First, I need something to convert docx files so that I can read them with open office (and please, a direct link to the actual software, not links telling me where I can find it).
Second, I need an RSS reader. I would prefer something that is a stand alone from my browser.
Third, I need a new digital camera. Something reliable, intuitive, and reasonably priced.
Finally, what is the best piece of software to record something and directly create a podcast?
Google’s RSS reader is a dream.
Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse
This is a link to a free online docx converter. You can also download a desktop widget from these people here.
I like the Elph’s from Cannon.
There is a whole bunch of commenter sharing re. the camera on yesterday’s pet thread where that person pointed out that an old camera can take new photos.
I liked that.
(Go for the Canons!)
Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse
Never mind. Still looking.
Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse
Wow. Edit showed up as a new comment after one hell of an error message, and I can’t edit it at all.
Ignore the link above: it will give you minimal HTML, which you could certainly copy and paste into Open Office, but you’d have to add back some formatting, which you could only see in Word 2007, so that would be pointless if you don’t have Word 2007 in the first place.
Whatever you do, don’t buy a Sony point-n-shoot.
South of I-10
I use Google Reader – love it.
For the podcasting software, consider Audacity.
Best Windows RSS Reader & free:
For a standalone, after testing a bunch of readers for the Mac, I went with NetNewsWire. Has all the features you can think of. Has its own built-in browser — with tabs — for when you want to open an RSS entry. Or you can open them in your regular browser.
If you also want to be able to sync your reader with a web-based reader so what you’ve read, flagged etc is available from any computer, NetNewsWire has the option of being fully integrated with NewsGator.
For podcast help, I’d contact Laurence Simon. He’s a podcast genius and can get anyone up and running in short order.
Comrade Snark Based Reality
bloglines.com is the best hosted RSS feed reader for large numbers of feeds. I’ve been using it for a couple years now with over 300+ feeds on a daily basis and it works great.
Apologies for long post. I had saved this to send to a friend when she and I were trying to decide upon an affordable, easy-to-use camera. I thought it was a really good consumer review and helped me decide upon the Canon Powershot SD870 IS. $247.95 at Amazon:
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally happy I bought this camera, July 30, 2008
By Y. Deshmukh "Yogibear" (New York, NY USA) – See all my reviews
I wanted to replace an aging digital Canon Powershot camera earlier this month, and started my research at cnet.com and amazon.com. I thought it would be a question of reading a few articles, narrowing the list down to a few cameras, and then reading reviews about it on those two websites and bingo, I would end up with the perfect camera for my situation and needs. Boy, was I wrong!
First off, there are probably about a thousand decent camera models out there that would satisfy anyone but the most diehard camera professional. I am an average, non-expert user who craves convenience, ease of use, low shutter lag, ease of carrying around, and reasonably good quality pics in most lighting and situations. Nothing fancy.
After reading amazon users’ comments about the models that cnet’s editors recommended, I realized there were a LOT of models out there that I could buy that would satisfy my criteria listed above. I ended up researching this for over 15 days, for hours at a time after work and on weekends.
Here is a summary (in no particular order) of why I chose this camera and why I like it, after two weeks of intensive use on vacation in Russia:
1) Ease of use – I had to refer to the manual only once or twice as I took hundreds of pics and many video clips in different situations and lighting.
2) Relatively slim and light to carry around in my shirt or pant pocket.
3) Wide-angle lens – most of my pics tend to be of people, whether in posed photos or candid shots. This model has a roughly 28-105mm equivalent optical zoom (hence the 3.8x designation, i.e. 105 divided by 28). Unless you regularly take pics of distant objects or wild animals, you don’t need 12x or 18x optical zoom. Sure, more zoom is better, but it comes at the cost of increased bulk. And increased bulk means you are less likely to take your camera with you and take pics.
The wide angle means better group shots. That’s why I did not buy any other model that had 5x zoom in a slim body, for example – because almost all of them had lenses that started from 35 or 38mm, and those don’t fit people into the shots as well as a wide angle lens does.
