Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Gooseneck tripod is good for product photos

When I post something for sale online, I like to include a few nicely-staged photos. Often the best angles for those pics are ones that are shot directly overhead, and they can be difficult to do. I have to lean out over a table or counter top while trying to see the image on my phone screen without casting a shadow or moving the phone when I click the shutter.

A few months ago, I got a phone camera mount that clamps onto the edge of a table. The concept was okay but the materials were flimsy, like the cheap desk lamp that I had back in the 80s. 

This gooseneck mount on a tripod is far more stable and useful. The tripod's long legs sit flat on the floor and provide a good counterweight anchor for the clamp at the end of the extended gooseneck, whether it's holding a standard pocket phone or a 12.9-inch iPad. The tripod tubing is made of sturdy metal and can be extended from 18 inches all the way to 80 inches.

The clamp at the end of the gooseneck is adjusted using a threaded thumbscrew, which I think makes for a more solid grasp than a spring-loaded clamp. If you disagree, you can replace the clamp with your own. The kit also comes with a remote shutter release that will work with iOS or Android devices. That should help me get clean and clear photos.

There are other ways you can adapt this tripod for different uses. For example, the product comes with a ball head so you can get a more precise angle for your photo. There's also a screw post where the gooseneck connects to the tripod. Remove the neck and you can mount a heavier object. I tried it first with a two-pound floodlight, then with a three-pound SLR camera.

Overall, I was very please with the quality and versatility of this device. I plan to give it lots of jobs.  

Thursday, March 14, 2024

PS27 has a venture fund for startup entrepreneurs

You are probably familiar with "Shark Tank," the TV show where budding entrepreneurs pitch their business plans to a panel of rich folks hoping one of them will be their investment partner.  

PS27 Ventures is built on a similar idea. It's also a potential funding resource for startups but without all the celebrity glitz.

PS27 Ventures is based in Jacksonville, FL, the home of company founder Jim Stallings. A former Marine Corps captain, Stallings worked for General Electric and IBM where he managed the company's Linux software business and its intellectual property division.  

Like the TV show, Stallings and his crew interview early-stage entrepreneurs who are looking for venture capital to launch or grow their businesses. They can request an opportunity to tell their story by filling out an application form on the PS27 website.

The site lists more than 15 client companies in areas such a e-commerce, financial technology and food services, many of them with minority, veteran and female founders. Examples include 

Smartbox, a healthy snack subscription service, Ryze, which makes mushroom blended coffees, Payall, which has a platform for cross-border payments and international money transfers, and  NotedSource, which matches businesses with academic researchers. 

PS27 is also exploring potential partnerships with young Florida-based businesses in the B2B, clean energy and SaaS arenas. One example is Sensatek Propulsion Technologies in Daytona Beach, a company that develops sensors for high-temperature applications in energy, aviation and aerospace industries. Others include Miami-based JourneyTrack, a customer-mapping developer, and Keyno in St. Augustine, that has fraud-prevention solutions for the fintech industry.

For a closer look at PS27 Ventures, visit the company's website or connect on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok or X


Tuesday, March 12, 2024

A photo backdrop for small items

Although this backdrop kit is promoted as something to capture food images, I thought it would be useful for the videos and still images that I create for many small products that I sell online. 

The metal frame was fairly easy to assemble. There are five metal bars are attached to each other using a provided allen wrench for the uprights and thumb screws for horizontal bar. 

The paper background sheets presented a bit more of a challenge. The sheets arrive wrapped tightly around a cardboard tube and sealed in plastic wrap. Once the wrap is removed, the sheets are not inclined to flatten without help. 

I tried putting a sheet color-side down and pulling it across a table's edge. Not a good idea. The sheets are very thick and the table edge left some scratches. A better approach is to re-roll a single sheet around the cardboard tube, then let leave it on a flat surface while it attempts to flatten itself. 

I appreciate the deep and rich colors of the sheets and the variety of colors. They really add some visual pop to product photos. And I like the fact that the frame and sheets can be easily transported to shoot items on location.

I only wish the LDMJNL frame was a few inches wider. The backdrop worked fine for a small object, like a pair of earbuds, but I couldn't find an angle that let me capture a decorative bowl without running out of backdrop at the edges.

Nevertheless, I expect I will get a lot of use out of this 

Friday, March 8, 2024

Another cable disappointment

I've tried several of these three-headed charging cables, all with mixed results. One didn't have enough power to charge my iPad while another was only about two feet long, meaning I often had to charge my gear on the floor to be close to a wall outlet.

I had high hopes for his one. The OXO cable is about six feet long, so I would be able to use it almost anywhere. And this package included a power block with three outlets, one USB-A and two USB-C, one rated for 20 watts, the other for 65 watts.  

This seemed perfect for my gear: an iPhone 15, an Apple Watch and either my full-sized iPad or my iPad Mini. What could go wrong? I soon found out.

