Mar 18 - Two New Gizmos

 Before I get to the topic referred to in the title of this post, I have to share this. My little sister Jan found the following police report recently in our hometown (Beaver Dam, WI.) newspaper. I've reported on these police news items before... to lighten things up a bit and for the benefit of all you folks out there confined to the ant hill metro-plexes and megalopolises of this hurting country of ours. So many people just don't understand the nature of life in small towns. They're generally surprised, not by the incidents themselves, but that said incidents are news... and actually make it into print in the local newspaper. So, here goes...

Investigation: Police responded to the 200 block of West Street on Monday at 4:50pm for the report of a snowman that appeared to be making an obscene gesture.  The snowman had been made with a middle finger pointed upwards. No action was taken after police arrived and observed the snowman was melting.

I'm sure Andy and Barney would have handled it the same way. What's that old adage... something like "if you wait long enough most problems resolve themselves."

Now on to the main topic at hand.  Dar and I have acquired a couple electronic gizmos that we hope will add a little quality to our nomadic life. The first is a small scanner... but not just your run-of-the-mill scanner. No sir. This one has a lot going for it from our perspective: it's very small and light, it's totally portable, and has it's own memory and battery power so it doesn't have to be connected to a PC at all while scanning. No cables, no stinkin' computers... it's like a little camera that eats paper. We've seen a couple similar units but decided on this one, a Doxie-Go, on the basis of some favorable reviews.

It's very simple to operate and since it's so portable, we can now start scanning and culling the pile of documents causing our file drawer to split at the seams. At least that's the plan. In reality, it's going to take some time. I'm starting with current stuff first and will work backward, hoping a lot of the older stuff will expire and won't need to be kept any longer in any form. My goal is an empty file drawer and a backed up hard drive of the documents we feel must be kept.

(By the way, we have no commercial interest in either product mentioned in this post. If you'd like more info, cut and paste the model names/numbers into a search engine to learn more.)

Another big project the little scanner will help with is the digitizing of old photographs... boxes and boxes that we've got in various corners of various relatives attics and basements and closets. Here again, I'm hoping most of the photos won't have to be scanned... duplicates, blurry focus, etc... but the ones we'll want to hang onto can be scanned quickly and easily with this little portable scanner -- even while we're driving down the road or watching a movie if we choose to.

The other piece of electronic gear we picked up was a new camera. First, a little history. We've had a Canon Digital Rebel SLR, the first iteration, for many years. It was a 6 megapixel model (a little short on pixels these days... but I've always subscribed to the "don't get caught up in the pixel-hype" theory of digital photography). We had a couple nice lenses for it and the whole shebang fit into a bag just a little smaller than a Rollaboard suitcase. I liked the camera, it took very good photos... but for our style of exploring it was just too big. When making the decision about which camera to take on a hike, we'd look at the big "suitcase", and look at the little pocket-able point-n-shoot, and the point-n-shoot won out almost all the time. Sure, our photos probably won't make the cover of National Geographic, but for our purposes they were just fine.

What we did covet, from time to time, is more zoom... a "longer" telephoto lens... to reach out there and drag interesting things closer... to fill the viewfinder with that little bird in the tree over there. So the new camera had to be a balance of small size and a strong telephoto lens, while retaining most of the creative control features of the SLR. We think we found that balance with our new Canon SX-40HS. We're still reading the manual, getting used to the controls, and trying it out... creating a lot of throw-away pics along the way. Early reports are positive. It's small enough to fit in a case on my belt or in a small daypack, it has an amazing 35X telephoto lens (most binoculars are in the 7X to 10X range), and, as a bonus, it shoots HD video. We're looking forward to exploring with it when we leave the Coastal Bend of Texas in a couple weeks.


We've been considering a new camera for some time but until we found a new home for the Digital Rebel... we were reluctant. Last Fall, a couple traveling friends of ours -- Lynne and Fred from Canada -- told us that Fred was looking at getting more serious about photography. We made him a deal... and the rest is history. He's got a great camera for learning the basics of photography, and now we've got a camera that fits our lifestyle a little better.

A win-win.

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