June 6, 2015

Costco Alhambra

A friend of mine visited the tire department at this Costco, which led me to look at the Yelp reviews of that store. I'm sure I have never before seen Yelp reviews like these in such quantity. And the fact that they are talking about a Costco makes it almost surreal. The place is some kind of phenomenon. The objective facts seem to be: the parking lot is terribly crowded; the store is terribly crowded; this may be the busiest Costco anywhere; and most of the shoppers are probably of some ethnic Asian background.

There are thirteen pages of reviews as I write this and the racism is palpable. Almost all of it is directed at those who appear to be Chinese. Quite a few reviews start out "I'm Chinese myself, but..."

One reviewer made a half-hearted attempt at being fair by saying that "Mexicans" and "Vietnamese" were just as bad. I'm only about a third of the way through the reviews and so far no one has said a single thing for or against black people, which really sets these Yelp reviews apart from traditional American racism.

On the positive side, when you hit upon one of the 5-star reviews (and there are many), it's such a relief from the anger it's almost like being served a dish of ice cream while sitting on the porch enjoying a cool evening breeze.

I want to know why the store is closed on Sunday while the Target in the same shopping center is open Sundays. Any ideas?

I'm going to have to make a point to visit this store (without a shopping cart) just to observe the raucous, dog-eat-dog scene. Do you think I ought to wear my GoPro camera to document it?

permalink | June 6, 2015 at 03:48 PM | Comments (3)

March 4, 2015

Save Money On Not-A-GoPro

Amazon's deal of the day today (and that means March 4, 2015) is big discounts on SONY AS100 action cameras and accessories. This is one of those of cameras that, when it appeared on the market, was heralded as some sort of competition for GoPro. The one thing you can say for sure about those GoPro competitors is that within twelve months they'll be unloading their product at deep discounts. And here we are!

For instance. The Sony HDRAS100V/W Video Camera is available for $150, that's half off! They're even discounting the Sony 64GB microSDXC Class 10 UHS-1 Memory Card to only $26, which is 42% off! I have no idea why they would cut the price on a microSD card, but there it is.

One advantage the Sony has over a GoPro is image stabilization.

permalink | March 4, 2015 at 07:30 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2015

If I Had A GoPro Hero 3, 3+ or 4

I'd be all over this. A super-extended battery for those camera models. As I write this, there are still a few rewards available which will get you one of these batteries for $1 + $6 shipping! Once those are gone, you'll have to donate $35 to get one of the batteries.

This is a Kickstarter campaign and it has far exceeded its goal.

I found this video to be a little confusing. The Limefuel Epic is a battery backpack. The Limefuel Epic on its own is said to be able to power your GoPro for 7 to 12 hours. It includes a custom shell back to accommodate that big thing. It's bigger than the camera. You do not need to go around with the battery backpack plugged into a bigger separate power source. Why they put that view into the video, I don't know.

permalink | February 28, 2015 at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 1, 2015

Deal On A Google Nexus 7 Tablet

2013 model, Gen 2, 16GB, $170 at Woot. This price expires when all are sold or the clock strikes 2100 hours.

permalink | February 1, 2015 at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2014


I'm sure we've all noticed that the stores that sell souvenirs for tourists will have stuff bearing the name "Palm Springs" even in Desert Hot Springs. Well, take a look at what I found at Walgreen's today:
Desert Hot Springs hoody (2550)
They're marked $19.99 but ring up as $9.99 at the cash register. They were in only two colors: that sort of raspberry pink I bought (similar to that raspberry house on Cactus Drive) and fire engine bright yellow-green. That yellow-green color will make the wearer a little bit more visible in bad lighting, so if you know a chronic jaywalker, this might be a gift for them.

They are in men's adult sizes. I saw XXL, XL and L. I didn't dig through all of them, stopping when I found an XL. There is a limited supply and I don't see any reason why they wouldn't sell out of these pretty quickly. I mean, every City Council member is going to get at least one, right?

