the Mac Pro upgrade that Apple forgot

talk about the past calling… it looks like Apple intended to upgrade the Mac Pro a while ago and FORGOT! an article from [forgotten and dead news site] lists XEON processors that speed bump the Mac Pro into “the new” category as the W3565 and E5645. these CPUs were released in 2009 and 2010. here are the exact release dates according to the wikipeidia page on the XEON family of CPUs:

W3565 released 2009-11-01
E5645 released 2010-03-16

links the Intel processor specs…

W3565 4 core XEON
E5645 6 core XEON

making the iPhone camera better revisted


the coolest thing about the iPhone camera is that it’s the only camera that we have that gets better as time goes by. just about every other camera is feature complete when it comes off the assembly line. the things it can do are the things it does and that is it. there may be a firmware update to fix things that don’t work but we don’t see them often. and we do it’s unlikely that there would be a new “mode” to try out. the iPhone doesn’t work that way. there are thousands of camera apps extending the camera into something more. things like panoramas, high dynamic range, visual effects and 3D are all apps that take a normal snap to extend it’s interpretation.

making your iThing a better camera is not really as simple as downloading a new app and pressing the shutter. to say that everything is different is an understatement. for example the first time playing with 360 Panorama made a horrible image. the second time wasn’t much better. it took some practice to get a panorama that was something worth sharing. all of the apps below are like that. it won’t take you long to get the hang of things but you don’t want to have your first experience with your new “camera” to be the time of important event.

here are some of our favorite iPhone and iPod Touch applications.

Camera Plus vs Camera+ is two different cameras.

360 Panorama is a very free form pano tool. it’s like painting. hold snap move repeat.

DMD Panorama from Dermanda forces the camera to be vertical. as you move to the next stitch watch the two ghosts come together and then it snaps (how zen).

Plastic Bullet and Classic Insta have two very different goals. one of these is slow. the other is fast. one makes gorgeous printable snaps. the other is classic crap cam emulator.

Plastic Bullet from Red Giant is 2 bucks – err 1 buck for a limited time. it’s very slow but makes a nice effect. use it after the snaps are taken for better results.

CIassic INSTA simulates crap cams from the 70s. it has the same 19 effects but put the snap on the different borders is based the “camera” being used to snap. the looks are are frameless, polaroid LAND camera, 90 something and square framed. it’s fast enough so you can just shot and go.

related to the INSTA is the Classic SAMP which emulates a LOMO Action sampler or LOMO Super Sampler. you simply must know this film cam! pull the cord to prime the shutters. snap, snap, snap, snap! unlike the film cameras with the SAMP you get all the cams in one: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 taking almost full rez shots!

HDR FX is a very simple HDR photo taker. click to take the scene then choose the processed look from three modes: sneery, sky, ground. it’s to you to save the image when you are finished. there is also a free version.

HDR Photo Camera is a SLOW! or maybe SLOW-ISH! it is an ad supported (how iWeird) HDR maker that makes you save your processed shot. there are no post processing choices, you just get HDR. remember to save.

Camera Fun FREE is a free fun house camera that offers Mirror, Pinch and Sketch modes that the kids will use until there is no more power left in the battery.

other things mentioned:

the story of the making of Glif is a fun read.

make your pocket Canon do more with CHDK.

cover photo is the pigeon taken with a iPhone 1.

corrections: John got the flip cam reference wrong from the show before. 1080HD wasn’t the norm. neither was 720HD. it was standard video (640×480). HD Flip cams didn’t ship until some time later.

Maker Faire 2012


for me it’s about momentum. and if I get stopped, if there’s the slightest roadblock, I will go home. at least that’s what I’m like today. I really did try to get to the show. I tried twice. and it would be easy for me to criticize the show planners. but you see, it’s me that is the problem. I hate crowds, I can’t walk far, I get tired easily, I can’t see up making talking to the people difficult if not impossible sometimes. and if I do make the weekend of it because the world was in alignment I pay dearly for the experience for days afterword.

so I bailed. and instead of just gawking at the spectacle that is 3D printers, robots, nerd talks, and lots more walking around I spent the rest day hacking. and got far. it’s pretty easy to forget just how rewarding an afternoon of soldering or programming or writing or coding can be. especially if it’s nothing related to the normal day to day.

here’s the article that talks about how a kid found out that he wasn’t the only one after he spent the day at the Faire. I wish that as a kid I could have fond my kind of nerds.

TinkerCAD is a 3D maker tool that works inside of a modern browser.

the SF Gate (aka cronicle) has a series of pictures that give you an idea of the crowd that descended on San Mateo.

