw the photo downloading to my Mac Mini.

Eye-Fi SD Card downloading my photo from the cloud to my pc, wirelessly and geotagged

I opened up iPhoto and took a peek at the information on the picture.
Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB Geotagging and WiFi memory card

To my instant surprise, the photo was geotagged with relative accuracy, right into my backyard. I was initially very impressed with both the upload and the photo. I went on and did a little additional testing.

I took about 15-20 additional pictures and found that I was most ~75% of them were properly geotagged when their uploading was completed. The main issue I found was how quickly I turned on the camera, took the photo and turned off the camera. I basically ended up concluding that a best practice with both my EOS Rebel XSi and my PowerShot SD790IS was to turn on the camera for about 5 seconds before taking the photo and leave it on about 10 seconds after I stopped taking the photos. Once I tuned in to there pretty much all my pictures had a geotag on them. Pretty nice.

Overall from a first impression, I am pretty happy with the Geotagging and wireless uploading feature on the Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB. However, I need a couple of trips to really try it out, as well as the hotspot capabilities. Will definitely post a "second look" once I have some more time on it!

Also, if you are interested in the geotagging capability, it is important to know that this card and the Skyhook system is completely dependent on WiFi signals to triangulate and place the location of your photos. So, if for example you are out on a boat, in the mountains, or in the ocean -- this card will not report your location. You would likely need another solution. Still, for most geotagging needs -- could work for you.

I am excited about the continued use of it!

Update: I have posted my 2nd look at the Eye-Fi Explore card here.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fixed! Vizio LCD Problem Vertical Line in Pixels (VU42LF)

The Vizio LCD FHDTV television that we have had up in our bedroom had been working great for the last couple of years since we purchased it on a Coscto special about 22 months ago. It is a 42" LCD TV, with 1080p resolution -- model VU42LF.

The reason I used "had" been working great is just a few days ago while watching -- Ashley mentioned, that blue line down the middle is annoying. I thought, what blue line...I do not see anything. But, then changing viewing angles -- I could clearly see it -- a one pixel wide blue line running the entire length of the screen. From top to bottom.

It kind of looked like:
One pixel 1 wide vertical line in the HDTV LCD Screen for the Vizio VU42LF

I was not panicing yet, but I first changed the TV channel. The blue line was still there. Then I reset the DVR receiver. The blue line was still there. I then change to a different device using a different connection mechanism -- DVD and Component vs. HDMI. The blue line was still there.

I was beginning to panic.

I turned to the Internet and searched Google and the results were not encouraging. Not encouraging at all. In every case I found, the situation was some sort of damage to the LCD, irreversible and requiring either a costly repair at $400 or replacing the television altoghether.

And of course the warranty on the TV was only for a year -- that would be par for the course.

I was trying to figure out what to do, whether I should look for a new television, see what new LCD screens costs and do DIY repair. While thinking, I fired off an email to Vizio technical support to perhaps get more information.

Resolved to waiting, I was just standing in front of the television looking at the blue line and I did something odd. I just tapped on the line where the one pixel wide blue line was...and it disappeared. It was not really hard, just a tap...tap...tap with my finger and the television was fixed.

Now I am not sure if this works for red, green, black, or white lines in a LCD television, but for some reason it worked for me. If you are having an issue, I would suggest giving it a try. It may not work, but hey -- what do you have to lose?

Good luck!

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