Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I received my Lomography Diana F+

I received my Diana F+ in the mail today. Boy, they aren't kidding about it being a cheap plastic camera. It is almost amazing that anybody can take great photos with it, if it were not my experience that photography is more about skill than the camera. In any case, I am excited to have my first medium format camera.

More than anything, I wanted to experience medium format photography. I have been shooting on 35mm, which I picked up after learning on digital. I realize that the clarity and other high quality benefits inherent with medium format are undone with the lo-fi nature of lomography. But, what I am after is the experience of shooting, getting developed, and viewing prints from medium format film.

With 35mm, my first limitation was developing black and white film. There are no local labs able to develop it for me. This is how I discovered lomography; I was searching for a photo lab that would take orders by mail. This also gives me an opportunity to try new films, to go beyond 35mm.

I took a few photos with the new Diana F+, but will wait. Today's weather is wet and gloomy. I took a photo in the rain; but rushed right back inside to avoid getting too wet. Having to send off the 120 film forces me to be patient. Thus, I will have plenty of time to shoot. No rush.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Chromecast: Oh, Now I Get It

I picked up a Chromecast while doing some last minute Christmas shopping. I have had a chance to play with it. I get it now. I like it.

It's Not a Roku

The good news for Roku is that the Chromecast is not a Roku replacement. I suppose it could be; but, both devices would serve very different purposes in my household. I thought the Chromecast would act like the Roku where you'd have a billion channels of content from which to browse. The Roku is a media aggregator of sorts, a platform for discovering and viewing video and audio. I heard it does games too. 

What It Is

The Chromecast, on the other hand, is nothing of the sort. It is merely the screen you can use to display content from other devices. Chromecast is not a platform in itself. The platform is your computer, your laptop, your tablet, or your phone. Your personal device acts as the aggregator. The Chromecast is only a venue for your content to show. 

The Difference

I can see the Chromecast as something that a household or even a business must have, even if it is not the principal media gateway. I can certainly see people continuing to subscribe to cable, satellite, or other services available on the Roku and other similar boxes. The Chromecast would be an addition to those. 

The difference is that the Chromecast is a very good shared resource. You can have multiple people with different accounts use the same device to view their content. The concept is flipped from "one to many" to "many to one". 

Why This is Great

The Chromecast is great, even with its currently limited apps, because it allows you to share your TV with others without having to get into the business of user names and passwords, or worse, messing with your entertainment cabling. As long as you share your WiFi access, guests can project their content on your TV. 

This is very useful in business settings too. It reduces the whole mess of having to carry a VGA, DVI, or HDMI cable to make a presentation. Wait, let me back up. You can't just display anything on a TV. Currently, you still need a Chrome browser with the Google Cast extension to be able to share a browser tab. You are also limited to Youtube videos and some other streaming video/audio services. That means your PowerPoint presentation would have to be a Google Slides presentation through a browser tab. Similarly, you would do the same with spreadsheets and text documents. 

Just Pick A Screen

The upshot of all this is that you could just pick a screen to view or show your content, and that's it. No need to hunt for cables or fuss with bringing your media box over, or hunting for the media again on an already connect device. Pick a screen and view. 

What I Would Love

Our home only has a couple TVs. One in our living room and one in my office, which is being used as a computer monitor. If our household were the sort where everybody has a TV in their bedroom, and TVs in the kitchen and other living areas, I would love each one to have a Chromecast. 

At the very least, I would gift one to the people I most often visit. I'm sure you've been in the position where you visit somebody and they invariably tell you to make yourself at home. So, as you settle in with the TV, you can't figure out the remotes. With the Chromecast, problem solved. You only need to turn on the TV, switch to HDMI channel, and connect your phone to the Chromecast to watch what you want to watch. I'm assuming you've already asked for the WiFi password. 

If everybody you like has a Chromecast, you would have access to screens everywhere you go. I don't see it as a main viewing device. I see it as an auxiliary viewing device where anybody can access without hunting for cables and connectors. 

I get it now. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Replacing Evernote With Google Keep and Now?

I may possibly end up putting Evernote in the back seat after upgrading to a Nexus 7 tablet, which has Google Now and Google Keep. Previously, I used an old Samsung Galaxy Tab, which ran Android 3.2, I think. The upgrade leads me to reevaluate my information stashing.

Evernote's prominent role in my life has been its universal access. I could use it from my tablet, phone, or computer. Where Evernote falls short in my current lifestyle is that its web client is very slow on my Chromebook. This is largely due to the number of notes I have in Evernote. The web client is simply too heavy with my account. I've tried it with a demo account I use for workshops, which is rather zippy in comparison.

I need to stash information in two ways: reminders and notes.

Google Now

Google Now, besides knowing game times and scores, the weather, and travel info, offers the ability to set reminders, including recurring reminders. Evernote recently added reminders; let's just say it's not as robust as Google Now. I feel bad because I had wanted Evernote to add reminders. Now that they have, I'm bailing out. In case you're thinking, "Reminders? Big deal, so what?"

The reason it's a big deal is that it uses other contexts to remind you of things, such as your current location. Such that, if you are at the grocery store, it will remind you of that item you wanted to buy at the grocery store when you are there. You do not have to remember to go look it up, the Google Now card will be there waiting for you with the reminder.

Google Keep

I was very unimpressed with Google Keep as it could not run on my old Galaxy Tab. Now that I have access, it makes total sense and makes me want to use it. Why not Evernote or Springpad? The apps are a bit more...robust than Keep. All their extra features are great; but they tend to get in the way when you want to make a quick note. Google Keep, on the other hand, is lightweight and not bogged down with features.

Of course, one would not add PDF or *.doc files to Keep as one would to Evernote. I think, that for the quick note, photo, or voice memo, Keep is better suited. Evernote is still the top choice for "serious" work.

I've only experienced Now and Keep for the past two days. My mind is not entirely made up; but, there is a good chance I've hit on how I will reorganize my note taking.