Dan's Data letters #83Publication date: 6 Jan 2004.
Last modified 03-Dec-2011.
I don't know of any enclosures that're made for 17mm thick drives, but it should be easy enough to fit one into any 2.5 inch enclosure, as long as you don't care about actually being able to put the lid back on. For a more permanent, slightly elegant solution, you could swap in longer screws and seal the edges of the enclosure with tape. But just running the thing topless will be fine for data recovery purposes.
Note that you can accomplish the same task for less money if you get yourself a 44-to-40-pin hard drive plug/power adapter; that'll let you connect the 2.5 inch drive directly to any normal ATA controller and PSU. A Mac ought to recognise the drive natively; a Windows machine will need a Mac filesystem handler like MacDrive (as bundled with the WiebeTech DriveDocks I review here). You'd need that to recognise the drive via USB or FireWire too, of course.
I see this a lot lately when browsing through tech manufacturer's websites. They have a site that is xxxxx.com.xx; I find this terribly inconvenient.
What's with this? Do these companies pay another company that registered the com.tw or com.au domain? Or is the first portion not a real subdomain at all? I know I'd much rather type auspcmarket.au than auspcmarket.com.au.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will no doubt be happy to receive your feedback.
The different Top Level Domains (TLDs) are administered by different companies in different countries. There are only a few barriers to stop anybody from registering any not-yet-registered-by-someone-else domain they like; .edu and .mil are quite effectively restricted to educational institutions and the US military, but .org and .net are pretty much as wide open as .com, and many country TLDs are accessible to anyone as well. Tuvalu's famous .tv, for instance, used by practically nobody actually from Tuvalu.
In any case - .au as an independent TLD does not currently exist, and probably never will. Australian companies who want a simpler URL can do as I did, and just register a .com. The problem with that is that many people looking for stuff in Australia will deliberately restrict their search to .au domains only, or assume that any site that isn't .au must not be Australian. I don't care about that, so .com works fine for me.
In Dan's letters #30 "Further PS2 plugging" you talked about connecting the PS2 to a monitor. I have a similar question: I have an old LCD projector with 640x480 native resolution, a composite RCA video input, and a VGA monitor input. The specs say it can handle VESA VGA input, 640x480 at 72Hz, and it has adjustments for frequency and sync. I'd like to hook up my PS2 to it as a DVD player and get as much of that resolution as possible.
Assuming I'm watching regular 4:3 DVDs, could I get the full 640x480 resolution out of the PS2 and into the projector? (I know games aren't hi-res unless programmed for it) I understand the PS2 cannot drive an average monitor directly. How about something like an external VGA TV tuner box w/ component YCrCb inputs; could I hook the PS2 component output cable to the VGA TV box, then the TV box to the projector with the VGA cable, and get any more resolution than I'd get by directly attaching the PS2 to the composite RCA input on the projector? Or am I already getting 640x480 with the composite cable, and component output would only improve image quality?
I've heard that the PS2 DVD player is progressive scan, but you need a progressive scan TV to see the benefits. A 640x480 projector should be able to display 480p.. or is it 480i? At any case, it should be more than a TV's resolution, right?
Is the projector full colour? While people tend to use "VGA" loosely today, gen-u-wine VESA VGA only manages 16 colours in 640 by 480 mode. This, of course, makes it useless for any kind of realistic colour graphics.
Older "full colour" projectors often have sub-24-bit colour capabilities; you can send them a signal with 24 bit colour, but the actual display device is commonly 15 or 16 bit, which means they can show considerable banding in smooth colour gradients. They still beat the pants off 16 colour mode, though.
You won't get any significant advantage from running the PS2's output through an upscan box for display on this projector, no matter what colour capabilities it has. The composite input will give you about all the quality you're going to get out of it. Yes, you could just possibly do better with component output upconverted to VGA, but the limiting factor here is very likely to be the projector itself. The money you'd spend on an upconverter would be better put towards the purchase of a newer 800 by 600 projector.
This is more of a whine than a proper technical issue, but I think that it is very real, especially for people like myself with eyes and back that are overdue for a 50 year service.
What I really need is a camera body that takes separate lenses. I do not see a significant advantage to having a viewfinder that sees through the actual lens. Yet DSLRs seem to consider this last feature a must. I see it as useful sometimes.
I do want a good LCD that can see through the lens, and is available for preview.
