At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: Wi-Fi Digital Photo Frame

If You Snap a Family Photo and Nobody Sees It, Does It Really Exist?

This nixplay WiFi Cloud Frame is a digital photo frame with lots of tricks to help display your photos. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s ready for prime time.

This nixplay WiFi Cloud Frame is a digital photo frame with lots of tricks to help display your photos. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s ready for prime time.

My life as the family photographer feels like a huge storage container of ‘quadro- triticale’ and a bunch of tribbles.

If you’re not familiar with the classic “Star Trek” episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles,” Captain Kirk uncovers a Klingon conspiracy to poison relief supplies designated for a distant planet‘s population. He realizes the evil plot when an expanding family of cute tribbles starve in a poisoned shipment of wheat.

The Trouble with Too Many Family Photos
I’m taking thousands of pictures a year, but you wouldn’t know it.
Neither would most of my family or friends.
Because the photos are buried away in my computer’s hard drive, burdened down by a self-inflicted organization and processing system I designed.

My original plan was solid (or so I thought):

  • Take lots of photos
  • Separate the digital wheat from the chaff every week
  • Upload the very best online to share with family and friends
  • Print photo albums by the year or event
  • Print one-off photos with your home printer

But I didn’t properly factor in the variable of time allocation per photo…

My system’s fatal flaw:
There are simply too many pictures to go through.
And now I’ve fallen behind…way behind.

I’ve talked before about the challenges of organizing vast numbers of digital family photos.

Yesterday’s Photo is Yesterday’s News
I’m a busy father.
Looking through all my photos every week isn’t exactly at the top of my to-do list.

My review process has slowed so dramatically, I’m getting to photos of my three and half year old son that don’t really look like him anymore!

And when they say a picture is worth a thousand words… that’s for yesterday’s picture. Six months from now, that cute photo of my boy ‘rowing his boat’ in a laundry basket still may be a keeper, but our extended family and friends want to know what he did six days ago!

So in a manner of speaking, family photos have an expiration date.

Life moves pretty quickly.
Your photos had better keep up!

Digital Photo Frames to the Rescue?
The same rule goes for sharing your photos at home with the inner circle…
So I decided it was time to update ‘the plan.’

One option was to simply take fewer pictures.
(Believe me… that would solve a lot of problems.
I almost pine for the days when you only had 24 or 36 shots to work with.)

The other ‘obvious’ solution is to power up a digital photo frame to help get those photos quickly in front of the family’s eyeballs.

I know this isn’t a revolutionary solution.
In fact, digital photos frames are already yesterday’s tech.

The idea of buying a digital screen and loading it up for the one purpose of rotating a group of photos isn’t as wonderful as it once was.
You can already display photos on all the other digital screens you own.

Who needs to spend money on another one?

Plus, I’ve generally found digital photo frames to be a pain to use.
(They’re just glitchy!)

Maybe since they never became such a hot tech commodity, all the kinks never got worked out.
(Not that I’ve tested all of them…)

That said, I’ve bought two digital photo frames so far,
including the positively-reviewed Pix- Star PXT510WR02 for my father a year ago.

I found the Pix-Star to be perfectly functional but also somewhat unresponsive whenever I tried adding more photos into the mix. The Pix-Star was supposed to make the upload process really simple, because it can pull existing photos from one of my Flickr family albums.
(It’s web connected.)

Third Time’s the Charm?
But I haven’t given up.
I’ve been paying attention to see when a new digital photo frame that could be a game changer hits the market …

Recently I noticed a new player:

nixplay Cloud Frame

The Nixplay WiFi Cloud Frame

It’s just come out and was displayed at CES 2014.

Nixplay’s Cloud Frame’s particular trick is it can access your pictures not only from your hard drive, but also from Facebook, Instagram and Picasa. Then you create your own albums and slideshows on nixplay.com and finally send them to your web-connected frame.

Plus, it’s got a motion sensor. So it can turn off when you’re not in the room.

Sweet!

Beta be Good!
For full disclosure, this Nixplay Cloud Frame is also a beta version.
But I figured it’s got to work since it was on sale at Amazon.

Click.

Buyer beware…
Beta versions always come with risks…

Setting up my nixplay and connecting it to my wireless network went smoothly enough, but as soon as I tried loading up some photos, I ran into a bit of trouble.

As in… I couldn’t load any photos onto the frame!

Yes, I was able to upload the photos onto my nixplay web albums, though a few pictures didn’t make it up to the nixplay cloud on the first try.
Instead, I got a scary ‘communications error’ message.
(A second attempt was ultimately successful.)

