So, what have I been up to over the last week or so? Nothing monumental I’m afraid. But here’s a few things.
• Tennis – played for the 2nd time this year and I was hitting the ball pretty well considering I’m out of practice. I think maybe the rest has done me some good. Not playing much means it lowers the expectations I have of myself. So that’s nice.
• Had a shave – which means for about a week I’ll look 5 years younger.
• Completed my first real consultancy piece at work for my ‘new’ role. Geeky shit mostly, a 5000+ word document on why a customer’s system isn’t anywhere near as good as it could be.
• Sent off the Galaxy S3. Yes, its gone and I’m back with a Nexus 4. And its awesome now Google have made some tiny changes to the hardware and release Android 4.2.2. More on that in a future blog post.
• Moved from Catch Notes to Google Keep. Its far simpler but has a bloody fantastic widget which means I’ll actually use notes far more than I used to.
• Updated the PS Vita to version 2.10 which finally has support for folders. About bloody time.
• Guacamelee! finally got released for the PS3 and Vita. Its a game I’ve wanted since I saw a teaser trailer some time ago. More info here.
• Updated the security on my WordPress blog. Considering the attacks that are happening at the moment this was a good idea.
• Been approached to write for a new tech site thats launching soon. Don’t know how I feel about it. Seems to lack direction and has a crap name and logo but we’ll see, its early days yet.
• Ate lots – I’ve been doing pretty well with the whole losing weight and getting fit thing but this week my appetite has just taken over. Chips, McDonalds and Indian takeaway have all been murdered over the last few days.
So there’s a few things. Next week I’ll be back on the healthy(ish) food again and hopefully will get out into the courts as long as the weather improves.
Now where’s my cheeseburger…
Today I got the chance to get out with the NEX-5R and take a few photos at Sand Bay, Weston Super-Mare. As I mentioned before I’m forcing myself to use the manual mode on the camera in an effort to learn how to compose photos properly. Here are the results of my first proper shoot.
I wasn’t too impressed at first glance, the beach wasn’t ideal as the tide was all the way out and it turned to quicksand so couldn’t go and further towards the sea – had to work with what I had.
Can’t wait to get out there and take more photos.
Remember not so long ago how I was raving about Linux Mint’s wonderfulness as a media centre PC? That’s come back to bite me in the ass. A recent power cut had rendered my media PC in a comatose state. First it wouldn’t boot and then after a (very long winded) OS repair it would boot without a working network stack.
My Linux knowledge is a bit limited in that I can get around it and tinker under the hood but as far as terminal illness is concerned I’m no saviour.
I was entertaining the idea of putting Windows 8 on it as the underlying OS but surely there had to be another way. After all, I didn’t need a fully-featured OS as the machine is essentially used as an appliance.
Luckily there is a solution, and a bloody good one at that: OpenELEC.
In a nutshell, this product has been designed from the ground up to provide you with an ultra-slick XBMC experience on modest hardware. My ION-based machine with a regular mechanical HDD actually boots as quickly as my PS3. Its incredible. There are plugins available that allow you to use the usual download managers if you like that sort of thing (who doesn’t). The OS is built to allow auto-updating so there’s no need to get your hands dirty. Updates include xbmc and OS updates so it really does function like a well put together appliance.
Now everything has been configured just how I like it in double quick time, I’ve got just a few to-dos:
• Auto backup XBMC library and download manager configs
• Configure Pseudo TV (I’m told that its awesome)
• Look to replace the Hitachi Deathstar HDD that my Acer Revo came with
If you’re looking to turn a machine into an XBMC box with minimum fuss then OpenELEC should be high up on your list. Trust me, I’ve tried them all.
I’ve used iGoogle as my start page in Chrome since it got released and before that I used an ajax-based site I fail to remember the name of (octo-something comes to mind but I can’t find it). iGoogle used to give me snippets of information that I used to decide what to read on the web, mostly consisting of tech-based news articles, world news, photos and other geeky crap. iGoogle are closing the site this year so it was best that I find an alternative.
Flipboard came along and stirred up the news consumption market on iOS and then Android, I used it for a bit but there’s no web-based version to use. I want something that I can use across all my devices, be that PC, Mac, Linux, Android phone and tablet. Pulse is a half-decent candidate but it’s a bit too slow to use as a start page and the lack of customisation is a bit limiting. The Windows 8 app is much the same so it’s a no-go.
I came across Feedly thanks to an article I was reading concerning the soon-to-be-nuked Google Reader. Turns out it’s exactly what I was looking for. It’s a news aggregation ‘tool’ that works via the browser (dedicated plugins for each) and has native Android and iOS clients. Everything syncs via your Google account and has all the customisation options you might need.
If there’s one complaint I have is that some of the news feeds don’t display a thumbnail so it can occasionally make things look untidy but that’s no fault of the Feedly app itself as that’s down to the content creator.
I highly recommend taking a look at the site and app – I only hope that it keeps working long after Google Reader is axed as it was using the service as it’s backbone. I’m sure they’ve already thought of that one…
One of the biggest benefits to using something like the Sony NEX-5R over a traditional DSLR is that everything you see on the screen is an accurate ‘picture’ of how the photo will develop.
If you compare that to looking through the viewfinder on my Canon 450D then it simply shows what I usually see with the naked eye, some framing guides and the camera setting data. When I hit the shutter it composes the photo depending on how I’ve got my aperture, shutter, ISO and other settings and I can only then see (on playback) how the photo actually came out.
When I use the NEX-5R and change the aperture, shutter, ISO and other settings I can see on the screen exactly what those changes are doing to the photo. For an amateur photographer this is absolutely fantastic – I’m learning quickly as I’m using the device.
This makes using the manual mode so much more approachable than a full-sized DSLR while having the added benefit of taking photos to a quality that actually exceeds my Canon 450D in most cases (to my eyes at least). The photo above was taken using the NEX-5R in manual mode, transferred to Lightroom to complete the lens corrections and chromatic aberration fixes and then saved as a JPEG (has to be done when shooting in RAW mode with a pancake lens). I’m quite pleased with the result and I’d have got nothing like this if I’d just set the camera to automatic mode.
I’d definitely recommend switching your camera to manual mode and experimenting with the settings, its the only way you’ll get the best out of the camera and start to take great photos.