UniGrip Pro – the Ultimate Universal Smartphone Mount

UniGrip Pro -- the Ultimate Universal Smartphone MountThe smartphone has replaced the traditional camera as the device of choice for many of us when taking a picture. At a recent high school sporting event, most parents were snapping flicks of their children on smartphones while only a small handful held onto their cameras. While this may seem to have become the norm in today’s smartphone-ubiquitous world, there are still some issues that need to be overcome.

First, there are no standardized tripods, monopods, or light kits that fully support all of our smartphones — at least, that was the situation until the introduction of the UniGrip Pro. The UniGrip Pro is a universal smartphone mount that will fit just about any smartphone currently on the market. Using the UniGrip Pro will allow the user to attach their smartphone to a tripod, light kit, or stabilization device with ease. The smartphone can even be used while in its protective case.

The UniGrip Pro will also add stability to the taking of videos, allow the user to employ a monopod for added height when taking pictures over a crowd — or extend around corners. You name it, and with the UniGrip Pro, you can do it.

By adding specific applications to your smartphone and using the UniGrip Pro, you can turn your smartphone into a:

  • Metal detector
  • Thermal heat detector
  • Mount for use as a GPS

Made of laser cut, high quality steel, the unit is guaranteed for a lifetime of use. If the unit breaks, just send it back for a full replacement. There is one other thing that the UniGrip Pro now has: the Kickstarter project was successful and full funding has been accomplished!

Comments, as always, are welcome.

Source: Kickstarter

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by zoomyboy.com

Surveillance: Tracking Brainwaves to Protect Our Borders

Surveillance System: Tracking Brain Waves to Protect Our BordersEver wonder what it would be like if the person who you are talking to could suddenly read your true thoughts? I know I have and have been very thankful that my thoughts were my own private treasure trove not open for public scrutiny. Well, that one private area of our lives that we have often thought untouchable by others may become a target of our war on terrorism.

One might wonder why this is necessary since it seems that Homeland Security has done a fairly good job, since 9/11, of securing our borders. In fact, it seems that our nation is employing an increasingly vigilant military personnel as well as private contractors equipped with the latest in cameras and sensors to actively watch our borders. Unfortunately, due to drug supply chains and human trafficking by “coyotes,” the current system is proving costly and often ineffective as sensors are often set off by desert animals. This makes it difficult for border agents to determine if they are going to encounter wildlife, trespassers, or terrorists.

To address this issue and to add an additional level of security for our patrol units, researchers have developed a new technology that relies on a person’s brainwaves. This technology has been designed to prevent the approximately 1,000 false alarms that agents respond to by making it easier to distinguish man from animal.

It has been reported that, in some sectors, sensors generate false reports every hour of the day and night, making it impossible to be vigilant enough to actually detect criminal entry over our borders. In fact, it is easy to see how sitting at a monitor with a view of the monotonous desert terrain would become so boring that an agent’s mind would drift to other things rather than what a particular camera angle was honing in on. Multiply this by mile on mile of border and one can see how providing security could become a huge problem. I know that I can easily see how an operator could miss an illegal entry event or terrorist activity.

This is why the new system has been developed to display images in quick succession along with showing monitored brainwave patterns. Apparently, when the display perceives a human brainwave pattern, the operator will be able to better concentrate on this area of the border, while being empowered to ignore the brainwave patterns associated with animals. In fact, in their studies, researchers have found that the new system eliminates over 90% of false alarms and is able to reliably distinguish human brainwaves from those of animals.

After reading about this new technology and how well it works, it made me wonder about other applications for the technology. On the positive side, I could see how the military could use the technology to locate enemy soldiers or snipers hiding inside of buildings or in rough terrain. I can even see how this technology could be used by police departments to locate suspects hiding in the area.

However, for the conspiracy theorists among us, I can already hear the outcries of Big Brother is watching (or, in this case, listening). In this instance, I can see how they could come to this conclusion, but at some point, one has to decide to trust those in power. In other words, do we want to see our nation, and therefore our borders, protected from terrorist entry, or are we willing to take the chance that a dangerous drug cartel or terrorist group will find a gaping security hole along our border defense? I know I wish that we didn’t find ourselves in this position, but the powers that be feel that the best way to protect us and those who serve us is by patrolling our long borders. As always, I am curious to hear your input, so please feel free to comment.

