2013 Year in Review

January 1, 2014 at 2:06 am

Another year of hardly any updates another year of summing it all up in one post at the end of the year.

Hopefully 2014 I'll be paying more attention to my site.

One thing you probably didn't notice is I've finally stopped using the "All rights reserved" copyright notice. This is a carry over from years gone by where I saw a lot of company sites put that on their pages. Not knowing what it even meant I stuck it at the bottom of my pages. Well that was just silly of me so now all content on this site is licensed creative commons by-nc-sa v4.0. This means you can use anything on here so long as you give me credit for it, any modifications are also similarly licensed, and that you don't make money off my content. This is actually how I've always been but never updated the site accordingly. Note that these are just your default rights but if you're doing something where you really don't want to give me credit or something then contact me and we can work something out. Coincidentally since the prior license was all rights reserved it's easy for me to now declare all past content on this site is also CC BY-NC-SA. This probably isn't a huge deal for anyone but I wanted to put that wording in there to show my full intent of re-licensing all content in case a lawyer comes by one day and needs to make sure it's all good.

With all the security news recently I'm going to enhance the security of this site. First off I'm moving all content hosted elsewhere and host it locally. The main things this includes are the images (currently hosted on flickr) and comments (currently hosted by intense debate).

The images should be simple enough to do (I'll still have links to the flickr page as there are some comments there from people).

Comments are going to be a little more tricky. What I'm thinking of doing is dropping comments from the site. Instead I'd come up with a hashtag and say if you want to comment on this then use that hashtag. While I'm not a big fan of saying "post the comment elsewhere" I also realize that the last comment made by anyone was January 2011. Could that be because I'm using intense debate? don't know. This is also something I'm still thinking about. I may go back to the standard name, email (hidden), and comment. Let me know if you have any suggestions. As for old comments, I'll get a dump of the comments from intense debate and have them statically included in the page. As a nice side effect of all this you don't have to allow third party cookies or have javascript on to use the site (only existing thing will be google analytics and if you keep javascript off for that it's not going to prevent anything on the site)

One thing I'm still dedicate to doing, no ads. Mostly this is just the realization that this is such low traffic that any ad revenue would take years before I earned enough for payout. I will still do the amazon referral links because it doesn't affect the price you pay and it gets me something although to be fair I have yet to make enough on there to see any money, and I think the minimum is $1

Also thinking of finally switching away from PHP. It's served it's purpose but it's just always been annoying to use. I've been looking at django and it seems nice enough. Aside from my gripe about versioning (seriously people, Semantic Versioning). At least python itself follows it (unlike ruby's "versioning format" if you call it that. Interestingly rails seems to follow it though). Also django has a documented process on how they do versions and what versions are supported. Yes, this paragraph was mostly a rant against project versioning. Heck even this site I have internal versions (currently at v5 and will be on v6 when/if I rewrite for django)

Aside from website stuff I plan on recreating my pgp key soon. 2048 bit keys are perfectly secure but nowadays computers can handle 4096 bit keys.

Although still not complete, I'm working on moving all the server stuff at home to a server running ESXi. I still have to move most things over but it should reduce the heat and electric bills. Also with virtual machines I can do things like have production scripts (for example my xkcd twitter bot) running on a separate server than the one I'm developing on.

In other geeky news, I've slowly converted to using Vim pretty much full time. It was always my editor of choice in terminal but I've been using the gui versions in windows and mac as well.

So if you have any input on anything either leave a comment here or the main social site I'm on is twitter

Posted in General, Website, Geek Talk, Security and Privacy. |

Ohayocon 2013

January 22, 2013 at 7:51 am

Unknown character from Ohayocon 2013

Don't really have much to say about this year's Ohayocon. I hope they figure out the line situation because it seems to get worse with each year. Number of attendees grows but the rooms are still the same size. So you wait in line and then usually fills up before you get in.

