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Olympus xD picture card compatibility troubles

Since purchasing my Olympus SP-320 digital camera, my two biggest complaints are:

1. Eats up AA batteries for breakfast.

This digital camera should have been designed to take three AA's instead of two. Granted, if you take nothing but pictures alone (which is what it was designed to do), the batteries will last all day. However, record any video with it and it'll suck the life right out of it - literally.

Solution: I keep video recording to a minimum and buy 24-packs of Ray-O-Vac AA batteries at Wal-Mart. It's only eight bucks for these and it takes me a long time to go thru them. I keep the package behind the seat of my truck because whenever I need them, because I usually only need the camera when I'm out and about somewhere.

Tip to anyone with this camera: Don't bother buying lithium ion batteries. Stick with the cheap-o's. You'll save a ton of money.

2. Stupid proprietary USB port.

The SP-320 has a mini-USB port that only works with the cable provided with the camera. Want a spare? There are none available.

. . .

So anyway, the battery thing I can deal with.

The USB cable thing has always bothered me. What happens if this cable ever fails? Am I doomed to never get the data off the camera and into my computer?

I figured there must be a solution to this. So I headed over to Ritz Camera at the Citrus mall in Tampa. I spoke with one of the salespeople. They didn't have that specific Olympus USB cable. I wasn't surprised because no one else has it either.

They did, however, have a 20-in-1 USB card reader. I was told by the sales guy that it would fit xD picture cards.

Cool!

I bring it home, unpack it, and...

The stupid xD card won't fit in it. This 20-in-1 card reader can literally fit every other format except xD.

(sigh..)

I bring it back. The sales guy was surprised because this card reader is supposed to be compatible with everything.

However, there was an alternative.

Another USB card reader was available that was xD only. And it was five bucks cheaper.

Ritz Camera refunded me for the 20-in-1 and sold me the xD-only card reader.

Success! It works.

Price: $20.00

Yeah, I know, that sounds like a lot - but in reality it isn't because if I wanted another one of those stupid proprietary USB cables from Olympus, it almost costs the same price.

This little xD card reader plugs into any standard USB port on any computer. You pop the xD card out of the SP-320, insert it into the reader, plug into the computer and ta-da, all the data is available.

I'm happy that I now have an alternative means of getting the data off the xD card.

A message to all would-be GPS navigation users

I read an article about this guy who was thinking about using this asinine setup to equip his car with GPS navigation.

And just what is an asinine setup?

Anything that's a "Pocket PC" bastardized with a absolutely 100% ridiculous gooseneck mount - and requires you to set up software in the Pocket PC just to use GPS functionality. And believe it or not, it's said the gooseneck mount actually "reduces clutter". Bull.. crap. It adds clutter.

Read: Dumb idea.

Fortunately, a response came thru that said something to the effect of "Dude.. don't use that gooseneck'd b.s. Get a Garmin." Although it sort of ticks me off the guy didn't recommend the StreetPilot series and opted instead to recommend the nüvi (the StreetPilot series costs less).

. . .

I have seen, putting it bluntly, really stupid setups when it comes some GPS setups.

The absolute dumbest of all time is putting a laptop on the dashboard of your car. Sure, the screen is huge, but it blocks your view of the road.

The second dumbest is a cell phone equipped with GPS on a mount. I'm sure that tiny screen really helps when driving around. Don't forget to squint!

The third (and most difficult) dumbest setup is the aforementioned Pocket PC that serves GPS duty. Not only will the screen wash right out (because many aren't daylight readable), it's difficult to mount and difficult to use.

Dedicated GPS specifically designed for auto use is the only way to go - period. Trying to make something that wasn't designed for auto use work in a car is just stupid.. stupid.. stupid.

GMC Canyon leak / Replacement turn signal bulbs

A week ago I had the oil changed in my '05 GMC Canyon. For those interested, the engine is a 2.8-liter four-cylinder motor. After the oil change was finished, the mechanic who did the job said that there was an ever-so-minor trickle of fluid on the front axle. We're talking so minor it's almost not noticable. It appeared to be coming from a seal near the front transfer case (the truck is a 4x4 by the way).

So I took it to the local Chevrolet dealership and had them put it up on the lift. The seal in the front has a teeny-tiny leak, as in a barely-there leak.

My options were to do the following:

  1. Keep on driving it the way it is as it has absolutely no impact concerning normal driving conditions.
  2. Have the fluid drained, re-filled and seal replaced ($350)
  3. Have the fluid drained and re-filled with an additive that would "fatten up" the seal ($150).

I opted to go with a for the time being. I can basically drive it until it either develops into a major leak, or
just pony up the $350 for the seal replacement later.

In other words, it's not a big deal.

The truck at this point just has over 53,000 miles on it and this is the first "major" thing that's happened to her. And to be honest it's not major at all.

She's been a really good runner and the gas mileage is outstanding. On average I get 27mpg on the highway - and considering this truck is an extended cab (more weight), has a heavy automatic transmission (even more weight), and is lugging around a 4x4 transfer case in the front (add that too), that's definitely worth bragging about. You'd be lucky to break 20mpg on similarly equipped light trucks, but the Canyon gets 26 to 27mpg on the
highway easily when the bed's empty.

. . .

Also forgot to mention: The driver's side turn signal light finally blew about 1,000 miles ago, so I decided to replace all four.

A few notes on turn signal lamps in the Canyon/Colorado:

It is, by far, the easiest light replacement I've ever done. Open the hood, twist, and they pop right out. Pull on the bulb and out it comes. It doesn't get any easier.

The lights that actually flash are different from the ones that don't. The inside lamps have gray-colored bases while the blinkers have black-colored ones. And yes, the mounts are different. You can't put the grays where the blacks should go. Fortunately, Autozone has both in stock and they come in sets of two, so as long as you're aware
that the bases are different, the replacements are easy.

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