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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Flickr's new web embedding feature

Plenty size options, adds author, tittle and Flickr overlay:



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

iPhone 5S camera samples. Part I


Photo (no HDR, no nothing):



Video (with a bit of slowmo):



Yeah, I know... It sucks right?



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Racers

Mr Antti Kalhola makes videos. I subscribe his youtube channel. If you're a petrolhead, maybe you should too.



Brilliant.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The "post rant" post: "An Open Letter to Martha Stewart Regarding Avant-Garde Food Photography"

Just after my previous post, I come across this article from wired.

Common ground is how people actually use they phone cameras and like to do so because it makes "nicer" pics. 

I guess their message can be extended to all "artists" ou there overcooking their shots for "nicety".

Sometimes people just want to see the real thing... I for one am one of those.


Android to support RAW, on "shitty" cameras?

I was discussing this with friends over Twitter and it suddenly clicked. It does make sense.

You see, every review that says the iPhone camera is superior is flooded with comments of people that remark it's lack of HDR+ and that they actually prefer the Nexus 5 photos or the Lumia(!) cause they look prettier, or simply that can't be bothered with "too clean" iPhone photos and the "need" for post-processing.

(shot from a moving car)


Well, if you are from Mars and are homesick, or for some other reason were looking for a redish looking photo instead of a truthful photographic depiction of a place and a moment, then by all means take the Nexus 5 or the HTC One (lovely machine, "ultra" crap camera). But the iPhone has always had and still has the best camera. As a camera. You know, something used to capture a moment as truthfully as possible. With things like shadows for instance.

(this would make a great HDR, but was shot from a moving car)


But besides the moronic fanboy blind preferences, there have been some pretty good points made.

People nowadays prefer to shoot auto-enhanced photos and share them immediately (or as soon as they have WiFi). They do not want a truthful photographic instrument, they want Instagram material, and they want it instantly. They do not want to go around fiddling with filters and/or post-processing apps.

Other like to do so (post-process) and don't care about truthful or not, and may actually prefer an already "prettier" photo to start with.

(back lit castle) 

Discussing the merits of an iPhone camera then loses all context when most of the target users don't really care about truthful photography, they want pretty images, even or especially if the truth they are shooting isn't that pretty (above).

(created with 3rd party HDR app)


So what Google will allow with this RAW format support is good. Because "it's better", they can say "we have it", yet another big-name, "killer feature" and subsequent fanboy ammunition and marketing BS. It will allow much deeper photo edition and some proper photo editing, not just enhancing. And maybe finally have some vendors provide proper camera sensors, even external cameras, and get some proper photography be done by an Android device. Maybe.

Of course, RAW doesn't simply look better, what it provides is a much deeper field to play with photo corrections, adjustments, touch ups and enhancements.

But why not? I see no reason not to be happy about it, especially if you have a brilliant device (like my favorite, the HTC One) that is not exactly a properly truthful photographic instrument. At least you'll have the possibility to make a lot more improvements on a RAW than on a JPEG.

Who knows, you may even be able to salvage some of them for you family album, without being mistaken in the future for little green immigrants, or be believed to have lived in some crazy polluted time with this strange "red mist" in the air all the time...

(night, indoor, no flash or HDR)


Well, I've been delaying this post so I could get my hands on an iPhone 5S and shoot a couple proper pics. But I've been too busy and haven't really had the opportunity to shoot anything with intention. So, all previous photos were taken on the run, and are all from a demo iPhone 5S.

Trust me, there is no phone in the world even near the raw quality of this camera. Hopefully I'll be using and taking proper photos with an iPhone 5S soon (you you'll be able to follow that on my Flickr if you like).

But by all means Google, keep putting out "killer camera features" like burst mode or RAW. It will delight most users, and at the very least keep photo fans entertained while waiting for the promised "insanely great cameras".

"We are committed to making Nexus phones insanely great cameras. Just you wait and see."





Monday, November 11, 2013

Who's fragmented now?

You may be aware I'm not a fan of Android. But that on the other hand, I love the HTC One. I usually don't really care much about fragmentation and what OS version I'm running (though I do when it comes to app compatibility and availability), and the thing I like most is a proper well built version with no BS or bloatware.

If you read previous rants you know I find the Samsung Galaxy S4 to be the freaking Xmas tree of smartphones, and that it's user experience failed to deliver. On the other hand, the HTC One (despite the mandatory "blink feed") presented a stunningly fast, discrete and effective usage experience.