Picked this picture since in my ever growing challenge to get close-up shots this is as close as I got this year. I do feel like I may have done a little too much tweaking with the levels. Straight out of camera it was really good, didn't have to touch exposure compensation or even white balance. I do have a flash shooting into a Flip-It which helped fill in shadows.

With the photo shoot I did this year I again didn't feel too energetic about it and unfortunately I think shows in the results. People end up enjoying them but I always feel like I could have done better. Even in the general photos from walking around I feel like I could have done better. Maybe I need to do some more urban exploring for inspiration?

Posted in Photography. |

2012 Year in Review

December 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm

As you can probably tell I've been slacking on keeping this up to date with information. So without further adieu I'm just going to smash all the year's happenings into a single post.

With that last post being from an Ohayocon I'll start there. That was the only anime convention I went to this year. Usually I also go to anime punch but this year they added a second convention for gaming specific stuff which took up their usual April spot. The anime one happened a couple weeks ago just before christmas. As I had family plans I couldn't go to that either. Finally the other convention I've gone to a couple times, colossalcon, I just forgot about again. Next year I do plan on going to Ohayocon again. Don't know if I'll go anywhere else.

The other thing I usually post on here is pictures I take. Well, aside from Ohayocon I haven't taken any pictures. Meant to do some more urban exploring but never seemed to get enough motivation to go out. Haven't gone out on any photo walks or anything either. Did still mean to go through my old photos and post those maybe once a month. But again I wasn't really all that motivated to do it. Not sure if any of this will change next year or not, we shall see.

For a while this year I got into a soldering kick. I made a few jeenodes. Not using them for anything yet but was going to experiment with remote sensors around the house. Other big projects was the O2 amp. I use the amp daily at work (I also have the ODAC so it connects to computer over usb). If you need a good headphone amp it's a nice intermediate project and you can build the amp and add the dac for about $250 and have a pretty darn good amp. Or you can just be lazy and order them prebuilt from jdslabs. I'm looking at other stuff to build but nothing else has really peaked my interest.

I also looked in to inexpensive VPS (virtual private servers) providers. They can be really inexpensive but some also have horrible service. One I have a few now is BuyVM. They're most well known for 128mb openvz (it limits you on what OS can be installed) for $15/year. You can run a small static website and a mail server without any issues. For $3/mo extra (I think) you get access to a shared MySQL database which is a pretty good deal since you then don't have to run one yourself. Also they have native IPv6 support, even if everyone is still trying to avoid IPv6 as long as possible.

Not really a VPS but I also got a dedicated server from kimsufi (it's the econo line for OVH). For about $20/mo I get a server with 2gb RAM and 1tb hard drive. So I'm using it for cheap offsite backups. And when I mean offsite I mean it. The server is located in France. It also lets me really verify if a site is working because I'm testing it from France.

Towards the end of this year I've been playing Guild Wars 2 constantly. You can see how much game time you've had and mine shows 498 hours... Yeah. Not really a lot to say about it other than it's good and has no monthly fee so if you like MMO's I'd give it a shot.

So there you go, in a few paragraphs that's about all I did this year. Maybe next year I'll update this more often and if not I guess I'll post another year in review next year.

Posted in General, Website, Geek Talk. |

Ohayocon 2012

February 1, 2012 at 6:31 am
Rumpleteazer from the cats musical cosplay

Once again I went to Ohayocon. Thankfully they weren't as strict with photographers offering to do photo shoots so I got to do a couple. Like last year I had a goal of doing more close up pictures and once again failed. I think until I get something like the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 I'm just not going to get close enough to take them. If I really wanted to I could crop a couple of the pictures so it appears like I took them closer up but I think of that as cheating.

Once again I'm going to complain about the Columbus Convention Center and it being a pain to correct for white balance. I should just opt to do flash only without any ambient light. Even better would be some way to get the flash off axis as the straight on flash or maybe I'm just using then denb flip-it wrong or something.

Possibly next anime con I'm going to is anime punch, not 100% sure yet.

