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That photography thing

I always find it annoying when blogs begin every post with “I guess I haven’t updated for a while”, or “Sorry” or something, so I’m not going to do that. Except that I sort of just did. But I really didn’t?

This last year flew by! I spent all of it working and commuting and living part time in another city, but now that things are winding down I’ve actually found some time for photography again!

Side profile

Unaware of camera

A while back I was given my father’s old Nikkormat FT. This thing is really cool. After a bit of research and some eBay hunting, I’ve collected a Nikkor 28mm f2.8, 50mm f1.4 and 105mm f2.5. And these things are sharp. The total price? Less than $200. That includes a second camera body.

Front profile

Serious face

That’s a nice psychological aspect to shooting with film. Knowing that as soon as you press the shutter a new thing will be created really makes you think about what you’re doing. You stop and appreciate what’s in the viewfinder and whether you really want it there or not. I’d like to think it’s made me a better photographer.

These photos are of my cat, Johnny. I think the second photo looks sort of like the mug shots they show at the beginning of “Orange is the New Black.”

Posted in Photography.

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Photography Hour

I came across this article recently and found it amazingly useful. It’s a collection of other articles, guides and albums demonstrating some 50 different “techniques” and styles used in photography.
  • High Speed Photography
  • Tilt-Shift Photography
  • Black and White Photography
  • Motion Blur Photography
  • Infrared Photography
  • Night Photography (lots of useful rules of thumb for shutter speeds in different lighting)
  • Smoke Art Photography
  • Macro Photography (very good guide on “making” your own macro out of two other lenses)
  • HDR
  • RAW Processing
  • Panoramic Photography
  • Special Issues:
    • Architectural Photography
    • Fixing photos from airplines
    • DIY Lighting Hacks
    • Lighting Simulator
    • Photo Filters
    • 10 Top Photography Composition Rules
This next section is just snippets and particular links I found useful.
Black and White Photography
When to use filters:
  • Red filters will darken the sky, creating a moody atmosphere.
  • Green colored filters are particularly useful for landscapes, as they create a contrast between different shades of green.
  • Blue filters are effective for haze or misty conditions
Macro Photography
Creating your own macro lens out of other lenses about about $20 in supplies:
Raw Processing
A long, long list of free Lightroom 4 presets
DIY Lighting Hacks
I really liked this one. Included is how to make a “Poor Mans Ring Flash” (using a milk jug), how to make your own light tent, a couple different examples of how to bounce flash using a TTL flash and my favorite: a budget full lighting system, using hardware store flood lights, light diffusers made from bedsheets, reflectors made from vehicle window shades and some homemade flash diffusers.

Posted in Personal, Photography.

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BrainShare voting is live!

Sessions for Novell’s BrainShare 2011 are now online and waiting to be voted on. The top voted items (and those chosen by Novell) will be presented at BrainShare. For your consideration, I will (hopefully) be presenting the following sessions:

Session Title: Moving Groupwise to Linux
Type: Technical Tutorial
Session Abstract: Protect your email by migrating to Groupwise on SUSE Linux. Participants will learn how to successfully transfer an existing Groupwise environment from a Windows or NetWare server to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Session Title: Migrating from NetWare to OES2 Linux
Type: Technical Tutorial
Session Abstract: Protect your server environment by migrating to Open Enterprise Server on SUSE Linux. Participants will learn how to prepare their existing NetWare environment for migration and easily move all their existing services to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with Open Enterprise Server. Topics covered will include NSS, iPrint, DNS, DHCP and more.

Session Title: Maintaining Your Mobile Workforce Securely and Remotely
Type: Technical Tutorial
Session Abstract: Utilizing the NOWS SBE server, easily deploy and manage your company’s remote workforce. Participants will learn how to securely deploy SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop in minutes and enable their staff to maintain secure access for troubleshooting or desktop management no matter where in the field the mobile workstation may be.

I humbly ask that if any of these sound interesting to you, show your support by visiting and clicking “Vote Now!”

Hope to see you there!

Posted in Linux.

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Traveling in Hell

Sitting this morning in the Dallas Fort Worth airport. I think I’m outraged at American Airlines, but too tired to tell right now.

