Great Method for Photo Backup – WWW.FLICKR.COM

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Ok, I am tired of hearing about my friends and family losing “all” of their pictures. “I had it backed up!” they say. Let me tell you, putting a bunch of photos on an external drive and calling it backed up is irresponsible and very risky! Don’t worry I am not judging I am speaking from experience. I once had a hard disk in a docking station with over 1 terabyte (that’s alot BTW) of personal photos and videos. I got my foot tangled in the power cord and just tipped it over and the drive, while spinning, landed on the soft carpet. Literally it fell maybe 3 inches. I waited for it to spin down and then re-inserted the drive into the dock and I heard the “click, click, click” of death. All data was gone. I even sent it off to a company in Miami for recovery and NADA!…I got nothing back. Sad story but true.

Hard Drives are physical. They can, no they DO fail. All too often I hear of people going out, buying an external drive and writing all of their photo and video data to the drive and then deleting the original data from their computer. It clears space, speeds up the computer right? Well a couple of questions…did you verify that all the data was correctly written? Is the drive good? Has it been tested for longer than the time you had it out of the box? These are all valid questions. Usually like 90 percent of the time it goes down without a hitch. It has for me for over 20 years of computing…until that one day and it will come.

Backup is best defined as two copies of something. I know there may be data experts that will jump all over my definitions but I am writing this to help “the typical guy” not an IT guru. Data in two places… so in the external hard drive scenario the backup would have been decent had the person not deleted the original copies off of the computer. Then they would have a live copy and a backup copy on the external. Now if they unplugged the external it gets even better because then it’s not subject to the same power surge by lightning that the original copy/computer could face. Now if you took that external to your moms it becomes “off site” backup which would be ideal. Now all of these steps start to get silly. Next thing you know your hard disks will be in four different counties and you’ll forget where all of your stuff is. Not really but you get what I am saying. So along comes Flickr.

Flickr is a photo managing website that has actually been around for a while. Flickr uploads both photos and video. The video is very compressed and I would not recommend using Flickr for videos. Recently, not exactly sure of the date Flickr has extended 1 Terabyte of free storage with their site. Yes for free!!! So a quick primer on megabytes to terabytes. Don’t worry I will keep it simple. An mp3 of decent quality is around 3 megabytes and a very large photo is 4-5 megabytes. Those are big files. Now, you could store approximately 350,000 mp3’s in that space or 260,000 very large photos. I have been collecting my digital photos for many years and I think I may have 100,000 total. So you get the picture here. Oh, and by the way my daughter has her own Flickr and so can all of my other children.

Why I like it so much… Some of you may be saying “well big deal, who cares really.” Let me pose a scenario. Your mom comes over and wants to see those pictures you have of that wedding 3 years ago. Off you march to the office to grab your “storage drive” to bring it back and plug it into the computer. Then you go into the pictures folder and start searching and you better hope you used a naming method that helps you quickly navigate to the pics or mom is just gonna say “that’s ok hun, I really don’t need to see it, I was just curious” and you just spent five to ten minutes not finding what you were looking for. Now the flip. Mom already saw the pics or pulled them up on her Flickr app that’s on her iPhone because she also has a Flickr account and you are “contacts” with one another on Flickr so you can see each others pics. Sweet.

What you will need for a Flickr account is a Yahoo.com email account and that’s it. Once you have that you can log right in and set up your Flickr page. It has several settings that make searching and navigating very nice. It isn’t all perfect as the upload to the site can be very slow. To be honest the Flickr uploader is not all that convenient as it limits you to the number of photos you can upload at one time. One tool you can use which I find to work very well with massive uploads is called flickrsync. It does not upload videos but it does upload photos well and allows you select multiple folders and files all at once.

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Once you have all of your photos on Flickr that’s when you can have some fun. You can install app’s on multiple devices and use them to access your photos without having to clog up your device memory with megs and megs of data. Many DVD Players and Smart TV’s have a Flickr app built-in as well. It really depends on the manufacturer. But purely from the basis of storage…its a no brainer. Spend the time up front to transfer your pics to Flickr and you will have a good offsite backup. Then even if your house burns down you can log back into Flickr to see what it used to look like.

My favorite app for viewing my flickr photos on my iPad and iPhone is by far FlickStackr. This makes viewing your picture archive the way it should be. Oh…Free.

FlickStackr

 

 

Creating a Shared Family Calendar and Everyone Stays in Sync – iPhone and iPad CALDAV

The topic of synchronizing a common calendar across an entire family’s set of devices came up at my neighborhood pool yesterday. (I know…we are that boring.) I couldn’t actually remember how to do it so I was unable to explain it to my friend. I went through the exercise of doing it all over again step by step to share with others and refresh my own memory.

