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LG G Watch R: The Forgotten Smartwatch

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Full circular display, sporty-classy design, and whatever other basic bit of info that’s been released make this watch a viable competitor to the Moto 360. If you’re reading this, you know that. Day after day, I check Reddit, Google and Twitter for updates on this watch’s release. Even after it was released in Korea, there was little press. I even went through Google.kr and translated the watch’s name to Korean to make sure Google wasn’t missing results because of language. Nope. LG has completely failed on this one.

Instead of giving the watch to bloggers, product review sites, Youtube Vloggers, and etc to test and hype the watch’s release, the watch has gotten little if not no exposure has been since IFA in Germany over a month ago. LG hasn’t released definitive product release dates for other countries, price lists and any additional media on the watch. LG also has a dull, generic product page for the watch and it lacks a “notify me” feature.

Even Google has made little mention of the watch. As of when I’m writing this, the watch isn’t even on the Play Store as “Coming Soon” and the graphics make no mention of it. If you’re desperately trying to promote a new platform, you might want to advertise the upcoming devices to show the potential of your product line.

I know it might sound silly to rant about a watch’s release, but looking at the success of the Moto 360, even if they didn’t have a very successful launch, shows that if you create enough buzz about a device, people will want to buy it. The Moto 360 doesn’t have a full circular display, its battery life started out sub par, users have reported that it cracks, others reported dead pixels and so on. Yet, there is still a high demand for the watch because people want to know what it’s like to have that much power on their wrist. LG, in releasing their second generation wear device, should have known how to successfully launch a product. They shouldn’t need some random blogger like me telling me that…

PS: Anyone else tired of seeing the same stock image I used for this post?

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How To Scan Slides With A DSLR And Save Hundreds

If you’re anything like my family, you have an incredible collection of slides that you just took down from the attic that probably looks a lot like this:

When’s the last time you opened up a box, put the projection screen up and sat there with the projector looking at your past? That’s right: Never.

It’s time you changed that. How, you ask? If you’ve found this post, you’ve probably already stumbled upon sites like scancafe.com or scanmyphotos.com and thought you could afford it until, of course, you realize the pricing is per slide not box. Unwilling to disk out a few hundred or unwilling to ship your valuable photos across seas, you looked elsewhere.

You then stumbled onto Amazon and looked for slide copier extensions that look like they have somewhat positive reviews. Realizing that’s the slowest process humanely possible, you ventured off to some other DIY sites claiming they scan slides quickly using an old slide projector and a DSLR on the cheap like this one: babryce.com/slidedigitizer.html or this: scantips.com/projectorslidecopier.pdf

That’s it! You’ve struck gold! But how are you actually going to do it? You’re not some well versed projector technician. Well, i’m going to attempt to help you scan thousands of crystal clear slides without breaking the bank (using these two sites as a baseline.)

To get started, you’re going to need a  DSLR (Or a nice digital camera), some macro filters, and an old slide projector. If you’re using a DSLR, you can also use a professional macro lens (If you can afford one) but they’re not exactly required for what we’re doing. So unless you plan on using these lenses for other purposes as well, it’s a complete waste of money considering you can get macro filters for under $20 on eBay: Here.

Now, Some will tell you that these filters are “inferior.” Because the are. In order to avoid focus issues and a black ring around the edge of your picture, you have to be zoomed in and straight in front of the picture. The good news? That’s EXACTLY what you need to scan slides. So unless you’re unhappy with these cheap filters, I wouldn’t recommend breaking the bank for a good macro lens just yet.

For the projector, you can either use your own vintage family projector (NOT recommended considering you have to break apart the projector to create your contraption) or you can simply buy one on eBay for cheap. I didn’t have the Kodak reels, so I had to buy a projector that supported RotoTrays. Just be aware of that – I originally bought the wrong type of projector out of stupidity and I’d hate to see someone make the same mistake!

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I wish I could be more specific, but honestly, all you need to do is remove the lenses in front of the actual slide. Besides, every projector is a little different. Find any screws and unscrew them. Make sure there are no wires that you’re going to rip when opening the case. Once it’s exposed, do whatever it takes to get the lenses in front of the slide out. Each projector model varies, but feel free to comment with pictures if you need help! In the above photo, I show how my setup works. Notice how the slide has nothing in front of it altering the image. I do not use the projector lamp, as it’s much too hot and didn’t provide a white background. Instead, I used a cut of white photo paper and another small white lamp I had to illuminate the slide. Make sure it’s facing away from you – otherwise, it might create a lens flare on your camera. Essentially, all you’re creating is an automatic slide changer. Good luck and feel free to comment if you need any help!

I suppose it’s only fair that I share some of my favorite scans to prove that this concept works, and works well:

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A Visit to the Twilight Zone

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Recently, I fell in love with a nonprofit lighthouse restoration group after learning about them in an article from ScoutingNY. Eager to help in some way, I made a mock site redesign using WordPress to show them the potential for their site and offered to continue the design and implement it into their domain for free if they liked it.

For anyone who wants to see their site VS the one I made for them, this is their site and this is the one I made. The pages generally correspond with each other. I know it’s not the best site, but, in my opinion, it is by far more professional and clearer to understand than their current site. I respect their decision to keep their current site, but there’s no doubt in my mind that there was something more than preference dictating their minds.

Here is their website compared to mine. Notice how I fit all but two pages into the size of their homepage. (Click to see the image in full)

Below is my bizarre correspondence with the group. I have removed the introductions and conclusions to give some degree of privacy. I mean not to hurt them, as I still wholly support their cause. However, I was genuinely upset by the replies I received, not because they declined my offer, but because of their increasingly harsh replies I received. The green text is my commentary on each correspondence. Enjoy… I guess?


The first email I sent gave background about who I was and what I offered. Nothing crazy, right?


Me: My name is ______ and I saw your website today after ScoutingNY posted an article about your island. I was immediately interested in helping you guys somehow, but as a college student, I didn’t have much to give. So I used my website design skills to make a mockup of a redesigned site for the lighthouse to promote users to visit. It’s not complete by any means, but it’s a start and I really hope you like it. I’m not asking for anything at all for doing this. I really do appreciate what you guys are doing for this piece of history. If you would like to make it the official site I’d be beyond thrilled. It can be exported and installed on your host and I can help you do that. If you like it, I’d gladly make more finishing touches! So without further ado, http://executionrocks.wordpress.com/


The first reply was not harsh, but it was nonsensical.


Him: thanks spread the word please


After a week, I decided to reply again in hopes that I could make it more clear as to what I wanted to do for them.


Me: Now that the media buzz has died down a bit, I wanted to discuss my previous email. I fell in love with your nonprofit and wanted to do something for it. As a college student, I don’t have money to give but I have web design skills. I did my best to improve your current website (http://www.lighthouserestorations.org/) by making a mock website (http://executionrocks.wordpress.com/) that can be worked on and improved to your liking. If you like it, I am willing to work with you to move it to your current website domain.


The second reply was not harsh either, just a bummer to hear after completely redoing their website on my own. But that’s entirely my fault for making a website before getting the go ahead.


Him: Thanks but no thanks


Prepared to be done with this all, I wished them luck and went on with my life.


Me: That’s all I wanted to hear! Good luck with your nonprofit! It’s truly a great project


Until of course I got a reply suggesting that I pay them after they declined my offer when I (twice) clearly wrote that I was a college student who “didn’t have money to give but wanted to help.”


Him: make a donation, we don’t take salaries!


Deflated, I made it known that, short of declining, I hadn’t understood their replies.


Me: Im sorry sir, you’ve literally made no sense to me. Good day.


And the fun begins. I received one of the most rude and genuinely heartbreaking emails of my life, bashing my intellect and writing me off. The bold sentence was not bolded by me. I decided not to engage them, seeing that I was clearly an amusement for them. Perhaps they thought I was a scammer and they had the upper hand. Well. If that’s the case, they’re sure missing out…


Him: what word don’t you understand? we are and state and federal non profit dedicated to restoring the lighthouse! we volunteer to restore this historic structure. our website works fine. you have no idea whether or not our traffic and press has slowed down or sped up! how many times do you think we were in the press? once on some blog? “literally no sense” is a state of mind foreign to me thank God my 36 year old son doesn’t have problems with comprehension! good luck to you


In the end, what did I get from this? Nothing but a somewhat decent site for my portfolio and a lovely story to tell about some rather mean people. 

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Why Do NYC Businesses Neglect Their Kitchens and Sidewalks?

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A long while ago, Humans of New York photographer Brandon Station posted this picture of a woman aggravated by a pressure cleaning company in the Financial District working at an hour where it least offends: The night.

Though this image has bugged me for a long while, it’s not Brandon’s fault. My family owns a pressure cleaning company that cleans commercial properties and businesses. Based on Long Island, the business has chain restaurant accounts scattered across the eastern coast, stretching all the way down to Virginia and up to Maine. While that’s all fine and dandy, the sad truth is, the closer you get to Manhattan, the less business we get.

That’s not so much of a problem for the company as it is New Yorkers; there are plenty of businesses that hold monthly accounts with us elsewhere. The problem, as I see it, is that NYC restaurant owners can’t dish out a few hundred dollars a month to keep their stores both looking nice and not to mention, clean. Maybe their profit margins don’t allow for it, or maybe it’s just not a concern for them.

That said, sidewalks aren’t even our main concern. It’s the kitchens that are.

I’ve seen kitchens that are cleaned every week and I still don’t wouldn’t eat there places after a day! Commercial kitchens can quickly become nightmares unless the staff is constantly hosing down the floors, picking up debris and minimizing grease spills. Even with regular maintenance, I cannot imagine what some kitchens look like when they have never been cleaned with pressure cleaners; especially in many high volume restaurants in the city.

Ironically, the strictest city in the tri-state area when it comes to sanitation ratings utilizes the company our least. We’ve never been called from a restaurant that got a “B” or lower rating hoping to clean the place up to get an “A.” Maybe we’re not marketing to the right people, or maybe New Yorkers just don’t care about whats below them.

Elsewhere, managers hire my family’s company because they actually care about how their customers perceive their stores; it’s a great way to draw customers (“Oh, this restaurant looks nice.”) On the flip side, city restaurants are likely to meet their minimum number of guests without having to worry about cleanliness because of density. If someones says “Ew, this restaurant looks nasty,” there will always be someone right behind him who doesn’t care to look down.

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Insomnia Cookies Refuses to Deliver to Baruch, Hunter, LIM Residence Hall

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Open until 3 AM, Insomnia Cookies makes an enormous profit off of college students who are struggling to stay up during the late hours of the night. Inspired by Seth Berkowitz, a student at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003, the cookie giant has expanded to multiple cities across the nation.

However, the young entrepreneur seems to have excluded a crucial building while planning his Upper East Side location. With Hunter College, Baruch College, Marymount College and LIM College students all packed into one 19 story building, the hundreds of students who dorm at the 97th street residence hall are, sadly, exactly one block out of their delivery range.

When I asked students about their experiences ordering, many told me that they tried negotiating with the store manager, often asking if they could meet at the corner of 96th street. Each time they were declined.

When I reached out to the company for comments, they replied with an expected: “Please understand that if we extend the delivery range much further it will likely slow down all of our deliveries in that area.” I would like to mention that their outstanding delivery average is, according to their website, “30-45 minutes.” How much slower could it get? He went on to say that, “It will also impact our ability ensure our cookies are delivered warm to our customers.”

At $1.50 or more per cookie, there is no reason college students should also have to pay the price of taking 40 minutes of crucial study time for cookies. Further, by the time students reach the dorm, the cookies would be cold already; successfully defeating the purpose of getting cookies from a bakery and not the local supermarket. Strapped for options, students often turn to the local Domino’s as a late night alternative, trading sugar for grease.

In the end, the plead to change the delivery radius remains a firm no; leaving Insomnia Cookies inaccessible for dorming CUNY students.

 

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In a Greening World, Smog No Longer Means Profit

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Imagine that, as a business, you had to pay a service tax for every ecosystem you disrupted. In this hypothetical situation, all the money taken for this tax would be used to increase the productivity of the unsettled ecosystem, effectively creating a sustainable economic practice. While this seems like an awful burden for any business, our Earth provides innumerable amenities free of charge. From providing clean air to breathe to fertile soil for growing sustenance, high profit depends on high ecosystem productivity. But how much are these free services worth? Robert Costanza, an ecological economist, and his team tried to tackle this hypothetical, placing the number at around $33 trillion. That is roughly a third of today’s global Gross National Product (GNP).

As industrialized nations work to clean up their mess, China—the world’s biggest polluter—has only recently begun cleaning up its ecological nightmare. In terms of Air Quality Index (AQI), measured in parts per million, Chinese cities are permanently above what the World Health Organization considers healthy. In response, Chinese policymakers have finally created an initiative to reduce emissions. How bad did the AQI have to get before an initiative was created? This January, Beijing had a record-breaking AQI of 755. New York, by comparison, usually scores in the mid-to-upper 30s, a world of difference from Beijing’s 755.

Though China’s GNP is increasing, a study done by MIT found that air pollution cost the Chinese economy $112 billion in 2005 alone. Why? When smog—fog combined with smoke and other atmospheric pollutants—becomes too dangerous for public transportation to run, some major Chinese cities have to shut down, effectively halting factory work until the smog clears.

Not only do air pollutants in Chinese cities affect other regions in the country, easterly winds often blow higher atmospheric pollutants right across the Pacific Ocean to California. Commonly referred to as a commons, our atmosphere is shared by the rich, the poor, the powerful and the weak. What one country does to the air becomes a problem in another. So when China spews billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a global concern arises.

China is not the only country so heavily invested in coal. Surprisingly, universities all over the United States put their money into stocks of fossil fuel companies because they consider it a safe investment. However, a local CUNY program is trying to change the scene.

CUNY Divest is trying to persuade the CUNY Board of Trustees to halt all investments in fossil fuels permanently. Furthermore, the program is also working towards the complete withdrawal of the top 200 dirty investments, replacing a good number of them with renewable alternatives in the market as well as green infrastructure here at CUNY.

Whether it is the United Nations, 350.org, Greenpeace or any other activism campaign, no one seems to be able to convince most major corporations that green can also mean profit. Can a company actually profit from being green?

According to the World Wildlife Fund and the CDP, a company’s return on investment (ROI) after participating in green initiatives can reach up to 233 percent. This number is not fluff; there are plenty of examples of businesses that have reduced carbon emissions while also increasing profits. According to The Guardian, “DuPont, one of the early adopters, committed itself to a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the 10 years prior to 2010. By 2007, DuPont was saving $2.2 billion a year through energy efficiency, the same as its total declared profits that year.”

A study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund also found that, “79 percent of U.S. companies in the S&P 500 reporting to CDP earn more on average from investments aimed at reducing carbon emissions than on their overall capital expenditures.” How does a company actually reduce emissions? It’s the small stuff. The easiest way to save money while reducing carbon emissions is to invest in LED lighting, which uses 7 percent of the energy incandescent bulbs use.

Companies can also utilize what’s known as source reduction to reduce packaging, carbon emissions and shipping costs. Perhaps the most successful electronics companies in the world, Apple, is also a leading environmental producer. According to Apple, “The packaging for the iPhone 5 is 28 percent smaller than the packaging for the original iPhone shipped in 2007. That means that up to 60 percent more iPhone 5 boxes fit in each shipping pallet and fewer boats and planes are used.” Apple also uses a marketing trick to advertise its green practices to increase revenue. With a market cap of $415.7 billion, Apple makes it clear that being green certainly pays off.

 

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My Quest to Find a Healthier Nutella

Because I grew up eating Nutella quite literally every single day, learning that the American version had GMO’s in it (among other unhealthy oils) broke my heart. Because the spread is such a huge part of my life, I plan on eventually buying an 11 pound jar of Nutella direct from Ferraro in Italy once my smaller imported jar is finished. No. I’m not kidding. You can get one here if your family is a devout too, here. (While you’re there, read some reviews! They’re fantastic.)

Anyway, learning this horror has brought me to trying some other spreads in the meantime. Below is a list of all the other spreads I’ve tried and my honest opinions of them. I hope you find this to be useful in finding healthy and tasty alternatives to a not so healthy snack. Remember. I’ve been a diehard Nutella fan since I was 2, so I’m going to start by saying that there is NO equal alternative. It’s true. The European one is not only Non-GMO, its actually nutritionally healthier than its American counterpart. The best of both worlds.

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Key: Green means I plan to buy them again. Orange means that the taste was OK. Yellow means that they have questionable ingredients or origins. Red means it was horrible.

European Nutella [Middle] might not be the healthiest of all the choices, but I still cannot replace my childhood spread.

Barney Butter [Green bottle] tastes like peanut butter, to be honest. It’s really nice spread for a lunch sandwich with jelly. Not so great alone; though it isn’t bad! Just not something you could eat daily all by itself.

Barefoot & Chocolate Hazelnut Spread [Mmmm] by far was the best Nutella alternative. It tasted great and was GMO free. Ingredient wise, it pretty much across the board beats even the European Nutella. It has less sugar, fat, sodium; everything than Nutella did but I simply cannot give up Nutella just yet. Either way, this spread is something I will definitely buy again.

Brunette [Sold at Le Pain Quotidien] is actually a product I’m now greatly skeptical of. It tastes great. It has its own unique taste and it’s even edible on its own. However… There’s one ingredient that raises my brow: soy lecithin. Chances are, that’s GMO too. It even has a nice * to tell us that it’s not organic. I’d try it again if I could get the EU version.

“Imported” Hazelnut Spread [Pretend Italian Spread] from Gristedes is distributed by a company in New Jersey but an unknown company in Italy. That’s all I have to say about that. Assuming it’s actually from Italy and subsequently non GMO, it was a decent tasting spread. But that only raises my concerns.

Creamy Nuttzo [Colorful Upside Down Jar] was not bad. But it wasn’t good. It was one of those foods where you can eat it, but you’re not crazy over it. It’s certainly not sweet.

Justin’s Almond Butter [Packet] was eh. It wasn’t sweet and it was mildly good.

Rawtella [Not pictured because I refuse to buy it again] was absolutely horrendous when I tried it. In essence, it’s probably the most healthy of them all.

Now if I could only get my hands on this cookie spread.

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Want to see where you’ve been for the past few years?

Unless you opted out of location history when you set up your phone,  your phone has been periodically tracking your location. Want to see for yourself?

On an iPhone with iOS 7, go to settings, privacy, location services, system services and click frequent locations. That’s it. You’ll be able to see a recent-limited view of the places you spend the most time at.

If you have an Android, you’re probably being tracked too. To see it on Androids, it’s just as easy but you’ll have to use a computer. You can see much farther back and you can see many more location plots than the iPhone users can – whether that’s bad or good is completely up to you.

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First, go to this site: https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/b/0/. Do you see where you’ve been today? If so, congratulations! You’re being tracked dozens of times a day by Google! Click “Show 30 Days” if you want to see a much better range of places. That’s about it! It’s pretty simple to see where you’ve been across a whole month!

If you’re like me however, you want to see it all. All the location history Google has ever picked up about you. I figure, since they’re tracking me anyway, I might as well make a cool map of the places I’ve been out of it!

On the same page, right click “Export to KML” and copy the URL. Paste it into another tab and change the “starttime” number to something drastically lower. If you want more detailed instructions on this first step, click here. The original source suggests using Google Earth but when I did that, I was able to see only a certain limit of points and trails. I want to see ALL of them. But depending on the amount of points you have, you might be finished with this step! Just use the slider to extend the amount of time it shows.

For me, though, I had to follow a few more steps. First, I downloaded and installed Python from here. Then I downloaded this script from here. Lastly, download this file here. Open up a command prompt and type: “[Find Python on your computer by going to the C: drive and looking for a folder named pythonXY. Click it and drag python.exe into the window] [Drag the script from wherever you downloaded it into the window] [Now drag the last file you downloaded here] [Drag that same file again here and change the “json” to “kml”] Click enter and it should create a file in the same folder as where you downloaded the json file.

It should look something like this: “C:\Python33\python.exe C:\Users\James\Desktop\latitude-json-converter-master\latitude_json_converter.py “C:\Users\James\Desktop\Location History\LocationHistory.json” C:\Users\James\Desktop\Location History\LocationHistory.kml”

Now fire up Google Drive. You’re almost done! Click here and follow the steps to get Fusion Tables into Drive.  You’re going to upload that converted file and wait until it finishes (Might be a few minutes depending on how many points you have) and that’s it! You’re done! Click “Map of Geometry” and you’ll see an insane number of points – You’ll notice how many points are centered around your work and home. Enjoy!

If I helped you at all with this guide, be sure to like this page on top of the site! And feel free to ask questions if you get stuck!

Update: If you want an easy way to see your location data without going through the above steps, click through to this site:

https://theopolis.me/location-history-visualizer/

 

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Salt Stick Deodorant. It Works.

“Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Dimethicone, Polyethylene, Steareth-100, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, BHT”

How many of those ingredients have you heard of?  Those are the ingredients of the deodorant I used up to the day my mom plopped one of these bad boys on the counter – simultaneously throwing out my normal deodorant.

Well have you ever heard of salt? It’s the only ingredient in this amazing product. It doesn’t stop you from sweating, but you wont smell.

But does it work? Yes. I’ve worn this stuff to present at competitions, the Bahamas, dates, graduation (For which, mind you, I was in a black robe in late June.) Hell, I even wore it to prom! This stuff works.

Sure, you have to rub the stuff profusely around your armpits. But who cares? I’d rather an extra 10 seconds putting on deodorant than aluminum bio-accumulating within my system.

I’d honestly write more if I needed to, but this review is simple. Your deodorant is horrible for you. This one isn’t. Yes. It works. That’s it.