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Showing posts from May, 2011

May Final

May has been quite the month. It opened May 2nd with the death of Osama bin Laden and ends with the crew of space shuttle Endeavour readying a final return from orbit for themselves and their space craft. In between I've watched Japan slowly recovering from the April earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear breach at Fukushima, major flooding up and down the Mississippi, tornadoes and their aftermath in Joplin, the continuing Arab Spring, the rise and collapse of the price of oil and the continuing rise of gas prices, Newt Gingrich announce his presidential run for 2012, only to implode over comments where he labeled Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed budget as "radical" and "right-wing social engineering." Unfortunately he's correct.


Other news that caught my ear and my eye that was released over the last 48 hours concerns the record amount of CO2 we dumped into the atmosphere and the accelerating economic chaos in Europe, issues that will have an impa…

Memorial Day 2011

Today was the day to remember our veterans, living and dead, who have given a part of themselves in the defense of this country. There'll be plenty of great photography documenting this year's ceremonies, professional and amateur. As for me, I wanted to find some of  those little corners in the smaller cemeteries where, but for a simple headstone or marker, there is no other indication of who they are or the sacrifice they may have made for all of us.

Ike Pope is buried at Powell Cemetery on S. Orange Avenue. I tried to find any records about him on the internet, but only came up with two hits, both of which simply documented he was buried here.


This photo was taken over a year ago in the Old City Cemetary in Tallahassee Florida. Except for the legend "U. S. Soldier", there was no other identification.

I think I'm going to take on a side photography project to document all the smaller cemetaries around Orlando, and all the veterans buried there. Once I'm finis…

Lakeland Raptors

While in Lakeland I stopped off at Henley Field to see what I might photograph. The park was pretty much locked up, so there wasn't much within that I could. But looking up I discovered several large nests in the lighting, such as the one you see below. And that's when I began to hear the long high cry of birds flying around the lights.


I'm no expert, but based on what I've discovered on-line they all look to be ospreys. It wouldn't be unusual to see ospreys around Lakeland as Lakeland is named for all the lakes in the area. So there should be plenty of fish-filled habitat for the birds to feed. Based on what I saw, I counted at least four ospreys, and possibly five, but I couldn't be sure of the fifth.



This last photo shows one of the ospreys in a cell tower assembly next to the football field. At the range I was taking this photo I couldn't tell if the bird was resting or if there's another nest up there.

It's time like this I wish I had a longer …

Lakeland Trip

The wife and I decided to take a side trip to Lakeland Florida today. Lakeland is about 50 miles south-west of Orlando on I-4. It's the home of Florida Southern College and Publix, and has citrus, cattle and phosphate mining as industries. Unfortunately, Lakeland currently suffers from an 11% unemployment rate, along with much of the rest of Florida.

The first place we stopped was Florida Southern, primarily to look at the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. One building that caught my eye was the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel.



Not all the architecture was by Wright, but appeared to be influenced non-the-less. These recent student dorms were interesting.


Lakeland still has a lot of "old Florida" buildings in the city. The Southgate Shopping Center entrance is classic 1960's Florida architecture.


The economic downturn has hit Lakeland as hard, if not harder, than Orlando. This closed Barnes & Noble book store is the first and only one I've seen in the area between Tampa …

Harsh Realities: Apple vs Android

Let me state up front that my original love for Apple has turned to ashes. I could spend the rest of the post cataloging all the reasons why in excruciating detail, but it wouldn't matter. I'd be falling victim yet again to the old geek flaw that the way I see the world is the way It Should Be Seen by Everyone Else. And the world just doesn't work that way.

There's also the the following incontrovertible facts:
Q1 2011: Apple reported revenue of $26.74 billion and profits of $6 billion, or $6.43 per share. Revenue was up 71 percent from a year ago, and earnings were up 78 percent. Analysts were expecting revenue of $24.38 billion and earnings per share of $5.38.Q2 2011: Apple reported revenue of $24.67 billion and profits of $5.99 billion, or $6.40 per share. Analysts were expecting revenue of $23.38 billion and earnings per share of $5.37.Apple can't make product fast enough to satisfy the market. Even with the Japanese 9.0 earthquake and resultant tsunami Apple…

Bristol Bus

One upon a time in Orlando there was a successful downtown attraction called Church Street Station. It's heydays were in the 1970's and 80's. Church Street suffered an economic collapse in the 1990s, with most of the attraction going through several owners until today it's little more than a shadow of its former self.

Part of the attractions of Church Street were the double-decker buses. I don't recall how many there were, but recently, for whatever reason, I've re-discovered the location for at least two of them. One of them, a Leyland, I photographed behind Waterford Lakes (408E and Alafaya). This second one, a Bristol, I discovered on the other side of town next on South Orange between Powell Cemetary and a Racetrack gas station. If both were operational when they were sold, then they're in pretty bad shape now. After sitting out in the Florida weather for years, their tires are flat and there's corrosion within and without. It would take a tremendou…

Greenwashing

Greenwashing (a portmanteau of "green" and "whitewash") is the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote a misleading perception that a company's policies or products are environmentally friendly. The term green sheen has similarly been used to describe organizations that attempt to show that they are adopting practices beneficial to the environment.I came across this Escalade Hybrid at a local Publix (in handicap parking no less) and nearly dropped my groceries in surprise. The non-hybrid version of the Escalade, in real world driving, gets between 9mpg city driving to 17mpg on the highway (with a strong tailwind downhill). The hybrid version, if you believe the PR, gets between 20mpg city and 23mpg highway. The cost of the Escalade Hybrid? A mere $74,000 for the base model.

I drive a "real" hybrid, a 2009 Prius. A vehicle 1/3rd the cost and 1/2 the weight of the Escalade Hybrid, a true hybrid that gets at least 50mpg, and on m…

When Free (as in beer) really isn't Free

The image capture above is what happened when I tried to start Angry Birds Rio today. I downloaded Angry Birds Rio from Amazon using the Amazon App Store application I installed from the Android Market. Truth be told I installed it because I heard that Amazon was offering "a paid app for free every day", and who doesn't like free?

So I installed it, logged into my regular Amazon account, and over the last month installed a number of top-drawer Android apps that happened to be free for a particular day. One of those apps was Angry Birds Rio.

I starting playing Angry Birds on my Apple iPod Touch when I purchased it through the Apple App store for 99 cents. It was a fun game, but most significantly, it had no ads and there was nothing to keep me from playing it, no matter what. That meant that if I was in an area where there was no connectivity and I needed to kill some time I could still play the app.

When I installed the Amazon app, one of the first apps it offered for f…

Daddy's new baby

Yep, you're looking at a nice pair - a nice pair of 2.8 GHz X5560 Xeon hex-core processors flanked by two banks of 32GiB RDIMMs. 2TiB of storage. All in a single 1U chassis. I get to install VMware Enterprise, then learn how to integrate this with the corporate wide VMware federation of systems in other locations around the country. Then install our Windows and RHEL virtual machines.

A major boost to our little lab. Interesting stuff.

At Work with Linux: Customizing Window Button Placement in Gnome on Fedora 14

When I've spent a long session in front of a computer screen I have a tendency to get sloppy when I reach to the upper right corner of a window to minimize or maximize it; I hit the destroy button instead. This is one of those infrequent annoyances that took a long time to motivate me to finally find a 'fix', but today, after three consecutive 'accidents', I finally did. My solution was to move the destroy button to the upper left corner.

If you want to change the window button position under Fedora 14, you'll need to do so via gconf-editor. Make sure that gconf-editor is installed (check with 'yum info gconf-editor', and install it with 'yum install gconf-editor' if needed.).

Start gconf-editor. In the left navigation pane navigate to /apps/metacity/general/button_layout. The default value for button_layout is 'menu:minimize,maximize,close'. For my use I changed it to 'close,spacer,menu:minimize,maximize'. This puts the close b…

Pots vs Kettles

I have been watching with a certain sadistic glee the reaction of Sigma users to the newly-introduced Sigma SD-1 for the shockingly high price of $9,700, body only.

I say shockingly because of what it contains. It contains a Foveon-based, APS-C size sensor. That's right, an APS-C sized sensor that is to be found in essentially every other DSLR manufactured by the likes of Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, and many others for $1,800 or less. Sometimes a good deal less.

To add insult to injury Sigma has had the stones to try and convince the world that the sensor isn't really 15MP, but is actually, based on how the color filters are built into the Foveon sensor, 3 x 15MP, or 45MP. And that's why it should cost nearly $10K.

Uh-huh.

They're claiming the SD-1's image quality is equivalent to a medium format digital camera such as the Pentax 645D, which is a cool $10K, body only, and worth every penny.

Uh-huh!

I could at this point spew forth a righteous diatribe about the app…

Planet of the Cats

This is Lucy. Felis catus. A mix of mackerel and tuxedo, she marched in through my front door nearly three years ago this coming August and settled in to live with us. Since that time she's become something of a character just like the two Labs.

Speaking of the Labs, she is as likely to walk under or over them to get where she's headed as to walk around them. She shows no fear, and they are completely indifferent to her.

If anyone had told me I'd have a cat when I was younger I would have laughed. It took me some 30 years to come to some understanding of the Labrador Retriever. Cats are a total mystery to me. I will never understand them, and that includes Lucy. Especially Lucy.




Technical

Top photo was taken with the E-P2 and the M.Zuiko 9-18mm. SOOC JPEG. E-P2 was set for 6x6 aspect ratio and portrait mode (5) picture mode. The other images were taken with the E-P2 and the E-3.

Once more unto the breach

My company uses RSA SecurID two-factor authentication with Cisco VPN products to allow remote login into our corporate network. Because of the sensitive nature of our work, we've been keenly aware of last March's "sophisticated attack that resulted in the theft of secrets related to its [RSA] SecurID two-factor authentication product." According to a press release from RSA:
Coviello said that the company was confident that the stolen information wouldn't enable a successful attack on any SecurID customers, but that it could be used to "reduce the effectiveness of a current two-factor authentication implementation as part of a broader attack." RSA is talking to customers about possible attack scenarios and helping them to "strengthen their SecurID implementations," Coviello wrote.We did perform some actions to "stengthen" our SecurID setup, but better to be safe than sorry, so we're replacing all our SecurID tokens. All of them.

Te…

Android Rant: What were they thinking?

I have been using my HTC myTouch 4G since mid-February of this year. With its 1GHz Snapdragon processor and Android 2.2.1, it was considered a reasonably up-to-date Android handset. That doesn't mean I'm all enamored with the handset, especially the software running on it.

One annoying characteristic of my handset is its propensity to silently change certain features for unknown reasons. Couple this with the inability to easily find how to change it back, and you have the perfect combination of device-specific characteristics for frustrating end users.

Take as one example the software keyboard on my phone. When I first purchased the phone I was using the Swype keyboard.


I didn't bother to try and find out how to change it, and lived with what I had until yesterday, when I downloaded and installed the beta version of Firefox 4 for Android. That's when the keyboard mysteriously changed to the Dragon Dictation keyboard you see below.


I immediately noticed when the Dragon…

2 4 5kp

That relentless photographic machine Matthew Robertson has crossed the 500 personal photograph milestone on his daily photography project 5kp. His two photos above are two of my favorites (so far) from his ongoing series.

I could wax all rhapsodic about why I favor these two, but I'll spare you and simply say I like them because they're fun. Fun to look at, fun to think about. They remind me of future photos of the present. The whole series does this.

I can't wait to see what comes out of the next 500 photos, and the next 500 after that...

Let Sleeping Labs Lie

I paid to have a skylight put into the roof because it was as dark as a cave in the center of the house, even at mid-day. It had been that way ever since we first moved into the house. The original 'architect' thought that having windows on either side of the fireplace at the back would allow enough light into the interior to avoid plunging the room into darkness, but it wasn't enough. So, when I had the roof rebuilt and brought back up to code late last year I also had the contractor put in the skylight.

It's been a big hit with all the animals.

While the skylight is double-paned to keep the heat out, all the critters still love to nap under the beam during the middle of the day.

The cats in particular love to have their ears in the light, especially Lulu. Since I understand cats even less than I understand Labs, I haven't a clue why they do this.


I guess that's why we have the critters around. They keep us entertained.

Technical

Top two photos taken with the …

Monday's Monuments

These buildings have been sitting mostly empty since there were completed back in early 2009, another monument to the real estate bust. I say mostly, because if you go around to the back corner of the second building you'll find the establishment of Vixen Fitness. Trust me, considering all the money out here, and sitting right next to Universal Studios, it's definitely full of vixens and vixen-wannabes.

Regardless, the front of the buildings provide interesting photo ops for small cameras sporting ultra-wide lenses, such as my E-P2 and the M.Zuiko 9-18mm.





Everything taken during the "magic hours" and processed from RAW using Lightroom 3.3.

Why Linux Matters (Why It Is Worth The Trouble)

Executive SummaryIf you're a twitter type, then this is tl;dr.
BackgroundBefore I tell you why Linux matters, let me tell you where I've been and where I find myself at this point in time.

Up until about four yeas ago I was an enthusiastic user of Linux, and wrote quite a bit about my experiences using it (or as much as I was allowed given my job's requirements). Then, starting in 2007, I ran into a rough patch (well, more like a washed out section of a bridge, metaphorically speaking). I'd made the mistake repeatedly of taking a working Linux installation and "upgrading" it. What burned me out was the ceaseless upgrade treadmill I kept willingly participated in, and the resulting system that needed yet more tuning and fixing of broken bits, tools that worked just fine in the prior release...
It's been nearly four years since I wrote my October Manifesto. Four years is a long time when software development continues at the rapid pace that Linux (and all othe…

Win some, loose some

I don't normally keep track of such things, but it looks like I've lost two followers in as many days. I hit the all-time high of 23, and now I'm down to 21. I don't know who left or why, but I won't loose any sleep over it. For those who stick around, thanks. For those who leave, good luck.

Sunday School Lesson

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
KJV Genesis 1:28And with our clever hands we built many machines and we scraped the earth clean of all life, drove it away or killed it outright.

When they scrapped this section of Orlando near Millennia Elementary clean I saw the remnants of the woods burn for days on the horizon.




And after we scraped the earth clean, we covered it back over with asphalt and concrete and "man's works", and planted little marigolds about as if that would somehow make up for all the violence that went on before.


They talk about an apocalypse as if it will be a predictable singular event, visible to everyone. We've been living the apocalypse for centuries.
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; whic…

Live Blog, la Deuxième Partie: The Rapture

5:20pm - We just got back from "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." Ian McShaneisBlackbeard and chewed up quite a bit of the scenery as he went swashbuckling about the movie. He was, unfortunately, about the only character to show any lively personality; everybody else seemed to be sleepwalking through by-now very familiar motions. With the notable exception of Judy Dench Perhaps they realized the movie would be released on the day of the rapture, and so they decided it didn't matter. Yet another sign of the apocalypse?

As I see it, I've got just 40 minutes left (whoops, just 30 minutes now) before Something Happens.

8:00pm - I've not been feeling well today, almost like a summer cold. Minor headache, joint ache, some nausea, and fatigue. So I sat in my big chair after getting home from the movie and fell asleep. And slept right through the End of the World As We Know It. The channels on the tele are still broadcasting, and there are no breaking news sto…

Live Blog: The Rapture

Since the end of the world won't occur until 6pm local Orlando time, I thought I'd blog my experiences up to that fateful hour.

9:30am - I'm allowed to sleep in this morning. The Labs don't bother me at 5:30am, and Lucy the cat has yet to walk across my chest to let me know it's time to get up. Instead, I awaken to the melodious voice of my beloved wife yelling at me from the living room. She wants to know if I'm going out to get bagels for breakfast.10:00am - I arrive at the local Einstein's bagel shop to stand in a line about 10 people deep. I'm the last. It's not looking too good at the order register; many of the bagel baskets are empty. When I finally get to the head of the line, I place my order and find that yes, I can have 6 asiago cheese, 4 everything, and three poppy seed. This in spite of the fact I was late to the shop and stood in a long slow line. I got my baker's dozen without any drama. A sign of impending doom?10:30am - Now I'…

This Ain't Disney

Change of weather today. It's back to being hot and bright. For whatever reason, while driving home from work, I got off of I-4 at South Orange Blossom Trail, then slowly followed 33rd Avenue west  towards the L B McLeod exit off of I-4, stopping along the way to photograph empty business buildings, one of them the old Boat Tree store.

The road ends on CR-423 as it passes under I-4. Turn right and you drive past the Orange County Corrections center (below). I'm going back to the corrections center for more photos, probably tomorrow.

Orlando isn't about Disney, Universal Studios, and the rest of the theme parks that have sprung up in Orlando. It's busted businesses and jails and roads broken in half decades ago when they drove I-4 through the heart of Orlando.

The photos are a mix of the E-3 with 50-200mm and the E-P2 with M.Zuiko 9-18mm.