05 July 2008

Egads! Another Online Photo Printing Service?

I am often asked what company I use to print out my photos. I look for a place that has a combination of good quality and price. I think you should never pay more than 15 cents for a 4x6 print. I remember in the early days of online printing where they charged 35 cents a print! If I need the photos in an hour, I usually just upload them to Walgreens and pick them up at my local store. It usually costs 19 cents a print, but they always have weekly promotions to bring the price down to 15 cents or less. However, a lot of it does depends on the actual store that will be doing the printing. I used to get my prints developed at Costco, but the last few times, I was not satisfied at all with the quality. I tend to think that stores with a high volume of orders are not able to give each order the adequate amount of attention, in regards to reviewing and tweaking colors. I have a friend who pays a little more to get his prints developed at his local Wolf Camera, but he feels it is well worth it, due to the quality of the prints.

In regards to ordering online, I used to be a member of Dotphoto, which at the time had the cheapest prices for 4x6s. But a bad experience with them deleting photos without my permission caused me to look elsewhere. I have also spent time with Snapfish, Ofoto (now Kodak Gallery), and Shutterfly in the past. Yes, I will admit it, I am a online-photo floozie.

My current choice is a new site called Artscow. Strange name, I know.
Part of it probably has to do with the fact that they are based in Hong Kong. Can you say lost in translation? I heard about the site about a month ago while perusing one of my favorite bargain sites. For all new members, they are offering 200 free 4x6s, 200 free 5x7s, and 1 free 8x8 photobook. I couldn't resist that offer, so I signed up right away. The site itself is a little cheesy, kind of like a lot of things that come out of Asia (teal + pink + bright yellow clothing with bunnies anyone?) but nonetheless, functional. With my Mom's birthday coming up, I decided to make her a photobook. They were also running another promotion at the same time where for every photobook you created and ordered, they would give you 3 more photobook credits. Since they are just rolling out their service, they want to test out their printing capacity, and so want as many members to order as possible. The book itself was free, but it cost $13 for shipping/handling, understandable since it is being sent from across the globe. (Ordering products from Hong Kong is not unusual for me. When I needed a new pair of glasses, I ordered them from here for less than a third of the price I would have paid at my local Lenscrafters. Thank goodness the world is flat!). Two weeks later, I received my book in the mail. What did I think? Ha ha, well, you will just have to read my review (with photos!). Berry, the crazy CEO of Artscow is running another promotion where you post your review of your book on their online forum, and he credits your account $10. Cha-ching! Berry, you are my kind of guy, you crazy yellow fellow! I think I am in love.

I have not ordered any prints from them yet, but am planning on it and will let you know how they turn out. In the meantime, have a cow, or at least Art's cow, and join me at Artscow. Full disclosure time: I don't work for Berry, but if you join through the above link, I will receive some photo credits. Honesty is the best policy. :)

04 July 2008

What should I blog about?

Happy 4th of July everyone! In honor of Independence Day, I need to become less independent and more dependent on you, my readers (ie Vanessa, Hannah and Tim). What should be the overall theme of my blog? Right now, it's just a bunch of random stuff, which is fine I suppose, but I would like to focus on a specific topic more. Perhaps I should leave this site to random stuff, and create a new blog.

The experts say the first step to a successful blog is to pick a topic to blog about that you are passionate about. I guess that's the hard part for me - I am a jack of all trades and master of none. There's not much I am passionate about, but there are a lot of things that interest me. In no particular order - my family, my friends, the Christian life, parenting, technology, gadgets, slick deals, lifehacking, photography, web design/development, the NBA, a good book, current events, graphic novels, humor, witty people, the Wii, sentimental stuff, creating stuff, making new friends, downtime, travel, exploring new places, BBQ...and the list goes on. Yeesh, I am definitely all over the place.

The second step to a successful blog, besides updating often, is to get to know your readers. I know my wife pretty well (love you!) , and I've know Tim and Hannah for awhile. For example, I know Hannah has no interest in all things NBA, despite the fact that her hometown Celtics are once again the reigning world champions. So if I were to focus my blogging on the latest NBA news, I would immediately lose one of my most devoted readers. Boo, wouldn't want that to happen. But, Hannah does love all things parenting, and she has some great posts about her experiences with parenting and with life in general. Another example - I enjoy Tim's posts on his adventures on the bike, but I know my dear wife has no interest at all in bicycling, sorry Tim. What is my dear wife into? She loves making her cards, which I'm pretty sure don't really garner much interest with Tim the biker. Is there some way, pardon the cliche, to have your cake and eat it too? Hmm, guess the lesson is that there is no subject/topic that appeals to everyone, so maybe I am asking the impossible in regards to focusing on a specific topic while at the same time keeping everyone interested.

Looking back at my past blogs, the post that generated the most response in regards to comments was my post on our water heater woes. Now I know no one in their right mind is really interested in water heaters, but seems like the story behind what happened is what appealed to everyone (all 4 of you). Maybe the first order of business is to finish the story with part 2. Problem is, it seems like it happened such a long time ago, and I already forget more than I remember. Looks like that is another lesson I need to learn - less inspiration, more perspiration in regards to timely blogs. So without further ado...

Things in my life that I need to blog about sooner rather than later

Okay folks, I've gone on already for way too long. Remember my question readers - should I focus on a particular topic, or remain random and rambling? Enjoy the 4th, and be careful with those fireworks! (I almost burned down my neighbor's house when I was in middle school due to a stray Jumping Jack, so I know what I'm talking about) Stay safe and hydrated everyone!