Showing posts from February, 2009

Florida residents come in all shapes and sizes

Images of Florida show beautiful people in beautiful surroundings, effortlessly enjoying the best that life has to offer. Looks great on TV and in print, but the real life for far too many Floridians is a lot grimmer and grimier than what the chamber of commerce is trying to push.

There are times, when I'm rushing to get to work on the east side near U.C.F., that I stop off at a Burger King on the corner of Alafaya and Colonial to pick up a cheap egg-and-biscuit breakfast. It costs a buck and change, and I can walk in and out with it in about two minutes. This particular Burger King seems to attract its share of homeless. I don't know why, but it does.

Today I ran across two gentlemen (right) who were standing outside enjoying cigarettes and coffee. I went in and got my biscuit, then came out and asked if I could take their picture. I stopped to talk to the taller of the two for about five minutes, then headed on in to work.

The taller, more talkative guy didn't give out his …

My 15 seconds of fame

I've had three of my Flickr photos used in three NowPublic stories. The stories are:Circuit City Liquidating, Closing all US Stores
After-Effects of Circuit City Bankruptcy
Pawn Shops See Higher Activity During Downturn
You can follow the link from each story or you see a list of the three photos here.

Galleria Ghostmall

I'm on travel tonight in McLean, staying at the Tyson Corner Crowne Plaza. I'd traveled from Orlando to Washington D.C. via Reagan this morning, then drove a short distance to company offices where I spent the majority of my day working until 5:30 pm. I finished by driving a short distance to the Crowne Plaza and checking in. Once in my room I grabbed my E-3 out of my luggage, threw on my big fluffy blue down jacket (I'm from Florida, so anything lower than 72 is too cold), and walked across International Drive to Tysons Galleria and Legal Seafood for supper.

I love to eat at Legal Seafood. I was first introduced to Legal in 2005 while working as an SAIC systems engineer on Future Combat Systems (FCS). I was part of an SE team which included members from SAIC and Boeing. Since SAIC has a number of offices in or around the McLean area, we'd all flown up there to conduct a week-long face-to-face planning session. At the end of each day we would go over to Tysons Galleria…

The ultimate cure?


Politics as viewed from Florida

The Gift That Keeps On Giving.
Embedded video from CNN Video
Thank you John McCain.


Looks like the Senate passed the the $787 billion stimulus bill. It's now on its way to President Obama for his signature. At the risk of sounding too selfish and parochial, I hope there's enough in there to help with Florida's current $2.3 billion state budget deficit. Florida is currently in third place behind second place Georgia ($2.8 billion) and first place California ($13.8 billion). Additionally Florida's current unemployment rate stands at 8.1%, tied for eighth place with Georgia. And last but by no means least, Florida is #1 in foreclosures; the number of homes in foreclosure stands at 7.32%. So like I said, I hope a little stimulus love flows down to the Sunshine State.

Oh. I got my numbers from this interesting interactive Flash page titled "Where does your state rank?" Looks like Florida is pretty rank. A bit like dead-fish-killed-by-red-tide-been-in…

I'm from the Government and I'm here to help you (Scam Alert)

From my Google account spam filter.

This must be part of the $790 Billion or so "bi-partisan" Congressional bailout package. I guess I'll be getting my share of it after all.
AMOUNT USD$825,000

This is to inform you that through our Global Security Network, and investigations, which reveals that, you have not yet received your long overdue payment yet you have been a scam victim. Please be informed that the authorities in conjunction with the law enforcement agents, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have put in place machinery to checkmate this urgly incident.

I wish to inform you that there is a directive from the Federal Government to pay all outstanding debts owed to beneficiaries. This was resolved in a meeting held between Nigerian Government Authorities and Officials of United States Government in New Yo…

I'm So Special! (Scam Alert)

This hit my Yahoo! inbox today (but it wasn't taken out by their so-called spam filter, unfortunately). This is so unbelievably funny that any description I would attempt could never do it justice, so I'm just going to copy it here in its entirety for your great amusement. Notification of Bequest

On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the Estate of late Luciano Pavarotti, I hereby attempt to reach you again. I wish to notify you that Late Luciano Pavarotti made you a beneficiary to His will. He left the sum of Thirty one Million five Hundred Thousand Dollars.($31,500,000.00) to you in the codicil land last testament to his will. This may sound strange and Unbelievable to you, but it is real and true. Luciano Pavarotti was known for his humanitarian work.

He was the founder and the host of the 'Pavarotti & Friends' annual charity concerts and related activities in Morena, Italy. There he sang with international stars of all styles to raise funds for several worthy…

Olympus E-3 System 30+ days on

I got the core of my new E-3 system for Christmas (body, two lenses, and flash), so it's been more than 30 days (more like six weeks) since I opened everything up and started to use it. For the most part I've had a wonderful time.

Olympus E-3 Body

Some complain about the size of the body. In my hands, with the HLD-4 battery pack attached, it fits like a glove. I have a camera which for the first time fills my right hand completely and comfortably. The weight is generally not an issue unless I attach the 50-200mm and carry that around for a while.

More complain about the placement of the controls. I'll admit that when I want to change something I still have to stop and look rather than just instinctively touch and move a control. I got used to Olympus camera controls with the E-300, so I wasn't to concerned about control placement on the E-3's body. But it is going to take some more time before it becomes more "finger-tip knowledge". As far as instinctive c…

Watching Orlando Unravel 5

All the empty little stores and shops have begun to merge with the larger failures in the news (Circuit City, for example) to create whole blocks of dark and empty locations. West Oaks Mall in Ocoee Florida is an example of this.

One whole section of the mall, consisting of a former anchor tenant (Belk) and a number of surrounding stores have all gone dark. The effect is a moody, foreboding atmosphere with no sound to be heard, not even echoes from patrons in the main part of the mall. The perfect setting for a cheesy SciFi movie staring third-terr character actors.

Other stores in the mall, like this JCPenney, have massive non-stop sales to move merchandise. This one has signs at the entrances proclaiming 75% off.

And then there's the continuing going-out-of-business sale of the rest of the Circuit City stores. There are four at least four in metro Orlando. This one is downtown on Highway 50 at the Colonial Plaza mall.

That's the stores that had tenants and business. That doesn&#…

More updates

openSUSE 11.1

Just as I'd threatened to do a few posts back, I upgraded my openSUSE 11.1 installation's KDE desktop from 4.1.3 to 4.2. Upgrading was simple enough with a one-click link. However, once I completed the upgrade and installation of new packages I could not log out. I had to go to a terminal screen ([Ctrl][Alt][F1]), log in as root, and reboot the system. I could have probably just killed the X session, but but I figured I'd just nuke everything and come up completely clean.

Once it came back up the first thing I noticed was the complete change of desktop themes. Many are gone and those few that are left have changed. My favorite, Elegance, now has a very busy clock face. I really liked the ultra-simplicity of the clock in the older version. The default desktop theme is Aya, which is the first desktop capture you see below. The new Elegance follows.

A personal nit has been fixed. The Desktop panel scales and flows its contents the way you expect, and in real time a…

And what the f*ck is it with you?!?!?

You can tell just how far a world-class celebrity screwup has traveled when it shows up as part of a top-10 list on Wired. "Top 10 Celebrity Rants Caught on Tape" covers Bale, Orson Wells, Michael Richards, Buddy Rich, Shatner, Casey Kasem, Elvis, Bill O'Reilly, Alec Baldwin, David Russell/Lily Tomlin, and Lee Elia. The funny/sad/pathetic thing about this list is I knew about the first eight, up to and including Alec Baldwin going ballistic on his daughter. I don't know what that says about me, but it can't be good.

Yet another sign of the oncoming apocalypse.

Sign, sign everywhere a sign

Sign, sign everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
Do this don't do that can't you read the sign?As you drive down roads from your neighborhood to where you work or play or visit, you're bombarded by road signs of every shape, size, color, and message. As I was driving home one weary evening in stop-and-go rush hour traffic due to construction signs moving oncoming traffic from many lanes to fewer, I had a 70's mental moment and I recalled the Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs" refrain. Of course my sign pictures are different from the signs they sang about, but it's essentially the same bloody principal.

I've long since passed the point where I'm a long-haired freaky person (a lot of my hair isn't there any more), but the message in the lyrics still resonates down the decades. In fact there are so many signs along the roads telling me what to do or not to do and threatening me with dire consequences if I refuse to comp…


I've gone through a series of notable hardware and software updates so far this year, and it's barely February. In no particular order:

Dell D630 Memory Update

I upgraded the D630 from 2GB to 4GB (2 x 2GB sticks) for a mere $70 total from Dell itself. This was for the company notebook. By the time Windows is up and running I can only 'see' 3.5GB, but it's worth it, and if I need all that memory I can swap around my hard drives and run Fedora 10.

I run Widows XP SP3 primarily. Windows applications include Google Chrome, Google Earth, Visual Studio 2008, NetBeans IDE (6.5 and 7.0M1), Eclipse (3.4.1 and 3.5M5), as well as Office 2007 and Visio 2007 professional. And then there are other project-specific applications (EventStudio System Designer, for example) and testing applications before deploying. It's not unusual for me to hit 1.5GB with everything up in a normal day-to-day workflow, and I was not happy to hit swap on this notebook. So I bumped up memory and ever…