I’ve just cleared all of my credit card debt via a personal consolidation loan and then I was browsing Facebook and BAM! something I had been considering for a while appeared in a Facebook ad for $300 less than other retailers. I click on the Facebook ad and suddenly I am clicking add to cart on three items; although I did pause for a moment while I applied for 42nd Street Photo credit from a link in the cart.
I was provisionally accepted for credit and they said they would call me shortly to complete the order. But, after 20 minutes there was still no call; so I went ahead and put it on my American Express card. It’s now two hours later and I still have not received a call, so they have lost out of that interest on the credit.
So what did I buy you ask? well, it’s in the title of this write-up… I have been wanting to move upto a prosumer DSLR camera as I have reached the limit of what I can do with my current consumer DSLR.
I would say that I am a professional real estate photographer as it’s a large part of my work as an Internet Marketing Specialist for a property management company. I could have gone for an older full frame camera; but I elected to stay with the APS-C format as I already have multiple EF-S lenses.
Now, this is where I justify the cost to myself, which is close to $1,500. My current EOS T3i and EF-S 10-18mm reflects it’s $800 price; the lens does not have the best glass; frequently creating ghosting and flaring of light sources, which I have to Photoshop out, adding extra processing time after the shoot.
This upgrade also provides me a higher dynamic range, better video recording functionality and the ability to have more than three auto bracketed shots, the EOS 80D allows upto seven brackets; which will help with my use of HDR photography. The EF-S 10-22mm lens is a straight replacement for my 10-18mm which has caused me so many issues with flaring and ghosting over the past two years of property shoots.
I do some shoots outside of my full time employment; but I am looking to expand on that. Wichita really needs some good property photography; trawling Craigslist reveals the terrible state of real estate photography, even million dollar homes have dark and blurry photography. I think there is money to be made if I price my service correctly. I was thinking about $100 per photo shoot, plus mileage over 25mi.
Of course, this means I need to get my shit together and create a portfolio website and start marketing to real estate companies here in Wichita. I hope that these companies want to step up their game and not be content with the horrible photos they are using currently in their marketing online. Point and shoot cameras focusing on bright windows, which also is the light metering point does not cut it in my view.
Maybe I am misreading the market for quality real estate photography and the upgrade may not make me any extra cash; but I want to improve my photography and this new camera and lens will allow me to do that. Knowing I can personally do better, but being limited by equipment frustrates me immensely.
I will write a full review of the Canon EOS 80D and EF-S 10-22mm Lens after a few shoots.
I have talked about it previously but had not taken out a personal consolidation loan until now. So I decided on a round figure of $24,000 which pays off my wife’s Discover, my Discover, AMEX and our bank VISA credit card. The interest rate is not the greatest in the world at 13.99%; although I thought that over the phone we agreed on 11.99% because I chose automatic payments, but I am not 100% sure on that!
My payment is just under $500 a month over 72 months, which is a little more than the minimum payment requirements; but less than what I was actually paying on the credit cards. The aim with this consolidation loan was not to reduce the payment amount; but to create some structure with a single payment instead of four separate payments while limiting spending on the four credit cards.
Due to a slight miscalculation of not factoring in interest accrued while the loan was processing; I still have a small balance on my bank VISA; but that is manageable; I can zero that balance in a few months.
The downside of taking out this loan at such a high interest rate is that I will be paying close to $12,000 interest; but that is less than the interest rates of the credit cards that ranged from 16.24% to 20.24%.
From a personal point of view; I feel much better about my finances. Before I felt that our spending was out of control due to mostly medical bills and short term unemployment; bills continue to come in even if you don’t have cash readily on hand. I require structure in my finances and credit cards don’t offer that.
Moving onto my [ almost ] sugar free diet; since the scare with my eyesight, I have been trying really hard to limit my sugar intake. Which means no more Pepsi, which is the toughest pill to swallow, I previously had too much blood in my Pepsi stream. I was not much of a candy eater; but now I can’t have the candy; I suddenly want it more. It is amazing how much you take things for granted until they’re gone.
I have even started taking Splenda in my tea and coffee; which is taking some getting used to. But it’s all for a good cause; that cause being saving my eyesight. Yes, I should say that I have type 2 diabetes, hence the sugar free diet; something I did not take that seriously until it impacted my visual acuity.
