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Archive for March, 2009

Sony MHS-PM1 Webbie HD First Look

March 22nd, 2009 7 comments

sony-hd-mhs-pm1-webbie-7195For reasons I am not exactly clear about myself, I was able to obtain the new Sony MHS-PM1 “Webbie” HD camcorder, apparently before most people on the planet. Being a late adopter of most technology out there, I find more appreciation in people reviewing hardware from their own perspective over any public media review.   All those reviews for all of those years, I find myself with a sense of duty to return the favor. 

I am going to have to have a series of posts related to this camera, as I have no formal method of sitting down and comparing it to the rest of the options out there.  I am also mildly terrible at remembering to shoot video, so I am going to need to force the issue.

I bought this camera for a purpose.  In May 2009, I am taking an 8 day road trip of sorts around the country with two friends as we travel from race track to race track, as part of the One Lap of America.  The trip is a dream come true, and I want to document every possible moment to re-live for years to come.   I will certainly have some follow up reports after that trip to see how this camera survives. This trip however, redefined what I wanted out of a camcorder.

While traveling, I don’t want to run out of recordable space, and I want to be able to swap a battery to continue using the camera.  I wanted to have swappable media cards and a swappable battery.   I also wanted to have the camera record in the car for long track sessions, or even part of the road trip, without me thinking.  Here is where the camera has already failed.

The online reference to this was poor, so let me get it out in the open. This camera will not record video continuously, for more than 25 minutes.  It did reference this time scale under the memory card sizing for still photos.  Not until you get the user manual did it actually read the noted 25 minute restriction also applied to recorded time for video.

25 minutes, really?   The fact that I can put a 16GB card in the camera and get over 8 hours of 720p recording is absolutely useless.  The fact that they tout having over 100 minutes of record time on the battery is also crap, because every 25 minutes my video will stop.  

Will it still be good for vacations and trip? Absolutely. I will however curse this camera to no end, if I start a track session in the car and the recording time stops before I get back to the garage.  

Physical Overview

sony-hd-mhs-pm1-webbie-7209

I like the design of the camera.  I like the ability to flip the lens closed, which acts as a switch to turn on or off the camera.  Knowing that I will throw it in my pocket, having it closed gives me a sense that I am somehow protecting the lens itself.

The camera is light, and I am convinced that the only thing that adds any weight to it is the battery.  Of course my universal comparison is size is the iPhone, and while it is certainly thicker than the phone, the outside measurements are smaller. The plastic case makes it feel lighter, though I need to put it on a scale to be sure. 

sony-hd-mhs-pm1-webbie-7198

The slide compartment on the bottom of the phone feel solidly built and has a nice hinge system that opens up to reveal the memory card and battery compartment.  The battery has a securing clip, so opening the cover itself does not send your battery bouncing across the floor. 

The “port” cover however on the side is a “pry it open” operation, and hopes to rely on the rubber tether to keep it from flying off into oblivion.  While it is functional, I would be concerned over continuous use, as I have already found myself giving it a good thumb mashing to get it to re-seat correctly. 

You will of course need to carry a USB cable to get the pictures off, unless you have a Sony Memory Stick Pro card reader to move to.sony-hd-mhs-pm1-webbie-7208

There is a traditional sized threaded tripod hole on the bottom, which will come in handy, when trying to secure the camera down, or keep it one place with an actual tripod.

They knew I drop everything and put a mounting slot on the bottom to mount an included wrist sized fabric string strap.

 The front of the camera has no indication you are recording, and the small hole

 perforation is the microphone to the camera.  There is a blinky green light on the back side of the camera, so you can do you self recording. 

The opposite side of the port access, or right side of the camera while in your hand

sony-hd-mhs-pm1-webbie-7202

 are the power, menu and options/delete button.  You only actually push the power button when you want to connect the USB or for pure playback, as you get spoiled by rotating the lens to turn it on the rest of the time. 

