Monday, September 13, 2010

Nalgene Multidrink Review

Yes, I know what you're thinking... "Ryan, why the heck are you reviewing a BOTTLE."  Well here's the deal: Product reviews are often a dime a dozen when it comes to any new "hot" item (eg, an ipod or a laptop). So for the most part I wouldn't bother with a detailed review on those kinds of products.  I saw these new Nalgene MultiDrink bottles and was going to order one, but there's relatively little information about them on the web at the current moment.  Any "reviews" I've found were just a brief opinion combined with a stock photo of the bottle.  As of the time of this writing, the MultiDrink doesn't even appear on Nalgene's own as a service for anyone considering purchase, I thought I'd post a review of the bottle w/ more detailed photos.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Giving thanks where thanks is due...

So it might be lame, thing to do this early on in a blog when I should be posting innovative new content, but I have a few product related posts to make.  Recently I've had trouble with a couple of the electronic gadgets I use frequently...and even though both of these devices were out of their respective warranty periods, each company went above and beyond what they were obligated to do and rectified the problems.  Quality customer service is becoming harder to find, and googling any company/product will turn up a nearly endless supply of complaints...because bad PR is so much easier to get than good PR.  So I'd like to take a minute and 'give back' to the companies that helped me out recently by adding some positivity to the list of search results. Also, since my experiences have been with what are both somewhat common problems, hopefully this post will help others find solutions...

Eventually I will post a more detailed explanation of why you need monitor color correction if you're a photographer. In my case, what really prompted me to get a Huey was the huge color differences between my two 20" Dell 2007FP monitors. Apparently during the production life cycle of this monitor, Dell used two different LCD panels. This created what became known on the web as "The Dell Lottery" since one type of panel was higher quality / more desirable than the other, and there was no way to tell which you were getting before purchase. Having purchased my two monitors at different times, I ended up with one of each.  Using both monitors on the same desktop was difficult, because when compared to each other, one monitor had an obvious green color cast that made working with even non color critical applications like word documents frustrating.   Looking back and forth between the two, I always felt like my eyes needed to adjust because of the color difference.

This is when I stumbled upon the Huey Pro.  It's arguably not the most advanced color correction device on the market, but it worked for my needs and the price was right.  The Huey Pro is able to create color profiles for each monitor so that they match each other in color.

About a month ago, I noticed that one of my monitors had an obvious green color cast.  I tried recalibrating with the Huey, to no avail. Multiple attempts at recalibration resulted in either no change at all, or an extreme red color cast on one of the monitors.  After some more troubleshooting, I contacted Pantone, and they sent me a new Huey right away....even though my unit was out of warranty. I appreciate when I get this kind of service from a company, because they could have easily told me to 'screw off' , but they went above and beyond to make everything right.   I suspect my resolution was easier, because of  a batch of defective units that made their way into circulation.

My other recent experience with good customer services comes from the folks over at Netgear. Years ago I bought a ReadyNAS RAID network storage appliance. The ReadyNAS was developed by a great little company called Infrant. More recently, Infrant was acquired by Netgear.  I've had mixed experience with Netgear in the past, both with their products and customer service.  So I assumed the quality of support for the ReadyNAS would go down drastically after the company changed hands.  Thankfully, Netgear kept the ReadyNAS support forum, which is an excellent resource for ReadyNAS users.

Recently, the power supply in my ReadyNAS died. This is the second time I've had this happen during the time I've owned the unit. However it was the first time this happened out of warranty.  Thankfully after a few calls and emails to various levels of support at Netgear, they replaced the dead power supply on my ReadyNAS that has been out of warranty for years. Note that it did take persistence on my part to get Netgear to take ownership of this problem, and I had to reference some posts on their forum to show that premature power supply failure was a 'known issue.' It took more work on my part than I think it should have to get this problem resolved, but ultimately Netgear did provide me with a solution. A note to anyone who stumbles across my post because of the same issue,  here's a post describing how to replace the failed power supply with a standard ATX model.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Polecam 2010

So one of the things I want to do with this blog is share with the web some of the random projects I do, especially when that information could be handy for others.   I enjoy giving my projects extravagant names and calling them "inventions" even when they aren't anything that innovative, because it makes me feel awesome like that kid from "The Goonies."

In June I went to Paddle at the Point in Pittsburgh, where 1800+ kayakers set a world record for the largest kayak flotilla. I thought it'd be cool to get an elevated perspective from where I was, so I "invented" the PoleCam 2010!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ryan is letting loose on the internet…

Well the day has come; I’ve finally broken down and decided to post my own public blog. I say “broken down” as though this were against my will, but actually it’s because I’ve revisited the idea of blogging several times over the years with mixed feelings. This decision to finally blog comes after some deliberation.  I initially thought about blogging (and got my first bad impression) back around the time when Myspace was launched.  Suddenly everyone decided they had to become a Myspace blogger. That, combined with increased popularity of sites like Xanga, Livejournal, and Blogger, it seemed everywhere I looked, someone was promoting their personal blog. The more I read, the more I realized that the internet was overwhelmed with personal blogs that consisted largely of the venting of personal drama or mundane “what I ate for breakfast” type posts. So much of this existed that it seemed people offering something of actual value in their blogs would get lost in the sea of negative word vomit.  On top of that, even though blogging is a good way to establish an online presence, there is the question of how much of one’s personal life does one make ‘public’ via the internet? I’ve heard more than one horror story about job candidates carelessly posting information that ends up costing them a job.  One might think that sometimes it’s better to fly under the radar for other reasons as well; there is always the rare instance of stalking or criminal harassment. Also most people in life have at some point encountered toxic people who thrive on spreading malicious gossip.  Giving these people facts to start with can make it easier for them to attempt causing trouble. So what’s one to do?  Live well. Ignore the critics.  The fact of the matter is that, Doing anything remotely interesting will bring criticism. Attempting to do anything large-scale and interesting will bring armies of detractors and saboteurs.  So expect this, but take it with a grain of salt and rise above.

 The last year of my life has been extraordinary, especially the last few months worth.  I’ve been enjoying an opportunity that has granted me a great amount of time to focus on personal projects and endeavors while still maintaining a relatively comfortable financial lifestyle.  If there’s any advice you can take from this post, it’s to always respect the value of time.  I’ll be honest: it’s easy to lose track of one’s self in the ‘rat race’ putting in  40-60 hours a week at a job, which can cause one to stop pursuing the things that should be priorities in life. Things like personal goals, dreams, hobbies, and unexplored talents.  It took me a while to remember how much of these things I haven’t been exploring all these years, but over the last few months, pieces have been falling into place.  I’ve had so many awesome things going on in my life, and some really cool projects I’ll be working on in the coming months and years, that I feel now that in some ways it would almost be a disservice not to have an outlet to share some thoughts and ideas publically with the world. I rely on the internet in a big way for information. In the past I’ve been able to enhance my life and build off of the projects and experiences that others have posted. I hope to give some of that value back to my readers through this blog, aside from just being an interesting read. I’m here living a life of adventure, following my muse, and taking a lot of pictures along the way.