Sunday, January 31, 2010

Online Book Club - From Eternity To Here

I read an article at USA Today's website that talked about an online book club reading a science book based on time and theories around it. The cool part comes in when they said they'll be having the author post a chapter a week where he'll go into more detail about the book and the study behind it.

You can join the fun here.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tuning the Wi-Fi

Mark Cuban had a post about the iPad and a way for youngsters to make some cash.  I would usually agree with him on most things, however on both of these topics I'm going to disagree.  First on the iPad being the biggest thing ever, I don't believe that this tablet will have anything new that will make people run out and buy it.  As well, since all content will be sold through the Apple Store, I think it will be the normal niche market that Apple has today.  Will it do well?  Sure... it's an Apple product.  Will everyone in the world own one?  No, just like everyone in the world does not have an iPod.

The second part focused on the youth of today and the future offering a service to fine tune neighbors wi-fi connections for a modest fee so that all of the wireless enabled devices that are about to take over our homes will work and work well.  It's a great idea - but I think you need to trust your source when doing this kind of work.  Would I let the kid down the block tune my new vehicle because it's computer enabled?  Probably not.

It did give me an idea to offer something like this at the local library or community college though so that people can learn how to secure their networks and fine tune their home's wi-fi.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Western Michigan Startup Weekend!

Do you know what a Startup Weekend is?  Here's a link to answer some of your questions.  Basically it is weekend project where a group of people try to take a idea from initial idea to launch in 54 hours!

I must admit - I hadn't heard about this very cool idea until today.  I was over at the Manning Publications website and noticed that they were selling advance edition copies of some books.  One that caught my attention was a title called "Websites with Wordpress" by Alicia Weller.  It turns out that they had the first chapter as a free download, so I downloaded it.

I've used WordPress to setup a couple of friend websites, it seemed to fit the bill and I'm all about using the best tool for the job, especially if it means I get to work smart and not hard.

The author mentions WordPress being used as the website tool of choice for two ideas that came out of a Startup Weekend that she attending in North Carolina.  Well - a couple web clicks later, I found out what a Startup Weekend was and that there was one coming to Michigan in February. 

I couldn't keep this good news to myself could I?  Nope, so I'm posting here... of course.

If you're interested in going to the Western Michigan Startup Weekend, or if you'd like to possible look to have one closer to the Ann Arbor area, let me know and let's see what we can do...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

site: OpenTable

One of my favorite sites for booking reservations online reminded me today that Valentine's Day was just around the corner and that I should start making plans...

I'll leave my long-winded rant about Valentine's Day out of this post, however this is a great chance for me to tell you about OpenTable.  :)

I've used this site many times to book reservations online and it works out great. 

All you have to do is sign up (it's free) and then you can browse the selection of restaraunts that OpenTable is connected with.  If you choose to reserve your seats using OpenTable, they will allow you to pick your time and contact the vendor with your reservation.  They will also follow up with you via email to let you know it's confirmed. 

After your wonderful meal, you can follow up and do a review and rate the business.

OpenTable will also follow up with you to remind you of special events or if your favorite places are offering discounts. 

To my Canadian friends and family - it looks like they service Canada, but only in the larger metro areas, like Toronto.  I did see a couple businesses in London listed though!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's with all the tablet talk?

OK - so it's now official - the Apple iPad (horrible name if you ask me... I think iSlate would have been a better choice) has launched.

Several months ago, when the rumors were surfacing, I really believed that price point would be the deal maker for this device and not the feature set.  There are many other options in the tablet market that are pretty inexpensive (under $400).

Now iPad hits the market and according to it will "start" at $499.

Well - this is much better news than what I had heard before, which was somewhere around the $1000 range, but that doesn't mean that they won't have a $1000 range version of the iPad.  Add on the fact that you're going to pay for another device's wireless data service and I'm just not sure it's worth it, especially if you already have the iPhone or the iPod Touch.

What will this device do that my laptop won't?  Trust me - it will be easier to type on my laptop than on this device, guaranteed.

