Sunday, December 28, 2008

Smartparts 7" Digital Picture Frame Review

7" Digital Picture Frame from Smartparts

Digital frames these days are very popular, they are everywhere, but stores usually only have the larger brands, but there are bargains to be found. This would be a pretty good buy for the lower end of price range and it works really well if you were to place it on a desk.

The pluses to this -
Good price point.
Picture quality is very good and sharp, not as great as the more costly units but still very good.
Has an internal storage of 128MB, which is good to get you going and also if you give this as a present to put your photo's on there before wrapping it up.
It doesn't use much power and you can set the times for it to come on and off.
The frame is a nice wood and feels sturdy, it's a great looking digital frame.
Many slideshow options.
This can read the high capacity SD cards and MicroSD cards used in an SD adapter, so you can have more than 2GB cards.
Can be wall mounted or the stand can place it landscape of portrait.
The power adapter has a small foot print.

The cons to this -
There's no internal battery, so you do need it plugged in at all times to work.
The frame doesn't auto rotate if you set it to portrait, so the pictures unless you've set them as landscape will be shrunken to fit in landscape and be slightly cropped, though it does do this well if your running a slideshow of pictures, using the PC software should correct this for you though.
There's no USB slot for a thumb drive.
Memory slot is a bit close to the edge of the device and no easy way to remove the cards once they are slotted in.
The control buttons are on the real, are small, feel cheap and aren't all that intuitive to use as they are in reverse to what you see on the screen.
There's no remote control, this isn't a big thing though.
There's no option to load photo's in a random order, it goes through them in alphabetical order, you also can't display both internal memory images and images on a memory card, it's one or the other.
The power cable gets in the way if you placed this in the middle of a coffee table, or on a window sill, so having it at the back of a table/desk is really the only good place to keep this.
You can't change the frame style like you can, though this isn't a bad thing for me personally.

Over all - This is a great little gift, it's a nice size and very simple to use. You don't need to use the computer, just stick a memory card in and your good. The software is basic if you do plug the frame into your computer, but it does the trick, optimises the images down to size to save space and sets orientation if needed as well as saying if a photo isn't a good option for the frame such as the resolution or the size. It'll then transfer the images onto the frame for you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Creating trees and generators...

The big daddy in tree generators probably has to be Speedtree by Powered Games. For big budgets, it's not a bad choice in that it goes for around $10K a license, but it's a little much for smaller indies. It does do the job, but issues with it, it can be a bit difficult to put into your engine, the backend is a bit clunky and at the end of the day, the trees are pretty much billboard based so relies on the quality of the alpha channel work on the textures and it can put out a lot of polys.

Easy Tree Generator
- This is a bit of a no thrills option, but at $20 it really isn't bad money for value, but with that, it is a little limited in the output, well you can and will spend a lot of time playing around with the slider settings before getting good looking trees that look varied. This also is pretty much a billboard style to the foliage, but at this price range not bad.

Ivy Generator - Okay, this isn't a tree gen, but it's cool all the same, creating ivy that grows around your mesh and looks awesome. There's also a similar max plugin.

Dryad - This is another university option that came about from Standford university and is worth having a look at.

A Siggragh 2007 Paper
- "Approximate Image-Based Tree-Modeling using Particle Flows" This is just very cool and also worth a read.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wireless Router - Netgear

Having tried many and having a functional, but rubbish speeds from a Belkin, which was replaced by a D-Link, which worked pretty well until it died, just after the warranty expired.

With lots of research into various routers out there, and of the various firmware hacks available that offer more features, such as the DD-WRT firmware hack, good instructions here.

In the end, I got the Netgear WRN2000 because Netgear came highly recommended, also it was at a good price and had loads of features.

So far it has worked a treat and was really easy to set up and keep up to date. The only cons to it, you can't change the user name for the settings, the password and all other fields are easy though. There's no wall mount which is a shame and there's no 1000gigabit feature which comes on other models. The blue glow can be a bit over powering too if it's in your bedroom, but the power button is a nice touch in the event you want to turn it off or have to do a reset, which I've not had to use so far.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Baby Nappy Tip

Now it's the winter...keep the wipes inside rather than in the car, they freeze in the cold...not fun...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Daylight Simulation White Papers

Autodesk has released a series of white papers about daylight simulation in 3DSM which are well worth a read.

4D Artists has a pretty good write up on the use with Mental Ray as well.