Since moving as much as possible from 'conventional' Western footwear toward things like Vibram Five Fingers and tabi I've noticed a couple of things which are interesting at least to me. Foremost, the change in posture they engender- it's significantly forward from where it is in other shoes. Particularly for someone who tended to be a heel-strike walker, this is significant. Now, instead of my heels hitting the ground first, my weight gets initially distributed between the toes and ball of the foot.

Secondarily- and directly contingent to the first- this is why the ninja evolved the reputation for being so damned stealthy. It doesn't take any particular amount of grace- I can do it, and I think I've something less than the median- to move reasonably rapidly and fairly quietly when you change the physiological perspective in such a minor yet significant manner (minor, in that on my foot, we're talking a change of under 20cm; significant in that the change is from a significant heel-strike to plausibly no heel contact at all).


Jan. 4th, 2011 11:51 am
I feel as if most of the time I don't dream. At least, it is uncommon for me to have upon waking more than the most fragmentary recall of more than two or three a year.

Apparently, one of these has already taken place in 2011.

Sometime before waking this morning, I had a dream wherein I was interviewing for a photographic job. I'm not sure why, because it was clear that I didn't need a job and didn't particularly have time for one, but I was interviewing anyway.

I met with the guy around Pacific Science Centre, and pretty instantly had the feeling that I didn't want to work with/for him. He was pleasant enough, but seemed to ooze that stereotypical used-car salesman unctuousness which made him feel a little slimy and less than trustworthy.

He asked good questions, but somehow had gotten my old portfolio from when I was working in photography (rough timeline: early '90s), and was asking things about the work in it. [For reference, I worked in a few studios, did some freelance work, and occasionally handled the odd assignment for the newspaper for which I wrote.] Some of the questions were reasonable- "How did you light this shot?", "What did you use to get this effect?", "What filters were used here?" Then there were some odd, but technical questions- "What were the exposure and aperture values for this shot?", "What sort of film did you use for this?"

I can answer those. The first set were pretty easy- I can still draw lighting diagrammes with fair ease, and if I could recognize from the style or content where I was working for the particular shot, I remember fairly clearly what the lighting available was in each case, at least to the number of lights available if not the actual brands/models/specs. The effects and filtering questions aren't significantly more difficult, but they're largely technical knowledge.

The second set are a little more obscure, but not that much worse, and a reasonable test of technical merit. Things shot under studio lighting are usually exposed at the synch speed the camera allows- the default then was 1/60th of a second, and whether the camera in question was a Hasselblad 500 C/M, a Mamiya RB67, or one of a number of different 35mm bodies, the lens selection is pretty straightforward- on a 35mm, for instance, portraiture usually works well with lenses between about 90 and 135mm; on a medium format you'd look at 120-180 or so. Film type is reasonably comparable- high v. low speed, different types have slightly different characteristics. He seemed a little irritated at one point that I couldn't with any certainty say whether something was shot on 120 or 220 Kodak VPS (which was pretty much the benchmark in the day for portraiture, nominally an ISO 160 film, but conventionally over-exposed 2/3 stop at ISO 100), which seemed weird, because the difference is whether the film is all paper-backed (120) or just has paper leading and following (220)- which is all contingent on the film back in use. [For those of you who may not be up on it- which I suspect are almost all who haven't been scared off by the camera-geek talk by this point- 220 film allows twice as many shots per roll as 120 by not being fully paper backed, but lacking the paper, it can more easily be scratched by any debris which has gotten into the film back. There's no distinction between the film bases at all, they'd both go into the same sorts of cameras, so even from a negative, there's no way to tell whether it had a paper layer or not.]

