Photo Management – 2017

As a quasi-serious photographer, I have at multiple times posted about the trials and tribulations of photo management, here, here, and here as I struggled with the zigging and zagging that Apple has done on native photo management on OSX. The net result was me going all in on Adobe Lightroom that I got as part of my Photographers Bundle from Adobe. It is an amazingly powerful package with many built in capabilities that are immensely useful, and it got me completely out of the iPhotos/Aperture/Photos morass.

I also did a little diversion into the Google world with the now defunct Picasa, shudder no, Google photos is not a product that I am willing to use. They already can mine too much of my data, no need to add a couple hundred gigabytes of personal information, thankyouverymuch.

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The Lawn

For the first time in my life, I have a house with a yard that I take care of, or, more importantly that I care about. Something about a $700K house.

One of the factors in our selection of this house was a safe, sane yard for our dogs, at the time an epileptic greyhound, and his older brother, a well aged greyhound. The small back yard had a pretty decent piece of grass, my lawn, and I have put effort into keeping it nice.

The first challenge was the west end of the yard, it is perpetually in shade, and when it rains (which happened a lot the last year), it never dries out, grass didn’t get enough sunlight to grow, and it was almost a permanent bog. Continue reading →

Back in the Saddle

The downside of working full time again is the dearth of time to exercise. Little over a year ago, spending some down time between jobs, I was able to get out for lengthy exercise sessions every day. That included typically 3 bicycle rides a week, often up to 30 miles at a through. Alas, that freedom to get out and pound the pavement was severely curtailed with a regular job.

I still did get out on the weekends to walk and hike, but the bicycles have remained (mostly) parked in the garage. Earlier this spring I did get out a few times, but ouch, the acclimatization of my derrière to the saddle was punishing, so apart from isolated rides, they remained hung up in the garage. Continue reading →

More VTA Observations

Schedules

Capital of Silicon Valley? Perhaps. But on April 10th, the VTA changed the schedules of the buses and light rail trains. Here we are, two and a half weeks later, and they still haen’t posted updated schedules at their stops.

How freaking hard is it to print 50 or so posters of the new schedule, and get them posted? Seriously.

And the changes? They moved the times ahead 3 – 5 minutes. That means that I need to leave my house no later 6:30AM if I am to make 8:00AM calls in the office. Sigh.

Maintenance

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Music, on Vinyl, and cheap sleeves

I am going to admit that I am mostly streaming my music (and I pay for Apple Music and Pandora), so when I come across something I really like, I go out of my way to buy it.

Being an old fart, and having inherited a decent stereo with turntable when my Father in-law passed, I try to buy on vinyl. I know that it isn’t as crisp as a good digital copy, and that in a blind hearing, I probably can’t tell the difference, but I don’t care. I like the tactile feeling of pulling an LP down from the shelf, removing it, putting it on the turntable, using the Discwasher to remove the dust, blowing the dust off the stylus, and dropping the needle on the disc. Continue reading →

Fun and games – Cloudflare and SSH

As I mentioned in a recent post, one of my sites, a WordPress site to help a friend sell their house, got hammered with xml-rpc requests. It didn’t get hacked, but it did bring apache to a painful halt, and filled the memory.

To prevent that, I setup Cloudflare in front of it, to act as a CDN and a way to prevent it from being attacked. Thus, in the future, I should be able to regain control without too much pain and suffering.

However, I discovered one minor issue. Since I pretty much use ssh to login to the droplet almost daily, I quickly discovered that just didn’t work.

At first, I was scratching my head, thinking that I messed something up majorly. Then I recalled that I had switched to Cloudflare for my DNS and CDN, and it clicked. Alas, how they work is they hide your IP address, and then use the magic of their service to serve up your cracking good jams.

Unfortunately, the ssh request gets routed to the wrong ip address, and naturally, no response.

Not being able to ssh into my server is a really bad thing. But how to work around it?

First I tried to set a local hosts file to override the DNS, but that didn’t work. Bummer.

Second, I can ssh if I use the dotted quad IP address. It works, but, I am too old to remember that many dotted quads.

Third, and the one that I am using is to create a cname that points a prefix to the original address (in this case, I am using ssh so ssh.tralfaz.org will point to the TLD, and then I turn off the cloudflare redirect. Not optimal, but it works. It does leave me somewhat vulnerable, but alas, not many attack vectors happen to the subdomains.

