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Showing posts from 2009

Proposal for a new Linux distribution

I have decided my life isn't interesting enough, so to make it more interesting I've decided to create Yet Another Linux Distribution (YALD). This YALD will have the name ... drum roll please ...

Fairy Linux

Named after the Fairy Penguin of Australia, it is meant to be yet another 'lean' distribution of Linux. Here's what I had in mind as a beginning set of requirements;
Fit in, complete, at around 200MB. That's installed.
Based on the latest kernel, whatever that happens to be. That would be something in the 2.6 line, and greater than 2.6.32.
Based on the latest glibc, whatever that happens to be, and not one of the embedded/limited substitutes found in other small distributions.
Based on one, and only one, desktop environment. I'm seriously thinking of KDE 4 (seriously). There is a strong reason for this, primarily that KDE uses Qt, which will make a good foundation for another choice I have in mind.
Stripping out as much of the current software as possible, esp…

You spent how much???

My youngest and I went to see Avatar today. According to her, "it's just a bloodier version of Fern Gully." My oldest has subtitled it "Dances with Fern Gully." And without Robin Williams as Batty Koda for comedy relief. But everything else is there; instead of fairies in a tree you have nine-foot-tall Na'vi in a Home Tree. In Fern Gully the protagonist is shrunk so he can interact with the fairies, while in Avatar the protagonist is wired into an artificial version of the Na'vi so he can interact with the "in-digs". It's a highly predictable movie wrapped in a lot of very expensive eye candy (which, according to published accounts, cost anywhere from $200 to $500 million to make). After sitting through the movie I came out with an attitude that can be best summed up by this shot of Neytiri, except instead of Col. Quaritch lined up on the arrow, I'm imagining it's James Cameron.

Since my list for the good parts of this movie is far …

There but for the grace of God

I was born and raised in Atlanta, or more specifically, Atlanta suburbs located in DeKalb county. My time in elementary and high schools were average, bordering on boring. Except in one area: high school football.

I suffered from the same high school jock envy that a lot of other males suffered from. After all, who didn't want to belong to a group (the football team) held in the highest regard, and whose members seemed to have the pick of just about any girl on campus? It was the ultimate young male testosterone trap, and I fell into it like a ton of bricks. Or at least I wanted to. My eyesight was pretty bad in high school, and the eye doctor kept waiving the specter of detached retinas and early blindness in front of my parents. I thought at the time the doctor was just full of it. Maybe in retrospect he wasn't. The upshot of the diagnosis was I merely stood on the sidelines, looking with longing at a sport my parents wouldn't allow me to participate in.

It's been near…

The state of the Penguin

Over the past week I've been collecting ISOs and burning CD and DVD ROMs from them for the purpose of just seeing how the boot, and then taking a few moments to see how they look and generally operate. I booted a fair portion of the usual suspects: Mandraive Linux One 2010/KDE, Fedora 12 x86-64, OpenSUSE 11.2/KDE, Ubuntu 9.10 and Linux Mint 8.

I chose to use a Dell 690 workstation (we have multiple machines in the lab where I work) with a quad-core Xeon running at 2.4GHz and 8GB DRAM, as well as a pair of HP Pavilion 533w's with a 2GHz Celeron and 512MB DRAM I had sitting at home (the Pavilion's were purchased for my girls when they were in late middle/early high school).

All of the distributions booted on the Dell workstation. Of the five, only Ubuntu and Mint enabled everything including sound. What was most surprising (in a good way) is how all five distributions recognized the nVidia Quadro card, enabled hardware acceleration (according to glxinfo) and provided the prope…

Happy Birthday to Me

Yes, today was another lovely birthday. I've long since passed the point where I anticipated my birthday. Now I dread them. This year, rather than sit around and feel sorry for yet another year passing, I decided to go out and shoot. And because I was in such a wonderfully grim and cheerless mood I decided to drive around International Drive here in Orlando and shoot a bit of its long, slow decay. I took Megs with me; I'd bequeathed my E-300 system to her for her to use this coming spring in college. She needed the practice.

We started at the Sea World end of I-Drive, near the old Harcourt Brace Jovanovich building (or whatever it's called these days). It caught my daughter's eye because of the huge "For Lease" sign plastered across the top two floors of the building, visible from I-Drive. We drove around and into the empty parking lot; I assume it was empty because it was Sunday, but you never know. The lovely color shot is from the front and shows the neatly…


I fulfilled my civic duty today when I reported for jury duty at the Orange County courthouse. I didn't serve on a jury; this makes the third consecutive time I've been called to jury duty without having really done anything except sit around and wait. This last time was the worst; I was called up to a courtroom with 29 others; during the initial questioning period the questioning was abruptly stopped, a side-bar was convened between the judge and all the lawyers, after which the judge dismissed us because a key witness could not make it. We all marched back downstairs to the jury assembly area; 45 minutes later we were dismissed for lunch.

I went back up to the parking deck and got my camera out, then started to walk down Orange Avenue looking for a bite to eat and something interesting to shoot. Here are six shots from that walk-about. Everything was taken with the E-3 and the 12-60mm. Post-processing was done in Lightroom 3 beta.The entire day was overcast, which made for in…

Watching Orlando Unravel 7

What started this entry was the second failure, this year, of the former KFC store on University Blvd. The store was re-opened as a Chicken Lickin's franchise store in January (top left photo). Then last week, as I was driving down University towards UCF, I happened to look to my right and see that the store was closed down completely again (top left photo). This posting's collection of photos is from stores and businesses on University and around UCF, such as the Research Park. Why is this important? Because there are major defense contractors in the area (SAIC, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon...) as well as the Army and Navy contract houses. Gathered around a state university with well over 50,000 students. In short, a dynamo for economic activity.

Identification of photos, from left to right, top to bottom:
Current empty store that housed the former Chicken Lickin's on University (empty again);Former Chicken Lickin's in January 2009, getting ready to open;Former Krispy Kr…

Watching Orlando Unravel 6

I haven't written one of my Orlando Unravels entries for some time now because it's too depressing and I've been very busy doing other things, like holding on to my job. So busy is good. In fact busy is wonderful.

I felt compelled to write another Unravels entry because today, while out picking up a few necessities with the wife, we happened to stop by a local Books-A-Million store. This particular store is at the corner of Lee Road and I-Drive (Kirkman/I-4 exit), in the same complex as Sweet Tomatoes. It used to be open four weeks ago. Today, when we drove up, the store was locked and completely empty. We had no idea they were going out of business, and there are absolutely no signs anywhere indicating where they might have moved if they moved. The only thing left is the store with the unbleached wall showing where the letters used to be.

That entire store block is empty now. That Books-A-Million was the last store in a block of stores that once contained a Micheal's Cr…

Olympus E-3

One of the reasons I invested heavily in the Olympus system was the E-3 body. The E-3 body is built of molded magnesium, has a bright full-frame optical viewfinder with 1.15 magnification, image stabilization in the body, an articulated LCD with live view, is dust- and splash-proof, and has IMHO one of the best 4/3rds sensors on the market.

Full Frame Viewfinder

The viewfinder, more than just about any other feature, was the deal-maker for me. It's an optical penta-prism design that shows 100% (or nearly 100% according to the ad copy) of the image that will hit the sensor, while providing a magnification factor of 1.15x. This helps produce a bright, sharp viewfinder that's very easy to focus with, especially compared with my older E-300. Don't get me wrong. I love that E-300 and still continue to use it, but the E-300's viewfinder, a porro-based penta-mirror, is darker and at times difficult to use, especially in low-light situations. The E-3 in comparison is blindingly …

Camera Website Homage

Ever since I bulked up with the Olympus E-3 Christmas 2008 (and actually, even before then) I've been hunting down and reading many an on-line photography blog and review site in an effort to gather as much useful intelligence as possible about the pros and cons of the current state-of-the-art in camera gear.

And make no mistake; I'm more the gearhead than the photographer. And why not? A camera is the ultimate convergence of optics, mechanics, material science, electronics, and cybernetics into one convenient awe-inspiring hand-holdable device. The only other device with nearly that much 'pull' in its construction is the smartphone, and it doesn't take nearly as good a photo, in spite of what may be written.

To scratch both the gear as well as the artistic itch of photography, and to make sure I know how much it's going to really cost me, I've developed a list of sites over the last 10 months where I go and seek the wisdom of the oracles. So here, in no part…

The Menagerie

We've got five animals in our house right now; three cats and two Labs. The cats are all rescues, as is one of the Labs. One of the Labs was purchased from a local breeder, something we haven't done since we were first married 25 years ago.

The Labs are named Ruby and Max. The cats are Lulabelle, a common mackerel tabby, Ellipse, a long-hair mix, and Lucy, a mackerel mix with a lot of white. The Labs are buds and travel together constantly. The cats generally get along, but every once in a while there's the loud cries of two cats challenging one another. But mostly everybody gets along peacefully.

I love all the animals we have. I didn't go looking for the cats, they just started showing up about two years ago, first via my oldest daughter, and then a year later when Lucy literally walked in the front door. I didn't consider myself a cat person at the time, but I just didn't have the heart to say 'no'. The Labs and the cats mix together quite well, and tw…

Postcards from Paradise

I've taken to shooting with my Olympus E-300 again, far more than the more advanced E-3. I've even gone so far as to set exposure (aperture and shutter speed) using the sunny 16 rule; since I shoot primarily ISO 100 (with some ISO 200), that would mean f/16 at 1/100 second (or 1/200 sec @ISO 200). In my case, because I like to shoot at f/5.6, I increase the shutter speed accordingly to 1/800 second (1/1600 for ISO 200). I do that because f/5.6 gives the best lens performance and the higher shutter speed gives crystal clear shooting.

It's funny, but it's more liberating to set a camera on full manual and ignore the bleeping display, especially when you're outdoors on a sunny Florida day. The light changes in interesting ways from sunup to sundown; when I'm done and I go back and download the images, they're pretty close to what I both saw and experienced the moment I took the picture.

There is some post processing. I use Olympus Master, and within Olympus Mast…