Archive for January 2009

 
 

Some Recent Tweets

I’ve been doing more posting on Twitter lately than here.  My thoughts are a jumbled mess lately. 140 characters is a good limit for me.  But for those not inclined to become Twitterers, here are some highlights.  And because I love you all so much, I’ll add italicized updates after each tweet, where appropriate.

  • Had a nice flame in the fireplace tonight for four hours. Then smoke filled the house. UGH. Never using fireplace again. [And the carpet still smells of smoke.  Any suggestions?]
  • Hmmm, traffic on AugieShoots.com today is double what it usually is on a Sunday. Interesting. [Someone somewhere had to have linked through, but I can't find any evidence of it.]
  • I’m ready for it to be Friday now.   [I posted that on Tuesday. It's been that kind of week.]
  • Sat in a meeting this week where the presenter had to ask himself questions to give us information. I hate that tic. [So what do I mean by that? I mean that it bothers me greatly.]
  • Adobe Flash Installer forces me to quit Adobe Flash Installer to continue. Thus, it shall never be installed. Bizarre.
  • I don’t get the point of ReTweets, and I’m glad to see the backlash beginning against them now.
  • Is there a retweet hash tag, just so Twitter can eat its own tail officially?
  • LOST was on tonight? I used to watch that show. ::sigh:: [I still plan on catching up.  I've had to delete '24' from the DVR, though.  I'm out of time.  This baby thing is hard.]
  • Silver Surfer looks ridiculous in a loin cloth. There. I said it. [I normally don't talk comics on this blog, but I can't help myself here.]
  • Is it so wrong that it made me VERY happy today to discover that JavaScript does regular expressions? Whoo-hoo!
  • Favorite part of American Idol auditions? Job descriptions! One Salt Lake City contestant was “Font Designer.” She made it through. YAY!
  • Everyone’s happy about another over-the-hill white guy singing at half-time Sunday now? Tom Petty got killed for that sin last year. [Or was that the Rolling Stones?  Like there's a difference.  Next year: John Cougar Mellencamp, I'm sure.]

New DVD Releases for 27 January 2009

  • The All-New Super Friends Hour: Season 1, Volume 2

These split season volume releases are getting ridiculous. I have vague recollections of watching this show for a week when I was a kid and never again.  Not sure what happened there.  But lots of people idolize it, so here you go!

  • Hulk Vs.

Clearly, this is Marvel trying to outshine DC at the Best Buy box office.  Right? (I kid. See, that’s a reference to the Obama cover pushing the second death of Batman for the year off the front pages and — nevermind.  If you have to explain the joke. . .)

  • M.A.N.T.I.S.: The Complete Series

So, what, VR.5 has to be next, right?  I won’t hold my breath.  Darned music releases. . .

  • Lakeview Terrace

Samuel L. Jackson is in it, but does that count in a post-”Snakes on a Plane” world?

  • Pride and Glory

Edward Norton dons a goatee and a Very Serious Face.  Be afraid.

  • Rock N Rolla

Guy Ritchie movie. Stars Gerard Butler. Past that, I know nothing.

Separated at birth?

SullyLaunchpad McQuack

“Any landing you can walk away from. . . “

eBay Deathwatch Continues. . .

EBay’s Income Drops 31% as Traffic Declines – NYTimes.com

The turbulent economy battered eBay, and the online marketplace reported its profit fell 31 percent and that it had its first revenue decline since it started in 1995.

The one big question that link raises is: Who will win the race to bankruptcy?  eBay or The New York Times?  Place your bets now!

My First Photography Gig

I had my first paid photographic gig over the weekend.  It was a relative’s father’s retirement party.  It’s a good way to start: Lower pressure, small party, lots of people ready to pose.

Yet, it’s still nerve-wracking and gave me an entirely new appreciation for what wedding and event photographers have to go through.

And I want to do it again.  I’ve got the bug now.

Random thoughts on the event:

  • I only had an hour and a half to be there.  Unfortunately, that time included the buffet dinner.  People do not want to see pictures of themselves eating food, so I lost some time.  I tried to make up for it by taking pics of people as they were in the line for food.

  • I told everyone my rule: You stand in pairs, you get your picture taken.  It worked both as an ice breaker and as a way to keep moving.

