Sunday, July 28, 2013

Real-World Test of Google's New Chromecast

(Updated 8-20-13) I'm a bit of a home entertainment enthusiast, and an early-adopter in many ways. My Chromecast arrived yesterday, and I immediately put it to the test.

For starters, this thing really is as easy to set-up and start using as Google claimed.

In fact, the package doesn't even come with a real set of instructions; just a three step procedure printed inside the box.

Other than having to struggle a bit to get my arm behind my TV, I can't imagine installation and set-up being any easier.

They did a really nice job thinking that through.

I have read some reports that on certain TVs, you can see it sticking-out of side-mounted HDMI ports, but my TV (a Sharp Aquous) has plenty of available ports on the back, so the Chromecast in my living room is completely invisible.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What Will Be Your Legacy in The Digital Age?

I saw an article recently about a fairly new feature from Google, which allows you to specify what happens to your "digital stuff" in the event of your untimely demise, and that got me to thinking...

Growing-up, I never had the chance to know my Grandfathers. Both had passed away when I was really, really little. But I remember, many years later, how cool it was to look at their old photos, home movies, and letters, and to have the chance to "get to know them" through those keepsakes.

I've since scanned all of that stuff, but came to the realization that like my own photos, movies, and writings, it's all stored "in the cloud." Google's made it really easy for me to archive almost anything, and to control with whom it's shared... I've shared some things with my spouse, others with my entire extended family, and some I've kept to myself.

I've even gone-back, and scanned old documents dating back to my childhood in my effort to go paperless, including my birth certificate, and baby pictures, and all of that is now stored in the Google Cloud, too.

In fact, all of my music (more than 10,000 songs) and most of my books are in Google's cloud, as well.

But, what happens to it all when my number is up? Unlike the keepsakes I had from my Grandfathers, future generations won't have access to any of it, not to mention the mementos of my own that I've accumulated over the years.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Google Play Music (Android) Never Stops Syncing

As part of my ongoing effort to move my life into "the cloud," I've been making pretty extensive use of Google Play Music, which allows me to upload my collection (up to 20,000 songs) for free, and stream them back on any device (I love never having to worry about scratching, or misplacing a CD)!

I've hit on a few limitations, which I'll come-back to in a future post, but overall, it's a pretty amazing platform, and it pays to watch their Free Song of The Day, which occasionally gives you a chance to score something you like.

One thing that's been annoying me, however, is that the Android app slipped into this state where it's in perpetual sync.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Experience With a New Samsung Galaxy S3

Back around Christmas, my wife and I were ready to upgrade our phones. We'd been using the first generation Samsung Galaxy S phones, and had nothing but good experiences with the build quality, and since we'd been Android users since pretty much the beginning, upgrading to one of today's best Android phones was a no-brainer.

After a few weeks, we really love our Galaxy S3s.

I was a bit concerned at first, since our carrier (T-Mobile) had pretty much rendered our previous Galaxy handsets useless with copious amounts of crapware bloatware junk, that I was forced to have to root both, simply to free-up enough memory to make them work.

I'm pleased to report that the S3 was a better experience, although it still came with its fair share of rubbish, which, as usual, cannot be uninstalled without rooting. Why is that still legal, when the only solution is to root the phone, which voids the warranty? That's a topic for another day.

Hopefully, your carrier is more ethical, and at the very least, T-Mobile has gotten a lot better about not using every last bit of memory to install refuse you don't need, and will never use.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Scanned Photos & Geolocation

Many cameras (and camera phones) nowadays include a photo's geolocation data. Simply put, that's the latitude and longitude of where the picture was taken, so that it can be viewed on a map.

That information can (and should) be stored within the image itself, in what's called the file's metadata. Metadata is essentially supplemental information about the image, including who's in it, subject matter, and so forth.

As a part of my ongoing project, I'm in the process of scanning boxes upon boxes of old images, and adding them to my online archives. I highly recommend that anyone with old prints do the same, and sooner rather than later. Many of mine (even fairly recent prints) are beginning to fade, and by digitizing them with a scanner, I'm stopping future degradation.

Along the way, I'm learning all kids of great tricks for restoring many of these old photos (to the extent that can be done), and I'll touch upon some of those another time, but the biggest hassle I'm facing is adding the geolocation information to them.