Canon EOS 550D Announced

by Eyre Austero 17. February 2010 07:04

     Last February 8, 2010, Canon officially announced its latest addition to its EOS range of DSLRcameras--the Canon EOS 550D. It is expected to be availble on the 24th of February 2010.  Estimated retail price is $799.99 for body-only configuration and $899.99 for the kit version (bundled with Canon's EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens).

      Walkthrough Video



        Headline Features (source: Canon website)
      Note: Italicized items are my personal comments.

  • 18 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 4 processor with ISO 100-6400 (Expansion to 12800)
  • Continuous shooting at 3.7fps 
  • (Non-crippled) Full HD movie recording with manual control and selectable frame rates (30, 25, and 24 fps) 
  • 7.7cm (3.0”) 3:2 Clear View LCD with 1,040k dots
  • iFCL metering System with 63-zone Dual-layer Metering Sensor (this feature is first seen with the pricier Canon EOS 7D)
  • Quick Control screen to change shooting settings
  • Exposure compensation +/-5 stops.
  • Select maximum value for Auto ISO
  • External Microphone socket
  • Movie crop function
  • Eye-Fi connected functions compatibility


     Key Differences Between the 550D and the 500D (source: dponline.com)

  • ISO 6400 no longer in 'expanded' range (12,800 max remains the same)
  • Redesigned buttons and new movie/live view button
  • Customizable auto ISO ranges
  • Improved 63 zone metering (iFCL)
  • 3:2 format screen with more pixels
  • Improved movie functionality
  • Slightly higher burst shooting rate (though buffer holds fewer shots)
  • HDMI control (CEC)
  • SDXC compatible



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BlogEngine.NET 1.6 Now Available

by Eyre Austero 14. February 2010 01:54

       The latest version of BlogEngine.NET (i.e. version 1.6), an open source blog platform developed with ASP.NET 2.0, is now available for download at Codeplex. Its release was announced last February 1, 2010 at its main site.  Below are the new features of this release copied verbatim from the BE.NET website:

  • Centralized Comment Management
  • Automated Comment Spam Filtering with ability to plug-in custom Filtering modules
  • Multiple Widget Zones (details)
  • Referrers data and Blogroll items now stored in Database when using the DB blog provider.
  • Unsubscribe Link in Comment Notification Emails
  • Referrer Data can be Stored for more than 7 days.
  • Blogroll items can now be Ordered.
  • Newsletter Widget more Intelligent - Emails sent when a post is going from an Unpublished to Published state.
  • Twitter Widget - New options and improvements
  • Page Slugs now saved in Database.
  • New Logging system to Track events and errors.
  • Unhandled Exception Handling
  • Fixes to Comment Notification Emails not being sent out correctly in some cases.
  • Outgoing Email improvements
  • Many other improvements and fixes

     As for me, I've already upgraded from version to the latest and everything is working fine so far. For those who are planning to upgrade, here's a good guide created by David Wynne:  http://www.david-wynne.com/blog/post/Upgrading-BlogEngineNET-from-15-to-16.aspx.

     Kudos to the BlogEngine.NET development team for your continuous effort in improving BE.NET!


BlogEngine.NET | Resources for Bloggers

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My Nikon D5000

by Eyre Austero 8. February 2010 18:11
Nikon D5000

     After more than a month of being through the gruelling task of choosing my first DSLR camera among many choices, I was finally able to come to a decision.  Last January 16, I finally got for myself the Nikon D5000. I bought it from Pixel Pro Megamall and it comes with three freebies: a 4Gb SD card, a camera bag, and a tripod.

     Coming from an advanced point and shoot (Canon PowerShot G9), learning how to use this camera and its features was relatively easier for me since, feature-wise, they share a number of similarities.  The Nikon site also has a good introductory page on its basic operation and features making the learning process even faster.

     I'm giving myself another week or two to fully master this camera so that nothing will get in the way once I start giving it a test drive (ano to car? hehehe).

     For those who are interested with this camera, listed below are some of its pros, cons, and major features.


  • Is said to have exactly the same sensor (12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor)  as the Nikon D90
  • 2.7-inch articulating LCD which might be useful for some shooting types.
  • Built-in intervalometer. (This will allow one to set the D5000 to fire automatically at preset intervals.)
  • 19 auto-exposure scene modes which can be helpful for beginners who do not yet know the ins and outs of digital photography.
  • More Retouch Menu options.
  • Silent Shooting. (Turns off the reminder 'beep' if enabled.)


