Tuesday, February 23, 2010

apple slices...

I've been an Apple user for about 7 years now. My first Mac was a 12" Powerbook and I loved that little thing up until I got my current Black Macbook.

Although I still use Windows (currently going to switch from XP to 7 Ultimate), OSX has been my primary OS for the past year now.

One of the strangest things I've found with Apple is their symbols for their modifier keys.

If you've ever tried to learn a shortcut on a Mac, you'll know what I mean.

Here's a quick key guide to Apple's shortcuts:

- This is the Apple key, the strange flower looking symbol on it means "Command". So when a shortcut calls for pressing the Command or Apple key, this is it.

- For whatever reason, Apple uses this symbol for their CTRL key. I honestly don't know why this is symbol means CTRL. Any logical person would think it means the "6" key which has the ^ symbol on it.

- This weird symbol which does not appear on the Apple keyboards means OPTION (some Apple keyboards have the ALT on this key as well) ... I don't even know the origin of this symbol, nor why it is used in the Apple guides to depict shortcut keys when this does not appear on the keyboard at all.

You'd think that Apple would start printing these weird symbols that they've been using in their manuals to describe shortcuts on the actual keyboard they want you to use.

But they don't... and I guess that's that. This is Apple we're talking about here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mobile World Congress Update

I always get excited whenever the MWC rolls around... this year, in Barcelona, Sony Ericsson launched a few new products that I'm looking forward to checking out.

I've been looking to get a new phone for quite some time now... and these are 2 of the strong contenders. Both running Google's Android platform.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

space, the final frontier...

Nowadays, we share files with a lot of people. Documents, project files, etc. Some of these files are huge and most people email these files to their friends or colleagues. Ever email a large file, only to find out that your email service doesn't allow large files to be sent? Find out that the recipient's inbox rejects large files? Or that all these large files are taking up a lot of space in your SENT folder? Instead of emailing files... why not use one of the many online file sharing options?

Two of my favorite ones are Wuala and Skydrive.

Wuala (by Lacie) offers 1GB free online storage. You can increase this by sharing space on your local drive for at least 4 hours a day. The more space you share on your local drive, the more online space you get free.

Microsoft's Skydrive offers 25GB online storage but requires a Windows Live ID to use. Not a big deal if you already use MSN Messenger or Hotmail.

Both services allow you to upload files in both private and public folders. This allows you to send links to your friends to download files you want to share with them... without you clogging up your email, and they can download anytime at their convenience.

I used to use large file sending services like Dropload (now dead) and Yousendit but the two services I mentioned above are far more efficient for frequent file sharing of large files. They also serve as online backup systems when you store files in the private folders.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


QWERTY... to anyone who types, this is the most common keyboard layout available today. And even though almost everyone has used this layout at some point in their lives, most people don't realize how this bizarre layout came to be.

The most common misconception is that QWERTY was created out of efficiency. To make typing easier. Quite the contrary. Back in the mechanical typewriter days, Christopher Latham Sholes invented the first commercial typewriter. The very first keyboard was actually laid out as ABCDEFG. But back then, as people would type faster, the hammers (those things that punch the letters onto the paper) would hit each other and get jammed more and more frequently.

In an effort to keep his machines from jamming, Sholes decided to move the most frequently used letters away from each other to prevent them from jamming when typing at high speed. This consequently gave rise to the other misconception that QWERTY was invented to slow down typists and to keep from having to re-engineer the typewriter mechanism. Well, it actually did both at the time. But basically, it was just to prevent mechanical jamming of the type arms.

Despite the odd layout, and inefficient placements of the letters, most modern typists can hit speeds of 70wpm, while others can reach as high as 120wpm.

The more modern keyboard layout, the Dvorak keyboard, has been created with efficiency, speed, and carpal tunnel syndrome in mind. Controversially claiming typing speeds of 400wpm once a typist gets familiar with the keys.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Simple Symbols

With all the new gadgets that have come out in the past decade, comes a whole bunch of jargon and technical terms that may seem confusing. You'll find these on most electronic and computer devices.

Power symbol: You'll usually see one of these two symbols on the power switch of your device. The one on the left is more prevalent on laptops and computers, while the one on the right is usually found on mobile phones.

USB: This is the most common connector for modern electronics. Cameras, mice, keyboards, external storage devices like flashdrives or hard drives, celfones, iPods and other music players. One caveat, there are currently 2 versions of USB, 1.1 and 2.0 if you're using a USB hub, and you have both 1.1 and 2.0 devices plugged in, the newer and faster 2.0 devices will slow down to 1.1 speeds. If you must have both devices, try not to have them plugged into the same main computer port (you're computer is most likely to have more than one USB port anyway)

Firewire: even though Firewire is an Apple trademark, it is the most common name for IEEE1394... also known as i.Link on Sony products, and IEEE 1394 on products not willing to pay Apple for use of the name Firewire. This is found on more high end devices, and was initially targeted at professional applications. Video cameras, professional hard drives, high end audio interfaces, and the like, all use Firewire. Firewire is generally faster than USB but more expensive, so not very common on entry level computers and laptops. There are currently 2 versions of Firewire, 400 & 800. Like USB, if a FW400 device is found within the same hub, the FW800 devices will slow down to match the slowest device in the chain. Most of the newer computers only have the new Firewire 800 plug, but not to worry, FW400 can still use this, just buy an adapter.