Why do DSLRs force one to use the optical viewfinder? This is a major problem for me as I shoot small terrestrial orchids.
What I want is a detachable LCD so that I can do my deliberation in comfort while the camera is hanging upside down under the tripod in the dirt (better the camera than me).
I will then have the benefit of the LCD for judging focus (using magnification) and general setup (the LCD can show all sorts of data about the shot being prepared).
I do not see things going this way in the market. Is there a camera that can do this?
Through-the-lens (TTL) optical viewfinders are generally preferable because they make focussing and depth of field previewing, and similar tweaking, easier, while using no battery power. Electronic viewfinders are close to useless for tasks like focussing that require a high resolution display of the subject, unless they've got an auto-zoom feature for the middle of the frame - and if they have, what if you want to focus on something that isn't in the middle of the frame?
Electronic viewfinders that have a fast enough refresh rate to be competitive with optical viewfinders also tend to suck a lot of battery power.
Now, you'd think that you could still have an LCD preview option in a DSLR for those times when a flip-out screen really helps, but it's not actually that easy. SLRs (digital and film) have a flip-up mirror that means that the viewfinder looks out through the lens, or the sensor (or film) does; both can't see at once. This is an optically superior design to that used by SLR cameras that have a fixed beam splitter to let both sensor and optical viewfinder look out through the same lens, like my old Olympus C-2500L. Beam splitters reduce the brightness of the viewfinder and the sensitivity of the sensor. Digicams that have no TTL optical viewfinder (which is most of them) avoid this problem.
I don't think there's any elegant solution to this. You could make do with a "waist level finder", like those seen on various medium format cameras; point and shoot digicams with a swivelling LCD let you do much the same thing. I don't think you can get a waist level finder for any current DSLR, though. I don't think any of them offer a real-time preview function when they're in tether-cam mode connected to a PC with a USB or FireWire cable, either; you can always control the camera's electronic functions that way, but I don't think you can use a laptop screen as a viewfinder.
A medium format camera with a digital back might suit you just fine - all you'd have to do is rob banks for a few years to pay for it!
Aus PC Market sell a lot of digital TV tuner cards now. It's not analogue, it's digital - no compression to be done, it's already done for you by the nice TV station. You know what I'm wanting to build. You know you want to build one too. Go on, build one. Prove it can be done. Then write up step-by-step instructions for me to follow.
Yes, I think you're right - Australians within range of a digital TV transmitter now can build a Personal Video Recorder PC. But not where I live at the moment. My DGTEC DTV set-top box works OK here, but digital TV tuner cards are all pretty much rooted (a technical term) by the dodgy reception. This house is in one of those magic black holes where no amount of antenna twiddling will let you get every channel, or even most channels, 100% clearly.
The STB recovers elegantly from occasional signal corruption, and is perfectly watchable almost all of the time. The rest of the time, I just flick over to the TV's own analogue tuner. The tuner cards don't like corruption at all, though, and their software does nasty things like abort recording and crash, or only let you change channels once per session.
A PVR that crashes is not a PVR you want to use, so my research in this area will have to wait until I move out of this reception black spot. Sorry about that.
Dan, thanks for the succinct comparison and review of mini mp3 players. I have a "George" clone, same nice box, 256Mb, no FM, MP3, headphones and voice recording. I like it, but I have one issue with it: I have no idea what format it records voice in. The voice files are named MOD[number] with the extension ACT. It would be nice to work with these files on another machine, but so far, I haven't found a way to edit or convert them. Do you know what to use to work with this file format?
That's odd. All of the TGE player/recorders I've seen save voice as simple four bit 8KHz mono WAV files, with plain uncompressed PCM encoding.
Maybe this one does the same thing, mind you; try just changing the suffix to WAV and see if it works. If it doesn't, then a bit of exploration with Sound Exchange or similar could be called for.
I have accidentally had a small amount of salt water splash on my Canon PowerShot G3, and it hasn't worked properly since. The zoom mechanism is really screwy and the delete photo function no longer works. Apart from that everything seems pretty much fine. It is still under warranty, but I am quite sure Canon aren't going to look at it for me unless I pay (probably quite a bit of money).
I have taken the back off the thing and it all looks very clean inside. My problem is that I suspect that water got into it through lens mechanism at the front. Do you know if/how I can disassemble the front of that camera to get at the guts of the lens mechanism? If I do so, do I risk screwing up the camera (considering I don't really know what I am doing)?