So far I've heard the following reasons to buy;

  1. All those applications in the Apple store!  Really?  You mean I can get such great apps as the iFart and the lighter application on my iPad.  Awesome - I won't look like an iDouche at all!  Please... if I'm grabbing a mobile application, it's for a device similar in size to a phone, something that fits in my pocket and is very mobile... the iPad will not fit in your pocket.
  2. iTunes integration.  iPhone has it, Touch has it... why would I need it if I already had those?
  3. It's portable and you can read books on it!  My laptop is portable and I can read books on that as well.  If I wanted an item focused on just the book reading part, I'd get a Kindle.  I'm actually leaning more to audio books than just finding a device that I can read books on...
So - add the lack of reasons for me to pick one of these up plus the fact that Apple has decided not to use the ePub format for e-books, which means you'll have to buy through their store (the Kindle does this as well I believe, but there are tablets out there, like the JooJoo, formerly CrunchPad, that will support the open format) and I'm not sure why I would spend my money on this device.

On top of that - they have decided not to support Flash, which like it or not, makes up a large part of the web browsing experience on many sites.. ever been to YouTube?  Guess who brought you the technology to make that possible?  This kind of frustrates me a bit.

This is a good article that links to Adobe's positive and more critical views at this decision.

I'm not an Apple hater... I LOVE my iPod!!  The problem I see right now is that I haven't had a reason to buy a tablet up until now and I really don't see that Apple brought anything to the table that would make me want to buy one any time in the near future.

the iPad launches!

Follow the launch play by play here.

I'll follow up with a post later today or tomorrow with my thoughts on the tablet talk lately and whether I think it's really going to be a big deal or not.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Using technology to find love...

I read an interesting article recently that said Facebook and MySpace were becoming a more popular place to meet your true love than the corner pub.  This didn't surprise me, I love my local brew station, but I wouldn't look to find my soul mate there.  What did surprise me a bit is that they mentioned that these sites didn't have the same negative stigma that dating sites, like had...

The article was written in early 2009.

What do you think, where do you really find love these days?  I'm starting to believe that it doesn't exist.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's official... the Chelsea Adobe User Group will launch in February.

As the month of January comes to a close I'm very excited to announce that I've got the go ahead from Adobe to start the Chelsea Adobe User Group.  Adobe gives group managers a 30 day trial period to make sure that they are serious about the group and if you impress the User Group Community managers, they will invite you to continue running the group and will give you access to the Adobe User Group Community, which is one of the best designer / developer communities in the world.

My love of Adobe's products is pretty evident and I realized near the end of last year that I used to really enjoy telling others about how they could use the products to create amazing things and do whatever they would like to do with them, especially if they used these products as part of their work flow process to make money.

I have some really great ideas for this User Group, and in case you're wondering, this is not my first go-round.  I founded the Ann Arbor Macromedia User Group in 2004 and the group is still running today.  I am no longer the manager of the group, but trust me when I say that it's in great hands.  :)

I'll begin to work on the website over the next couple weeks and get content ready for the first meeting in February.  Tonight I was able to secure meeting space and I think I have an idea on how to get some local sponsors.

This is going to be fun...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Facebook: A Memory Wall

Yesterday I logged into Facebook, something I do a couple times a day, and I noticed that a friend had posted a status that said today was a "sad day, but lots of good memories".  When I see a status like this I always hope for the best, but wonder what is up, so I'll usually check their profile and see if they've posted any other information that may lead me to information on why they are sad.

I had noticed that the friend had some recent activity writing on others walls. I came to find that she had written a message on the wall of a friend who past away one year prior.

This got me thinking about how Facebook will leave a legacy behind for people to share memories with your other friends, remember the good times and share stories and leave you notes even when you're no longer here.  Think of it as a memory wall.

I think this is a great thing.  It's a rolling history of your thoughts, experiences, sharing of emotion and history of social ties to those that you interacted with while you were alive.  I find myself wishing that my Dad would have had a Facebook page.  He was such a loved man, had so many friends and interacted with so many people through his life.  He was very intelligent, extremely talented with his hands, and I'm sure that a Facebook page would have been a great way to capture a snapshot of just how great he was...

This also had me thinking about the vast amount of information that we're leaving about ourselves in internet footprints.  All I can hope is that future generations are able to maintain this information and learn from it.  We're in an age where we can share information faster and more effectively than ever before.  I think it's important for us to capture as much as we can and share it with the world.  Tell the world what you enjoy, take as many pictures as you can, share your memories of others, and enjoy the time while you have it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

One of many reasons why I love ColdFusion

I started delivering ColdFusion web applications back around version 5.  I've always been extremely impressed at how much effort has been put in to this product from it's development team.  They have added such great features and since the language itself is built on top of a Java base, it's very easy to create new, exciting applications in ColdFusion using built in features such as when they added SMS functionality in CF MX 7 or extend the capabilities by using existing Java classes easily with CF code.

