June 2010 Archives

The LA Times has written a travel/shopping story about my favorite store in Japan -- no, not Yodobashi Camera, but the ubiquitous ¥100 stores:

 

Bargain hunting at Japan's 100-yen stores

In this shopping-mad country, the latest craze is the 100-yen store. For a little more than a dollar, savvy consumers can stock up on everything from origami paper to banana cases to milk carton-shaped erasers.

 

http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-100yen-20100627,0,4323842.story

 

Anyone else a fan of these bargain emporiums?

 

As the video indicates, shooting video with DSLRs is on the rise. In fact, "the House (great show, btw) season finale was shot entirely on a Canon 5D Mark II."

I'm very much an amateur as these things are concerned, but I was thinking about this with respect to Karen's thoughts on choosing a digital camcorder. Specifically, I've wondered how suitable it would be to use a DSLR to both record video and capture stills for ethnographic work.

With my limited knowledge, this seems very attractive to me, especially after getting a 50mm lens has changed my life, but the video does point to some very important caveats.

DSLR Video.jpg

Via Digital Photography School.

Wow, just, wow.

Hatcams.jpg

Most activities require the use of both hands, which unfortunately makes filming these experiences impossible ... UNTIL NOW! Our patent pending Hatcam Mounting System allows you to capture everything you hear and see, all while having both hands free. With our Hatcam Kit, experiences that would be just a memory can now be captured forever.

Via Gizmodo.

OlympusLS11.jpg

In my rush to pack for Japan, I forgot to bring my usual digital audio recorder. I decided to pick up a new one in Japan since there were several options that weren't available yet in the United States.

I decided to not go with my previous Roland- Edirol or Samson-Zoom choices. Those companies make great digital recorders designed mainly for studio recording, but I don't need XLR jacks this time around since I'm not shooting any video. My main frustrations  with the R-09 and Zoom H4 as field recorders were their comparatively large size and the short battery life, surely there must be better options now.

Oh, I should note everything I'm mentioning is only available in Japan. I'm not sure when or if they will ever make it to the states.

 


 

Olympus: I first looked at the Olympus Voice Trek data recorder series. These are highly rated by journalists and fieldworkers alike. Many of my graduate students use their sub-$100 series. On the higher end,  I liked the DS-750, it had almost everything I wanted including the ability to recharge its NiMH AAA batteries itself, when plugged into USB.  4GB internal memory, linear PCM 48 kHz / 16 bit recording. The price, Y17,000 or around US$200.

Unfortunately, I'm the type of geekette that always has to have best of class. In the Olympus lineup, that meant the new LS-11 which just came out.  Much better mics than the DS-750, 96 kHz / 24 bit,  more internal memory (8GB) and a wireless remote control. Drool.  Street price, Y36000 or US$400. Gulp.  And while the two AAs would power it for an amazing 22.5 hours, there was no internal recharging capability like the lesser DS-750. Well, harumph.

 


sanyo-icr-ps605rm.jpg

 

Sanyo, which is not known for its audio recorders in the USA, had some very nice models. I wish they sold them in the USA because I think they would be a huge hit among field recorders.  I ended up settling on the newest, latest, biggest, baddest model: the Sanyo Xacti ICR-PS605RM (egad, what a mouthful).

The PS605RM has 6 ... count 'em ... 6 mics.  Four mics in a W-XY configuration and two that are omnidirectional. This allows for a wide variety of recording modes. When recording with the 4 W-XY mics, the frequency range is 40 Hz to an amazing 47,000 Hz -- digitizing at a 96 kHz sampling rate at 16 or 24 bits. Although no one except your dog might be able to hear pure tones above 25 kHz, there is some small evidence that even ordinary people can "sense" such ultrasonic overtones in musical instruments. Total overkill, the way I like it.

Although it doesn't look like it, the PS605RM is actually smaller than the Olympus models and is powered by a single rechargeable AAA battery (enclosed), which keeps it chugging for 26 hours in MP3 mode (15 in linear PCM). Incredible.

No fancy wireless remote, but there is a nice binaural mic option which I'm going to try.

Also, the Xacti can recharge directly from the computer with a slide-out full-size USB A plug. So no cables needed for downloading files or for recharging. The only thing I forget more often than batteries is the darn USB cable, so this is great.  It can also take a 16 GB micro SDHC card if the internal 4GB isn't enough.

It comes in a nice bundle with a windscreen and tripod/clip adapter.

We'll see how it functions in some field tests this summer. I especially want to plan with the binaural mics, since I want to make some recordings that show Tokyo as a blind person would hear it.

The cost was just over Y30,000 or around US$350. A tad expensive. The next lower model was a full Y10,000 cheaper. But it didn't have the Klingon shaver look....

 

p.s. The binaural mic is the Sanyo HM-250 -- around $75 but unfortunately only available... yes... you guessed it... in Japan.

p.p.s. And I haven't forgetten iPhones, more after the jump.

The whole Adam Wheeler and Harvard academic fraud ordeal had me thinking about the importance of early detection in these types of cases. It seems like these students often start small (plagiarizing student papers) and then move onto bigger things (Wheeler was caught when he tried to fake his Rhodes Scholarship application).

In fact, Wheeler was apparently for one semester from Bowdoin College when he was caught plagiarizing a paper in his sophomore year. He could have gone back but Wheeler instead applied to Harvard on false credentials (claiming to be from MIT) and was accepted. There, he continued faking material until he was caught.

In Wheeler's case, it seems like Bowdoin did all the right things -- suspending him for one semester. That should have been Wheeler's wake-up-call, unfortunately it wasn't.

On the other hand, I've seen cases of plagiarism at colleges (not just Yale) where the actions taken weren't as harsh -- such as just an 'F' on the paper, which is just a rap on the wrist, really. I think this only encourages students to believe that academic fraud isn't a serious issue and could encourage them to continue in that vein, only trying harder to not get caught.

How do you share files between computers that you own? Say you have a Word document on your desktop that you want to bring over to your laptop. Do you e-mail it to yourself? Put it on a thumbdrive?  That's what I used to do until I discovered a really cool web 2.0 serviced called "Dropbox".

install_graphic.gif

Basically what Dropbox does is create a folder on your computers that is shared in real time between all of your computers.  Drop a file into your dropbox folder on your Mac and it appears magically in the dropbox folder on your netbook.  Update a spreadsheet on your laptop and it gets synced automatically to your desktop.

There are some other places that offer this service, like Apple's  MobileMe. But Dropbox has several things going for it:

  • Blazingly fast.  I'm in Tokyo and my work computer is in New Haven. I've dropped a file into my dropbox on my New Haven computer (using a VNC connection) and it literally popped into my laptop computer here in Tokyo within two seconds.  I was absolutely gobsmacked by how fast it is.
  • It actually syncs.  This is one of the reasons why I've come to hate MobileMe.  My gorrham iDisk is constantly failing to sync and plays havoc with my files.
  • It backups.  Dropbox keeps 30 days worth of archived versions on its servers, so if you accidentally overwrite a file with the wrong contents, you can retrieve it. Many places can handle deletes, but not overwrites, so I'm very happy.
  • They have Mac, Windows, iPhone, and Linux versions.
  • They are free: They'll give you 2 gigabytes free as a matter of course but....
  • They also have a great referral program: if you sign up with my referral code, https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTcwMjMyMjI5, they'll give both you and me an extra 256 megabytes free.

You can get up to 8 gigs of free cloud space just by referring your friends. Which is what I'm trying to do.

So.... if you need a great file sharing / syncing program -- or you just want to help me out -- please sign up for DropBox!  It's absolutely free and the referral bonus will mean a great lot to me in the long run.

 

Thanks everyone!

 

Karen

 

 

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