Friday, February 26, 2010

Belated Valentine's Day Post

With Valentine's Day now safely behind us, it's time for the First (And Possibly Last) Annual Belated Valentine's Day Post. Rather the reciting the litany of loved ones, all of whom are dearer and more important to me than I can say, I'm going to write about technology I love.

In particular, there are two products that are currently my All Time Favorite Products ... this week, at least.

The first is a recumbent tricycle, better known as a 'bent trike. I started bike commuting a few years ago, and expanded that pursuit into more recreational riding. Once I started riding just for fun, I started thinking about less practical, but more fun human-powered vehicles. In researching this, I wound up borrowing a 'bent trike from some neighbors who just happened to have one sitting in their basement. It was an older model, but still very functional once I made a few adjustments.


After a few short rides, I was completely hooked on this. The feeling is like sitting in a comfortable lounge chair, and yet being able to zoom around anywhere you want. You're still pedalling, and you still feel it when you're climbing hills, but even then, it's a complete pleasure. Let's face it ... a 150 to 250 pound person balancing 3 feet off the ground on two bike wheels, each about an inch wide, is just not that stable. Sure bikes are very efficient and practical, and once you learn to ride, you never forget. But I live in New England. What about snow? Ice? Wet leaves? The trike has no problem with any of these conditions. You just keep rolling.

After failing to pursuade my neighbors to part with their trike, I was forced to buy one. My particular trike is a TerraTrike Cruiser with the optional 26" wheel upgrade, but there are plenty of other models to explore. Unfortunately, it's hard to find places to try them out. Ask your neighbors!

The other item of technology that has endeared itself to me is formally known as the Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W1. Most users I know of just call it the 3D Fuji or the W1 or something. I've been taking stereo (3D) photos for over 15 years, but as film got scarcer and harder to process, the options were limited. Nobody made an actual digital 3D camera, and even with a rig cobbled from two separate cameras, it was difficult to get synchronized shots, and even more difficult to view them in 3D.

The W1 is not only a decent quality (10Mp per image) stereo camera, but it's extremely portable, and has a built-in 3D viewer on the back! That's right, you can see the 3D, without special glasses, right on the back of the camera. Ok, it's not immersive like, say, an IMAX screening of Avatar, but it's still pretty impressive. Since 3D requires a bit more care in composing the shot (objects that are too close or partly cut off cause problems), the viewer on the back provides a great way to quick-check the shots immediately, so you can re-shoot if necessary.

This is also the most compact 3D camera I've ever seen, and fits nicely in a shirt pocket. For an opportunistic photographer like me, it means I can have it with me at all times ... even when riding my trike!

I mention these products because I'm getting great pleasure from them. I paid full price for them, and have no relationship with the companies other than being a very satisfied customer.

See? I'm not such a curmudgeon!

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