September 10, 2018

Analog Moods

I haven't blogged in a while, because people don't really do that anymore I guess.  Twitter and other social media is a bit more ephemeral I guess.

Over the past few years I've been shooting film as much as possible.  I can't claim to be some sort of purist, as I shoot a ton of digital photos for my kid's sporting events and school activities.  Here are a few musings and tips.

 

  • There are no same day or 1 hour developing places within 25 miles of where I live now.  That is sad.
  • There are local bay area spots that will develop film and do a great job, but is not cost effective for a casual shooter like me.  Photoworks San Francisco is an amazing place, but I can't afford to use them all the time. ( https://www.photoworkssf.com/
  • My go-to place for developing is Dwayne's Photo in Kansas.  I use them for C41, Cross processing E6 to C41, Black and Black and White.  They charge about $10 USD for a process and scan.  I've used them for both 35mm and 120 and the quality is good.  I forget the exact resolution on their gear, but they come out around 8MP.  ( http://www.dwaynesphoto.com/ )
  • Thrift Stores and second hand shops have great deals.  I picked up a flawless 135mm f2.8 lens for my Pentax K1000 for $5 USD.  I even have an adapter to use it on my Canon DSLR too.  Great glass! 
  • You can get decently priced film online through BH Photo and Adorama, but sometimes you want to try something new.  Lance Rothstein's store spools up wacky old films that were used for radiography processes, surveillance, or slide reproduction for use to experiment.  Not cheap, but it is worth it!  ( http://www.labeauratoire.com/shop/index.html )
Shooting film is fun.  People see you change the rolls and it starts conversations.  It makes you slow down and think about composing a shot.  It makes you strategize about how you can capture what you want in 20-36 frames.  By no means is it a religion or have rules, as it is just about exploring your gear and creating quality images over quantity.  Generally when I shoot a sporting event for my kids, I will generate 600 to 800 images in an hour.  Over half will go in the trash bin.  Trying to fit an event into one or two 36 exposure rolls can be challenging, but can be rewarding. 
 
 

 

December 31, 2017

2017: A year of loss

I really don't blog much anymore.  Many of the milestones that I blogged about in the past are held in a walled garden such as Facebook.  For me 2017 has been a fairly awful year.  I lost two precious pets earlier in the year.  In a blur our dalmatian Franklin and cat Oprah had made their way to their next life.  In May I lost my mother after a long struggle with multiple forms of Cancer.  Never in my life have I felt so much profound loss.  She wouldn't want me to be in pain over her loss, so I try to push forward.

March 29, 2016

iPhone MVNO MMS issues - Ting

I love Ting as a cellular provider.  Overall their service is great, but the only issue I have (other than T-Mobile's low level of service in my town), is that every time I update the iOS on my iPhone, MMS messaging stops working.  SMS works fine, but the MMS stuff (pictures, video, etc) requires specific settings.
 
 
I just updated my iPhone yesterday and boom, it drops the configuration.  I'll list the instructions, just for my own gratification, this is just a copy and paste from the Ting link above:
 

The following steps will help you get your GSM device up and running with Ting.

NOTE:  Currently Wi-Fi calling and visual voicemail are not available for iOS devices on our GSM network.

1. Reset APN to Default

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap Cellular
  3. Tap Cellular Data Network (if this setting isn't visible then the phone is not unlocked the previous carrier needs to be contacted to unlock the device)
  4. Scroll down to Reset Settings and tap

2. Add Ting Data & MMS APN Settings

Note: After upgrading to iOS 9, you will need to re-enter the MMS APN settings for your iPhone. For more information, click HERE

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Make sure that Wi-Fi is disabled.
  3. Tap Cellular.
  4. Make sure that 3G Data is enabled.
  5. Tap Cellular Data Network. If you don't see this setting, then the phone is not unlocked and you need to get in touch with your previous carrier.
  6. Under CELLULAR DATA:
    • Tap the APN field
    • Enter wholesale
    • Leave the Username and Password blank
  7. Under LTE SETUP (OPTIONAL):
    • Tap the APN field
    • Enter wholesale
    • Leave Username and Password blank
  8. Under MMS:
  9. Under PERSONAL HOTSPOT (Note: this field does not appear in newer versions of iOS, so if you do not see it, skip this step):
    • Tap the APN field
    • Enter wholesale
  10. Tap the back icon on the top left of the screen until you're back on the main Settings screen in order to save the APN settings.
  11. Press the Home button to exit to the main screen.
  12. Restart your device and wait for it to find the Ting network--this may take a minute or so
  13. Check that you're able to browse the Internet in Safari and that you can send a picture/video/group message.

