[Wed Nov 16 22:56:52 2011] p|
I almost never write "reviews" of stuff, but there's a lot about
this new Kindle Fire that I want to say and don't want to forget.
All my Amazon Stuff
- Kindle books showed up ready to download. DRM restrictions because I
had books on too many devices was annoying, but that's just me being
lame with too many Kindles. Oh look, my 2600 Subscription is there.
Sweet. But no cover. Lame.
- Cloud Drive Music Player. Yes. Best thing ever, since I've
started uploading from every computer I have to Amazon's Cloud. No,
it's not as slick as iTunes Match, but I'm cheap. And iTunes Match
doesn't work on Android. Or pretty much anything with a web browser.
So yeah, all my uploaded (or purchased from Amazon) songs are up
there, and boom, easy to download a single song or album or everything
by an artist, just like the Android app on Glady's Nexus. Yay.
Words With Friends
Sadly, one of the main reasons I carry around an iPad. This is much
less dorky (but way less annoying to play on than an iPod Touch.) Oh
yeah, Angry Birds, etc etc.
Ugh. Don't set this thing on a Touchstone charging stand, or any kind
of easel with a flat surface, because the Kindle Fire will *shut
itself off* when it sits on its power button. Yeah, yeah, I know you
swiped this crappy I.D. from RIM, but dang, couldn't you have put
little ridges around the power button or something?
So the solution to the power button problem seems simple. Flip the
device over. And yeah, for the most part it works, except... the
screen/password lock does not rotate when you flip it over. Also, Words
With Friends does not like to be played upside down. Boo. Same
with the Wired Magazine app. (BTW, if I've enabled a password lock, I
don't really need a screen lock too.)
Please please add a timeout option, so that it locks after only 10
minutes with the screen off, instead of immediately.
Hey, somebody forgot to slap on a volume control.
Buying an "Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version [+digital booklet]"
- I wanted to buy The Black Keys album, "Brothers", and because it
has a Digital Booklet (yay), the Fire's MP3 Store can't download it,
saying "Web Only". This is ludicrous. The MP3s should go into the
music player, and the PDF should show up as a book.
- So after going to my laptop to purchase the album (I really want
it), the song and PDF show up in my Cloud Drive, and *then* I can go
to the music player on the Fire and download the MP3s. Cumbersome, but
ok, I'm listening to music.
- But wait, I want to look at the liner notes on my Fire. Ok,
let's download that PDF. Hrm, there doesn't seem to be a way to
get at non-music files on the Cloud Drive from this device -- the
web UI is pretty awful. And when I finally do get to the PDF, it
doesn't load up, nor can I download it. C'mon, how about a "Kindle
Fire" folder that autosyncs to the Docs folder on my Fire?
- Ironically, when you search the Appstore for "Amazon Cloud Drive",
QuickOffice comes up, which has support for Google Docs, Box.net,
Dropbox, even MobileMe and iCloud. But not Amazon Cloud Drive.
- Ok, back to the laptop. What's this? I need to download and
install the Amazon MP3 Downloader just to get the PDF? WHAT?
- Ok *fine*, I've downloaded and installed the Downloader. It's
downloaded the PDF. But now... wait, what... you're opening up iTunes
and installing it into Books? Say what? You want me to read this on
my iPad or something?
- Ugh, ok fine, I'm going to e-mail this to Kindle Fire address.
This is incredibly lame..
[Mon Jul 11 12:06:37 2011] p|
Have I mentioned how I'm not a big fan of Twitter? No? Well, just so
I don't forget any reasons, let me write them down.
- No deep search. Try to find something older than a few
days. Nope, not indexed. It is so hard to find old posts. I know
people say Twitter is more about taking the pulse of the
Internet, what's hot, what's trending, what the top topics are, blah
Ok, fine, ADD-monkeys, that's great. But sometimes you want to know
what people said two weeks ago. It's called introspection and
analysis. Meh. (See: searchtastic.com
and topsy.com. They kind of
help. Google used to index Twitter, but no more. :-P
(Somewhat useful: http://archivist.visitmix.com/,
- Hard to follow conversations. Fixed when they added threading, but
not all clients support this, so you still end up with orphaned
answers or questions.
