Staycation: Solvang, CA

As I mentioned in my previous post, we took a road trip up the 101 into Solvang, CA. It’s a small Danish town tucked away in Wine Country that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011.

Rather than go into detail about the trip, I thought I’d post some pictures and then a little about each one. Note that the images were taken with three different cameras as well as my phone so there will be considerable differences in color, contrast, etc. Click on each to enlarge slightly.

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Road Trip

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We’re currently in Solvang enjoying lots of great food and driving through California’s wine country. A few more stops and we’re heading home.

Why You Need Dropbox

Ah, the cloud. That sort of nonexistent place on the Internet—or is it?—where all sorts of stuff is stored and retrieved at your leisure.

If you’re not a part of the cloud revolution, you really should get with it. It’s the easiest way to backup documents, photos, and other stuff without the need for carrying around one of those little thumb drives that in 2003, cost as much as $59.99 for only 256MB (after $50 instant rebate and $20 mail-in rebate)! And with the advent of smartphones, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t take the cloud plunge.

dblogoThat’s because with more people using their phones as cameras these days, chances are they will have lots of photos on them and unless you’re like me and backup your stuff to a PC or external drive weekly, a majority of users simply don’t backup because it can be a hassle. Who wants to take the time to sit in front of a computer, connect their phone and transfer all of those things? (And honestly, step back and ask yourself: when did I last backup my images? If it takes more than a minute to answer, you’re risking it, buddy.)

That’s one area where Dropbox comes in handy. I’ve been using Dropbox almost since the beginning and have fallen madly in love with it, even more so once I bought my first smartphone. This free* service will not only store your stuff in the cloud, it will also sync all of your stuff on your account to all devices that have the app or software installed on them. It will also store the files locally on that device and what’s edited on one will be pushed to the others.

So if you upload an image from your phone, it’s now available on everything. In fact, Dropbox now features a Camera Upload folder where images from your phone’s main photo folder are stored. No physical connections required—do it over your phone’s network or Wi-Fi (recommended to avoid excessive data usage) either manually or automatically as the app sees fit.

Ubiquitous. Available on everything with a touch of a screen button. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But images are only part of the story. It’s come in handy on those occasions when I was contacted by potential job interviewers who wanted a copy of my resume. It was as simple as getting their email address, composing the email, attaching my resume from Dropbox and sending it off. You can also create a link and send that instead of the actual document. Clicking the link will initiate a download of the file and folders can also be easily shared with non-Dropbox users.

Even if you’re using another computer or don’t have your phone, you can still retrieve or upload documents through their website. It doesn’t get any easier, and there are no data transfer restrictions like other cloud storage services whose name doesn’t have “drop” but does end in “box.”

Basic accounts start off with 2GB of online storage but refer your friends and they will throw in 500MB, a step up from the old incentive of 256MB, for each referral who joins and installs the software on their PC. With referrals, basic accounts max out at 16GB which is a hefty amount of storage for most.

Imagine, up to 16GB of free online storage. That would have cost you $8319.36 in 2003 based on the $129.99 for the 256MB drive I mentioned early on—without rebates!

Simply put, Dropbox rocks. It’s a fantastic, free, and easy way to store your stuff and always have access to it.

Sign up today and claim your own little piece of the cloud. You won’t regret it.

Click the images to get the free app:

Android Market/Google PlayiTunes

*Basic accounts are no charge; business accounts are available for a fee

There Are No Words…

Just watch the video.

Running the Streets of Hollywood

I’m pretty sure my Facebook friends are tired of hearing about it with all the stuff I’ve posted there, so here’s the last time they will see anything about it – until next year, at least.

I had the pleasure of running a 5k in that ran along the streets of Hollywood, CA. Well, down Hollywood Boulevard and back at least.

The inaugural Hollywood Half Marathon and 5k/10k took place this Saturday and despite its problems (as I will detail later), it was a great time. How often is it that you can run down Hollywood Boulevard with thousands of others and not be a part of a mob of angry citizens up in arms about [insert source of frustration here]?

But as I said, there were some issues that were outlined by some runners later, including:

Parking: Not an issue for me because I rode the MTA trains to the venue and to Universal City Hilton to pick up my bib and timing chip on Friday. Once there, though, I witnessed what other participants would later complain about: traffic going in and coming out of the hotel was disastrous. Not only that, even if you took the train to the hotel, you had to walk up a massive hill to get there. And I heard that finding a spot was next to impossible and leaving the hotel as well as the event itself was almost impossible. Again, I thank [insert appropriate deity here] for the MTA.

Cups: Again, this was an issue that I hadn’t dealt with personally but read about on Hollywood Half’s Facebook page. Apparently there was a serious lack of cups along the half marathon route which did not sit well with many. Being I ran the 5k, I didn’t have the need to hydrate as often as the half-marathoners so I didn’t even notice the problem. Water was handed out at the end of the run as were bagels and bananas.

No Electrolytes: Lack of what your body needs during a long run was also a strike against the organizers of the event. Again, not an issue for the 5k runners. In fact many of them reported no complaints about the event.

All in all, I did have a great time and even set a new personal record for a 5k:

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Is it the best? Of course not, but it’s my best and that’s all that matters to the guy who used to be 300 pounds. For comparison, here’s what I logged on Fitness Tracker.

Honestly, the way I finished, I’m considering a 10k later this year.

Like all inaugural events, it was a learning experience for the organizers to improve upon for next year’s event which I am already looking forward to.

And by then, who knows? I might be running in the half marathon.

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For more pictures from the event, click here.