Thursday, January 26, 2006

Photo Printing Experience - Kodak Easyshare Gallery

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was debating the array of choices when it came to printing digital photos.

I recently printed 250 photos, and after adding up all of the pros and cons about each of the individual photo sites, I decided to choose Kodak's EasyShare Gallery. Simply put, the price was the same to either ship photos or pick them up at my local CVS. Even thought Snapfish offers 12-cent prints on their site, the shipping costs make Kodak cheaper for this volume of prints, and if you want local pick-up, it will cost you $0.19. Kodak, on the other hand, charges $1.50 per order - far less than actual shipping would be. As promised, the photos were ready for pickup at my local CVS store within 36 hours.

As long as I am looking for value in photo printing, this seems to be the way to go.

Two Cameras I would love to try....

When I say camera, say the first three things that come to mind? 10 years ago, before the advent of digital, one of those three would have definitely been Kodak. Today, because of the advent of digital cameras, that list is less likely to include Kodak as it is to include some of the digital-only players that have come on the scene in the last few years - Sony for one, or companies like Shutterfly, SanDisk and HP that all provide products and services for the digital camera world. Kodak was dead - or so they thought.

After some of their recent innovations, they are coming back as a player to be reckoned with in the Digital marketplace. Firstly, they bought Ofoto and turned it into the KodakGallery - bolstering their foothold in the digital photo printing arena. But more importantly, they are also trying to innovate on the digital camera front as well.

Hence the title of this article. The two cameras in Question are the EasyShare one (left, above) and the V570 (right). The former is among the first cameras to include Wi-Fi for uploading pictures (while it might seem stupid, imagine that you are on vacation and upload pictures to share with family at a hotspot?). The latter has two lenses, one focused on closeups, while the other allows you more of a view in Panaromic and Wide-angle photos. Using two lenses instead of one enabled them to build a feature-rich camera with a more compact design.

When it comes to photography, I am nothing more than a nerd snapshooter, but I would love to get my hands on these for a review. Kodak, if you're reading, let's talk :)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Site updates... please be patient

Just FYI, I recently migrated from Linux hosting to Microsoft so that I can compliment my blogs with some ASP.NET programming. However, I am still in the conversion process, so bear with us as we get our house in order.

Playing with *@H

A friend of mine commented over lunch the other day that he has fully embraced VOIP. He even said that he had setup an Asterisk PBX for use in his home. In the ensuing conversation, I mentioned that I tried playing with it once, but that my lack of linux skills and 'hacker time' prevented me from getting it going. Then he pointed me to Aterisk@Home, which was essentially someone's cool idea of packaging Asterisk into a single ISO for installation.

I downloaded and installed it at work, with the intent of setting up a means for people to dial into our IT helpdesk, and have a voicemail message routed immediately into our ticketing system.

But I have some other plans for personal use too, and as time, money (read: my wife and kids) and passion allow, here are some of the things that I would like to accomplish:

- Set it up as PBX in my home so that all phones in the house will be able to pick up either my pots or voip lines, and that I have one unified answering system for both.

- Build an outward dial script and then offer it to local community groups for a phone tree system. (i.e. say, offer it to my kids school for snow closings, etc).

- Set it up so that I can dial-out and/or answer all of my phones from the road - i.e. log into my home phone as a SIP client from any internet connection.

Of course, I have said things like this in the past, but we'll see where this one goes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Monkey Bites

According to the Wired Blog - Monkey Bites (click the title). I am not the only one playing with Flickr

Friday, January 13, 2006

More AJAX - a Flickr Slideshow

As if I didn't have enough places with uploaded photos, I recently joined Flickr. Intrigued by the RSS Feeds, I thought of a great idea - build an AJAX slide show from a Flickr RSS feed!

I saved the RSS XML to my laptop for working offline, and designed a simple slideshow that reads the RSS, and loops through the pictures. I then put it to work at a domain that I hadn't really used before - The slideshow program polls Flickr every 15 minutes for a new RSS feed. The code isn't polished or commented, but I promise to do so soon and make it available for the masses.

One caveat though - XMLHTTP will not allow you to cross-script - i.e. an XMLHttp object on a page served off of can't read an XML doc from . So, with a little help from my buddy Heshy , I wrote this PHP wrapper script. The script runs on my server, but retreives the XML data so that my XMLHttpObject thinks that the data is from the same server.

Here is the code (Note, I don't program PHP much, so it definitely isn't elegant):

< ?php $url=$_GET["url"]; //Pass the url in foreach(array_keys($_GET) as $getKey) { if($getKey<>"url")

//echo $url
$httpfile = file_get_contents($url);
header("Content-Type: text/xml; charset=utf-8");
echo $httpfile;

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Another reason to look before you forward...

This morning a friend of mine forwarded me an e-mail stating that as of February, cell phones would be open to telemarketers, and that to protect myself, I should put my cell numbers on the national do not call list. While I was there, I clicked on their FAQ link to verify if this was the case - lo and behold, it is not. So, I quickly went to the two sites that I usually go to when people e-mail me things that sound too good to be true - and and low and behold, I discovered that each had an article on this one.

Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way to look before I forward.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wi-Fi Enabled LCD Frame

Thanks to my friend Heshy , I discovered this new Wi-Fi LCD Frame. It can read Flickr RSS feeds and it can also display e-mailed photos. Although it costs $250, it, IMHO is a much better deal than the Ceiva Photo Frames, which require you to pay an annual subscription fee.

One of these days, I will convince my wife and siblings/siblings-in-law to buy this for my parents, in-laws and/or grandparents. All of us could e-mail new pictures to the phone and they would always have a fresh set.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Printing Photos

Sorry for the long delay of not posting, but I just got back from spending a weeks' vacation with No Internet Access! While it was one less distraction for my vacation, It definitely meant a lot of e-mail to sift through and catch-up on.

While on vacation, I followed my own advice and managed to squeeze some more pictures onto my digital camera. After informing my wife that I had nearly 300 photos of our vacation, she went on her usual diatribe of how we never print any of our digital pictures.

When I bought my camera phone last year, I got a 100 free prints with Ritz Camera, which I have yet to use (and hope that they haven't expired). But beyond that I would love to print many more photos on a regular basis.

While I do have a decent photo printer at home, I usually only print the ocassional snapshots to give to my parents or in-laws. I also maintain accounts at 4 different photo services:
Snapfish, Kodak Gallery, ImageStation, and Shutterfly. While I do upload all of my photos to at least one of these sites, and while I often use them to print greeting cards, photo mugs (especially popular with the in-laws) and my annual mother's day photo books - selectively choosing one or the other based on the current deal at hand.

But now I want to actually start buying prints from these guys and I wonder which one to choose, of course, the quality and pricing matter, but there are other variables as well: For example shipping vs. local pickup (Kodak charges $1.50 to pick up at my CVS less than 1 mile away, while Snapfish will deliver to Walgreen's for free, but there is none within close proximity to my home). To add to this mix is Costco (which is run on Snapfish's platform, but at the same time won't let me share my account?).

I think that this one will require a spreadsheet, or at least some trial and error.