Ted Leung on the air
Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Sat, 29 Apr 2006
Seattle Mind Camp 2.0

I stopped by for slice of Seattle Mind Camp 2.0 today. I mostly stopped by to see friends and take in a bit of the atomosphere. Our family has been super busy the last 4-5 weeks, so I haven't been able to help much with this Mind Camp, and I wasn't even sure that I was going to go until just a day or two ago.

The highlight of the day was a session on user-centered design, led by Beth Kolko and Emma Rose. I'm trying to get a broader exposure to folks in the design community, and it was great to meet Beth and Emma and talk to them a bit about the design process that we are trying for Chandler. Discovering and getting involved with the design community in Seattle is exactly the kind of interactions that we hoped would happen as a result of Mind Camp. I also enjoyed meeting Chris and Jenni, who are long time bloggers and recent fans of Julie.

I put up a few pictures on Flickr, but it was hard to really get geared up to work hard on the photography today.

[23:47] | [places/us/wa/seattle] | # | TB | F | G | 3 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 20 Apr 2006
Wed, 19 Apr 2006
More photo book reviews

[ This post got written way back in November, but for reasons I can't explain I never posted it ]

More photography books via the library -- I just picked them up from prowling the shelves

"Criticizing Photographs" (Terry Barrett)

I really wanted to like this book, but I found that it was at a level of art / semiotics / interpretation that was outside my frame of reference. A few chapters in I decided to give up and try this one again some other time.

"The Photographer's Guide to Filters (Photographers Guide)" (Lee Frost)

I was surprised that there was an entire chapter devoted to discussing various filter systems, because it seems like a topic that would change as manufacturers changed their product line. Aside from that, this was a good introduction to the various kinds of filters that are available, and the conditions when you might use them. I have to admit that using filters seems a bit like cheating, and that many of the filter effects can probably be done in something like Photoshop. When you consider the cost of the various filters, filter systems and so forth (especially if you are unfortunate enough to have lenses with different filter sizes), the tradeoff between using a filter and Photoshopping it starts to get a little sketchy. I'm not really ready to do much with filters, except for polarizers. Even so, I only have a 58mm polarizer and now I have a 58mm lens and 52mm lens.

"The Complete Guide to Close Up & Macro Photography" (Paul Harcourt Davies)

It turns out that there's a lot of additional technology/gear that can be involved in dong macro photography. In this book I learned about stacked lenses, extension via tubes and/or bellows, focusing rails, the 53 degree Brewster angle for polarizers, and more. There was a fair amount of basic photography / composition review, which is good, because I still need the reinforcement.

The book reinforces the notion of macro photography as plants and bugs, aimed sort of at a scientific audience. There are good sections on issues specific to each of these kinds of subjects, but I wished for more "every day" applications of macro techniques.

Next up, a few books on photographing people, since I feel that my treatment of people is especially weak.

"Creative Approaches to Photographing People" (Vincent Colabella)

This is another book in the style of photo on one page, commentary on the facing page. Not every page is like that, but most of the book is. That can be fine assuming that the commentary is good. I found that the commentary for each photo was a little bit short, and as a beginner, I'm looking for more commentary rather than less. A part of the commentary for most of the photos is a lighting diagram. "Real" lighting looks to be a fairly expensive proposition, and I'm not at all sure that I'll be photographing people under those kinds of conditions, which made it hard to relate to much of the content.

"Photographing People" (John Hedgecoe)

This book covered a lot of topics, spending about 2 pages on each. The range went from the basics of portraiture, through portrait themes, locations, lighting techniques, and developing a style. There were some good ideas for themes for portraits -- I liked the "pride of possession" one - that's probably not something I would have thought about on my own. Still, I would have liked more beginner focused material, particularly on posing.

"Take Better Family Photos" (Steve Bavister)

This is a Reader's Digest book, and I never would have picked it up if I hadn't been trawling the shelves. But as it turns out, this was probably the most helpful book for me as a beginner. Yes, there was whole chapter on cameras which wasn't very helpful. Lots of little tips about flattering positions and poses.

Considering that the used price for this book on Amazon starts at $1-2, it be hard not to add this to the collection.

"Photographic Composition" (Tom Grill, Mark Scanlon)

Photographic Composition was on a lot of lists at Amazon, and I'd have to say that I agree with that. I've read a few other books on compositional topics, but this one gave me a much better grasp on the various controls for composition

In broad terms a particular photographic composition can be thought of as the product of graphics (points, lines and spaces), photographics (the unique ways the implements of photography influence the final image), and color (wavelengths of light affecting the viewer both physically and emotionally).

Most of the usual compositional elements are covered. This time the notion of focus as a compositional tool, both via selective focus and wide apertures, really stuck out to me. Perhaps that's because the 50mm f1.8 is really stretching me in that area. If I had to single out one of the books that I've read so far, this would be the one for composition.

[23:58] | [photography] | # | TB | F | G | 4 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Tue, 18 Apr 2006
DCamp: May 12 and 13th

If you are interested in design and user experience, you might consider popping in for DCamp on May 12th and 13th. I was conveniently scheduled to be in San Francisco for the week preceeding, so I'll be extending my stay in order to attend, along with a few other folks from OSAF. We're particularly interested in talking / brainstorming around the topic of design in open source and/or distributed projects. If you are interested in this topic and have ideas or questions that you want to share, please leave a comment or send mail.

[22:46] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Mon, 17 Apr 2006
Aperture 1.1

I spent a decent portion of the weekend processing photos using Aperture 1.1, and I'm pretty happy.

The big thing that I was unhappy with in 1.0 was performance, but I was also running on the absolute minimum PowerBook configuration. I am running 1.1 on the lowest end MacBook configuration: 1.83 GHz processor, 5400RPM hard disk and 128MB of VRAM. On that configuration, I am perfectly happy with the performance, once Aperture has done the disk I/O to read the RAW files in to memory. I did notice some pauses when loading up RAW images, but they were within acceptable limits for me. There were also some pauses the first time that sections of the app are used, which looks related to paging in the relative functionality (and paging out the stuff that was previously in memory). But on the whole, compared to the old setup, I am pretty happy, I finished my backlog of 800+ RAW images and I did not feel impeded by the performance of Aperture itself. I spent more time eyeing images side by side and trying to make up my mind about picture quality, framing, and composition, which is how it ought to be.

Apple made a number of improvements to RAW Conversion, which I haven't explored in a lot of detail, but I was not seeing artifacts in the RAW conversions in 1.1. They did add a digital color meter, which makes looking at color values a bit easier. I know that some people wanted this feature as an assist to adjusting white balance. I want to try using a grey card to do those adjustments -- I've mostly been using the dropper against white areas in the picture, and the results are fine to my relatively uneducated eye.

I now have enough disk volumes to use the Vault feature, which has been pretty easy to use, and I definitely intend to use it to make sure that there are copies of all my photos.

The release has much expanded documentation, including a 140+ page manual that explains how all the adjustment controls work. I think that the lack of proper documentation was something that frustrated a lot of 1.0 users -- there was capability there that was hard to operate, and the documentation was incomplete. The new documentation seems to be much improved.

Aperture 1.1 arrived just as I as about to loose my patience and start using the Lightroom beta to start working on the photo backlog. I had gotten as far as importing all my RAWs into Lightroom, but I didn't find the workflow that easy to use. The adjusting tools looked to be better -- they look more impressive at least, but I'm trying to be a purist about adjusting. I've gone from not adjusting at all to do adjustments of exposure, simple color levels, white balance, and simple sharpening. Realizing that all film photos are somehow adjusted during developing kind of softened my stance on adjusting. But I am really trying to avoid adjusting, because I want to force myself to get it right in the camera.

[21:50] | [photography] | # | TB | F | G | 4 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sat, 15 Apr 2006
The Wealth of Networks

My copy of Yochai Benkler's "The Wealth of Networks : How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom"
is on its way from Amazon. In the meantime I'll be looking over the PDF.

