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Technology

Google Knows When It’s Your Birthday

By | Technology | No Comments

I don’t know if I should be flattered or scared.  Ok, quick decision, mostly scared and somewhat flattered.

I actually think it’s pretty cool that they took the time to implement this code.    I don’t often go to google.com to search, but when I do, I’m happy to see the effort they make to ensure each day is special; even if it’s just for me.

CampFinder – Beta Launch in Cincinnati

By | Startups, Technology | No Comments

I’ve been working for the past couple of months with my business partner, Brennan Sweeney, to develop CampFinder.co. I’m happy to say that we recently launched our beta site for the Cincinnati Area.

When you search for a flight, a place to eat, a hotel to stay in, or a car to rent, you know where to go on the Internet. However, if you have kids and you want to find a camp for them, there wasn’t really a service to help you out. CampFinder.co does just that. Summer camps, Academic & Enrichment Camps, Adventure Camps, Sports Camps, Religious Camps, you name it, we want to list it.

We’re in the process of adding camp programs daily to ensure we have a complete list. We feel the real value is offering this complete list because without it then you’re not really afforded a complete choice.

Best of all, this service is 100% free to parents.

Right now, parents can search for camps based on information including: Location, Program Type, Camper Age, Program Date, Program Price and Program Rating. Additionally, parents can reach and leave reviews for camp programs to aid in the selection process.

CampFinder Search

We hope to soon be able to offer complete camp program registration, but we do offer camp booking and payment if the camp chooses to use our service. It’s our hope that camps will see the benefit of allowing parents to search, research and register all within a single site.

Please check out CampFinder.co and let us know what you think!

Sony RX100 vs. Sony QX10

By | Photography, Review, Technology | No Comments

Santa was awesome this year and took me by complete surprise and brought me a Sony QX10 camera.  What’s so special about the QX10?  It’s essentially a camera inside a lens that is wirelessly controlled by your smartphone (iPhone or Android).

I took the opportunity today (a brief winter weather break) to head out, test it out and see how the QX10 would fare against my RX100.  This is also a little bit of a review of the QX10.

Trees

Image Quality / Sharpness

I took quite a few pictures today from the same spot with the intention of seeing if I could tell a difference in the shots both in regular view and 100% cropped. Important to note, the RX100 is a 20MP camera while the QX10 is 18MP.  Additionally, the RX100 has a larger sensor than the QX10.

This first image was taken at the Observatory in Cincinnati.  

At first glance the images looked pretty similar.  The colors about the same and generally nice shots.  

Shot3

Then I zoomed in. The RX100 (image on the left) is drastically sharper.  Notice the bricks and grass.

Shot3_zoom

I headed into the Ault Park forest and grabbed this shot of a newly built bridge.  This was in a bit of a darker area to test a lower light situation.  Again, the standard image looks pretty good and is very usable.

SHOT1

Zooming to 100%, you again see the difference in sharpness.

SHOT1_zoom

What does this all mean? All depends on what you’re using your pictures for. Since the QX10 is meant to be an upgrade to your smartphone camera, then I would definitely say this is an upgrade from my iPhone 4S camera. I have not yet tested an iPhone 5 or 5S which may be on par with the QX10. If that’s the case, then the QX10 may not be the best option.

Bokeh

The ability to blur a background to focus on your subject in photography is known as bokeh.

Here is the QX10. Not much bokeh.
RidgeQX10

Here is the QX100. A fair amount of bokeh.
RidgeRX100

Without getting too scientific, the amount of bokeh you can achieve is dependent upon sensor size and aperture size. Larger sensor, larger aperture equals more bokeh. Given that the RX100 has a larger sensor and larger aperture (f/1.8 vs. f/3.3), it’s not a surprise that the RX100 has these better results.

What I love about the QX10

  • Bold innovation
  • Small size (on it’s own)
  • Loads full resolution images onto iPhone for easy sharing
  • Wireless control makes for easy self portraits of yourself and with others
  • Easy to get unique angles
  • Much cheaper than the RX100
  • Tripod mount

What leaves me wanting more

  • Very slow startup process
  • Inconsistent connection quality causes pauses during crucial moments
  • When attached to iPhone (using included bracket), much bigger than RX100
  • Image quality
  • No flash, so won’t really work once the sun goes down
  • Wifi solution is terrible

Closing Thoughts

The QX10 is a nice upgrade from the iPhone 4S camera and has some unique features that I can’t duplicate with any of my other cameras. Images are still good enough for web use and general printing. I know the QX100 version of this camera would solve my image quality issues (and some low-light problems), but it’s increased size would likely be too much for me.

