Monday, December 12, 2005


What I love about Christmas is the lights on the trees and the excitment of gift giving. What I don't like is trying to figure out what to buy my friends. Every year I have this great idea about some gift but before I know it, it's December 19th and I only have a few days to drop off the gifts. Typically I end up getting them some gift certificates at a local music store with a small card. This year is not much different but I think I can twist it up a bit.


Just looking around some popular sites I have found some great tips about digital photography. Here at Microsoft's Digital Photography site they have a bunch of good resources, including a page about Photoshop CS2 RAW tips written by Scott Kelby.

If you never taken photos in RAW instead of JPG it's a great help when you need to "pull" that extra amount of detail from the photo. There are lots of pros and cons about using RAW but personally I think it's worth it, also it saved a few "lost" photos for me.

Half Life 2 and C++?

While I have a interest in computer programming, I don't have a great grasp on the technology used. I've taken classes in Visual Basic .NET and Java but still never made more than a small data base application. While playing Half Life 2, a computer game, I started to wonder about making my own Half Life level. After some research I found a great site with lots of info about modding (customizing a level) Half Life 2. This site from Valve's Developer Community is great and shows a very detailed basic beginner steps for creating you first mod.

Doing a quick search on Google, I found another page about modding Half Life 2 from Microsoft's Coding4Fun Half-Life 2 Mod Spot page. In this page they list a bunch of other sites for developers and mention that the free version of their C++ editor will not work with Half Life 2. In an updated Microsoft page I found that they now can use the Visual C++ 2005 Express Version, which is free to download. You can create you own games from all of these free tools! Except you still need to buy the game Half Life 2, which costs about $40. lol

Here's the site for all Microsoft Visual Studio Express items. It's free for a limited time.

World of Warcraft

I've been playing World of Warcraft on-line recently. It's a great game that is more interesting to me that typical on-line games. It's classed as a MMORPG, massivley multiplayer on-line role playing game, where people are playing in virtual worlds together. I have only been playing for three days but so far the worlds are really nice, lots of things to do and interact with other players.

Here's a picture of my character.

Then this is what a typical gaming area looks like.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Cold weather

This morning I was driving to church and the sky was clear, with that super chilly weather. For me I'm not great about winter time. Personally I don't mind rain, hot weather, but cold Chilly Willy weather is not my cup of tea. Guess I'm a bit cold blooded, maybe I should walk around with a electric blanket and a long extenstion cord.

The Fisheye camera

When taking pictures I tend to lean toward the wide side. In fact I usually have to rethink my photo ideas since my current lens does not deliver the wide angle I really want. So far I bought another lens to help but in the future I'll go with something a bit more sharper.

In the mean time I found this very interesting plastic camera. Basically, it's a cheap plastic camera, Holga style, with a super wide (fisheye) lens. This is really cool for those Beastie Boy-esque shots.

Freestyle photo has the camera for $50.

Cell phones

I just saw this ad for Comp USA in today's paper. It's a Nokia cell phone for GSM service that is unlocked. Unlocked is a phone that can be used for most all GSM cell phone companies, like T-Mobile, Cingular, and others. What is nice about this is you do not have to purchase any further contract and there is no extra cost with the phone. Great idea if you have a old phone and just want a replacement or you want something different.

Nokia 6170 at Comp USA


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My new computer

After using my notebook for my primary computer for a year I found that it had some limitations. Just saving my images was taking up too much room on my hard drive, even after I upgraded to a 60GB. Then I started moving all of my cd's to my computer, this also limited my drive space.

This past weekend I spent building my new tower system, mostly from parts I bought at New Egg and my local Central Computer. I was aiming for a performance computer with parts that are the most performance per dollar.

Since I do some computer gaming I opted for a nice video card, but also installed a dual core AMD processor for help with Photoshop and 3D tools. Two drives will help keep my images available and store them as a short time back up. Overall I'm really happy with the performance compared to my old tower and notebook. While I was adding a new computer I also bought a new LCD monitor. My 8 year old 19" CRT is out of focus and I felt it was worth paying $200 more for a LCD than another CRT.

After I got the OS up and running I installed Half Life 2, a game I've wanted to play since it came out last year. The first Half Life was a personal favorite with me, I just enjoy the story line, solving puzzles and shooting bad guys. The second is even better with great graphics and more things to do.

Here's a screenshot from my computer.

I'm trying to make a collection of screenshots but so far only have Half Life 2. These are all taken at 1280x1024 with full details. Very surprising to me the game actually runs pretty fast, but does stutter when loading new levels. I would love to see how this games looks on a 24" wide screen monitor!


Thursday, November 17, 2005

My first computer build

Back in 1999 I bought my first computer. My Dad had computers of various sorts in the house but I wanted something I could play with and not worry about breaking anything of his. So without much experience, besides how to plug in the components, I bought a copy of the PC Gamer "Ultimate Hardware Bible" and from here made my first computer. The computer was pretty decent for 1999 specs and cost me about $1,500 not including a monitor.

Here's the actual list of parts and their pricing from 1999.

  • Intel PIII-450 $250

  • Supermicro full tower w/300 watt $150

  • Asus 3BF $130

  • 128MB PC100 $130

  • Diamond Viper V770 Ultra $220

  • Creative Labs Sound Blaster $100

  • Generic CD-ROM 40X $50

  • Western Digital 6GB IDE 7200RPM $150

  • Windows 98 second edition OEM $150

It doesn't sound like much but I could play Half Life with decent frame rates. :)

Ironically, I'm building a new computer and just from the parts total I'm almost exactly at $1,500. I think you get more for your money but the prime performace to dollar is still around $1,500 for a gaming/performance computer. The last time I spent $500 on a 19" CRT monitor and now I'm spending $400 on a 19" LCD.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Very interesting blog!

I was just looking at other blogs and found this one, Camera Toss, which has photographs taken when tossing a camera. Excellent idea!

Another idea is to write with any bright LED or flashlight. You get some pretty cool shots from doing this.

This was taken with a digital camera on a tripod, and then using a bright bicycle tail light I wrote my name. Actually wrote it backwards, since I was standing in front of the camera.

I'm writing this blog from work, sitting here at my desk in the dark (the automatic lights shut off at 9pm). It's strange just how peaceful the workplace becomes when there is no one around. I can hear the soft musak playing in the background, can't make out the tune but it's jazzy. The slight hum of the air condition unit in the other room, and the cleaning crew making their rounds in the other offices.

During times like these I wish I worked grave yard, I could get a bunch more things done without having people talking or making noises. I'm easily distracted, like a cat to string. lol


Monday, November 14, 2005

Small computer

I've been looking for a new desktop computer. My last desktop is about 5 years old and just doesn't have the power any more. In fact my notebook is actually faster, been using this most of the time.

Since I'm used to something smaller, I was deciding upon the smaller SFF computers. SFF stands for "small form factor", they are the size of a small filing box or big shoe box. Really nice to have a computer on your desk but still save space. Here's one I'm reading about.

The Shuttle SN26P is really nice, complete with SLI for two graphic cards and support for X2 AMD processors. It's a tad expensive at $600 (barebones) but it is small and that's what you pay for. lol


Recently on a local motorcycle forum I say a message with the title, "do you have a god or gods?". Normally I that a careful stance on questions about faith. It's not that I don't like discussing these questions but I find that many times it's becomes far from a normal discussion. Well after reading the comments I was surprised to see how many people did not believe in a God or even had faith in different religions. Maybe those with faith didn't post their comments? After reading the entire posting, about 100 comments from various people with a 70/30 split, the majority aganist religions, I started thinking deeping into the question.

Maybe for the lower amount of people who have a belief or faith could be related to motorcycle riding? Sometimes I think of the motorcycle as more risky and in a slightly related idea, if you live without thinking about the afterworld, you might also take a chance on what happends when you die as well. I'll do some more reading into it but seems like an interesting topic.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Writing this from my lunch break at work. :)


There are some fun games on the Internet that are free or almost free. Rune Scape is a popular Java based game. The graphics are not great but it's much more better looking than the old school MUDs. The game is free to play but if you want more access to different worlds and skills then it's $6 a month. Not bad compared to Ever Quest or Xbox live. While playing this game I was cutting down some trees and broke my axe. I spent so much time just walking around trying to see who would fix it I gave up for a few months. lol

Speaking of old school games, here's a client for Windows that allows playing of old MUDs. These are text based games on the Internet, they mostly came out in the early 90's. It's called Zugg's MUD Client and for $30 offers a bunch of extras. Looks pretty cool. Also has access to all MUDs making it easy to find a new game.


Incase there is ever a zombie break out, this book will be at the top of the list to buy. The Zombie Survival Guide is pretty funny to read, lots of information about which weapon to use and why the biggest car isn't the best idea to drive (*hint the roads would be blocked and attracts zombies).


While on the topic of zombies, Kevan Davis has created a very interesting graphical example of a zombie breakout. Zombie Infection Simulation v2 simulates zombies infecting people. While Zombie Infection Simulation v2.3, Davis gave the humans a choice to either fight or run, leaving a 50 percent change they will still be infected. Amazing just how fast the v2 people get infected since they don't fight at all.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

After taking some audio classes at school I'm inspired to learn how to play an instrument. I think the guitar will be fun to learn and play, alway wanted to learn how to make music.

Now if I had the extra money for a great electric guitar I would get one of these.

Gibson Les Paul Classic

Or this

Fender American Strat

They are both expensive but sound really nice!

I used to be a huge music cd fan, that was up until Napster. Now I tend to purcahse my music on-line from iTunes, eMusic and in the used section of Rasputin. I still like to purchase my music in cd format, you have the highest quality sound and free to choose your encoding format for your music player.

Right now I am looking at Your Music, a service that for $5.99 a month will send you one cd. Every other cd after that is only $5.99 including shipping and tax. It's interesting, I spend more on magazines but still sounds too similar to the old "10 cd's for 1 penny" things.

Overall it's great for the new cd's that come out, averaging $15~17 after tax but I still find tons of great music in the $5 bins.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I uploaded a few pictures from last night's service at Jubilee. Came out pretty good considering how far I was. Shooting with my Canon 10D, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, 1.4x tc, between 400ISO and 800ISO.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I just finished watching Land of the Dead, a zombie movie by George Romero. If you don't know who George Romero is, basically he started the entire zombie theme with his first movie, Night of the Living Dead.

While I'm not going to spoil the ending of Land of the Dead, it was a bit easy to tell how the ending was going to turn out. It seems like every zombie movie ends with the same last scene. I started thinking about this and wonder just how to make a new zombie film without the stereotypical heros and zombies. It would be more interesting to follow further on the story of Dawn of the Dead. Instead of worring about the zombies the people started to have problems just dealing with the fact they might be the only people alive. Very intersting and reasons why it's still my favorite zombie themed horror movie. :)

BTW the remake of Dawn of the Dead dealt slighty with the same subject as the first movie but not as in much detail.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

I recently bought a Canon SD550 compact digital camera. Well the camera isn't as great as my 10D DSLR but it does have the feature to digital zoom. Just an example of how much zoom it can do.  Posted by Picasa

Jay's Evo 8. Very nice Volk wheels and a bunch more.  Posted by Picasa
Haven't posted on this blog for a while. Just to keep the page up I'm redirecting my domain to this page instead of the blank page that was displayed before.

Anything new? Not much but it has been getting really cold in the area. Winter is finally here when it's no longer sweater weather.


A picture from work, looking towards the small water fountain.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Ok, so the bird isn't real, but it is sharp and taken with a 50mm lens. Now to Photoshop the strings out.  Posted by Hello

I really nice this picture, it was taken using a 300mm lens and the birds are so tiny I walked right past them.  Posted by Hello

Pictures from Don Edwards reserve, geese if I'm not mistaken? Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 02, 2005

As you might have noticed I haven't posted much about motorcycles. I actually sold my bike back in Jan. Mostly reasons that I wanted something a little bit less racey and better for longer rides. Posted by Hello

Java Ranch is a great site to learn more about the Java programming. Posted by Hello