Also my father (electrical guy) was saying that he wants to immerse (I think the whole camera) in some sort of electrical circuit board cleaning solution or something - says he has seen what salt water does to circuit boards and it is not pretty. Is that a good idea? Do you think doing that would damage coatings on the lens or the LCD screen?
It's presumably possible to completely disassemble the G3, but cameras are built like, well, cameras; many small fiddly assemblies with minuscule tolerances. Getting my ancient Kodak DC-120 apart and back together again to remove some mystery crud from behind the front lens protector was challenging enough; a much more sophisticated camera like the G3 could be a nightmare.
Or it might be a nice modular unit that'd be dead easy to work on, provided you didn't let dust or dandruff into the lens assembly. I dunno. I wouldn't like to be the one that had to find out, though.
Flushing the camera with non-plastic-attacking PCB cleaner may not be a good idea, but not because it'd destroy any coatings. You'd be more likely to float lubricants and other guck off moving parts and onto optical components, which could leave you with a completely buggered camera.
Flooding the camera with clean water and then drying it for a long time in a warm low-humidity environment would be more likely to clean out the salt without moving grease around, but it's possible that there's been enough corrosion damage done by now that some parts need to be replaced, or at least scrubbed.
You could play dumb and try to get a warranty repair; Canon may not bother to look hard at the camera and just give you a new one. If they don't, though, I doubt there's an easy way out of this.
I saw this, and thought of you.
Well, it ain't the dumbest thing anyone's connected to a USB port.
There are all kinds of goofy USB gadgets these days that take advantage of the half-amp +5VDC power supply each non-bus-powered port can provide; most of the silly ones have no data functions at all.
Some of them are fairly useful, at least for laptop users (little gooseneck lights and fans, for instance), some of them are sex-related (various vibrators, plus one widely-reported alternative for the discerning gentleman), and some of them are plain useless.
I've seen a some people talking about an expensive gadget called a "Sonacel Photron", along with some other "light therapy" devices, which usually use shine a bunch of red LEDs on you and are meant to do... stuff. Good stuff. For your health.
What are these things? Are they actually an effective treatment for anything?
Light "therapy" has been around for a long time. Many of these sorts of devices these days include infra-red LEDs as well as coloured ones, and are thereby claimed to work as heat lamps as well as provide visible light "therapy".
Here are some current examples.
The LED-heat-lamp products seem to me to be completely fraudulent, partly because there's no reason in the world to use things like LEDs to emit heat (what the heck is wrong with a simple resistive heating pad, I ask you...), and partly because there are no LEDs that emit heat, as far as I know. One of the selling points of LEDs is that while they do produce heat in normal operation (coloured LEDs are far more efficient than a light bulb with a coloured filter over it, but they still get warm), they don't throw any of it out of the lens. You can feel a bit of heat if you hold a high-powered LED flashlight up to your lip, but it's nothing compared with a tungsten filament lamp of similar brightness.
The longest wavelength IR LEDs that I know of have an output wavelength of 1550 nanometres (nm), which is 1.55 microns; that's well out of the visible (even if you're really trying), but it's still near-infrared, not heat. Actual thermal radiation has a wavelength of around 10 to 100 microns.
Very hot things - boilers, kilns and such - emit significant amounts of short wave thermal IR, but practically all of their thermal radiation is in the 10 to 100 micron range, and the cut-off for short wave thermal IR is still around three microns, anyway. No LED is even in the ballpark.
I bet the LED therapy gadgets don't even use 1550nm LEDs, though; they probably use regular "remote control" IR LEDs, around 900nm wavelength. The manufacturers might as well use those cheaper LEDs, since their products ain't gonna do anything anyway.
There are a few valid reasons to shine lights on people in a medical context - using UV light to treat skin disorders, for instance, and sunlight-imitating lamps to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, not to mention the related but rather different field of laser surgery. Evidence that the more common "alternative medicine" light therapy gadgets do anything, though, has been lacking ever since they first became popular. There's crazier stuff out there, but not much crazier.
Anyone who wants one of these things most certainly does not need to spend hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars, anyway. If you know someone who can build basic electronics kits, they can knock an LED array up for you very cheaply. $US100 would get you something pretty impressive, and after you finished trying to cure yourself of whatever with it, you could use it as an illuminator for an IR-sensitive video camera or night scope.