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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Photo Blog: Hawaii Day 1 - Maui Arrival

Today we started our 9 day vacation to Hawaii with an early (5:00am) wake-up and a drive to Los Angeles International airport for our 8:00 flight to Hawaii. Actually, the flight was to the island of Maui, where we are spending our first three days before heading over to Oahu for the final six.

The flight and then the 20 minute drive to the Grand Wailea Resort. We checked in and were nicely upgraded to an excellent ocean view room, based on what we had heard about the Grand Wailea and the treatment of Hilton HHonors Diamond members, it was quite a welcomed and somewhat unexpected upgrade.

Here are a few pictures from our relaxing afternoon exploring the hotel and surrounding area, before finishing off the evening at the highly regarded Humuhumunukunukuapua'a restaurant at the Grand Wailea.

The Grand Wailea is pretty spectacular inside and out not to mention historic. Here is the central atrium that greets you upon arrival.


The chapel is popular for weddings. No wonder with the design and view of this, who wouldn't want this for their wedding.


These water "features" lead down to the "adult" pool or the pool for guests over 18 years of age. There are a ton of pools at the Grand Wailea, and we spent plenty of time at them. In fact with hotel only at 25%-30% capacity (although the staff will tell you the hotel is "busy"), there is plenty of room to park it wherever you like.


A nice surprise from our room is that you can whale-watch from the balcony without needing to get on a boat. In fact, Ashley's one goal for the trip -- to see a humpback whale breach -- was met in the first hour. Perhaps the single most surprising thing for us given our difficulty even finding a whale within two miles of shore on Oahu.


Sunset view on our first night of Maui from our "deluxe" ocean view room. A great way to start off our vacation and week of relaxation here in Hawaii!

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Screen Shot, Capture, and Recording Utilities for Blackberry Devices

Recently while working on some posts related to geotagging, I came across a couple of programs that will enable you to capture the screen from your Blackberry device and save the images to the desktop of your PC for whatever use you have. I wish I had looked for these in the past to take screenshots of my Blackberry -- in the past, I had used my camera to take a picture of the screen and then cropped those photos in Photoshop. Now, using these utilities, there is no further need for me to do that anymore!

All three of them are "freeware" utilities that can be downloaded from the Internet, and generally require two items:

1. Connectivity to your Blackberry device via drivers or your Blackberry Desktop software (downloaded from RIM)
2. A JavaLoader.exe application file, which one of the applications below (jl_cmder) installs automatically. I recommend starting there, especially if you do not already have

I have listed my the three below in my order of preference, as they are great tools for creating and making images for documentation or other purposes.

1. JL_Cmder v1.9.0 by Doug Fisher -- short for JavaLanguage Commander -- can be downloaded courtesy of Blackberry Freaks here. It's a command line interface with ASCII text that resembles the screen of a Blackberry. The installer package also includes the JavaLoader.exe application that is required to operate the other two utilities.

What I really like about JL_Cmder is that it is a pretty light application, captures screenshots in the format of Windows bitmap files (BMP), and has a lot of additional features. For example, you can pull the Device Info, check and Event Log, take a Screen shot, wipe your device, and reset to factory, all from the command line. It's an all purpose utility and of course, it is free! The only drawback is that you are limited to capturing your screenshots in only the bitmap format.

Use JL_Cmder v1.9.0 JL Commander to take screen shots of your blackberry device free download
2. BBScreenShoter v1.65a is a GUI based tool provided by Oppitronic, a German website (Download here). It is purely an application for taking screen shots from your Blackberry device and is packed with options. If you need a pure screen shot application, this is the tool for you. It does require JavaLoader.exe, so point the application at the JavaLoader.exe file that installed from JL_Cmder above. The features on BBScreenShooter allows you to take different types of images, including BMP, JPG, and PNG files as well as control the default location. File naming via auto number the files if you are taking them in a series and include your PIN number. You can even frame your pictures with a border if you want. Definitely a great Screen Shot application.

Blackberry Screen Shot application free download BBScreenShooter 1.65 is a fully functional application with great flexibility
3. The final application is BBScreenStream v0.91a by Oppitronic as well (download here) is more of a screen recording tool than a basic screen capture application that requires JavaLoader.exe as well. Still, it can be used for dual purposes, especially if you want to piece together a series of images into a how-to guide or video. It will record your actions via AVI file to be stored on your computer or as your are using an application you can just click to copy an image to the clipboard.

