VW Freedriving Tour

On Sunday, August 7th, I attended the VW Freedriving Tour at Exhibition Park. I had received an e-mail a few weeks prior inviting me to drive any VW I wanted on a closed course with an instructor in the passenger seat. Heck yes.

I started with the Tiguan, and found it a bit underpowered. It didn’t have a great feel to it. It was also my first trip around the course, so I was cautious as I learned the turns.

Next up was the 2.5L, 5-cylinder Jetta. This thing has a beautiful, throaty roar and it handles very nicely. I would seriously look at this car as my next vehicle, although the interior quality has taken a turn for the worse with the latest batch.

I saved the GTi for last. Now this is a pocket rocket. What a great little car. Once our Passat dies, I really want to pick up a GTi or at least a Golf as my daily driver and hand over the Santa Fe to my wife. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are some videos of me on the course!

 

 

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iMac 1998 vs. iMac 2011

Technology is improving at an exponential rate. It really is insane.

Back in 1998, Steve Jobs announced the new iMac. The internet was just starting to explode. The iMac was the first desktop computer for the home to really take advantage of the internet, and allow regular people to create multimedia.

In this video, Steve waxes poetic about the incredible specs of the machine. Apple had found that the biggest screen people wanted was 15″. 32mb of RAM was overkill. 4gb of hard disk was a cavernous amount of storage space.

Below is a table I created comparing the 1998 baseline iMac with the 2011 version. Note the crazy percentages and remember that not all processors, RAM, displays, hard disks, etc. are created equal, so the increase in speed and efficiency is even greater than these percentages.

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iOS vs. Android

Several months ago, I wrote Part 1 of what I thought was going to be a 4-part series comparing the HTC Desire to the iPhone 4. Those other three parts never got written. Here’s why.

The HTC Desire HD was announced soon after that post, so I thought I might wait until its release to compare all three. I also quickly realized the HTC Desire did not hold a candle to the iPhone 4. With such a small amount of internal memory, the phone became very sluggish once apps were installed. The ability to transfer apps to the SD card came with a software update, but the process does not work for every app. There is too much required of the user to move apps and try and clean up the phone’s memory. If you install even just a few apps, you can easily fill the phone and get low memory warnings.

This is the complete opposite of the iOS experience. A big benefit most Android users talk about is the ability to insert extra memory, usually SD cards. Please tell me what good this is if you cannot move all of your apps to the card? I could not use the Desire as I wanted to because I kept hitting a wall with the internal memory.

Though the Desire is a great phone, the limitations of its hardware have really showed. The Desire HD fixed a lot of these problems, but its size and other software and wifi issues have made it a non-competitor as well. I dumped the HD for an LG Optimus 7, and more recently an LG Optimus Black. I still have yet to use an Android device that would really sway me from using an iPhone.

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RIP White MacBook

With the launch of the new MacBook Air models today, Apple has removed the venerable white MacBook from its online store.

It will, however, live on for now as an option for educational institutions, presumably while stock lasts. There is only one model, a 2.4ghz Core2Duo affair with a 250gb hard drive and 2gb RAM for $949CAD. The only upgrades available are 4gb RAM and a 500gb drive.

Screenshot from Apple Store for Educational Institutions

The white MacBook replaced the iBook line. The MacBook line took an odd turn as an aluminum model for a short time before Apple created the MacBook Pro line to replace the PowerBook series.

Kind of strange to have MacBook Air and MacBook Pro without a MacBook. Will either line drop their monikers and become the new MacBook line?

Though the MacBooks had a few issues from time to time, they were huge sellers for Apple, and they have served many people, especially students, very well.

I don’t see the 11″ MacBook air as a replacement though, and that is the only laptop model in the same price range as the white MacBook.

An interesting, if predictable move by Apple.

RIPMacBook

My Photography Workflow Pt. 1: Import to Editing

Earlier this year, I registered my photography business, fadetowhite photography. I have been messing around with photography for as long as I can remember, and I finally started taking it seriously a couple of years ago. Moving from hobby to paid gigs presents several challenges and brings added costs. The financial costs have been mostly covered by the income, but the time costs are the biggest struggle. Juggling home, work, hobbies, and paid photography means I need to streamline as much of the process as possible.

In this first post of four, I will detail my current photography workflow from import to basic editing. In the subsequent posts I will touch on HDR, retouching, sharing, and I will also talk about a few of the other tools I use to stay organized. All of this helps me concentrate on the photography, and spend as little time as possible on the time-suckers that take away from enjoying the craft.

