Friday, March 31, 2006

Photo overload

I've got more digital photos than storage available on my laptop, so I'm having to do a purge. My current mode of operation is as follows:
  • use ThumbsPlus to do a slide show of all the images
  • while viewing, alt-comma to tag the photos I want to save
  • add the keyword Reviewed to the ones I've seen
  • Control-Shift-V to invert the selection
  • delete the photos I don't want to keep
  • occasionally empty the recycle bin (helps keep the oops factor down)
I've been through a few generations of cameras along the way
  • Casio QV-10 (320x240)
  • Kodak DC210 (1152x864)
  • Nikon Coolpix 950 (1600x1200)
  • Nikon Coolpix 995 (2048x1536)
  • Nikon Coolpix 5400 (2592x1944)
  • Nikon Coolpix 8800 (3264x2448)
I got the Casio after seeing a friends model. I really liked the swivel, but hated the limited space, and the tiny pictures, but it was a good deal at the time.

The Kodak came from my friend Jim, who liked it, but didn't have the photography bug I had. It died after a solid year of service in a most inconvinent fashion, the backlight on the LCD died... the repairs were more than the cost of a replacement.

The Nikon 950 opened my eyes to the world of crystal clear photos, and macro photography. It's amazing how close this thing can focus to the lens. I've taken pictures of single drops of dew.

The Nikon 995 gave me more pixels, better controls, and a bit more flexibility.

The Nikon 5400 was even more pixels, but departed from the awesome macro, and wasn't quite what I expected. Noran loves it, so it's become her camera.

The Nikon 8800 is pretty darned good... it's got image stabilization and lots of features to go with the 8 megapixels. The only real disappointment has been the deliberatly non-stanard filter ring size, which makes the camera less flexible just so Nikon can sell a few more overpriced filters. (There are aftermarket ways around this, however)

As time goes on, I tend towards more photos per year... here's the trend:
  • 1997 - 198
  • 1998 - 1768
  • 1999 - 4223
  • 2000 - 9941 (still in review)
  • 2001 - 17,192
  • 2002 - 26,065
  • 2003 - 23,935
  • 2004 - 17,704
  • 2005 - not on laptop yet
  • 2006 - 557
All told, I've probably got 101,584 photos loaded, 8831 of which have been reviewed. I've got 92,753 more to go!

It's going to be a very busy year, so I've got to get crackin' to get this done.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

ACT 2000 support sucks!

So, you install ACT 2000, and the first thing that happens is that the program has a bug that prevents it from seeing a working internet connection.

You get a dialog box that says:
Internet connection required to check for updates could not be made.

In the Windows Control Panel, check the Internet Options
Dial-up Settings, or connect to the Internet and try again.

What got me pissed is that when... you do a google search (on the computer in question) the first pair of solutions found (on their web site) are BOTH BROKEN.

DELIBERATELY

BY MARKETERS!

Sheesh... it's bad enough that it's not a real database, and the performance of the program sucks when you get past 10,000 records because of this, but do they have to cripple the only lifeline to us who have to deal with this thing?

Get a clue, ACT!

...
Even Microsoft has this one right... you don't have to sign up for anything to get support from their knowledgebase. It's one of the main things keeping system administrators like myself happy, or at least tollerant. We might not like them, but at least we can work with them.


--Mike--







Tuesday, March 28, 2006

DRM

Dave thinks DRM is no big deal. For him, at this time, he's right. The music works, and he's happy.

I think he'll change his mind when he gets a newer computer, and the music doesn't move with his other stuff, or any of the other myriad ways that DRM truely messes with the transparency and utility of general purpose computation.

You'll eventually start worrying about DRM, Dave.... you're just young and innocent right now.

--Mike--

Context

The context of something is important. In any story, there are the basic things to know:
  • who
  • what
  • where
  • when
  • why
This is the context that frames any story, statement, or any data, for that matter. When a person says something, it's not meant to be etched in stone (unless actual masonry is involved). There have been lots of games in politics played since the age of mass media that all revolved around the notion of something being printed and having to be defended. The resulting rounds of word games have been quite the sport for a very long time.

Bill Clinton tried to use parsing to get his way out of an embarassing situation, and it backfired, big time. As a result we got our current administration... and I think we're all learning a painful lesson as a society as a result. Context is all important, word games don't cut it any more.

When appearances are all that matters, and there is no real attention being spent, you can get away with such matters. Once actual attention is being expended, lies and deceptions tend to dissolve into transparency. A mis-statement becomes far less damaging if actual human attention is involved in putting it all into context.

It is my belief that the whole web 2.0 thing is all about cutting through the crap, and actually paying attention to each other, and to things that really matter.

What you say may inconvinence you from now on, but it's not going to be the albitross it used to be. If you deal with it fairly in your blog, and keep the conversation about it open and honest and persistent, you can pretty much dig yourself out of any hole, no matter how big.

I'd be willing to bet that even Dan Quayle could get himself back into the public sphere as a viable candidate for President, if he blogged, and showed an open and intelligent side.

It's all about the context. Thank you for spending some of your time and attention reading this.

--Mike--

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Re-tuning the loop

Since writing about tuning the loop, I've decided that I've been reading and listening to too much hype, too many activists, too much stuff that turns out not to be true. Over time all things become transparent, and the hidden agendas and reactionary biases all show up. I've noticed way too much of stuff I've been reading turns out to be wrong.

I'm going to try to focus more on durable things, more substance, less flash.

--Mike--

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Beware the Jumbo Frame

Never, EVER turn on "Jumbo Frames" on a Linksys SRW2048 switch.

Something overflows in the firmware, and things get very screwed up, very quickly.

Lost a few hours work for EVERYONE because of this. 8(

Update: January 10, 2008 - As noted in the comment below, I should have added more info. I've since learned that turning on Jumbo Frames is NOT a plug and play operation... ALL of the devices that might see a jumbo frame need to be able to handle them, or they will go off line.

Monday, March 13, 2006

America the Dis-functional

This is exactly where we're headed in our country without leadership.

The ME ME party has had power for too long... and the whiplash is about to hit.

Not a good place to be.

--Mike--

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Myspace and Transparency

I'm going to remix three views of Myspace. The first is from USA Today, entitled "What you say online could haunt you". The second is a set of notes from a talk given by Danah Boyd. The last is my own.

USA today is basically a warning that the Myspace is visible to others. The stories were about kids who thought they could freely post private comments which were in conflict with their public persona. They share then common attribute of a mistaken believe that the system was private, or somehow obscured from view of those in public.

Danah talks about three spaces, Public, Private, and Controlled.

The kids all thought they were in a private space. It turned out that the schools and other authorities managed to extend the controlled space of their lives into MySpace. It's especially ironic given the name of the site.

The surprise at being called out on one's hyprocrisy and the pain that can result aren't pleasant. Some will grow from this experience, and the others will simply find or build a more private space.

We face similar societal learning in many other spheres of life. The sharing of MP3s is a social act, which initially via Napster had a postitive overall impact for everyone. The sales of CDs got a shot in the arm, and a lot of people got to hear new artists and learn more about music. It was a public space.

The RIAA managed to change Napster from a Public to a Controlled space. Their actions shifted from trying to seek the copyright protections expressed in The Constitution, into a witchhunt.

The loss of Napster as a space to share copyrighted content freely was accepted by many, including myself. Not satisifed with cutting their own throats, the RIAA has been joined by MPAA and turned it into a crusade against any type of electronic file distribution.

There are many reasons to want to distribute a file, the RIAA and MPAA do it all the time, but they have monopolies on non-electronic distribution, so it's easy to see the motivation here.

The bought-off Congress has pushed through ill considered legislation which has further pushed along the anti-distribution crusade, which is starting to look like a war on the internet.

Eventually this will all come to bite back in one kharmic retribution. Why? It reduces transparency of the internet by encouraging encryption of traffic. This will make it increasingly hard for the NSA and others to gather intellegence. In one fell swoop, the crusade has managed to counteract untold (classified) amounts of investment in electronic espionage and monitoring systems.

---

The right to privacy isn't in the Constitution, it wasn't necessary before the communications revolutions of telegraph, telephone, radio and internet. The current climate isn't going to allow it to be amended to the constitution.

The right to find others in pursuit of building a private space, however is readily apparent. The boundaries of society are shifting, as they always have. The countermeasures against monitoring and social control will be adopted, and this will just become one more chapter in an endless story.

Over time even lies become become transparent.

Thank you for your time and attention.

--Mike--

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's time to get rid of the stuff I've been saving "just in case". Spring cleaning is a ritual I've skipped for most of my life, preferring instead the "safety" of having things I might need some day. It's a false sense of security, and I've realized the costs are far higher than I had imagined. It's very liberating to get rid of 50 pounds of cables and old mice, etc.

It all started when I saw a picture of my office, and the most visible object was the mess. I'm taking the advice I've been given many times, getting rid of the most visually obvious stuff first, to get some momentum going.

I look forward to the changes ahead in my life, and with a glad heart look forward to the work required to bring them about.

--Mike--

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Importance of Good Tools

I kept LaptopJenny the HP ZE4430US going as long as I could. The inevitable demise last week marked an end of a series of struggles that had HP on my shit list, until I got a look inside, and saw just how much she really had been through. That changed my mind.

In looking for a new laptop, I had a few criteria:
  • 1 GB RAM (or more)
  • SEPARATE Video RAM
  • BRIGHT display
  • Dual Layer DVD burner
  • WiFi G
Noran added one requirement:

  • Don't settle
I found the model I wanted, the HP dv5030US, it's got a 15" widescreen (1280*800 pixels), with 128 MB of dedicated DDR on the ATI Radeon Express 200M. The display is bright and crisp. I've got all of the other specs met. I definitely didn't settle!

