Tag Archives: camera

Remote Control Hummingbirds!

Mother Jones

It tuns out that one of features of my new camera is the ability to control it remotely with my cell phone. If you have even a gram of nerd blood in you, this should make you insanely jealous.1 It’s the coolest thing ever.

And yet, as cool as it is, it still left me twiddling my neurons trying to figure out what I could do with it. One possibility was situations where I need to minimize camera shake. Put the camera on a tripod and then snap the shutter remotely without actually touching anything. But that would be just another example of using a thousand dollars worth of technology to do what a ten-dollar cable release can do. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Then Marian suggested I could set up the camera by our hummingbird feeder and wait for hummingbirds to fly in. So I did. Here’s what the setup looks like:

Then I went into the living room and watched Roger Federer play Stan Wawrinka at Indian Wells. Every time a bird showed up on my camera, I held down the remote shutter button and shot off a few dozen pictures.

Which did me precious little good. Damn, those little buggers are fast. Even with the shutter speed allegedly set at 1/2000th of a second, the pictures were blurry. Also out of focus most of the time, which was a combination of my fault and the camera’s fault. Still, live and learn. Here are the two best shots I got:

The top one is a male Anna’s hummingbird. The bottom one is, I suppose, a female Anna’s hummingbird. The bird folks can enlighten us in comments.

Anyway, I’ll have to try this again. It’s certainly a way of getting some good nature shots without sitting on my hump for hours on end in a muddy patch of dirt. Then again, since the WiFi range for the camera is about ten feet or so, maybe it just means I get a little better selection of where to sit on my hump for hours on end. I’ll have to think of some way to try this with the cats.

1Unless you already have a camera that can do this.

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Remote Control Hummingbirds!

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Stop Staring at Your Backup Camera!

Mother Jones

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Jacob Bogage tells us that backup cameras in cars aren’t really helping that much:

Backup cameras have been around longer than other car safety tech, so the federal government has years of data on their effect. Between 2008 and 2011 — the most recent years for which data was made available by NHTSA — backup cameras more than doubled from 32% to 68% of all new cars sold. But injuries fell less than 8%, from about 13,000 down to 12,000. The improvement in safety has been very gradual from year to year.

The fatality rate has improved somewhat, dropping 31% over the same period. But the sample size is small — deaths from cars moving in reverse are relatively rare. NHTSA’s research shows deaths declined from 274 to 189 between 2008 and 2011, and the number was volatile year to year.

My current car is the first I’ve driven that has a backup camera, and this story doesn’t surprise me. As near as I can tell, using a backup camera requires you to change your driving habits, and it took me a while to figure that out. The most basic problem is that backup cameras—like most video screens—beg for your attention, and if you give in to that temptation you might very well be driving less safely than without a camera. The problems are pretty obvious:

If your attention is focused on the camera, you aren’t checking the traffic in front of you. But when you back out of a parking spot, for example, cross traffic is coming at you in both directions.
Backup cameras have an extreme wide-angle view, which is obviously useful. However, it also makes any object more than a few yards away look tiny. Even cars can be easy to miss sometimes, and smaller objects like children, dogs, and so forth can be all but invisible.
Despite their wide angle, sometimes cars don’t enter the camera’s sightlines until they’re quite close.
Most backup cameras just aren’t very good. Their imaging starts out mediocre just by virtue of using tiny lenses and sensors. And it only gets worse from there. Their imaging is poor at night. Their imaging is poor when the camera faces the sun. Their imaging is poor in bad weather. Their imaging is poor when the background is busy. Their imaging is poor when the lens gets dirty.

So how should you drive with a backup camera? Ironically, you need to change your driving habits back to what they were before you got a backup camera. That is, you should treat it as simply another window. Don’t obsess over it. Crane your neck and check all your windows and your rearview mirror and your backup camera. In other words, drive just like you used to except with one additional window. Too many people treat backup cameras as a substitute for all their other windows, instead of an addition to them.

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Stop Staring at Your Backup Camera!

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How to Simplify Your Wardrobe in 3 Easy Steps

An overstuffed closet and a mountain-sized pile of discarded clothing options after each round of getting ready may indicate that your fashion philosophy values quantity over quality. Create a cohesive collection of streamlined wearable looks and kick the chaos and castoffs out of your closet with a simple capsule wardrobe in three easy steps:

Step 1: Out With the Old

Like many of lifes challenges, this situation is going to get worse before it gets better. However, if you clear a couple hours of your schedule and stay committed, the end result will be a closet you can love again. To get a true view of what you need, love, and wear, you need to start with an honest of assessment of what youre currently working with and why you have it.

Take everything clothes-related out of your closet and pile it up somewhere unavoidable now theres your assurance that this project gets finished today. (Seriously, dont skip that part. Its important.) Try on each piece and ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does this fit?

2. Do I feel confident when wearing this?

3. Have I worn it in the past six months?

If the answer to any of the above is no, its time to honor that item with new opportunity by donating it. The only exception is if a much-loved quality piece can be tailored; if so, drop it off within the week.

Snap a quick full-length mirror selfie for any outfits you feel unsure aboutthe camera is your most honest friend. Once you have separated the trash from the treasure, analyze what you have left. Your keep pile holds clues to your personal style. Why do these items appeal to you? What do they have in common? A successful capsule wardrobe will keep you comfortably and happily clothed. If your everyday style has an easy casual vibe, a closet of fussy fashionista frocks wont solve your problem; youll just go from not having anything to wear to not having anything you want to wear. Be true to your real self.