- Tech/customer support shouldn't have to be public
Seriously is your call center/support forum so awful that the only way
for people to break through is to make an end-run around it and talk
to the two people monitoring your Twitter feed? Don't get me wrong,
I'm happy that people are getting their cable fixed and lost luggage
found. But can this really scale? Should it?
- Who cares? Ashton Kucher? I mean, really?
But oh, it does have one positive. It was a ton of tun getting
Conan O'Brien's occasional tweets, because he's a professional
comedian. And there's tons of other funny people, professional
and not, tweeting. It's like a comedy club, in your pocket! But ugh,
something's broken and I haven't gotten a Tweet from Conan in weeks.
This makes me sad. Oh yeah, that's another problem with
Twitter: it's often busted. Fail whale indeed.
[Tue Jun 14 00:54:31 2011] p|
Why I use Phanfare
(long, boring, rambling edition)
I pay for an account with Phanfare. It is $99 a year, which is
a little expensive, as photo-sharing services go. But I'm storing
over 182GB of photos and videos with them. I've been with them since
2006. Here's some thoughts that have been kicking around in my head
for years. I've probably written about them before, but I'll try to
make my points more concise this time:
A Few Cons:
- Full backup. I want to backup everything. Dupes, embarassing
shots, dumb shots. Phanfare lets me upload everything and hide the
bad shots. (Note: I am far too lazy/cheap to shoot in RAW, so this
only applies to JPEG and videos.)
- Video support with proper timestamp recognition. Canon has THM
files which contain timestamp info that Phanfare recognizes when
importing (Grr, not with the web UI. Windows or Mac versions only.)
You can even fake THM files for things like Flip videos using exiftool
and assuming you've set the clocks on all of your cameras, you can
dump co-mingled videos and photos from multiple cameras into the same
album, select Sort by Date, and not worry about putting stuff in the
right order. Oh, your videos will be converted to H.264, 720p, 3mbs.
Also, there is a 20min/2GB (whichever you hit first) limit on videos.
I haven't really hit these limits. Hope that works for you.
- Auto-date - albums have a date (or date range) associated
with them, and this can be automatically determined based on EXIF data
of the images within. I cannot stress how phenomenally important this
is, for reasons that will become clear later.
- Display of albums in reverse chronological order of when
they were taken, with pages, the way god intended. Thanks to
Auto-date (or in rare cases like scans where I have to override
auto-date), every album has a date of when the photos and videos
were taken. This means that recent stuff is on top, and you can
page and scroll back through the years to find other stuff.
- Windows and Mac clients are free, fairly stable, and let you start
deleting/hiding/captioning/cropping while uploading in the background. They've
actually gotten pretty slow of late (especially when uploading
gigabytes of photos and videos at once). So I mainly just use them
for uploading (see video timestamp issue above), then do my
deleting/hiding/captioning/cropping later, either with the Win/Mac
clients, or the web UI OR the iPad app (see below).
- iPad app is *amazing* (when your connection is fast
enough and it doesn't crash). Browse albums. Search through album
titles/descriptions/captions. Delete/hide/caption/crop. Run a
slide show. It is really really great stuff. When it doesn't
crash, which lately has been less and less. Also, you'll need a fast
connection, which I think I mentioned.
- Web manager is solid. I was skeptical at first, but I'm
now a pretty big believer in the capabilities of a web-based photo
manager. They've got drag-and-drop within an album and for moving
to other albums, cropping, along with stuff that shouldn't be hard
to do like deleting/hiding/captioning. If you've ever tried to move
photos to multiple albums or crop a bunch of photos with SmugMug,
you'll know that it's pretty painful for more than a few photos at a
time. And having to use Piknik within Flickr just to crop a photo is
one of the biggest pains I've ever experienced. The Phanfare web
manager can even do reasonable brightness/contrast/red-eye fixes. It
ain't Photoshop or Lightroom, but then again I'm not Annie Liebowitz
or Ansel Adams.
I think I'm going to bury the lede here: Many years ago when
iPhoto first came out, like everybody else I was impressed with what
the tool could do, but as a nerd, I was unhappy that it forced its own
folder hierarchy on me. That is, year/month/date, which is reasonable
enough, but I did *not* want to be locked into only using iTunes.
