Shopping Blog Posts

September 5, 2021

Packing Cables

Recently I took an overnight trip and had to bring various cables with me for a video project. I needed to make sure that I had enough cables to charge all my various camera devices.

Electronic Storage Bag

I purchased a small electronic storage bag to help organize my cables. My thought was to get something small so that I wouldn't overpack and bring a lot of cables that I wouldn't use

Cable Bag Trip

Six Things I Learned

This particular unit has ably 9 cable compartments and it seemed to be the right number of cables that I needed.

When packing, I discovered that I have too many cables that look alike. I thought that it would be a problem when it came time to find a cable, as I would be confused about picking the right one. I ended up selecting different color cables to make my life easier later.

I packed some MicroUSB adapters for lightning cables and USB-C. I didn't end up using these but thought they would be handy to have - just in case I needed them.

I think for future trips it would be better to actually label the cables. That way I know what cable is for what. It would help figure out if I actually have enough cables. I thought I wouldn't need to do that, but looking back it would make it easier to certify that I have a cable for a particular device - instead of thinking I do.

The storage bag has sockets to keep the cables organized. I don't really need twist ties to keep the cable together.

I am considering buying another electronic storage bag just for audio cables. I think it would help find particular cables. The bag comes in black and green. Having two colors will make it easy to find the cable category I need.

Great Investment

A electronic storage bag is very useful to have when traveling with various cable types. It makes it easy to find a particular cable instead of searching for the bottom of the bag.

August 29, 2021

Amazon Deals

You should know that Amazon doesn't always have the best deals. They certainly have the beat select but don't expect them to have the best deals.

You should shop around.

Screwdriver Example

This past weekend I was in a local hardware store buying some motor oil for my lawn motor. As I was browsing around the store, I was checking some of the screwdrivers. I was thinking that I should pick up a Phillips and a slotted screwdriver. You can never have too many screwdrivers.

I saw that they were under $3 each and decided to get them.

When I got home, I pulled out my Amazon app, and scanned the barcode. I was surprised that the exact same screwdriver is selling for $11.90.


Amazon Price

Screw Driver Amazon
Wow. So Expensive!

Local Store Price

Local Screwdiver
Receipt From Local Store

Other Products Too

I have seen this with other products, such as USB Wall Chargers and Lightning cable. I have seen these at "Five Below" for around $5 each. They go for about $8+ on

Shop Smart on

No question that is a very convenient place to shop. I would recommend checking local stores for smaller items as they may be cheaper.

Just because offers "free shipping" doesn't mean that you're getting the best deal in town.

February 21, 2021

Wonido Indoor TV Antenna

Last month we realized that we needed a digital HDTV Antenna for our Living Room TV. We recently cut the cord - again - the story behind that is a blog post for another day.

The digital HDTV Antenna that we had in the room was needed in the home office. We wanted something different than a typical flat antenna that would go in a window.

Wonido Desktop
Wonido Mobile

Wonido Antenna

We found the Wonido Digital HDTV Antenna. It seems to be the perfect device. It's a small antenna that could be put on a shelf and not look bad. It has a range of 150 miles - which is pretty impressive for a small device. (I remember seeing large TV antennas in the attic that didn't have that range.)

Installation was simple. Simply plug in the antenna into the TV and then plug in the USB for power. We plugged the USB into the TV instead of a power jack because it was easier to use the TV.

Once connected we told the TV to scan for available "Over The Air" channels. The Wonido device is currently sitting behind the TV.

We got 44 channels via the DTC air. Which is pretty good because the FTC website says that we should be getting only 20 channels. The weakest signal being 63 miles away.

Wonido Channel Scan Desktop
Wonido Channel Scan Mobile

Samsung TV Scan

The above screenshot is from a Samsung TV.

The "Air" category will always be zero since the FCC removed that category in July of 2020. All broadcasts are now over the "DTV Air."

TV Plus is content from Samsung and not something that is from the Wonido Antenna. This is a free ad-supported Smart TV video service. We get instant access to news, sports, entertainment, and more. Samsung provides a list of all the available channels on their website.

Misc Notes

I think if we move the antenna we may get a better signal range. The TV might be blocking the signal strength.

The TV signal is a bit weak on stormy days. We see some delays while watching the news during a snowstorm. It isn't that bad and maybe moving the device will minimize the distraction.

I noticed during the Super Bowl this year that the audio wasn't aligned to the video. I noticed this more during the halftime show.

