Canon’s new DSLR sets new performance level for the buck

August 30, 2010

Canon Canada’s new EOS 60D is an affordable DSLR on steroids, perfect for photo enthusiasts.

Check it out:

The new EOS 60D DSLR is full of pro features and more. For the first time on an EOS camera, the EOS 60D DSLR boasts a three-inch Vari-Angle Clear View LCD screen, EOS Full HD video recording with manual overrides including audio level control, and in-camera functionality for RAW image processing plus Creative Filters to manipulate images after taking them. Designed primarily for advanced amateurs, the EOS 60D replaces the EOS 50D and boasts a broad array of new features that make it easier for photographers to add personal creativity to their images. Whether it’s capturing an overhead shot on the Vari-Angle screen at a graduation ceremony, or converting a colour image to black and white for a nostalgic look, Canon is delivering in-camera features and functions that empower advanced photographers to capture, display and print the images they want.

“The EOS 60D has been designed to offer the image-capture and the Full HD video features customers are looking for as they continue to expand their photographic skills. The exciting new features of the EOS 60D make using a DSLR camera more attractive and easier than ever before.  We want everyone to experience the great image quality a Canon DSLR can offer with features and functions that they will appreciate and use,” stated Ian Macfarlane, Vice President of the Consumer Imaging Group at Canon Canada Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Exciting EOS “Firsts”

For the first time in the history of the Canon EOS System, the new 60D camera features a large Vari-Angle 3-inch (7.6-centimetre) Clear View LCD screen with 1,040,000 dot/VGA resolution plus anti-reflective and smudge-resistant coatings for bright clear viewing from any angle. The new LCD screen is ideal for composing low-angle or overhead shots whether capturing still images or Full HD video clips. 

Another first for the EOS system is the EOS 60D camera’s new Multi-Control Dial, which places a Multi-Controller and Set button inside the Quick Control Dial. This new control layout streamlines camera navigation for vertical as well as horizontal shooting and enables a cleaner camera design.  Responding to customer requests, the EOS 60D also features a locking mode dial, which makes camera operation more secure by preventing inadvertent changes to the photographer’s selected shooting mode.

While the photography mantra of  “get it right in the camera” still stands true, Canon’s new EOS 60D gives advanced photographers an edge with new in-camera features that enable users to enhance their images without a computer even after they have been shot.  For the first time ever in an EOS camera, the EOS 60D features in-camera processing of RAW image files, new reduced resolution image copies, and post-processing creative image filters for exceptional flexibility in digital image rendering. 

•             In-camera RAW image processing features include Picture Style, White Balance (WB), Colour Space, High-ISO Noise Reduction, Peripheral Illumination Correction, linear distortion correction and chromatic aberration correction.  These powerful in-camera editing tools will allow photographers in the field to produce optimized images on the spot and generate JPEG files at various resolution and compression settings for immediate sharing, without affecting the original RAW data.

•             Another great new feature for photographers-on-the-go is Canon’s new image resizing function. After capturing full resolution or smaller JPEG images, the camera can generate lower-resolution copies using menu commands.  New lower-resolution settings include 1920 x 1280 for optimal display on HD televisions, or 720 x 480, ideal for immediate uploading to social networking and other photo sharing web sites. The original high resolution files remain unaffected by the image resizing function.

•             Available for the first time in an EOS camera are Canon’s new creative image filters.  Familiar to Canon PowerShot users, these fun photo effects help make a great image more dynamic, even after it has been shot.  Canon provides four artistic filters that allow photographers to capture an image and then create and manipulate a digital copy of it. 

o             The Soft Focus effect filter helps dramatize an image and smooth over shiny reflections.

o             The Grainy Black and White filter can give a different nostalgic perspective to any shot. 

o             Canon’s “Toy Camera” filter deliberately adds vignetting and colour shift for a creative option when shooting a colourful scene. 

o             Users can also make a scene appear like a small-scale model, simulating the look from a tilt-shift lens, with Canon’s Miniature Effect filter, great when shooting any scene from a high vantage point. 

Each of these filters can be applied to a captured still image in-camera to create a second “filtered” JPEG version, leaving the original RAW or JPEG file unaffected.

Another addition to the camera’s Live View function is Canon’s new Aspect Ratio feature whereby the Live View screen can display cropping lines for 1:1, 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratios in addition to the standard 3:2 ratio. These cropping lines make it easier to compose images in Live View, and they can help to expedite printing when using Canon’s supplied Digital Photo Professional software. Custom aspect ratios are also applied to JPEG images whether captured directly in-camera or created with the EOS 60D’s in-camera RAW image processing function.

