Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I got a little bored...

... and did some shooting yesterday morning. Try as I might, I'm still working to get all the kinks out of my camera. I'm no professional by any means, but I want to try some things with my Canon EOS Rebel T3 Digital SLR before life completely takes the best of me and I have to upgrade to whatever the current model may be (Amazon links say there are numerous bundles starting with the T5 and and going up).

That being said, I decided to go out and try my luck at the flowers that are outside my garage door. Attaching the Fotodiox Canon EOS Macro Extension Tube Set for Extreme Close-Ups (there is a Nikon edition for the non Canon people. Yes, I know there are also attachments for other camera brands and even auto tubes. One of these days I'll break down and buy one of those.. try out any of the other auto focus macro tubes the "off brands" put out), I put the dial into manual mode, tried some various ISO balances and did some shooting. I even tried using the flash, however, nothing came out spectacular enough to want to share (I only took 24 pictures).

However, thumbing through them on my computer, I did find seven I thought were okay enough to pass around to people and the comments have been positive. Therefore, I figured I'd share them up here, as I've not had an update in a while and there hasn't been any pictures lately.

Again, the listing of materials used:

No use of a tripod; all hand held camera use, but I would highly suggest purchasing one if the decision is made to delve deeper into macro photography. I've talked to camera professionals who all agree the number 1 rule after purchasing attachments: get a tripod (I have an older version of the VANGUARD Espod Cx 203Ap Tripod with Ph-23 Pan Head).

Pictures or this rambling went to waste:

Until next time...


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Way to over sell...

I was at a local home and garden show today (ironically sponsored by Home & Garden TV), where you had to pay $5 to get in and go booth to booth and see what type of snake oil these vendors were selling, in order to update / renovate your house.

Truth be told, each booth had a lot of pamphlets and candy, and a lot less of examples of work (and verbal information). Sure, I was there right at 10 this morning when the doors opened, so no one had their A Game on yet, but once you have seen one exhibition hall, you've seen them all. There really wasn't any one vendor in particular at this event, where I had to go back and spend time talking to them.

The only thing I found to be really scammable, was the fact there was a Droid table - "Android TV Boxes Sales and Repair" says the tag line on their card. The gentleman at this table had a nice hook up - 55" flat screen TV, plenty of Android TV boxes to sell, a box hooked up to the TV (and connected to his phone for internet) and a long list of examples of how to use the streaming device. According to this guy, "the box retails for $200" and that's the price he's selling it for, but "there is an additional 2 year warranty" for a price I can't quote, as I don't remember. He went over what this box does and how you can "access all sorts of live TV any time and any where you want". If you don't want live TV, "you can watch premium channels or even past shows". We asked him how that is possible, and he said "you pay once for the box ($200) and you get a multitude of channels for free and for life". We asked how again, and he said "all you need is an internet hook up. I'm using my cell phone right now to show you how it works" and the person I was with said "you're using data from your phone plan" and the guy said "yes, but you don't have to. You can connect to your internet at home", where I said "it's similar to other streaming devices, right? You connect to your [let's say] Comcast Internet, and then you're online with this box?" and he said I was correct. He was using his phone for the purpose of not being connected to the arena's wifi. But... once you're connected, you've got access to a plethora of stations - HBO, sports stations, normal cable stations... without having the need to pay anything for it. $200 is all you pay and that's only for the box. No more, no less. Being really skeptical, we walked away from this guy after thanking him, because we knew better than to trust this guy.

How can a streaming device cost 200 bucks and you get the premium channels for free? What about Netflix, Hulu and those apps? What isn't this guy telling us? Seriously.  Considering HBO and the like have two separate apps: one is non gratis with your cable subscription (but you have to sign in with your ISP user name) and the other is a paid app, should you want to cut the cable cord and pay the standalone app. For as long as Netflix has been around, it's always been a paid subscription service - regardless if you got the DVDs back in the day or you're currently streaming everything. If this Droid box is able to give the farm away, why do you have to pay for it on every other device? What and where is the logic behind that?

