Saturday, September 24, 2011


What is MeeGo?
The MeeGo project provides a Linux-based, open source software platform for the next generation of computing devices. The MeeGo software platform is designed to give developers the broadest range of device segments to target for their applications, including netbooks, handheld computing and communications devices, in-vehicle infotainment devices, smart TVs, tablets and more – all using a uniform set of APIs based on Qt. For consumers, MeeGo will offer innovative application experiences that they can take from device to device.
In short it is an open mobile operating system. Initially launched by Intel and Nokia, it was the time when the Finns were stumbling around in the shadow cast by Apple in search for a new smart phone and Microsoft was not quite the eligible bachelor then.

So it is puzzling why Nokia had actually abandoned MeeGo in the beginning of 2011 after one year, for the other suddenly eligible bachelor. What if the N9 becomes successful, would Microsoft find itself left at the altar?

Within a short time of the announcement of the N9, there seem to be a lot of positive response to the MeeGo interface, although technically the N9 is not a MeeGo product. The rest of the phone makers have adopted the green robot and unlikely to "unlike" the little droid too quickly, so would MeeGo still have a chance? Would we see a MeeGo tablet in the likes of N9?

Or perhaps meet the same fate as WebOS in the hands of HP's ex-CEO Leo Apotheker?

2011 seems to be the year where newly appointed CEOs abandon newly completed or nearly completed projects. From MeeGo to WebOS, TouchPad and even Halloween Parties. And they get paid how much for such failures? Ok sure, they get fired, but they still get paid ridiculously well.

For the curious, this guy has gathered a fair bit about Nokia and MeeGo, worth a peek.

N9 continued

Hands on video in Mandarin

This clip is a little more detailed with narration. The Swipe is really fine tuned for the thumb and possibly a little more ergonomic, though I think I hear a faint chuckling from orthopedic surgeons. Swipe-titis anyone?

I think getting rid of the Home Button is a good move. Now you can move just one screen / swipe away from what you want. To "quit" an app in the iPod Touch, you have to press the home button and double press to see the "taskbar" and tap and tap to close all "multitasking" app. That sure makes the home button last that much longer right?

Ah but you say, comes iOS 5, you don't have to press the button anymore. That is true, but you also get to exercise all your fingers more with the 5 finger pinch. Maybe it might be a good workout for some foreplay exercise, but I hear more chuckling.

Want to make a call or send a message or even take a snapshot while playing Angry Bird? That is just a half swipe with the thumb up.

The N9 is all thumbs but no confusion. So I can go from a dumb phone to a thumb phone. Sorry bad pun.

Follow through to the last third of the clip, you will see where the micro USB port and SIM card are hidden. Interestingly the SIM card carrier is hot swap enabled if I hear and see right. That is a pretty neat trick.

Other language input is obviously possible, but I had thought only iOS had perfected chinese character hand writing input. The N9 looks promising.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Endangered species

I missed the HP Touchpad recently before it's premature demise. Now looking forward to the next doomed from start gadget. Don't know why, but I seem to gravitate towards endangered gadgets.

The Nokia N9

The official site is here. Swipe is natural, swipe is good.

The N9 runs MeeGo, basically Linux on a mobile platform. In terms of Apps, which seem to be the defining criteria for a successful smartphone, Nokia will lose out for sure. The king of the hill is obviously Apple. By itself, the N9 is sufficiently impressive for me as a phone that can connect to the internet. I hardly use my iPod Touch more than what is demonstrated for the N9, even though I have quite a lot of apps.

What I like is the interface, familiar to iOS users but more logical and intuitive. Definitely designed for one handed operation.

The following clip basically shows the guy swiping through different aspects of the phone. Be warned, it is a masochistic exercise to watch it, there is no narration and you have to resist the urge to grab the phone from his hand.

The screen looks nice and bright, as responsive as iOS. The MeeGo is not as walled up and anyone can reach the Root directory from the Setting function, possibly destroying your phone? Thankfully that is defaulted to off, but eager toddlers just might do that somehow. The Android system is similar, but a little too cluttered for me, mentally I don't have an affinity for it, no matter how powerful it is.

Unfortunately, Nokia has decided MeeGo is No Go and gone off to Tango with Microsoft's Mango. This will be first and the last of it's kind.

It is a good thing to adopt this poor little orphan, I guess.

PS: It takes a full 55 seconds to boot up...touch on the slow side I guess.

Monkey See Monkey Do

Nikon has jumped in on the current trend of interchangeable lens system in a "compact" body. No more mirrors or prisms and just let the light shine through.

The supposedly biblical declaration of "I AM" seems almost arrogant, or is it a mischievous play on Descartes? I shoot therefore I AM? Nikon has stamped it's position in the musical chair game of making "affordable" interchangeable lens camera, leaving Canon to the rumour mill.

Affordable being relative to the king of interchangeable compact, Leica. The Nikon 1 system is not exactly cheap, with the basic kit setup well above $1000 and well into the low to mid range setup of their DSLR.  What is puzzling is the decision to develop a new sensor size they called DX, which is between a micro four third and a thumbnail 1/1.7" sensor. The few sample photos on DPReview shows it it capable even up to ISO 3200, but that should not surprise, it is the bare minimum in the game nowadays.

The features look fun, taking multi shots, HD videos, thanks to massively powerful processors. I guess  that is perhaps the purpose of this camera, market testing of their latest R&D efforts and perhaps making a little money along the way. Technology can now trickle upwards to their high end DSLRs?

