I was hanging out with Ruby and getting my camera ready for a little pool photo shoot later. She was just doing some tummy time on the futon and playing with her musical giraffe, and I got some fun shots in the process. I don’t think she knows what it does, but she was definitely attracted to the shiny thing on the side of her little friend!
Yeah… just let someone else host it
I don’t usually do much portraiture, but we had a little session after taking her 6 month pictures. We thought it would be fun to add a little prop, and sure enough we had some pretty cute shots. This was one of our favorites, and I thought it was just too adorable not to post.
Perhaps my enjoyment of this book was affected by the fact that I DID read it a little later than I should have. It basically covers from the last few months of pregnancy into the first few months of having a new baby (which is where I was when finishing this book). While there was some helpful information included, it is written in a style that seems appropriate for a new dad who is 18-24 years old and has never known someone who has had a baby or taken a sex education class. The overall tone is fairly juvenile, and the author definitely gives a fairly personal account of the process thereby lacking some comprehensiveness. Overall, I imagine it would be an interesting read for a young, soon-to-be father who has not had a chance to read any other literature on the subject, but I found that it didn’t contribute much to my knowledge on the subject matter.
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So this was basically the manual for the childbirth class that we enrolled in when expecting Ruby. The basic philosophy is that, while medical advances have been great and worthwhile, they are overly applied in the case of childbirth. Childbirth has become more of a procedure than a natural phenomenon. Dr. Bradley espouses a throwback into doing things the more natural way whenever possible.
Overall, I liked the philosophy and the way it was presented in the book. A couple chapters got a little too New Age-y and out there for me, but when it stuck to the logical arguments it was well represented. For anyone interested in having a natural childbirth, I definitely recommend this book and the associated Bradley Method class.
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My buddy Dustin works for Red Bull and hooked me up with a set of Red Bull Editions. Basically, they are flavored Red Bulls that aren’t yet released. I’m not sure if they are planning on releasing them all, or if they are currently getting feedback about the flavors to decide which one to release. Either way, I figured I would do a little write-up about the newest creations from my favorite beverage company.
I decided to start out by checking out the Blue Edition. The blueberry hits you pretty hard right off the bat. Not just sweet blueberry, but you definitely get a tartness with it. Then the blueberry flavor fades a bit, and I almost got a hint of original Red Bull flavor. I think the flavor reminds me of a gum I used to chew whose name I have completely blanked on. They were marketed to really change the color of your mouth and even came in what looked like a paint can when we got a big load from Sam’s. Because of this, I was almost surprised that my mouth wasn’t completely blue after drinking this. While I enjoyed it, I don’t think I could drink a much bigger can (definitely no 20 oz cans like I enjoy of Red Bull!) Definitely an interesting take on Red Bull, and I look forward to trying out the other two!
The silver edition incorporates lime flavor into the world of Red Bull. I thought this was a pretty interesting choice because lime is already so prevalent in the carbonated drink market (Sprite, Squirt, Diet Coke with Lime, Bud with lime, etc.). Sure enough this was a lime-flavored soda! I really wish that Surge was still around because I think a side-by-side tasting would be really interesting. Obviously, it has been quite some time since I had a Surge, but if I remember correctly, the flavor profiles are pretty similar. I enjoyed the lime and could definitely enjoy a larger can of it, but I’m not sure it is different enough to be worth bringing to market. One thing I love about Red Bull is that the flavor is completely unique. While there are tons of other energy drinks out there, none come close to replicating Red Bull. Now one more edition to try!
The final edition! While all of the editions are artificially flavored, the cranberry flavor tasted the most natural to me. It actually tastes a lot like a club soda and cranberry juice. Similar to the blueberry, it starts out sweet, but has a nice cranberry tart to it. With this one, I could definitely drink a bigger can, and this one would also probably be the best mixer, haha.
While I enjoyed them all, Red Edition was by far my favorite. I was a little disappointed to notice that all three were artificially flavored. After plugging the all-natural Red Bull Cola (which I’m super bummed isn’t around any more), I would have hoped they could keep with that philosophy when concocting these editions. While I will likely remain true to the original Red Bull, these are still a fun addition to the Red Bull Family, and I look forward to seeing one or all of them on the shelves!