  • No built-in autofocus motor. (This means that if you want to have AF, you need to buy the more expensive AF-S and AF-I lenses.)
  • No commander mode to activate Nikon's wireless flash. (For the wireless flash, one would need the SB-900/800 or the SU-800 to control other slave flashes.)
  • Fewer direct-access buttons.     

Other Features

  • D-Movie Mode with sound
    Record 720p HD movie clips enhanced by NIKKOR interchangeable lens quality and versatility.
  • One-button Live View
    Easy Live View access offers 4 autofocus modes, including Face-priority AF.
  • Continuous shooting as fast as 4 frames per second
    Combined with fast power-up and split-second shutter response, decisive moments are captured easily without annoying shooting lag.
  • Low noise ISO sensitivity from 200 to 3200
    Engineered for exceptional low-light shooting.
  • Built-in image sensor cleaning
    Effective 4-frequency, ultrasonic sensor cleaning keeps images spot free.
  • 11-point Autofocus System with 3D Focus Tracking
    Fast and accurate autofocus delivers razor sharpness.
  • Auto Active D-Lighting
    Restores lost shadow and highlight detail in high contrast exposures—Selectable and Auto modes available.
  • In-camera Retouch image editing
    Creative in-camera image editing, featuring Soft Filter, Straighten, Color Outline Effect, Perspective Control, Red-eye Correction, Image Overlay, Monochrome and more—all without a computer.
  • Picture Control Settings for personal image control
    Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape and 9 customizable settings.   



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Nikon D5000 or Nikon D90?

by Eyre Austero 17. January 2010 19:09

     For those looking for a fair side by side comparison of the Nikon D90 and the Nikon D5000, I found these three useful:


         Side by side, Nikon D5000 vs Nikon D90 from Mike Kobal on Vimeo.

     (2) http://www.dpnotes.com/nikon-d5000-vs-nikon-d90-compared/

     (3) http://www.dpnotes.com/why-i-bought-the-nikon-d5000-and-sold-off-my-nikon-d90/

     These helped me decide whether to grab the D5000 now or to save up a bit more until I can afford the D90.

     As for my case, I ended up getting the D5000 and I'm happy with my decision.  For my budget, current skill level, and needs, it's the perfect fit for me.

     How about you.  Which of the two would you choose (or have chosen) and why?

    P.S.  If you've read my previous post, my initial plan is to get the Canon 500D (instead of the  Nikon D5000) as my first DSLR.  Let's just say that I changed my mind  (but for the right reasons as far as I'm concerned).

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Basic HTML for Bloggers

by Eyre Austero 10. January 2010 18:04

     For the bloggers out there who have no or little background in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) but  would like to have a temporary break from using their blogging software's WYSIWYG editors in writing posts to instead give the 'raw HTML' option a try, I've prepared a collection of some useful HTML tags and attributes to help one get started. Hopefully, this will stir the interest of some, enough to make them join me in further exploring the world of web development. 

HTML Overview 

     As you might have already known by now,  HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language-the language for coding web pages. These HTML instructions (markup) are the ones that direct web browsers (such as Firefox) how  the contents of our web pages are to be displayed on the screen. To illustrate, let us consider the sample code shown below:

Code View Browser View

< p style="color:Blue;">Welcome to my site.</p>

Welcome to my site.

     Looking at the Code View vs. the Browser View, one can easily see what set of instructions the code directed the browser to display.  The <p>...</p> element tells the browser that the text enclosed within the tag should be displayed as a paragraph. It also uses the 'style' attribute to, in addition, tell the browser that the font should be in blue.

     From the above example, we can also say then that elements and attributes are the basic components of an HTML code. Elements describe every piece of text in our pages.  They are made up of tags (<tag>...</tag>) and the content within those tags. Attributes, on the other hand, allow variety in how an element describes content or works.

     There is still a third component called entities.  These are special characters that you  can display on your web page, an example of which  is the less than (<) sign .  For this to be displayed in the above example, the &lt; entity was used.

      Now armed with a basic understanding of HTML, let us now explore it a bit further through working on the  sample codes listed below the next time we write our posts.

Working with Paragraphs and Texts 

Element Name Attributes Sample Code Browser View
 <p>  paragraph

style (specifies an inline style to an element)

syntax: style="property: value; property: value;"

some examples (properties and values):

font-family: Verdana,sans-serif (etc.);
color: Green (or other colors); 
text-align: right (or left, center, justify);
font-size: x-large (or medium, small, etc.)