Larry Lessig is strongly endorsing it.

[22:46] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Fri, 14 Apr 2006
Flickr posting restored

Aperture 1.1 came out yesterday, which means that I can start processing the backlog of over 800 pictures that I've taken since the laptops got stolen. So far I am pretty happy with the update. I'm going to be doing photos for the next few days, so I'll wait till then to post a full review. In the meantime, I've started putting photos up on Flickr. I was using Flickr's Flickr Uploader before, but it turns out to be PowerPC only, which makes it feel kind of pokey. If people have recommendations for a better (preferably Universal) Flickr uploader, please let me know.

[23:27] | [photography] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 13 Apr 2006
On Going Bedouin

I just saw Greg Olson's post on Going Bedouin, as well as his follow up, Bedouins are Everywhere, and a number of things resonated with me:

  • In all the startup situations that I've been in, office infrastructure services were a big distraction. The cost in attention, time, and money was really not worth it.
  • As an open source person, and a former independent consultant, the whole notion of Going Bedouin just makes sense. It's just a normal part of what you do.
  • The tools for working Bedouin are definitely all there -- I use almost all of them on a daily basis. The only thing I would need to change from my current setup is to pick up EVDO service if I was more mobile. Fortunately, I don't need to do that. I have a decently decked out office at home, which is probably the best office I've ever had, including the hard walled offices I had at Taligent, Apple, and IBM.

I was very glad that Greg didn't equate Going Bedouin with working in coffee shops. There might be some job functions that can work perfectly well in a coffee shop, but jobs that require large amounts of flow state are non-starters in a coffee shop, at least for me. It's also starting to look like coffee shop workers are going to have security concerns to contend with. I'd much prefer software/technology versions of the Grotto. Places like that would be ideal for a few days a week of physical, time, allow for cross pollination and water cooler style serendipity. I know that Chris Messina has been working on something like this down in San Francisco. If I were still consulting, I'd be trying to do similar thing for the Seattle area. Even so, I'd only want to be there for meeting/communications days. Right now at OSAF, even the people that work in the San Francisco office are only there 3 days a week. Those three days get filled up with meetings and other in person stuff. I guard those other two days for the high flow state stuff.

Greg devoted a big paragraph in the follow up to worker socialization. If people don't all go to the office, how will their social needs be met? The question is a variant of one that I get asked when people find out we homeschool our kids: If children don't go to school, how will they learn to socialize? I think Greg asks the right question: do we want some other institution to be responsible for our social structure/network/well being? Work and school are not the only places where one can interact with people.

[22:47] | [misc] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Wed, 12 Apr 2006
Kudos to Jabra

One of the things that got stolen along with our laptops was the USB charging cable for my Jabra Bluetooth headset. I have a "normal" charger, so I was just resigned to the loss of the little wire and the accompanying inconvenience. While rebuilding the Mac, I discovered that Jabra had issued a firmware upgrade for the headset that might improve its performance with Skype. Unfortunately, upgrading the firmware required the USB cable. I popped open a new tab in Firefox, and started browsing around trying to find a place that would sell me a replacement. Google turned out to have no answers at all on this particular topic. As a last resort, I send a message to the tech support address on the Jabra website. After a brief e-mail exchange, the support folks were happy to send me a replacement cable at no extra charge. The cable arrived very quickly because it was so light it could go first class mail.

I'll definitely be looking at a Jabra when it comes time to replace that headset...

[21:53] | [gadgets] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Tue, 11 Apr 2006
What does it mean for Ruby on Rails to become mainstream?

We've been going through the Ruby on Rails book in our Bainbridge Island reading group, so I was interested to see Cedric Beust's post Why Ruby on Rails won't become mainstream. It took me a few moments to get over the sting of being called someone who hasn't learned anything in 30 years (despite the fact that I only learned Lisp/Scheme 22 years ago). That bit of discomfort aside, there are some interesting points in his post. I am looking for a web framework for some experimental projects, and I think that many of the points that Cedric made are just as applicable to Python/Turbogears/Django, etc.