4) Reasonably high mega pixel count. 8MP is good enough, unless you regularly take pics that you want to blow up into large sizes for printing.
5) Optical image stabilization – very good feature, because it cancels out camera shake and results in better pictures.
6) Good-quality video clips that are very easy to shoot. Plus, the built-in microphone on this model is powerful and picks up conversations from across a room in video mode. Or, you can record your own commentary on top of a video clip afterwards.
7) Reasonably low shutter lag – unless you buy an expensive (and necessarily bulkier) digital SLR or megazoom camera, you are going to get some shutter lag on any digital camera. The question is, can you live with it if it is low enough? This model’s shutter lag is not bad at all.
8)Canon quality. There is a reason that Canon’s at the top of the heap in digital cameras, and this model’s further proof of it.
9) Rechargeable battery that comes with its own (relatively slim) charger. I had carried along a voltage converter and different plugs for use with my other devices in Russia anyway, so this was a big plus for me. Using disposable batteries usually increases the camera’s weight.
10) Beautifully crisp, large (3") LCD screen. I did not feel the absence of an optical viewfinder at all, since using the screen even in broad daylight was so good and so convenient.
11) Good-quality pics.
Websites used in my research – cnet, amazon, pcmag.com, among many.
Other models considered – Canon’s SD970is, 850is, 890is, 950is, 1100is; Nikon Coolpix S600 and S550; Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8S; Olympus FE-350. I read about some of Sony’s point and shoot cameras, but did not want to buy them because everything about Sony is proprietary, which means every single item related to their products needs to be only Sony’s and, naturally, costs more.
Finally, a note on the fact that this model is almost 10 months old now. Initially, this was a downer for me, despite the numerous awards and favorable user reviews it has garnered. There was one expert review on a British website that finally put it in perspective for me – to wit, that newer models from a particular brand aren’t necessarily improvements over the older ones and that if you like the features of an older model, to go ahead and buy it.
I would highly recommend this particular model from Canon. Buy with confidence. And oh btw, though I checked a ton of websites, amazon had the best price on it, as usual.
The Grand Panjandrum
Nikon Coolpix L13 (Just bought a couple for the kids and they work great for must simple photos.) about $140 for an 8 MP camera.
If you want to spend about $500 buy the Nikon D40 (the most affordable SLR in the line). I’ve always use Nikon’s so I a little partial.
Windows Movie Maker will do just fine if you don’t want to do much editing and need to capture video for uploading. I use Magix Movie Edit Pro 14 and find it will everything I will ever need. You can download it for $45.
I’m not much of a techie, but here’s my two cents:
I personally prefer and recommend Google Reader, but if you want a desktop-based RSS reader, I recommend FeedDemon, I enjoyed it before I switched back to Google Reader.
For a camcorder, Flip Video Ultra and Flip Video Mino are good from what I here. Not overtly expensive, either.
For converting, the best I could find is Zamzar, which is an online converter.
Hope it helps.
You can’t go wrong with the Canon Powershot SD750. For $150, the best I’ve found.
I use Google Reader through my iGoogle home page. It’s awsome because everything’s there, my email, reader and links.
@The Grand Panjandrum: I agree on the D40 – I have a D40 from early this year, and a 18-55 lens, and it is very nice, though not something you just stick in your pocket like the Elph.
If you want a nice camera with a lot of capability, the D40 is what you want.
Feed Reader: http://www.feedreader.com/
Nikon D60 — but get a 200mm lens. It changes everything.
Mac or Windows?
Mac RSS – give NetNewsWire a look.
For cameras, I just bought my wife a Canon SD870 to replace her fairly ancient previous Powershot. The old camera was a workhorse (it continued to take new pictures, amazingly ;) and only suffered from the usual battery degradation. The new one is pretty awesome – I highly recommend it if you are looking for something small, non-SLR. If size isn’t that big a deal, I’d look at the A1000/2000 – they take AA batteries and can save you some money over the long haul.
