Archives For Gadgets

Review: Flip MinoHD

Chris —  March 31, 2009 — Leave a comment

31lq7yawo0l_sl160_

I have been playing with the Flip Video MinoHD Camcorder for a few weeks now, and I have to say, it’s one of the best gadgets I’ve got in a while.  It is super easy to use: Turn the power on and hit the red button to record.  It has a small zoom, but it’s not going to get you very close.  The picture is really good for a camera so small (it’s about the size of an iPod), it’s HD (only 720, not 1080) and is superior to other flash based cameras I’ve tried.  One of the things that makes this camera so easy though, is not how easy it is to shoot video, but how easy it is to work with it.  It has a built in usb port that pops out of the side and plugs directly into the computer.  Once it’s plugged in you can use the built in software to upload directly to YouTube, or into what ever software you use to edit with.  I use iMovie, and the video imported right in and I was working with it quickly.

I think this camera is great for shooting quick little announcement videos, capturing highlights of an event, and an afternoon of fun.  It stores up to 60 minutes of video so it’s plenty for most things, but over the course of a week at camp it might not be enough.  One other improvement I’d like to see is the audio quality.  It’s alright, but a jack to hook up an aux mic would be great.  Another feature you should be aware of is it can only charge via a computer, so if you are on the road you’ll need you laptop to keep it powered up.  I will say that I’ve found the battery life to be excellent though, I have yet to run it down, and even after a few days in my backpack, it’s held it’s charge well.

You can spend a lot more on a camera, but if you are looking for something small and easy to use it’s definitely worth taking a look at.  It would be super easy to hand over to a student to film a video for you and you don’t have to worry about what they may do with you $1000 camcorder.

Here’s a short little video I shot a few weeks ago on a video shoot:

Plugged In

If anyone else has used one, I’d love to hear what you think.

LINK: Flip Video MinoHD Camcorder

Follow Us on Twitter

Chris —  March 27, 2009 — Leave a comment

I launched our very own Twitter account for YouthMinistryGeek.com today.  You can find us as YMGeek.  Follow us for updates from the blog as well as breaking news, and other helpful tidbits.  I plan I updating it with little software finds and other articles that I find interesting or helpful, but may not end up as a full blog post.

Here are a couple other tech news twitters that I find interesting are:

  • TUAW: Great mac news and updates from the TUAW site
  • CNETNews: News, Links, and Tips from CNET
  • Mashable: Great news about blogging and Social Media
  • Lifehacker: Updates from the Lifehacker site

We’d love it if you’d give us a follow: YMGeek

iPhone 3.0 Debut

Chris —  March 17, 2009 — Leave a comment

Earlier (much earlier) today Apple debuted version 3.0 of the iPhone software. As far as  can tell this has eliminated most all reasons for spending any change any other smart phone.  In 3.0 Apple is releasing the ban on turn-by turn GPS software, adding peer-to peer connection, real push support, landscape keyboard in e-mail and hinted that tethering could be in the future if providers would provision it.  And (drum roll please) COPY AND PASTE which I find absolutely ridiculous that they waited until 3.0 to implement! When will all of this glory be available to the average youth ministry geek? June.

If you are interested in getting all the details, ther are great articles on TUAW, Engaget, Macworld, Cnet, and all the others you want to add in the comments.

I’ve been thinking about getting a Kindle 2 for a while, in fact I was pretty sure I was going to order one this week, but I’m not so sure now.  I was traveling home from NYMC yesterday and was telling my buddy Andy, that this exactly what I wanted, and today Amazon did it.  They released an iPhone / iPod Touch app for that allows you to read any Kindle books right on your device. Some (like Andy) don’t think that the iPhone has the right screen or size for reading, well now we can decide for ourselves.  I’ve tried a number of book readers for the iPhone, but the biggest problem was always buying the content (it was really expensive) or finding a good way to get books I already had on to it.  It looks like this solves both those problems.

Here’s a video about it (it’s a little long, but gives a good overview):

Here’s my quick Pros and Cons to this:

Pro:

  • I don’t have to spend $389 to get access to the kindle content, I can buy it right on my phone.
  • I don’t have to carry another device, I always have my phone
  • If I do get a Kindle all my books that I buy will transfer over to it.
  • Access to the great prices on books in the Kindle format
  • The app is Free

Con:

  • iPhone screen is small, reading experience won’t be as good
  • It will probably have an effect on battery life when I’m on the road
  • I’ll spend more money at Amazon (I’m sure they don’t see this as a con)
  • Purchase process is a little confusing, it would be nice if you could buy it directly from the app instead of through Safari.

If you’d like to read more, here’s a more detailed article: Amazon Kindle App for iPhone

Here’s a link to the App: Kindle for iPhone (opens in iTunes)

What do you think?  Will reading books on your phone be a good experience?

If only it would have been here a week ago.

Kindle 2.0

Chris —  February 9, 2009 — Leave a comment

Amazon announced the revamped Kindle today.  They made a lot of changes to the hardware, and it looks like they are for the better.  It’s super thin and the buttons don’t look like they get in the way like they did on the original.

It doesn’t ship until the end of this month, and I sure wish I was on the list to get one.

There was a rumor that Amazon was going to start selling Kindle books for other mobile devices (like the iphone and ipod touch), but it didn’t come today.  Although it was hinted at, so maybe it will still happen.  I love the idea of reading books on my phone, I used to read books on my old iPaq and it was great.  One of the biggest draws to the Kindle for me is the variety and the pricing of the books.  They have by far the biggest selection and are way cheaper than other ebooks available from other sites.

Anyone else out there think a Kindle is in their future?

My Best of 2008

Chris —  December 30, 2008 — Leave a comment

2008 was a big year for me and tech. It seems like a lot of the tools that I use everyday were not part of my workflow a year ago. Not all of them were new in 2008, but they became part of my everyday life this year. Maybe they can help you too.

  • Twitter – Love it or hate it, this has become a great tool for communicating, building community, and having fun. It’s by far my favorite social network.
  • Skype – Definitely not new, but I have started using it more than ever.  Communicating with co-workers, or family when I’m away from home it’s great.  I think it has one of the best video chats out there.
  • iPhone – This is another one you either love or hate, but I love it.  I didn’t jump on the bandwagon when they first came out because it didn’t work with my exchange email, but now that it does, I think it’s one of the best smartphones I’ve used, and I’ve had a lot of them.  
  • Evernote – This has become an indispensable for me when it comes to gathering information and keeping synced to all my devices.
  • WordPress – Another one that wasn’t new in 2008, but I really starting digging into it, and I think it’s the best blogging platform out there.  It powers this blog and it’s definitely part of my everyday life now.
  • YouVersion – I just love having the versions of the Bible I like to read with me where ever I go.  I still haven’t found myself using a lot of the tools it offers, but maybe in 2009.
  • Hulu – This one doesn’t really have anything to do with work, but I have found there are many shows that I enjoy watching that I just catch on Hulu whenever it works for me.  There are a number of these tv streaming sites popping up, but Hulu is still my favorite.
  • Dropbox – I almost didn’t put this one on, but when I stop and think about it, I use it everyday to share files or keep them synced over multiple computers.
  • Mozy – Nothing about backup is exciting, but I feel a lot better about my data since I started using it.

What was your best from 2008?

Chris

POLL: You and Technology 2008

Chris —  December 17, 2008 — 2 Comments

On Wednesday Amazon released Amazon Mobile for the iPhone. Short version: it works. This is a game changer because of it’s revolutionary image-based search feature.

Continue Reading...

The Kindle

Brandon —  December 1, 2008 — Leave a comment

I received an amazing gift this week. Someone sent me an Amazon Kindle (click the link to watch a video)! This is one of the coolest and most useful gadgets I have seen in a long time. Chiropractors around the world are hating this because it is causing people put put less books in their backpack saving back stress.

* I can buy books form amazing (so far I have not seen anything over $9.99 that I would want)
* I can highlight a section and add a note to that section or any section and then download what I had highlighted and written…this will be great for leadership training, I can send out some great quotes and not forget where they were (because they are saved and downloadable) and I do not have to spend time typing, I just copy and past!
* I can upload a .txt document and take it on the road with me (maybe illustrations of my sermon notes and practice…I cannot change them but I can add note and highlight areas I need to give attention to) or I can use mobipocket (PC only) that converts a word DOC, PDF, HTML, etc…to a kindle file. I am not sure the difference yet but I will try and see what this software can do. I can also email files to my Kindle with that cost 10 cents…I am not sure why I would do this when I can dump a .txt file on for free…I will probably try it though to see what happens.  If the lighting is right you could even give your messages using this…go paperless!
* There are other cool features like basic web…yes, I can brows the web anywhere for FREE, not great graphics but FREE! I heard it uses the Sprint cell phone feed. I can also use it as an MP3 player, and there is a feature called NOWNOW…you send in a question and they will research it for you. Don’t let one of your students get hold of this or watch out high school term papers.

I am really excited about the future or reading with my Kindle! Thank you who ever sent this to me, it will be used often.

Brandon

During lunch, a buddy and I stopped into the T-mobile store so he could get something fixed on his account, and low and behold they had the G1 in stock and demo units on the floor.  I had to take a peak and see if android could live up to all fuss, and if it was indeed an iPhone killer.  This is by no means a comprehensive review, but just my first impressions after 3 minutes with it in the store.

  • Look and feel – much better than I thought.  Most of the pictures I had seen did not do it justice.  It had a nice weight, and didn’t feel cheap like a lot of the plastic windows mobile phones do.
  • Screen – Was bright and clear.  Touch screen worked well, although I missed the multi-touch like the iPhone, still it was responsive.
  • Keyboard – One of the big selling features of this phone over the iPhone has been that it has a full keyboard, however I didn’t find the keyboard all that much better than the iPhone.  The keys were all flat, and I didn’t think that were tactile enough for quick typing.  Also the lip where the home buttons are was in the way, I couldn’t hold in a comfortable spot for typing.
  • OS – A great first impression for Android.  It was snappy and the browser seemed good.  I would have like a little more visual elements, but I’m sure people will be coming out with skins for it now that it’s available.  It lacks exchange support which would be a deal breaker for me, but I’m sure a developer will be coming out with a solution for that shortly.

Overall it seems like a great v 1.0.  Since it’s an open platform, I’m anxious to see what people do with it.  If you are on t-mobile and need a smartphone, it definitely deserves a looksy.