Source: NBC News FutureTech

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by zigazou76

Budget Video Podcast Setup

LockerGnome reader John asks:

“I am going to start doing video podcasts and am in the process of picking out what gear [I want to use]. I don’t want to use my MacBook Pro iSight as the quality just isn’t there. As I am not up to speed with the current equipment available these days, I was wondering if you have any suggestions? My budget is around $400.”

Well John, you’re definitely entering the world of online video at the right time. The trick to finding a good video setup is determining exactly what you want from your vlog. Do you want it to be a pro-level rig with green screen and 1080p video? Would you want something a bit more along the lines of you sitting in front of a camera, giving your thoughts on various topics? If you’re looking for a good setup without a lot of investment, here are some ideas that might help you out:

  • Audio is Key – Even if your video looks fantastic, and your edits are absolutely perfect, your audio can make or break your ability to maintain an audience’s interest. Weak volume, echos, background noise, and overdriven audio are clear indications of a poorly planned production and can drive your audience away.
  • Check Your Lighting – You won’t find too many most watched videos on YouTube that have poor lighting. If your subject is lost in a shadow or covered in low lighting artifacts, you’ve got to add another lamp behind the camera. Chris Pirillo, Ray William Johnson, and Philip D. Franco are all fairly well lit in their relatively simple productions, and that small detail makes a huge difference in their overall quality.
  • Keep it Modular – As your video podcast grows, so should its budget. Investing in an all-in-one solution may be a great solution in the short-term, but that means reinvesting in every aspect of your show’s equipment when it comes time to upgrade.

Budget Video Podcast Setup

So, what kind of setup can you put together on a tight budget? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Using an iPhone
    • iPhone or iPod Touch ($200-250)
    • AT2020 or Blue Yeti ($60-120)
    • PC or Mac
    • Windows Live Movie Maker or iMovie (Free)
    • GarageBand or Audacity (Free)
    • With this solution, you’re going to want to record audio separately using GarageBand, Audacity, or any other quality audio recording software. The iPhone and iPod touch provide decent video, but their audio could use some improvement. Once you’re set to edit the video, simply sync up the two audio tracks, detach audio from the video, and mute it. This way you’ll have your best audio track in play. This may not work in situations where you’re out and about, but the audio at your primary filming location should be your best.
  • Pocket Camcorder
    • Bloggie Duo Camera ($165) (Alternatively: The Kodak Zi8 and PlaySport) ($130-150)
    • AT2020 or Blue Yeti ($60-120)
    • PC or Mac
    • Windows Live Movie Maker or iMovie (Free)
    • GarageBand or Audacity (Free)
    • This solution is a lot like the first, only using a dedicated camera which can give you slightly better results. If you decide to go with the Kodak PlaySport, you’ll have the ability to go underwater with your videos as well. One advantage to the Bloggie Duo is its self-facing monitor so you can position yourself as you’re recording for best results. Audio is a bit better on the Bloggie Duo though it’s always recommended to have the best possible audio when recording. Room echo can kill a good video.
  • Webcam Solution
    • Logitech C910 or Pro 9000 ($60-80)
    • AT2020 or Blue Yeti ($60-120)
    • PC or Mac
    • Logitech Recording Software (PC) or Photo Booth (Mac)
    • Windows Live Movie Maker or iMovie (Free)
    • This solution only works in front of your computer, but it does fall in line with your original setup. The C910 gives you 1080p recording capability with a quality camera while the 9000 pro is incredibly simple to use and delivers remarkable 720p video. In some cases, I’ve found the 9000 to be more reliable software-wise and have used it over the C910. This will hopefully change as Logitech tweaks the software. Because audio should be recorded live with the video and you can set the source, you may not need to do any difficult audio edits after the initial recording.

Flip Camera Flops As Cisco Fires 550 Employees – Who Is Next?

Cisco has announced that it will be shutting the doors on its Flip Camera, once the darling of those who enjoyed recording those special moments. The Flip Camera took the nation by storm and sold two million units the first year it was released in 2007. Cisco bought the rights to the Flip in 2009 and thought the camera would be around for many moons. Unfortunately, the smart phone, with its own built-in camera and ability to record video, came out and sales of the Flip flopped.

But there is more to this story than just Cisco closing down one of its divisions and firing 550 employees. It is a signal on how just fast technology can change and how quickly consumers will bolt to the next best thing. The smart phone is the first device that has brought destruction to other devices in a quick and final death plunge. This is also a warning to others that the smart phone is going to get better and better and eventually may rule the roost and dethrone any in its path.

As new devices are introduced at a rapid pace, the time between industry cycles gets shorter and shorter. The Flip Camera lasted only four years before Cisco was forced to shutter the doors on the project. But smart phones have also put a dent in other technologies and devices besides just cameras.

Smart phones are starting to replace many of the traditional devices that man has been using for decades, even centuries. The smart phone is replacing the wrist watch since the phone can tell the user the time and be 100% accurate. The alarm clock and portable music players are also being replaced by the smart phone as are other devices like GPS units and cameras.

With Cisco raking in some $40B a year in revenue, closing the Flip Camera division — which was taking in $400M — may also be an attempt to shore up the company’s profit margin.

Comments welcome.

Source – NY Times

SD vs. SDHC vs. SDXC

Secure digital (SD) non-volatile memory cards are used in devices all over the world for storing data such as photographs, videos, and documents for transfer to other devices later on. According to the SD Card Association, “As the de-facto industry standard, SD technology is used by more than 400 brands across dozens of product categories and in more than 8,000 models.”

If you own a recently-made digital camera or pocket camcorder, there is a good chance it uses SD technology. There are two main types of SD cards out on the market to date. Standard (SD) and high-capacity (SDHC) are currently the frontrunners of the standard with mini and micro variations used more frequently in smartphones and other smaller devices.

If you have a device that is SDHC capable, it will accept both SDHC and SD cards. SDXC capable devices accept SDHC and standard SD cards as well. Some devices that support the older format have received firmware updates to accept SDHC cards as well. The SDHC standard was introduced in 2006 and was quickly adopted by hardware manufacturers for its higher transfer speeds and larger capacity, and for this reason most if not all SD-friendly devices made today accept the higher-capacity cards. Existing SDHC hosts will only support SDXC cards at up to UHS104 speeds.

Prior to SDHC’s release, some card manufacturers forced standard SD cards to a 4 GB capacity by changing the memory block sizes outside of the standard. This created a card that was rarely accepted by most devices and was quickly replaced when SD 2.0 standards were released.

SDXC cards are currently emerging and gaining ground as new devices come out. Because they use an exFAT file system, devices and computers need to have built-in support for the format. At the present time, operating systems supporting exFAT include:

  • Windows Vista SP1+
  • Windows 7
  • Windows XP SP2 and SP3 with update KB955704
  • Windows Server 2008 SP1+
  • Windows Server 2003 SP2 or SP3 with KB955704
  • Windows CE 6+
  • Linux
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard (Intel-based) 10.6.5+
  • Mac systems released in 2010

Currently, the maximum supported capacity on a standard SD card is 2 GB. This is due in part to memory block size limitations and industry-set standards.

SDHC cards can theoretically reach 2 TB in capacity, though industry standards currently set an artificial limit of 32 GB. It is believed that the standard will be revised at some point in the future to include larger capacity. One of the reasons SDHC cards have such a higher capacity is the decision to use sector-based memory addressing rather than bytes.

In 2009, SDXC was introduced that works with a newer standard allowing a maximum capacity of 2 TB. As of March 2011, the largest capacity SDXC card on the market weighs in at 128 GB.

Transfer Speed
Thanks to the SD standards, cards are given ratings in order to express their general transfer speeds. With standard SD cards, these ratings represent a maximum speed. SDHC and SDXC cards are rated by their average sustained transfer rate. Here are the current card ratings via Wikipedia:

  • Class 0 cards do not specify performance, which includes all legacy cards prior to class specifications.
  • Class 2, 2 MB/s, slowest for SDHC cards.
  • Class 4, 4 MB/s.
  • Class 6, 6 MB/s.
  • Class 10, 10 MB/s.

You can find these class numbers located on the front of the cards surrounded by a broken circle resembling a thin C. Class 0 cards are rarely sold currently. A class 2 card is great for standard-definition video and non-raw photography. Class 4 and 6 cards are capable of full HD video recording in addition to RAW format photography. Class 10 is geared for full HD and HD still consecutive recording.

More recently, a new speed class called UHS has emerged which boasts transfer speeds high enough to record real-time broadcasts and capture large-size HD videos. This classification is available on some SDHC and SDXC cards and is indicated by a U surrounding a 1 where a numbered classification would appear.

