Digital Photography in the White House

January 14, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

According to this change.gov page, this is the first time that an official presidential portrait has been taken with a digital camera. I wonder if any will be done with film in the future? I'd like to think so, but that will be an increasingly risky bet. Note: Found this via Daring Fireball which also post the following meta data about the image: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, taken 2009:01:13 17:38:39 No flash, 105.0mm focal length, 1/125 exp, f/10.0, ISO100 Mmmmmm 5D Mark II……


Value of Things I Learned in School

January 14, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

The online comic strip xkcd recently posted the following panel:

image

For me, it was my sophomore year in college instead of 11th grade. Also, I was never that good about doing my homework so I'm sure I had much fewer hours for that part of the graph. The usefulness of hacking around with Perl on my own, though, is well represented. The other thing I would add to the graph is the semester of Typing I took in high school for an easy "A". I never would have thought that out of all the courses I took during school Typing would be the most useful.


High Speed for Slow Motion Punches

January 12, 2009

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When you shoot a normal video, the camera captures individual frames at a rate around 30 frames every second. When viewed normally, and at the same speed, each second that went by during the recording takes one second to watch in playback. If you use a camera that captures a higher number of frames per second and play that back at 30 frames/second you get what we know as a slow-motion video. By slowing time down in the playback, we can often see fascinating things that would normally be missed because they simply happen to fast for our eyes and brain to keep up with. One of the first examples of this are the set of photos from 1878 called "The Horse in Motion." by Eadweard_Muybridge who was the first person to prove scientifically that a horse has all four hooves off the ground in a gallop. Fast forward 130 years and the technology has, unsurprisingly, improved significantly. Today, anyone can buy a consumer level camera that shoots at 1,000 frames/second. The sample videos I've seen from this camera aren't studio quality, but are certainly an example of how far technology has come. Professional grade cameres are even more impressive. Take the self-promotion piece created by the production company Action Figure. The video is a series of people getting punched in the face by a boxing glove with the Action Figure logo. Since it was released, this video has spread all over YouTube and similar sites, but all those versions seem to be compressed to the point where they loose the sharp details. The original QuickTime movies on the Action Figure site really highlight the quality. slow-motion-punches.jpg When I was trying to dig up the link for this post, I came across a few supplemental videos on the Action Figure site as well as the main one.

While I like the main video with the tune (Shazam's remix of "Sweaty" by Muscles), I am more mesmerized by the sting of individuals where you see each punch uninteruppted. Watching the way everything moves provides a glimpse into time that feels almost supernatural. Also, it's good motivation to try to keep from getting punched in the face. If you'd like to see some more examples of this, check out Discovery channel's new show "Time Warp" that is centered around high-speed camera work.


and we're back...

January 04, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

Happy 2009. In August of last year, I started the process of moving this site. Between work and travel and general exhaustion from those two things, it took me a long time to get everything actually move. It's still not done, but at least I have the blogging software back online. Even if it is in the default design. So, away we go….


Secure Gmail

August 24, 2008

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When I first started using gmail, there wasn't a setting to secure it, but you could do it manually by changing the first "http://" part of an address to "https://". Now, Google has a setting that you can do this with and enforce it. Under "Settings" look for "Browser connection:" and make sure it's set to "Always use https". If you use Gmail, you should check this now. Like, right now. It's always been possible for people to easily get into your account if you don't use the encryption, but now someone is about to release a tool to the public that does it automatically. Computer security can be complicated, but this is a VERY easy fix now that google has provided the setting. Make sure you take advantage of it.


George Orwell's Blog

August 15, 2008

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George Orwell's diary is being transposed to a blog with each entry being posted seventy years after the original. That's just cool.

Here's the internal entry about what's going on and here's the blog itself to follow. A few days ago, it seems the men caught a snake.


Limiting Communication and Availability

August 15, 2008

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

Several people I know use e-mail like it is instant messenger. They keep it open all day and read every e-mail as it comes in. For me, this is horrible for productivity. Constantly changing gears from working on something to dealing with other things means I'm unlikely to make any real progress on a project. So, I only check e-mail a few times a day. People I work with know this so I've set the expectation. With a follow-up point that if there is something that needs to be dealt with urgently, they shouldn't e-mail me. Shoot me an instant message or call me.

One of the key reasons I treat e-mail like this is that in order to make progress on anything other than the smallest of projects, I need blocks of uninterrupted time. There is a nice three part entry over at 43 Folders that is right in line with my thinking on this type of stuff. From the introduction:

“Making Time to Make” is a 3-part series about attention management for people who do creative work. It’s designed to help you firewall the time and attention you need to get out of the lite communication business and into your studio.

For me, one long block of time is much better than two or more smaller blocks even if they add up to the same (or possibly greater) amount of time. The first part of the series has a quote from Neal Stephenson who shares the idea:

Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be interrupted, I can’t concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can’t do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can write a decent book chapter, but the same number of hours spread out across a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless.

My favorite quote comes from the second part. "Put plainer, my sense is that western culture would be a damn sight poorer today if John Lennon had been forced to carry a goddamn BlackBerry." If you create things, it's well worth the read.

Making Time to Make - Part 1
Making Time to Make - Part 2
Making Time to Make - Part 3


Virtual Photo Tourism Software

August 14, 2008

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

This is an amazing use of software and public images to create something new in the world. I saw a video with the original version of this some time ago and was very impressed then, but the secondary controls they have added now are even better.

Very Cool


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