Tag Archives: Camera

Who Invented That??

Pop quiz: Where were all these things invented?

  1. The first microprocessor, the 8088
  2. The Pentium and Celeron computer processors
  3. Anti-Virus software
  4. Code that enables sending email
  5. Mobile Phones
  6. Texting (SMS)
  7. Voicemail
  8. USB Flash drives
  9. The Super Iron Battery, which may be in your (next) electric car
  10. Transparent solar panels (“Solar Windows”)
  11. Drip irrigation
  12. Cherry Tomatoes
  13. Sodastream (A machine to make soda at home)
  14. The Pillcam (swallow-able colonoscopy device)
  15. Heart stents
  16. Radiation-free X-ray technology
  17. The Epilator hair-removal device
  18. A new technology for divers that extracts air from the water

Impressive list, huh? Without these inventions, the world would be a much different place, probably a worse one.

If you said, “The United States”, good guess, but no. The answer is Israel, the tiny, much-maligned country that has more research and development, and more Nobel Prizes per capita, than any other country on earth.

How could this be? In a country that didn’t even exist 70 years ago?? It might have something to do with Israeli philosophy. Classical rabbinical literature created the Hebrew phrase “Tikkun olam” (literally, “world repair”). The Israelis seem to have not only realized that the World is broken, but decided to do what they could to repair it.

The innovations in the above list are only a few of the things Israel has done to make the world a better place. They are often first on the scene of major disasters, bringing state-of-the-art mobile hospitals, food, and anything else needed. The list of medical advances is lengthy; Treatments for cancer, Parkinson’s disease, AIDS, epilepsy, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and on and on. 

Their cows produce more milk. Their bees produce more honey.

They rank as the fifth happiest nation on Earth, maybe because they care so much about their fellow man.

On the other hand, it just might be a God thing…

Want to boycott Israel? You might want to read this first:





Israeli flag

For even more empowering technology info, read my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now!

Click here to read all about it.

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Use The Zoom, Luke: Camera optics (Digital Cameras part 2)

Camera salesmen, when they’ve exhausted the subject of megapixels, will usually then start extolling the virtues of the lens, particularly the zoom.

Zoom is the second most misunderstood subject of digital cameras. Zoom comes in a digital and an optical variety. Optical zoom actually moves part of the lens to make the image larger. Digital zoom simply cuts the edges off the picture and spreads more pixels between the ones already there. Digital zoom does not add any more information to the picture as optical zoom does, so the result of digital zoom is a larger but fuzzier picture. Optical zoom is the most important, and most expensive, type of zoom. Try to get at least a 4:1 optical zoom. You can safely ignore extravagant claims for digital zoom, and you should never use it if you care about picture quality. This is another good reason for using a camera over a phone; Phones almost never have any optical zoom.

High-end cameras, such as digital SLRs (Single-Lens Reflex; you view and shoot through the same lens) sometimes have interchangeable lenses. While you can get a fixed-lens camera with a 30:1 zoom, the advantage of interchangeable lenses is higher image quality and often better low-light performance. Those high zoom ratios involve a lot of compromises in lens design. If you want to get beyond “snapshots” and take “photographs”, the fixed -lens with 20:1 zoom or better is a good compromise for much less money than an equivalent SLR outfit. A good “superzoom” camera will run $200- $400, while an SLR with several lenses is more like $2000. Eventually, though, if you’re a dedicated amateur or a pro, you’ll want an SLR.

You also get much more versatility with either a superzoom or SLR camera. Full manual mode is a must for creative photography. Very long or short shutter speeds are useful in some situations such as sports and night photography. Manual focus is also important. The image sensor will be much larger, making for a higher-quality final photo. You’ll also (usually) get a real viewfinder (The part you look through when holding the camera up to your eye) instead of having to rely on the screen all the time. Some viewfinders are electronic, i.e., they have a tiny video screen instead of an optical way of looking through the lens, but a real SLR will have a mirror that directs the image from the lens into the viewfinder, so you’re seeing exactly what the camera sees. Many cameras do not have any optical or electronic viewfinder, forcing you to use the LCD screen for every picture. This not only eats batteries even faster, but also makes it harder to hold the camera still since you now have to hold it at arm’s length. You also may have a problem seeing the screen outdoors, especially in strong backlight. If there’s a viewfinder, there should be a way to turn off the screen when not in use.