Three of the large rock formations that are part of Monument Vally, Arizona.
While the colors of the rocks in this area are amazing, I was drawn to a black and white version for this photograph.
This is another shot from my most recent road trip with my Dad, but it has just taken me this long to actually get around to continuing to post pictures from this trip.
I posted this in our baby blog, but since it is kinda geeky-related, I figured I would cross post it to my blog as well.
I wrote a post a while back about the beginnings of my research for baby monitors so I figured I would follow up with my decision and a review of how it is working so far. I only posted about a couple options initially, but I continued to do my research and was constantly amazed by how expensive some of these monitors can be! Especially those that had any kind of internet connectivity, which is something I wanted since both grandmas are far away.
As you can guess from the title, I eventually settled on the Dropcam HD. For only $150, it had all the features I figured we would want including night vision, audio, and internet accessibility. It was pretty simple to set up as all I had to do was create an account with Dropcam and tell the camera which wireless network to use. After that, I could log in via computer, iPhone, iPad, Android phone, etc. and view our camera! Right now we only use it to monitor her while she naps, so we haven’t done the full setup with the Grandmas yet, but we will probably do that once she is sleeping in a more consistent place, like her crib. Here’s my basic breakdown review.
- Good quality video and audio feed
- Ability to digital zoom on one of 5 sections so camera placement is pretty lenient
- Cost – I saw pretty simplistic monitors without many features that were as or more expensive
- Dropcam offers a DVR service where you can record and also get notifications of events like movement. Not really necessary for the baby monitor, but means it could easily double as a pretty good security camera
- Ability to talk back – From an app or the website, I can talk and it will play from the cameras speaker. I don’t think it is enough to help settle a waking infant, but it could definitely be a handy feature depending on your usage
- Internet connectivity means access from just about anywhere
- The last pro is also a bit of a con. It is SOLELY internet connected, which has caused some issues with us. If the internet gets spotty, the feed can easily cut out a good amount which can be extremely frustrating, especially since it always seems to happen at the exact moment she starts seeming restless
- Night vision – It is great if you can place the camera near the baby, but since it relies on the built-in infrared light, subjects that are not right in front of the camera still remain pretty dark. On the auto setting, it also switches to night vision a little early so there have been times where we could actually see better without it. Luckily, you can manage whether it is on or off from anywhere you are viewing the camera
- Zoom changes are enacted for all viewers. If I am viewing the cam on my computer and MC is watching on an iPad, my view changes if she decides to zoom in on a section. Since it is just a digital zoom, I don’t see why each viewer couldn’t manage it individually
- The mount is a little finicky. The round cam fits snuggly in the hole of the metal mount, but there are no clips, snaps, etc. to really hold it in place so you tend to have to do some cable placement finagling to get the cam to stay exactly where you would like it
- The only way to turn the camera off it to unplug it. It fits fairly snugly, so this can be a bit annoying. I ended up taking the wireless remote AC cord that we had been using for the Christmas tree lights and plugged the camera into that so we can easily turn it on and off with a little remote.
So far it has still been a really good monitor, and we have enjoyed having it. It would be really nice if we could connect to the camera directly. Our internet is usually pretty good, but I am not the hugest fan of the idea that our baby monitor would become useless if our internet were to go out.
The other minor thing I would like to see is a “guest access” feature. You can allow other users to access your camera, but from what I have read they then have as much control as you do. They could change any settings and do things like talk back through the cam just like we can. It would be nice to give a limited access so someone could view without having full control.
Overall, I am definitely happy with it, and we get a lot for the money. The minor gripes I do have could possibly be remedied with software updates (or possibly hacking in the case of intercepting and decrypting the stream) so there is at least hope that they can be fixed in the future.
My posts on this blog have been pretty few and far between now that we’ve had the little one join us, but I thought it would be fun to do a post about some of the geeky presents I received this Christmas. Not just to catalogue, but for the possibility of input about future projects that could involve said gifts or recommendations on how to use them.
The SmartStick was one of the first geeky gifts that I received for Christmas from my parents. As you can see, it looks like a really big usb thumb drive, except that instead of USB it is HDMI and it is a fully functional little Android computer. Snazzy things can sure come in small packages! This was definitely one of those geek toys that I thought would be really cool to have, but I didn’t have a very specific need/task for it. It is just cool, haha.
