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December 2010

Written By: Gary on December 30, 2010 No Comment

I’m not sure what kind of playback unit this is, probably digital, but it doesn’t look like it. The screen was only about 4 or 5 inches diagonal and had some kind of touchscreen interface. It looked like it was ancient and belonged in a rack in an old TV studio.

Now while I’m picking on it, I do realize this was probably pretty cool technology when it came out. But these days the could probably just be using a $200 iPod touch for it. That’s probably 15 pounds they’re not flying around for hundreds of thousands of miles a year (a month?). And while they’re at it, ditch these old TV monitors (that weigh a ton) and put in some cheap LCD screens that barely weigh anything…

Watch in HD

The audio isn’t that great, I’m kinda hoarse and the plan is kinda noisy.

Please note, I shot this with my iPhone on the plane, uploaded it to YouTube (via GoGo) and typed this text and posted it while sitting on a plane. That is so cool (IMHO).

Written By: Gary on December 30, 2010 One Comment

So sad to be leaving the sunshine and my waterfalls :(


But it’s time to go back to Michigan.

Written By: Gary on December 30, 2010 No Comment

Skype 3.0 has now been released for the iPhone and it now supports video! Of course it supports the front and rear cameras on the iPhone 4! And it does the calls over 3G too! And it’s free. What are you waiting for? Go get Skype with video right now…

What’s New in Version 3.0
Improvements:

  • Make Skype to Skype video calls on WiFi and 3G*
  • Call Skype desktop users (Mac OS X or Windows) and other iPhone users.
  • Two-way video calls supported on iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 4th gen.
  • Receive only video supported on iPad and iPod touch 3rd gen, with no camera.
  • Make video calls in portrait and landscape.
  • kype video calling requires iOS 4.0 or above.
    *Additional Data charges may apply

What more can I say other than go try it out?

Actually, I could say “Where was this for the last 10 days when I was in Costa Rica?!?“.

Written By: Gary on December 29, 2010 No Comment

This is me jumping of a BIG rock at the lower falls in Montezuma Costa Rica. It’s not very high, but you really need to get out past the rocks below (and the water is WAY deep).

Watch in full screen HD!

My videographer (German tourist) shot a bit of the falls after, and them me swimming back, so after the action it kinda slows down…

Written By: Gary on December 28, 2010 No Comment

Just a quick pan of the upper falls in Montezuma. I’m thinking they’re about 40+ feet, but looking how tiny the people at the top looks I want to say it’s taller. Next trip I’m bringing a ball of string to drop over the edge and then I’m just measuring it…

The thumbnails is small but the video is bigger or you can watch in a larger window.

FYI, The guy at the end of the video (above) is standing right at the top of the lower falls (130 feet is).

Actually, the (video) is of the second falls, right above these falls is another pool with some 20 foot falls.

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This was just a quick update since I haven’t done much of an update lately…

Written By: Gary on December 25, 2010 No Comment

In Montezuma, Christmas at the beach is like any other day, it’s Pura Vida! Which means “pure life”…

You can watch this in HD.

I’m off to Christmas Dinner at Cafe Organico and will be listening to Aelias while I’m there…

Written By: Gary on December 25, 2010 2 Comments

Here’s a little Doctor Who present to keep you busy until today’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, a free eBook titled Snowfall.

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I think it’s several short stories, but you’ll have to read it to see how it all ends.

And here’s the preview for this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special

Written By: Gary on December 24, 2010 One Comment

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! I was down by the ocean this evening and the colors in the sky were looking great and I shot some video so I’m sharing my Christmas Eve with all of you…

It’s even prettier in HD.

Sadly, Montezuma is on the wrong side of the peninsula so this is all that I can see from here. But I still think the colors looked excellent tonight!

Written By: Gary on December 23, 2010 No Comment

I went to Cobano to go to the bank and wanted to get some lunch but I also wanted to be closer to the bus, so I got lunch to go. Here’s my story…

View the HD video at YouTube.

And the chicken (as usual) was delicious, and the big piece was huge! The two pieces plus the bread “stuff” was $3 and I think I paid about a $1.20 for each of the two Coca-Cola’s that I drank; honestly that sees a little pricy for the Coke for just being the vegetable stand in Cobano, but usually I get the bottles at a restaurant and they’d charge more so it’s hard to tell…

Written By: Gary on December 23, 2010 One Comment

The Word Lens application is amazing, one of the best uses of augmented reality yet! word-lens-logo.pngYou just point it at a sign (or any text) and it removes the words that are there and superimposes the translation over the old text.

