Monthly Archives: January 2008

Seattle Flickr Strobists and Aircraft Hangars?!

Over the last several months, the Seattle Flickr Strobists have been cranking it up. This past Sunday was another crazy inflection point for us. In November, the “cheap” studio space that we had been using for shoots closed, and people started looking for some kind of indoor space to shoot in. The space of choice has been an underground parking garage. At the same time, David Hobby, author of the Strobist blog, hooked us up with A-list professional photographer Chase Jarvis. Chase hosted a bunch of us at his studio to find out what we’ve been up to and to explore ways that he could give back to the community by helping us.

So on Sunday, instead of shooting in an underground garage, Chase arranged for us to shoot in Hangar 30 at the old Sand Point Naval Airfield, which is now part of Magnusnon Park in Seattle. This was a very large event for us, 50+ phtographers, 12 models, and almost all of Chase’s crew. There were at least 16 separate lighting setups, ranging from single speedlight on sync cords all the way up to several big studio strobe setups, and everything in between. I was involved in organizing the shoot, trying to make sure that we had enough setups (this is complicated because of all the different wireless trigger systems), and arranging for enough models. It looked like there was going to be so much organization required that I basically resigned myself to not taking any pictures myself. It’s a testament to the nature of the Seattle Flickr community that the setups did end up self organizing (after a bunch of on-line pre organization), and Jennifer stepped in and took over the management of the models during the shoot.

There’s a video of some of the shoot highlights

and you can see all the shots here.

We had several surprise guests, including David Hobby himself, as well as my friend James Duncan Davidson, which made for a great deal of fun. Both David and Chase have written posts about the event from their perspectives (David’s post, Chase’s post – Chase’s folks have done a cool video also.), and Duncan has written his perspective as an “outsider”. After the shoot was over, we all went back to Chase’s studio for conversation as well as many rounds of Guitar hero. Here’s a summary from the Flickrites’ own Guitar Hero, Danny Ngan.

I feel very, very fortunate to be a part of this community, especially at this stage of its development. It feels very much like it did when I got involved in the (relatively) early days of the Apache Software Foundation. There is an incredible amount of energy, sharing of knowledge and equipment, and the blossoming of friendships. The last five months have been wonderful – I almost can’t imagine how things will be a year from now.

Since people stepped up to help, I did end up shooting after all. Seattle wedding photographer Sarah Rhoads and I were working with a model who had a formal dress that could pass as a wedding dress. I want to try my hand at shooting some weddings, so this was a perfect opportunity to do something that would be close to a bridal portrait session. After a break to allow other people to shoot on our setup, I wanted to do a different setup and pose, so I started messing around with equipment, digging in my bag, etc. The next thing I know, Chase is like “do you want me to hold a light or something”? For the next 15 minutes, Chase (and sometimes his assistant Scott) held my lights, suggested a setup change, and just generally worked with me. It was amazing just watching Chase and Scott adjusting the lights even before I could tell them what adjustment was needed. It was a great opportunity, and gave me a whole new perspective on how professionals work, and how attuned it is possible to become.

Here’s one of the shots from that session:

Seattle Flickrites shoot with Chase Jarvis

Be sure to check out Duncan’s “making of shot” which is embedded in the comments.

Thanks to Chase, David, Duncan, and all the Seattle Flickrites!

Literacy Bridge and the $5 iPod

My friend and fellow ASF member Cliff Schmidt has started Literacy Bridge, a non profit whose mission is

to empower children and adults with tools for knowledge sharing and literacy learning, as an effective means towards advancing education, health, economic development, democracy, and human rights.

Literacy Bridge’s primary initiative is The Talking Bridge Project, which is essentially a program to build and distribute a $5 iPod.

The Talking Book Project is Literacy Bridge’s major program, developing new and affordable digital audio technology to provide vital, locally generated information and literacy training to people with limited access to either. Imagine a $5 iPod used to play locally generated podcasts, plus a decentralized, digital content distribution system that reaches villages without electricity but also enables global content sharing. Aside from the innovative use of technology, partnerships with local businesses, civic organizations, and government agencies play a pivotal role in the Talking Book Project.

Cliff recently gave a Google Tech Talk about Literacy Bridge and The Talking Book Project.

It’s good to see more people out there working to change the world.

Ted Leung on the (MacBook) Air

Ok, the title is a horrible pun. Blame DrErnie. I don’t have that many comments about the Air itself as a product. I like the form factor for the most part, but I think it’s underpowered for anyone who is seriously writing code or processing RAW photographs at a serious level. At the same time, there’s no doubt in my mind that they will sell a lot of units, because it’s just so cool.

The most interesting thing about the MacBook Air is the custom packaging of the Core2 Duo that Intel did for Apple. It’s interesting to see how that partnership is working out. I certainly don’t remember anything like this happening with Motorola or IBM. If Apple is able to get custom versions of Intel chips, that gives them space to introduce products that will be harder for competitors to match. Of course, Intel probably wants to give those chips to its other customers eventually, but if Apple could secure, say, a 1 year lockout before anybody else got the chip that is in the Air, that would be a nice position to be in.

