A day of memories

By Mir
September 11, 2006

I’ve been reading a lot of 9/11 tribute stuff today, both personal memories and tributes to those lost. It’s hard for me. It evokes a level of anxiety in me that feels dangerous. The truth is that I don’t watch the news and rarely read the paper; I find current events depressing and I’d rather be ignorant than scared.

[I’m not interested in debating whether or not this is a healthy outlook. I also can’t go to sleep with the closet door open or go on a trip with fewer than two extra outfits. I never claimed to be logical.]

Maybe I have an ulterior motive for not wanting to read about all of the ways in which September 11th altered everyone’s lives. Maybe a small, stubborn part of me wants to believe that it can still be a regular day for some of us, or maybe just Chickadee’s first day of preschool, and not a day of tragedy.

Anyway, I am going to deal with all of this in a supremely mature manner and do a little bit of talking about photographs instead of history or current events. This is me, burying my head in the sand, with a really cool digital photo frame down there to keep me company!

So, um, remember how I sometimes get free stuff and then I do product reviews and that’s sort of neat? This horrible thing happened. I, um, grew a conscience signed an advertising contract decided I can’t accept free stuff anymore. So my good buddy Charlie sent me some mail and said, “Hey, want to check out one of these?” and I was all, “Yes! I mean, no! I mean, DAMMIT! Um, wait, I’m not sure!”

That was a fun conversation.

In the end, we decided that the product reviewing wasn’t a problem, it was just the keeping stuff that was a problem. So I agreed to do a review and send it back.

Immediately, I was gripped with remorse. Perhaps, I comforted myself, the Philips 7FF1 Digital Photo Display would just plain suck. I would spend a bit of time with it, get good and frustrated, and stuff it into the return mailer with a hearty “GOOD RIDDANCE!” and a little wrist flourish.

Sadly, I was doomed from the start. The frame comes in some sort of space-age cube packaging with a separate slot for each and every piece. It was great fun to take it all out. There’s also a thick user’s manual, but I try never to read user’s manuals. What’s the fun in that? Nope, I reasoned, it would be a good test of the frame to see if I could use it without reading the guide.

Well, I plugged in the power cord and put a memory card into the slot in the back. Voila! Pictures, flashing up in succession with a variety of effects when going from one picture to another. (Actually, that was sort of amusing, like watching an intro film student learning about the different ways to fade from one scene to another. Blackout! Slow fade! Crosshatch! Peel effect!) The only problem was that the pictures were changing about every 5 seconds and it was making me dizzy.

So I fiddled with some buttons on the back of the frame, and in about two minutes I had reset the interval to a full minute. Easy. I set it on my desk and admired the photos, which really do display beautifully.

After I played with it for a while, I took it apart and packed it back into its box, and then I checked out the review on CNET. Their big complaint was short battery life, which, um, battery? I guess maybe I should’ve read the manual.

CNET also complains that menu navigation isn’t as intuitive as they’d like. I dunno; I found it pretty straightforward. But this may just be proof that I’m a gigantic geek.

I should probably thank Charlie for sending me the frame to test, but instead I’m considering gently resting my head on the box and weeping for a bit before I have to send it back. This would be a superb gift for doting grandparents. At around $200 it’s a bit out of my price range right now. I guess my parents will have to settle for the calendar I usually make them for Christmas. Maybe I’ll even get the kids to stand there and wiggle their hands while turning the pages, and we’ll pretend it’s like the special fading effects of the Philips digital frame.

Okay, maybe not.

Thanks for letting me do a test drive, Charlie. (You bastard. I want one.)


  1. Gillian

    Girlfriend, it is smarmy to tell people that a crummy thing is nifty and it is worse to get good stuff for telling people that crummy stuff is nifty. But if you tell the truth, and you tell it in a clever, awesome format that loads of us leap out of bed to read, you should get a return for doing that. I think you should ask for pre-paid shipping return labels and if it is rotten you send it back and if it is wonderful you reward the maker by keeping it and saving them shipping costs.

  2. InterstellarLass

    My mom hasn’t figured out how to get the pictures off the camera. My grandparents can get the pictures off the camera, but not much else. Neither of them can download pictures sent via email and successfully save them to their computer. This would be the perfect gift. Alas, also out of my budget. They’ll get a nifty calendar too. I like the “interactive effect” idea.

  3. julie

    (I swear this is NOT an advertisement, even though I always end up sounding like a spokeswoman)

    I love digital picture frames. Such a great idea. For my no-tech grandma and my tech-resistent mother in law we bought Cieva frames on ebay for a decent price. Then, for about $8 per month they plug the frame into a wall jack and a phone jack and every night around 2AM it dials into a local number and downloads the next 20 pictures in their account. People who know the email address can send photos from computers or camera phones. The users have absolutely no technical requirements beyond plugging it in the first time and don’t need an ISP or anything. There are a few buttons, esp on the newer frames, that let them request prints to be made and shipped or to lock in certain pictures, but in general they just love getting 20 new pictures of the grandbabies every morning. Definitely need a few families contributing photos to make it worth the while or one very very photo-happy family, but it’s the best gift we ever gave either of them.

    Just a thought for any of your readers that see the frame and think it’s still asking too much of grandma to plug a thumb drive into a frame. Because for mine…yikes.

    How fun to get to try out cool new products. I’d love to get more of the Mir Report on what’s out there to give or get. Keep up the good work.

  4. Cele

    Okay, maybe I am dense Mir. Why do you have a problem keeping the product? Don’t they expect it? You are honest in your reviews (and witty – but I expect no less) so what’s the problem? I have to tell you I tend to be the picture of truth and ethics, this one wouldn’t bother me.

    BTW thank you for no 9 – 11 tribute. I appreciate it. I feel bombarded everywhere else. Thank you.

  5. Fold My Laundry Please

    I agree with you about the news. My husband and I haven’t watched a real news report in years. If we feel like getting a small inkling of world events, we tune in to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. Before someone else says it, I know that it is not “real news”, but the beginning segment is all based on actual events seen on other news channels that day, so we kind of get the gist without feeling like slitting our wrists at the end!

    And…I also cannot sleep without making sure the closet doors in the house are all closed and even back in high school, I would pack an extra set of clothes to go to a one night sleep over. You know, just in case. I prefer to think of myself as well-prepared as opposed to neurotic, despite what everyone else says!

  6. nancy

    I agree about the news too. I try to listen to the radio on my morning commute, and read the local paper online. But when I start to feel like I need to cry I put on a CD and sing along. I don’t want to be ignorant about current events, but I do want to be sane enough to be effective at work and functional at home. Until I find a balance this is the best I can do. Print media is definitely easier because you can skim and if online click away when things get too intense. I never watch on T.V

  7. Judy

    Ohhhhhh, Mir, I think you’re too honest and you should get to keep pretty shiny things. Wow. Can you send pretty shiny things to a friend instead? :D OK, Maybe not.

    That sounds really cool. Really really cool. But I don’t have $200 for cool either. I have a couple of bucks for some pretty frames on clearance, but that doesn’t seem like the same thing.

    (Hey! It’s Joyluck here. I’m a-stalkin’ you now.)

  8. jennP

    i agree with Cele… do they not expect you to keep the items that you try out and review? That’s always what I thought about bloggers who post about items. Before reading your blog today, I had no idea that these picture frames existed, so your post has made me want one! you deserve to keep the frame for THAT at least! :) to the company making you review these things, it is not costing anything really.. because it is a great investment for them and they do have a certain amount that they have for giving away anyway.

    keep it keep it!!

  9. Mir

    Okay, just to head off further comments in this vein: The company sending stuff out for review is perfectly willing to allow reviewers to keep the items. The not keeping things is because of a stipulation in my advertising contract (unrelated to Charlie, or Philips, or anything other than my contract with BlogHer).

  10. Amy-Go

    We bought one of those for the grandparents last Christmas…they really are cool. Maybe you could just…forget to send it back? Until you’ve saved up? ;)

    And I realize those who post unpopular comments ’round here are summarily executed…and I’ve got my head in the sand farther than Mir…and we were bombarded by memorials today…but we should have been. Just sayin’.

  11. Sharkey

    Since you can’t keep the frame yourself, I think you should send it to me when you’re finished.

  12. Rachel

    I second the CEIVA sender. We have ALL loved it–especially my mother who is computer illiterate. She would have to rely on my dad to show her any pictures on HIS email which was…well, she never saw the pictures. Now she just has to pass by the frame (which auto dials @ 6am every morning and auto downloads the pics) and enjoy!

  13. Rachel

    Oh, and at Christmas they have OFFERS! Like the one our dear, pretty Mir loves. Two for the price of one, etc. And recommend your friends and get two months of free photo service. Okay. I’m done.

  14. Annabelle

    Oh chee – I feel the exact same way about the news. Sometimes I try to brave it, but, as in the case of last night I find out some horrifying news like a woman got caught in the crossfire of some gang war IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD while she was putting her kids in the car. Fortunately (fortunately?) they only got her foot and kids unscathed. But, do I need to know this? Really?? No. Ignorance is bliss (and as my sister’s first boyfriend said after hearing this statement: “What’s Bliss?”).

    The frame sounded like a great solution to my growing digital files that have yet (and yet) to be printed. Le sigh…. I understand how difficult it must be to send it back, but I think your parents will enjoy your kids emulation of a digital frame much more, don’t you?

  15. Bob

    and here I thought you were getting all moral on me here, deciding that keeping the reviewed item could concievably be construed as influencing your review. not that you would do that – as everyone above has already pointed out. I have from the beginning noted your objectivity in your product reviews and would argue with anyone who suggests otherwise. portable dvd players not withstanding.

    (disclaimer: please note the constant strain of sarcasm throughout the comment and do not even think that I would think poorly of Mir, associates of Mir, or other affiliated parties.)

  16. Velma

    This was actually very helpful, because I have been debating getting something like this for my parents. So, uhm – thanks! Sucks for you, yeah, but works for me!

  17. Patricia

    Because I’ve owned digital frames since my son’s first Christmas (he’s heading into his FOURTH now), I have a few opinions.
    On Ceiva, I’ve owned three of them. We love the concept, paid for the subscription by the year and everything. Without exception we had to have Ceiva replace the frames. I know they’ve upgraded since we bought ours, but still. In addition, we got tired of uploading pictures and having what is basically a dial-up connection to see them. Yes, it works great for grandparents — a little clunky for us.
    However, after lusting over the memory card frames (hello, no monthly fees — and memory is CHEAP these days), we found on from Circuit City (go to circuitcity.com and search for smartpants) on sale. They run around $150 on sale, have a bright and wonderful display (a complete change from the Ceiva) and are about as easy to use as possible — plus they have a remote.
    Sorry, Mir, you don’t get to keep it — but maybe you can find coupon codes and get savings on the Smartpants one.

  18. Jenn2

    Doesn’t being ethical suck? ;)

  19. Ben

    Too bad nobody has a photographer friend who might be inclined to perhaps give you one of these things as a gift.

    Just sayin’

  20. Em

    I have to say I also avoided the TV yesterday. After 9/11 when everyone was asking “Why do they hate us” and sometimes the answer was “You Americans are so caught up in your own little world and have no concern for the suffering in other parts of the world” – I would try. I watched the news, I read the articles and I payed attention. It was not good for me (not in a was-it-good-for-you? way). I mean it was bad for me. Anxiety, depression, constant fear. I had to take a break. I agree with Amy-Go that there should be memorials, it should be guaranteed that we remember but I haven’t forgotten, not even a little. So I remembered and prayed and kept the TV off for a little self preservation.

    I have to thank the commenters with the great ideas! I have wanted to do this digital photo frame idea for our grandmothers for a while but #1 – I don’t have an extra memory stick #2 – I don’t have a bazillion dollars and #3 – grandmother + computer = confusion. I’m LOVING this Ceiva idea and will look into it (especially loving the ebay idea).

  21. Lisa

    Ok, I’m not even going near the digital photo frame. I NEED pictures to hold in my hand. On paper. Call me old fashioned.

    I completely agree with you on the news thing, as well as Sept 11th. Its a hard line to walk, especially with a daughter celebrating her 8th birthday this year. Its hard to be happy and celebrate, when all around you people are memorializing…

  22. Lucinda

    I agree about the whole news thing. My daughter was born that day and I just want it to be her birthday and nothing else. Knowing that will never be the case sucks. So I just ignore all the tributes, pray silently for those who mourn, and sleep with my closet doors closed too. I mean really, do we *want* the monsters to get out? Sheesh!

  23. Laura

    I gave myself a big time-out from news yesterday, too. I found myself really saturating myself in coverage after 9/11 and it put me in a really dark place. I do try to keep up on current events, though lately things have been so God-awful that I, too, have turned to The Daily Show for my news headlines. My feeling is that if something really big happen, Jon Stewart will tell me about it. And I love him. Beacuse he is smart. And cute. And funny. And I went to high school with Rob Corddry.

  24. Sheila

    I have often thought that we were leading strangely parallel lives… except no one ever sends me free stuff. Whatever. I am totally with you on the wooden popsicle stick thing; I, too, am a (sometime) freelance writer and copyeditor; and two of my children are the same age as Chickadee and Monkey. Another freakish coincidence: my oldest daughter started preschool on Sept. 11, 2001, too! (It felt so strange to be weepy at the thought of her growing up so fast while also crying tears for my countrymen.) I have a decidedly ostrich-like reaction to stress and tragedy as well, and so I don’t mind in the least reading about high-tech gadgetry round about now. Now how can I get someone to send me some?

  25. Kestralyn

    Amy-Go: it’s not so much that if what you say is unpopular you’ll get smashed, it’s when you zoom in for (I do believe) your first post ever and take a short, snotty cheap shot and then leave. What you said? Yeah, we need to remember and actually learn from the past. However, a week’s worth of masturbatory “oh, woe is us! we’re wonderful how could this ever have happened to us?” tv, news, and talk radio was a bit much.

  26. dayngr

    You said “The truth is that I don’t watch the news and rarely read the paper; I find current events depressing and I’d rather be ignorant than scared”.

    Now that is a sad, sad, statement coming from a woman and a mother. 9/11 was life altering yes, but for some the life altering change was needed, good and positive. Sometimes good things are born from tragedy.

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