BBScreenStream v0.93a is a free download tool utility for capture recording and creating movies from your blackberry screen shots.
If you are looking for a screen capture utility for any Blackberry device, then you've found one that will work for you!

Screen Capture the following Blackberry models:
5790
5810
5820
6210
6220
6230
6280
6510
6710
6720
6750
7210
7220
7230
7250
7270
7280
7290
7510
7520
7730
7100t
7105t
7100r
7100v
7100g
7100x
7100i
7130e
7130c
7130g
7130v
8700c
8700r
8700f
8700g
8703e
8707g
8707h
8707v
8100
8110
8120
8130
8220
8800
8820
8830
8300
8310
8320
8330
8350i
8900
9000
9530

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Photo Blog: I am a Witness

I am a witness...at least last night I was.


And as much as I hate that a such a big deal has been made of the pre-game ritual of throwing the rosin chalk in the air. It is at it's basic origin, unoriginal. Lebron basically did a slight a twist on what Michael Jordan did occasionally in Chicago and Kevin Garnett has done since he came into the leading with clapping their hands fulls chalk up in the air.

Still, the huge ad right across from Quicken Loans Arena aka the "Q" where Lebron James goes to work every night.

I was a witness because last night I was fortunate to see the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Phoenix Suns from Cleveland, Ohio. This now marks the 2nd pro sports team I have gone to on my visits to Cleveland (I saw the Cleveland Indians last May.) and part of an undocumented goal of seeing MLB Baseball games and NBA Basketball games in all their stadiums.

As with every stadium, I find a few interesting differences from other stadiums. The Quicken Loans atmosphere was very fun, filled with lots of giveaways, fan participation, and complete with a live "emcee" that facilitated all the non-basketball event.

The game was pretty entertaining as well, watching newly appointed All-Star Mo Williams go for 40+ points on the way to a Cleveland victory. I was disappointed that Steve Nash did not play, to get some rest -- seems crazy given he's getting a week off for the All-Star break, but who am I to complain?

Here are some photos and commentary from the game...

We headed to the 4th Street Bar and Grill to play a little pool before the game. We headed to the 4th Street Bar and Grill to play a little pool before the game. Not to mention $1 draft beers, you will not find anything like that near Staples Center! Amazingly, I went 6-0 in team 8-ball play and executed a perfect jump shot -- unusual given I rarely play.

Snapped a quick photo outside the Q with the Lebron James We Are All Witnesses Nike Ad. Snapped a quick photo outside the "Q" with the Lebron James "We Are All Witnesses" Nike Ad.

Pre-game time -- our seats were a few rows higher than we anticipated. Still, they were in the lower section and provided some decent viewing. The game lineups announcements for the Cavs included great bursts of fire and flames. At our seats in row 30, we could definitely feel the heat as each player was introduced. Pre-game time -- our seats were a few rows higher than we anticipated. Still, they were in the lower section and provided some decent viewing. The game lineups announcements for the Cavs included great bursts of fire and flames. At our seats in row 30, we could definitely feel the heat as each player was introduced. Also interesting was the presence of just two "conference" title banners. Such a drastic comparison from Los Angeles where there is no room for Conference Banners, only NBA Championships. No wonder Cleveland fans are so enthralled with Lebron.

Ok, this was a first for me. I have never seen a a point differential element on the scoreboard Ok, this was a first for me. I have never seen a a point differential element on the scoreboard. There it is right between the "71" and "65" with a +6 since the Cavs are winning. Is it really hard to figure out that the difference between 71-65 is 6?

Above is my trip path (both foot and car) through downtown Cleveland and around the arena. More on the This was also my first trip that I have officially geotagged. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, this is a new learning experience and I was able to make it happen and tag all of my photos with their latitude and longitude. Above is my trip path (both foot and car) through downtown Cleveland and around the arena. More on the "how" over the next few days.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How can I Geotag photos with the Canon EOS Rebel XSi and Blackberry?

Over the past year, I have had a mildly increasing interest in geotagging -- what is known as recording the exact GPS coordinates of the location where my photos were taken, and embedding it in the photo. I only say mild since I never looked into any deeper other than thinking “wouldn’t that be kind of neat” if for example the photos I took in Italy were recorded at their exact location.

