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Showing posts from 2009

The Catholic Position and George W. Bush Jr.

I recently received a comment on my post "Dance with the Devil." I had to reject the comment because the person tried to bring up the subject of George W. Bush Jr. and how he wasn't really pro-life, abortion went up during his presidency, he approved torture, Pope John Paul II condemned the Iraqi war, etc., etc. It's all the stereotypical objections I hear from Obama's supporters. Even though my post had nothing to do with Bush, this person couldn't help but take the opportunity to condemn the Bush administration.
However, I would still like to post a reply to his comments because he listed sound bytes as if they were facts. It's easy to take sound bytes as facts if they're listed very quickly in succession. So I'd like to respond to each criticism objectively with the facts:
He approved torture I take it this is a reference to waterboarding. Unfortunately, the definition has been expanded to include "extended interrogation techniques.&quo…

The Worst of the Best Years So Far . . .

As 2009 comes to an end, I think back on the year and a lyric from the Jonathan Coulton song "You Ruined Everything" comes to mind: "The worse of the best behind us." That's exactly how I feel about 2009, in a nutshell. 2009 has by far been the best year of my life so far and I can already see life will only get better from here.
To summarize my year, here are 2 lists (and 1 bonus list), one consisting of the bad events and one consisting of the good events in my life (for the record, since everything on the internet will be around indefinitely):
The Bad -Laid off from my job at Design Collaborative
The Good -Bought a house and moved in with the love of my life -Inherited a sweetheart of a dog -Found out Sophia was pregnant -Found Sophia a great car -Took and passed the Indiana professional engineering licensing test -Had my first real photography gigs
The Awesome -Celebrated 1 year of marriage with Sophia -Welcomed Cecilia Rose into the world

Quick Compact Camera Tips

I'm really enjoying using my new Canon powershotSX110 compact "superzoom" camera. The image quality is nowhere near as good as the Rebel T1i, but it's a great portable camera that I can take with me everywhere for any photographic opportunity that may pop up. Like the title of one of my favorite photography books says, the best camera is the one you have with you.
I have my compact camera settings dialed in so I can quickly pull out the camera and shoot at a moment's notice. I'm not afraid to dive into all the camera's options because I'm used to dealing with all the settings on the T1i. I'm also an engineer and a nerd, so complicated electronics don't scare me. But most people just aren't like that and usually use their camera on fully automatic because it takes too long to change camera settings. Even then, compact cameras can be slow to use.
If you'd like to speed up the operation of your compact camera, the following hints migh…

Subtle Differences Between DSLR's and Point-and-Shoots

I've purchased a new point and shoot camera: a canon powershotsx110is. I was getting frustrated with the lack of zoom range of my powershot 590is, so I decided to upgrade to canon's lowest "high end" point-and-shoot camera. A G11 would have been nice, or for that matter, one of the new micro 4/3 cameras, but I don't have the money right now to get one. And I don't need a powerful point-and-shoot anyway, just one that's small enough to be portable but has a zoom range that makes it flexible while still having manual controls. The sx110is fit the bill.
I was looking through some Flickr photos taken by users of the sx110is and there were some comments about the camera that I found interesting. A lot of the users said the sx110is was the closest camera they've come to having a DSLR. And others said they decided on the sx110is as an alternative to a DSLR.
I used to think this way. Before I got my Canon Rebel XT, I was considering a "super-zoom&qu…

What the Constitution REALLY Says, Pt. 1

Remember the Constitution? It's that document that created the nation I (and you) live in and it's a wonderful, divinely inspired document. Unfortunately, it has been abused and stomped on over the years and our nation presently finds itself in an identity crisis. What the USA used to stand for was true freedom as revealed in natural law. But now the USA is at the brink of becoming a socialist nation, slowly falling under ruler's law. One of the weapons liberals, socialists, and communists use to achieve this change is misinformation and ignorance . . . misinformation about what the Constitution and our founding fathers said and keeping the people ignorant of the true meaning and intentions of the Constitution and our founding fathers.

I (and I venture to guess most people) believe the founding fathers had the right idea about our nation. I believe the original intentions of the Constitution are what made (and make) this country great. And I, like so many people, for…

It's All About Control

I was talking with one of the owners of the guitar shop I teach at and we got onto the subject of photography because I gave him one of my business cards (acephtgrphy.shutterfly.com). He was still using his Nikon D60 in automatic mode and I was telling him he should read the manual and learn to use P mode. DSLR's are meant to be used in the more manual settings rather than the automatic settings. Here's a great website for all you DSLR owners who still use it in automatic mode:
http://www.photoaficionado.com/situationroom/manual.html

This started me thinking. With the prices of DSLR's constantly dropping and with more and more consumers able to buy them, the sheer photographic possibilities available to everyone have exponentially increased. Heck, I wouldn't have been able to afford a DSLR even 5 years ago, but now the cameras, lenses, and equipment are at a very reasonable price. So this makes me ask the question: why are there still so many people who aren't …

The Beat Goes On

I've started taking piano lessons from my mother-in-law and I'm looking forward to improving my piano-tickling skills. But she told me something interesting, and that is to NOT use a metronome. Being a bass player and a part of the rhythm section in numerous bands over the past 8 years, I found it strange that I should practice without some kind of beat. I enjoy music without a rhythm section and without a beat, don't get me wrong. I just found it interesting that she made it a point not to use the metronome.

And I also found it interesting that there is so much controversy over using a metronome. I won't bore you with what I've found, just Google "metronome" for yourself. There seems to be a lot of people out there, both past and present, that really hate the metronome. Why? What's the big deal with something that gives you a beat?

I think a musician's view of the metronome must be colored by the type of music they play. Classical music do…

It's All About the Sound

I've been teaching guitar lessons at a guitar shop for about a month now and it's been a great experience. Teaching students really tries your patience, but it's also very rewarding to see them learn and figure things out.
But this post isn't about teaching, it's about the guitar. I play a Yamaha FG-332-1 acoustic guitar in the lessons I'm currently teaching. It's a wonderful sounding guitar and it was my dad's before. It has a nice full, round sound and the action is a bit high, but I play bass normally, so the action isn't really that high to me. The shop where I teach guitar sells Chinese made guitars and I won't tell you how much they are, but let's just say that they're less than big name brand guitars. A LOT less. And the sound quality of the guitars? Let's just say that they're worth the price that the shop owner pays for them, NOT the cost that he sells them (which is almost 10 times what he pays for them).
What rea…

Ten Traits of Modern Technology Not to Hate

My mother-in-law gave me the article Ten Traits of Modern Technology I Hate by Michael J. Rayes and I read it mostly out of curiosity. Here's a link to the article. While I agree with some points in Mr. Rayes's article, I disagree with many of them. I'm probably about 10 years younger than Mr. Rayes (judging from his website and short biography) and I grew up at the tail end of Generation X. Although Mr. Rayes is well versed in technology, I believe I have a different, more positive view of technology because I grew up with it as an integral part of my life in the consumer sense.
So, without further ado, here are my 10 responses to Mr. Rayes's Ten Traits:
10. Technology has always created an "artificial" generation gap
Every generation in the 20th century has had some kind of technology that separates generations. When the car was invented, I'm sure the grandparents and parents who were used to horse-and-buggies had no clue how to drive them. Were thei…

Using Your Side Mirrors Correctly

I was driving to my mom's place yesterday and saw an accident almost happen. I was on a 4 lane road and was in the left lane on my side when the person in front of me decided to switch to the right lane. However, there was a car in the right lane about a car length behind, but the car in front of me didn't see it and started switching. Fortunately, that car that was in the right lane honked their horn and the car in front of me swerved back to their lane. It was pretty obvious the car in front of me couldn't see the other car because it was in their blind spot.

This made me think, how could this situation be avoided? There are all kinds of things you can do, including actually turning your head to check the lane or buying some supplemental wide angle mirrors you can stick on you side mirrors. But there's one solution I found that eliminates the blind spot forever: adjust the side mirrors.

For the past 5 years I've had my side mirrors adjusted as described by th…

Free Stuff

Buying or getting a new computer is great, and it's even better if you get it at an incredible deal. But the deal can quickly be ruined by one thing, and that's software. Yes, software usually comes with a computer and it's necessary to make the computer useful. But, depending on what software you need, things can quickly get very expensive very quickly. If you plan on doing music recording or movie editing and you don't want to get an Apple Mac, be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on software alone. And we all know Microsoft Office is the standard in productivity software, but it also costs an arm and a leg.

I've set up quite a few computers for friends, for my mom, and I've set up virtual machines on my Mac, all needing software to meet various needs. Thankfully, there are a lot of free software alternatives our there that can meet most, if not all, of the average user's needs. Here's my list of software I think will give most users all the…

Pointing and Shooting

Image
I love my DSLR, which is a Canon EOS Rebel XT. It is the reason I've become an amateur photographer. But I also really enjoy using my smaller point-and-shoot camera, which is a Canon Powershot A590IS. The Powershot is not as fast or as flexible as the Rebel, but it has some
real advantages over the Rebel. Namely, the Powershot is portable and light.The technical picture quality from the Powershot is not as high as the Rebel, which isn't surprising. But great pictures are still possible with the Powershot and with any small point-and-shoot camera. Here is a list of things you can do to greatly improve the photos from any
point-and-shoot camera (with examples):1. Don't use automatic mode. Automatic mode will only provide good pictures in lots of light and all the pictures will look the same. Instead, use the "scene" modes, which use camera settings optimal for the situation or environment. Use portrait mode if you're taking pictures of people…

Windows 7 is Impressive

Yesterday, I finished installing Windows 7 on my mom's computer. I upgraded my Macbook Pro with a SSD drive, so I took the old HDD, bought a 3.5" HDD enclosure adapter, and threw it in my mom's Dell Dimension E510 desktop computer with the intention of installing the Windows 7 RC on it. I'm very impressed with Windows 7 RC on my mom's desktop. Before I get into my list of observations, here's a short list of the E510 specs:

-CPU: Intel Pentium D 2.80 GHz
-RAM: 2.5 GB
-HDD: 2.5", 120 GB, 5400 RPM
-old HDD: 3.5", 80 GB, 7200 RPM
-wireless network adapter: Netgear
-Monitors: (1) 15", 4:3 ratio Dell connected via VGA and (1) 17", widescreen Dell connected via VGA to DVI port using adapter
-Keyboard and mouse: wireless Logitech set with Dell label
-Printer: Canon Pro9000
-Scanner: Epson
-And various USB devices (muli-card reader, 30 GB external HDD, etc.)

As you can see from the specs, my mom's computer isn't the most powerful out there, but it&…

So You Think You Can Sing

I've never liked American Idol. Being an instrumentlist and trained in jazz, it's pretty much the opposite of what I like in music. Don't get me wrong, I like really good singers, and I've learned a lot about singing from my wife (she's classically trained). But to me, American Idol feels too much like overblown karaoke.


But I DO really like So You Think You Can Dance. I grew up doing Filipino folk dances and had lots of fun learning ballroom dances from my parents, so I have an appreciation for great dancers.
From what I observe on So You Think, the bar of excellence is much higher on that show in relation to Idol. If Idol adopted the following approaches (maybe it does already, but I haven't watched in months), I would definitely be more interested in watching:

1. Make the singers learn original songs. The dancers on So You Think have to learn new choreography in different styles and have to perform the choreography with very little practice. Even if Id…

