New Toy

The old PC has become a little cumbersome for my image editing needs and I had pretty much come to the conclusion that a new computer was in order.

My current Windows box is a AMD Athlon 64 I purchased in February of 2006. Even when it was new it as not all that great a computer. It was on the low end both in price and performance. I had bought it to replace a AMD K6 400Mhz computer with a 40 gig hard drive I had bought in 1999 so it was an improvement and so far has served me pretty well.

I began shopping for a replacement and found myself looking to Apple as a possible option for my impending upgrade. I weighed the pros and cons and determined that it could only benefit me in both my IT career and my digital photography. Sure there would be a bit of a learning curve, but I know a lot of Mac users who are more than willing to assist me in my transition.

After some hemming and hawing I settled on a refurbished 2.8 GHz 24″ iMac from apple.com. The savings were pretty significant when compared to a brand new unit and the specs were more than suitable for my needs. I ordered it online on Friday and it was delivered to my office on Tuesday the following week.

I gotta say, this thing is pretty slick. Out of the box and on to the network in just about 5 minutes. I set it up at the office and poked around a little before I took it home. I then spent most of the evening working out the kinks of getting a program called Synergy loaded on the Mac and the PC so that I could control both computers with a single mouse and keyboard WITHOUTH the need for a KVM switch. It’s a nifty and elegant little program that, when installed, lets you move the mouse seamlessly from one desktop to another and back again. The keyboard works on whichever computer the mouse cursor is on. It’s like a dual display but with two computer instead of one.

Of course this sent me all over the place as I first tried to install the command line server utility on the Mac before I discovered SynergyKM which is a GUI wrapper around the synergy command line tool and makes the setup and configuration much, much easier.

My efforts led me to explore the network preferences and other “control panel” like items of the Mac as well as got me to a command line pretty quick as I struggled to get it installed and working properly.

In the end, I was triumphant and now I have the PC and the MAC working side by side on my desk.

Next step will be to get the 24″ PC monitor connected as a secondary monitor on the Mac. My 24″ Westinghouse has HDMI and VGA connectors. It is connected to the PC using the VGA so I plan to connect to the Mac using the HDMI and then be able to switch the monitor easily from PC primary to Mac secondary.

I have the mini-DVI to DVI to HDMI connectors and just need a HDMI cable which I am expecting to have in hand today.

Please feel free to comment with any suggestions as to applications or Web sites you think I might benefit from as I explore this new system! Keep in mind that anti-spam features in place on this blog may make posting a web link difficult. Just suggest the name of the site and I will find it.

Implementing Video

I just got a Flip Mino HD to play with and am thinking of doing some video on the upcoming trip to Spain like I did in Belgium over Christmas. My first thought was to simply host the videos on my web site and embed them. I had this working more or less with the Podpress plugin but for some reason it’s gone all wonky on me.

In my search for options I found a variety of plug-ins for self hosting video, but they are convoluted and not one offers what I really need.

The other option was to upload to one of the video sharing sights and snag the embed code for publication here at baldheretic.com. Youtube doesn’t allow you to embed the HD version of your video into your own blog so that’s a waste. I was turned on to Vimeo by John Winters (aka @obscura) and it is impressive. The problem is that you are only allowed to upload 500mb a week, which is fine but they only allow ONE HD upload a week which is not so great. You can upgrade to Vimeo Plus for a fee of $59.95 a year. This account allows for 5 gigs of uploads in a week and unlimited HD uploads are included in that.

Kind of overkill for my purposes and too pricey.

I also checked out Flickr Video which is available to Pro account holders like myself, but they limit your videos to 90 seconds with no option to go longer. The call it “a long photograph.”

In my quest I stumble upon a post by WordPress founder Matthew Mullenweg where he was showing off a movie made from tilt-shift photos he had taken.

Doing a little digging I found out that if you have a pemium account at wordpress.com you can upload videos of many different formats and the site will crunch and convert and allow you to embed them rather seamlessly. The premium account is only $20 a year for 5 gig of storage. The cool thing is that once you upload the video you can then grab the embed code and place it in the blog of your choice making this a reasonable alternative to Vimeo for me personally.

