Blink Camera Review

I live in a nice neighborhood but I always do have concerns about the possibility of ne’er-do-wells being on or near my property.   And it’s an extra concern when I am away on vacation.

I’ve worked with video surveillance for the past 20 years and am well acquainted with video systems and have always wanted to put cameras on my property, but since I live in an old brick house and it is impossible to run power to the cameras.

But the great thing about technology is that it’s moving forward fast !!

So the first major requirement is to be battery operated.  Cameras work on low voltage, but battery power is very limited.  I looked around quite a while and found several possibilities, but they either required a payment for online storage or were too expensive.

I spoke to a coworker about home security cameras and he told me he had a Blink system at his house and found it to be quite capable.  There is of course a phone app and he showed me the quality of the video and it was quite acceptable.  It ran on two lithium AA batteries and the claim was that the batteries could last up  to two years.  It also had free online storage !!! It was limited storage but I would not have a need to retain historical video.

The cameras are indoor/outdoor and a three camera package ran around $300.  I was willing to spend $100 on one camera system to test on my house.

It took a few weeks to get the camera mounted in the right place with the right angle to record what I wanted, but to not record unnecessary video that would waste the batteries.  One of the most limiting parts of this camera was the fact that you could not “mask” areas so that motion would not trigger recording. You were only able to adjust the sensitivity based on distance.

BUT !!!!!

About a month ago Blink put out an update that allowed basic masking !!!

Woooooo!

Below is a good example of daytime video:

Below is an example of video at nighttime:

I even caught some “wildlife”:

 

 

Bottom line.

This is a fine camera for the price.

The good news is Blink is owned by Amazon, so there is a good chance the the camera system won’t be obsolete quickly but the bad news is Amazon owns Blink.  (really not a huge fan of Amazon and it’s Liberal ideas/values/agenda)

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Tesla Fails !!! (Again)

 

Tesla Fails (Often)

Tesla Fails (Still)

Tesla Fails (Of Course)

This list could go on for a very long time.

When your business model is based on a product that few people want, few people can afford and only exists because of tax payer subsidies, it’s going to be hard to be very successful.

“Tesla Model 3 Delivery Delayed Again”

“The new Model 3, crucial to the company’s success, won’t hit full-scale production until the end of June, Tesla said last week — nearly a year after the company began manufacturing the car in small numbers.”

“Throughout last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk trumpeted a production level of 5,000 a week by December 2017. In November, he pushed that goal to the end of March 2018. Now that target won’t be hit until the end of June. The electric-car maker said in an online statement January 3 that it expects to produce 2,500 a week by the end of March.”

“Only 1,550 Model 3s were delivered in 2017’s fourth quarter. That’s on top of the 220 Model 3s the company delivered in the third quarter, for a total of just 1,770 since the first deliveries in late July.”

 

Goal of 5000 a week and actual delivery of 1550 for a quarter.

Missed it by that much……………

 

Tesla can best be summed up with this Monty Python bit:

Good Bye Old Friend !

It’s with deep sorrow that I have to report that I will be losing a good friend:

Old_Friend

HP Pavilion a1224n:

519K P4 Pentium

1 GB Memory

220 GB HD

I bought this desktop at the end of 2005.

I left out the best attribute of this computer:

Windows XP !!!!!

I love Windows XP and in my life of being a computer user, XP has been and will be (for quite some time) my favorite operating system.  Do people remember Win 98 and ME?????

My XP computer works well for most of what I do with it.  It is  however under powered for watching Netflix online, Youtube, listening to Old Time Radio, Mark Levin and other activities like that.

Did I mention that I love my XP?????

I work for a large company and quite literally, I was the very last person that had an XP machine sitting on my desk when the company was forced to “upgrade” to Win 7.  I do a very esoteric job and a lot of it involves using recorded video from some very,very old video systems that we once had and still use.  There are a number of programs I use daily that are less than fully compatible with Win 7 which adds to my daily grumpiness at work.

 

With the retirement my my XP desktop, I have a couple of options.

  1.  Get a new desktop
  2.  Get a docking station for my $#@%! Win 8 laptop

Getting a new desktop really isn’t in the budget right now and I don’t have enough Amazon gift cards saved up to get a desktop through Amazon.  I would  also prefer not to buy a big ticket item through Amazon after a couple of “poor” experiences and the fact that it’s hard to find a really good deal that would be less cost compared a sale at a local big box electronic store.  I do what shopping at Amazon mostly because I can get free Amazon gift cards.

There are several downsides to the docking station idea as well. One is the cost.  Getting a decent docking station would cost  a large percentage of getting a new desktop along with the idea that the docking station would be a short term solution.  The second is that most of the better docking stations seem to not do well with $#@%! Win 8.

Whether I go with option 1 or option 2, I will have to get new software as well.  I currently use Quicken 2003 for my bookkeeping and it works just fine.  But, Quicken 2003 will not load on my $#@%! Win 8 laptop.  Quicken 2005 will also not load on that laptop and despite Quicken 2008 being able to load, it will not upload/convert my Quicken 2003 data file.  The good news is that I will soon by my TurboTax for the year and very often, the big box computer store will have a deal when you buy several Intuit products at the same time.

Sometime this week I will stop on my way home from work at the big box computer store and get the most recent version of Quicken, and then I can retire my buddy, the XP machine.

 

But XP will live on !!

I still have an XP laptop that is still pretty darn good ! (except the “a” and “s” keys keep popping off.)

I Stimulated The Economy

Below is a photo of my “Family Truckster” (Chevy Chase/ Vacation reference).

A 2004 with 150,000 miles on it.