(click to read The Galaxy S4 vs HTC One post)


But anyway none has received the 4.3 update, let alone the new 4.4 Kit-Kat because fragmentation. So why dig this up now? Well, you can now mostly disregard the software upgrade international, local and carrier version barriers and install the 4.4 experience on any Android (though some older may need some additional hacking). You can see how on a previous post here.



Most importantly, Google services, their real strong point, are now better and more integrated than ever.

- GMail, Google Drive & Quick Office. You can now edit any document, store it in Drive and access it anywhere, and you even got a space boost for using Quick Office.

- Plus and YouTube. Latest comment integration makes youtube video social sharing (via Plus, obviously) automatic, and it's still Facebook and Twitter friendly.

- Add to Picasa/Plus the new Photos integration

- We now also have Talk/Hangouts with SMS integrated

- And you still have Blogger, Chrome and the extraordinary Maps/Earth duo and Navigation, and Music.



So Google is now clearly a global service provider and is developing pretty good integration between those services. And that tends to get better and better with time. Adding 4.4 support for mid to low end devices with min 512MB will also eliminate reduce the fragmentation problem, allowing virtually anyone to use them.

Point being I'm now using an "old" Android device, running an "outdated" OS version and having a pretty good user experience and access to all the above "goodness" just by installing a few APKs.

Ironically, while Apple has kept to the original iPhone plan (build the HW and OS, let others do the services, being Google the partner at the time) now it has spread across external natively supported service providers (Vimeo, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr) mixing them with it's own services and apps (iCloud, iMovie, iPhoto), endeavoring in new or improved (iMessage, mail, cloud), while still accepting to somehow accommodate the competition's services as well (Google, Microsoft, Dropbox).

Now add to that the fact that the iPhone5S and iOS7 has very little new to offer to prevent people from changing, besides a pretty awesome camera.

And that all Google services or apps are completely free, while Apple has made a pretty good mess of it's iWork/iLife mobile apps pricing, and their add-ons.

Ah, I can already hear the fanboys: "Who's fragmented now, bitch?"






Sunday, November 10, 2013

The best MotoGP rider, in the world...

I was drawn to moto racing in the times of the 125/250/500cc two stroke bikes. I grew watching (barely) Rainey, Doohan, Schwantz and Mamola.



I learned that the best talent doesn't always equal wins, as bike and sheer luck can stop a great talent from being World Champion. Recurrently. But that doesn't take any merit away from non-record and victory collecting riders.

I've also learned that having the best ride and being a good rider is frequently not enough. A good rider can get 90% out of the bike, 90% of the time and most importantly, 90% of the time it matters.

Talents with hot heads will do it 100% of the time and crash. Usually on the worst moment ruining their chances and seldom even getting to the main category.

But when good riders come across an "alien" rider, they get eclipsed by the latter's talent and results. Doohan did it to Crivillé. Rossi did it to, mostly everyone, starting with Biaggi but especially Lorenzo on the same bike. Stoner was also a treat, no matter what he rode, but left. Simoncelli was on his way to do the same, when a stupid crash (and not a reckless one) took his life.

(RIP Super Sic)


Now we have Marc Marquez. He obliterated the competition last year in Moto2, wining against the favorite and now finally crowned Pol Espargaro. He even managed to win one race where he forgot to put it in gear at the start and dropped to virtually last, and also won the final race starting dead last after a penalty (video and post about it here).

He went on to MotoGP this year to beat the Yamaha/Lorenzo perfection duo and adapt faster to a new bike and a new category than Yamaha's returning Rossi, and humiliate his teammate Pedrosa in the process.

(photo credit martinheathphoto.com by )

This year he showed courage and speed to go at 100%, the intelligence not to and settle for second, and the wisdom to now when to do each in an almost perfect balance.

After getting used to the new ride, pushing hard and even falling a few times, he took advantage of his speed to force his way forward, and a couple races where his opponents were out because of injuries to take the lead in the championship. In the end, he controlled his pace and fighting instincts in the final races to finish "only" second or third but maintain his lead in the championship.



The final race in 2013:
Lorenzo deliberately rode slow while leading, to try and see if Marc would get in trouble with traffic and if Rossi could catch up with him. Marc held his own. He even had to brake mid corner on occasion to prevent driving over Pedrosa in 2nd. Pedrosa made his moves on Lorenzo to try and shake his strategy, but the Yamaha/Lorenzo superiority meant he could get the lead back literally in the next corner. Then they came together. That is when Lorenzo decided to throw the tactical towel and just gun it. Chased and passed Marc after dropping the lead on the Pedrosa incident and tried to pull away. Was he trying to get Marc to follow and maybe make a mistake, or was he trying to make a point by winning uncontested? Whatever the intentions, THAT is racing. Driving as fast as you can for the win. NOT slowing the pack down and playing a dangerous chess on two wheels game. Marc kept his cool. Pedrosa came back and he waved him trough back to 2nd. He did not fail or react poorly to any kind of pressure. He is now just 20 years old. On his first year in MotoGP:

(emotion and happiness of mentoring father Julian)


It is clear to me that a new era has begun. Sooner and stronger than the Rossi one.