FORA TV has almost all the talks you didn’t make it to hear.

Zoa Chimerum jewelry


R2D2 builders

WALL-E builders

Adam Savage 2012 Maker Faire — Why We Make

Chris Anderson talks about making Autonomous Quadracopter drones. he packed ’em in compared to the 30-40 people that listened in 2010.

more information can be found at DIY Drones.

surviving a Maker Faire expedition

it’s better than the circus, the local carnival or a parade. the Maker Faire has been held at the San Mateo County Fairground since 2006. the event has changed over the years. it gets bigger adding more vendors, talks, exhibits and interests to a growing crowd that doesn’t seem so much like a crowd because everyone is there to learn and enjoy. some of the Faire seems more like a trade show than a faire and maybe that’s not a bad thing because it means that ideas have turned into businesses that are thriving.

lots of people see the Maker Faire as a technology event. but it’s not just tech. half of it is traditional crafts like sewing, screen printing, pottery, jewelry and many other “made by hand” things. all of these skills also translate into the same skills you need for working on robots, cars, or making in general. when I was growing up sewing was something “girls” did thus I didn’t want any part of it until I got into backpacking trips where the sewing skills made things to help the trips work better.

I’ve been to the MF since the beginning. and while I have skipped some years (notably last year) I have plan that keeps me wanting to go back. and you’ll want to make your own plan because every expedition needs a plan. I think of the two day weekend as an expedition because there is a lot of ground cover and because it’s so big I want to make sure I know where things are before I get there because once you’re there it’s too late. you’ll see when you get there.

load your phone
there’s an app for the Maker Faire that works on iPhone and Android. it’s supposed to contain the schedule of the stages, has a map of where things are and is a gateway to other information. sigh. it might work better if it was self contained. but it’s web based. meaning there will be slow load times given the fact that 40,000 nerds and geeks will crush the surrounding coverage. but you don’t need that app.

copy / paste / collapse the information on the main schedule page of the and paste that into the notes section on your phone. make a page for Saturday and for Sunday. that way you’ll scroll less. take a screen shot of the Map, and drag that to a photo album so you can open it more quickly than a PDF. of course you could always schedule events that you MUST see in your Calendar with alarms set to remind you before they happen. 15 minutes is a warning is plenty of time to get to anywhere on the grounds.

get there early
it opens at 10AM but that doesn’t mean you need to wait until 10AM to travel. the road to parking lot was full enough that it took 40 minutes from the tail end to land in parking lot. so plan around that slowness. for example if you really want to see Adam Savage on Sunday at 11AM you really need to leave… by working it backwards. 11AM talk. 20 minutes to walk from the car to the hall. 40 minutes in traffic. 50 minutes travel time. 20 minutes for coffee and donuts. 2 hours 10 minutes is how much time you need to travel to ensure seeing half a Mythbuster.

another reason to get there early is that the workshops, hands on and kid building things fill up. but worse is that sometimes they run out of materials. if you want to fly a rocket, learn to solder or be part of other makes it’s best to be the early bird. I have never seen a more sad kid than the time I saw the volunteer say to him, “I’m sorry. We’re out of rockets.”

think of the Maker Faire the same way as you think about hiking. it’s a lot of walking, standing and some of it is outside. if you wear the same gear when you walk the Marin Headlands or Point Bonita Lighthouse you’ll be fine. if you wear the same clothes that you wear to make things be sure that your shoes are up to the task. if you need it spelled out here’s the short list: sunglasses, hat (optional but some of it is outside), layers depending on the predicted micro climate, walking shoes, pants with big or many pockets.

yes. bring your camera (or just use your phone), video camera, dSLR, Lomo, sound recorder, laptop (it better be something light weight). there will be lots of tech around you too. so don’t be shy about getting right in there with your tech. my take on this is try to travel light. take “a camera” not two. if your devices need lots of power consider extra batteries or make or buy a booster pack. while there is lots of power around the fairgrounds don’t assume that you can just plug in to what you find.

what to take
there are lots of things to take away from the Faire like flyers, brochures, posters, books, kits, kites, parts, toys, anything that you can buy… it’s all interesting right? thing is that interesting brochure becomes another and another then pretty soon you have a pound of paper in your bag. there are two things that I like to do to avoid paper: take a picture and make a note in your phone or notebook. all this stuff is on the web so you can avoid taking any paper with you at all.

before going on an expedition you should start that journey with a good breakfast. or at least a bagel and an apple. but don’t worry if you can’t because you run out of time there is plenty of things to eat. just about every space between the buildings has food of all kinds. you name it, it’s there. and none of it seemed outrageously priced. and for the planning ahead minded person there’s nothing stopping you from packing a launch for your backpack. or load the trunk cooler and feed the whole family.

drink water
there is water, water every where. the thing I noticed is that there are drinking fountains in almost all the buildings. bring your refillable vessel or bring plastic throw away bottles with you. there is always water for sale. sometimes that nicer because it’s ice cold.

a backpack is only going to make you miserable by the end of the day. so if you take a backpack with you make sure it’s more empty.

