Our Best Time Machines

It’s hard to believe that there was a time before cameras existed.  Yes, we had paintings, but that required amazing talent and skill (not to degrade the skill of a photographer).  It’s just that…it was less common.  Beyond a certain point, we only know of people from history by their written descriptions.  So it’s easy to take the simple camera, that we all have, for granted.

In my last video, I mentioned that the camera is a tool.  And it is…just as a paintbrush would be to an artist.  We can be creative with it, yes, but we can also easily document our present.  I enjoy both aspects of photography.  And while I always strive to create the “perfect picture”, I do have to remind myself to just take photos for the memories.  

Personally, I enjoy seeing my progress in my photography by getting those photo reminders from Google Photos, Facebook, and Apple Photos, but even more so, I enjoy seeing our little one grow up, and genuine smiles of friends from many years ago…before all this pandemic mess.

So if you ever needed a reminder to KISS when it comes to photography, this is it.  There’s been too many times I’ve heard a friend lose someone and wished they had taken more photos of them while they were still around.  Our memories fade over time…and our cameras, well, those are our best time machines to teleport us back to a time that otherwise, may have been forgotten.

Apple iPad Mini 6 (Fall 2021) & Photography

Why hello there.  That’s right - I’m back…and I’m changing my blog to “Latest Gadgets”.  I decided I needed an excuse to take pictures of my gadgets and tech, but also write about it and what made me buy it.  So to start things off, let’s go with my latest new toy… the 2021 Apple iPad Mini 6.

So I already own and have been using the first get iPad 11” Pro from 2018 for a few years.  It’s main purpose was to be my mobile Lightroom editing gadget.  Ever since Adobe released a decent version of Lightroom Mobile, and Apple really nailing their Apple Pencil prowess, I was intrigued to try a nice travel and couch editing gadget where I can interact directly with the photo I was manipulating.

The iPad 11” is great, and honestly, it’s still working just fine.  But as someone who carries a ton of gadgets everywhere already, I was drawn (pun not intended), to the Mini.  The fact that it was compatible with the Apple Pencil I already owned just made it the icing on the cake.

Is it harder to edit on a 8.3” screen vs 11”?  Maybe ever so slightly, but with the super fluid pinch to zoom and precision of the Pencil, it really isn’t that bad.  It’s still better than trying to do it with a mouse or trackpad.  And yea, portability wise, I have pockets that it even fits in!  (although I wouldn’t keep it in one unless it was a jacket pocket)

In any case, I’m pretty happy with the purchase so far.  IMO, there’s no better device for editing RAW images on the go in Lightroom Mobile then the iPad Mini…just make sure you also have the Apple Pencil.

ThatsGinter Pros:

  • Size/Weight
  • Screen to body ratio
  • Compatible with Apple Pencil Gen 2
  • USB C for various gadget compatibility & charging
  • Volume button behavior automatically adjusts to orientation

ThatsGinter Cons:

  • Battery life shorter then the larger iPads
  • 60hz screen refresh rate noticable if coming from a 120hz (Pro Motion) screen
  • Headphone jack removed (doesn’t effect me)
  • Fingerprint Unlock instead of Face Unlock (but it works fast!)

Want to see more of my face and this new gadget?  Check out the YouTube Video!



Apple iPad Mini! - https://amzn.to/3BexMYF 

2nd Gen Apple Pencil - https://amzn.to/2Yr63WF

The Fast USB-C SD/Micro SD Card Reader I Use:  https://amzn.to/3ostV6J

The “more affordable then Apple’s case” case I use with my iPad Mini:  https://amzn.to/3isxwOi

*Links above may be affiliated and I may earn a commission to help support this site and my coffee addiction at no extra cost to you!  <3

Time Flys….Flies??

Ya, as the title says…Time got away from me.  Not to say I havn’t kept up with my social media aspirations.  Many photos shared, and a handful of videos since my last blog post here, but I’ve realized not many visit this part of my site anyways, thus my priorities shifted.  In any case, I’ll probably continue to be slow with new content here, but I have done an overhaul on the site with a slight redesign, and updated photography.  So there’s that!  

Anyways, I hope everyone is being safe out there during these times.  If you have a camera (which I know you all do on your phone!), try to find ways to be creative at home, or get out on some remote hikes and take in nature.  There’s still beauty in this world, let’s share it with one another!

New Year Resolutions

Another year, another excuse. We’ve all been there. Making grand New Year resolutions that eventually fall through the cracks. Personally, I try to keep mine within reason, so that when I forget…errm, fail, at those goals, I’m not too hard on myself. But I’m going to do my best to hold myself accountable.   How? you ask… well, by simply telling everyone who asks, and by posting it here. It’s not much, but it’s a step in the right direction, and those small strides towards a goal can make the end result much more attainable.

So here it goes:

  • Go to bed on time.
  • Wake up earlier.
  • Eat more healthy.
  • Become more active.
  • Plan better. Create more.
  • Increase my video production skills.
  • Post more frequently - instagram/fb, youtube, and uhhh, here….

