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Showing posts from February, 2011

February Final

Another month flies by. I close February with these photos. I had to pick my wife up at the local Orlando Amtrak station today. She'd gone to visit a friend down in Hollywood, FL over the weekend. While waiting for the train to arrive from its stop in Kissimmee, I happened to spot this photographer waiting for the train as well. He was carefully balancing on the bench, concentrating on that special moment he had in mind before tripping the shutter on his Canon.

So intent was he that he was oblivious to me and my little E-P2 as I began to take a few photos of him. I felt for sure he'd hear the shutter and turn around, if briefly, but I never registered.

One part of his technique I noticed was his use of on-camera flash. It went off when the train was still fairly far away, and considering it was broad daylight, I have to wonder if it was deliberate or accidental. The E-3 has a fairly powerful on-camera flash, but it wouldn't have helped with today's lighting conditions…

Alone on a Sunday

Alone with the animals this weekend; my wife is visiting friends down in south Florida, while my daughters are elsewhere in Florida. Earlier this afternoon I went out on a small errand and happened to pass both of these spots on Turkey Lake near West Sand Lake Drive.

The first was hidden away on the north-bound side of Turkey Lake before the intersection with Wallace Road. It's fenced in by Turkey Lake on one side, and hedged in by the elevated exit from I-4 to West Sand Lake on the other. There are a couple of large ponds that have gone a bit wild, with rushes growing around most of the edges. When you get close enough you can hear and see red-wing black birds flying and chirping in the rushes. There were several larger whooping calls from birds I couldn't see. It was a nice little bit of nature left over from all the road construction. If I stand at a certain spot and compose in a certain way, you can forget, for a moment, where you're really at. Except for the ceaseles…

They don't call us Flori-Duh for nothin'

I came across this story via the Photography is Not a Crime website (and you should at least give it a passing read). It was originally published on the Florida Tribune website. I'm going to wholesale quote the story here, because it's just so unbelievable and demands the full context of the story.
Taking photographs from the roadside of a sunrise over hay bales near the Suwannee River, horses grazing near Ocala or sunset over citrus groves along the Indian River could land you in jail under a Senate bill filed Monday.

SB 1246 by Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, would make it a first-degree felony to photograph a farm without first obtaining written permission from the owner. A farm is defined as any land "cultivated for the purpose of agricultural production, the raising and breeding of domestic animals or the storage of a commodity."

Media law experts say the ban would violate freedoms protected in the U. S. Constitution. But Wilton Simpson, a farmer who lives in Norman…

Classic Lenses

We spend too much money re-buying lenses. I will grant you that the art and science of optics as applied to photography has advanced from a technical perspective over the last 30 years, at least on paper. Extra low dispersion glass that does a better job of focusing all wavelengths of light to the same point on a sensor and manufacturing techniques that make it easier, if not cheaper, to create aspherical elements have helped to create lenses that are, under certain circumstances, clearly superior to older lenses from the "film age".

And unfortunately at considerable cost.

Unless you've dropped considerable cash on a large sensor camera body (135mm frame size or higher), and invested considerable time learning the best techniques for achieving the potential such a system is supposed to achieve, then you're wasting your time and money, especially when there are so many older lenses with excellent characteristics on the market ranging in cost from very affordable to f…

TGIF Week 8

Prices have been boosted at the pump over the last few days as the crisis throughout the middle East and Libya in particulardrive up the price of both crude and refined products such as gasoline. Back on January 5 regular unleaded gas was just over $3/gallon. I expect to see gas quickly spike to near $4 before the start of summer and stay there. Just like 2008, only worse. This was taken at the corner of Turkey Lake and West Sandlake, looking eastbound towards I-4 and International Drive. These are the prices that tourists see, which aren't much different than what suburbanites see.


Yesterday I wrote about the red light cameras. This is how much it costs to run a red light in Orlando, caught by camera or cop. I should have googled the Internets, because sure enough, a story was written by WESH/2 in July 2008 when the cameras were first installed. The fine back then? $125. The fine has more than doubled in less than 3 years. Talk about inflation.


Finally, I had lunch at the latest…

At Work with Linux: Automatic Logins

Password login in a lab setting can be onerous, especially when dealing with lots virtual machines. This simple change to custom.conf under /etc/gdm will automatically log a Linux-based virtual machine into a given login account. Automatic login is one of those small but important features that make working with a system more efficient and pleasant. On a virtual machine, it in essence turns a Linux VM into a meta application.

