July 2010 Archives

SDCC 2010: The Cape

One of the new shows making its debut this year is The Cape, where a police officer is framed, thought dead, and then returns as his son's favorite comic book crime fighter. Having watched the pilot episode during the panel, I can say with confidence that this is one superhero show that is likely to be canceled quickly if changes aren't made to make it better.

The Cape - 1

David Lyons plays Vince Faraday, who becomes the Cape, under the tutelage of Max Malini (Keith David). The Cape is assisted by Orwell (Summer Glau), and Max Malini's circus buddies. The problem with the show is that it takes itself too seriously, when it is just really cheesy.

While the pilot I watched had placeholder music, Bear McCreary (of Battlestar Galactica) will be composing The Cape's final music.

The extended entry contains a brief summary of the pilot episode. Included are my notes as to how to make it better.

How-To: Pair Apple Magic Trackpad to Mac

How to pair the device:
  1. Go into System Preferences, then click Trackpad.
  2. Click "Set Up Bluetooth Trackpad..."
  3. Press the Power button located on the right side of the Trackpad.
  4. Click Continue when your Trackpad is detected.

How To: Apple Magic Trackpad Drivers

Apple doesn't ship a CD with drivers with the Magic Trackpad, so you'll need to download the drivers from Apple.

In order to enable the Magic Trackpad, first you'll need to download the appropriate Magic Trackpad drivers from Apple's website:

The Windows drivers are to enable the Magic Trackpad in Windows OS as a replacement for the mouse.

Review: Apple Magic Trackpad


Apple's new Magic Trackpad ($69) takes the trackpad of the MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops, enlarges it, and makes it usable for the desktop.

Magic TrackpadMagic Trackpad - 8
In many ways, this peripheral is built for those who primarily use their laptop and have grown accustomed to the multi-touch gestures available on the laptop trackpads. Now those people can use a trackpad instead of a mouse when working at a desktop.

The Magic Trackpad uses Bluetooth wirelessly, so it does require two AA batteries (included). The angle of the Magic Trackpad matches the Wireless keyboard. The Magic Trackpad's materials are very similar to the trackpads on the their laptops -- aluminum and glass. Little rubber feet on the bottom of the unit enables clicking.

The Apple Magic Trackpad can be used as a replacement for the mouse, or simultaneously with the mouse. The Magic Trackpad however, does still require a firm surface to place it on, but it can be used with a much more limited space than a mouse. The range of the Bluetooth wireless on the trackpad is an astounding 33 feet, making it perfect for a HTPC setup.

If there is one problem with the Apple Magic Trackpad, it's that the price of $69 for a Magic Trackpad is at the same price point as the Apple Magic Mouse.

The Magic Trackpad allows for two, three, and four fingered gestures and provides more options than the Magic Mouse. The Magic Mouse has only one two-finger gesture -- a navigation swipe. On a Magic Trackpad, the navigation swipe is three fingered gesture. The Magic Trackpad has the following gestures in addition to gestures found on the Magic Mouse:
Two Fingers:

  • Rotate
  • Pinch Open/Close

Four Fingers:
  • Swipe up/down for Expose
  • Swipe left/right for Application switching

The new Apple Magic Trackpad is certainly an interesting device, as it makes available to desktops all the gestures that laptop users have had for so long; in some instances though, a mouse is still better. I would not play World Of Warcraft with the Magic Trackpad, or any kind of first-person shooter, for that matter. Still, for those who want to use an external keyboard at home, and still be able to retain all the trackpad functions without being constrained by the laptop's trackpad, the Magic Trackpad fills that niche perfectly.

SDCC 2010: The Guild Comic-Con Panel Transcript


The entry below contains the transcript of the Guild panel in the Indigo Ballroom at the San Diego Comic-Con 2010. There are videos on the web of the panel, however, for those of you who can read faster than you can watch videos, click below.

Today Amazon listed the Kindle out of stock, having many in the gadget blogsphere wondering what could be next for the Kindle. Some speculated that like the nook, it would house two screens -- one being e-ink, and another being LCD color.

The acutal new Kindle is much less exciting. It features the same 6 inch screen size, a lighter body, a faster redraw on e-ink, a minimized back button, and a larger forward button. The rocker switch has also been redesigned. The Kindle will arrive in two varieties of two colors each: a Wi-Fi only version for $139, and a Free 3G version for $189. Just like the Kindle DX, the Kindle will come in graphite or white. The new pricing reflects on their ongoing price war with Barnes and Noble's nook e-reader -- by undercutting the nook by $10.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bezos said "there are going to be 100 companies making LCD [screen] tablets... why would we want to be 101? I like building a purpose-built reading device. I think that is where we can make a real contribution."

SDCC 2010: Day 3: The Guild

The Guild kicked off with a speech from Kim Evey (executive producer) thanking the fans for supporting the show, and also to the sponsors of the show, and being amazed at the size of the crowd at Comic Con, filling the Indigo Ballroom. Indigo Ballroom is at least comparable in size to the cavernous Ballroom 20, so the fact that the Guild managed to fill the room is impressive, considering that I went to a Guild panel a few years ago, which was a much more intimate gathering of fans.