I also suffer from depression at times and this sudden change to little to no sugar in my diet has made that depression worse. I find myself to be short tempered, especially with the kids constantly in and out of my office while I am trying to work. Another example, which happened just this morning is my office door doesn’t always latch first time; I found myself getting angry with the door as stupid as it sounds.
I’m hoping that this irritability will go away in time as my body adjusts to a very low sugar diet. You wouldn’t think giving up sugar would be so tough, the Pepsi in particularly had become like a drug for me, drinking upto four liters a day. I guess for a couple of months I will be saying sorry to my family a lot after I snap at them for very minor things. I don’t like feeling this way, but I must stick with the program.
I’ll start with my experience of Vision Care 4 Life and Wendy Foster, O.D. I really don’t have a bad word to say about my whole experience at Vision Care 4 Life; everyone was friendly and professional from the moment I made the appointment through to picking up my glasses. If I do have a complaint, it’d be that they overcharged me; but they were honest and refunded my money when the mistake was noticed.
Doctor Foster was amazing, she listened to what I had to say about how I felt my eyesight was and did thorough testing of my eyes. This is an experience I have never had before, my previous optician at Greene Vision Group dismissed my opinion of what I was seeing, which could be a major cause of my current diagnosis of diabetic macular edema. Now diagnosed, hopefully we can do something about it.
As I said above, I was overcharged by a significant amount of money; over $350; but the mistake was found and a refund issued so I can’t ding them too hard for that. But I did have a shock when a new pair of glasses and a thorough eye exam came to $1,004. Despite the shock, I accepted the amount as I did not have dedicated vision insurance; this being the only year I hadn’t been covered by vision insurance.
The new glasses; despite not improving the distance I can see; they have cleared up my vision, everything is sharper and clearer with a combination of Transitions and Crizal. I was shocked while I was driving home while the sun was setting; normally driving into the sun blinds me; but with the new glasses I could still see clearly despite the sun immediately in front of me, which is a completely new experience for me.
Later after dark; street lights and car lights were sharp and in focus with zero glare; a huge step up from the Teflon coated lenses that these glasses replaced. Overall I am very happy, let’s hope that the reason that triggered this visit to Vision Care 4 Life, renewing my drivers license goes smoothly, I spend all this money to be able to continue to drive, my livelihood depends on it as I need to visit properties.
PS: Apologies for subjecting y’all to my ugly mug in the feature image; it’s really me, greying beard ‘n all.
UPDATE [Oct, 25 2016, 23:21]: I went to renew my drivers license today and I barely scraped through the vision test. It took me three attempts to pass the vision test and frankly I was guessing for the most part, I could not see line 5 clearly. I’m good for another six years; but I want to see what I can do to improve my visual acuity for the next time. The idea of losing my eyesight is a very scary prospect.
I have a follow up appointment with Dr. Foster next Monday, so I will be discussing my options with her. My vision deteriorating has really scared me into taking action over my diabetes and general health.
Today has been an exceptionally bad day for me and a financially costly one to boot. This morning I went to get my eyes tested for new glasses as I knew my vision had deteriorated since my last exam about three years ago. The news was not good; I found out I have multiple vision issues and all the various tests plus frames and lenses came to a whopping $1,004, I know I went for Transitions and Crizal, but wow.
First I discovered that I have cataracts developing, but that is nothing, I have diabetic macular edema, which is borderline and unless I take drastic action with diet in addition to what I have already done with diet and medication, it could end up all but blinding me. This is very worrying as I am just about to turn 40; which is very young to be having these sort of issues with my eyesight, it’s definitely a wake-up call.
My vision is considered to be 20/30 with my new glasses, which I should get in about 2 weeks. This is OK, it means I am able to drive safely and perform everyday tasks for my professional and personal life. I will be getting progressive lenses, which are bi-focals without the visible line. Previously I was able to get a single prescription, but my long and short sight has diverged so much I need progressives in a single lens.