This, of course, is reasonable in a locked-down lab setting. For systems which are in a less controlled public-facing environment, automatic login may not be the best feature to enable.

Linux Automatic Login EnableFile Location/etc/gdmFile Namecustom.confChanges to MakeUnder the section labeled [daemon], add the following lines;
AutomaticLoginEnable=True
AutomaticLogin=username
Because this file is under /etc, you'll need root privileges to modify the file. Username, of course, is the user name you want the VM system to default to. And of course, if it automatic…

Just Another Day in Paradise

Orange Counties finest were out again at the intersection of Corporate and Quadrangle Blvds (just like they were on February 10), running yet another speed trap. I captured this on the way from Research Park back to Lake Lynda Drive. It turns out that Orlando is ranked seventh in the number of unique speed traps. This comes from "America's Worst Speed Traps." I whipped up the little chart below showing the top ten cities, and Orlando's unique standing.

Top 10 US Speed Trap Cities (Speed Traps/City)RankCitySpeed Traps1Houston, Texas3732Austin, Texas1893Las Vegas, Nevada1874Colorado Springs, Colorado1865Jacksonville, Florida1756Denver, Colorado1657Orlando, Florida1658Dallas, Texas1569Chicago, Illinois15310Los Angeles, California151
The article had this to say about Orlando:
You're less likely to break the speed limit on your daily commute than you are on vacation, where you're in a strange place and don't know the laws or the speed traps, Dornsife says. So, …

Real Spring Flowers

Another very nice sunny day. Out walking to pick up my usual at Jimmy Johns. On the way back  I came across the blue flower above, and then the light falling through the oaks onto the surrounding greenery below. The light, the greenery, the day itself. It was wonderful.

Sprouting Up like Spring Flowers

On the way from one office to another at lunch, I passed the latest bit of heavy construction near UCF on Alafaya. They've already built one extensive apartment block (Sterling University Housing) a little further north and closer to UCF, and it looks like they're starting something similar here.

There's other road construction around the area, such as the intersection of Corporate and Quadrangle where the police love to set up their speed traps. I wonder, I hope, they're going to put up a stop light. That intersection really needs one. And maybe put an end to the speed traps.

User Agent Hackery (A Public Service Announcement)

I work for a company that uses a proxy filter on all web traffic within and out of the corporation. One of the tasks the filter has been assigned to do is to check the version of web browsers. If that given browser is not a sanctioned version, then it's blocked from reaching the Internets and the user is shown a warning page. This is because someone is under the belief that regardless of hosting OS, any browsers older than the current sanctioned releases are a security risk. This, of course, has all sorts of interesting consequences:
You can't use the old-and-busted browser to fetch one that's more up-to-date, or use the old-and-busted one to fetch a new-and-shiny alternative within the corporate network.Not only does it block older versions, but newer versions, especially betas. For example, Fedora 14 updates delivered Google Chrome 10.0.648.82 Beta yesterday, and sure enough, our corporate proxy blocked it. I've also been running and testing Firefox 4 on my notebook i…

Florida and High-speed Rail

The situation in Florida is getting interesting with regards to high-speed rail. On 18 February an email was sent to me by the office of Senator Bill Nelson (D Rep 9th District) which said, in part:
A bipartisan group of the state's political and business leaders have pursued high-speed rail in Florida for decades, because it means more than $2.4 billion in economic aid, thousands of construction jobs and a modern transportation link between several of the state’s largest cities. That’s why I support it. I’m joined by state lawmakers and many members of Florida's congressional delegation, who also question the governor’s decision to kill high-speed rail. One is U.S. Rep. John Mica, the Winter Park Republican who chairs the House Transportation Committee. Also, federal transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican, has expressed disappointment.It is interesting how a long-time Democratic representative invokes the name of two Republicans in chastising our new Republican gov…

It's Arty Photo Monday!

Sometimes you just need to do the weird. Like run exposure up a deliberate 2 stops (+2 EV) to make the images overexposed. Blows out the highlights something wonderful. And then there's all the post processing in Lightroom 3 you're not supposed to do because it's ... Just Not The Proper Thing To Do.

Long multi-second shutter speeds. Distorted compositions. Composing for 1:1 or 3:2 instead of 4:3, and loosing precious pixels in the process. Make for lousy IQ, but wonderfully weird photos, which completely swamps the IQ issue.


