At Home with Tech

Don’t let your gadgets kill your Zen. Byte back with your inner geek!

Six Tech Tips to Save You Time

Every second of your day counts.  Especially when you want to collect additional minutes to do more of what really matters.  Wait… did you hear that?  Yes… technology to the rescue!

Every second of your day counts. Especially when you want to collect additional minutes to do more of what really matters. Wait… did you hear that? Yes… technology to the rescue!

I don’t know about you, but there never seems to be enough time.
Maybe it’s simply because I’m a busy parent of a four year old.
Perhaps I should also acknowledge that maintaining a blog can be a time suck. (writer’s choice)

Time for regular TV viewing?
Ha!
I barely touch the national average of 2.8 hours/day.
(according to a recent American Time Use Survey)

I’m lucky to squeeze in an episode of “Mad Men.”

But remember what Ferris Bueller said…
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Really, you do want to protect your available free time, especially those ‘quality’ moments. And thankfully, technology can help you squeeze precious minutes back into this favorite bucket of your day.

So here are six tech tips to help you focus more of your life into that happy zone:

#1
Order Stamps Online
Why would you ever choose to waste a fraction of your existence in the post office buying stamps?
The lines are endless. It’s like Purgatory in there.
Even the stamp-dispensing square autobot will drain your life force.
Why not simply purchase your stamps from your home computer?
It’s wicked quick…

#2
Withdraw More Cash from the ATM
Yes, there was a time before time when there wasn’t easy money on almost every corner. But today’s 24/7 access to an ATM is a mixed blessing.
Who wants to always be thinking about where the nearest one is when you need twenty bucks?

I know this idea may not appear like a fiscally responsible suggestion, but if you can control your spending urges, I think you should withdraw more cash than you think you want.

Here’s the trick:

  • Visit your favorite ‘magic money box ‘ less frequently… say once a week. Take out enough cash to get you through this interval and pledge not to return for another seven days.

Rationing the use of this tech will save you time and can prevent you from going to the well more than your budget dictates.

#3
Shop for Your Groceries Online
I know… it goes against your hunting-gathering instincts.
And there’s a delivery fee.
But not having to go to the supermarket,
then not struggling with that damaged cart,
and not having to wait on a long line at the checkout…
Isn’t that worth a few bucks?

#4
Avoid Greeting Card Aisles
You shouldn’t feel anymore like you have to troll for greeting cards at the local CVS or Walgreens.
You know what I mean… searching up and down that forest of disorganized generic thoughts. Finding that perfect card, only to realize there’s no matching envelope, and having to start all over again.

It’s no longer a badge of honor to say to your loved one… “I spent an hour looking for the perfect card!”
(My mom used to like to say that.)

There’s got to be a better way!
Well, of course there is…
Go to Touchnote, Paper Culture, or even Hallmark online.

These websites contain virtually all the greeting cards you could ever want.
Plus they’ll mail them for you!
Whoah…. Now that’s really a paradigm shift.

#5
Don’t Wait On Line to Pay for Parking. Go Online!
Remember how you felt right after you missed that train, because you first had to wait online to pay for parking?
Let’s erase that recurring stomachache from your life.
Use an app and pay on your smartphone.
I use PayByPhone.
Brilliant…

#6
E-ZPass or Bust
All right, who here doesn’t have E-ZPass yet?
Please stand up and walk upstairs.
Now go to bed…. There’s no dinner for you.

And the rest of you should go get a good night’s sleep too!
Before you start your snooze, you should probably check in on your E-ZPass account just to make sure it’s current.
You don’t want E-ZPass to list the car you owned a decade ago.

Bonus Summertime Tech Tip
Repurpose ideas from your old blog posts to quickly generate a new list of tech tips to share.
(You hadn’t noticed?)

Now, you’ve got time to prepare to go camping with your family!

See ya…!

Buying a Counterfeit Camera Battery Can Be Dangerous

Getting a deal on a replacement battery for your camera is always nice.  Finding a price that’s too good to be true probably mean it’s a counterfeit battery.  And how bad is that?  Canon says it can lead to incendiary results.

Getting a deal on a replacement battery for your camera is always nice. Finding a price that’s too good to be true probably mean it’s a counterfeit battery. And how bad is that? Canon says it can lead to incendiary results!

I’ve been preparing for the seasonal uptick in the number of family photos I’ll be snapping over the next couple of months. And I decided to finally replace my old Canon back-up battery for my point-and-shoot camera.
(I’m still using my Canon S-100.)

My ‘NB-5L’ is three years old and can’t hold its charge anymore. After taking a few pictures powered by this aging battery, my camera starts to freak out and then shuts down rather pathetically.

That’s code for…
Get a new battery!

  • At Home with Tech Tip:
    Always carry a spare battery with your camera.
    You don’t want to run out of juice trying to capture that magic moment…

So I decided to go online and order one of these tiny, mighty power squares…

An Unclear Choice
The problem was I discovered a vast disparity in pricing options:

From Canon: $59.99

From B&H Photo: $39.95

From Amazon (sold by EXCELSHOTS): $28.95
(unclear if it’s a genuine Canon product)

From Amazon (sold by Blue Nook): $8.99
(Wasabi Power Lithium-ion replacement battery)

So should I spend $60?
Or should I pay $9?

Hmmmmm…

The Blue Pill or the Red Pill?
Well, Wasabi Power’s battery certainly has the attractive price.
But I don’t really expect an inexpensive third-party battery to perform at the same level as a Canon battery.

Pass.

The $29 battery from EXELSHOTS appears to be a genuine Canon product, but it’s eleven bucks cheaper than B&H Photo’s deal.
And as we all know, it’s hard to beat B&H.

So does that mean it’s a counterfeit battery?
Possibly.

Even though Canon puts a hologram label on their battery pack packaging, you still may have a hard time telling the difference between the real deal and a counterfeit product.

And how bad would that be?

According to Canon…. Really bad.

Danger, Will Robinson!!
Canon says it’s usually difficult to spot a counterfeit battery and…
(here comes the scary part)
…Counterfeits can destroy your camera!
(and it gets worse…)
You could be collateral damage!!

Call 1-855-46-Canon to Report the Counterfeiter
In addition to their clever video on the dangers of using counterfeit batteries, Canon’s got a number to call so you can turn in your neighbor or anyone else who’s fueling this illegal problem.

Yes, comrade…consider yourself deputized.

Look, I get that counterfeit camera accessories are bad for Canon’s bottom line.
(And so are official third-party batteries)
But counterfeits fraudulently use someone else’s logo.
And you have absolutely no idea who’s manufacturing the tech.

But how dire is all this really for the health of your camera?
And should you consider the risks as any more than a ‘Play it Safe’ marketing campaign for Canon’s own products?

Warning: Buy Genuine or Else
Canon suggests the existence of the following ‘inferior product performance’ examples when using counterfeit batteries:

  • Abnormal heat generation
  • Leakage
  • Ignition
  • Rupture
  • And other ‘malfunctions’

And the recently released results from their Anti-Counterfeit Study say that 18% of you have already unknowingly bought counterfeit consumer electronics in 2013.

So the question is…
Are you the one in five who’s been using this dangerous counterfeit gear?
And can you be sure your camera isn’t about to explode?!!

Well, buying direct from Canon would help mitigate any potential camera ‘malfunctions.’  Or purchasing from a reputable dealer like B&H Photo.

Going with Amazon is a little iffy in this situation, especially if the price is 25% cheaper.  And even with Prime, Amazon is still using a third-party dealer you don’t know.

Exploding Cameras Not Allowed Here
So I think the decision tree is pretty straightforward.
Buy from a Canon dealer you know and trust.

Will your camera self-destruct if you don’t?
And are you probably safe ignoring Canon’s marketing-drenched warnings, which are likely a well-designed mixture of propaganda and the truth?

Let me ask you another question…
Is it worth finding out just to save eleven bucks?

Exactly.

Hello B&H.
I’m playing it safe…

Click.

How to Reanimate a Dead Eye in Your Photo

Sometimes a perfectly good-looking eye won’t reflect a camera’s flash like its twin.  That can really ruin a picture.  But with a little photo-editing voodoo, you can bring it back to life in seven easy steps!

Sometimes a perfectly good-looking eye won’t reflect a camera’s flash like its twin. That can really ruin a picture. But with a little photo-editing voodoo, you can bring it back to life in seven easy steps!

They say the eyes are the windows to your soul.
So you’ve got a lot riding on how they look when you’re trying to snap a great shot of somebody.

We all know how ‘red eye’ is a common problem with flash photography.
And how that devilish defect tends to occur in low-light situations when someone’s pupils are wide open.
(Blue-eyed people have a greater problem with this than brown-eyed folks.)

But barring this complication, eyes normally tend to simply reflect the flash in the form of a glint or sparkle.
Totally normal…

In certain circumstances though, one eye may reflect the flash less than the other one. Or sometimes not at all….
Now that can look really weird!

And the otherwise best photo you’ve taken in years can make somebody look like Frankenstein’s monster.

This ‘Dead Eye’ Syndrome is definitely going to ruin your photo…

Time for an Eye Job
Red eye is so easy to fix these days; both cameras and computers have simple tools to magically turn all that red to black.

But what are you supposed to do with a dead eye?!

Well, to bring it back to life, you’ve got to give it the similar glint of its partner.

And that’s going to take a little tech voodoo…
The good news is you don’t have to have access to a serious photo-editing program to do the surgery…

Eye Surgery in Seven Steps
The basic task is to clone the glint from one eye and place it on top of the sickly-looking pupil in the other eye.
Effectively, it’s a copy-and-paste maneuver.

Here’s how you do it using Apple’s Aperture software:

  1. Click on the ‘Add Adjustment’ drop down
  2. Select ‘Retouch’
  3. Choose ‘Clone’ (not Repair)
  4. Reduce the size of the selection circle to just larger than the reflection in the good eye
  5. Option/Click on the good reflection
    (The circle turns into a cross momentarily)
  6. Now move your mouse and hover the small circle over the bad eye’s smaller reflection
  7. Click to replace the bad reflection with the good reflection

Voila! Both your eyes now have matching reflections.
Normality has been restored in your picture.

Take a look at this example:

Original photo - I think Barrett’s been replaced by a pod person.

Original photo – I think Barrett’s been replaced by a pod person.

After surgery - No more Frankenstein creature…

After a little surgery on my left eye – No more Frankenstein creature…

Illuminating the Darkness
I know there’s lots of debate about the appropriateness of touching up a face in a photo.

I don’t think this falls under the same category of concern.
You don’t really have a dead eye.
(Right?)
There is no darkness in your soul.
(I hope.)

The ‘darkness’ is more of an aberration created by technology.
(Unless your evil eye always photographs that way…
if so run to your ophthalmologist…!)

We’re just reversing a little tech error and
letting your true beauty shine through…

You’re welcome.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 161 other followers

%d bloggers like this: