Tag Archives: Gadgets

Korg Kaossilator for Easy Music Creation

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My latest musical gadget is the Korg KAOSSILATOR. It’s a dynamic phrase synthesizer. Anyone can instantly play musical phrases by simply tapping or sliding their finger across the KAOSSILATOR’s Touch Pad.

This pocket sized music synthesizer is like nothing we’ve seen before. Rather than using keys or buttons to play musical notes, the Kaossilator features a revolutionary touchpad design. Move your finger from left to right to change the pitch of the note, and up and down to change the sound. But musical sounds are only the beginning, the Kaossilator can also be used like a drum kit with dozens of built in beats and drum sounds. Plus you get some amazing sound effects from laser blasts to Pac Man. You can put everything to good use with the built-in loop recording feature which lets you layer virtually unlimited tracks to create complex songs combining lead instruments, drum beats and sound effects together.


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SLR Accessories to Buy

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Calvin writes: “Just watched you video on your new Rebel XTi. Congrats! I remember when I made the jump and it was great. As a hobby photograph,I used point and shoot cameras for a while. I thought I’d suggest 5 things that I found helpful as a DSLR owner.”

  • Additional lenses I’m not being specific here, because every “eye” is different. I like landscape shots, so my wide angle lens hogs my Canon body a lot. It always helps to carry more than one lens at a time, you never know when you need that Telephoto moment or that wide angle when you just can’t step back any further. Assuming you’re gonna stick with Canon lenses, be mindful of the difference between EF and EF-S lenses. EF-S is for the cropped sensor models e.g. Rebel XTi, whereas EF are usually for the full frame sensor models e.g. 5D. You can fit EF lenses on an EF-S body, but you can’t fit EF-S lenses on a full frame body. So if further down the line you trade that Rebel XTi in for a full frame model those EF-S lenses won’t work! Also, Canon don’t ship lens hoods with their lenses that aren’t part of the L range (argh!) so you’re gonna have to buy a separate lens hood for that lens if it’s not an L “Luxury” model. IS (Image Stabilization) is another feature to look out on lenses for if you find out you have more shaky hands then you realize. Since the body doesn’t have this technology and any IS you get will be from the lenses, the benefit of this that you can see the IS effects through the viewfinder.
  • Battery Grip Picture the scene, your baby is in Ponzi’s arms and is about to yawn for the first time. You reach out for your camera in attempt to snap this amazing moment…. only to find out the battery is dead. Not that this has happened to me, but you can imagine you’d be pretty livid if this were to happen, regardless of how organized you are with batteries. Which is why I recommend a battery grip for your Rebel XTi. Not only can you store 2 batteries worth of power within the grip, but it also allows you to hold your camera vertically much easier and has additional controls when holding it in that position. The official Canon model is the BG-E3, but if you find that too pricey, there are some other ones out there which are basically the same but don’t sport the Canon name.
  • Flashgun + diffuser Whilst the flash is acceptable on the camera itself, it can never fully compare to a proper flashgun. With one, you can adjust its angle so you can bounce the flash off walls or ceiling for a less direct flash. Or even better, use an off-shoe camera cord and manually control the direction of the flash with your hand off-camera. Take a look at the offerings from Canon’s Speedlite range, they’re sure to get you going a bit. I also recommend getting a flash diffuser. Basically its a small device which softens the flash from the flash gun, which is especially useful if you need that direct flash but don’t want the harsh shadows that go with it.
  • Tripods/Monopods Tripods are fantastic if you want to take shots which just aren’t possible handheld. I have a bit of a soft spot for long exposure shots, but that’s just me! I recommend something from the Giottos and Velbon range. Again, I won’t name specifics because everyone has their own tastes so I suggest you get down to the store and have a feel, tug at its joints and play around with it. A monopod isn’t a must, but if you feel the need to reduce the camera shake in those moments but don’t have the time to setup the full Tripod, it may come in handy.
  • Camera bag You’ve got the equipment, now you need a container. I have several camera bags, namely a backpack if I want to carry a tripod, laptop and a few lenses for a long trip or a small messenger bag for just the camera and another lens. Unfortunately, I find most camera bags look too much like camera bags and are begging to be swiped. I recommend Crumpler. It’s not cheap, but they do make attractive bags. And whilst now thieves have caught on that Crumpler bags are what more and more photographers are using, for the most part they disguise themselves pretty well as being passed off as just “a bag”. They make a large range of backpacks and messenger bags for photographers so do check them out. If you don’t mind that obvious camera bag look, check out bags made by Lowepro. Their sling bags are a favorite for photographers, and their range is very respectable.

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USB to Midi

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I love to play with my new TENORI-ON. However, I’ve been having trouble finding a way to sync the music from the TENORI-ON to my computer, so I can save it out as a Midi file. The TENORI-ON comes with Midi cables, so all I needed was the software to make it happen.

Finally I find it! With the free SimpleSynth, I can now easily sync the channels from the TENORI-ON perfectly to the channels on my Mac. SimpleSynth is a simple soft synth for Mac OS X that takes input from a connected MIDI device, and can play instruments from Soundfonts and DLS files including Apple’s default General MIDI sound set. It’s small but powerful!

In order to accomplish this, I connected the TENORI-ON to my Mac, using the provided MIDI cables. I then poured the music I had made into the Mac, and used SimpleSynth to synchronize the music from the TENORI-ON onto the Mac itself. If you listen, you can hear that they now play in perfect harmony, and with perfect precision. I can save this as a MIDI file on my Mac now, to open and play at a later time! How cool is that?

If you’re like me and love MIDI files, this free software is definitely for you!

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13 Port USB Hub!

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I absolutely love USB. I’ve made no secret of that fact in the past. I run out of USB ports all the time. I have 8 ports on my computer itself, and an additional 7 off the pc. I still don’t have enough! So, receiving this for Christmas was great!

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a serial bus standard to interface devices. USB was designed to allow peripherals to be connected using a single standardized interface socket and to improve plug-and-play capabilities by allowing devices to be connected and disconnected without rebooting the computer (hot swapping). Other convenient features include providing power to low-consumption devices without the need for an external power supply and allowing many devices to be used without requiring manufacturer specific, individual device drivers to be installed.

I have tons of thumb drives, have used the USB Snowman, and even the doggie that plugs into a USB port and does “doggie things”. I’m looking for more cool USB devices. What ideas of things I can get do you have? Leave me a follow-up comment, or send an email to me at [email protected]


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LED Lights

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Ponzi got me the coolest thing for Christmas! They’re the perfect compliment for my Tix Clocks, and really make my office fun to be in… and hopefully fun for you all to look at, as well.

The Cyron HT 1502 Media Highlighter System is a full color spectrum solid-state lighting system. Ideal for accent lighting and ambient lighting for confined areas. Produce any color of light at a push of a button. Six pre-programmed patterns and a music mode. Safe low-voltage, no heat, enery efficient and 50,000-hour life.

I decided to put these on the top of my desk hutch. They use hardly any energy, and don’t put off much heat. They change colors, and put out a heck of a lot of light. These things are way cool looking, aren’t they? If you come by the chat room and type in what is glow, you’ll get the link to this product.

Thanks so much to Ponzi, for always knowing exactly what I want… even if I don’t know it myself.

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USB Microscope Review

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So can you tell what it is I’m looking at? Yes, it really is a hair from my nose. I wanted to show you what it looks like using this USB Microscope. I’m not doing a live screen capture because it doesn’t work on Vista, and keeps giving me a BSOD on Windows. I can’t run it on a Mac, because the maker wants you to pay for Mac software! That is just ludicrous.

The QX5 USB Microscope is pretty much designed for kids. The software leaves a lot to be desired, but the hardware is great. The image quality is actually excellent.

This computer microscope allows you to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary for hours of fun and learning. View specimens collected around the house, backyard, your desk, or the fridge. Look at the micro-printing on a dollar bill or examine the traces on your motherboard. This microscope provides you an easy way to zoom in on a wide variety of objects to satisfy your curiosity of the world around you. Ever wondered what lint looks like or the mold growing on your week-old bagels? Now you can find out.

Simple plug and play operation with included software that allows you to magnify objects and view them on your PC up to 200X and take snapshots and time-lapse movies. You can also manipulate images with drawing and painting tools. The QX5 microscope is detachable from the stand to allow you to get closer to large objects.

The USB Microscope QX5 has these great features:

  • Take snapshots, video, and time-lapse movies
  • 3 magnification levels – 10X, 60X, and 200X
  • Super-brite LED lighting for bright top and bottom illumination
  • Video playback at 15 frames/sec
  • Resolution of 640×480
  • Software works with Windows 98, Me, 2000, XP
  • Handheld mode allows for expanded viewing possibilities
  • Comes with: Microscope, USB cable, Stand, Specimen Jars, Sample Slide, Tweezers, Eye Dropper, Slide Clip, and Software CD-ROM

Thanks to the guys over at ThinkGeek for sending me this to review!

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Deserted Island Gadgets

http://live.pirillo.com/ – Mark wants to know what gadget you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island.

So, it would need to be hand-cranked or solar-powered.

We think the ultimate gadget would be a hand cranked or solar powered laptop with the ability to connect to the Internet via a satellite linkup as well as GPS capabilities.

What do you think the ultimate gadget would be if you were stranded on a deserted island?

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