  • I didn’t butt in enough.  Granted, I knew a few people at the soiree, but not all of them.  So I had to play the confident outgoing photographer type to get people to stop what they’re doing for a moment to take a picture. I needed to do it more.  When you’re the photographer, don’t fear being “pushy.”  It’s expected, and necessary.

  • Lens choice is an issue.  I went with my three lenses: 50mm f/1.8, 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6, and the wide angle Tamron 17- 35mm f/3.5 – 5.6.  The room wasn’t that large, so it’s not like I had much room to stand way back and take pictures.  I did use the longest lens to try to get some candid pics from across the room, but the lighting made it troublesome.  I had to use my flash, which is tough to nail just right from across the room.  With the 50mm, I got the best pics, but could only ever fit two people (head and shoulders) into a shot at a time.  The wide angle lens worked best for groups, but it’s not like I was getting any bokeh with it.

The pictures came out good, don’t get me wrong.  But I was changing lenses far too often.  My next lens will now definitely be the Tamron 28 – 70mm f/2.8 throughout.  It’s bright, fast, and has more latitude than the 50mm.  I might not get the pics from across the room, but that’s OK.  I can get them from halfway across the room, or crop as needed afterwards.  It looks like a terrific lens for this kind of event.

  • I shot in manual mode.  I didn’t realize the enormity of that until afterwards, so let me mention it again: I shot the entire thing in manual mode, controlling the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO as I went along. Nothing was automated.  I even adjusted the brightness of my flash.  I took an awful lot of test shots, and often needed to take two of given shots to get it right, but it was worth it.  Still — MANUAL. I’m nuts.

  • I let the auto-focus work its magic, though.  I’m not a masochist.

  • Always check your ISO.  Often.  Don’t forget that you changed it to ISO 800 to shoot the moving objects across the room, just before you’re setting up to take a big group shot with three dozen people in it standing still at decently close range.  A little noise removal smoothed that out, but I should have still gotten it at ISO 200, or ISO 400, at worst.  Drat and bother!

  • I should really plunk down the dough for Noise Ninja one of these days.  If it integrated seamlessly into Lightroom, I bet I would have already spent the money. Maybe Lightroom 3 will allow such integration.

  • I brought plenty of extra batteries for both the camera and the flash, but never needed them.

  • I won’t be doing weddings or bar mitvahs anytime soon, but I’ll do your kid’s birthday party or parents’ anniversary shindig, if you want.  My rates are low!  ;-)

  • I ordered business cards, just in case.  They didn’t arrive on time.  UGH.

  • I didn’t have a back-up camera body, just my one handy Canon XTi. I’m a daredevil.

  • When getting paid for your pictures, you’ll find yourself doing a lot more careful editing in Lightroom.  I’ve never used localiszed adjustments before this.

Video Links for a Wednesday

  • I was never very good at Marble Madness.  Had it for the Commodore 64, I believe.  Tedious.  This guy, on the other hand, rocks it.
  • Annie Liebovitz shoots Sean Connery.  With a camera. Really, though, how many people does it take to make a single picture?  Try counting the number of people surrounding those two in the course of the photo shoot shown in the video.
  • AugieShoots.com is my photoblog, in case you forgot already.  Judging by the hit totals, some of you have. ;-)

Veronica Mars on the come back?

iFMagazine.com: Breaking News: BIG SCOOP CREATOR ROB THOMAS CONFIRMS ‘VERONICA MARS’ MOVIE

At the tail end of this winter’s television critic’s event, Rob Thomas, who has resurrected his 1998 TV series CUPID for another go-around on ABC, announced that he’s currently working on a VERONICA MARS feature film based on his short-lived UPN/CW show, now that his new series order has been reduced from thirteen episodes to eight episodes.

The next paragraph of the story points out that there’s no deal in place for the movie. He’s just writing it; nobody’s financed it yet.  But there’s hope!  If you’ve never seen “Veronica Mars” before, go grab the DVDs.  There’s only three seasons, and they’re pretty cheap these days. They’re averaging about $25 a season on Amazon right now.

Sorry for the slow VandS updates lately. I’m working on ways to crank production back up.  Thanks for sticking with me. . .

Link Dump Friday

Ah, music

If you view only one YouTube video today, let it be “All Music Is The Same Four Chords.”

I’m guessing many of those songs are from British music, and not that I’m completely out of touch.  But it is riveting to hear how many memorable songs use the same chord progression.