It's like being able to breath again... I've got a tool I can use to create or recreate. It plays Civ4 in real time, without stutter or any delay. It's almost flawless in going through the intro movie... just amazing!

Having good tools gives you so much more capability than merely settling for adequate. I've got more than sufficient power and speed to do what I want. I don't have to find the one seat on the train near an outlet any more. Ahhh, the true taste of freedom!

A surprise over the weekend was the truly massive extent of my digital photo collection. I've got something like 120 Gigabytes of photos! I thought it was more like 45 Gb... Which means I really have to buckle down and prune.

I'll be putting some of them up in my Flickr account that I feel are suitable for the public. I'll be using ThumbsPlus 7 from Cerious to keep them organized, and allow fast keyword searches.

WoW, it's soooo good to have good tools!

I'm free!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ahhhhhh....

It's a lazy sunday, with the warm caress of my lovely and caring wife, no schedules, no deadlines... just relaxation...

ahhhh

3rd party markup!

Doc wonders about getting a slider in Technorati. Well it would be useful if we could tag snarky stuff.

WE tag STUFF

3rd Party markup is what's missing here... WE can't tag anything... the author does, which means it's not going to be an accurate measurement of the nature of the content. Embedded tagging makes spamming easy, and hard to reverse.

We need 3rd party markup!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Podcasts need sponsors?

The whole point of podcasting seems to be to let a few guys have an interesting conversation in front of a reasonable recording system. From the few I've listened to, there seems to be no interest in cleaning up the audio, or even bothering to get a decent quality connection in some cases. Low quality phone connections seem to me to be part of the "charm" of podcasting.

I'm learning that a good blog entry has to be edited. Why can't the podcasters take the time to clean up the audio a bit?

If you're not going to be bothered to turn out a professional quality product, you've not sunk any costs. What qualifies the podcast for the value subtraction inherent in an AD? If you're not willing to add value to a few guys talking... you essentially lower the value back towards zero.

We're all supposed to ADD value to the blogosphere. Communism? Perhaps, but it's the community values we seem to share. Let's keep it that way.

It doesn't cost anything to do a digital sound recording. It costs little to do it right. Someone with a good ear for editing could clean things up. You can keep the dollar cost to zero, and avoid sponsorship.

To prove the point... here's an MP3 I made on a laptop, (349kb, 50 seconds) with the most basic software imaginable, Sound Recorder in Windows XP. Consider it my very first podcast, if you like. Here's my transcript (notably missing from most podcasts)

So, my question is...
since anybody can record a digital sound file for essentially no money,

and for tech guys should be able to do it for no money,

why do they need sponsors?

why does anybody need to be paid
to record something and record it to a file
and put it on a server
and let people download it

where's the money going
why does any sponsorship need to be there?

you don't have to pay to promote it
you really don't have to pay to produce it
doesn't make sense

that's it.


I found a cost... you need to have a host for your MP3 file... I happen to use 1and1 to host the family domain, so it's a sunk cost for me. I doubt this file will put me anywhere near my bandwidth cap. If it did, then it would be encrypted bittorrent time.

The biggest cost so far is the time to do the transcript, which is about 6 times the length of the recording. It's tempting to go back and edit out some pauses, etc.

I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt... what are the costs associated with doing a podcast?

One dead laptop, Free HP ZE4430US parts

The laptop had a non-zif CPU socket... broke it trying to get the CPU secured. Jenny is dead, and now becomes a laptop organ donor.

--

Now that I'm over the anger at myself... I offer the following parts for free to a good home:

From an HP ZE4430US laptop

  • Top half, including Display -1024x768, active matrix
  • Interal WiFi G card, and the cables and antennae, and the little on/off switch and hardware
  • 2x256 MB RAM
  • CD-RW/DVD drive, with latest firmware
  • Keyboard
They all worked before I took it apart, they should work for you.

Leave a comment if you can use any of this. I'll remove items as they get spoke for.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Parts is Parts

I just got done taking my laptop completely apart. It is (and should be again) an HP Pavilion 4430US. It's got power connector issues, and I found a bit of corrosion on a corner of the motherboard... fortunately it looks isolated to that one area, I wonder what got spilled in there.

I removed everything I could, RAM, WiFi board, PCMCIA slot, even the CPU, as many stickers etc, ... and especially the rechargable CMOS battery.

I took it to the sink, and washed it with soap and water. I rinsed it, TWICE.

Now to let it air dry overnight. I'll inspect the power connector circuitry more closely in the morning, and see if it looks like anything is wrong. Repair if necessary, then re-assembly.

Didn't want to do it, but them's the breaks. Can't afford to just throw it out without at least making a serious repair effort.

Parts is parts... I'm hoping it'll once again be more than the sum of its parts tomorrow.

--Mike--

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