Here is an excellent example of how simple it can be to extend functionality using other Java classes within your ColdFusion application.

Don't get me wrong, I've also coded classic ASP, PHP 4/5, and .NET applications as well, I just haven't found anything that is as easy to use as ColdFusion.

What I don't think that people understand is that the Adobe Development team has worked so hard at coming up with something that is really great, that even PHP, Java or .NET developers can leverage some of the great built in features from CF Server.  There are services that can be exposed and used from other languages (mentioned above) or platforms like Flash / Flex / AIR.

It has been and will continue to be an exciting time to be involved with ColdFusion and I'm looking forward to checking out what ColdFusion 9 has to offer, I've just loaded the free developer edition on my laptop.

You can also get the new IDE - ColdFusion Builder from Adobe Labs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

January Reading Assignments

As the new year came into view, I promised myself that I would read quite a bit more this year.  I decided to read and review at least one new book that focused on photography or an area of it, one that focused on technology or a specific topic within the technology world, and one just for me.

This month's reading selections are as follows;




If you've had a chance to read any of these books, let me know your thoughts.  If you want to know what I think of them, come back the first week in February when I'll review all three.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

site: tumblr

Sometimes I start things and don't get around to finishing them.

This was the case for my test drive of, the site that hosts content for Andy Valentine's photo blog.

Here is what has been sitting on the site I started for about the past seven months.

Some day I may get around to finishing it, but in the meantime - why don't you check it out and tell me what you like about it and what you dislike.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

gadget: The O.R.B.

You're walking downtown with your friends, you feel a vibration on your hand and look down on the ring you're wearing on your hand to see the Caller ID of the person that is calling.  It's another friend, but you decide to call them back later, you touch a button on your ring to silence the notification.

Another call comes in moments later and it's from a family member, you take the ring off, twist to the side and pop in in your ear since it's your Bluetooth headset.

Think it's far fetched?  Think again... soon to release into production.

This was announced at the CES 2010 show.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Governors on Twitter

An interesting article from USA Today.  I must say that I like this way of connecting with government representatives.  It gives you a feeling of what they are working on and allows them to connect directly with the people.

And yes - I'm now following Jennifer Granholm.

Monday, January 18, 2010

tool: Adobe Browser Lab

Are you among the many that have had frustrations checking whether your design works with all browsers?

Adobe may have an answer for you, check it out for a limited time preview.

Video Introducing Browser Lab

Browser Lab on Adobe Labs


Sunday, January 17, 2010

site: Squarespace

This site is a sponsor of "This Week In Tech" (T.W.I.T), a podcast that I've recently started listening to again.  Their designs are very nice and the sites are quite customizable.

I signed up for the two week trial and had my new site up and running in less than 5 minutes.

Let's start with what I really liked about this concept.

  • It's an extremely well designed website hosting platform that guides you through getting your site up and running very fast.
  • The management of your site is very intuitive as there are icons and many hints to get you to the places you need to go to edit things very easily.  Edit your text and content in Content Editing Mode, move to Structure Editing Mode to add pages, move content boxes around, add features such as RSS feeds and the ability to share content. Style editing will allow you to choose a new site style, layout, customize things like text and colors, lots of options and manipulations to allow you site to be completely unique.
  • On top of the three main editing modes is a Website Management feature that gives you access to great things such as Access Controls, Publishing Management, File Storage and Organization, Site Structure, excellent Web Statistics Tracking modules and much more. (see below)

 I really liked a lot of things about the Squarespace model.  It is a great way for someone to get a very professional looking site up quickly.  Hosting starts at $8 per month for the basic site.

This is where I started to see some reasons why I likely wouldn't switch from my current platform for blogging to this offering.  I'm currently using Blogger and although it doesn't have all the features I'm looking for, it's fine for right now, and it's free.

I would love it if Squarespace decided to give you a little bit more control into the types of files that you could host on the site.  For example if they had the ability to upload PHP or other types of dynamic pages and gave the ability to interact with things like MySQL through a PHPMyAdmin type interface, I could definitely see switching and paying the $8, since I'd be able to host my blog and some of my applications off the site.

