My First HDR Photo

Using some of the advice from the web, I made my first HDR photo last night:


This was taken from my upstairs deck overlooking the intersection by my home.  I was headed off to bed and noticed how interesting it looked outside while checking the doors.  I found my tripod, setup my Canon SD870 IS and took 13 images (-2 to +2 exposure in 1/3 increments- and '0' is the 13th one).  These I imported into iPhoto and switched over to my PC (more processing power and RAM) and opened them in Photoshop CS3.  From there I chose File -> Automate -> Merge to HDR...

This was just a quick test to see a little of how it works; I will probably go back and do this manually (as the article recommends) and see if the results differ.


Thanksgiving Vacation

My vacation all plans collapsed all at the last moment; Tracy's great aunt passed away on Friday (she had been sick for a while and it was expected) so the trip to Europe has been postponed (Spring?) and Diana decided to cancel her trip down to Louisiana.  Tracy left for New Jersey on Tuesday so I have had a few day to myself (with Betty, of course).  It has been fairly therapeutic...

I have decided to work on meditation- before I get to old to be able to...  I found some interesting FLAC files for HoloSync- which (supposedly) can induce alpha brain wave patterns (and later 'lessons' progressing to theta and delta patterns) similar to those attained after years of deep meditation.  I had to convert the FLAC to lossless AAC so they will play on my iPod- so far they are fairly interesting.

Other things I have accomplished this vacation:

I fixed our gate:

Gate Work

I hung some curtain rods (for Tracy):

Curtain up Rod needs Curtain Hooks

I installed a new webcam (to replace a crappy-ass X-10 camera):

New cam

I bought a new stereo receiver (an Onkyo SR-TX705):

My new TX-SR705

I got a Christmas Tree:

xMas Tree 2007

I replaced my KVM:

The Majic Button

(I got tired of waiting for Alurtek support to tell me if they can send me a v2 of the AKSUP02D KVM Switch so I now have an IOData GCS932U Micro DVI/USB KVM):

I cleaned up my desk:

The personal work area

In addition I also:

  • Rebuilt my main PC- twice... I am now running Vista as my primary OS
  • Rebuilt my Media PC- also running Vista
  • Upgraded my Mac to OS X 10.5 (again)
  • Fixed my X-10 setup so I can control the XMas tree and lights via timers
  • Finished 'Portal' from the Orange Box
  • Got 60 stars in Super Mario Galaxy (now I just have to finish the final level!)
  • Got some of my xMas shopping started
  • Spent 10+ hours re-organizing my photos in iPhoto
  • Figured out how to make iTunes on my Mac store its music library on a network drive

I tried the 'Black Friday' crawl; I ended up buying some used DVDs at MovieStop and having lunch at Burger King.  Fry's: 100+ people deep in the check-out lines at 10:00am; BrandSmart: no place to part at 11:00am; BestBuy, MicroCenter and Target had crappy sales; and Wal-Mart- Wow; talk about a disaster area... 

One thing I thought was funny at WalMart was some woman bitching to her friend on her cell phone how someone else had hit her with their cart- but at the moment this woman was sitting behind her cart and parked broadside across the aisle- and in her 'distressed' condition was ignoring everyone that was trying to get around her... Some people just don't have a clue. 

Tomorrow's quest: hang the outside Christmas lights... This will take at least 2-3 hours- and hopefully it be above 40 degrees and not windy! If I have some time left over I will start decorating the tree!


More on Mac Mini

I have to say that Apple hardware/software is for the right-side-of-brain users; it lets them create and not have to worry about the inner-workings. The integration between the different applications and external hardware is great also great.

Web Design: I plug in my iPhone and iPhoto brings up an import screen. Once there, I can drag the recently imported photos into a template page for iWeb and it creates a slide-show. After that I hit 'publish to .mac' and a fairly professional site is created:


Movie Making: I plug in a camcorder and iMovie brings up an import screen. If the movie is HD and it recognizes my CPU is not sufficient to process at full res (the Mac Mini is a Laptop in a different case- i.e. it has a Pentium M CPU), it automatically down-samples the movie and stores it on the HD (in .mov format). Video editing is done and I can publish directly to YouTube, .mac, or make formats for the iPod/iPhone/AppleTV.


