Of the Edge and Technology…

There are some nagging technology posts that I haven’t made over the last few days. I have been stuck in camera land. Partially it is because I don’t have time to set up a couple of things the rest of the way, partly because spring is the busy season in my job. Every season is the busy season, but right now this is the business of the busy seasons. I no longer talk about technology items before they are shipping. But, there is also the time required to set things up.

I am lagging on setup time right now.

The way I look at technology is need vs. want. I look at many things as wants and I understand that. Right now there are several technologies that live in the want someday category. I am not recommending them, nor am I considering them right now. It comes back to thoughts I’ve had over the years of what will be big next. For a long time, I thought more people would have 3d printers in their homes.

I realize now that in fact, most people won’t ever have a 3d printer.

That said I realized some other IoT devices might become more relevant. Home weather stations that are easy to setup and use are something I think will take off. The reason for that is the reality of variability in weather. Knowing how bad the wind is blowing, makes heading outdoors a little safer. Or, knowing exactly what the exact weather is in your area I think is critical information. In the end, it is how you define the words want and need. That determines going forward what you need to do!


Excuse me sir, your box arrived in Cozumel (not where you want it, but where it wanted to be!)

I got an email the other day, and I guess it was normal, but I stopped for a second. Look it wasn’t a negative or a bad email. It was one that I get from time to time. UPS is telling me that I had a package coming. With the reality of porch pirates a growing problem, UPS, USPS and FedEx, DHL and so on are working to reduce the number and incidence of porch pirates. A porch pirate is someone that waits for the delivery truck to leave, casually walks up the porch and steals your box. The hilarious thing for me is they often do so, even with a clear camera on the porch, they, the thief still takes the box.

But this is not a why do people behave poorly post. It is a wow, I just realized that cool tech was floating past my inbox and I hadn’t even noticed. At this point, it is interesting to me the technology that package companies have created to empower the box in transit. I can’t wait for the next generation notification system where my box will send me pictures as it travels from where it starts to where I am. (Hi, I am in Memphis now, heading your way!) I just flew over Indianapolis Indiana, should I drop in and see your family?

Sometimes technology passes us by, and we don’t even notice. Or, in my case, you realize long after the fact. It is important to remember to stop and look around from time to time. I wonder if the next thing for our convenience will be the garbage people sending a text when they enter our neighborhood. Or perhaps an email from your garbage when it reaches the landfill. Or perhaps an email from the team is saying “you don’t recycle enough.” Or “you made brownies, please leave some for the garbage team next time!” I am being a snot, but the reality is such communication isn’t impossible. The value for most people is that they can quickly run out and put the trash by the curb on those day’s they forgot!

PS. Your box says hi!


sometimes we forget the wonder of technology

My camera want vs need poll

Today, the camera and technology column is a poll, the focus on picking the right tool.First of all the reality for most people is you have one, or possibly two cameras. You have either a cellular phone camera or a point and shoot camera. Some have a cell phone and a DSLR, and based on that today’s focus is on building out the best camera choices for you. We will start with the list that was shared yesterday and will be expanded somewhat. (the first paragraph is a link to the actual poll)

The intent of this is to build out a framework for people to consider as they evaluate the concepts of and purchase of a camera or a cellular phone. There are no right answers to the questions (this is not a quiz!). But there are refining questions that will help you in your decisions making process. Once you finish the poll, I would then recommend you build out a pros and cons list. Decisions are a process, and the goal of this polls is not to shortcut the process.

The goal is to provide useful information that is actionable. One of the things that drive me crazy is when someone gives you information that is less than useful. For example when people have connection issues with the Virily site and the first thing people say is clear the cache or delete your cookies. There is an impact on that advice, including the fact that you lose everything you’ve saved other than landing pages. Plus, that isn’t troubleshooting, that is punting. So actionable information is the overall goal.


camera nut

Which camera do you need…

Based on all the camera tech blogs I’ve posted recently I got a great email question. The question was around the concepts I started in my pick list post, but asking me to continue that even further to include cost, functionality and what people need.

Need is a really hard word, so I asked if want was good enough. The longtime reader said want was ok.

Table for Virily

A couple of notes, time-lapse in this scenario is limited to 15fps. Slo-motion video capture for both cellular phones and point and shoot cameras are also limited normally to between 60 and 120 FPS. The higher speed cameras tend to be extremely expensive relative to what you can do with the camera.

Overall the list of wants is short today. I will continue to expand the list over the next few weeks.

