Biking

April 17th, 2014

In the beginning of 2012 I made a goal, if you will, to go for a bicycle ride on the trail through the marsh every day that the temperature was above 45 degrees.  I accomplished that goal in 2012 with a couple of exceptions.  I also went on to continue that in 2013.  There were a few more days when “I did not have time” or it was raining, but I was successful in 2013 as well.  We are now part way through 2014 and so far I have pretty much continued this routine.  This 30-40 minute ride every day is a great time to relax and forget about all of the daily tasks.  It gives me time to think about other things, it is fun seeing everyone else out on the trail, and it gives me exercise that I would not otherwise get.  I hope to be able to continue this for a long time!

ZMT

iTunes Gift Cards

February 4th, 2014

For Christmas I received an iTunes gift card.  There is nothing particularly different with that.  But, when I went to redeem that card I was confronted with the option to use my webcam to scan the code on the card.  No, not a QR code.  No, not a bar code.  Just some text on the back of the card.  I think, “why not?!”  I clicked the button and barely held my card up to the camera and boom it recognized the code and redeemed my gift card.  The card was barely in the frame of the camera for a second and it already recognized the text on the card!  This blew my mind.  I am used to text recognition taking forever.  I have tried QR readers and Barcode readers using webcams in the past.  They are horrible.  You have to sit there and reposition the code until it is just right.  And, that is if you can even get the computer to recognize the code.  This solution is so elegant and fast.  Apple needs to license their breakthrough in this technology so that it can be used everywhere!

iTunes 11.1.2 Distortion in OX Mavericks

October 23rd, 2013

I just updated to OS X Mavericks and ran into a problem when playing music in iTunes.  Every song was distorted.  The solutions I found was to select all of the songs in my library, right click choose “Get Info” and pick an “Equalizer Preset”.  I chose “flat”, but the other presets work as well.  Click OK and wait for the setting to be applied to all of your songs and enjoy your music again.  If you are experiencing the same problem, I hope this helps.

- Zach

Kindle

June 14th, 2012

A few weeks ago I saw a great deal on the basic kindle.  So, I thought I may as well buy one and see how I like it.  I had started reading a few books lately and thought it would be a nice way to read books without getting physical books.  So, I bought one and waited for it to arrive.

The day it arrived I opened up the awesome packaging from Amazon.  There is just a plain cardboard box the perfect size to fit the kindle inside.  My brother ordered a DVD the same day and the kindle box was smaller than the DVD box!  This is the way all packaging should be.  No extra plastic, no wasted packing material, no hassle.  Then I took the kindle out, turned it on and downloaded a book.  This was simple enough, just enter the wireless password and pick out a book.  I was already an Amazon Prime subscriber, so I picked one of the free Lending Library books.  It downloaded in seconds and I started reading.  And, I found that I enjoy reading so much more on the kindle than an actual book.  In my opinion, this is the perfect replacement to paper books.

Sprint

June 4th, 2012

Updates in bold.

This issue has finally been resolved.  Thank you to those who actually did something about.

I don’t usually like think about negatives experiences for very long, but this one has gone on for so long that I feel the need to share it.

About a month and a half ago we switched to Sprint for our cell phones.  We were with Alltell, now Verizon and were fairly satisfied, but they no longer offered free “feature phones” and the plans similar to what we had were more expensive.  After visiting Sprint we saw that they had free phones.  We talked to one of the employees there.  My mom looked up my dad’s employee discount with Sprint and saw that there were no activation fees if phones were purchased online, and additional discounts were available in the store.  The employee looked it up to see if there were any activation fees in the store.  She came back and said that there would be no activation fees if the phones were purchased in the store, either.  So, we discussed it some and decided to make the switch to Sprint.

We sign up for the plan and buy four phones.  Everything seems to go fine the day of the purchase.

Several days later we receive an email from one of the employees that helped us during the purchase of the phones sent to one of his supervisors.  The email stated that he had trouble waiving the activation fee during the signup process and that was a large contributing factor to our switch to Sprint.  He was wondering what to do about it.  So, we waited until our first bill to see what would be done about it (give them some time to figure things out).  The first bill arrived and sure enough there was an activation fee on the bill.  My mom called the Sprint store to have the issue resolved.  The employee said she would look into the issue, get it resolved and let us know when she was finished.  Several days pass and no return call.  She called again and got a similar response.  She waited a while longer and still no response.  She called again and spoke to the other person that helped us during our sign up process.  He said that when purchasing phones you should not go through a manager because they do not know all of the policies and procedures involved with the process.  He also said that he had the other employee (the assistant manager) show him why she thought it said the activation fees would be waived.  It turns out she looked at the wrong thing and the activation fee should not have been waived.  But, she clearly stated during the sign up process that it would be waived.  So they said they would talk to their superiors and have something done about it and get back to us.  Several days passed and still no response.

So, my mom calls the Sprint 800 number to talk to someone else.  She talks to the first person, tells them the whole story and then is transferred to a supervisor.  She repeats the whole story and the supervisor says she needs to speak to her superior.  She then says that she is going to call the Sprint store to talk to the person we worked with.  The Sprint rep calls back and says the employee in the store did not recall the conversation.  She then asks if my mom has any proof of the fact that they said the activation fees would be waived.  My mom tells her about the email we received.  The Sprint employee on the phones asks if my mom could fax her the email.  My mom says that she does not have a fax machine and asks if she could email it instead.  But, the employee says it would need to be faxed.  I heard this and said that I could fax it.  So, she agrees to fax the email and the Sprint employee says she will get back to my mom on Sunday since she is off the following two days.  Sunday comes and goes and still no response.

So, my mom calls again and asks to speak to this same person so she does not have to go through the whole story again.  For some reason they do no transfer her to the same person, but she talks to another employee who she tells the whole story again.  This person again says they will call the store and speak to the employee we worked with.  This time she said that she took my mom’s word that the activation fee would be waived, but that is not what happened.  And, my mom is still talking to that person as I write this.  As far as I know the phone call did not result in any change.  Let’s see if Sprint will stick behind one of their employees word and make things right or continue this run around for even longer wasting more of everyone’s time.  Come on Sprint, step up and do what is right.

Oh, and while we were in the store one of the times we heard another lady come into the store saying almost exactly the same thing.  She said that when she purchased the phone she was told there would not be an activation charge, but it showed up on her bill.  Unfortunately, we did not hear the outcome of this conversation, but it just goes to prove that there is something going on here.

Google+ iPhone App

May 25th, 2012

I have come to love Google+ for a number of reasons.  I have found it to be one of the best ways to discover new photographers, musicians and many other people.  I like the visual aspect of it best.  It places more focus on photos and videos instead of merely text.  This seems to be the right direction, and the new Google+ iPhone app takes this to a whole new level.  If you have not seen it, give it a try.  It displays your feed in a gorgeous way.  It incorporates all of the information you want to know about the posts in a visually stunning interface.  I think it is advancements like this that will drive the move to tablets and mobile devices even more.  This gives you an experience that is better than what you get on a regular computer.  The more I see mobile apps improve, the more I am convinced that we may see the computer as we know it go away.

A clean desk???!!!

May 18th, 2012

A few months ago I decided I was going to take everything off my desk that did not need to be there and try to keep it that way.  I was surprised how well I did and how easy it was to keep it that way.  I just got into the habit of putting things away when I was finished with them.  And, I will say it sure is easier to use the space on my desk when it is always clear.  I can use the full top for whatever project I am working on at the moment and try to put as much away as I can before I move on.  Sure, there have been times when I slipped and left a pile for a couple of days.  But, in general it has stayed much cleaner than it ever has been before!

The other day I stumbled upon a blog that talks about how to make changes in your life.  One of the main points is to make things a habit and to start small.  I find it interesting that just after I figured this out with my desk, I come across this blog!  Funny how things work out like that.

Pop-up Ads

May 7th, 2012

If you thought popup ads were annoying before, they are even worse when you are using Chrome full screen on a mac.  Every time I go to tvguide.com to look at the listings an ad pops up full screen.  Grrr…  To make it worse, if I just go to the menu and close the tab, it closes the wrong window!  I have to click on the ad window first.  Then, it goes back to my desktop and not the full screen browser window.  Hopefully this gets fixed.

EDIT:  That didn’t take long…  It seems Google has fixed Chrome so they now open in a new tab and it does not become the active tab.  Perfect solution!

Lewis Kemper

April 16th, 2012

I had the opportunity this past weekend to attend a session by Lewis Kemper.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect before I went to the event.  But, I thought it could be interesting and decided to attend.

He began the event by going over some basics about digital photography — what things mean, what settings to use, etc.  But, the best part to me was when he talked about different techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop.  I am pretty familiar with Photoshop and know how to do just about everything I need to.  But, Lightroom is fairly new to me.  There sure are a lot of nice features built in that you can only discover by messing around a lot or by learning from someone like Lewis.  I have to say, after attending this event I am going to get more out of Lightroom than I have been.  Also, I think this will motivate me to finally setup a workflow in Lightroom to auto import my photos and automatically send them off to a backup drive.  I have been doing this manually for a long time, which always makes me put off importing photos.  Hopefully, Lightroom can make this whole processes faster and easier!

 

Lori Nix

April 6th, 2012

A couple of years ago I came across the work or Lori Nix and I was fascinated by the scenes she creates.  She takes the whole idea of creating a photo to a new level, because she literally creates the who scene as a diorama.  The details in these scenes are amazing.  You can take a look for yourself on her website — http://www.lorinix.net/