Amazon Prime

About a month ago, I decided to watch an old show, Veronica Mars, to see what the talk was about since they had recently filmed a movie version using funds from a Kickstarter campaign. I first checked Netflix but they don’t have the previous seasons. My remaining options were to either sign up for Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime so that I could get the instant video. Since Amazon Prime has the added benefit of free 2 day shipping on all purchases, I chose Amazon Prime. I wish I’d signed up when it was $79/year instead of $99/year.

Seeing If I Have A Green Thumb

One of the first things my wife and I discussed after moving into our house was starting a small raised bed garden. Last fall I purchased an inexpensive raised bed kit from Home Depot which gave me a 4′x8′ bed. I then filled it with garden soil and planted a few cloves of garlic since everything I had read indicated garlic would grow bigger if started in the fall as opposed to waiting until spring.
Early this spring, I purchased seeds for some herbs (basil, thyme, parsley, oregano and spearmint) and vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini and bell peppers). I started the herbs indoors (on 4/6) as well as the tomatoes and peppers (on 4/7). It didn’t take long before most of the herbs popped up. It took a little longer for the tomatoes to sprout and almost a full month for the peppers to break through the soil.
Once there was no longer a danger of frost, I planted the rest of the seeds and transplanted three of the tomato plants outdoors (if they get eaten early on, I still have a few plants inside that I can replace them with).

Next year, I’m not so sure I’ll start the tomatoes by seed since I can get bigger/taller tomato and pepper plants from my local grocery for about $3 per plant. I’ll most likely still start the herbs from seed next year. I may even keep them going all year round, if I find a suitable pot for keeping them in on the window sill. I’d like to get four small pots which sit in a single long tray. So far, I’ve only been able to find three pots in a tray. I did find small individual pots with a blackboard type area on them which lets me write which herb is in the pot using chalk.

Giving Lightroom Another Try

A little over a month ago, I compared Lightroom and Aperture and decided to use Aperture.  Since then, I’ve been watching several videos on YouTube, which has helped me understand Lightroom a bit more, so I decided to try Lightroom one more time.
To start out, I exported the images out of Aperture to a new folder. While importing them into Lightroom, it was then that I noticed that most photos were missing the keywords I had tagged them with in Aperture. After do some research online, I learned that JPEGs and TIFFs need to have the metadata embedded in the files while RAW files would have the metadata in XMP sidecar files. After re-exporting the JPEGs and TIFFs with the metadata embedded, I re-imported those files and the keywords were there but I still lost the hierarchy I had established in Aperture. I did have to re-tag the TIFF files as there was an error when exporting them from Aperture with the metadata embedded. Luckily, the TIFF files are only family photos I scanned to preserve so that task wasn’t so bad.
I’ll continue to use them both side-by-side since I prefer Aperture’s integration into the OS and also like that there is more training, plug-ins, and presets available to Lr. Even though I’m still testing out Lightroom, I decided to sign up for the photography package from Adobe for $10/month which gets me access to Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as the new Lightroom mobile for iPad.

Aperture

After I started loading all my photos into iPhoto on my new Mac, I started looking into Lightroom and Aperture. I downloaded the trial for Lightroom but didn’t like how it was laid out. It may be because I got used to iPhoto having one catalog for all photos and I could put photos into separate projects/albums within that catalog. Lightroom seems to want each project into it’s own catalog. Because of this, I started leaning towards Aperture but Apple no longer offers a trial version. After searching online, I was able to find the last trial version available from Apple and tried to install it on my Mac but because I’m running Mavericks (OS X 10.9) it wasn’t compatible. During the install, I was forwarded to the App Store where the latest version of Aperture is offered. I was then able to download that version for free.

I’ve been using Aperture for a couple months now and if/when Apple releases v4 of Aperture, I will definitely pay for the upgrade since I’m used to the functionality of the program. The way Apple is going though, the next version may be free to everyone anyway (Mavericks was a free upgrade, iLife and iWork apps are free, etc).

365 Project

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to participate in a photography project, either one photo every day or at least one photo each week. To at least try to keep this resolution, I signed up for 365 Project on New Year’s Day. The goal is to take a photo every day. For those days where I am too busy to take a photo, I’ve taken additional photos on other days so that by the end of the year I’ll have 365 photos. It started out fairly easily because I took interesting photos around the house. After a while I’ve started running out of ideas.