Photography

About a month ago, I posted about how I was finally cutting the cord, and moving all my serious pictures out of the Apple Photos application. It was just too constricting, and while their “Pro” app for photographers, Aperture was great, they have abandoned it.

I began seriously using Adobe Bridge which was free (as in beer) and worked pretty well as a lightweight photo manager. But it’s major flaw was that the importer really didn’t handle RAW files gracefully (the version I had, CS6, wouldn’t preview the .CR2 files from my camera, so I couldn’t do any pre-sorting. Lame.)

SO, it is back to Lightroom, a more feature rich Adobe product, that integrates well with Photoshop, and offers many capabilities. A bit overkill for a hobbyist like me, but its importing tool is incredible.

Now, I am going through my images, re-organizing them, and selectively editing them. If you follow me on Facebook, look at my photo albums for some of the results.

One thing I was turned on to are a set of filters from Topaz Labs, plugins for Photoshop, that give you some insanely cool effects for your pictures. I have to thank an old friend Inge Fernau, for this addiction. I will write about them in future posts, but to summarize them, they are plugins for photoshop with presets (and other manual controls) that give a huge variety of really incredible effects.

Here is a gallery of images that I have processed.

Some Apple Grumbling

After yesterday’s post, and one a few weeks back about the aging of my laptop, and how battery life seems to be on the wane, I had a bit of a love-hate thing going with my trusty MacBook Air.

When I got it, I easily (and I mean really easily) got 12+ hours of normal use on a charge. Often a few days between needing to hook it to the charger.

But with Yosemite, the full disk encryption seemed to take a toll. Still for the added security, I was satisfied. Then El Capitan came, and battery life turned to absolute shit. 4 hours on a charge, watching the battery percentage drop like a late 1960’s Chrysler Newport wagon’s gas gauge on the freeway was no fun.

However, from opening the activity monitor, I noticed that there were two services that were sucking YUUUUUGE amounts of CPU cycles and battery.

Googling them lead me to an odd culprit. If you are syncing your contacts with Google Apps accounts (and I was), that often these two services would run rampant, and soak your battery. Disabling the sync from Google Apps, and boom, I am back to a reasonable run rate.

2 hours of use, writing blogs, and the like, and I am still at 93%. Not bad for a laptop nearing 3 years old.

Not sure if this is an apple problem, or a google problem, but at least I got my battery life back.

Sad Days

As anyone who knows me in real life knows, I have rescued Greyhounds. I have donated a lot of time and money to the southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption org, and ran their website for a few years.

Last Tuesday, we had to put one of our greys to sleep. He had long suffered from seizures, big, scary grand-mal epileptic seizures that had been increasing in both frequency, and in numbers (clustering).

While we knew the end would come, and that the decision was inevitable, it still hurts to lose one of your fur kids.

I am not as sad as when we lost his predecessor, Oliver, whose osteosarcoma was sudden, and aggressive. We have known for a long time that with Tate, our job was to weigh quality of life versus, the horrors of seizures.

I am using my other blog, Greytbros, to write a series of posts to remember the good times, and the joy that he brought us.

Having a seizure dog is a difficult course, and we are glad we could make his 5 years with us as enjoyable as possible. In the end, he passed peacefully, and while there is a huge Tate sized hole in my heart, I take comfort in remembering the good times.

Medium Format Camera

I have long been a bit of a photography bug for almost all my life. I started early in High School with a photography class, and have been a bit of a shutterbug since.

Mostly 35mm film and now digital, I always was envious of the medium format cameras.

About 10 years ago, when DSLR’s were booming, you could pick up a quality medium format camera for a song on E-Bay. A nice Hasselblad with a solid lens for less than $400. Yeah, that sweet of a deal.

Then it got stupid, with them running for nearly the same as when they were new. So I dropped the idea.

Recently though, the bug has bitten. Fortunately the renaissance of the prices has ebbed, and you can once again get a good solid camera for $400.

You can get a variety of film in 120 format, from good B&W to color and slide film, so that wouldn’t be an issue, and processing is still widely available from specialty shops.

Will I? I don’t know. But it is tempting. What I can be certain of is that I will not be buying a digital back. They seem to start at about $27K.

(My preference would be a Mamiya 645 with a waist lever viewfinder)