For me, a vehicle is just transportation.  I don’t try to make a statement with it or any attempt for it to be an “image”.

I never “needed” a pickup for my job that I have today (I had a pickup supplied by the construction company I worked for years ago) but it has been very useful to have when I did any home improvement projects or to pick up “curb treasure” for my wife, carry my bicycle around or just to toss the fishing poles in.  You’d be surprised to see how many tables, dressers, chairs, cabinets etc we’ve found that we’ve either resold or repainted that have come via curbside.

Truckster

Below is my new car that I traded The Truckster in for.

I really didn’t want to have to buy a new vehicle, but it was time.   In this  Obama Economy, my money is tight, really tight.  This will be the second year in a row that there will not be merit raises.  The Truckster got about 19 MPG and I knew (because I am compulsive about tracking my expenses) that I spent quite a bit of money on gasoline, but The Truckster was paid for and it didn’t really make too much sense for me to trade better mileage for a car payment.  We haven’t had a car payment in our household for over 6 years.  But I needed new tires and it was going to need brakes sometime this year and I just couldn’t be sure that The Truckster wasn’t going to go “Bluesmobile” on me at any moment flying down the tollway !

Car_001

The only way I could make this deal work is if I save a lot of money on gas.  The Chevy Cruze is rated to get 38 MPG on the highway.  60 of the 66 miles I drive daily are on the tollway and is a small blessing considering how much I would have been spending on gas if I had “city” driving instead.  Worst case scenario, if the new car “only” gets 30 MPG, I should still be saving about $100-$125 a month in gas costs and that is a third of the car payment.

Now, being the notorious cheap bastard that I am, I have in the past year and a half cut out as much as I can from the family budget, and it’s still going to be a stretch to “find” the rest of the money for the car payment.  Several good things are that we do not have any credit card debt and I can at least count on not having any major repair bill on The Truckster.

Well, I’ve had the car now for two weeks and have driven to work 10 times.  I got gas after the first five trips to work, but since I wasn’t sure how much gas the dealer had put in, I couldn’t be sure how accurate the numbers were going to be but it did figure to be 33 MPG which I thought was good, but considering I drive the optimal conditions for achieving the highest EPA rating, I thought that it should have been better. (Phew, feel like I pulled a Hemingway with that run on sentence!!)  The wife did make about 50 miles of city driving trips that surely lowered the MPG.

Below are some calculations on the second tank of gas.  This time there were very few superfluous miles added on.

Gas_001

Bottom line is that I got over 36 MPG and saved $33 !!

Very, very happy about that.

My biggest long term concern was going to be how comfortable the seat is.  I am a full figured gentleman and some 17 years ago had a L5 Microdiscectomy.  I feel best when I can sit back /thighs/legs all being at 90 degrees and the bench seat in The Truckster was great for that.  But as it has turned out so far, I have been able to adjust the bucket seat in the car so that it has not been an issue.

I also have to say that I am very impressed with what has been done in the past 30 years with small car engines.  This car has a 1.4 liter engine, and it is not lacking in the “giddy up, go” department.  This was the last 1.4 liter car that I drove:

Little dead chevette

Little dead chevette

My mother came home one day in 1978 with a used 1977 Chevette. The only thing worse than a 1977 Chevette was a used 1977 Chevette.  This actually isn’t the worst car that my mother brought home.  She out did herself with a 1980 Chevy Citation.

Well, I guess Disney is off the list for this year.

60 more payments and it’s all mine !!

#@&!&^ Windows 8 !!!!

Ok, the good news is that I got a new laptop (the better news is that it was free and you all know how I like free).

The bad part is………..

No, check that the really, really, really bad part is that it has Windows 8.

Go out and find 10 thesauruses and look up all of the synonyms for “crap”.   That would sufficiently be my opinion of Windows 8 Metro.

I had read many reviews of computers with Windows 8 and while there were a few (very few) good reviews, the most were not favorable.  Now, I would consider myself to be at least, an above average computer user.  I survived ME, 98, 2000 and I have tolerated Vista.  But Windows 8 is the worst of the lot.  Windows 8 Metro was obviously designed for touchscreens which would be just swell if I had a tablet or a smart phone.  Hey Microsoft !!!!!!  I want my laptop to be a productivity tool, not an entertainment center.

My recommendation would be to NOT by a computer that has Windows 8 on it.

Now, if you are interested, this is the laptop I got for free:

Toshiba Satellite C855D-S5320

http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/retail-product.jsp?poid=2000039904

I got it mostly for the internet and the history and genealogy projects that I am always working on.

Now, how I got it for free.

There is a search engine that I use called “Swagbucks.” (Completely free)  I can earn “Swagbucks by just using their search engine and then use them to purchase Amazon gift cards.  Since 2010, I have earned over $300 just from the Swagbucks site.  There also have been a number of survey groups that I had participated in (still currently belong to one that I can get $10-$15 every three months).  All told, since 2010, I have earned close to $1,000 in Amazon gift cards.

If you are interested in “Swagbucks”, you can use this link to sign up (and I do get a kickback for it).

http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/duckman2000

Who Has An IPod Touch??

My nine year old daughter has a number of friends that have an IPod Touch and of course she thinks that she must have one also.  I personally don’t think that a nine year old needs to have electronic communication devices.  The last thing my daughter needs to be doing is calling or texting other nine year olds.  She does have fun running around with one of my old cell phones and taking pictures and shooting videos with it.

Is an IPod Touch something that my daughter would be able to get good use of even if it was not used very much for communication or internet use? (some internet use would be acceptable)

Target has an IPod Touch 4th gen on sale for $195 (with a $50 Target gift card)