Don't get me wrong, the amount of built in page types through the add new page interface will show you that they've definitely got the casual web user, professional blogger covered.

If you're looking for a new spot on the web to publish written content and you'd like to have a very attractive site up quickly, you owe it to yourself to check out Squarespace and try the the two week free trial.  I think you'll be impressed, I was...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Goals, purpose and does it really all matter?

I need to start this post letting you know that I'm fine.  I'm in good spirits, I'm not depressed, I'm actually quite content right now.  I'm not drunk, I've just been thinking about this a bunch today and needed to jot my thoughts down somewhere, so I figured either in the lyrics of a song, where people might mistake it for a cry for help or in a blog post where I can put more context around it.  I opted for the latter.

I've spent the last month or so being extremely goal oriented and motivated.  I've really enjoyed it and I've felt quite productive, which is something I hadn't felt in some time.

Work is going great, I feel challenged and home life is busy as I challenge myself with daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals.  And for the record, I've been hitting every one!  Booya!

Today I started wondering why I'm doing this and whether it even mattered at all.  This lead me to thinking about life in general and what it was all about.  Does anything I do really matter?  Why do I care?  Why should I keep trying?  Is life a game?  Is there a winner?  Who's keeping score?  Heck - I hate competing at anything I'm not good at... so if I find out that it was a game, I'd be pissed.  LOL.

After many hours of pondering and of course, some searching on my favorite search engine (yes, searching for the meaning of life on Google is a bit ridiculous, but I wanted to see what others were saying) I think I figured out that I do what I do because I don't know what else to do. 

This is not a bad thing.  I wake up each morning, I plan my days, I go to work, I try to be a good person, I try to leave a lasting impression on those that I meet.  But that about sums it up.  There is really no greater mystery, there is really no other purpose.

It's weird when I think about it in the Christian (Roman Catholic) sense, which is that one's purpose is to serve God.  Really?  So - I'm to believe that God put me on earth to go through this experience called life, because he made his son do it too, and he died for our sins and was resurrected, and now we're supposed to serve him and the rest of mankind to our best ability so that when we die we'll join him in heaven.  So - I guess all the things wrong with the world are part of His plan too and we just have to deal with it and get through, trying to be the best we can each day.  Hmm - kinda seems "out there".

Ok - so let's say that the purpose is to love and be loved.  To procreate and watch our family members grow up, grow old and die.  Ok - maybe it is, but that doesn't seem like it's very purposeful. We do what makes us feel "right" and what we think we should be doing.  We partner and marry and have kids and raise them because that's what people "do"... again, the people that I love and love me is a great feeling in the moment, but I know from experience that those feelings don't sustain.  So I asked myself again, what's the point?

I started to realize that I live for me.  I think we all do, it's quite selfish, but makes perfect sense.

Our goals, success, happiness, love all end with our death.  So, whether I reach thousands of people and somehow change the world or lock myself away from it doesn't really matter in the end.  Sure the first one sounds like a lot more fun, so that's likely what I'll keep trying to do... I just think I now realize that whether I succeed or not has no greater meaning or purpose, it's just another memory for me in the short and almost invisible time frame that I'll refer to as my life.

I think I'm going to go take my next French lesson... not sure why... just something to do.  :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lightroom 3 Beta : Part Three

We've had a chance to take a look at some of the features of Lightroom 3 over the past couple weeks and I wanted to touch on the last module, the "Web" module.

This module will assist you in preparing your photos in a collection to display on your website.

The first thing you'll want to do is click on the Web module in the upper right hand corner of the Lightroom 3 interface.

Once there it is as easy as choosing your photos, choosing a template / format to display them in and then customizing your site with things like title, description, contact information and many more options.

The first thing I did was to choose my Collection of random photos from the photo browser window near the bottom of the Lightroom 3 interface.

You can select multiple photos by holding the CTRL key and clicking on them.  Under the "Use" option just above this drop down you can choose to use selected photos or an entire Collection.

Once you've selected your photos, you can choose the Layout Style in the top right hand side of the screen.

The options for layout styles are;

Airtight AutoViewer - a self contained look, one picture at a time, sliding right to left.

Airtight Postcard Viewer - similar to the one above, but it will have the photos looking as if they are scattered on a table, mouse over and they get larger and move, click on them to view in a similar style to the above layout style, click on them again to return to the postcard view.