Made in Honduras and imported via Mexico.

permalink | November 29, 2014 at 05:23 PM | Comments (1)

October 21, 2014

GoPro Selfie Mounts

Of course, they can be used for more than selfies, but if you're going to spend $55 on an upgraded stick, then you are planning to use it for selfies. I might prefer something cheaper, but these GoPole products have some extras that might make them worthwhile for you.

Remember that guy who went down in the sort of "easy" plane "crash" in shallow waters not far from the beach on a Hawaiian island? Did you marvel (as did I) that he never dropped his GoPro during the crash or while swimming around waiting for a rescue? He was likely using a GoPole product. So, if a selfie of your near death experience is what you want to record, this is where to put your money.

permalink | October 21, 2014 at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2014


If you follow Apple announcements then you've heard the brouhaha about the iMac with 5K Retina display (5K, 5K!, which is one more K than 4, starts at $2,500) and the iPad Air 2 (thinner, lighter, more powerful, starts at $500). But there never is any brouhaha about my favorite compromise that will put a real Mac on your desk for as little as $500: the Mac mini. This is what I have, but my model is a year old. It's not as powerful as an iMac.

Processor speeds:
iMac1.4 GHz2.7GHz2.9GHz3.2GHz3.4GHz3.5GHz4.0GHz
Mac mini1.4GHz2.6GHz2.8GHz 

iMacIntel HD Graphics 5000Intel Iris Pro GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memoryNVIDIA GeForce GT 755M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memoryNVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR5 memoryNVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.AMD Radeon R9 M295X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
Mac miniIntel HD Graphics 5000Intel Iris Graphics 

Base prices:
Mac mini$499$699$999 

But I'd guess that if you don't know how much power you need, then an iMac is likely to be more than you need, unless, of course, you are modeling global weather or nuclear warfare.

Yes, the display, keyboard and mouse are extra on the Mac mini, while they are included with the iMac, so you've got to add that cost to the Mac mini. But that's actually another advantage for the Mac mini. You've got a wide range of products and prices to shop from. When you need to upgrade either your display or your CPU, those are separate purchases, but with the iMac the display and CPU are all one unit. If you need to upgrade or replace either, you've got to purchase both.

Small side benefits nobody ever mentions are that the Mac mini is more portable and more easily physically secured - unplug it, lock it in a drawer. Try that with an iMac.

Still, there is that 5K Retina display (with "organic passivation" - a new term to me that I plan to misuse as often as possible). If you're a professional photographer or if you've got the money to spend to impress friends, then get it. Here's a soft video (no real tech, but lots of gee-whiz) that I believe will play only in Safari or on an iOS device. Hey, Apple writes the rules, not me.

permalink | October 19, 2014 at 07:01 PM | Comments (1)

October 10, 2014

Sale On GoPro Hero3+ Black At Costco

If you've been lusting after a 3+ Black, the introduction of the 4 has brought you a deal. Costco is selling a Hero 3+ Black for $350. It comes with a few basic mounts, the waterproof case (of course), and an additional battery (total of two batteries). The battery alone costs $18. This is basically the same kit that B&H is selling for $400 ($418 with the extra battery).

The Hero 3+ Black was the top-o-the-line GoPro until they brought out the Hero 4 last week. Nearly all of the impressive GoPro videos that you've seen over the last year have been shot with a Hero 3+ Black. It's a great camera - and now cheaper. The list price of the Hero 3+ Black was $400 and the new 4 Black is $500. I wouldn't expect new Hero 3+ Blacks to go much (if any) lower. They sold well so there are probably no warehouses awash with old 3+ Blacks.

The holidays are coming and if your kids don't have to have the very latest thing, they can have last year's very latest thing at $50 off.

SD card required and extra. But Costco's got a deal on those too. Get the 64 GB microSD card. Get two, they're cheap.

permalink | October 10, 2014 at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

September 4, 2014

Grilled Cheese?

You are so behind in your technology if you still actually grill your grilled cheese sandwiches. You need a Boska Holland Toastabag (only $9.94 for a set of 3).

