Posts Tagged ‘Last season’

The Tablet For The Rest Of Us?

Středa, Srpen 1st, 2012

We’ve waited a long time for the Nexus tablet; for proof that Google really wants to compete against the iPad. Hardware with the flagship Nexus moniker is co-designed by Google and granted not only the latest and greatest versions of Android, but tend to be high-quality hardware as well. Google said they wanted to spread the Nexus branding amongst their partners and Asus is the latest to join the stable of privileged. While Android dominates in the smartphone market, shoehorning it onto tablets has net lukewarm results, proving that the iPad success story is far more exception than rule. But does the Nexus 7 make enough headway as a tablet to lead Google’s hardware partners to the promised land of tablet dominance? And does it cure my indifference to tablets altogether?

When I said that Nexus hardware is no slouch, I meant it. Owning both a Galaxy Nexus and now the Nexus 7, it’s easy to see that Google wants a device that still feels premium without necessarily breaking the bank on materials. The Nexus 7 is the size of a DVD case with a heft that indicates it means business, but is light enough that it doesn’t fatigue your grip over long periods. On standby with light usage, the battery can last for days and even with heavy usage and video watching (like a 3AM screening of The Prestige while lying in bed) it still gave me a full day of Android-y goodness.

The tablet comes with wi-fi connectivity only, which is puzzling to me. I’ve read and heard so much about how iPad owners never used their 3G/4G connectivity and would opt for a wi-fi model in the future, but it seems antithetical. This is a device that’s designed to be mobile and small enough to keep with you anywhere, but even with access to all the same social and connectivity apps that the phones enjoy, you can’t use it everywhere (that is, unless you’re under a wi-fi umbrella). As a result, much of the tablet’s functionality (including Google Now, which I’ll talk about in a minute) is disabled as soon as I leave the house, much like it is on my laptop (although I can tether my GNex to my laptop and get it that way, but I digress.) Sure, I suppose I could download content to it, but maybe you have to intentionally draw the line on what you’re using the device for: a PC replacement or as a phone replacement.

The tablet’s display is a 7″ LCD running at 1280×800 which, while just a hair over the native resolution of the smaller Galaxy Nexus, equates to roughly the same experience when holding it at arm’s distance. At 216 pixels per inch, it’s not quite the density of the iPad 3′s “Retina Display” (264 pixels per inch), but I’d dare most anyone to discern between them. In short, the screen is detailed and gorgeous. Unfortunately, Samsung devices have spoiled me on the power of OLED. Even the best LCDs fall victim to their backlights, so the darkest blacks on the Nexus 7 still have the slight tinge of whitewash. Since it’s running Android 4.1 (and this applies to any 4.x device, for that matter), the home screen buttons are integrated into the OS rather than the bezel, but while they fade into the device on the Galaxy Nexus, they pop out here. It’s more a nitpick than anything, but the vibrancy and contrast of OLED displays have spoiled me.

Just like the iPad, the thicker bezel seems weird, but that’s simply the nature of the tablet: you need that extra space to grapple the thing. If you’ve never used a tablet, you’ll realize its usefulness immediately. The bezel also hosts the tablet’s single 1.3MP front-facing camera, which is for your Skypes and your Instagrams, but you’ll find no dedicated camera app here. A nice layer of Gorilla Glass is laid on top and, y’know, it’s indestructible and stuff. So that’s cool. Sadly missing: an LED notification light or haptic motors.

Shine a little light on this topic

Čtvrtek, Únor 16th, 2012

I like to think of myself as a conservative with libertarian leanings, and yet there are enough issues on which I take an opposing view that a good friend of mine recently said that within a year, I’ll be a registered Democrat.

Rest assured, that will never happen. And yet there are elements of so-called liberal agenda that I do applaud, including healthy eating in schools and a concern for the environment, regardless of what’s causing global warming —- or whether global warming even exists.

