The Golden Gate Bridge Turns 75

May 28, 2012

The Golden Gate Bridge turned 75 yesterday. I was completely oblivious to this fact until the day before. As luck would have it, I'm in San Francisco. After a day of touring, I setup for some shots of the celebration's fireworks.

Fireworks at the Golden Gate Bridge

Shooting fireworks is always fun. Since this is also Memorial Day weekend, the fireworks make a nice tribute as well.


At Least I Had the Aisle Seat

May 27, 2012

This is how I sat for most of a 5 hour flight.

Seat space incursion

I was able to lean my seat back a little to get behind the incursion. Otherwise, it would have been even worse. Those first class seats look more and more tempting.


Deleting Makes Me Nervous

May 24, 2012

I'm sure that I only have things in the trash that I really want to delete. Still, numbers like this make me nervous:

Emptying a lot of trash

I'm mostly sure I'll still have some files left when that's done. Mostly.


That Guy In Saving Private Ryan Looks Really Familiar

May 23, 2012

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen "Saving Private Ryan", a minor plot point is referenced below. You've been warned. Also, you are way, way behind and should check it out this weekend.


I re-watched the fantastic "Saving Private Ryan" last week. Several familiar actors grace the film in bit parts. Ted Danson from Cheers, Dennis Farina from Get Shorty, etc… There was one I recognized but just couldn't place. In the scene with Private James Frederick Ryan (from Minnesota), I kept thinking, "Damn, he looks familiar."

Private James Frederick Ryan (Nathan Fillion) from Saving Private Ryan

When the scene was over, I still hadn't made the connection and put it out of my mind. At least, until the end of the movie. Since John Williams did the music, I left the end credits rolling to enjoy the score. I wasn't really paying attention, but the name "Nathan Fillion" jumped out at me. A quick trip to IMDB confirmed it. In the future, Private James Frederick Ryan (from Minnesota) would go on to become one of my favorite Captains of all time.

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) from Firefly

Captain Malcolm Reynolds.

Add one more mark to the plus column for Saving Private Ryan.


It's Been Dry

May 22, 2012

Even with the decent amount of rain we've gotten over the past week or two, it's been dry in my area. To wit, I'm in the dark red "D4 - Exceptional" drought area on this map1:

Florida Drought Map - May 15, 2012

Which explains why the little pond in my back yard is so low.

The backyard pond is low

You can get a better idea of how much the water has dropped in this shot:

The backyard pond is low

For another perspective, the water level used to consistently reach all the way to the grate in the cement wall in this shot.

Water used to be much higher

I'm half expecting to look out one day soon and see a bunch of fish cooking on dry land.


Footnotes:

  1. The U.S. Drought Monitor map for Florida. The main page is the map for the country

Installing GD on Mac OS X 10.7

May 21, 2012

I'm installing a piece of software that requires the GD1 library as a dependency on my Mac. Searching only turned up old articles that describe multistep processes that include downloading and compiling yourself. That's no longer necessary. As of 2012, the clean, easy way to do the installation is with Homebrew2. Just run:

sudo brew install gd

No muss. No fuss.


  1. GD Graphics Library - The open source code library for the dynamic creation of images by programmers.

  2. Homebrew - The easiest and most flexible way to install the UNIX tools Apple didn't include with OS X. Also, the software that I use now instead of MacPorts. If you ever have to install unix tools, it's the way to go.


Another Black Brown Widow

May 21, 2012

Found this little surprise in the garage today:

Brown (not Black) Widow in the garage

That makes either three or four Black Widows I've found in my garage. Thankfully, each time they have been perched against a light enough background that I see them immediately. Here's hoping they continue that pattern.

I shot this one with my little Canon S100 point and shoot. If I ever get a macro lens for the big camera, I'll setup a real portrait of one before dispatching it.


Update: Further research indicates that this is actually a Brown Widow Spider aka Latrodectus geometricus. Geometricus is now added to my list of potential band names. In case you were wondering about L. geometricus, they have "a neurotoxic venom that, drop for drop, is as toxic as the black widow's."


Now, You Too Can Write On My Site!

May 10, 2012

Jekyll1, the software I'm now using for this site, doesn't come with a built-in comment system. When I was first deciding how to relaunch the site, getting an external system setup for comments was a requirement. About the same time, a rampant discussion2 on the value of comments started in sites and podcasts I frequent. Arguments against them tended to the "comments are basically useless or worse" perspective. The opposing viewpoint was largely "Thar's gold in them thar comments."

Like most heated internet discussions, so much variation exists that no one-size-fits-all answer applies. The usefulness/quality of comments has too many variables. The number of people who use the site, the overall tone of the site, if anonymous comments are allowed, how much moderation is done, etc…

I had taken it for granted that I wouldn't relaunch the site until I had comments in place. After tuning in to that debate, I decided to abandon comments for launch. By removing that piece of work, I was able to get the site up faster. Also, I was a little intrigued by the idea of having 100% of the content on my site be mine.

Now that the site is back up and running, I miss comments. Since the number of people who visit the site is small and I know most of them, comments here have historically be a nice bonus. So, post-launch next-step number one: Find and implement a comment system.

After taking a brief look, all signs pointed to Disqus3 as the way to go. The navigation of their Knowledge Base could use some work, but the basics are easy to get up and running without much fuss. Just register, drop a little code into your templates, season to taste with CSS and you're ready to go.

For the sake of anyone who finds this post and is looking for a little better than the default set of code to drop in your templates, this is what I'm currently using:

    <!-- An update to my blog engine broke this code sample. So, I removed it -->

The variables are recommended by Disqus. They setup the function so it doesn't have to do any guessing when it's trying to coordinate the comments.

With that in place, the comment system for this site is now fully operational. At least, for new comments. All the old comments (from when the site was in WordPress) are still locked in the old database. I'll get them added back in at a later time.


Footnotes:

  1. Jekyll - The simple, blog aware, static site generator that I'm using to make this site. If you're a techie, you'll love it. If the command line scares you (or you don't really know what that is), jekyll is not the blog engine your looking for.

  2. An example of the comments discussion from the "Turn them off side" is Comments Off by Matt Gemmell. He also created a round up of arguments in his post Comments Commentary. Both are worth the read.

  3. Disqus - The crowd favorite, external comment system. And, it just so happens, the system I just installed on my site.


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