Monday, December 31, 2007

How to choose?

I'm a digital pack rat, I've got 100,000+ images... taking up way too much room. How do you, gentle reader narrow down your own sets of pictures?

All suggestions welcome.

Thanks!

--Mike--

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Trump Tower

Here's a rectilinear vertical panorama of the Trump Tower under construction in Chicago, Illinois. This is a set of 4 frames that I took on the 7th of this month. I hope to re-shoot this under better lighting conditions before construction is completed.


Trump Tower - 12/7/2007 - Black & White

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

JumpBox - The start of a whole new industry

Jumpbox offers the application you want, preloaded onto a server. They let you try out their server for free, and if you like it, you have two pricing points for what is essentially rent.

When your server arrives, you turn it on, and it auto-configures itself for your network. It then tells you how you can connect to it via a web page. You then do all of the administration and management via web pages.

Jumpbox makes the whole process quick and easy. Far quicker and easier than was ever possible in the past.

How? Imagine the infrastructure required to build, configure, test, and ship a server. A very big UPS/FedEx depot, a hotline to a server vendor, staff to set up the boxes, install the software, and test the heck out of it before shipping it off, etc.

Jumpbox does all of that... except with virtual servers. They still did all of the hard parts, except now they can just give you a Zip file with a server in it, instead of having a supply chain consisting of China/Dell/FedEx/some tech lab/FedEx/You


I first heard about Jumpbox through Robert Scoble. While it might seem like just another baby step in the story of virtualization, this is a fairly big jump. The value added can be summed up:

  • Runs on multiple virtualization platforms
  • One distribution works on any of the above
  • Consistent price point
  • Consistent administration and management features
  • Instant deployment
I look forward to see the virtual appliance industry growing in the future. The OS is becoming irrelevant, and I for one am glad to see it go. I'll be happy to see a future without "Windows Activation" screens.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Can't play media files from network drive - Solved

The user couldn't play files from the network share on our server, but could if they copied them to their desktop first. They had Windows XP Pro.

They also couldn't disconnect from the share... but if you mapped to the same share on the same server with a different drive letter, everything worked fine.

When opening the network drive, you'd also notice it was in the "Internet" security zone.

Turns out there's a security setting that fixed it in this case.

Start | Administrator Tools | Local Security Policy
Security Settings | Local Policies | Security Options
Network Access: Sharing and security model for local accounts

Changed from "Guest only - Local users authenticate as guest" to "Classic - Local users authenticate as themselves".

After a reboot, the folders on the share no longer showed up in the "Internet" security zone, and all was well.

Couldn't log in to Swapdrive.com - Mystery solved

I had a user who could not log in to SwapDrive.com. Clearing cache, and all the usually remedies failed. Both Internet Explorer and Firefox exhibited the same problem.

The user had already disabled pretty much every option in McAfee related to the internet, to no avail.

I used services.msc to manually kill as many McAfee related services as possible, and then it worked!

I gave the user two batch files to deal with this in the future:

Kill_Mcafee.bat
net stop "McAfee E-mail Proxy"
net stop "McAfee HackerWatch Service"
net stop "McAfee Network Agent"
net stop "McAfee Personal Firewall Service"
net stop "McAfee Privacy Service"
net stop "McAfee Protection Manager"
net stop "McAfee Proxy Service"
net stop "McAfee Real-time Scanner"
net stop "McAfee Redirector Service"
net stop "McAfee Scanner"
net stop "McAfee Services"
net stop "McAfee SystemGuards"
net stop "McAfee Update Manager"


Revive_Mcafee.bat
net start "McAfee E-mail Proxy"
net start "McAfee HackerWatch Service"
net start "McAfee Network Agent"
net start "McAfee Personal Firewall Service"
net start "McAfee Privacy Service"
net start "McAfee Protection Manager"
net start "McAfee Proxy Service"
net start "McAfee Real-time Scanner"
net start "McAfee Redirector Service"
net start "McAfee Scanner"
net start "McAfee Services"
net start "McAfee SystemGuards"
net start "McAfee Update Manager"


I put both on the desktop, and told the user to ignore the errors that it generates. Now I have a happier user. 8)

RiverWalk and Police boat

Chicago River Walk

Another view of the RiverWalk from last nights 15 minute photo shoot. The yellow blur is a Chicago Police boat. This is a composite of 9 frames stitched with Hugin.

Marina City

Marina City


Here's a view of Marina City in Chicago... 9 frames stitched with Hugin.

Yet another Chicago River Panorama

I think I'm getting better at these... but you should be the judge.

