This Online Thing is Getting Ridiculous

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This is getting ridiculous. I have way to many places I am trying to update online. They all seem like a good idea at the time. A place to share this, a place to share that… Better get on here before your name is taken, etc. It is getting to be quite a chore to update all of them. Worse, you start to cross pollinate by posting in different places with the same content. Sometimes by cut and past, other times by one site picking up a post from the others RSS feed.

Ok, so what are all the places I am trying to update?

Well, for starters, your here. This blog. This is really the first online presence that I had. I have been posting computer, family, and photography related things here for several years.

Next I added flickr. Seemed like a good idea. Provide a way where the community could see my images and tell me how great they were. I never did get that many ego boost images, and the ones that did I could never figure out why. Mostly I upload mobile pictures here.

Since then I have added another site at christopherwardphotography.com to cover just my professional wedding and portrait services. I finally have a place that my business card can direct to that is just photography.

Then I added a Photoshelter site for my clients to be able to review the images I take of them. I don’t use this for much else. I don’t have many public images up here.

Then Facebook came along. I have a personal wall that I was using to communicate with family. Unfortunately not all my family is was on Facebook.

So I created a site for family pictures at annieandchris.net. I like the idea of having this site separate from Facebook anyway.

I have a Linked In account. Yes, I do! It may not be all that popular, but it has been the most productive for me business wise out of all the social sites. I use this site just for computer consulting, and have found my last few consulting jobs via this site.

Where would life be without a 140 character limiting per post twitter feed? I have met a lot of neat people here. I mostly use twitter to interact with other photographers, and find links to photography and Photoshop information.

Then came the need for a Christopher Ward Photography page on Facebook. The idea being a place I can interact with clients and they can help promote my images. However, now I need content here, and on my website.

I also have a presence at bestcam, instagram, and hipstamatic. These are all mobile photo sites.  I don’t really spend time on, or try to view these sites. I just post images to them when I take a picture on my phone with their app. They really only work as mobile apps, although there are starting to be web sites pop up that use their API’s.

Which brings us to the the glamor children of the moment. 500px and Google+. Yes, I am on both.

I started up an account on 500px as a way to make sure that cwardphoto wasn’t taken by someone else. I kind of like it though. Looks pretty. I started using it as a bit of a portrait portfolio.

I connected up Google+ just for the heck of it. I like it better than Facebook for the moment, but I hardly know anyone on Google+ yet, and the mobile web interface on my phone is very limited. I do like the idea of circles though, and hope it takes off.

I think.

It is with this last sign up to Google+ that I feel like I hit the wall. I have more places I try to update my “social status” than I have friends. Not more online friends, more PLACES. That’s wacked. It might mean I don’t have many “real” friends, but I am too busy updating my status to a group of people that hardly know me to have many real friends.

I need to consolidate. Keep just what I need for family/friends and for business reasons. I might have to listen to one of the social media experts that keep pinging me on Twitter. Or not.

Don’t forget to Like me, friend me, comment on my posts, +1 my content, give my pictures an award,  and slap me silly.

Happy Memorial Day

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From the Archives: I thought this might be a better Memorial Day photo. I hope that many of you are having a good holiday. I realize that for others who have family serving, or have lost family this day is very different. Our hats are off to you.

PS. Kate calls this “The Big Faces”. She loved going here. Next on her list: the statue of liberty.

The price of forced overtime

Computers, My Comments/Rants 3 Comments »

office

The picture is an old office cube of mine taken with an iPhone, and has nothing to do with the post, other than it is about the office. But not “The Office”. I am a part of a large group that has been told that working Saturdays for the next 2 months is mandatory. Many have been working overtime for several months already.

So, why do people ever need to work overtime? Pretty simple really: it is perceived that there is more work to get done before the delivery date than managers think can get done within normal working hours. What I started to wonder, is if this will really get more done. If you do simple math, adding 8 hours to everyone’s day sounds like it gives you more time to get more done. Sounds like it, but you take human emotion out of the equation.

