Info ~ travel musings for the masses

Posts from the Technology Category

Recently, during an import of some photographs off of my camera’s SD card, I ran into an issue where Lightroom 4 seems to hang during the import. What seems to have led to this is the fact that the computer went to sleep during the initial import. About a third of the photographs made it into the catalog but the rest did not. Now, when trying to import, I get the following.

Lightroom 4 Hung Up on Import

As you can see, the import bar is halfway completed but no photos are actually being imported.

One of the things I noticed is that Lightroom creates the temporary folder for the photos on the target disk, but only one photo is copied there. The rest of the import then does nothing. After quitting the import and then attempting to close Lightroom, I have to “Force Quit” in OS X, which then throws an exception.

My suspicion is that the issue is with Lightroom and I am missing a simple fix in all of my searches. I have tried repairing the target disk, repairing permissions on my computer’s hard drive, removing the Lightroom preferences file, and importing from a different disk. All lead to the same above result.

If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them!

From Gerald Lynch’s piece at Gizmodo:

Offline downloads are perhaps the most often requested, “holy grail” feature of TV and movie streaming services, and while Netflix may be the leading provider, it’s Amazon and its Prime Instant Video service that’s become the first to offer it. Netflix however remains firm in its stance that it’s not going to offer offline downloads through its mobile applications, even in the face of competition from its rival. But why?

According to Neil Hunt, Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, Netflix users won’t be able to handle the complexity the added choice will bring.

“I still don’t think it’s a very compelling proposition,” said Hunt, speaking to Gizmodo UK at the IFA tradeshow in Berlin.

As I write this at 34,000 feet over Montana, all I can say is, I don’t buy it.

The biggest use case for downloaded content is air travel. Airlines have been extremely quick at installing WiFi and some of these systems even offer streaming content, but basic WiFi service is still the norm and just about every service out there that I have seen blocks streaming content from Netflix, Amazon, etc. On top of that more airlines are moving to a model where streaming movies and TV hosted on an onboard server are paid content only. The recourse for customers is to download that content before a flight.

About six months ago I made a comment on Twitter about how I wished Amazon would allow downloads of video content on non-Fire devices. There was, and still is, a large amount of video content that I would like to enjoy and now I can, even when flying. Add people who don’t want to eat up their data plan or don’t have access to an LTE network from time to time and the number of those who could benefit from downloads starts to increase dramatically.

The argument that downloads would be too complex seems to me to be a cop-out. An easy way to avoid the discussion. People will take notice and eventually Netflix will have to offer downloads or some variant of them.

ESPN’s Kate Fagan with “Split Image”, a look at depression and suicide in the age of social media.

On Instagram, Madison Holleran’s life looked ideal: Star athlete, bright student, beloved friend. But the photos hid the reality of someone struggling to go on.

It’s a startling reminder that the “reality” presented on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is not always what it seems and that the so called perfection is often marred by pain or struggles.

Today while using Google Chrome I made some kind of user error and whatever it was wiped out my bookmarks, my browsing history, and my tabs. Usually if I have to close the browser for an update or other change there is a function that brings up “Recent Tabs” and all is well. Not today. Everything is gone and I have not found anything that will help me bring it back. But maybe that’s a good thing…

I am a tab hoarder. I will keep tabs open for weeks while I think about whether I need it or not. Rather than bookmark it or perform an action around it, I’ll just keep it open. You can believe that I had a ton of tabs open before this happened. This clean-up while it hurts, I am still trying to remember what I had open that was important or urgent, maybe it’s just the wake-up I needed to get my digital house in order. Time to make a big backup of everything and put it aside and organize what I am working on now.

Spring cleaning is beginning.

One of the best reviews of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus takes place at Disneyland. Matthew Panzarino takes the phone with him on the visit and spends a few days putting the phones through what could easily fill in for a normal day, browsing the internet, playing a game for a bit, taking pictures, etc.

One of the more impressive bits:

The phase detection autofocus is extremely quick, and the continuous autofocus while video recording is active is absolutely fantastic. The leap in quality over even dedicated cameras can’t be overstated. The image quality is off the charts and the (software driven) “Cinematic Stabilization” is amazing.

Having a piece of equipment that fits in your pocket and takes amazing pictures and videos is one of the iPhone’s killer selling points. The fact that Apple continues to make improvements in the camera, the processing power of it and the quality, is what makes me keep coming back to it.

Recently, Amazon Prime increased in price from $79/year to $99/year, even for existing members. Of course, there was the usual gnashing of teeth and complaining that usually comes with these types of announcements, but I took it in stride.

Prime has a lot of value for me, most of which centers around the free 2-day shipping and the Amazon Prime Instant Video features. With the recent announcement that a number of HBO shows would be coming to Prime Instant Video, the service increased in value even more for me.

The 2-day shipping feature though is where I really see the value, even at $99/year. When I am on the road and think of something we need around the house or if I forgot something over the weekend, I can open up the Amazon app on my iPhone, order what I need, and when I get home it is waiting for me. Sure, this creates the challenge of having impulse buys but if you have a little self-control, this should pose no problem. It removes the headache of having to fight traffic for something you do not need right away and let’s you focus on other things.

There are a few downsides to using Prime though. For one, you are not always going to get the cheapest price. We were hoping to be able to buy dog food via Amazon Prime but the price is much higher than what we can get the food for in the store. I am sure there are other items out there that are very similar. Secondly, you do have to wait. Next day shipping still costs extra (as it should) so in the cases where you need something really fast, you may be better off picking it up directly from a store. My last qualm is that Amazon Prime Instant Video adds/removes available free content on somewhat of a whim. There are a few shows that I really want to watch (Mind of a Chef) that recently left Prime Instant Video and don’t look like they are going to return anytime soon. It would be nice if Amazon would make users aware of what content would be leaving the free video selection in the near future so that people could watch if they wanted to do so.

Anyway, there is still a lot of value in Amazon Prime for me, even at $20 more a year. Free 2-day shipping is huge, even if you only buy a few items a year, plus the streaming video service has allowed me to get rid of cable and still keep up with the shows that I want to watch, saving me money in the process.

If you are interested in giving Amazon Prime a try, they have 30-day free trials available. This is an affiliate link and I do receive a small reward if you sign up for a trial.

I am a sucker for this kind of, in Jeopardy terms, potpourri. Priceonomics has a short piece on why UPS trucks do not make left turns. The most telling part:

UPS engineers found that left-hand turns were a major drag on efficiency. Turning against traffic resulted in long waits in left-hand turn lanes that wasted time and fuel, and it also led to a disproportionate number of accidents.

UPS even has a page describing the practice of no left turns and they expand on the above idea.

What we found: A significant cause of idling time resulted from drivers making left turns, essentially going against the flow of traffic. From there we explored routes where these turns were cut out entirely, and then compared data.

The use of data to make a decision that goes against logic is what I love. UPS leadership was experimental enough to say “we are going to implement this and see if it works” and then study the results from that test. There are a number of very large companies that I have worked with that would immediately balk at this idea. They almost go through stages of grief (sans depression) with ideas like this.

  1. Denial – the companies claim the data is wrong or that it is flawed
  2. Anger – the workers who are responsible for causing the data become upset that someone found out about their poor work habits
  3. Bargaining – to get out of making a change, people start tossing out different ideas, none of them good
  4. Acceptance – “I guess we’ll just have to do it”

Then there are the companies who do the complete opposite. They implement a terrible idea based on bad data, or their understanding and interpretation of good data, and it blows up in their face. Once that happens, they become very adverse to ever trying a new idea again. We need new ideas backed by data and I think it’s awesome that UPS took their data and made some interesting choices that have paid off.

About six months ago I switched all of my office to airport transfers in New York City from different car services (Carmel, Dial 7, etc.) to Uber, a service that lets passengers use their smartphone to schedule a ride in real time and have a drive at their location in a short amount of time.

At first, I was skeptical. In fact, I was hesitant to even use the service based on the negative press I had read. But, I gave it a try and had a mediocre first experience. The price was a little higher than what I was originally quoted in the app and the driver did not take the roads I had recommended, leading to being stuck in traffic for forty five minutes.

But I gave it another shot and after the second ride, I was hooked. Then Uber announced lower flat rates between Manhattan and Newark and I was really hooked. Sure, I have received less than helpful service from drivers or had cars that were not really that clean, but the majority of my trips have been great. The cars are usually very clean and new and the drivers are very courteous. Last week the driver called me after I requested a ride at Newark and asked if I minded walking upstairs rather than him driving all the way out of the airport to come back around. He was at the departure level and him calling me probably saved 20 minutes of waiting.

For the next 10 days Uber is offering double referral credits. So, for every person who signs up using my link, they receive a $20 ride credit and so do I. So, if you are looking for a new car service to try, give my referral link a click, sign-up for Uber, and take a ride. You may really like it, you may not, but it is worth a try.