Geotagging your photos is both fun and useful, and not just for big trips like Japan, where I often had no idea where a bus was taking us. I think it’s nice that they’re starting to integrate it directly into cameras, but there’s a problem with that idea: satellite acquisition takes time, especially if it’s been a while since the device was last turned on.

The problem with putting the GPS into the camera is that people turn their cameras off. So, either the GPS stays active and drains the battery, or your first half-dozen pictures at each stop may look like this:


Standalone GPS trackers have their own problems, of course. Some have poor battery life, some don’t show up as simple USB mass-storage devices for transferring logs, some have poor chipsets, and most do not have a screen that shows the current time. That last bit is perhaps the most important, because your camera and your tracker have to match up by timestamp. Most software supports adjusting the time to improve the match, but for best results, you want to set the camera to GPS time, every day.

[Disclaimer: this particular picture doesn’t actually demonstrate the cold-start location problem. In fact, the cluster of accurately-tagged images in the upper right were taken first, and the half-dozen trailing off to the lower left were the result of the tracker losing signal when we got into the car, and not getting another satellite fix until we were several blocks away. Because the clocks weren’t in sync, the software assumed the pictures were taken while the car was moving, and interpolated their location between the two points. Easy to fix, but still amusing.]

Best. Cellphone Ad. Ever.

LG paid two Korean girl groups to record music videos for their latest ad campaign. I don’t know what the other group did, because I can’t seem to tear my eyes away from Girls’ Generation…

[link goes to the cleanest HD version I could find on Youtube, sadly tagged by some clown who thought his handle was so important it needed to be embedded in the video at beginning and end, as if he were the second coming of MTV]

Give this girl a Lens!

Until recently, I hadn’t investigated the Japanese file-sharing networks. They’re Windows-only, they require some configuration that is only described in Japanese, and, of course, all of the titles are in Japanese, many marked-up with keywords that will make sense only to followers of 2ch.

I’ve already mentioned gekiyaba. There’s also お宝, which means “treasure”, but on file-sharing networks it means “special picture of a celebrity, either photoshopped or interesting only to people who can fill in the naughty bits with their imagination”. ポロリ usually means “shedding copious tears” (derived from the mimetic poro-poro), but online it’s “accidental exposure”, pictures or video clips where you can almost see down a blouse or up a skirt (so, if you go looking for Yuuko Nakazawa’s porori, you’ll find a song about crying, but for anyone else, you’ll find voyeur pics). Another one to watch out for is 激似, which means “I think the girl in this amateur porn flick looks exactly like my favorite idol, but you won’t agree”.

There are a lot of obvious keywords as well, and many people seem to apply them to every video they upload, no matter how irrelevant. Some are fairly reliable, however, like 巨乳, which means “huge breasts”. Not really my thing, but when you see a video labeled 巨乳めがねメイド after just discussing such a creature, well, it needs to be checked out. For Science!

Turns out she has the cat-ears as well… (picture safe for work)


Samsung U70 mini monitor

[Update 5/20: the beta driver broke under MacOS X 10.5.7. A reinstall briefly worked, but then stopped. This tip fixed it for me.]

[Update: one additional negative added]

Samsung’s been adding DisplayLink USB monitor support to their digital picture frames for a while, but none of those work with a Mac. DisplayLink has a reference driver, but Samsung added their own protocol for determining whether it should come up as a monitor or a flash drive when plugged in, which requires their driver.

Most of the other USB mini-monitors are either insanely overpriced, in very limited supply, or both. Samsung is slowly rolling out a dedicated mini-monitor, the U70, and DisplayLink’s latest MacOS X reference driver supports it. Sadly, the only importer I’ve found it at is geekstuff4u, which charges nearly twice what Amazon Japan does.

Amazon Japan won’t ship gadgets to the US, but I set up my Tenso reshipping account for just this sort of thing. Since someone else at work also wanted one, I ordered two. Tenso ships EMS, which charges by weight at a fairly steep rate, so they’re still overpriced, but a full $70 cheaper than geekstuff4u. That’s $70 each.

When Samsung brings them to the US for real, they’ll probably run about $90, but as a toy-loving early-adopting technogeek, my per-unit total came to $112 (including sales tax, free shipping to Tenso, and international shipping and handling).

Pros: compact 7” widescreen LCD display (800x480), decent brightness and color, works in portrait or landscape modes, great Mac support, runs on USB power (optional second USB plug if your machine doesn’t put out enough power with just one). Works great for video, chat clients, Photoshop palettes, status windows, etc.

Cons: picture-frame-style stand is not particularly stable in landscape mode (press photos are mildly deceptive about this…), no supplied carrying case.

I happened to have a little padded case that’s just the right size to transport it, so my only real complaint is about the stand, and I can solve that by using the Kensington security slot on the back as the mounting point for a second leg.

Is it worth it? Yes, if you want a little extra screen space that doesn’t require a power cord. I’ll find it extremely useful for running Photoshop and Aperture on my laptop. Large external displays are nice, but for some reason I never like using one with the laptop. I like the small side display, though.

[Update] Another con I just noticed: significantly higher CPU use when you watch video on it. Dragging an h264 DVD-rip from the main display to the little Samsung chews up a full core on my 2.93GHz Core 2 Duo. On the main display, QuickTime uses 20% of a core and WindowServer another 4%; on the U70, QuickTime uses 100%, WindowServer uses 20%, and DisplayLinkManager yet another 20%. This causes the fans to spin up to about 4800rpm, increasing the noise significantly.

Now that’s sexy

Also overpriced and underpowered, but isn’t that always the way for sexy young things?


Dear Steve Jobs,

I like buttons.

Sony Discman

I know you think buttons and cables and ports are all bad things, and should be hidden from the user whenever possible, but you’re going too far again. The new Macbook Pro that you can’t plug two even slightly oversized USB cords into, even on the 17-inch model that has acres of free space along the one side you permit ports to appear on? Yeah, that’s pretty stupid.

And the new Shuffle that can’t be controlled without the supplied button-starved remote control that apparently has difficulty registering its array of clicks-and-holds when operated with sweaty fingers? Yeah, that’s looking pretty stupid too.

Now, I have to admit that you’re not alone in your hatred for visible controls. See that picture up above? Way back when, the retailer almost begged me to take it off his hands, because no one had ever bought one, and since they’d been discontinued, he couldn’t get it out of the store fast enough. Customers walked in, looked at the sea of buttons, and bought something else.

I, on the other hand, walked in, looked at the device, and said “Look, look! Logically different operations on different buttons! It must be mine!”.

Shameless Pluggery

The Roku set-top box is supposed to be pretty cool. And you may be aware that in addition to their Netflix Watch Instantly support, they’ve just added Amazon’s Video On Demand service. If you hadn’t heard about any of that, then gosh-golly-wow, doesn’t it sound just spiffy?

And doesn’t this sound like a paraphrased press release that includes a sponsored link to buy the product on Amazon? It should, because that’s what it is! I just got email from Amazon this morning letting me know that I should take advantage of the buzz and earn money for every Roku Digital Video Player that I help them sell.

So, you know: $99 bucks; streaming video on your TV set; apparently doesn’t suck. Let me know how it works out for you.

Dear LG,

I’m not sure, but I think you’re trying to sell some sort of consumer electronics device in this picture. Power strip? Remote control? What is it?