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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Online Tools review: Zamzar

If you've been working with computers for any amount of time, you have most likely run into the situation when you needed to convert a file from one format to another, but just did not have the utility or conversion application that would do the task. In comes Zamzar to the rescue. This online conversion utility has numerous options available to users, in several types of file categories, including: Document formats, Image formats, Music formats, Video formats, Compressed formats and CAD formats. There is something for everyone in here.

It's a handy resource to keep bookmarked, as you never know when you might need to perform a file conversion, but are away from your own computer, or simply don't have the tool to do the job. Go take a look at the full list of conversion types here, I'm sure you will be quite impressed.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Update on Blurb

I just wanted to update you on some personal experience with the Blurb book publishing service. After careful consideration, my wife decided to create a book of black and white architecture images she has taken in the Ottawa and National Capital region. She easily downloaded and installed the Blurb book creation software, BookSmart. After a few evenings of tinkering with the various settings offered in the application, she published her book, and ordered a copy for herself.

Five business days after her order, a very well packaged book arrived from Blurb. Having the physical specimen in hand allowed me to determine that the overall quality was excellent. Although my wife had selected a lower quality paper to reduce the final product cost, the quality of the paper that was used was excellent. The print reproductions were excellent, but my wife also determined that the picture quality might be better if she had used better source material during the creation process. This was to be an experiment in the process of creating and ordering a book from Blurb, and not a final product.

From what I have been able to observe about the process, I can safely say that I highly recommend the use of Blurb for the creation of any book idea you might have. You will get a fantastic product that you will be proud of!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New iPod Nano

Well, Apple has released a new generation of the iPod Nano, and once again, they've added features that make the device even more useful than it used to be. Taking a cue from the newly released third generation iPod Shuffle as well as the iPod Touch (and iPhone, of course), the new iPod Nano has incorporated many new features that set it above the average player. First is the Voice Over feature, which tells you the song name and who’s performing it without interrupting the music; it's available in over twenty languages, including: Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

Second, the new Nano features a video camera with 640 by 480 pixels in H.264, up to 30 frames per second with AAC audio to boot! There are even some live effects which can be used with the video, including Sepia, Black and White, X-Ray, Film Grain, Thermal, Security Cam, Cyborg, Bulge, Kaleido, Motion Blur, Mirror, Light Tunnel, Dent, Stretch, and Twirl.

But that's just the first part; one of the interesting sub-functionality of this setup is the addition of the microphone. Apple has thoughtfully added a voice recording functionality into the menu.

Apart from this new multimedia functionality, Apple has also added another often requested feature: an FM tuner, with a few additions thrown in of course. The feed feature identifies stations and songs (if the information is broadcast) which is always a nice way to find out about new music, and the Live Pause feature, which allows you to pause live radio broadcasts, and rewind up to 15 minutes! It's like a PVR, but for radio! A nice feature in my opinion. In the past, there have been accessories that provided the same function, but it's nice to have it built-in.

One of the nice things about the iPod series is the support for several high quality audio formats, including Apple's own AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV.

The Nano now sports a polished anodized finish in 9 different colours, including silver, black, red (from Apple only), yellow (from Apple only), blue, purple, pink, green, and orange:

If you are in the market for a new MP3 player, head to your nearest Apple store, or any electronic retailer, and take a look at the new Nano. It might just be the one for you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A short break....

This is simply to let you know that I will be taking a short break from posting new articles on this blog. Current professional and personal obligations have left me little time for researching material and writing. As soon as these obligations are met, I will return with regular posts.

Thank you for your support and continued following.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pick of the week: Scribd

If you've never heard of Scribd, prepare yourself for a little bit of information overload. Scribd is currently the largest social publishing company in the world. More than 60 million people visit each month and can discover and share original writings and documents with each other. In existence since 2007, Scribd has quickly garnered attention for their great interface, excellent search and upload tools, and of course, the quality and sheer quantity of the content hosted.

It's also worth mentioning that I've found Scribd invaluable for finding several out of date, out of print books, perfectly scanned and available for free. In my opinion, if a tool or site can help you find something that no one else has been able to, there must be some value to it! Head on over and take a look, I'm sure that like me, you will be completely amazed and will quickly bookmark this fantastic site.