<p style="font-family: Fantasy; font-size: x-large; color: Green;text-align:center;">Welcome to my site.</p>




Welcome to my site.

 <br /> line break    

<p>This is the first sentence of this paragraph.<br />This is the next sentence of this paragraph.</p>

This is the first sentence of this paragraph.
This is the next sentence of this paragraph.

 <b>  bold   <b>bold</b> bold
 <i>  italic   <i>italic</i> italic
 <u>  underline   < u>underline</u> underline

Working with Tables

Element Name Attributes Sample Code Browser View
 <table>  table align (deprecated): determines the alignment of the table relative to the page.
possible values: center, left, right (e.g. align="center")

border:allows you to specify the size of the border for the table, specified as an absolute value (e.g. border="1")

cellspacing:determines the amound of space to put between cells (e.g. cellspacing="1").

cellpadding: determines the amount of space to put between the edge of a cell and its contents (e.g. cellpadding="1")

width: specifies the width of the table (e.g. width="50%" or width="300")

style: specifies an inline style to an element (e.g. style="background: silver; text-align: center;")
<table align="center" border="1">
<tr style="background-color: Silver; text-align: center; color: red;">
<td>Column 1</td>
<td>Column 2</td>
Column 1 Column 2
 <tr>  table row
style: e.g. style="background: silver; text-align: center;"  refer to above code
 refer to above
 <td>  table data
align (deprecated)

width : specifies the maximum with of a cell

colspan: allows you to create a cell that is more than one column wide by specifying the number of columns it runs across (e.g. colspan="2")

rowspan: allows you to create a cell that is more than one row high by specifying the number of rows it runs across (e.g. rowspan="2")

style: e.g. style="background: silver; text-align: center;"
 refer to above code
 refer to above

Working with Links

Element Name Attributes Sample Code Browser View
 <a>  anchor href: defines the link "address"

target: defines where the linked document will be opened (e.g target="a_blank" directs the browser to open the document in a new window)

name: defines a named anchor inside a HTML document
<a name="top">HTML Overview</a>
<a href="#top">Back to HTML Overview</a>

Link Snytax:
<a href="url">Link text</a>
<a href="http://www.
w3schools.com"  target="a_blank"

Working with Images

Element Name Attributes Sample Code Browser View
 <img>  image src (source): specifies the location for the image that you want to dispaly on your page

alt (alt text) : provides a description of an image; useful when a browser is unable to load the images of your page or if a user is using a text-only browser

style: specifies an inline style to an element
Sample properties and values:

style="float:left (or none or right);"--the float property specifies whether a box (element) should float or not

style="width: 100px; height:100px;"--the width/height property specifies the size of the image

style="margin-right: 10px;"--the margin property sets the distance between the img box and adjacent elements

style="border: blue dashed 3px;"--the border property allows you to assign a border to an image


<img src="url" />
<p><img src=
alt="My Photo" style="width: 73px; height: 79px; float: left;" /></p> 

My PhotoThis is my photo.

Working with Lists

Element Name Attributes Sample Code Browser View
 <ol>  ordered list style: specifies and inline style to an element (e.g. style="list-style-type: upper-roman (or lower-roman, decimal, lower-alpha, upper-alpha, none, etc.,);")
<ol style="list-style-type:
text-align: center;"

  1. good
  2. better
  3. best
 <ul>  unordered list style--specifies an inline style to an element (e.g. style="list-style-type: circle (or square, disc, none, etc.);") <ul style="list-style-type: 
circle; text-align: center;">

  • good
  • better
  • best
 <li>  list item    refer to above codes  refer to above

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Resources for Bloggers | Web Development

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Combatting Software Piracy through the use of FLOSS

by Eyre Austero 21. December 2009 06:38

     According to the IDC Global Software Piracy Study conducted during the years 2004 and 2005, the software piracy rate of the Philippines remained at 71%. Losses due to this was also found to  increase from 69 million USD to 76 million USD. 

     This only goes to show the obvious: that, indeed, software piracy is rampant in our country.  And the sad thing is, it is also hurting the economy. As concerned citizens who would like to abide with our existing Intellectual Porperty laws (RA 8293 (Intellectual Property Code) and RA 9239 (Optical Media Act)) , what can we do to help? For me, one solution is through the use of free/libre/open source softwares (FLOSS) as alternatives  to commercial softwares that are sometimes difficult to afford.

