Archive for the 'products' Category

iPhone off the interstate? Oh the impotence you’ll feel.

August 31, 2008

I love my iPhone. I waited for the second generation in hopes of 3G (and waiting out my T-Mobile contract). I went with a Blackjack for the past year for email and rudimentary web browsing but it sucked like an Oreck.

When the time came, I knew there were going to be some growing pains. Battery life is pitiful for a phone — but I wasn’t looking for a phone. My professional life happens online. I needed an internet device that could also be phone when I needed it to be.

I got that in the city. I got that on the freeway. I’ve got a fancy iPod this weekend.

AT&T is worse at this outstate thing than T-Mobile and T-Mobile was monumentally shifty at it. Five minutes after leaving I-94 in Western Minnesota, I was doomed to my current unconnected state for 3 days.

I even drove around the hinterland today looking for bars — on my phone (there are no shortages of the other type). I got A bar once in the shadow of a huge cell tower, but it went away less than a half mile up the road. Lest you question the terrain, I am not exaggerating when I tell you this is one of the flattest places on the planet.

I don’t know how much blame belongs with AT&T and how much goes to Apple, but regardless, it’s been an extremely frustrating few days.

Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers

November 10, 2006

WE’VE MOVED! This post, the conversation, and research have shifted to Join us for in-depth recommendations and horror stories. It seems that quite a few people are looking for alternatives to over-priced eyewear.


I’ve stepped into my last eyeglasses store. I’ve been wearing glasses since junior high, and the prices have gotten outrageous. The last pair I bought at LensCrafters, in 2004, set me back about $300 and never fit properly — even after multiple trips back. They broke the last week of October. Snap!

I’ve had my eye on, and nearly purchased a pair of Silhouettes a few months back. They were the titanium hingeless variety. I priced them out at a couple of stores and with AR (anti-reflective) lenses with scratch-resistant coating, I was looking at about $500. I don’t claim to be the smartest guy in the room very often, but no way in hell was I going to buy into that.

The best deal I could find in a store for a pair (in a non-welfare frame) approached $270 — without AR lenses. That would not do either. There had to be a better alternative. I decided I was going to find the Silhouettes online. I already knew what I wanted and they’d have to be much less online. I googled — and found them — for $410ish. Not good enough. I went back to my search results. You know how google has the ads on the right side (of course you do)? I ignore them almost all the time. For some reason (my empty wallet?) I decided to click a link to Zenni Optical (a.k.a., and I kid you not —

Zenni had a couple of titanium, hingeless frames. I priced them out. I decked them out with AR coating ($4.95 compared to $50+ in the stores), a clip-on sunshade ($3.95 versus $70 in the store) and went to the optional higher-index (thinner) lenses. Total?

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Olympus is Dropping the (Pro SLR) Ball

September 26, 2006

Olympus released the arguably professional E-1 in 2003 to much curiosity, interest, and some sales. It was widely understood that due to certain limitations (low-light focusing capabilities and 5 megapixels at a time when the pro SLRs were touting 6), this wasn’t a camera designed for the serious sports photo journalists and may have limitations for other pro photo applications. On the other hand, as it was built from the ground up as digital-only — the all-new 4/3 format — many people wanted it to work out. Competition is always a good thing.

Olympus E-1

The E-1.

The solid build quality added to the allure. Olympus released it and then things got quiet.

The competition continued to push forward with new professional and consumer models and finally, a year later Olympus released the consumer-focused E-300. An odd-looking SLR for the time, but a solid performer with a higher megapixel count and the same low-light (and high-ISO) failings. It was time for an updated E-1. Another year passed and Olympus released a slightly more conventional-looking consumer dSLR — the E-500. Another small step up, but still with the same issues as its predecessors. Two years had now passed and still no new pro version.

At this point it would still have been enough to update to the E-500’s 8 Megapixels and maybe update the back layout to accomodate a 2.5″ LCD. But still — *cricket* *cricket*.
Here we are 3-years later and we are finally seeing some early mockups for the next generation for something Olympus is calling the E-P1 (likely to be renamed the E-3 when it is finally — I’ll believe it when I see it — released next year).


The E-3?

People who use the E-1 love the ergonomics. Is it perfect? Nope, but it’s a solid shooter that, updated, could hold its own with the Nikons and Canons. Olympus seems to spend an inordinant amount of time coming up with odd-ball SLR designs and integrating things like “Live View” (which is a very nice idea). They need to release a new Pro SLR for chrissakes — it’s been over three years!

Olympus wants us to think they remain optimistic for the system with press releases and such, but the trickle of lenses and slow adoption rate of the standard by other manufacturers leaves me thinking of the OM. What’s to stop Olympus from hanging it’s loyal customers out to dry again?

All that said, I’m in love with my E-500, apart from the lack of lens options, and look forward to moving up to the Pro version in a year or two (if it’s out by then). If it isn’t or has the same issues, I’ll have to grudgingly drink the Kool-Aid and move in another direction.

Journalism is killing U.S. is killing Journalism

September 25, 2006
It should come as no surprise to any of us that this is NOT the golden age of journalism — especially in the United States. This is just a small example of what is wrong with the world we find ourselves captive in.

What IS surprising is the candor in which Newsweek represents this. They don’t try to hide the fact that internationally, they highlight actual news. In the United States, the only way to sell your magazine is to make it as much like “People” as can be.

I’m not sure what makes me more depressed, as this is a bit of a “chicken or the egg” scenario — that Newsweek is doing this to the U.S. or that the U.S. is forcing Newsweek to do this to us.

Either way it depresses me to no end what a bunch of star-f*ckers we’ve become in our society. How undeniably sad. We are now a society that cares more for the latest Hollywood waif spending the night at Jack Nicholson’s house than for the issues that are killing us — more quickly than we know.

Spend five minutes in the parking lot, much less near the checkout magazine racks , of your nearest Wal*Mart and you’ll be in a pretty similar place to my fleeting feelings of respect for this country. You will indeed, if you look at the situation honestly.



Thank You Amazon (with apologies to anyone who may read this)

September 15, 2006

So all of my ranting and raving actually worked. Someone at Amazon figured out what the problem was and at 7PM last night got the lens shipped out of Reno. It made the journey to Louisville and arrived in Minneapolis this morning at 7AM. The estimated delivery was still up in the air, but someone must’ve tossed it on the last truck out this morning. It arrived a little after noon today.

It’s beautiful — heavy, and I get to take it to Chicago with me.

P.S. I know, I know… “He’s a hypocrite! I thought he said he was going to return it!” I would have, if it had shown up next week while I was out of town. Am I planning on using Amazon again any time soon? No, but I have to thank whoever figured out the problem and found the 30mm f1.4 beauty that is now fastened to my Oly E-500.