The Wonido Antenna is highly recommend and for $27.99 it is worth the price. You can find the Wonido device on

October 4, 2020

Clip-on Microphone

Sometimes you need a quality microphone for your iPhone. That's why every iPhone videographer should have a clip-on microphone in their utility bag.

Getting quality audio is critical to any videographer game plan. The clip-on microphone can help get the best possible audio when the standard camera audio just won't work.

Last month I purchased the Ultimate Lavalier Microphone for Bloggers and Vloggers Lapel Mic Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser for iPhone on Amazon. This has come in handy several times when filming.

Five Things I Learned

  1. Super cheap $10 for 2 microphones. No excuse to get one for those just in case moments.
  2. This microphone has the TRRS audio jack which is supported in every iPhone that Apple has made. It also works on an iMac audio port.
  3. This means you can use an old iPhone as an alternative audio source for your videos. Have an old iPhone 5s? Why not put it to use?
  4. Sound quality is good. I tested against various audio clips and found it to be good.
  5. The nice thing is that you can put the microphone in places where the iPhone may not fit. This gives the videographer the flexibility to record audio from a speaker when the iPhone can't easily be placed.
August 9, 2020

Magic Arm with Clamp

One of the cool camera accessories that I recently purchased was the Fomito 11 inch Inch Articulating Magic Arm + Super Clamp for Camera, LCD Monitor, LED Video Light. (Otherwise known as a Magic Arm) I have found this to be a really cool camera tool.

A magic arm is basically a tool that has a clamp on one end. and a tripod mounts on the other end.

I have found it serves two useful services:

  1. It gives you the power to extend your tripod by having having a second camera on the tripod.
  2. Mount a camera and then angle the camera any way that you want.

Tripod Extension

Magic Arm Church Desktop
Magic Arm on a tripod at Church
Magic Arm Church Mobile
Magic Arm on a tripod at Church

This camera tool allows me to control two cameras on a tripod.

Previously I had two cameras set up to record a church event on two tripods. This was a problem because it involved managing both tripods, it also means that at some point I would have to move two tripods so they wouldn't get in the way. It was also difficult to manage the content between the two tripods.

Now with the Magic Arm, I can better manage two cameras. One camera controls the wide shot and the other controls the close-up shots. Now it happens on one tripod.

Production Tip: Having a second camera is great for filler shots or with audio as some camera handle audio better than others.

Mount Anywhere

Magic Arm Tree Desktop
Watching a birds nest with the Magic Arm
Magic Arm Tree Mobile
Watching a birds nest with the Magic Arm

The nice thing about the magic arm is that you can mount it anyplace. Even in a tree. The grip is very strong and can hold an iPhone or a GoPro for hours. ( I wouldn't put a DSLR on it. )

However, the magic arm isn't safe for wet conditions as I suspect over time it could get rusty or the joint may not work well. If you are doing this for a rainy, damp environment. You'll probably better off with a Joby GorillaPod.

Magic Arm is Great to Have

I highly recommend getting one of these for your photography toolkit. It can come in handy for a variety of reasons.

There are different manufactors for the magic arm, I found the Fomito 11 inch Inch Articulating Magic Arm + Super Clamp for Camera, LCD Monitor, LED Video Light best for my needs. The Pluto Magic Arm with Clamp over at B&H looks good.

You never know when you need to have a second camera mount on a tripod. The magic arm is a great tool to have, just in case you need it.

December 8, 2019

Amazon Pricing

This weekend I was looking around Amazon - checking for deals on Lighting Cables. I wanted to get a couple of cables for my car and backpack.

Amazon Basic are great cables to have as secondary cables. They are cheap and reliable.

However, this weekend I noticed something interesting- check out these screenshots:

Amazon Select Size

Basically, I'll pay $23.99 for a 2-Pack. However, if I buy 2 1-packs it will cost $19.90.

Certainly pays to think about what your ordering - and pay attention to prices when you want multiple items.

I also notice that prices on mobile were a bit cheaper than shopping on desktop - interesting!

January 13, 2019

CShells 2019

Back on October 2006, I blogged about getting CShells storage containers. It was a quick blog of the advantages of getting CShells

Not Familar with CShells?

These are great containers to safely hold CDs or DVDs. They are strong lightweight covers that are more durable than a standard CD case.

They are great when giving someone CDs or DVDs as a gift.

