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Primed for Disappointment

Posted on July 17th, 2018

Dave!I have long wanted a dash-cam to record all the crazy shit I see while driving. It's all so wacky that even I don't believe it sometimes, so it's good to have photographic evidence.

Since I didn't want to invest a ton of money in tech that was going to be obsolete in five minutes, I decided to buy the cheapest camera I could find until the newest generation of cameras with all the cool bells and whistles dropped in price. I ended up paying $28 on Amazon for a dash-cam that was usually $70 (I think it was on closeout?) and that would be good enough. Sure, the picture is crap and it doesn't have many features... but it would be better than the nothing I had at the time.

Three problems...

  1. I keep forgetting to press the "save" button when something interesting happens, so the video gets overwritten.
  2. So much of the crazy happens just outside of the range of the lens, despite it having a fairly wide angle.
  3. Removing the tiny micro SD card to get the video off of it is a huge pain in the ass.

Last night while I was waiting for an email response, I ran out to the car and grabbed the card. Turns out I had four videos saved. Two of them were of my garage door when I installed the thing and kept accidentally pressing buttons. But the other two were from my last drive back over the mountains...

The first was of a guy peeing on the side of the road. Didn't bother to go in the bushes or nothin'... just whipped it out and was peeing. At least his back was turned, but still. Problem is... all the camera captured was his car. And since the video quality is crap, you can barely see that...

Dash-Cam Footage

Dash-Cam Footage

The next video I saved was a deer...

Dash-Cam Footage

Dash-Cam Footage

   
I was hoping that Amazon's Prime Day would have a massive discount on a camera with a GPS, voice-activated save, and wireless download... but it was not to be.

And speaking of Amazon Prime Day, it was a total bust. The only thing I really care about is gift cards at a discount but I can never snag one. I set my alarm... wait for the card I want to be offered... then click to purchase the second it shows up as available... but it's always, always, always sold out. I couldn't get Petco. I couldn't get Panera. I couldn't get American Eagle. The only card I managed to get was iTunes, which is great... but it's insane that Amazon doesn't offer enough cards to last more than 2 seconds.

The only real bargain I managed to find was a white SONOS One speaker for my bathroom. I had a $100 gift card that was gifted to me when I watched a friend's dog plus I had $65 in Amazon Credit Card points... so I only had to come up with $35 to buy it (except I didn't have it, so hello credit card). The Prime Day Special was the speaker bundled with a $50 gift card, which I could not pass up because SONOS rarely goes on sale, and this is as close as it gets.

Now all I need to complete my SONOS home experience is a SONOS BEAM for my bedroom and two SONOS One speakers (one for the guest room and another for the main-floor bathroom). Then there will be no corner of my home that can't be blanketed in sound... or that's not Alexa accessible. Gotta tell you... this SONOS stuff is addicting. It's just too amazing to have your television or music playing everywhere you want so you can move around the house for chores (or whatever) and not miss anything. If only they made some kind of a SONOS-style video device for my kitchen so I could keep up with television video as well as audio.

That way I won't have to miss a minute of Love It or List It when I am unloading the dishwasher or making dinner.

   

Facial Unrecognition

Posted on July 3rd, 2018

Dave!I currently have 146,427 images in my photo library. And while they are all fairly well organized by date and location, I tend to rely on the facial recognition in Adobe LightRoom if I'm trying to find a picture of a person. It does a pretty good job, though there's a lot of room for improvement. Fortunately there's a "training mode" where you can fine-tune the algorithm's picks.

Take for example pictures that LightRoom thinks are me that are actually me.

And... some pictures not so much of me.

XXX

So... pretty good job, actually.

And yet... Apparently I look like a skeleton doll... a painting of a grody old saint... a statue of some Thomas Jefferson looking guy... a drawing of a woman in curls... and a black blob.

Among other things.

No accidental comparison to Ryan Reynolds this time, however. Just a woman in curls.

Sometimes technology lifts you up.

Sometimes technology kicks you in the balls.

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3D

Posted on April 26th, 2016

Dave!Okay... my new Blu-Ray player can play 3D movies... and my TV can display 3D movies... but I've never bothered to watch a 3D movie because I don't like them much in the theater. They're dark. They're blurry. They're most-often not filmed in actual 3D so the separation sucks. All told, it's just a miserable experience. The sole exception being Avatar, which was something I could really plug my hair into because the 3D was so well done. And because it featured giant blue kitty people...

Giant Blue Kitty People!

