Quick test of some flashlights

I needed some flashlights for use in water this summer and gave dealextreme a chance.

After some reading I ended up with an UltraFire W200 and a Diving Cree SSC-P7. My conclusion so far is like most people that have done some flashlight research. The way the vendors measure Lumen must be completely different from each other. The 175 Lumen UltraFire is extremely bright and much brighter than my existing 100 Lumen LED Lenser T5. And the Diving Cree SSC-P7 that is supposed to be 900 Lumen is by far the brightest, but not at all 900 Lumen if they measure the way UltraFire ends up with 175 Lumen for the W200.

But anyway: both the Diving Cree SSC-P7 and the UltraFire seems very sturdy. They’re very bright and I look forward to some real life testing in water. The Diving Cree SSC-P7 has a very nice power switch based on magnets. Making the device completely sealed when in use.

I made a quick video and an image for you to compare the two new flashlights with some of my old ones.

Quick test of some flashlights

Going to IFA – slightly transparent

I just posted an article about Hasan Elahi on the Norwegian blog I’m contributing to. Mr. Elahi is the artist that exposed his whole life on the internet when the feds started following him.

I’m not going to pull an Elahi here, but as part of my experiments with GPS technology and my iPhone I’ll be posting my position live on the intertubes from time to time during my trip to IFA in Berlin.

The map in this post will be updated with my position and a track when I’m online. I’ll also post some messages on Twitter and some geocoded images on Flickr. I know that I have a tight schedule in Berlin, so I can’t promise immense amounts of information, but now you’re informed of my tiny experiment.

GPS tracking powered by InstaMapper.com


(Yeah, I know. The map is slightly too big for my layout.)

Direct link to the map. Direct link to a mobile version of the map.

Unfortunately, the maps will not auto update. You need to refresh. And due to the limited battery and no multitasking on my iPhone I can’t track my whole trip.

We’ll see how it goes. Will this provide any useful information for anyone? Will it be too much work for me?

Going to IFA – slightly transparent

Memory problem

You’ve just returned home after a good day of work. You’re outside your house with two hungry kids and a horrible weather. When you’re about to unlock your door you don’t find your keys. And suddenly you remember where they are.

Safely placed at the back of a computer at work. Always remembering your USB key because it is placed on your key chain = a good idea. Forgetting your keys at work because they are securely fastened to your USB key = bad idea.

Memory problem

A cheap portable DVD and DivX player

Thomson DTH620
Thomson DTH 620
Travelling with kids can be anything from very rewarding and fun to a complete nightmare. Kids are in general very curious and easy to please as things happen around them on the way to a new destination. You always have the traditional games of spotting and counting special objects, following the map, telling stories etc.. If you combine these methods with some new technologies like MP3-players, iPods and portable DVD-Players you could end up managing even quite long trips with no problems.

I have written about the long plane ride and the iPod. In our car we have used a ridiculously cheap little LCD that I bought on eBay connected to my video iPod to show movies. Now the youngest one is old enough to understand what’s going on and we needed a second screen. I don’t want anything very expensive lying around in my car, so I went completely against my own rules of buying quality goods and bought a cheap portable DVD player as the second monitor. I haven’t put it on any hard tests yet, but it seems to fit in perfectly well in our media system in the car.

Thomson DTH 620 connectorsQuick specs:
– 7 inch widescreen
– DVD Player
– Supports DivX, Xvid, MP3, WMA
– Composite video out
– Stereo audio out
– Digital audio out
– Composite video in
– Stereo audio in
– Two headphone connectors
– A three hour battery

It connected to the old Eddie Bauer LCD with no problems. The old screen is NTSC only, but you can choose what signal the DTH620 will transmit on the video output.

So, pop in a DVD in the Thomson player, connect it to another screen as well, and you have the movie on both of them.

LCD screen connected to an iPod VideoConnect it to the video output on your video iPod and you suddenly have a 7 inch portable screen for your iPod. The battery life of the screen is three hours. Probably longer when you use it as a screen only (as long as your iPod provides the video the built in DVD player in the DTH 620 is at rest).

The fact that it plays DivX and Xvid is very nice. I encode my DVDs using AutoGK and end up with between 5 and 10 complete movies on one data DVD (450-700 mb pr. movie is more than enough for this little screen). The DTH620 shows a list of what’s on the DVD and let you choose movie. And I can fit in enough MP3 music and audio books for a veeeery long trip on one DVD as well.

The only problem I have found so far is that I can’t figure out how to get the right aspect on DivX movies that is encoded in true 16/9. It seems like the player only support anamorphic 16/9. Using AutoGK to encode I fix this by hitting Ctrl-F9 to bring up the “hidden options” and check off “.aspect” – Override input AR – Original. Then AutoGK will make a nice anamorphic 16/9-movie that plays fine on the DTH620.

I also miss a loop-through possibility that would let me input video from my iPod and loop it further on to the next screen. To feed both screens with one iPod I need to split the signal (not good) or buy an active video splitter. Anyway, right now the youngest boy wants to look at Teletubbies while the older one watch Nemo or Madagascar. One from a DVD and one from one of our iPods.

It came with a bag and a strap to mount it on the headrest. As well as a charger and connector for the car. I bought mine in Norway at the sometimes horribly expensive and sometimes very cheap Elkjøp for NOK 1295,- (about $200).

Time will show how long this player will last…

A cheap portable DVD and DivX player

The Apple Mobile Phone

CyberShot iPod Nokia 6630

Apple, please! Giving us an FM radio for the iPod in 2006 is an insult. Why? Why can’t you understand that it’s not the “iPod Radio Remote” we want. We want the “iPod Cellular Remote“. This product should have been a cellular attachment for the iPod. Same idea. Use the screen and the battery in the iPod. Just add a little external box with some keys, a cellular chip and preferably also wifi.

Wired had lots of coverage on what people want and why they don’t get it in issue 13.11. Seems like the biggest problem is the download service that should let you buy music directly through the cellular network. Crap.

30GB and 60GB iPod compared

This is what I want:
The 30 GB iPod is slightly thinner than the 60 GB. So, give me a device that is the size of a 60 GB iPod but with a 30 GB disk and use the available space to fit in a 3G cellular and wifi. Let me update my podcasts and buy music from iTunes music store when on a WiFi network or through my computer and let me use it like I use my cellular today when on a mobile network.

The main point here is not to be able to buy music on the go. It is the possibility to bring only one device and one set of headphones. And to own the most sexy cellular ever built.

My current mobile is close, but it lacks the storage space and the software to make things easy enough. That will be fixed at some point.

Right now I carry this around:

Nokia 6630
– Excellent phone
– Excellent calendar and adress book
– Camera (but not very good)
– Music player (but not very good)
– Video player (but not very good)

iPod 60GB Video
– Excellent music player
– OK video player
– calendar and adress book

Sony CyberShot DSC-P150
– Excellent camera

When Nokia removes the three “but not very good” from camera, music player and video player it’s good bye iPod and CyberShot.

Or, if Apple makes the perfect iPod Phone:
Apple’s Trademark Applications Hint At IPod Phone. It’s good bye Nokia…

The Apple Mobile Phone

The Griffin PowerMate and Brian Eno

Griffin Powermate

Do you know what I hate about computers? The problem with computers is that there is not enough Africa in them.
– Brian Eno, May 1995

This quotation is from an article in Wired Magazine that Oyvind pointed me to back in ’95. I have never forgotten it.

What’s pissing me off is that it uses so little of my body. You’re just sitting there, and it’s quite boring. You’ve got this stupid little mouse that requires one hand, and your eyes. That’s it. What about the rest of you? No African would stand for a computer like that. It’s imprisoning.
…still Brian Eno.

Yes. That’s May 1995. More than 10 years ago. And what has happened? The scroll wheel.

The scroll wheel is an excellent invention and I can’t think of using a computer without one. Still it’s just you and that mouse. Maybe you keep your other hand at the keyboard.

The Griffin Powermate has a name, a look and a description that suggest that you should use it to adjust the volume on your computer.

I love this incredibly well built, good looking, solid and very useful knob. I have never used it to adjust the volume on my computer.

I use it to scroll in my browser. To zoom in Photoshop. To shuttle in my video editing software. To scroll in my photo archive. Right hand on the mouse. Left hand switching between the keyboard and the Powermate.

It has completely removed quite a bit of strain on my right hand.

There is a very reliable rule that says that a company that makes hardware can never make good software (look at the software that follows ATI’s graphics cards or Creative’s MP3 players etc…*) Griffin has done an exception with the Powermate. The latest version of the software for this device is actually quite useful. And if you don’t like it you always have Girder and the Girder Powermate Plugin.

