Saturday, January 29, 2005

Settling in with the new Sony DVD/HDD Recorder

I’m still getting to know my new Sony RDRHX900 DVD/HDD recorder but already have found a some features I love and one that could be better. The Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is awesome for time shifting especially as we don't have anything like TiVo in New Zealand. If simply using the HDD as a time shift device there are features that represent a major advance over tape (even digital);

  • Huge Recording Capacity: Although the maximum capacity of the 160gb HDD is 204 hours the SP quality I regard as best for everyday use reduces this to 68 hours. Thats still plenty and to be free of the 4 hour VHS maximum is great but there is one limitation:
    • Timer Capacity: For me the provision of only 8 program timer slots is a pity. It has 20–50 times the record capacity of a VCR but has the same number of timer slots. There are ways around this allowed by the huge recording time but its still a limitation for long periods of unattended recording.
  • Quality: Essentially there is no difference between the live and “off disk” recorded picture quality. I think the sound is also better than the TV/former VCR, probably due to better quality NICAM decoding.
  • Title Index: The title and indexing features are a huge advantage over tape. Instant search to the beginning of the title is awesome. The index shows a thumbnail, channel, record start/stop time and length. If keeping a show you can add a title or choose the thumbnail image.
  • Play from current or beginning. This is great if you watch a title then stop for a break or maybe watch another DVD/recorded title. When you return to the former title you can choose to play from the point where you last stopped or from the beginning. The great thing is that this is remembered per title. I taped a 4 hour motor sport programme and watched it over several nights and returning to the “last seen” portion was effortless.
  • High Speed Scanning: There are 3 “Fast Forward/Reverse” speeds and the fastest is about 1 minute per second. Great for getting to the beginning of that title or skipping adverts as are the chapter marks insert every 6 minutes.
  • Perfect Freeze Frame/Slow Motion: Digital still/slowmo is far better than seen from any analogue tape.
  • Chasing View\Watch title while recording another: Its great to be able to watch a title off the HDD while another title is being recored to the HDD at the same time. Can only wonder at the volume of data being processed while doing all this simultaneous decoding/encoding!

So far have enjoyed all this without even recording a DVD :-)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Standards New Zealand to adopt XML

Standards NZ are moving to XML format. They have their catalogue now as PDF and a database format with its own viewer but the move to XML is interesting. For AEC perhaps this means there will be potential to integrate & reference standards information directly in the relevant BIM object style/family.

Computerworld - Standards body to adopt XML

Standards New Zealand, the body that oversees the development of industry standards, is to convert its catalogue of more than 3,000 standards to XML…

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Prime TV New Zealand to screen Ellen MacArthur "In The Eye of the Storm"

Prime TV New Zealand to screen Ellen MacArthur: In The Eye of the Storm.

Prime TV

SPECIAL: Ellen MacArthur: In The Eye of the Storm
7:30pm, Sunday 30 January 2005

In a BBC premiere special on Prime, it’s the extraordinary journey of a gutsy 25-year old who sailed into the history books to become the youngest and fastest yachtswoman to cruise around the world single-handed.
Ellen MacArthur thrives on extremes. After her record-breaking, life-threatening performance in the Vendee Globe round-the-world race, many people thought she might relax into cosy celebrity. Her response was to announce an attempt on the Jules Verne Challenge, the record for non-stop sailing around the world. The current record is 64 days. Ellen hoped to do it in 60.
This one-hour special on Prime follows Ellen’s challenge from start to finish: the intensive crew-selection process, the preparation of the massive boat, the ups and downs of life on board and the ultimate triumph or failure.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

New in the Toy Dept: Sony DVD recorder RDRHX900

Went shopping last weekend and came home with a Sony DVD recorder RDRHX900. It was my “Happy Birthday to me” present. This is to replace an old VHS machine that has given years of good service time shifting the bulk of my viewing. The X900 is a nice unit and the only one available here that can record all the common DVD formats (DVD+RW/-RW/-R).

