Friday, December 29, 2006

Dell Outlet changes checkout. Is it for the better?

Dell Outlet has recently introduced a new screen to the selection of a system for purchase and checkout. This means that every time you want to purchase a system (or multiple systems) then you need to enter a verification code on what they call the "Add to Card Validation". Here is what Dell says about the page:

"Why do I need to type characters from a picture before I add a product to the cart? Typing the characters from a picture helps ensure that an individual, and not an automated program, is adding a product to their cart.

This is important because hackers use harmful programs to try to reserve large amounts of inventory, which then means inventory is unavailable to our customers. To protect the integrity of your purchase, we ask you to take this step. In most cases, an automated registration program can't recognize the characters in the picture."

You are then prompted to enter an eight digit alpha code. For all those "retailers" using scripts to grab large amounts of inventory and then sort through them while in your cart this will hopefully level the playing field for the rest of the regular users. In general this seems like a step in the right direction as I have purchased many systems off of their web site and have been frustrated more than once to see a system, selected it to add to cart to find out that it and all the rest of the items are all of a sudden gone. I only wonder if you are too slow on typing in the verification code if someone else can grab the system out from under you.

All in all I think this is a good step for Dell and I applaud them on this effort. Now if they can work on their support side I will be one happy camper!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Very Cool Stop Motion Movie

Ok, this was just too cool not to post! These guys have some real talent! Enjoy...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another Aerial Photo

This one is for all the golf fans out there. This is an aerial shot of the Rogue Valley Country Club in Medford, Oregon. I wonder if anyone ever thinks about this stuff in advance. And for what its worth, this is not a doctored picture, it is right off of an aerial photograph used by the City...

Google Earth Image and others

My son was asking me about Africa and we were using google earth to look at the area. We came across this cloud and I thought it was pretty cool. What do you think?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sunrise in Ashland

I just got my early Christmas present (Canon EOS 30D) a few days ago and then this morning this is what I saw outside my window. I decided I better get a few quick snaps before it changed. Sure enough, within minutes of capturing the shots, everything went very grey and dark as the sun rose above the clouds. It was quite spectacular to see in person, hopefully these pictures represent just a little of what the eye saw. These pictures were taken from my backyard at approximately 7:15 AM. The lens used was a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. The particulars of each shot are slightly different but for the most part I shot around an f/5.0 with an ISO of 400. Unfortunately I was in such a hurry that I did not get to shoot at an ISO 100 with an f/2.8. So far I am really impressed with the camera and the lens, thought the lens is quite heavy. I am now in search of a good prime lens, maybe a 14-70mm f/2.8 or faster. Might have to save a little and wait until after Christmas for that one, but it will be nice.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Damn this guy is good! The U.S. misses out on some pretty good soccer throughout the year...

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Ride up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

If you have ever been to Palm Springs you will notice that it is usually warm, if not down right HOT! But high above the desert oasis are the San Jacinto Mountains and an aerial tram that will take you to the top. But don't be fooled, even in the middle of summer it can be quite a bit cooler at the top. Spring is an amazing time to go there though; the mountain has snow and clear skies but the valley is quite warm. Here are some pictures from the top. There are a few nice hikes at the top along with snow camping if one desires.

The first two pictures are looking back down the aerial lines as we climbed up the mountain. In this second picture, you can see a little bit of snow beginning to show up as we are past the halfway point. This shots are taken through the tramways plexiglass windows, so clarity is not quite what you would see at the top.

Once at the top, we found plenty of snow. Luckily we came prepared with sweatshirts and closed shoes (it was sandals for the rest of the week in the valley). The next few shots are from the top as we hiked around.

All shots are taken with the Canon EOS Digital Rebel. The lens used was either the stock lens or an EF 75-300 that is quite econmical but does not have quite the glass that one would need to really capture some of the finer details. Also, shooting in the snow is always challenging for white balance. Most of the shots are at an f/8.0 which gave a nice balance of depth of field and plenty of light.

This last pictures reminds me of why we have a timer on cameras. There are a lot of good uses for a timer, especially when there is no one else around to snap a picture. I also find timers to be very handy for long exposure shots on a tripod. Typically when I reach up and push down to release the shutter and then let go, I seem to create some movement that creates blur. So whenever I have a long exposure, I just set the timer, push the button and move away. This is of course a lot more difficult than a remote shutter release, but it works.

Well, that is it for now. I have to start to dial in my new mountain bike, maybe some pictures of that soon. The bike is starting to feel like it will be a sweet ride....