Anyway... I bought the Blu-Ray 3D version of Avatar when it was on sale a while back, and I finally decided to dig out the 3D glasses this weekend and take a look. The 3D was absolutely spectacular... better even than the movie theater! Sure, it looked like a video game, but it was... different. So now I'm anxious to try more 3D films at home, but I don't want the 2D to 3D conversion crap that looks terrible. So I'm trying to track down films that were actually filmed in 3D with 3D cameras. And there just so happens to be a terrific website for that called Real 3D or Fake 3D!

Now it's just a matter of which movie to watch next. A lot of Pixar movies look promising. And I'm happy to see that Dredd was shot in actual 3D... so I guess that's a start.

And now for a quick look at my Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra-HD 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player...

Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra-HD 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player

I bought this player not for the 3D... there are plenty of cheaper options for that... I bought it for the HDR Ultra-HD picture to match up with my HDR-capable Ultra-HD television. To anybody familiar with this blog, the fact that I would buy into another shitty DRM-infested physical format may come as a surprise, but there's really no other way to get this kind of picture digitally, so I bit the bullet.

The UBD-K8500 player itself buys into the dopey "curve" aesthetic that has been plaguing Samsung as of late (I still don't understand the appeal of their curved TVs), which looks silly in your media center, but oh well. It's what the thing can do that I cared about, and there's actually two parts to that...

4K Picture.
With four times the resolution of 1080p, the new 4K format is a sight to behold... if you have a television that can display it! If you don't, this player is good for future-proofing and not much else. Otherwise? Well, it depends. First of all, you need a big TV. Second of all, you need to sit close enough to the television that you can actually appreciate the picture quality. Have too small a display or sit too far back, and you might as well stick with the much cheaper 1080p options out there. I have a 65-inch screen and sit approximately 9 feet away. This is the outer fringe of what's recommended to get any benefit out of the increased resolution but, when running a comparison between 1080p and 4K there is a definite difference you will notice. I sure did. It's not vastly huge since my television upscales the lower resolution quite nicely, but enough to make me want to purchase Movies That Matter in the Ultra-HD 4K format. To truly get the best bang for my buck, I move some furniture and sit 6 feet away from the screen. That's when the Ultra-HD really shines, and the extra money suddenly becomes worth the cost.

HDR.
If there were a "killer feature" to the UBD-K8500, it's the ability to send a High Dynamic Range picture to a compatible television. I have such a television, and can say with no hyperbole whatsoever that it's stunning. The expanded color gamut looks great when viewed alone... but it looks jaw-dropping stupendous when compared to a standard HD source. As I switched from 1080p to 4K HDR sources for The Martian and Kingsmen: The Secret Service it was like a hazy veil was being pulled from in front of my eyes, even though the image didn't look as bright. The color fidelity was just fantastic. Everything looks deep, rich, defined, and saturated... all without looking fake and bleeding all over the place. In a dark room on a high-quality display, I dare say that the image you get from the Samsung UBD-K8500 is better than any theater.

So... great picture quality. But what about the many, many, many pitfalls that plague Blu-Ray players of the past? Especially when it comes to speed? Blu-Ray players have historically been absurdly slow to respond... especially through the klutzy menu systems. Is the UBD-K8500 any different? Yes. And no. Yes, it's much faster than my previous 1st generation and 3rd generation Blu-Ray players, but it can still be infuriating when attempting to navigate through long menus or while attempting to jump around the disc. A lot of this undoubtedly has to do with the shitty DRM encoding (which punishes paying customers instead of the criminals seeking to steal content), but it's not like you can expect movie studios to give a shit.

The only real down-sides to my purchase were A] The price ($350!), B] The remote (once again Samsung shows that they have no clue what they're doing), and C] The lack of Ultra-HD HDR titles (no Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, alas). Other than that, I'd recommend the thing if you've got the television/set-up to take advantage of it.

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Categories: Movies 2016Click To It: Permalink  0 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Saga

Posted on July 25th, 2015

Dave!Dave!Dave!I honestly thought that yesterday's struggle with my new travel portable hard drive's reversed USB 3 port would be the worst thing that happened before I leave for my work trip on Monday.

I was wrong.

So very, very wrong.

Last night before leaving work I compiled all my work file folders into a new folder hierarchy so it would be easier to copy what I need for work on the road. Instead of having to sync dozens of folders, I would now only need to sync one. Pretty sweet, right?

Yeah. Not so much.

Before leaving I set ChronoSync to copy my new "master folder" to my new up-side-down portable drive.

This morning I come back to work only to find that ChronoSync reported a total transfer time of 2 seconds with zero files copied.

What the-?!?

Turns out my new "master folder" was completely empty. All my files from the past two decades were nowhere to be found. Thinking that Mac OS X was just playing silly buggers with the "visibility" of my files, I ran Disk Warrior, which usually fixes things right up.

That didn't work so I ran Disk Warrior in "scavenger" mode.

