em space meetup


So I went to my first-ever meetup.com sponsored event — graphic designers of Sarasota. Now, I don’t fancy myself a graphic designer per se; I’ve used Illustrator maybe, twice, and I’ve never used Indesign. But Aimee (to the left of Anthony — the guy wearing the yellow shirt — above), who runs the group, saw that I’d listed that I was a Mac user in my meetup.com profile, and got me to come out. I’m glad I did, it was fun. Lots of Mac users in this town, if you know where to look 🙂 Shouts to TBone, Elizabeth, Mikki of sptv.com, DillJen, Aimee, Anthony, Edwin, Amanda, We got our drizzink on at Mickey’s (shown above): a little pricy, but the food was good (try their pizza). Then Liz, JenDill, Aimee, Anthony, Amanda and I headed over to the 5-O to continue the drinks and get our groove on. There was an 80s coverband playing — Life on Mars — and, apart from their terrible Billy Idol, they weren’t bad. 🙂 Anyhow, lots of fun, looking forward to the next meetup.

Review: Enron — The Smartest Guys In The Room


Enron Center, Houston, Texas. Image courtesy photohome.com
So I saw the film Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room at Burns Court on Sunday. And, contrary to what I was expecting, it wasn’t all big-corporations-are-evil propaganda. Rather, it provided character sketches of key people involved and did an good job of tying together a bunch of events which I’d only heard bits and pieces of through the news. It also includes a startling number of damning clips from internal Enron videos/presentations. That alone made the $7.50 entrance fee worth it. Check it out if you get the chance.

AutoStitch

So of course Mavis went and beat me to the punch. I told her about a cool program, AutoStitch, which automatically assembles a panoramic shot (or multiple panoramic shots) from a set of originals. I heard about it from my friend Jim, who has given his readership a homework assignment — basically to go out and see what they could create with it. Unfortunately the program is Windows-only, so I can’t run it at home, but I can harass my Windows-using friends across the internet!
Mavis assured me that Photoshop 8 was fully capable of doing everything AutoStitch could. And she held that belief, until she actually tried to make Photoshop do the job. Nu-uh. Nothing seemed to align right. She ran the same photos through AutoStitch and prestoblammo, pano.
So here’s some photos I shot on Saturday. A tip when you’re viewing these — don’t bother trying to maximize your window. Instead, leave it at a comfortable size and imagine, while scrolling horizontally, that you’re pivoting in one spot, and what you see in the window is what you see in front of you. Because, well, that’s pretty much exactly how the camera saw it. 🙂 Both shots are from downtown, near the waterfront.


Can you see a seam? I can’t. And there are four of them in there, somewhere. I thought there might be something fishy going on with the dome which intersects the left-most palm tree on the right-hand side of the shot, but after examining the originals, that’s how it’s supposed to look.
The second pano is of that reflective bird hazard, One Sarasota Tower. It’s actually 90 degrees out from the first shot. Whereas there, I moved the camera from left to the right in a simple straight line, in this one I moved in a “C” shape, taking four shots along the way. I’ve left the edges of the photo as AutoStitch leaves them, so you can see what sort of work the program is doing. Again, have close look at one of the bigger versions. You’d have to be looking pretty hard to pick out the seams. Impressive stuff.

On Crowns and Floss


One can dream, right? See the whole thing
So earlier I hinted I got some dental work done. Yep. Yesterday I got a crown. Or, at least, a temporary cap until the crown gets put on in a couple weeks.
How crowns work is like this: they grind down your old tooth enamel, place a ball of some jelly-like substance that smells like acetone in your mouth, form the hardened smelly substance into a temporary cap (I’m told it’s actually the same stuff fake nails are made out of, some sort of acrylic), take the cap out, take an impression for the crown, and then glue the temporary cap back in place. My next appointment is in three weeks, when I get my permanent crown put in. I’m assuming I have to wait that long because they’re doing all sorts of fancy work to get it made up. Or it could just be that my dentist is busy.
The crown is actually on a tooth other than the one I got my root canal done on (though that needs one too). It’s tooth 30 on this chart (my root canal was 18). I verified with the dentist that it was necessary; he assured me it was. I guess the enamel had worn down quite a bit (though I was in no pain yet). The tooth looked only mildly different than the others in the pano x-ray, which was on display beside the dental chair. Needless to say I’ve hit the upper limit of my dental coverage for this year, so I’m probably going to be a bit more hesitant about future visits.
I wasn’t going to write about the cap, except that, tonight, while flossing, it came off. How’s that for drama? Sure hope the real things stays put a little better.
Update, 9:21am: I have a noon appointment to get it glued back in. Apparently I wasn’t supposed to floss near it — that’s the first time I’ve been told I floss TOO much 🙂

Apple Studio Display 17″ flickers again


Well, this post is mostly just for the record-keeping, but after more than a year of working perfectly, yesterday morning my 17″ Apple Studio Display LCD flatpanel decided that the upper half of the backlight would work at half the brightness of the lower half.
But the problem disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared: a couple hours later when I reawoke the computer from sleep, everything was fine and I haven’t seen it since. The picture above is of it in its working state.
Macnerd trivia: who can identify all the icons in the dock? Prize to whoever can name at least 15 first 🙂

Siesta Key, Kurt


So I ended up coming home from Columbus on Thursday night — a day early! Woo. That was nice. Columbus managed to surprise me — I almost want to move there because of their radio station, CD101. CD101 rules. Not only did they sponsor the Garbage concert, but after listening to them for only half an hour I had heard Nine Inch Nails – Head Like a Hole, Smashing Pumpkins – 1979, Garbage – Only Happy When It Rains, (Victoria natives) Hot Hot Heat – Goodnight Goodnight, and Beck’s new single E-Pro. Tell me you wouldn’t fall in love. You can’t, because you’d be lying!
Went out with Cam, Melissa, baby Joseph and Kurt Friday night to Siesta Key to watch the sunset.

Melissa and Joseph get ready for the water

Kurt: doing that James Bond thing

Melissa and Joseph

Seagulls

Melissa tells she didn’t know I took this shot

$2 flipflops

Risk to camera: severe

Sunset walk

Cam and Kurt vs. the quicksand

Silhouette-set
We ended up at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, which, amazingly enough, Joseph seemed fine with. I say amazingly because they had a pretty loud live band playing, but it didn’t seem to bother him.

Click here to see where Cam’s stripe came from (opens in a new window)
It was an early night, because — on a whim — I decided to come with Cam and Melissa to see Kurt off on his 7:30am Tampa flight. So, we all barelled out of the apartment complex around 4:30 to make the hour drive up.

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From the short term parking garage at Tampa International Airport, 6:12am
And the sun rose on our way back. Very cool. Then, instead of going to bed, I got a bunch of stuff done at the house. Read: grocery shopping before 10am. Amazing. I made a bunch of plans, got through a few of them, took a nap, and — inspired after reading this post by Jim — watched about 90 minutes of Empire Strikes Back before yawning so much it was close to impossible to stay awake.
Happy weekend!