Camera phone or a point and shoot camera?

When I upgraded to a smartphone, one of the biggest differences between my old dumbphone and the smartphone was the camera. My dumbphone had a camera that took pictures that had the quality of a potato. The smartphone I bought did so much better but how did it compare to a point and shoot camera?

Although I do believe the best camera is the one you have on you, I have to admit that most smartphones do a really good job — almost to the point where I don’t think I will buy another point and shoot.

I currently have a pretty pricey point and shoot — a Canon G7 X. It is an amazing camera, and I always bring it with me when traveling. For me, the big reason why I do not just rely on a smartphone camera is the G7 X’s Manual mode. I really like the Manual mode operation, along with the ability to have a large flash drive and dedicated battery when taking a lot of photos. I know my smartphone would not be able to take a lot of photos without draining the battery and needing a charge.

I do not think I would replace my current point and shoot and rely only on a camera phone. I use the camera phone when I am out-and-about and do not have another camera. It does fine and is the only option for getting the picture. If my G7 X gives up the ghost, I will probably buy a DSLR so I can get a super wide lens for landscape shots. That is really the only issue I have with my current camera — lens offerings.

I knew when I bought the point and shoot, it did not have interchangeable lens. I was fine with that because it could take 80 percent of the pictures as it was. The extra 20 percent is why I need a DSLR, with a telephoto lens and an ultra wide angle lens. I think a telephoto lens does a much better job at blurring backgrounds when taking close-up pictures. I also think the wide angle lens makes photos look super cool.

Although I would like to add a DSLR to the mix, I could not justify it because of the cost and size. One could argue the G7 X cost almost as much as a DSLR and that is true but the size of it makes it perfect for my needs. I like the space-saving camera and do not want to look like a “professional photographer” because I am not.

Thinking of getting a motorcycle

I am thinking of getting a motorcycle. A buddy of mine has an old Honda CB350. It looks like this one in the below video — only orange and not as clean:

Since I want a bike, I looked around the InterWebs to find out a few tips for riding since I am a newb. Here’s a list of what I found.

Take A Safety Course

If you are an inexperienced rider, it is a great idea to take a quick safety course. These courses are typically a couple days and can be completed over a weekend. Each course reviews basic safety and also has a riding component so attendees are able to get out on a short course and practice some of the tricky skills such as stopping, starting, corners, parking, and other basic skills.

Wear Proper Gear

When riding a motorcycle, it is critical to wear the proper gear. Eye wear is crucial and required in most states. Ensure you have the correct eye, head, and skin protection while riding. Invest in a DOT approved helmet and mesh jacket with armor for a cool, comfortable, and safe ride.

Conduct An Initial Safety Check

Before taking off into the sunset, make sure your bike is ready to go. Check to see you have enough gas in your tank, that your lights are working, your horn is working, and inspect your breaks, break lines, and chassis so you don’t have any unexpected issues while on the road. Make sure your throttle, clutch, and brake are all accessible. Don’t use a motorcycle throttle lock for cruise control.

Get Used To Extra Weight

Riding alone is one thing; riding with a passenger is totally different. It is a great idea to take a quick ride around the block first before you set out to get used to having the extra weight on the bike. Get a good feel for how the bike handles with someone on the back. Train them to sit still and how to lean into corners. Keep in mind that having a passenger on the back of your bike is a trust exercise for both parties.

Keep A Safe Following Distance

It is easy to ride a bike similar to your car, but it is critical that you maintain a safe following distance to the car in front of you. It is often difficult for other cars to see motorcycles so maintaining a safe following distance has the dual benefit of allowing you ample time to stop and also allowing the surrounding cars the time to see you.

Watch Your Surroundings

In conjunction with maintaining a safe following distance, it is also important to stay out of blind spots. This is especially the case with the large trucks. If you are unable to see the driver, they cannot see you. This puts you in danger as they can change lanes at any given time and run you off the road.

Traffic is difficult to navigate on a motorcycle. It is essential that you assume cars will merge unexpectedly into your lane without a signal. Ensure you are visible to the cars behind you so if a car does merge quickly, other cars see you and have a chance to avoid you. Watch the car’s front wheel, not the driver. This will allow you to see the motion quicker and react better.

When cars stop at an intersection, it makes it even more difficult to see a motorcycle. Weaving slightly in your path and keeping closer to the center line will make you more visible to left turning cars.

If you notice a car approaching too fast at a stopped intersection, quickly move into the primary escape lane to avoid being it. Flash your break light to attempt to grab the attention of the approaching driver. While no one likes to see an accident, it is better for the accident to happen between two cars, rather than a car and a motorcycle where the rider can be seriously injured even in low impact accidents.

