Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Picasa 3.5 has Facial recognition (tagging)

I just downloaded Picasa 3.5, and so far I am pretty impressed with the facial recognition ability that it has. I know this is nothing new, but this is a great addition to the already impressive free photo managing and light editing software from Google.
The interface seems pretty easy and straight forward. Picasa can detect faces automatically in photos or albums of photos and prompt you to enter (or not enter) the name of the person in the photo. You can also enter names and select faces manually. It then searches all of your photos and tags any other pictures with tagged faces.
It looks like mine is going to take over a day to scan all the photos (I’ve entered about a dozen names and have probably more than 100,000 images for it to go yours may not take so long).
Google Picasa 3.5 and it will take you to the free download page. Even if you don’t want the facial recognition ability, Picasa works great for importing, organizing, and making common photo adjustments like cropping, red eye removal, black and white, color/contrast correction etc. It even has a tool that works like the healing brush in Photo shop to remove errors or blemishes. FREEEEEEEE try it out.

Controling crepe myrtle aphids

Update- May 2013- This post still seems like it is getting a lot of traffic! Full origional post below the image, but here is a quick update. They Bayer product noted below seems to be the winner. My first application kept me bug free for years. I had one bush have another outbreak last year, and one application fixed it again. In the comments below, EMiller left this helpful info- The active ingredient in the formula is Imidacloprid (the original formula also has another chemical but it’s not used anymore). Amazon sells different brands that contain Imidacloprid, here’s a link to the Bayer concentrate: clicky


Secondary update- Late June 2012- I see the popularity of this post is still growing, and wanted to give an update. The Bayer solution noted below that requires you to pour a bucket of their mixture at the base of the plant worked, and kept me totally bug free for aprox 3.5 years!!! This spring, the little buggers were back, and I re-treated them about 2 months ago. I used a hose spray solution (of the same mix, they also sell it that way) to quickly kill them so I could de-sticky my deck/patio furniture for a party I was having the same weekend. At the same time I applied a bucket of the “Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed” and have been bug free since. Below are the pics of the product and label. I know they change the names/packaging over the years. All of the other solutions tested below, and most of the ones in the comments are very temporary. This is the only thing I have done that has kept them away for more than a month.

When I bought my house last year, I told myself that I would give myself one year to see if I could figure out a way to control the aphid/spider mite infestation that all 3 of my Crepe Myrtles had. For those not familiar with the issue, the aphids infest the bottom sides of the leaves. Once there they eat the sap and then proceed to crap the sap out on whatever might be below. This aphid crap is affectionately known as “honeydew” by some, but I like to call a spade a spade and refer to it as aphid crap. You feel it as tiny mist like drops falling from the tree above. If the infestation is bad, the mist can be heavy and annoying. It is also sticky and will get all over any furniture or deck that it is above. Heavy infestation can also cause mold and other problems for the plant. Since I have one large crepe myrtle that is in the middle of my deck that provides shade in the summer, I have been determined to see if I could control the problem so that I would not have to cut the tree down. That sounds harsh, but the shade the tree provides is useless if nobody wants to sit in the mist of aphid crap. It basically makes the deck unusable.

All this black crap that I had to power wash off of my deck was caused by the aphid honeydew.


This year I tried to take a scientific approach. Since I had 2 in the front yard, and one Crepe Myrtle in the front yard that were infested, I though I would try 2 different products to see which one worked best.

Update: I see this post still gets a lot of traffic, so I thought I’d share this update. The year after I wrote the post below, I used a Bayer 12 month systemic insecticide. You mix it in a bucket of water and pour it at the base of the plants. It wiped out the problem completely and hasn’t ever required a reapplication. The bushes have been Aphid free for the past 2-3 years now!


First up- Ortho Total Kill- Lawn and Garden Insect Killer. The list of bugs that it kills includes mites and aphids, and it also claims that it has long lasting effects, and keeps killing after application. I used this on the Crepe Myrtles in the front yard. Over a period of a few days, it did kill a lot of the aphids, but it didn’t do a real good job. After checking out ground zero a few days later, it looked like about %70 of the bugs were dead on the back of the leafs, but the rest were alive and well.

Next up- Ortho Systemic Insect Killer- This stuff rocks. Within 24 hours there was not a living aphid to be found. It totally killed all of the mites and aphids, and kept them gone for about one month before I started to notice a few bugs starting to come back. This one is the winner for sure. I think if I spray with this product about once a month, I can control the aphids, and live on a deck that is free of aphid crap.

Black Snake Moan Review and some pics

I rented Black Snake Moan last week, and thought I would write up a short review of the movie for any of you guys out there looking to rent something for your enjoyment. As soon as the movie started I was worried. Within 2 seconds of the movie starting you see Christina Ricci’s rack in a sex scene with Justin Timberlake. Now don’t get me wrong, Christina is is smoking hot… but one of the old rules of thumb for movies clearly states that if there is nudity or a sex scene as a movie starts…the movie is probably going to suck. Afterall, if the movie sucks, people will keep watching if the get to see some skin.
Overall I’d say the movie was just ok. It wasn’t great, but wasn’t terrible. The movie had a cast full of big names like Miss Ricci, Samuel Jackson, and Justin Timberlake. However, the problem with the movie was that it was trying to straddle the fence with one foot on a trashy comedy, and the other on a serious life story. It’s hard to pull that off, and this movie wasn’t able to do it.

Trashy Comedy: Ricci plays a nymphomaniac young country girl who jumps every man she sees (including an 13 year old boy). She gets chained to the pipes of an old simple black country man who tries to “fix” her and get her life back on track against her will. Most of the movie she is in a cutoff shirt (right above her breasts, no bra) and panties. There are funny scenes where Sam literally pulls her by her chain back into the house. You get to see her naked…a lot, and the white/black old/young chain relationship is pretty funny.

Serious: They also try to tell the story of Ricci as being a sexually abused young girl who who finally sees the light and tries to reconcile things with her mother, and make things right with the one boy she truly loves. Sam Jackson also heals from his wife leaving him for his brother, and uses Ricci to help heal his pain and figure out what really matters.

These two points don’t match up well. If they would have gone one way or the other, I think the movie would have been pretty good. However, it’s hard to have that heart felt “change your life” effect, no matter how good the acting is, when the scene before you find yourself watching Sam Jackson walk a half naked Christina Ricci through the fields for exercise, with a 40 fooot chain around her waist as a leash.

I also posted some new pics of Samantha and Jen in their galleries. Jen’s gallery can be found by clicking the pic above, and Sam’s by the link below.

And by the way….by the look of the view counts on Sam’s page, you perverts out there are all fans of Sam’s…well… you know.

new pic. Borat movie review

Ally David

I thought I’d give a quick weekend update. I have a few more pics from the photo shoot with Ally posted in my gallery. I’m going out of town at the end of next week and I’m not sure if I’m going to take my camera with me or not. I’ve been traveling a lot lately it seems. I’m not used to that….but still enjoying it.

Oh yea. We went to see Borat last night. A quick review: I laughed my ass off. The movie is funny as hell and pushed the realm of crazy/outrageous movies to a new level. If you are easily offended, or sensitive to political correctness you will hate this movie. There were scenes that made me really uncomfortable and that is difficult to do. The best thing I can say about this movie is that about %90 of the laughs in the movie were not in any of the previews or from the Ali G show. I hate when you go to see a comedy ,and the only funny scenes were spoiled in the previews. If you want a laugh and are not easily offended, go check it out. Don’t take your kids….grandmothers……nuns…..or Sunday school teacher.

Ties, Cuff Links, and Restaurant Week

what the hell am I doing in this stuff

Ties….I used to have to wear the damn things for work every single day of the week, but I don’t think I’ve worn one in the last two years. This week all of that nonsense had to change. I wore a tie not once, but twice. Not only that, I even wore cuff links once!

Restaurant week (which traditionally becomes restaurant month ) ended this week, but not before we went to three different meals for the event. Restaurant week is a charity that a lot of the high end places in Dallas participate in. Basically you get a 3 course meal at a high end place for $35. Something like 7 bucks of that goes to charity. Regardless it is a great chance to give a little back while also going out to places that you would probably never otherwise go. We went to the Capitol Grille, Nobu, and Arthur’s.

Monday night we went to the Capitol Grill. Of the three places I have to say this was my favorite. The service was top notch and the food was fantastic. The atmosphere was pretty formal I would say. There were lots of guys seated in their suit jackets who looked like they were doing some type of power play deals. I blew through the $35 price line with two vodka tonics and a glass of wine…but it was very well worth it. Great food, great service, and great friends.

Thursday night we made our way to Nobu, the new age high end sushi restaurant . Rob was over the bird flu by this point, and was able to join. He even brought little miss Liliana along. I was just in a dress shirt and slacks, but when I went over to Rob’s house he had a tie on….so I made him give me a tie just for the hell of it. Nobu was interesting. I felt like I was in Vegas. The decor was very new age with black rock walls mad of golf ball sized rocks, aspen (or birch?) trees in the middle of the isles and all around. Dance/techno type music plying pretty loud in the background. The service was just so-so. To me it was pretty slow at times. I would call the food was very good, but not fantastic. That was a perfect restaurant week place to eat. I probably would have been disappointed if I spent $100 a person going there on my own, but I’m glad that I was able to check it out for $35.

Vivek and Novie decided they were not done with the $35 goodness just yet. Saturday night we went to Arthur’s in Addison and had steak again. Novie was asking the week before about how cuff links work, so I wore my cuff’s to show her. Well…you can’t very well wear cuff links and not also wear a tie. So… I had to wear both and broke my dry spell. Arthur’s was very nice, but not as formal as the Capitol Grill. I really liked all of the fish tanks (they probably have 20 of them with beautiful fish). We had a nice bottle of wine and enjoyed our 3 course meal. The food was wonderful, and I would recommend their cuisine to anyone…..but the service we got was pretty crappy. It was a least 20 mins between dropping off the menus and taking our drink orders and ever seeing the waiter again. The first round of drinks never made it. From there drink glasses were often empty, and over all the service was just really slow.

Capiltol Grill