After two weeks of dying to actually pick through these photos, I finally found the time this past weekend. My schedule has been ridiculously busy, and as such my blog updates have suffered; that precious buffer I had going: gone!
Anyway, this batch of photos is from my first photo shoot, which I did at Level 3 Studios with a bunch of friends. This was a great first experience in a photo shoot scenario, but also very daunting and intimidating. I’d love to do it again, but I might need some more ideas before I go into that.
Because I was rushed, I never had the chance to do any major photo manipulation with these, and I think a fair number of these will look better after some simple changes, such as a grey scale or sepia tone added to them. I’d love to do that to a selection of them and upload them later.
As per usual, I really appreciate your comments. Post a comment below; I read all of them, I promise!
Well, more photos! I have had people breathing down my neck for me to put these up, and I’ve finally given in. Because this week’s update spans almost two weeks, I’ve got almost 50 photos here (48, to be exact), ranging from the hoar frost we had a while back, to the Black & White Swing Thing, to Oldies Night at the Legion.
As per usual, I really appreciate your comments. Post a comment below; I read all of them, I promise!
The latest batch of photos is in. This time, all are from this past week’s Legion, where we got a great turnout. I was able to try out using my flash in slave mode, where it gets controller by a 580EX II which is mounted on my camera. Overall, I think I got some great shots this week, including one or two I’m considering getting prints made of (such as #11, the one of Sylvia & Kiral).
I also did a bit of shooting last night in my room with my macro lens of a plant I have. I love some of the colors that came out of the shots, and I included two at the end of the gallery.
Hope you enjoy, and feel free as always to comment below.
Over the past week, UMSwing has had a recruitment table up in an attempt to get new members interested in the club. During that time, we do a lot of dancing (a couple hours a day), hoping that some people will be impressed by it. We think it’s working, but we’ll have to wait until the open house to see.
As always, I welcome your comments. Add a comment below!
Recently, I bought a set of Cactus V2 remote flash triggers off of a friend for my camera. These allow me to use a flash off-camera, which can give me a number of different lighting effects based upon position and intensity. I’ve been trying them out a lot so I can get a grasp on how to use them, and it’s been an interesting experience. Below I’ve got a few sample photos, as well as some of my learning experiences.
The first photo I ever took with an off-camera flash was of my living room. Needless to say, my first shot was not impressive. It wasn’t even good. Hell, it’s barely worth posting, but it was a step forward. I was learning, and also testing the triggers to make sure they actually worked. If nothing else, I was really interesting at this point with some of the potential effects that I’d be able to do with it.
As with anything, practice makes perfect, and despite the rather bland first photo, I stuck with it, trying a number of different effects. I looked around my house for things to photograph that might make for some interesting photos, particularly with some different lighting. An improvement came when I took a photo of a decorative house and Christmas scene that my mom had set up on an antique radio. A bunch of random adjustments and a dozen-or-so photos later, I came up with something that looked decent. Again, definitely not a masterpiece, but a step forward in the right direction.
Eager to try out my new toy at a swing lesson, I decided to try my hand at photographing moving targets. Looking back at the photos, very few of them turned out well at all. Some turned out okay, and two of them are below. A few turned out well, and ended up in this week’s gallery entry, which I hope you’ll check out. I think jumping into the deep end was a little too hard for me; there were far too many variables to juggle, including the flash position, flash power, camera focus and zoom settings, and the position and orientation of the people I was photographing. It was simply too much to handle all in one shot when I’m still learning the basics when it comes to the lighting, and I’m still learning things about my camera. In retrospect, I should have waited a while before bringing them along.
But, some of my stuff did turn out well, and they’re in this week’s gallery. Some of those are shot with an off-camera flash; others are not. As far as cost-worth purchases go for aspiring photographers, these flash triggers are the best purchase I’ve made (just surpassing the 50mm EF 1.8/f lens). If you have an external flash, pick yourself up a set of these and a cheap camera tripod; you won’t regret it.
If you’d care to see some of my better photos (ie. this week’s gallery), you can take a look at the Jan. 8/10 gallery here.
Just for the heck of it, I decided that I would post a screenshot of my desktop right before I start programming (ie. before too many windows get opened and clutter my workspace). Those of you that are sharp might notice that it looks a little…wide. That’s because I have three monitors on my desktop — two 19″ and one 22″ LCD monitors. That gives me a total resolution of 4560×1050: far bigger than a single monitor could reasonably give me.
Extra brownie points go to those who can answer the following questions about the screenshot:
- How many cores does my desktop have?
- What music player am I using?
- What scripting language server is running in the command line?
- What is the symbol on my desktop, what is it’s significance, and who came up with the idea to use this symbol for this purpose?
Anyways, I have some new photos that will be going up tomorrow, as well as some of my experiences with using an off-camera flash. Stay tuned for that!
Although I posted them last night on Facebook (they won’t stay up there forever), I’m also posting some photos that I took in the past month here, most of them being from last night.
I just picked up a new Sigma 70-300mm 4.0-5.6/f telephoto lens for my Canon XTi body, and decided to try it out at swing last night. I’m also starting to use my external flash more now, and it’s taking some getting used to, but I’m liking some of the results so far. Thus, take a look at the gallery or the Dec. 29/09 album for some of the shots that I took. Let me know what you think!
Recently I made the decision that I would try to switch keyboard styles. Almost everybody I know uses the standard QWERTY-style keyboards because they are so common, but because I use a keyboard so much, I want to protect my fingers.
A bit of background knowledge before I go any further: the most common style of computer keyboard is the QWERTY keyboard, named such because of the first six letters in the top row of the keyboard. It was initially designed during the typewriter days not to improve typing efficiency, but to prevent the keys from jamming up. DVORAK, on the other hand, was designed with computer keyboards in mind, focusing on efficiency and ergonomics. As a result, those who are comfortable with DVORAK typically type faster and cause themselves less repetitive stress injuries.
Now, I think that those are both two very good reasons to make the switch to this different style. There is, though, the obvious drawback of having to learn a new keyboard layout. Thankfully, I don’t need to buy anything to get started; any newer operating system has the ability to remap a keyboard to a new layout. The problem with this is that the writing on the keyboard doesn’t match what I want to type, so I can’t look at the keys to help me learn.
So the goal at this point is to work on my typing speed and hopefully get it to a speed that is reasonable. On a regular QWERTY keyboard, I can type at about 75 wpm (words per minute), but on a DVORAK keyboard I’m at a lowly 20 wpm. In order to help improve my speed, I’ve decided that I will type all of my blog posts on my DVORAK layout. After all, they say practice makes perfect, and if I plan to keep up with my blog posts on a regular basis, I should get better pretty quickly.
So, if anyone else out there is on their computer a lot, I challenge you to try out DVORAK some time and give it an honest shot at becoming comfortable at it. It’s certainly a challenge to pick up, but would be beneficial to preserving the life of your fingers, and when you’re in the Computer Science industry like myself, it’s game over if I can’t use my fingers. So to make things a little easier, instructions are below to enable the DVORAK layout on both Linux (Gnome) and Windows:
Linux (Gnome): System –> Preferences –> Keyboard, then go to the Layouts tab.
Windows XP: Add the Language toolbar by right-clicking on the bottom bar, then go into the Settings section under there to add a keyboard.
Well, after the massive spike in traffic to my site after writing the blog post on GNU Screen and Byobu Made Easy, I decided to do another quick tutorial on another Linux command-line tool, ViM. ViM, or “Vi Improved”, is a command-line editor that has been around since the dawn of Linux command lines, and is deceivingly powerful. Although we won’t get into the more powerful parts of the program today, stay tuned for some power tips later.
Now, anyone that has been around two or more Linux command-line junkies I’m sure has heard the Emacs vs. ViM argument at some point. Regardless of which one you like, they’re both great editors. Give them both a shot and choose your favourite.
Vim can be very overwhelming to start off on, but is great once you get used to it. When you first open ViM, you will be presented with a blank document and you will be in Normal mode (see below). Soon, we will be able to start writing text, undoing a mistake, perform cuts, copies, and pastes, as well as some search-and-replace.
A quick note that almost everything is case-sensitive!
There are six main program modes in ViM, listed below. We will only cover three of them in this tutorial for the time being.
- Normal Mode. This is where you type all of your commands, typically to move into one of the other modes.
- Insert Mode. Here is where you’ll actually type text into your document.
- Visual Mode. Visual mode is mainly used for yanking (copying) and deleting (cutting). Although it can do more than this, we’ll focus on these for now.
- Select Mode. Similar to Visual mode, Select mode is typically used for deleting a selection of text and immediately typing over top of it.
- Command-Line Mode. This is where you type your commands, such as saving, searching (and replacing), and the ability to edit ViM’s options.
- Ex Mode. All-in-all, this is pretty much command-line mode, except after typing a command you end up staying in command-line mode instead of reverting back to Normal mode.
Let’s Write Something!
You’ve just opened up ViM, but every time you try to type text, nothing seems to happen? What gives?! Well, right now you’re in Normal mode, and ViM is waiting for an instruction. In order to start typing text, just type “i” (for “Insert”) or “a” (for “Append”). The Append mode will move your cursor one character forward before you can type, so keep note of that. After you’re finished typing what you want, just hit Escape to get back into Normal mode.
Let’s say, that you just wrote “ViM is awesome!” in your spiffy new document, but saying it once just isn’t enough! You want to say it over and over again, but typing it out so many times just seems like a waste, doesn’t it? Time to go into Visual mode! Move your cursor to the beginning of your text using the cursors, then type “v” (lower-case). This puts you into Character-Select Visual mode. Move your cursor to the end of the text, and press “y” (for “Yank”), which copies the text into it’s built-in clipboard. Move your cursor to where you want to paste, and type “p” (for “Paste”). Note that “P” will paste BEFORE your cursor, so keep that in mind.