It irks me that this functionality is not available for those of us who self host our own WordPress blogs. I suspect it has do with whatever is needed on the back end to process the videos, but still. I bet it could be implemented without much fuss. We’ll see what comes down the pike in the future.

In the mean time I have paid Mr. Mullenweg his thirty pieces of silver and acquired the upgrade. I do like the quality of the video.

If Matt reads this I would like him to know that donated wordpress.com account to Technology Bytes would be a tax write-off. Just wanted to put that out there.

Dwight Can Has iPhone

Dwight Can Has

Close
Dwight Can Has

Looks very cool larger and on black

Dwight Silverman of The Houston Chronicle’s Tech Blog and co-host of Technology Bytes proudly shows us his iPhone. I chose to let the iPhone remain in color while desaturating the rest. I find the contrast between the shiny new technology and the not so shiny new tech geek rather compelling.

Nothing personal, Dwight!

Google Maps

Google just announced a new feature of their map site that allows you to embed a Google Map right into a web page just like you would with a Youtube video.

KPFT

View Larger Map

The embedded map has all the functionality you find at the actual Google Maps site. You can scroll it, zoom it, get directions and that good stuff.

It’s way faster and easier than the in-line Google maps plug-in I was playing with before.

This will be a lot of fun to use during the upcoming trip to Spain….

Details are at the Google Lat Long Blog

Cat Cam

I’m not a huge cat fan nor am I cat cam fan but I am a technology fan and a fan of novel ideas. That’s why I find Mr. Lee’s CatCam quite fascinating.

Ever wonder what a cat who spends most of his time outdoors is up to?
Apparently J. Perthold in Germany did and came up with an idea…

So the idea was born and split into these parts:

1. find small, lightweight, inexpensive digital camera
2. develop a controller for the camera
3. protect the camera from cat attack
4. mount equipment to cat

For anyone who has lived with a feline, the mystery of a cat’s mind is an all-too-familiar quandary. This site does not venture any answers to that dilemma. But it does attempt to record what one cat.the illustrious Mr. Lee.does and where he goes when left to his own devices. Mr. Lee’s human companion, a clever man who lives in Germany, rigged a small digital camera to take a photo at regular intervals. He affixed the device to his cat’s collar and let Mr. Lee do his thing. What came back is an amusing, sometimes fascinating peek into Mr. Lee’s daily activities.

Out of the day of a cat – Trip 1
Out of the day of a cat – Trip 2
Out of the day of a cat – Trip 3
Out of the day of a cat – Trip 4

TV Time

Got a call from Jeff Ehling over at the local ABC affiliate (Channel 13). He was putting together a story to tie in to the recent FBI press release regarding botnet cyber crime and needed a geek talking head.

Lord knows there’s no talking head geekier than yours truly and despite my fear of being in front of the camera, I agreed to do it. I try not to pass up any opportunity to promote the radio show. Plus I think I must secretly enjoy being scared out of my wits.

Much like the previous times, it went smoothly enough and I was not horrified with the results. Jeff did a great job on the story and used sound bites from me in the piece that worked well and I was very pleased to hear him use talking points that came from our more candid off camera conversation.

You can see the news story video here.

I blog alone

I’ve installed the Podpress plugin for WordPress.
This means you can automatically pick up any audio content I post on this site as a podcast. Just add the RSS feed of this site to your iTunes and your iPod will do the rest.

The Podpress plugin also allows readers of this blog to play audio content I post to the site right inside the post, streaming in REAL TIME! No more waiting on a download.

If you are viewing this from the main URL (www.baldheretic.com) you should see a Podpress player at the top of this entry. Just click the play button and the song I have posted will start playing.

To test my new feature I have uploaded a song called I Blog Alone by M. Spaff Sumsion over at spaff.com

I’ve also included the lyrics below:

I BLOG ALONE
Parody of Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

PERFORMED BY ROBERT LUND
Download MP3 (3.4 MB)

I spill my guts online
At live dot home dot blog my name dot com
No one hits my site
But it’s home to me and I blog alone

I dish out brilliant quotes
On the blogger board of broken links
Guess who leaves me notes?
Yes, I’m the only one and I blog alone

I blog alone
I blog alone

I blog alone
I blog a-

I work all
Day to make the Web admire me
It’s not my
Job; if my boss knew, she’d fire me
That’s fine; the
New York Times would beg to hire me
Till then I
BLOG ALONE

Bla-ah, bla-ah, bla-ah, blah-og
Bla-ah, bla-ah, blah-og

I mock celebrities,
Politics and sports and TV shows
Then I Google me
And hope it links to where I blog alone

I can’t sleep at night
Even on vacation far from home
I pull up my site
To know I’m still online and I blog alone

I blog alone
I blog alone

I blog alone
I blog a-

My only
Friends are avatars and smileys
I humbly
Post my views then praise them highly
Some day I’ll
Sell my soul like Bill O’Reilly
Till then I
BLOG ALONE

Bla-ah, bla-ah, bla-ah, blah-og
Bla-ah, bla-ah

I blog alone
I blog alone

I unmask media lies
On the blogger board of broken links
Guess who leaves replies?
Yes, I’m the only one and I blog alone

Hey, look, they
Praised me in the News on Sunday
My site got
Thirteen million hits in one day
Okay, I
Lied, but that could happen some day
Till then I
BLOG ALONE

Geek ink blot test

A funny thing happened when Cynthia was reading the manual for her new camera.

From time to time, as she was reading the manual, she would come to my office and excitedly tell me about some feature or another that her camera had. I would stop what I was doing and we’d discuss the feature and I would impart whatever information I could to add to her understanding and, of course, agree about how cool it was or whatever.

At one point I heard her exclaim from the other room “That’s what the cupcake button does!!”

*blink*

“Cupcake button?”, I thought to myself. I thought she was exploring her camera. Maybe she had moved on to the bread maker and discovered a new feature or something.

Again Cynthia appears in my office doorways and again exclaims “I know what the cupcake button does!”

And then she points it out on her new camera.

It’s the delete button and most of us know that icon. But not Cynthia. To her it simply looked like a cupcake.

I can only imagine what it might be like if Cynthia were ever to take a Rorschach inkblot test.

I kind of like living in a world where technology comes equipped with a cupcake button.

Weekend of geekin’

This past Wednesday, Dwight Silverman came to the radio show packing one of the new T-Mobile Dash smart phones. It’s a slick little device. Lightweight, slim, nice big display. It features a built-in QWERTY Keypad, Stereo Bluetooth® wireless technology, a 1.3 Megapixel camera and best of all, built in Wi-Fi. Running Windows Mobile this means you can get online at any Wi-Fi hot spot and browse the web as well as instant message and send and receive e-mail without optioning up for the additional data service plan.

It was love at first sight.

As it happens, I am a T-Mobile customer and my current phone was starting to show signs of dying the death so I called T-Mobile customer care and was pleased to discover that I was eligible for a discounted upgrade. The discounted price minus the instant and mail-in rebates made it a VERY sweet deal.

The phone arrived yesterday and today I am fully operational on the new digitalia.

The built in Wi-Fi totally rocks!

Cynthia and I have begun planning and saving for our trip this year. Our plan is to go to Spain in the fall for about a month.

The last two trips I have taken a digital camera and Cynthia has brought along her trusty Pentax film camera. As we have been planning this trip Cynthia expressed an interest in converting to digital photography. I pointed out that this could be a very good way of cutting some costs, seeing as how she would not have to buy a ton of film and pay to have it all processed. As we discussed it further she became more and more sold on the idea of getting a new digital camera.

Since she already had a Pentax and a few lenses it made sense to go with a Pentax digital SLR. Perfect timing, too, since Pentax just released the K10D.

Cynthia and I have been discussing this since before Xmas and today was the day. We went this afternnoon to the camera store and picked one up.

The K10D is an awesome piece of photographic technology. It’s very similar to my Sony Alpha 100 in that it has the built in image stabilization as well as the anti-dust technology. It goes a bit further in that it is weather sealed and sports a handful of additional features that my camera lacks.