I flew out of Burbank yesterday, Sunday afternoon. The flight was to be Burbank -> Dallas Fort Worth -> Jackson, MS. There was even a significant layover in Dallas, ensuring I’d make my next flight. Well, sort of.

Moments after the cabin doors close in Burbank, it’s announced that we’re being diverted to Tuscon, AZ to refuel. Apparently there’s “weather” in Dallas and they’re afraid of getting diverted and not having enough fuel to reach the next destination. Also, because of this we’re all probably going to miss our connections, and no, we can’t get off the plane.

We fly to Tuscon, land and the 20 minute refueling takes 45 minutes.

We fly to Dallas! We’re here, land and then… lightning storm. Yup. All ground crews evacuate the runway and we start waiting on the tarmac for the storm to relent.

Relevantly, this is when the news comes out that Osama bin Laden has been killed. That definitely improved the mood on the plane. There was even some celebrating with a little airline sized bottle of Jack Daniels.

Soon, the weather lets up enough for the ground crews to return (i.e. an hour later). It’s past midnight now and I find the nearest Marriott to crash in with a new boarding pass for a 6:30am flight.

I sleep for about three hours, ish.

6:00am rolls around and I’m at the airport, waiting to board my flight.

6:15am. There’s an announcement. The previous night the plane had been hit by hail, so they’ve (just now) decided the plane needs to be checked out by maintenance.

8:00am. Hello, there! I’m sitting here writing this and have put up with numerous 15 minute updates of “We don’t know anything yet, hold on.” Really wish I could’ve gotten that extra sleep. Sorry if I rambled.

Posted in Travel.

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Add A Logfile To Your VBScript

Today I’m going to share a little bit of code that I wrote. It’s nothing fancy, so if you’re accustomed to writing VBScript this most likely wont help you.

Put this at the top of your own scripts to add a function to write all debug comments to a log. I found myself needing this when my scripts were going to be run en masse and outputting comments to the terminal wasn’t going to cut it.


  • Set boolDebug to True to turn on debugging. Alternatively, call /DEBUG from the command line to turn on debugging (and override boolDebug)
  • Set strDebugDir and strDebugFile to a location the script has write privileges to.
  • To use it, call the Debug() function with whatever you want written to the file. i.e. Debug(“Text message goes here!”) or Debug(“Error: ” & strErr)
boolDebug = true
strDebugDir = "C:\Debug" 'What folder will your log be in?
strDebugFile = "\logfile.txt" 'What is the name of your logfile?

On Error Resume Next
'Handle user variables
intCount = WScript.Arguments.Count - 1 ' reset arguments to proper counting
for i = 0 to intCount
	strArgument = UCase(WScript.Arguments(i)) ' to uppercase
	if strArgument = "/DEBUG" then
		boolDebug = true
	elseif strArgument = "/NODEBUG" then
		boolDebug = false
	end if

'Setup Debugging
if boolDebug = true then
	set objFSO = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
	if not objFSO.FolderExists(strDebugDir) then
		set objDebugDir = objFSO.CreateFolder(strDebugDir)
	end if

	if not objFSO.FileExists(strDebugDir & strDebugFile) then
		set objDebugFile = objFSO.CreateTextFile(strDebugDir & strDebugFile)
	end if

	set objDebugDir = nothing
	set objDebugFile = nothing

	strDateStamp = Now()
end if

'Handle all debugging
sub Debug( strLog )
	if boolDebug = true then
		set objTextFile = objFSO.OpenTextFile(strDebugDir & strDebugFile, 8, true)
		objTextFile.WriteLine( strDateStamp & ": " & strLog )
	end if
end sub

Enjoy! I always appreciate feedback and credit, but it’s not required.

Posted in Tech, Windows.

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Down South

The first night in Mississippi, my company put me in a casino’s hotel.

The shiny, well polished glamour contrasted the fact that the place reeked of old cigarettes. To the point everything I owned still smells a week later. During the check-in process, little things kept pissing me off. Small things, that alone might merit a comment but wouldn’t be a big deal. Except, I had barely slept the night before and then had traveled all day to get to this place and by the time I had settled in, I was ready to go off on someone. Livid.

