Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yaay! Gadgets! Boo! Blatant Inconsistency!

So, thanks to bOING bOING, I found the supremely geeky Wired Test special section is available online as a PDF. Hooray! But there's a rather glaring inconsistency that makes me really wonder how much, if any, editorial oversight went into it.

On page 58 of the PDF (Page 81 in the print version), they endorse paying $130 for a 4-foot Monster HDMI cable on the grounds that the ends fell off the cheap Chinese cable they compared it with (and found no difference). It's clearly a bit tongue-in-cheek, but okay. Then, just 7 pages later, they review a $100 Belkin HDMI cable, and complain that it's too pricey, albeit more rugged, and they'd rather save $80 and get a cheap $20 no-brand cable. Er, what? How is the Belkin cable too expensive, but the Monster one worth it?

I'm not taking a position on whether either of these cables is overpriced (not here, anyway), but I don't see how you can take seriously a review from a magazine whose editors can't even maintain a consistent editorial position for 7 pages.

Don't Take Pictures in Japan in Summer

My nifty little HP927 has a handy feature on it that gives you advice about the picture you just took-- if it was out of focus, or if you should try shutter priority or aperture priority or the like. Because of it, I learned something new-- that CCDs are fairly temperature-sensitive, and if you take pictures too far outside their ideal operating temperature, you'll get poor (usually grainy) results. Unfortunately, that temperature range apparently does not include "Japan in the summer", because about 80% of the outdoor pictures I took there caused that warning to pop up. It's a bit frustrating, because there's only so much I could do to cool things off, and pouring cold water over it (my personal favourite method of cooling down) was probably a warranty violation of some sort.

The Street of Plastic Food

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that every restaurant in Japan is in need of plastic food to put in a display case in its front window. On the 27th of August, we visited Kappabashi-dori, where Tokyo restauranteurs go to buy their plastic food replica pieces. It's an amazing place-- full of restaurant supply stores where you can buy anything from a small ceramic rice bowl to a full kitchen's worth of pots and pans..

Walking around, I found a knife shop that had some of the most impressive knives I've ever seen. The proprietor seemed to be very flattered that I wanted to take pictures of the knives; from what I could tell, one of his assistants actually made them. I particularly like the crab. :)