Megan is awesome.

I'm here on the overnight, and Megan is with me, using the iMac (which I've color calibrated pretty well using the built-in utility) and I'm thinking about what to put in my blog. In addition to speaking over Google Talk with Kevin from Washington, and putting off reading my book for HIS102.

When I asked what to write for my blog, Megan suggested I write about how awesome she is. So, for a bit of a change of pace, this post is approximately 73% dedicated to how awesome Megan is. (If I were to include more sidenotes, insignificant details or exposition about the situation, the number would've been something like 67%.)

Basically, Megan is awesome. :)

That's pretty much it. I don't have screenshots or anything prepared like I did for my post about how Vista is awesome. "oops."


Return to Overnights

Well folks, it's finally happened. I'm working another overnight! It feels like it's been a month or so since I've worked one, and I've got to say, I've missed it tremendously. There's nothing quite like sitting here in the lab, half-asleep, playing Trainz 2006 on the iMac, then switching back to OS X to make a youtube video. (I'd put in a whole paragraph about how awesome I think it is I'm being paid for this, but I think my supervisors might see this. I'll probably give Eric the link to it when I send him my report e-mail.)

I've got to admit, not only did I play around in Trainz then iMovie, the overnight affords a really interesting cross between homework and play. I started reading the book for History 102, "This Earth of Mankind" which I intend to continue reading as this shift progresses, and finish reading tomorrow and on tomorrow's shift.

I'm bringing the iMac tomorrow too, or rather, I might just leave it here at the helpdesk. I hear a rumor that Megan is coming in tomorrow and we're working on the photos of her images using the iMac's almost-properly color calibrated screen.

On the note of color calibration, I did go ahead and order an X-Rite whatever it was called through the MAC On Campus pro deal thing for photo majors. My intent is to use it on the ThinkPad, the iMac, along with probably the helpdesk machines and Megan's laptop. I love color accuracy!

It's also worth noting that I went back and looked at one or two of my old videos. There's one from when I started working at the helpdesk that, when I look at it now, seems really hilarious. Basically, I can sum it up by saying that I was rather unhappy about Office 2007.

I'll make my close of this entry with an interesting observation. It's after spring break. Like, there's only a few more weeks left in the whole school year. And yet, there are still people forgetting their NAU ID cards when they come to the lab at 5 a.m. Not cool. I think I'm going to use Meaghan's "when you signed up to be an NAU student, you agreed to the terms in the student handbook, which say you can get in trouble if you aren't carrying your ID card at all times" speech on the next person.


Windows NT 4.0

I'm writing this post for my blog to inform my readers, who may or may not care, that I've got the ThinkPad A21m booting and running Windows NT 4.0. If you heard about the project for this Pentium III machine running at 700MHz a few weeks ago, you'll know that I almost completely gave up. The main struggle was that everything was running perfectly with the exception of the Ethernet in the machine.

I was able to get the ethernet driver installed using a little bit of a trick. I installed the driver for an NT4 supported card so as to get the networking stack running. I then installed the Lenovo ethernet driver, and from there, I removed the driver for the card I didn't have. I'd say that it was a fairly clever ploy and that it worked fairly well.

Right now I'm in the process of installing Internet Explorer updates, after which I'm going to go through and install all of the drivers, the power saving utilities, and the Lenovo documentation. I've also got Visual Basic 6, and I'm pretty excited to say that I want to get Office 97 rolling on here.

Overall, I'm pretty excited about the machine. This is going to be one of the highest end machines I've ever had running NT4, and it's going to be running it in the most complete way I've ever used NT4. Add to that, it's in a convenient foldable slab format that I can take with me to the helpdesk, or wherever else I want to have NT4 with me.

Another thing I'm (quite oddly) looking forward to is playing with Visual Basic 6 again. It's been a very long time (gee, it was like tenth or eleventh grade I last used VB6) since I've used Visual Basic and I'd like to see if I still remember anything at all about it. If I do, I might like to write a few little applications, and who knows, maybe I'll put them online for other people to take a look at.


Campus Wireless.

I'm not going to lie. In this school year, I have become increasingly more reliant on my mobile computer, be it the old-but-good-for-writing IBM ThinkPad 760cd, or the "old and busted but still works once I get a new power adapter for it PowerBook G3" or even my nearly brand new Lenovo ThinkPad R61i.