The value of flexibility and portability is one that both points and shoot, as well as cellular cameras, provide. The cell phone wins that battle as it tends to be in your pocket anyway. The shockproof cases that work are cheaper than the shockproof cameras, but the reality of the shocking case is that it tends not be being as useful underwater (most can be submerged but are not built for understanding water use). The shockproof cameras are also capable of being 30 feet underwater. That reduces the overall cost for the user.


Camera fan

Cool Tech Review Kestrel Personal Weather Station!

I am a professed weather gadget lover. I have several weather devices that are portable and the two I’ve talked about many times NetATMO and BloomSky. Bloomsky is the system that has a built-in time-lapse camera that allows you to share a time-lapse video of the sky above your house. But today I wanted to talk about portable weather hardware. There are standards for weather systems, plus there are things you have to know about. Wind, wind gust, temperature and wind direction are all critical for boaters and for those who walk outside. You also want to have an alarm system that notifies you when the barometric pressure changes rapidly.

The barometric pressure that rises fast can be dangerous. Rapidly dropping barometric pressure can be dangerous as well. The concept, however, of the various handheld weather systems is can you get the data you need easily. That is why I use the Kestrel Handheld weather station. The advertising on the Kestrel website is that it is the most powerful portable weather station. I’ve had one for more than ten years. I find I use it a lot more now, boating on the Bay than I ever had before. They, Kestrel, are a solid company. First off you can reach out to them, and they respond. It won’t be the exact minute you post your questions, but I have asked them questions four or five times in the past couple of years, and they always get back to you in around 24 hours.

The New version of the link software is solid. You can quickly connect your weather station to your phone to store data. That gives you the ability to graph and set-up warnings. I also like the fact that the system includes both wind speed and a wind direction system that are separate. You don’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out how the two work. It is straightforward. The LCD panel on the Kestrel is nice as well, offering the ability to see the information in bright daylight or the darkness. Overall these devices are for people that are outside all the time, people who boat or people that just like knowing what is going on weather wise where they are. I highly recommend the Kestrel Weather Stations (Handheld) and give them a 10 out of 10!


weather geek

Celebrate Earth Day 2019 early!!!!

As we embark on Earth Day 2018, I thought I would devote a technical and Technology post to the concepts of climate change. First off, there is a great misnomer that people use to discrete the scientific communities assessment of Climate Change, the previously used Global Warming concept. It is used incorrectly because someone says it is colder here today than yesterday global warming is a myth.

Global warming refers to the average temperature of the entire planet, not one specific place. The law of large numbers tells us that anyone place will always be different (higher or lower) than the average. What humans should hear is the words climate change. Climate change is a much different Earth Day Problem. It is, as former Vice President Al Gore said in his award-winning video, an Inconvenient Truth. Inconvenient in that it is colder in DC today than it was this time last year. This of course brings the argument:  “Therefore, global warming is a myth, and this climate change crap is a myth as well right!” Wrong. Climate change is seen more in the fact that we have had 100-year floods and 100 year storms every year in the past five years. The reason a 100 year flood is called a 100 year flood is that it happens every 100 years. We’ve had five, in the past five years.

Climate change is something that humans need to worry about. First, the agricultural impact of climate change may impact humans significantly. The world has both lands that can be farmed that land that cannot be farmed. The rich soil of the land that can be farmed allows for the production of food quickly. The less hospitable locations don’t have rich soil. IF the temperate zone changes and the worlds agricultural areas no longer can support growing food effectively, we will suddenly be farming on sand. Sand is great for tomatoes, but wheat and soybeans don’t grown well in sand.

Today being Earth Day, go outside, enjoy the earth. But while you are out, pick up two pieces of trash and properly dispose of them. Don’t throw out that water bottle you are drinking from, refill it and use it again. Help reduce the impact of humans on mother earth before it is too late.


be early!

cell vs point and shoot pick list…

There are some things you have to have a camera. One of the reasons that so many people use their cell phones as their only camera is the reality of one of the things you need to have. I thought I would share my list and see if people agreed with me.

  1. You have to have the camera with you!
  2. The camera has to be charged, and you have to have either memory or film!

You see that first one drives the cellular camera market. People don’t always think about carrying a camera with them. I traveled for many years and based on that in particular based on being in another country; I often carry a camera. I learned many years ago that the quality of pictures could be critical. The second issue is one that impacts photographers as well. That brings the other components of what impacts photographs.

  1. Light – exposure, and availability drive a camera’s ability.
  2. Distance from the object or person being photographed.
  3. The breadth of the field, i.e., how wide is the object or how big is the group of people.
  4. Color

The first two truly lead you to pick up the cellular phone as your primary camera. Frankly, these four start to tip the scale towards the camera.