We can all do more for short periods of time, especially if we see the value in it. We see value sometimes when we feel like it is our responsibility to contribute to the company, or when we feel a sense of loyalty to a product, or group that will use the product. Or, we can see value to us in particular when we are given something in trade. This can be extra income, time off, or something else that is seen as a reward, and that our time was valued.

When this sense of value is missing, it becomes a very different equation. It is also why contractors (like myself) are not as annoyed by mandatory work. We get paid by the hour usually. We get paid more for coming in. On the other hand, when a salaried employee is forced to come in, they need to feel a sense of value. When the employee only sees the employment as a job, or starts to feel like they are being asked too much, management no longer get the extra they are looking for.

People want to feel valued, and feel like the effort they are putting in is compensated accordingly. When someone feels like one side of the equation has been altered, they change the other side. Sometimes this is even done subconsciously. People may not rush into work. Take longer lunches. Go for a longer coffee break. When someone would normally work an extra 15-30 min at the end of work to finish something, now they no longer start something new 30 min to an hour before end of work. Maybe they decide to use the sick days when they have a cold that before they would have worked through. That extra day, it isn’t an 8 hour day. In late, out early, going off site for lunch…

Don’t forget the lasting issues. Contractors come and go. Some might go early… Employees can look for other work. It is expensive to lose business knowledge. The feeling of loss of trust and being undervalued are very difficult to get back. You can loose it in a single email. It can take months to get back, if it ever does…

So what do you do as a project manager and your project is behind. You need the employees to feel invested in the extra effort. And you need to ask. You may be surprised at the effort you get when you ask. Trust me, whether it is telling kids or adults they have to do something, or giving them a choice, choice wins out every time. The other issue, is that people have lives outside of work. Saturdays may not work for some people. What if they would work 48 hours a week spread out over the week? What if they could squeeze more into the day than they do right now? What if you and the employee could agree on the extra work that needed to be done, and then let the employee get it done on their own schedule? What if they are offered something out front whether that is some time off, or even movie tickets. What do you think the response will be?

Which takes more work out of management? A mass email, or an individual meeting with each employee to discuss the situation that you are in? Pretty obvious, but the bigger problems will come if you take the easy way out.

Joe McNally Copied Me

My Comments/Rants, Web Finds 1 Comment »

I have been really slow at getting over to look at Joe McNally’s web site recently. Just checked today. Just noticed that on Dec 2 he posted about a double exposure image here. I had posted about a double exposure image on Dec 1 here!

Only thing is, he shot his months before I even new that I could shoot a double exposure shot in my camera. So, not copying at all, but a funny co-incidence that we posted within a day. But I did do the same concept, so I am pleased that I was on to something. I did the same lighting, but not rotated quite so far, and with only one person. Joe did it with two. (He likes to one up you) The idea of using two different lights, one for each person was the same. The idea of the focus cursors was the same too, but more clear from Joe’s description I think.

The other neat thing from Joe’s shoot is the portable black background material. I figured it was shot in a studio, like mine, but then I saw the setup shot. I like it. I think I am going to check out getting, or making a frame like that. I have a couple of sheets I use for backgrounds, but can’t hang them on location very well. This would work well.

Happy Birthday to Me

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WindsurfingThis out of shape almost 40 year old with the awesome farmers tan is me from this summer. My sister took this picture of me when I was up to see my parents at their cabin on Lake Winnipeg.

Now as today I turn 40, I am sitting home sick contemplating what direction my mid life crisis should take me, and I was thinking about the last 40 years or so.

At one time, I used to windsurf a lot. I raced for the Manitoba team. I would spend every weekend on the water. I would cheer when the wind came up and everyone would leave the beach. Now, not so much. Things change. I have sold off all of my equipment. I just don’t have the same drive, and definitely don’t have the time.