Friday, October 13, 2006

A day at Home

Here is a video of a day at my house, shot once every 60 seconds.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Microsoft Windows Live Drive

So I have read some speculation on Microsoft's upcoming program that is a tagged to be called Windows Live Drive. It appears that this will be an extension of the Windows Live services that Microsoft has currently in beta. The speculation is that Microsoft is creating an online storage system that will be available anywhere on the internet. It will also compete with Google's rumored product, GDrive.

This is somewhat old news (Wikipedia and Fortune both have articles on it) but it has got new attention since a developer posted a blog about it on MSDN Blogs. It was then abrutly pulled. Here is a link if anyone wants to read it.

So the speculation starts up again that Redmond is going to have this ready soon and that it will be just online storage. But I think there is something else besides online storage. I think that Microsoft is going to tie this into the XBOX360 and the livingroom that they so badly want to be a part of in the world. Sure it could be a great way to store and share files on the internet, but think about being able to share your picture slideshow or video of you kids first step with your grandparents across the country. Ofcourse this would mean that your grandparents would need an XBOX360, and thus why I think it could easily expand to something more.

There are also rumors around that Microsoft is planning to expand the offerings of the XBOX360 and this could also tie into those rumors. This is just my $0.02, but tell me what you think...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Something from the Archives ~ Hangtown 1999 Nationals

Well I thought this would be interesting to post since 1999 was a good year for Ricky Carmichael, on 125's. He won this race at Hangtown along with Kevin Windham in the 250 class (beating the King, Jeremy McGrath). I wonder if Kevin is going to call it quits soon as well...

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More of the Ricky and Bubba Show ~ Washougal

Well if anyone read the interview with Ricky and Bubba about the Washougal race, this may explain why Ricky was getting so frustrated. I have a feeling Bubba's roost taste a whole lot worst than others...

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Washougal Lites

A great day for the Lites as well at Washougal as Short goes 1-1. He made it look way too easy and Alessi was nowhere to be seen (for the most part). Tough break for Villopoto on the first moto but he looked good in moto #2. More pics to come, plus some cropping and adjustments. I am just trying to get these out as quick as I can to start with....

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

More Washougal Pictures

Here are some more Washougal pictures, I hope you enjoy them. I will post more later...

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Washougal MX 2006 Nationals

WOW! What a race! Not only was the motocross class an increadible race, but the Lites even had a great day. The weather was near perfect, though conditions were tough for photography. I did not have enough light for my telephoto shots and many came out blurred. But who cares about the photography, it was all about racing at Washougal this year. Ricky and Bubba made this one of the best races of all times, and from listening to others, probably one of the best races of all times.

Unfortunately you can not be everywhere on the track at once. Apparently Ricky was working on his Clark Kent skills as he tried to fly. With little success off the bike, he quickly jumped back on to take a tough second, and second overall for the day. I would say better luck next time, but this was probably the last appearance for Ricky at Washougal. Next year will be the Bubba show.

Speaking of next year, it must be frustrating for Chad Reed. He was on fire in practice and looked good all day. Besides his little mishap, he was far ahead of the 4th place riders. Unfortunately for Chad, Ricky and Bubba had to be in front with no chance catch up.

Well, enjoy the pics, I have more that I will upload soon, include some of the lites....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Clouds over Mount Bachelor

Here are a few pictures of some cloud formations around Mount Bachelor in central Oregon. This was taken in late September (the 30th to be exact) before a late evening hike up the mountain. It was a beautiful evening and the clouds helped to offer a magnificent sunset. If you are ever interested in hiking Mt. Bachelor, there is a great trail system that leaves from the parking lot and goes all the way to the top of the mountain. It offers some great views of eastern Oregon as well as the Cascade mountain range.

These particular shots were taken with my Nikon Coolpix 5000. I really like this camera and it was one of my first nice cameras before I went DSLR. It is great for packing because of its small size but offers wonderful options. The Nikon optics are great and I have always been a big fan. It has been hard to switch to Canon for the DSLR, but Nikon has a lot of promise with their D200 for the semi-professional line.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Sunshine Through a Tree on the Oregon Coast

Here is another shot from the Canon PowerShot SD400. This is another great example of why this camera is so good to have around. It fits in your pocket yet it can produce some really nice pictures. This particular shot was taken in the late morning on the Oregon Coast. The focal length was set at 6mm (35mm equivalent of 37mm), aperture at f/2.8 and the shutter speed was 1/400s. Ofcourse this was all done in automatic mode but still quite stunning. My wife had many great shots on this particular trip to the coast, all with this tiny little camera. I know there are many others on the market and I am sure they do just as well. The beauty of these types of cameras is the ability to take them almost anywhere. Now we will have to see how well I can do in manual mode with the DSLR for the 4th of July....