I wouldn’t say it’s a “better” camera than mine, but I must confess a certain amount of techno-envy since it’s a newer piece of technology and my camera was released a few months ago making it a relative antique in comparison.

I comfort myself by remembering the “what’s yours is mine. what’s mine is yours” agreement we have as a long term couple.

A great geek gadget weekend for us. Cynthia has a real twinkle in her eye as she is reading up on her camera. I am excited about getting to share my passion for photography with her as I am sure this new camera will inspire her to get out and take more pictures.

Flights of fancy

I began to entertain an interesting (to me) line of thought about work.
I wonder what it would be like to be an end user. How would it be if I could not, and did not have to, support my use of a PC from day to day….

Imagine my first day of work….

Ah, here I am! My first day as on the sales team at MegaBloat Software!
It’s an exciting time to be in the technology business, I tell ya. It’s all cutting edge and high tech. The world is changing and I’m right there on the fore-front!

Check it out, my computer awaits. Let’s fire this bad boy up and see what she can do.

*click*

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. The light is on and it’s green but nothing is showing up on the screen. Oops! It just changed to yellow….now it’s flashing. Darn the luck, they gave me a dud.

*rummaging through orientation packet*

Well, let’s give the Helpdesk a call. It’ll be a good chance to introduce myself. We tech-types need to stick together.

*ring*

Hello? Helpdesk? Hi, I’m Bob, the new sales guy. Yea, I started today and the computer you guys provided won’t boot….Yes, it’s plugged in, I’m not an idiot. *chuckle* You’re sending someone down? Cool. Thanks.

*technician arrives and pushes the power button and the computer springs to life*

Oh! You have to turn it on down there. I thought the power switch was here on the TV thingy. I feel so stupid. I am actually quite computer literate. Sorry to waste your time….

*technician leaves*

Well, THAT was embarrassing.

Ok, now to check out this puppy and get to work. A login screen. How do I login? Nobody told me what my login ID is. I’m sure it’s just an oversight. Better call the Helpdesk.

*ring*

Hello? Helpdesk? Yea. this is Bob. I can’t seem to log into my computer. I don’t have a login ID or password. What’s that? You say it’s in my orientation packet? Oh! That! I thought that was my e-mail information….It is? I use it for both? Uh….ok! I got it! Thanks! Bye!

How strange, my XP machine at home doesn’t make me log in at all. Those IT guys will need to fix this. I’ll get with them later. I am sure they will want to make things more efficient for me so I can sell, sell, SELL!

Ok, let’s have a look at the corporate intranet. Where’s the icon for the Internet? Good lord! Can’t their IT department do anything right?

*ring*

Hello? Yea, this is Bob again. My computer doesn’t seem to have the Internet…
What do I mean by that? I mean there’s no Internet thingy on my screen to click and open the Internet.

What’s that? Yes, there’s an icon that looks like a big E. Ok, I’m double-clicking it. There it is! Cool, thanks. Bye!

Strange, my computer at home the icon is very clearly marked A-O-L. These guys are really not that technical.

Now it’s time to check out the tools I will use to do my job. I should look at Excel….hmmmmm
No Excel

*ring*

Yea, this is Bob. How am I supposed to do my job without Excel installed on my computer? Can you send someone to my desk to get this resolved? I also need to get rid of the login screen. What’s that? Hold on….yea, Start, Programs…ok, I see one for Excel. I have to get to it this way? On my home computer there’s a icon doo-dad on my desktop. Never mind, I’ll just use it like this. I gotta run, it’s lunch time. Bye.

*co-worker comes to desk and asks how the day has been so far*

For a technology company, your IT department doesn’t seem to have it’s act together. I guess I’ll have to show them a few things. Where you wanna eat?

Yea, that would be sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

Now I know my ABC’s

In my line of work, the need for a phonetic alphabet comes up rather frequently. You know, when you’re trying to tell someone how to spell something.

You hear it used in emergency radio and ham radio communications all the time.

