April 11, 2007

One of the most common product requests that I get here at Guidewire is for recommendations of inexpensive digital cameras. Well ask and you shall receive. This week Vanns.com is offering a fantastic deal on the highly rated Panasonic DMC-TZ1S. The Digital Camera Resource Page had this to say about the DMC-TZ1: “If you want a compact ultra zoom camera then you really only have two choices: the dual lens Kodak EasyShare V610 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 that I reviewed here. Having used both cameras quite a bit, I know which one I prefer — the TZ1.”  The DMC-TZ1is 5 megapixels, has the Leica DC Vario-Elmarit (F2.8-4.2) 10X zoom lens, 2.5″ Active Matrix TFT, Image Stabilization and best of all, Vanns.com is offering it up for a mere $179.89 with no tax and free shipping! 
In the beginning there was chaos. Get that pile of spaghetti behind your computer organized and let your inner fastidiousness out. The new Cordinator from Herrington is designed to take that mess of cables, power cords and transformers and place them into tidy little bundles, all tucked away in a nice neat box with a single power cord. That single grounded cord delivers power for up to 10 devices and is protected by a 15-amp circuit breaker and 3400-joule surge protection. The box is even strong enough to support your monitor. Just wind up your cords and cables using the retaining rings, feed the connector ends out the side, close the lid and you are ready to go!
This week I am featuring a beautiful design for a proposed cell phone that was developed in Canada. Okay, so you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one of these iPhone-like prototypes and there’s a good chance that many of these will never see the light of day. However, I wanted to single this one out for the pure fact that it was designed by a 15 year old Korean kid studying in Canada! He has no product design experience and isn’t even enrolled any type of design school, yet the presentation of materials is just mind-blowing. He states in one of his posts that he is currently teaching himself design. The proposed design, called the Butterfly, is an elongated brick shape style that has dual AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) touch screens and all the other cell phone goodies like WiFi, a camera and a memory card slot. The actual story was picked up from a posting to a product design forum here. It’s truly remarkable to think about how much the frame of reference for the children of today has changed.  
This week Honda and Climate Energy announced the arrival of a new product that may change the way we think about energy production for the home. This announcement covered the introduction of the freewattâ„¢ Micro-CHP system to the US market. CHP (Combined Heat and Power) systems are mini power plants for the home that produce and use heat and electric power simultaneously and because they produce energy on site, the usual distribution/transmission losses are eliminated. In basic terms, fuel normally used to keep a home warm is used twice, first to produce electric power and then to heat the home. As a bonus, during times when demand is low, the surplus electricity can be used to heat water or sold back to the local electric company. In addition, these units operate at a very high net energy rate, converting somewhere between 83% to 93% of the fuel’s energy to heat and electricity. This is a huge improvement over the conventional central power plants that typically operate at around 30% to 40%. If you are interested in more information, Climate Energy answers many questions here.
John C. Dvorak, noted technology columnist, reported last week that he has a source over at Cingular who is telling him some not-so-great news about the upcoming iPhone. This source is allegedly testing the new uber-gadget and has told Dvorak that he is getting no more than 40 minutes talk-time! Yikes, 40 minutes, that won’t even get me out of the house in the morning. To make matters worse, the new battery isn’t removable, so you can’t even double up. Among other things, the Cingular source also reports that the highly-touted interface “fouls up constantly”. I’m not sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound good. If this is true, hopefully Apple will get the kinks ironed out soon; the rumored release date is June 15th.