Skip to content

Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.


Category: Tech Talk
Edited by Gerald Boerner



JerryPhotoI sat in awe as I watched the Tsunami the hit Sendai, Japan, today. To see that thirty foot high wall of water rushing over the countryside taking houses, trains, cars and any other obstacle out as it progressed. Here in Southern California we live with earthquakes of 6.0 + range, but the quake that generated today’s tsunami was an 8.9, about a thousand times more powerful than the largest one that I remember (an 7.1).

The area that generated this tsunami was about 150 miles by 500 miles in size — larger than anything that I have ever thought of. I remember seeing History Channel programs about the Dam Buster raids in the Ruhr valley during World War II. I also remember seeing the sequence in the movie, “Force 10 from Navarone,” that used the force of water from a “blown” dam to destroy a bridge that could not be taken down by explosives. Such is the power of water!


The current post presents some basic facts about tsunamis for your understanding. I have included an excerpt from a Washington Post article as well as a short video of the event. Let us remember the victims and survivors of this tragedy in our prayers… GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3050 Words ]


Quotations Related to TSUNAMI:


“Being here, it is just impossible to imagine what that was like, when the tsunami hit.”
— Connie Sellecca

“Britain can be proud of its response to the tsunami appeal.”
— Gordon Brown

“What is perhaps more worthy of note than how many tsunami dead we’ve seen, however, is how many other recent dead we have not seen.”
— Bruce Jackson

continue reading…

by Gerald Boerner

Saved by the bell, or more specifically, by HP… The Palm WebOS will live to see another day. It looks like HP will be moving its Ipaq away from the Windows Mobile platform to WebOS. Personally, I welcome the change, as I have been using Windows Mobile on my Ipaq and T-Mobile cell phone for a couple of years now and it does not seem to be a good match in terms of performance and so forth.

It will be interesting to see how this acquisition will work out. But with the technologies and patents held by Palm make it a valuable asset. How it will integrate is another story that will play out soon. Check out the article at:


BREAKING: HP to Acquire Palm for $1.2 Billion

palm_pre Ending weeks of speculation about its future, Palm has been acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $1.2 billion, the companies announced this afternoon.

The survival of webOS and its parent company had come under question in recent weeks, with some analysts suggesting that shares of Palm were essentially worthless. Things only got worse when RadioShack decided to stop selling Palm’s two flagship devices: Pre and Pixi.

Now it appears that Palm and its mobile operating system have lived to fight another day, with CEO Jon Rubinstein saying in a statement that “HP’s longstanding culture of innovation, scale and global operating resources make it the perfect partner to rapidly accelerate the growth of webOS.”

The move puts HP squarely back in the smartphone game (they currently sell the Windows Mobile-powered iPAQ) — a space pioneered in many ways by Palm during the 1990s but since taken over by the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Research in Motion. Even HP’s biggest rival in the PC space — Dell — is gearing up to launch an Android-powered smartphone later this year.

by Gerald Boerner

Way back when I was enthralled with Apple’s innovations, they brought out a great video extolling the virtues of Alan Kay’s Dynabook, an intelligent tablet computer with a virtual assistant that would keep track of appointments, when to teach classes, what topics need to be prepared for future classes, and even initiate phone calls. At the time, we all thought that such a device was just a twinkle in Kay’s eye, not something that could become a reality.

Well, with Apple’s most recent acquisition, we are finding out that reality may be close at hand… Check out the article at:


Siri Acquisition Brings Apple Much Closer to the ‘Knowledge Navigator’ Concept – Mac Rumors

knavigator In 1987, Apple produced a concept video demonstrating a future computer called the Knowledge Navigator. The tablet-like device offered the user a natural language interface, video conferencing, multIn 1987, Apple produced a concept video demonstrating a future computer called the Knowledge Navigator. The tablet-like device offered the user a natural language interface, video conferencing, multi-touch display and access to a global network of information.