A couple of years ago I was struggling with trying to keep my family in Sync. We have 6 members in our household and trying to get everyone on the same page was impossible. I did a little research on how to do this and finally came across a method that works for me. I now have a unified “family” calendar that I can place entries and reminders and everyone sees the same thing. We have 5 iPhones, 2 iPads and two Macs. This isn’t an Apple promo but its just the way I am set up. Its not always perfect because like anything its subject to the user “garbage in garbage out”. At least I give my self a fighting chance, right?

Here is what you do…You set up a new GMAIL ACCOUNT. I know stop complaining I don’t like having to do things this way either…just stick with me and you’ll see that it works. Set up a new gmail account. You want to name the user/email for the account something like “smithfamilycal@gmail.com” or “johnsonfamilycal@gmail.com” etc. Something that tells you that it is the FAMILY CALENDAR. Don’t get overly concerned with the email and settings as we are only setting it up to access the calendar function of google. Once you have the account set up save/write down your username/email and password so you don’t forget them. Now you are ready to set up the first device.

1-Pick up your iPhone and go to settings (looks like a little gear)

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2-Now scroll down until you see -Mail, Contacts, Calendars-…select it

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3-On this page choose the -Add Account- option

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4-Now you should be on this page, and you want to choose -Other-

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5-Under the CALENDARS heading you choose -Add CalDAV Account-

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6-On this page you enter:

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Server: www.google.com
Username: Enter The email you picked when making your gmail account
Password: Enter The password you picked when making your gmail account
Description: I call mine “Simpson Family Calendar” this is only a description

Mine Looks Like This…

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That should be it for set up.

Now go back to your main iPhone start screen and select The Calendar icon and click the plus sign to add a new calendar entry

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Enter an event called “test” and then scroll down. On the information page where you entered “test” there will be a choice below called “Calendar”. This is where you choose which calendar your entry will be placed on. (the family’s or just your iPhone)

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Once you click on that you can choose which calendar you want the entry to be on

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Click your family calendar and move the check mark and select it

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Now you can see on your calendar the event you created with a colored dot next to it. This color now indicates the family calendar. You can change the colors but thats another blog. ūüėČ

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Hit the plus mark again and now add an entry for the iPhone calendar (its simply called “Calendar”).

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Notice when you look at the calendar that there are two events with different colored dots. When you add events to your iPhone calendar only you and those on your phone can see it. Any entries on your family calendar will be visible to anyone with a device who has the same caldav settings as you do on your phone.

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Now repeat the steps starting at step one on the other iPhones and iPads and watch the syncing magic begin. The family calendar will auto synch with google and then transmit among all of the devices. Quite cool actually.

Its not necessary to place a test event on every device. I was only demonstrating how the settings worked.

This is not limited to only iDevices and Macs. This setup will be similar on Android devices too. If I missed a step or something doesn’t work please let me know in the comments (top right corner). Good luck.

Apple iPhone 4 16GB (Black) – Verizon
Apple iPhone 4 16GB (Black) – AT&T

Connect Your Camera and Pictures to your iPad

One complaint that I often hear about the iPad is that there are no ports or card reader slots. One device that helps with this is the Camera Connection Kit. The camera connection kit allows you to import pictures from either your Camera (via PTP protocol) or straight from the SD card. The USB adapter in the kit also allows you to connect other devices like a USB microphone. It is also possible to transfer photos from your iPhone to your iPad using the USB adapter and your iPhone charger cable. ¬†Importing your pics couldn’t be easier. Just plug in an SD card or connect a device with the USB adapter and then connect it to the iPad. ¬†The iPad then auto detects the photos and gives you the choice of importing all or just the ones you select. Once you’ve imported it also gives you the option to delete the pics from the card or device. If you decide not to delete the original pics from the card or device, during the next import the iPad automatically detects pictures that have already been imported and will not duplicate their import saving space.

** Special Note – You can also (if formatted correctly) import a video from an external card to your iPad and delete it once your are finished viewing it. Taking several videos on a card for a trip or vacation just got easy!!**

Priced at $25 this is an easy choice. Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (MC531ZM/A)

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Insert card into adapter then the adapter into your iPad:image

The iPad auto detects the photos:image

Once the photos are detected, you choose the ones you want to keep or delete:image

One trick that people have discovered is to use the USB adapter to connect a microphone and other audio devices that can be used with Garage Band and audio recording software. This opens a whole new world of potential especially for podcasters on the go.
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You can buy the camera connection kit here

Bosch DLR130 – Laser Guided Measurements

The Bosch DLR130 is a unique measuring tool. It measures using a laser pointer and it is very accurate. For as long as I have been in the contracting business I have used a tape measure for my estimating and field work. Well, things have changed a bit and I must say for the better. The DLR130 enables me to effortlessly walk a room and obtain just about any dimension I need. It can measure a straight line, area of walls (length x width) and volume of rooms too (length x width x height). Just choose to the type of measurement, put the red laser on the target and push the button. Once the red laser dot shows up it gives you a dimension right away. I have tested this at close range and it is accurate to within about a 1/16 of an inch. I have also measured items as far as 150 feet away although I cannot vouch for absolute accuracy at that distance.