Many people (including me) were surprised that there was no MacBook/MacBook Pro bump, but some articles on the new Penryn chips suggest that there isn’t a large benefit, and it turns out that the dates for Intel’s Montevina laptop platform have been moved up to May, so maybe Apple just decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.

On the whole, there wasn’t much for me to personally get excited about this year. At one point, I commented in IRC, “we killed twitter for this?”. Which is probably the other interesting point about the Stevenote, Twitter got knocked so hard that my Twitterific is still reporting errors multiple times per hour. The only decent live reporting that I saw was in the Ars Technica and MacRumors IRC rooms and on the MacRumorsLive website. Everybody else was bombarded or laggy. Seems to me that there’s still plenty of scalability issues for people to be working on.

Today was my last day at OSAF

My first day at OSAF was odd because I just walked into my home office and bam, there I was, at work on my new job. My last day was correspondingly odd, with a round of e-mail and IRC goodbyes, and my exit interview over the telephone. Such a difference from the normal way of work. This is also true of my nascent job search. I’m going to wait until that has come to its conclusion before I write about it, but already the experience has been very different from every other time I’ve looked for a job.

Obligatory Pre-Macworld Post

It’s that time of year again. As usual, I’m not going to try to predict. Lots of people are doing that, and either most of what we’ll see on Monday is either obvious if you’ve followed the Intel hardware roadmaps, or it falls into the category of “super-sekret, many chinese walls inside of Apple” projects, in which case predicting is ridiculously hard (and less fun than immersing yourself in the reality distortion field for a few hours).

I do however have a wish list of things that I’d like to see happen at Macworld. These aren’t so much predications as statements of pain points that I am having:

Mac OS 10.5.2
It’s amazing that I should be wishing for an operating system point upgrade for Macworld. Three months after release, I still haven’t upgraded to Leopard. Every time I work up the courage to do it (the DVD has been on my desk for 3 months) I see another report of some Leopard related disaster and turn back. Truth be told, even if 10.5.2 ships this week, I won’t be installing till enough other people have taken the arrows.

Universal Quicken
Two years into the Intel Mac transition, we still don’t have an Intel version of Quicken. This, and Microsoft Office (not that I use it much) are the only major PowerPC applications left on my machine. Firing either of them up is a huge pain in the neck, and the sluggishness is annoying. Office is ready to ship (not that I care much), so that leaves Quicken.

Cinema Display revamp
I’ve lost track of how many times this has been predicted. My 21″ CRT is running at 1920×1440, which is microscopic by anyones measuring. It’s time for a big LCD for me. Until I started taking pictures, I would have been happy with the current displays, but now the color gamuts just aren’t wide enough. This is leftover from last Macworld.

3G GPS iPhone
I am pretty sure this is coming sometime this year. But I would really like one now. But I bet not.

Aperture 2.0
I already wrote about this a few weeks ago. Aperture is long in the tooth. Unfortunately Macworld is the wrong show for this. This is a “pro” photography app. So it’s more likely that this shows up at PMA in a few more weeks. I hope so. The longer I use Lightroom, the more images go into it, and the harder it is for me to switch back.

Lightroom 2.0
See Aperture 2.0.

Java 6
Yes, I know. Wrong show, wrong audience. But wouldn’t Apple like to get over the embarrassment of this?

OSAF 2.0 and Me

On Tuesday, OSAF announced a substantial restructuring of the Chandler project. We’ve accomplished quite a lot on Chandler over the last 12-15 months, and I am particularly proud of what the Chandler Server/Cosmo team has accomplished during that time. The project is entering a new stage, with a much smaller staff. That staff will not include me — I felt that the project would be better served by letting me go and keeping one more engineer on staff. It is likely that I will remain involved with the Chandler community, although I’m not sure what form that will take at the moment.

I am looking for a new opportunity, and am open to lots of possibilities. I have done a wide variety of things in recent history: development work (server side Java, client and server side Python), open source community work, and engineering management. Depending on the opportunity, I’m able to do any of those things, on either a full time or consulting/contracting basis. My contact information is on the about page of my blog, as is my LinkedIn profile, which is a pretty good summary of my credentials.

Five years of blogging today

For several years now, I’ve missed my blogaversary, so I’m happy that I actually remembered this year. I’ve just finished my fifth year of blogging, although I slowed down a bit during 2007 for various reasons. The WordPress version of the blog only has 2007 on it, but the PyBlosxom version of my blog is still around (look in the sidebar for the link), and permalinks still work. As proof, here’s the very first post. I plan to be a little more active this year…

Prism App for Photophlow

I’ve been using Photophlow a fair amount over the last few days – It’s been pretty fun, although the real value will come if we manage to use it for shoot planning or review, which hasn’t happened yet.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that having Photophlow open in a browser while I’ve got other webapps running tends to make the overall experience a bit less nicer. So taking a page from Travis Vachon, I created a Prism (Webrunner) application for Photophlow. This lets you run Photophlow as a standalone application, in a container which is essentially a custom version of Firefox. You can get the webapp here. You will also need a copy of Prism to make this work.