Thursday, October 30, 2008
I just found out I'll be going to Adelaide, South Australia for two or three weeks.
I'd appreciate any advice anyone can give regarding what a dumb American might be surprised to find (or more importantly, not find) in Australia. I know I need to bring the right kind of power cables for my laptops. What else might I need? Will my iPhone work there? Will my credit cards work there?
If you happen to know of great things to go look at in the Adelaide area, I'd be glad to hear about those things too. But I doubt I'll have much sightseeing time available.
Warning: Any comments that include the terms g'day, barbie, or vegemite may be summarily deleted.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Hussein Is My Middle Name
On Facebook, there is a group called "Hussein Is My Middle Name." Here is the description for the group:
I'm not trying to change anyones' mind about who they vote for this November but I am concerned about how many people have been trying to make an issue of, or just subtly referencing Barack Obama's middle name.
These references are clearly bigoted attacks trying to suggest that Mr. Obama is foreign, different, not like the rest of America. Political campaigns can be (and should be) rough, smash mouth affairs but there are limits and this crosses them.
I am asking you, whatever your politics, to make a small stand against this kind of politics and bigotry. Join this group and ask all of your friends to join it also. Go to the help section of Facebook and change you middle name to Hussein until the election is over.
I've noticed a lot of people that I respect on facebook have already done something similar but I could find no actual group or organization behind it so i am trying to provide it.
Thank you for considering this.
Jason Hussein Wichlacz
I like this. So I'll be known as Kristopher Hussein Johnson online for the next couple of weeks.
Update: Paul Hussein Tomblin pointed out that there is another similar group. Here is the description for that group:
Recently, what with the rise of Barack Obama, American Conservatives have been using the Illinois Senator's name as if it were a slur. Folks from Michael Savage (real name Michael Weiner) to Rush Limbaugh to rest of the bobble head Right have been over emphasizing his middle name as if to remind you that he could be Muslim. This bigoted move shows how wrong they are. In a symbolic show of support, I say we all say our middle name is Hussein, regardless if you're an Obama supporter or a Clinton one. Hatemongering should be challenged on all fronts!
This one is a little more left-oriented than the other, neutral group, but I still agree with the main sentiment.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Yeah, I had to put a goto into the code today. I suck.
I promise I'll take it out when I have time to do some refactoring. But you see, when some moron writes an 872-line function with eleven levels of if and while statements, it's difficult to find ways to clean things up.
Friday, October 10, 2008
What's the Deal with the Financial Crisis?
If, like me, you have been a little mystified by exactly what's going on with the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the recent financial meltdown, and why any of us should care, here are two episodes of the This American Life podcast that clearly explain what has happened and what is at stake:
These podcasts are worth a couple of hours of your time, even if you think you already understand it all.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Soccer Team Photos
For the past couple of soccer seasons, I've had the honor of taking my stepson's soccer team photos. We take group pictures of the whole team and individual pictures of each player in uniform, and give a CD-ROM containing all the pictures to each kid's parents.
It's a lot of work, but it is fun. It's not often that a photographer gets the opportunity to have so many models to work with. The models are often uncooperative, but it's still a great opportunity to practice portrait-taking techniques. And taking pictures of kids is really easy: you don't have to worry about wrinkles, blemishes, yellow teeth, bald spots, or any of the other things that grown-ups hate in their pictures.
Here are some things I've learned through making mistakes:
- Try to get the pictures early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, so that the light is somewhat controllable. A cloudy day is best, but it is not feasible to try to schedule all the players to get together in accordance with a weather forecast.
- Take shots in the shade. All the parents will want a picture of the kids standing on the field in front of a soccer goal, but unless it's a cloudy day, sunlight is too harsh.
- Have a soccer ball for the players to hold. (For other sports, have appropriate props.)
- Have an assistant who can direct the kids, pose them, smooth their hair, etc. (My wife does this very well.)
- Frame the pictures such that you can crop to 8x10 and 5x7.
- When photographing kids, it is a good idea to let them shoot a few giving them permission to make funny faces and gestures. This makes it a lot easier to get them to behave when you want to take the "real pictures."
- Let the kids be themselves. The pictures are better if they show a little of each kids personality.
- Parents are usually pretty cooperative, but make sure the kids look at you, not at their parents, while you are shooting.
- Take a lot of pictures. This gives the parents a lot to choose from, so each one can choose the picture where their kid looks the best.
- Don't charge for taking pictures. Then you don't have to worry too much about complaints. We just ask the parents to each chip in a dollar to pay for the CD's.
- Remember that the goal is to have fun.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Stack Overflow is a website designed for programmers to get answers to questions. They frown on frivolity there, but once in a while something fun rises to the top.
For example, there is a great set of Favorite Programmer Cartoons.
(Warning: If you aren't a software developer, you may not find these very funny.)
Another Gasoline Shortage
The recent gasoline shortage in the Southeast appears to be easing. Many of the gas stations I pass on the way to work have long lines of cars waiting to fill up, but that is an improvement over the past few weeks, when there were no lines because there was no gas for sale.
I drive about 90 miles per day to/from work, so I need to fill up a couple of times per week. Searching for gas and waiting in lines had become a significant part of my life. Once, I got lucky and just happened to see a tanker truck pulling into a station while I was driving to work, so I got to rush in and be at the head of the line, but that kind of luck is rare.
Three years ago, after Katrina, we had a similar gas shortage, but that one did not last nearly as long. Most people are blaming our governor for waiting too long to request exemptions that would allow less-environmentally-friendly gasoline to come into Georgia. Of course, the truth is much more complicated than that. Two hurricanes hit the gulf in rapid succession. The zealous quest for efficiency by oil companies means that they don't maintain surplus inventory, and so any hiccup screws everything up. Threats to prosecute suppliers for "gouging" means that those suppliers have no incentive to take extraordinary measures to increase the supply.
Having a transportation system reliant upon supply and transport of fuel increasingly seems like a dumb idea. Where are our electric cars, already?
iPhone Development NDA Lifted
(Actually, it will be in effect for a few more days. But the madness is ending soon.)