Which Camcorders Have Night Vision?

Having the ability to film at night is important to many amateur and professional video makers. So, which camcorders offer night vision? This is both a simple and complex question to answer depending on what exactly you consider night vision to be.

The most common form of “night vision” included on camcorders in the consumer and prosumer market uses a special light that fills the area in front of the lens with infrared that is invisible to the naked eye but can be picked up through the camera’s infrared censor. This method is called active illumination.

While this isn’t “true” night vision, it is a much less expensive alternative that is used even in professional settings. Shows such as Ghost Hunters, which follows a crew through a darkened house searching for paranormal activity, are filmed using an infrared light to achieve a clear image without actually creating any visual light in the room.

Here are some camcorders that offer Active IR style night vision:

When searching for cameras with infrared technology, the most common term listed in the product’s description is simply “IR”. Most professional-grade camcorders include this technology as well.

What is typically considered “true” night vision is what’s called, “image intensification.” It works by collecting small bits of light and a lower portion of the infrared spectrum and amplifying them to create an image. Some high-end camcorders offer this form of low-light vision. This can also be achieved with special night vision attachments that are built to work with standard camcorders. One example of this is the NVFlex by Lomo.

Another method of achieving night vision is thermal imaging which unlike either of the previously mentioned methods, it detects heat signatures and displays them as colorful outlines with color varying depending on how much heat the subject radiates. One camera that utilizes this technology is the Flir T200 which retails at about $8,450.

Canon T2i Review

The successor to the Canon T1i, the Canon T2i is an excellent entry level professional camera. The resolution has jumped from 15.1 to 18 megapixels, over the T1i, with the same size APS-C CMOS sensor gives this camera a 1.6x crop factor, which is a 35mm equivalent.

An improved HD video function offers manual exposure control and a movie crop function. With this improved video function you are able to shoot 1080p video at 30, 25, or 24 frames per second (fps) and in 720p this camera is able record in 60 or 50 fps.

The new 3.0-inch LCD monitor has increased in composition to 1,040,000 dots so that your images fully cover the screen. With seven levels of brightness and almost endless settings the customization of this camera is endless.

The T2i has a very quick power up time of 0.02 seconds and is to focus almost instantly. Canon has regulated sensor cleaning shutdown instead of startup to help keep the camera speedy and clean. Statistics show timings produced a 0.02 second shutter lag times, and 0.18 seconds for auto focus (AF) acquisition.

Having used this camera for a short time I found it very easy to use and every time I went to focus on an object I found the camera very responsive and accurate about 98% of the time. Each picture I took looked very crisp and sharp with the subject always dead on and focused.

Overall this camera is top notch from the vast amount of similar entry level DSLRs. The image and quality is the sharpest that I have seen from the entry level range of DSLRs. For the price of just about $850, this camera is jam packed with features and is amazing for the videographer who wants manual controls to create the best video and images. Ease of use is a good part of this camera with simple camera controls and a very simplistic menu style that allows you to customize your pictures to the max with little fiddling around in complicated menus. The performance of this camera is second to non, with fast boot up times of less than 0.02 of a second and accurate metering and focusing. For the beginner or casual photographer this camera is able to be expanded with many different lenses and other accessories for any of your shooting needs.

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Mini DVR Video Pen

There should be an image here!Have you ever imagined such an amazing pen — a pen with voice and video recording functions? With the smallest micro DVR in the world built inside, this pen does more than just write smoothly!

Its highly sensitive microphone can clearly record a voice within 15 square meters, and its high definition camera effects enable this pen to perfectly capture what’s going on around the user as stealthily as a Cold War superagent.

This pen can be used with any computer’s USB interface, and it uses MicroSD cards (up to 8 GB) for information storage.

Five Tips For Taking Better Photos With Your Camera

Gnomie Evan Krosney writes:

There should be an image here!I’ve composed a list for you of five tips to use to take better pictures with your camera; A basic point and shoot camera, or a big Digital SLR Camera (DSLR).

1. Don’t use flash when your subject is far away.

Ever take a picture at a concert or a show, your camera fired off a flash, but everything looks dark except the people in front of you? This is because your camera senses the dark, and thinks that it can fix it by firing off a flash, not knowing that the subject is very far away. Camera flash is only so powerful enough to reach a few meters ahead, so when the flash fires off, it can only brighten up the people in front of you.

This can be fixed in a simple way. First, set your camera to manual mode. This is usually indicated by a picture of a camera with an M next to it. Next turn the flash off. Depending on your camera, you may need to go into a menu to do this, or your camera may have a dedicated button. The flash off symbol is a lightning strike with a cross over it. After that, turn your camera’s shutter speed to a smaller number. Shutter speed is the length of time that the camera opens the lens for to capture light. Shutter speed is usually represented by a fraction. 1/3 is usually a good speed to take pictures at.

Also, make sure that your camera’s aperture, or “F Stop,” is at the lowest number. The aperture is how large the opening of the lens is. A lower number lets more light in, because the lens is opened wider. Aperture is usually represented by the letter F, then a number, like F8. If your camera can’t change the shutter speed or aperture, try changing the exposure compensation. This is a chart, usually ranging from -2 to +2. Set the camera to +2, and your picture should come out brighter. Note that with these techniques, the camera will be more sensitive to shaking, so be sure to hold still.

2. Try taking more pictures without the flash.

As I mentioned earlier, using flash doesn’t always work. Sometimes, when you’re taking pictures indoors, using a flash will give the picture a brighter effect, but sometimes it will also make a reflection or a darker background. This is because the camera uses a faster shutter speed, like we discussed earlier, so a smaller fraction, usually 1/250. Using this won’t give the camera enough light, so the camera uses and artificial light, in this case, the flash. The dark background is because, like I said earlier, the flash can’t reach that far.

By turning off the flash, you’ll get better pictures with more “True to life” colours, more even lighting, and an overall nicer effect. Changing the exposure compensation to +1 to +2 would also work. Remember that you can’t shake when taking the pictures, and your subject must remain still as well. Otherwise, the picture will have a blur.

3. Don’t delete bad pictures!

Many pictures can be fixed after you take them, in programs like Adobe Photoshop. If a picture is too dark, or, “Under Exposed”, it can be brightened in post editing. Some things can’t be edited though. For example, if your subject is out of focus, you’ll need to retake the picture. You can’t fix a bad focus, unless you want to draw the picture and the details to fix it, which I’m sure you don’t want to do. If the picture has a blur, retake it.

Blur is a very hard thing to fix, and required a very long time to fix even the slightest blur. It’s not worth the effort to try to fix it. Though, as I said earlier, pictures can be brightened, red eyes can be changed colours, even backgrounds can be blurred like in professional pictures. Also, many fun things can be done with pictures, even in basic programs such as Microsoft Paint. You can draw on the pictures, crop them or overlay other pictures. Post editing is very handy, especially with a program like Adobe Photoshop. For beginners, Adobe Photoshop Elements would be a better choice, as it has an easier to use interface, only the essentials and it costs hundreds of dollars less.

4. Make use of your camera’s viewfinder.

Now a days, most basic point and shoot cameras have large 2.5 or 3 inch displays, that take up most of the back. Though, if your camera has a smaller screen but it includes a viewfinder, consider it a blessing. In bright sunlight, you’ll probably find that it’s hard to see the image on the camera screen, on account of LCD displays are hard to see in bright light. In this case, a viewfinder is probably an essential for good shots. The image seen through viewfinders is not interrupted by any lights, so it’s easy to see.

Though, when using a viewfinder on a basic point and shoot camera, you won’t be seeing exactly what the picture will be. On professional DSLR cameras, there is a prism that lets the light from the lens go to the viewfinder. On point and shoot cameras, there is no prism. You’re basically just looking through a hole in the camera. Some DSLR cameras, called Range Finder cameras, have the same technology as point and shoots, it’s just a hole in the camera. The problem with this is that the picture that you take will be different than the picture that you saw through the viewfinder, but they’re still very useful.

5. Understand that cleaning a lens requires more than just a tissue.

NEVER try to clean a lens with a tissue. To clean your camera lens to get rid of fingerprints or dirt, you’ll need a micro-fibre cloth. You can purchase one at your local camera or electronic store for about $10 or $20, plus, it will come with a cleaning kit with a special liquid. Also, many new DSLR cameras use a self-cleaning technology. This works, but it’s good to clean it by yourself sometimes to get out more. If you don’t think that you can clean your camera, be sure to take it into a camera repair shop, where they can clean it for you.

