Camera Tip – How to Use Flash When Taking Closeups With a Point-and-Shoot

Here is a basic technique to use when you want to take a closeup picture of something with a point-and-shoot camera, and have to use the flash.

If you’ve ever tried to take a picture of something too close to the camera with the flash enabled, you would know that a lot of objects reflect the flash. A solution to this is simple. Move back from the object you are trying to photograph, and then zoom in with the camera. This might sound like common sense, but more and more people today lack common sense. But that’s not all – when zooming in, make sure to only zoom using your camera’s optical zoom. You know it’s using optical zoom when you hear or see the lens moving and focusing. It’s using digital zoom when you’re still zooming but it’s not moving or making any more noise. The point in only using optical zoom is image quality – you will most likely get the best quality from a point-and-shoot camera if you do not use digital zoom. And you don’t need to stand that far back from the object anyway. Digital zoom only comes in when you’re out of optical zoom.

When using this zooming technique, try to hold the camera steadier than you would normally. Place it against your chin, stomach, chest, or anything that will allow the camera to shake less in your hands. The picture is more likely to come out blurry if you the camera is shaking while taking a picture zoomed in.

In addition, something else you could try is taking the picture at a slightly different angle. For example, if you’re taking a picture of a piece of paper head-on and it comes out too bright, take a picture of the paper not from head-on (90 degrees) but from something like 75 degrees. This should cause the flash to reflect away from the camera rather than reflect at the camera.

Below is a picture taken using no zoom (about 1-2 feet from the object), and after it is a picture using the “stand back and zoom” technique (using full optical zoom, about 5 feet from the object).

Best Way to Recycle Old Laptop LCD’s is to Re-use Them

What’s this I have here? Why it’s a cracked LCD from a Windows 2000 era IBM Thinkpad. Makes a perfect platform for my netbook (to allow the fan to suck in air while it’s on my lap), makes a perfect writing pad, and I’m sure someone will be able to think of many more uses for this LCD. I didn’t do a thing to modify it – the back still has the circuit boards on it, but they’re behind a cover and the back of the LCD feels smooth and never catches on anything. If yours has something sticking out, you might be able to tape over it with duct tape or something if you can’t rip it out.

Seriously, this is just perfect for a laptop stand. It’s flat, it looks awesome, it’s free, does its function (cools your working laptop), it’s light, and you’re being friendly to the environment if green is your thing. And before someone says I’ll break it and have liquid crystals spilled all over, I doubt that will happen. (But just in case, do not try this at home).

ArtsNow Custom Stickers Review

I recently ordered a custom sticker from and here is a quick review.

For $1.99, you get a 5×3 inch “waterproof, weatherproof and fade proof” sticker “with an aggressive permanent adhesive.” I did not get a chance yet to test the ruggedness and stickiness of the sticker, but I plan to attach it to a freeride mountain bike, so it will eventually get a lot of abuse. If the sticker fails anytime soon, I will update this review. I don’t think it will though; it feels really tough.

Since this is a sticker there’s not much to review. The printing quality is bad and blurry. The blurriness is only noticed from one foot away or closer however. My home inkjet printer can make a much higher quality print. The colors are off from the original image I submitted, but that might be because I forgot to optimize it for printing when making it in Photoshop. I also was expecting it to be shiny, but it’s matte.

In conclusion, it’s cheap, but the quality is low. Shipping is straight from China, so it takes at least a week. The quality is alright for the price – most other custom sticker sites I found only let you buy in bulk. Look at the pictures below and judge for yourself. I did my best to optimize my point-and-shoot camera to show the true quality and color. The first picture is the original custom image I submitted, and the rest are of the actual sticker.

Oh and by the way, their custom mousepads also come out a bit blurry, but they’re a great value for the money.