The nice thing is you don't have to record any format DVD unless you want to archive the content thanks to 160gb of Hard Disc Drive space built in. This allows approx 70–200 hours of recording depending on the quality level chosen. Content can be stored on the HDD and written to DVD when authored. It has a program list with thumbnails/time and title(if input) which makes finding all that content easy. Its early days and I still have a hefty manual to read but it has been no hassle to master the basics.

I have many aging Video 8 and VHS tapes that I shot and edited when was home video was a major hobby. I don’t do much of that now but want to migrate those tapes before they die. In addition to time shifting this was the prime reason to get the new toy.

For 15 years have been thinking “I’ll tape this”; what will it be now “I’ll disc this”?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Cadalyst offers RSS feeds

Cadalyst now provide RSS feeds. If you are not familiar with RSS they have a brief introduction and link to some readers on the site. RSS Bandit that I use isn’t listed  

Cadalyst - RSS feeds

Cadalyst is pleased to offer RSS feeds for each of our Web sites: Manufacturing, AEC, GIS/mapping, CAD Management, and Instead of using a Web browser to roam from Web site to Web site, you can install an RSS reader to automatically gather new content from your choice of RSS-enabled sites.

Friday, January 14, 2005

My VCR reached the end of time!

I have an old Sony SLV-757NC VHS VCR’s (and even older Panasonic NV-H70 EA) which get a lot of use as I time-shift most things to avoid commercials. Both have been great machines but I discovered tonight that the Sony has reached the end of time!

The Panasonic was one of the first Hifi VHS machines (must be 15 years old) and I got the Sony when they first started making VHS (10 years ago?) as it had a NICAM Stereo tuner. It was the only way to get digital stereo reception as I had a good, but non-NICAM, Sony TV* at the time. I set it to record a “Scrapheap” every Friday but found it recording tonight (Thursday). I found the set day & time was correct and the machine thought it was recording on Friday 13th January 1984. I have obviously been using it longer than Sony anticipated and the internal calendar ended at 31–12–2004 so it had gone back to the beginning of its calendar which was 1984.

Its old, but still playing OK, and I found out from that I can set it back to 1994 as it started on a Saturday like this year so the date/day will be the same then found someone else has the same machine and has mapped out conversions to 2016. The Panasonic has no time problems as is just a simple 7 day repeating clock with no months to complicate things.

I think it may be great excuse to get two of my “Toy Wish-List” items. I had already decided to get a Sony RDRHX900 DVD HD Recorder (DVD + 160gb Hard Drive) to replace one and a new Sony VHS Hifi for legacy tapes I won’t bother transferring to DVD. Might have to go shopping for the RDRHX900 on Saturday whatever day/date that is and get a birthday present!

* My Sony Living Museum: The old TV was replaced by a new Sony ES29 a few years ago so I could play NTSC DVD’s but gave it to someone who still using it every day. My WMF202 Walkman (1991) and Sony D50 (first ever portable CD from 1984) are still going strong and used regularly!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Had ZoneAlarm problems recently?

Tonight started up my machine and Windows advised 2 security updates were required. I  installed them and after rebooting the machine was very sluggish. Just opening a folder would take ages, running a program an eternity. Found out ZoneAlarm Pro’s vsmon.exe was using 50–90% Processor all the time. The machine was periodically locking up and misbehaving to the stage where I couldn't get any browser to run.

Since vsmon.exe is a component of ZoneAlarm Pro I rebooted the machine and reinstalled it. I chose to install with all the default settings (not retaining previous) and after the usual reboot, wizard and permission  requests for various applications seemed to be back to normal. This got me going long enough to have had a look at the ZoneAlarm forum and I found its not just me.

I actually suspected the Windows Updates but there are several messages from users that have not applied them and still have problems. One message points to a date related ZoneAlarm Pro failure, set the clock prior to 12 Jan 2005 and it goes away.