Saturday night
if you have the time stick around for the things that are set on fire.

don’t worry
there are so many things going on that you won’t be able to see everything. interesting talks sometimes overlap one another. it happens. the good news is that most everything is recorded so that everyone around the world can see. that way if you get stuck in traffic you’ll still be able to hear that guy. some of the demos run both days. meaning you can get a better seat tomorrow because you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.

it’s layers and layers. as #10 mentions there is so much to see that you won’t. but don’t skip over something because it “looks” boring. the table that held the most heavy metal ball in the world looked just like that. it was just a table with a guy standing next to a silver ball that looked like a baseball. everyone knows what a baseball weighs. it was a real surprise picking up this object. cool right? practically everyone missed it.

Mac Maintenance


if you look at the marketing for commercial and freeware “Mac maintenance apps” you see stuff like “Apple should bundle this!” or “it totally saved my bacon!” and finally “best app ever!” dubious marketing at best. the thing is most modern Macs aren’t in a “regularly scheduled program.” people just use them without doing anything special to them to keep them running.

the people of Know Tech are divided on the care and feeding. Chris has a Windows centric attitude causing him to rebuild and reinstall the System and all his apps twice a year. Kenji lived with a broken MacBook Pro keyboard for nearly 2 years before he bothered to get it fixed. Craig has a detailed backup system. Kristin just uses her Macs. and all the Macs that John takes care of just seem to work without any messing about.

so why do people have a need to maintenance their Macs? it’s something that is built into all consumer products. your car needs regular care, you have to put chemicals into the pool, the heater filter gets changed, the coffee maker needs de-liming and the refrigerator needs to be de-iced. maintenance is all around us and were programmed to accept doing it. some people actually like the peace of mind that they’ve “done something” and other people “just like doing” maintenance because it makes them feel good.
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taking apart a floppy for parts

the idea was simple enough, take the obviously corroded floppy disk that came from a Roland HP-1900 and grab all the useful parts from it. the floppy disk drive is a simple device. it uses a stepper motor to position a read/write head that moves across a spinning disc made of mylar powered by a unique motor.

from a personal computer point of view there there only 3 sizes of floppy disk in common use: 8″, 5.25″ and 3.5″. smaller sized floppy disks emerged late in the game which got used for things like music players and cameras. but these formats never found a foot hold in computing.
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the last Macworld Expo


Remember when Macworld used to get 30k people coming to it? Well we have days were over 1m people visit our stores.
steve jobs

Macworld Expo has been “the tradeshow” for all things Mac for the last 25 years. there was a time when it was mandatory for anyone who had an interest in Mac to attend. companies came here to announce products, users came to learn, buyers came to do deals and the press could see all their contacts. it was all under one roof.

today it’s not the show that it once was.
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Continuous is a mode on your camera that takes picture after picture for as long as you hold down the shutter. the frame rate of the shots depends on the camera. the Canon shoots about 4 FPS, Fuji is .3 seconds per frame, Nikon has a mode called 16 (which turns the flash off automatically, there is also has a mode that does 1.5 FPS and the Sony have different rates that depend on the camera. there are several Casio cameras that have super fast frame rates like up to 1000 frames per second!

so what is Continuous mode good for? it turns out there are lots of things that you can shoot. it’s a great way to get perfect candids. group shots are always a problem. don’t forget squirming kids and pets. you get that winning moment for sports photos. in a nut shell Continuous mode is good for anything that moves.
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project 365


if you are looking for a project to start with the new year look no further, this is it. the idea is to take one photo every day. easy you say! sure, we all take more photos now that we have some kind of camera with us. but when this kind of project started it was a little different and certainly not as easy. you took a camera of some kind, loaded a roll of film that you liked and over the next 24 or 36 days you’d take exactly one photo every day. of course you didn’t see what the photos looked like until the end of the roll after you got them back from the developer. this made it more special. you know, that anticipation of “how’s it going to come out!?”
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