First, the smell of the place put me off. I was literally nauseous. Then, annoying because I’m traveling on business, the hotel room had no desk and no accessible power outlets. Calling down, I learned there was no business center. Even the “non-smoking” room still smelled like cigarettes and to top it off I could hear people talking through the walls in each of the adjacent rooms. Basically, this was a casino first and hotel as a far, far, distant second. Everything in the room was designed to look really pretty, be uncomfortable as hell (cast iron / glass breakfast table) and get you out of the room and downstairs gambling.

And then I heard the yelling. From the room next to me, a fight had started.

At this point I almost called the front desk to yell at someone. I was stressed and tired and wanted things to be easy. I wanted to be back in a Marriott where all the rooms look identical, no matter what state you’re in.

Except, I kept listening. The two voices were both male, and I realized it wasn’t really a fight. More like a lively discussion. About trucks. Toyota and Chevy trucks, to be exact. In Mississippi. In the most stereotypical, hilarious backwater Mississippi drawl you can imagine. And they were arguing about off-roading in trucks.

It made my day and all the stupid, petty and small annoyances from earlier didn’t matter. I managed to find a secluded outlet, one that I could stretch my laptop’s power cord over to if I sat on the bed instead of at the table. And everything was OK.

Posted in Personal.

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Resolution Update: February

Well, the month is done. I ended the month a poor note, being horrendously sick for the last 10 days. Let’s see how I’ve been doing on my resolutions, other than that.

First, off, I’ve failed one resolution. Apparently, I made a resolution to write music on a regular basis (how silly). Well, somehow that never made it onto my record keeping sheet, so I haven’t even been thinking about it. That puts me at 0 / 8, effectively killing that.

How about the rest of them?

“I will skate at least twice a week. I will strive for four.”
Current: 17. Avg/Wk: 2.125

“I will exercise at least four times a week.”
Current: 31. Avg/Wk: 3.875

“I will write music at least once a week.”
Current: 0. Avg/Wk: 0.00

“I will practice music (instrumental or vocals) at least three times a week.”
Current: 17. Avg/Wk: 2.125

“I will spend time programming at least once a week.”
Current: 9. Avg/Wk: 1.125

Honestly? I feel like I’m doing pretty good. I definitely need to practice music more, but everything else is either very close or above my goal. Sucks about the music writing, but I still have a goal to produce at least a few songs this year. I’ve been going over some ideas, but want to wait a while before I share them.

Posted in Athletics, Music, Personal, Tech.

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Music To Study By

I’m a little interesting, musically. I really like hard punk. I also like old country. Classical music can be pretty cool. Metal can be a lot of fun, too. Other times, I just listen to the radio, which usually means contemporary rock, alternative or pop. In the right setting, you might even find me listening to a bit of hip hop, although there I do tend to become more picky. Don’t get me wrong – I do have taste in music. I prefer to think that I can appreciate talent in a variety of mediums.

Recently, I’ve had need of music to listen to. While I used to be able to listen to pretty much anything while reading, these days I tend to get distracted by lyrics and find myself focusing on the song rather than the subject matter in front of me. And that’s the story of how I started listening to dubstep.

Dubstep is a subgenre of “electronica” in the same way Marilyn Manson is a subgenre of contemporary rock. Yes, they’re related, no it doesn’t matter.

For a while now, I’ve also been a fan of Drum & Bass. It’s similiar, in a way, to dubstep but tends to be faster and feature more, shall we say, drum and bass.

Stay funky, my friends.

Posted in Music, Personal.

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First game of the season

Roller Derby RefereeRoller Derby Referee

Roller Derby season just started again in Santa Barbara, CA. While the league and myself have been busy training, yesterday (Saturday, February 26th) was the first game of the season! The Mission City Brawlin Betties faced off against the Santa Cruz Derby Girls in an epic showdown. Last year, MCBB went undefeated all season except against one team – they lost to Santa Cruz.

A quick summary of the game:

It was really fucking cold. A storm front has been blowing down through California and dumping snow places where it shouldn’t be. The torrential rain Santa Barbara had been suffering through stopped literally in the early morning hours before the game and while the sun came out, the heat didn’t come with it. At one point, a stray raincloud came by and almost canceled the game just seconds into the first half when it started drizzling. Luckily, that passed and we dried off the track and were able to continue. Thanks, Derby Pope!

