New posts on tech blog sites

Greetings all– I know I have been quiet for a while but tonight I have posted two new posts. One is on changing the DNS server on your personal computer system to improve your Internet performance and the second one is how to boot into a CD/USB anti-virus bootable rescue disc in order to kill a virus on your computer.

You can read the DNS article here: http://tech.jchampion.com/?p=178

and the Bootable virus disc can be read here:
http://techtips4me.com/?p=20

If you have any questions, just ask!

Pax!
john

Do you really need an 802.11AC wireless router for your home/home office?

802.11ac is the newest wireless networking standard on the market.

802.11ac is the newest wireless networking standard on the market.

They are here and on shelves everywhere… and they are the newest standard for 802.11AC wireless routers for home and small business.

Outside of having the standard set of rules for WEP, WPA, WPA2, and WPS encryption modes, it adds a stronger security framework. Take the Asus RT-AC66R WiFi router, available in most stores for around $200 (the price you pay may vary from $295 down to $165).

This particular router does stateful packet inspection, detects denial of service attacks, provides access control, parental control, network service filter, URL filter, and a port filter. All of these security features have to be understood by the end-user, though, in order to be effective.

Asus  RT-AC66U

Asus RT-AC66U

So why would the average user run out and buy one of these new devices? The answer is plain and simple and the same reason why so many people want a Bugatti over a Yugo–speed! Yes…the maximum theoretical speed of an older 802.11g wireless router is around 54Mbps. This is fast enough for most loading content from most web sites or to view streaming media over an Internet connection.

An 802.11N wireless router will get your data transferred over your home network’s connection at speeds around 100-150 Mbps throughput. To give you an example of how fast that is, consider downloading the latest drivers for your computer from the manufacturer’s website. There is a 250 MB file and your average download speed on the connecttion to the manufacturer’s FTP server is somewhere between 1-2 Mbps. If this were a straw being used to slurp down a shake, then think of it as you are using 1/64th of the straw for the shake and the other 63/64 parts are empty waiting for another shake, a soda, some beer, or whatever it is you wish to fill that up with.

That is one way of looking at bandwidth.

The reason why it is so much faster is that 802.11AC uses up to eight (8) MIMO (multiple in/multiple out) connections and each connection utilizes up to 180MHz per connection. Couple this capacity with using 256-QAM, a method for twisting the signals so that they can handle 256 different different signals that are being twisted/manipulated of each of these 256 streams and you come up with the capability of hitting close to 7Gbps bandwidth. To give you an idea of what that is, if you paid a small fortune and ran fiber optic data lines inside your home, you will be using close to 10Gbps and that is maximum theoretical speed.

If you home cable modem tops out at 20Mbps then that leaves a large amount of bandwidth of your network untouched. And since, right now, nothing inside your laptop, desktop, tablet or smart phone can come close to using all of that bandwidth, and given that the full potential of this technology has been touched, we have a ways to go before this is going to be incorporated in your computer or personal device.

Currently the Asus RT-AC66R is one of the fastest AC standard routers on the market and it tops out at speeds between 1300 and 1700 Mbps. This is a long way away from its maximum potential of 8 MIMO streams at 180MHz but instead it currently is using 4 MIMO streams at approximately 80 MHz for a combined total of 1750 Mbps. The limits now are the routers and the wireless cards in our computers and smart phones.

So do you need one of these devices? Maybe not now. Most of the best uses for this bandwidth will occur within the local network as the end user begins transferring video and photo files from one machine to another and the realization that what today takes 45 minutes to move will take approximately five minutes in the next two years or so. Right now, AC wireless cards are planning on being used in notebooks, desktops, and smart phones sometime in 2014 and 2015. So save your dimes, save your time and learn how to use a cable connection on your laptop to take advantage of the next to 3 Gbps data transfer speeds of a hard wired network connection.

If you have questions, let me know!

Has the new camera bug got you?

Nikon has released two really nice high end camera for advanced hobbyists and professional users in recent weeks. These cameras start at price points that may leave some of us looking for part time jobs to earn the money necessary to buy one of these new video stressed camera systems, $2,999, $3,299, and $5,999 respectively.

These cameras have technology in them that are giant leaps away from what Nikon originally started out with. Remember the business mantra “play to your strengths?” Well Nikon is looking for a new strength in the video market as the D800, D800E and D4 are all capable of shooting 1080p HD video.

It’s clear that Sony is making a strong play for the micro 4/3’s market with its NEX-7 ILC offering. This camera has been voted by the editors of Popular Photography as its camera of the year for 2011. It’s not a DSLR but it’s pretty darn close. And it’s performance, as shown here on the Popular Photography site is really strong. It will only get stronger as the lens offerings for this camera improve.

So it’s clear that video is the next step for Nikon, but at 30 frames per second capture, it’s not going to blow the doors off of anything at this point. For the uninitiated, 30fps is the same speed that most local news video is shot at. High speed videograpy is shot as a much higher frame rate, maybe 1000fps or higher and it really makes a big difference in ultra-slow motion video ( as seen here ).