This OXO cable is apparently not suited to charge all three devices at the same time. I could charge phone and watch or tablet and watch. But if I had phone and tablet connected atthe same time, the tablet's charging icon turned white and displayed the dreaded "Not Charging" message.

The result was the same whether I used the 20- or 65-watt connections, same for different wall outlets and same for both the big iPad or the Mini. 

Once again, my heart is broken but I suppose it's my fault for assuming that OXO's Lightning plug would charge my tablets. A closer read of the description on the OXO sales page describes "one charger compatible with iPhone, Watch, and AirPods." Nowhere does it mention iPads.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A multi-function camping lantern

This LED camping lantern is sort of a Swiss Army knife for outdoor illumination. It tries to do several different jobs and generally succeeds on all counts. 

It can be straight-ahead flashlight with a button that cycles through three lighting levels. Long press the button and you get a red flashing emergency light. For wider illumination, there's a second button that also provides three light levels. You can set the light on a flat surface or hang it overhead using a loop that pops out of top of the lamp. 

That top cylinder also rotates to reveal a reading lamp, again with three brightness options. And it can charge a mobile phone or other device by plugging in a USB cable. 

The camping lantern itself has its own battery that can be recharged with a USB-C cable and you can install AAA batteries to power the flashlight/reading lamp as a back-up to the internal 4000mAh battery. That's the kind of versatility that I would want for an emergency light in my car, at home during a power failure or for any sort of expedition into the woods after dark.

There are only a couple of things that bother me about this light. One is the handle that users attach by installing a pair of thin wire loops. I would prefer a solid handle built into the lamp's housing. Also, the rotating reading light doesn't make a very secure connection to the top of the lantern housing. It feels like it could easily break, especially if a user twists it in the wrong direction. The lamp has a warning sticker that tells you not to do that, but this product is made to be used in the dark where it's not easy to read.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

An 8-port GaN II charger

There's a lot to like about this charging base. Like most other newer (and more expensive)  chargers, it uses gallium nitride rather than silicon. That means it can deliver a more powerful charge to multiple devices and do the job much faster.

The charger has eight ports, four with the standard USB-A connections and four for USB-C. It can refuel more devices simultaneously than any other charging stations that I've encountered.

The charger has one port rated at 65 watts, a typical rating for charging devices designed for computers. Power ratings for the other ports range from 15 to 30 watts. Using the high-powered USB-C port, I recharged my MacBook Air from doornail dead to 100 percent in 100 minutes while also charging my iPhone 15.

And I really like being able to charge all my devices - Airpods, iPads, Bluetooth speakers and other gadgets - all from the same power source and without paying a premium price. 

And hey, the green color is pretty nice as well. Check it out on Amazon.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Cable offers 3-in-1 convenience

I've tried a couple of these multi-headed charging cables in the past and none of them performed very well. The typical issue is they don't have enough capacity to charge three devices at once. 

The Cugunu charging cable seems to be capable of doing the job. It three connectors with tips for USB-C and Lightning plus a disc to charge the Apple Watch. That's what I needed for my iPhone 15, my iPad and watch. All three lit up and promptly began refueling.

The business end of the cable offers a nice touch of convenience. The full-sized USB-A slides up to reveal a USB-C plug so it can be used with either an A or C outlet.

The center part of the cable is coiled like those old-time wall phone cables and I'm not sure why that was done. In its coiled state, the cable is too short to connect to an AC outlet that's more than two feet away - like one at floor level, the most common location. Stretch the cable out to three feet and it will try to collapse like a spring, pulling your gadgets along with it. 

Whatever the idea was behind the coil, this cable does what I wanted it to do: eliminate the need to pack several cables and charging blocks in my travel bag. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Snap-on adapter brings Bluetooth to Bose QC3

Bose set the standard for noise-reducing headphones in 1989 when it developed created a noise-cancelling headset for pilots. By 2006, Bose was selling a $349 consumer version that was widely regarded as the best noise-killing headphone available. 

That was the year that I got the Bose QuietComfort 3 and I've given those phones plenty of use ever since. They travel with me every time I fly and I often use them when I mow my lawn. They get so much use that the leather-like surface of the ear pads has completely worn away.

I own Apple's AirPods Pro, which also promises to filter out ambient noise, but the 18-year-old Bose still does a better job. I would use them more often except for that pesky cable that's required to connect to mobile phone or other audio source. 

This Bluetooth adapter from Yocowoco is bringing new life to my old favorite. The adapter plugs into the cable port on the left ear pad and makes a tight grip onto the frame around the pad's indented listening port. 

The device has a trio of buttons to turn the gadget on or off, play or pause incoming audio and raise or lower sound volume. The buttons are super small and not easy to use, but they're available if you need them. It also has a built-in battery can be recharged with a USB-C cable without removing the adapter from the ear pad. 

I had no trouble pairing the device with my iPhone and I thought the quality of the sound it delivered was very good, comparable to what I got using the Bose cable. And even if I  have to give up a little fidelity to have Bose-quality sound and noise cancellation, that's okay with me.

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