Over the past month, I became a little more serious about geotagging, specifically on how I could geotag the pictures I was taking with my Canon EOS Rebel XSi. A little more serious meant that I started searching for an easy way to record my locations as I was taking photos. If I could figure it out, it would be an exciting addition to our upcoming trip to the Hawaiian Islands of Maui and Oahu.

For me, I thought the ultimate would be if I could simply connect my Blackberry 8800 devices to the Rebel XSi via the USB connection and the camera could pull the GPS location right from the Blackberry and tag the photo with the latitude and longitude position where it was snapped. I did a little searching, but could not find an application that would perform such an action. (Does anyone know of one?)

Next I turned to look into Canon’s (and third party) accessories to see if there was a device similar to their wireless network battery grip that offered GPS and geotagging capabilities. That search ended quickly when I could not locate anything that offered the type of functionality I was looking for.

Having hit a “dead end” for a simple and automatic way to tag my photos, I started looking a little more broadly into how some people were accomplishing the desired outcome. It seemed that most used a 3rd party (many free) software program available for both the PC and the Apple Mac to associate a GPS log (GPX file) from their GPS device like a hand-held Garmin or Tom-Tom navigation system with the pictures from their camera.

The process seemed fairly simple.

1. Download the software that you would use to associate the GPS information to the photo and geotag the picture.

2. Synchronize the time on your camera and your GPS device.

3. Start capturing a log on your GPS device, preferably in the GPX format. Here is a how to guide on capturing it on your Blackberry using the Open Source program TrekBuddy: http://www.somelifeblog.com/2009/06/geo-tagging-with-your-blackberry-device.html

4. Take the pictures as you would normally, but in JPEG/JPG format as you will not be able to associate geotagged information with RAW formatted images.

5. Download the images from your camera and the GPX file to you computer.

6. Run the program to embed the location information from your GPS into the photo’s JPG file.

7. Publish your geotagged imaged where you want to show locations.


The problem was that when I checked the options on my GPS radio on my Blackberry 8800, there were no options for creating a tracking log out of the box. Had anyone used their Blackberry device to geotag photos taken by another camera? (There were a number of guides on how to do this with photos taken by a Blackberry)

After some digging, I turned up an open-source software called “TrekBuddy” which among several other things allows you to track and record your GPS location. Even better, it would generate a GPX log file that was stored on the MicroSD media card in my Blackberry 8800. That meant easy retrieval and transfer to my computer.

Now that I had found a Blackberry-based GPS logging solution, all I needed to do was find the right software program, and start taking pictures. Expect a few articles in the near future on geotagging with your Blackberry devices and attaching it to your photos taken with another camera.

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Fixed iPhoto ’09 Faces Crashes When Clicking On It

The Faces feature in iLife’s iPhoto ’09 is a cool idea – taking the Facebook tagging concept – but goodness is it buggy. One has to wonder whether or not Apple just rushed to get it to market to be the first “photo management” software to include this feature.

After tagging a number of faces and several hundred photos, the Faces portion of the iPhoto application crashes every time I try to access it. I click on the face, the beach ball spins for 3-5 seconds and the application disappears and the crash notice comes up. (And I have reported it to Apple several times!)

I cannot say that I am overly surprised. I kind of sensed it coming. I was on a rather large naming session with the photos. I am guessing I had tagged close to 150-200 photos before the crash happened the first time. The reason I say I sensed it coming is that on the last few pictures, I noticed a drastic slow-down in how quickly the faces were coming up. Then finally on one picture, the application just exited.

iPhoto error when clicking on Faces causing an iPhoto 09 crash
Now I was stuck with a partially working iPhoto ’09 application where the one feature that got me starting to use it was not working. I had to solve the problem.

First step, the token iPhoto library rebuild. Exit the application, start it up while holding down the open apple and the option keys. Select all options and rebuild.

No luck, faces still crashed. I made sure to send the error report into Apple. Still I wondered, if iPhoto was opening too many file handles without saving or closing them.

I then after finding some search results in Google decided to look inside the iPhoto package for a couple of files that were possibly corrupted, the face.db face_blob.db and files. I exited the iPhoto ’09 application, moved those two presumably database files to the trash and started iPhoto all over again.

The good news? Faces worked again.

The bad news? All of my name tagging was gone. Time to start over again, this time 10-15 photos at a time before committing the saves. But, that means 2-3 hours of tagging by the way side. At least it will work again.