(recognize the little kid?)


Marc has the potential to be (if he isn't already) the best motorcycle rider the world has ever seen.

Congratulations Marc Márquez!

Marc Márquez - 2013 Moto GP World Champion

Marc Márquez - 2013 Moto GP World Champion




Thursday, November 7, 2013

Install the Android 4.4 experience on mostly any Android now:

There are just a few steps for this. If you have an HTC One, you will lose (or happily get rid of) "Blinkfeed". You will get new or renewed apps/services (search, now, photos etc).

Step 0 - Before starting you have to go to settings, and find “Security” -> “Unknown Sources” and check that box to allow installation of apps from unknown sources.

Step 1 - Download, unzip and place these 3 files on your phone. Then install in this order:

     1 - PrebuiltGmsCore.apk
     2 - Velvet.apk
     3 - GoogleHome.apk 



You can then run the new "Launcher" from your apps and set it as default when prompted to do so.

Additional step: install the new Hangouts+SMS and ani-gif support. Get it on Android police, here:

http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/10/31/apk-download-hangouts-1-3-support-sms-animated-gifs-location-sharing/

I for one am enjoying this new Google experience.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A segurança do GPL





Num episódio recente de "Fifth Gear" (S23E07)o Jonny @carpervert Smith fez uma reportagem sobre o GPL e o porquê de não ter "vingado".

Claro que não se aventurou por águas perigosas (má regulação/legislação, fruto ou não do lobby do petróleo), ficou-se pelo "medo do gás". Mas explicou como ter um carro a GPL seguro, e provou que o são.

Obviamente que tem de ser uma conversão feita "em condições" numa oficina credenciada, o que estranhamente em Inglaterra não é obrigatório, e o carro/sistema tem de ser minimamente revisto e mantido como qualquer outro, e não ignorado.

Para provar que, na eventualidade remota de haver uma fuga, o GPL não é menos seguro que a gasolina numa consequente explosão, fez um teste "científico". Provocou uma fuga de gás, e incendiou-a. De seguida fez o mesmo com gasolina, literalmente no mesmo carro.

Vejam o vídeo:



Para que não fiquem dúvidas, a 1ª explosão foi o GPL. O carro ficou chamuscado mas ainda em condições de ser abusado novamente. A 2ª é a gasolina. 2 litros de gasolina.

No final ainda refere que os tanques de GPL não rebentam, deformam-se de forma controlada e prevista. Isto faz com que dificilmente expludam ou fiquem com fugas em caso de acidente, o que já não pode ser dito com a gasolina em tanques de plástico.

Ainda ficou por dizer muita coisa. Mas é uma ajuda para desmistificar o "perigo ambulante dos carros a gás".

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

GT6, everything there is to know is now out:

A few months ago I reported on all we new about GT6 so far. Well, it turns out we now know a lot more, thanks to an official blowout of information on the official GT6 site.



First, the official date for a global launch is locked on the 6th of December.

Then, the hard core stuff. The full car list is available on the Japanese GT6 site. There's a note warning that:
 " This list is one part of the cars planned for inclusion, and is subject to change."

So far you can see a total of 1197, 124 of those new cars (in the series). But expect more to come, and some of them to not be available right off the start.

Anyway it's a good starting point as it includes iconic machines such as the DeltaWing (now apparently removed, head on to GTPlanet for more info) or the Lunar Rover. Classics like the R8 Gordini, Firebird TransAm, the 250 and 288 GTOs, or the Shelby 350. The new electric Tesla and Fisker are in, also the FXX, as well as plenty of  new ('11/'12/'13) road cars, updated racing cars, a pair of Pagani Huayras ('11 & '13) and a bunch of GT-R and GT86 versions.

I can't wait!


We also got the official new tracks, adding to the not so new, but for the first time free Spa:

Spain's Ascari Full Track (here's Tiff Needell when he visited the Resort)




Australia's Bathurst - Mount Panorama




Silverstone, Brands Hatch and the Goodwood Hillclimb in the UK (here's Chris Harris talking it through)




Willow Springs International Raceway in the US, a revised Apricot Hill Raceway, and a couple new original tracks: Matterhorn and the Gran Turismo Arena:




There is more info about Game Modes (drifting is still in, apparently and hopefully improved as demonstrated by a GT Academy racer below)



... and Car Management, Tuning Options, Online Features but I'll leave that to be discovered in game.