If Nikon decides to push videography harder, it will need to increase its frame rate. While 30fps is great for television, it doesn’t lend itself to creative videography. And that’s who is going to want a Nikon with video…those interested in breaking barriers and crossing over into the next medium type.

Should Nikon decides to go back to its photographic roots, it will die as Kodak is doing ever so slowly.

But with a 36.4 megapixel image, and 1080p HD video, the D800/D800E are good answers to photographers looking to cross that boundary. As someone who knows a thing or two about videography, but is by no means an expert, I would suggest to you that you look at a slow motion video shot at 1000fps to see what is possible.

Go start saving your pennies for the next big Nikon camera coming out around this time next year. Who knows..it may hit the 100 Megapixel mark. Then every photograph can be made into a billboard.

New Nikon D4 detailed look

I’ve been tied up for the past nine months and no I did not have a child but there are two new high end offerings from Nikon that I have put on my “if I win the Lottery” list.

Rather than talk about them here I am going to let the whatdigitalcamera.com review/overview speak for me. One of the key things about the D4 over the D3 models is the use of a new memory card type…the XQD. This is the replacement for aging compact flash format for digital recording.

But enough of what I think…here’s the overview from WhatDigitalCamera.com

Also…I am going to be changing the look of this site. If you have any ideas, please pass them along. Thanks!

To wildflower or not wildflower…that is the question

Bluebonnets for a front yard

Bluebonnets for a front yard

And the answer lies on how much rain your part of Texas has received so far this year.

Parents have their toddlers ready, their point and shoot batteries charged, and the blankets washed and ready to plunk down on some prime wild-flower filled Texas landscape.

The 20 million dollar question is will there be any wild flowers there to greet them?

Plan your wildflower trips by using these links/tools:

  • http://www.wildflowerhaven.com/default.aspx
  • http://www.txdot.gov/travel/flora_conditions.htm
  • http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/tx.html
  • http://www.lone-star.net/wildflowers/sightings.htm
  • If you know of any other places where landscape photographers in Texas keep track of the state’s annual gas-guzzling targets, please let me know.

A quick word about bokeh

Some people may hear this term used when discussing photographs and wonder how the “bokeh” is being used. Bokeh is a term used to describe the blurring of the background or foreground objects. Photomatters has a good piece explaining it and how to use it. You can view it here: http://www.photomatters.org/bokeh

There goes my hero–LensHero

So you have your new Christmas gift camera and it probably only came with a stock lens. Now you are probably wondering things like what kind of lens fits my camera? What size of lens should I use to shoot a child’s soccer game or a loved one’s recital?

Selecting lenses for a Nikon D40, D3000, D5000 or other DX cameras is more complicated than buying a lens for a $5000 Nikon D3x or other cameras. The difference is that in the DX models, Nikon has built the auto-focus motor within the body of the lens instead of putting it in the body of the camera.

Take a look at these two photos (courtesy of DPReview.com) and you can see the drive for the D80’s auto-focusing mechanism at the 7 o’clock position of the camera lens connector. That drive stem is missing from the D40 and it is missing from all of the DX version systems.

A word of caution…because I focus mostly on Nikon systems, I do not know what the equivilent is for the Canon system. So you should check with them about what their lower priced systems use for focusing.

So LensHero has come to the rescue by asking you for information about your camera, what you intend to shoot and then gives you suggestions on the lenses you should consider.

http://lenshero.com/

Check out the site–it covers almost all DSLR cameras. It’s a nice tool for beginners as well as experts. There are other sites that are also helpful but none are as simple as this one.

So you want to give a camera to someone this Christmas?

You need to learn how that person would use a camera. So ask these questions either of yourself or of the person you are buying for:

  • Where do you normally find yourself saying “If I only had a camera?”
  • Can I/they learn how to adjust aperture, focal length, or shutter speed?
  • Would they be better off with a point and shoot or do they need a DSLR?

Once you can get a handle on those items, you can then adjust your purchase and remember…the bigger the opening of the lens, the more light that lens lets it.

So a camera that looks like this:

A photo of the Nikon Coolpix P100 camera

The Nikon Coolpix P100 has a larger aperture which lets more light in

Takes better photos than a camera like this:

A photo of the Nikon Coolpix L22 camera

A Nikon Coolpix with a small aperture (opening)

And don’t let price deter you. Spend the extra $50-150 and get a camera that will show you a lifetime (or at least 2-4 years) worth of excellent photos!

Dealing with the old and the new

First off…PC World magazine has a great article on how to turn those old photographs in the family album into digital treasures. This is a key item in any family’s history—old photos and photo albums. The problem with giving them a digital treatment stems from the inability to know how to properly make safe backups of these files. It is not enough to simply store them on a blank CD/DVD and put them in a drawer or safe. Nope…

The best thing to do with these digitized old photos is to store them online. Looking for a place to put them? I covered that a couple of months back in my digital photo storage primer, http://jchampion.com/?p=352

NewToy
Having said that..it’s time that I introduce my new toy. It’s a mid-range camera to most but it’s a solid performer with a good record in the camera world. It’s a D90:

Nikon D90

My new Nikon D90

Here is one of my first pictures with it:

Bailey the Golden Retriever mix poses for the new D90

Bailey the Golden Retriever mix poses for the new D90