I’ll need to take some steroids in conjunction with eye drops for two weeks before I have another appointment to see if that had helped. After another three months, I have another appointment to check up on my vision, so that’s probably another $400-$500 in costs, but my vision is important to me. I don’t want to go blind and be a burden on my family as I won’t be able to drive and work in future years.
I am very annoyed as Greene Vision Group completely failed to notice any of these problems as my current optician said that this sort of damage is long term, not just a few years. My experience with Greene Vision Group was not good, I felt their optician was dismissive of my issues and don’t believe they got my prescription quite right, even after taking close to four weeks to deliver my current glasses.
Fast forward to 3:40pm, I was backing out of my garage to pick up my daughter and because my vision was still impaired from the dilation of my eyes, I clipped my drivers side wing mirror and broke it. I know this will cost a little under $500 to fix as I’ve had to have it fixed twice before, once when an unknown driver hit the mirror while I was in a property and again when my wife did exactly what I did today.
I’m really angry with myself for trying to drive, my visual acuity was nowhere near upto driving, but being stubborn, I tried to power through and bang; another $500 down the drain. I wanted to reduce my credit card balances, but that will obviously not happen for a while with these new charges incurred today.
After five years of dual 1080p displays, I finally made the jump to 1440p; and not just plain old 1440p, but 1440p ultrawide, that’s 3440×1440. I decided to purchase the Dell UltraSharp U3415W PXF79 34″ Curved LED Monitor. After five days of use, I’m very happy with my purchase, a big step up in image quality.
First thing you notice is the U3415W’s size, it takes up almost as much space as two 24″ 1080p monitors. But in my view it does not 100% replace a second monitor; especially if you are used to dual screens. I decided to keep one of my 1080p panels as a secondary screen for Email or video streaming. But I do find myself only using the U3415W panel often as I can have two 900p windows side-by-side.
The biggest difference other than size is the amount of pixels, close to five million of them. That’s 800,000 more pixels than the two 1080p displays that the U3415W replaced. The image is much sharper and despite the Windows elements being smaller than the 1080p screen, text is easier to read in general.
Unlike some other ultrawide monitors available now; the U3415W only supports a 60hz refresh rate, which I believe is enough for everyday use; yes, others are able to “overclock” to 75hz or 100hz, but those panels come at a premium of over $1,000. The U3415W has a GTG response time of 5ms, although you do have to change a setting in the menu from “normal” to “fast” to get that 5ms response time.
Color uniformity is excellent, I didn’t notice any issues with color uniformity across the screen. Backlight uniformity looks as impressive across the whole screen, however like many IPS panels, there is significant corner light bleed. This is not noticeable in normal lighting conditions, but in darker rooms, there is a distinct glow in the corners of the screen, but it’s not so bright that it’s overly distracting to my eye.
The curve of the screen is not noticeable at normal distance. However the curve is more noticeable moving back away from the screen. I’m not convinced by the claim that curved screens make gaming more immersive. I played UT3 with a friend and felt no more immersed than when playing on a flat panel.
Where the Dell Ultrasharp excels is productivity work; which was the main reason for the U3415W purchase. Having close to 3,000,000 extra pixels makes a massive difference to my effective productivity. It’s nice to be able to maximize Photoshop and editing an image with more pixels displayed onscreen. The color accuracy looks pretty good to my eye, it’s light years ahead of the Dell ST2421L it replaced.
If you consume streaming media such as Youtube, it produces thick vertical black bars. Sadly there is not too much content outside of Bluray/DVD that takes advantage of the 21:9 aspect ratio and games often stretch to fit the aspect distorting the image. This does not bother me as online video was not the driving force for my purchase; I use my secondary 1080p screen for consuming online streaming video.
Connectivity is excellent, it has inputs for mini-DP, DP, HDMI and USB, audio in and out. The only thing missing is DVI, which doesn’t matter as DVI only supports 2560×1600. Although, from my perspective, finding the inputs and inserting the cables can be difficult without laying the panel on it’s front. Speaking of cables, the U3415W comes with USB, mini-DP to DP and HDMI cables to get you started out of the box.
Final thoughts are; if you are thinking of buying this for more immersive gaming, skip it, save some money and get a flat panel. If you want to use this panel for productivity; particularly for graphics/photo work, I recommend it wholeheartedly. The U3415W is a good monitor, but you could buy a 16:9 1440p monitor for a lot less money and get almost as good an experience as using an ultrawide like the UW3415W.