[Photo above by Sweet One / CC BY-ND 2.0]

BeFunky.com Offers Amazing Photo Effects And Photo Editing Tools For Everyday People

There should be an image here!BeFunky today introduced a suite of one-click photo enhancement tools, making BeFunky.com the only place where consumers can fix common photo problems and choose from hundreds of sophisticated effects to add to their photos, such as Cartoonizer and Impressionist Painting. No skill or technical knowledge is required to use BeFunky; all photo corrections and effects that would otherwise take hours of painstaking work using specialist software can be applied with just one click.

The smart enhancement tools fix the common problems of over or underexposure, digital noise, poor color quality and fuzziness. The tools do all the work, automatically identifying and correcting the areas of the photo that need fixing.

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BeFunky also added four new sophisticated art effects to its portfolio: watercolor, underpainting, gouache and pointillism. These effects complete the biggest and best digital art effects portfolio on the Web with 190 different photo effects in 30 categories including Charcoal, Inkify, Old Photo, Stenciler, Pop Art and Grunge. The advanced technology of the BeFunky Art Engine automates the process of photo editing and effects, making it possible to turn photos into an oil painting for wall art, a cartoonized profile picture or pop art greeting card image.

At BeFunky.com, users can also store their photo creations and share them via all major social networking and photo sites like Facebook, MySpace and Flickr, as well as create customized photo products from t-shirts and mugs to stationery and calendars through Zazzle. Users can go mobile with their photo editing and effects too by downloading BeFunky’s $1.99 iPhone app BeFunky FX.

“With digital cameras in 81% of U.S. households and hundreds of billions of photos stored and shared online, there’s no doubting how much people love their photos,” said Tekin Tatar, CEO & Co-Founder of BeFunky. “BeFunky gives all those people a great outlet to express their pent-up creativity, regardless of talent or technical skill. We like to think of it as the photo editing equivalent of the point and shoot camera.”

It’s free to use BeFunky.com’s editing and effects tools. Users can also upgrade to premium and professional subscription services starting at $4.95 a month that offer more capabilities like higher resolution output and full screen workspace.

For more information, visit BeFunky.com

Find BeFunky @:

[Photo above by justmccar]

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D Companion

There should be an image here!Learn how to take pro-quality shots with your Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500 and get your digital photography questions answered with the latest book from O’Reilly. In The Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D Companion, expert author Ben Long delivers a one-stop digital photography guide through a series of practical, easy-to-follow lessons that are tailored specifically for people who use this camera.

Although the Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D comes with a manual, Long explains why you need this book to get the most out of your camera. “Knowing what each button on your camera does won’t necessarily mean you can shoot great pictures. Personally, I know the basic concept of a paintbrush, but I can’t paint a decent painting to save my life. To use a creative tool well, you must understand both the technique and the craft of the tool, as well as have some sense of artistry when you use it.”

That’s where The Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D Companion steps in. This is not a typical camera guide. Rather than just showing you what all the buttons do, this unique book teaches you how to use the Digital Rebel’s features to make great photographs — including professional-looking images of people, landscapes, action shots, close-ups, night shots, HD video, and more.

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D Companion will show you how to:

  • Take creative control and go beyond automatic settings
  • Learn the basic rules of composition
  • Capture decisive moments, including fast-moving objects
  • Discover ways to use a flash indoors and outdoors
  • Learn about different lenses and the best time to use them
  • Understand the options for shooting RAW and whether it’s right for you
  • Use the Digital Rebel’s ability to shoot high definition video

With Long’s creative tips and technical advice, you have the perfect, camera-bag-friendly field reference that will help you capture stunning pictures anywhere, anytime.

Top 5 Ways To Stay Safe With An IP Cam

Kaitlin Henry of Plustek writes:

Hi, Chris!

IP cams are small, highly useful network cameras with their own IP addresses and built-in Web servers that enable them to connect directly to the user’s network, yet can be remotely accessed from any standard Internet browser. The perfect accessory to any safety measure, here are the top 5 ways to stay safe with an IP cam!