Chicago River Panorama

I stopped on the way home, with the right ISO and White Balance this time. This is one of a few series I did. I missed part of the bridge, I'll plan it better next time.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Michigan Avenue Panorama

Here's another of the panorama scenes I shot Friday night after our Holiday party. I've learned a few things in the process.
  • Try to plan out the entire frame before starting to shoot
  • Always be patient, and let the camera stop vibrating before shooting
  • Make sure to turn off Auto-ISO if you have a Nikon D40
  • Always take more than exposure of each frame (came in handy!)
  • Consider locking the exposure (another one didn't work because if this)
  • The fieldwork can be pretty quickly done, if you get a system going.

So, here's the output after stitching with Hugin and cropping a bit:


Michigan Avenue Panorama


As you can see, I left the "unexposed" area white. It's an artistic decision that I'm happy with at the moment. I always delete the merged TIFF file because they tend to be disk hogs, and I'm already cramped on my laptop as it is. Re-rendering isn't hard because I keep all of the .PTO files from Hugin (they are tiny - 42k in this case)

Panoramas are fun, and I'm starting to get a feel for how to do them right. Hope you enjoy them as well.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Michigan Avenue Bridge

Here's a picture I finished stitching together this morning, before my day went to hell in a handbasket.


Michigan Avenue Bridge



It's composed of 10 frames, stitched together with Hugin, an free software package. It's a lot of fun doing them. This one worked out pretty well, except I didn't realize I had a bit of a gap on the right side.

It snowed here... and I went to find a snowthrower... the one I purchase lasted long enough to clear 30 feet of sidewalk before smoke started spewing forth. It's nice that Home Depot is good with returns. 8)

So.. now it's off to shovel snow.. and take some photos. 8)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Virtual Tourism with Flickr and Hugin

I'm having fun doing panoramas of places using Hugin. The twist is that I really don't have a lot of free time to roam the world and take photos, so I'm going the internet way, and becoming a Virtual Tourist. I search for interesting photos that are licensed under creative commons, so that I can use them freely, within the limits set by the original photographers.

Here are my first three photos done this way.

Bangkok
Night Skyline - Bangkok, Thailand (based on originals by Marc Aurel)

Aachen - Virtual Tourism
Church - Aachen, Germany - (based on originals by Orange Kangaroo)

Eiffel Tower - Virtual Tourism
Eiffel Tower - Paris, France (based on originals by FranzPics)

I don't know quite how this will be received, but it's been fun so far. I hope the real tourists get some value out of the panoramas they didn't know they had.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Armageddon Safe Archives

Dave Winer brings up the very important issue of preserving all of our collective musings after we've passed on. Since my near-death experience on 7/7/07, I can relate. I've got 120Gb+ of photos and video, and they're not even all on one box. I definitely need to clean my act up, filter it down a bit, and get the metadata in a good state.

Think of it (my photos, this blog, etc) as a diary for the 21st century.

Think of our blogs in this framework. The manuscripts that did survive throughout history are still around because they had value to their consecutive owners, or had sufficiently small cost that to keep them was either very easy or accidental. (In my humble guestimation)

I figure if I can boil things down to a stack of 50 DVDs or less, and keep everything in that stack, my family will keep it around for a while. Especially if I explicitly label things and make it valuable for them by keeping it VERY organized and user-friendly.

I figure that I'd be willing to keep at least 1 DVD worth of stuff for anyone who cares to send it to me. I'd be willing to share that much live disk space as well. (No pun intended)

I'd be very interested in figuring out how to suck down complete copies of everything written by Dave Winer, Doc Searls, Dave Rogers and others. The text certainly would be small... photos and video might be a bit tougher.

Usenet archives are still around because the network was distributed, and some folks kept copies of things they found valuable. Perhaps it's time to think of the web as merely one of many transport and storage mechanisms for our collective stuff.

This folds into the title of this post... Armageddon Safe Archives. If something really bad happens, how can we maximize the value and minimize the cost of archiving things for the future. We need to make it easy and desirable to keep copies of each others stuff. Perhaps a new bit needs to be added to the Creative Commons licensing to handle archival copies?

Comments thoughts and discussion welcome.

--Mike--

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sun rise in Port Washington, Wisconsin

I'm turning into a panorama junkie. Thanks to the latest beta of Hugin (thanks John Navas!) and a habit of keeping all of my photos... I'm finding tons of gold on my laptop. Here's the latest


Port Washington Sunrise

This is a stitch of 10 frames using Hugin with manual control points. I added a lot of horizon lines to make up for the almost non-existent control points. The exposure straight out of the camera was almost perfect for this one. The only touch-up is a small gap that I had to fill in the upper left sky (about 200x30 pixels).

I hope everyone likes it.

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