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Tag: GoPro

Be Careful what You Say Around your Tech

When your voice-activated tech misbehaves, the problem may be caused by something you said. Here’s a fix to consider.

I’ve just put my old GoPro to work as a webcam, tethered to my PC laptop that I’m using for my job. Wearing my MacGyver hat, I easily connected the GoPro to my computer with an Elgato Cam Link 4K video converter. This adapter can transform many cameras with a HDMI output into a simple USB webcam.

I prefer my GoPro’s shot to my laptop’s built-in webcam, because the GoPro offers a wider-angle view. That framing gives me more room to use my body language when I talk to colleagues on Zoom. And I’ve found that can help me better connect with people I’ve never met in person.

But there was a problem.

Who’s Controlling your GoPro?
A couple days into its new mission as a webcam, my GoPro inexplicably began glitching out. One day it magically kicked into video mode and began recording my conversation. The next morning, it snapped a burst of pictures during a Zoom meeting. Its little blinking red light was the dead giveaway that there was a gremlin in the system.

Or was there?

I put on my diagnostic lab coat to see if there might be a GoPro setting that was causing the problem. I first upgraded the GoPro’s operating system and then poked around the menu. I eventually came to the voice control option. It was set to ‘on.’

Hmmm….

Is your GoPro Simply Following Orders?
“GoPro, take a photo!”

That’s the fun phrase my eleven-year-old son and I love to blurt out when taking GoPro selfie shots during weekend hikes with friends.

Yes… my GoPro can be voice activated. And it has been reliably obedient for selfie shots during our weekend hiking adventures.

So why wouldn’t its audio parlor trick also be in play during its weekday duties? Of course my GoPro was listening to me during my Zoom meetings! I must have said something that resembled, “GoPro start recording,” or “GoPro shoot burst.”

After my big ‘aha,’ I simply deactivated my GoPro’s voice-control mode, and thankfully, my GoPro started behaving again.

Problem solved.

But my reestablished tech Zen was short lived.

What Did You Say?
Uncovering my mistake brought up a larger question. How much of my tech is always listening to me, and how often is it misinterpreting my words and reacting in ways that it shouldn’t?

My Alexa-enabled Sonos speaker in my home office occasionally interrupts me when I’m on the phone or doing a Zoom meeting, because it thinks it heard me summon it. I usually shrug it off and shake my head, both slightly amused and a tad irritated.

Even Siri on my Apple Watch has awkwardly tried to jump into my conversations.

User Error
I’m not exactly sure what to make of all this, except to accept that voice-activated tech can sometimes react in ways we don’t want. Its skills may be imperfect. But then again, so are humans. That combination can easily lead to unexpected and imperfect results.

As more components of our smart homes begin to possess voice control, it will become increasingly important not to forget what we’ve set up to listen to our lives. (And I’m not talking about the whole privacy question. We’ll leave that topic for another day.)

Sure, it’s cool to control your surroundings with your voice. That said, I hope you talk clearly and remember the right command phrases. It would be a shame if your future tech misinterprets your intent and ruins your day… or worse.

But don’t worry. It’s probably just ‘user error.’

Time for an upgrade?

My Favorite Photos from our Maine Vacation

I used a couple of guidelines to help me spot my favorite images during our road trip to Acadia National Park. And here’s the result…

What did my family and I do this year for a pandemic-influenced summer vacation? We drove to Maine, camped in Deer Isle and hiked in Acadia National Park. It was a spectacular experience.

Bringing the right tech to complement our camping gear was an important step to keep us on the grid. Here’s my checklist to make sure you bring enough portable power.

Of course I snapped a number of photos along the way. I was really struck by Maine’s rocky topography. (That created some really cool contrast in my shots.) And depending on the weather, Maine’s shoreline imagery vacillated between bright beauty and eerie fog.

We happened to spend a fair amount of time driving during low tide. And those moments revealed a damp, almost alien-like, brown and green rocky landscape… begging to be photographed.

Keep your Shots Wide

I quickly found that using a camera or a smartphone with a wide-angle lens is critical, especially if you like to take family selfies at the summit of a hike. That’s because you’ll want to capture enough of the environment around you in the shot to show where you are. (I used my GoPro for that.)

Tight shots can be great, but I feel this type of vacation photography is all about the wide. If you hope to capture a fraction of that feeling you get when you look around after you’ve climbed a thousand feet up, you’ll want to focus your camera wide. (And the same goes even if you’re walking on a beach.)

Let the Natural Beauty Tell the Story

So, here are some of my favorite shots from our trip to Acadia National Park and Deer Isle. I hope you like them!

How to Enjoy a Rainy Day with an iPhone and a GoPro during COVID-19

If you’re concerned about social-distancing challenges at the beach, consider this strategy to avoid the crowds.

Everything is the opposite these days. Well, it certainly feels that way with all of the new anti-social norms that are fusing into our daily lives.

I’ve got just two words to say about this right now…

It’s complicated.

But general human avoidance does seem like a best practice for the foreseeable future.

Practicing the New Art of Avoiding Humanity

It’s all about figuring out where lots of folks aren’t go be. 

Doing the opposite.

So when the Saturday weather forecast predicted lots of rain, that was my cue to activate our family beach-day plan (or at least a brief visit).

Fortunately, the storm took its time arriving, and there was wasn’t a drop of precipitation until after we returned home. But the threat was enough to keep the throngs of beach-deprived, COVID-19-weary people away. 

And that’s exactly what I was counting on. I brought my GoPro along to capture our moment in the happy emptiness.

Raining on your Parade?

When the downpour finally arrived, and I heard the sudden impact of a thousand rain drops on our roof, I closed my eyes and searched for another opposite reaction.

Then, I grabbed my waterproof iPhone and raincoat and ran outside as the deluge was still at its early peak.

My goal?

…to explore what I usually try to avoid.

Raindrops.

Getting soaking wet isn’t so bad if that’s part of the plan.

Especially when the other part is attempting to snap a few shots of rain in flight and after arrival. 

Enjoy your Opposite

In times like these, you’ve got to get a little creative to hold onto your own balance. And that might involve getting out of your comfort zone.

So, try spending some time examining the opposite and chasing your own raindrops.

You might discover your own private beach.

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