Thursday, May 25, 2006

Digital SLR Hesitation / Graduation gift

I got a bunch of money for graduation - about enough for a new Canon Digital Rebel XT SLR camera. I'm having a hard time figuring out if I really want to spend the money on it or something else - so I asked my granddad, who has one.


As you know, I'm thinking about getting a Canon Digital Rebel - but I
am having a logical problem with buying a digital SLR.

My dad had his film SLR for as long as I remember - at least 15 years.
Computer technology makes things pretty obsolete in 5 years (although
8 megapixels will still be high quality and usb and jpgs will still be

When it comes time to retire the camera, I only need to buy a new body
since a new SLR body is $600, and I'll be able to reuse lenses.

I just am being cautious about signing up for a lifetime of following
SLR technology and upgrading every 5 years.

What's your take on how long the body will stick with the times, and
whether it's worth getting?



Dear readers, if you have an SLR - would you have done it again? Can anyone suggest something else awesome to get for graduation? I got a nice watch from my parents - a metal band, professional watch.

[Edit: Friday 8:23 am PDT]

Hi Matt:

It's true that computer technology manages to obsolete older gadgets every few years, but the value of money also goes down at a steady rate (about 3% per year). I think that Canon has the latest and probably the most enduring technology in the CMOS sensors so there you are at the vanguard, if CMOS is the newest sensor technology. The lenses will in all likelihood be interchangeable for a long time, so that's a constant. 8 Megs is a good number for image capacity; I wish I had delayed by a few months to go from 6 to 8 Megs, but I'm not good at forecasting the future.

My counsel would be to think about it and when you feel comfortable, go for it with the thought that you will really enjoy the camera even with obsolescence built in. I still have a 35 mm camera from 1938; it's not very competitive in the current technology, but it's a wonderful antique that I enjoyed when I first bought it in 1942 for $10.00.


My grandfather is basically saying go for it, or at least that's the message I choose to hear! I think I'm going to do it... more news to follow!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Well spent advertising budget?

Fox News has bought their way into Facebook with a Fox News sponsored group. If you use Facebook, you can see the group.

Let's break this down for you Fox:
College students: generally liberal
Fox News: slight lean to the right

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Sometimes, it pays to be a rich nerd - you're unrecognizable.

But sometimes, it's still pretty embarassing.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Why Expedia is much better than Orbitz

For my trip to Pittsburgh this week, Orbitz charged about $350 for the same flights Expedia wanted $500 for. So I booked on Orbitz.

Orbitz has sent me 4 emails asking if I want to add a rental car and hotel to my itinerary. Once was annoying. Twice was wrong. 4 times is spamming me.

Orbitz: no means no. No does not mean maybe tomorrow.

Goodbye 12" PowerBooks

Goodbye twelve inch pro-sumer Apple notebooks. We'll miss you.

Apple now has a 13" iBook replacement, and 15" and 17" PowerBook replacements. They are not selling any more iBooks or PowerBooks - so this is it folks. Looks like no more ultra portable pro laptops from Apple.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I blame browsers

I blame early browsers for the crappy HTML we see all over the internet - but not because they accept crappy html, but because they don't help developers notice crappy html. (I believe browsers should make a best-effort attemptto render crappy html so it doesn't degrade user experience.)

I blame browsers because there wasn't an easy way to switch to a strict renderer for web page developers. So web page developers could write crappy html, but it looked great in the browser!

BBC can't tell a cabbie from a music expert

The BBC grabbed a cabbie in their lobby instead of an expert in the music industry. YouTube has the video.

Thanks to Martin for finding this!

State power

Does anyone else think it's strange in a country where the states are supposed to do most things themselves, the states are supposed to wield most of the power, that I pay 3 times as much federal taxes as state taxes?

And in political humor: Live from New York... it's President Al Gore!

Friday, May 12, 2006

College was good

Today, I sent in my first college loan-repayment check. Well, I did online bill pay for it.

It seemed so far in the future when I signed up for college debt!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The problem with having a French last name

The problem with having a French last name is having an email address that it's easy for French speaking people to send email to. I've gotten for people looking for Marc Laroche, and Michael Laroche, both in French.

