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Obstructionist Husband

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Terezin prison camp [Jun. 28th, 2015|10:55 pm]
Obstructionist Husband
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[Current Location |dresden, germany]

I posted a photo album on my web site from the camp. Though they're not explicit, they're not much fun.

I'll be getting more pix up tomorrow hopefully from Bad Schandau and the Saxon Switzerland park which was absolutely amazing. Got 'em uploaded tonight.
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Travel thus far [Jun. 26th, 2015|03:05 am]
Obstructionist Husband
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I've posted some pix at my web site, WayneWestPhotography.com. We got in to Prague today and the hotel, which is VERY high end, has free WiFi which we didn't have in Berlin. My Chromebook doesn't have Photoshop, so these are unaltered JPEGs. I plan on doing some Photoshopping when I get home, and I'll fiddle with the Chromebook editor soon as I just did some night shots out the hotel window that I want to stitch and see how they come out: we're on the 21st floor and have a great view, also our ears pop in the elevator coming up! We've lived at 9,000' for so long that it's weird being at about 200' then rushing up in an elevator.

Getting in to my Yahoo account was a little tricky. They said 'What the hell are you doing in Prague?! REATHENTICATE!' But they wanted to send me a text or a message to my Gmail account. Well, my phone won't work until we get back to Newark in 12 days or so. So I have them send a message to my Gmail account. IT won't let me in! It never questioned me in Germany, but they don't like Prague! Fortunately it has an authentication method where you can enter your authenticating phone number, so I eventually get in.

I will get some pix up here, it's taken me four days before I could get them up on FB and my web site because of limited bandwidth in Berlin.
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Wow! Perry can make it rain! [Jun. 16th, 2015|05:32 am]
Obstructionist Husband
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"Texas was in a long period of drought until Governor Perry signed the fetal pain bill. It rained that night. Now God has his hold on California."
—CA state Assemblywoman Shannon Grove

Odd that the horrible storms and flooding started after he announced his running for President. Clearly one is causation and the other correlation, I'm just not certain witch.
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Iranian female artist fighting ISIS with 3D printing [Jun. 14th, 2015|08:50 am]
Obstructionist Husband
Apparently there are multiple groups who are crowd sourcing photographs of historical artifacts that ISIS and the Taliban have destroyed, then building 3D models and releasing them to the public. This woman is also embedding a flash drive that shows all of the research that rebuilt the item.

I think this is quite awesome.

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/isis-vs-3d-printing
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Reality check for Justice Scalia, PLEASE! [Jun. 11th, 2015|06:31 am]
Obstructionist Husband
"Humanity has been around for at least some 5,000 years or so, and I doubt that the basic challenges as confronted are any worse now, or alas even much different, from what they ever were."
—SC Justice Antonin Scalia, in a graduation speech at his granddaughter's high school

Yes. Because the Babylonians had such a problem with people texting while driving that there is no more Babylon.
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A quick post about cameras [Jun. 9th, 2015|09:09 pm]
Obstructionist Husband
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In two weeks I will be in Prague! And while I'm taking my Canon 6D with two zoom lenses, I wanted something small and light that would be better for video (light weight, easier to hold steady) and woud fit in my pocket.

Two weeks ago I went to Las Cruces and ended up at Best Buy seeing what they had on offer. They had a lot of intriguing cameras, the one that really caught my eye was a Nikon CoolPix 9900. I like Nikon glass (yes, a Canon guy saying there's something about Nikon that he likes) and this one had a remarkable feature -- a GPS! Now, my Canon 6D also has GPS (and WiFi), but I don't use it for normal shooting. It increases battery drain and I know where I'm shooting. But in Germany? In the Czech Republic? I can probably puzzle out general location based on date and itenerary, plus I can photograph any landmark signs when I arrive somewhere spiffy, but for Europe the GPS will be cool. And I have a spare battery or two for the 6D. And the boat that we'll be on has 110 VAC in every cabin, so I don't have to shlep around a bag full of adapters.

The problem with the Nikon is that it only shot JPEG. In fact, upon research, every single effing camera sold in the store by Best Buy only shot JPEG, no RAW. For most people this makes no difference, but serious photographers want RAW format. JPEG compresses the image, so you lose detail that can never be recovered. It also does some sharpening and tone adjustment, which, again, cannot be undone. With RAW, you're dealing with the pure pixel output from the camera's CCD: all the information, unadulterated. Which means you're going to have to do some Photoshop work to make good images.

Which is OK: serious photographers are a bit weird and enjoy doing things in Photoshop or other image editing software. And most serious photographers cheat: we shoot in a mode that gives us both RAW and JPEG, so we have both a photo that we can instantly post online and a photo that we can manipulate the heck out of.

So I started digging around on Adorama's and B&H Photo's web sites, and I learned that there is no such thing as a pocket camera that has both GPS and RAW. Olympus has one that will be released soon, but it's not out yet.

So back to digging through sites. Turns out that I couldn't find any Nikon pocket-sized cameras that shot RAW, so scratch them. I was probably going to end up with a Canon, when a friend recommended looking at Panasonic Lumix cameras.

This was Sunday. Last week Monday I ordered a Lumix LX-7 and it arrived Thursday.



It is not the latest and greatest in the series, which means it's only 10 megapixels. Perfectly adequate for what I need. The newest/best in the series has a lot of complaints, two of which stand out. First, the control dial on top that sets the mode that the camera is using has a problem with the lettering and typically in two weeks all of the lettering wears off. Unacceptable. Second, and this isn't camera-specific, Panasonic has a terrible reputation for customer service if you need a camera repaired. So I bought a two year warranty, hoping I could make the warranty company deal with Panasonic if mine needs service.


I've got to get to bed, so here's some highs and lows.

Highs:
More 'special' exposure modes than I can count. I'll list them later. I don't know if I'll use them, we'll see. I am experimenting with them, just don't know if I'll use them for stuff on the trip.
Seems to be well-sealed. It has a proper lens cap that snaps on and off rather than those bladed lens covers that so many cameras have. It has a very good feel: solid body made of metal not plastic.
Best thing -- Leica/Zeiss optics! And they look like they perform quite well, I'll post some pix later (and during the trip).
Battery life: I received the camera Thursday and charged it. Shot 220 images Saturday through today and the battery warning was blinking red, but it was still shooting. The battery is on the charger now.
Camera size: fits quite nicely in my pants pocket. I always wear cargo pocket pants and keep my wallet in one of the sides, so there's lots of room for the camera. So I think it'll travel well.

Lows:
I have some apprehension about Panasonic service. I used to sell Panasonic and Matsushita/Technics electronics and they were always a superior product. I don't know what happened to their service, hopefully it'll be a long time before I find out.
Elements of construction: I don't like their button design on the back, I'm concerned that the button will eventually catch on something and get pulled off, and then I'm at the mercy of Panasonic service.

My biggest complaint is crazy stupid: the latch on the battery cover door. The door is spring-loaded to stay open, as you might expect. And the battery compartment is also where the SD memory card is (I have a 16 gig and I'm not sure I could fill it on my forthcoming trip). But the latch does not reset when you open it -- you slide the latch open to remove the battery, and it stays in that position. You have to slide it closed to lock it when you want to close the compartment. VERY stupid design.


Conclusion in brief: looks like a good camera. Good images, versatile (the lens is the equivalent of a 24-105 zoom), good battery life (I think if I charge it nightly I'll be fine during the day).

I took it to Three Rivers Petroglyphs Saturday along with my Canon with its 24-105 zoom and did a lot of side by side shooting. I'll try and post some of those pix and more very soon. I will be posting JPEGs, but that'll be good enough to demonstrate capability.

Cost: $400 new. You can find used ones in varying conditions for $250-300.

And I have to get to bed, 5:15 is too damn early for my liking but that's the way it is.
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And WHY is this man not running for the Presidency? [Jun. 8th, 2015|05:48 am]
Obstructionist Husband
"Slave owners were very good Christians and good people. They weren't terrible, rotten, horrible people. And that's how I see gay people."
—Idaho state Rep. Paul Shepherd

Perhaps this is his tryout for Fox Newts.

I wonder if I need to create a tag for him, he's certainly off to a good start.
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New gear for the Europe trip! [Jun. 6th, 2015|10:02 am]
Obstructionist Husband
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In two weeks we'll be in Phoenix and our trip to Europe begins! I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this!

I had two concerns. First, I didn't want to take my laptop, a MacBook Air. Yes, it's light. But it's a lot more power than I really needed for this trip, and it's valuable.

So I bought an Asus Chromebook. $200 from Amazon for 4 gig of memory and 16 gig of storage, plus I have a spare 16 gig MicroSD card sitting around that is loading up with books even as we speak.

I have a specific list of tasks for the Chromebook: long battery life (it's obscene -- 10-13 hours!), light document/spreadsheet editing (I want to work on/revise two game designs while I'm traveling), copying photos nightly to flash drives in case of theft or equipment failure, and reading material for the trans-Atlantic flights, which the battery life and plethora of epubs that are copying right now will provide.

I hesitate to say that the Chromebook is NOT a laptop. It has a full-size keyboard, I opted for the just under 12" screen, it has ports for USB, HDMI, MicroSD, it has cameras and sound. No, it doesn't have much storage, just under 10 gig available. But when you think about the laptops that we had just ten years ago that might have 300-500 MEG of storage available, I think it's survivable.

The limitation is that you're initially bound to the Chrome OS from Google, something that evolved from Unix/Linux and their Android phone/tablet OS. Your apps are limited to what's available on the Google Play store, and there's a box that you can check to note that they can work offline.

This is an important thing to keep in mind -- if you want to use it effectively while away from WiFi, say, on a trans-Atlantic flight, you need to make sure your data and apps are on the system and not in Google's cloud.

I am quite impressed by its capability. The keyboard has a very good feel, the trackpad is very responsive and responds to taps -- it doesn't have to be pushed down to click, the display is very bright and hi-res. I wish the keyboard had backlighting like my Air does, but for $200 that's too much to expect.

Aside from the application issue and the minor point of keyboard lights, I currently have two complaints. First, the keyboard mapping is similar to OS-X mapping, but not identical. Neither is it like Windows mapping. And the limited instructions and on-screen tutorial don't tell you what the functions are. So you'll end up scrounging around online trying to find out how to use it. Second, and related to the first, is the OS is not 'out of the box intuitive' to use. I've puzzled out a few things, but I really wish the provided onscreen tutorial had taught me more.

Oh, and here's a neat part: you can install Ubuntu on it! I'm not going to mess with that before the trip, but I might in a month when we get back. Two of my friends have done that and are very happy.

This is quite an awesome device. And for $200, though I don't want to think of it as disposable, if someone steals it or it gets broken, I'm not going to cry too hard. There's a model for $170/180 with 2 gig of memory and 16 gig of storage, I figured the price difference for 4 gig was trivial and got the additional memory.

AND MAN, IS IT LIGHT! This thing is lighter than my wife's iPad 2! It's definitely lighter than my Air: this thing weighs 2 lbs 6 ounces! My iPad Mini weighs 1 lb 5 oz. It's pretty scary light. And small. It's going to make my backpack much more bearable shlepping through airports in 2 weeks!


And now, I'm off to Three Rivers Petroglyphs site to continue familiarizing myself with my new camera and give it a good workout, which I'll post about tonight or tomorrow!
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ROFLMAO! [Jun. 5th, 2015|05:36 am]
Obstructionist Husband
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"Leave science to the scientists."
—Rick Santorum, on the Pope's statements about climate change. Pope Francis holds a master's degree in chemistry.

Ah, Rick! We've missed you! I think maybe he was channeling Rick Perry.
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It's a good thing he's not serious about running [Jun. 4th, 2015|05:16 am]
Obstructionist Husband
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"I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE. I'm pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, 'Coach, I think I'd rather shower with the girls today.'"
—former Gov. Mike Huckabee on transgender people and public restrooms

Social awareness? Check.

The popular belief is that he's never been serious about becoming POTUS, he uses it to raise his personal brand awareness and get a bigger contract when he goes back to Fox Newts.
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