I know the camera uses the Memory Stick Pro card and doesn’t use a standard SD card.  It isn’t surprising, as it is Sony, but hearing everybody use that as a complaint point gets mildly annoying. There are so few cameras offering any flash based additional memory that I am grateful for anything. 

While I am not typically a video person, I hope to go over some of the controls and post some video clips soon for comparison.  I am excited to be able to record video and keep this on my person at all time, but still having concerns of how to circumvent the 25 minute recording restriction to really make me enjoy the camera.

 

 

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The Mitsubishi History of Stephen (round 2)

March 17th, 2009 No comments

The first Galant VR4 I found I bought from a lady in Bristol, NY.  I had actually been driving home in little East Rochester, and the car was outside of a repair shop with a few people walking around it.  Knowing how rare the car was and never expecting to see one in the wild, I immediately turned around to investigate.  

The woman had hit a deer with the car, and was getting some estimates to get it repaired.  I interrupted the whole process long enough to give her my name and phone number and said if she would like to sell the car “as is” I would be interested.  A week later I was the owner of 1168/2000.

The car became my daily driver and with some minor hood and headlight repair, was back to a respectable looking sedan.  The car was completely bone stock but it was quite a luxurious upgrade from my VW station wagon I had been using as a winter car. 

galant-vr4-187-may-2004-04893

 

 

The story of 187

I was active on quite a few DSM message boards in the 90s and remember we had quite an active group here in Rochester at the time as well.  Dave Buschur posted up a notice that he had a Galant VR4 for sale.  The short version of the story is that behind Dave’s shop was a nice plot of land he had always wanted, which had just gone up for sale.  In order to raise the funds for the land, he was offloading this car, which was an “in progress” project.  Supposedly the car was being built up for a magazine article, until the magazine backed out.  In essence it was a clean 1992 car, with a stock motor, with every piece every boy wants under the Christmas tree attached onto it.  I originally wasn’t going to buy the car, but when the buyer that I had helped line up in the area backed out, I stepped in.

 The trip down to get the car is one that can only be appreciated in a bar, with both myself in Mike Hayes in the room.  Picture the family 1980 van, towing a construction trailer back from Ohio, with the front of the van a few feet higher than the rear.  Then picture Mike in the front seat on a laptop, while we tried to stop at Kinkos along the way for him to upload reports to work. (before broadband wireless existed)  Needless to say I don’t think we gave Dave much confidence when we pulled up in the van.

I couldn’t afford the car, so I ended up selling off 1168/2000 when I got it the first year. One of the local members bought 1168/2000, which eventually headed somewhere in New England.

The most painful, yet fun thing I had to do was to drive 187/1000 through the first winter I had it.  The car had come with a complete HR Springs and AGX shock suspension but it was still in the box and I wasn’t about to let the salt takes its toll.  The car had a ridiculous sized 60 trim equivalent turbo on it, Buschur’s full race front mount, and it was setup with a VPC to run fuel with 660 injectors.  It ran absolutely pig rich, leaving smoke screens of fuel behind me on every exit ramp, but it was so much fun to drive. It was laughable to see people’s expression when you had somebody in the passenger seat.  With a stock suspension, you could raise the front of the car almost two feet with a nice breath squeezing level of acceleration. 

187 Engine SwapSummer came, and I found myself still driving 187/1000 over the Eclipse.  The suspension went into the car, making it squat nice and it actually learned to turn more than just be straight line car. I had found another junk car for the following winter, but I ended up putting a “for sale sign” on the Eclipse which didn’t sell until the next spring.  I split the money I had from the Eclipse sale and dumped it all into the motor and transmission of the Galant. With a solid power plant and a drive train to support it, the car became lethal to drive on the street.

 I eventually bought another Galant VR4 from Bruce Perry, the SCCA rally driver, which became the daily and winter driver.  New parts went to 187 while the leftover parts went to 199/1000.  187 received a nice coil over Tein suspension, while 199 received the HR springs and AGX shocks. 

 In 2003, I was able to take the 187/1000 to Watkins Glen.   You need to relive that trip report to appreciate how epic the trip was for me.  It would bring me back to the Glen a few more times, but nothing could have built up the pride I felt driving that car around. 