This smart little video will answer almost all your questions:

Unanswered question deserving some research: what happens if you put a couple of scoops of ice cream in the bag and toast that? Do you get ice cream that's crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside?

The real advantage, as I see it, that will appeal to the young single man (which seems to be their target audience) is that any grease that drains off the item being toasted stays in the bag so that you can pour it out and onto your food, assuring that you will always get your daily need for fat.

permalink | September 4, 2014 at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2014


$3 billion for Beats. GoPro stock worth $4.8 billion. If you could combine the two that would give you something like $7 billion at least, right? And you don't even have to do a good job at it, because people will buy any old crap as long as you make your website slick enough, right?

Soundsight Headphones will make Bluetooth headphones with a built in video camera. Pre-order for $350. Regular price will be $500. They should hit the market in time for Christmas. Let's look at the specs. They don't tell you much, but they do say this in at least a couple of places: "1080p HD Recording 720p at 30 fps." I've never encountered that kind of a spec before, but I'm pretty sure it means 720p. Period. Other active cameras for the same price or less are claiming at least 1080p and some offer 4k at 60 fps.

In answer to the question, can it take still photos, the answer is "Yes. The camera can take high-definition (1080p) pictures." While 1080p is considered high-def for video, it's an image that's only 1920 x 1080. Pack a lot of those together into a video and it can look great. But just a single shot at 1920 x 1080 is only about 2 megapixels - the same capacity as the first digital camera I bought in 2000. Not high def.

The battery is rated at 800 mAh and they say it's good for four hours with "Activated features on." I don't know what "Activated features on" means, but if it means shooting video, 4 hours is really, really good. In fact it's unbelievably good considering the small capacity of that battery. The camera for the GoPro Hero3 and 3+ is rated at 1180 mAh, and they've never claimed anything like 4 hours of battery life. The battery in Soundsight is recharged via USB.

What about the experts? They've got a link labeled "What the Musicians Are Saying" where they quote Eddie Fisher who says a Soundsight would be a great asset on a tour. [Emphasis added.] (This Eddie Fisher is only 40 years old and is the drummer with One Republic.) Under the link "What the Video Pro's [sic] Are Saying" Rosco Guerrero was happy to say this while cashing his paycheck: "The image quality, dynamic range, color depth, and RAW ability make this camera an outstanding device for any form of motion picture capture." It can shoot RAW video?! That would be something they should put on their website...along with an explanation of what RAW video is. The third link is "What the Audio Pro's [sic] Are Saying." Alexey Dolgushin cryptically says "On our mission to provide the ultimate sound experience on Earth we needed the best components the Earth could give us, that's why we chose HiWave...clean and warmful sound with detailed bass is a cherry on the top of our years of work." Incidentally, Alexey Dolgushin is a co-founder of Soundsight, so totally objective and fair. There's no explanation of "HiWave" on the Soundsight website, but it may refer to this company.

And there's a video of a UFC fighter wearing Soundsight headphones. My guess is that they chose him and that video because Rosco Guerrero (video pro cited above) had already shot a video of him.

They say the camera has 8 GB of RAM and they don't mention any cards, so I think that means you are absolutely limited to 8 GB. Shooting at 720p, 8 GB is not too limiting, but I think you will fill up the memory before that battery is dead.

They allege the audio quality is not impacted at all by listening over the Bluetooth connection. Really? Here's an article about how audio over Bluetooth doesn't suck as much as it used to. Maybe Soundsight has accomplished a major breakthrough with Bluetooth, but if they had you'd think they would brag about it.

But all of that is just hot air theorizing, right? A few good sample videos should convince any reluctant customer to open his wallet. The only trouble is, there are no sample videos. That is a serious flaw in a website that markets a new video camera. One might wonder if they've done anything more than assemble an empty prototype for promotional purposes. I encourage readers to shell out that $349 and get back to me when you've had some experience with your Soundsight headphones and camera.

permalink | July 12, 2014 at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)