June 6, 2009

The Palm Pre: 8 GB Must Be Nice

I’ve just realized that the Palm Pre, with 8 GB memory, has 25,500% more memory than my Treo 650. That’s the actual math; I’m not kidding.

[My 2005-era Treo 650 — which I still use — has 32 MB memory, of which 24 MB of which is user-accessible.]

(For those curious, AppleInsider has a pretty good roundup of the major Palm Pre reviews that are already out. The reviews from Engadget and Pre Central are two of my favorites so far.)

April 3, 2009

Oh, So That’s Why Some Blu-ray Discs Don’t Resume

The HD Advisor is a weekly Q-and-A column at highdefdigest.com in which readers can send in questions to which the staff tries to help answer. Anyhow, in this week’s column, they go over why some Blu-ray discs don't support play-resume:

[…] Just to clarify, the lack of a Resume Play option is tied to BD-Java […]. While all BD-Live discs are authored with BD-Java (so they do go hand-in-hand to a certain extent), it’s also possible for discs without BD-Live to share this problem. Java-enabled discs will usually start with a “Loading” icon before the main menu, and tend to take longer to load than non-Java titles. All of Fox Home Entertainment’s James Bond Blu-rays are programmed with BD-Java, even though none have BD-Live content, for example.

I agree that this is a major shortcoming of BD-Java, and I’m flabbergasted that none of the Blu-ray format developers ever gave this issue serious consideration. […]

So, that’s the scoop, apparently; I’m glad it wasn’t just me. (Up until now, I wasn’t quite sure if maybe I just hadn't configured my Blu-ray player quite right.) That aside, though, Blu-ray still offers a phenomenal picture, so I'm going to continue happily buying Blu-ray discs :).

Dec. 21, 2008

A Quick Primer on Blu-ray Profiles

I was chatting with some friends last night, trying to explain the scoop on Blu-ray profiles, but I’m not sure I did a terribly good job of it. I've just come across an article at C|Net, though, which does explain Blu-ray profiles pretty well.

(The short answer, though, is that Profile 2.0 is the final one and, if you’re going to buy a Blu-ray player, that’ll be the most future-proof.)

And if you were to get a Blu-ray player, I can also recommend this comparison chart at AVSForum as a good starting point—ostensibly, it’s a table comparing the audio capabilities of various Blu-ray players, but it actually does a good job of summarizing things in general.

In the case of that table, the short answer is that you’d want to get a player with the green-colored cells all the way across its line in the chart. As I write this, and of the players that are currently available, that narrows things down to Panasonic’s DMP BD-55 (the Blu-ray player I have) and Sony’s BDP-S550.

Sept. 26, 2005

LED Light Bulbs

This MSNBC article on LED light bulbs starts off with charming snarkiness:

Next time you screw in a cheap incandescent light bulb, ask yourself this: Do you ride a horse to work? Still churning your own butter? […]

I’m well aware of LEDs as a light source and I still enjoy my Inova X5 LED Flashlight, but it hadn’t occurred to me that they could be put to use in home fixtures. (As you might have guessed, it’s not a single LED that screws into a light socket, but rather a cluster of them which form a single unit.)

The article writes about LEDs’ long life, saying that they’d last 10 times longer than compact-fluorescent bulbs and 100 times longer than an incandescent bulb. The downside, though, is cost — even the low-end ones are about $25 per bulb. Ouch. I mean, the energy savings would be nice, but I would think it could take a while to recoup that kind of initial investment :-/.

Sept. 29, 2003

Cook’s Illustrated on Pepper Mills

I’ve come to the conclusion that my pepper mill (or is it “pepper grinder”?) just isn’t cutting it: to get even dusting of pepper on my omelettes, I need to grind for what seems to be ten seconds or more. On top of that, the only size-setting appears to be “medium”, and there isn’t a means of adjusting that.

So, I had my mind made up to go shopping for a new pepper mill. I was about to trek off to Bed Bath & Beyond one afternoon to check out their wares, but I decided to check Cook’s Illustrated’s opinion first. For those not aware, Cook’s Illustrated is an advertising-free cooking magazine that prides itself on finding the best possible recipe for a dish (they’ll often go through dozens of variations before accepting the final version). And, in addition to recipes, they also test kitchen tools (they’re a bit like Consumer Reports that way).

Though watching their tv show, America’s Test Kitchen (on PBS), I’ve seen them test items such as oven thermometers and bread pans. So, I had a hunch that they may have tested pepper mills as well. A quick search on Google showed that to be the case. In episode 253 of their show, they indeed tested pepper mills.

Their tests were surprisingly thorough, including tests of capacity, grind quality, grind speed, ease of filling, and ease of use. And, though America’s Test Kitchen often finds that the more inexpensive components can perform as well as some of the more expensive versions, that wasn’t the case this time.

Reading over the show’s summary, they really loved the Unicorn Magnum Plus:

More than half of the mills tested did their jobs well, but the Unicorn Magnum Plus was the superstar. Its grind quality is exemplary, its output astounding, and its capacity huge. If that weren’t enough, it’s also easy to fill and comfortable to use. At $45, however, this mill was one of the two most expensive in the test (the second-place EHI Peppermate was $40). […]

I wasn’t expecting to see a $40-mill at the top. And, though I was hoping to find it for less online, it was consistently around that price when I checked at Froogle. Luckily, America’s Test Kitchen also commented on some more moderately priced mills: “If your budget is a bit more restricted, we recommend both the Oxo Grind It ($19.99) and the Zyliss Large Pepper Mill ($27.50).”

So, I’ve already decided on buying a new mill. But, I need to figure out just how much properly-ground pepper is worth to me. It has crossed my mind that I could save 50% on the mill by going for the Oxo over the Unicorn Magnum. On the other hand, maybe $40 isn’t that bad for a pepper mill if it’s the last mill I need to buy.

Update / 10-9-2003: I’ve ordered the Magnum Plus Pepper Mill from Cooking.com. Not only do they have one of the lowest prices on the web ($41.95), but I also found a 20% off coupon for Cooking.com at Dealcoupon.com which didn’t hurt either (that coupon expires 10-31-2003). I’ve also ordered a 2 lb bag of tellicherry black peppercorns from Penzys.

I actually wasn’t even aware of the various varieties of black peppercorns until I read this thread on eGullet about tellicherry black peppercorns — one forum member enthusiastically described them as having a “distinctive black pepper taste, fruity if that is possible, pungent but with flavor, not heat” (ooh!). If you’re shopping for a pepper mill or peppercorns, I also found this thread very informative — it actually links to several related threads on pepper mills and peppercorns.