The program is free and if you want to test it out, it’s two translation modes: “erase the text” and “reverse the letters”, while not very useful, make a great demonstration. The Spanish-to-English dictionary is $9.99 (they also have English-to-Spanish for an additional $9.99).

spanish-sign-word-lens.jpg
Here’s the sign that was taped up that I wanted to read.

It’s not the best video, but I really wanted to demonstrate this in a real world example. And since in the middle of recording the video I realized it was time for my bus, it’s pretty real world…

You’ll want to make the video full screen to actually be able to read it (and maybe you’ll need to pause it to really see what’s going on).

As I said you’ll want to look at it full screen (in HD) or you won’t be able to see the action on the iPHone screeen, so be sure not to just watch the embedded version.

I forgot to mention, no internet connection is required to use it! Once you purchase a dictionary it’s on your device (I assume it runs on the iPod touch with the camera also), it’s actually got a “dictionary” where you can look up words.

UPDATE: Also available for Android devices and Glass.

UPDATE: Now they also have Russian, Portuguese, German, Italian, and French available. To be clear the program translates back and forth between English and the other languages, but does not translate between the other languages (yet!).

Written By: Gary on December 22, 2010 No Comment

I always feel like these stacks of rocks are something the aliens left behind; you know, like they did with the pyramids.

When I went to the waterfalls in Montezuma, I saw the aliens had been very very busy…

Also viewable in HD (of course).

Actually, later I did notice a few people adding some smaller rocks to the tops of some already existing piles. I was too high up to get some good footage though. Some people calls these piles “cairns” or “ducks”; personally, “cairn” makes me think of something religious or a memorial.

I was really hoping that zooming in would change the rocks scale to make them look huge, but no such luck. Not sure if it’s the plant life or that everything looked in focus (or something else) that made it look so different. But I still thought it was fun enough to share…

Written By: Gary on December 22, 2010 One Comment

Just kind of beast crawling around making a lot of noise on the roof. At first I thought it was someone (I say “he” in the video) up there fixing a leak or something (it’d just been raining). But a little while later I spotted this. The video is a little slow in the middle but it does pick around 53 seconds.

And it’s watchable in 1080p HD, so be sure to watch it full screen! Can anyone tell me what it is?

The next morning I was eating breakfast on the balcony and this guy was up in a tree nearby. It’s something different, doesn’t appear to have the spiky things on it’s back.

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The image is a little dark, but you can see better if you click to enlarge it. FYI, I don’t eat breakfast without some kind of camera nearby, you never know what might be nearby. Usually we have the lizards and monkeys, but I’ve not seen any monkeys by the hotel yet.

Written By: Gary on December 21, 2010 2 Comments

As always the ride from Puntarenas to Paquera was fun and we got the big ferry which is a lot nicer than the little one. The boat was packed, I’ve never seen it that full of people before. The weather was gorgeous but got a little cloudy at the end of the ride (before the rain that started after the ride) but otherwise it was a great day for the ride.

This isn’t charming music that I edited into the video, it’s what was actually playing on the ferry in the background while I was shooting the video!

This video is watchable in HD (and for the first time you can watch video from me in 1080p! If you do watch in 1080p, let me know how it looks, I don’t have a screen with that high of resolution.

PS – This was mostly just me playing with the zoom on my new Canon Vixia HF20 that I mentioned the other day and I’m still a little shaky using it…

Written By: Gary on December 21, 2010 4 Comments

Totally worth going outside for! The eclipse was very cool looking. I’d had a long day so I’d taken a nap and set the alarm to make sure the sky cleared up enough, it did, so I got my gear together and went outside for a while.

lunar-eclipse-dec2010-a.jpg

It looked much much redder than these shots show (since these show virtually no red). It was actually more of a dark orange with red tinting.

lunar-eclipse-dec2010-b.jpg

Not that these shots show anything very clearly. Considering that the Moon was now “10,000 to 100,000 times fainter than it was just a couple of hours ago”* it wasn’t a big shock.

lunar-eclipse-dec2010-c.jpg

And while I saw a few shooting stars, nothing like the meteor show I though that was supposed to be have seen once the Moon was dimmed…

In hindsight, I wouldn’t have brought the camera (or tried to shoot video), so I could have paid more attention. But then I’d have wished I had brought it, right? Actually, the tripod on the SLR probably would have been the best choice. I had it on the video camera but the video just came out too grainy ; plus, the darn Earth andMoon kept moving so I had to readjust.