Life kicked in shortly after, as I settled into a beutiful house with my best girl.  It turns out she would become my wifre in 2007, and without touching the car in 4 years, it has been difficult to keep up with the project of finishing it off.   My wife, recognizing my shriveling grasp on my automotive nitch in the world, convinced me to buy a 2008 Mitsubishi Evo X.  With the new toy in the garage, it was my intention to sell the parts off of 187/1000 , and send the shell to a good home for a modest price.   

Then Tim came up with the need to run One Lap of America in 2009, so the car went through a transformation.  The prestine and slowly evolving car I once knew has transformed into a full on track car, using most of Tim’s parts along the way. 

 

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Adding Voice to my Google Life

March 12th, 2009 2 comments

 

161147-googlevoice_180_originalToday Google finally made the move I have been waiting for by bringing Google Voice into realm of google apps to organize my life.  I am the first to admit I have become a google fan boy and even enjoy teaching classes on how to use the Google to organize other people’s lives.  I am like a born again googler, trying to spread the word. Ever since a co-worker invited me to sign up for Grand Central in 2007, I knew Google was onto something. 

If you have never heard of Grand Central, or only knew it was a NYC metro station, then here are the basics.  You sign up for Grand Central and they give you a local number in your area code, which you can use as you new phone number.  You are given a login to the website and can program that new number to do a multitude of cool things to route your voice calls.  You can set it up to ring your cell phone, home phone, and work phone at the same time.  You can set it up so when your mother in law calls, it never rings your phone, but rings your wife’s phone.  You can get pretty granular with the controls, even setting the time of day preferences to make sure the calls can get to you quicker.  

I have been using Grand Central for a couple years.  For myself, I use it least of which is to actually receive calls.  For the most part I use Grand Central for the most elliquent filtering system available to screen my calls.  It is the main number that I put on everything.  When I fill in any application form or am asked to provide a number that will go into a database somewhere, they get the Grand Central number.  

I am not going to run down all of the features that Grand Central provides, but I want to highlight the new features that Google Voice wil bring. 

Call Record

Ok, I lied about not talking about the old features.  You could do this one on Grand Central, but I never really thought of connecting through Grand Central when placing the call. With the interaction into your contacts and the ability to “Place Calls” I may think twice before pressing the call button.  

SMS

Integrating with TEXT messaging is a natural progression that needs to happen with anything with voice. Already getting text message for my calendar appointments and everything else in google, they would have been numb if they missed it here. 

Voicemail Transcripts

Out of the box Google Voice will attempt to create transcripts of your voicemail and let you read what the voicemail is before having to listen to it. While you will have this information online, you can also opt to have it send to SMS or to EMAIL.  For people who find that valuable text message in a meeting or noisy place where you can’t answer the phone, this is perfect. 

Placing Calls

Not directly a feature of Grand Central, but obtainable from a multitude of options, this one may be valuable for people who are running a small business with google apps.  The contact is there in front of you and when you click on the number your phone rings and connects you to the person. 

Google Integration

Let’s face it, the closer you live in a Google world, the easier it makes your life.  If it doesn’t then we need to sit down and talk.  

What is next?

If you have never seen Gizmo5, have a look. 

http://gizmo5.com/pc/

It is the cheaper free version of Skype ad they are proud to tout that.  Grand Central had some interaction with the, so you can imagine the same level of Skype interaction will follow soon.  

The Privacy

Let’s face it, the number one reason people don’t trust google apps is the privacy.  If you are worried that your transcripts online are invading your privacy or worried that Google will deliver ads based on what you are talking about, they will.  If the material you are talking about is that sensitive, then don’t use this system.  While somehow Google always manages to put things into a warm and fuzzy way of invading your privacy, it still happens. For myself the benefits of organization that it ads to my life has been well worth the fact that somebody else may know what I am up to. 

Media Check

Mildly perturbed at all of the articles out there, pointing to this as a new technology.  While I still pay homage to the guys at CNET for keeping up with most of this information, the rest of the real media has once again dropped the ball in recognizing that this was coming.  