For more info, go to:


Dangerous Celebrities

August 19, 2010

Cameron Diaz has replaced Jessica Biel as the most dangerous celebrity to search for on the Web, according to security company McAfee, Inc. (NYSE: MFE). For the fourth year in a row, McAfee researched popular culture’s most famous people to reveal the riskiest celebrity athletes, musicians, politicians, comedians and Hollywood stars on the Web.

The McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities™ study found movie stars and models top the “most dangerous” list this year, while politicians like Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are among the safest.

Cybercriminals often use the names of popular celebrities to lure people to sites that are actually laden with malicious software. Anyone looking for the latest videos or pictures could end up with a malware-ridden computer instead of just trendy content.

“This year, the search results for celebrities are safer than they’ve been in previous years, but there are still dangers when searching online,” said Dave Marcus, security researcher for McAfee Labs. “Through consumer education and tools, such as McAfee® SiteAdvisor® site ratings, consumers are getting smarter about searching online, yet cybercriminals are getting sneakier in their techniques.
Now they’re hiding malicious content in ‘tiny’ places like shortened URLs that can spread virally in social networking sites and Twitter, instead of on websites and downloads.”

Cameron Diaz searches yield 10 per cent chance of landing on a malicious Site McAfee research found that searching for the latest Cameron Diaz pictures and downloads yields a 10 per cent chance of landing on a website that’s tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.

Fans searching for “Cameron Diaz” or “Cameron Diaz and downloads,” “Cameron Diaz and screen savers,” “Cameron Diaz and wallpaper,” “Cameron Diaz and photos” and “Cameron Diaz and videos” are at risk of running into online threats designed to steal personal information. Clicking on these risky sites and downloading files like photos, videos or screensavers exposes surfers or consumers to the risk of downloading the viruses and malware.

The study uses SiteAdvisor site ratings, which indicates which sites are risky to search for celebrity names on the Web and calculate an overall risk percentage. The top 10 celebrities from this year’s study with the highest percentages of risk are as follows:

#1. Cameron Diaz – Searching for Diaz results in a one in 10 chance of landing on a risky site. She has most recently been in the spotlight with blockbuster movies, “Knight and Day” and “Shrek Forever
After.” When “Cameron Diaz and screensavers” was searched, 19
per cent of the sites were identified as containing malicious downloads.

#2. Julia Roberts – Academy Award-winning actress Julia Roberts is one of America’s sweethearts and is now in the spotlight with the release of her new movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” The overall risk of searching for Roberts is nine per cent, yet searching for “Julia Roberts and downloads” results in a 20 per cent chance of downloading a photo, wallpaper or other file laden with malware.

#3. Jessica Biel – Last year’s Most Dangerous Celebrity fell two spots with searches resulting in fewer risky sites this year. Biel continues to be in the spotlight with her on-again, off-again relationship with Justin Timberlake, and appeared in “The A-Team” in June 2010. While her overall search risk is nine per cent, searching for “Jessica Biel and screensavers” results in a 17 per cent chance of landing on a risky site.

#4. Gisele Bündchen – The world’s highest-paid supermodel moved up two spots since last year. Searching for “Gisele Bündchen and screensavers” can prove risky, 15 per cent of the search results for this beauty can put spyware, malware or viruses on your computer.

#5. Brad Pitt – Pitt is often in the spotlight with news of his movies and his personal life. It’s no wonder why this leading man has been in the top 10 for the past three years. He moved up in rank five spots this year. Downloading photos, screensavers, or other files of Brad can potentially put adware or spyware in your computer.

#6. Adriana Lima – Searching for downloads of this Brazilian beauty can direct users to red-ranked sites. Lima is best known for being a Victoria’s Secret Angel since 2000.

#7. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Nicole Kidman – Searching for these Hollywood starlets resulted in an equal number of risky download websites.

#8. Tom Cruise – With recent buzz around his MTV Awards performance as well as his movie, “Knight and Day,” Cruise rises to the top 10.

#9. Heidi Klum, Penelope Cruz – Both of these ladies are consistently in the spotlight, and share the #9 spot. Cybercriminals use their names to lure people to risky sites. Klum hosts “Project Runway” and Cruz has been in the spotlight recently for her role in the “Sex and the City 2” movie and is expected to be in the fourth film of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series.

#10. Anna Paquin – This “True Blood” star is as dangerous on the Web as she is on the screen. Searching for screensavers of Paquin can lead you to downloads filled with malware.

“Cybercriminals follow the same hot topics as consumers, and create traps based on the latest trends,” continued Marcus. “Whether you’re surfing the Web from your computer or your phone or clicking on links in Twitter about your favourite celeb, you should surf safely, and make sure you’re using the latest security software.”

