Geeky Christmas Things

For the Christmas season, I’ve been playing with my options for using the living room TV for background entertainment when we don’t want to watch actual TV.  Here’s what I’ve settling on using.  Since I have a laptop (Windows 7) connected to the TV (LG 55″) via HDMI, I set it to having the TV as its main display.  I use Google Plus Images to download my albums “Christmas 2008”, 2009, etc., up to 2013.  This is extremely easy on G+, but next to impossible on Flickr.  Once those were downloaded, I renamed each photo (an entire folder at a time) to “Christmas 2013 – Photo xxx” (it auto-numbers them).  Then I created an executable slideshow using Slide Show Builder in FastStone Image Viewer, adding all of the photos from each year, set the transitions, and added caption text to the bottom left corner, which I set to include the photo’s filename and timestamp.  I set each photo for 15 seconds, and built the exe file.  There were a total of just over 600 photos.  I can optionally add music to the slideshow as well, but I left this out, since I prefer to just play an Amazon Music Station or my own music instead.  This turned out really nice.  Amazon has several different “Christmas” channels to choose from, as well as many other channels for whatever type of music I’m in the mood for, or I can easily play any of my own music, which Amazon has stored for me.  Amazon with hold up to 200,000 songs, I believe, which is certainly plenty for me.  And with Amazon Prime, all of the free music and stations is just a bonus.

I must say, it did take most of this month’s spare time (when I wasn’t playing Ingress) to find the best options for each of these tasks.  For example, I had no easy way of controlling the mouse and starting the music and slideshow without standing 6 inches from the TV until I found a decent “air remote” to use.  I needed an easy way to start and stop the slideshow and music on the computer in the living room. Eventually I found this. It has some great reviews and sounded perfect, so I went with it. It works great, exactly what I needed.

I also tried to find all my Christmas photos on Flickr and download them, which is ridiculously difficult to do, for some reason.  I tried using DisplayFusion first to simply randomly show Christmas photos straight from the web (using either G+ photos or Flickr), but as it turns out, there’s a limit to how many photos you can stream in an hour.  If I set it to only switch photos every minute, it works ok, but the other problem (with both photo services) is they both only seem to go back a couple hundred photos or so in my photostream.  This results in only being able to view recent photos, pretty much showing only this year’s photos and a few of last year’s.  This is when I decided to do everything local and just download exactly which photos I wanted to display.

So there you have it, my geeky Christmas slideshow.  We’re enjoying all of the old memories now, and look forward to this year’s festivities, which are starting today.  Now on with the holidaze!

Christmas Downtown

Kevin, Socks and I walked downtown one day last weekend on the day of the annual tree lighting and the storefront decorations contest.  We went earlier than all the festivities though, just to get a good dog walk in while there weren’t crowds yet.  It was fun, and we took a bunch of photos of all the storefronts.

During our winter walks, Socks can get a little cold, so he’ll sometimes walk on 3 legs, allowing one to rest a little or warm up a bit, before using it again (that’s my theory anyway).  So he was doing this, and a car stops in the middle of the street after we crossed it, and a lady yells out that the salt is hurting my dog’s feet!  She said “you need to clean off his feet!”  When we ignored her and kept walking, she jumps out of the car and walks toward us, angry, and says the same thing again.  When she finally got real close to us, she reaches for Socks and says “give him to me, I’ll do it!”  I picked up Socks right away, and said “No, you’re not touching my dog!”  She said “let me clean off his feet, or YOU clean them off!”  I said “he’s fine, and you’re not touching him!”  She said “If you don’t clean off his feet right now, I’m calling the police!”  I said, “you go ahead and call the police, but you’re not touching my dog.”  We continued walking and Socks was fine.  I knew, if she had touched him, or even tried to, he would have certainly bit her (or me, on accident, in the commotion) so I wasn’t about to let that happen.  She stormed back to her car and said “I’m calling them anyway!”  I heard her say “Sheesh, stupid people!” as well, as she walked back to her car, which was stopped in the middle of the street.Socks Coat

Whether she called them or not, I don’t know.  Sure, maybe she was just concerned about him, how he was walking on 3 feet and we seemed to be ignoring him, I get that.  But to us it was just such a startling encounter, she came off as way to demanding and pretty irate.  And she has no idea what our dog’s habits are, how he walks normally or anything, she just seemed to assume we were abusing him.  We finished our walk and Socks warmed up just fine in the car ride home.  Sandy picked up a neat Winter coat for him a few days later though.  Won’t help his paws from freezing much, but it’s nice and snug like a thunder blanket, and he seems to like it.  It should at least keep him a little warmer on our walks.


New photo albums added

Ok, getting caught up over my 5-day weekend!  Here’s some new photo albums–including THIS Thanksgiving!

Civil War Museum – Sandy’s photos from her recent visit with a client.

Halloween 2014

Haylie’s 5th Birthday

Snow Sculpting Championships 2014 – from nearly a year ago–this year’s is coming up at the end of January!  I’ll be there.

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving 2014

That should about catch me up.  Keep in mind a few of those are pretty raw.  Since I dumped everything, very quickly, I didn’t pick and choose the best photos.  Yet.  I’ll get to it, I just need more time.  So for now, a few of those albums contain hundreds of photos.  Consider this a “behind the scenes” preview.  Many of those will disappear soon as I curate them.  Enjoy!

Flickr or G+ Photos? The battle resumes

So not only does Hans use Flickr, but The White House also does… Then again, The White House seems to be on EVERY social media platform, so I’ll take that with a grain of salt.  I left Flickr a while back when they were about to up their price for a paid subscription from $24.99 a year to $49.99 a year.  So I left my photos there, assuming it would revert to a “free” account, which was, at that time, limited to viewing the last 200 photos you uploaded (even though all the others were still on the site).

Well, somewhere along the line, they changed it completely.  The price is still the same, but it’s now simply “ad-free” for $49.99 a year, but no other limitations if you don’t pay anything!  You still get access to ALL of your photos, with a huge 1-terabyte space limit–the same limit whether you pay for ad-free or not.  So, with that in mind, and my photos still intact, I’m playing with Flickr again, seeing how much they’ve changed & improved, and comparing things with G+ photos, which I moved to almost exactly a year ago.

Since I’m also WAY behind on publishing most of my photos since that move as well, I’ve been updating my albums on Flickr with everything from the past year, and I’ll post those links here shortly.  Looking at my 1-terabyte limit, I’m currently at 7%, just to give you an idea of Flickr’s capacity.  On G+ I pay $9.99 a month for 1 Terabyte of storage (aka “Google Drive”), but this includes all of my photos as well as my documents and all of my backups.  I am at about 30% capacity on Google Drive, just as a comparison.

We’ll see where things go from here.  Stay tuned for some new albums shortly.  Or go right to my Flickr Albums to see what’s there already.