Whoops! You pasted it one-too-many times, or you pasted it in the wrong spot! Never fear, the Undo tool is here! Make sure you’re in Normal mode (just hit Escape if you’re not sure), and press “u” (for “Undo”).
What if, for example, you ended up typing “ViM is awsemoe!” (hey, your fingers got tied up; it happens). It doesn’t make sense to undo all of that, so let’s just do a search-and-replace. Go into normal mode and type “:%s/awsemoe!/awesome!”, then hit enter. Poof! Problem solved! I’ll discuss the search-replace a bit more in the cheat sheet. If you just want to search for text, type “/your-text-here” in Normal mode, then hit enter. “n” will move you forward through all the findings, and “N” will move you backwards.
Saving and Exiting
Saving and exiting is really easy. “:w myfile.txt” will write the file to myfile.txt. If you opened an existing file, you don’t need the file name, so “:w” is all you need. To do a save and quit at the same time, type “:wq”.
What if you want to quit but don’t save your changes? The best way to do this is “:q!”, which will quit without heeding any warnings about the file not being saved.
- a - Append - i - Insert - /<your-text-here> - Search for <your-text-here>. Does NOT use regular expressions - dd - Delete the entire line that your cursor is on - x - Delete the character your cursor is hovering on. - :42 - Move to line 42 - G - Go to the last line in the document - :s%/<search>/<replace> - Regular expression-compatible search-replace. - :s/<search>/<replace>/g - Same as above, except replaces everything on a single line. Remove the "g" to replace only the first occurrance. - :s42/<search>/<replace>/g - Same as above, except replace on line 42. - V - Line-select Visual mode - v - Character-select Visual mode - y - Copy (yank) the selected text - d - Delete the selected text - :w - Write the file to disk - :wq - Write and quit - :q - Quit - :q! - Quit without saving
Hopefully those that are starting out on Linux will find this useful. I plan on going in to greater depth in the near future, so stay tuned for that. If you like this article, I’d love for you to Digg or Reddit this page below. It’s such a great feeling when your traffic spikes to 1000 hits in a day. And, for those Emacs lovers, I’ll be doing an Emacs writeup as well.
Some days, it pains me to see how woefully insecure some web browsers are. Every day, it seems that ten new browser-based exploits (or client-side attacks, as my presentation will tell you) are publicly released, and just because you’re on a site that you think is legitimate doesn’t mean that somebody hasn’t compromised it.
For those of you using Internet Explorer (IE), I pity you. IE, still being the #1 most commonly-used browser in the world, is the target of the most attacks by far out of all the major browsers. If you’re smart enough to use another, better browser, then you’re already one step towards protecting yourself. I’m going to assume, though, that you’re using Firefox or one of it’s derivatives such as Flock, since the plug-in libraries are huge.
1. Use the Web of Trust
My Web of Trust (MyWOT) is a plugin for Firefox that warns you about potentially risky sites. It can alert you to known scam sites, spam sites, and pages that are known for hosting malware. It’s great for getting an idea of how trustworthy the site you are visiting is, and is a great extra level of protection against attacks against your computer.
AdBlock Plus: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1865
3. Use Different Passwords
This always seemed like a no-brainer to me, but I know many other people who won’t do this. Using the same password for multiple sites is just stupid. If somebody manages to steal your password from one site, what’s stopping them from going to the other site (and no, having a different user name isn’t going to prevent anything). Instead of using the same password, use different ones, minimum 8 characters, and random characters. If you can’t remember all of those, take two 4-character random strings, and take the domain name, and put each random string on either side of the domain; there’s your password. For example: “4n$sFACEBOOKn4%l”. Swap “e” for “3″, “s” for “$” or “l” for “1″ – think L33T!
4. Clear Those Tracking Cookies
Although you may not realize it, tracking cookies are used to track your movement around the internet. Although you may visit very different web pages, the company that displays ads on the sites may be the same. Beat these cookies with BetterPrivacy, which removes tracking cookies and LSOs from your browser cache.
5. If You Didn’t Expect To Get It, Don’t Click It
I hate to have to reiterate common sense, but sometimes it escapes us. If you didn’t expect to get a link from somebody, or they sent you a file that you weren’t planning on getting, don’t open it. I don’t care if it came from their MSN account; if you didn’t follow rule #3, there’s no reason why their account couldn’t have been hacked. If someone sends you a link, do yourself a favour and just ASK the person what it is before you click it; if you get a reply that is something that your friend would say, then you’re probably okay.
Well, that took longer than expected. Hopefully that’s of some use for people. As always, I appreciate your comments and feedback. If you like what you read, help me out by posting the article on Reddit, Facebook, or Digg (or sending the link to a friend). See you next Monday!