From Crawl to Walk (again)

I recently took on the task of getting back into all of my favorite hobbies, and photography has been at the center of the this recently as well.  I used a SLR for years and have zip-locks stuffed with a hundred or so rolls of film developed years ago.  I mainly used them to figure how what was wrong (in my mind) with the picture.  But after starting to use DSLRs, this kind of changed.  The camera wants to think for me, and allow me to do some on-board manipulation of the picture.  For me, this is kind of hard b/c I get caught up in the moment I hit the shutter button – there is nothing else going on around me except what I see TTL.

Like any great word or spreadsheet processor, we only figure out how to use 20%, maybe 30%, if it’s something we don’t use everyday.  But we use that 20-30% to accomplish whatever our task is without looking for a simpler way to finish a task.  This was me with my current camera.  I needed to fix this.

I was out on a bike ride one afternoon and decided to walk in to a book store and find a book that talks only about my camera.  And to my huge surprise, I found one.  Got through the first three chapters and learned so much about this little black box.  Based on what I learned, I was able to take a few pictures yesterday at a neighborhood dance recital.  The book doesn’t help me take better pictures, but it does/did help me setup the camera to my liking with some bracketing worked before the event, in and out of decent to lousy lighting.

So, I think I’ve made it beyond the crawling stage again with photography, and I’m walking again.  Hopefully, I can keep working on this little black box a day at a time to at least get back to the place I was.






Tried Something New

Wooden Apple

I decided to try out two new Apple devices a few months ago.  The main points of this was not to upset my local group of cronies who are somewhat “all things PC and not fruit”, but to simply upgrade my current PC to newer hardware.  I’d heard of other folks trying this and repaving the initial Lion or Snow Leopard image with Windows7, but I had a few things in mind: I wanted to shift the way I used a laptop, specifically one with fewer buttons and one with (IMHO) superior graphics and display; I still wanted to keep a Windows7 image on the machine; I wanted my music and photography to follow me around instead of putting some pics over here, and then some over there.

Sure, there’s a slew of gestures and key combinations to learn but the last time I had to learn a keyboard I was in typing class in high school, so my brain is enjoying the attention and exercise at the moment.

Two good friends (also coders) have been using Apple machines (and phones) for a while, who I used as resources to ask specific questions about the configuration a.k.a. features to add at buy time, and how to run Windows7 as well since my day job still requires some coding tools that only run on Windows.  They’re smart guys so I trust them and they were right.  It has been a blast so far, and moving back and forth from the MBP and the HP hasn’t been terrible but I do find myself mashing on the track pad on my HP laptop and obviously nothing happens.

A good friend of mine told me this one time, “if you want to work, use a PC; if you want to play, use a Mac”.  He was right. Totally.  Now that I used my MBP for both work and play things seem more normal, not sure what word to use there, but maybe you get it.  At any rate its been a great journey so far, the hardware is awesome, the graphics are clean and crisp, and there’s no shortage of help when I’m trying to figure things out.  The thing that probably sticks out in my mind the most is the amount of time I don’t wait for the laptop to startup and shutdown.  I’ve probably saved about 12 days of my life since December not waiting for things to start and stop.  I was glad to wait in the old days, now I’m a bit less patient, and I like it better when things are more snappy.

I also recently purchased an iPad.  The main driver for this was to have face-time with daughters and their kids since there’s a lot of distance between FL and OH.  The face-time so far has been awesome, and it’s great connecting randomly with my girls.  I also discovered so many apps to help organize me.  Most notably are Remember the Milk, and FlipBook.  Other apps that stream things are more of a distraction during go-time so I won’t list those, but I will say that there’s probably no reason to continue buying music when some many applications can stream it.

FlipBook really does a fine job of collating all of the blogs I read (7 total); plus it connects all the other social stuff too which is nice but not necessary – and its free.  All of my magazine subscriptions have companion applications as well, this means I don’t have to stop reading, oh, and all of the eBooks and PDFs I stuff into DropBox are available too and they read like I’m using a giant Kindle; I can’t read outside but if I’m outside I probably won’t have a book in my hand anyway.  I still like books.  I have a lot of them, so I don’t see myself replacing that experience with an iPad.

All of the other usual stuff is basically the same, the PC could do the same as the iPad or MBP; there are some nicer trade-offs though but I’m really enjoying this change so far.  A lot!

What about all this free time?

A friend of mine stopped in my office one day and he started a conversation about trying to help our division build or create free time in their week.  Free time so folks can work on a personal blue sky project for a whole or half day.  He told me something that blew the sweetener out of my coffee ( I like my coffee black), he said “of all the people I’ve spoken to, they have no idea nor are they interested in having free time at work to blue sky something”.

Now I’m no workaholic by any stretch, but I’ll pitch in if the dam is about to break, or if management says “go and do”.  There are things work related that I want to devote time to but can’t during the normal 9-10 stretch each day.  But after thinking more about this, maybe folks just want time to  think about nothing; For example, no mental challenges,  interacting with stuff we can’t ignore; not like turning off your smartphone, but more like turn off that TV inside your head that plays on some UHF channel static and all.

I’m actually rethinking my free time as well.  What would you do if you had a free 1/2 or whole day on the clock to work on a personal project at your shop?

A Bunch of Really Smart Guys

I’m working on web site for a local developer group here in Orlando.  We met last Saturday to talk about plans for how the site is going to be rebuilt by grease-boarding some brainstorms, as well as a peer review of some of the stuff that some of the developers have been doing.

I’ve been very impressed by these guys since they stepped up for this community effort and although we’ve had some spirited discussions about technology, we always land on our zeros and ones.

Orlando Code Camp Home Page

Orlando Code Camp Home Page