Monday, May 31, 2010


Fly AwayIn the banner today, and in this post, are examples of just another hesitant step in learning my new camera. I've been playing around with the metering modes, exposure and focus settings just to get familiar with it. Also, while I don't recall the post where I read it, I have to agree with the author who said that the manual is crap.

Anyway, I decided to snap a few images of the new 'invasive species' squatting in our back garden, varying exposure and f/stop. Jean swears that she did not plant this! Without Googling or digging (heh) into a plant book, she thinks that it most resembles foxglove; the bell flowers in the banner photo bear this interrpretation out better than the 'macro' of the head flower in this post. Any friends willing to confess to horticultural expertise?

Just check out the last couple of pictures on Flickr and confirm or deny the essential nature of this plant. I didn't see any pedal (walking) or drum roots, so am currently ruling out Triffids...

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Another odd album from the 90's: Loved by Cranes. I like it, but think it will grow on me with repeated listenings...

Carl Stalling Project

Okay, I know, SOMEWHERE in this stinking house, there is a cd of this album, but I just can't find it. So after listening to Be the Frog for the millionth time, I finally decided to spend some eMusic credits to download a new copy of Carl Stalling. It's such fun!


Started season two of The Wire, and it continues to satisfy.

Yesterday, we finished Dead Man, a fifteen-year old movie by Jim Jarmusch. This is one of his good ones.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Blue Album

Just grabbed this album by Orbital. It was their last album, and contains samples from a Russell T. Davies show with Christoper Eccleston (first Doctor Who in the new series). This is what first piqued my interest. Gonna listen to it while writing code tomorrow!


Dunno why, but I just frickin' love You Lot...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Music

Picked up lots of singles: two Joy Division songs, "She's Lost Control" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart"; Dr. John's "Right Place, Wrong Time"; Louis Prima's "Sing Sing Sing"; Adam Ant's "Dog Eat Dog"; Love and Rockets' "Kundalini Express", "Ball of Confusion", "So Alive".

Three albums:

Latest Movies

On DVD, Jean and I watched Pirate Radio. It's a bit of a light comedy, and relies heavily on it's soundtrack for goodwill. Speaking of soundtracks figuring heavily, we followed up with Grosse Pointe Blank, which I'd seen before, and was of course willing to see again as it is a very fun movie. Jean enjoyed it too.

Streaming, I watched the original A Nightmare on Elm Street with Renee, since I had never seen it and reviews of the new remake said it was "not as good" as the original. Given how corny and disjointed the original was, I don't think I'll see the remake. Funny thing is, even though Renee was alternating between ignoring the movie to play with her DS, and laughing outright at the bad acting, she said she had nightmares that night.

A second movie we streamed together was A Scanner Darkly, which is based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name. I'd read the novel and remember it as one of his better books, dark, gritty, weirdly humorous, and sad. The movie manages to capture a lot of that, but Linklater's decision to use the 'Waking Life' animation technique was mostly just a distraction. Except for the scramble suits, the entire movie would have worked just as well with normal cinematic film techniques.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Voodoo Donuts

Family SizeThis weekend Jean, Renee and I made a field trip to Voodoo Donuts, which is located downtown. Jean hatched the idea a while ago, and put it forward as something she wanted to do over the Mother's Day weekend. It was a small, almost hole-in-the-wall business, and as we entered, we had to pass by a couple of panhandlers asking for spare change. Inside, the atmosphere was loud, as the workers were playing a rather jangle-ey and aggressive punk music.

Jean got an apple fritter, and Renee took the plunge into experiment by buying one of their offbeat donuts, this one called Ole Dirty Bastard, which I assume was named after the rapper associated with the Wu Tang Clan. I succumbed to an impulse and bought a dozen, the 'unboxing' of which you can witness in this photoset.

The banner is a photo I took of Jean on the trip, which surprised me by turning out quite nice. She is a beautiful subject, but I am a crappy photographer, so I cherish the occasional success.

By the way, all photos taken on this trip constitute my first hesitant steps with my new camera, a Panasonic DMC-GF1, which I bought to explore the gap between point & shoot and DSLR. Needless to say, these first photos are mostly clumsy. Unlike the donuts, there will be no unboxing photos, as I was too impatient to actually get the darn thing out and start using it. It took me six or eight months of allowance saving to get it, after all!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Not a Pro

Well, for a change, everybody is asleep before me. Usually, the sequence is Jean, me, then Renee, who always manages to drag out the evening chores (so I lie awake making sure that she is at least finishing up in a timely fashion). Tonight Renee beat me to bed due to running a sleep deficit. She was so run down that she fell asleep in French today, and had to hitch a ride with me, when normally she would walk home from school.

So here I am, with my new purchase. I've been running Adobe Photoshop CS for years now, and only recently discovered that the upgrade path has been shortened to three versions back. As CS 5 is coming out soon, this means that CS 4 would be discontinued, and I would be forced to either buy CS 5 at full price, or remain on CS forever after. I was waffling on this choice, but Jean said she thought I did enough family photography that the household budget could be used for the purchase. So here we are.

I did a full backup before installing. I was worried that for some reason, CS 4 would not work at all, despite the assurances that my machine/OS met the requirements for the product. With a full, bootable backup, I had a way to go back to CS if CS 4 failed. And as soon as I started, I felt pretty clever for providing an escape route. The reason is that after I invoked CS 4, I tried opening a sample NEF (raw file) from my D70, and as soon as I tried to crop it, the program locked up my machine completely. I had to power cycle the darn thing! I tried variations on this several times, to the same effect.

Finally, I realized that I needed to check the memory usage settings. The default settings try to take about 70% of memory, and do aggressive caching. I cranked these back to something more like my Photoshop CS settings, and after a bit more fiddling, I am now able to use the software on my machine.

So the lesson here is that I am not a professional Photoshop designer. I would need a machine that is newer than four or five years old, with at least twice the memory (more like four times the memory) and a fast offboard hard drive, to let the default settings stand.

Anyway, I've just begun exploring, and honestly I don't think I'll have much to say about it other than to use it. Good for another two product iterations!