Beware of Victoria’s Secret beauties
Three of Victoria’s Secret top models are among the top 10 this year.
Searching for downloads of sexy Gisele Bündchen (#4), Adriana Lima (#6), and Heidi Klum (#9) can result in landing on a high percentage of risky sites.

Dangerous athletes
Tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick came in at #13 and #14 respectively. Most of the risky sites were uncovered when searching for screensavers featuring these sexy athletes. David Beckham ranked (#29) and Tiger Woods ranked (#33) this year.

“Bieber Fever” is not dangerous
Teen sensation Justin Bieber ranked towards the bottom of the list at #46. This young star recently broke a YouTube record with more views than Lady Gaga (#37). Other young Hollywood stars like Miley Cyrus
(#44) and Zac Efron (#40) were also relatively safe to search.

Obama and Palin at the bottom of the pack President Barack Obama (#49) and Sarah Palin (#50) are not among the most risky personalities to search; they ranked in the bottom of this year’s results, moving even lower on the list compared to last year.

Keep safe with McAfee SiteAdvisor Plus software McAfee security experts urge consumers to surf safely by using McAfee SiteAdvisor Plus software, $19.99 (
It displays red, yellow and green icons on the search results page that indicates the safety-level of websites. It also checks the safety of links in e-mail and instant messaging applications, blocks risky websites, adds anti-phishing protection, and helps users more safely surf, shop and bank online. SiteAdvisor Plus software is already included with McAfee Total Protection™ software (, a comprehensive security suite that protects against antivirus, anti-spyware, and identity and firewall protection.

Consumers can also safely surf the Web by using the Yahoo! SearchScan toolbar, which only shows ratings for “red” sites that are have potentially dangerous downloads including viruses, spyware and other harmful software. Web surfers should visit the McAfee Security Advice Center ( and Facebook page at for information on the latest threats, and tips on surfing safely.

The new iPad is like magic, but not perfect

May 31, 2010

OK, folks, I had a weekend immersion with the just-released iPad in Canada. I must say, it’s one thing to listen to all the hype on Apple’s newest personal device and another to use it, for three days like I did.

You can go online and read about all it does at:

What I will share with you are my personal thoughts on the functionality and usefulness of the iPad, a cross between the iPod Touch, iPhone and a regular laptop.

Pundits are arguing how good the iPad is, what’s missing and what the next version (I assure you, there will be a next version) might be like.

So here goes:


-Blazingly fast and responsive. It feels like my Intel 6-core desktop on all the stuff it’s designed to do.. including wake up after you temporarily turn it off. Great battery life.

-Even though it’s not multi-tasking – you have to close each program to start another – its speed makes up for that, so it feels like you are switching between programs, some of which open up to where they were.

-The auto-screen rotation works all the way around, so you have a choice of where the Spartan buttons are when you hold it, and it’s great for simply flipping the screen to the person sitting across you.

-Its minimalist in navigation, nothing new to Mac users, but Windows users (it works through iTunes on Windows PCs) will take a few tries to get the idea. Try Real Racing HD, $9.99 from the App Store…it’s a blast using the screen orientation to drive your car.  

-I was pleasantly surprised on how good the iPad Mail program is. I was able to set up three Microsoft MSN/Hotmail/Live account with just two minor setup items like Pop3 and SMTP. The iPad had Microsoft Exchange, Apple’s mobileme, Gmail, Yahoo and AOL ready to go. Nice.

-Calendaring is nice and well thought out. I like the 24-hour layout…let’s face it our lives today are 24/7 so shouldn’t the calendar be too.

-The App Store rocks more than ever, because of the larger 9.7-inch screen. It won’t take long before your expandable desktop screen fills up with apps, some of are free and great to try out. In fact, any Internet experience is great, with full screen views and off course, the smooth finger pinching.

-YouTube rocks, as it does on all Apple portable devices.

-It’s unlocked so you can put any micro SIMM card from any carrier worldwide and it simply works with reasonable data plans from local carriers like Bell, Telus and Rogers…with no contract. In fact most are monthly plans. Kudos to Rogers, for having the easiest “on-device” SIMM setup compared to the more cumbersome dance for the other cellcos. But since it easy to switch carriers, every month if you like, try out the Bell/Telus versus Rogers connections to find the best cellular coverage for you.


– The iPad is an engineering marvel and belongs in an art museum, but it’s not easy to physically handle. It’s heavier than it looks and the bevelled metallic back makes it difficult to hold. It’s a slate, so you quickly get tired of holding it upright, whether standing or sitting. I recommend the simple charge dock to hold it upright on your desk. I predict many dropped units, so stock up on parts Apple. I often fall asleep with my BlackBerry in my hands, no harm there. But dosing off with the discus-shapped, densly packed and slippery  iPad is not a good idea.

-I can live without a mouse, after all, it’s a slate. The keyboard dock is nice, but by the time you buy that, the much-needed longer power cord extension and USB/SD reader combo pack, you are spending $150 more.  

-By biggest beef…no web-cam, a must tool for a go-anywhere personal tablet. All the money in the world can’t buy you one of those. Maybe the next version…I would gladly pay for the difference.

-An eBook reader it’s not. This is still an LCD screen, and yes a nice size, but can’t match the mage-like screens of dedicated e-book readers.

-Having a choice between WiFi and paid-for data plans is nice. But I was disappointed with Bell’s initially cool Mobile TV. Sure, it works great on the soon-to-comeI larger screen iPad version, but the catch is it costs eight bucks a month for either the live NHL hockey channel, or another eight bucks for half a dozen live stations like weather, CBC news, comedy channel and more. I am sure folks who don’t have access to a real TV can live with that. But why can’t I access the TV service from my WiFi connection like all other apps?  I now have to pay (after the free data trial is over July 31) for the streaming data…yikes! I have a love-hate relationship with Bell.

Keep an eye on this page as I will frequently add more comments.

Useful Accessories for Cellphones

April 26, 2010

The Otterbox Defender case: Three tough layers warp around a BlackBerry Bold 9700 keeping everything out but your calls and messages. It's the bulkiest of all three case designs.

Checkout these quality cellphone accessories which were shown at the recent CTIA convention in Vegas. I have been trying them out in Edmonton, and although pricier than others, they offer value to consumers wanting the best in protection for their cellphone investment and screen  “analog” privacy in airplanes and close encounters elsewhere.

Otter Box cases: they come in several types for many phones.

In contrast, Otterbox Commuter case, is slimmest case, featuring a thin silicon layer and an included optional flex plastic casing that keeps the rubber one snug in all the right places. This is the best model for pockets.


The Otterbox Impact is the second thickest one-piece flex protection for the BlackBerry Bold 9700 with re-enforced corners. It works best on slippery surfaces including moving cars with its jet-black silicon rubber.


The 3M Moblie Privacy Filter available for most BlackBerry models sticks on your cellphone screen which looks dark from anyone looking at it next to you. It works better for larger screens, as the embedded texture for doing the darkening is noticeable in smaller screens. 3M tells me screens will be available for the iPhone, the ideal size screen for these filters, availabe this summer.


Check out my feature on the newest smart phones with cool messenging features at

Sanyo Shrinks Cameras One More Time

April 1, 2010

Sanyo's Dual 2010 VPC CS1P is tiny, with reasonable quality and mega features found in larger Dual still/HD video models.

Sanyo Canada invited a small group of influential journalists in Toronto to show off its new line of super slim full HD Dual cameras. We got to play with the new product and meet with Sanyo Canada’s General Manager, Digital Imaging, Bryan Asa and Sanyo’s specialist for corporate communications Aaron Fowles. They also showed us some interesting eneloop products, one of which being the two sided hand warmer and battery charger, a gem of an accessory.

You might have noticed an increased market presence of Sanyo cameras in the Canadian market.

It’s about time. Although niche stores have carried Sanyo, now Future Shop is also stocking these smartly designed and engineered cameras. I have been using Sanyo for several years now; my world-wide tech travel videos have been shot on Sanyo’s workhorse HD1010 and now on the HD2000.

But let’s talk about the new camera line. These new Dual function cameras all shoot Full HD1080 / 60i  and feature varying degrees of impressive smallness, still keeping the big picture in mind. I have attached the press release in the bottom for you perusal.

Let’s take a closer look at the VPC-CS1 model I took back from Toronto and have been playing with for the past several days. This is an unbelievably tiny camcorder/camera, the size of today’s popular pocket cams, but much better quality in stills and video, not to mention extensive menu features like onboard editing and splicing, image stabilization and more. The CS1 features a generous 2.7-inch LCD multi-swivel screen, 8 megapixel stills (4 MP interpolated to 8 MP) 10X Advanced zoom and a “Sound Zoom” function, allowing several modes to help focus the sound recording on a specific subject being zoomed on.

Can a camera this small compete with the rest? At $439, you are paying for tiny. Like tiny buttons that take some getting used to, when in the middle of a shoot. Performance was sometimes slightly under par with the rest of the Sanyo camera clan. Not that the camera doesn’t meet the specs. It’s just so small and light, you have to be extra careful when shooting in anything but perfect light conditions.

I had mixed feelings with my first try…more “bad” still pictures than I would care for, but the HD video was surprisingly acceptable from the get go.  Once I got used to the camera’s delicate personality it came through. Its biggest Achilles Heel is the LED light, replacing traditional flash, due to the cameras small size. It’s only good for up to one meter so if you plan to do lots of indoor family stills, look into one of the other Sanyo real-flash models.

The processing, like on-camera edit and splice functions where faster than the Sanyo semi-pro HD2000 and the almost endless control of image and video exposure settings make up for the camera’s awkward personality. The Zoom-Sound definitely adds to the overall video shooting impression, but is awkward to get to in the menu.

Bottom line? A good average-quality camera, easily runs circles on past DVD cams, with occasional mood swings, but small, small, small and a real looker, especially the hot pink version.

For more information, please go to:

Press Release:

SANYO Canada brings super slim, full HD Dual Cameras to market 

Woodbridge, ON, March 30, 2010 SANYO Canada Inc. (SANYO) today announced it has shipped to stores five new Full HD Dual Cameras that also offer between eight and 14 megapixel still image capability, in an affordable, stylish slim body.

Truly fitting into small pockets or purses, the super slim (27 mm) vertically formatted VPC-CS1 boasts Full HD1080 / 60i video, 8 megapixel stills, 10X Advanced zoom, a 2.7 inch LCD screen and iFrame compatibility. Its horizontally formatted sister, the VPC-SH1, sports Full HD1080 / 60i video, 10 megapixel stills, 30X Advanced zoom, 2.7 inch LCD, iFrame, and a thinness of 43mm. Both cameras also feature a new “Sound Zoom” function, allowing several modes to help focus the sound recording on a specific subject being zoomed on, or clear channel separation to record the ambient environment being filmed in. MSRP on these two models are $439 and $549 respectively.

High resolution product images are available at 

SANYO is also offering three new compact, affordable HD dual cameras. The VPC-CG102 offers Full HD1080 / 60i video, 14 megapixel stills, 5X optical zoom with a 12X Double Range zoom, 2.7 inch LCD, HDMI mini terminal and is compatible with Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card that offers a way to quickly and easily upload images to a computer. Its horizontally formatted sister is the VPC-GH2, which offers the same features. Both have an MSRP of $329. Finally, the SANYO Dual Camera VPC-CG20, in vertical format only, offers Full HD1080 / 60i video, 10 megapixel stills, 5X optical zoom with a 12X double video zoom 2.7 inch LCD, HDMI mini terminal and Eye-Fi compatibility. MSRP is $299.

“These cameras offer an awful lot of technology in beautifully designed bodies for an affordable price,” says Bryan Asa, General Manager, Digital Imaging, SANYO Canada Inc. “The fact that these cameras offer 1920 x 1080 Full HD video as well as super high resolution for photos, means you can record high quality photos and videos using only one small camera that is both lightweight and easy to carry in a pocket, purse or wear simply on your belt.”

All of the new models output seamlessly to Windows 7, which recognizes MPEG4s without the need for conversion. All models store the video and images onto SD flash memory cards.

These five new models join four of SANYO’s previous models that will continue into the second half of 2010. They either offer high performance (the HD2000A and FH1A) or full waterproof functionality (the CA9 and WH1).

These new cameras are available now at Canadian retailers including Centre HiFi, Henry’s, Bay Bloor Radio, Brentview Electronics, Golden electronics, Audio Warehouse, Krazy Kiley’s, PA Soundworks, The Camera Store, Best Buy, Black’s Photo,, Future Shop, and other selected retailers. 

*About SANYO *

SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. is a global, multi-billion dollar leading

company for energy and environment, providing solutions for environment,

energy and for lifestyle applications. SANYO Canada Inc. (a subsidiary

of SANYO Electric Co., Ltd.), is based in Woodbridge, Ontario (a suburb

north of Toronto). SANYO Canada is a service and sales company that

markets and sells a variety of commercial and consumer solutions

including rechargeable batteries, solar modules, HVAC, digital

projectors, dual cameras, digital still cameras, home appliances,

security video equipment, audio systems, portable and mobile

electronics, and weatherproof monitors. For more information, please

visit or

One Hot Intel Chip

March 11, 2010


In my work, computer chips come and go, but occasionally, new technology throws a nice bone our way.

Case in point, Intel’s upcoming processor, code-named Gulftown will be available in a few weeks officially, as the Intel Core i7-980X Processor Extreme Edition.

I have been testing it for the past month and I can tell you it simply impresses.

What’s special about it?  

-It’s almost 50 per cent faster than previous Intel chips, sporting a first-time six cores which with the featured Hyperthreading, has 12 processing threads churning away.

So, think about your current Core Duo PC on steroids…times three.

It’s built on Intel’s newest 32 nanometre technology, basically cramming more transistors than ever in the same space as before, with the immediate benefits of running on less power and heat. But when the afterburners kick in, look out!

Unlike past Intel new processor releases, the i7-980X offers the biggest performance jump I have seen. Compared to the previous king-of-the-hill i7-965 and 975 Extreme chips with the same DNA, the i7-980X 3.3 GHz with 12 MB Intel Smart Cache, totally smokes its own competition.

All this in a chip die size 248mm square, crowded with1.17 billion transistors with Turbo Boost to boot.

Moore’s Law lives on with this chip as does the same old Intel lot price of $999, worth every penny.

Check out my take on the new chip on

Moscow with Kaspersky Lab – In Pictures

February 6, 2010

MOSCOW – I was recently invited to the Kaspersky Lab International Press Tour in Moscow, headquarters for the well-known antivirus company. More than three dozen journalists from around the world attended the three-day event in which Kaspersky analysts shared their research on key Internet security threats. But it was not all work as our gracious hosts wined and dined us in Moscow hotspots like “The Old Tower” by Red Square and “The Most” restaurant. There was time for bus and walk tours in Moscow as well, including many colourful cathedrals and the Pushkin Fine Art Museum. Here are a few photo moments from the visit.

I chatted with co-founder Eugene Kaspersky about his push to unmask the Internet and take away its anonymity by getting passport-like ID for Internet users. Eugene’s discussion topics go all over the place and will be published soon. But his product foray in China got him into Chinese calligraphy as he quickly wrote the company brand name in Chinese. Eugene has many faces and likes to celebrate special company occasions, such as the tenth company anniversary in which Kaspersky management dressed up Native American. His co-founder and former wife and current chairman Natalya Kaspersky joined in the photo shoot.

Our workday started with reports from key Kaspersky Lab global analysts, like Stefan Tanase, top left and Dmitry Bestuzhev among others. After, we got our very own police escort through congested Moscow roads to Kaspersky Lab headquarters where research and a 24/7 global Internet security watch takes place, bottom right. On Christmas Eve, the night shift recalled a surprise festive visit by Eugene.

There was much to see and do in Moscow. A walk-about in the Kremlin grounds and cathedrals, top left, and your truly next to a huge Tsar Cannon, took us through Red Square, a double cloud exposure with the new Olympus EP-2. Romance was in the air in Moscow but our trusted guide, Mikhail Vasin, Kaspersky Senior Corp Manager, lower left, took us for a fascinating subway ride through spectacular stations (next montage). It was a full moon cold night at St. Peter Cathedral next to the Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky statue.

Moscow inside, showing architecturally diverse subway stations and the famous Moscow GUM shopping centre, all vertical panoramic photos were taken with taken with the Sony HX-1.

A memorable gala candle-lighted dinner at the popular “Old Tower” at Treatralnaya square had dozens of table pickings, honey baked duck and lamb shin stew. A dynamic singing group sang happy and sad love songs. Our Kaspersky Lab tour guide Yuliya Yudina, Kaspersky Corporate Communications and PR Manager, left and Maria Kokidou, of PC Magazine Greece.

The Race to be the Coolest PC

January 19, 2010

LAS VEGAS – Computers gone wild! That was the theme at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Years of boring desktop computers and predictable laptops got the most dramatic makeover from big and small-name manufacturers. The biggest engineering change was the use of smaller processors found in smart phones. If you think Netbooks were cool in 2009, then feast upon these innovative designs:

Hybrid Notebook - The Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid Notebook shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is unique in that it if two computer-in-one. In its clamshell mode it runs off an Intel Core2 Duo chip and Windows 7, but when the screen is detached in slate mode, it runs in Skylight mode, run by Linux and Qualcomm ARM Snapdragon processor as well as its own battery.

-Lenovo turned heads with the most impressive smart design in every kind of computer. HP and Dell should pay attention to the Chinese-once-IBM computer maker which is fusing the best designer minds from North America and China. Unquestionably, the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid Notebook is unique in that it is two computers-in-one. In its clamshell mode it runs off an Intel Core2 Duo chip and Windows 7 Premium and keyboard. But when the screen is detached from its transparent outer shell, it becomes an ultra light slate running on a smaller Qualcomm ARM Snapdragon processor (used in smart phones) and switches to Lenovo’s new Skylight interface. In slate mode it runs on Linux but looks and feels like Windows. It has its own second set of batteries and can synchronize its files with the base unit when connected again. The high-resolution 11.6” LED backlight display, 16:9 widescreen with integrated wec cam is two-finger multi-touch in either mode. It 1.7kg in notebook mode and only 750 grams in slate mode. Very cool.

Ultra portable - Lenovo's Skylightsmartbook, shown at the Consumer Elctronics Show in Las Vegas is powered by a cellphone processors, runs on Linux, invisible to users and runs for more than 11 hours. It has WiFi and alwasy connected cellular 3G.