  1. Nanny-cam your home: Your child’s safety is priority #1, and there’s no better way to feel at ease than with an IP Cam keeping watch 24/7 in real-time.
  2. Keep an eye on entrances and exits at work and in the home: Never feel nervous about a late night knock on the door again. With an IP cam at every entrance or exit, it’s like an advanced peephole that you can always peek at so you know who’s at your door.
  3. Not only watch, but listen to conversations: No matter where an IP cam is set up, people can be held accountable for their actions AND their words.
  4. Easily broadcast activities in real time over the Internet: Know exactly when and where people in your home and/or office are at all times by watching it wherever you are from any computer with the Internet. Watch as it happens or keep it recorded to play back later.
  5. Watch up to four live feeds at once: IP cams like the Plustek IPCam Line have a four-channel active view where up to four live feeds can be viewed all at once, keeping not only your home, but your mind, safe and sound.

Minature Camera Coming Our Way

There is going to be a mini camera in your future if a company in San Jose has it way. These pint size cameras are being designed for use in everything from our cell phones, digital camera’s and just about anything where a camera can be placed. The new technology which uses shorter electrical connections between the chip and the circuit board, will allow the little wonders to be placed any where.

According to an article over at the San Jose Mercury News it states that:

While most cell phone cameras have 40 or so components and tend to be bulky, cameras made by Tessera’s method consist simply of a tiny lens module bonded with a tiny image sensor, with no moving parts. The technology also enables scores of cameras to be manufactured together on a sheet of silicon and then individually cut out for placement in phones or other devices.

The camera’s diminutive size and assembly process reduce the materiels and costs of production, Nothhaft said. He added that it costs about half to make a camera with his company’s technology than it does to make the larger versions.

By eliminating the need for lots of components, “it also makes a more robust device,” said Kevin Vassily, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities. “Moving parts wear out and are subject more to a failure risk.”

Here is what the miniature camera looks like:

Talk about tiny. This thing can go anywhere.

Comments welcome.


The Best Photo Sharing Sites

A while back, you mentioned free Web photo storage and sharing sites… which ones are the best? — Kurt

Uploading your images to a photo sharing site is a great idea for anyone that has a digital camera for a variety of reasons:

  • It becomes an off-site backup of your precious photos
  • It eliminates the complications of e-mailing photos
  • It allows you to share your memories with others, publicly or privately
  • It allows you an easy way to keep your photos organized

The popularity of digital photography spawned the popularity of photo sharing sites which has created a logjam of companies offering to store and share your photos.

At face value, they all seem to provide the same service, but a little digging will unveil some significant differences. Your objectives for the service will have the most to do with which one is right for you.

For instance, some services will only store your images for free if you buy something from them periodically. Some may require that anyone wishing to view your photos has to register (usually for free) before they can see your images.

Some sites allow others to download your original high-resolution images while others only allow visitors to download a compressed image (they want to encourage visitors to buy prints or CDs instead).

For those with a small library of images that want a simple interface, Flickr is a good choice, especially if you are interested in the social side of photo sharing. There is an upload limit of 100MB per month for free accounts and only pay accounts will allow the downloading of high resolution originals, so if you have a large library you should look elsewhere.

For those with large libraries of images that want to make it easy for others to access, there is Shutterfly. There are no storage limitations and you don’t have to ever buy anything to keep your free account active. Your visitors will not be forced to create an account to see your albums and you can create lots of gifts with your images.

The only downside to Shutterfly is that you can’t download the high resolution originals, but what you can download is reasonable if want to cut and paste in a standard document.

For those that are completely overwhelmed by their digital photo libraries, Google has come up with a nice 1-2 punch with Picasa software and Picasa Web Albums.

I’ve been installing Picasa as a photo managing platform for my friends, families and customers for years. It has a very easy to understand and use interface as well as automatic scanning of your existing photos to create logical albums.

Its editing tools are very easy to use (especially the red eye removal tool) and if you do want to e-mail images, Picasa will compress them on the fly.

Another great reason to install Picasa is to avoid all of the junk that most digital camera manufacturers force on their unsuspecting customers when they install the included software.

Picasa can transfer your pictures from your camera to your computer’s hard drive and with a Web Albums account, up to the Internet all in one program.

Picasa Web Albums free accounts have a 1Gb storage limit (you can pay for more if you need it), which translates to 3 to 4 thousand high resolution images, allows downloading of the high resolution originals and works in concert with the Picasa software on your computer.

Once you have Picasa installed on your computer and running, click on the Web Albums icon at the bottom to get your account set up.

Ken Colburn
President of Data Doctors Computer Services, Host of the award-winning Computer Corner radio show, and Author of Computer Q&A in the East Valley Tribune newspapers.


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