The third tier of questions was really bizarre. He pointed at one of the bridal portraits in the book and asked what the bride's name was. He asked about one of the subjects in a modelling composite (which I don't think is actually in my ancient portfolio, although I remember the shot in question), "Was she really that hot?" and about another "Do you think she'd go out with me." In the photojournalistic section of my book, there are a handful of prints accompanied by the newspaper articles with which they ran. One of these is a shot of former Vice-President R. Danforth "Potatoe" Quayle, who had been in town to support the candidacy of John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (incidentally, the bright one of the Bush family- he's a very good speaker and conveys the impression of knowing what he talks about, not like his ex-President brother). "Who's this guy? Why the hell would you take a picture of him?" Dude, it ran A-1, above the fold in a regional newspaper. It's at worst a demonstration in latitude, as handheld photojournalism, candid portraiture- it belongs for a handful of reasons. There are a few hockey pictures, from covering Lightning games in Tampa Bay. He critiques these as being too grainy to use anywhere. Granted, I wouldn't print most of them 8x10 or larger for personal display, but in the context of appearing alongside the articles, they're there, and at that size because everything else is printed that size. They also look reasonably sharp in their reproduction in print, to the point that you can make out the puck in one of former Lightning centre Chris Gratton sneaking a game-winning wrist-shot over Patrick Roy's glove hand- not bad for a handheld shot with a 250mm lens at 1/250th (or so) of a second exposure (and from the opposite end of the rink). It ran, C-1, full bleed, and the article is right there with it.

The interview didn't touch on any of the digital stuff I've done in the last three years and which is what I'm comfortable with shooting now. For what it's worth, I think my photographic vision is better now than it was then, because I'm not concerned with shooting things which are likely salable images and because shooting digitally lets me take a quick look to determine if I captured what I wanted right away and if not I can take another. I'm also not working under the pressure of trying to eke out a living at it, so there's a lot more joy in the art than there used to be. And I'm not shooting weddings, which stressed me out to no small extent. I think there are some decent pieces which I've shot in the last few years which would print well and would belong in a portfolio if I ever wanted to re-enter the field; but I certainly don't want to work for a guy like the one with whom I interviewed in my dream.

Chag Chanukah, ganzer michpoche. And if it's not your holiday, happy Wednesday.

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This journal has been sadly neglected for far too long. I didn't even have the client on my current laptop. I don't know that it'll ever go back to the frequencies with which it was once updated- I think there was a two year stretch of daily posts at one point, which is decidedly unlikely to happen again. Twitter is probably easier, and skipping blather once I've condensed it down to 140 characters is easier should you elect to do so.''Anyway, went out and about for the first time in I can't be certain how long, intending to drop in and say hello to the recently returned, even if only for a week or so, [ profile] shadowdaddy, and ending up staying until the dregs of the evening crowds all toddled off in their own respective homeward directions.

It has been far too long since I've posted here. Mostly, that's been because I don't think I've had much to say which didn't fit in a Twitter-friendly space.
In summary:
Life is. I'm regularly- if not continuously- physically and emotionally exhausted.
Work is good. I work with an insanely senior testing department, and in a development environment almost completely devoid of ego.
With that said, though, there are some things which scare me. Because we're all senior (including dev), there's the feeling that everything's just magically going to get done.
So, we have a major release in just over a month, and in reality, we're not yet fully feature-complete. The glide path on our bug delta is going in the right direction, but the slope would get us finished... sometime in February. Even if we stopped finding bugs right now, fixes and verifications at the current rate would push us out in mid-December.
So, realistically, we're going to punt a lot of stuff. Doesn't make me a happy tester.

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If the embedding continues to crap out (as it seems to be doing presently), you can find the image here. Either way, feel free to use the interactive controls and play with it.

I just won an award at work for producing the best artistic data visualization. I'm a little embarassed by this, because some of the other entries were really intricate images- fractals, attractors, and other things which required significant manipulation of their data sets to produce the results. Mine? Not so much so- plot a bunch of ZIP codes on a map, set their size by the last three digits and colour by the last two.

The prize is a shirt with the image on it- and the 'threat' that I may be asked to sign shirts or prints at our upcoming user conference.
iTunes, you do a good job...
most of the time.

where you do something wrong, you really screw it up. In particular, I'm talking about the interface for putting music onto an iPhone or iPod. Your choices are two radio buttons- include entire library or include selected artists and playlists. That might have worked well when individual music collections were smaller, but when they get big, it can be annoying. Here's a use case for you:
[ profile] damashita and I share a desktop computer, which is the repository for all of our media files. Now, there are a few artists she likes and I don't, and I'm sure the opposite applies as well. Bit, instead of including an option to exclude particular artists, the only choice to not get the ones I don't want to hear is to check all the ones I do want. At a scale of 20 artists, manageable. At 250+, a major nuisance. Couldn't you have added a few dozen lines of code and given me an exclude toggle, so that I can uncheck the ones I don't want? Or an "invert selection" option? Hell, even doing away with the top radio button in favour of a "Select All" in the interface would be nice. I'm perfectly capable of doing the exclude option manually- I can find the ones I don't want and uncheck them easily enough.
Well, pending mechanical review, we should replace Branwen with a slightly newer Volvo wagon in the next day or so. It should hopefully tide us over until our next vehicle. We're really considering a Tesla Model S when they become available.
In doing a little reading, I saw someone critiquing the $50k price tag, which got me thinking. Yeah, it's a little pricey, but seats five adults and two kids and has comparable cargo room to a Chevy Tahoe. So I did a little pricing- and found the Tesla to be about $3500 more than a new Volvo V70 wagon with similar accoutrements, and about $750 less than a Tahoe LTZ. I think the differential between the costs of the Volvo and Tesla is less than the gas cost for driving the amount we do over the course of a year.
ravencallscrows: (flutterby)
I had a nice day planned today. [ profile] damashita was off to Snoqualmie to provide professional feedback for a friend who is in massage school, and while she was doing that, I was going to take pictures at the Northwest Railway Museum and/or Snoqualmie Falls. Went past the museum and was headed to the Falls- to get a feel for the time it'd take to go from one to another and figure out how to allocate time for the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, while in transit, while stopped at a red light, a brand new driver (she'd gotten her license two days previously) failed to see either the stop light or my absolutely stationary Volvo, and hit it from behind at at least 50 mph and pushed it 20-30 yards into the intersection.

I was a little dazed- it took a few minutes to realize that something wasn't right, and longer to figure out what that was (my vision was blurry because my glasses flew off at some point after impact); and significantly longer (I'd guess 15 minutes, but my time perception is seriously skewed around the event)) to find them (they ended up in the back seat, under the car stereo- which was ejected from the dash), but other than a few bruises and being a little sore, I'm fine.

A bottle of ibuprofen in Snoqualmie: $2.20
Damage to poor Branwen: >$4000 (when she got part of her front light assembly clipped by a bus five years ago, the price tag to fix it was around $1500, and her body is bent from the frame level in at least two places. I'm sure she's irrepairable)
Not having to explain to Mommy why I'd plowed into a car stopped at a red light while traveling in excess of the speed limit just two days after getting my license: PRICELESS!

Are any of the Seattle-area (or willing/planning to relocate in the Seattle CMSA) folk seeing this software professionals who might potentially be interested innew career opportunities? Right now, my company (Tableau Software) has a handful of openings- at least two funded positions in test which we'd like to fill quickly and at least four to six development positions for those of you who'd rather code software than try to ensure that it's doing what it's supposed to.


Apr. 20th, 2010 02:33 pm
Well, it has just been confirmed.
Tomorrow I'll be getting an offer letter for a new position with a company in Fremont.
Still have things in process with a company in Bellevue and with another Fremont establishment.
The drought is coming to an end.
So, second round of in-person interviews today with the company with which I had the first round on Tuesday. Today's loop was the co-founder of the company, who is a current EVP and the director of development. No offer on the table... yet, but my feeling is one is coming in short order. It'd be something of a relief.
ravencallscrows: (flutterby)
Just going to give you a few teasers tonight.

Today, Alexander was one of two local kids selected to interview the pilot of the last Space Shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope and the writer/director/editor of the 3D IMAX movie about it. (If you have any interest in space or astronomy and you have the opportunity to see Hubble 3D, jump at it. It's simply a stunning presentation- and nothing strictly CGI- the few things which are computer rendered are done so from real datasets taken from Hubble and other ISTS programmes.)
After the interview concluded, it was time to muck about PacSci a bit, and while the kids were off doing their thing, I went to shoot butterflies in the exhibit there. This was a much stronger photographic outing than the last effort- look for pictures to follow shortly.
Really unhappy with these on the whole, and doubt there are more than two or three printable images out of the batch, but I promised I'd share, so here are the few highlights. Somehow I managed to turn image stabilization off- I can't handhold exposures past about 1/60 sec at 300mm without it (and that only with a few tricks), but with it can sometimes get down to 1/20th. Also managed to drop the customized white balance- the stage lighting ran around 2600 K for most of Faith and the Muse, and haven't colour corrected the batch to adjust that. After all, it was a concert, and gelled lighting is nothing new for a rock show. So be it. I may go back and tweak some of them, but at this point, I've thrown away probably a dozen images for each one I kept, and may not bother. If you want to chance printing any, feel free to grab the full-sized images and have at it. They'll be watermarked in a bottom corner, but the watermark is under 170x60 pixels, so should be nearly unnoticeable in a 3872x2592 pixel image.