Did I mention it was really cold? We could see snow on the hills above Santa Barbara.

Despite it being cold, everything went really well and we saw a lot of awesome derby. Also, what was (to me) the most awesome part ever is: I refereed for the first time! No longer relegated to the (albeit very important) job of NSO, I was in full stripes and skating as an Outside Pack Ref. Unfortunately for me (probably awesome for the fans) the girls kept the pack moving VERY fast. Skating on the outside already means I have to be moving a lot faster than them to keep up; when they start skating fast it means I almost can’t keep up.

Oh well, it was a lot of fun. Did I mention cold?

In the end, the final score showed MCBB 202 : SCDG 40. Oh, and Matt Damon showed up. Yeah. But I can’t really say much, because while was asking for autographs from the players I was taking my gear off and no one mentioned he was there until later. Bah humbug, I say. Although from what I was told I was probably skating within about five feet of him each lap.

Until next time!

Posted in Personal, Roller Derby.

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Reentering World of Warcraft

My relationship with the online gaming world has always been one of tumult and short lived romance. It’s rare that our budding courtship survives the singular month of play included in the purchase of the game, much less progresses into true friendship. Oh, there have been exceptions. EVE Online still entices me back, ever so often, with it’s free-to-play short periods for returning players. But most other games have never held their appeal.

I suck at MMORPGs.

I’ll save you the French essay (you know, where the thesis comes at the end) and come out and say it: MMOs tend to be called ‘multiplayer’ for a reason. I rarely get very into an MMO unless I’m playing it with friends. Even in those cases, when they inevitably stop playing, so do I. The longest MMO I’ve played on actually isn’t technically an MMORPG, it’s a MUSH called Elendor. I’ve been there for almost 12 years now, by virtue of the fact there are no graphics and interaction with other people is pretty much mandatory.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve played a LOT of MMOs. But other than Elendor, I’ve never really stuck around. EVE Online is probably the next runner up at just under two years, again because being in a player corporation (similar too but far cooler than a guild) in almost mandatory. Unfortunately, so is playing EVE like a second job and showing up to “biweekly scheduled mining operations” in addition to normal gameplay. So… I don’t log into EVE much these days.

So… skipping ahead. World of Warcraft is an interesting game, though. Despite the fact it’s been around FOREVER (in internet years), I still think of it as that young upstart trying to be an easier-to-play version of EverQuest. I played it for a while when it came out, but never got into it (again, didn’t have friends that were also into it). I think I’ve re-subscribed or opened up new accounts three times since then, if not more. One of those lasted into the second month of play, although I wasn’t online very much. My friend may have talked me into continuing the subscription so he’d get a cool item for “recruiting” me.

A week or so ago, I started playing WoW again. (this probably should have been the first sentence.) I had heard good things about the game post-Cataclysm (the latest expansion) and I’d really like to have a video game I can just jump into and play whenever I get bored. What’s interesting is… I really do like it. For a while, I was only logging in whenever my friend (different friend this time) was logged in, so I’d get the special triple XP refer-a-friend bonus, but recently I’ve just really like playing, even without the bonus.

I think a couple things changed that have helped a lot.

I’ll credit Blizzard with the first one – the “Dungeon Finder”. I heard a lot of folks bitching about this when it came out, but it’s changed the game for me in a good way. What it is, if you don’t know, is something that allows you to start queueing for a dungeon/instance no matter where your character might be in the world and without having to find a group first. When a group is ready (from other people also queuing), it teleports you to the dungeon, you run it with the temporary group and then it teleports you back to your original location when you’re done. Talk about easy! And fun! The last time I played, I had to travel to the zone with the instance and start heckling (well, not really) people on the local chat until we found enough people of the same level that all wanted to group. It was a nightmare.

The second thing is the guild I’m in. I know this isn’t really a “change” (I’m sure there were good guilds before… somewhere) but it’s different for me. The folks in it are generally fun, know what they’re doing and are more then willing to help out. I also haven’t been handed a mandatory schedule yet, so that’s a plus.

All in all, as much fun as it is to “hate World of Warcraft” as being a n00b version of EverQuest, I’ve been having a really good time. Then again, if someone knows of a good EverQuest guild I might just be willing to sign up again there, too.

Posted in Video Game.

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