Commentary

On Technology

By Phil Baker

Dynamic duo of digital photography

With the holiday season approaching and digital photography one of the biggest categories for gift giving (to others and to oneself), I've been trying out two products that would make wonderful choices for serious photographers: Canon's newest prosumer digital SLR, the EOS 40D and Epson's large format printer R1800 that produces color prints up to 13 inches by 44 inches.

Companies crowd PCs with third-party software

You've just bought a $2,000 computer and are eager to load it with your favorite programs, move over your data files and give it a spin. You'd think the computer company that worked for your business would want to make that experience as pleasant as possible.

Three useful tools for business

The Edirol R-09 is a product I learned about from a journalist friend who used it for recording interviews. I discovered it's become popular among people who record high-quality audio because of its very high performance and portability.

Technology, the San Diego fires: Some random thoughts

Although technology played a role for many of us that were evacuated, I'm sure we'd give up all of our gadgets to be able to be home safely.

HotSpot @Home provides an innovative offering

While most of the U.S. cellular providers consider WiFi to be competition and go out of the way to keep it off their phones, T-Mobile has taken a more enlightened approach.

Innovating the basics: A new kind of notebook

While today's spiral notebooks and three-ring binders are much the same as they were 40 years ago, Levenger, a Florida-based company, has created a much improved design, called Circa. It fits right into our high-technology environment, providing a solution that lets us intermingle handwritten notes, which a vast majority of us still use, with computer-generated output.

Protecting your notebook

Many of us have become so dependent on our laptops that we take them nearly everywhere. But what would happen if your notebook were stolen? In addition to the loss of the computer itself, there are two other concerns, the loss of your data and the accessibility of that data to whoever accesses your computer. What information would the thief be able to access? Credit-card numbers, bank account information, photos, music, passwords?

Laptops for children in third-world countries

One Laptop Per Child, the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte of MIT's Media Lab, is a project to develop a $100 laptop, affordable for children in third-world countries. It's targeted for all children, even those that have no schools to attend and is intended to keep them from being left behind.

Turning voice mail to e-mail

If you love your BlackBerry, I have a product for you! And if you hate voice mail, you'll like this even more. Designed for people who live their lives around e-mail, SimulScribe, from the company of the same name, is a service that works on almost any phone with e-mail capability. The company began life in Del Mar and is now located in New York City.

Products for good listening

There's been an explosion of speaker systems that turn an iPod into a personal-sized home stereo. All are about the size of a shoebox with a dock for an iPod, and are available from many well-known speaker companies such asJVC, Altec-Lansing, Klipsch, and Bose. They're ideal for a bedroom, den or dorm room and range in price from $150 to $400.

Apples and Lemons?

When I reviewed Microsoft's Windows Vista earlier this year, I recommended waiting a few months before moving to it. Nine months later, it's difficult to find much to praise about Vista's performance, and, contrary to expectations, Microsoft has not yet released a significant upgrade to fix its problems.

Accessory roundup: speakerphones, cases, more

Here's a roundup of some innovative new products, including Bluetooth devices, well-designed cases for the iPhone and a variety of other tools.

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