The first 4 things on the list are the key (I hope), the jump starting the rest of the things on the list. Laziness is a mountain I’ve conquered before, so I just need to do it again. I’m sure there are more goals I could post, but like I said…I like to stay within reason. So yea, starting with this one right now, the first post of the year. Lets do this thing 2019!

The Spark Of An Idea

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in a city that is not my own. One, because I love coffee, and two, because I’m killing time. My thoughts have time to wander as I wait, and being in this new place, combined with an idle mind has spurred up the idea, about well…coming up with new ideas. Thus I am writing this article about how one comes up with new ideas. 

Writers get writer’s block, and as a closet creative, I too, tend to forget to think…”outside the box”.  While I pondered this, I have come to realize that as much as I love routine, planning, and a predictive day, it really hinders the necessary ingredients for me to come up with new thoughts.  I don’t necessarily feel trapped, but I imagine I am preventing myself from just doing something “different”.  You see, your mind can become like a hamster on its wheel…just going in circles. Sure, you might be flexing your muscles, but you aren’t flexing your mind. While somewhat stressful, I feel that the unknown, or unpredictable day can jump start that motor that really needs to get going in a new direction. 

I just need to find a way to create variety from day to day, then translate that stress to strategy of the mind. I guess that’s what happens when you go on vacation, and why we feel the way we do when we return. It wakes up your mind. Allows you to think different. Appreciate things more. And sometimes…spark new ideas.

Staying Within The Lines

So between the time I last wrote about autonomous cars and now, my wife and I have upgraded one of our vehicles to include some more advanced features (ok, it’s her car!).  She decided on the 2018 Honda CR-V and it has features I have not used before, such as adaptive cruise control (ACC), and lane keep assist (LKA).  The former is basically cruise control that can automatically slow down if a car slows down or even stops in front of you, then resume speed when there is no vehicle in front.  Lane keep assist does what it says.  If it can see the lines on the road, it will somewhat stay within that lane.  Or, if you begin to drift out of your lane it can nudge you back in the right direction (it will also nudge the wheel a bit if it realizes you don’t have your hands on it for a few seconds!).

Ok, so it’s not fully autonomous, but it really does make longer drives much more relaxing.  And not relaxing in that I no longer have to pay attention, but once you get used to the features, you get peace of mind.  Something especially important when you have your family along on the ride.  Personally, I felt much less mental fatigue driving on our longer road trips, and generally more confident in my ability to enjoy a peak at some of the vistas throughout the drive.  

The other bonus feature this car has is the ability to use Apple Car Play and Android Auto.  The downside…well, at least for Android Auto, is there are still issues…  My wife is able to get her Pixel 2 XL working, but mine, not so much.  I still haven’t determined if it’s software, or hardware, but the fact that it’s not a foolproof setup means it’s still not fully fleshed out.  Android Auto still requires bluetooth AND a cable for full features.  And bouncing between 2 or more phones still feels clumsy.  

Look, I love my tech…and I’m willing to troubleshoot and deal with a few bugs here and there, but it just won’t fly with most of the public.  Especially in a car, where safety is above and beyond the most important aspect.  Nobody should be fiddling with connections or settings while driving.  Overall though, I’m really happy with our new garage addition.  I’m still going to hold onto my rough and tough Honda Element for all our Ikea transporting, and dirty outdoorsing adventures, but I’m already becoming dependent on the AI smarts being built into the new metal caravans on the road.

Waiting for the storm…

If there’s one thing photography has taught me, it’s patience. In a life where we are always busy, being forced to slow down and wait is almost a refreshing experience. I think that’s why I enjoy camping and the outdoors. Getting away from the busyness of day to day life and just “experiencing” being alive makes one appreciate existence.

The summers in Phoenix bring the monsoon season. It’s our only “natural” disaster we deal with, and I’m fine with that. As much as I love our beautiful sunsets and almost always cloudless skies, seeing the storms roll in is a breath of fresh air. Unless of course, that air of full of dust…

When the opportunity presents itself, I’m hoping to capture an image of the storm materializing. The tricky part is being in the right place at the right time. And as I mentioned already…life is always busy. If I’m lucky, I’ll get it… I just need to have a little patience.

Here’s a photo from yesterday’s brief storm. You can see a layer of brown dust just hanging in the air…

Autonomous Driving and Safety

There’s been a lot of news lately on self-driving cars, AI, and the safety regarding their use on public roads.  Both UBER, and even Waymo (a Google company), have been guilty of incidents with their autonomous car driving tech.  And while I won’t go into the specifics of each accident, I will ask the broader question - is it really safe or safer than a human driving?

I bring this up because of a recent article regarding the death of a woman that occurred close to home.  An UBER vehicle equipped with self-driving tech struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona.   You would think the car, with all it’s sensors, would automatically brake, but it didn’t.  Nor did the human behind the wheel.

In fact, it was recently revealed that the technology responsible for detecting if a human is in front of it, did actually recognize her, but the programming algorithm threshold was set too low, thus resulting in a false positive and preventing the car from braking.  But why?  Well, it was stated that it was set low because there was to be a human also paying attention that should’ve stopped the vehicle.  

And honestly, this makes sense.  We still don’t have a 100% accurate system for our self driving cars.  If we did, they’d already be approved and on the road.  If UBER were to up the algorithm to be overly sensitive, it would panic brake all the time, and while that may save people who jump out onto the road without looking, it also means any vehicles behind them (that may not be autonomous), will slam into their rear end.  Imagine of somebody in front of you just brake-checked you all the time…”just in case”.

I still think having a computer watch the road for us is a good idea.  Yes, computers make mistakes, but humans make mistakes way more often and are more susceptible to distractions, ailments, tiredness, etc.  Remember, roughly 30,000 to 40,000+ people die each year to car accidents in the US.  If anything, it’s another set of eyes on the road for now.  And until we can obtain a very highly reliable AI for self-driving cars, I’m still open to having them help out on the road than not.

Growing GoPro

When anyone mentions “action cam”, the first thing in many people’s minds is GoPro. They’ve built up a reputation in the camera world, but even though it’s the only adrenaline focused camera you can name, they have been struggling to stay profitable. Between a manufacturing nightmare with their first drone, the Karma, and a stiffening competive market that has been flooded with super cheap, chinese made action cameras, GoPro has had a difficult few years. 

There were rumors of a potential sale, and for all we know, that could still be an option, but the latest plan is a licensing partnership with Jabil to manufacture 3rd party products utilizing GoPro’s lenses and sensors. This isn’t a completely new relationship. The two companies have worked together before on the Hero4.

The new products won’t be branded GoPro, which is a good thing IMO, cause if it doesn’t do well, it could accelerate GoPro’s descent to the bottom, but if it does, it will help keep GoPro afloat for now. And while I don’t think GoPro is the most amazing camera company out there, they still have a good handle on manufacturing durable hardware, and simple, useful software.

Speaking of software, I’m a big fan of their Quik app on mobile. A simple video editor that does a great job of tossing together your various clips with music and themes. Their venture into the software side of things makes me believe that they could easily re-purpose their current hardware line-up to do double duty, such as home security cams, and car dash cams.

GoPro has managed to win in the niche they chose. So much so, that people who wanted a GoPro already bought one, and those that haven’t, are looking towards cheaper options. Hopefully this deal is a great opportunity to help create the building blocks necessary to branch out their business and keep GoPro growing.

P.S.  Also saw the news on the budget Hero that came out… while it could help, the competitors are cheaper, and this one just adds confusion in their lineup since it looks the same as the more expensive/capable models.  I understand the importance of keeping the same form factor for addon compatibility, but maybe give it another unique name or slightly different color?

Thoughts on Crypto and Energy

As a techie/nerd guy, I had avoided the Bitcoin fad when it started.  For over 2 decades I built powerful PC gaming machines for, well… gaming.  But as time will tell, the combination of last years huge hype and growth, along with an old acquaintance, lured me into the world of cryptocurrencies.  Now, I’ve never been one to dabble with the stock market, so staring at tickers on digital cash doesn’t entertain me.  But as a hardware geek, I was eager to play around with some system builds.

I’m not going to bore with you with all the ins and outs of how the crypto world operates.  Just know this - there needs to be powerful computers that can process complex algorithms to keep a distributed online ledger accurate.  We call those mining machines, and that’s what I do - I’m a miner.  But there’s one problem with these machines…  They run HOT and need TONS of POWER!

Currently, I’m running this out of my garage, but this non-climate controlled environment, combined with living in the city of Phoenix, doesn’t bode well for an all season operation.  The other problem is the algorithms that the mining machines are trying to process, continuously increases in difficulty, requiring more powerful hardware to keep up.  This is taking it’s toll not just on a personal miner’s account, but power globally is taking a huge hit as well.

While power usage and wasted energy is the most serious negative impact cryptocurrencies have created.  There is another issue that has stemmed from people trying to become bitcoin rich.  A lack of GPU cards.  Ya, many crypto algorithms can be processed with the usage of the highly coveted gaming video cards.  There is a shortage of them, and what you do find for sale is usually way over the MSRP price.

So, being in the middle of this, I started to think about what could change with these cryptocurrencies to reduce both power and the requirement of gaming video cards.  What is a resource that people can’t just overly consume in their homes at all times.  Then a light bulb went off - bandwidth.  It’s something most people value that won’t and/or can’t overly consume without affecting their quality of life.  

Perhaps a fairly easy to compute algorithm that requires lots of bandwidth to send the information back and forth.  The demand for tons of power would drop and it would restrict a normal person’s mining efforts to only operate when they are not using their internet - so maybe when they are at work or while sleeping.  I’m sure serious miners will pay for more bandwidth, or add another line.  And dedicated mining companies will still operate 24/7.  But the overall power consumption should drop, and the demand for video game cards and specialized hardware for mining would stabilize.

I could be wrong, and it could be a terrible idea that ruins the internet as it tries to cope with the added introduction of trillions of packets flying from router to router.  Or…perhaps the Internet will become more robust and faster overall for everyone…

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