cc licensed flickr photo shared by Andreas Kristensson

I am stepping inside the CogDog Laboratory today to conduct some experiments in… oh who am I kidding? I am just idly watching snow fall out the window, and thinking of things to try out online.

Okay, for you loyal reader of this blog (not the use of singular noun), and the odd non-spammer who actually sites down and writes a comment, I am speaking to you. I am running this completely unscientific experiment to explore what the differences in response or to things I put out there:

  • As a blog post (this here thing)
  • in twitter
  • on facebook

To make it fair, I am turning off the automatic sending of this blog post out on twitter. And I am doing this also to test out my up to now un-liking of Facebook.

Of course in a blog, I can expound on and on ad infinitum… whereas the other two are the short and shorter forms.

My test is to ask for recommendations for three things. This is safe, as ideally, there is a core of people out there with knowledge or experience with these things. So here we go, as I pipette in some volatile fluids and warm the beaker over a bunsen burner….

I am Looking for a Quality Photo Tripod
Up until now, for my long exposure photos, night shots, etc, I have used a really cheap, old video tripod. I am seeking something lower than the pro level but higher than basic consumer level. The needs are to be able to do steady photos using my Canon T1i (or whatever camera I might buy next) and using my current big lens, the 300m L IS. It’s not super heavy, and the most I would add now is maybe an extender.

This is the lens

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I’d like a tripod that is not super monstrous to lug around.

So what model/brand of camera tripod would you recommend for me?

Adios iPhone / AT&T Hello Android / Verizon? (maybe)
I really love my iPhone 4, and it is with heavy heart (and a boat load of apps) that I consider a big change. It’s really about the network– today I sit at home with my cable internet down (at best I get a little over 1 Mbps download speed), and I am using my Verizon MiFi card, and am seeing speeds of 1.3 – 1.8 Mbps! I then checked the coverage maps, and it shows Verizon has my little town blanketed in 3G data/voice, and more importantly, on the drive down AZ 87 that I use to go to Phoenix, there are just a few small dead spots.

With AT&T on the other hand, they do not even own a tower near where I live- I am on a nebulous “partner” tower, and at best get Edge connectivity for data, and a lot of dropped calls. When I drive to Phoenix, there are actually only 2 short stretches (2-3 miles) along AZ 87 between Payson and Phoenix that I can even get a data or phone signal. “More bars in more places”? What a load of horse dung.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

And I have been thinking that for my tech work at NMC, where everyone else has an iPhone, someone ought to be exploring the other platforms. I can still use most of my apps on the iPad.

Putting aside the regular monthly rumor, I am mildly considering after the first of the year, jumping ship. So my question is, were I to go to Android/Verizon, what phone should an iPhone lover get?

Beach Reading
On Sunday, I am off for an extra week of vacation, an idyllic week on Kauai (yes, you should feel extremely sorry for me, someone has to go there, ok?). So what novel should I pack for the time away? I want something to take my mind away from the normal routine. I like some action, suspense, mild sci-fi, irony, satire… well that is not very specific, eh?

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

So in a more open category, send me some paperback beach reading novel suggestions!

Thanks. The lab is open.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Books–
    Jim Harrison is one of my all-time favorite authors. Not sci-fi, sometimes funny, usually outdoorsy and always irreverent. You may have seen the movie “Legends of the Fall” which was based on his novella of the same name.

    Figure out the total weight of camera and lens and look for a tripod rated at double that weight. If carrying weight is important, they are making carbon fibre tripods now, but I haven’t tried them. If you are doing night sky shots, look for a tripod that has spreaders on the legs that you can lay extra weights on for additional stability. My guess is that the people who have the bird watching blogs and web sites will be the experts on tripods for long lenses.
    Good luck with it.


  2. I’m still holding out for the iPhone on Verizon. Call me an optimist, but I’m hoping for a Verizon iPhone and and iPad with a camera for Valentine’s Day. An AT&T iPhone is a non-starter because of the lousy coverage.

    Have you read Robin Hobb’s books? I don’t normally care for the fantasy genre but The Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies were outstanding! I also liked the Liveship Traders. Her newest is Rain Wilds Chronicle. Enjoyable, but not her best.

    Enjoy the beach!

  3. As for the phone, I had the same problem with AT&T and had to ditch my much beloved iPhone. I went with Sprint, however, and got the HTC EVO. It’s fun to explore the Android platform with so many new and different possibilities. I recommend whichever phone is equivalent or better than the EVO from Verizon. It even has a front facing camera which I’ve used only once (with Tango to replace Face Time). I’m not at all disappointed.

  4. I answered 2 out of the 3 questions via twitter a couple of hours ago. and only checked my RSS reader now. So, if it’s speed in response, twitter seems to win.

    and, seriously, leave the books at home. you’re heading to a tropical beach. go chase some turtles or something. you can read on the plane.

  5. as far as books go I can recommend Sleepless by Charlie Huston which is some kind of near future, urban sci-fi thing but clever and fun.

    any of the later George Pelecanos stuff (esp Drama City and The Night Gardener) – he was one of the writers for the Wire and his novels share a point of view and attitude with the show.

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