2016-08-16 SJCAM SJ4000 Video Test

I was selling an extra SJCAM SJ4000 that I accidentally bought and decided to make a really quick demo of me driving around the neighborhood to show its video quality.  Nothing fancy; just the camera mounted on simple tripod adapter attached to a GPS weighted pad placed directly on the dashboard.  No editing, no nothing… just straight from the camera.  I’m quite impressed with quality for the price!  Yes, it’s only 1080p but that should be plenty!

Grossmont Terrace Neighborhood Flight


Here’s a long-ish flight I did around the Grossmont Terrace neighborhood.  Total flight time was about 12.5 minutes and the mission was programmed using Litchi in Groundstation mode.  Litchi is great for this sort of thing to free you up to actually monitor the flight and adjust the video gimbal.  It helps tremendously to keep an eye on the actual quadcopter as well since without it, you’re watching the screen to see where it’s going, then glancing up to locate the copter, back down to the screen and all the while losing sight of the thing.  With Litchi, that’s reduced tremendously.  In any case, enjoy this longer flight around a neighborhood.

Re-edit of my Phantom 3 Maiden Flight

I’ve been busy figuring out how to work Apple’s Final Cut Pro X after using Sony Vegas on Windows for so long.  I think I’ve finally got the hang of how things are done in FCPX.  At least I’ve figured it out enough to make a short intro that I’ll be using with all of my videos and how to color grade with it using FXFactory Pro.  So here’s the 2nd version of my Phantom 3 Professional maiden flight video.  The quality on my computer’s really good since all of my sources are 4K.  Somehow it looks a bit shitty on Youtube… scratch that… it looks shitty on Youtube.  But at least you get the gist of it.  I wish they wouldn’t mess with uploaded videos.  Perhaps that’s why people prefer Vimeo for high quality videos.  Anyways, let me know what you guys think.

Samsung Smart TV’s and Netflix Profiles

I currently have a 40″ Samsung Smart TV that I bought in the summer of 2013, so it’s not that old.  It’s one of Samsung’s Smart TV with the Smart Hub so I can do things like watch Youtube, Netflix, etc.  The best feature by far is the USB port where I can connect a USB drive directly and play my digital movies from there.  I’ll get to that in a moment.  My gripe though is with the Netflix app.  It doesn’t support the Profiles feature that Netflix has implemented.  My niece & nephew watches my account when they’re over and they have all kinds of kids’ programming.  When Profiles were introduced, it was a godsend.  I could keep their viewing history, list, preferences, etc. separate from mine.  This works fine on things like the iPhones and iPads, the WDTV Live, or the computer itself.  But on the Samsung TV, Profiles is not supported.  In my research, it appears that Netflix is responsible for updating the apps, not Samsung.  Samsung is only responsible for pushing out the updates.  I’ve seen plenty of Smart Hub updates on my TV, but so far no Profiles support which is a huge disappointment.

On the other hand, that USB direct connect feature is awesome.  I can get one of those Western Digital portable USB drives and connect it directly.  These drives come in up to 2 TB configuration these days and because they’re portable drives without a separate power cable, they’re super convenient to plug into the TV.  With 2 TB, I can put a ton of movies onto this thing.  As a portable drive, the performance is not up to par with other USB drives but you hardly notice it when copying movies; it might be a tad slower.  For viewing though, it’s not an issue.  The portability completely trumps the performance.  What awesome for me is how many different formats the Samsung TV supports.  I have most of my movies in the MKV format as I think it’s the most versatile.  It can hold subtitles, different audio streams, attached thumbnail images, etc.  I do wish the Samsung supported thumbnail view though; but that’s just a small quibble.  It has played most of the major formats I’ve thrown at it.  This is pretty awesome if you ask me.

I love it so much that my newest TV is a 55″ 4K TV from Samsung in the hopes that it has the same Smart features.  It should.  I take delivery next Friday and cannot wait to get it up on the wall.  It’ll be a nice addition to be able to watch my 4K Phantom 3 Videos.  🙂

Maiden flight of the Phantom!

I recently took delivery of a DJI Phantom 3 Professional.  This is a flying quadcopter drone with attached 4K camera.  This thing takes awesome 4K videos and high resolution photos.  I took my baby for its maiden flight this weekend and here’s the result.  Not too exciting on the first flight but stay tuned for more fun & mayhem!

How to play SNES games on your jailbroken iPad

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  If you’ve ever wanted to play the classic games from the Super Nintendo platform on your jailbroken iOS devices (iPad or iPhone), I’ve made a new video showing you how to do it.  You can find it on Youtube at: http://youtu.be/nEM39hZIk_o.  These games may be old but they’re very good and that’s why they’re classics!  Enjoy!

Chic Photography

I’ve completely revamped my photography site, Chic Photography.  Come and check it out!  It has a much more modern look and incorporates pages, folders and galleries seamlessly.  The new site also provides a single stop for clients to view their own gallery, download their images and order prints.  I’m going to be working hard over the next few days to port a lot of contents over but it may be months before I get everything exactly the way I want it.  Anyways, here’s a sneak peek:

The main page of Chic Photography.
The main page of Chic Photography.

My Totoyta Camry Hybrid

I last wrote about my 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid more than 2 years a little bit after I bought it.  Now that I’ve been driving earnestly for some time and have put over 26,000 miles on it, I can give yet another assessment.  The Camry is a very good car.  It’s quiet on the highways and handles well.  It’s not exciting by any means but it’s a very good, well mannered car.  After this many miles on the car, I can really appreciate it more.

Long term, I’m averaging 40.5 MPG, highway & city combined.  This is quite amazing for such a vehicle.  There’s more than enough power and I’m never feeling like I’m driving a hybrid although because it is a hybrid, I’m constantly playing games so see how long I can stay in the “zone”.  This zone is the time when the car is driving purely on the batteries and no gasoline is used.  This becomes like playing a video game rather than a chore.

I do notice that driving habits has a lot to do with efficiency, as we’ve all read.  I drive consistently at 65 mph on the freeway via cruise control and have noticed huge gas savings.  I can certainly go a lot fast without any issues but going consistently at 80 will drop the MPG down to about 37.  That’s a pretty big difference.  The order thing that affects MPG is the gas mixture between winter fuel and summer fuel.  I get much, much better efficiency on the summer fuel mix by far.  I’m not sure why but that’s how it’s working out.

In terms of reliability, I’ve not had a single problem so far. Being a Toyota, I don’t expect any issues for a while. I can’t imagine that any future car I buy won’t be a hybrid.  There’s a very nice Avalon Hybrid out now as well as the beautiful, Avalon-based Lexus ES 300h.  That may be the next step up for me when I decide I need to move up.  No rush though as I’m still paying this one off!

Transcend JetDrive Lite 130

Update 2014-07-10: After using this drive for nearly a month, I have some updates which were not apparent when I first reviewed the product.  The JetDrive still performs admirably and provides that much needed boost to my MacBook Air.  However I did notice a strange behavior that I need to let everyone know about: If you let your MacBook go to sleep rather than turning it off or you often use external USB card readers/devices, you may get a message saying that your JetDrive was not properly ejected.  My main concern here would be data loss, especially if you have a file on the JetDrive opened in an application when you put your MacBook to sleep.  I have not had this experience and have shifted to shut down my MacBook when I’m done with it (side benefit: saves quite a bit of juice).  However, this is enough of a concern for me to withdraw my recommendation of the JetDrive as I believe it to be a serious issue.  I’ll be reaching out to Transcend for their response on this and will update the post as I get more information.