For podcast, is it for .edu work? Some options open up if it is.
What are you looking for in a camera?
A few specific questions:
– How much money, roughly, are you thinking of spending?
– How big of an object do you want? Pocket-sized? Slips in a backpack side pocket sized? Needs a team of Sherpas sized?
– Do you think you’ll want to make prints that are bigger than roughly 8"x10"?
– Do you care about trying to shoot fast-moving things like sports or birds on the wing?
– Do you care about video?
It’s hard to give useful advice with such a generic question as "recommend a camera", because the search space is so large. Narrow it down, and things become much easier.
I’ll second Audacity for podcasting software – fairly robust, easy to use, nice production. Get a decent mic and decent headphones and you’ll love it.
I’ve had good luck with a Nikon Coolpix model. Easy transfer to your computer, great pics.
The photo teacher at my school swears by the Canon PowerShot I9. Quick, easy, and he pulls images and blows them right up without any color correction. It’s running around $400 these days, but he says it’s worth it.
He also says not to get any Panasonic cameras, like the Leica series – great glass, terrible image sensors.
Audacity crashes for me pretty much all the time, when i’m making my quizzes. but it’s free and starts right back up, quick-like. so, it’s hard to beat…
as for cameras…. go down to your local Target (or Best Buy, or whatever) and play with them. anything from Canon or Nikon should be fine.
I liked snarfer as a desktop RSS reader: http://www.snarfer.com, although there are probably other good ones as well.
Other tech stuff: I’m using IE7 and I wish this site would load faster. It completely locks up the browser for five or ten seconds on first load.
Wow. John must have taken Jim Cramer’s advice today. New Toys ‘R’ Us.
Tim in SF
I like Google Reader in combination with my Google home page. Wraps everything up in one attractive spot. Screenshot:
I have a Cannon Powershot 750. I can’t say enough good things about it. Takes gorgeous pics and does a good job with video and it’s close to $300. Here’s some nice pics I took a few weeks ago in low-light conditions. http://www.flickr.com/photos/redtimmy/sets/72157606925979961/
For ODF conversion with openoffice, you might try http://katana.oooninja.com/w/odf-converter-integrator/download
For the openoffice, I recommend reading OpenOffice.org’s wiki post on your alternatives and choosing the one that works best for you. So nice to have a manual to read.
For an RSS reader, I love Vienna. I found other programs to have really annoying interfaces, but Vienna gets out of the way.
For the RSS Reader:
I’ve been a fan/user of FeedDemon (Newsgator and NetNewsWire for Mac and iPhone) forever. I have it synced across several machines using FolderShare and the iPhone version keeps everything synched when reading on the iPhone as well. It is a true pleasure to work with and the support/development is top-notch.
On the camera side – any of the Canon SD series are great cameras. I have given probably 10 SD550’s as gifts over the years and people have loved them. No problems etc. Great pocket camera. Newer versions have more pixels etc. but the SD550 is still a great buy used on EBay etc.
Good luck and have fun!
The Canon point and shoots are better than the Nikon’s in my experience. For a really good basic camera at a low price, you can pick up the PowerShot A590 for $130 at B&H Photo in NYC. I have bought several in this model line for my wife and kids and they are durable, take good pictures and are easy to use.
If you want more camera than this, you really ought to then think about a digital SLR, the entry level of which will set you back about $500 with a basic lens (generally 18-55mm, the equivalent of a 28-85 zoom on a 35mm camera). In this group you are looking at the Nikon D40 or the Canon Digital Rebel. Both will take much better pictures than a point and shoot and offer many more features. They also have no shutter lag which makes the point and shoot cameras annoying.
One of the best on line resources I have found for digital cameras is Jeff Keller’s Digital Camera Resource Page.
On a Mac, NetNewsWire is terrific, and it’s easy to track a couple hundred subscriptions.