That didn't work so I used the directory backup in TechTool Pro to see if I could recover my files.

That didn't work so I fired up Data Rescue 4 to see if that might work.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing Nothing. Nothing worked. For reasons completely unknown, all my files had been completely wiped from the drive with no option for recovery. And for the life of me, I have no idea why. The free space on my drive is huge because the files are truly missing. No diagnostic will reveal any clue as to what's gone wrong. It's as if everything I've ever worked on never existed.

As if that weren't bad enough, I've been particularly lax in keeping up with my local backups. My most current drive copy is five months old.

I'd be contemplating sticking my head in the over right now if not for the fact that I have everything continuously backed up into the Cloud with a service called BackBlaze. For $189, they'll ship me a new hard drive filled with all my missing files. I started using BackBlaze when Apple's Time Machine backups kept getting corrupted, and thank heavens.

So... no harm no foul... I guess.

One thing's for sure, I need a better local backup strategy.

=sigh= Something new to worry about.

   

Transcend

Posted on July 24th, 2015

Dave!It's been reported that North Korea's dictator and fearless leader Kim Jong Un didn't like the design of his new Pyongyang International Airport so he had the architect executed.

It seems a bit extreme, to be certain, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't understand the sentiment.

Case in point...

When it comes to portable storage, the only brand I trust is Transcend's StorJet line of "Military Grade Shock Resistant" 2.5-inch hard drives. They're tough enough to travel the world with me, fairly speedy, and last forever. I am still using the very first drive I bought ages ago while other brands have long-since died.

So... great product. Well done, Transcend!

Since I'm hitting the road soon, I decided to pick up a new 1TB StorJet since all my current projects won't fit on the 750GB drive I'm using. I keep hoping that Transcend will add the option for a Thunderbolt or Lightning connector since you don't have to worry about which way you plug the cord into them, but all that's available is USB 3. I hate USB with a passion because I always seem to have the plugged turned the wrong way... but at least on the drive-side I know which way the plug goes in, which is half the battle.

At least it was half the battle...

Sadistic Transcend Engineers

   
On the left is my new drive. On the right is my old drive. Note that the USB plug is now upside-down from what it was.

Who is the sadistic fuck at Transcend that made THIS happen?

The years of conditioning I have as to which way the plug goes in the drive has just been sabotaged. And since it's so automatic that I don't even think about it, I have the plug backwards Every. Damn. Time. And it always takes a second before I realize what's wrong because my brain hasn't reached the point that I know to flip the plug.

I absolutely hate stupid crap like this.

They may make great portable drives, but they obviously don't give two shits about the small details that keep customers happy. It's like the assholes at LaCie who keep changing the power adapter plug on their Porsche drives every six months. After two years I ended up with seven drives and THREE different adapters to keep track of. It finally got so frustrating that I trashed all my LaCie drives and switched to Western Digital.

And now I'm seriously considering taking a look at other portable storage manufacturers so I can avoid the flip-flopping sadists at Transcend.

Now, I'm not saying that I want the engineer executed who made this dick move, but I will say that it's probably a good thing I'm not North America's dictator and fearless leader...

   

Bullet Sunday 382

Posted on May 25th, 2014

Dave!If you're in the USA, I hope you're in serviceable condition this three-day holiday weekend... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• SOLAR. FREAKIN'. ROADWAYS! This project is so mind-bogglingly awesome that I really want to believe it's going to happen. Until I remember that all our fucking politicians are in the pocket of fucking oil industry billionaires who will undoubtedly stop at nothing to make sure it doesn't happen. No... our government will finally decide to allow something like this when we're finally OUT of oil, and there's no more Big Oil teat for them to suckle... at which point we won't have the energy to do it, but whatever...

The project has reached their funding goal... but you can still contribute and they can still put your money to good use. Click here to donate in the next six days.

UPDATE: An interesting look at why this idea is fantasy...

   
• The R-Word. And so this happened...

        50 Senators Call On NFL To Change Redskins' Name.

Look, it doesn't matter what the intent is. It doesn't matter the context. It doesn't matter what legacy has been established. It doesn't matter how "respectful" you are. It doesn't matter what tradition and history mean to the team. "Redskins" is a historically hateful, dismissive, disrespectful, racist, and wholly offensive term for Native Americans. Period. It hasn't changed meaning. It hasn't been "taken back." It hasn't "moved past" its vile history. It is just as hurtful to those of Native American heritage today as it has always been. So why is this even a debate? Why has it taken THIS long? I mean, I KNOW this country's history of treatment for its Natives has been atrocious from the very beginning, but how can it ever be too late to start changing that? Despite our tragic history's best efforts, THESE PEOPLE EXIST! And there is no possible reason, context, intent, or excuse where "redskins" is an acceptable term to be used for anything. Then. Now. Forever. That there are people who can't even see how horrifically offensive this word is to an entire people and their culture only goes to show just how ugly it really is. And it needs to stop.