Airtight Simple Viewer - a simple layout style with the photo thumbnails on the left, and selected photo in larger view on the right.  Click to view full photo, click again to return to the main screen.

Lightroom Flash Gallery - This layout style offers very clean Flash based designs for the photo gallery.  On the left hand side you can choose between many different templates for a custom look.  The one pictured below is the Default Flash Gallery template, but there are many others to choose from... I'll show you the one I created at the bottom of the post.

Lightroom HTML Gallery - don't let this one fool you, there are some nice HTML Gallery templates that can be customized to come up with a very unique and stylish design.

Once you've selected your Layout Style, you can then set a myriad of options such as;

Site Info - set the name of the site, title of the collection and list contact information
Color Pallette - customize the look of the gallery site by changing border, title, text color and more
Appearance - change the look and feel of the thumbnails and full size photos
Image Info - choose to list the photo Title and Caption or other information about the photo such as exposure or other available image information fields
Output Settings - set copyright information, watermarks and sharepening
Upload Settings - setup your server connections to upload the final product directly from Lightroom to your site

Note: Be sure to select your template style before editing the above information.  Choosing a new style afterwards will set all above information back to the default settings for the template.

Now that you've selected your template and edited the options to your liking, it's time to publish that masterpiece to the web.  As long as you have all your connection information setup, just click Upload and then sit back and wait as Lightroom creates your site and uploads all necessary files to your server.

It can take a bit depending on how many photos you have selected and based on the output settings you have chosen.  My site took approximately 30 minutes for Lightroom to create and publish.

Click here to see the live version.

Lightroom 3 has many great features that make it easy for a photographer to organize, edit, manipulate, categorize, and publish in multiple formats.  This will definitely be an application that I'll pick up when it finishes the beta.  Until then - go ahead and grab a copy and experiment for yourself to see how useful this application can be... and feel free to drop me a line to let me know your tips and tricks.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Photography Goals for 2010

A blog post over at Digital Photography School led me to start thinking a bit about what I'd like to accomplish this year with my trusty Nikon D50.  I picked the camera up several years ago and I love almost everything about it.  I find that because it's not the smallest camera, I'm not as inclined to take it everywhere with me.  I also worry about tempature changes during the winter months.  I do however want to do more with it this year than I have in any of the past years and I do enjoy myself when trying to get that "perfect" shot.

So - in the blog, the author lists 30 photographic goals that one could use as ideas for your goals for 2010.

Although I like all the ideas in the list - I'll offer up 10 photographic goals that I'm going to make for myself this year based on my favorites from the list.

  1. Shoot a Photo a Day - I don't know that I could do this for an extended period of time, but I will do this through February to see what comes of it.  I'm more of a photo shoot kind of person, but this will be fun as it will challenge me to find at least one subject each day through the shortest month of the year.  :)
  2. Prioritize your Goals - I like this idea.  I think it would be good for me to sit down and give some thought to finding out what I enjoy most about photography and then making a plan to devote more time to it.  I'd also like to save for a new Nikkor Lens this year.
  3. Read a book per month - Again, I think this is a great goal to strive towards.  With so many areas to focus in on (no pun intended) it should be easy to achieve this goal. I'll post each month's book reviews up on this site.
  4. Join or Start a Photo Club - I'll look around the Washtenaw area and see what I can find.  This will be a great way to get some advice and learn from others!
  5. Share Online - this is something that I haven't been great at... I'm probably way to critical and I just need to share my pictures with others.  As you may have seen in a previous post, I've been working with Adobe Lightroom 3 and I really like it.  The ability to publish to Flickr makes it easy to accomplish this goal.
  6. Create a Photo Book per Month - Well, a photo book per month may be a bit much, I will follow through with this one and set a goal to create at least two photo books this year.  If it goes well and I enjoy the final work, maybe I'll make more.
  7. Get Published - This is by far the loftiest goal on the list.  First - it assumes that my work will be worthy of being published.  It's a good thing I still have eleven months to figure out how to accomplish this goal.
  8. Develop a Post Processing Workflow - this will be key if I want to be able to capture the best pictures from a photo shoot and share them with minimal amount of effort.  I will spend time this month and next developing the way that works best for me.
  9. Make Personal Post Cards - This will be the goal that I'll tackle in the month of January.  I received several Christmas Cards in 2009 from friends and family members and I didn't make the time to send cards back.  I want to give a personal thank you to each person and I think this may be a great way to show that I really appreciated the effort of my loved ones.
  10. Take a Workshop - Yes, there is so much to learn!  I plan on taking a workshop, perhaps locally or maybe a photo trip to another state.
There you go... that's my list for 2010.  It will be challenging, but I think it will be great fun as well.