After a lot of internal conflict, i.e. justifying the $750 cost compared to sticking with my two Dell ST2421L 24 inch 1080p LED monitors. I have made the decision to buy a Dell U3415W 34 inch 1440p IPS Ultrawide monitor to have a single main display with secondary 1080p display for Email or maybe streaming media.
I have always kinda skimped on monitors, my current setup only cost $300 for both screens, and I also skimped on getting IPS in favor of the cheaper LED LCD technology. Rather annoyingly, my current setup has a different color balance on each panel, which bugs me, but I have managed to live with it for three years, it’s now time to change that mentality, which is why I decided to make the leap to the U3415W.
I just hope that my current Sapphire R9 270X 4GB will be able to handle pushing almost twice as many pixels. I’d rather not have to purchase another graphics card at this time. I don’t care about 1440p gaming, I’m happy to play at 1080p like I currently do as I am not a serious gamer, I probably log less than 3 hours a week on games. The reason for the upgrade is better productivity and work related tasks.
My occupation involves photography and I would like a better display, specifically IPS technology for better color reproduction and also a larger work area in Photoshop. 1080p really doesn’t cut it anymore and 4k is overkill; I would need a 40+ inch display to be able to read the text without scaling enabled; which negates the extra 4k screen real estate. I couldn’t even imagine using a 28 inch 4k screen.
I will write a review of the Dell U3415W once I have received and used the display for a few weeks.
The Malaysian Grand Prix could be a pivot point of the season with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton suffering an engine failure while team mate Nico Rosberg fought back from 17th to third place after being tipped into a spin by the fast starting Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel at turn one on the opening lap of the race.
The race started with a bang, Hamilton got away cleanly to lead out of the first corner while Vettel got a fantastic start to find himself on the inside of Max Verstappen and Rosberg going into turn 1. As Rosberg turned in to take the racing line ahead of Verstappen, Vettel clipped the right rear of Rosberg’s car tipping him into a spin while Vettel suffered broken front left suspension ending his race before turn 2.
The first lap incident caused the VSC to be deployed which triggered an inevitable series of pit stops before the restart on lap 3 in which Verstappen caught Force India’s Sergio Perez napping to snatch third place away from the Mexican. From that point, Perez only went backwards tumbling down the top 10 as faster cars moved passed him, but the Mexican recovered to sixth place by the chequered flag.
Rosberg was involved in another collision as he made what could only be considered an optimistic overtaking attempt into turn 2 on lap 38 clattering into Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. Which rightly earned the German a 10 second time penalty which ultimately didn’t hinder him on route to taking third place.
Lap 41 brought the game changing event, while comfortably leading, Hamilton’s Mercedes power unit blew up spectacularly with flames shooting out of the exhaust as he entered the turn one breaking zone. Obviously this ended his race and maybe his hopes of a fourth world championship allowing Rosberg to extend his championship lead to 23 points, which might be tough to overcome in the last five races.
Suddenly we found ourselves looking at the prospect of a Red Bull 1 – 2; which was decided a couple of laps prior to Hamilton’s retirement. Daniel Ricciardo managed to defend what turned out to be the battle for the lead against team mate Verstappen. When Hamilton’s stricken car activated the VSC, Red Bull elected to stack their drivers in the pits, which created a 4 second gap between the dueling team mates.
The young charger, Verstappen managed to close the gap to just over a second despite being on scrubbed soft tires while Ricciardo had brand new soft tires. But I suspect that the Red Bull team called the battle off to avoid a “multi-21” situation. Hamilton’s bad luck (or otherwise if you believe the driver himself) meant the Malaysian GP ended with the first non-Mercedes 1 – 2 for three seasons.
The sole remaining Ferrari of Raikkonen claimed fourth place ahead of Williams’ Valteri Bottas and Force India’s Perez in fifth and sixth. It was a good day for McLaren Honda with a seventh and ninth place finish, which shows improvement overall, especially with Fernando Alonso who started from the back due to engine penalties to recover to seventh with an upgraded Honda power unit in the back of his McLaren.