Time to Order Again

I have been running low on my supply at home. As we have been giving CShell’s with CDs/DVDs out for various birthday events.

I was very happy to see that was still in business. I purchased 50 pack of classic clear for $18.60 plus $17.25 for a total of $35.85. That comes out to $1.39 a CShell.

A 100 would have cost $54.69, including ground shipping, which is $.55 a CShell. This would have been a better option - and probably the quantity that I would order for the next time.

Just A Good

I compared the case to the ones that I ordered in 2006 and they are the same quality. It's nice to know that 13-years later that they aren't cheap versions of a classic storage container.

November 4, 2018

Flickr Price Changes

Last Week Flickr announced some major changes with the Flickr service. Basically, the FREE plan is going to get limited. Here's the information from Flickr website:

Free accounts will soon be limited to 1,000 photos or videos. Flickr isn't Flickr without the contributions and participation of our free members, and we remain committed to a vibrant free offering.

If you are a free member with more than 1,000 photos or videos, you will have ample time to upgrade to Pro (for 30% off your first year) or download your photos and videos.*

Free members have until January 3, 2019, to upgrade to the Pro Plan. After that date, if your Free account has more than 1,000 photos you will not be able to add anything. On February 5, 2019, Flickr will start removing files.

Slight Problem For My Account

flickr Account

Currently I have 209,701 images in my Flickr account! This is using about 60% of my 1TB allowance.

I haven't decided if it's worth spending $49.99 to save 208,701 files. I did check out some of the other services such as iCloud and Google Drive and Flickr is at the right price point.

It's possible that I might purchase the Flickr Pro Plan just to buy some additional time to back up the files and find a good long-term solution.

My primary usage on Flickr is sharing daily photos that I take of my daughter. I have albums created each month to highlight her going to school every day.

Cloud Pricing

Some of the current cloud pricing.
August 6, 2017

Stop and Shop Self Checkout Belt

Today we did our weekly shopping at Stop and Shop in Framingham, and decided to use the self-checkout since the lines were smaller.

As part of the checkout procedure, you ring up the merchandise and then put it on the belt where it gets weighted to verify the item. The item then moves to the bagging area. You are not allowed to touch the product when it's on the verification belt.

We purchased several Kool-Aid small packets, and we noticed that several packets were going under the rollers in the bagging area.

We informed the cashier assistant and they told us that we could go get another one or she would take the item off our order. It seemed weird that she didn't attempt to retrieve the item. We opted to have the item removed from our order.

A few minutes later we were stopped because of a coupon error. While waiting for the self-service cashier, we looked at the checkout belt, and wondered if it could be moved.

Turns out it can be lifted, and it was easy to get the merchandise. I got it, and we rung the item back in.

Loading Area Map
Map of the Loading Area at the Self Checkout. Simply lift the area between the black belt and the loading area to retrieve items that might have fallen in.

Not sure why they don't know about lifting the bagging area belt. There were several other items that fell through, including a Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing envelope.

July 8, 2017

Monopod as a Tripod

One of the nice things about the Arespark Self-portrait Monopod is that it has a tripod mount on the bottom of it. I just happen to have a small tabletop tripod that I thought might be interesting to try out.

I wondered if it would work - would the mini table top stand be strong enough to hold the Arespark Self-portrait Monopod... and it does! Although not 100% stable, but good enough to keep an iPhone Plus camera steady.

Monopod Grass Photo

This is a very handy combination. If you need a tripod to keep a shot steady when you're going to be sitting for a long period of time. For example. I found this handy when filming a gymnastics routine.

The Arespark is at a perfect height when sitting down. I can use the Tripod combination to have a nice steady shot for a long period of time without having my hands tired.


I purchased the "iGadgitz PT310 Mini Lightweight Table Top Stand Tripod and Grip Stabilizer for Digital Camera" for a recent Disney trip. It works great as a table mount tripod and as a camera stabilizer. Currently cost $15.99 on

This worked really well to take videos walking down Main Street USA. Also useful when you want to take night photos and need a stable shot. Travels well as it only weights 180 grams. Works really well with any camera type including DSLRs.

Arespark Self-portrait Monopod

This is an awesome Selfie Stick as it can extend to 50 inches. Perfect for any shot that you need an extended reach. This currently costs $17.99 on Amazon and certainly worth having in your collection.

I like using this when I need to get shots well above my head.