New Year’s Resolutions – 2014

Last year, I posted my 2013 resolutions as well as updating the results of my 2012 resolutions. I thought I would do the same this year.
My resolutions last year were:

  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Save up money to purchase some items on my personal wish list
  • Create a will, living revocable trust and a financial power of attorney

The first resolution didn’t happen as I haven’t lost any weight since last year. On a positive note, I haven’t gained any weight either.
I did manage to save up some money to purchase a few items which were on my personal wish list, so I actually succeeded in keeping a resolution.
I didn’t get around to creating a will, living revocable trust and a financial power of attorney.

My resolutions for 2014 are:

  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Create a will, living revocable trust and a financial power of attorney
  • Participate in a photography project – either one photo every day or at least one photo each week

The first two resolutions are carried over from the year before. The third resolution came about because I’ve recently gotten back into photography and purchased an entry-level DSLR. With the traveling I occasionally do for work, I don’t think the 365 project will be possible so as long as I can get one good image every single week through the course of the year, I will consider the third resolution satisfied.

eos-rebel-t3

My First DSLR

After playing around in iPhoto for the last couple weeks, and being on the fence for a few years about buying one, I decided to purchase a base level DSLR. Since I had a Canon SLR film camera (AE-1 Program) growing up, I decided to go with a Canon DSLR. I went to Canon’s website and purchased a refurbished EOS Rebel T3 kit (with 18-55mm lens) as well as a refurbished Canon 75-300mm lens for less than what a brand new EOS Rebel T3 kits would cost ($429). Unfortunately, I ordered it too late to bring it with me on a vacation we were taking to Arizona so I brought my point-and-shoot Canon A590IS to take photos. Once I get a decent camera bag and get used to taking photos with the T3, I’ll start taking that on trips instead of the A590IS.

mac-mini

New Mac

I’ve had my Windows 7 PC for four years and it was starting to get a little slow for my tastes. I decided it was time for a new computer but I don’t like Windows 8 at all. It feels too much like a phone OS put onto a PC, which is probably Microsoft’s intent so that anyone that uses the PC OS can easily transition to the Surface or a Windows phone. My father has been using a Windows XP for the last few years and only needs something to check email and surf the web. His PC was even slower than mine and would occasionally freeze up. I tried new HDDs and reinstalling XP and it wouldn’t help. I decided to buy a Mac mini since I already had a wireless keyboard, wireless mouse and a 21″ monitor; and give him my old Windows 7 PC. I’ve had a Mac before so there wasn’t much of a learning curve as there would be if I’d never touched one.
Now that I have a Mac and my wife has seen how easy they are to use, she wants to replace her three year old HP laptop with a Macbook Air because she also dislikes Windows 8.

New Year’s Resolutions – 2013

Last year, I decided to post my New Year’s resolutions for 2012. They were:

  • Save up enough money to move into an apartment
  • Lose at least 10 pounds
  • Save up money to purchase some items on my personal wish list

The first resolution kinda didn’t happen as my wife and I bought a house instead of moving into an apartment. When I made the resolution, I didn’t think we could afford to buy a home but after talking to her aunt and cousin who are both real estate agents and getting pre-approved through Wells Fargo, we wound up buying a nice ranch house in Middlesex.
The second resolution almost happened. As of two months ago, I was down 14 pounds (from 191 to 177). As of this morning, I was down to 182, so I missed this by one pound.
The third resolution fell flat because of the first resolution. We’ve had to use any spare money to get stuff for the house. I’m thinking about having a yard sale next spring to sell a few things I don’t need/use anymore.

My New Year’s resolutions for 2013 are:

  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Save up money to purchase some items on my personal wish list
  • Create a will, living revocable trust and a financial power of attorney

Droid RAZR

For the past month, I’ve been using a Droid RAZR as my work cell phone. I decided to switch from the iPhone because for some stupid reason the iPhone can’t do voice and data at the same time on Verizon unless it’s on wifi. The iPhone can do both over 3G/4G on AT&T and T-Mobile. The Motorola Droid RAZR and Samsung Galaxy SIII can do both over 4G on Verizon. I would’ve upgraded to an iPhone 5 if Verizon could get their shit together.
So far, I like the phone. It took a little getting used to, considering I’ve only been using iPhones for the last four years. I like that the apps automatically update in the background without any user interaction, whereas on the iPhone, I have to tell it to update an app. I don’t like that the RAZR doesn’t give me count of the unread emails I have like the iPhone does. It would be nice looking at the icon and seeing a little bubble with the amount of unread emails. It does, however, flash a little green light letting me know I have new email. The closest thing the iPhone does is display the new email as banners on the lock screen.
Because of the security settings in my company, I can’t use the pattern to unlock method to access the phone. I’m forced to use a PIN to unlock the phone. I guess their reasoning is that someone might be able to figure out the unlock pattern by looking at the smudges on the screen.

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