If you run into the same issue, hopefully this works for you!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fixed! iPhoto Trash Can Will Not Empty

At some point my iPhoto ‘09 trash can stopped emptying. I think it was after a large delete of roughly 500 photos when my iPhoto library’s total size was around 8,000 images. I discovered it when I looked in my trash folder and saw all the thumbnails grayed out or empty, depending on what you consider them.

Screenshot of empty images in from my trash in iPhoto.Screenshot of empty images in from my trash in iPhoto.

Simple fix, right?

I right clicked on the trash and selected the “Empty Trash”. The beach ball came and spun for about 30 seconds and the iPhoto application went away. Crash. Then the following error message shows up.

Empty Trash function causes iPhoto to crash or quit unexpectedly.
I tried it a few more times, even after a reboot of both my networked machine that holds the iPhoto library and my Mac Mini. Same result, iPhoto ’09 crashed. I went ahead and submitted the error to Apple.

iPhoto Trash will not empty: A quick look at the error message shows some sort of kernal protection error.  iPhoto probably lost it's pointers to files, or had pointers to files that it could not find or had already been deleted.
A quick look at the error message shows some sort of kernal protection error. iPhoto probably lost it's pointers to files, or had pointers to files that it could not find or had already been deleted.

Not willing to give up, I tried a few other things that were ineffective.

1. Since all the items in the trash can were missing or orphaned thumbnails, I thought that maybe adding some new photos into the trash can would improve the situation. No luck.
2. Rebuilding the iPhoto database seems to be a common catch-all for most iPhoto problems. I exited iPhoto and then relaunched it while holding the open apple and option keys to get the database rebuild dialog. In order to be safe, I selected all the options for Rebuild Photo Library:

Rebuild the photos' small thumbnails
Rebuild all of the photos' thumbnails (this may take a while)
Recover orphaned photos in the iPhoto Library folder
Examine and repair iPhoto Library file permissions
Rebuild the iPhoto Library Database from automatic backup

3 hours later, the trash still would not empty.

In a last ditch effort, I decided that since my iPhoto Library was now small enough that it would fit locally on my Mac Mini, I would move locally. This would, among other things make the application run a little faster overall. After the move, just for kicks – I rebuilt the database one more time.

Guess what? That worked – the rebuild of the iPhoto database with all the other options selected FIXED the problem with the trash can. After the rebuild, the trash was empty and standard functionality was restored.

If you happen to encounter a problem with your trash can while trying to empty with iPhoto, your first step should be to rebuild the database. However, if you are storing your iPhoto library on a network or external drive / device, move it local first. That is likely to solve your problem if is similar to mine.

Good luck!

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Importing My Photos into iPhoto '09

With a little persistence and a lot of trial and error, I was finally able to import all 12,000 photos into iPhoto '09 and run it over a network. It has been working fairly well, with some minor bumps and bruises along the way.

Just a few days ago, I mentioned the iPhoto iDisaster in which I tried to load 12,000 on a networked iPhoto library. I modified my approach a little and that enabled me to accomplish the goal of having a shared library that can be used by iPhoto '09 on my Mac Mini and then using Picasa3 on our Vista machines.

First, I changed my approach from using my Galaxy NAS devices to using my Windows 2008 Server. iPhoto '09 creates massive numbers of files (more on that later) and I have noticed that to be the one shortfall of my Galaxy device -- tons of tiny files give it problems. I created an "Apple" share to create the new iPhoto Library in. The one oddity I noticed is that for some reason the iPhoto library package residing on the Windows 2008 NTFS volume was not associated with the iPhoto icon. I am sure there is a simple explanation, but it did not keep me from moving forward.

After creating my new iPhoto library, I decided to start off with a much smaller import -- only about 4,000 photos to start with. I fired up the import...

Importing the first 4,000 files into the iPhoto Library on a network drive
After three hours of anxiously waiting, the import completed successfully and I was able to finally use the iPhoto library. I checked out the Faces option and it started scanning all of my imported photos for faces it could recognize. Shortly thereafter, I was able to start confirming and "tagging" a la Facebook.

Feeling brave, I imported the next 4,000 photos. Three hours later, they were added to the library successfully.

Then the final 4,000. They went in smoothly as well.

Finally I felt like I had accomplished something, iPhoto '09 finally had imported all 12,000 of the photos. Now I could use the software...and I did.

In fact, I probably have about 8 hours of experience on iPhoto '09 right now and know a lot of the ins and outs. My first major accomplishment was I have pruned my library down to a manageable 6,500 photos. Did I really need 12 of the same shot of the Eiffel Tower?