 Lenovo’s Ultra portable Skylight smart book, is also powered by efficient cell processors most of us have never heard of. It runs on a Lenovo user interface on Linux, although you wouldn’t know it when using it. One battery charge gives you 11 hours on the go. It has WiFi and always – connected cellular 3G. It basically bridges what has been missing between smart phones and Netbooks.
The Lenovo IdeaCenter A300 desktop is the first serious contender to iMacs. It features the thinnest all-in-one desktop 21.5″ screen and the computer guts are built in the swivel base. The optimized boot and shutdown process, rich multimedia capabilities including a face tracking web cam and HDMI in and out and easy system maintenance tools. With up to Intel® Core™2 Duo processors, the A300 comes with wireless Bluetooth keyboard and as well as the Lenovo Rescue System software to quickly and easily recover data if a document is lost or becomes corrupt.
-HP’s (and Dell’s) comeback attempt to re-introduce the now eight-year old Tablet PC got a boost when shown as the only new device by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer during his keynote address at CES. Too bad it wasn’t the  much awaited and rumored Microsoft Courier Tablet PC. But neither “slate” will be

around nor will  pre-empt  Apple’s soon-to-be anounced tablet.  Industry observers called the hastily assembled Windows-based  Slates an attempt to head off Apple’s expected announcement of its first tablet.If you check Apples’ screen touch patents over the past two years, which go past traditional multi-finger touch to body and hand gesturing, you can imagine how advanced their Tablet will be, likely to be announced at a media gathering called by Apple on January 27.

The Alex eReader, an elctronic book reader on steroids, featuring a companion colour LCD touch screen that goes online like a PC.

-The most impressive eReader comes from and is ahead of its time. Called the Alex, it sports a 6-inch Electronic Paper Display and a fully functional 3.5-inch 320×480 LCD touch screen which can be turned off/on separately. This means WiFi Internet connectivity, web browsing, music and video to accompany the monochrome book screen. The ingeniously designed eReader also features built-in stereo speakers and will be available in February for $350 US. It includes 2GB or external microSD memory and headphones.


January 6, 2010

Here are my two bits on Google’s new Nexus One mobile “super phone”.

Yes, it’s one cool piece of hardware running on Google’s newest Android version OS, just as powerful as a four-year old laptop and with cool features like large OLED screen, built-in compass, position sensor, voice commands for every app for hands free use and much more. You can read all that on

But here’s what this Nexus One is not. It’s not cheap, and will disappoint many shoppers used to actually seeing and touching a real phone in an old fashioned cellphone store…before buying one.

Why? Because according to Google, at a by-invitation-only Nexus One press conference announcement on Tuesday morning, this is a new and simple way to buy a cellphone…online. Welcome to the Brave New World…Google’s World. Don’t expect TV advertizing and other traditional marketing. That will save money and get the lower prices, Google claims.

Folks south of the boarder (Canadians have to wait) can go on the Google website, buy the phone, choose a growing number of American carriers to activate with for as low as $179, select the custom two-line engraving message and wait for their phone to be shipped at their door, and activate online. Or, they can pay the full retail price of $529 and get an unlocked phone they can use anywhere they want with their own SIM cards.

But this model only runs on the Edge network, now the second fastest network in Canadian GSM networks…so don’t expect the greatest online experience that today’s HSMA phones enjoy with all majour Canadian carriers. The iPhone does that, as do other models.

Don’t expect the coolness and plethora of apps Apple phones enjoy, having recently announced the three billionth application download mark. By the way, the Nexus doesn’t do dual touch, so no on-screen squeezing. It doesn’t tether yet either. Picky? No, just trying to water down the “super phone” part.

So, while we Canadians will have to wait a bit before jumping in the web to buy a Nexus One, we can see just how Google does with its online phone store. In a way, I feel sorry the carriers have been shut out from actually carrying the Nexus One, in-store. This is the second time a non-phone company, Apple being the first, has called the shots on cellcos.

Well, I am actually not really sorry…Canadian cellcos are doing well, thank you.

Should I wait for the “free” Google version, like all free things Google got us used to? According to them, that will be some time. The Nexus One is not an iPhone killer. But it is a media advertizing revenue killer, hoping to better Apple on the power of the Net and customers who know what they want.

I still want to buy my cellphone like I buy my shoes… in an analog store, one foot at a time.


I spent some time with the Nexus One during a brief three hour showing at the Digital Experience show in Las Vegas.

Needless to say, the phone is quality throughout, no surprise there, considering HTC built with Google’s input. I found the touch screen, not much different than an iPhone, although I did miss the lack of iPhone’s two-finger and pinch touch.

The touch keyboard was responsive as was the switching between horizontal and vertical modes. The five virtual desktops, and HTC specialty, that are a finger swipe away worked well.

But my ultimate Internet experience, watching YouTube movies online, was disappointing. Due to the slower network connection, the image quality was below average and adjusting it to the highest quality, froze the unit.

If you want Internet performance, the iPhone is still king. Time will tell if the Nexus will dent iPhone sales.  

Interestingly, in the third hour of the Digital Experience show, the Google booth was almost empty, as if the several hundred reporters who initially crowded the booth, lost interest halfway through. I think there is a message there.

Hey folks, check out my first stevoidstickcam ride in YouTube on Epson’s new eneloop hybrid electric battey-run bike at Showstoppers at the CES show in Las Vegas:


January 4, 2010

Intel's Micro ATX Desktop Board DH55TC Media Series motherboard, combined with the new Clarkdale processors and integrated graphics, offers impressive and HD graphics, Blu-ray and multi-channel audio. It features three graphics outputs, including HDMI for 1080p flat panel TVs.

Just when we all got familiar with Intel’s popular Core 2 Duo processors, which have the lion’s share of Apple and Windows computers, along comes a new family of Intel chips, codenamed Clarkdale.

They consist of a newly designed processor chip, the i3 and i5 family and they are based on Intel’s new 32 nanometer technology (about 3,000 transistors across a human hair).

To consumers this means smaller, smarter and as it turns out, more powerful and capable computing.

The Clarkdale chips are Intel’s third generation of “i” processors, and the most affordable.

What is great about them?

The 3.33 GHz Core i5-661, Intel sent me to try out for the past month, along with the new Micro ATX Desktop Board DH55TC Media Series motherboard is a veritable package that offers affordable computing for the masses with exciting multimedia capability.

Not just fast processing, with four core hyper-threading but automatic on-demand TurboBoost technology which runs the CPU up to about 10 per cent faster, when needed.

How fast is the 3.33 GHz Core i5-661? In my tests, it outperformed the current Core 2 Duo 8500, even nipping away at Core 2 Quad processors.

What impressed the most though was the integrated graphics, not so much the PC gaming ability, equivalent to a $100 add-on graphics card, but the ability to play HD movies and multi-channel audio formats.

In fact, right-out of the box on default settings, the Blu-ray playback quality on my Samsung 1080p plasma TV was more eye-pleasing off the Clarkdale PC than the image from several Blu-ray consoles I tried on the same Blu-ray Baraka title. The blacks were deeper with richer mid tones and just as sharp and just as smooth.

I used Samsung’s newest internal SH-B083 Blu-ray combo drive (DVD/DL/CD R/RW) as well as LG’s external USB-connected external Blu-ray R/RW combo. Both played movies seamlessly.

Intel’s recommended test Blu-ray titles, Night at the Museum (first one) and Resident Evil Extinction, had challenging scenes with fast camera movement under harsh lighting conditions and wide shot pans. They all passed the muster.

What really impressed was comparing Intel’s fastest “gaming” Core i7 Processor Extreme Edition i-965 3.2 GHz processor equipped with a respectable upper-mid level NVIDIA N-275 graphics card with the new cheaper and simpler Clarkdale technology.

Sure, tasks on the Extreme setup where completed 30% faster, and graphics-intensive games ran at four to six times higher frame rates, but all that, with a processor that costs five times what the i5-661 does and the added $300 for the NVIDIA card, itself a very capable HD-capable GPU.

The Blu-ray looked similar on both computers, but the Clarkdale and DH55TC Media Series motherboard with HDMI out and integrated graphics still won out on smoothness, even a simple end-of-movie credit roll looking noticeably smoother than my gaming machine.

Even more impressive, was running a CPU-intensive PhotoShop action file while playing a Blu-ray movie. The Clarkdale ran the movie smoothly, thanks to the dedicated HD graphics, reserving the traditional part of the CPU for the PhotoShop task. In fact, the CPU barely peeked past 6 per cent when just playing Blu-ray movies, obviously leaving room for more tasks.

In comparison, the Extreme Edition enthusiast gaming PC had glitches running both programs with frequent playback glitches. I doubt most folks would run their PCs the way I did, but these are examples of how much better processors are getting.

The Clarkdale line of processors will offer a selection of i3 and i5 32 nanometre chips for the right job, ranging from full Hyper-Threading and TubroBoost, to plain versions, still faster and more energy efficient, with integrated graphics, for consumers and businesses looking at price value and energy saving performance.

Unless you are an extreme gamer, a quiet and small, shoebox-sized Clarkdale PC, whith CPUs staring at about $100, is all you need for great Windows 7 experience, media playing and uncompromised HD graphics on your flat panel TV. 

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