For ease of use and more than decent quality in a non-SLR, I’d look closely at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28. Great UI, good lens, nice packaging.
For RSS feeds, I use NewzCrawler, which can be found at this link.
It’s not free, but I’ve been very happy with it, and it is stand-alone with a browser built in.
For podcasts, if you’re using a Mac then use Garageband. If PC, then Audacity is good.
here’s a 2nd for bloglines.com for rss. Tried Google’s, but went back to bloglines.
Digital camera – get as much OPTICAL zoom as you can. We switched from a Fuji with a 10x zoom down to a Panasonic with a 3x zoom and miss the zoom terribly. Nothing bad to say against the Panasonic – the Fuji was bulky and we wanted something more pocketable. Everything has a price…
Half the people in my family and all my roommates are all photographers and/or camera sales people. If memory serves correctly, they always recommend the Cannon Powershot SD 1000 at their stores for a point and shoot (although they may have some commission based motivations I do not know about).
Now if you had like $15,000 – 30,000 to spend on a camera, my sister is who you should talk to, but I doubt thats what you mean by "reasonably priced".
I’ve been absolutely astounded by the Panasonic Lumix TZ3 digital camera that a friend bought on my advice. It’s compact, but has a brilliant 10x Leica optical zoom and just takes great photos – http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonictz3/ – it appears to have been replaced by very similar looking TZ4 and TZ5 models that have the same lens, but updated electronic components. I can’t vouch for the new models, but checking them out briefly on Panasonic’s site they look to have all of the plusses of the TZ3 with higher resolution CCDs and better HD video performance: link to Panasomic’s site.
Also, I’m late to the game with Google Reader, but it’s been totally smooth. Doesn’t meet the out-of-browser requirement (although I guess you could make a separate-looking window for it w/ chrome).
Audacity is free. Most importantly, you need good compression/limiting software that will even-out your podcast so everything is roughly the same level. Very helpful if you plan to drop-in music or other audio sources. I’ve used db audioware with good results and it’s butt easy to use: http://www.db-audioware.com/dB-L-mastering-limiter-more.htm
If you can find an old Radio Shack PZM mic on ebay, they do a great job of picking up every voice in a room and they take a beating.
I agree re Canon Powershot.
I’ve just recovered from a digital photography binge so I’m amped for this question.
I’ve had a digital elph (Canon SD 700) for a few years now and while it and all of its siblings are fine cameras, the size/image quality compromise got to me after a while. Also – just holding the little blighters steady in my only medium sized hands is not all that easy.
The best all-round cheap digital cameras I’ve seen lately are the Canon A series. They use AA batteries, which I dislike — but you can get them without too many megapixels (cramming too many onto a small sensor produces digital noise) and good medium zooms; I recently picked up an A650is (i.e. with image stabilization) for my son for less than $150. 8 mp/6x zoom, a decent lens, nice photos, good programming. They are a nice size to hold and shoot with; and I’ve worked with enough pros who say the feel of a camera in the photographer’s hands is more important to the results than any specs to believe it.
If you want to go a little upmarket, the pro choice for a point and shoot has been the Canon G9. It’s been replaced recently by the G10, which means you can now get the G9 for in the 330 range. It’s got a great lens, a lot of photographic control (but you can run it on full auto) and is very solidly built.
Last, if a silent or near silent shutter is not a priority, and you have a little change to spare, the entry level DSLRs from several makers are fabulous cameras. for less than five hundred dollars, the Nikon D40 is a beast. I have friends who swear by the Pentax entry level camera, and a friend who is an Olympus-supported pro reminds me that the rarely shared secret of the Japanese optics industry is that Olympus’s Zuiko lenses have fabulous glass. You get more control, bigger sensors, full auto when you need it etc.
My preference in cheap but good cameras: currently the Canon A590 IS. the IS stands for image stabilization.
currently $129 at buydig.com
my current favorit meta shopping site: boddit.com
When are we going to get the first BJ podcast?