Rest of the pictures are available here

Posted in Photography. |

Services I pay For

June 28, 2011 at 4:37 am

After seeing this mentioned on this blog which got picked up everywhere I figure I'd give my list of services. I'm including both "freemium" (it's free and you can pay for extras) and premium sites. So in no particular order:

  • pinboard.in - one time price of $9.36 as of Jun 27, 2011 - replacement for delicious. Bought this when delicious' future was in jeopardy. I use the read later function a lot instead of leaving tabs open in the browser for weeks and months. Also an interesting price model. The price goes up as more people sign up. So it's in your best interest to sign up sooner rather than later
  • lastpass.com - free/$12 per year - This has made me a lot more secure online. I now can not tell you what any of my passwords are, I don't know them, lastpass does. All I need to know is a really secure master password. Premium adds support for yubikey two-factor authentication and mobile access. I'm confident in their security and they are too. They saw an "anomaly" in their logs and it was enough to put them in panic mode and have everyone change their passwords. That may sound bad but I want someone that's keeping a close eye on their traffic and tries to account for data usage. You can also access your passwords offline, which of course I do to back it up
  • SpiderOak - 3gb free (using referral link)/$100 per 100gb per year - I used to be a fan of jungledisk when it first came out. Software was one time price of $20 and then I paid per storage as needed. Well they've slowly put us power users to the side, even dropping command line support at one point until enough people complained about it. I went with spideroak because they take security very seriously and enforce a zero-knowledge system so they can't access your data. It supports advanced features like deduplication and compression to help save space and has pretty decent command-line support. Also an important feature is I pay once and that storage is shared across all my computers. All those unlimited storage sites are per computer and I have 3 or 4. Downside is the client is a little slow, but they have been working on that. NOTE: that link to their site is a referral link. Use that and we both get 1gb free so you'll have 3gb for free instead of 2gb.
  • Simplenote - free/$19.99 per year - I used to be a big fan of evernote. Thing is, it was kinda overkill for me. This is where simplenote comes in. It syncs an unlimited number of text notes to the cloud. I use it for everything. From storing command reference to packing lists to just random notes. Basically anything I used to use the notes app on my iphone, now goes to simplenote. Also most things I would have put in evernote now goes to simplenote. They don't mention it and I assume everything is stored plain text. So don't use it for anything sensitive. If I have a note I want to keep secure I use lastpass. Premium features I use are the dropbox sync, list view notes in iOS, and a little of the create notes by email. On windows I use ResophNotes and on mac I use Notational Velocity. I couldn't find an automated way to backup simplenote from the command line so I'm in the process of making my own. As of right now it will backup all your notes to a local file but it's still pretty alpha
  • dreamhost.com - $119.40 per year - I've used them off and on for web hosting since march of 2002. It's pretty decent and just about everything is unlimited.
  • Netflix - 1 dvd at a time with blu-ray $11.99, other plans available - I don't have cable tv at home, but I do have a good internet connection. I watch a lot of stuff on netflix streaming using my PS3. For example I've almost finished the newer series of doctor who episodes. I'll go on marathons where I'll watch several episodes right after each other. Also use the dvds when I want higher quality or need subtitles. That's my main complaint is while they have a large anime selection it's all dubbed without the option for subtitles. Supposedly they're going to expand the amount of subtitled shows they have but I'm not holding my breath on getting anime subtitled.
  • newsguy - $59.95 per year - I still use usenet a lot. Roadrunner used to have an ok free one until they stopped it. I bought this and haven't looked back. They offer ridiculous backlogs of articles plus any unused space is carried forward. I'm looking at going down to the mini plan since I have so much space saved up. Usenet has become kinda niche nowadays but if you are looking for a good host I like them.

Only services I'm really considering buying is github. I use them for all my public projects and I'd like to use it for my private ones but $7 for 5 private projects just seems like a lot to me. Probably because I can host them easily enough on my server, but github has some nice issue tracking features.