Step 2: In With the New

Take a look at what you already own and set aside essential foundation pieces. These are items that every wardrobe needs, like a little black dress, a white button-up shirt, a pencil skirt, nice jeans, quality leggings, black pants and a few fitted tees. Anything missing from the essentials should take priority on the shopping list; these key pieces become the uniform for life and are worth the investment. Buy the basics in neutral colors like black, white, khaki or gray. These items are the core of your capsule collection and become the backdrop for most outfits.

Step 3: Freshen Up

Now take a new look at the clothes you have leftis there an underlying color theme? Pick out a few pieces where you feel drawn to the color or pattern and create your personal style palette. Buy accent items and accessories that coordinate with your capsule collection colors to maximize your ability to mix and match, and easily update your wardrobe seasonally by swapping out colors or clothing types.

If youre adopting the capsule wardrobe approach for its simple minimalism, aim to have approximately 30 pieces. If youre just trying to simplify your morning routine, dont overwhelm yourself with options, but dont obsess over item numbers or perfecting your collection, either. Just like your personal sense of style, your capsule collection will evolve as you do.

The ultimate goal is to create a mix-and-match recipe of your ideal outfit for every occasion, which is easy when the closet is full of coordinating favorites. The most essential part of creating a capsule collection isnt in perfecting the numbersits in making sure you feel fashionable and fantastic wearing each and every piece!

Ashley McCann writes foreBayabout mindful living as a Floridian mother of two. She makes affordable and sustainable fashion possible bybuying and selling her clothes online.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Simplify Your Wardrobe in 3 Easy Steps

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Will a Blizzard Affect the Iowa Caucuses? Here’s a Live Look at the Weather.

Mother Jones

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Finally, the 2016 presidential contest starts today, and each candidate hopes to motivate as many voters as possible to caucus in one of Iowa’s 1,774 precincts. It can be a challenge to get a large turnout in good weather, but forecasters are expecting potentially heavy snowfall across the state. Winter storm warnings are in effect in many counties, and Iowans in the northwest are under a blizzard warning until 4 a.m. Wednesday. Forecasters predict that heavy snows won’t start accumulating until 9 p.m. local time, and caucuses begin at 7 p.m. So there’s no telling if the weather or these predictions will influence turnout. If you’re concerned about snow in the Hawkeye State tonight, here’s how you can monitor the conditions.

Below is a live looping weather map from the National Weather Service. The weather has been clear for most of the day but, in the mid-afternoon, some precipitation began to move into the state from the southwest.

Here’s a live shot from the Iowa State University’s Memorial Union, located in Ames, which is almost the geographical center of the state (have fun controlling the camera):

This is another live shot from the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City, about an hour and 45 minutes due east of Des Moines:

From the northeast part of the state, this is the view from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa (click the play button):

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Will a Blizzard Affect the Iowa Caucuses? Here’s a Live Look at the Weather.

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Clinton Opens a New Front in Her Attacks on Sanders

Mother Jones

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The Hillary Clinton campaign on Thursday unleashed a new line of attack against Bernie Sanders with a video critiquing the senator from Vermont’s approach to handling ISIS. The move comes as poll numbers show him closing in on Clinton in Iowa and besting her in New Hampshire.

In the video, Clinton’s top foreign policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, speaks directly to the camera and explains that Clinton disagrees with Sanders when it comes to ISIS and Iran. “I have the greatest respect for Sen. Sanders,” Sullivan says calmly. Then he adds that Sanders’ ideas on national security matters “just don’t make sense.”

With a professorial tone, Sullivan analyzes three statements that Sanders has made: that there should be more Iranian ground troops in Syria, that Iran and Saudi Arabia should form a coalition to fight ISIS, and that the United States should seek to “agressively…normalize relations with Iran.” Sullivan asserts, “When you look at all of these ideas, it’s pretty clear that he just hasn’t thought it through.”

This measured attack is a shift from the campaign’s recent slam on Sanders’ “Medicare-for-all” health care plan. That assault, which led Chelsea Clinton to allege that Sanders would leave millions of people without coverage, was widely criticized within the political press. Vox‘s Ezra Klein wrote that the Clinton campaign was “indulging its worst instincts” and had “blundered into a dumb attack.” (Klein has also criticized Sanders’ health care plan as policy.)

By putting Sullivan in front of the camera—and on a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon to discuss the video—the campaign frees Clinton from mounting this attack herself and coming across as excessively critical of her popular opponent. The video also plays up Clinton’s strengths (her foreign policy experience and readiness for office) while zeroing in on one of Sanders’ presumed weaknesses (his lack of focus on foreign policy). It also seeks to focus the foreign policy conversation on topics other than the one where she’s received the most criticism from Democrats: her 2003 vote in favor of the Iraq invasion.

Up to now, the Clinton campaign’s anti-Sanders efforts have focused on differences between Sanders and Clinton on health care and gun safety issues. Now, in the home stretch before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, Clinton appears to be adding foreign policy to her core critique.

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Clinton Opens a New Front in Her Attacks on Sanders

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