Monday, December 26, 2016

Dronestagram -Drone out in Buffalo and WNY

Monday, December 12, 2016

Backyard Astronomy 101 - Binocular Tips

As many of you that have read my blog know, I love Astronomy. 
I don't write about it daily but it is very deep in my soul. Looking to the stars and what they all mean have a profound effect on me. 
And I am happy to share it with you. 

Lets get to it, here is an unedited pic from my iPhone to a pair of 15X70 Binoculars, made by Celestron.  Now the image quality isn't perfect by any means, but it has some potential.  The examples I took below were on a 26 degrees Fahrenheit evening and it was slightly cloud. 

The first number refers the magnification of binocular. A "15X70" for example, magnifies the view by 15 times. Objects appear 15 times larger than they do without the binoculars.
The second number refers to the objective size (diameter in millimeters). The objectives are the large lenses at the end of the binocular (opposite from the eyepieces). There are roughly 25mm in an inch, so a 15x70 binocular's objectives are approximately 3" in diameter. The size of the objective lenses determines the light-gathering power of the binoculars. Generally speaking, for astronomy binoculars, the larger the objectives, the more you'll see. For daylight usage, the larger the objectives, the brighter and clearer the view will be. But as objective size increases, the physical size and weight of the binocular increases, and price also goes up almost exponentially.  

There are 3 basic keys to capturing a good image through a scope or bino's using a Smartphone. 
They are:

1.) Have a steady mount for the telescope or binocular. If the scope moves a lot you will never get a steady clear shot of whatever you are trying to capture. A strong, sturdy mount is very important to your success! For me it was a $40 camera tripod as the binoculars I purchased came with a bracket to mount to a tripod!

2.) Have a steady hand on the camera and sitting down is very helpful. I always like to sit down or lie down when looking up at the stars. But sitting down while capturing the night sky is most helpful. It will assist your hands on taking a great shot!

2.5) Yes 2.5 because its a little extra tip - Make sure you invest in a nice head lamp. Its easy light, that you don't have to carry in your hands. 


#3.) Post processing!! Since this is an iPhone, there are tons of apps to tweak photos. But I have found Instagram to be a very good tool and allows for quick sharing. 

The next 4 images are untouched, just the raw image from the bino's to the phone.

These last two are the comparison shots, the first image was using the iPhone to crop it. The second image is using Instagram. Pretty impressive and relatively easy! Good luck shooting!   

So with just a pair of Binoculars and a SmartPhone you too can take some pictures of the celestial bodies close to Earth! Hope you give it a try and if you do, let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone

So if you were to ask me 10 or 20 years ago before technology really took off for the human race, that I would own an autonomous flying vehicle, I would have said, please stop doing whatever drugs you are doing because you are crazy! 

But with the year 2016 winding down, I have found myself a proud owner of very high powered 

UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System)
known as the
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone

I purchased it at Best Buy a day before my birthday on lunch in the middle of a workday. 

I could hardly contain my excitement as I opened the case in my car to see this new wonder! 

So how did I come to purchasing this particular one you ask?

I met the CEO Steve McIrvin at the Annual National Association of REALTORS(R) Conference in early November 
(where I met this guy - Ty Burrell!!!)

and I knew right away the drone was a solid piece of equipment. I had been pricing out the DJI Phantom and MAVEC drones and looked at the 
GoPRO SOLO but the price was too high and I had heard enough bad things to that I didn't want them for the price.

I got to see how the drone flew at the event, and then went to 
To find out everything I could about the X-Star and what I found was a crazy amount of great videos and nothing but positive reviews!

The drone is a lot like the DJI Phantom Series, except that the camera comes right off the drone and can be replaced with a new one or even better cameras that are coming. 
I heard Infrared / Heat Signatures! Search and Rescue!

The other thing I liked more than DJI was the hard case that the Premium version gives you.

This is the DJI case, which is just a styrofoam case. To me it looks 
like a beer cooler!

But behold the X-Star case below! Its like James Bond case! Zippers close and is travel ready!

So the Drone case comes packed with the Controller, Drone, 
8 propellers, Battery, Charger for both Controller & Battery,
Neck strap, 64GB mini-SD card, and a instruction manual.

It took about an hour to charge everything up. 

The first thing I had to do was download the updated firmware from their website and then copy the file to the SD Card, insert the card back into the drone and power everything up and it updated everything automatically! 

My first Picture from the drone and outside I went to do a quick night test flight!

The app for the Drone is called Starlink and it works easy and allows you to set waypoints, orbits and follow me. It also has Auto-TakeOff and Auto Landings which make life so much easier! All which I have since tested and they work as intended! 

A great shot of my neighborhood about 250 feet up!

Another nice shot of UB North Campus at around 389 feet!

Here is the "Follow Me" Feature on my drone as my son who drove the truck (which you will see occasionally in the shot!) and I just tried to keep the drone facing the best parts as we drove through our Christmas lighted neighborhood!

And here is my first multi-clip video, merged together for one nice drone flight!

For $699 this Drone is worth it for both consumer and commercial applications!

Go get this drone!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Like with all good things, they must come to an end....

"...and I miss you when you're not around..."

A line from my favorite song by U2 called City of Blinding Lights. Buffalo has reminded me of this song a lot. 

"The more you see the less you know
The less you find out as you go
I knew much more then than I do now..."