What is disappointing is I could find many user messages but nothing from ZoneLabs, not even a “We are working on it” message on the forums. If anyone else is having this who has seen official comment from ZoneLabs, be interested to hear what they said?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Blogjet Response Impresses

I had the same experience but reported via email. Great Product, great service. This blog is here as I’m posting using BlogJet to see how it works with Blogger as previously had only used it with TypePad. (It works well!).

Blogjet - Great Response:

In a previous post here I mentioned all the reasons why I love using Blogjet as a front end to TypePad. It makes my life so much easier and straight forward. TypePad by itself is great – no question. TypePad + Blogjet is more than great – it’s excellent. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my previous post, I was having some problems getting Blogjet 1.5 to post due to a time code error. 

I reported the problem using the Blogjet forum, and I’m very happy to report that the response from the Blogjet staff was great. They responded to my post with 18 minutes (perhaps just luck – but I’m very happy anyway), asked relevant questions, gave me a few things to try, then about 8 hours later provided a link to a new build that corrected the problem. Outstanding!

Blogjet 1.5 . (5.0/5.0)

[Via PDA Dreams]

Shuttle Radar Topography Mission ends with New Zealand

The space shuttle Endeavour's 5 year mission to map planet Earth is over. New Zealand and Australia were the last datasets released this week. The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) obtained elevation data on a near-global scale to generate the most (80%) complete high-resolution digital topographic database of Earth. The missing areas were in the extreme north and south, such as Antarctica and Greenland, as the shuttle cannot fly over the poles. SRTM consisted of a specially modified radar system that flew onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour during an 11-day mission in February of 2000.

Link: Shuttle Radar Topography Mission New Zealand Images

New Zealand straddles the juncture of the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, two of Earth's major crustal plates. The two plates generally converge in subduction zones, but in a scissor-like pattern, with the Indo-Austalian plate overriding the Pacific plate to the north and the Pacific plate overriding the Indo-Australian plate to the south. New Zealand is "what happens" in between at and near the cross point of this scissor pattern. Here the convergence has built two major islands that together exhibit very active volcanoes and fault systems, and these geologic features are very evident in the topographic pattern.

Click here to view the New Zealand Fly-over! (Quicktime mov format)

Celestia shows space is big and beautiful

In 1983 John Walker drew The Solar System to scale in AutoCAD-86. It was a demonstration of AutoCAD’s floating point database resolution and I remember being shown it when I was at Tech. Everyone was amazed at the precision as they zoomed from Pluto’s orbit down to a plaque on the leg of the Lunar Lander, Eagle, with readable text.

That was a long time ago but I remembered it tonight as experienced similar amazement when I watched Celestia in action. It’s a free real-time 3D space simulation, for Windows/Mac/Unix, which lets you travel through our solar system and to over 100,000 stars in our neighbourhood.

Once installed (approx 11mb download) I recommend you start off with the Demo Tour launched from the Help Menu. Prepare to be amazed as you zoom from the Earth to the Moon, then the Sun, Saturn & its Moons. Its then back to Earth for a short tour of the Northern and Southern hemisphere night sky with stars and constellations on display. Next a very quick trip across the universe to the giant red star Antares, a brief look at the Milky Way from a distance, then home to earth again.

Now its your turn to explore the 3d photo real accurate celestial model as you wish. Its simple to use, but information rich and stunning to look at, with comprehensive options that will keep your amused for hours. Thanks to the authors: Chris Laurel, Clint Weisbrod,,Fridger Schrempp, Bob Ippolito, Christophe Teyssier, Hank Ramsey, Grant Hutchiso and many others who contributed to this excellent software.

Link: Celestia Home page
(If the main page is off line there will still be a link to the download site and forum).

*Note: Shaan Hurley has the AutoCAD file mentioned, solar-1.dwg, available for download in AutoCAD 2004 format and more information on AutoCAD 64 bit precision on his AutoCAD Blog – Between the Lines.

Monday, January 10, 2005

EphemeraNow > Museum of Mid-Century Advertising Art and Illustration

This site is well worth a look. Although its advertising there are great images. An RSS Feed lets you know when new ones are posted. Mid Century art with new century distribution.

EphemeraNow > The Museum of Mid-Century Advertising Art and Illustration

A family-friendly Web site dedicated to the commercial art of mid-century America.

TUMONZ - Updated to Version 2.08 + 2005 Tide data

TUMONZ has another update to support High Resolution Photos of Auckland. Unfortunately only Auckland City boundary (they commissioned the photo’s) so don’t cover the Waitakere City where I live.

If you have TUMONZ the 2005 Tide Data is available. It’s probably been there for a while but I haven’t needed it until now as summer only started on Sunday!

The tide feature in TUMONZ is great, click anywhere on the sea and you get Tide and Moon Phase data for the nearest measurement point. The “flow” is shown as a wave but can point at any time/spot to get precise time/height readings. Major and Minor fish feeding periods are shaded inside the tide-curve according to the solunar fishing times.

TUMONZ - The Ultimate Map of New Zealand. Anywhere. Any Scale. All Vector.

What's New in Version 2.08 ?

  • Support for the New Auckland City High Resolution Aerial Photos,
  • The ability to enable/disable the advanced plug ins (GPS Manager, Spreadsheet Data Link) to make TUMONZ even faster loading.
  • Reduced the CPU usage while live tracking
  • Improved NMEA stability & added manual configuration of NMEA settings.
  • Other minor fixes and additions.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A new BlogJet!

I’m posting this with the new release of BlogJet (1.5). I have tested it previously, and liked it, but often used TypePad’s thumbnail feature which it didn't support at the time.

BlogJet is a composition/management tool that allows off-line WYSIWYG post editing and easy posting to most Blog services. I was still composing posts off-line then transferring there, then formating, then posting. BlogJet gives me all the tools of the Blogger editor, and more, and allows the off-line to go-online seamlessly.

UPDATE: Its is no longer a trial, have just purchased it!

ClipTray - Welcome Back!

I’ve just rediscovered a long lost utility.  I used ClipTray in the past but, for some reason, didn’t reload when moving to a new PC. I don't know why but just remembered it as was doing lots of copy/paste while formatting a document. I found it again and in the time I was away its got better.

ClipTray is a “clipboard accelerator” that runs in the system tray gathering up the items you copy/paste. So what you say, the windows clipboard does that for one clip and some Office applications remember multiple clips?

ClipTray has many more features and works with any application. Once items are copied you can:

  • Paste the last item copied with Control+V as normal.
  • Or fly-out the ClipTray system tray history menu:
    • Pick any object previously copied object to be pasted with Control+V.
    • See format indicated by the application icon.
    • See a tool-tip preview with text or image and other information like clipboard status (Current/not), source application exe, size (pixels or characters)
  • For Text Clips you can also:
    • Reformat: Upper/Lower/Mixed/Sentence Case, Remove leading/trailing/multiple spaces & Line breaks.
  • Email text based Clips (creates new message with text added) but not images
  • For web link Clips: Open in same/new browser.
  • You  can save clips permanently so you never have to type that email address, link etc again!

These are the features I like but there are more. One is the price which is great: its Freeware! 

If you do a lot of editing its a great time saver and now runs in my system tray nearly all the time. The only thing I've found is it can occasionally interfere with export of large MindManager Map exports to Office applications as this involves multiple automated copy/pastes. I just close ClipTray while doing these. Other than that, if you do lots of document editing, I recommend you give it a try!

ClipTray: Put the clipboard in your system tray!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Test Post with BlogJet

Test Post with BlogJet

First Blogger Post

Just a test to see if its all working