What I have replaced just about all hobbies and activities with is photography. This what I now turn to for fun and a creative outlet. It is not quite as active, so I still try to run and play basketball every once in a while.

I fit photography and what ever else I can in around that which is most important to me: my family and my kids. The last 5+ years of living with my kids has brought many changes, but their energy, enthusiasm, innocence, and general intrigue with life are fascinating. There is so much that we can learn, or relearn from our children. I hope to be able to capture just a little bit of that on film.

Ok, now where is the map to the motorcycle store…

ReadyNAS, Saved Data, Packing

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Mixed bag of stuff today. The best part is that I have recovered some data that I thought was gone, and the ReadyNAS appears to be working.

I was poking around the bat cave last night, and came across the drives that had failed several months ago that had prompted this whole NAS fiasco. I had previously managed to take the data off, then wrecked that drive. Well, I sent it to a data recovery place. One thing I didn’t know is that the files do not come back in the same folder structure. They were in folders the data recovery people had made based on file type. What a pain.

But, there didn’t appear to be any .hmk files, which is what I was trying to get. Annie had made a 50 some page cookbook with a Halmark software package that we were trying to recover.

Well, I decided, “What the heck”, and hooked up one of the old drives that had failed, and put a Ubuntu live disk in the CD, and started it up. The live CD didn’t have RAID or LVM set up, so I had to install them, but once I did, a couple of commands later, and I reassembled the mirror, but with just the one drive. It worked. I could see the backup folder. I mounted it, and copied the data off to a removable drive.

Then I pushed my luck, I tried to copy the music files off. Boom. The drive really died. Through so many errors that the file system was actually ejected by Linux. That’s OK, I can re-rip the music, but I had the backup folder!

Then I went and plugged it into Annie’s windows machine, and we looked at the files. Lots of other work she had done with .hmk files, but no big cookbook. Why it suddenly occurred to her to look in the trash, we will never know, but guess what was there? Yup, the cookbook files. Yippee! Best data recovery tip ever: look in the trash ;-)

With the cookbook files safely stored on a second drive, I returned to getting the ReadyNAS working. The problem was that the NAS was claiming that the 3 drives I had in there were all dead. One was brand new. Didn’t think that was possible. So, using the same box as before, with the Ubuntu live CD, I mounted the drives, and started it up. I then removed the partitions from all three drives and saved them. They are now blank.

Then I placed them back in the ReadyNAS, and rebooted with a reset. I first tried the factory restore. This is by pressing the reset button with a paper clip while pushing the power button. I held this for 10sec to get the factory restore. I got the message that there was a firmware error. Crap. Then I tried the OS reinstall. This is the same reset, but only holding for 5 sec. This seemed to progress. I got stuck at a booting step that I was sure was incorrect, and I needed to try something else, but I stuck it out. A half hour later, I was able to connect to the ReadyNAS with a web browser. It was rebuilding the array. Only 17 hours to finish!

At this point there is another couple to go, but I won’t be able to check for several hours, but things look good.

Packing. Now I can start to get ready for my DLWS trip to Michigan on Saturday. There is lots to do. I don’t have a great packing solution for my gear. Everything won’t fit in my backpack, and the bag I have been keeping my tripod and flash gear is pretty big. I would like to be down to one bag though. We will have to see how it goes.

I need to make sure all my cards are downloaded, and my laptop is set up properly with the software I usually use on my desktop. (Photoshop, Lightroom, and a few plugins) Cords, chargers, etc. I feel like I am disorganized right now.¬† At least it is not Friday night…

New Job

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I start today out at Thompson Reuters. I have a new java contract for at least the end of the year. We will see how it goes with me and the project whether it lasts longer.