American Idol Season 8: Phoenix Auditions

I’ve almost watched the first two hours of the new season, which they promised would be more inspirational and aspirational — less William Hung, more Kelly Clarkson.

10 singers made it to Hollywood on the first day.  Only 3 were shown auditioning. The stats just don’t add up to the promotions, do they?

But I don’t care.  I like the crazy, the kooky, the nutty.  And I like the new judge — she can really sing, too.

What are your initial thoughts?

Resolutions for 2009

I usually chuckle at New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m feeling inspired this year.  So here are mine.  (I’m posting more on Pipeline later today over at ComicBookResources.com.)  I started writing these out last week.  Sorry for the delay, but I swear I didn’t write any of these after I accomplished them!  Still, I’m probably the last blogger to do this.

Just to get this out of the way: Yeah, yeah, be a better Dad and husband, keep my job (even if it does drive me to drink and gamble and curse excessively), lose 20 pounds, and all the cute family stuff is there, too.  But you don’t come to this blog for that, so let’s just assume it all and move on to the other stuff:

  • Learn more Photoshop.  I’m one of those rare folks who knows Illustrator a hundred times better than Photoshop. I’m always surprised at just how different the two apps are. I would have thought knowing one would get me halfway to the other. Nope.  I don’t need to do anything too fancy with Photoshop, but it’s always a long process to figure it out, with rigorous Google searches and screencast tutorials and — it’s just a pain.  I’d like to know how to do more off the top of my head to save more time in the future.

Of course, I think I say this every year.

  • Learn JavaScript.  I actually need to do this for work.  UGH.  So is this a “resolution” or a “reminder to self?”  I don’t know.

  • Program an app for the iPhone/iPod Touch.  Of course, this would require re-learning C, then learning Objective C and Cocoa.  Piece of cake, right?  Yeah, this is the LEAST likely thing to happen on this list.

  • Redesign VariousandSundry.com.  This design has been on the books for a couple of years now, hasn’t it?  It’s time for a spring cleaning, beyond just the links I’ve cut out of the sidebar so far.  Maybe I’ll just redo the banner at the top of the page. Or maybe I’ll do something more drastic, along with upgrading the WordPress code this blog works on.  I’ve been thinking about what this blog actually IS lately, and what I’d like it to BE, and how I’d like it to function, and how it fits into the rest of my on-line activities.  I’d like to be able to answer those questions and form a plan based on that.

  • Get paid for my photography, to any extent. This is a bit of a cheat, since it may be happening in one isolated case already, but it was something I planned on putting on this list before that turn of events.  So I’m leaving it in here.  Or, I’ll add to it: Get a second gig shooting something somewhere.

  • Launch two successful new blogs.  AugieShoots.com already launched.  The other is already in the works, but without a time table just yet.  If it happens, you’ll hear about it. Otherwise, this will be the last of it. I have a great domain name for it, though.  We can worry about how we define “success” later. ;-)

  • Don’t waste time on-line.  If it doesn’t pay off in some way, stop it.  Don’t do something that doesn’t add something to the world in some small way.

  • Double my on-line income.  This way, I can buy more toys.  This might require some major changes.   Google ads have never brought me much.  Amazon Associates is nice, but too sporadic.  And the economy isn’t helping.

  • Get more sleep.  BWAH HA HA. That’ll never happen.

I remember last year saying that I wanted to write more original entries for this blog in 2008.  Less link dumps, more editorial content.  I honestly don’t know if I succeeded.  I think I did.  It came in fits and starts, but there are some magnum opus entries on there, including the 4000 words I wrote about “The Shield” on the week it all wrapped up.  I feel like I did less link dumps, but I also did Twitter compilations, which are really just collections of small mini-writings.  So those count, right?

I think the one safe thing I can say for 2009 about the blog is that you won’t be seeing weekly epic writeups from me about “American Idol” for the first time in years.  Blame it on the baby. I just won’t have the time, though I plan on writing things about Idol as the contest progresses.  There just won’t be a song-by-song breakdown this year, sorry to say.

So, we’ll see what happens.  I promise to do my best.  And my offer from earlier in 2008 is still good: You can buy out this blog lock, stock, and barrel for the princely sum of $2 million. You likely have that hanging around from your government bail-out.  Nobody will notice that pittance funneled my way.  And think how good you’d feel about improving someone else’s life in such a major way!  God helps those who help themselves, after all.  Right?

The latest from Twitter

Follow me daily, or wait for these random compilations:

  • Why must there always be 10 annoying and pointless things that need doing before I can get to the good stuff that means something?!?
  • Some people call it Tuesday. I call it “Torture Day.” But, then, how is that any different from Mon, Wed, Thu, and Fri? ::sigh::
  • Ah, the new blog (AugieShoots.com) was live for four whole days before the spammers hit the comments section. I love Akismet!
  • In High Def, Star Wars Episode 3 looks like a bunch of action figures parading around a matte painting. Wow, that’s bad.
  • Hmm, Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.5 or Tamron 28-75 f2.8? Decisions decisions. (It looks like the Tamron wins. Now I just need to save some dough.)
  • My NYCC plans are unclear. Looks like, at best, I’ll only be there on Saturday. UGH
  • There has to be a better way.
  • My other time management problem is that I just don’t know what I’d willingly give up to make more time. Podcast? Blog? Column? Heck no. UGH
  • In December, I accidentally made $1.19 on the Google Ads I haven’t bothered removing from my blog. I could buy, uhm, a newspaper with that.
  • The question is, do I really need to start another project right now? Aren’t I busy enough? Nah. . .
  • The most popular each term leading people to AugieShoots.com is — “augieshoots.com”. The internet is a weird place.
    • I liked “Jon and Kate” better when it documented their lives, not dictated them.
    • Ordering business cards — for my photography.
    • I hope Lightroom gets facial recognition next, a la Picasa and iPhoto. I also need to pull in my older iPhoto pics into Lightroom.

      Thursday Link-a-licious 2: Electric Boogaloo

      • Why the internet was created 2: This HD video taken by the Hubble telescope of Ganymede going behind Jupiter looks completely computer generated and surreal.
      • They still just don’t get it.  In an article from the New York Times talking about an up-and-coming programming language for stats nerds, R, we have this nugget of ignorance:
      “I think it addresses a niche market for high-end data analysts that want free, readily available code,” said Anne H. Milley, director of technology product marketing at SAS. She adds, ìWe have customers who build engines for aircraft. I am happy they are not using freeware when I get on a jet.

      I wonder how she feels knowing that all her money is in a bank that’s accessible via a website running open source Apache web servers, possibly on an open source Linux server, likely coded in a language that’s open source, as well, and viewable via the open source browser, Firefox?

      Nevermind that “freeware” runs the friggin’ internet.

      Yeah, I’d rather have my software made by a company that couldn’t handle a leap year in its MP3 players. . .   That’s much safer, isn’t it?

      MacWorld Wrap Up

      So, MacWorld. . .

      They announced iLife and iWork.  I own iWork and love the word processor.  But there’s nothing terribly sexy in the newness there, so let’s skip to iLife.

      iPhoto gets an upgrade, notably adding geotagging and face recognition.  If I remember correctly, these are two of the big draws of Google’s Picasa, which Google just officially announced this morning would be available for the Mac for the first time.  It only took Apple a couple of hours to crush them.  On the other hand, Picasa is free.

      iMovie seems to have added back a few features from what the previous iteration lost.

      And GarageBand’s big new draw is downloadable content! You can buy music lessons from working musicians like Sting and Nora Jones for $5 a pop.  I’d be interested in seeing what those look like, but not enough to buy the whole magilla.

      The good news is, you can buy Leopard, iLife, and iWork together in one box for $170. (Oops, it’s $229.  Still cheaper, though.)

      There’s also a beta release of an on-line office suite kind of thing.  Eh. There wasn’t a single word uttered about Snow Leopard.  Uh oh.  I think it’s time for Apple to stop thinking of it as a developer’s thing, and start thinking about it as a Made for Mass Market thing.  Is it anywhere near complete?  Are they just saving it for a special event in February or something?  I’m looking forward to the OS; I can’t help it.  I want to know more.

      There’s a new very very expensive MacBook Pro which, amazingly enough, has a $50 option for a matte screen on it.  Wow.  Nice move.  Wish they all had that option.

      And the big “One More Thing” news is that DRM is being banished from the iTunes Store.  Sure, it also means some variable pricing, but it means people like me won’t need to shop around to Amazon.com anymore for their music.  iTunes just won me back, for whatever puny amount of music I buy anymore.