While seemingly the product of an overactive imagination, Apple’s recent acquisition of Siri brings Apple a lot closer to that vision than ever before. Siri reportedly was born from the CALO artificial intelligence project which sought to fulfill a call for a "a cognitive computer system should be able to learn from its experience, as well as by being advised."

by Gerald Boerner

For some of us, we remember when… Grace and I finally sprung for a Canon ZapShot still video camera that stored 50 images onto a 2" optical disk. We were so jazzed at this that we showed it off at several conferences for local educators. It was a far cry from the Canon XTi that I use now or the Canon 5D that I use in… my Studio Lighting class… The folks today getting their first digital camera for $100 (with preview screen, memory card, and 12 Mpixels) don’t know what they missed. BTW, I still have the ZapShot and it works!


My First Digital Cameras | Digital Photography insights

Xapshot 150

Until the early 90s photography and computing managed to work together using a scanner to digitize prints. My first electronic still camera, the Canon Xapshot (left), wasn’t digital but it did record 50 images to a 2-inch disk. I’d view them on my TV, but I needed a capture board to transfer them to a computer. My first erasable shots were of retired San Francisco trolleys returned to active service one Labor Day weekend.

The Xapshot’s analog technology more closely resembled the way my VCR recorded video rather than my next camera, the Logitech Fotoman. Unlike the color Xapshot, the Fotoman stored up to 32 pictures in black and white, but they were digital, transferrable by cable to a serial port — which almost every PC contained. It took about 1.5 minutes to download each picture or 48 minutes to dump a full load from its internal memory. (Memory cards were still a way off.)

by Gerald Boerner

Our hats are off to the passing of the floppy disk… We remember when we used to boot up our computers with them. I remember when a floppy disk was a giant leap over using a cassette tape to store and retrieve programs files. We moved from 125 KB to 360 KB to 1.4 MB of storage capacity. At the time, this was a major s…tep up, but it pales in the face of a 4 GB or 8GB or 16 GB USB drive! And to think that the cost of a 4GB USB is about what we used to pay for a Floppy! RIP Mr. Floppy Disk…


RIP Floppy Disk

floppy-dead If you’re of a certain age, you probably have a history with floppy disks. The moniker dates back to your first forays into computer games and later came to signify those multicolored, hard plastic contraptions you used to store college papers or work presentations.

It’s probably been a dog’s age since you even thought about floppy disks — let alone had a drive on your computer that could support one — but floppies are actually still popular in India and Japan. Sony is the last manufacturer of 3.5-inch floppy disks, and while the company sold more than 12 million of them in 2009, Sony has just announced it will stop making floppies as of March 2011.

“Due to dwindling demand, Sony discontinued European production of 3.5-inch floppy disks in September 2009. The last European sale of a floppy disk took place in March 2010,” a Sony spokesperson said…

by Gerald Boerner

To all my Photoshop buddies… Just came across this video on the new "Content-Aware Fill" sneak preview of Photoshop CS5 which will be available very soon. This feature can "heal" those minor imperfections that we find in our own photographs and are essential to the process of photo-restoration for old photos… Enjoy… and let me know what you think…


Adobe Photoshop CS5: Content-Aware Fill Sneak Peek

PS_Content-Aware Fill Getting rid of annoying lens flares or an unwanted tree in Photoshop could get much less tedious with a new "content-aware fill" tool. Adobe’s sneak preview of the feature shows how formerly painstaking retouch jobs becomes as easy as watching a progress bar do its magic within seconds.

The tool can also do instant-fixes where users manually erase image artifacts or clean up areas in photos, such as removing divots from grass. Bryan O’Neil Hughes, a Photoshop project manager, narrates a demo that walks would-be users through cleaning up several images…

Even those ugly-edge panorama images stitched together from different photos can become one smooth rectangular image. Content-aware fill’s algorithms fill out the formerly nonexistent part of the panorama photo with the appropriate ground, sky and cloud patterns. Perhaps our inner dying artiste might feebly protest this assault on image authenticity, but our inner Photochopper has already begun salivating like Pavlov’s dogs.

The Impossible Project…

Many of us remember those cute little “toy” cameras around our homes, the Polaroids, which could take a photo and give you a print immediately. This included both black/white and color film. In this day of instant gratification with our digital cameras, we are used to see a copy of our image on the preview screen. But we’re talking about an actual print in the case of the Polaroid. It will be interesting to see how this is accepted… In the meantime, I’m digging out my old Polaroid camera!

Color instant film is due out sometime during the summer. While either of these films will work in many of the later Polaroid cameras (SX-70 and others), they have some special features that are not available on the original Polaroid films.

