As you can see, I don’t really write here anymore. I may someday, so I’ll leave it up, but you’re better off stalking me on Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other social media links to the right.
I have got to start posting on a more frequent basis. It seems like every time I post anymore, its out of guilt to catch up. And now for the skinny version:
- I’m back on Twitter… Tweeting more since it seems to have become mainstream. I started using it when no one else knew what it was or cared… Follow me. I’m also using TweetDeck, which has also come a long way since it’s first private beta release.
- I finally setup Google Apps on this domain. That means I’m also using nick [at] muzicman82.net as my primary e-mail address. You should update your address book. That’s also going to be my Google Talk account as well.
- As of today, which marks the official release of Mozilla Firefox 3.5, I am going to start using Firefox as my primary browser once again. Where have I been? I’ve been using Google Chrome since version 2.0 came out. It’s REALLY fast. I love the single bar for searches, addresses, etc… but it’s just missing the ability to create and use Add-Ons that Firefox does so well. Firefox 3.5 is very fast. I’ll revisit Chrome when some milestones are made.
- I recently returned from a sailing trip with the Wilmington Power Squadron on board Sweet Dreams. Kam and I were only able to stay until Wednesday, but its was nice even for a few days.
- As soon as I click “Publish” on this post, I am going to upgrade WordPress. It’s been way too long without an upgrade.
Today, I attempted to do something very simple: purchase a product on BestBuy.com, walk into the store to pick up the product, and walk out. Sounded too good to be true. The item I was seeking was a Wacom Intuos4 Medium Tablet. While I rarely buy items this expensive from local stores, Best Buy’s price was about the same as everyone else’s online, so I was thought I could save myself the wait and shipping cost by using In-Store Pickup, and collect some RewardZone points in the process. Delaware is sales-tax free so that wasn’t a concern for me. On BestBuy.com, the store locator showed that store #575 in Wilmington, DE had the item in stock. I placed the order online, and used some RewardZone certificates to further knock the price down.
I placed this order at 8:36 AM today, and at 10:20 AM, I received an e-mail saying “Your order is ready to pick up.” I left my house (which is about 30 minutes from store #575), and when I got there, the employee at the Pick-Up Counter said, “Oh, you should’ve gotten an e-mail saying that we don’t actually have that in stock.” So, I showed him the printed e-mail saying my order is ready to pick up, and he said his inventory guy must have accidentally marked the order as picked. So, after much frustration, I had him call store #465 to confirm inventory. They confirmed they had the product and put it on hold. The employee simply said to go to the other store and I would be good to go.
I drove to Best Buy #465, which is about 11 miles (20 minutes) from store #575. I went to pick up, and they said that I should have been instructed to call 1-888-BEST-BUY to have them change the pickup location to their store. So, I said, “Can’t you just do that for me?” They said I had to. So, while standing at the counter, I called and after about 10 minutes of being on hold and talking to a customer service rep, they said that I should be good to pick-up. So, the rep I am now dealing with at this store said that the system would take a while to update. So, I waited. After about 15 minutes, I checked e-mail on my phone, and I got one from Best Buy saying “Billing Problem Encountered – Action Required”. I knew immediately what this meant. It meant that they tried to charge my credit card twice. So, I told the rep I got this e-mail, and he then called 1-888-BEST-BUY for me. He explained the situation to another customer service rep, who put him on hold for about 8 minutes. When she came back on, she confirmed that they tried to charge the card twice and then refund one of the charges, which then locked out the funds. It being a Saturday, I could not call MasterCard to resolve the issue. He advised that I provide him a new credit card to put the order on. While he was explaining this to me, the rep he was on the phone with hung up.
So, I advised to him that I would just buy the item on a different card, and then I would call 1-800-BEST-BUY to cancel the online order completely. He agreed that would be the best approach. The downside is that I had used RewardZone certificates, but those would be re-issued after the order was canceled. This rep was very helpful and even took 10% off of the item for my troubles.
This is the 2nd time I’ve used Best Buy In-Store Pickup. The first time was for a Samsung BD-P3600 Blu-ray Player. There was a free Blu-ray movie offer if purchased online. For that order, the item was not available at the store that originally showed it, but I got an e-mail saying I had to change the pickup store or have it shipped. Fortunately, another store had this one and I was able to pickup with no problems. However, they did charge my card twice that time too.
I suppose the moral of this story is to simply not use In-Store Pickup. It’s a gamble at best. What should have taken about 3 minutes took me over 3 hours to get resolved. Perhaps it is good during the Christmas season to avoid the lines… but I imagine the inventory tracking would be worse then. From now on, I recommend simply calling the store to verify product stock and have them put something on hold if desired. The only time I would suggest placing the order online for In-Store Pickup is if there is an online-only promotion or if pricing is different. On the flip side, if you want some chaos, you could talk them into knocking 10% off of your order for the inevitable trouble.
Ok, so I’m a few months late. Life’s been decently busy but pretty good this year. Here’s some random notes to catch you up.
- Saturday will mark four months with Kam! Time flies so fast! Oh, I don’t think I’ve introduced you…
- I’m loving the Canon 40D that I acquired over the summer. I haven’t blogged about it since I got it, but after using it, I’m completely happy with the upgrade from the Rebel XTi. Sure, Canon recently released the 50D, but the few differences don’t justify the buck. I’m still getting used to not looking at the LCD for camera settings! I’ve been lazy and haven’t taken a whole lot of creative photos with it, but the few I have managed to get are pretty good.
- Rosie has almost 318,000 miles. Not quite. Almost. I recently treated her to a new driveshaft, muffler, front brakes, and some axle parts. I also (finally) fixed the driver door power lock and lift gate handle.
- I switched my voice cellular service over to Sprint, and got the HTC Touch Pro. I love it. Sprint’s Simply Everything plan really is everything for $99/month. Yay for consistent bills!
- Windows 7 Beta has been running extremely smoothly on my laptop and desktop. In fact, I’ve been using it primarily since the public beta release. Vista feels so foreign now!
- Since my last post, Twitter has really blown up! I’m proud to say that I caught on before it was cool. I remember explaining to people a year plus ago and the general response was something like, “So?” or “I don’t get it”.
Well, it’s bee about 3 months since my last post. I just kind of blinked one day and summer was over. I got no vacation, and barely any time off. It was a decent summer I suppose.
Work is still continuously crazy, but I think we’re slowing down a bit. My rock and roll face is off for a while, but now I’m back in installation work.
I recently upgraded my Adobe Master Collection Suite to the new CS4! It’s got lots of new features that I’ve been waiting for. Now I just need to find the time to play with it.
Anyways, I’m still alive. I’ll try to post more often!
If you’ve been following my exploration as a geek-with-camera, you know I’ve been shooting for the past 18 months with a Canon Digital Rebel XTi. This camera was my first dSLR, prior to which I had no experience with an SLR, although I did understand the concepts and theories behind them. Geek. Remember that.
I learned a lot in 18 months. More importantly, I quickly learned what I did and did not like about the Rebel XTi. I learned it’s downsides and how to get around them. I learned how to control it. To list a few things:
- The XTi seemed rather noisy at ISO 800 and ISO 1600. ISO 400 was slightly noisy in the shadows, but was acceptable. If you look at my photos, you will rarely find anything above ISO 400.
- The XTi is poor at metering in incandescent light. I think many cameras are. I’m not at the point where I’m going to invest in studio lighting, so this was a letdown.
- It is hard for me to tell whether things are in focus or not in the view finder. Since I wear glasses, I can’t get my eye right up to the viewfinder, which makes things difficult. It’s also a bit dim.
- Battery life is good, but not great.
About 6 months ago, I decided it was time to start thinking about my next camera. At about the end of January 2008, Canon announced the replacement for the XTi, the Rebel XSi. After reading the Press Release, I was already in love.
To recap, here’s what I was mostly looking forward to with the XSi:
- Larger Viewfinder. I’m blind and with the XTi, it’s hard for me to tell whether something is in focus. I think it’s also reportedly brighter.
- 3.0″ LCD. Again, blind. The bigger, the better. It’s the same resolution screen, so technically it’s a worse screen, but minor technicality.
- SD Cards. I don’t mind CompactFlash. In fact, I trust it more. I’m pretty sure they’re capable of faster speeds too. However, my laptop has a built-in SD card reader, and that kind of convenience would be amazing.
- Live View. The ability to see what the lens sees on an SLR would be handy indeed, especially when you can’t get your face to the viewfinder. Live View works with PC software too.
- 12.2 MP. I don’t need more resolution than the XTi, but geeks love specs.
And so, I was set on the Rebel XSi, even though it would’ve only been a slight upgrade from the XTi. The trouble – The XSi wouldn’t be available until April. Then April rolled around, and it quickly sold out.
Then, while browsing B&H Photo Video’s website, I noticed that Canon had an instant $200 rebate on the 40D. Now, this poses a problem. With the rebate, it put the 40D only $150 more than the XSi. And, there was a kit with a 28-135mm lens for just a little more.
The 40D is most definitely a better, more pro camera. However, while it has a lot of features that beat out the XSi, there were some things that were holding me back:
- Size & Weight. It’s bigger and heavier. The XTi seemed to be a good weight. Small is good, but it was also hard to hold it because it was so small. This also resulted in a few blurry images because it’s easier to shake.
- CompactFlash. I was beginning to like the idea of SD cards. However, I already have a collection of CompactFlash cards.
- 40D is 10.1 MP. Same as the XTi.
- Price. It’s costs more.
I eventually read several reviews and comparisons that compared the Rebel XTI to the Rebel XSi to the 40D. After reading all of them open mindedly, the general concensus was that the 40D is the best upgrade and the better of the cameras. So, it was decided.
So, I’m working on selling the Rebel XTi. The lovely thing about this is that I’m keeping all of my lenses of course. I would keep the XTi body, except I really have no need for two dSLRs. I’m pretty sure I can competitively sell the XTi to help cover costs of the upgrade.
I’ll try to do some mini-reviews of the 40D as I get to know it a little better.
It’s been a while week. Tuesday, I was back down at the Bottle & Cork teching the Citizen Cope show. Our role was minor, which was nice. It actually got me more time to just watch and enjoy a show for a change. The show was sold out and packed. The hope is that they’ll do two dates next summer.
After recovering from that, I was back to some video editing madness. I must admit, I love the variety that comes with my job. It’s stressful, and it’s hell most of the time, but I cannot imagine having to do the same thing every day. I would probably hate life.
I’m ready for some time off. I need to do things other than work, eat, sleep, repeat. I’m considering a random trip to NYC next week. Other than that, I don’t think I’ll get to take some quality vacation time until September. If gas wasn’t so expensive, I’d just randomly drive somewhere and hide for a while.
Last night, Rod and I saw Wanted. What a wicked awesome movie! If you enjoy edge-of-your-seat action, this is a must see. The film’s got style. Today we saw WALL-E. It’s just brilliant. Pixar has perfected the formula for good family movies, and they execute it so effortlessly. There’s not much dialog, which makes it even more impressive.
I realize I haven’t posted in over two weeks, and that my last post is rather pointless.
I’ve been working some pretty crazy hours lately. By that, I mean they are both odd on the clock and numerous. Part of this crazy work schedule has been my responsibility with national touring acts playing at the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach, DE this summer. We installed our rock & roll sound system there for the summer and each night a national touring act plays, Rod and I travel down for support and to run sound (front of house and/or monitors). So far, the we’ve worked with Pat McGee, James Otto, Robert Randolph, Eli “Paperboy” Reed and the Trueloves, Cowboy Mouth, and some other opening bands. It’s fun work, but it is hard work. Since the bar is open until 1AM, the earliest we’ve gotten done so far is 2 AM, and then we often have a 90 minute drive back to the shop (after which I drive 25 minutes home). On Tuesday, I’ll be down there again for Citizen Cope. This will be a fun and amazing show. Fortunately, my responsibility is minimal! Oh, and if I like you, I can get you on the guest list for any of these shows. Let me know if you’re interested.
I also had the opportunity to work with the national touring Christian band Building 429 in Elkton, MD a couple weekends ago. They were very fun to work with and the show was good, despite the excessive heat.
Oh, my toys! Well, one of them is featured in the photo to the left. It’s this light. It’s pretty rad. So, there’s button on the bottom that turns the light on and off, and another button at the top that changes the color and/or mode. The very unfortunate part about this light is that it does not turn on in the same mode or color it was on before it was turned off. This means, if I’m on blue and turn the light off, the next time I turn it on, it defaults to white. So, in order to get the different letter strokes in these shots, I have to do each stroke in a different bulb-mode shot. I then layer them in Photoshop CS3 and set the blend modes to Screen (which makes black an alpha channel). I then play with the sizing and positioning of the strokes until I have a nice shot like this. I’ll play with it more when I have time!
Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to hang out with Abigail. We basically roamed around PA, DE, NJ, and MD all day and night, taking photos of almost anything that would let us. We made it as far as Ocean City, NJ and a 24-hour Walmart in Elkton, MD. I had a lot of fun, but I pitty Abigail for having to put up with me all day. You can check out the shots of the adventure that I kept here. Oh, and be sure to check out Abigail’s shots too!
I think I’m going to upgrade my Canon Digital Rebel XTi body to a Canon 40D. Until mid-July, there’s a promotion going on that puts it just a little more than the new Rebel Xsi. I’ve had my XTi for almost 2 years now, and I think I know a little bit better what I want in a camera. The features that really make me want the 40D right now are:
- 0.95x Viewfinder. This is huge for me, since I’m blind and wear glasses. This will help me see through the viewfinder more clearly, even when my eye isn’t shoved right up to the eyepiece.
- 3.0″ LCD. Again, I’m blind. I need every bit of LCD I can get.
- Live View. I don’t necessarily need this, but it should help composing shots where it’s difficult to get to the viewfiinder. Oh, and it works via USB too!
- 17-shot RAW buffer. Wooo.
- 6.5 fps. I will enjoy this very much.
I wish the 40D used SD cards instead of CF, but I can live with CF. The Xsi has more resolution, but that’s not as big of a concern for me now. Oh, and I can get the 40D with a lens for just a little more too. There’s a nice write-up about the differences between the 40D and the Xsi here. Dear God, help my wallet now! Oh, while I’m on this, anyone interested in buying a nice Rebel XTi package when I’m ready to part with it?
Anyways, I think that about sums up the past couple weeks for me. I’ll make an effort to post a little more regularly!
I’m kind of thinking my site needs a fresh look. What do you think?