After the cast introductions, we were shown episode 3 and an advertising teaser for season 4, and opened up for Q&A. The teaser is in the form of a Bollywood dance video, and it is AWESOME.

The Guild: Season 4, Episode 3:
<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&fg=MsnEntertainment_joseph_player&vid=8b02bc4f-0dc6-4a75-9317-80fe7809e59c" target="_new" title="Season 4 - Episode 3 - Oversupportive'd">Video: Season 4 - Episode 3 - Oversupportive'd</a>

Update: The music video is now live, and is below:

<br/><a href="http://www.bing.com/videos/browse?mkt=en-us&vid=&from=&fg=sharenoembed" target="_new"title="Season 4 - Music Video - "Game On"">Video: Season 4 - Music Video - "Game On"</a>

Felicia and Wil Wheaton will have recurring roles on the SyFy show Eureka, and will continue to work together on the Guild.

Avatar: The Legend of Korra announced!

It had been rumored that following the conclusion of Avatar: The Last Airbender, there might be a possibility for revisting the world of Avatar. I had thought this might mean a series based on past Avatars' lives, but Nickelodeon has announced a new Avatar series, set 70 years after Aang's adventures as an Avatar.

PR Newswire: Nickelodeon greenlights new series from the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Improv Everywhere: Subway Train


TWAIN Scanners in Photoshop CS4

One of the features I loved about the old version of Photoshop was being able to scan directly into Photoshop with my Canon CanoScan 8400F. I kept Photoshop CS around just so I could scan (and then I'd have to open up CS4 to do processing), but I discovered an easier solution.

On the Photoshop CS4 installation DVD, copy TWAIN.plugin from Goodies/Optional Plugins/Import-Export to /Adobe Photoshop CS4/Plug-ins/Import-Export.

This workaround is unsupported by Adobe, but it's better than scanning through Preview (which still works with TWAIN scanners). You can also download the optional plugin from Adobe's website.

HP Color LaserJet 1500 on Snow Leopard

Ever since I upgraded to Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6), I haven't been able to make use of my HP Color LaserJet 1500 -- a budget color laser printer that I bought in 2003. Every time Apple releases a new HP Printer Update, I look to see if this printer is included, only to be disappointed.

Under Snow Leopard, neither Apple or HP officially support this printer; on Apple's list of supported printers in Snow Leopard it is notably absent, and HP's recommendation is that one should purchase a new printer to replace it.

I have discovered that with an Airport Express or Airport Extreme and using the USB port, the printer shows up as a usable printer utilizing Bonjour. Unfortunately, the printer only has basic options such as paper type selection.

Review: Belkin AV360 Mini DisplayPort Converter vs. Kanex XD

Belkin released the AV360 HDMI to Mini DisplayPort Converter earlier this month, as a solution to displaying HDMI video and audio on the 27-inch iMac.

Previously, the only device that did this was the comparably priced Kanex XD HDMI to Mini DisplayPort Converter.

There are a couple of major differences between the two units, which lean heavily in favor of the Belkin AV360:

  • 1080p: The Belkin AV360 is capable of this resolution, while the Kanex XD is not. The Kanex XD maxes out at 720p. (though Kanex does claim that with a software fix, it too is capable of 1080p).
  • Power Supply: The Belkin AV360 draws power off the USB 2.0 cable, while the Kanex XD requires a separate power adapter.
  • Size: the Belkin AV360 is much larger than the Kanex XD, almost three times as long.
The Belkin AV360 includes a mini DisplayPort cable, and an USB 2.0 cable within the box, along with the converter. This is good, considering the only widely available mini DisplayPort cable available at the Apple Store generally retails for around $20. It is somewhat disappointing that Belkin does not include an HDMI cable to complete the kit.

The Kanex XD includes a mini DisplayPort cable, HDMI cable, along with a power adapter. USB 2.0 is not required, as an external power adapter is included.

One of the things that makes these two devices different from the older analog video converters is the lack of audio cables. This is because the mini DisplayPort and HDMI specifications allows audio to be broadcast over mini DisplayPort and HDMI cables.

Part of the reason why these devices are so expensive is due to the hardware required to the conversion -- a simple HDMI to mini DisplayPort cable won't work, as HDMI needs to pass along a HDCP handshake signal before it can be displayed on the iMac (or any of Apple's monitors) since it is not HDCP-complaint.

The setup for the two devices is nearly identical; simply plug the cables into the box and attaching the mini DisplayPort cable to the port on the iMac; switching between the box and the iMac is done by pressing Command+F2 to switch the inputs.

One of my experiments involved hooking up the iMac as an external display for my old MacBook Pro -- utilizing an DVI to HDMI cable, I used the MacBook Pro as the video in for the Belkin AV360 -- it worked like a charm, although the Belkin limits the display output onto the iMac; while a normal miniDisplay Port output can utilize the iMac's native 2560 x 1440 resolution, the Belkin was limited to 1080p as its maximum.

All that being said, $150 is a lot to pay for a converter box, even one that does do HDCP, which means that currently these are the only two options for utilizing the marvelous display on the 27-inch iMac. For those who are truly serious about the video quality, the Belkin is (for the moment), the better converter.

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