I also moved the iPhoto '09 Library in its reduced size to my local drive while I get the Library and Events managed. The main reason, the sheer number of files that the iPhoto library creates.

Here's the example...

For 12,000 pictures, the iPhoto '09 library created over 60,000 files inside the package. That's over 5 files per photo. Metadata, Faces, Events, and more -- frankly it is no wonder that iPhoto '09 struggles to run over any network. Perhaps someone can introduce the good folks at Apple that work on iLife '09 and specifically iPhoto '09 to a database.

iPhoto '09 has plenty of quirks (some of which I'll detail over the next couple of days) and crashes, but is fairly useful. While the Faces feature is neat, it seem to corrupt fairly easily, requiring a visit to your Time Machine. I hope with all the crashes I have submitted to Apple a patch / software update is in store for iPhoto '09 in the near future.

I am not sure if iLife '09 will be my final "Photo Organization" software, but it's direct connectivity to Facebook and Flickr as well as the Faces and Places are neat features. In fact, I am just starting to look into Geotagging with my Canon Rebel XSi for our upcoming trip to Hawaii. But that, is a different subject.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Google Analytics and AdSense Integration Finally Arrive!

In October of last year, Google announced the integration of two of their "favorite" tools; Google AdSense and Google Analytics. I filled out their "interest form", a Google Spreadsheet and I had hoped to get access fairly quickly.

But then I waited...and waited...and waited. No AdSense and Analytics integration for me. In fact, it had been so long -- almost 6 months -- I began to give up hope.

Then on Friday, while checking my AdSense stats for the morning, I saw new message and link in my AdSense box.

Integrate your AdSense account with Google Analytics.

Integrate your AdSense account with Google Analytics.
Excited, I clicked on the link and started the sign-up process.

A quick look at the process...In step 3, after logging into my Google Analytics account, I complete the association of my SomeLife Google Analytics profile with my AdSense account.

A quick look at the process...In step 3, after logging into my Google Analytics account, I complete the association of my SomeLife Google Analytics profile with my AdSense account.
After completing the steps, Google lets you know it will take a few hours for the Google AdSense data to show up in your Google Analytics Reporting.

After completing the steps, Google lets you know it will take a few hours for the Google AdSense data to show up in your Google Analytics Reporting.
And, as promised it did. Why is this important?

In just a couple of days in, I can see the difference in revenue between all the individual pages on my SomeLife Blog site. While I had the ability to create URL channels in Google AdSense to track individual site, it was limited to less than 300 URLs and there are more than 5000 URLs on this site. This will given me a more complete view on the revenue per page and which pages are generating the highest amount of income.

One way I plan to use this new functionality is to track the various subjects on my site. If some areas bring in significantly more than others -- you may see some additional posts on those subjects. :-)

Thanks Google, although I must say -- it was about time!

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Fixed! Time Machine Backup to Network Device for Mac

In a post I made a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was struggling to backup my Mac Mini to my network NAS device. With some help from Vince's Blog, as well as my own tweaks to the process, I was able to get the Time Machine backups to work against a network device.

With a little patience and using the process, you too should be able to get the backup to work on the OS X system to any network drive or device. I performed these actions on my 10.5.6 version of the Leopard operating system.

Here is the process I went through, with screen shots...

1. Go to your Terminal and type the following command to enable "Unsupported Network Volumes" for Time Machine:

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

2. Mount the network volume where you want to store the Time Machine Backups using Bonjour or the appropriate method.

3. Get the Ethernet Address of your Mac. You can either do this through the Terminal and typing "ifconfig en0 | grep ether" to pull the address or by going to the System Profiler (About Mac --> More Info), clicking on Network, and then Ethernet.

Terminal Example:

Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, Mac, PowerMac Time Machine Backup to a Network: Grab mac address from Terminal Console
System Profiler Example:

Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, Mac, PowerMac Time Machine Backup to a Network: Grab mac address from System Profiler

4. Open the "Disk Utility" application under utilities and select the "New Image" option to create you new disk image and save it to your Desktop.

a. Start with changing the Image Format to "sparse bundle disk image".

b. Change "Partitions" selection to "No partition map."

c. Leave "Encryption" as is, set to "None".

d. Change "Volume Format" to "Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)".

e. Change "Volume Size" to "Custom" and enter a volume size less than the available space on your network device. In my example, roughly 102,400.00 MB translated to 100 GB of space.

f. Change "Volume Name" to something like "Computer Name Backup", or "Ken's Mac Mini Backup in my case"

g. Make sure "Where" is set to "Desktop". There is a known issue where if you try to create the sparse bundle disk image on a network drive, it will fail.

h. Choose "Save As" name as the "ComputerName_MACAddress.sparesebundle", in my case I entered "kens-mac-mini_001ff3466104".

i. Click on "Create" to finish the process.