      The funny thing is, there are people who wanted to be disappointed in the keynote who are now saying iTunes is merely catching up to whatever everyone else offers.  Do they still not get it?  Don’t they realize it’s the music companies shooting themselves in the feet trying to deny iTunes DRM-free music that is now ending?  It’s a business negotiation — Apple agreed to variable prices, and the music companies finally gave Apple the DRM-free music.  Win/win for most people, I’d imagine.

      How did my predictions from yesterday fare?  Pretty poor. Live and learn. Heh

      MacWorld 2009 Predictions

      By the time this is published, we’ll likely know how wrong I am.  I’m writing this Sunday night and Monday, but most of the news at these events winds up breaking the night before.  By publishing this on the Tuesday morning of the keynote, I’m already looking dated.

      To recap: Steve Jobs is not giving the keynote, for reasons the blogosphere (myself included) have speculated over and analyzed ad infinitum.  I believe it’s a sound business reason; others take off their tin foil caps long enough to analyze the bacteria in Steve Jobs colon and tell us Apple is doomed and that the sky is falling. (Wait, that’s just Wall Street, isn’t it?)

      So Phil Schiller is giving the keynote. From all accounts, he’s a decent speaker. He’s more a “regular guy” than Jobs, and fairly entertaining.  I’m looking forward to what he comes up with. I think the reason he is up there this year is due to (a) Apple’s pull-out from MacWorld in general and (b) an attempt to show that Apple is more than just Steve Jobs.  If you’ve been paying any attention at all lately, Jobs has been welcoming more and more people onto the keynote stage to help show things off; the stage has been set, as it were.  Now, Jobs is fading off stage completely for this one to let someone else steer things. I’m sure he’ll be back for Special Events to announce revolutionary new products, but I’m also sure that Schiller will have things to announce at MacWorld.

      Why?  First, you can’t prove that Apple is more than Steve Jobs without letting someone other than Steve Jobs show off something new.  Second, Apple has taken a hit from the Apple faithful by pulling out already. Why exacerbate that by disappointing them completely with nothing new to buy?  Third, there are plenty of things due for a revision, including the MacBook Pro, the Mac Mini, and the Apple TV.

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see something else entirely new announced, just to show how strong Apple can be without its High Lord and Master Jobs on stage. I can’t predict that one.

      I don’t think Jobs will make a special appearance at the show.  That would only upstage Schiller.  Maybe he’ll appear in a video before the keynote to welcome Schiller in, but that’s about it.  Having Jobs be “One More Thing” completely defeats the purpose of this keynote, for Apple.

      I do think we’ll see Apple TV 3.  It’s a MacWorld tradition by now.  Like Apple TV 2, it’ll be a software update for existing customers, and a slightly revved up chunk of hardware for new users.  It has to include more internet connectivity.  I can’t see Apple cutting a deal with Hulu, as cool as that would be. There’s too much bad blood between Apple and NBC.  Maybe there’s some other video sharing site that it could link into? What else is there? I can’t see Netflix integration, as they’re technically a competitor to iTunes.

      The Mac Mini will get an upgrade, but I think everyone else has already predicted this. If they could make it under $500, it would really help them with the netbook crowd, until the iPod Touch Tablet shows up at the end of the year. ;-)

      Snow Leopard will be demoed in more detail.  I bet they set a release date and price.  And I bet the price is under $100 this time.  $129 won’t fly for what many see as merely a maintenance release.

      iLife and iWork will be updated, too, just to remind people that they’re still out there.

      The general theme seems to be Macs in the home and multimedia.  So I think you won’t see a MacBook revision.  That’s more for the developers/  You’re more likely to see an iMac rev.  I don’t see a cinema display rev or addition coming, either.

      Finally, apart from the keynote, I predict that Andy Ihnatko will join Scott Bourne’s latest blog on consumer digital video. Ihnatko has only mentioned a meeting between the two in San Fran with an announcement forthcoming.  This makes the most amount of sense to me.

      (Since writing the first draft of this post, Steve Jobs issued a statement that he’s had some minor health issues that prevent him from doing the keynote this year.  That could, theoretically, invalidate everything I’ve written above.  We’ll see.  But I bet it means we won’t see him with on stage with Obama talking about being the new CTO. ;-)