I have only played with it a bit, but I think it will be pretty easy to find some usefulness for it either in the guest room or as a travel item that will give me a lot more options on hotel TVs. So far I think I only have one real complaint and that is the lack of bluetooth. To me that is a glaring oversight. This is a device that will most likely plug in to the back of a TV, and you make the remote an IR remote with a little corded IR receiver that I have to place somewhere? The thing is definitely bulky enough that adding the bluetooth hardware would have had a negligible effect on the size of the unit so I really don’t understand. Also, using the interface with the simple little remote was a bit cumbersome so, if it looks like I will be using it a decent amount, I will likely invest in the full keyboard + touchpad remote that they have for sale (which is, funnily enough, bluetooth but comes with an adapter to plug in to the unit).
I had a couple of microcontrollers on my wish list and this was one of them that Julie got me. It is supposed to be one of the best for beginners, and seems like it would be something pretty fun to play around with. There are tons of different projects that I have found that sound interesting, but it is hard to know what to choose! It might be interesting to do something basic with robotics, but to do what? I’m not sure if I want to find some really cool project to just play around with things like servo motors and led lights, or if I should try to find something that would actually be pretty useful, like an internet controlled thermostat. Anyone have any thoughts?
This is a little monitoring device from my parents to help you learn about your movements, habits and sleep. Sounds like a pretty interesting idea and might definitely be interesting to monitor how my lifestyle is while keeping up with little Ruby. Unsurprisingly, I haven’t had a chance to play with this either, but it definitely looks like it could provide some interesting information.
I found this when I began looking at using one of my old android phones as a mobile gaming device. Gaming tends to eat up a lot of battery life so it can be really annoying when you are traveling and you have to choose between your entertainment and the possibility of killing your communication device. So I figured I would just set up an old phone with games. While I was at it, I thought I might as well go old school and put a few emulators on it so I could play some more classic games when traveling. I actually had a bit of luck connecting a PS3 controller to a phone via bluetooth, but it still made for a bit of a cumbersome gaming platform. Enter Moga. Moga is a controller made with a mount to hold your phone. So it is made to do exactly what I was looking to do! It also connects via bluetooth, which opens up some possibilities. Not only can I connect it to a tablet for a larger screen, but the phone I will likely use has a mini-HDMI out so I could plug it in to a regular TV and use it as a full console. Sounds pretty snazzy to me! Julie got this for me and now I have to find a trip where I actually have some free time to play with this (which might be a bit difficult with a 2 month old, haha).
Along the same lines as the Arduino Uno is the Raspberry Pi that Julie also got me. Raspberry Pi has been growing in popularity (I have heard of CS programs using them as a platform to develop on through a range of courses and a buddy of mine has one set up to be a home media server), and have a good bit of power for such a tiny little device. Just like the Uno, the main problem arises with how to decide on the project! With this one, I am likely to tinker around with it a bit and get a feel for the development environment before I actually lock it in to a single use. That will also give me time to get familiar enough with it that I can better know what types of projects I am capable of handling and give me some time to think about how best to put it to use. I see a soldering iron purchase in my very near future. Any project ideas/suggestions are greatly appreciated for this as well.
Now if I could just find some free time to play with all these fun gadgets!
This photo was taken at sunrise at the appropriately named Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park. Dad and I thought it would be cool to get up bright and early, and while plenty of other people had the same idea, it was definitely worth it! It was fairly dark when we first got there and it was awesome to watch the sun slowly light up all the unique rock formations and we enjoyed the chilly weather.
Another panorama shot from Dad and my trip out west. Taken in Monument Valley, UT, this photo ended up being around 79 megapixels! I think that is one of the largest panoramas I have ever put together. It was definitely the first one that was too big for Aperture to export after I did a little processing so this is the output straight from the actual stitching.
There is some pretty obvious artifacting from the stitch on the right side where the car was driving by, but I was focused more on the geologic awesomeness in the background so it didn’t bother me too much.
I also like panoramas such as this where it is pretty much a 180 degree view of the valley.
Stitched together with DoubleTake.