# Sunday, 22 October 2006

For years I have used many gadgets and the like, but there was always one piece of equipment which I never got... A video camera! I never found one to my liking, primarily because the act of getting video to a usable form on the PC was pretty pain staking, transfering it usually took as long as the video itself.

Then came the DVD-R recorders, which sort of solved the problem of transfering videos, but the videos were in a DVD VOB format, which makes manipulating them a little problematic. Also... writing to a DVD takes a LOT of battery power, something which I'm all too familiar from being a user of a first generation CDR Digital Camera.

Then came the HDD video cameras, which usually saved files in a proper file that you can just copy off the camera, also running a hard disk uses less power than a DVD drive. But the problem with the initial HDD cameras were that they recorded at a fixed bit rate which gave them bad video quality at times, or just plain wasted the high bitrate.

My wife has been making me promise to get a video camera to be used for my child, and I have been holding out on getting one, until I saw this little guy just now.

The Sony DCR-SR60 It's a HDD cam, but with a few differences from the current HDD cameras (then again I haven't been keeping up to date on these things so I wouldn't know how new this is!) First thing about this camera that caught my eye was that on the brochure it very explicitly went through the troubleto mention that it DOES indeed uses Variable Bit Rate encoding for it's recording to ensure that disc space is used efficiently and also video quality doesn't suffer too.

Unlike most of the other HDD video cameras I've checked out in the past, it doesn't just use a Compact Flash type II slot and then use a micro drive in it. This camera's hard disk is mounted in the camera.

The obvious advantage of having a permanently built in hard disk is that all sorts of anti shock, anti vibration, etc. etc. systems can be applied to it so that the fragile nature of using a hard disk in a piece of mobile equipment can be overcome. Of course... all over the packaging, and in the instruction manual they'll keep mentioning that you shouldn't drop, shake, or subject the camera to vibration during operation...

The obvious disadvantage of a permanently built in hard disk is that.. well, it's permanent.. so if you're going to use it on a trip you either need to have a backup device like a notebook or something, or use the recording settings to get the most out of your space. This particular camera I've got has a 30GB hard disk, and according to the specs, in it's lowest quality mode it is able to record about 21 hours of video.

Since it's a Sony camera it has the usual Handycam features such as.. having a touchscreen for most of it's controls.

Which my wife comments that "Great, don't have to remember which button does what!" to which I answer Great... there's only ONE button on the camera to fail! But the touch screen does have a lot of cool features, you can customize the menus for quick access to your commonly used functions, use it to focus on a specific spot of the image you're capturing. All in all.. good shit.

Another Sony feature that I like is the inclusion of an EASY mode, just like what my camera has. Bascially once you're in this EASY mode.. you just go ahead and record your video, all the advance stuff like exposure, white balance, etc. etc. everything will be taken care of for you.

Initial tests of the files that the camera produces are good, according to the documents it's using MPEG2 for it's compression and I can just play them in WMP once I copy them over to my PC since for some reason playing them off the camera... it doesn't seem to work too well.

Windows Movie Maker is able to edit the files after stalling for a while so editing the files shouldn't be a problem. I'm gonna need to fiddle with this some more before I'm able to say wheter this camera was a good buy or not. So far I'm leaning towards good.

One caveat which I didn't notice until I paid for the camera which would have affected my purchase decision is that.. there's no viewfinder! the only way to see what you're doing is through the big side screen, which from experience is the single most power hungry thing on a camera. But.. again.. from experience I know that technology advancements have made screens much more power efficient but I would have still loved being able to make the choice of NOT using the big power hungry screen.

Stay tuned for some video goodness soon!

Sunday, 22 October 2006 19:08:01 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 
# Thursday, 19 October 2006

So.. you made a good application, won the local leg of the Imagine cup, had Bill Gates deliver you your prize, which in effect was a prize itself as well. So how did a bright, aspring programmer go from representing her country (scroll to the bottom)..

To becoming part of a pirated DVD distribution site?

I wonder if the media exagerated their income? RM1 Million made from selling pirated DVDs for a year? Hmmm.. usually the media, or companies like to place the sticker price based on what the authentic product would cost, then multiply it by number of pirated units sold to get said price.. still... RM1 million, that's a lot of pirated DVDs.

I showed this news to my colleagues, some of them said well.. maybe she has reasons we don't know of, like she needs the money to take care of a sick mother, or maybe the boy friend coaxed her into doing it.

I don't agree with those reasons, for one thing.. IT'S ILLEGAL!! Another thing is that why sell pirated DVDs? The MPAA has enough combined money and iffluence to come after you wherever you are. Could have tried selling some other fake stuff like rolexes or something. And I'm sure there are other better cons that you could have thought of.

Well.. now she might end up in jail.. a perfect example of how you can go from the top of the world to rockbottom. There's only one thing that she can do when she comes out of all this... Write a book about her experiences, how when at first she was just skeptical about the whole deal, then as the money started rolling in how she start being more and more afraid that one day the authorities are gonna come aknocking. Yup.. the first great Malaysian cyber story!!

Thursday, 19 October 2006 01:43:24 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 15 October 2006

Is a sign like this a good or bad thing? Does it make the customer feel safe that they can get a one on one exchange if the thing fails? Or worry that because the things has a history of failing and hence the company needs to keep the customer's mind at ease and give them the one on one policy.

Sunday, 15 October 2006 01:31:19 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 07 October 2006

Sometimes it's tough being an ISV, sure the job is great in the sense that since you're not tied to any one company you'll be building apps for various customers and usually in various different industries. But the biggest headache that I always face is what to do when the client obviously wants something that's bad for his company?

I have a customer that essentially wants me to build what is a light spyware application, I totally disagree with the features he wants. But the app is part of a bigger project that is already ongoing. I've tried to make the customer see the errors of his ways but still he wants the feature to go in.

Aaaarrrggg... Well, everyone's got a mortgage to pay!

Saturday, 07 October 2006 00:57:45 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 
# Monday, 02 October 2006

When I go travelling I carry quite a few gadgets with me. My Pocket PC phone, the Creative Zen Vision, Bluetooth GPS unit and a Nintendo DS Lite.

Some people wonder why I just don't get a powerful, GPS capable Pocket PC phone and thus elminate the need to carry around so many other doodads. Well there's a simple answer to that question.

Battery Life, the phone when in use has about 3~4 hours of continous ON time, meaning backlight on and I'm doing something with it. Like a notebook the actual time depends on what I do with it. The Zen Vision also lasts about the same time, the GPS lasts about 10 hours, but I never tested it before. And the DS Lite lasts about 5 hours.

Now... if I only used the Pocket PC for all my entertainment purposes, within 3 hours I'd be without a phone. Which is definetly not a situation anyone wants to be in. But with seperate devices I don't have to worry about the dependencies on one battery, I can keep watching movies on my Vision till the batteries run out, play my DS lite till it goes flat and still my phone has enough juice to get through the day.

Monday, 02 October 2006 01:20:23 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |