Friends With Glass

On April 5, 2011, in Photography, by scott

If one is might not be able to afford pro lenses, I think the next best thing might be having friends with glass.

This is TiTi (Short for Titania and pronounced Tie-Tie.) She is one of the two cats that roam our house and get terrorized by our kids. They make up members 5 and 6 of our family. Great cat, beautiful color, and a challenge to photograph still with her eyes open.

In preparing to take some engagement shots of some friends, another very good friend let me borrow some really nice glass. The lens: the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L. An amazing piece of glass!

I can’t thank Glenn enough. Every time he lets me borrow that thing, I am amazed at the quality of images it helps me produce. The sharpness of the lens is mind-blowing, at least to me anyway, the beautiful bokeh it produces is dreamy, and the overall performance always leaves me wishing I owned my own copy of that piece of glass.

This photo of Titi was made when the sun was coming into our living room through our huge windows while she was about six feet away from me.

Someday, I am sure that in our house, a copy of this lens will be in our camera bag full time, but for now, I am blessed with friends that are willing to loan me some very nice glass.

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Delicious Dilemma

On April 3, 2011, in Miscellaneous, by scott

It’s Here!, originally uploaded by vanwas.

Every year since living in Kalamazoo and discovering one of my favorite seasonal beers, I look forward to the end of March. This is when Bell’s releases Oberon, their tasty wheat brew that is only available though the summer in Michigan. (Florida is lucky and gets it year round)

The delicious dilemma? Simple bit of math and reality. Beer and weight management do not mix. Moderation is key, as it should always be with any form of alcohol. Instead of enjoying a tasty ‘bit of sunshine on my tongue’ (taken from an Oberon poster) frequently, I will reserve it to possibly once a week this summer or maybe even less frequently.

Oberon. Delicious. I guess it is now officially my favorite cheat food.


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iPad 2

On March 22, 2011, in Miscellaneous, by scott

Is the iPad a necessity? The short answer for me, no. The longer answer, possibly.

For starters, in my profession let’s say that I do quite a bit of traveling. In my travel, I have learned that lighter suitcases are preferred. Also, thanks to the TSA, traveling without a computer can significantly shorten one’s wait at a security line. It can do his not only by reducing the time spent packing and unpacking said computer, but also potentially eliminating the swabbing of that wonderful piece of technology.

Enter the iPad. Like an iPod, or a MacBook Air, the device has no moving parts. For simplification, let’s just say it’s a giant iPod. (I have taken to calling the iPod touch an iPad nano) One can leave the device in his/her suitcase backpack, computer bag, or neoprene sleeve while clearing security, thus shortening the process by what I estimate to be at least 30 seconds. While that may not seem like a large amount of time saved, if one were to clear security 4 times weekly, that would be a saving of 2 minutes a week, or 104 minutes annually. I don’t know about you, but I can think of many things I would rather be doing with any given hour and fourth four minutes of my life.

But how functional can a giant iPod be? Especially when it comes to replacing a notebook computer while one the road? Surprisingly functional. On my last trip, I tried to not use the notebook and rely solely on the iPad. The result, the notebook was never powered up for any computer related tasks. As a bit of a disclaimer, I did turn on my MacBook Pro to stream Netflix to the hotel room’s television and share the wired connection wirelessly with the iPad.

Trough various applications, as well as the extremely functional web browser, the iPad did a fabulous job as a notebook replacement. The web browsing experience was virtually identical to the notebook experience. The lack of flash during my normal browsing experience was non existent. The lack of a keyboard was different, but not a challenge. The speed of the device as well as the Internet connection were on par with using Chrome or Safari on my Mac.

Through applications, I was able to do the same, or in some case, more than on the notebook. The Twitter app, for example, is a much nicer experience on the iPad versus the OSX version of the app. CNN, NPR, USA Today, and Mashable all have beautiful and extremely functional apps resulting in one not needing to visit a site on a browser. Just launch the app and begin reading. Simple.

Not all the apps in the App Store are tailored for the iPad. Some have a version for both the iPad and the iPhone, where as some are native to only the iPhone but will work in a scaled down display on the iPad. Facebook is one such app. No native iPad app but a very nice iPhone app. To be honest, however, I really dislike the non native iPad apps and prefer visiting Facebook either through a third party natively written app or through Safari on the web.

Another fabulous ability for the iPad is, with the addition of the camera connection kit, I am able to dump the memory card on my camera while on the road. It may not seem like a bit deal, but something smaller and lighter than a computer with the ability to download photos from a camera, preview said photos, then import them to my computer for post processing is a big deal. Add to this the ability to stream the photos via AirPlay and Apple TV, and the iPad proves itself a photographer’s friend.

This brings me to the areas where an iPad cannot currently totally replace a notebook. While it can download and preview photos, even RAW format, it lacks the horsepower for any serious manipulation and processing. For me, Aperture and Photoshop are a necessity. That is not to say the potential isn’t there, but for now there is no current application to meet the needs of anyone requiring more than minor editing.