Maybe tomorrow I'll take more pedestrian photos. Or not. I now have more lenses than I know what to do with. And I need to really explore what they can produce with the E-3 and the E-P2.


Everything today was taken with the Zuiko Digital 9-18 FourThirds UWA zoom. It sits for too long in my bag, along with a lot of other equally capable lenses. It's time to take more with everything, not get into a rut with a single lens. In the case of the E-P2…

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill

While running around our end of Orlando, the wife and I ate lunch at the latest local eatery to open near us, the Lime Fresh Mexican Grill located in the Whole Foods shopping plaza at the intersection of West Sand Lake and Turkey Lake roads.

My wife is now a member of Groupon, and she'd gotten a $15 off coupon for $7. We both ordered the chicken fajita burrito with sour creme on the side. When they took off the $15 Groupon we wound up owing a little over five dollars. I gave them a ten, then dropped the change into the tip jar. We came out saving four dollars.

In spite of the higher price you might pay over at our Chipotle down the street, or one of the many Del Taco, Toco Bell's, or Moe's, the food you get at Lime Fresh is truly fresh. My wife and I compared it with other Tex/Mex eateries we've been too, and we decided it's comparable to Chipotle's, and far better than everybody else, especially Moe's.

Once we placed our order, we waited a very short time…

A Perfect Sunday

Today capped a week of perfect weather days, with highs in the 70s and lows in the upper 50s. There was a nice breeze to keep a body cool but not cold. This is the kind of weather that the chamber of commerce prays for; looks like their prayers were answered.

What made today truly special were the light clouds that softened the strong sunlight. The light as a consequence was glorious.


I have two versions of this blooming tree. The one shown here is what I felt. The second is a more accurate representation you would see in a tree catalog. I don't know what kind of tree this is, but would like to know.

The B52s

On a night much more pleasant than the Saturday night of a week ago, the wife and I once more headed out to Universal Studios for another dose of Mardi Gras and the B52s.

The B52s is probably the only decent thing that's every come out of Athens, Ga. It's a shame they didn't come out of Macon like the Allman Brothers Band, but I've long since forgiven them their unfortunate place of origin. Although it's hard to believe now, I actually followed the B52s before they showed up on Saturday Night Live in 1980. I was a twenty-something during the latter half of the 1970's/early half of the 1980s, and felt that the B52s were my band. They were a band I discovered on my own, not a band like the Allman brothers that was essentially handed to me by my older friends in high school.

Which was not to say I was particularly enamored with all their work. My wife and girls like to tease me because I can't stand the Doors and the Stones. My music taste runs to the aforeme…

Cat in a Hi-Rise

In an effort to keep the cats occupied and give them something else to claw besides the furniture, I order a 72" (six foot) tall cat tree from Amazon to keep the little darlings occupied. After just a few days sitting in the middle of the house, two of the three cats have taken to it like ... well ... ducks to water (talk about mixing metaphors).

It's interesting to watch them move about the tree. Both cats (Ellipse, shown here, and Lucy) climb into the upper parts of the cat tree and situate themselves in such a way as to survey the world below them.


Ellipse is the alpha cat of the three, and it is she who seems to have picked one of the highest pads as her personal 'throne'. Her she's eying Lulabelle as Lulabelle sits on the floor looking up at Ellipse. They play this game a lot.

The cat tree seems sturdy enough, although there truly was "some assembly required". It's a good thing I have some mechanical aptitude; the construction directions, on a …

Ghost Ship

I came across my third blimp of the year at the Executive Airport today. It was white (or a lighter shade of pale), and except for standard aircraft markings in small letters on the lower dorsal fin, there were nothing on the body at all to indicate who owned and/or ran the airship. At least, not from the expressway.

What added to today's interest, besides the nondescript body, was the large ground crew gathered about the blimp; it was being prepared for flight when I stopped by this afternoon to take some photographs.


I tried to walk closer to the blimp, but was quickly intercepted by one of the ground crew before I barely walked onto the grassy surround where the blimp was attached to its mooring. While I walked he came running. He asked, politely but firmly, for me to head back towards the paved area where I'd parked my car. As I turned around and walked back to comply, a guy who looked like a line-backer, dressed in a suit, came up to politely gage what kind of person (th…

Notes from the field: MyTouch 4G

I've been on something of an extended rant lately against both Android and iOS. To balance the negative criticisms, I offer this positive note about living with the MyTouch 4G and Android 2.2.1.