Written By: Gary on December 19, 2010 No Comment

Just testing out the Free WiFI on my plane! I shot this with my iPhone 4 and uploaded it and now I’m blogging it from my McBook.

And you can even watch it in HD!

The world of technology is an amazing place!

FYI: The WiFi is free because of a promotion Google Chrome is doing through the holidays.

Written By: Gary on December 19, 2010 One Comment

It was the extended family Christmas celebration today, there were 20 people or so there. Most of my aunts, uncles, cousins and cousins kids were there. Just a lot of food, hanging out, playing Apples to Apples, hide and seek and all sorts of other stuff. It was great seeing everyone and it was at my Mom’s house (she hasn’t had the extended Christmas for years!) so that made it even better.

As I was unloading the chairs and stuff from my car, my iPhone reminded me of something else Christmas-ish.

fireworks-a-dec2010.JPG

So I hopped back into my car and drove over to Greenfield Village to catch the Christmas Fireworks! It’s only 3 miles from my house, so it was just a quick trip.

fireworks-b-dec2010.JPG

They do a big old fashioned Christmas evening, if you’ve never been you need to go, and they end it with fireworks so I just drove nearby to a place where I could see them. They do it about six or seven times per season, they’re still doing it through the 27th of this month (but they sell out, so don’t wait).

Written By: Gary on December 18, 2010 No Comment

Why don’t we connect with our friends enough? I had a close friend who lived in Europe for three years, when did I finally go visit him? One week before he moved (duh!). Why wait?

I’ve got friends that live close that I haven’t talked to in ages. Why not?!?

Tron Legacy [Blu-ray] Joseph KosinskiWe’ve all got friends close and far that we haven’t seen. Take a minute and make plans. A few months ago I got a message on Facebook.

Hey, what are you doing around Dec 17? 
I'm hoping to be in town. Want to see Tron 2?
I think we saw Tron 1 at the theater.

That’s all it took, a couple of messages back and forth and I saw a friend I haven’t talked to in years and haven’t seen for over a decade who lives a 1,000 miles away. How easy was that?!?

Mark, David and I met up, had drinks and food, saw Tron Legacy at the IMAX in 3D (which was awesome!) and then went and had pizza afterwards. It was a great night. We talked a lot (lots of glory days kinda stuff) and caught up on life.

So take a minute, when you talk to someone over the holidays make a point to make plans with them and see them sometime soon…

Thanks for checking in David!

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Written By: Gary on December 16, 2010 No Comment

I just got a “new” Canon Video Camera, a refurbished Canon Vixia HF20, I was really eyeing this camera last year. Someone had it way on sale, I ordered it and they never shipped (and didn’t charge me either). And it’s just had everything I liked: good reviews, option for an external microphone, seems to be compatible with iMovie, relatively easy to use and refurbished meant it had a good price (plus, I had a coupon code).

I’ve purchased refurbished equipment before and it’s always worked out for me. As I started opening the box I liked the way they had it all together in some pretty generic packaging, so I closed it and started filming (yes, it’s as boring as it sounds).

And you can play it in HD too!

As I said, the camera itself isn’t so much the story, since the camera has been out for a while, it’s all about the generic packaging (boring). FYI, I shot this with my iPhone camera, hopefully I’ll be posting more videos with my new camera soon…

Written By: Gary on December 15, 2010 No Comment

So the other month I did a post about “Where were you when _______ happened..?” and mostly the things we remember in that kind of significant way aren’t very positive things (usually disasters or death). So I’ve been thinking of a few non-negative “where were you?” things and thought that I might use a few of those for a few blog posts.

Landing on My Feet: A Diary of Dreams Kerri StrugI’m not a huge sports or olympics person but I remember being home watching the Olympics. In particular (at the time) I do recall thinking the Canadian coverage was so much better than the US coverage. Now that I look it up, I didn’t even remember that was the year they were in Atlanta, so that’s even weirder that I remember that about the Canadian coverage, but that’s how I remember it.

I remember the one time she did the vault where she hurt herself*. Then she went again and while it was perfect she had to stand there on one foot and you could really tell that she hurt herself. She literally crawled away and they at some point Bella carried her around and that was one of the photos you saw over and over again for the next few weeks. It was the Olympics, and with prime-time television coverage delays I don’t really know how “live” it was but to me it was (actually I think I caught this before before it played on the US feed, because I remember talking to my Mother about it later).



