May 2009 Archives
May 23, 2009

Santana at Google


I've taken this picture when Santana came to Google in May 2009. I took a lot of pictures, but this one was by far the best. To take it I laid on the floor, and framed the picture to contain both Santana and the Google logo. Then it was just a matter of timing, I waited until Santana turned to face me.

Update (June 9, 2009): The picture above was selected as featured photo on Picasaweb.

Posted by ovidiu at 12:50 AM | Comments (0) |
May 19, 2009

Autocross with Tesla


This Sunday at the BMW GGC autocross event in Marina CA, two guys that work at Tesla brought their cars for a spin. Most of the people present had a run in the cars, after they've driven the course in their petrol cars.

The Tesla is about 1,000 pounds heavier than Lotus Exige, and you can feel that in turns. It felt tail happy, at least on the Yokohama Neova AD07 tires it had on. However the car has unbelievable acceleration, so the straight lines were very fast. We were a lot of autocrossers, so each of us got only one run in the car. I've done 46.650 seconds in the Tesla, compared to the 45.584 secs in my BMW e46 M3 convertible. With more time to get acquainted with the car, I could have easily dropped below 46 secs.

As a sport car, the Tesla is definitely promising, but they need to find a way to reduce the weight. I'm afraid this won't be really possible unless the battery technology improves dramatically. The issue of recharging the batteries is also huge. You cannot really drive a Tesla to an event, ride it there and then back home without risking having no juice in the battery.

More pictures can be found in this album.

Posted by ovidiu at 08:26 PM | Comments (1) |
May 08, 2009

Oppo BDP-83 review - true universal player: Blu-ray, DVD, CD, SACD and DVD Audio

Cool gadgets

This week I got delivery of the fantastic Oppo BDP-83 player. This unit is the first true universal player on the market: it can play not only Blu-ray and DVD movies, but also CD, SACD and DVD Audio discs.

The unit replaces my former Marantz DV-9500 player that I owned. This was a great player but surprisingly developed a problem with the tray loading mechanism after 3 years of usage: the rubber belt used in the drive mechanism worn out and had to be replaced. In the process of replacing it, I accidentally destroyed the small sensor that detects whether the tray is opened or closed. Calling the Marantz customer support was not helpful: I couldn't manage to get the part that broke even after 4 calls. I decided it's not worth taking it to a repair shop and pay few hundred bucks to have it fixed, so I waited until the new Oppo player was released.

I could not be happier with this decision. The player is smaller and with a much cleaner user interface than the Marantz player it replaces. So far the image and sound quality are very much on par with that of the Marantz player, at a quarter of the price. I got the player for $500 and picked it up directly from Oppo, in Mountain View, CA.

I decided to get the player with the RS-232 option, so I could control it remotely with a computer. The serial port was not originally mentioned in the specs of the player, but it is now an option that can be added to the player for $89.

I am pretty impressed with the way the company decided to release this player. They had an Early Adoption Program (EAP) in which they released the player to a limited number of customers, so they can collect feedback from customers that use it on a daily basis. They collected the feedback and displayed it on their web site, for everybody to see, which is quite impressive in itself. After the first round of customer testing, they fixed whatever problems occurred, released a firmware upgrade and asked EAP customers to test the unit again, this time also asking whether people think the player should be released or not. At the end of this phase, 88% of the customers voted for the player to be released. The company decided to release the player, since most of the remaining problems were pretty minor and could be fixed in future firmware upgrades. I think this a great way to release a product like this and can only applaud the company for doing it!

Check out the gallery of pictures of the player in my current home setup.

Posted by ovidiu at 08:13 PM | Comments (5) |
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