    My first encounter with FLOSS was during my university days. This was in my one-semester programming class where we created and compiled programs on PCs powered by a Linux OS. My first impression was that the GUI looks nice but at the back of my mind, I did not really think that it can work as well as Windows.  My next encounter is with OpenOffice.org.  Again, this was during my university days when some of the computer facilities (like those in the main library) were starting to have it as the default office software suite.  As with before, I thought that it looks nice (even comparable to Microsoft Office) but was not really convinced that it can work as well as MS Office. 

     I can't fault myself for thinking that way in the past. For one, I did not have much opportunity to explore their functionalities at length. Second, I had this notion that since they're free, something might be wrong with them somewhere.

     Now, things have changed.  Almost all softwares installed in my PC are either open source or freeware. This is because I've used them myself and found them to work fine for my everyday needs. 

     Let me now show you some of the free/libre/open source softwares that I am currently using. I'm inviting you to give them a try to see for yourselves if they're enough for your needs. If ever you don't like them or can't live with their limitations there's always a commercial software out there for you.

Category Software Type
Operating Sytem (Dual-boot with Win7) Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)
Open Source
Office Software Suite OpenOffice.org Open Source
Photo Editing GIMP 2 Open Source
Media Player VLC Media Player Open Source
FTP Client FileZilla Open Source
Encryption TrueCrypt Open Source
Graphics Viewer InfranView Freeware


Computer Software

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A Hassle-free Way to Install IIS, SQL Server, .NET Framework, etc.

by Eyre Austero 16. December 2009 09:33

     If you are currently into web development (or are considering of exploring it) using Microsoft's web platform, here's a nice application that will install IIS, the .NET framework, SQL Server, Visual Web Developer Express, and web applications such as BlogEngine.NET and Wordpress the hassle-free way.  It is called the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI). Quoting from Microsoft's website ,"Web PI handles the heavy-lifting by installing and configuring each component of the platform from top to bottom."

     I personally used it to install BlogEngine.NET after doing a clean install of Windows 7. To my delight, it worked out of the box without me having to configure anything. 

     Attached below are some screenshots of the Web PI.

Web PI Web Platform Tab Web PI Web Applications Tab

Please click images to view larger version.

     For more information about this application, visit  Microsoft's website.


Computer Software | Web Development

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My Beginner Photographer Starter Kit

by Eyre Austero 10. December 2009 06:47

     Inspired by the creative controls for taking photos available in my Canon PowerShot G9, an advanced point and shoot camera, I am now finally completely decided in moving a notch higher.  I am now going into the DSLR plunge and the biggest question now is: What camera  should I get and what accessories at a budget of only around Php 50k (~1000 USD)?

     If only the Canon 40D, a semi-pro (prosumer) camera, were still available in the Philippine market, I would have gone for it considering the steep drop in prices (for even as low as PHP 45k with the kit lens and a local Canon warranty) before it got phased out. As for its successor, the Canon 50D, the camera body alone already exceeds PHP 50K so I'm  removing it out of the picture. With the prosumer model out of my budget's reach, this now leaves me with the next best thing (or should we say cheaper alternative): the latest models in the mid-range segment namely the Canon 500D and the Nikon D5000.

Photos of the D5000 and the 500D

     In terms of performance and features, these two models are in a tight neck-to-neck battle. In the 500D's favor, it sports a 15.1 MP sensor as opposed to the D5000's 12.9 MP; a 920,000 dots LCD monitor resolution as opposed to Nikon's 230,000 dots; a 1080p movie mode as opposed to Nikon's 720p; a maximum sensitivity of 12800 ISO compared to the D5000's 6400 ISO; a greater tonal depth (14 bits vs 12bit); a slightly larger viewfinder; a live histogram in live view; an autofocus motor built into the body; and an optional battery grip.  In D5000's favor on the other hand is its slightly more sophisticated AF system (11-point vs. 9-point); its quicker continuous shooting (4 fps vs 3.4 fps); its on demand grid lines in the optical viewfinder; its fully articulated screen; its lower noise level at higher sensitivities; its time-lapse movie mode; interval shooting; and a more user-friendly interface for beginners.  For a more detailed comparison between these two models, please refer to this article. Over-all, these cameras are very decent performers at their price points.

