Experimenting with YouTube - Cape Cod Photos

Just to see how easy it is, I posted a video to YouTube that was made from some photos I took while I was on a work trip a few years back. It didn't use to be this easy. Really.

Oh, I did have the music 38 Special "Caught Up In You" as the background music, but upon uploading, YouTube politely (umm - no) let me know that was copyrighted material and suggested the tune that now backs the video.

November Ends With First Snowfall

A beautiful snowfall this morning ensured November would be known for something more than Thanksgiving this year. More pics at the link under the photo.

From November Snowfall


Pre Thanksgiving Dinner Photos from IU

Took the opportunity to arrive in Bloomington a little early and wandered around IU. There is much too much to see in a brief walk, so I'll likely return soon. There were very few people around since the students are out due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Here are a couple photos, more at the link.


A Positive Customer Service Experience with AT&T

Since all we see are complaints, I thought I'd provide a little balance by sharing something positive. My AT&T mobile phone bill has consistently been predictable, landing somewhere around $89. This morning I received the emailed "you have a new bill" notice and opened it to find a $9.99 charge from "m-Qube Inc." What? A quick Google search resulted in many entries showing unauthorized charges and complaints against this company. So I immediately knew this was not an isolated case.

I called the number in the "merchant contact" column on my bill next to this entry which turned out to be AT&T customer service. I explained I had an unauthorized charge on my bill. Very quickly, the agent let me know the charge would be credited, would not return (since it turned out it was a "subscription"), and the agent even added a feature to my account at no cost that requires a PIN be entered to approve any text-message based charges. Nice! The charge has been wiped out, not to return. This took about 2 minutes of my day this morning, less time than it took to write this post!


Hobby Revival: Photography

After learning how to shoot film on a Pentax K1000 back in the day, my passion for photography waned after a few years, supplanted by my profession as a video photog in the television news business. A couple of years ago I found myself in possession of a new-fangled digital SLR, the Canon Digital Rebel XT. I'm happy to say I have finally started to shoot some photographs in earnest.

My friend Dan and I took a special trip downtown on Saturday, visiting Robert's Photo for some supplies, then walking around the new Lucas Oil Stadium shooting photos along the route. Dan with his Nikon and myself with a Canon, we compared images later that day.

Then again Sunday, I walked up and down Zionsville's Main Street experimenting with my camera. Dare I say I'm enjoying it? Maybe stirring up a passion?


Cool Tech Stuff: Gmail Themes and Dropbox

Just noticed Google Gmail now has themes (find it under settings, themes). While I appreciate the uncluttered look of the traditional Gmail, I suppose there are many users who'd like to spice it up a bit. Those over 40 should show those under 40 the ASCII theme and reminisce about how we used to see our email (see screen shot at left). Wow, we've come a long way.

The second tech find I'm using is called Dropbox. Find it at www.getdropbox.com. Dropbox is an online storage / synchronizing service that is simple - it just works. They say "Dropbox is the easiest way to share and store your files online." I'm sure there is some heavy duty stuff going on behind the scenes, but the programmers have done an excellent job of making the customer interface very simple. 2GB free, 50GB for $99. I love the fact that you can access your files from any internet-connected computer. Also, sharing photos is very simple. See one of my galleries here. Cool stuff, right?

A Rebate For More Than Purchase Price

I just filled out and submitted at rebate form for a 4GB compact flash card I purchased. Do the math:

  • Purchase price including shipping was $69.84.
  • The rebate is $70.
  • Final price is -.16.
How does that work? Does the company "make it up in volume?" Are they trying to get rid of old stock? Is the card used or defective or "gray market?" I purchased the card since I needed more capacity in my digital camera (sample photo at right pulled from the new card - so it works fine).

All businesses need to make a profit to stay in business and while I'll take the rebate, I don't understand this offer.


Cold Day to Pour Hot Metal at the Indy Art Center

Take a look at the photo here. What type of people do you see? Factory workers? Auto workers hardened from years working in the foundry? Maybe workers from the railroad, experienced with sledge hammers and pick axes? Think again. They're artists. Yep - art students at the Indianapolis Art Center learning the centuries old process of heating metal to a fluid state until it's ready to pour in pre-made forms. I don't pretend to know every step of the process but these students have been working on their creations for weeks, designing and developing - using sand and epoxy mix to create the mold in which this heated bronze is poured.

These students are learning this process strictly from an art standpoint. I can't help but think of an automobile factory, creating cast-iron engine blocks using this same basic process (using iron of course). Where does this process come from? The Bronze Age? Fascinating learning experience. Once the metal is heated to about 2200 degrees Fahrenheit using this furnace, the container (there is a special name for this container - I forget) is lifted out and the metal is carefully poured into the molds. I have a bunch of photographs at this link, here are just a few:


I have absolutely no idea . . .

what I'm going to do this weekend. I left work at the normal time, walked into my house and put my bag down, changed my clothes and then stopped . . . and realized I have no plans, no appointments, no projects, nothing at all on my calendar. Excellent! That's my perfect weekend!

So let me think . . . tonight, CSI from TiVo; tomorrow I'll start with a workout on the elliptical followed by a check on whether the Art Center is actually going to hold their aluminum pour, then maybe poke around the garage a bit. I know, I'll wash out the floor of the garage prior to the winter muck season. Of course all the required chores must get done as well - laundry, groceries, etc.

Maybe this'll be the weekend I ready my accumulation of eBay worthy car parts, tech gadgets, old cell phones, etc. There, I've filled my weekend.


I didn't call you fat! Did I?

I've been reluctant to write about this or even recommend what I've found to my family and friends. Why? I don't want them to think I'm calling them fat.

I can describe my find with these words:

  • motivational
  • funny
  • interesting
  • inspirational
"Fat" has such a social stigma attached to it and Jennette Fulda has opened up and written about her struggles and victories. She simply puts it all out there in real terms, not afraid to talk about her flab in every way. I've read her blog over the past few days and have been reminded once again that anything is possible, you just have to find the right avenue and the right time. For the PastaQueen, blogging publicly kept her motivated through her weight loss and now she's getting attention for her efforts.

So no, I'm not calling you fat. Take a look at the PastaQueen blog, maybe you'll get inspired to do something good for yourself or others.


The joys of a new winter season observed.

I enjoy the change of seasons and do my best to celebrate appropriately. As the weather has changed over the past few days my instincts have led me to:

  • Stop at Starbucks for a Venti Hot Chocolate (yes with whipped cream).
  • Add split pea and bean with bacon soup to my shopping basket.
  • Remove the window screens and wash the windows.
  • Transfer my stack of sweat pants from the hall closet to my bedroom closet.
  • Unfold and put the electric blanket on my bed.
  • Replace the filter in the whole-house humidifier.
  • Turn on the furnace and confirm its proper operation.
  • Find my slipper-socks to keep my feet covered and warm.
The amazing part is that I do all this with no complaint and little to no planning. It just gets done!


Author Michael Crichton dies at age 66

I did not catch this significant piece of news last week. One of my favorite authors and storytellers, Michael Crichton, died. His name is popular to many of us because of the movie Jurassic Park - but he was a well-known author as far back as 1969 with The Andromeda Strain. As you look through his list of novels, you see Hollywood picked up many and created movies based upon them. We are all very fortunate to have benefit of his many public contributions.


New Lamp for Television is Bright!

Quick follow up to my post regarding my television needing a new projector lamp . . .

I followed the progress of my package via UPS Tracking, and it had been placed on the truck for delivery at 6:42 a.m. so I felt confident it would be on my doorstep when I arrived home from work about 5:30 p.m. Of all the things to look forward to all day long, the anticipation - I realize it doesn't take much to add a little excitement to my day - I was checking the UPS site as I wrapped up my day at work and found that the lamp had not yet been delivered. Bummer. Should I stay at work awhile so the package would be awaiting my arrival? Or should I race home in case the delivery required a signature? Easy. I raced home.

Still no package. Another hour expired before the rumble of the brown truck signalled the new projector lamp was here! Now that I've intalled it (very simple) I realize the prior lamp may have been decreasing in intensity for quite a while. Why? Because the new lamp is freaking bright! Whites are much whiter, greens are much greener and blues are much bluer! I even double-checked my picture settings to be sure they had not changed. The newly-lit screen has a much more even brightness across its full width as well. 

It's almost like a brand new TV. I'm happy.


Learning to Live in the Dark

Last night about the time CNN was declaring Barack Obama the next President of the United States, my 4 year-old Toshiba DLP TV decided to celebrate with some fireworks of its own. With a loud "pop" the screen went black but the status lights on the front panel were speaking to me in some dot-dot-dot dash-dash-dash dot-dot-dot sequence. A power cycle continued the light show from the front panel, so I had to resort to watching the election returns via the CNN Election Central website.

According the the Toshiba owner's manual I dug out of my filing cabinet, the projection lamp had expired. Much to my dismay, an affordable solution was found on the web - so, no new Plasma for me this Christmas. :-(

A quick search found DLP Lamps.com where I found the part I needed and placed my order. (I used Google Checkout for the first time and actually saved $5.00.) Some basic reseach found that this online retailer had excellent reviews and quick shipping. I'll likely agree with those reviews, since I already have a UPS tracking number and the package is expected to arrive in a couple days.

So for now I'll have to use my Slingbox via a computer to watch TV, though I'm already missing the big screen. (Photo shows the graphic remains of the broken lamp.)


Ready or not - Winter is here

Winter in Indiana isn't so much about snow and cold, it's about holding on during the endless few months of gray days, holding on for the promise of spring. Today came the abrupt reminder that winter is here. As I walked out of the office late this afternoon I noticed to my shock that the sun had set and darkness was following closely behind. What? No more spending a couple hours outside after work, enjoying the remainder of the day?

Indeed, since Hoosiers now follow most of the rest of the country in turning back the clocks to observe Daylight Saving Time, darkness now comes earlier than I have become accustomed to during the long summer. And those clocks were turned back over the weekend, so today I drove home from work in near darkness.

So, it's time to buckle down and hold on - winter has arrived.