   
• Assholes. Hearing crazy shit from assholes like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh doesn't phase me any more. They say outrageous crap every day in order to shock people into paying attention to them, and I'm just done with it. But when it comes to everyday people? People who say outrageous crap for no other reason than being assholes towards their fellow human beings? That still freaks me the hell out...

Look, I've already written about the idea of people being forced to participate in activities that violate their religious convictions... but this is getting insane. Does nobody learn from history? Does any of this sound familiar? What's the next step? Do we just round up all the gays and the Jews so they don't accidentally offend somebody's religious sensibilities?? Seriously... what the fuck?!? I mean, THIS is the thinking of ignorant America now? I can't help but wonder how many surviving World War II vets are losing their ever-fucking minds right now. Exactly how far does this crap have to go before people wake up and just learn to live together?

   
• The Talk. Helpful video advice for parents...

I don't know what to say about this other than "genius." And holy shit.

   
• BIG! Well, since The Incredibles 2 has finally been announced, but is undoubtedly still years away, it seems like Marvel stepped up to the animation plate to fill the gap with little-known comic book property Big Hero 6...

Looks adorable. Baymax is the cutest thing to come to life since Schmoo.

   
And... unlike the rest of the known Universe (aka "The United States of America"), I have to work tomorrow, so until next week.

   

Pebble

Posted on April 8th, 2013

Dave!What a hunk of crap.

A little less than a year ago I was on a Kickstarter high, backing a lot of projects that looked interesting and useful. One of those projects was for the "Pebble Smart Watch," where my $115 pledge would get me an actual watch once the unit went into production.

My thinking was that something like this would be really useful when I travel. Often times I'm in strange places or potentially dangerous situations where I don't want to be flashing my iPhone around. Why invite somebody to steal it? Enter Pebble. This "smart watch" communicates with iPhone and can display notifications for calls, emails, texts, and such. It will also allow you to do simple tasks like control your music. So, cool, I can monitor my notifications without having to whip out my iPhone every time. Sounds good.

Eleven months later, guess what shows up in my mailbox? That's right, Pebble!

And it's pretty shitty.

First of all, it's huge. Massively huge. If you have boney little toddler arms like mine, it might as well be a brick...

Pebble Watch

As if that weren't bad enough, look how THICK this fucker is...

PebbleWatch2

Oh... and did you notice all the little specs of dust in the case seams? IT CAME THAT WAY! I just took it out of the box, and it comes pre-dirty. And given the number of ugly seams scattered all over Pebble, I can only guess that it's going to look even worse once I actually walk around with it and it gets exposed to the elements.

What's so shocking is that this makes the bulky old Casio Calculator Watch I had in high school look positively svelte. Seriously, until you strap one of these massive things to your wrist, you have no idea how obtrusive and uncomfortable an accessory can be. There is no fucking way I am going to be wearing this around day to day.

If I were to actually consider wearing this pile of crap, I'd probably take time to do a complete review of the thing. Since I'm not, I can say this from the five minutes I played with Pebble...

  • Big as a brick. Display buried beneath enough plastic to choke a horse. Clunky, obtrusive, ugly design. Seams catch dust and grit before you've even taken it out of the box. Makes watch tech from the 80's look positively futuristic.
  • Tells time. And does so with switchable watch "faces"... most of which are hard to read.
  • Displays notifications from your iPhone or Android smartphone via battery-sucking Bluetooth. Suffers separation anxiety when your iPhone drifts out of range for too long a period of time. Does not want to automatically connect back to iPhone when it comes back in range.
  • Controls your music (play/pause, next song, previous song) and displays the currently playing track (I admit this would be cool if you're playing unfamiliar music).
  • Comes with a charging cable that attaches magnetically to the watch from a USB charger (not included) or any device with a powered USB port. Time will tell if Apple sues for trademark violation over their "MagSafe" patent.
  • Has a forthcoming free developer kit which will allow custom apps to be built. I'm not sure how much interactivity Apple allows iPhone to have over Bluetooth (I'm sure Android will be easier), but this could prove very interesting for Pebble owners.
  • No instruction manual or documentation of any kind. Everything is online.

And that's about it, really.

Rumor has it that Apple is working on a "smart watch" of their own. Why I didn't wait for that, I will never know.

So...

If you've got big wrists and like the retro-future possibilities that Pebble is promising, this may be a watch for you (hey, I'll sell you mine for $50 plus shipping! SOLD!)... otherwise, I'd give Pebble a pass.

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