     For my first DSLR camera then, it would be either of the two. To complete my "starter kit", i'll be needing the kit lens as my temporary walkaround lens (if budget were not an issue, I would go for the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II Lens); a cheap prime lens; and a tripod. Other accessories such as filters, battery grips, external flashes, etc. will have to follow after I fully learned the basics of photography.

     For a preview of how much my  planned "starter kit" (camera+kit lens+accessories) will cost, summarized below are the components plus the corresponding prices (as of Dec 10, 2009).

Item Canon Nikon Notes
Canon 500D kit (EF-S 18-55mm IS Lens) 42,500   3 yrs. Canon Warranty (parts and service)
Nikon D5000 kit (Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR)   45,800 2 yrs. Columbia Warranty (parts and service)
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II 4,000   1 yr. Canon Warranty
Nikkor 50mm 1.8   8000 1 yr. Warranty
Velbon Sherpa 435 5,100 5,100  
Total 51,600  58,900  

     Given the PHP 7k difference between "my" Nikon and Canon "starter kits", I'll go for the Canon 500D,hopefully, within January of next year. 


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Unexpected: My Wap Site is Listed in Que's Official Internet Yellow Pages 2006 Edition

by Eyre Austero 30. November 2009 09:09

     This is quite unexpected.  After doing a google search of my wap site (Wap Hangout)  which I created way back in college, I was surpised to know that it is listed in Que's Official Internet Yellow Pages 2006 Edition.  It can be found within the Foreword under the Wireless Web Primer section and is described  among others such as Google Wireless and Yahoo! Mobile as "some of the most useful wireless web portals".

     When I created this wap site way back then, what I had in mind is to create a  comprehensive directory of wap sites available at that time.  Convinced that I was successful in doing so and of its potential of being useful to wap surfers, I submitted it to a number of search engines to increase its hit points. Least did I expect  that it will catch the eyes of the author of the mentioned yellow pages book. 

      If there is something that I learned from this, it's that hardwork indeed pays off.  I hope that the same will happen to my future works.

     For a preview of how my wap site looks like when viewed using a mobile phone , please refer to the attached screenshots. Mobile phone emulator used is that of dotMobi's.

Wap Hangout Homepage Wap Hangout Menu1 Wap Hangout Menu2
Wap Hangout Bantay-Bayan Wap Hangout Contact Information

     In case your interested in creating your own wap site, here is how it looks like using Tagtag.com's wap site editor.    

Wap Hangout as viewed using the Tagtag.com Wap Editor

Please click image to view its larger version.


Web Development

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My Unpublished Website (coded using XHTML and CSS)

by Eyre Austero 30. November 2009 05:30

      This is probably what we call serendipity.  Middle of last year, a colleague of mine asked me if I can help improve an application (written using Visual Basic) that is being used by the manufacturing line to gather data for Statistical Process Control. Knowing that those who developed it are not professional programmers (i.e. they just learned how to do it on their own), I became interested; gave a noncommital response; and searched the internet  as to whether the programming concepts in Turbo C, the lone one-semester programming subject that I had way back in college, would apply to Visual Basic. In the process of searching the web, I  stumbled across the MSDN site and instead  ended up liking another thing.  Yes, I was looking for Visual Basic but ended up with Visual Web Developer 2008 Express.  This resulted to a series of chain reactions which eventually led me to build from scratch my very own static website.

My Personal Website

Please click image to view its larger version.

      Having no background in web development, building this site did not come easy.  It required a good deal of dedication  and willingness to learn.  For my case, not only did I complete Tier 1 of MSDN's Beginner Developer's Learning Center Web Development Track  but also did the extra mile of reading entire books on XHTML and CSS.  This website, albeit unpublished, is a self-imposed project meant to gauge how much I understood Tier 1. Now that I've completed it, I guess I now earned the right to claim that I've graduated from Tier 1 and is now ready to move to Tier 2.

     In case you're wondering how this site looks like in VWD 2008 Express, attached below is a screenshot.  Although one can build this site using notepad alone, VWD however offers a lot of tools that can make one's life easier especially in managing CSS.

My personal website when viewed using Visual Web Developer 2008 Express

Please click image to view its larger version.

     For those who are interested in exploring web development using VWD 2008 Express, please visit MSDN's Beginner Developer's Learning Center and share with me your experiences.

     P.S.  This website was completed last year (2008), I didn't however have it published because my goal after all is to create a .aspx website.



Web Development

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