Thursday, January 13, 2005

Buying a digital Camera.

The price of digital cameras has droped dramatically in the last couple of years. You can now buy a decent digital camera for less than $200 (1700 moroccan dirhams). With prices getting in some cases lower than a $100, one wonders what one gets for these bargain prices.

This article offers a valuable explanations:

Digital Cameras: How Low Can You Go?

The quality of digital cameras has risen dramatically while prices have plunged.

Ron White, special to PC World
Thursday, January 13, 2005

Have you been dreaming of a new digital camera, but held back from buying because of the hefty price tag that might accompany your purchase? Worry no longer--it's time to wake up and get to the store. The quality of digital cameras has shot up in the last year, and prices have plummeted.

Today, the price of a 5 or 6 megapixel point-and-shoot digital camera has dropped below what a 4-megapixel camera was selling for less than a year ago. Take the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P150, for example. When it debuted, this 7-megapixel model sold for $500. Today, you can find it at some online retailers for $369--a price drop of 26 percent.

The Sweet Spot

A digital camera priced at between $200 and $300 should offer the following features (at a minimum):

* An optical zoom lens with a range equivalent to that of a 35-to-115mm lens in a film camera.
* Lens openings that range from f2.8 to f4.8, and shutter speeds of from 4 seconds to 1/2000 second
* Built-in flash
* An optical viewfinder and an LCD of 1.5 to 2 inches (measured diagonally)
* The ability to capture video clips at 320 by 240 resolution (often with audio)
* From 10 to 20 scene modes
* The ability to shoot 1.3 frames per second
* Rechargeable batteries
* Solid plastic or metal housing that can survive a drop off a table

A few things to keep in mind when you shop: Mass megapixels by themselves don't guarantee good photos. The most useful feature for point-and-shoot picture taking is scene modes. With scene modes, you don't need to know how to adjust your camera manually for such shots as a fireworks display, a sunsets, and birthday candle blowing. The handier digital cameras have scene mode selections available to handle just those types of situations....

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The effect of Eartquakes on the Earth Rotation

There was discussion at some point about the effect of the latest earthquake that hit South East Asia on the Earth's Axis of rotation. The fact is that large earthquakes of magnitude of 9 and up induce a displacement of the mass important enough to affect the speed at which the earth rotates around itself. A displacement from the center to the surface will induce a slower rotation, while a displacement from the surface to the center will induce a faster rotation. The latest Earthquake that hit South East Asia induced a displacement from the surface to the center, which in theory would have induced a slightly faster rotation. According to one study this would have made our days 2 microseconds shorter. Nothing to worry about.

Another effect of this huge displacement of matter is the change in the position of the axis of rotation of the Earth. According to the same study this would be of the order of an inch, or two and a half centimeters.

For more on this, here is an interesting article.

Earthquakes vs. The Earth's Rotation

How major tremors alter the planet's wobble.
By Sam Schechner
Posted Monday, Dec. 27, 2004, at 5:05 PM PT

In covering the massive, tsunami-generating earthquake off the northwest coast of Sumatra this weekend, many news outlets picked up a statement from Enzo Boschi, head of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics, saying the temblor was strong enough to disturb the Earth's rotation. Can an earthquake really affect the way the planet spins on its axis?

Yep. As you'll recall from science class, the rotating Earth resembles a spinning top: The planet's axis does not always point in exactly the same direction but wobbles very slightly, describing small but measurable circles at the poles. A very large earthquake—one of a magnitude of 9.0 or greater—can shift enough mass relative to that of the entire Earth to alter, very minutely, the course of that wobble. But the planet's speed of rotation (which, of course, determines the lengths of our days) remains unchanged, so we don't need to worry about adjusting our watches...

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Iraq is paying a heavy price

There is so much talk about American casualties in Iraq. About western hostages, whether from coalition countries or from countries that opposed the war. But nobody ever talks about Iraqi casualties.

How many died during the war. How many died after the war because of the fighting that took place and are still taking place. How many died because of the poor conditions the Iraqi health system is suffering from. How many died or got ill because of the lack of running water in so many areas of the country. Also, the ten of thousands that are still dying because of the consequences of the 12 year embargo, the most cruel and shameful act of modern times, or because of the pollution, mainly for depleted uranium ammunition used in the 1991 and the 2003 wars.

I just wanted to remind everybody of these silent victims. They are the ones paying the heavy price. And they have been doing so for the last decade or more. I hope they will get the attention of the world one day, and that they will be allowed to live in dignity again as every human being deserves.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Gigabit Broadband?

Recent research at the American university of Penn State revealed that there was a way for power line to transmit data at a rate of approximately 1 Gbit per second. Which is far faster than what high speed internet connection provide through DSL or Cable.

The study shows that some modifications to the power lines are needed to reduce interference. If confirmed this will be another big a great breakthrough in data transmission. At this speeds things like video conferencing would become accessible to the masses.

Researchers See Gigabit Data Over Power Lines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Engineers at Penn State University said on Wednesday they had found a way for power lines to transmit data to homes at rates far faster than high-speed Internet connections from cable and telephone companies.

Broadband service over power lines has been highly touted by equipment makers and federal regulators as a possible competitor to cable and telephone services that handle nearly all of the 30 million U.S. residential broadband connections.

But despite dozens of trials, few electric utilities have attempted to sell the service to customers, citing cost and technical problems. The Penn State researchers said while the technology would improve, lowering the costs of power-line broadband would remain challenging...

Monday, January 03, 2005

The tsunami that hit Morocco more than 2 centuries ago

There is a reference to a giant earthquake that hit southern Europe and north western Africa, two and a half centuries ago. It was centered in the Atlantic off the Iberian coasts. It was followed by a tidal wave that hit Lisbon causing tremendous damages, with casualties in the tens of thousands. Morocco's coasts were also hit, resulting in more than 10 thousand dead. Many countries on the shores of both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean were also hit.

Here the original article were I read about this.

Earthquakes and End Times, Past and Present

Meaning and Meaninglessness in the December 26 Tsunami


Two and a half centuries ago a colossal earthquake probably measuring 8.7 to 9.0 on the Richter scale, centered 200 miles off the Iberian Peninsula in the Atlantic, shook Lisbon, Portugal. The tremor lasted a few minutes, immediately followed by a tidal wave. The water of Lisbon harbor was momentarily, mysteriously sucked back, revealing the carcasses of ill-fated ships. Then the ocean surged forward through the downtown area. Historians disagree about the casualty figure of this double blow, most estimates ranging from 30,000 to 90,000 (one-third the city's population). One-third of the city's buildings were destroyed.

Southwest Spain and western Morocco were also hit by great waves; in Morocco, 10,000 perished. There was moderate damage as far west as Algiers. Tidal waves hit the coasts of France, Holland, Belgium, Britain, and Ireland, then raced across the Atlantic Ocean, doing damage in Madeira and the Azores, and within hours even raising the surf in the Antilles, Antigua, Martinique, and Barbados.

Blogs on the rise

Some good news for bloggers. According to a recent study, 27% of internet users consult blogs. A sharp increase from only 11% a year ago.

One-Quarter Of People Online Read Blogs
62 Percent Don't Know What Blogs Are, Though

1:16 pm EST January 3, 2005

A big jump in 2004 now means that more than 8 million people have created an online web log -- a blog -- and 27 percent of Internet users read them.

Surveys by the Pew Internet and American Life project found a 58 percent rise in 2004 of people who read blogs. In November of 2003, 11 percent had read a blog. By February 2004 it was 17 percent. In November, it reached 27 percent.

Five percent of users say they use programs and sites known as RSS readers to get information from blogs and other sites as soon as it is published.