Maybe It’s Better Being a Night Owl

Breakfast muffins. Yum.

I know I wrote about waking up early, but, man, I’ve fallen out of the habit after working a second shift stint.

So, instead, I thought I would embrace being a night owl and write about it.

What’s so great about staying up late?

No early mornings

I wake up long after the sun is up, which means I sleep a little longer. I feel better because of it.

Limited phone, text, and email

It’s a little more relaxing at night, I think, because my smartphone is not telling me I have texts or emails. And few people will call at night — at least the ones I don’t want to talk to won’t call at night. No marketers or sales calls. Perfect peace and quiet.

Just chillin’

Most businesses are closed and there’s no chance of missing an doctor’s appointment — or, rather, waiting patiently to see the physician.

Also, there’s no expectation of social engagement when you’re a night owl. You can retreat and just hang out.

Sweet dreams

When you do go to sleep, it seems like sleeps comes quick. There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning for 30 minutes to a half hour.

And when counting sheep doesn’t work, you’re going to get up and do something anyway. Might as well just stay up.

Time stands still

I feel like I have more time during the day when I get up later — not sure why. It’s counter-intuitive because there’s less daylight when I’m awake.

I use the time at night to work on hobbies when the kids are asleep and the wife is reading.

If I tried doing hobby stuff while they were awake, I’d feel a little guilty because I was not spending time with them and just retreating to my man-cave.

Social life

You can’t use the I’m too tired excuse to do things with friends when you are a night owl.

Night friends

Night owls seem to be more relaxed and laid back. I think there’s a camaraderie between those who burn the midnight oil.

Less rush

I don’t feel rushed when I stay up late. It gives me time to complete domestic stuff that I might otherwise slack on.

I also get time to clear my head.

Breakfast anytime

Although many won’t eat breakfast at any time of the day, I will. When I go around 9 or 9:30, the crowd is gone. Less waiting. Quicker service.

The only bad thing is that sometimes I’m a little to late for breakfast at the restaurant and they want to start service lunch.

Waking up early and making it a habit

It’s not just about being a morning person; it’s about waking up early. There’s no telling how difficult that can be for most people – me especially. I’ve always wondered how it felt waking up early – like before the crack of dawn. I’ve been a late riser for many years until a few years ago when our family relocated from a quiet town to the fast-paced metropolis.

With traffic and hectic schedules to contend with, waking up late has become a luxury I could not afford. I had a lot of unlearning and relearning to do to keep pace, and it was imperative that becoming an early riser was one of them.

At first it seemed like an ordeal – I kept punching my alarm clock in snooze mode or shutting it off completely. However, it got me nowhere and my work begun to suffer. The HR department had me on their list for tardiness. I realized the urgency of changing my lifestyle.

I started out making it a daily habit by initially coming around at 6 a.m. or 30 minutes earlier than my usual waking hour. Then I concentrated getting used to it for a couple of days, cut back another 30 minutes, and so on, until I finally got my set goal of 5 a.m.

I literally kicked my old self from its morning lethargy and eventually got the hang of it in just a month of steely determination. Becoming an early riser felt good. A 30-minute exercise was usually enough to physically rev me up for the day ahead and clear my mind of any fogginess.

I’m very proud to say that as soon as my waking habits changed, my overall mental and physical outlook did, too! And I must say that it did some good to my job! My boss was off my back almost as soon as my timesheet improved. For a change, I was being eyed, not for reprimand, but for some upward movement in the workplace.

It’s not a secret that waking up early gives you the lead in your game, and here are a few simple yet very effective tips on how you can become early risers, too.
Hit the sack as early as possible. Don’t stay up later than 10 p.m. Young people need 6 to8 hours of good sleep to stay fit and healthy. Older people need about 7 to 9 hours to really rest and restore energy. Cut back on too much TV and internet activities. If you’re not sleepy yet, pick up a book or magazine and read yourself to sleep.

Start slowly but surely, not drastically.

Be realistic in your goals. If you’re used to sleeping at 1 a.m., try slowing down your pace by 11 p.m. and hit the bed by 12 midnight. Do this for a couple of nights then work your way to sleeping another hour earlier. Your natural clock would be your own enemy if you drastically forced yourself to sleep at 9 p.m.

Reward yourself.

Find something to look forward to in the morning – your favorite cappuccino, the morning paper, a refreshing walk by the bay, or anything that will give you another push. It could be a breakfast shared with the family – a rare thing today.