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/here-comes-google-voice.html

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ESET Nod32 False Alarm Morning

March 9th, 2009 No comments

The antivirus scanners need to put in an “o sorry, we really didn’t mean that” clause when they find outbreaks of variants that they haven’t quite identified.   The virus scanner rarely trips on the servers, but this morning we had ESET’s NOD32 tripping on a variant of Win32/Kryptik.JX Trojan, that it supposedly found in msdtc.exe.   Luckily for us it was unable to clean the file, as apparently there was a large portion of the world today working to recover all of files it did delete.  The particular file we had mis-categorized was msdtc.exe.

Listening to the tubes, there was more of an official response to the problem from an ESET rep posted here…

http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=1419988&postcount=6

Then there was the official response and apparently the entire incident happened within a 10 minute span before they released an update.  

http://kb.eset.com/esetkb/index?page=content&id=SOLN2181&actp=LIST_RECENT

Basically make sure you have the advanced heuristics module updated up to 1092 then RESTORE any deleted files from the Quarantine menu.   I figured I would add to the search string by posting something up, as I rarely get to witness the mistakes come in and out of view so early in the morning.  

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Mitsubishi History of Stephen (round 1)

March 6th, 2009 No comments

The first Mitsubishi I owned was a 1996 GS-T.  I bought it new, and it was my first new car that I had ever purchased.  It was of course before I found out that there was a certain addition that came with AWD, but I certainly showed the car a lot of love.  Being the first year out of college with a solid job, the car quickly became my life.  It would get a daily hand wash after work and a fresh wax every weekend.  I spent a lot of time reading and understanding the car DSM line of cars, while enjoyed adding a certain level of uniqueness to the car itself. 

I remember tearing apart the entire dash, just to trim out and install a digital gauge to display boost, embedded in the dash.  I had never seen it before, but I knew that’s how I would do it.  I added many more custom items onto the car over time.  I created my own stainless expanded metal grill, because the generic ones looked cheap.  I hand molded the center vents in the car to hold the car’s air fuel computer, only to find two years later that somebody created a kit for that. I did a lot of things that made me happy and made other people wonder how I did it.White Face Gauges and Digital Boost

I adopted the name of NRVOUS for my online presence, because of the way I treated this car.  It was actually my sister who pointed it out first as she said that I was more anal than the guy who owned the Ferrari in Ferris Buehler’s day off.  You may have not recognized the reference, but NRVOUS was on the license plate of the Ferrari.  The plates were already taken, so I purchased NY plates with 2NRVOUS on them for the car.

Performance wise, the car was naturally fast for the street.  It evolved into upgrades that now seem tame.  With basic modifications of a 16G turbo and a front mount intercooler, the car was nothing short of legendary around town, in the late 90s.  I even took second place in the DSM shootout for the FWD class the first year I went.  It would be the last year the car would be competitive, because shortly after larger turbos became cheap, and tuning them became even easier.

I never pursued putting more power to the car, because it didn’t have any place to apply the power.  Being FWD, it would just spin tires whenever possible, so it really wasn’t worth it to me to make anything more out of it than what it had become.

I never stopped liking the look of the 2G Eclipse, but I definitely fell in love with something else.  The first thing I fell in love with was traction.  While I had always know that AWD was a large advantage of getting power to the ground, I wouldn’t appreciate it until I drove one for myself daily.   It would ultimately be my love for AWD that would extinguish my desire to choose the pristine Eclipse over a 

vent-mount-afc

grocery getter 4 door.  I also matured a lot.  The quaint blue highlights I added to the interior, along with the bright racing harnesses no longer appeared cool.  Although they were done with taste, they were for show, and not for actual performance.  Pulling along side of a car that you knew was fast is one thing, but driving in a car that was faster than them all without being seen was god like.   

 

More pictures can be found on my Picasa Web Albums

http://picasaweb.google.com/StephenJamesBurke/2nrvous#

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