Interesting tidbit: I reply using Google Translator (saying "sorry, you have the wrong email address" but in French) and both times people have replied in English (just a few words).

I feel pretty ashamed for being this lame with French and having a French last name. Whoops!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Clean as a whistle

I may have washed my cell phone (or at least doused it), but it works.

I'm very impressed by the quality of cell phones - they persist in working after I try to kill them.

I'm keeping the one I ordered on eBay as backup. Plus, it's unlocked - better for international travel!

Pimping BillMonk

Bill Monk is a brilliant idea. It's a lightweight lending tool - perfect for busy college student. Bills come in, you list them on BillMonk, then choose people to split with.

Let's say I run an apartment, I pay the rent and utilities and my housemates pay me back. I just enter rent, then select who to split it with - and how (either divide it evenly, or enter set amounts). Then someone else buys TP and paper towels - they put in the total amount they spent and split it among the housemates. Immediately, that person owes me less - it reconciles how much I owe the other person vs how much she owes me.

It also works for lending books - I just entered all the fiction books I have (it's hard to deal with the 99 book limit (which should be lifted soon)). If you want to borrow a book from me, go down to BillMonk, then add me as a friend. Once I approve it, you can browse my library, then ask me for the book. I'll give you it and mark it as checked out.

Why didn't I think of this in college? It sure beats spreadsheets and remembering who bought what!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The RIAA wants to make convenience illegal

Mitch Bainwol and Cary Sherman (leaders of the RIAA) are at Google today speaking about Digital Rights Management, the music industry, etc.

At one point, they explain that if one records a song onto casette off the radio, then that's not illegal. But if you rip a stream into an MP3, it's illegal.

The reason is because: you can automate the rip so it's unattended, MP3 is much higher quality than radio on casette, and MP3s can be labeled/tagged, where tapes must have seek time.

That's incredible. They're basically saying convenience is illegal!

I'll link to the video when it goes on Google Video.

My problem with PayPal

I have a problem with PayPal. And I have a problem with cell phones.

My problem with cell phones is that when I have the cell phone in a side pocket (nail pocket on carpenter jeans, or in a cargo pocket), I forget the cell phone is there. I often want to wash the pants I'm currently wearing, so I'll take them off, and immediately put them in the wash. This means, in the past 3 years, I've washed 3 cell phones. Last night, I noticed before the cell phone had turned itself off, but after it was immersed. This morning, it's not doing so hot. So I need to order a new cell phone.

The "best" place to get a new cell phone is on eBay. It's also the only one I know about. And about the only way to buy a cell phone on eBay is with PayPal.

Most big PayPal sellers only ship to the address listed on your credit card. For me, my credit card address is my apartment. But I'm never at my apartment during the day to sign for FedEx. So basically, unless I point my billing address for one card at work, I can't get items I buy on eBay shipped to work.

PayPal used to confirm addresses by sending a letter to them and one just had to enter a special code from the letter to confirm an address. However, shipping only to billing addresses does add a certain level of anti-fraud protection.

It's right now that I miss soul-less apartment complexes that will sign for packages. But only right now.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A new Orkut feature

Orkut just added a new 'feature', the ability to see who has viewed your profile recently.

This is both good and bad:
The good: you can see how many random people you'll never meet browse your profile and know way too much about you.
The bad: you can't browse random profiles of people you're interested in or just met without them knowing you're interested them.

Of the past 5 people to browse my profile on Orkut, I know 1 person. Therefore, I removed everything on my Orkut profile. It's just plain odd. My Facebook profile is also sanitized - for a similar reason. I just want people to know me through me, not think they know me because they've read my profile.

Thank you, social network creators, for enabling some level of privacy - to allow me to use the social network to look up phone numbers while on the go, but allowing me to not be stalked by people who aren't in my network.

Friday, May 05, 2006

I just might sign up for this

Valley Schwag promises to deliver, for under $15 a month with shipping, Silicon Valley apparel, pens, and stickers to your home.

I just might sign up. If I do, I might be almost as cool as Vinnie.

[Edit: Vinnie says that this company doesn't pay for the schwag, they beg valley companies for the shirts and stickers, then pocket the $14.95 minus shipping minus PayPal fees. Now that's an interesting business strategy!]