It doesn't really matter for what I'm doing during the day, just taking notes and doing the occasional pixel pushing with the ThinkPad in my spare time, not that I really have very much spare time while I'm walking around and in classes.

One thing I've noticed though is that finally the wireless in the Biology and Communication buildings finally work. Wireless was just installed by ITS in the Comm building right before spring break, and I've finally figured out how the new wireless system works. It's convenient for getting onto Vista or checking webmail, but it's not convenient for checking e-mail with thunderbird or chatting, which is what I've got a tendency to do during classes. It's also worth noting that the wireless works very well on my overnights, in the business building, and in the student union.

Oddly enough, one of my favorite places to be on the Internet is in the Gabaldon laundry room, and wireless still doesn't work very well in there. I think I'm simply going to reallocate that time to "photo tagging" so I can actually start powering through my photography keywording project.

It works better than it has before, and almost any time during the day I can be online writing my blog or wasting time in IRC. I'm almost chatting in IRC as often during classes as I am during work. "oops."


CIS120 Lab Aide?

Yesterday, I rocked the PowerPoint exam. I rocked it pretty hard, and when I was done after less than half an hour, my instructor made it a point to let me know that I was doing well in the class. He continued the conversation by letting me know that there would be nineteen or so sections of CIS120 next semester. He then asked me if I'd be interested in being a lab aide for CIS120 next semester.

I think it would definitely be an interesting thing to try out, I know no details of the opportunity yet, nor do I know whether or not I'll accept the offer. My main concern is pay and compensation, and exactly what's involved in the position. I'm also really considering how many hours I'd want to work at the CBA and how many hours I'd want at the helpdesk. I'm thinking that I don't want to make CIS120 lab aide my primary profession, but I would definitely like the opportunity to try it out, and spend a bit more time in the CBA.


New Yellow Bikes

new yellow bikeAs recently as Sunday evening, there are about fifty new yellow bikes on NAU's campus. They're all brand new, registered with the City of Flagstaff, and they've got some warning text on them explaining the program and providing a disclaimer. On Sunday evening and Monday morning, they were littered all over campus, but sure enough, I'm sure they're now all concentrated in one or two of the most popular destinations. The unfortunate thing is that there probably isn't some sort of committee whose job it might be to spread them back out.

It was cool today seeing people ride them around, although I've already seen a few with a few loose pieces, one with limp handlebars and one with a seat that wouldn't stay up. I wonder if there's some kind of team or group on campus whose job it will be to manage the fleet of yellow bikes. Pulling a few (the ones in worst condition) out at a time to give them some loving isn't a bad idea, and having everything maintained would boost morale and the reputation of the program I bet.


Reliability, Nikon D300

I write about reliability far too often. It's sad but true, for some reason, the products I use seem to be horribly horribly unreliable. The iMac since getting it in December 2006 has been in twice, once to have it's motherboard, optical drive and hard disc replace, and once to just have its hard disc replaced. Most recently, my new camera, the Nikon D300, which I purchased exactly one month ago today, has been having a weird little problem.

Specifically, when I make exposures under very specific conditions, the camera displays "ERR" in the viewfinder and on the top LCD. The particular conditions are "any ISO, any shutter speed, any F-number above the minimum for the lens." That might not mean anything to any of my readers, but I'll sum it up in a user-friendly way. "about 95% of all photographic situations."

So the other day I opened up a service ticket with Nikon's online knowledge base system. The response I got back earlier today was that I should try to charge the battery, and make sure I was using a supported memory card and lens. If those hints didn't help, that I was advised to go ahead and send in the camera.

So now I've printed out a repair form and shipping label, and all I need to do is find suitable packaging for the thing and send it in. With luck, that won't be too extraordinarily challenging, because I'm not actually too interested in sending the camera in, let alone finding my own packaging and paying my camera's way to Nikon's facility in El Segundo, CA.

Although, for the people who have told me about how the value of a repaired D300 outweighs the costs of getting it repaired (in my case, just the time without the D300 and the cost of shipping it) I'd like to mention that I've had the D50 nearly three full years without ever having a hiccup with it, and that the D50 was Nikon's cheap model a few years ago. So I don't think I should have to send my brand new camera into the manufacturer in order to be able to get use out of it.

Anyway, with luck and skill I'll have the D300 sent out by this time next week, hopefully to be able to get it back before going on my trip to Michigan this summer. It seems depressing to me that I should say something like "maybe in two months I'll have it back and it'll be useful" but I've never experienced Nikon's send-in service before, and from what I've read online in the past, there's a good chance that it's not as efficient and well-thought-out as AppleCare's send in service is. (in AppleCare, for a laptop, they mail you a box free, you put your product in and mail it back free, and they have your computer back to you in less than a week.)

And with that, this is the official opening of the Nikon category of my blog. Things pertaining specifically to Nikon, such as the rest of this saga, will be put into said category. It'll be epic.


Nature Sounds (video)

Today Jim and I heard some nature sounds from our room! I decided it would be cool to make a video about it.

Also Today I've been doing some of the bookkeeping and keeping up in general with my camera, that's been experiencing a weird problem at high F numbers like sixteen and twenty two. It worked fine last night when I only needed to go to F/4 once, (I was hanging out at 3.5 all night because it was, well, night.) So right now I"m charging the battery, which was one of Nikon's reccomended steps. I've alreayd done the two-button reset, and I'm afraid that if this continues even after I've fully recharged the battery, Nikon is going to have a quite unhappy Cory on their hands.

The iTunes/Safari Fiasco

Let me start this post by saying that my ThinkPad already has Safari installed anyway, so I really don't care if Apple pushes a Quicktime/iTunes/Safari update to my machine. In fact, I intend to go try out the new version of WinSafari pretty soon, because I really like it, save the fact that scrolling doesn't work with the TrackPoint.

So when I started hearing about how Apple is now "pushing" Safari on people who don't know not to uncheck the box, it gave me kind of a chuckle. A lot of people are saying it's wrong that Apple is distributing Safari like this, and that it borders on the practices of those distributing malware. Of course, I'll refrain from saying anything about the Windows Live applications that always want you to install more, more more, or the difficulty of installing any kind of Google product without getting Adobe Reader, RealPlayer and one or two other things with them.

The thing is that the apps affected by this updater on Windows are all actually part of the operating system on a Mac. Which is one of the reasons I suppose the updater is probably behaving that way. On the Mac, it's the default behavior to get you updates for apps that usually ship on the system or with the retail versions, even if you don't currently have them installed. I've seen iTunes come in on Software Update for a Mac that I chose not to install iTunes on. It's just one of the things Apple does.

In all reality, between typical Windows desktop clutter, and the fact that most people don't even know what's already on their computer, I doubt most normal people will notice this. All the people observant enough to know that there's a check box they can undo have already undone said check box.

It would be evil, however, if Apple were actually hijacking machines by setting Safari up as the default browser on people's machines, or changing Firefox/IE home pages to pages explaining about Safari.


Hanging out at work.

Meaghan and I did an awkward shift-trade thing today and I ended up with 7 hours from 2 to 9. Not too bad really, at least I didn't have to take the whole 9 hours with only 20 minutes notice.
I've been using the time to work on photo crap, and since all of my OS X install CDs are at the helpdesk for some reason, I took a moment to install iMovie '06 on my iMac.

So I made this video.



Internet Cultural: Top 8 Musical

Hey faithful readers. I know this is a bit late in the day, but it still counts!

Anyway, today Meaghan alerted me to the presence of a musical about MySpace. It's called "Top 8: The MySpace Musical." I've got to admit, I am somewhat embarrassed to be so into it. It's about MySpace, after all. But it's got a really good sound, very modern, a lot of piano. Let's just say I can't wait for the FaceBook musical.

I leave you with this thought from my favorite song. "What's one more friend to you?"


Great day!

Megan had the day off yesterday, so I asked Meaghan to take my shift for me, and Megan and I spent the whole day together. Let's just say, it was great.

We started the day with a great breakfast at IHOP, getting my hair cut, and some kite flying, then went back to my room to watch some Avatar episodes and have some other fun time.

We also installed the 32 gig CF card into her iPod. It's a big reduction in capacity from her 80 gig hdd, but it won't break if she accidentally drops it.