First Impression of Windows 7

I listen to Leo Laporte on the TWiT netcast network and lately he's been raving about Windows 7, so I decided to give it a test drive. I use VMWare Fusion my my Mac to run Windows XP, so it was a natural choice to try running the Windows 7 Release Candidate in a virtual machine. Fortunately, VMWare had a tutorial on their website on how to accomplish this, so I downloaded the 64-bit Windows 7 ISO, installed it in a virtual machine, an presto, I've got Windows 7 RC on my Mac. Following are my first impressions of the operating system.1. Windows 7 feels snappier than XP. The fact that I'm using 64-bit Windows 7 compared to 32-bit Windows XP might be a factor in this. And I assume Windows 7 is better able to take advantage of the Mac's Core2Duo processor compared to XP. Whatever the factors are, it's really nice to see Microsoft improve the speed of Windows dramatically from Vista.2. Windows 7 retains the same control panel structure as Vista. I don't use…

How My Wife Uses Our Netbook

My wife and I have 2 computers in our household: a Macbook Pro 2nd gen. and an Asus Eee PC 4G. Both of us also have iPod Touches, which I consider mini computers. I wasn't sure how the Eee PC would be used when we moved into our house. The Macbook Pro is a lot more powerful, has a bigger screen, and functions as our desktop computer replacement. And we can check our email, surf the internet, and install all kinds of applications on our iPod Touches. So where did that leave the Eee PC 4G?My wife came up with an answer: use it as our 1st floor computer in the kitchen, living room, and dining room. The Macbook Pro usually resides in our basement where my home studio gear is and the iPod Touches are convenient, but can be cumbersome to type on (the virtual keyboard is awesome and Apple did an outstanding job with the predictive correcton, but nothing beats the speed of a full QWERTY keyboard on a laptop). So here's a list of the ways we use the Eee PC 4G, which can be easil…

Why I Use a Mac

I got my Macbook Pro 2nd gen. about 2 years ago and I'm still loving it. I recently upgraded the hard drive to a Corsair solid-state drive and it's pretty awesome to have programs launch in less than 1 second. But this blog article isn't about a new hard drive, it's about why I use a Mac and why I still use a Mac (and will probably be using Macs from this point on).I get a kick out of the newest Microsoft "laptop hunter" commercials and I also get a kick out of the Mac vs. PC commercials. Both are equally biased and both bend the facts in favor of the respective companies agenda. But, as far fetched as they tend to be, I notice both Windows users and Mac users repeating the same "facts" in their discussions of which platform is better. Truth be told, each platform has its advantages and I'm not going to even try addressing the differences. Computers are indeed personal and I wanted to give the reasons why the Mac is the right platform fo…

Dance with the Devil

I just watched both Fr. Jenkins and President Obama's speeches at the Notre Dame University commencement. I'm not surprised by anything Obama said, who basically advocated "dialogue" by forgetting about our differences, which include our religious beliefs. He addressed the abortion issue by basically sidestepping the moral question and appealing to people's emotions, which the audience ate up. It's no suprise that Obama won't lift a finger to stop abortion (and no, reducing abortion is not the same thing as making it illegal).

What really disturbed my was Fr. Jenkin's stance. I knew he was a lightweight when it came to standing ground for Catholic teachings, which include the Magisterium and the USCCB, but what he said in his speech basically amounts to "dancing with the devil." Fr. Jenkins really believed that having Obama come over would help open up the president's heart to the Catholic position. This is all well and good, but wh…

Trying IE8 and Going Back to IE7

I downloaded the new Internet Explorer 8 last 2 weeks ago when it first came out so I could see what all the fuss was about. I had heard mixed review about IE8 and wanted to see for myself how it ran on my work desktop (3.2GHz P4 with 3 GB of RAM, Windows XP SP 3).Basically, here was my experience with IE8: it was slow and kept crashing. Truth be told, IE7 crashed on a daily basis for me and I was hoping IE8 would resolve this, but it didn't. IE8 was not only slower, but it slowed down my computer in general and crashed more often than
IE7. I don't know what it does to the underpinning of Windows, but I noticed the graphical speed of Windows slowed down noticeably after installing IE8. What I mean by graphical speed is the minimizing, maximizing, and switching of windows, refreshing of the desktop, and
other graphical animations of Windows.Did I mention IE8 crashes more often then IE7? This is not necessarily an IE8 problem, but more of a compatibility problem. The compan…