First Impressions of the Canon Elph 330 HS

Final exams are over, and I’ve been mainly relaxing at home, sleeping more, and shopping for my 4th co-op term. The weather is also having its ups and downs. Yesterday it was a beautiful, sunny ~21 degrees. Today, is a muggy, rainy ~16 degrees. So in recent events, I lost my digital camera. :( I’ve had this camera since Dec 2008 – the Canon PowerShot SD880 IS (Elph series). It was a pretty good digital camera for its time – 10MP, 4x zoom, a large variety of color/lighting/scene settings. Throughout the years, I’ve dropped it on the ground multiple times. It’s also survived being completely soaked in water. In the past month or so, the lens cover would get stuck when I turn on the camera, and I would have to manually open it (probably due to me dropping it while it was still turned on). This is when my friends started noting that I should upgrade, but I didn’t want to part with it yet. So yes, I lost it, after ~4 years of extensive use. Not happy that I lost it, but I really was due for an upgrade.

The Search for a Replacement.
I was considering a DSLR. But thinking more about it, I didn’t see myself carrying around such a huge camera everywhere. I don’t aim for extremely HQ photos shot at perfect angles. I aim for quick shots on a day of exploring or a night out. Photos of humans, rather than scenery. So yes, I stuck with the point-and-shoot realm. I also stuck with Canon because I am accustomed to the button arrangements and screen interface. I really can’t go wrong.

Now, which series?
I never really paid attention in the past, but there are 3 major digital camera series for Canon. The A-series, the Elph series, and the SX series. The SX series is a little more expensive because it’s an in between of digital camera and DSLR. The optical zoom is usually pretty high. The A-series is more for performance, and many of them allow AA(A?) batteries for power, which I find quite unnecessary for me. Also, I discovered that the Elph series has a lot more customization on colour and scene settings than the other series, so I decided to stick with it. I find that the colour settings allow my images to appear better when using flash. This is especially important when taking photos of humans. Many people have told me my photos have a very particular look, and yes, that’s because of Canon’s colour settings that I can apply to every photo.

So yes, the Elph series. It was between the 110, 130, 320, 520, and 330. The 320 and 520 were both complete touch screen cameras, so that was out of the question. The 110 and 130 are older models. It was really between the 130 (16MP, 8x zoom) and the 330 (12MP, 10x zoom), both wifi models. I chose the 330 (in black) because it apparently has a better processor and I prefer zoom over megapixels. The 330 also records 1080p video, while the 130 can only record at 720p. The price difference is about $30. Best Buy USA has it on sale for $200 (online only I think) but I decided to buy it here in Canada for $239 to save the hassle.

Day 1 of playing with the camera:
I love it. The only thing I miss about my old camera is the ability to scroll continuously and quickly through my photos via the circular dial. None of the newer Elph models have it (none of the old ones really had it, either, actually). I was worried that I wouldn’t be used to the tiny buttons.. I’m still getting used to them. They are placing priority on a larger display screen, so I guess it’s worth it. The lithium battery is also slightly smaller than my old camera’s, making the camera very light when carrying around. I love the texture and form factor; it’s easy to hold firmly and I don’t think I’ll have to worry about fingerprints at all.

The Wifi functionality isn’t too difficult to set up (despite the negative online reviews), but I haven’t gotten web services to work yet. Canon seems to have lack of support for Mac. I did get to try out CameraWindow, transferring my pictures to my Android device (can also do it on an iOS device). This is definitely convenient. My main purpose of taking photos is to share them onto some kind of social networking service. It’s a hassle having to take out my SD card, copy the photos somewhere (either manually or through iPhoto), and uploading it through the web. iPhoto is always giving me problems now, too, so I refrain from using it. I have never actually used Canon’s image transferring tools (don’t plan to), so I cannot comment on that. There is also this extremely convenient option that allows you to resize the images to 1600×1200 or 640×480 when using CameraWindow for quick and easy uploads via mobile.

So far I am very happy with my new 330, and will update this post with some sample shots after a few weeks of usage.


Windows Phone App Must Haves

Firstly, Merry Christmas everyone!

So I think it’s time for me to make a legitimate fave apps post for WP. Some background: I’ve been using WP7 since June ’12 ish. My main reason for getting a WP is because I fell in love with the metro UI and I really wanted to try it out. Note that I’ve never been on contract before (I’ve only ever bought unlocked phones), so I wasn’t losing out on anything.

So let’s get started..

1. Baconit – Reddit client. I think I almost like browsing Reddit on my phone more than via my laptop. Awesome use of the metro style. Tons of extra options like background updating, flip view (aka swiping between different topics), comment view, and more. They have a light and dark theme based on whether you are using the white/black system theme (it’d be great if users could choose).

2. Ocell – Twitter client. I recently got into Twitter (as recent as the past 3 months), and I also recently got a data plan. When on my phone, I will use txt for text based tweets (i.e. tweeting to 21212), but when I want to upload a photo, the Pictures hub default uploads to Skydrive (which usually opens the photo in a new window.. depends on the client). The default Twitter client is slow and clunky.. So I started alternating between rowi and Ocell. Both are great. Ocell only allows TwitPic as the upload client, but the nice thing is that it allows scheduled tweets! I haven’t taken advantage of the feature yet but I thought it was pretty cool. I also like that Ocell allows custom backgrounds.

3. 4th and Mayor – Foursquare client. I love it! Follows metro UI very well, very smooth overall. Much better than the default client. My only complaint is that it doesn’t have the option to select an event at the venue you checked into (neither does the default WP client). Is this an API limitation? Too lazy to check.. (It’s enabled on the mobile web version though).

4. Amazing Weather – a weather app. I’ve tried TONS of weather apps, from the default, to HTC’s, to Gismeteo. This one is the best. It grabs data from AccuWeather and displays it very nicely. There’s a Lite and Pro version, but the Lite is pretty good by itself. It has an awesome live tile (out of many options) that allows you to see today’s forecast, and the back tile would show forecasts for tomorrow and the next day. It has the smoothest experience by far. Definitely a keeper.

So the above 4 are the ones I use most often. There are a ton of other wonderful apps that I will note, although I don’t use them as much, so I cannot be the judge of quality. Here goes: Continue reading

Tylenol Cough Works Wonders

I started getting a really scratchy + sore throat last weekend from a karaoke night. I took some Cold FX from time to time to keep my immune system going, but my throat was completely broken after Tues night (went to a small xmas gathering and had some beverages, talked loudly, etc). So this was a horrible thing because I was going to go carolling on Thursday afternoon.

I decided to head over to Shoppers and look around. Chose Tylenol Cough. Every time I get a cough, I don’t really know what to take. I either just tank it, take lots of Halls, or have some Triaminic (what I took as a kid). Man, I can’t believe I didn’t discover Tylenol earlier. It got rid of my sore throat by Thurs morning. And I didn’t have to take any after the morn, my voice was fine after that. Fast relief ftw.

A Random Blurb

A couple things:

1. I wonder if Canadian elections will ever be as exciting as this year’s US election. I was actually of age to vote this year, and did so through mail. Made my mark. Woot woot. TBH I’m not huge into politics, but I do stay informed from time to time. It’s just not as riled up in Canada for some reason, I guess either people are very happy for what they have or people are simply misinformed/uninterested. It’s really unfortunate, but that’s what our country has become..

2. Reddit is awesome. It’s such a huge, supportive community, but at the same time, a great place to let go of any stress and laugh my head off. Can’t believe I’ve been missing out on it for so long (I’ve been a long time user on various community forums, all fairly small).

3. Freshbooks is an amazing place to work. I’ve never been around so many friendly coworkers, attending fun events, and at the same time, also learning a ton of cool+interesting things on the dev side.

Here’s us for Halloween (I think at least half the office participated):

Yup, the company takes Halloween pretty seriously. What I really like about Freshbooks is that everyone is invited to everything. If someone’s having a birthday dinner, the whole company is invited (we took over a Korean restaurant a few weeks ago, there were 40 of us). We have movie nights weekly and poker nights biweekly.

Oh, and as a Freshbooks employee, you will definitely improve your ping pong skills. Think I spent an hour and a half playing it last Friday..

4. Watched a couple movies this week.

Transamerica – Watched for Felicity Huffman. Omg. Her role in this movie is just soOooo very different from her role in Desperate Housewives. I dunno why they made her tone of voice be so expressionless in this movie, it bothered me a little bit, but I guess it was just the character they were trying to achieve. I really enjoyed the story line and character development. The movie is mostly about self discovery, and I really liked that the two main characters basically travelled the country while talking about life, running into random situations, dealing with their car getting stolen, them meeting the parents who disapprove of his gender change. Felicity did a great job :)

Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – Rated very low on Imdb, I really enjoyed the movie. Had no expectations going in. I thought it was pretty cute to include a crazy woman on the island, along with Simon’s personality change. Had some great character development (the whole stuck on an island situation seems to be a personality changer — or it just makes people go crazy). Had a little trouble making out the words whenever they broke into song (non-covers), but overall they did a great job with the movie.

If we get Instagram on WP, I will be a happy camper

As of November 2013, the official Instagram Beta on Windows Phone was launched.

aka. My thoughts on Windows Phone 8.  Above is a screenshot of my home screen tiles on a Samsung Focus running a 7.8 custom rom.  This month of October has been filled with big mobile announcements, from 1 platform to the next. The wait is over now that everything has been announced, so should WP8 be your choice? I did a mini review for WP7 a few months back in conjunction with Jellybean. Now that WP8 is coming soon, we have a lot more to look forward to. I did get a chance to play around with the homescreen update from a custom ROM I installed this weekend as I am showing off above. The 1×1 sized icons are good, although a little too tiny.. the medium sized 2×2 default tiles also got a size up since they got rid of the wasted space on the right side of the home screen, also something that looked awkwardly large to me. I really like that I’m able to see more on one screen now, though, it’s a huge improvement. I’m not a fan of the 4×2 so I don’t have any of that size on my homescreen. I’ve only had the ROM for a few days, but I do plan to organize my tiles a little more now that I have the customization. So today’s big keynote. The single thing that really stood out to me was the improved Skype experience – being able to keep it running in the background. Skype has given people a mediocre experience on EVERY platform. Ive done Skype chat and calling on a variety platforms (iOS, Android, WP, OSX, Win7), and they never did a good job of minimizing bugs and user experience. The new experience for Skype really intrigues me. They claim you will be able to have Skype running in the background without decreasing battery life, and having it pick up calls and messages. Considering the fact that no one uses MSN anymore (or AIM for those who are American), Skype has become our main medium for keeping track of messages and video calling. Plus, you can sync it with Facebook chat and video calling (not on any mobile versions yet, but I’m sure it’s coming). The new lock screen is also something to look forward to, and something that devs can certainly take advantage of. Continue reading