What is keeping me from recommending to anyone (with an iPhone at least), and will likely limit daily use, is the amount of time it takes to take a picture. Anyone who has ever used a camera is used to less than 5 seconds from on to snapping shots. I’d love for Sony to adopt GoPro’s approach of allowing you to keep the Wifi signal on. Yes, this would reduce battery life, but if I knew I was going to be taken pictures fairly often then I could likely have a far better experience.

I have not tried this camera with a NFC-capable device. This is supposed to offer a much better experience that I’ll hopefully be able to have in the future versions of the iPhone.

Santa, if you’re reading this, I still love the gift, but I wanted to share my experience with folks.

How does the QX10 work if it doesn’t have a screen?

Using my iPhone 4, I search for the QX10 Wifi network, connect and then open the Sony PlayMemories app.

This camera can be used to take pictures without using your phone, but you then have to guess how you’re framing the shot.

How well does this work?

Honestly, not that well in practice.

Startup Time: It takes a minimum of about 15 seconds to be able to take a picture (best case). For comparison, the RX100 takes about 2-3 seconds.

Live View: There is often a ‘buffering’ that occurs where the image on the phone’s screen freezes, spinning wheel and wait. Really can’t understand why this happening when my phone is literally touching the camera.

The images in this post were not edited in any way. Both cameras were set to take JPEG files at highest resolution.

DuckDuckGo

By | Software, Technology, Website | No Comments

I recently wrote on Kikai Mining’s blog about the value of search engines in our society and about two of the major players, Google and Bing.  I tried using Bing for a bit and honestly didn’t find any value of using it over Google.

Enter today.  I read about DuckDuckGo on The Next Web using my favorite RSS reader Pulse.  It promises an anonymous and instant search result.  I personally don’t care much about privacy, but it appears with the huge NSA backlash that their marketshare has really begun to tick upward to the tune of 1 billion searches in 2013.

Privacy focused startups should have a solid year in 2014 as more and more people look to shroud themselves from the watchful eye of governments.  I’m pretty sure they don’t care about your searches of dogs wearing pantyhose (which is cruel and very odd), but whatever floats your boat.

Check out DuckDuckGo.

You can read more about why to use the service at http://donttrack.us/

My Ultimate Christmas List – 2013

By | Gear, Photography, Technology, To Purchase | No Comments

It’s that time of year where we share gifts with those we love. My favorite part is watching the joy on a person’s face when you know you’ve gotten them exactly what they want/love.

I thought I’d share with you a christmas list of things that I’ve had my eye on this year. So, if you want to see that look of joy on my face you’re more than welcome to send these things my way this holiday season. Read More

KarmaWifiHotspot

Karma WiFi Hotspot

By | Technology, To Purchase | No Comments

Came across the Karma WiFi today on Stacksocial.com.

It’s a 4G WiFi hotspot that’s Pay-As-You-Go with no subscription or contracts. Price for data is $14/GB.

What makes this different is that you are incentivized to share the hotspot with people around you. For each person you share your hotspot with, you get a free 100MB in data. Very original idea that promotes community interaction.

I’m always up for making someone’s day and I’m sure this couldn’t hurt. I just purchased one myself so I’ll be sure and write a review about it once I get the chance to use it.

Want one?

If you act quickly, you can pick one up for $69 on stacksocial.com. Here’s the link.

Square Cash for Easy Payments

By | Technology | No Comments

Square, popular smartphone/tablet payment solution, has release an easy way to pay for anything using your debit card. It’s called Square Cash.

The way it works:

  1. Download the application to your iPhone or Android device.
  2. Enter how much you need to pay someone.
  3. The app then composes an email where you enter the email address of the recipient. The CC line is auto-populated with what Square needs to make this work.
  4. Send the email.
  5. You receive an email in your inbox with a link to finish the payment.
  6. The link takes you to their website where you enter your debit card number, expiration and zip code.
  7. Click send and you’re all done. The money is automatically deducted from your debit account and added to the recipient’s.

Is it secure?

Time will tell. From what I’ve read, Square assures that it’s secure even with no PIN codes, usernames or passwords.