Friday, August 15, 2008

Reuse Boxes (instead of recycling)

Here is a quick and inexpensive moving and reuse tip: if you cannot find free moving boxes on your local freecycling list (like those listed at http://overcycle.org), look for local businesses that will sell you sturdy boxes and buy them back from you when you are done. The buy back price may not be much but it is something and it puts the boxes in a place where they will be used again. A good moving box can be reused dozens of times. Plus, standard sized moving boxes will hold your stuff better, are easier to move, and stack compactly in a truck whether you do it yourself or hire someone else.

The locally owned and run JDM Packing Supplies store (408-739-2500) at 1328 South Mary, Sunnyvale, CA 94087 is one such business (http://www.jdmpackingsupplies.com/).

JDM is also a great place to recycle styrofoam packing peanuts (you can drop them off in a box or a plastic bag). Finally, it is very well stocked with everything you are ever likely to need when boxing and/or shipping something. And they’ll ship it for you too via UPS or FedEx if you wish.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Digital Photo Frames are Way Cool!

Digital picture frames are an excellent way to see all of your digital photos without needing to get them printed on paper. Printing consumes paper and and chemicals. It's great to keep everything digital and more reusable (as long as the digital frame lasts for a long time).

Here are some I've tried. The number of different frames with skimpy specifications makes picking a frame confusing. And I'm leery of frames with TOO many features as well as ones with external dependencies that may require additional labor and expense.

--------------
The Smartparts SPX8 8-Inch Digital Picture Frame is a very good digital picture frame.

Pros:
- built in motion sensor turns off frame to save power when no one is around
- automatically copies and resizes photos into its own 256MB of memory (can hold about 3000 photos)
- crisp, reasonably large display size
- 800x600 pixels (4x3 ratio matches that of most digital cameras)
- mounts on wall or sits on desk in either portrait or landscape
- reasonable UI
- felt reasonably well constructed
- about $125 is a good price for it as of 8/7/2008 from Amazon.

Cons:
- can take a while to move and resize/optimize photos (other picture frames use photos directly from memory card so may require zero time to start display, but then need to leave card in the frame, yet cards are inexpensive these days).

Price on Amazon seems to go up and down somewhat. I can recommend this product because it works well. (Better than the other 2 digital picture frames I have -- see below). The Smartparts SPX8 was one of the frames recommended by Consumer Reports in their July 2008 issue.

The main remaining features I'm thinking about are an even larger display and possibly a WiFi connection that works easily to get more pictures to the frame automatically -- but I have not found a WiFi frame that works well for this yet.

--------------
The Philips 6.5-Inch Digital Photo Frame is a good picture frame.

Pros
- plug in a card with pictures and go!
- crisp, clear display (720x480 resolution is good match for frame size)
- reasonable UI
- felt reasonably well constructed
- $100 is a good price for it as of 8/14/2008 from Amazon.

Cons
- really requires you to leave a separate memory card in the unit (but at least gigabyte cards are large and cheap).
- to maximize image quality and space use, resize pictures to 720 x 480 ahead of time.
- no auto motion sensor to turn off frame when no one is around

I can recommend the Philips 6.5-Inch Digital Photo Frame because it works well and meets expectations. The cons are really missing features that other higher priced models such as the SPX8 may have.

--------------
Axion AXN-9701 7-Inch Widescreen LCD Digital Picture Frame is a poor picture frame.

Pros
- cheap
- pictures do cycle continuously

Cons
- disappointing resolution at only 480x234, not well matched to screen size
- really needs separate memory card
- must make a manual selection to start picture show

I do not recommend the Axion AXN-9701 at all.
--------------