Standardized Phonetic Alphabet

A

ALFA

M

MIKE

Y

YANKEE

B

BRAVO

N

NOVEMBER

Z

ZULU

C

CHARLIE

O

OSCAR

1

ONE

D

DELTA

P

PAPA (PA-PA’)

2

TWO

E

ECHO

Q

QUEBEC (KAY-BEK’)

3

THREE (TREE)

F

FOXTROT

R

ROMEO

4

FOUR

G

GOLF

S

SIERRA

5

FIVE (FIFE)

H

HOTEL

T

TANGO

6

SIX

I

INDIA

U

UNIFORM

7

SEVEN

J

JULIETT

V

VICTOR

8

EIGHT

K

KILO

W

WHISKEY

9

NINE (NINER)

L

LIMA

X

X-RAY

0

ZERO

During the show last week, as I was trying to impart a web address to a caller, I was struggling with one of the letters. I always get confused with N and Q for some reason.

After the caller disconnected I mentioned on air that there should be a geek version of the phonetic alphabet. Makes total sense to me. G as in Google and so forth.

We tossed around a few ideas on the air and then my co-host Barrett threw it out to our guests in IRC and hammered out version 1.01

Geek Phonetic Alphabet

A

APPLE

M

MICROSOFT

Y

YAHOO

B

BOOTDISK

N

NEWBIE

Z

ZAXXON

C

CAFFEINE

O

OBSOLETE

1

ONE

D

DONGLE

P

PRINTER

2

TWO

E

ERROR

Q

QUICKTIME

3

THREE (TREE)

F

FREEWARE

R

REBOOT

4

FOUR

G

GOOGLE

S

SERIAL

5

FIVE (FIFE)

H

H4x0R

T

TOOLBAR

6

SIX

I

INDIA

U

UNIX

7

SEVEN

J

JOYSTICK

V

VIRUS

8

EIGHT

K

KILOBYTE

W

WEBCAM

9

NINE (NINER)

L

LINUX

X

XMODEM

0

ZERO

This is still in development. We changed Y from YMODEM to YAHOO on the air last night, per a brilliant suggestion from Dwight Silverman, so I guess this is technically Version 1.01 rev A

Barrett goes into a bit more detail on his Geekspeak Bog over at the Chronicle website.

New camera

I have finally taken the plunge and purchased a digital SLR. I decided on the Sony Alpha DSLR-A100. It was a toss up between this and the Nikon D80 which is slated to be released later this month.

It shoots at an impressive 10 mega-pixels and is extremely feature rich and so far, has proven very easy to use. I purchased the kit that includes a 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. For the extra $100 it’s a great backup lens and is rather versatile.

Wanting a faster zoom lens I added a Tamron AF 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di. This adds even greater flexibility when shooting the style of pics I tend to go after.

The main reasons I went with the Sony are the built in image stabilization and the anti-dust technology. To get image stabilization in the Nikon cameras you have to purchase lenses with that capability and that alone doubles the cost of any decent piece of glass.

For the price point this camera is pretty unbelievable and I think it will suite my needs for some time to come.

I took it for a test spin last night and was pleased with the results.

Patch Tuesday

So Dwight Silverman spotted this shirt on Todd Bishop’s Microsoft Blog, specifically in this post.

It’s very funny on many levels, but mostly in that mega-dorky geeky way that not everyone gets so I find myself chuckling quietly to myself.

Through a bit a finagling he was able to acquire two, one for himself and one for me. How very thoughtful, Dwight! And THANKS!

To better understand why this is funny you have to know what Patch Tuesday is.

If you don’t get it, don’t fret. It just means that you are probably much more socially well adjusted than I am and that’s a good thing.

Microsoft’s next killer app

The potential of Microsoft Live Labs Photosysnth is mind boggling.

From Live Labs:

Photosynth takes a large collection of photos of a place or object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed 3-Dimensional space. With Photosynth you can:

walk or fly through a scene to see photos from any angle;
seamlessly zoom in or out of a photograph even if it’s gigapixels in size;
see where pictures were taken in relation to one another;
find similar photos to the one you’re currently viewing;
explore a custom tour or see where you’ve been; or
send a collection to a friend.

Check out the video tour that shows the basic concept.

Can you just imagine merging this with something like Google Earth?