Closeups of things are a lot of fun. Check to see if the camera has a “Macro” mode, and how close you can get to your subject with it. You will need to use either the screen or Through-the Lens (TTL) viewfinder for close-ups, because otherwise what you see and what the camera sees will be very different.

It’s also helpful to see in the store how long the camera takes to save the picture to memory. If it takes 5 seconds to save, that means you cannot take another picture until then. Check shutter lag also. This is the time between pressing the shutter button and the camera actually taking the picture. If either of these times is excessive, that can prevent you from getting the shot of a lifetime! SLRs and other high-end cameras generally have much shorter lag times.


This post has been adapted from my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now! Click here to read all about it.

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Pixel This: Camera Sensors (Digital cameras part 1)

You know the digital camera revolution is nearly complete when Nikon, one of the best-known camera manufacturers, announces it’s discontinuing most of it’s film cameras. In only a few short years, the world of photography has been turned upside down. Unless you’re a professional photographer, there is no longer any reason, other than cost, not to use a digital camera.

Even people without a computer can now enjoy the benefits of digital cameras since drugstores and photo labs now offer printing right off the camera’s memory card, and having the photos put on a CD replaces film negatives. Digital Camcorder owners can have their video put on a DVD. Photos on a CD can be played on many DVD players, making it easy to bore your family stiff share your photos of Aunt Edna’s antics with the whole family.

The first specification you’ll likely see for a digital camera is how many megapixels it has. Just exactly what does this mean and how does it affect me? The word pixel is short for Picture Element – it is one dot on a picture. If you magnified one, it would look like a tiny colored square. You can never have any picture detail smaller than 1 pixel, thus the more pixels, the sharper the image. Pixels are arranged in a grid to create the picture. For instance, if you have a picture that is 1280 by 960 pixels, that would be 1,228,800 pixels, or 1.2 megapixels for short. (mega=Million.)

How many pixels do you need? The salesman will tell you that you need as many as you can afford. You need to ask yourself what you’re going to be doing with the pictures you take. Most folks will just e-mail them to friends or print them in the standard 4 X 6 size that fits in photo albums. If you never plan to do more than this, a 3 to 5 megapixel camera, or maybe your phone, will do just fine. If you plan to improve on your pictures by cropping them or otherwise editing them, get at least a 6 or 8 megapixel unit. For enlargements up to 8 X 10, 5 to 8 megapixels will work well. If your plans are more elaborate than this, then follow the salesman’s advice and get the highest rating you can afford. Be aware, though, that pixel count is not the only thing affecting image quality. Some image sensors have lots of pixels, but they’re so small you still get a low-quality image. A larger image sensor will usually give better quality. So will a better lens.


Closely related to the number of megapixels is the size of the resultant picture file. Large files at the highest number of pixels will take up a lot of space on your memory card, and you will annoy your friends if you e-mail those huge files to them. By all means, take your pictures at the high quality setting of your camera, but make copies of them resized to no larger than 640 X 480 pixels for e-mailing. Microsoft makes add-ons for Windows that make resizing and e-mailing pictures painless and easy. The most useful is the Image Resizer for Windows; you can find and download it easily using Google. Your friends with slow Internet connections will thank you.

You might also look into one of the best free photo organizers out there, the free and excellent Picasa. This can help you organize, email, print, order prints, make photo gifts, back up your photos, and much more.

This post has been adapted from my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now! Click here to read all about it.

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I’d love to hear your comments!