Also, there was all this metadata that was a big unknown.
Granted, later versions of iTunes let you leave files in place, but by
that time, I had decided I would create my own folder structure
(year/year.mo.da-Description), and try to use that consistently.
When I gave Lightroom a whirl, again, I was very impressed with
what it could do, even on my sorely underpowered little Dell laptop.
But again, there's the mysterious metadata, and the question of what
happens if I want to bail on Lightroom.
So, I overload my foldernames with too many keywords. And I rely on
EXIF information in each JPEG to give me date info. And I don't have
to update iPhoto/Lightroom/Aperture and my computer every time there's
a new version. (Of course after buying new cameras that shoot 720 and
1080p video I *do* have to buy new hard drives, as my mirrored 500GB
disks are now full.)
Of course I still want to crop images now and again. But do I do
it on my originals? No. Why bother? I can crop them again if I need
to. I crop in Phanfare. I upload everything. I can hide the blurry
shots. Or maybe it's not blurry -- it's just artsy. Ok, unhide.
(Nearly) everything we shoot is up on Phanfare. We can publish it, or
not. Whenever we get around to it. But as long as it's up there,
it's ok if the hard drives crash. I still have some backfilling to do
for years between 2000-2005 (pre-Phanfare, and/or pre-children), but
important stuff is up there.
Full disclosure though -- I have an unfair advantage over you
-- I'm married to Glady, who has an insane visual memory. If I'm
trying to remember when we took that cute photo of Noah on the couch
with his green and purple sweater, she'll be able to narrow it down to
month and year. This is of course ridiculous and impossible, but it
means that my laxness in tagging doesn't matter so much.
However, for those occasions when Glady isn't available for
consultation, I have thought that face recognition or geotagging
would be cool. But when it was added to iPhoto '09 and then Picasa
web albums shortly thereafter, I tried to have it crank through our
photos. But I had neither the CPU nor the patience to go through
all of our photos. I had aspirations of exporting that face data
back into the images as EXIF keywords, but in retrospect, uh, I know
what my kids and brothers and parents look like. And with album
title/description overloading, I can find all of the Christmas photos
with a fast search. Thanks to Phanfare recognizing EXIF tags and
dating albums accordingly, I can see what year each album is and drill
down to the right one.
Of course this also works well with my local storage solution
when OS X or Windows has done a good job of indexing the folder
names, but I don't carry those drives around with me everywhere.
- No keyword support. Normally I could care less because
I take way too many pictures and I'm way too lazy to tag photos. And
anyways, Phanfare doesn't support them, so I intentionally overload
my album descriptions with things like: "So-and-so's 5 birthday at Chuck
E. Cheese" or "Luke at Bright Beginnings - Sand, Art, Tricycles".
Phanfare *does* have wicked-fast searching across Album/Section Titles
and Descriptions as well as captions. So from the web, PC clients, or
the iPad, I can usually find a given photo pretty quickly.
But on occasion I would really love to be able to tag things as
"2010scrapbook" or just flag something as a favorite, because when
you have 182GB of photos and videos and you're trying to put together
a Christmas calendar or preschool scrapbook, it's really really
handy to be able to individually tag photos.
- Slowness. Phanfare is based in New Jersey. So even
though they're using Amazon S3 for storage, I believe all my images
have to come across the continent to get here to California, and
lately, it's been pretty slow, sometimes taking 1-3 seconds for
images to load, which is pretty miserable.
- Viewing UI needs work. So yeah, Phanfare's external
presentation of photos has always erred on this side of boringly
functional. Not a lot of layout options/variations. You could change
color schemes, but that was about it. Lately they've let you
customize headers and footers and I'm sure there's some DIVs in there
you can mess with but meh, it is what it is. I just wish it was
above, it's been pretty slow lately.
It's still a way better way to browse photos than Flickr though,
which combines slowness *and* clutter. If anything Phanfare is *not*
cluttered. But yeah, kind of stuck in the 90s from a design
standpoint. Not that the 90s were bad... But it's no Zenfolio. Then
again, neither is SmugMug.