I haven’t tested the Girder Plugin yet. The original Griffin software does what I want at this point.

The Powermate puts a tiny, tiny bit of Africa back into my computer.

* Yes, Apple is an exception

The Griffin PowerMate and Brian Eno

iPod Photo Connector quick review – useless!

iPod Camera Connector

What it should do:
Give you a possibility to upload pictures from your digital camera directly on to your iPod. Fantastic! For the people that take large amounts of pictures, maybe with a high resolution camera the cost of memory cards will be huge if you want to bring enough of them to keep you going for a whole vacation.

Having the possibility to transfer them to your iPod and even review them on the iPod screen is a very good idea.

Unfortunately, the iPod Photo Connector fails to help you out…

Sony DSC-P150

The first quick test
I have a Sony DSC-P150 digital camera. It’s 7.2 megapixels. Pictures that I take are around 3 MB and I also use it to record quick video clips.

I didn’t find any information about people that had connected this particular camera to the iPod, but according to the information on Apple’s website it should work.

So, I snap a couple of pictures and a short video clip and connect my camera to the iPod with my original Sony USB cable. Great! The iPod recognize the camera connector and the camera and automatically shows information about what’s on the memory card in the camera. 5 items, 23 MB.

I choose to transfer them to the iPod. Great, a nice screen showing progress and the pictures as they are transfered. It takes quite a bit of time to transfer this small amount of pictures, but everything works out fine.

I can then look at the pictures on the iPod and it shows a small icon for the video clips as well. Kindly telling me that the iPod can not play this video clip but it will play when I transfer it to my computer.

Great. This looks like a useful little device. At $24 it wasn’t even very expensive.

Then the real test
I shoot pictures for one day, and have now a 1 GIG memory stick that is filled with 472 MB worth of pictures and video clips. Not even half way full, but I decide to test the transfer anyway.

This is when I realize that the Apple iPod Photo Connector is completely useless.

I start the transfer. Wow, it is really slow. It takes about 15 minutes and half the battery of the iPod to transfer these 472 MB. And, because the camera connector don’t let you charge the iPod while you transfer I guess transfering 1 GIG or more would be impossible.

The iPod is USB 2.0, my camera is USB 2.0, the cable is USB 2.0. What is this camera connector doing?

OK. It might be useful if I am traveling and has charge possibilities for the iPod and never fill my 1 GB cards.

Well, no. As mentioned. It is completely useless. Why? After the 15 minutes of transfer the iPod tells me that it has transfered the 143 pictures and 472 MB. But this time it won’t let me review the pictures. When I connect the iPod to my computer and check the folder with the pictures it has only trensfered 120 pictures and 350 MB. I try again with my wife’s iPod and now it only transfers 56 pictures! In other words it’s not only a huge battery drain but it is unstable as well. Transfering the same pictures directly from my camera to my computer and directly from a memory card reader both work out fine.

So now you have been warned. An iPod, a camera connector and a Sony DSC-P150 is a completely useless combination. Feel free to try with other cameras. I will keep the connector, and I hope that Apple can solve parts of these issues with new firmware for the iPod. Time will show.

Portable Hard Drive

So what do I do while I wait? I keep using my 80GIG combined memory card reader and battery powered portable hard drive. The eMagic USB 2.0 Data Storage Bank. Yes, crappy web page, crappy design. Not very well built.

But it is cheap, it empties my full 1 GIG card in a couple of minues and has enough battery power to empty several full 1 GIG cards.

Can’t watch the pictures on it, but it has not let me down one single time. Fast, reliable transfers.

iPod Photo Connector quick review – useless!

Sleeptracker – experience so far


First impression
Very nice package. The watch itself looks better than expected. Feels quite well built.

Don’t consider this a complete review of the Sleeptracker. This is my first experience with a device that needs time before it is possible to judge the potential benefit or function of it.

I have now been a proud owner of a Sleeptracker for two weeks. The problem is that these two weeks has not been very representative for the typical days when I need an alarm clock. I am on a vacation and use my kids as alarm clocks. Why get up before you have to?

Of course, as a true geek I have tested the new gadget anyway.
Continue reading “Sleeptracker – experience so far”

Sleeptracker – experience so far