 

MMS Messaging Support

Picture, video and group messaging (or mms messaging) will all work on iOS devices on the GSM network, however it will be limited in the following ways:

  • Picture, video and group messaging cannot be enabled or disabled through the control panel. It is enabled by default.
  • MMS or group messaging settings may not show up on your device and can't be updated or changed.
  • Group MMS messages may be received as SMS messages.
  • Group messages sent to both Android and iOS devices will show up on as individual messages for all recipients and responses will come back in separate message threads.
 
 
 

December 31, 2015

Social Media

In the past few years Social Media sites on the Internet went from something that you could avoid to a requirement. Now you are considered backward or a "tin foil hat" type if you don't have some sort of presence. While it is true that some, if not all people, create a virtual personal brand firewall to show their successes and block their failures, sometimes you still can see the true essence of people in their stressful times. Over the past few years I have seen friends (real world friends, old friends from college and high school, work friends, etc.) talk about their experiences coming out of the closet, issues with addiction/abuse, divorce/dissolution of relationships, mental illness, serious health issues and the death of loved ones.  It really amazed me what people were willing to share.  At the time, social media for me what the place to make connections for business and like pictures of other people's kids when they liked pictures of mine.  Or cats.

Then I was diagnosed with Cancer.  At that point social media, specifically Facebook, became a support network as I went through diagnosis and treatment.  I really appreciated the genuine outpouring of love.  Physically and emotionally I'm back to normal, but I will always appreciate the people that came out of woodwork to support me and encourage me.  People that had been through similar or more traumatic experiences that let me know it was going to be okay.      

November 04, 2015

Cheap Media Playback

Over the past few years I've played with several different technologies that allow for video streaming to your TV.  I own a bunch of Chromecasts, an Amazon Firestick, and have had a few BluRay players that do streaming from various services.  As much as they are slick and sometimes the size of a USB thumb drive, you have to buy into their tools and use Wi-Fi to access your streaming content.

A few years ago I played with XMBC to play back some files and liked it, but never played with it in depth.  After I got my Firestick, I sideloaded XMBC and was really impressed.  That was a pretty nice platform, but it would stutter on anything above 480p.  More recently I repurposed an old laptop that didn't have a functional keyboard into a media playback device.  I loaded the Ubuntu distribution that that XBMC... or should I say Kodi, created to make configuration easy.  I really love Kodibuntu, but I was running into issues with the audio levels getting to the TV.  The audio was so low.  After some searching, I found a solution on the Kodi forums in the way of a change to the advancedsettings.xml file that configures Kodi.  The addition of this made all of the difference:

<advancedsettings>
  <audio>
    <ac3downmixgain>48.0</ac3downmixgain>
  </audio>
</advancedsettings>

 

I would recommend Kodi to anyone who wants a free method for streaming video or playing back local content:

July 30, 2015

The 3rd time is a charm..

I tried using the Glyde service twice in the past with pretty bad results.  The first time the seller pulled out.  In that case Glyde gave me a $50 credit towards a new purchase.  I tried once again with the same result.  They were nice enough to give me a full refund, but it really wasted my time.  Since then I have purchased used phones through eBay and Amazon with their own list of horrible problems, so I decided to try Glyde again after not finding what I wanted through Gazelle.  All the time I spent trying to track down a good deal is probably valued at the same rate as a new iPhone 6s, but I wouldn't have the same sense of accomplishment.  

 

 

July 18, 2015

A month without a smartphone

Recently my wife lost her iPhone at Disneyland.  I had no luck with FindMyiPhone or the carrier specific services.  The hotel where she was staying at had no returned device.  She needed the iPhone-tastic features, so I moved her number over to my iPhone and picked up a crappy(tm) Tracfone to use until we were sure that her phone was indeed lost and non-recoverable. 

When I mean crappy pre-paid phone, I mean the $9.00 USD unit that I picked up at Walmart on special, since I didn't expect to use it long.  A week turned into two, but I was still holding on to a false hope that I'd get the other handset back.  No dice.  About three weeks into this venture I was still working with the crap-tastic phone and relearning how to T9 text message, my Mom had a medical emergency.  I had to make my way to the midwest to help deal with family emergency.  

At that point I was starting to feel like a second class citizen.  Lacking even the most basic of 2G cellular Internet connectivity, I was at the whim of my laptop battery and the airport/hotel/restaurant wifi for any sort of information.  Lyft and Uber were unattainable and I ended up paying 2x as much on my Taxi fare from the airport that I would have with a ride sharing services.

As much as it was limiting, it was a freeing experience.  I didn't have my email dinging constantly.  I didn't have my Facebook notifications buzzing in my pocket.  If is an unsettling feeling when you start to understand that you so plugged into things that you start wasting all of your idle time seeing what people are posting on Instagram.  At some point I need to do a full digital detox.  With a pen and paper, a few dozen rolls of 35mm film and a bunch of people that I love.  

I need to schedule that in Outlook.


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