Overall, the day was completely epic, and despite being filled with so many things, it was very well paced because neither of us had to worry about being at work or in classes.


Windows Vista

win logo One of the things I encounter a lot at my job, and indeed, online, is a bit of a dislike for anything that isn't Windows XP. Many of the Freshman here at NAU who own computers that came with Windows Vista seem to have a fairly big aversion to it. I'm here to openly admit that not only does my main mobile computer run Windows Vista, but I really like Windows Vista.

Ouch. "like" and "Windows Vista" in the same sentence? Many, include some at the ACHD, will ask if it's true, and I'm here to say that basically, yes, it is possible.

Before anybody had the opportunity to try it for themselves, one of the biggest things people attacked was the hardware requirements Microsoft has put forth for Vista. I've included a handy little table showing Microsoft's minimum and recommended specs for XP and Vista.

  XP Vista
Release Date October 2001 January 2007
Minimum Processor 233MHz 800MHz
Recommended Proc 300MHz 1GHz
Minimum RAM 64MB 512MB
Recommended RAM 128MB 1GB
Minimum HDD 1.5GB 20GB, 15 free
Recommended HDD "more" 40GB, 15 free

The main observation I've got is that both sets of requirements are very modest. Most people fault Vista for running somewhat poorly on an 800MHz Pentium III computer, when they themselves would never have considered running Windows XP on a computer with a Pentium 233MHz processor.

I'll also admit that we at the ACHD did actually run Vista on an 800MHz PIII, with 512mb of memory and a 20 gig hard disc. Such a machine would've been just fine for Windows XP, having exceeded the requirements by so far. But it ran, and aside from the complete lack of a video driver, it even booted some apps, and would probably have been a pretty useful computer.

The current ACHD Vista Box is a 3.2GHz PIV with 1 gig of ram and an 80 gigabyte HDD. It's actually a really fast machine, as far as Vista is concerned. It launches the Office 2007 apps really quickly, and while they're open, it's all very usable. I would go as far as to say that it's a nicer system to use sometimes than my ThinkPad. (Although I think that's just because so few people actually do anything on the ACHD Vista Box, and I'm running around on a daily basis thrashing about on this ThinkPad.)

Of course, what's an OS without good apps? Vista has a bunch of them built in, and almost better than the built-in apps, are some of the interesting things I've found on Microsoft's website for Vista. (Although, some of them may not be Vista-specific.

wincal One of the tools I've been using in Vista has been Windows Calendar. I've been using it to keep track of what I post to my blog, and when I post it. When I was on the once-weekly schedule, I used it to plan what was coming up, and I kept track of what drafts I'd already written, and what drafts I needed to write.

iconsI've gathered the icons to some of the cool things Vista includes. Yes, Windows Media Player is nothing new, but it's better than Ruckus player. Yes, Mac OS X has long included a Calendar, a contact manager, a photo app and of course, Mail.app, but it's worth noting that these things are now part of Vista, and their combined functionality is nearly as good as that of Outlook.

Although, most of the reason for including a screenshot of a bunch of icons is just to demonstrate just how good Microsoft has been getting lately about value. Microsoft has even been working in the past few years on getting development tools to people for free, thus the "Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition." I didn't feel like downloading or using any of the other development tools. I've also been using Microsoft's free blog management tool, winlivewriterWindows Live Writer.  It's been working well for me since December, although I've got to admit I'm unhappy with Blogger's inability to let articles be posted in the future.

mycomputer Another thing I've noticed about Windows Vista is that it just brings a whole new level of refinement to the Windows platform. A great example of this is the new "My Computer" interface. It's overall just about the same as the old one, but I think the appearance of it is better. At the bottom of the window it shows basic information about your computer, including its name, the processor and how much memory it's got. hdd-capacityOn each local hard disc there's a capacity graph that lets you see at a glance the approximate status of your storage capacity, and a numeric output with details on exactly how much hard disc space you've got available. Such a thing, especially the color-coded graph, isn't available from the Mac OS X Desktop.

There are a lot of things about Windows Vista that I really like, and I use and enjoy on a regular basis. But quite honestly, I'm rather much too lazy to run around gather all of those screenshots. Maybe as I notice other things I've been using in Vista I'll gather more screenshots and post them.


Quiet Day

It's very quiet today at the helpdesk. I haven't gotten an actual call yet today (knock on wood) and a bit ago, the chatter of the full-time staff mysteriously stopped. I don't know whether it's relaxing, or creepy.

At any rate, I've just been here writing blog entries and working on some photography stuff. I'm getting some of the base adjustments on some of the additional images for my photo class, and finding other images I want to work on. I really should start working on rating and keywording some of the older images too. I can't wait to (whenever it finally happens) to just have that done.

So, I'm just hanging out here, writing blog posts and working on photography. I'll probably hang out here with Meaghan a bit when she comes for her shift later on. She's got some images on which to play Photoshop too.


Recognition of Encouragement

Recently, this blog received a comment. The comment was posted to an entry I wrote about trying to write a blog entry every day, and to which I attached a horrible horrible youtube video. I've got to admit I'm impressed that anyone would feel the need or desire to post a comment to such a post.

It's true! Someone posted a comment on my blog. I think this is the first one in 2008!But the important bit is that somebody did. Laurel, one of my supervisors at the Academic Computing Helpdesk, posted a comment reading "Good luck!" to the awful entry including a youtube video.

So this is my official recognition of the first comment my blog has received in a very long time, and I'd just like ot say, "Thank you, Laurel!"

Also worth noting, I do not support or condone Office Terrorism.

Nuclear Winter Will Never End

Let me begin by saying that I really admire people who actually find time to write on their blogs every single day. Even if it’s something small. I tried yesterday, to write and post something, but once I got to Peter Piper to start writing my blog entry, and Megan and I had finished lunch, they decided to let Megan go early, thus cutting my writing time short. (Although I’m very appreciative of the time spent with Megan.)
At any rate, today’s blog entry is about what I’m calling Nuclear Winter. Basically, it started snowing in November or December of last year, and it hasn’t stopped since. It was definitely cool for the first month or so, and the first cumulative foot of snow, but after awhile it really prevented me being able to or wanting to go out and do anything other than that which I was required to, like classes and work. I even went through a period this semester where I was eating significantly less because I was never willing to take a trip to the store to just get some food.
Luckily, Megan and I went to the store yesterday and I stocked up for spring break, but the fact that it’s snowed worries me for other reasons. My dad was supposed to come up for a visit sometime over this break, and if I have to say to him “oh, it’s just snowed last weekend” then he is unlikely to want to come visit.
The other bummer is that I wanted to get out and take some photos with the D300, but I’m not super comfortable walking around outside with it in the snow. Plus, I’ve got a lot of other unattractive snow pictures. I really just can’t wait for it to be July or August again. Flagstaff looks amazing at that time of year.


Thoughts on Labs

You might know that my job involves sitting around here in the South Learning Assitance Center quite often.  In addition to the fact that I really like to sit around here at the lab, I really like analyzing the setup, and tracking changes. So when in the past few days I started getting weird opportunities to see other computer labs on campus, I was naturally very excited to see how other departments set up their labs.

I'll start off by explaining that I work in an NAU ITS lab, which is considered to be the standard of labs here on campus. Residence hall labs are also on the same standard image as the machines. The whole system is set up to authenticate and load profile settings directly from dana, which is the definitive student file/mail/web server on campus, and which also happens to be a Solaris 8 box. The problem with the ITS lab image is that it's slow. 2.0GHz Core2Duo machines like our OptiPlex 745 machines feel slow and unresponsive when logging in, and I really do think the organization of everything on the lab image is rather atrocious. The ITS-Labs Macintosh computers are even worse.

The first lab I had the opportunity to see last Thursday was a lab in the art building. It's apparently a very highly gaurded secret, so I will probably receive a talking-to from my girlfriend (an art major) about this blog post, but suffice it to say that from the quick peek I got, it looked clean and well-maintained. There were two labs next to each other, one with Windows and one with Mac OS. The Windows lab was closed though, and the Mac lab appeared to have all Music keyboards. I don't know whether or not this lab authenticated directly from dana, or if it was like the Babbitt LLC described below.


Another lab with which I've had the opportunity to become a bit more familiar is the Language Learning Center in the Babbitt Academic Annex. The lab was very clean, I'd go as far as to say it was imMaculate (horrible horrible pun), and it was filled completely with well-running G5 iMacs. The system authenticates against the same NAU LDAP setup as the rest of the labs do, but I think it does its actual authentication against a server that resides in the Babbitt building. I think home folders on that system may be on the MODL server. I noticed my login was very quick, and the environment was set up in a very very clean way. The dock was filled with only the apps that were really relevant, and my dana samba share was right there on the desktop.

Upon login at the LLC lab, Safari immediately opened and displayed this rather-helpful wiki page. It isn't actually the most helpful thing ever, but the concept is great, and with a bit of work it could become the definitive way to educate self-starting users about what's available in the lab, and how to go about doing things. Also, I really like the OS X Server 10.5 start page, and the built-in wiki/blog/calendaring functions look really cool. I've got to admit, I wish I had a Leopard server hanging around.

There are two departments on campus, just that I know of, that stray completely from the NAU-STUDENTS\ domain and use their own completely Mac or Windows based solutions, which is cool because they are typically much more efficient, having been implemented on a much smaller scale. On the other hand, it makes supporting users from the W.A. Franke College of Business Administration and the School of Communication rather difficult, because we're unable to help them with their passwords, login procedures, or even in the case of the SoC, the exact name of their login account.

The W.A. Franke College of Business Administration uses a windows domain with a really long esoteric name that's super difficult to type in when you're attempting to connect to it from home. On the other hand, what I found out is that it all pretty much "just works" when you're in the actual building. The Sun Ray thin clients are awful, slow little pieces of hardware, but their 2.0GHz Core2Duo OptiPlex 755 systems in the labs are really fast little computers, and they've got a lean and efficient set of software (mostly Office 2007 and VisStudio 2005) installed. The systems are also left in an attractive default Windows Classic scheme, in contrast to the ugly custom colors used on the ITS Labs image.

The School of Comm, whose principal server is called Titan, has a pretty interesting (one-server) setup. It's very similar to the network I set up at Kingman High School last summer, but bigger and with more users. Like the FCBA network, it's fairly efficient and you can usually be logged in and examining files fairly quickly, although they've taken less care to actually transfer all of their students uids over properly, and unlike the IT department in the FCBA, the School of Comm's network is managed only by one person. Also, their datacenter is less impressive, with only three racks, each with only one or two pieces of equipment. For shame. For shame. (Two xserves, an xserve raid, one or two powermac G4s, and the EditShare server.)

It's definitely interesting to see the differences between massive labs like the one here in the S-LAC that has a lot of computers that run slowly, and the smaller school-specific labs that, despite having fewer staff members, always seem to be cleaner and run better. I wonder if it's an effect of the fact that the S-LAC is open twenty four hours daily, or the fact that ITS labs have so many employees, whereas some of the smaller labs are either unmanned, but maintained by their full time staff, or if the size of the computer facility even has something to do with it.

My guess is that it's a weird combination of all of the above. The SLAC is a great lab, but from what I can see, the staff aren't all that well connected, the fact that the lab runs 24/7 means that there's often not enough time to do maintenance or things like shuffling computers around, and I've noticed that the whole arrangement of the lab just isn't as attractive as some of the other labs on campus. The feeling I get from the S-LAC is that it's primarily "a room with computers in it," whereas from some of the other labs on campus, I get the 'workspace' feeling.

IMG_0041It makes a huge difference to have a defined area for your work station, where you can shuffle through papers and everything, and I notice so many people who use the S-LAC tend to head toward a certain computer depending upon what they want to do. I've noticed that it's not that big of a problem for a younger person who only needs to check their MySpace or Facebook to use one of the "line computers" as I call them, which are on the east side of the lab, where there's nowhere to spread papers out. Whereas people who are always working on big projects prefer the computers that sit on their own midsized desks, or the computers that are alone on the long tables (there are one or two like that.)

I also think that the design of the S-LAC gives people a certain attitude about its use. Because they think of the S-LAC as merely a room with computers, it doesn't matter so much to them that they leave trash around, or draw on the desks, because it's not so much their responsibility to keep everything looking nice, as it is with users of labs in individual colleges. Either that, or in the smaller labs, staff are responsible for picking up after the users on a regular basis, which I can tell you based on my experience with the overnight shift, does not happen at all here at the S-LAC.

I really do think it's possible for the S-LAC to be an even more top-notch lab than it already is. We've got great equipment, and the building really is a pretty good design as far as labs go, but I'm going to end this rather long post here. I may elaborate a little bit in the future though, on what changes I would make to the SLAC to turn it into a better work environment for students.


Video Blog Entry

Eric J. from work has been posting blog entries daily, and has been including snippets of video with his blog. Actually, it's apparently rather common at the helpdesk to participate in such shenanigans. I've personally, as you know, been shooting for once per week, but maybe what I'll try to do is post short entries daily, and big significant  posts once or twice per week, depending really upon how often big signficant post worthy thoughts come up.

So, look out for blog posts on a much more regular basis!


Horrible Horrible Disillusionment

The good news is that my PowerBook G3 isn't actually dead. It's just that my power adapter has died. The bad news is that even though my G3 is now once-again alive, I'm coming to the end of a horrible horrible disillusionment about the state of the Mac as a computing platform.

In short, especially with Windows Vista, there's almost no advantage any more to owning and using a Macintosh computer. Even for photographers, web designers, and graphic artists.

This is where in previous blog entries, I would've tried to reassure you by telling you I'm not thinking about switching to Windows. But the truth of the matter here is that I've already got a great mobile Windows computer, that happens to run Adobe Bridge better than my desktop Mac computer.

To better explain the situation, I've got to ruin my next blog post and let the world know that I've officially taken my photography workflow to Adobe Bridge. It's probably a permanent move, and I'm overall quite happy with it. Even poorly behaved Bridge is fairly productive, and I've already got the first group of four gigs worth of DNG images keyworded, and I have been working on the second group. The workflow in question provides a clear path toward archiving things on DVDs, and it's a cross-platform solution.

In order to take advantage of the cross-platform nature of the Bridge workflow, I recently "acquired" Photoshop CS3, and installed it on my ThinkPad R61i. When I loaded some images into Bridge and started keywording a more recent set, I was surprised at just how fast everything goes. I don't wait for application of metadata, or for keywords to show up on images, I just work through the set, rather quickly actually, and all of the keywords are applied. The program doesn't start behaving oddly, and it can keep going for hours.

What a gyp! on my iMac, Bridge starts behaving very poorly after only about twenty minutes of keywording, and the whole program becomes unstable while it builds caches, applies metadata, and does anything other than sit idly. (Actually, I've also experienced extremely unreliable idle sitting Bridge. That was fun.) To use a trite expression, and to add insult to injury, the PC I'm running Bridge on is a low end business laptop with a slow processor and a slow connection to the external hard disc. It's got one gig more ram than my iMac, but the Macs at the School of Comm also have that extra gig, and they're just as bad at Bridge as my home iMac.

I've also noticed that I've got almost zero other Mac-only software. I like iChat and Mail, but Pidgin and Thunderbird have been doing a great job on my Windows machine. I browse the Web with Firefox, even on my Mac, and the other things in my dock are either not needed on Windows, or are available on Windows easily (like the whole Creative Suite group.)

So... while I'm not about to run out and replace my iMac this week, I'm really going to be looking at Windows desktop PCs and workstations when it's time to buy my next computer. I'm also going to be looking really hard at the Windows version of Adobe CS4, when that comes out, because as it stands, I can run Windows software very easily on my existing Mac hardware.

Such disappointment.


Dating Photography

Yes, I know it's not timely. Ohwell.

As per a thread on the 68kMLA Forum about the total cost of owning a computer, I'm currently merely dating photography. In order to extend our relationship to marriage, I need to go and meet photography's parents: the darkroom. Not only, of course, have I been in the darkroom for nearly three years now, but I'm fairly certain that photography just doesn't care if I meet her parents. Also, I'm apparently not fit to even be allowed to view the 68kMLA forum, because of my affinity with things like "getting my schoolwork done" which can't be done on something with a 68k processor. Well, let me just say, rude newbies. I'm not worthy, really. Luckily though, Photography and I have talked it out and we're fairly comfortable with our open relationship, I'm also dating German, Megan, CIS, and History.


