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Showing posts from May, 2013

another day, another back operation

Today was my wife's fourth back operation she's had to undergo. Her first was nearly 20 years ago. As each operation has been performed hardware has been both added and removed from her lower back. The first major set of hardware was composed of surgical steel, and was removed when the second major set built out of titanium was added. This time the titanium set has came out.

The latest operation used a far smaller incision than any prior and orthoscopic-based tools and techniques to minimize the "trauma" of cutting into the body. The amount of hardware they use now was remarkably small compared to the last time. The surgeon also used stem cells this time in order to stimulate the regrowth of bone in the lower back.

We arrived at 6am, she was prepped and the operation started at 7am. An hour and a half later she was in recovery and stayed there until about 11:30am. She's been in great spirits and has required remarkably little pain medication. That need for minim…

android development on windows 8, step 2

I started the month of May off with a simple post about developing for Android on Windows 8. I'd made a Big Promise to do a lot more than I've actually wound up doing. It's not that I've given up, it's that an awful lot has happened over the last 31 days. I did do some more development, less than I certainly anticipated, but I've not completely stopped. I'm just going at a slower rate than I anticipated.

One of the better ways to dive and and get to know any complex software system is to take code previously written against an older version of an application and port it to the latest release of a compiler, software framework, operating system, or other complex software environment. Every complex system provides code examples to illustrate features and capabilities and to act as a starting point for other developers. And every example is always written against the earliest release, and more often than not, is never revisited and brought up to date against t…

panasonic gx1 review on thewsreviews

I published part 1 of my review of the Panasonic GX1 over on thewsreviews:  http://www.thewsreviews.com/2013/05/panasonic-lumix-dmc-gx1-silver-part-1.html

Nothing particularly controversial, especially for a camera that's at its end-of-life, heavily discounted and waiting for the rumored GX2 to be released. Basically, it's a fabulous µ4:3rds camera for just $200.

mellow memorial

I took the time off this Memorial Day weekend to not do much of anything when measured against the efforts of others. I didn't go shop at any sales (although I drove my wife over to return some merchandise at a mall), I didn't go to any special holiday activities (although there were plenty), I even stayed away from anything work related (I did not once check my work email). I spent the last three days doing nothing except exercising downtime, which allowed me to clear my mind and find a calmer spot in the universe. And along the way, I ate BBQ not once, but two days in succession, something of a guilty pleasure for me.
Today was probably the most active day of the three-day weekend. My wife had some items to return to a Vera Bradley outlet store at the Premium Outlet Mall. The only reason she shops there is the occasional 60% off sales that crop up. Our plan today was very simple; drive her over, drop her off, and then get out of the mall and wait for her to call me when she…

odious oligarchs

o·di·ous /ˈōdēəs/
Adjective Extremely unpleasant; repulsive. Synonyms hateful - obnoxious - detestable - loathsome - abominable ol·i·garch /ˈäliˌgärk/
Noun A ruler in an oligarchy.(esp. in Russia) A very rich businessman with a great deal of political influence. ol·i·gar·chy /ˈäliˌgärkē/
Noun A small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.A state governed by such a group. The last few weeks have been bitter-sweet for me. In spite of finding and starting a great new job I've had to deal with the decisions of corporations from which I purchased goods and services, specifically Adobe and Yahoo.

First I had to deal with the fact that the oligarchs who rule Adobe decided the only way to purchase the use of Photoshop going forward is via a monthly fee through their Creative Cloud. I have been a purchaser and user of boxed Photoshop since the mid-1990s starting with Photoshop 4. Over the years I upgraded to Photoshop 7, then to Photoshop CS2, and then to Phot…

the staycation, part 2 (our little trip to titusville and the space coast)

We spent Thursday going to the doctor for my wife and filling in the time doing other tasks. Friday we decided to make a quick trip over to the Kennedy Space Center and spend a few hours just touring the latest. I'd hoped to see something of the Atlantis exhibit, but it's still under construction with a tentative opening date of 29 June. We were also somewhat shocked at the cost of admission. The last time we were over there was in the mid-1990s with our two girls, who were still in elementary school at the time, but old enough to appreciate what they were seeing. Ticket prices at that time were pretty low. I don't remember what we paid as adults, but the kids cost $5 each. When we stopped in to check on prices we were shocked to see prices were $50/person and up, depending on what type of tour you wanted. Since the Atlantis exhibit wasn't ready we decided to pass and to just drive around Merritt Island and the general area from Rockledge to Titusville, including Coco…

the staycation (of a sort, where we stayed in florida)

Staycations came into vogue starting around 2007, when the Great Recession really began to exert itself late 2006/early 2007. Folks just didn't have the cash/credit to go gallivanting across the country, let alone around the world. And so they went back to doing what their parents and their prior generations used to do; they started to go to local spots close to home, spending as little as possible. And they've been doing it pretty much ever since.

Economic times since the start of the Great Recession have barely improved. Massive job losses, especially towards the beginning, were the norm. I managed to hang onto my job through the worst of it, only to finally loose my job back on 17 April of this year, when, without any warning it was coming, I went from gainful employment to out on the street unemployment in less than 30 minutes. And yet, in spite of the odds that were supposedly stacked against me (in particular my age), I managed to land my next job exactly three weeks af…

the olympus e-p5

It's now official. Olympus has released the next true Pen, the E-P5. I say the next "true Pen" because the E-M5, which I own, is a different model line altogether, and doesn't have the word "Pen" anywhere on it, not the body nor the box it was shipped in.

This Pen is a far better camera than the two-year-old E-P3, which I was not at all happy with when it was introduced. Olympus took all that is good about the E-M5, especially the sensor, mixed in the best bits from the Pen line (both the old film Pens as well as the newer digital lines), fixed what needed fixing and produced this current iteration. And from what I can tell so far it's a pretty decent iteration of the Pen side of the Olympus camera lines.

The only problem is the cost. The body alone is $1,000. You can pick up the still-excellent E-M5 for about $100 less. If you buy the "super kit", which includes the new black 1.8/17mm and the VF-4 EVF, the price jumps to $1,500. If you stop …

the last three weeks

On Wednesday, 17 April, I walked into my office at The MITRE Corporation in Orlando for the last time as a MITRE employee. That day, my division director, who I'd not seen before that day, dressed in a suit and tie, was sitting in the local office's main conference room waiting for me to arrive. Within five minutes I found out I'd been laid off due to sequestration. Or at least that was the official story. I was given a severance for my four years and 11 months as a MITRE employee, COBRA information, and a glossy brochure for Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH), a company that advertises themselves as "change management" and "career transition" experts to help me find another job. I turned in my various badges, signed several pieces of paper, and was back out of the office in about 45 minutes. I didn't bother to clean out my office (I'd do that a week later) as I was still in physical pain and in something of a mental state of shock. I went home and starte…

android development on windows 8, step 1

With some time on my hands I'm building a new Android development capability, this time with Android 4.2.2 and my Nexus 7 tablet as the target device. In the past I was targeting Android 2.3 and my Android smartphone, the HTC myTouch 4G. I have several Android projects I'm pursuing that require a tablet as the platform. I intend to target Android 4.2.2 and later; there'll be no backwards compatibility.

So far I'm using the emulator that ships with the SDK. I've yet to try to tie my Nexus 7 hardware into this. I will say this, when the directions on the Google site say not to build the device from the command line with the SDK, but build it from the Eclipse IDE, they mean it. I tried to build everything from the command line, and when it came time to try it from the IDE it kept failing because it couldn't find the emulator image. I had to delete both the initial SDK and Eclipse install and then reinstall everything, following the directions. Once I did that the…