A day at the circus

Last Friday we attended the circus at Mark’s Binkley Preschool. We all had a great time, except for Mom who got elephant poop dumped on her by a monkey! Aside from that little problem we enjoyed all of the acts. I spent a little time this weekend pulling together some of the highlights for you take a look at in the media gallery .

-Brian

One of the coolest gifts I’ve ever given

OK…so I’ve been thinking about how I can get photos to people. Most of the time I send them via email as we don’t print too many anymore. The problem with that is that I either clog up people’s email with a bunch of new pictures or for those who don’t have email, They rarely get new pictures.

So the other day while my Dad was here I was remembering a gadget I saw on the net a while back that sounded pretty cool. We talked about how interesting it sounded and I checked it out. Man is it ever cool. My Dad talked me into calling my brother and telling him about it. We just had to get one for my Grandma.

What is it? Its basically an modem enabled digital picture frame from Ceiva.

OK…so maybe it doesn’t sound that cool…but it really is.  

I ordered one online and had it shipped to my house so I could check it out. While I waited I signed up for an online account on their site, gave them my grandma’s local phone number to get a dial in number for the device, got an email address from them and emailed some picts of the kids right from iPhoto via the Mail option (they have PC software if you are not on a Mac). I was ready for delivery. The only thing I had to do when the device arrived was link it to my online account. To do that I had to type in the serial number from the bottom of the unit so they know where to send the photos. It was a bit interesting as I was giving this as a gift and so, if I had just sent it directly to my grandma, she would have either been internet savvy or I would have had to have here give me the serial number off the bottom. I was glad I had it shipped to me first.

I logged onto the Ceiva site before it came and investigated the features there. I could set a ton of information about the device like what was playing on my device, how long each photo would show and when the device would turn on and off during the day. I was even able to sigh up for what Ceiva calls channels, slides that you can subscribe to like sports, news and even history. I signed her up for the weather channel slide so one of the 30 slides the device holds. It asked me for her zip code so the forecast would be her local 3-day outlook. Very nice addition.

I couldn’t wait to see how cool it would be. The site said only 3 simple steps once unboxed the device. 1. plug in the power cord. 2. plug it into a phone line. 3. Press the big white button on the back.

When it arrived I tore it open and set it up.  The 3 simple steps were a just as described. I pushed the big white button (step three) and the device came to life and called home. It took about 5-10 minutes the first time it called home and downloaded the pictures I had sent. After it was done the screen scrambled for a few seconds (a bit unnerving) and then it went black. A second later it came to life and started cycling through my photos. I couldn’t wait to send it to my Grandma. I watched and watched. The kids came and thought it was exciting to see the photos (a couple of which we had just taken) on the screen.

Speaking of the screen its a 640 x 480 and the quality is decent but not perfect. The screen is bright but the viewing angle is a bit limited. The frame around the screen has a nice black matte and comes with both a stylish black frame and a hightech silver. We bought my Grandma an additional oak frame and it looked very nice. You can also buy different mattes but we though the black was perfect.

After playing with emailing photos to the device for a few days to ensure that when it was set to call home every night, it did and downloaded pictures from my brother and me. I also showed it to some friends to get their opinions and they all thought it was cool too.

I packed it up and shipped it to my Grandma last week. She got it yesterday and set it up. She understood what to do and thought it would be very easy. One problem is that the placement of the power and phone cords made it difficult for her to get them plugged in so she had her neighbor help her. She loved looking at the pictures of the kids and the fact that more will be coming in tomorrow.

If you want to know more or think about getting one of these let me know. I can refer you and get you $50 off the receiver.

-Brian

Pros: innovative and easy technology

Cons: ongoing monthly cost to send picts, location of buttons, display quality, ease of giving as a gift

Mason’s Birthday Extravaganza

Mason had a birthday party complete with ice cream sundaes at school with his friend Olivia (who also has a birthday in April). After I got home from work we picked up Mason’s friend Cassie and headed out for a night on the town, hitting Fuddruckers and Chuck E. Cheese for some food and fun. Then it was back home for ice cream cake and some presents.

We’re tired just thinking about all of the fun and excitement.

You can check out some of the photos in the media gallery.

-Brian

Matthew’s 3rd Birthday

Matthew wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s for his birthday, which kicks off a month in which we have 3 birthdays in 4 weeks. We had a good time and you can check out the photos in the media gallery.

But while we’re on the subject of Chuck E. Cheese, I have to rant a bit…

I have to say that Chuck E. Cheese is not what it used to be when I was a kid. While they still have the animatronic stage show, games, play area and pizza, its all pretty lame in comparison to the late 70’s.

Back then it was mostly an arcade with food, with emphasis on the arcade. The place was dark and there were dozens and dozens of games everywhere. I loved playing football , asteroids and of course space invaders . At one I went to when I was probably 7, there was even a mini ferris wheel you could ride on.

In comparison, today’s Chuck E. Cheese is bright and cheery (okay…that might a bit better when I’m trying to track down my kids) and there are only about 15 games to play. Most of them for very small children. I think that their target market has dropped from teen and tweenagers, down to 2-9 and that has driven the shift in what games they have.

Its a bummer because I think a few better games would keep adults there a bit longer with their kids and drive more token/pizza sales. But then again, once you’ve had the pizza maybe not. I wish cardboard came to mind as that would have been better. Maybe its always been like that and if it has, thank you Dad for suffering through it for me! I’m definitely going to try and talk Mason out of it if he wants to go to Chuck E. Cheese for his birthday

-Brian

Posted: Wed – April 13, 2005 at 11:07 AM

Dino Dance

Once upon a time, the dinosaurs were doing tap dancing.
Some of the dinosaurs got pinched on the trees.
A blue Stegosaurus came to help them off the trees.

He gave each one a Band-Aid? and then they all started to dance again.

-Mark Doerr

New Site Design for www.hartlandchurch.com

While my Dad was here I talked him into buying a domain for his church. I spoke with my good friend Gobie over at Kolusu Networks in Toronto and he hooked us up, hosting our DNS and the website. If you need a great host check him out. Mention me and he might give you a good deal…or a swift kick in the pants. 🙂

I then set my Dad loose with iBlog and helped him setup and design his site. Now he has a great looking site that is simple to maintain. If you have a Mac with OS X, it doesn’t get any easier.

Check it out and let us know what you thought.

www.hartlandchurch.com

If you are interested in having me design your site, send me a note by clicking on the feedback button below.

-Brian

Busy time at the Doerrstop Inn

Well as you can tell from the previous posts, we had Cheryl’s brother in for a few nights last week…and the day he left, my parents flew in from MI for the weekend.  They came down to see Mary’s tap show at the Carolina Theatre and to catch up with the kids.  We had a great time and here is a quick shot we took of all the kids with Grandma and Grandpa before they hit the tarmac.

   

If you want to make a reservation at the Doerrstop Inn just give us a call.  We can always make room.

-Brian