It is probably a good machine, but I don't feel the urge to abandon my Ricoh as yet. For one, pardon my shallowness, I think it is ugly. Can't put my finger on it, just feel it is ugly. I do like the little speedlite though,  it swivels, tilts and is so compact that I can almost imitate japanese girls shrieking Kawaiiiiiii.

If only Ricoh would.....sigh...but they don't do cute things ever. The engineers there are like medieval monks painstakingly illuminating manuscripts, beautiful work but takes forever.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wanted not needed

Perfect for getting away when you can't get away from all that humanity out there.

Sony never ceases to amaze with their art of miniaturization. Do they have a magic wand hidden somewhere?
The latest Noise Cancelling earpiece is a work of art. Squeezed into the ear pieces are the batteries and noise cancelling processor, along side the new balanced armature driver. That miniature battery can run up to 20 hours, that is almost a whole day's worth of quiet paradise.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ricoh GXR Mount A12

Ever since the GXR system came into being, people have been wanting a Mount unit. The lens-sensor concept proved to be foreign and jarring to the conventional notion of interchangeable system. Within this group, there was also no consensus to what type of mount, though most leaning to the Leica M mount.

Personally I thought they would have licensed the E mount from Sony since they were the providers of the sensors. Then again, Sony is Sony. Guess Canon and Nikon would not play this game either. Finally on the 5th of August 2011, Ricoh announced the M - Mount unit, with a 12 megapixel (Sony?) sensor.

Since then I have been searching ie goggling about the mysterious M mount. Of course I drool over the new unit, the words Ricoh GXR is my Pavlov's Bell. That is until I fully realised what it means to own anything branded or related to Leica. Owning the Mount A12 module is not the problem, but it would open up a rabbit hole that could possibly empty my bank account faster than Lehman Brothers stocks plunging that fateful day.

Bit by bit the "reviews" appeared in photography websites and they all chimed in one thing, Ricoh is now the "Poor man's Leica".


Holy bovine posterior output.

No "poor man" can afford Leica, or perhaps it is only me who is below the poverty line.

Jokes aside, to get that elusive Leica look, you have to get a Leica lens, period. Well, equivalent, but there are only so few quality lens from what I read. They all basically start from SGD$5000. Pre-Owned.

Pretty steep in this time of economic uncertainty and to be used by an amateur.

Strangely it is about this time that I somehow begin to understand what is the Leica look. The danger of knowing what you did not know.

Ignorance is bliss and lighter on the wallet.

Coffee Art

Well this is hot chocolate rather than coffee, but the effort is commendable. Little details can make big difference.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ricoh Firmware update 1.40

Ricoh has been busy shopping, bagging themselves Pentax. How will the purchase pan out is still pretty uncertain as the process will only be completed in October 2011. In the meantime, the engineers have not sat idle, despite a devastating earthquake / tsunami that is also still reverberating throughout the Japanese society.

The biggest news is of course the official announcement of the M-Mount module. That is discussion for another time. For now they are tempting users, or rewarding early adopters for their patience.

I think the biggest highlight  is the following

  1. Greater focusing precision now possible.
    • In order to increase the precision of manual focusing, the focus assist function has been added. Two modes can be selected, with the focus being checked by strengthening outlines or contrast.
    • It is possible to magnify the image while shooting to make it easier to focus. In addition to magnifying the central part of the image, it is possible to display the magnified area across the entire screen. The image quality for 4x and 8x magnification has also been further enhanced, and the area to be magnified can be moved with the directional pad.
    • A setting can be made to automatically eliminate the display magnification after the picture is taken.
The dismal focusing ability the GXR APS-C modules had in the early stages are virtually gone since the last few firmware updates. But it still cannot compare with dSLR in terms of speed and precision.

While the LCD screen is brilliant, focusing is still a bit of hit and miss at times especially with closeups. It is quite difficult to assess the point of focus accurately and I always hated the magnified view which only shows a small rectangle of highly pixelated image.

Now it comes with FULL screen magnification at full resolution. It is really much much clearer. The only problem is I lose track of the composition. Something easily solved with practice.

Catching up with video cameras, now they have focus peaking in 2 modes. In Mode 1, you see the full color image with the focused portion showing a glimmering outline. Mode 2 the image turns into a grey monochrome with glimmering edges in the focused zone.

It is an amazing tool in view of the relatively large apertures of the APS-C modules. The fly-by wire manual focusing is not precise or fast, but it is enough to get as close as possible. The limit to the focus assist function is in low contrast situation, especially with the A12 28mm. I still get some out of focus pictures when I thought it looked ok on screen.

This is of course a prelude to the long awaited M-Mount module where manual focusing is the only option. Still it is amazing that they updated for ALL the modules.

6 months

That's how long it has been since posting anything.

Blogging is fun and strangely liberating, but it is not an easy task for me. I  have not found the equivalent of a verbal laxative that would encourage a flow of words and also the fact I have placed so many mental restrictions that I am always second or third guessing what to share. It's a mental tug of war between sharing myself to the world and keeping my privacy in paranoid fear. Sometimes it takes almost 3 hours just to post, not very productive.

Yet I can't bear to see the end of this tiny part of my shared existence.

So dear audience, whoever or wherever you are, I am back. Not so much as with a BANG, but you have to agree, whimpering sometimes gets as much attention.

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