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Great Backcountry Camera

This is a nice picture I took with a great backcounty camera. The camera is a Canon PowerShot SD400. It is small and compact and easy to carry in a coat pocket or shirt pocket, depending on the conditions. I took this shot on top of Mount Ashland while snowboarding. This angle is looking north towards the City of Ashland in Oregon. It was a great snow year this year!

The specifics of this shot are 1/400s at f/10.0. Not the best lens but considering it is a compact, it does pretty well. The focal length was 17mm which gives a 35mm equivalent of 110mm (full zoom for the camera). I thought the camera did very well with the white balance. Even though the camera is small, I find it easy to snap pictures with.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Apple Corp. and the PC World

I have been a long time PC user. I started using them in 1985, started building them in 1986, and built for profit in 1987. For years I would not touch a mac but when the mac mini was introduced I finally made the leap. I have to admit that I am impressed with the video editing software and ease of use. I then pulled the trigger and got a Powermac and now I am getting ready to buy an iMac. I still use a PC as my primary computer but I have to say that I am hooked on iLife.

Now that being said, note that I stated Apple Corp., not Apple Computers. Apple has become quite a machine in the computer world, but how long can they build computers for when they are really building PC's with their own OS? This has got me wondering, and it appears to me that the next logical choice for Apple is to port everything to a PC. The universal binaries have already solved most of this problem. Now they just need to be able to run on Vista and away you go.

I know many have said that without the hardware, Apple could not make it. But look at Microsoft, Adobe, etc. The iPod alone has kept the company alive, but long term they could really explode into the PC world with products like iLife. And as far as video editing, you can't beat Final Cut Studio. Final Cut Studio is what made me buy a mac in the first place. Now you can say that this is EXACTLY why Apple should not port their software to a PC. Unfortunately I think that the capitalistic marketplace will win hear though, and if they don't port to PC then someone else will have a product that can do the same thing but be available to 90% of the market share, not 10%.

Apple will always be successful with the "I don't care how much it cost" crowd, along with the zealots. They have proven time and time again that they are more art than computer with their design. I guess for some this is worth the premium but the computer market is moving into the appliance stage. I know that I paid a premium for a toaster that looked good with the granite on my counter, but their are many appliances that sit in the cabinets and I don't care how they look. I think the same is becoming true about the PC. Do I really care what it looks like when it is shoved in a desk and it works like any other system? It appears that Dell is trying to deal with this right now with the acquisition of Alienware. Even though the gamer systems get the bigger profits, as we move to an appliance mentality it will be the original Dell concept that will win.

A lot of people have said that Apple's big mistake in the 80's was not opening up their system to third party development. They have embraced some of that now (with open source and their developer network) but will they be able to beat out Microsoft and dominate the desktop market. I would venture to guess no and this is why I think they will port their software to the PC world. Just my $0.02...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Funny Video

Pretty funny, reminds me of being a kid!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Seahawk's Stadium

Here is a nice picture of the American Flag brought out on the field before a Seahawks game. I am quite impressed with Canon EOS Digital Rebel. This shot used a Canon Zoom Lens EF 75-300 f4-5.6 USM. For an entry level lens, this does quite well. The shot particulars are f/7.1, 1/400s, ISO 100 and a focal length of 155 mm. The 35mm equivalent is 247 mm which means that this camera has a FOV crop of almost 1.6! I love the camera but I really want a full size sensor, maybe a Canon 5D or Nikon D200. I have always been a Nikon fan but some of the Canon products lately have almost made me completely switch. My next camera will be the deciding factor as I need to get better glass...

Supercross @ PacBell

I was impressed with this shot from my Nikon Coolpix 5000. It was very dark out and this turned out pretty good, not nearly as noisy as I thought it would come out. The Nikon has been a great camera, it is small enough to pack but not too small to be able to hold it steady. Not bad for f/2.9, ISO 100 and 1/30s. Though I now shoot with a DSLR, I have to say, this has been a great camera! Posted by Picasa

Sunflowers and Blue Skies

I just like this picture and thought it was good to have posted since summer is on its way. I took this picture with a Nikon Coolpix 5000, f/2.8, ISO 100, focal length of 7mm. Posted by Picasa

Here is a cropped version, I think I like it better. What do you think?