Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Since I remember skating as a young child I was amazed by Rodney Mullen. Today he's still skating and is even more impressive than before. Many skaters have suggested that Rodney and Mark Gonzales have created the modern street skating with their mix of technical skills.
Short video of Rodney Mullen
Recently I was reading a discussion about MMORPG's on-line games and found this game web site. Second Life is basically like a huge on-line game but where it's different from other games is there are no objectives, instead you just build and explore the world. I tried this game out and was impressed with the amount of game space you can travel.
Like with most on-line games, there is a monthly fee but you can create an account for free and explore the world. The only down side is you can not buy anything (in game money is bought with real world money) and you can not own any land (houses can be built in the game). It's still free and fun.
Second Life web site
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I've been going to school on and off since high school and in recent years kept going to finish a degree. Just recently the last class I needed to finish was only available during the day, which I could not take due to my work. After checking again I found that there is a web class as well which I could take to complete my degree. I was pretty excited and glad that I was down to the last class.
Monday, November 27, 2006
This weekend while taking some photos in SF my friend and I discussed this question. Does better equipment equal better photographs? There are some people who say it’s all of the photographer’s skill, I tend to think it’s a mixture of the equipment and the ability of the photographer.
Let’s take this scenario for example. Two photographers, same skill level, both take pictures of a flower garden. Photographer A is using an entry level digital SLR with the kit lens and a 1gb memory card. Photographer B is using a pro level digital SLR with a wide variety of lenses, also has many gb’s of memory cards. With the two photographers taking the pictures of the same objects, who will have the better result? I would say Photographer B would have clearer images and with the greater amount of images taken, better chance to find a nice image of the bunch.
It seems like photography is one area that skill can be made up with better equipment more so that other skills. For example if a low skilled guitar player would have played a $2,500 Les Paul or a $99 Squire, I doubt there would be much if any difference in his/her skill since there is no way to “fake” play. But if poor photographer used pro level equipment and had the ability to take thousands of photos they would have much better chance to get a good shot but just taking as many pictures as possible.
I wonder if other hobbies also follow this pattern as well?
Monday, November 20, 2006
I'm not a big MySpace fan, I have a profile but it's checked rarely and don't keep in touch with friend's profiles either. Recently I was browsing on MySpace for high school class mates, and by chance started searching for other people. I found some interesting profiles.
The Gorillaz music group
World of Warcraft video game
Dr. Octagon, hip hop artist
Relevant Christian music magazine
These are just a few I found, and I'm sure there are thousands more. It's pretty funny to see the profiles for cartoon characters as well.
I just found this link for a movie called Obsession. It's about radical Islam's war aganist the West. Not sure what to expect but does sound interesting to see.
I've been playing on and off World of Warcraft for the past year. The game is a MMORPG, where you play on-line with other people in a virtual gaming world. It's fun but after playing to level 34 (with 60 being the highest) it's becoming less fun. The game is still fun but seems like I'm doing the same thing but with higher level people to fight.
Just recently based upon a suggestion from a co-worker I downloaded a trial version of Everquest2, called Trial of the Isle. It's a free version of the game that allows you to explore and get an idea of the game before buying a copy. So far I've only played a hour but it seems fun and different from Warcraft. Not sure if I'll keep playing after the trial period but it does look good.
Here's what the game looks like.
Logic in programming
From my last posting I've been working on learning C# programming. This isn't my first time learning how to program but wanted to take this further than simple text book application and make something I could use for work. While the actual coding is hard, what is most challenging is using logic with programming. Since the computer is really not smart and only does what is told, your program must be carefully designed to work without any issues.
I found this also applies to other applications as well. In Flash I was making a small interactive music game for kids as part of my class work. I came across a problem in my design where I wanted something to stop then start when the user clicked a button. At first I was worried that I would have to redesign the whole project but then I thought about working around this problem.
Using an example from my text book, I added a script function and fixed the issue using a short command to stop the movie, then start to play only one loop when clicked. It sounds easy but took me a while to figure it out. :)
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
At work I've been trying to make a simple script to pull information from various servers. The problem I'm encountering is the limited ability to run the script, you have to run this from a command prompt and most users are not familar with this.
Instead of buying another tool, I got the idea about building a application from the bare bones. A few months ago I attended a Microsoft show that handed out Microsoft Visual Studio, a software application for programming Windows applications. Now I always thought that building applications of something useful was really hard. I've written programs at school that did things like play a game or added students to a simple database. Here I wanted to do a bit more.
So now I'm trying to learn what I can and re-learn what I forgot (it's been a few years since my last class).
Here's a few useful links for those who are intersted in prgramming as well.
Microsoft's Coding 4 Fun web site, lots of interesting projects.
Microsoft's C# Learning Resources videos, a bunch of free beginner videos on C#.
Learn Visual Studio web site, lots of videos but you need to subscribe.
Writing a letter
Today I sent out a package to my friend in Chicago. I included a hand written letter since she sent me one with a lanyard the previous week. While I was writing the letter I really noticed just how long it's been since I've actually wrote someone. It's interesting to read someone's letter. At times you can almost feel what they are feeling from the way they write and it has some much more meaning than a e-mail or phone call.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Just recently I found this book at the local book store titled Freakonomics . The book is a very interesting list of reasons from a economist's point of view why certian things happen. One very interesting topic was the reason for crime to lower in the late 90's. In the early 90's, many crime experts said the crime would rise 50%, while it actually dropped 50%, the reasons why were puzzling to the experts. Here the economist Steven Levitt explains that while many people considered gun laws and further police training to make the biggest impact they overlooked the most important piece of the puzzle.
In the 70's a major law was found and won on the courts was Roe vs. Wade, the abortion rights across the nation. Here Levitt explains that since many poorer parents would not want their children they would be more likely to have them aborted. These same children who should have grown up to become criminals 20 years later, now were never born and this would be the reason for the crime drop 20 years later.
It's a very interesting idea and I agree that it does make more sense that any gun law or police traning program.
Does gun control really stop crime? I'm not sure but I think it's a simple fix to a bigger problem. The view of the public might see guns in the news and think that by stopping the sale of certian firearms this would stop the criminals on the street but it's really not the exact truth.
Many crime experts say that it's still very easy to find guns on the street to buy. Also the people who are doing the most crime can not legally purchase a gun so the added gun laws do not stop him or her. It's a very debated subject and I do see both view points but would rather see more push for added laws stopping repeat criminals rather than more gun control laws.
Here's the Wiki on Gun Control that has pros and cons on the subject.
Gun Control Wiki
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
While I have liked the guitar for a long time what really got me interested in playing was hearing Stevie Ray Vaughan's Pride and Joy. It's still one of my favorite songs and I have really liked his style of playing. It's so simple at times but then can become super complex.
To get an better idea of his playing, here's a video showing the close up of his playing style. This is an old video but it's really shows just how fast he plays.
SRV playing Rude Mood
Sadly, as with many bright stars, SRV died in a helicopter accident in 1990 and in a special concert his brother with many other famed guitarists had a very special show.
SRV Shuffle video
Speaking of guitars, here's the battle scene from Crossroads. BTW that's actually Steve Vai playing aganist him self. :)
Crossroads guitar battle
When the topic of the real estate comes up there is a big line draw between the people who say a crash is near, and the people who say a crash will never happen. As history has taugh us, things go through a cycle and usually we can find how the market will be affected by looking at how it was decades ago.
Here's a short article from the Wall Street Journal about this topic.
RealEstateJournal Housing Market May Land Harder Than Economists Expect
What is really interesting is the graph they show for the market from the 80's to today.
There seems to be a very similar peak in the 1980's and 2006, with a similar expecting drop. Does this show the future? I'm not sure but I am saving my money just in case.
Monday, September 04, 2006
After almost two years of not riding (sold my last bike in Jan 2004) I've been really wanting to get another bike. Something I really missed about not having a bike was how it makes any trip more fun and interesting. Taking a ride to the coast is a lot more fun on a motorcycle and it's much easier to stop and take pictures. :)
My last bike was nice but I just didn't like how it rode. Hard to explain but it felt really heavy and never got used to the bike. Now after I had a lot of time to think about another bike I want something easy to ride and cheap to insure. So I'm thinking of two different bikes that I might buy. A Kawasaki Ninja 250 or a Suzuki DRZ-400SM, both pretty small and light weight, also easy to ride.
Both bikes are really nice, and just recently gotten a chance to test ride a DRZ-400 from a local rider. The bike rode very nice but it was not as comfortable as the Ninja 250 for longer rides. The DRZ is really a dirt bike based street bike and it's hard seat with a small gas tank makes longer trips not as easy.
While summer is ending I might be able to get a better deal on the motorcycle since people don't usually ride much in the fall and winter time. Hoping to have a new bike soon, maybe next month.
This weekend my friend and I spent some time at the range. Really nice day and not very hot, spent a few hours there shooting targets. It was pretty fun, had Jeff, Kevin and Frank there with their guns. I brought two pistols and a 22 rifle.
Here's the view from my rifle at 25 yards.
While shooting we wanted to see how accurate the rifle was, so we put up this quarter at 25 yards. Here's the quarter after a 22LR supersonic bullet.
More pictures are located here.
Range Trip pictures
Long time since my last posting, I made a few changes and moved the gallery to another page. Wanted to bring my blog on the front page again.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Just recently I got my photography portfolio completed for my class project. Came out better than expected and shows my favorite images. You can find the link here.
Robert Freiberger's portfolio
Just a sample picture from my portfolio as well.
I tried to make the galleries a good mix of my different styles and keep them with high quality images. It actually was very difficult checking all of my 10,000 images and finding the best ones of the bunch. Honestly, I think I got the best ones and still had less than 50 images. I'm not a professional photographer but feel it's not a bad ratio.
Playing the guitar
Last year I took a live recording and sound reinforcement class at my local school. After going to this class and recording live bands, mostly jazz and classic concerts, I started to become interested in learning an instrument. I decided a piano was too big, brass horns too loud, and drums just way too loud. So I was down to either a guitar or a harmonica, I picked the guitar.
So for Christmas my parents gave me a nice Fender acoustic guitar beginner package. I played this on and off up until last month. It was a bit hard to really understand the basics at first. The few books I bought started right into playing but didn't show you how to tune the guitar or where to place your fingers. Also while playing I would get a constant "buzzzz" from the string, not sure but it was very annoying and even after pressing down hard still had this problem.
After a while I stopped playing and the guitar began to collect dust. Well one day at work, I mentioned I was trying to learn the guitar to a co-worker and how the strings keep buzzing. He said to take it over to a well known guitar shop and have the guitar correctly set up. That weekend I dropped the guitar off at Aantone's Music in Newark. For a very good price for $45, Aantone set up the guitar which included filing down the bridge, changed the strings to a lighter type, added a second strap peg, oiled the rosewood board, and adjusted the neck.
The guitar now plays much better and now I have no one to blame for buzzing except my self. :)
I'm also trying out my friend's Fender Stratocaster electric guitar which I really like. The guitar is actually made in Japan instead of the current models being made in Mexico. Right now I am using his small amp which is pretty nice but I want to play with distortion and may buy a new amp soon.
Just recently I upgraded to a second monitor for my home desktop. While it might sound excessive just for home use, the second monitor is simple great for Photoshop or other applications where you need more deskspace. The problem I ran into before with using a single 19" LCD is the limited desktop resolution. At 1280x1024 you have to keep main window very small and it's not easy to multitasking across different windows. Now I can have one monitor just for Photoshop and the other just for viewing my files.
Here's an example of how the desktop looks with two monitors.
Monday, January 02, 2006
Wishing everyone a great new year!
San Jose's Christmas in the Park
This year I visited Christmas in the Park with my friend and we took some pictures. It's a nice even San Jose throws every year in the down town area. The pictures really don't show the animated puppets and little trains which was really nice.
I'm in the process of saving money for a home but in the mean time read about the market and topics in the news. This article from the Wall Stree Journal's free site caught my attention.
Basically, they said that while the rates are down it's not a good idea to get over your head with a loan that is more than you can afford. Sounds like common sence but it's hard to settle for something small when you can get something bigger for a few hundred more a month.
A few monthes ago, the video game publisher Sierra released the game F.E.A.R for the PC. This game was created by the company Monolith, they also created the great game series called No One Lives Forever. This game featured a woman as the main character and was set in a very Austin Powers type world completed with funny cut scenes.
Well my local Fry's had the game on sale for $37 so I figured I try the game out and see how it plays. It's actually one of the highest rated game of this year so I figure it must be good. After paying the game for an hour I really was disappointed with the graphics. I don't think it's a performance issue but even with the highest settings they still look sub-par compared with Half Life 2 or Battlefield 2.
The overall game play feels slightly dated as well. I really liked the thinking game that Half Life 2 was, you couldn't just run out and blast everything, some levels required thinking. For F.E.A.R. I felt that it was lacking the depth of a good game, and the feature of the "bullet time" slo-mo was not very interesting. I'll try playing the game again but so far it could have been done better. I do have to say that the creepyness of the game is done well. Plenty of gorey areas, nice effects with the lighting and interesting story line.
Learning to play
For Christmas I received an Fender acoustic guitar kit. It's pretty nice, comes with the tuner, learning dvd, bag and some picks. So far I bought an book to learn from, just going over the basics on how to hold each fret and correct placement of the fingers. It's hard to come from playing music as a dj then to creating music as a musician. I'm so used to hearing something, and being able to change the tempo or tone that understanding how the music is created was something I lacked.
I actually got interested in playing a guitar when I was out helping record a jazz band. Once I saw how the band works and they each play a part of the music I was more interested in playing. Another time I helped record a short session of a 4 piece band. While the band members were discussing the song they kept reffering to names such as "B5" or "E7", then they could tell just what key the song was sung in. These are areas which I never learned from playing records. I'll follow up once I have more experience on the guitar but my goal is to play Message in the Bottle and Everlong.