I'll post monthly summary entries to let you know how I'm progressing toward the goals.

Happy Shooting!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

February is Album Writing Month

February is Album Writing Month!

Do you think you're up to the challenge of writing 14 tunes in 28 days?  If so, check it out.

For some history / more information - wikipedia can help out.

If you're not into writing an album, maybe you want to challenge yourself in different creative ways?
Let me know if you participate in any of these events, it would be great to track your progress.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Exercising the Hand...

No - it's not what you think.  Wow - get your mind out of the gutter....

I picked up the ProHands Grip Master Hand Exerciser.  It promises to help with hand control and speed for playing instruments. 

Take a look when you have a chance.  I like it - I think I should have got the lowest resistance first though, because this thing is kicking my hand's ass.  :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

site: Vintage Ad Browser

I love the look of older advertising.  It brings you back to another time and gives you a glimpse into Marketing campaigns and call to action methods that may have worked through the generations.

Check out Vintage Ad Browser when you have time.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lightroom 3 Beta : Part Two

In the last post I took a first look at Adobe's Lightroom 3, a product that you can grab in Beta from the Adobe Labs website.  I was impressed by the layout of the user interface, the look was pleasing and it was pretty easy to find out how to perform tasks with little guidance.

The application is setup in five major modules; Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print, and Web.  I took a quick look at the first two modules in my first post.  I would like to tell you a little bit more about each of the modules now that I've had more time with Lightroom.

I'm finding that the library is a great way to organize photos.  An average photo shoot will result in several hundred photos, of which I'm pretty happy if I get one great photo.  (I'm hoping that the more practice I get the better I'll get at shooting, but I'll be the first to tell you that it's pretty much dumb luck right now).

As I was saying, I'll take multiple shots of one target and usually get one that I like better than others.  Maybe the lighting changed a bit between shots or I moved just a bit to get a better angle... there are many reasons why I'll have more than one shot of the same target in a photo shoot.  Lightroom has many ways to look at your catalog of photos.  The default view is the Grid View, there is also a Loupe View for looking at one photo at a time, a Compare View and a Survey View (I'll go a bit more into this view and options for flagging in the next blog post).  I wanted to touch on Compare view because this nice feature let's you compare photos side by side.  When in the Library module, select your photos, using CTRL to select multiple and then choose the X|Y button.  This will allow you quickly tell which of the photos you like best.

Once I was able to identify the photos that I wanted to organize into an area where I could re-visit at a later time, I found that within the Library module there is a way to catalog / organize photos into Collections.  Collections are a great way for me to go through my entire catalog and sort photos from specific photo shoots into organized groupings.  Below I created a new Collection called "Randoms".  To group a photo or multiple photos into a Collection, select the photos and then click the Collection drop down icon and choose "New Collection", you'll be asked to name the Collection and have the option of adding the selected photos. 


Another option on the Library module is located under the main Navigator and is called "Publish Services".  This caught my eye as I noticed that there were options for "Hard Drive", which I believe is a basic export locally, and the other was the ability to publish to Flickr.  After a little bit, I remembered my Flickr account password and I was able to setup the connection for Lightroom to publish directly to my Flickr Photostream. I did have to verify through Flickr that I wanted Lightroom to be able to do this, but once I did that it was as easy as putting in my login and password and choosing a default naming convention and publishing location.


With this feature setup, I was able to drag and drop a photo on the "Photostream" line under the Flickr Publishing Service and once I did that it is queued up for publishing.  Choose publish and as you can see in the photo above, there is a status bar above the Navigator that let's you know the progress of the upload.  This was an easy feature to setup and I could see how users of Flickr would like this integration.  I can only imagine that other Publishing Services will be added in the future, things like TwitPic, Facebook, etc.

While I was working within the publishing / sharing part of Lightroom, it had me thinking about the other modules, so I moved on to the Slideshow module.


This module is pretty straight forward, you want to show a collection of photos in sequence.  Select your photos, select from a default list of templates or customize to fit your needs, adjust options such as watermark information, shadowing, and many other options, perhaps add a soundtrack and your done.  Publishing output gives you two options, MP4 and PDF.

Within the Print module, you can print your photos.  Go figure!  The best part about this is the ease of which you can choose popular templates to print your photos in... just like the types that photographers offer in professional packages.  You can mix and match photos into a custom package, or print multiple sizes of the same photo easily, as shown below.


The last module is the Web module and it's by far the most exciting to me since it allows you to create Flash enabled pages to show off your work.  I'll go deeper into this section and more features to organize your photos on my next Lightroom post.

So far - I really like what Adobe Lightroom has to offer the photo hobbyist and professional photographer.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Rockin' out with the new Line 6 Spider IV

I recently picked up a new guitar amp called the Spider IV, from Line 6.  I was speaking to Andy about picking a new one up and then perhaps selling my older Line 6 AX2-212.

Today I finally unpacked the amp and set it up in the recording room.

The first thing I noticed after setting it up and plugging in was how awesome this amp sounds.  It's very loud (75W), but crystal clear and the tones are just amazing.  It makes me want to play and keep playing.

The next thing that caught my attention is the amount of options on this unit.


The unit comes with over 250 artist and song presets.  Yup, you read it right... feel like jamming out to AC/DC's "Back in Black" - there's a preset for it, tune to it and this amp will digitally model the amp and settings that were used for the guitar track of the song.  Don't worry though - it's not like Line 6 ties the hands of your creativity at all, each of these presets can be edited and saved as user presets. This is going to be really fun to experiment with...


Other features that make this amp attractive are CD / MP3 input that will allow you to jam along with your favorite tracks while playing them through the amp, ability to record using a direct out, built in tuner, foot control using one of the available foot boards (which I picked up as well, but I'll post another blog when I've had time to play with it a bit), built in Looper (frickin' love this feature!), and auto FX such as smart pitch shifter, auto-wah and more.

The Looper allows you to turn this amp into a sequencer, which is great for coming up with rhythm and lead parts and seeing how they sound before actually recording them.  It may also make it interesting for being able to do some live show looping.

Below is the older Line 6 amp, which I think I'm going to keep for a while longer, but I have a feeling that the Spider IV will be the amp of choice when practicing.


Rock on!

Friday, January 08, 2010

site: SongU

Have you wanted to learn more about the craft of songwriting?  Perhaps you're already a songwriter and you'd like to learn more about the following topics;
  • Song Structure
  • Lyric Writing
  • Composing on Guitar
  • Promoting Yourself as an Artist
  • Creating and Submitting a Demo
SongU may have a course to fit your needs.  I've taken several courses through this site and found the content to be very good and the instructors very helpful.  They also have a way to submit your songs for review by industry professionals.  It's a great way to get some candid feedback on your writing.

From the website -

What is provides a unique opportunity to study songwriting with award-winning songwriters, make industry connections, and pitch your songs all from the comfort of your own home computer. With our user-friendly site, you do not need special computer skills or a high tech setup. At, wherever you are...we'll bring the music industry to you.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Time to get the office in order...

I hooked up the new Linksys Wireless Broadband Router yesterday and it worked like a charm, allowing me to roam around with my laptop and browse the internet at blazing speeds... well ok ... not blazing, but not terrible either.  Here's an example from my office computer;

I love my ATT 3G Broadband card.  When I'm on the go, there is nothing like being connected. Sure at home it's butt slow, but I'm in a pretty remote area... no cable services, heck ATT doesn't even offer DSL out here.  When compared against the price of satellite internet - the value was much better with Mobile Broadband.

Tonight I installed my D-Link Wireless PCI card into my desktop computer in the office.  I was expecting to have to do some configuration since it had been a while since I'd used it, but it installed smoothly and found the wireless network and connected without problem.  Now I have internet in the office as well!

So, I'm sitting here thinking... if I'm going to get comfortable and get back into the office, I might need to upgrade my monitor.  I've got a 15" KDS Rad-5.  It's an older monitor, but up till now it has done the job nicely.  I think I can get a decent monitor now for under $200.

Let the hunt begin!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

site: GDGT

Want to track the latest news about all the hot gadgets coming out?  How about interact with others who have the same gadgets you do?  That's where comes in.

