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Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Game: Week 3

OK, For the Week 2, we have a winner, Frankie, but I like Theia's inclusion of the animals on the plate to guess vet and also, a "hats off" to Mary for making the obligatory Friday-esque guess.

Now, for Week 3.

I have not gotten around to setting up a survey on license plate frequency, but I will try to do that this week.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Photography Class

Well, as I continue to try and move from "taking pictures" to "making photographs", I am trying to keep track of the things I learn as I go. This week, I have learned a few things.

Lesson #1. Polarizing Filter. This is used for eliminating or at least reducing glare from windows and glasses. That much I knew. Just leaving it on your lens and not making adjustments is not considered a good idea. That much I either learned (or relearned as I probably knew that at one time with my old film camera. You can see the difference a polarizing filter can make by comparing the glare in the store window here

and the lack of reflection in this shot here
. There are times when you may want the reflection, but there are also many times when the reflection is unwanted and distracting from the picture.

Lesson #2. Camera grip. While a tripod is a great tool to keep the camera steady while shooting, the inconvenience of carrying an extra piece of equipment and being limited to shooting at specific heights as well as the delay involved in adjusting the tripod between shots makes a tripod less than ideal. A shaking camera can lead to blurry shots, so it is important to be able to hold the camera steady and to use a solid grip and position as a practice so that you don't miss any shots. I went to a class today and the instructor demonstrated a good way to hold the camera. Use your left hand as a base and to zoom and your right hand to press the shutter and any other buttons you need to press. Next, tuck your elbows in close to your body.

This gives you a solid grip to shoot and keep the camera steady. I had read about part of this earlier this week in an article, so hopefully this will stick in my mind.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Help! Google Analytics keeps breaking...

I have now gotten my Google Analytics account up and running. I edited the layout template for my blog and added the code where I needed to. I verified things were working fine. Then, the next day ... NO DATA. ARRGH! I went back into my layout template and the code has again been moved. If it is this hard to get this working within the Google family, how hard must it be if the site you are trying to monitor is somewhere else.

Is there something in blogger that goes out on a regular basis and "cleans-up" blogs or is there something else that I can do to make this work? I really want to be able to get a better understanding of how GA works and this blog is the best place for me to do it.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Game: Week 2

OK, so first of all, thanks to everyone that dropped by last week, and especially those that took a guess. The winner of week 1 IMHO (and since it is my game, that is what counts) :) is the incomparable Mary!!! Congratulations Mayor, you can add Winner Week 1 to the other titles (Beer Perfessor, Collegiate Superstar and all the others I can't remember right now) you so proudly wear.

Now, on to this weeks contest. I just saw this one earlier this week while out to lunch with some friends from work. I am eagerly anticipating some fun guesses here.

Also, as Frankie (also runner up for Week 1) mentioned, we seem to have a lot of customized plates, so I was wondering what parts of the country have the highest frequency of custom plates. Stay tuned as I will be putting together a survey by next week if I can. Should be interesting. In the meantime, please leave a comment with a note about how often you see custom plates. I see 5 or more just about every day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Nope. Not this morning, decided to sleep in a bit and get to work a bit early. I will try to go for a bike ride after work since a bike ride in 100+ is much less painful than a run in 100+.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Game: Week 1

I enjoy reading license plates, so I started taking pictures of them when I could do it safely. So I thought this might be a fun way to share some of them. Sometimes they are pretty self-explanatory, others are more obscure than some of the clues in a New York Times crossword puzzle. Even the apparently simple ones might have alternate meanings.

So the game is this. Each week, I will post another picture and you all (if you are really out there) can post your thoughts on the meaning of that weeks plate. Sound like fun? I hope so.

Oh, there are no prizes other than the title of "Winner Week #n" if you are the first comment with the selected winner. My decision is final.

So, here is this weeks plate:

OK, so what do you think this one stands for?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Camera Time

My Father's Day gift:


I also put some film and new batteries in my old 35mm SLR and am going to shoot a few rolls with it to make sure it still works before I try to sell it. Maybe I'll get enough to buy some more accessories for my new camera.

Since I started carrying around my other digital camera, I have started to notice things that I had not before and end up taking more pictures. I don't save all of them, but I do save the better ones (i.e. the ones I like, regardless of whether a true "photo-connoisseur" would approve or not).

I'll definitely be posting more pictures here as well, but you can always check out my public galleries at Picasa.

Well, hope your weekend and Father's Day is as good as mine is so far.

Friday, June 6, 2008

DropBox is very cool

Ever try to find a file that you know you have, only to later realize you only have it on your work pc or you laptop or the upstairs computer? DropBox is a new service to help those of us with multiple computer disorder. I have been using Google Docs and Spreadsheets for some things and a 20GB USB drive for others, but DropBox appears to be much better than either of those solutions.

The downside to the Google tool is you need to upload any document or spreadsheet you want to access from somewhere else. The downside to the USB drive is you need to carry
the drive around with you and remember to copy stuff to and from it. You can simply use the USB drive for all files, but then if it dies or gets lost you are up the creek without a drive.

This is a great tool to share with yourself and keep those handy SQL or shell scripts in sync automatically. It is also useful to keep versions as DropBox allows you to get earlier versions.

You can share with others either by invitation or by making a file/folder publicly available on the web.

Unanswered questions (for me anyway) are:

- How tight is the security? Will my private files ever be exposed to others? Will files/folder I share with others be accessible to non-invited people?

- How stable will this be? There will always be times when any application is unavailable, but I will want to see how stable these folks can keep this before I put too many eggs in the DropBox basket.

- Organizing files and folders on the web interface is not immediately intuitive. I am still digging around to see how to move things from one folder to another.

- Cost. Currently is free for 2 GB and they claim to want to keep a free tier even after the initial beta period. Google has managed to keep a very generous free tier for all of their offerings, so if the folks at DropBox have studied hard, they may well be able to deliver on this.

Now that you are all excited to try it out, sorry to burst your bubble, but it is still in limited beta (remember the early days of GMail?) where participation is by invitation only. The good news is that I do have some invitations. The first 10 requests in a comment to this blog will get them (unless they reduce the number I have of course).

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Building back up is hard to do

Looking at my May mileage, I can see I need to start putting things in a higher gear. May total was 55 miles. LOL, I haven't had a month that low in over a year and a half. And that is almost low enough to be closer to my peak WEEKLY mileage.

I did run this evening, but it was hot hot hot. 98* F. That'll teach me to sleep in on the weekend. This was to be my "long run" for the week, but cut it short due to the heat. At least I got 4 runs in this week.