Screen Shot of the example:

Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, Mac, PowerMac Time Machine Backup to a Network: Settings to create sparse bundle disk image

Note: If you do not do the above in the order, you may get the message:
Disk Utility: The image size was changed to 51.7GB because the volume selected cannot hold a XXXGB image.


Here is the screen shot of the error:
Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, Mac, PowerMac Time Machine Backup to a Network: Error message if you do not create choose the settings in the right order

5. After the sparsebundle disk image is created, exit out of the Disk Utility application.

6. Unmount / Eject the Disk by dragging and dropping to the trash.

7. Move the .sparsebundle disk image file you created to your mounted network location.

8. Open up the time machine preferences, and click on "Choose Backup Disk".

9. Select your new disk image and then click on "Use for Backup".

Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, Mac, PowerMac Time Machine Backup to a Network: Choosing your new disk image for the network backup

10. Your Time Machine should start the initial backup process.

The disk is mounted on your Mac:
Time Machine Backup mounts the sparse bundle network drive
Your Time Machine Backup Begins:

Time Machine is backing up my Mac Mini to the network

Now you are backing up your Mac via Time Machine to a network drive!

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Google Latitude - Fun, But a Little Creepy

Yesterday, Google announced a new service, "Google Latitude" which is a service that mashes up the GPS location provided by your cell phone with Google Maps to show your location. The idea is that you as well as your friends and family can all subscribe to the service. Then you can be aware of each other's location.

I decided to give it a try and yesterday evening, so I signed up and downloaded the Google Mobile Maps for Blackberry version 3.0.1, which contains the new Latitude feature. It does require a reboot of your device (if you care) and then you select the Latitude feature where you log into your Google Account and then you're publishing your latitude to Google.

Google Latitude GPS Maps Mashup Serivce
The good news is that you are not publishing it publicly (more on that later) -- but it was kind of boring since I had not added any friends or family. I advertised on Facebook that I had Google Latitude installed -- but no other takers or early adopters.

Until this morning. I had a few different people add me throughout the day and we could check our "latitudes". It was pretty fun -- seeing where people were at and it was even more funny the accuracy where our phone GPS devices were reporting us at. In fact, I was apparently sitting on the other side of the freeway at work today according to my latitude.

And I really get how fun this could be -- just a few months ago, we were at Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles for a concert and great friend from college was across the street at the Lakers game. The only problem was that neither of us had any idea until we talked about a week later. With something like Google Latitude, we could have discovered that we were both down there.

Plus, there are a ton of different way I can think of using it...

Want to go surfing? See which of your favorite breaks your friends are at.

Visiting a city on business? Maybe you have friends that are there too, and you can hang out.

Parents requiring their kids to leave it on when they go out.

The list goes on and on...

Then this evening, I got a little creeped out by it. I logged onto Google Latitude to check it out as part of the post. Just clicking around a little and I noticed a friend was at the grocery store. I though -- should I really know that? Better yet, do I want to know that? It felt a little voyeuristic. Actually, it was voyeuristic.

Perhaps this is going to take a little getting used to.

The good news is that at least we have some control over it. With Google Latitude you can control a couple of key items that can "increase" privacy if you want. First off, you can stop publishing your location at any time. Then Google Latitude will just show your last location. Alternatively, rather than using the "best location" you can just show what city you are in. That way you are not giving away your exact location.

And lastly, sorry iPhone users -- Google Latitude is not available for the iPhone yet. A visit to the m.google.com/latitude site only reveals a "Coming Soon" logo.

Have you tried Google Latitude? What do you think about it?

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The iPhoto '09 iDisaster

My iLife '09 CD arrived a few days ago as I had eagerly been anticipating. More on that later, but I was really looking forward to using iPhoto '09 and the new super cool Faces feature on it. I was even willing to consider it as my replacement for Google's Picasa3 software if it worked out.



However, before I got started with iPhoto '09, I realized that I was facing a serious issue. First off, it was I going to use the library function -- I needed to import the photos into the iPhoto '09 program. There was an option to not copy them, but it did not seem to make much sense to me to go that route. I have about 45GB of photos -- that will not fit on my Mac Mini hard drive. And lastly, I still wanted to share the photos on my Microsoft Windows Vista machines -- so Ashley could still review the photos from her machine.

I decided that the best option for me was to centralize the iPhoto '09 library on my Galaxy linux-based NAS device. I have 2TB of storage on the device, with a gigabit uplink that any of my PCs can access. A great place to store the iPhoto library, right?

That's what I thought, too.

So, I started the import of 12,000+ photos into my iPhoto '09 library. And everything was looking really good for the first 3,000 photos. But at that point and 4 hours into the import, iPhoto '09 froze up and could not access the network. The iPhoto color wheel just spun and spun. I let it spin for about 30 minutes of the application being in the "not responding" mode before I killed it.

I then rebooted the Mac Mini and it would not boot all the way. I actually had to unplug the power from the Mac Mini in order to get it to boot again.

I thought Apple was immune from these types of problems. I guess I was wrong.

Subsequently, I attempted two more imports of 12,000 photos -- neither of them completed, pretty disappointing -- apparently iPhoto '09 does not work so well with large quantities of photos over a network.

I'll be giving some smaller imports a try shortly to see if I can actually use the application I have been so excited about. Still, I am seriously disappointed so far with iPhoto '09, as Picasa3 has no issues working over the network. This classifies as what I would consider to be a "disaster."

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Camera is Back Home, Finally!

Gosh, it has been practically seven months.

Seven months since Ashley's car was broken into and our Digital Camera, a Canon Powershot SD800 IS and we had little hope that we would see it again. (article here)

And it has been almost six months since months since the Ventura County Sheriff's Department miraculously recovered and it's return seemed imminent.

But, after seven long months, it is finally here...

Canon Powershot SD800 IS Returned
And it is not much worse for the wear, just a few face scratches. But, boy has it been a test in persistence.

Now when I first found out in August (article here) that it had been recovered, I thought it would just be a few weeks until I received it back and could turn it around on eBay for a couple hundred dollars having replaced it with a PowerShot SD770 IS.

The case was scheduled to be completed in the beginning of September.

It was then continued until October.

And then until November.

And then, guess what? Yes, into December.

Finally the case was completed in January of 2009.

It then just took a few weeks to get the paperwork settled. Finally one day, I get a call from the detective that the camera was ready to be picked out that the property room of the East Ventura County Sheriff's Station. But, quickly I received a call back that the property room could not find the camera -- I got a little worried. But, a few hours later the phone rang and all I needed to do was place a call to the property room and setup a time to pick it up.

Today at lunch was the time I set up to pick up the camera from the station. I should up at 12:20, headed downstairs past the Ventura Couny Jail and to the property room. I could see my camera sitting there right behind the glass. I thought, "Wow, is this really happening...it was seeming just like groundhog day." The property manager handed me the camera after I signed the chain of custody document and curious, I turned it on.

It powered right up, the battery was still good. No pictures on the camera -- not sure if I had any, or if they were erased. But, I snapped a couple of pictures and it seemed to work just as I had hoped. No worse for the wear.

The oddest part is that this compact camera seems awfully large now, especially compared with my SD770 IS. Now I just need to decide if it is worth selling or keeping as a backup -- the prices on eBay are just south of $100 for a similar used camera. At that price -- I am not sure it is really worth it.

What do you think?

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Monday, February 02, 2009

My iLife 09 Starts Today

My iLife '09 started today. After receiving my belated iLife 09 CD that I expected to be included with my new Mac Mini, it was finally in my hands.

Frankly, the packaging was not much to look at, nor did I care. A thin, padded manila envelope that when opened revealed a simple CD sleeve and a bi-fold set of paper with instructions.

I dropped the CD into the Mac Mini...

Upgrading my Mac Mini to iLife '09 from iLife '08
I started with the upgrade process and it went surprisingly slow. Check the status below after iPhoto '08 was upgraded to iPhoto '09, still 43 minutes left. The upgrade took about an hour.

iPhoto '09 Upgrade in Progress.

And just like that, I could now start using iLife '09 after much anticipation. What's up first? iPhoto '09, I cannot want to try out the new Faces feature!

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