[Thu Apr 21 11:07:19 2011] p|
Man, whenever I wear my darryl.com shirt and somebody asks me about
it, I realize my site is woefully out of date.
So here's something not so new anymore:
I won a bike!
[Wed Nov 3 13:53:42 2010] p|
Help Us Win a Nissan Leaf!
Ok, no more silly contests for iPads or Kindles. This one is for
an electric car -- a Nissan Leaf!
for Glady, Darryl, Noah and Luke to win a Nissan Leaf!
[Thu Sep 23 13:35:18 2010] p|
So, would this get you to think about storing your photos somewhere
else? What would you need to get you to pay?
- Big images in a nice slideshow
- Sharing with people outside of Facebook
- Password protection to limit sharing
- Easy uploading of lots of images
- Easy downloading of lots of images
- Backup of full-sized originals for safekeeping/printing
[Wed Aug 25 15:40:38 2010] p|
Hey, how about a non-iPad/Kindle related post? Ok!
Remember when the Palm Pre first came out and there was a big
hullabaloo about how it was recognized by iTunes as an iPod, then
Apple broke it, then Palm fixed it, then Apple broke it again? Ah
yeah, good times.
Well, anyways, it looks like ultimately Palm gave
up. Fine. I don't mind dragging-and-dropping music via Windows
Explorer or the Mac Finder. However, I do sometimes get these
compilation discs or samplers where the Album is not the same for
every MP3/AAC file. And here's where dragging-and-dropping fails,
because for these songs, you need a playlist to keep them
Supposedly Winamp is supposed to recognize the Palm device and let
you create playlists, but for whatever reasons the version of Winamp
I have 1) could not create a playlist of iTunes-purchased AAC files,
even though they were *not* protected with DRM, and 2) wrote the
playlist (M3U file) to the root of my Pixi's Music folder instead of in the
folder of songs.
But the M3U file it did write at least gave me a clue. It was in
So, it was easy enough (for my purposes) to do from a DOS command-prompt:
\Music\Some Folder\Some Song
cd P:\Music\Some Folder Of Songs
dir /b > playlist.m3u
P:\ is where my Pixi is mounted. dir /b does a "bare" directory listing
without timestamps, file sizes, etc.
And voila -- I have a playlist of all the songs in this folder that
webOS will recognize and play. Woot!
Lingering issues - ok, so what if you want to create a
traditional playlist of songs from multiple folders? I dunno, but if
it lives in the root Music, it pretty much gets ignored. Does it have
to live in a folder along with at least one of the songs on the list?
Dunno. Not my problem... yet.
[Thu Aug 19 11:34:43 2010] p|
So apparently this Twitter thing is publicly available. Who knew?
So if you say dumb things on it, or don't watch who you're "following", then it
might come back later to bite you in the butt. Even if you scramble to try and delete those comments or that account later.
And on that note:
lt: I know I'm talking out loud when I post on twitter,
but with facebook I share ONLY with friends. Not even friends of
friends (except in some cases like recent wedding pics I posted).
darryl: lt: you're talking VERY loud
darryl: And somebody is writing down everything you say
darryl: and another guy is making photocopies of that
darryl: and also, sending it to people in different countries
darryl: just in case.
[Sun Aug 15 11:02:51 2010] p|
A few more notes:
- No contact syncing for Gmail/Facebook/LinkedIn?
Totally weak. Clearly I've been spoiled by Synergy. Hrm, don't suppose HP
would consider selling this as a iPhone/iPad App?
- It occurs to me that I've had this feeling before, of missing a
real keyboard. It was when I still had a Palm III, and as great as
was, pairing it with the awesome Stowaway folding
keyboard. I loved that keyboard. Bought one for the III, and
then the V, and yeesh, even for the Zire 71 and i705. Desperately wanted one
for the the TX or Treos, but the Athena Connector didn't have CTS or
RTS. Such a bummer.
But anyways, I remembered that I think I have one of these Palm foldable
Bluetooth keyboards somewhere. I'll have to dig around at work,
but hopefully it'll work with the iPad, as it seems to work with the iPhone.