Bob and Joy Schwabach
 

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December 2007, Week 2   


POST IT TO YOUTUBE

 doggie


Casio's new Exilim series of digital cameras fits videos to YouTube, a feature devoutly desired by the Web site's millions of fans.

The six cameras in the series are priced from $200 to $400 at full retail, but discounts abound. The more expensive models in the series not only shoot videos sized for YouTube, but will also capture your voice explaining what'sYouTube camera going on.

The software that comes with these cameras is really marvelous, the best we've ever seen. You can post a video directly to YouTube. In addition, Casio will let you save your pictures to a free storage site in Japan. That's not just for pictures taken with a Casio camera. It saves any pictures from your computer. The company advertises the storage as good for "100 years." That could be just bravado, but Casio has been around a long time and will probably be around a lot longer.

There's plenty more to say about the camera's unusual features: If you want to select best resolution, contrast, color, etc., just push "Best Shot," which is a button on the camera. You start a video by selecting "Movie" from the view screen menu. For a YouTube movie, select "YouTube" and the picture will be automatically adjusted to fit YouTube requirements. Is it a picture of something you want to sell on eBay? Choose "eBay" from the menu.

A menu choice sure to prove popular with many is "Anti Shake." This keeps the picture steady, even if you're not. For videos, you can choose "Moving Object" from the view menu, and the camera will focus on the main subject and follow it as it moves around.

Other menu choices include "White Board," for taking snaps of lecture presentations, "Business Card," "Text," Flowing Water," "Underwater" (needs extra case), "Pets," "Food," etc. The "Text" choice fits the note-taking advantage of digital cameras that we've written about before. If you want a copy of an article or a book page, don't worry about finding a copier. Just take a picture of it.

We used a 10 megapixel model that sells for $209 at Amazon.com. You can get any model in a choice of several colors, if they have them. We wanted red, but had to settle for blue. The Web site for more information on these cameras is Exilim.Casio.com.

KINDLE-ING

Amazon's new Kindle is the sixth coming of the e-book; none has succeeded so far, but this one has a chance. Joy says the little gadget kindled her imagination. Bob says at a list price of $399, he would only buy it at a fire sale.

So much has already been written about it, what is there left to say? Well, we have a few thoughts. The big advantage of the 10-ounce Kindle is it can hold Kindlethe equivalent of 200 printed books, as well as audio books. They can be downloaded by wireless for free through Amazon's arrangement with high-speed networks; this would otherwise cost you $60 a month. A book downloads in three or four seconds. (Yes, we were amazed by that.) So far, you can use the wireless download only in the United States; broader coverage should come later.

You can download newspaper and magazine content as well as books. Generally, newspaper feeds run $6 to $15 a month, but it often comes in straight from the newsroom in the wee hours of the morning, beating physical publication by several hours. This might come in handy for speculators and revolutionaries.

Costs for books run $10 for new books, but just $2 or $3 for others. Amazon has 90,000 titles available. You can get free books to download from Project Gutenberg (Gutenberg.org), which has more than 20,000 titles. Joy downloaded Charles Dickens' "The Pickwick Papers" to her computer, and the transfer to the Kindle was as easy as using a USB flash drive.

Most classic works can be found at the Gutenberg Web site. It has a big science fiction section. (Book sellers and publishers go nuts about downloading books because they claim it will destroy their business. In fact, e-books have never amounted to more than one-10th of 1 percent of total book sales.)

You can highlight passages and clip pages and save them to "My Clippings" on either the Kindle or your computer. (Bob had a professor at the University of Chicago who commented that he noticed students often highlighted passages they happened to agree with and then wrote "brilliant" or "great observation" in the margin.)

The Kindle has its own e-mail address, and you can download your e-mail from Web-based services and receive Word attachments. In theory, you should then be able to answer the e-mail. We tried this and it actually worked, though the replies took several hours to get back to the sender.

As long as we're on to some flaws, the biggest ones for Bob were the buttons for "next page" and "previous page." These are huge and mounted on the sides of the 7 1/2-by-5-inch Kindle. Since people normally hold a book or tablet by the sides, not top and bottom, you are forever accidentally clicking through the book without meaning to. Joy said that after three or four days she got used to it and was able to avoid inadvertently flipping through pages. Bob said he would never get used to it.

FREE PHONE DIRECTORY

Annoyed by paying for directory assistance to give you the phone number of some person or company? Pay no more. Both Google and Microsoft offer this service for free.

For free directory assistance from Google, dial 1-800-GOOG-411; for Microsoft, dial 1-800-CALL-411. After they give you the number, both companies offer to connect your call at no charge.


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