Now is the time to rob a bank in St. Louis

If someone were interested in robbing a bank in St. Louis, now is the time to do it. Most police are being pulled into details covering the joint appearances of Kerry and Bush here from Thursday to Saturday, culminating in their next debate, Friday night.

I didn’t even attempt to get tickets for this, but there is a party at Missouri DNC headquarters I can attend. And I also thought about hitting the ‘mad as hell’ pens, otherwise known as the remote Public Viewing Area for protestors, to take photos. It is, after all, in visual range of the complex where Kerry and Bush will speak. But then, so is the moon.

What think – do you want to see photos of the demonstrations at St. Louis? I think I’d rather pass on robbing a bank.


Wrath of the Webloggers

I don’t care for many of the articles about weblogging, but this one by Wired magazine on the mob mentality of webloggers should be required reading – in particular by every political weblogger.

Webloggers consider themselves the ultimate fact checkers, but lately they’re not satisfied to just fact check; they also want to be judge and executioner, demanding that people be fired or be arrested or unleashing hordes of howling semi-demented readers on whomever is the current target du jour. As this Wired article demonstrates, the chilling effect of all of this is to actually suppress speech as more and more people become less and less willing to publish opinion online because they risk the wrath of the webloggers.

An example is the professor detailed in the article, who wrote a paper about how the so-called “CBS Document” could have been typed by typewriters of the time. If this professor wrote a bad report, attack the report, not the professor. Demands that he be fired from his school sends a message that if a person writes something we don’t agree with, a swarm of angry gnats with a computer are going to do everything in their power to wreck the person’s life, from now until the end of time. What’s particularly sick about the whole thing, is these same people will then gloat about their power, and if you even suggest that perhaps they need to do a little fact checking themselves, they pompously sneer that they’re …webloggers, they don’t have to check their facts. And chances are once they’ve ruined whomever is the current victim of their ire (rarely do these same people have anything positive to say about anyone but themselves), they won’t even remember the person’s name in a couple of months. If you then mention accountability, they’ll reply that …webloggers don’t have to be accountable.

Since conspiracy is the name of the game to these folks, how’s this for one: that many of the mob-bloggers take the actions they take purely for the enjoyment of the power; to gain notoriety or links; or to advance their own careers. They whip their readers into a frenzy and then when these readers go forth to do damage, they say, Well, we never meant for this to happen. Sure you did. No one puts a gun to our heads and forces us to write these posts.

Frankly, if the people that these mob-bloggers went after behaved the way that the mob-bloggers themselves act, they would raise bloody hell and scream to the rafters of foul behavior and various dire deeds.

In the IT Kitchen clinic, we had one day set aside to weblogging and blogger behavior, focusing on specifics such as ethics and etiquette. I believe, and strongly, that this increasing mob mentality should become the topic to focus on for one entire day, by itself; it should be a topic of importantance for every conference related to either weblogging or social software. Personally, I’d like to see if we can develop techniques to more effectively fact check each other and help reign in these little so-called smart mobs (an oxymoron if I ever heard it).

If we’re going to talk about the good of weblogging and the benefits of our actions, we have a moral responsibility to also deal with the bad.

(Thanks to Dave for the link to the Wired article.)


NEF Workflow

We had some discussions about camera workflow and I wanted to write a note about what I’m doing to process my photos.

The key to me finding a workflow with my new camera is to maximize the use of my existing tools, and minimize costs. Since I need to have photography support for both of my laptops–the Win2K and the Mac OS X–I wanted to use software that could, if possible, work in both environments.

Included with the D70 is PictureProject to manage and view images from the D70, including the Nikon compressed RAW format, NEF. This tool does not, however, provide a sufficient way to edit the images and correct the photo’s properties. There is trial software included with PictureProject, Nikon Capture, which does. So the photos are captured off the card with PictureProject (or the Capture download tool), and then the NEF formatted photos are opened in Capture. I can choose do most of my edits here–it is a rather powerful little program–but I prefer Adobe PhotoShop.