Initially I had a not-pleasant experience a OS X 10.5 is not 100% compatible/stable. After I reverted back to the 10.4 that was originally installed on the Mac (not an easy experience as there were no CDs included!) it is running much more like a computer should; The only thing I have used my Windows PC for in the past two days is for games and downloads (it has much more disk storage, memory and CPU power).

The Mac is a PC for designers; the Windows PC is for engineers (power users/gamers).

If 24 was made in 1994


More Super Mario Galaxy Videos

iMovie is actually kind of fun to use...

OS X; back to 10.4... finally!

I downloaded no less than four ISO images of OS X 10.4 from usenet- and all of them appear to be 'modified' (read: hacked) versions intended to run on any Intel hardware (other than Apple's). After a long afternoon of burning and swearing (and playing Super Mario Galaxy) I decided to see what the 'disk tools' could do.

Since the only valid ISO I have is for 10.5, I booted to that DVD. I found I was able to make an image of a HD and save it to another drive. The 60GB HD that was originally in the Mac Mini was a clean install of OS X 10.4.9; I attached this via a USB drive and made an image of this (in the native Apple DMG format) on my firewire drive. Later I restored the image over the internal HD in the Mac Mini and viola- I had a working copy of OS 10.4! The imaging/restore took about 2 hours (laptop SATA via USB to firewire and then back to laptop SATA)

So all is happy and good; except my other firewire and USB drives appear to be hosed! I guess it is time to invest in a new external drive (500GB is usually on sale for $140).

I finally was able to install VMWare fusion; this works very well on a Mac. One very nice feature on the Apple version is the 'Harmony' option- this allows a window from the guest OS (Windows XP, for example) to appear as a window in the Mac OS without all the VMWare boxes, buttons, etc.- so it looks like I have an IE 7 window running on my Mac! :o)

I still need to experiment with Harmony but it looks like it could reduce my dependancy on my PC for many things- just not for gaming as the Mac Mini uses the GMA950 video 'accelerator'... :o)


Mac OS X 10.5...

I think there are some major bugs with OS X 10.5- mostly with external USB/firewire devices.  I have been unable to keep a USB or Firewire drive online to copy files- I keep getting either an 'unexpected disconnect' or a 'insufficient privileges' and the transfer is dropped.

This happens to drive connected directly to the Mac Mini or through the integrated hub  in my Acommdata 250GB drive.  Odd part is the Acommdata drive is rock-solid- but drives connected to the 2nd Firewire port drop...

I am also seeing spotty reliability with my USB DVD-RW and Logitech Fusion camera (USB).

I am sure these will be revolved in time- but I don't want to wait with a 'broken' OS until they are fixed!

I would go 'back' to OS X 10.4 but I purchased my Mac Mini as an open box buy and there was no media (or Apple remote) included in the box; I am looking for an ISO of 10.4 on UseNET, but most seem to be hacked copies intended to run on any other x86 hardware (mostly MacDotNub and uPhuck builds)

On the other hand- Mac OS is very good at taking video from a Mini DVD-RW, importing it in to iMove and then allowing me to publish it directly to YouTube!  I don't think there is anything even vaguely resembling this on the PC side.

Mario Galaxy!

Mario Galaxy is due for release next Tuesday (November 13th) but it looks like someone has uploaded a copy to UseNET!  There are warnings that Super Mario Galaxy has a new copy protection

A post on the Team Cyclops forums indicated that there is a v3.6 beta firmware for the CycloWiz mod chip that 'fixes' the new protection and will allow these games to play.  It looks like this works...

I don't want people to think that I condone piracy (at least not as much as I once did); I have the game pre-ordered and I will be picking up a copy on November 13th- but it is really nice to be able to play the game a week early!