On cameras

Out here we’ve been having a lot of fun watching the two babies. They both just turned one. They have really different personalities… not really surprising but it’s nice to see them become their own individuals.

I’ve had a Canon PowerShot camera for a long time. It’s not high end. I prefer buying mid-range devices.  Often my theory is to buy the second least expensive or second most expensive.

I never use my phone camera. For a long time I had it blinded until I wanted to take pictures of the Magna Carta and Declaration of Independence at the library. I’m sensitive to privacy concerns and go to longer lengths than most people, thus the blind camera.

So, the real camera I have includes some nice properties that I like.  Some are on the phone but I haven’t used them consistently to know how to put them together with the phone.

I like being able to power the camera up in a moment’s notice.  The optical zoom is convenient for taking pictures with closeups, for example, of kids and an adult.

My sister is a professional photographer so she explained how to use features I didn’t know were there. I’ll get the real manual to learn more.

I like exploring the different options of a technology to see how they work. One feature I’d never used was changing the criteria for light metering. I wanted to take some pictures that were back lighted by a window.  Changing light metering and the manual option let those come out well. It looks like controlling the auto-focus and automatic light metering independently may not be possible.

It would be fun to write reviews for software or devices after becoming an advanced user. My first impression may being unnecessarily negative or undeservedly positive.

Another thing that is nice about the real camera is that I can hand it to someone else. They’ll know right away what to do. I don’t have to worry whether they’ve only used a Windows phone and won’t know how to use mine without some encouragement.

Almost everybody left a little bit ago so I won’t be taking many more pictures.

We’ll head home tomorrow.  First we’ll go to Indy and then Fort Wayne… not the direct route,  but my car is in Indy right now and my sister’s step-grandson needs to be in Indy as well.

This afternoon, my sister left for Cornell to do more research for her history PhD. Part of her studies are about disabilities rights and their evolution. It’s a challenging topic because personal autonomy and desires may not match the expectations of the majority. Most people have their own definition of what is a “valid” life. A doctor or legislator may demand a certain lifestyle as if it was the only one that is acceptable.  On one hand, it is desirable for a person to achieve all that they are capable of, and on the other, a person may choose for themselves to reject that expectation.

It’s so easy to look at a few specific examples of a life and generalize that it applies to everyone.  Life has infinite complexity, so deciding for someone else their needs uses broad brushstrokes. But that ignores the subtleties and nuances where the artist has used the lightest touch… where meaning resides.

TekVenture & MantisBT

I’ve been busy the past few days.

Saturday I went to a workshop at TekVenture in Fort Wayne. I had worked it out and if I joined (at $40/month) it would be $5/hour or less for the time I’m there. That seemed pretty inexpensive to have access to scopes, milling machines, CNC mills, wood working tools and 3D printers. This week I got rid of my land line which will save about $30/month, so it comes out pretty even.

Today was an experiment to see whether I’m more productive down there. I went this afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised that the trip only required 35 minutes. That’s not bad for reaching downtown Fort Wayne from Auburn. I stayed about an hour and a half today.

Much of the time was spent trying to diagnose why I couldn’t connect to the wifi… and then I realized my laptop had its wifi turned off. Doh! Once I did that, I was up and running in about 10 seconds. Another block of time was spent getting the drivers for the Arduino installed.

Today I connected my Arduino to the prototype output board for the first time. I wrote a simple driver program (which worked after a surprisingly few tries) and the Arduino and display worked perfectly together.Circuit board with 12 digits

The other thing I did this weekend was set up MantisBT bug tracking software. I was going to install Bugzilla, but Bugzilla depends on Perl. Its install needed me to run some Perl scripts. I don’t know how to do that on my hosting account. MantisBT is all PHP and was going after a only few hours of work.

The bug tracker has a learning curve + a setup hump. Each project’s setup is evolving which slows down how I use it. I created 3 projects so far: “How Far Is Mars”, “yyj-tool” and “SysAdmin.” I don’t want to need to remember what needs done next. I’m getting to the point where I am starting keeping little slips of paper and comments in disorganized notebooks.

yyj-tool is the version logging tool that has evolved over the years. I’m getting it going pretty well. One part I’m working on are self-tests. I have big dreams for the next one, yyj-tool++ when I add a few more features.

The next feature to add to yyj is a hot-spot detector. It will take a Git archive and identify blocks of code that had changed a lot in the Git project.,The theory is that the “hot” areas need more care. The analyzer would probably create HTML documents to browse the analyzed code.

How Far Is Mars is a device to display in real-time the distance to Mars from Earth. I’m still prototyping the algorithms for that. Perhaps the local astronomy club would be interested–especially if it also displays the azimuth and elevation of Mars from the user’s location.

Meet up at Toastmasters

I recently joined meetup.com I found out about a drop-in every Thursday at TekVenture http://tekventure.org in Fort Wayne. When I was at tekventure there were a couple of other people who found out about the drop-in the same way. I went once, but it conflicts with Toastmasters so I won’t go much. However, I got an event schedule at TekVenture and found there’s a workshop tomorrow morning that I’m going to.

Our district of Toastmasters has a meetup.com group also. I get notified of all of the different Toastmaster group meetings that are coming up. I’m looking forward to going to some other groups in the area this coming week.

The club that I belong to, Anthony Wayne Toastmasters, was chartered in 1947. I was toastmaster last night and introduced the speakers, general evaluator and the topic master. (The general evaluator organizes the feedback parts of the meeting. The topic master has impromptu topics to ask so that everyone gets a chance to participate.) The group is really supportive and wants me to succeed (like everyone else).

Last week I gave a speech about Open Source Hardware. It was lots of fun. The PowerPoint came out well. I had fun using gimp to put together the images.

Toastmasters

I’ve been looking for a new social group to belong to. I’ve thought of writing clubs and chess clubs but I haven’t got very far beyond that. I found some writing clubs in Auburn, but they meet on Tuesdays and I’d rather go to an event in Fort Wayne Tuesday evenings.

A friend suggested looking into toastmasters. I had heard of them several years ago, but never went searching for a group.

After the second prompting, I went online and learned a little bit about it. There’s a group that meets Thursdays in Fort Wayne that fits with my schedule really well. They practice public speaking and leadership skills.

The meeting was fun. People were a little bit more formal than I’m used to, but after a little bit it didn’t seem out of place.

We had three people speak as well as some table topics where people give impromptu one minute speeches. The person giving the topics asked if I wanted to answer a question which I did.

The topic I chose was about vanity and how often does one look at oneself in the mirror. I said that that has been a problem because sometimes I leave the house not composed well. I don’t look in the mirror as much as I should have. A couple of times that’s been embarrassing for example, by buttoning my shirt wrong for example. I then did a little non-sequitur and talked about how I look in the mirror a lot when I’m driving.

The one comment the evaluator made was that I said “um” a few times. I asked how to improve that and they suggested to just pause when I don’t know what to say. That sounds like something I can practice.

The toastmaster that evening was dressed really sharply in a white suit and black tie. He was really funny. One topic he shared through the evening was trivia about the movie Casablanca. Since I hadn’t watched it before, his suggestion was to rent it, so I’ve got it by my DVD player waiting to watch.

I’m planning to go back next week and bring an application form. Since they meet every week, I’ll be able to add it to my routine and learn some new skills.