There are 3 kinds of physical Firewire plugs

4 pin

6 pin

Firewire800 or 9 pin

Bluetooth: Although mainly used for mobile phone headsets, BT has far more uses than just a simple handsfree set. Designed to eliminate all short (ideally within 3ft, although BT effective range is 30ft) cables, Bluetooth devices are capable of printing, exchanging files, playing audio, and a few more simple tasks.

So far, these are the most common symbols I've been asked the meaning of. Feel free to contribute your own, or post a photo of a symbol you've been curious about.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Point and shoot...

I first got into photography simply to make my blog photos look nicer.  Coming from my SonyEricsson mobile phone cams, it was quite a step up when I got my Canon 400D.  Since then, most of my photos have either been using my DSLR, or my phone cam.

Last month, I decided to get my first real point & shoot camera.  The point & shoot I have is a Canon A80 which I got used and use exclusively for my underwater shots (This will change once the UW housing for my Lumix arrives...whenever that is...)

Veering away from the popular Lumix LX3, I decided to go for the ZS3/TZ7 for it's high zoom (12x, that's 25-300mm in SLR terms) capabilities.

I was never too fond of the automatic settings found on consumer cameras, but I have to say, Panasonic did good with their Intelligent Auto mode.  Unlike the bigger LX3, the ZS3 has no manual controls so you can only select iA mode or one of the many presets.  But it does a good job about 90% of the time.

And even though I do miss the manual controls, I am quite happy with how well the ZS3's iA setting performs in most conditions.  And even when the iA can't quite guess what you're taking a photo of, you can just select the right setting from the many presets that are built into the camera. (Sunset, Candlelight, Fireworks, and Underwater are just some of the many scenes to choose from)

The ZS3 can also record in 720p HD using the AVCHD Lite which basically means you've got a very decent camcorder with an excellent zoom lens built into the ZS3.

Over-all, the ZS3 is a very capable point & shoot camera.  I feel it offers more versatility than the popular LX3 due to the very long zoom.  It's a small, light, and relatively affordable camera.

If you're in the market for a good point & shoot camera, I would seriously recommend the Panasonic ZS3/TZ7 to be on your list of considerations.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's... MAGIC!

As my first review entry in my new blog... I'm gonna write about Apple's new Magic Mouse. I used to blog about new gadgets the very first day I'd get them... but after a while, I noticed, my reviews got better once I lived with the gadget for a few days.

So... is it all it's hyped up to be? It IS an Apple product. Notorious for advertising hype and all... after all... it IS just a mouse. Or is it?

Now, don't get me wrong... there are a million other pointing devices out there. My personal favorite for years now has always been Wacom's offerings. The tablet+pen combination is so much more comfortable for me than a mouse. Specially since I do a lot of graphic work, it's so much easier than a mouse... regardless of brand or type.

Back to the Magic Mouse. There are other mice out there... for a lot less money... that are as accurate. There are also mice out there that have way more functions that the MM. Logitech is the most common brand for pointing devices... not counting the specialty gaming mice that offer hi-res tracking and a multitude of programmable buttons. But... the Magic Mouse is, by far, the most elegant mouse out there.

I've seen a lot of sleek mice... aluminum ones... floating ones... a lot are well designed... laser tracking... 1000 buttons... etc...etc... But the implementation of Apple's multi-touch technology has brought the term "sleek" to an all-new level. Final product is very competent... and the gestures are very responsive. Software is still very bare-bones for now... but the technology in the mouse itself is already mature.

I've tried The Better Touch Tool and it opens up the Magic Mouse to way more functionality than Apple's default mouse software... so if having more functions is your thing, give this a go as well.

Complaints? So far just one... the "right click" disappears if you have 2 fingers on the mouse, and it turns your mouse into Apple's single-button buzzer mouse.

Over all, this is the FIRST Apple Mouse I actually like, and actually decided to buy. I wouldn't recommend it for gamers though, gestures aren't as easy to access as a dedicated hardware button, and the surface can get sticky if your hands are sweaty making it a bit more difficult to swipe. Other than that, this is a very good mouse... is it worth the cash? I say yes simply because of the multi-touch. 3rd party software allows a lot of customization. And the design is one of the best out there.

Up next... my first point and shoot... the Panasonic ZS3 (TZ7)

The Gospel...

Greetings to any readers out there. A brief history about the origin of this blog. I've been a techie for quite some time now... actually as far back as I can remember. I used to post my reviews on product forums which have been republished in some websites.

Then most of my tech reviews and blog entries were moved to my personal Multiply site out of laziness and convenience.

I was initially gonna repost all my previous entries here...but decided against it. This is going to be a fresh new tech blog for 2010.

The name was actually inspired by my friend, Michelle, who always uses the phrase "Well, according to John..." whenever she wants to win an argument about technology.

This blog will include my views on technology from all industries, not just consumer electronics. Guest comments on their own cool tech finds are more than welcome as well!

I'm still in the process of organizing my other blogs as well, so please bear with the template layout for now. Thank you for taking the time to drop by!

Past Tech Gospels

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