Now that Lake Elsinore has announced its intent to consider replacing streetlights on several major roads with energy-saving LED lights (a City Council meeting on the issue was held last night), I expect a howl of protest from critics who say the light-emitting-diode bulbs simply aren’t bright enough, and that getting rid of the 426 high-pressure sodium lamps along Main Street, Lakeshore Drive and Collier Avenue is a safety hazard and may lead to an increase in crime.

Mark my words. It’s going to happen, as it has practically everywhere else around the country where a similar move has been plotted.

A city staff report says use of the LED lights will cut electricity costs by a whopping 90 percent, at an average annual saving to the city of about $90,000. What’s more, the cost of the lights is completely covered under a federal grant.

But the critics will still argue from the illumination angle, perhaps citing a new U.S. Department of Energy study of LED technology in ornamental post-top street lights conducted in Sacramento. Four different LED replacement products were evaluated, using computer simulations, field measurements and laboratory testing. The results found that none of the LED products evaluated could match the performance of the existing 100W high-pressure sodium lights.

My response: So what if the LED lights aren’t as bright? In life, there’s a trade-off for everything, and I’m all for a little less light on our nighttime streets and sidewalks if it means huge savings in both electricity and money.

But the critics won’t stand for it. No, sir. And I have a hunch the objections will come from the same people who scoff at recycling bins and toss their cans and bottles in trash, along with everything else they are throwing out —- the same people who think efforts to ban plastic bags from supermarkets amount to a Communist conspiracy; who question the government’s real motives in fluoridating our water supply; who laugh at hybrids and say they wouldn’t be caught dead in a Smart Car; who tinker with the pressure regulator on their shower and hold off buying a low-flow toilet until the last possible moment.

Guy-Concordia metro station gets new look

Úterý, Prosinec 20th, 2011

The Guy-Concordia metro station will undergo major renovations in the new year as part of work being undertaken by the Societe de transport de Montreal (STM). Working closely with the STM, Concordia will also be implementing changes of its own at the Guy-Metro (GM) Building portion of the station.

The St-Mathieu Street entrance, located at 1801 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W., will benefit from a complete overhaul to its infrastructure from March to August 2012, with metro users being re-routed to the entrance at 1445 Guy Street (corner of De Maisonneuve Boulevard).

The STM will be adding four turnstiles at the Guy Street entrance in January to accommodate the increased flow of traffic resulting from the closure of the St-Mathieu Street entrance. Concurrently, Concordia will be adding extensive new signage and lighting to the area.

“We’re taking advantage of the fact that the STM is renovating to bring more light, visibility and directional signage to the university,” says Luis Fernandez, project manager for Facilities Management at Concordia.

The renovations, which will take place nights, involves the addition of a backlit Concordia University logo that will cover much of the ceiling in the GM Building portion of the station. The sign will include a large, fluid burgundy ribbon that will travel from the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex through the GM Building basement, and along the tunnel leading to the Henry F. Hall and J.W. McConnell Library buildings.

“The ribbon will tie the different buildings together and enhance the portal to Concordia,” says Fernandez, adding that it will also provide a source of much-need lighting in the metro area.

Additional lighted glass panels will be added in several key areas throughout the metro and tunnel areas to aid visitors in finding their way through Concordia’s network of buildings.

Renovation work at the St-Mathieu Street entrance will include new flooring, ceilings, walls, lighting, as well as sprinkler and electrical systems. The escalators will undergo an overhaul and motorized doors will be added to the station’s entrance/exit. This work represents the first major renovations performed to the station since its construction in 1967.

Rejean Messier, project director for the STM, says the St-Mathieu Street entrance, which is affected by water infiltration, was identified as a “priority station” in the STM’s overall plan to renovate four to five stations per year over the next five to six years.

Once the work at the St-Mathieu Street entrance is complete, similar renovations will commence at the Guy Street entrance.

North Pole’s Christmas in Ice kicks off

Pondělí, Prosinec 5th, 2011

Weather conditions were perfect and the ice carvers were working fast Saturday morning at the opening of North Pole’s Christmas in Ice competition.

The artists who picked up their chisels and chain Saturday morning must put them down by tonight when the finished pieces will be judged. The displays and the ice slides will be open through early January.

Now in its fifth year, Christmas in Ice this year features 19 competitors and a kids park complete with a maze and a 136-foot slide, event chairman Keith Fye said. New this year are LED lights at all the sculpture displays, which is expected to greatly reduce the event’s energy usage, he said.

The event has some of the international feel of Fairbanks’ World Ice Art Championships. The North Pole event coordinators hired seven World Ice Art ice carvers from China to come to Alaska a month earlier and carve for Christmas in Ice.

By noon Saturday, the competitors had been at work for three hours and the basic outlines of many of the sculptures were taking form. Carvings must fit a Christmas theme and be made from one block that measures 5 feet by 7 feet by 13 inches. Angels and reindeer are both popular subjects this year.

Heather Brice, who took second-place in the contest last year was working on “Santa’s Sick Day,” a sculpture of Santa Claus flying down a mountain on a snowboard. Brice works as an ice sculptor at Chena Hot Springs Resort. She had her block of ice carefully divided into sections that will be cut out and repositioned in the final piece, she explained.

Nearby, North Pole resident Aino Welch was looking at different ceramic models of angels to figure out the details of her sculpture. Welch, who goes by the nickname “The Ice Elf” when carving, has been carving since 2004 when she volunteered to help participate in one of the non-competition carvings at Christmas in Ice.

This year she was working on a piece called, “So That the World May Know New Hope,” which will show an angel sheltering a baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

“The focus I want is to have the attention on the Holy Family,” she said as she considered the sculpture. “Now I’ve got to thinks about angel anatomy.”

Another angel was in progress near the entrance to the park where Sam Vose listened to Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Cash while he carved. His sculpture is called “Horizon Noel,” after his granddaughter.

“She’s been an inspiration to me and I wanted to name it after her,” she said. “I was just going to call it Noel and I realized that’s her middle name.”

Vose, who lives in Delta Junction has been carving for eight years, since he once passed a big piece of ice on the highway between North Pole and Eielson Air Force Base and decided to take it home to carve, he said.

Pats add three more to defensive line

Středa, Srpen 10th, 2011

Those transactions were officially announced on Monday by the New England Patriots.

Ellis’ signing was unofficially known on Sunday, but Carter came to light early Monday.

The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder played five years each with the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins. His career bests in sacks were 121/2 with the Niners in 2002 and 11 with the ’Skins in 2009.

But being a sudden former Jet, Ellis commanded a lot of attention.

“Certainly Shaun has played a lot of good football against us,” Belichick said. “He’s been a very productive player. He’s durable and very consistent. It seems like every time we play him, he lines up there and we have a hard time with him. The fact that we had an opportunity to add him to our team, we feel fortunate. I think he brings a good presence in terms of his leadership and his professionalism, as well as experience and his style of play and his performance.”

Last season, Warren, a seasoned 10-year veteran defensive lineman (also Browns, Broncos, Raiders), played in 16 games, starting 10 with 36 total tackles and 31/2 sacks.

McGowan, the 5-11-210-pound former University of Maine standout and Chicago Bear free safety, missed all of the 2010 season with a chest injury. He was a Patriot key in 2009, starting 11 of the 16 games he played and set career highs with 66 total tackles, 10 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one fumble.

So are the Patriots a 4-3 defense or 3-4? Doesn’t matter, Belichick said, the principles will remain the same.

“I don’t think our defensive philosophy is going to change,” Belichick said. “I think how we align and how we handle the responsibilities, that could definitely change by game plan or by what we feel are our strengths and weaknesses and how to best deploy the players.

“How, strategically, we want to move guys around and put them in certain alignments or how to configure them relative to certain formations and tie it in with coverages and things like that – I think there’s flexibility there.”