The newness of early mornings is not experienced by a lot of people, and it’s a shame. Why would you prefer to wake up to a mad rush when you could always have a fresh start in the day with everything almost under your control? It is a reward in itself. All the things that result from it are but bonuses.

What’s so great about America?

Mike Mozart, CC BY 2.0

I watched a video about a Denmark girl who did a foreign exchange program in America. She liked the time spent in the U.S. but noticed that American have a way different culture than she thought. Some of what she talked about includes:

School spirit

American schools and sports are intertwined. In her country, school and is separate from sport. If a student wants to play sports, he/she has to join a club.

That may be a better proposition for many students. Think about it. Americans put a big emphasis on athletics in school. Sure, schools require a minimum GPA to keep you eligible for the team but how often do the students hover at the minimum and just get by — to focus on sport, instead.

Often, athletes will get a different type of treatment, too. Example: Oh, he’s a football player and is not going to be smart. He’s lucky to get a C. But, could that student do better if he/she applied himself. Of course. But team practice comes first as long as the student maintains the minimum GPA.

I never thought about this until now: Sports require funding, which may eat into the academical side of things, as well.

Perhaps a separate club — outside of school — is a better approach.

However, the exchange student’s point was the school spirit was much higher in America than in her country because of setup.

Cute shirt!

Another difference the student point out was that American students complimented each other, saying “hey, I like that shirt. It looks cute on you.” In the Denmark schools, they apparently don’t do that very often.

Her words: “Sometimes my friends would not even notice if I got a new shirt on.”

You’ve got talent

The exchange student also thought that Americans were very supportive of people that had a special talent. This was a contrast to Denmark she said, where people were not encouraged to showcase their talents because people did not want to feel inferior.


The Denmark student also gave a quip about how she originally thought America was similar to the Hollywood version. But she changed her mind, saying “it’s not like that at all.”

She found that the sheer diversity in the U.S. cool. For instance, there’s the city life, the country life, and a lot in between.

Open to each other

The Hollywood’s portrayal of education in America originally swayed this foreign exchange students version of high school. She originally thought that American students would be very cliquish because that’s how movies portray them.

From my own perspective, I could see how someone would see that. I think of TV shows from the ’90s and see a lot clique like behavior. Think of shows like Saved By the Bell.

After she was in school, she realized that everybody had their own group of friends, but everybody talked to each other as well.

It was kind of cool to watch a video about foreign exchange student’s experience in the American school district for 1 year.

Random PS4, TV and Computer brand thoughts

Photo courtesy: Luis Alejandro from flickr. CC BY 2.0

A few years ago, I bought a PlayStation 4. I paid around 400 bucks, which is way more than what they sell for nowadays.

The PS4 has a lot of great games, including The Uncharted series, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Grand Theft Auto 5.

I’ve bought other games — like Drive Club and Last of Us, which is awesome.

Drive Club is OK. I would not buy it again, though. Maybe I’ll pick up Project Cars for racing.

My favorite racing game is Grand Turismo 2, which is for the Playstation 2. I love being able to modify cars and race classes where I’ll dominate the field. Sure, it’s an easy win. It’s fun, though.

I play games to escape; I’m not a competitive gamer. I like Grand Turismo 2 because it’s an escape.

Playing old games

As I mentioned, I like some older games — much more than current ones.

To solve the issue, I bought a PlayStation 2 on Craigslist for $50 bucks and a couple games, including Grand Turismo 2 and Metal Gear Solid. These are awesome games.

I don’t need the modem to play them. It’s great.

The downside: I have an extra console floating around, but i don’t care. The PS2 graphics look no where near as good the PS4. But, the games are worth it, in my opinion.

Used or new?

I bought new. I had not bought a TV in years and decided to upgrade at the same time. I bought a Vizio brand TV and PS4 from Amazon. You may not the money to do that. What options do you have?

My first thought is

Before I purchased a PS4, I scoured Craigslist to see what prices they were selling for.

My local Craigslist had PS4s, with a couple games, for around $250-300. That’s a pretty good deal.

I had an issue, though: I know how hard I am on computer equipment — letting it run for weeks and months at a time. (I have never had an issue with Asus brand computers.)

Do research before arguing about operating computers 24/7 versus the constant turn-on and shut-offs most equipment faces. Then, we’ll talk about which is greener — replacing a fan every year or replacing an entire computer every year.

That said, I expected the fan or hard drive to be a little less tolerate of my (ab)use on a previously owned unit. I did not know how the equipment was treated before me. I decided upon new just in case.

For an extra hundred bucks, I could buy a new PS4 with a 1 year warranty.

The answer was obvious to me. Why risk buying (ab)used equipment that could fail when I’d abuse it and possibly make it fail?