Archive for the ‘Computing’ Category

Another Clock to Tick

Posted: December 19, 2011 in Computing, Projects

For the last year or so we’ve been using a toddler alarm clock for Zachary. Since he can’t read time, a standard clock isn’t all that helpful. A toddler alarm clock uses a stop light (red/green) to indicate if you should be sleeping or awake. It’s pretty ingenious and it’s been somewhat successful.

I do have a few complaints though. The selection of clocks is pretty limited, it’s not exactly a market with a lot of options (and they tend to be expensive). I (of course) bought one off Woot when it became available (basically it’s this one). Honestly, it kind of stinks. It’s very hard to set the time (you need to press the button twice to set the alarm, but the buttons are polled from the chip, so you can only successfully double tap 1/4 of the time). It feels like a $1 clock with $3 of plastic.


Halo old friend

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Computing, Gaming

A few weeks ago I received my copy of Halo Combat Evolved : Anniversary, which is basically the original Halo with updated graphics/sound/etc. As many who know me, I’m a Halo fanatic (I have the tattoo* to prove it). I had a habit of kicking everyone’s ass it Halo (and Halo 2) back in the day. Then there was Halo 3 (first Halo on the Xbox 360), then Halo ODST, Halo Wars, and Halo Reach. Which is pretty much mediocrity bookended with two pretty good Halo tales (Halo 3 and Reach being the pretty good tales). Bungie, the company who started and built almost everything Halo (with the exception of Halo Wars) for the last 10 years bowed out, leaving the Halo franchise in Microsoft’s hands.

So Microsoft created a new development group/company called 343 Studios (which is a Halo reference). 343’s first product is the 10th anniversary version of the original Halo. All things considered, this is a great idea. Take a well-established and loved franchise’s first outing and make it current.


See ya Steve

Posted: August 24, 2011 in Computing, iPhone

With everything going on in the world, it might seem silly to make note of Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO of Apple. The fact is though, this is a man, who’s leadership took a company 90 days from bankruptcy to one of the most powerful companies in the world in just under fifteen years.

I don’t doubt there are better people in the world than Steve, certainly more moral and more selfless, however as a geek (and Apple lover since the 1980’s), Steve is a celebrity and a great man.


A while back I posted about picking up a Fuji Finepix F30 and how great the camera was, even compared to newer cameras. I don’t know what happened, but the camera ended up broken and couldn’t be recovered. Although I was tempted to get another, instead I bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1. The Lumix is waterproof and was supposed to have excellent low-light capabilities.

Although on paper the camera does seem to be quite good, the photos just never look all that great. We still use it from time-to-time, but now that Cara and I have the iPhone 4, it’s rare that we need it. To be honest, even the Canon Rebel rarely gets used (and it takes great photos).

So recently I’ve started to think about finding a good low-light camera again (I know I’m a little daft about cameras). The fact is, the iPhone is decent, actually its quite good, but it’s not great. So I began my research again.

One of the issues with current cameras is that as the pixel density (i.e. the megapixels) has increased, the amount of light that each pixel receives is reduced. The F30 was only 6MP (which is actually fewer pixels than the iPhone4), but the sensor is more than 0.37″ (compared to the 0.18″ sensor for the iPhone). A large sensor means more area for the light to hit, which means better low light (for comparison the Canon Digital Rebel has just over a 1″ sensor so there’s no comparison there.).

A recent article I read heralds the Finepix F80 EXR as a nice successor to the F30 that I loved, and the best current-generation point-and-shoot for low light photography. At higher ISO the camera reduces its pixel density to capture more light, which sounds like a great feature. Unfortunately the quantitative results aren’t nearly as great. First off the sensor on the F80 is actually significantly smaller than the F30 (0.31″ which is about 80% of the size), and the real world examples bear out that if you look at something like f30 vs f80 comparison or this comparison.

So the long and the short of it is… the F30 is still the superior camera when it comes to shooting low light with a point-and-shoot camera. Not bad for a camera that was released half a decade ago.

Neglecting the Links

Posted: February 7, 2011 in Computing, General

I admit it, those links on the right side of my blog are neglected. Before today they haven’t been touched in years (that’s plural years). In internet time, they are ancient fossils. No doubt about it, many were outdated and no longer in existence. So I thought I’d clean house a bit.

Since my area of interest has changed from Web Design to Mobile UI Design most of the web-specific websites have been removed (because I don’t read them myself).


As a UI/UX designer for the iPhone and iPad, I pretty much live and breathe iOS interfaces. Recently I was reading Matt Rix’s Blog, and I read his post on game makeovers and I had a few thoughts.

I’m going to offer my skills as a designer to those small iOS developers out there, but more on that in a bit, first my thoughts on Matt’s blog post…

His example is a game called MicroSquares, but I have no doubt that a good percentage of games in the App Store fall prey to the same issues. The fact is, Matt is a rarity when it comes to programmers. He understands the importance of UI and the skills to develop a good UI, but also the skills to implement it. Most developers only have the inkling of what makes a good UI.


The down-side to the iPhone 4’s retina display is that developers need to now create two sets of graphics for their apps. For apps to take advantage of the higher resolution iPhone 4 screen, they need to create double-sized graphics saved with an “@2x” at the end of the name.

Moving forward, creating those double-sized graphics aren’t really a big deal. The standard workflow (for me) has usually been to create all of my graphics at 2x, then open the exported graphics and scale them down to the 1x size. Not really a lot of work, but using Photoshop for this is a little overkill, and to be honest, Photoshop’s actions and replication skills tend to leave a lot to be desired. Luckily in about 3 minutes you can build your own app that will do the job quickly and easily.