The second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg claimed eighth place after a somewhat anonymous race while Briton Jolyon Palmer earned a rare point for Renault, bringing his yellow machine home in 10th place.
So that’s the race that was the Malaysian Grand Prix; now a personal view. The first lap incident was a racing incident in my view, despite the FIA stewards feeling differently handing Vettel a three place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix. Although with the similarities between this incident and the incident at Spa, I think Vettel should feel some verbal pain like Verstappen did, from Vettel himself after Spa.
The level of disappointment I have for my son is off the scale right now. I recently wrote about how he consistently lies to my wife and I. Now we have issues at school coupled with defiance of our wishes.
At the end of last week, I get a phone call saying that he was placed in the D & F list at school for failing grades. It later turned out that he had done the work in the class that he received an F and that changed to an A as his teacher allowed the assignments to me handed in late, one was over two weeks late.
If it wasn’t for the notification from the school; we would never have known and it would have remained an F. Our son just does not care about school, all he cares about is video games and computers; he does his school work to get to the electronics, without that to incentivize him, he’d fail every class.
Yesterday, I received an Email from his math teacher explaining that when the kids finish their math tasks early, she allowed free-time on the school Chromebooks. She continued on to say that our son kept pestering her to use the Chromebook several times daily and then he became argumentative when she said no. To add insult, our son threatened to not do any school work unless he got Chromebook time.
I printed out the Email and made my son read it and his response was “I guess I won’t get any Chromebook time then”, completely unrepentant. When my wife arrived home and we tried to talk to him, he simply stared at us impassively, like what we had to say was not important in the slightest.
The third issue, remember, all this has happened since 9/16, our son has continued to use up his lunch account to eat breakfast in school, despite us telling him to stop, he had plenty of time to eat at home. Bottom line, we told him two weeks ago to stop eating school breakfast, if he continued, we would not refill his lunch account, he ignored us, now he’ll go hungry for the rest of this week, he had been warned!
Our son is 12 years old; he knows exactly what he is doing. I’m sick of bailing him out, he will have to face the real world consequences, which in this case is having to go hungry while at school. Maybe this will pull him back to reality, I will not tolerate any more of these behaviors. He’s about to be a teenager, it’s about time he took responsibility for his actions and stop making excuses for his behavior.
Update [Sep, 22 2016, 17:28]: Now I am pissed off with the school, despite having no funds in his meal account due to the issues above, the school has allowed him to keep charging the account despite it being -$8.65, it’s now -$10.95. I didn’t authorize these charges and I don’t intend to pay, I will be visiting the school tomorrow. My daughter’s school has a better system of calling when her account is negative.
I’m also pissed at my son, who made the decision to ignore me and take lunch anyway. Ultimately I don’t like the system, charging the child’s account regardless of whether parents have the money or not is unacceptable. If an account is negative $8.65, chances are that they cannot afford to pay, so adding more charges to the account makes the problem worse and could end up going to collections, ruining lives.
Our situation is different, I am trying to teach our son a life lesson, clearly a lesson that won’t be learned because the school gives him lunch and bill us despite being almost weeks worth of meals in arrears.
As a real estate marketer; photography is a big part of my work and I feel I have reached the limit of what is possible with my current setup. Currently I have a Canon EOS Rebel T3i coupled with an EF-S 10-18mm lens, which definitely fall into the consumer arena. I have been feeling like I need to take the step up to the next level for about a year now, the limitation of consumer DSLR’s is becoming apparent to me.
Of course I would love to move upto a full frame DSLR like the Canon EOS 5D MK-IV but $3,500 just for the body is out of my price range. Also, I would have to replace all my lenses as EF-S lenses are designed specifically for APS-C sensors and not their 35mm equivalent full frame counterparts like the Canon 5D.
I have been looking at the new Canon EOS 80D which offers upto 7 AE bracketed shots, my T3i only has the option for three AE brackets. This is important to me as I use HDR to maximize the dynamic range of the shot, e.g. correctly exposing the room while being able to see the view out from the window.
I would also like to upgrade my ultra-wide angle lens to a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens, my current EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens has issues with flaring of light sources and falls into the budget end of the spectrum at $300, not to complain, it’s less than half the price of the EF-S 10-22mm.
