Friday, May 30, 2008

Going HD

So May 19th, I finally decided to take the plunge and buy that HDTV I’ve been wanting and fawning over for 4 years. After years of research and bickering with myself over the pros and cons of Plasma vs LCD, I decided that I’d get the Plasma. While the LCD is maybe technically better nowdays, I’ve been wanting the Plasma for so long. I placed the order not only for the TV, but also for the HD Tivo that is needed to record those types of channels. This is going to be a huge upgrade over what I had before, because not only will I get all the digital channels and HD channels, I’ll be able to record two shows at the same time! That Monday was a good day.

That’s when things slowly deteriorated to a grinding halt that I’ve still not seen the light at the end of the tunnel. Problem Numero Uno: The TV. I didn’t get any information on a tracking number by Wednesday 48 hours after my initial order. So I gave them a call. They said it was because I didn’t provide a valid telephone number. Odd. Why didn’t they email me asking for this? Usually they don’t need it to deliver a package. However it was due to them using an off-brand delivery company that needs to verify that I’ll be at home when they deliver the package. So I give them the number. A day later, another email from them saying that my Credit Card had been rejected. So I call the credit card company and have them remove the lock they put on it for suspected activity. Friday, they finally process the order, but the carrier can’t pick it up till next Tuesday! Over a week later my TV is finally “in the mail” on the way to the house, with an expected delivery of a little over two weeks after my order date.

Issue Number Two: The Tivo. I placed my order through VANNS. I had ordered from them before and they seemed to be pretty good. When I placed my order the Tivo was on backorder. Oh well, I figured that it wouldn’t take to long to get *new* ones in. And it didn’t. A few days later, I got an email saying my Tivo was on its way. Yay. This is going smoothly, I think to myself as I’m trying to work out the issues with the TV. That smoothness ended yesterday when my Tivo arrived. I open the box to find out that it’s an “Open Box” item. I paid for a “Brand New Sealed” item. All the bags are open, the batteries already in the remote. At this point, I’m pissed and depressed that nothing has gone right. I’m considering turning it on and seeing if it works alright and calling and complaining hoping they give me a gift card. Or if it doesn’t work, buy one at Best Buy and returning it with the “open box” version and still complaining to VANNS.

The ONLY thing that has gone right so far has been the HDMI cables, which I can’t really test out and make sure they are working until I hook up the TV and the new TIVO. Regardless, they all came in quickly from That site really is a saving grace in the cable industry and I will definitely be using them again in the future.

At any point, going HD has been a huge hassle. And while I knew it would be to my pocketbook, I didn’t think there would be this many hurdles to get over. HOPEFULLY the TV will arrive in one peace, and in a new box. If not, I may cry.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Flickr vs Picasa

I'm fairly new to the web photo album crowd and recently decided to try out two of the biggest names in the business: Flickr and Picasa. Really the only way to figure out the winner was to set up accounts and give each a try with an album and see what they can do for the user and what they can do for the author. Over the past month I've given each a try and seen first hand their benefits and their shortcomings.

Flickr is owned by Yahoo (Picasa by Google). One of the big corporations in the internet business that has been around forever, though may be on the way to getting bought out by Microsoft. Regardless, Fickr does seem to be run by the original founders and keeps a somewhat loose tie to their parent owners as far as user experience goes, which brings me to my first issue.

1. URL Accessability
With flickr, the website is just And to get to your album, you can simply go to and login, or type With Picasa, you can't. You have to go to While that may not seem like that big an issue, they could have simply forwarded to the same location saving keystrokes. And why do they not have the login screen on You actually have to remember the link to get to it. Retarded.
Winner: Flickr

2. Page Load
One of the biggest issues that I found with Picasa. Is it is soooo sloooow. It's amazing that Google has such slow response times with it and can't fund better hardware and bandwidth. Sometimes images won't load at all or load at 56K telephone line speeds. Pitiful. Flickr was much more responsive and has shown that they know what they are doing and have been in the business longer.
Winner: Flickr

3. Sets vs Photostream
I'm not really sure where I stand on this one yet. Picasas way of displaying photos is by different albums/sets. Flickr is more of a "photostream" meaning that pictures don't have to be tied to a certain set (though they can be). They are just organized by your most recent pictures wherever they are taken. I guess it depends on how you take pictures to determine which is more user friendly. I'd have to give the edge to Flickr since they give you the option to not place a picture in a set if you don't want to?
Winner: slight edge to Flickr?

4. Viewing Style
In one sense I prefer Picasa's way of viewing the photos. Depending on the resolution of your browser window, they will display the image as large as they can. And with ONE click you can see the full size image. Flickr defaults to a somewhat small view of the image and you have to click twice to get to the full size image on a different page (first the zoom icon page, then the size you want), which then makes it very annoying to navigate going out and back in, out and back in, to see all the photos at a decent size. Where flickr IS better is that when you view a large scale image, you don't have to drag the screen around like you're looking through some peephole as with Picasa. In the end, they both fail in my book.
Winner: Neither.

5. Software
While I haven't used the software NEARLY enough to get a full impression on it, I think Picasa has a very handy Desktop interface to your photo albums. They show their strength in searching old photos and organization and "coolness". Flickr does seem to have very handy online software to help batch edit and organize your photos.
Winner: Both

6. Photo Storage
Again, this is personal preference, but I think flickr has it right here. Though they may regret that in 20 years. Picasa has a set storage limit of 1GB of space. Considering average picture size, that'll give you about 20 albums of 50 pictures each. That's really not that much space if you plan on adding 5-10 albums/year. Flickr does it differently. They give to a monthly alotment that translates to 100MB/month. In one year you've already surpassed the amount of space that Picasa offers.
Winner: Flickr

Conclusion: Now, I've been a Google fan for awhile and I gave Picasa my first go because I trusted that they could deliver, but when i kept having issues I had to try something else. And Flickr is clearly the winner. They provide the most space, the fastest user experience, the easiest access, easy batch editing, and seem more stable and less of a beta project like Picasa appears. If Flickr could find a way to easily view full size images without having to do some painful navigation, then they'd be set. Until then I'll just have to be annoyed...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

BBQ Fest Photos

I know this happened awhile ago but since I don't post often, here we go. I went to BBQ-Fest this past Friday with my friend Spence. I met him after work downtown where he works. I drove down in my mildew smelling car with soaking floorboard and all. (Do not leave your sunroof open in your car in the middle of a thunderstorm overnight.) The weather downtown was great and nice to be down there with the sun setting over the river. I don't go down there that often and rarely ever when the sun is still up so it's a different experience that I don't often get to enjoy.

Unfortunately the night had to be cut short because I went to go see Chronicles of Narnia at 10:30 and needed to drop Spence off beforehand. I hear I missed out on some drinking. Go figure.

Here are the pics in all their delicious glory..

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blue Eye'd Brunettes

I've always been more attracted to these girls for whatever reason and it wasn't until today that I figured out why. I'm not sure how I put two and two together, but it comes from one of the first girls that I found attractive in a movie. Everyone has their first love of a movie star and while Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science was my high school love(another blue eye'd brunette), the first was Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon. I'm not sure if it's because she was virtually naked the whole movie, and/or if it was because she was closer to my age at the time. I don't know. But she was a babe then and, while not a prerequisite, pretty much forever defined what it is I wanted to find.