Photo Management.

This is "Part two of an unknown number of parts" in a series I'm calling "Cory talks about how he manages his images." In Part One, I described the history of the schemes I used to manage my photos, including some of the rationale behind each of my switches to a new management system.

I struggle with managing my images constantly. It seems like the photos I come out of my camera are always either receiving really esoteric naming schemes, or are being put into some trendy new piece of photo management software. On the other hand, images I download from the Internet, or are sent to me by people are stored haphazardly in an ill-conceived folder structure that tries to separate "pictures of friends" from "pictures of trains" and "pictures that are random."

My main problem with my personal photo collection at this point in time is the fact that it's poorly organized. Even when I find a great piece of organization/management/processing software such as Aperture, which is where my images are right now, I have problems with the actual tasks of applying metadata, coming up with a naming scheme, and deciding where in my library to put each image. It looks organized, but because I've got images from two or three different eras of management, and even a bunch of images that simply don't have good naming applied to them, it's difficult to decide where an image goes, or to find an image once I've put it in its place.

The answer, quite simply, is that I need to beef up my use of metadata and keywords. The thing I need to decide really quickly here, as I continue working on gathering even more images, is whether or not I want to continue using Aperture for my images, or if I want to look into other Mac-only programs, or switch to Adobe Bridge.

Enter Photography 382. This class is pretty amazing so far, the instructor is very energetic about the subject, and does a great job of explaining thing, which is awesome.  The focus of PHO382 is preparing digital image files for output, and the beginning of this is setting up a good workflow for acquiring, storing, backing up, and organizing digital images. The main tool for the class so far is Adobe Bridge CS3. We've been learning about batch renaming, applying metadata templates, and adding keywords to images. I expect we're going to continue learning various things about Bridge and picking things up about it as the semester progresses. So now, I just need to decide if I want to switch to it for managing my images, and when I want to do that.

I'll admit that Aperture isn't the best solution for everything I do, especially when my photos are considered, because Aperture lacks an equivalent on the Windows platform. I can't just copy my library or my folder structure out to a file server or onto a FAT32 disk and open it on a Windows computer, like the ones at work, or even my mobile computer. In addition, it's more difficult than it needs to be when I copy images from my mobile computer to my Mac, because the images are still in an unprocessed form, I have to apply my naming convention and do my organization when I get back home.

Another advantage of finding some other system by which I can organize my images is that I am not necessarily tied to the Mac as a platform. I love my Mac dearly, but I'm simply not sure if I'll ever buy another mobile Mac again, and I may not even buy another desktop Mac, depending on what Apple ends up doing in the next few years. Chances are very high that I'll have a Mac as my next desktop, but just in case, I like the idea that my option to switch to Windows is open. (In fact, I once needed to do just that, during my first semester at NAU my G3 PowerBook was always on its last leg, so I moved my then-Bridge-based collection of photos onto the Dell OptiPlex machines I'd gotten from surplus sales. The transition was really quite easy. Oddly enough, that Pentium III/933 machine got better SETI@Home scores than my 1GHz PowerBook G4 ever did.)

The main problem with having that multi-platform solution for image management, of course, is that I have no large-capacity storage areas that work with both Macs and PCs. FAT32 would almost be acceptable, except I doubt that a 750 gig fat32 drive is going to work too well. Add to that, I don't have Photoshop CS3 for Windows anyway. I may need to do research on software that lets Mac OS use NTFS drives, or software that lets Windows use HFS+ drives, because sharing drives tends to be a general problem for me, not only a photo management problem.

A big disadvantage I can see of using Bridge for my photo management is that it's not the best app ever for actually searching for things I need. Even the PHO382 instructor I have mentioned that he uses a piece of image cataloguing software, instead of only using  Bridge. I'm going to investigate this more as an opportunity for how I use Bridge (and maybe Aperture!) because I like the idea of having Bridge for setting up a lot of the metadata, naming, etc, as well as having Aperture if I want to search/catalog and do some of the things at which Aperture is great.

So I haven't actually made my decision yet, but there's a good possibility that I'm going to be moving my photo operations back to Bridge. Stay Tuned however, for Part 3 of the first-ever Strapped to a Desk multi-part series, on "how Cory manages his photos."