The total outlay for the EOS 80D and EF-S 10-22mm lens would be about $1,850 which seems like a lot, but given that the camera body for the 5D is $1,650 more than the 80D and 10-22mm lens and I can still use all my existing lenses, it represents excellent value given the jump in quality and features.
No-one has complained about the quality of my photography, infact most have been incredibly complimentary about my work. So from a professional standpoint I do not need to upgrade, it comes down to my personal need to improve my photography. I am incredibly critical of my own work, I am never 100% happy with my own work, I always believe I can do better, a character flaw you might say.
It will be a battle within myself, I do want better equipment to improve my photography; but the frugal nature of my being fights against spending any money unless absolutely necessary. Adding close to $2,000 to my credit card balances is not something I want to do, but I also want new camera equipment.
I always write this first when writing about my 12 year old son; he is a high functioning autistic child although I don’t believe this issue is related to his autism diagnosis. We have had issues for years in regards to breaking house rules and lying; and talking to him seemingly falls on deaf ears every time.
I’m all about action and consequences; for every action, there is a consequence. We have set up a system where our son has to make his own decisions and take the consequences of those decisions. We allow him 14 hours of “electronic game time” per week, which he can use as he pleases; but after that time has elapsed, there’s no more game time for that week, this seems to be working well overall.
But I recently discovered that he has been using his blu-ray player to indulge his gaming, let’s call it obsession. Watching YouTube videos of other people playing video games. He spends all his time in his room when not playing video games as we don’t allow tablets, consoles and laptops in his room.
Each time we enter his room, knocking first and waiting a few seconds, I see him frantically changing video sources on his TV. But he gets caught as it’s an older LED TV that takes 5-7 seconds to change source. Every time we ask what he is doing and he has used such excuses as “you scared me”, “it was an accident” and “I pressed the wrong button”. We have expressed how suspicious this looks, if he is not doing anything wrong, then why does it happen one or two times nearly every day?
Our son clams up because he knows he is a terrible liar and gets busted every time; so this time I forced the issue telling him I am taking his TV away if he doesn’t tell me. Again, he says nothing until I go to his TV and start pulling out cables and suddenly he says “I was watching PLEX”. Something I know was a lie as our home PLEX server was offline at that time. The net result was the removal of his TV and “game time”.
This is when the penny dropped for me; I realized that his blu-ray player has YouTube built into the firmware. I quizzed my son about it and he admitted that he was watching YouTube; something he knows is only allowed as part of his game time as he only ever watches video game content; usually others playing, he had taken a broken PS3 controller into his room, pretending to be playing the game.
It’s easy to say “let him go; he’s not doing any harm”, but I disagree with that sentiment. We all have to abide by rules; and he needs to be taught that even as adults, we cannot simply ignore rules; there are consequences to our actions. I honestly think there is a general lack of respect for adults by children given the way kids act today, I would never had dreamt about acting like that when growing up in the 80s.
I feel that if we let him get away with it; this behavior will snowball as without consequences, it only encourages this kind of behavior. Autistic or not; children need boundaries, without these boundaries, we end up with someone like Donald Trump, who will lie, cheat and take no responsibility for his actions. My son is heading that way, it’s someone elses fault or he doesn’t believe the rules should apply to him.
I find our son’s behavior disappointing and frustrating; I find myself not taking what he says at face value anymore. I always fact check what he tells me as he has lied so much that I can not trust what he says anymore. I know this is a horrible thing to say about your own child, but what else can I do, I can’t live life with my head buried in the sand, pretending everything is hunky dory when there is clearly a problem.
We are at a loss to what to do to combat this rule breaking and lying. I have read articles that say we should not punish an autistic child, instead talk to them, explain what they did wrong; which in our case does zero to curb the behavior. We have not raised him to be like this; I see this as a lack of respect for us as parents given that he knows he is breaking the rules, his trying to hide his actions and lying proves this.
I don’t think he’s a bad kid; I think some of it comes down to genetics, his biological father who has had zero relationship with him has the same traits. How can we combat genetics if that’s whats causing him to lie consistently. He has lied about everything, last year it was school grades and bullying related.