Cedric's definition of mainstream includes being appealing to Visual Basic and PHP programmers. That seems to be the backdrop of his first two points, that Ruby and Rails are too hard for these folks. I can see some of these points - folks in our reading group have been somewhat mind bent by some of the Ruby concepts, and they are Java/C# folks, which would put them higher on the food chain than VB and PHP programmers. I think that some of this is just unfamiliarity as opposed to difficulty, but there's not doubt that there is a learning curve there.

The next major point is about the lack of an IDE. I think that the term IDE has gotten a bad rap due to a class of products whose only real value add was to generate reams of horrible looking boilerplate code. But IDE's should be more than that, and the better ones are. One of the few things I miss from Java is Eclipse (never used the much vaunted IntelliJ). I use WingIDE for Python, which is at about the same level that Symantec Cafe was for Java. I mostly used Cafe for the debugger, which is the big reason I use Wing too. For me, the big jump in Java IDE's came with Eclipse (maybe IntelliJ was there first, I can't remember anymore), which could do refactoring and other semantic operations. This was the point where it was really worthwhile for me to use an IDE in preference to Emacs. Those of us that cut our teeth on the original dynamic languages (Smalltalk and Lisp) did so in the context of the fully integrated and graphical development environments of the Smalltalk and Lisp machines. This is in contrast with the currently popular dynamic languages which originated in the text only world of UNIX/Linux. So the only quibble I'd have with Cedric on this one is that is 2006 not 1984.

As far as fanaticism, I haven't personally experienced this, but then again, I haven't said anything negative about Ruby on Rails either.

The last two topics, 1) "enterprise" capabilities and scalability and 2) lack of support from Internet Providers, are both related to deployment.

The scalability question came up in our reading group as well, and I'd agree that the jury is still out on whether there are enough large deployments to settle the question conclusively. One area that makes me personally nervous is that a lot of work has been done on improving the VM for Java than on the VM's for Ruby, Python, or Perl. People in the Ruby, Python, and Perl camps seem uncomfortably sanguine about the performance of the VM's for these languages.

The ISP support question goes back to the assumption that the mainstream target audience is the Visual Basic and PHP developers. I know that ISP support for Python was problem for a number of folks who wanted to use Pyblosxom. In the days of User Mode Linux, Xen and so forth, you'd think that this should be a solved problem, but it doesn't seem to be, and if the target is PHP, then I'd have to agree that this is a problem.

So I'm mostly in agreement with Cedric, if the definition of mainstream is PHP and Visual Basic. But I have to wonder if that's the right definition for mainstream, or whether being mainstream should really be the goal. I know that I would personally like an outcome where Rails (or Turbogears/Django) was an acceptable technology to build a web application. By acceptable, I mean that you wouldn't have to pay a premium for developers familiar with the technology, there was an acceptable quality IDE, and your use of the technology wouldn't be regarded as a risk by investors or prospective investors. I don't know whether taking over the niche occupied by PHP and Visual Basic is necessary for that outcome to happen.

It is very hard for a technology to become mainstream. My own view is that Java succeeded because it arrived at a moment when there were serious problems with web development, and there was a need for a solution which had some of the properties that Java had. As Cedric pointed out, even in that situation Java had a number of problem areas to overcome before it became successful. Java also received a shot of enterprise legitimacy from IBM, something that Ruby has not (I think James Governor is jumping the gun on IBM's support for Ruby). I don't think we're at the point where the problems in web development are so bad that it's very difficult to get the job done. Annoying, perhaps. More complicated and expensive than necessary, perhaps. But it doesn't feel like it's so bad that the majority of people are going to switch over to a very different way of doing things. There's a rule of thumb that says that something new has to be around one order of magnitude better than the thing it's replacing. Regardless of how much I like Rails/Turbogears/whatever, I have to wonder whether that one order of magnitude is clearly there. I personally feel that it's close enough to be worth it for me and the things that I am interested in. But that's different from saying it's there for the entire market.

[00:11] | [computers/programming] | # | TB | F | G | 8 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Mon, 10 Apr 2006

I have a second telephone line which I am paying way too much for. For several months I've been meaning to do something about it, and I think I'm piling up enough momentum to do something about this. From what I can tell, the folk who read this blog are pretty technically savvy, so I'd like to know whether you are using Vonage (or a similar service), what your experience has been, and what your recommendations would be in terms of provider, plan, hardware, hacks, etc.

Here are some things that are important to me:

  • VoiceMail as E-Mail - I am horrible at returning voicemail - I hate the phone pad interface to voicemail, and I want to manipulate that stuff from my computer.
  • Caller ID - So I don't have to talk to spammers, I mean, telemarketers
  • Call Forwarding that tries a list of alternate phone numbers before dumping to voice mail, and the ability to turn this on from a web page - I always forget to forward my phone
  • The ability to dial phone numbers from my computer - that means a Mac.
  • Cost of the service is a factor, and free long distance is pretty much mandatory
  • I want a solution that doesn't tie up my computer or that will degrade because I've got both cores in the MacBook Pro maxxed out doing compiles, running tests, or rendering in Aperture.
  • Ability to keep my existing phone number

What are you using and why?

[00:40] | [gadgets] | # | TB | F | G | 13 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 09 Apr 2006
Mitch Kapor's new blog

Mitch Kapor has a new blog up. In addition to Chandler, Mitch is involved with a number of things, including Second Life and Foxmarks.

[20:03] | [computers/open_source/osaf] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sat, 08 Apr 2006
Seattle Mind Camp 2.0

Registration for Mind Camp 2.0 is now open. The dates are April 29 through April 30. I haven't been able to be involved much with the planning of this one, but I'm sure that it will be just as good as the last one.

[01:19] | [places/us/wa/seattle] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Fri, 07 Apr 2006
A Little More MacBook

I'm to the point where most of the big migration tasks are done now. There are still a bunch of little ones but I'm going to them piecemeal, so I'm just going to do this big wrapup for now

(More) Native apps that I've installed:

Non-native apps I've installed:

New apps that I've installed:

  • PodWorks is my friend! Not only did it get all my music from my iPod back into iTunes, it also recovered the ratings and playcount metadata
  • FastScripts Lite - free version is good, wish you could walk the menu after popping the hot key -- otherwise too many hot keys. Has some good display functionality usable from scripts -- if I start using that, I'll but the full version
  • lingon is a great editor for launchd config files, but unfortunately calendar based launching appears to be broken (still), so I guess I'll be going back to anacron, although the new version of NetNewsWire on Intel is so fast that I don't really mind the wait.
  • MenuCalendarClock - I have iCal open much less now that I am dogfooding Chandler, so sometimes I just want quick glance at the calendar.
  • Service Scrubber - This is a nice tool for fixing the keybindings to services. OmniOutliner Pro's Add to Clipping service was bound to Cmd->, which is what Emacs uses for go to end of file, and which I hit a lot. I had been editing the Info.plist for the service, but Service Scrubber is a much nicer way to do it.

Miscellaneous stuff:

I also observed the yellow cursor problem in Intel X11.app. Fortunately, there is a patch for that.

PithHelmet now works with NetNewsWire. It didn't used to work on my old laptop, but both programs have advanced, and I'm happy to be able to kill ads out of my NetNewsWire browser tabs. Just one more step on the way to getting rid of my standalone browser.

The remote is cool. We used it to watch a Netflix movie the other night, and it really works pretty well. It seems that only Front Row causes the weird hangs that I saw with rcd.app. Actually I haven't been brave enough to try it since I updated to 10.4.6, so maybe that's all straightened out. I've also used the remote to hush up the sound from iTunes. So it's kind of growing on me. It'll be interesting to see what kind of hacks happen around it.

Wireless performance is much improved over the PowerBook. I picked up a whole pile of wireless networks right around my house. We never saw them with the old machines.

I am still waiting for Aperture 1.1 to show up so I can post the backlog of Flickr photos. I could use LightRoom or iPhoto to do it, but I'm going to be stubborn, at least until April 15th or so.

I've built all the Python extensions that I need for my system automation, libxml2 and egenix's mxTidy. On these dual core machines, make -j 2 is your friend. appscript and ipython are also working just fine.

Apple issued a bunch of firmware updates along with Boot Camp. The update installed fine, but unlike some people, it didn't cure the CPU whine for me.

That whine is really the only thing that I'm unhappy with. I am really happy with the performance, and this is the bottom of the line configuration. Aperture is probably going to be the real torture test, so I'll have more to report on that.

Those of you who are sick of reading about Mac stuff can relax now. I have some non-Mac stuff in the pipeline.

[23:23] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 06 Apr 2006
It's a good week for Windows lovers

First there was Boot Camp.

Today, Parallels shipped a beta of their Windows virtualization product.

So now we get to compare things side by side. Between yesterday and today, I saw a lot of posts advertising blue screens of death on Macs. I haven't tried the Parallels product yet, because I don't want to activate a copy of Windows XP on it. The Parallels product shows that virtualization of Windows and Linux can happen on Intel Macs. There's only one Windows program that I need to run, so I'm not in a terrible hurry to get Windows up, and since the rumor mill says that VMWare is working on a Mac version, I think I'm going to wait until the final versions of each of those products appear and then make my choice. Who knows maybe even XenSource and Microsoft will be in the game at that point.

I want to run Linux this way as well, so that I can (among other things) do testing of Chandler on all three platforms. I"m surprised that Ubuntu didn't appear in the list of supported guest operating systems for the Parallels product.

Nonetheless a good week for people wanting to run Windows (and Linux) on a Mac. You can pretty much have it anyway you want.

[23:18] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 4 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Wed, 05 Apr 2006
Boot Camp is here...

So Apple surprised us withe Boot Camp

My thoughts remain the same...

[21:43] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

twl JPG


Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Now available!
Professional XML Development with Apache Tools : Xerces, Xalan, FOP, Cocoon, Axis, Xindice
Technorati Profile
PGP Key Fingerprint
My del.icio.us Bookmarks
My Flickr Photos

RSS 2.0 xml GIF
Comments (RSS 2.0) xml GIF
Atom 0.3 feed
Feedburner'ed RSS feed

< April 2006 >
2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Macintosh Tips and Tricks

Blogs nearby
geourl PNG

/ (1567)
  books/ (33)
  computers/ (62)
    hardware/ (15)
    internet/ (58)
      mail/ (11)
      microcontent/ (58)
      weblogs/ (174)
        pyblosxom/ (36)
      www/ (25)
    open_source/ (145)
      asf/ (53)
      osaf/ (32)
        chandler/ (35)
        cosmo/ (1)
    operating_systems/ (16)
      linux/ (9)
        debian/ (15)
        ubuntu/ (2)
      macosx/ (101)
        tips/ (25)
      windows_xp/ (4)
    programming/ (156)
      clr/ (1)
      dotnet/ (13)
      java/ (71)
        eclipse/ (22)
      lisp/ (34)
      python/ (86)
      smalltalk/ (4)
      xml/ (18)
    research/ (1)
    security/ (4)
    wireless/ (1)
  culture/ (10)
    film/ (8)
    music/ (6)
  education/ (13)
  family/ (17)
  gadgets/ (24)
  misc/ (47)
  people/ (18)
  photography/ (25)
    pictures/ (12)
  places/ (3)
    us/ (0)
      wa/ (2)
        bainbridge_island/ (17)
        seattle/ (13)
  skating/ (6)
  society/ (20)

[Valid RSS]

del.icio.us linkblog



Listed on BlogShares

Locations of visitors to this page
Where are visitors to this page?

pyblosxom GIF