Shape-Shifting Robotic Blob is a Step Towards a T-1000

This video shows a robotic shape-shifting blob that can, well, change its shape. It works by inflating itself and unjamming certain cells (parts of its body) to allow them to be flexed. It sounds complicated but when you watch the video it will make much more sense. Very impressive technology, and it looks plain freakish. Not quite a T-1000 though, but we’re getting there.

Are Aftermarket Car Air-Intakes Worth the Money?

Videogames like Need for Speed and Gran Turismo, and movies like The Fast and the Furious and Tokyo Drift are introducing many people to the world of car customizing. One of the most drooled-over upgrades is a simple air-intake upgrade that consists of a new intake tube that is streamlined and replaces your old hose, and a cylindrical filter. An air-intake is designed to provide a less restrictive airflow, colder air, which contains more oxygen than warm air, thus increasing horsepower, improved fuel mileage, and a low-pitched noise. Is it really worth $100 to $350 for one of these?

Simple answer: the more upgrades on you car, the more power it adds. Say you have a completely stock (no factory installed parts have been changed) Honda Civic. You decide to put an air-intake on the engine. Some manufacturers say that an air intake on a Honda Civic can add up to 20 horsepower. A stock engine without any other upgrades like a turbo-charger or high-rise throttle-body does not need as much air as an engine with all those upgrades, so you will be lucky if you get an increase of 10 horsepower—and that’s 10 horsepower to the engine, which translates to about 5 extra horsepower at your wheels. It’s not easy for anyone besides a race-car driver to tell the difference 5 horsepower makes. On the other hand, if you’re running a V8 IROC Camaro with a supercharger, nitrous system, high-flow injectors, and a stock air-filter set-up, you’re pretty much making your car get air through a straw, thus losing horsepower. And fuel mileage: how does an intake improve it? Well, if your car has more horsepower, you don’t need to step on the gas pedal as much, thus saving gas. If you can’t even feel your horsepower gain, you won’t notice a difference at the fuel pump.

Say it’s the sound you’re after, but you’re unwilling to spend any money on a custom exhaust system. Take off your air filter silencer(s). Many cars that have to be smog checked have an air filter silencer, or silencers installed. Basically, just remove any boxes and/or tubes that come before the opening hole on your stock air-filter box, and you’ll get a low-pitched sound just like an air-intake would provide, and an extra horsepower.

Basically, if you’re building a racecar and you’re after every 1/10 of a horsepower, it’s worth getting a custom air-intake. However, unless money’s burning a hole in your pocket, a custom air-intake will not provide a noticeable power difference on everyday cars.

image from rygraves9 on flickr

Windows 8 Will Be 128-Bit

It has been leaked that Windows 8 will feature a 128-bit architecture.

This is good news in terms of moving forward and adapting new technology, but is the average consumer really ready for 128 bit operating systems? The answer to that is a definite no.

Most people today use a 32 bit version of Windows. If given the option whether to buy a 32 or 64 bit version of Windows, most people would have no idea what 32 or 64 bit even means. How much software right now is written for native 64 bit use? Almost none. 64 bit is barely being taken advantage of right now, so why introduce 128 bit?

Whether this is a good idea or not, 128 bit will come sooner or later, and if not in Windows 8 then most likely in Windows 9. But first the average computer user must transition to using a 64 bit operating system. And the people who know about 64 bit need to stop believing that all their old software won’t work on it. The fact is that most software does work on 64 bit systems; if it’s old, it gets emulated as if it were being run in 32 bit mode.

It’s a good thing that operating system architecture is advancing, but it would be so much better if software companies started to really take advantage of the power of 64 bit right now.

There have also been rumors that Windows 8 will abandon the Windows platform and will be based on Cloud Computing. The chance of this being true is nonexistent. Backwards compatibility needs to remain in Windows, and the base model of the operating system has to remain identical, otherwise businesses, which make up a huge percentage of Windows customers, will simply never upgrade. In fact, a large amount of businesses are still using Windows 2000.

Windows 8 will most likely be released sometime around 2012.