Original review:
If you have an older MacBook Air that’s spatially challenged, then I have the solution for you!  Some older MacBook Air only came with 64 GB in their internal SSD.  That was upgraded to 128 GB (up to 256 GB in higher end configurations) in later models, upgradable to 512 GB.  While an SSD dramatically increases the performance of these computers on a usability basis, there are challenges.  Those with 128 GB or less (and perhaps even for those with even larger SSD capacity) will quickly find out that they have to do a lot of hard drive space management after loading their MacBooks with a reasonable amount of apps.  With apps, photos, music and videos, I’m often working with less than 10 GB of space free!  That causes a lot issues as well as system inefficiencies.

How can you add capacity to your computer?  I have a small, external portable USB hard drive that’s 2 TB in size.  Even though it’s one of those that’s exclusively powered through the USB port without an AC adapter brick, it’s still cumbersome to carry around and use.  You have to remember to plug it in all the time. I’m sure that most MacBook Air users have some type of external storage that they’re lugging around.  SD cards can work but they’re not designed for use as a drive and they stick out of the MacBook in an inelegant way that gets in the way of storing the computer.  Along comes Transcend and its solution:

JetDrive Packaging
The packaging for the Transcend JetDrive Lite 130.

This is essentially an SD card designed to function as a drive and is called the JetDrive Lite.  When I first read about it, I figure it’s the perfect solution and I had to get it for my MacBook Air (late 2012 model with a 128 GB SSD).  It was such a new product that it took a little bit to arrive.  When it arrived earlier than expected, I was super excited!  Looking at the packaging, it’s an MLC drive and that’s why it’s pretty affordable (around $90 for the 128 GB JetDrive Lite).  The difference between an MLC and SLC drive is important but these days they are minimized due to the controller and implementation more than the underlying technology.  There’s no detail on the controller of the JetDrive that I could easily find (read: 5 minutes of Googling).  However, the drive does come with a limited lifetime warranty and is rated for 10,000 insertion/removal cycles in terms of durability.  That’s pretty good to me and will outlast the useful life of my MacBook.

So how does it work and more importantly, how does it look?  Well, it looks GREAT!  Check out this photo I snapped of my MacBook 13″ Air equipped with it:

JetDrive Lite 130
JetDrive Lite 130 inserted in a MacBook.

It just disappears and it looks really good.  There’s no problem to putting my MacBook into it’s neoprene case and stuffing it into my bag.  It looks like it’s made for the computer.  The insertion was way easy but removal is a bit more difficult.  No tools are required but you do need a little bit of your fingernail to help so for those with freshly trimmed fingernails, good luck!  Based on the design, I would say that it’s not designed for people who frequently use the SD card slot of their MacBook.  If I had to swap the drives in and out several times a day I wouldn’t be happy.  But if it’s just a swap of once or twice a week, I think it’s fine.  The JetDrive is clearly designed to be left in your MacBook most of the time and that’s how I intend to use mine  It’s almost easier to carry a tiny SD card reader that connects to your USB port instead.  So now you’re essentially using an external card reader vs external hard drive if you’re a heavy SD card user.  But I think that’s a worthy trade off.

So how does it perform?  Quite well actually but I did run into one problem that’s worth mentioning.  The drive does work out of the box.  Plug it in and just go.  Performance is pretty good.  I’m not a technical, stopwatch measuring kind of guy but I would say it feels faster than a USB attached physical drive.  Long term reliability is a question I can’t answer yet but I expect it to perform well there as well.  The main issue I had is that the drive is formatted to exFAT by default.  While that worked fine on my system, I ran into a problem when I tried to load an Aperture library.  I received a message that the file system was unsupported.  After some quick investigation, I found that it was exFAT formatted.  This is nothing a quick trip to the Disk Utility couldn’t fix.  I re-formatted using the Mac OS Extended (Journaled) partition and then everything works great.  This does mean I can’t stick it into my Windows computer but I’m not sure it would be a good idea to do that anyways.

So would I recommend the Transcend JetDrive Lite 130?  Yes, I wholeheartedly would!  My only recommendation is to format it to the Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system before you put it to use.  It’ll take you just a second to do so.  Good luck!