High end gaming is also an area where power is a bit lacking. There are a ton of games for the iPad, and some are quite amazing. The graphical power as well as the processing speed are only going to progress, but until the power matches that of a gaming PC or a console system, there will be a need (if you are a gamer) for a different gaming device.

Lighter, comfortable, convenient, and fun. Will the iPad totally replace my notebook? No, but it will totally change how I use my computer as well as significantly reduce the time spent on my good old machine.

Note: this blog post was written on my iPad 2 using the WordPress app.

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Phones and Obsolescence

On January 10, 2011, in Uncategorized, by scott

How crazy is it that phones have become the new computers? I’m not talking in the sense of what they do, but a sense of how the technology is progressing.

I remember a few years ago when it cost almost $1,000.00 for a processor! Yeah, just the processor, not the mother board, not the video card, not the RAM, just the processor. Oh, and when you assembled your computer including said processor, and spent almost $2,000.00, it was obsolete within two months. Software would inevitably be written that would outdate everything on which you had spent money and created.

If you wanted a discount laptop/notebook, you were looking to spend about twice what you would spend for a desktop system.

Today, that $1,000.00 could buy you a very nice machine that would likely not be obsolete for at least three years. Odds are, that computer would be able to run basic applications for at least five years and possibly beyond. (And that’s a notebook!)

This brings me to phones. The technology seems to currently be accelerating at the rate at which computers used to be. The recent increase in money and advertising in the Android operating system seems to have helped this exponential growth.

We go from the cell phones that cost $0.50 per minute that required a separate battery and external antennae to the current iPhone/Android phones. WOW, what a difference 10 years can make.

We now have phones that fit into our pockets that can access any information we desire within seconds at any time and at any location, so long as we can get a signal and have battery power to do so.

This brings me to the idea I began this rambling with. Tomorrow, 1/11/11, supposedly Verizon is going to announce a deal with Apple and bringing the iPhone to their network. Suddenly a whole new market that hasn’t had access to Apples little gem will have access to the best selling phone of all time. Which version will this be? Will they announce a new version? Will Verizon users get a remade version of the iPhone 4, thus possibly becoming obsolete in five to six months with the update that Apple annually seems to provide?

Look at the Android phones. G1, Droid, Droid 2, Samsung Epic, Motorola Atrix, and the list will continue. How far these devices have come in such a short amount of time is amazing.

How are phones the new computers (besides the computer power?) If you look at the long list of Android phones that have come out in the past five years, ask how many of those phones are more than three years old can run the current Android OS. Can the original G1 run Android version 2? How well can the original Motorola Droid run v2.2? (From my experience, it runs, but a bit slow and lacking on the app memory space)

It’s an exciting time for mobile computing with phone hardware included. I am really looking forward to seeing where the technology is headed, however, I fear that as the technology improves, carriers supplying this technology will only increase the cost to us, the consumers, in a market where our brand new phones are soon to be obsolete.

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On October 13, 2010, in Miscellaneous, by scott

During the beginning of this year I was running regularly, lifting weights regularly, and not even giving a second thought about what I was putting in my mouth (due to the fact that it was more than likely health and clean.) I was getting back into decent shape and able to post a great (to me) time in a 5k while working toward longer distance runs in the fall.

Something happened in July which totally altered the routine I had developed for myself. I pulled my groin. Suddenly, there was a pain every time I lifted my foot off of the floor. Even worse, the pain that I felt while lifting my foot from the floor to the rudder pedal while working was at the point where I was using my arms to lift my leg. End result, about 3 weeks off of work.

I don’t honestly know how I did it, but I can tell you that it is something I don’t wish on anyone. The pain is something that is indescribable for me. My son liked to bounce on my knee, no more. My daughter would want me to pick her up for a hug, I couldn’t. I wasn’t able to walk without a limp anywhere. I wasn’t able to run. I wasn’t able to lift. I could lift the weights, but I couldn’t carry the weights from the rack to the bench.

The doctor told me to take it easy and stay down. Can anyone with an almost two-year-old and a four-year-old tell me how this would be possible?

Motrin, Advil, Tylenol, and Vicodin. These all became friends along with trying to stay down and constant ice packs on my groin.

Long story short, it is now October and I still feel pain after certain activities. I am doing my best to not overdo anything. The running is starting to come back. The weights are becoming more of a regular thing. Now to fix the food.

One thing that happened while laid up was something I look at with a bit of disappointment. I was not very active at much more than eating… and I’m paying for that now.

This leads me to where I am today: trying to push through a bit of pain to build up what muscle may have been lost. I know I did lose a bit due to my favoring the leg when walking for almost two months.

Oddly, for some strange reason, mowing the lawn put me out for the rest of the evening… and NO, I’m not trying to get out of the chore.

I am searching for that routine that I was familiar with for the first six months of this year. Energy to keep up with the kids. Motivation to get out and run at early hours of the morning while one the road. And the habit of working out, even if mentally I didn’t feel like doing it that evening.

Developing the routine for success. It hasn’t been easy, but I am determined to get back to where I was. To the point of at least one belt notch smaller. To the point of being able to bounce my son on my knee or pick up my daughter for a hug. To the point of being healthy for my wife, my kids, and myself.

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