Now, I have PS 5 in Win2K and PS 6 on my Mac. Both are very satisfactory products, and I was perfectly content with them until I reached the limit with the new camera and not being able to read NEF files in PS. Adobe Photoshop CS can, but to upgrade to this version requires me to upgrade both my environments, and this just isn’t cost effective.However, the same installation disc of Capture can be installed in both Mac OS X and Win2K (I hope, I still have to get a license). Best of all, it can connect directly to both versions of Adobe PhotoShop.

Now, I can copy the images directly off of the flash card in the Mac and it works decently. This is good because PicturePerfect is somewhat problematical in this environment.

The workflow seems to work and only at the cost of one nicely discounted piece of software that can work in both environments. Of course, PhotoShop CS has more than just the capability of working with NEF files, and it can handle the entire workflow directly – but while I spend the weeks and months learning how to manipulate my new camera, the existing workflow seems to work.

I just now need to go out and take more pics. And then remember to keep my hard drives clean, because with NEF, I fill up a gigabyte or more with photos from each trip. That’s a lot of photos; that’s a lot of space.

(No worries, I will get more discriminating in my photos once the new toy feel has worn down.)

Photography Places

A day at the park

I decided to hold off on Ozark trips until next week when the weather will hopefully be a little clearer. I also wasn’t up for a 4+ car ride, having done too many of these lately. Instead, yesterday I spent time at the Sculpture Park, playing around with my new camera.

I feel remarkably free with the D70, and had a great deal of enjoyment ‘experimenting’ with different angles and lighting and color and views. The fall colors still aren’t very advanced in St. Louis, but I managed to pick up some. And a few self-portraits, as well as other odds and ends.

“Portrait of Author I”

“Now these are big balls”


“Golden Leaves”

I particularly liked this one, and I don’t know why. I think it was the shallow clear water reflecting the sky and trees above the creek, and forming an overlay among the rocks. And if you look close, I swear there are little people’s faces reflected in the rocks.

Did I happen to mention that I have long legs?

“Portrait of Author II”

Just Shelley

With thanks

I wanted to thank all of you for your kind comments in the last post, and in emails and in posts in other weblogs. They meant a lot to me, particularly just after Dad’s death when I was trying to work this through. I am still working this through, and will for time to come; but I wanted to share a couple of positive memories with you, including some humorous items because we Irish, we’re always up for a giggle at a Wake.

The nursing and other staff members at Bell Trace, the retirement community where Dad ended his days, was marvelous during the last few days. They moved Dad’s roommate into another room so we could stay with Dad 24 hours a day. And they also kept bringing us food, such as the 3am tray one of the attendents provide that had a bag of crackers and cheese and cookies, with lemon pie served that day to go with coffee and juice. In the midwest, comfort is provided by food and the staff was determined we were going to eat and drink well during this time. Several also visited individually to tell Mike and I how much they respected the decisions we made; to provide hugs, and quiet chats, as we were dealing with individual events. They were incredibly kind and caring.

One of the nurses, Sharon, was there throughout most of the weekend and when I met her, she asked what Dad did for a living. I said that he had served in WW II and had been a cop most of his life. She replied, “Well that explains it. When he first arrived here, I asked him what he did, and he said that he did nothing. When I asked him what he did before he retired, he said that he …killed Germans.”

In the end Dad spent most of his time in World War II, and he always was a very frank and rather literal person. Still, the look on Sharon’s face as she recounted what he said was priceless.

As priceless as the look on folks face when they read what my brother wrote for the obituary in the newspaper:

He retired in 1975 as a fraud investigator for the State of Washington. Prior to that, he worked in positions that served his community, state, and country, including: Washington State Patrol officer, County Deputy Sheriff, South Viet Nam Police Advisor (and secret agent), and Captain and paratrooper in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in World War II.

emphasis mine

Again, my thanks to you all.