To get it you should reserve it online and get DLC codes for special cars and money, and in my honest opinion, get the 15th anniversary edition. That'll get you 5+20 more cars, special paints, suit, helmet and avatars, and some physical goodies as well. But yes, it's €10 more expensive.


And finally, here's another video to finish off:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Honda Jade is the Wagon You’ve Always Wanted - Part II

Just to add some more info (media mostly) to my previous post.

The infotainement system has a "SmartphoneConnection" app for iPhone from Honda:

(JP App Store only)


According to video below and Google translator, it should mirror the iPhone on the onboard display, and stream the audio to car speakers, through a HMDI connection.



Also works on Android via USB/BT and makes full use of (for example) the HTC One "car mode".

More info/videos here:

(slow loading link from the other side of the world)


----------------------------------------------------

HondasAcuras .com seams to like it too as it would be good for the "new" growing segment of small, sporty and efficient MPVs (some photos) in the US:

----------------------------------------------------

China Auto Web has a good photo gallery with some images from the rear suspension:
VTi RRear
VTi RRear
EXi RRear
EXi LRear

And also specs for the 1.8L. It's divided into EXi 5Auto and VTi CVT (both have 5 or 4+a seats).

Full gallery below:

----------------------------------------------------


CarNewsChina.com had some people on the rear seats so we can actually see how fitting they are:

They refer to 5 speed manual or CVT choice, but sadly I think not, unless AT in China means Manual...

Middle 2 Seat Row
Rear Row
----------------------------------------------------


Last but not least. Now anyone can have a Honda Jade! Well, a die cast model at least...

eBay link


The more I see, the more I want one...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"The Honda Jade is the Civic Wagon You’ve Always Wanted"

This is the tittle of an article in China Car Times (link). And it's perfect.



I've ranted about not liking the Current Civic and the Tourer for mostly one serious basic reason (rear axle), and a couple added ones (style and engine choice).

Now there's a new Honda around. It's called the Jade and it's gorgeous...



Also it's based in the latest Stream platform (the one sold in Japan and nowhere else) which allows it to be the sporty small MPV I learned to love. It has proper independent rear suspension, it's roomy, full of high tech inside and did I mention it's beautiful?

One more thing, it's 5 to 7 seater (actually the 5 seater doesn't have the extra row ins the back) or a 4 to 6 seater. The later actually is perfect for me too. I daily drive with my 2 kids in the back, and occasionally take my in-laws along on weekend or summer vacation.


Here's a cool animation of the 4-6 seater config:

(right click and choose play if it doesn't automatically)



Sadly it's China only for now. Sadly as well, only 1.8 and 2.0 gasoline engines are available.

One has to wonder how hard would it be to stick the 1.6 i-dtec / 1.6 petrol in it and sell then in Europe?

Apparently, the whole world wants this new "Stream" if you take into account the feedback from people in forums:

http://www.vtec.net/forums/one-message?message_id=1157759&page_number=1&


All the official info available is on the Chinese site:



More images below:

Beautiful


High Tech


Proper rear suspension


5 Seater Version.


4 to 6 Seater Version.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Disney, to infinity and beyond?

Well, Skylanders was a success at our home, but this is shaping up to be a bigger one.

Basically the idea is to have toy figures that are also characters in a game. Disney took this a bit further by adding their most famous characters into a game where you can live adventures in "sets" from or based on the little toys' movies.

The amount of figures and sets is now interesting enough, but most importantly it has the (Disney) potential to grow forever (or until they deem it lucrative enough).



So a few questions need to be asked/answered:


1st - which platforms is it available on?

PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U and #DS (that's # for numeral, as in 2DS, 3DS or 3DS XL)

So, to start you need to buy the one for the console you already own. Then, if you have more than one, check which base/portal is best for you. In the Skylander case, the PS3 portal was Wii compatible. In the Disney Infinity case, it's the same, PS3 and Wii plus WiiU. If you want/need/get the 3DS or Xbox, it'll only work on those consoles.

Nintendo 3DS Base
Model No:  INF-8032383
FCC ID: QOF-8032383
IC:  10749A-8032383

Microsoft Xbox 360 Base
Model No:  INF-8032385
FCC ID: QOF-8032385
IC:  10749A-8032385

Sony PS3 / Nintendo Wii and Wii U Base
Model No:  INF-8032386
FCC ID: QOF-8032386
IC:  10749A-8032385



If you have a PS3 and a "modded" Wii, then it's a no brainer. Get the PS3 Starter Pack. Portal will work on the Wii as well.

If your kids have #DS consoles, then you're always gonna have to get the "3DS Starter Pack" separately no matter what console you have at home.

Price should be about the same for all, though they may vary from store/site (expect ~ €65).


2nd - Which game/bundle should I buy?

Well obviously you start with a starter pack for the chosen platform. Then as time goes by and your kids express their preferences, go for additional play sets.



You'll get three Play Set Pieces with your Starter Pack that give you access to the Monsters University, Pirates Of The Caribbean and The Incredibles to play with they supplied Mr Incredible, Jack Sparrow and Sulley figures. Also you get one Power Disc. These can be put under your characters to give them extra abilities (round) or extra toys to your Toy Box (hexagonal). Those can be from a mix of Disney characters, including not featured in games/sets.


3rd - Then what's next?

Additional play sets (to Incredibles, Monsters and Pirates of the Caribbean) will bring you games and character packs from ToyStory, The Lone Ranger and Cars:



And as stated you can also purchase additional individual characters for each set (21 total so far):




And Power Discs (see all those extra abilities from extra Disney characters):



And once you have all the sets and figures (you want), there will surely be many more in the future for you to spend your money on!

Also with the "Toy Box" you can even create your own games, mix characters, worlds, rules and share it with friends online if you like.

So yes, to quote Buzz:



More info:
https://infinity.disney.com/en-gb/

http://www.officialnintendomagazine.co.uk/45725/disney-infinity-everything-you-need-to-know-release-date-price-play-sets-figures/

http://disneyinteractivestudios.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4117/~/disney-infinity---frequently-asked-questions




3's UK iPhone users snapshot:

A Snapshot Of UK’s iPhone Habits
View the iPhone 5s on Three

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The right Honda for you:

Maybe you're in Brazil and you'd like to get a bike. Something like this 125cc to get you started maybe:



...or this 100 scooter:



...or a Custom 750:



...or maybe a Naked 600? Just be sure not to try to rob it a gun point or you may end up like this guy:




Meh... maybe a Hornet isn't the right bike for you!






Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Nintendo DS rant

Instead of hating, maybe I should thank Nintendo for their DS line up of consoles.

You see, despite having (in chronological order) a PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox360, a second PSP, a pink GBA, a blue GBA, and a Wii, both my kids still want a DS.

Why? Because other kids have them too to start with, but also cause the gaming experience is fairly more their age (6 and 8). I see this at home where they may have some fun with the Sony consoles (portable or not), but end up playing on the Wii for much longer than any other. And completely ignore the Xbox.

So yes, a DS could be one too many consoles especially considering the price/feature ratio for me, as an adult. Comparing it to a PSP. The price and some reservations regarding 3D gaming and screen size kept us (me?) form going for it for, well 2 years now.

So, in short, 3DS screen was too small especially for 3D and a bit pricy. Then came the XL but that was way too expensive. Then the cheaper 2DS was announced and I thought, "well, this is it, I'm not gonna have anymore excuses to not get one". And so we were all set on getting a pair of them.

But that was before I saw it, and read about it on the web. You see, the new 2DS is not the DS we were looking for.



Seriously, they should stick to what works (and sells) and stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead of just a normal folding Nintendo console without 3D and cheaper, Nintendo launched a huge no folding, exposed screens slab, with mono sound.

It gets better: no protecting case/bag/sleeve included, no power save features (on a console that doesn't close to stand-by), less battery performance than previous XL (more than 3D though), less portable, heavier and just maintaining the display size of the original 3DS, which I considered small to start with.

But like I said at the beginning, I should thank them. Their failure to convince me to get them is saving me money (2x€129,99 on 2DS, 2x€169,99 on 3DS or 2x€199,99 - 3DS XL)



Here's a cool video review:





I'll reserve the final verdict to when I get my hands on them.


UPDATE:
It really looks huge and awkward in the kids' hands. And I can't stand that mono speaker on the left.

So, I got two used DSI XL with 2 games and a "broken" (?) R4 for €160. 

I know, I know. It's just a big display that kind of zooms on the DSI low resolution and can't play the latest games. But it was cheap, looks and feels good, and has a huge library of games to start with. That will keep them busy until a 2DS XL comes out.

And yes, Nintendo will give us another DS soon... hopefully a proper (folding) 2DS XL.

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