I welcome and comments or questions. Either here or on twitter

Posted in General. |

Anime Punch 2011

April 30, 2011 at 7:54 am

Tales of the Abyss cosplay from Anime Punch 2011

Last weekend was Anime Punch, another anime convention in Columbus. One downside to a smaller convention is not as many photo ops. In previous years I'd use the cosplay competition to pad it out but this year I ended up missing it. Plus I don't know where everyone was hiding but I couldn't find anyone in the hallways to take pictures of or was during a busy time and I didn't want to disrupt the flow of traffic for a picture. Thus the only pictures I have are from a photo shoot.

As usual I scheduled a few photo shoots and unlike Ohayocon they didn't immediately delete the forum topic so I got responses. Also as usual not everyone showed up but, get this, the people that cancelled let me know they couldn't make it! Word of advice to anyone that reads this and is interested in getting a photo shoot from anyone, if you can't make it let the photographer know. Usually I'm sitting at the meeting spot for 20 minutes doing nothing but being bored. While of course I'd rather do the photo shoot being given notice that someone has to cancel is great as well.

The photo shoot itself was pretty standard, which is amusing itself that I'm considering a photo shoot was straight forward when I would have mild panic attacks on the first couple. I did try to get some more close up pictures but still have issues with that. I think the 17-55mm just doesn't cut it even though on my camera 55mm ends up being around 88mm. I always hear a lot of good things with the 85mm f/1.8 Lens and it's not extremely expensive. And it would be something until I can ever afford the 70-200mm.

Because the one person had white hair it made adjusting brightness fairly simple. I just increased the brightness until her hair started to overexpose and dropped it down a little. Problem came with pictures that weren't evenly lit. Still pretty happy with how they came out.

As for this image, I think it was more of an unposed one while I was replacing the batteries on the flash but still came out pretty good. So I guess I just need to still work on doing close ups. Always start to feel like I'm invading someone's personal space or something although I'm physically several feet away through the camera it looks like I'm 3 inches from them.

Although still not sure, I'll probably end up going to Colossalcon again this year. Need to see if I can find people to go with me or maybe I'll just shack up with random strangers again since that turned out surprisingly well last time

Rest of the pictures can be found here

Posted in Photography. |

Ohayocon 2011

February 15, 2011 at 4:47 am

Ohayocon 2011

Finally got around to going through pictures from Ohayocon. Unfortunately--I think due in part to their policy on not letting photographers offer photo shoots in forums--don't have any photo shoots.

My other goal was to do more close up pictures. Which I also wasn't too successful with. A couple of the pictures would have looked nice if I did a close up but for whatever reason I didn't.

The Columbus convention center is nice and all but it's such a pain to get white balance correct. You have some areas where it's daylight, other areas are florescent, and then others are incandescent. Also for whatever reason all the pictures came out dark, requiring an increase in exposure of around .8 stops, which isn't an issue since I take pictures in raw. The only one that didn't need any modifications was the one above. Yet it was still partially a mistake. I knew that where I'd be the shutter speed would be slow but this picture was taken at 1/4 second. I was using fill flash which is what froze the people I was taking a picture (plus they were standing still) and the people behind were blurry.

I still want to do more close ups. If I get into portraits I'll definitely get something to fill the current gap I have from 55mm to 100mm. Been looking at the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 although not sure if that still may be too close since I have a 1.6x crop sensor. Really want to get one of the 70-200mm models but they're still way out of my budget.

Not sure what the next place I'm going to take pictures is. Anime Punch is happening in April I'm thinking of going to. Maybe once it gets warm again I'll start looking for abandoned places to check out again.

Rest of the pictures can be found here

Posted in Photography. |

Will be at Ohayocon Next Week

January 20, 2011 at 3:35 am

Once again I'm going to be at Ohayocon next weekend and I'll be doing photo shoots. Interesting to think how much I've improved over a single year, got a lens I'm more happy with, and like to think I've improved in general.

Normally I would just post on their forums that I'm interested, maybe mention it on twitter or something and be done with it. Unfortunately it seems this year they're not letting people post on there. Their reasoning is they think of it as advertising for a service although I'm still doing this for free. But I could see it being an issue. Ohayocon is the largest anime convention in ohio and some people have posted on there offering "professional photography services" and then become vague when it comes to prices and other shady type things. Probably a few of those ruined it for everyone.

Well I posted on the forums and noticed the next day it was locked. Asked why and not only did I find out why (see above) but then they deleted the post completely. Did get a couple messages before it was removed but I can still do a couple more. I know I have a few people on twitter and the like that follow me and go to conventions--think mainly people I already did a photo shoot--so I'm posting on here. if you're looking for another photo shoot or know anyone else I still have a couple spots open. Can contact me however you saw this post (twitter, facebook, etc) or use the contact form here.

I'll update here if I'm not taking any more requests.

Posted in Anime, Photography. |

POTW: Best Of Runner Up

January 3, 2011 at 5:19 am

POTW: Best Of Runner up

This was quite harder to decide. But while looking through I found one from when I went to Wilson Middle School in April. This is a shot that was "left on the cutting room floor" if you will. Had no intentions of publishing this photo but looking at it now I like it. I like the paint in the background. Maybe if I had a closer shot of that it would have been better.

Chances are this will be the last regularly scheduled post. I enjoyed doing the picture of the week thing but there are times where it felt more like a job then a hobby. I still plan on taking pictures but I'm not going to go out of my way to make sure I do something that week.

My only promise I'll make is as at least one post a month but I'll try to post more often. It also may not be about photography. Unfortunately I never got around to creating separate rss feeds for photography category so everything is still going to be lumped to together. The benefit of this is I'm no longer constrained to photos taken a certain week. I have years of photos I can pull from now. I'm going to try and do more photo shoots, and also try to do some new urban exploring. Until then be sure to keep checking back every once and a while.

Posted in Photography. |

May Skip a Photo Challenge for Next Year

December 31, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I am looking for some feedback on this blog. As obvious by the last several pictures I've gone into a rut of sorts. But for the most part I've held to my goal of posting a picture a week. These last few weeks have felt more like work than something I enjoy doing. Frantically looking around the last day of the week to find something, anything to take a picture of.

So I'm thinking of skipping a photo a week thing for next year. The biggest downside to this will be no longer having a consistent photo a week. Somehow I had this plan of "if I post they will come" mentality. From what I can tell there's only an average of 5 subscribers. I can't tell who they are or how many are just friends and family or my own services that check and autopost to twitter and such.

This doesn't mean I'm dumping photography. I still enjoy it but this deadline of posting something a week felt too much like having a deadline to get ANYTHING out the door even if I'm not too thrilled about it. What I really want to do is more modelling photos. This area of photography is the most unexperienced to me and probably the most nerve racking--I'm not that much of a social person. The few times I did do photo shoots at anime conventions I was so nervous. Until the photo shoot started and I just kinda clicked with the model(s) and was able to provide a few good pictures even though I'd only be doing these photo shoots for maybe 15-20 minutes (for a lot of photographers they're just getting warmed up in that time). So that is something I want to get better at. Now if I was actually outgoing I could just go to cleveland and ask random people on the street for a quick 5 minute photo session, or even just take a single picture and pick one. But I'm not that outgoing. Not even close.

Another more technical issue with doing these photos of the week is I'm hitting my 200 photo limit at flickr (after which older photos are hidden unless I go pro). Granted I could solve that by hosting them on the server, would also help in making this website fully ssl encrypted.

So my question to you, the readers, what would you like to see here? If you want to see more people photos I'm open to suggestions and I'll give it some thought. Do you enjoy the photo a week format, even the weeks I just pick something? If I lift the weight of needing to make it something important I'll just walk around, look for something interesting anywhere during the day, taking the picture with my iphone if necessary. I still don't want to do a photo a day since that creates too much noise. One of the things I learned from this photo a week is how to eliminate a lot of the fluff so instead of keeping 100 photos I only find that 15-30 are worth posting online.

Looking forward to responses and wishing you all a happy new year.

Posted in Website, Photography. |