A Parent Must Have: Flip Video Camcorder

Every parent goes through a video phase where they want to document their kids life. Most realize pretty fast that their $1,000 HD video camera purchase was a waste since:

  1. It’s a pain carrying around the video camera
  2. Extemporanous moments don’t happen because to catch it you would be forced to shoot ALL the time.
  3. No one wants to watch two hours of videos
  4. Editing two hours of video takes a LONG time

So after the first video session, the video camera is forever left in the box.  And if it is ever used, the video it produces just sits on a disc never to be edited.

For these reasons, I vowed to never carry one until I ran across the the Flip Video Ultra 60 Minute Camcorder.  I bought it two weeks ago and am loving every minute of it.

It handles every single complaint and makes it a joy to take videos:

  1. It is incredibly small – about the size of a large cell phone.
  2. It only holds 60 minutes, so it trains you to shoot shorts videos
  3. The USB dongle pops out the side, so all you do is plug it into your computer, edit the video (if you need to) and save it to your computer, then simply browse to YouTube or Flickr and upload your video.
  4. There is only like three buttons, so if an event is about to happen, you turn it on, then press the big red “record” button all in about 5 seconds.
  5. And best of all, it’s only $130!

It was so cheap in fact, I also bought the waterproof case so that I can use it during swimming lessons.

The funny thing is, after I tell people how awesome it is, they ask me, “Does it shoot in HD?”.

It’s like we are so ingrained as consumers to buy the most tricked out gadget, we forget about real-world-ease-of-use.

“NO it does not do HD. This camera is all about FAST, CHEAP & EASY.”

And after they use the camera and upload their first video in under a minute, they agree. HD would unnecessarily complicate a perfect device.

Here is an example from one hour ago.  Because it is so small, I just always have it on me so that when a funny moment is about to occur, we are ready (I can’t figure out how to embed from flickr):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/scottelkin/2484457911/

A definite 5 out of 5 stars in my book, and is now a staple next to my cell phone on any outing – no matter how mundane.

Now playing: ElbowFriend Of Ours

Ebay’s Paypal Shipping Is Raping You

I just sold an old video camera on ebay for $203. The buyer paid via paypal, and normally my next step is to go into paypal to print the shipping information.

This time instead of presenting me with the buyers shipping information, Paypal prompted me to try to their new UPS Shipping solution.  Paypal said they had worked out a special deal for their users, so I decided to try it.

For my 5 lb, 10” x 10” x 8” box, Paypal told me it would cost $21.40.  I paid it, thinking I would just verify how much it should cost at the shipping place down the street.

I printed out the UPS label from Paypal.com, taped it to the box, and took it to the drop off.

I asked the guy there how much this *would* of cost if I had shipped it through him.

His answer?  $14.40!

I called my buddy who does a lot of UPS shipping and he let me know of UPS shipping calculator of UPS.com that will tell you how much it *should* cost to ship.  This way, he told me, you can find the exact amount you should pay if you went straight to a UPS center with no middle men.

So I found my UPS account (I have a UPS account?) and created a shipment.

After all my configuring, UPS said it should cost $12.62!

To compare apples to appeles, I was able to save $2.70 because Paypal automatically declared $203 of the package, which wasn’t necessary when you are insured for $200 for free on every shipment.

But at least UPS tells me the breakdown of the payment, so I can intellegently figure it out.

But even still, the fact that paypal is raping me almost $7 on a $15 shipment makes me want to puke.

Now playing: Juliette and the LicksKiller

Google Reader Broken In Firefox

Google unveiled their new “Notes” feature yesterday, and ever since I can’t use it in Firefox 2 (even Safe Mode).

This is what I see:

Google Reader

The errors below it are:

in file 1104796821-en-scr… (line 205)
missing } after function body
var Zs=”entry-via-link”;Qs.prototype.gC=function(a,b){if(!a||a.length==0)return;…

in file reading-list (line 111)
_FR_scrollMain is not defined
var userId = “GR-” + parseInt(_USER_ID, 10).toString(16);

Now playing: Nine Inch NailsLetting You

Nasty IIS/ASP Querystring Cookie Case Bug

I just stumbled on a nasty, nasty ASP bug that took about 7 years for me to see.

The problem happens when using cookies and querystrings with the same name. A page on the site reads in a variable from the querystring and sets a cookie with the same name to its value, e.g.:

strSrc = Request.QueryString(“A”)
Response.Cookies(“A”) = strSource
Response.Cookies(“A”).Expires = Now + (2 * 30)

However, if the variable name in the query string is different from the capitalization of the cookie name (e.g page.asp?a=xxx) then a new cookie gets set with the name matching the captialization of the
QueryString variable.

So if you run the page multiple ways, a=123 and A=123, two different cookies are set EVEN THOUGH YOUR CODE SAYS Response.Cookies(“A”) = strSource!

Attempting to read the cookie value back then returns both values. Reading the cookie value via Request.ServerVariables(“HTTP_COOKIE”) shows both values.

If your code is looking for the “A” cookie later on and there are two cookes there, you will only see the “A” one, which may not be the one you want.

Since I ran into this, I did see other complain about this as far back as 2003: here, here, here.

Blackberry Dead Battery Problem

Since I bought my Blackberry 8830 from Sprint, I have been on and off having a dead battery half way through my day.  In fact, just last week I thought of taking it back.

I had noticed that I would take my phone out of my pocket and it would be slightly warm, like it was working while I thought it was off.  That still didn’t lead me anywhere productive.  I would just pop my battery out and in, and it seemed to fix it.

Then yesterday, when I was closing my Sprint Navigation, I wondering if that was the cause.  I called my friend Alan, and asked him how he exiting out of it.

“I hit the ‘Back’ button, and it asks me if I want to exit.  Why, what do YOU do?”

With the Treo 700, the way I would exit a running application would be the red hangup button.  That was the only way to “close” it.

But the Blackberry also gives us the “Back” button, which sits next to the hangup button.

I told Alan that I had been using the hang-up button to exit.  It was then that I realized that this was just closing it allowing it to run in the background. When I would click back on the icon, it would start where I left off.

The back button, on the other hand, backs you completely out of the program and actually asks you “Do you want to Exit this program?”.

This was why my battery was dead half way through the day.  The GPS would run the entire day, and drain the battery.

So remember, use Back to exit – not the Hang Up!