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

Soundsight

$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)

July 5, 2014

The Desert Hot Springs Walmart Petitions

Rumors of petitions abound, but just try searching for them. Even knowing they are at Change.org doesn't help. A search there for "Desert Hot Springs" turns up all the names of people from DHS who signed other petitions, but not any Walmart petitions. Even Google can't find them. Fortunately another search engine (Michael Burke) told me where to find them.

Pro-Walmart

Anti-Walmart

I could spend a very pleasant afternoon helping both petitions by picking at their flaws, but I'll only say this:

The pro petition doesn't use the words "Desert Hot Springs" so using the most obvious search term will not help anyone find it.

The anti petition describes the large number of shoppers and the increase in traffic so magnificently, it makes it sound like one giant gold mine of economic recovery for this city. Send me to the yes petition.

permalink | July 5, 2014 at 04:06 PM | Comments (4)

July 1, 2014

Get Your Sugar On

Jack's Wholesale Candy Warehouse has moved to new, larger digs at 777 S. Central Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90021. Wholesale prices, but open to the general public. They even have free parking. If you want to shop for candy by color, they make it possible. (I want all my candy to be leopard-spotted.)

And, they've got a Facebook page.

permalink | July 1, 2014 at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2014

A Change At Apple

Has Apple ever before now introduced a cheaper, less powerful version of a computer? They have now. The newest iMac is $200 cheaper at $1,099. It's been reduced from the 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz to the 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz.

You can compare iMac models here. The hard drive is cut from 1Tb to 500GB (for $50 they'll upgrade it to 1TB).

permalink | June 18, 2014 at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

Amazon Fire Phone

Amazon has introduced its Fire Phone.

I've watched the videos and read down the long page of features and it sure seems to do a lot of nice stuff. If only it had some way that you could make it connect to another device at a great distance so that you could, I guess, talk or sump'n to the person who has that other device. That'd be neat, but I guess that's some crazy futuristic thing we have to wait for.

Here's the product announcement video. The contrast between the excitement level of an Amazon audience and an Apple audience is really striking.

The phone appears at the 14-minute mark.

permalink | June 18, 2014 at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2014

"Is that communism?"

That's the rhetorical question asked by TheStreet in reference to (get this!) Costco.

The Glassdoor survey of Costco wages show a pretty flat salary curve, with pay ranging from $10-$23 an hour for cashiers and just $22-24 an hour for supervisors. No position averages much more than $22 an hour, but none averages less than $11 an hour either. Even the guy who checks your receipt and the woman who sells the cheap hot dogs take home a decent wage.

Yes, every time I see that case full of big roasted chickens at only $5 each I say to myself, "This must be communism!"

The article says cashiers at Sam's Club are paid as little as $8/hour while supervisors get an average of $25/hour.

Here are a few of the Costco wage ranges listed in the Glassdoor survey:

  • Cashier: $10 to $22
  • Supervisor: $20 to $24
  • Food Court: $10 to $15
  • Pharmacy Tech: $12 to $22
  • Pharmacist: $58 to $62 (this is the highest pay at Costco)
  • Cashier Assistant: $11 to $13
  • Cart Pusher: $11 to $12
  • Hearing Aid Dispenser: $23 to %$30
  • Licensed Optician: $23 to $28
  • Meat Cutter: $22 to $24
  • Meat Wrapper: $10 to $14

North Korean Chicken
This is what a communist chicken looks like. It takes one Supreme Leader and two high-ranking military officers to kill a communist chicken.

permalink | May 29, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 6, 2014

Handheld GoPro Stabilizer

Only $269, requires batteries, looks like it works. Effective A-B comparison video here. The price is not out of line for an inexpensive gimbal aimed at the amateur market. But, naturally, I took a poke at Amazon to see what they offered.

For $245 you can get the "Feiyu G3 Steadycam Handheld Gimbal Gopro Hero 3" which is the same thing. There is only one customer review (dated May 5, 2014) and that customer got a lemon. Maybe Feiyu is selling the ones that get a "B" grade from quality control. The customer also thinks the device was designed for a Hero3 and doesn't work as well with a Hero3+. But Feiyu seems to have nice people working for them, because they do offer a kindly remind:

"Kindly remind you: You should first amount the GOPRO to gimbal, then put on the batteries and power on. Otherwise it will cause the phenomena of gimbal disorderly shaking."

Don't be in a rush to buy. The EasyGimbal, made by some fine folks in Wyoming, is due this spring, too. They estimate the retail price will be $599. Ouchy. Let's see how fast that gets moved over to Asian manufacturing.

permalink | May 6, 2014 at 07:16 AM | Comments (2)

April 29, 2014

Apple Breaks

Breaks with tradition, that is. For as long as I've been using a Mac, the base price for the cheapest laptop has always been $999. As technology advanced, Apple just kept improving it to hold that price. But now, now for the first time, Apple has dropped the prices of MacBook Airs by $100, across the board. The cheapest is now $899. This is despite the fact that they have upgraded the processor.

For $999 you can get the 13-inch Air. The top o' the line Air, 13-inch with 256 GB drive starts at $1,199. Naturally, you will want to double the RAM to 8 GB for $100 more. You can also get a faster chip ($150) and double the storage ($300).

They really like that 100 number at Apple, because they dropped the price in the UK by £100 which is $168.31 today. The starting price there is £749 which equals $1260.64, so no need to rush over there to try to score a bargain.

permalink | April 29, 2014 at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2014

Breaking Into Quadcopters Without Breaking The Bank

If you have felt the urge to get up there and start shooting aerial videos and you want to go with the right equipment like a DJI Phantom 2 with a GoPro Hero3+ Black mounted on a Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal with live FPV (like this) and have done your shopping research, you too will have found that the whole kit is more complex and expensive than you may have thought. And maybe you found that one of the best deals is this kit at B&H which includes everything - even a hardcase (but no propeller guards) - for $2,208.95. That is, by my calculations, about $100 less than what you would pay if you bought everything separately, but with the B&H deal they assemble it for you, sparing you the task of some soldering.

And then you would have thought "Do I want to send $2,200 skyward when I've never flown anything fancier than a kite or paper airplane?"

Well, lookie here. Reader 'b' sent us that link to a page describing some toy quadcopters for less than $100 that are good for practicing and crashing with no heartbreak.

Check out this video (is that Morro Bay?) shot on a Wltoys V222. The entire kit, including built-in camera (640x480) is only $67.99! Descriptive video here.

I'm still looking for one that's mostly pink or that I can spraypaint pink.

permalink | April 14, 2014 at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)