Walking around the room playing and measuring the distance from me to my children (cautious not to shine it in their eyes) a lightbulb went off. This is not only a good tool for construction and estimating but perfect for a video or movie set. You can shoot a distance for just about any object and determine focal lengths and subject distances in a flash. The possibilities are endless.

The DLR130 has several memory buttons enabling you to add up distances or keep critical measurements to use for other calculations. I have included the DLR130 user manual for more details and information.

The DLR130 is priced at $79 and for my line of work its an easy choice to buy one of these. It makes the estimating and overall sales process so much smoother without the noise and hassle of a steel tape. The next time I shoot a Wedding or a video event I will take the DLR130 with me so I can nail down those tricky distances and depth of field calculations I always struggle with. Once you have one of these you won’t regret it.

Your can buy one here. Bosch DLR130K Digital Distance Measurer Kit

Bosch DLR130

Buy one at Amazon here

Micro Media Center – Raspberry Pi and we’re not talking desert

An in depth video series explaining how you can make your own Micro HTPC is coming SOON!

raspberryIf you’re like me (your typical guy) then you love watching movies. Bluray is great and there is nothing like watching a hi def movie on an HD television or projector. When you need to move from one viewing location to another then the problems begin. You need multiple bluray players and you need to physically drag the movie around with you. With home networking now being fairly easy to set up, a good media streaming player will make it possible to view your movies at any location in the house. Now, almost all DVD players and TV’s have some sort of media playback solution integrated right into their circuitry. The problem is that some work well and some don’t. That’s why having an independent media player/streamer can make life a lot easier.

There are many players on the market…Roku, Apple TV, Boxee Box to name a few. While all of these have their strengths it seems like none of them can do everything. The Raspberry Pi comes close and at a size and price that is hard to believe…around $40, wow!

You can buy the latest Raspberry Pi release here: Raspberry Pi Model B Revision 2.0 (512MB)

The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized computer that was developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in the UK for educational purposes. This small computer with some slick software called Raspbmc enables you to run a full fledged home theater with the XBMC interface. I know if you are unfamiliar with some of these terms I just mentioned then your eyes may be rolling back right now but truly it’s so easy to set up its silly. I am going to provide a multi-video, step by step tutorial on exactly what you need to do to build a really cool home theater device.

This Kit contains the Raspberry board, the case, SD Card and Power Supply. A complete kit that you will need to follow along with my upcoming video tutorials.

Bluetooth Audio – The BOP is music to my ears…and my wallet (with sound sample)

Sometimes the smallest and least expensive toys can be the most satisfying. Enter the “BOP”.

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I was at my friends lake house not long ago when he brought out this little blue rubber gadget and said “lets listen to some music”. At first I wanted to laugh seeing how small it was I really expected it to sound terrible like most devices this size often do. To my surprise it had a pretty decent sound. I was impressed but when he showed me how it would stay suctioned to his forehead…I was SOLD!

The BOP is available in multiple colors. It is comprised of a speaker, some sort of small amplifier (built in) and a rubber housing. The rubber housing doubles as a suction cup and will stick to almost any flat surface making it very flexible for placement. It communicates with any bluetooth device and will play music or audio from that device. The price is only $30 which I think is a great buy.

Bop Bluetooth Speaker

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Set up of the BOP was a cinch. Turn it on and it immediately showed up on my iPhone as an available bluetooth device. I selected “bop” on my bluetooth device page and it connected in seconds. Once connected it will reconnect when the two devices see one another again. If there are several devices nearby that have been connected to the BOP prior the BOP will randomly select any device to connect to which can be a little bit of a nuisance. This is not unlike other bluetooth devices though.

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The controls for the BOP are simple. There are three buttons. The center switch is the play/pause button while the two buttons on the outside change tracks if clicked once or act as volume control if you hold the buttons down. Once the BOP reaches its loudest volume an indicator beeps to let you know its maxed. There is also a pinhole mic on the upper rim but my experience is that the device needs to be fairly close to your mouth to be truly useful. The BOP charges via a micro usb port and will last more than 4 hours on a single charge playing music. Along side the micro usb port is the on/off switch.

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The sound quality may surprise you and if you need a compact audio device this is a no brainer. Once the suction cup is tightened down to a surface the sound quality actually improves a little. It is only a mono sound source but compared to the iPhone speaker it is 10 times better and much louder. Camping, beach trips, boating there are just too many places that someone could use one of these.

You can buy a BOP here: