Monday, May 19, 2008

Many People Listening To Obama

75 thousand, or thereabouts, at Portland, Oregon. Whoa!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS Watch

2009 Update: Amazon does sell this now.

I recently misplaced my Forerunner 305 at home under mysterious circumstances. The timing of my loss was quite good because Garmin decided to release a new version of the Forerunner series around that time so I decided to get it. This is the first Garmin GPS watch that actually looks like a normal watch! (The others are moderately big and not as sleek.) still doesn't sell it at this time, so I got it from I ordered it online on 26 April, and the package arrived at my home in Singapore on 7 May via vPOSTUSA. vPOST seems to be getting better nowadays with a slicker reporting system and faster turnaround of around two weeks. (Click on all pictures below to see larger versions)

The second box contains the SB-800 flashlight from It's good to consolidate your vPOSTUSA purchases to save some money.

This morning I cycled around 37km along the PCN with Jan. The pictures below show the comparisons between the Cateye cycling computer which relies on the circumference of the wheel to get the distance travelled and the 405 which relies on the GPS satellites to do the same. As shown, the difference is about 200m over 37km, or around 1%. That's good enough for me!

This shows my heartrate; it's now 100 beats per minute. I didn't need to get the version that has the heartrate monitor because I can still use the one that came with my previous Forerunner 305.

This is the Virtual Partner screen. It's great for running when you don't have a running companion and just need an imaginery friend to keep you company or to pace you using some target timing or distance that you input into the watch.

The above two screens show the GPS satellites' accuracy. The SiRFstarIII chip is again found in the 405 according to wordings found on the box, so thick foliage shouldn't affect the signals too much.
This is a view of some of the various menu items that are available.

A very interesting feature of this watch is the way the menus are selected. I don't know of any other watch that uses this 'iPod' like way of selecting menus. There are only two hard buttons on the right, and four 'places' on the bezel to select the menus. To select 'menu', you just put your finger at six o'clock. To select items within the menus, just do circular motions on the bezel the same way you operate an iPod! It's quite incredible!

After you've jogged/cycled, the information is stored in the watch. To transfer the info into the computer, you plug this USB stick into to the computer, and the data will be synced wirelessly and automatically. This feature is powered by the very cool ANT+Sport technology!

After the data is downloaded, Garmin Training Centre will launch and you can look at the nice graphs.

There's a built-in battery and you can charge the 405 using your computer's USB port or the supplied wall adaptor. This charging clip attaches to the watch and charges it. (The 100-240v wall adaptor supplied has a plug for the US. If you aren't in the US, just use one of those industry standard plug for your region and fix it to the customisable plug.)

The design of the 405 is really very pretty. If you need to know how far you've run or cycled, there's no better buy than this. For more info, look at Garmin's website or their blog.

And oh, this is my road bike. :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Nikon D40s, D60 With Speedlight Commander Feature

Most Nikon D40-series and D60 owners would know that they own the best DSLR cameras in the market at their price ranges. However, one of the more important things missing in these models has to do with light. These cameras have built-in flashlights. Owners can also buy additional flashlights (Nikon calls them speedlights) such as the SB-400, SB-600, and SB-800. The limitation is the lack of 'commander mode'. This means that we cannot put the flash somewhere else (i.e., remote wireless mode); we need to attach it to the camera itself. (Using a flash off-camera allows for more creativity in setting up the picture.) The only way to do this, it seems, would be to buy the SB-800 which can itself be configured to become the 'commander' to command additional off-camera flashes. I just came across something totally fascinating that changes this! Having recently bought a SB-800 (from at around SGD$150 less than the local price), I wonder if I have to sell my SB-400. It is sort of redundant and I can't really use it to 'command' the SB-800. It turns out that the SB-800 has a 'little known' 'feature', i.e., it can be used as a remote flashlight, to be 'commanded' by flashes of light by other flashlights. And in our case, the humble SB-400, or the built-in flash! The feature is called SU-4 type settings. (The SB-600 doesn't have this feature.) So I tested it out, it works beautifully! Two lights are so much better than one. So the way to enable these three cameras' commander mode is to cheat a little: by buying the SB-800! Now I can use the SB-400 as a bounce flash, and it will in turn fire the SB-800. More info from Strobist and Nikon.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Obama Desktop

I was just thinking the other day about how we're going to have the worst President of the United States, and probably one of the best Presidents of the United States, back to back! And my colleague said it takes the worst to bring out the best. Oh, happy Mother's Day, Senator Clinton...

There are lots of new downloadable material from the website!

Today's National Education mention: The words above the eagle says "E Pluribus Unum". Out of many, one.