After being home this afternoon and researching the guy and his business, what he's selling are boxes loaded with a program called KODI. According to multiple websites, KODI is an open source, downloadable program that lets you steam any and everything your little technology heart wants. The major down side is the fact is yes, this is an open source program - anyone with coding knowledge can tweak it. It's the next step above Wiki sites. The next "issue" is there are plenty of countries that want to ban KODI use  - make it 100 % illegal, as it's essentially a pirating program. Meaning, it's taking the open source theme and moving it over to the torrent side and using crawlers to find what you want to watch. Some of the articles I read, link to other articles saying torrent sites are on the fence about this program because of the fact it's making file sharing more main stream but not so nice. People use torrents as a work around to get video or audio, not as their main source of entertainment. KODI gives you movies that are currently in theaters - albeit "cams" or screeners. Cams are when someone sneaks in their video camera and uploads it to the internet to share. A screener is when someone obtains the disc directly from someone who has voting privileges in the Oscar world (people get the discs that are nominated for best movie, typically, and they have to vote which movie was better. The movie with the most votes, wins. At least that's my understanding).

I know a guy who has KODI on his Amazon Fire Stick. He loves it, and says the same thing these articles say - sometimes you get cam versions and sometimes they are under pixelated, but he doesn't mind since he's seeing the movie before it comes out to DVD or any streaming site.

KODI allows you to cheat the system in such a way, that you think it's okay to illegal obtain the information. More reason why countries want it outlawed and any one caught using it gets fined or jailed - it's a copyright infringement type of ordeal and I can see the point (although I'm no angel, I do have to say I disagree with this program).

I would suggest researching things before you jump on board and get "the latest and greatest". Make sure you know what you're signing up for, since majority of the Android boxes I'm finding on Amazon are well under $60, with only one being $99.99 and $79.99. I do have to admit, as I link to Amazon, I am seeing other boxes that are over $150 in the "recommended" categories in each page. The more expensive ones come with a keyboard (and the packaging is way too flashy to make it look legit), while others come with a time display and 3D / 4K ready (and look like a VCR, Computer and DVD player got together and shat out a baby the size of an alarm clock)

I thought people wanted to downgrade equipment so they can get rid of wires and extra technology, but upgrade to the newest invention? Some of these $120+ boxes are massive - both in size and added ports.

Truthfully, the more I dig around and find these boxes, the more leery I get, Honest truth; I don't want to link any more about these boxes right now because there are so many things that seem so wrong with each one. I don't want to keep giving credit to these sellers because the items look like scams (especially once I passed the first page on Amazon). There is no way to describe the slight uneasiness I feel in looking at all of these, since you never know what you're actually buying.

It's like when you go into a store and the employee tells you to buy the item online because it may be cheaper or it may be better with add ons (services they can't offer), you really have to take it with a grain of salt. Do your research before you buy in haste. I've heard horror stories about people buying things like smart phones online because they thought they'd get a better deal. An example of this is an the "typical phone sales analogy": buying an unmarked smart phone allows you to shop around for the best contract you can get. For example: Verizon marks their phones with their logo, so you can't take the phone to AT&T for a better contract deal once your Verizon deal is up. You have to start from square one with AT&T, and by that time, you're shelling out the same cost as you did originally. It's got to do with "proprietary information", apparently. The same goes with all devices these days. The company brands their device with their logo so you can't hack and modify it or take it to another company for fixing / upgrades. The only thing I can think of that goes against this is when the geeks make their own PCs. I don't know enough or have heard enough about fanboys modifying Apple computers, but I've been around one too many geek to know that creating the ultimate home super computer is fairly common. Even with the rarities such as Linux. It's this opportunity where you're starting from scratch, you can use whatever internal pieces you want because you're harvesting from multiple sources and are not subjected to one companies' stronghold.

All in all, I guess I can say that today was eventful and made me research something a little more than I normally wouldn't have. If I can't say it enough, I'll say it again, and even in the future: please make sure you do your research on everything in life. I know I write about random things and make numerous suggestions for stuff, but I'm not the only source of information, nor do I claim to be. I can only help you in a sliver of a direction of where to look, and hope that you heed some advice and take precaution when necessary.

Until next time...