The opener was Soriah, who was extremely interesting- combining Tuvan throat-singing with what looked and felt like shamanic practice. Very stark white lighting and an almost non-existant crowd at this point made for interesting pictures.Cut due to images. Worksafe, just may take up a bit of your page. )

These are probably almost all printable at at least smaller sizes. The uploaded batch are here.
I think I switched the image stabilizer off accidentally after this set, because none of the pictures from Legion Within were clear enough to bother with uploading. As a result, we'll jump right to the headliners.Again, sparing you screen-scroll if you don't want to look at the pictures. )
That whole, inadequate series can be found here.

As seems to be their standard operating procedure, Monica and William came out after the show to talk with those in attendance who had waited, and were as gracious as ever.

Yaaay, robots!

This entrant wins the award for most innovative use of blade tape. Way to represent, Canadians!

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I hate my oven. Yeah, reserving strong negative emotion for inanimate objects and all that. Pointless, I know, but still....
The silly thing is consistently inconsistent. The thermostat is a little off under the best of circumstances, but it's easy enough to compensate for that by dialing in an extra twenty-five or so degrees. Oh- and if you open it for whatever reason, it tends to confuse its little mind, so you need to turn it back off and back on to the previously selected (adjusted) temperature.
But there are times it just decides that it's confused all on its own. One of these time was tonight.
After the kids' karate classes, it was dinner time, but the sinus headache i've been fighting was winning, so cooking real food was right out in favour of frozen pizza. Yeah, not particularly good for me, but in general, preheat the oven, stick it in and 12-15 minutes later, something vaguely edible with no intervention required.
So tonight- arrive home, set oven to preheat to somewhere around 425 Fahrenheit. Walk away for ten minutes.
Come back and check since it hasn't announced pre-heating success.
The thermometer in the oven shows 110 degrees.
Turn off and back on, walk away for fifteen minutes. Finally hear the preheated beep. Turn oven off and back on. Put pizza in oven, set timer for 12 minutes, go find sinus meds.
Hear timer, check oven. Pizza definitely not done. Check thermometer. 275 degrees. WTFery commences.
Turn oven off and back on again, set to 450 degrees. Check back in ten. 300 degrees. Burn knuckle on oven rack.
Cycle it again. Turn light on and watch. Ten minutes, temp approaches 400. In the next ten it fails to get significantly hotter, but at least isn't cooling off any. After an hour and twenty minutes of waiting for my twelve minute food, I decide the ice pick entering above my right eye and transiting to exit somewhere in my upper palate is now being joined by low blood sugar and that the damn cheese-like substance propably isn't going to melt any more and pull it out.

Next time, I'm microwaving.
I once met a Belfast-born and raised Catholic Unionist. Given when he grew up, it's a damn wonder he survived to adulthood. For that matter, it's a minor miracle he didn't grow up with an intense case of self-loathing. His son played on Alexander's last hockey team, and at the post-season party, he was pouring black-and-tans for anyone who'd drink 'em. I found out his alliances completely by accident, when I started singing "Come Out Ye Black and Tans" while we was serving 'em.

Lift High the Starry Plough and Sing a Song of Freedom....
A hat tip to [ profile] annathepiper for linking to this. Some of you- I suspect particularly [ profile] bork and [ profile] thewronghands- will get at least a giggle out of this:
Tattúínárdœla saga: If Star Wars Were an Icelandic Saga

Star Wars, as it was told in the 'original' Old Norse. What's not to like?

A friend has a new baby kitten she's named Schrödinger. The cat behaves oddly- it is suspected his existential paradox may have something to do with it. She mentioned the little guy was a foundling, so I'd asked of he'd been fed from a Klein bottle. In looking for an easy explanation, I tripped across a website, which sells all sorts of Klein bottles, including these nifty Klein bottle hats and Möbius scarves. I think I want a set now, in black/grey/white.

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Vanya Y Tucherov

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