If you liked this article, you may also like these:


The Impossible Project Reveals New Monochrome Instant Film For Polaroid Cameras|Photography 24/7 


Yesterday The Impossible Project held its long-awaited press event in New York which was delayed with one month due to “some unexpected problems with production”.

After 17 months of research and development, The Impossible Project has announced that it succeeded in its task of re-producing a new analog Instant Film for traditional Polaroid cameras. Two new monochrome Instant Films – the PX 100 and PX 600 Silver Shade – were introduced as the first products scheduled to go on sale Thursday the 25 March 2010. The new films will start shipping to customers at the end of March 2010.

The PX 100 are manufactured for use with Polaroid SX-70 cameras and produce a sepia tone, and the PX 600 Silver Shade is designed for use with Polaroid 600 cameras, which produces a truer black and white image. The films will be available for sale online as well as at select retailers in the United States, Europe and Asia, and at The Impossible Project store in Berlin…


Holocaust Day marked at Nazi death camp Auschwitz

RIP, Auschwitz, May you always be remembered and never repeated… During World War II, the Nazi forces sent European Jews and other ‘Undesirables’, were sent here to be sorted into those to be worked to death or gassed immediately. Those who remained alive were in tragic condition. But 65 years ago, the remaining inmates were liberated by the Allied Forces. A skeleton of the original camp remains today as an “eternal” memorial to those who were sacrificed there.

Let us reflect upon the culture that allowed such camps to exist and work to prevent it from happening again. Human life is worth more than that…


BBC News – Holocaust Day marked at Nazi death camp Auschwitz

Events have taken place at Auschwitz to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp, as the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day.

Elderly survivors gathered in freezing weather in Poland, where the camp was built under German occupation.

Israel’s prime minister and president urged that the Holocaust should never be forgotten, mourned its dead, and warned of a new danger posed by Iran.

More than a million people were murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz.

The great majority were Jews but they also included non-Jewish Poles, Roma Gypsies and Soviet prisoners of war.

… [MORE]

Now that the iPad is here, what is it missing?

Plenty, according to this article. Many features of even netbooks are not available on the iPad and may not be available for quite a while since the iPad uses the iPhone OS, which is fairly limited… Is it taking a look, maybe, but there are a number of tablet computers set to enter the market later in the year…

For me, I call it a "wait and see"!


What’s Missing from the Apple iPad? 

Now that we know what the Apple iPad does do, and the lingering effects of the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field are starting to wear off a bit, let’s take a closer look at exactly what the iPad doesn’t do.

It does usher in a new computing form factor (or rather, revives it) — but it’s a space that will be awfully crowded in short order. Should you rush in to pick up the Apple-flavored tablet, or are there reasons to consider waiting for the series of devices that are sure to follow? For now, a quick look at what’s missing in the iPad version 1.0 might help decide the balance of your bank account at the end of March.

… [MORE]

Will the iPad really kill the Kindle?

I’m not sure that it will… This article presents 4 pro and 4 con arguments; but we need to consider what the true cost of each device is. The Kindle comes with an incredible battery, clear screen (with sizable type), and free 3G networking. Apple has always been notorious for its hidden costs. Just look at the basic iPhone cost for an average service plan ($150 a month). I’m sure that the iPad will also carry many hidden costs and not meet its performance expectations…

What do you think? Leave a comment for us to hear your take on this…


4 Reasons iPad Will Kill the Kindle, 4 Reasons It Won’t 

The Apple iPad burst onto the tech scene today in stunning full-color. Does that mean Amazon’s genre-defining and market-leading Kindle e-book reader is now dead?

“Uh-oh,” is the reaction we can imagine Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had when watching today’s unveiling of the eagerly awaited Apple iPad tablet. The new Apple device looks, at least upon first glance, like it will completely eat Amazon’s lunch. In fact, Steve Jobs even eulogized the Kindle in his unveiling.

“Amazon’s done a great job of pioneering this functionality with the Kindle. We’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a little further,” he said while unveiling the iPad’s iBook e-reader software. But is the Kindle really dead? Amazon proudly proclaimed the Kindle as the number one selling product on, with a huge banner on their home page today. Can it really be all over so fast?

Here are four reasons why the Kindle is dead, and four more why it might still have some life left in it.

… [MORE]