But when there’s smoke, there’s usually fire…

So Close and Yet So Far
For almost a day, I couldn’t get the frame to pull down any of the photos from the nixplay cloud.

NONE!

But it did recognize the existence of my online slideshows.
Just not any of the photos!

ARGH!!!!

Actually, all of the blank slideshows didn’t always show up in the menu.
Getting confused…?
Exactly.

NIXPLAY, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

Nix the Nixplay?
When I first unpacked the nixplay, on the top of the its screen, there was a peel-able sticker that read,
“Congratulations on being one of our first nixplay customers. We are really excited to have you as part of the family!”

The feeling’s not mutual.

  • I’ve lost time trying to get this beast to work!
    (that precious commodity I was trying to save in the first place)
  • I’ve lost money!
    I just saw the nixplay’s price on Amazon has suddenly dropped 20% to $79.99!!!
    (I guess that $20 price drop is good for the next guy… though that’s predicated on the frame actually working!)
  • And I’ve lost a happy ending for this post!

But it gets worse.

The Taunt of the Intermittent Problem
To demonstrate further proof that technology has already reached a sentient stage… the next day, my frame inexplicably started working.
It started sucking in the photos.

Not all of them, mind you…. but a lot.
I think it was taunting me.

So what’s going on here?

  • More communication errors?
  • Or perhaps, it’s normal for nixplay photos to take their time downloading to the frame
    (so much for instantaneous gratification)

The questions keep pouring into my brain like water into a leaky Octonauts submarine toy during bath time.

Help At Home with Tech!
I’ll reach out to nixplay’s tech support for help…
But this kind of thing is really supposed to work from the start.

A device that works some of the time is the worst kind of tech to keep around.
It should either work right or not at all.
(I think I was happier when the frame remained stubbornly blank!)

Owning a solid digital photo frame shouldn’t be a pipe dream!
Like flying cars, it still seems like such a great idea!!

But it looks like Amazon could be getting a return very soon…

(If anyone out there has a recommendation for a good digital frame that’s not hobbled in some inscrutable way, please let me know!)

Stay tuned…
(Ugh)

Holiday Gift Guide for Home Tech

What home tech do you have in your shopping cart? Here are nine winners that can get you to the finish line!

What home tech do you have in your shopping cart? Here are nine winners that can get you to the finish line!

Let’s face it. If you’re like me, you’re hard to buy gifts for.

Not to stereotype, but I think we likely share certain similarities:

  • We handle the home IT problems.
  • We manage the family’s photo and movie archive.
  • In general, we’re the senior geek in the relationship.

How is someone supposed to know how to get you a great tech gift when they are blissfully unaware what it is you actually do to keep your happy little home tech bubble operating day in and day out?

Exactly.

So I thought I’d share a few items on my own home tech wish list, and perhaps along the way provide a few useful suggestions for our “better halves” to use as a gift guide.

Think of it as a kinder and gentler form of “Inception.”

ACCESSORIZE

It’s hard enough figuring out the right tech to buy.
It ends up being a very personal decision.
In fact, you never want someone else making your big tech purchasing decisions… right?

But if you stick to that logic, you’re getting a lump of coal in your stocking.

The good news is there are plenty of supporting accessories people can get for your existing tech…

Camera Case for Your Pocket Camera
Point-and-shoots never come with one, and every camera needs some protection.

So this could be a really easy choice for you.
There’s nothing wrong with heading right for the case made by the camera’s manufacturer.

You may recall I bought the Canon PowerShot S100.
Canon’s case is their PSC-900 Deluxe Semi-Hard Leather Case –
$25.49 at Adorama.

Going this route is always more expensive, but it’s a sure bet to fit the camera correctly.

Or you can go off-brand, especially if you want a softer case, but it’s sometimes hard to know the fit.

I’ve had success buying cases from these two manufacturers:

As you shop around for cases, you’ll come across a myriad of styles with an assortment of options for size/zippers/velcro/pockets.
That’s great news for the gift giver, because there’s nothing wrong with having more than one case in a camera’s tool kit.

Mini Tripod for Your Pocket Camera
It’s amazing how one of these can really help out a little camera.
(especially during a spontaneous group self-portrait)

There are seemingly dozens of these on the market.
Here’s a starter list from B&H Photo.

And I’m pretty excited about the Tiltpod Camera Stand- $15.00
This mini tripod breaks all the rules by not having any feet at all!
It clips onto your keychain for the ultimate in portability.

Extra Battery Power When You’re on the Go
Who hasn’t had their mobile devices run low on power during a busy day?
It would be great to have a portable charging station always available to keep your tech alive while you’re on the go:
Here are two choices:

-Anker Astro E1 5200mAh Portable Charger – $15.99 on Amazon.
-Anker PowerCore 10,000mAh Portable Charger – $31.99 on Amazon

Sweet!

Portable Storage
Some people can never have enough shoes.
Others like to collect sports memorabilia.
I like lots of storage choices for my media, and there’s always a use for another portable drive.

G-Technology makes awesome drives.
I own a few of these cool little portable drives:
G-Technology 1TB G-Drive Mobile USB-C – $78.95 on Amazon

It’s a no brainer. Let’s move on.

Multiply your USB Port Capacity
If you need extra USB capacity, and really, what self-respecting geek doesn’t, here’s a nice aluminum chasis to match your Apple gear:
Satechi USB 3.0 Hub and Card Reader – $29.99 on Amazon

Done.

NEW TWIST ON TERRIBLE GIFTS

If you’re falling into a generic gift-giving vortex and are resigned to giving something as uninspired as gloves or a winter hat, don’t despair.
180s has their own clever tech spin on these typical gift clunkers:

Gloves that work with touch technology!
You’ll feel positively James Bond-like with this!

The 180s Glove with Tec Touch Technology allows you to use your smart phone while your finger stay toasty inside the glove:
180s QuantumHeat Foundation glove – $30

Ear warmers with built-in headphones?!
You can listen to your tunes or make a call while visiting Ice Station Zebra without freezing off your ears:
180s Degrees Men’s Bluetooth Ear Warmer with Mic and Speakers – $40 on Amazon

TAKE A CHANCE

Wi-Fi Connected Digital Photo Frame
I know I said earlier that big tech decisions should be left to the senior geek in the house. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little research on your own and just go for it!

Today, let’s discuss the digital photo frame, which really isn’t so cutting edge.
This tech has been out for years. But the Wi-Fi option still isn’t widespread.

Wi-Fi connected units are cool, because you can add and manage photos remotely within the digital frame in someone else’s home, no matter where they are in the world.

You’d think this would be a no brainer by now, but this advanced functionality hasn’t really caught on. Maybe it’s too complicated for the average bear to figure out.
But this year, I’m hoping to be smarter than the average bear.
(We’ll see.)

According to CNET’s Rick Broida, Kodak had the best Wi-Fi digital photo frame- the Kodak Pulse,
But, of course, Kodak has gone belly-up.

Ceiva makes two good models, but if you want to use their PicturePlan photo delivery tool for the frame, you’ve got to pony up $9.95/month (or $99.95/year) for a subscription after the first year.
(Yuck.)

After doing a little more research, I found a company named Pix-Star.
They make three web-connected frames with good reviews.
However, Pix-Star isn’t really a household name.
(I’ve heard of Pixar.)

And I’m not a big fan of buying products directly from companies online I don’t know.
But Pix-Star conveniently has one of their digital frames selling on Amazon.
(Ahhh…cozy Amazon.)

It’s the Pix-Star PXT510WR02 10.4 Inch FotoConnect XD Digital Picture Frame.

Sure, $157 is steep for a digital photo frame, though it’s 10.4” screen is relatively large.
(It’s the Wi-Fi that jacks up the cost.)

While I could definitely use this digital frame to help me rescue the glut of trapped family photos in my computer, I have another use in mind for it right now.

I’m referring to my father.

Now I’ll deny this if you say anything to my dad, but I’ve been planning to buy him a Wi-Fi picture frame, so I can regularly get him fresh photos of his grandson.
(There are so many!)

How convenient.
Click.
(Let us speak no more of this.)

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Caffeinate with Great Coffee
Finally, before you find yourself staying up late past midnight making your last- minute holiday purchases, (and doesn’t it always come down to this?)

Go to:
counterculturecoffee.com

And buy some amazing coffee for yourself. (really)
You won’t be disappointed.

Don’t Give Up
I know time is short, but remember, the web made 24/7 shopping possible.
Use it to your advantage.
(Especially now that you’ve got your coffee to keep you awake!)

For other tech gift ideas, here are a few unique websites you’ll enjoy checking out:

thinkgeek.com

uncommongoods.com

coolmomtech.com

So there you have it.
Remember, none of this was your idea.
They came up with it on their own.
Inception!

What’s on your home tech holiday gift wish list?
And if you’ve made some of your own cool tech gifting discoveries, please let me know!

%d bloggers like this: