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Showing posts from January, 2013

accidental webpage

Once upon a time, in a far more innocent era (the late 1990s), I had a personal website on Geocities along with a lot of other people. I'd been introduced to HTML and the web while working for Time Warner's Full Service Network (FSN) in 1996. The irony of that last statement is that Time Warner wanted nothing to do with the web, as they rightfully saw it as the ultimate destroyer of what they were trying to accomplish at the time with the FSN. But I stood up an early copy of Apache (version 1 vintage) on several SGI workstations, and showed management how to use the web and browsers to manage all the far-flung SGI hardware we had to manage at the time. In the end I took those hard-won learned skills with me to another company called MicroClinique and used them to help build a web front end for a project called Theater Telemedicine Prototype Project (T2P2) using Java and Microsoft technologies.

In the mean time I discovered Geocities, and decided to set up a small personal web…

Olympus At ISO 3200: No More Fear

Back in October of last year I wrote about "shooting at ISO 3200 with impunity" with the Sony NEX-5N and its 18-55mm kit lens. I wrote how I didn't feel that way with the Olympus cameras I had at that time. That's now changed.

Friday night, while on a fish taco run to Lime Mexican Grill, I happened to grab the photo above on the way in to eat. After looking at the results I'm here to say that I now feel that same sense of impunity with the Olympus E-M5. Granted, I used the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 prime instead of a kit zoom, but the flip side is that the raw files are especially luscious coming out of the E-M5, and the 20mm has no distortions to speak of, especially compared to Sony's 18-55mm kit zoom. And I like the fact my 20mm prime is still two stops faster stopped down to f/2, than the equivalent focal length on the Sony zoom, 27mm at f/4 wide open). (No, I do not shoot any fast prime wide open unless I have no other choice. Old habits ingrained duri…

Olympic Hipsterism

When I purchased the OM-D E-M5 I also purchased the Olympus BCL-15mm f/8 body cap lens. At only $50 I figured it was a no-brainer to pick one up to play with. It was about the cost of Holga (Holgas go for between $30 and $50). With all the Pen bodies I have I figured I would leave it on one of them, always at the ready.

The 15mm stays on the E-PL1 and I carry it with the E-M5 plus 17mm or 20mm mounted. Both of them fit in the center console of the Prius with room to spare. And that's a good thing, actually. With Pens I can keep them hidden in the car at all time and not worry nearly as much as I did in the past with the larger DSLRs. In fact the E-PL1 with the 15mm is very pocketable, or at least with the kinds of pockets I have on my pants. And I'm not talking cargo pants.

If you're coming here to look for IQ then you should stop reading and head on somewhere else. The 15mm only has two focus settings, infinity and close focus. At infinity and f/8 it has a a rather profo…

A Minor Skirmish in the Culture Wars

You're looking at a blocked page I encountered on my Nexus 7. I was at a local restaurant, Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza. Anthony's, like so many restaurants in the area, provides an open WiFi point. Unlike other restaurants this Anthony's uses Solid Oak Software's CYBERsitter to "filter" (censor) sites it deems unfit for the general public. In this particular case, it flagged BoingBoing.net as undesirable for one of the possible reasons listed to the left. In particular I found the last reason, about being located in a "blocked country," a bit humorous. A simple WhoIs lookup (via GoDaddy, of all people) shows BoingBoing to be hosted in Toronto Canada. The only thing BoingBoing is "guilty" of is acting as one of the leaders against uncontrolled and blatant Internet censorship and IP fascism.

Solid Oak Software has been, and continues to be, the center of controversy. From its heavy handed censorship to accusing the Chinese for pirating i…

At Work with Linux: Fedora 18 on Fedora 17

Fedora 18 was officially released yesterday after a long troubled gestation period. I downloaded the DVD ISO from the Ga Tech mirror and burned it to physical media before heading home. I also had done the same with openSUSE 12.2. I had picked up a Seagate 500GB 7200 RPM notebook drive for around $70 at a local Best Buy. I was fully prepared to go home and install either one of those on my wife's prior white MacBook 4,1.

After putting in the new drive I first tried to install Fedora 18. It would never boot on the MacBook, instead dumping me out at a raw grub prompt. I tried several different ways to boot Fedora 18 on that MacBook, but gave up and installed openSUSE 12.2 instead.

The openSUSE install was mostly successful, in that I was able to get it onto the hard disk and have it boot afterwords. But after an hour of just moving around in the environment, I pulled out the old Snow Leopard DVD and installed a fresh copy of Mac OS X on the notebook. After picking up all the update…

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz was 26 when he took his life. That's the same age as my oldest daughter, a truly  frightening contrast for a parent. I knew of Aaron in a detached sort of way, from his exploits and the resultant stories. I never gave him too much more thought until I read of his suicide Friday morning.

I've had a few days to think about Aaron Swartz's short but powerful 26 year life. I've read and re-read just about all that's been written about him since he took his life. I wanted to wait and see what the U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz, the ignorant fool who stripped him of just about everything he ever had before driving Aaron to take his own life. In the end, the government "quietly dropped" all charges against him. Ortiz declined to comment.

It should be noted that the string of trumped up, over-criminalized charges filed against Aaron would have had him facing more prison time than murderers, bank robbers, slave dealers, child pornographers, al-Qaeda sympa…

A Little Less Green Space

I saw this coming. Back in April of last year I came across a bit of greenspace next to the courthouse, bounded on three sides by North Magnolia, East Livingston and North Rosalind Avenue. It was a small one acre park. It was notable for all of the big old oaks that gave it a lot of cool shade. Unfortunately, it had started to go to seed a bit, and there was a for-sale sign on the Rosalind Avenue side. It didn't look good.

I photographed it, filed it away for later, and continued on with life. Then, sometime around December, when I started to go to RDV for physical training, I happened to spot a crane over the general vicinity. When I got there today I found the beginning of a $63 million 23 story luxury apartment complex. Gone were all the old oaks, all the cool shade.
There's not much more that I can say that the photos can't convey better than I can write. There is, however, one more important fact to this story. Out of the acre of land on which this apartment is being…

Lake Eola Evening

I'd intended to spend the early afternoon tramping a bit around Orlando, but a problem creating a software repository for my primary project forced me to head back on over to my office and correctly re-create it. I spent three hours of a glorious Saturday afternoon in an office without air conditioning (they turn it off on the weekends to save money). By the time I got out it was 5pm and the sun was headed back down again. In spite of only working three hours, it still felt like a regular working day.

I pulled off into downtown on the way home and headed towards Lake Eola. I haven't been there in well over a year. It's a great place for people to meet. The weather here in Orlando, in January, is high 70s to low 80s during the day, and low 60s at night. It's days like today that remind us why we live in Central Florida. The problem is they are far too few. As good as the weather is now it's a good 10 degrees too warm. I fear we're in for a hot dry spring to fal…

The Evening Light (Downtown)

It's been a very busy start to the year.Get up early, straighten up the house a bit before a breakfast, shower, and the morning commute (sometimes I skip breakfast, which is bad). Work all day, then start on the commute home. Because it's winter the sun hasn't come up when I leave in the morning and it's already pretty well down when I leave for the evening. Tonight, knowing I was going to be getting home late because I needed to stop by the store, I pulled off downtown and grabbed about 15 minutes of shutter therapy time.

It was already pretty dark down in the building canyon, with the sunlight just touching the higher structures like the upper cranes. I come to document the Dr. Phillips Art Center construction because this is probably as close as I'll ever get to seeing the interior. It's going to be a playground for folks far richer than I'll ever be.

Technical

Using the Olympus E-M5 with the Leica 25mm at the top and the M.Zuiko 45mm on the last two. Th…

It Finally Arrived

It took me forever to finally get this camera. I wanted one all the way back to when it was announced for pre-order in January of last year. Then one thing after another started to get in the way. First my pre-order funds went to something more practical. Then other camera makers started to release interesting cameras. Then the core of my 4:3rds systems was stolen and replaced with insurance money. Then Fotokina showed up overseas in Germany, and I decided to wait for that to finish to see what else the camera manufacturers were going to release.

Of all the cameras that came out last year the two that caught my eye were the Nikon D800 and D600. I knew I could never really be comfortable sinking money into the D800, but the D600 looked like it might actually be something I could purchase. But no. Then Sony came out with their α99 to compliment their α77, an APS-C camera I was also contemplating. Finally, on the last day of the year, I placed an order for the E-M5, an extra battery, a…

Epiphany 2013

Epiphany can be grand, or it can be personal. Today, for me, it was a personal experience. Today I had a sudden realization that I could produce, with ease, the kind of photography I've been struggling to produce for some time now, and with the cameras I already have. All I had to do was relax and enjoy the moments. And the best way to enjoy the moment is to ignore the fear of negative critical reception. In other words, don't worry about what others may say.

That last bit of advice is hard to follow. In the hyper-connected, hyper-critical world of internet photography, it's hard to ignore the self-appointed critics, especially if they're out to troll you and everyone else they come across. That bit of advice, while certainly easy enough to state, is always difficult to follow.

Today I drove back up to Renninger's Antiques in Mt. Dora to look around and say hello to Pincus the Scotty again. While there I used both the E-PL2 and the 45mm as well as the E-PL1 and th…

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

Today is the eleventh day of Christmas. Tomorrow is the twelfth, and the Epiphany. That word, like the concept of Christmas itself, has been so twisted and abused by a century of American commercialism that it's a wonder any of the real meaning of Christmas is left. According to English tradition I'm supposed to give/get eleven pipers piping, but I've never gotten anywhere close to that, and I probably never will (unless I travel to Scotland some future Christmas). Instead, I get these four brass horses near a Publix on S. Hiawassee Road and Westpointe Blvd (mustn't forget the 'e'). And it's not exactly four horses, either. It's actually a pair repeated twice. I guess they saved some money when this was installed back during the height of the housing bubble here in Orlando.

Normally I'd leave our outside Christmas decorations and lights up until tomorrow, but weather calls for rain this Sunday so I pulled them down today while it was still dry and …

Faster Than A Speeding Limit

It's been a long time since law enforcement types really caught my attention enough that I wanted a photo of them so I could write about their antics. This morning, someone driving a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission truck (myfwc.com) decided to drive like a real asshole down the 408 east-bound on up 417 northbound. I first picked them up at the 408/I-4 interchange where they started to tailgate me, staying on my bumper up to the 436 exit. Then they whipped past me and continued on at a rather high rate, with me following them until I had to get off at 417 and University. I kept the vehicle in site by trailing the vehicle at a more reasonable distance than they'd used with me. The entire time we were traveling together at 75mph and faster.

I wouldn't say much except I get tired of seeing blue light specials by the side of the 408 or 417 or I-4, where they've pulled someone over, ostensibly for speeding. This morning the roads were absolutely clear of p…

Barnes & Noble HD+, A Bit More Like HD-

This is going to be a tough one to write. From Christmas Day until New Years Day, my wife and I were owners of the Barnes & Noble HD+, their entry into the 10" high definition table contest. I in particular really wanted this to work, but in the end I deregistered my HD+ and returned it to Barnes & Noble.

The Good

First and foremost was the build quality of the table. Compared to my older Nook Tablet and even my Nexus 7, the HD+ is a very well-built table that exudes quality. It never flexed or creaked when handled, especially when it was put into and then taken out of it's book-style cover. The external frame looks to be made of metal (either aluminum or magnesium), with an excellent glass display on the front and non-skid back. From a material and construction viewpoint it stands head and shoulders above everything, including the Apple iPad.

The version of Android used on the HD+ was a customized version of Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with Barnes & Noble'…

Day One 2013

Daughter #2 spent a long weekend with her mom and dad. Because of the state of the 1994 Volvo, she drove a one-way rental down to Orlando. Then her boyfriend came down from Tallahassee for New Years Eve. Today they packed up his car with her all her things and they drove back together. Before they left we all enjoyed a great brunch at First Watch on Sandlake Road. It was a great day and an enjoyable moment in time.
While my daughter was in town we went to a movie (The Hobbit) and grabbed a few moments here and there photographing the general area. As she gets older our dual photography sessions are more and more interesting. I look forward her showing me what she took while she was here.

One spot we stopped at was downtown at City Hall and the Dr. Phillips Art Center construction site. I grabbed a few photos and found the old grove beginning to come back.
The knee surgery was a time for me to just drop back and chill out, concentrating on physical and mental healing. As I come out of …