One major reason for selecting the MyTouch was its advertised ability to act as an Internet network tether for my notebook. There are some remote work situations where I can find neither wired nor wireless (WiFi) connectivity for my Dell notebook.

With the MyTouch and T-Mobile's latest network offerings, I've discovered that I can achieve Internet connectivity by either enabling the hotspot (WiFi) capability of the handset or by enabling USB tethering (wired). In both cases, the network bitrate is actually quite good, and more importantly, I have nearly full connectivity. To make it really sweet, I can also keep the handset fully charged through the notebooks USB port while it's tethering (wired or wireless).

The only issue I have is I can't run VPN through the handset. Tha…

Priorities

We'll spend local tax money (and probably some federal tax dollars as well) to build more sprawling highways and roads through Florida, and everybody embraces it. But when the federal government wants to give us $2.4 billion for the majority cost of a high-speed rail system from Orlando to Tampa, with the rest of the building expense picked up by the companies that would have built it, our chief executive crook Rick Scott rejects it because he fears cost overruns and he's cheered like some hero. In rejecting the federal funds, Rick Scott was heard to utter:
“The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits.”Rick Scott hasn't the qualifications to make such a sweeping assessment, which makes me wonder who truly bent his ear (yes, I know it was a Libertarian think tank) and how they would financially benefit from such a rejection. Because with this much money floating around, it's always about who real…

Of Talented Pigs and Excellent Barbecue

Today, for the first time in a long time, I had a great Big Big Pig lunch at Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Q on the corner of Challenger Parkway and Alafaya. The occasion was a little relaxing socialization with a business group before they traveled home.

I've been eating Bubbalou's barbecue since the early 1990's at the Lee Road location. I started eating at the Challenger location when I started working out at the Research Park in the late 1990's. There's a third store I know of close to home at Kirkman and Conroy on Conroy, which is my oldest daughter's favorite haunt. All three have been consistently good places to eat.

While I was there I got to meet the owner for the very first time (first photo). He was a gracious host and a true gentleman. And while I was there I grabbed a few photos of some of the pigs he has scattered about the store. Most of them are of the flying variety, except for the unusual Irish pig that lounges above the bar (the Lucky Pig o…

Why Meego was a NoGo

To hear it from the Open Sourcers, Nokia's abandonment of Meego for Windows Phone 7 (hear-after referred to as WP7) was tantamount to the same level of betrayal that the Open Sourcers felt over the Microsoft/Novell patent cross-licensing agreement of late 2006. The only problem with that assessment is that Meego, and Meego's predecessor Maemo, were an absolute failure in its role as portable device OS for Nokia. Those cries of anguish you hear over Meemo's fate are the cries of sore losers.

My first-hand experience with Maemo was with the Nokia 770. It was a bitter disappointment. I spent nearly $400 in 2006 for a device who's operating system wasn't fit for general public use. My general assessment hasn't changed since then, and if anything, it has only grown worse with time. My negative experience with Nokia was so bad that I've not purchased any Nokia phone since, and swore I'd never buy one again.

Meego, like Maemo before it, wasn't going to hel…

Hidden away

I'm at a different location this week, getting to know how a constructive simulation application works with another constructive simulation; two federates in a simple HLA federation. My car was parked towards the back of the building where the class is being held. As I was leaving for the day I happened to look up and there it sat, a decommissioned F-18 Hornet, tucked underneath some trees..

The F-18 is next to a Navy facility in back of the building where the class is held. This is the second aircraft on the Navy building's campus. I wonder what this particular F-18's history was before it retired to Florida and this shaded spot under the trees.

What's in a name?

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Developing for Android using the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G - Step 1, Setup

It was only a matter of time before I finally figured out how to connect my T-Mobile MyTouch 4G to my Dell D630 running Windows XP SP3, and began to follow the path of Android development enlightenment. What follows are my notes and general observations about getting my handset connected to my computer.

Step a: Forget about finding anything useful by googling for it on the web. Everything you need to know about connecting an Android handset can be found through Google's Android developer's pages, starting with downloading the SDK.

The page presents various SDK download packages for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. We're talking about Windows development, so we'll concentrate on the two packages you can download for Windows.

Step b: Install the SDK. At this point in time there are two packages, android-sdk_r09-windows.zip and installer_r09-windows.exe, which is recommended by Google. I'm an 'old timer' when it comes to installing the SDK, so I always download the…