First off, you have to be comfortable with what you are using. Secondly and probably more important you have to have a way to backup your digital and your film pictures. One copy in your house is a recipe for heartache (all our pictures are gone).

The last item for today pushes you away from Cell and to a camera.

  1. Underwater

Look even you can take your cell phone underwater it isn’t going to take good pictures. The concept is simple. Pick the device based on the job. If you run into 3-6 more often, start carrying a camera. The reality of the pictures you take, is hopefully they become the pictures you share!


of add-on lenses for Cell phones…

The world of add-on lenses continues to be an interesting market. I have played with a couple of the available add-on lens over the past few years. Plus, based on the rules of this blog, if a reader asks for something well, I do my best to write about it.  I’ve used the Oliclip devices with my iPhone for awhile. They have done a good job in fitting the device to the phone. I do not use add-on lenses for my iPad other than the 3d scanner from Occipital. I also use an add-on laser measuring device on my iPhone called Spike from Ike.

Like an SLR or DSLR, there are three distinct types of lenses you can add on to your iPhone or Android phone. The first is a wide angle lens. The second is the telephoto and then finally there is a macro lens. I have found that the Macro Lens and the Telephoto lens both have similar issues, once you know what you want to capture you have to have steady hands. I don’t, so neither of those lenses works well for me. I do much better with the wide angle lens add-on.

Now, there are image stabilization devices that you can also add. I haven’t tried the combination of the image stabilizer and the telephoto lens. I will have to try that and see if it solves my shaky picture complex. Overall I have stopped using the add-ons, but that is more because of my inability not to have shaky hands. If you can hold the somewhat awkward shape of a phone steady and snap the pictures, then the add-ons will work better for you. Or if you already have the image stabilizing Selfie units, then you will be ok! I will follow up when I have a chance to test the image stabilizer and the add-on lens.


The screen as a service (SCRaaS)

(Author’s note, the picture is of my dog Dylan. He does not approve of the sharing of screens or the use of technology in any form. He wanted me to add that as the price for using his likeness).

Screen sharing devices are interesting, in part because the concept of the screen as a service (SCRaaS) is one that I have talked about for a long time. But the other side of that is the reality of screens. When you are sharing an image with someone and you can throw that onto the screen behind you, or the projector in the room, you don’t have to hand someone your phone. The reason I am concerned about handing my phone over comes from personal experience. I handed my phone to a friend at work, and she accidentally dropped it. The floor was luckily carpeted, and the phone didn’t crack, but it could have.

There are some products that provide the “screen” sharing service. I have tried several of them, and there are two things I have found. The dongles that connect to your TV or projector that don’t require software are the best ones to consider. While there are some solutions that require specific software, they are limited. The Airplay functionality in an Apple Device, Chromecast within the Android world and the native functionality within Samsung Devices (both TV’s and Phones) are easier to setup and use.

HUD systems allow you to protect your phone in your car, safely in your line of vision. AnyNet and some of the other devices available allow you to share the HDMI port of your television. Now the interesting problem I have discovered. At one point or another rather than buy more computer monitors I switched to having multipurpose monitors (i.e., TV). Many of them only have one HDMI port, which makes it harder to share the screen.


SCRaaS fan…

still rolling around digital cameras…

I’ve spent a lot of column space towards cameras over the past few days. The initial discussion was the cellular camera vs. a stand-alone camera. The reality of camera’s had changed racially over the past few years. I remember the first few smartphones that had cameras. I have owned a couple DSLR’s over the last ten years. Starting with the Canon Rebel, moving to the Canon 7d and finally and more recently having a Canon 5DS. The Canon DSLR is my workhorse, need a perfect picture camera. The issue I have is that the images from that camera are larger than many places allow for sharing.

Drones and ROV’s also have cameras, and the capabilities in those “vehicles” have continued to improve. The intent, or goal in the remotely operated vehicle market is to send the robot into an area that is harder for a human to get into. The reality of an ROV that operates underwater is that it can show the humans what is on the bottom of a lake, or all the way to the bottom of the Ocean. A Drone, flying, can operate well above the tree level making it possible for a human to see what is below. Robotic systems can also be sent into hazardous areas to reduce the impact of the hazard on humans.

The question that comes to mind this being my third column on cameras is what do you need in a camera. The reasons I am asking that question has to do with the comments I’ve collected on my blog around cameras. People have all sorts of ideas, and all of them are interesting. There are those who are steadfast in the use of a stand-alone camera and those who are steadfast in the use of cell or smartphone cameras. Neither is wrong, although please make you sure back up your pictures from either source!  The question is interesting. For me it comes down to this question that you can answer or respond to in the questions.

Do you shoot pictures as art or pictures to chronicle an event?