This marks the end of a great summer. I was able to spend a lot of time with the girls, and I am grateful for the opportunity. I have mixed feeling about starting. I would like to be able to pick Kate up from the bus everyday, and get to spend time playing with them and doing things like going to the zoo. On the other hand, I miss the working with a group aspects of my java jobs, and the sitting down and coming up with a solution to a problem. Maybe I will get to do it again sometime…

Many years ago, I was out at what was then called West Publishing working on some of the back end mainframe code for the Westlaw search engine. Now I am back on a team that is doing some of the conversion to newer technologies.

One of the things that I am psyched about is that this is a team that is practicing Agile methodologies, which should be a lot of fun. I haven’t been on a true Agile team before, and I am looking forward to it.

Two Wrongs Make a Right?

Hardware, My Comments/Rants No Comments »

More like two oops make a not so bad. I brought the removable drive with all my backups to a Geek Squad location inside a BestBuy store. Told them my sob story, and they told me they would fleece me to recover the data. Likely hundreds of dollars. Crap. I didn’t really want to give up on our baby pictures of Kate. The girl said she could plug it in and see what was there. She could see a bunch of home movies, and some empty folders. I was very confused. They must be seeing one of my first formatting/foldering setups I though. I left. Thought I might look for a different recovery place.

I got home, plugged in the drive, and saw what she had seen. Oops. I packed up and brought the wrong drive. Plugged in the second one, and there was the bad one. I decided to look around again. I found a folder called older, looked inside, and saw images from 2002-2007. These are all the point and shoot images that I taken that I thought I had lost. There were still here. I immediately backed them up to a working removable drive.

So… oops. Looks like I have most of the stuff I care about. What don’t I have? I don’t have the “backup” files from Annie’s and my computers from the last few years, and I don’t have all of my ripped music. I can spend several hours sometime to rip the music again, and there wasn’t a whole lot of value on the backups. Probably stuff we would have kept if we knew about it, but not so important that we can’t remember what’s there.

I still might get an estimate on data recovery from someone else. I didn’t do a format, the folders shouldn’t be that munged.

Big, big take away from all of this: Never have just one copy of a file. Even if you think it was just going to be a day or two until your new NAS was up (like me), don’t take that chance. ALWAYS have at least two copies.

Adobe Upgrade Scam

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Fake Adobe Scam

I got an email from what looked like Adobe. Adobe Systems Inc. Title: “Your Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended trial is almost over. What’s next?” It was an HTML email that looks identical to that of other email that I have received from Adobe. The only thing that was odd, was that it told me my trial for CS4 Extended was up, and they had a link for an upgrade. I recently tried Lightroom, but not CS4. Hmmmm……

I hovered over the links and got an address of www.adobeinfo.com. I thought that was strange. I went to www.adobeinfo.com and got some sort of privacy page thing. Then I googled it. http://www.aboutus.org/AdobeInfo.com that said it was a phishing site. I then tried further google fu, but couldn’t find people suggesting this was a phishing site. It sure seems vary odd though. I wouldn’t upgrade through them anyway…

Snow Leopard Upgrade Time?

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I was supposed to receive my copy of Snow Leopard to upgrade my Macs today. I was away when delivery was attempted, and it requires a signature. Probably a good thing. I think I need to hold off on the upgrade on my laptop at least.

This software compatibility list shows that I may have a few problems. Lots of things are working, and CS3 issues about whether it works or not appear to be resolved. But there are a couple of key items that have issues still. VM Ware Fusion, and TrueCrypt still have issues. They will need to be fixed for sure before I upgrade.

Lightroom is supposed to work, and I just got an Aperture update to make it compatible, so that covers the photography stuff I use. I wonder if there are plugin issues?

Make sure you do a survey of all your software before you pull the plug on the upgrade.

Update: Looks like MacFuse, which TrueCrypt uses to overlay the encrypted volumes is the real culprit. Version 2.0.3 is what I have installed. There is another beta build called 2.1.5, but not sure what it brings. There is a change log , but it wasn’t updated since v2.0 in 2008. Hmmm…

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