Such truth to that statement, and not negatively but in a positive light. As we step out of our comfort zones and we meet new people and try new things we find out that, "the more we see, the less we know." A whole new world is opened up to us that we find ourselves lost again and not nearly as in control as we thought. 

We get so busy with so many things that, "the less you found out as you go." How can we know everything and we feel smaller as we learn more about what is around us. The world is so big that the task of knowing everything is very daunting, and I feel like, "I knew much more then, than I do now..."

Now this blog was not meant to analyze the U2 lyrics but to set the tone for it. 

Buffalo has been amazing these last 5 years, watching so many things happen in the WNY Region that it reminds me of a City of Blinding Lights! From the Downtown, Canalside, HarborCenter, tons of Brewery's, the Medical Campus, and DIG to Buffalo Manufacturing works and the Foundry. I could list 500 more things that have happened between all the items above. And I have been lucky to have witnessed all of it because of my involvement with Infotech WNY. 

I joined the group in November of 2011 when it was called Infotech Niagara. It was formed in 1999 to promote, support and grow regional businesses involved in the advancement of computer technologies. I had no idea it existed until around 2010 after I met Jeff Ross at a Golf Outing that was put on by Infotech and we hit it off right away. Jeff was the Executive Director for the organization and he knew everyone in the WNY tech scene. He said I should consider becoming a BETAS judge (The yearly Awards show they have put on since 2000). I gladly accepted and I became a BETAS Judge for the 2011 BETAS (Buffalo Emerging Technology Awards). It turned out to be a great event and I wanted to do more, so in November of 2011 I was elected on the Board! How exciting!

Fast forward to November 2016, 5 years later, things have been beyond amazing. My blog over these 5 years is proof of that, as I look back on that time and there is so much that has happened that I cannot believe 5 years has passed. I have met many great people here in our Region and our organization has really helped many others grow.

So my tenure has come to an end, I did not run for re-election, and I turned down the role of Chair of the organization as I never did this for the control or power of running an organization, I did it so I could help others see the power of networking, meeting new people, organizing events so that others could grow their, idea, business or sphere of influence, and I did just that!

Thanks for reading my blog and I hope to start something new soon!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

2 WNY Outdoor Reviews - Canalside BFLO Harbor Kayak and Holiday Valley's Sky High Adventure Park.

Just wanted to give you a quick review of my recent visits to new outdoor activities in WNY!

This past Tuesday, Nick and I jumped in the truck and headed to Buffalo's Canalside for a quick kayak up the Buffalo River. We couldn't have picked a better day! We arrived around 11:00 am so it was around 77 degrees and was bright sun with puffy clouds! We parked a ways away as parking was packed downtown. But it was so nice out that the walk was welcomed after the 20 minute drive from home. 

We walked up asked for 2 kayak's; $20 for an hour each including life-jacket and away we went. 

Nick and I have kayak'd before so this was easy to just jump in and go. As you can see they have the Stand Up Paddle boards as well as pedal bikes too. 

Nick and I made it just past Conway Park and then came back and paddled up to the ships and back. 
Lots of Geocache's all over the place on the map! Our path was around 2.4 miles in 1 hour. We took our time too. 

And here are some pics of our journey at eye level! Enjoy! We sure did!

Canalside has so much going on that you will never be bored, from the Naval Park, Liberty Hound to kid activites boats and so much more! Get down here!!

Thank you BFLO Harbor Kayak!

So then on Thursday we said lets go have some fun at an aerial park called Sky High Adventure Park in Holiday Valley. The largest in New York State! It is located near the Tannenbaum Lodge and was about an hour drive south from home. You can make reservations days in advance and they have group and special rates so check their Website out.

Once there, you check in and wait until you are called. You need to sign a release form and you should get that done first! Once you hand in your paperwork you pay $52 for access to the park for 3 hours. We added a pass for the sky coaster which was $6 more bucks for a total of $58 per person. Well worth the admission price! 

You are then fitted with a harness that contains 3 important items 2 special locking lanyards and your zipline attachment, they also provide gloves and you can bring your own. We are trained on how to use the lanyards and zip line, and then we are sent to a demo course to get used to them, and then we are sent on to the course itself. We got there at 8:55, we were suited up by 9:05 and after the training we were on the course by 9:20. Its a steep uphill climb so be ready to go! 

The courses are rated Yellow, Green, Blue, Black Diamond and Double Black Diamond - easiest to most difficult. 

Even the yellow's are challenging so starting there was smart! 

Here are some shots of our trip! I highly recommend it for families with children 11 and up but I saw a boy as young as 7 on the course. 

Here are the 2 locking lanyards. One was always locked so you could never not be connected to a line. Super safe, but it took a lot of work to move them between each line.

 The best part is kind of odd, as there was always this sense of danger and fear of getting hurt if you weren't very careful. But then I felt the rush of excitement every time I got through each obstacle on the course made this a great day!

We also hit the Sky Coaster which is a roller coaster that you control the speed. Its fast, fun and thrilling with you controlling the speed. Well worth it! We didn't take any pictures but there are plenty of videos on their website!!

Thank you Holiday Valley Sky High!!

Based on my experience these two places will get you outdoors and moving and you will have a great time!!! Let me know if you do go and leave me a comment! 

Thanks for reading!