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BlackBerry PlayBook: First Impressions

My PlayBook arrived this afternoon, and I’ve been fiddling with it nonstop. It feels great in the hands, seems well-built, and is pretty darn snappy for the most part. In this quick post, I’ll talk about what I love, some things that need work, and some things I hope get better very soon. The PlayBook launches this week, and it is well-poised to take a portion of the huge tablet market share. Let’s see what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to change if RIM is to be successful:

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Netflix and Canadian ISPs

When Netflix launched in Canada last fall, it landed with a bit of a whimper. The selection of titles was minuscule, especially compared to the US version. There was some confusion with the Wii player – at first you had to order a disc that would need to remain in your Wii if you wanted to access Netflix, but before mine arrived in the mail there was an app in the Wii store. Finally, there were some streaming and quality issues out of the gate.

Within a couple of weeks though the selection began to improve, and it is now expanding each day, adding newer content like current TV series Mr. Sunshine, hit movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and some great archives of TV shows like Arrested Development.

I complained about the quality at first, and spent a few minutes on the phone with some very helpful Netflix people. They explained that the streaming quality slowly improves while you watch, and usually within five minutes Netflix figures out the optimal settings and you will then be served the HD feed if your connection is fast enough. When you first start up a movie, the quality isn’t great so it may be a bit of a turn off. Rest assured that most of the titles do substantially increase in quality as you watch.

netflix_canada

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Windows Phone 7 Review

I’ve had the chance to put a a Windows Phone 7 device (an LG Optimus 7) through its paces for the past week, and it’s been a fairly positive experience. Microsoft has done their homework for the most part, and the operating system is a joy to use. For a large number of smartphone users, particularly new users, WP7 will meet their needs and provide a great experience. The OS isn’t perfect, however, and there are a number of issues that prevent it from being 100% usable for me.

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Apple’s Lion & New MacBook Air

Apple hosted an event a couple of weeks ago. They teased some features from their upcoming OSX update called Lion, talked about the new iLife ’11 suite, and they announced a new MacBook Air. Reviews of the keynote were mixed, but most people found it to be fairly ho-hum. I had no expectations, so I pleased with the event, though I do agree it wasn’t earth-shattering. First up, the new OS update:

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Apple’s Back to the Mac Event – Wednesday!

Several times a year, Apple holds events to announce new products. Recently, most of these events have focused on iOS and its related devices. I’ve seen several people comment in forums and articles about the lack of focus on the Mac and OSX. It looks like Apple has heard some of those complaints. The title for tomorrow’s event is “Back to the Mac.”

It seems Wednesday’s event will focus solely on the Mac, and that’s welcome news to many. The teaser image seems to feature a lion. Could this be the next iteration of OSX? If so, what comes after 10.7 Lion? Isn’t the lion the biggest of the big cats?

So, what kinds of things can we expect or hope for tomorrow? Let’s take a look at the rumours and hopes floating around out there:

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HTC Desire vs. iPhone 4 – Part 1

I have been an iPhone user since the 3G came to Canada in 2008. At that time, there were simply no other mobile phones that could hold a candle to the iPhone. Fast forward to 2010. I stood in line for five hours to pick up an iPhone 4. It is the most amazingly piece of technology I’ve ever used. I was still of the opinion that no one could come close to touching Apple’s stranglehold on making amazing mobile devices.

My opinion is slowly changing. After some failed attempts like the Palm Pre, Blackberry Storm, and the Samsung Instinct, other manufacturers are finally making phones that are nearly worthy of the “iPhone killer” moniker. What has changed? Well, the main reason competitors weren’t able to keep up was because of the rock-solid, innovative iOS that Apple built from the ground up (basing it on OSX). The operating systems still being used in most phones were just too dated and needed an overhaul. So that’s what most companies have done.

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Calvetica โ€“ Gorgeous Calendar for iPhone

As a MobileMe user, I rely heavily on the various calendar apps Apple provides – iCal, Calendar for iPhone, and their web-based offering on me.com. All data remains in sync across all of my devices, and I have access to it via the web as well. The only downside to Apple’s offerings are their appearance. They are mostly easy to use and quite functional, but they could all use a facelift.

The MobileMe calendar recently got such a facelift, along the lines of the new iPad calendar app. This is a welcome change, but I use the iPhone app the most, followed by iCal. Using the iPhone app daily has led me to see its faults. Although I am fairly adept at using it, I can’t help but feel the experience could be more pleasant, and faster overall.

Enter Calvetica – a gorgeous app from a company called Mysterious Trousers LLC. ย For only $2.99, you get an incredible calendar app replacement that fully syncs with your calendar data.

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