Here is the link

I've added a couple of the gadgets I used to have and one that I currently have... I think it might take me a bit to get everything in there, but once it is, it will be a nice inventory of tech gadgets and resources for them.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

site: This Recording

I figured I would share this site with you.  Maybe I've been under a rock (ok - or in a bar seat) too long to have noticed cool sites, but the content of this site caught my eye and made me feel a bit uncomfortable all at once.  I kinda liked it.  :)


Monday, January 04, 2010

Getting organized with Lightroom 3 Beta

I downloaded Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta today and I'm checking it out this evening.  The first thing I noticed was how nice the interface is laid out. 

Of course upon install and launch a nice brief tutorial screen walked me through what I can accomplish with the application.  Once done, it searched my hard drive and imported in all my pictures.

The bottom of the screen has a nice horizontal scroll bar for easy thumbnail viewing of my entire collection.  Double click on a photo to select it and once you do that you have a variety of options that will allow you to categorize your photos using keywords or edit your photos with Quick Develop options; White Balance and Tone Control.  It took no time for me to tweak a few settings to have a photo looking very nice and add in keywords so that I'll be able to reference this photo in future searches and find it easily.

 The Library Module, which is the default module when the application is loaded allows you to do what was explained above.  When clicking on the Develop module, you'll move into a world where an amazing variety of tools are laid out to let you edit your photo. Options to change exposure, lighting, detail, lens corrections, add effects, the options seem endless at first glance. 

I can tell that this is going to be an application that I'm going to enjoy spending a bit of time with... I'll take a deeper look at the Develop screen and move on to the other modules tomorrow, which focus on how to share and publish your work.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Hello Flex, how have you been?

I've been a fan and an avid user of Macromedia's (now Adobe) line of web products.  I began using Macromedia Flash in version 3, Dreamweaver at version 2, Cold Fusion when it was still owned by Allaire, , and was founder of the Ann Arbor Macromedia User Group (now FlashFocused - Ann Arbor Flash Platform User Group and headed by Misty Mills).

I was extremely excited to see products such as Captivate, Breeze, Flash Communication Server and Flex launch, and I participated in many of these product beta programs.

I was a bit crushed when Adobe purchased Macromedia in 2005, and shortly after my career took a change which had me doing more IT Management and Project Management work than web design and development.

Adobe has done a great job keeping the programs I loved alive and kicking.  I was extremely excited to hear that Adobe Flex was now about to be at Version 4!  I decided it was time that I became familiar with my old favorites and so I went and purchased Peter Armstrong's "Hello! Flex 4" book in eBook format.  This book is in workshop format and I hope to work through it this week and next and leave my thoughts on the book and Adobe Flex 4 in general on this blog.

After I'm done with the workshop, I plan to use the Adobe Flex SDK to build an application to track vendor and software / hardware maintenance contracts.  This will help me in my current job at Thomson Reuters and will also allow me to become proficient with an application that I really enjoyed before I took a break from the web work that I was doing from 2000 - 2005.

Hello Adobe Flex, how have you been?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Web Texting

Last year I had a couple friends that would like to text me to stay in touch.  If I'm being honest, I actually warmed up to texting.  It was an extremely easy way for me to find out what friends were doing and get a quick answer to a question such as the ingredients to one of my favorite drinks.  I have AT&T Broadband Wireless service and a Sierra Wireless 881 PCMCIA card that I would use to send texts.  I found that I had a charge of $0.20 per text.  Until I found this great little service.

Joopz allows you to register your number with them and send out texts from a web interface.  They must use a shared pool of SMS accounts to send the messages from as I've heard from friends that one downside is that it doesn't always come from my phone number (I think this is just a glitch in the software, I would imagine that it should insert your number in the "from" field, almost a form of spoofing an SMS number).  This is ok to me though, because as friends reply it returns to the Joopz pooled accounts and then finds it's way back to me.  The best part about this is that I can text (sometimes) delivering it as my number, and I don't get charged for sending or receiving texts through my AT&T service.

Joopz let's you send 50 free incoming / outgoing texts per month, or you can sign up for $20 for the year of unlimited texting!

It's worked pretty well for me.  Sure I don't get incoming texts as fast as I used to, since I have to check the web interface to see if anyone has responded to an open conversation, but for the price, it works for me!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Daddy plays the Squeeze Box, Mama never sleeps at night...

I found this little gadget more than a couple years ago.  In fact, there is a blog post on this blog about getting one of these if I ever owned a house.  Well - it's been three years that I've had the homestead... I think it's time to pick one up.