Here is the direct link to the video

I’m not sure what it is that I remember, the determination, the way she did the bowing to the crowd on only one foot (it was like a scene out of a movie, but real) or what. But it’s just one of those events that really stuck in my head.

* Now that I watch it again, I really thought she hurt herself more on the first vault.

Written By: Gary on December 14, 2010 No Comment

I got a new book and it’s hysterical. But you’ve got to love books end enjoy technology to get all the jokes. If you’ve provided some technical support you’ll find it extra funny too. But it’s really for everyone who’s got a digital device but still reads…

It's a Book Lane SmithThere is a few pages from the book posted at Amazon if you scroll about a third of the way down it gives you a good feel for the book; there is also a video but the video really gives way too much away (and I don’t think it’s as funny).

The problem is there’s one line in it that might offend someone if you let kids read it (one of the character’s name is Monkey while the other is Jackass); it’s fine, but there’d be complaints if it was in a children’s library. While it’s presented as a kid’s book, it’s certainly for adults, especially for adults who read…

So if you’re looking for something else for the reader in your life who has trouble giving up books to get a KIndle, a Nook or some other digital reading device, they’ll appreciate this book.

Also, it’s really inexpensive. But Amazon always jumps their prices around, so I can’t promise the price, but today it’s listed at only $5.55, so it’s kind of a no-brainer if it stays that low…

Written By: Gary on December 14, 2010 No Comment

Poor customer service has always been a annoyance to me. Be nice and be courteous and try to deliver it with a smile. Especially in this economy, how can you afford not to be nice and courteous?

That said, the folks at the Wash Haus (in Dearborn, Michigan) have always been extra-nice and ultra-courteous. They have a laundromat, drop off laundry, dry cleaning and they do alterations. I’ve got a washer & dryer at home so I only use them for dry cleaning and repairs/alterations. And when I say repairs, I mean some stuff that I wasn’t even sure if they could fix.

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Today, I dropped some items off today to be dry cleaned and an odd shoe repair (my Five-Fingered Vibram shoe has a tear in it) and he took my number so he could call me to let me know if they could fix it (he’s called me before about repairs).

I think it’s just the way the owner talks to me, he’s just polite (maybe even respectful) and it doesn’t matter if I’m in shorts or a suit (and I think the owner has been there every time I’ve been in). And it’s not like I’m their best customer, I probably haven’t been there much more than a half-dozen times in the last year, he actually remembered that it’s been about six months since he’s seen me.

Bottom line, if you’re in the area you should give them a try! They’re at 5280 Schaefer Road on the south side (between Ford Road and Michigan Ave.) in Dearborn; before this year, the place was under different management so if you didn’t like them before, there’s new folks in charge. Check out the photo since there’s a competitor a block over; plus I thought the blue sky came out awesome for just stopping in the road and using my phone for a quick snap. I couldn’t find a web page but they do have a Facebook fan page (which has a year old price sheet).

Written By: Gary on December 12, 2010 One Comment

While this is my seventh year blogging, I can’t brag about it too much since this past year I’ve only averaged five posts a month. Just a few years ago I averaged more than one post a day so this is incredibly poor. Since I received over 400 comments in the past year (on new and old posts) so you’d think that would have been a motivator…

It’s strange, I had lots of stuff to talk about since I’ve had a few trips, got a new job, saw lots of concerts, and did bunches of other things. santa-hat-IMG_1263.jpg Plus, I took huge amounts of photos this year, but still I only posted a few. (On the other hand, it’s been a crappy year in a lot of ways and I really try not to whine on the blog too much, so that’s probably had a bit to do with it.)

Also, I’ve been foursquaring and checking in on Facebook more, and while it is slightly maintaining an on-line presence, it’s not really blogging. After I mention something, it seems redundant to blog about it later. I’d like to integrate them a little more, but I’m not really sure how the best way.

Tech blog stuff: I’m still loving WordPress. I’m thinking of moving my site from 1and1 hosting to Site5 hosting; 1and1 seems a little more professional (tech support could be better) but Site5 seems faster and it’s less expensive (but that could just be that this site is more complicated and busy compared to the other things I do on-line at Site5).

Bottom-line: I really enjoy it when I’m blogging and I love the feedback (so help motivate me by providing some) so I’ll try to do better. I resolve for the next year to blog more and post more photos. My goal will be at least five posts a week; yes, I know that’s a lofty goal, but I really do love blogging so let’s see what I can do.

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