The Wonders of Public Schools, Chapter 27

Daughter’s classroom is writing documents using Google Docs/Spreadsheets/Drive/etc. So when the kids need to work on them at home, does the teacher tell the kids to just sign in from home? No. Instructions were to export to .docx, save to thumb drive, then expect parents to have MS Office at home to edit.

WTF?

The Reality-Check Gift Guide for Photographers

It’s the time of year when you’ll see lots of “Holiday Gift Guides for Photographers” floating around the internet[1].

I hope I don’t ruin the festivities by interjecting a slight reality check here with a couple notable facts that might spoil the parade of gift guides.

Photographer Gift Guide

  • Most of those gifts guides are being created not purely for fun, but because there’s decent money to be made with affiliate links to all of the products. Other photographers are be sponsored by a manufacturer and incentivized to promote certain brands.
  • Most photographers work in a certain style, with preferred types of gear, made by their preferred manufacturers. There are very few general gifts that all photographers are going to love. Some shoot digital, some film; some photograph landscapes, others people; many enjoy retro film items, some think film is dead. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll buy a gift that garners a sigh or an eyeroll (privately of course… since your friends are nice). You get the idea[2].

That said… here’s what I think is a better option for all:

A Realistic Gift Guide for Photographers

  • Ask them what they want. If you don’t want to ask directly, see if they have an Amazon wish list.
  • If you really have no idea but know them a bit, get them a generic-enough gift card that it could be used by any photographer. For example, for their favorite airline. Or for an outfit selling a broad range of products such as B&H Photo or Amazon[3].

I appreciate that you want to get something helpful for your photographer friend. I really do. But the less misfit gifts based on a misguided internet blog post… the better.


  1. I’ve published them in the past myself. Guilty as charged.  ↩

  2. Of course, if you really know the person well, feel free to buy them something appropriate – but if you know them that well, you probably don’t need to read someone else’s gift guide.  ↩

  3. If you really want affiliate links since I’m such a swell guy, well, here you go: B&H Photo / Amazon.com  ↩

Port a Google Voice Phone Number to Verizon

I’ve used Google Voice for my primary phone number[1] for several years (first on an Android device, most recently on my iPhone), mainly due to the ability to easily send text messages from my computer as well as view call history from many places.

Google VoiceWith the various phone and SMS enhancements added by Apple as part of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, I decided it was time to switch phone software platforms.

Here’s how to port a Google Voice number to Verizon, assuming you are ready to go[2]:

  1. Go to this Google Voice page to unlock your Google Voice number. There’s a $3 fee to unlock the number[3].
  2. Call Verizon at 800–922–0204.
  3. Choose the option for tech support.
  4. Choose the option for number porting, and that you’re porting to Verizon.
  5. When you speak to an agent, tell them you’d like to port a Google Voice number to Verizon, replacing your existing number. The support rep I spoke with seemed to understand exactly what I wanted to do.
  6. They’ll need your Google Voice number. They will ask if there’s a PIN or password on the number. You do not need to tell Verizon you Google password. Just tell them there’s no PIN or password.
  7. You’ll be informed that it takes between two and ten business days for the transfer, and what to expect when the transfer is completed.
  8. Wait. I started the process on a Saturday, and it was a week from the next Monday (total of 9 calendar days and 6 business days) when the number change happened.
  9. After the number changes, you’ll get a message from FaceTime/Messages indicating that there’s a new phone number using your AppleID. That’s your cue that the port is complete.
  10. You’ll need to power off and then turn on your iPhone, then wait a couple minutes, at which point if you go into the Settings app, then Phone, you should see the device now using the number that was formerly your Google Voice number.

At that point, you’ll be all set to use the iPhone’s native telephone/messaging features, along with the companion features that are part of OS X. If you’re using an iPhone, all of your iPhoney friends will notice you’ve switched from being a green bubble person to a blue bubble person.

Don’t forget to set up your Verizon voicemail!


  1. Nobody had my Verizon number.  ↩

  2. Are you using your current Verizon number for anything such as SMS 2-factor auth codes? If so, be sure to disable these since your current Verizon number will go away.  ↩

  3. If you previously ported this number in to Google Voice, the unlock fee is waived.  ↩