Sony or Canon. I got a Sony b/c I didn’t want proprietary batteries and could take rechargeable AA’s on longer hiking trips. Otherwise you need to buy a solar or manual recharger.
Lots of reviews. Seems like everything new Sony or Canon is proprietary battery. Oh well. If you’re doing video, get one that is stabilized.
So if I had to buy now, it would be a Canon Powershot 590 IS. Looks like a good deal.
*Aaron is smarter than me by 7 minutes
Assuming you’re running a Mac…
Regarding .docx files, Microsoft provides a converter. In addition, if you’re running Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard", Apple TextEdit will open .docx files and allow you to export them to other formats.
Wow, way to close the tag, me…let’s try this again.
Assuming you’re running a Mac…
Regarding .docx files, Microsoft provides a converter. In addition, if you’re running Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard", Apple TextEdit will open .docx files and allow you to save into other formats, including .doc, .rtf, and .odt.
Comrade The Other Steve
docx files – Simple… Just use Word. ;-)
RSS reader – I use google reader, mainly because I can check the feeds from any computer.
Digital Camera – We bought a Kodak Z812 earlier this year and it rocks. It was $225 at Best Buy on sale. My other choice was the PowerShot S5 but I didn’t like the way the buttons worked on it and it was $100 more.
I prefer a digital with a eye hole. This Z812 is sort of like a poor man’s SLR as it has a lcd eye hole so you do see what the camera is seeing, although it’s not very clear because it’s a small lcd rather than through the lens directly.
Podcast – I have no clue. I don’t have time to listen to the things, much less record them.
FYI (for John and the rest of you), all a .docx document is, is a zipped XML document.
So, if you find yourself out in the digital woods somehow and you need to read that .docx like your life depends on it…
Use WinZip or something similar to unzip it
then just drag it into Safari or Firefox, both of which can read and display XML.
NetNewsWire from NewsGator. Outstanding program, includes syncing across multiple computers including iPhone/iTouch. It’s now Free. I couldn’t blog without it.
I’ve got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07, which has a Leica lens and digital zoom (not sure how much, but maxed out shows 14.6X). It was in the $350 or so range, is very easy to use, and takes great photos.
If you need to be able to open the new Office format (docx, xlsx, pptx, etc…) in old versions of Office, Microsoft offers a compatibility pack. My company uses MS Office, so this is the best solution for me.
as a totally different RSS-reader suggestion: I use newsbeuter, a text-only console client for Unices .. to be found at http://www.newsbeuter.org. For those few blogs with lotsa pictures, I use google.
Depends on what kind of digital camera you want. If it’s just snapshots, try a Canon SD870 shirt-pocket camera. If you want something fancier–and remember, (sensor) size counts–, take a look at The Online Photographer’s recommendations. Me, I’m waiting for the Micro-4/3s cameras to make it, but that will probably take a year or so. We are finally seeing some genuinely new digital camera designs & I think in a few years we will be much happier with digital cameras.
OpenOffice.org 3.0 will support .docx. OO.o 3.0 is up to its third release candidate & you can download it. It will probably do well enough, though you may have some problems.
As for the RSS reader, it’s interesting that you want a "stand alone" reader. Why add more software to your comp when you don’t need to, right? Especially when there’s Google Reader. It’s the end all, be all of readers.
I wrote a little review about it if you’re interested: http://newsblogging.net/2008/09/24/48-hours-with-google-reader/
Am I the only person who uses Thunderbird for RSS? I just started it, so maybe there’s something horrible about it that I don’t know, but it’s done well enough for me. (Add a new "RSS News & Blogs" account to get started; it’s pretty straightforward from there.)
I use FeedDemon (stand alone) at home, Newsgator Online at work (since I cannot install a damn thing here) and NetNewsWire on my Iphone. All linked to each other…so when I read your rants at work and mark them as read, its all the same at home and while I am mobile. And all free…