Sep 25, 2010

Software Updates

I know that many of my readers are running Mac's but most of these programs are available to them as well. but I've installed and used them on Windows 7.  Was a quiet morning so had some time to check out some programs that have been on my list and a few oldies that I still love.

1.  GO-OO.   For many years I have been using Open Office instead of Microsoft Office.  Why spend hundreds of dollars for a Microsoft product when there is a free version that is smaller, faster and does exactly the same thing?   But GO-OO is a version of Open Office that is even quicker then the original Open Office.   Works beautifully, is fast and is free.  The only snag I hit was that I needed to uninstall my old Open Office manually before installing it.   Webpage and download -

2.  Firefox 4.0 Beta - I stopped using Firefox about 6 months ago and switched to SRWARE Iron, but I heard that 4.0 was an improvement.  Downloaded it and it is much improved and much faster then the old version 3.  Still not as good as Iron but much improved.

3.  SRWARE Iron - In my opinion the best browser available.  Lightening fast and easy to use.  It's based upon the Google Chrome package with all the sneaky google advertising and tracking removed.  Also has an Adblocker built in.   Download and install -    Then go to this webpage and copy the contents -  and then paste the contents into the adblock.ini file in the SRWARE directory.  Will block 99% of all banner ads.   You can also sync your bookmarks to your google account allowing you to access your bookmarks from anywhere in the world.  Handy for those who travel.

4.  Lightroom3 - For my photographer friends.   A powerful suite of software for a fraction of the cost of Photoshop.  If your not heavy editing with layers and stuff this program is for you.  30 day free trial from adobe -

5. Pixresizer - an oldie but still the best that I have found.  This little freeware program is the best for resizing your pictures for the net, e-mail or whatever.  Does single files or entire directories -

Quiet weekend, hanging out with Keaton and hoping that Jen will drop by.  Off to Baltimore for a quick business trip next week but will have full access to the world on my laptop.  So out of town but not out of touch ;-)    Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sep 23, 2010

Honda Drivers

Ok, I swear that all the people who used to drive Oldsmobile's have moved to Hondas!

Just about punted 2 of them off the road this morning.  Can they drive any slower?  Is the Honda incapable of taking a corner with any speed?  Do they really need 64 seconds to reach 80 kms/hour?  And 3 km's to stop?  Are brakes optional?  Do you have to pay a lot of money for options like signal lights?

Or do they just get scared when they see a superior automobile like my Toyota coming up behind them?


Sep 20, 2010

Rough Weekend and Mer Bleue

What a rough weekend all around me this week, first separation mediation session last week which was rather stressful, my friends in Bermuda undergoing the wrath of Hurricane Igor (fortunately no major damage to their lives or property) and Jen lost a couple of very close friends through an act of stupidity.   A 20 year old kid stunt driving on city streets loses control and shatters a family.  Mom and Dad both dead and 3 orphaned children.  All because of someone acting like an idiot.  And his life is now ruined as well.  Having to live with killing someone and wiping out a family.  His hopes and dreams are gone as well.  All because of one stupid act.  Makes you think how easily you could fuck up and do something and everything be over in an instant.  A sobering thought.

But we did get away from the world for a bit and took a walk on a local green space/bog called Mer Bleue.

A few pics from the rather long walk;

From the boardwalk.

and a colour version.

Not as clear as I would like but bees are hard to shoot!

Some nice fall flowers ;-)

Sep 13, 2010

A Walk Along the Canal

Saturday Jen and I took a lovely walk along the Rideau Canal between Hartwells and Hogs Back Locks.

Jen still won't let me post pictures of her :-(   But maybe with some encouragement folks..... come on now, tell her how pretty she it ;-)

One of Jen's 3 cats.

Oh, how did that shot get in here ;-)

Sep 10, 2010

Dr Who and Friday Tune

Over this past summer I have become a huge Dr Who fan, haven't seen the stuff prior to 2005 but I now have seen almost every episode and special from 2005 to the dramatic ending this past season. In that time there are been 3 different doctors and at least 4 companions. There are 2 scenes/episodes that stand out. The one where Dave Tennant dies and Matt Smith takes over and this scene where Rose and the Dr say good-bye for the "what we believe" is the final time. For a show that is suppose to be "cheesy" this one was wonderful.

For those sci-fi geek friends of mine who have never checked out Dr Who, find the tapes and enjoy. It's wonderful.

Get your kleenex out

And my song of the week that has been stuck in my head is another good old cheesy 80's tune;

Sep 4, 2010

Playing Around

A quiet day around the farm.  The humidity finally broke last night and it's downright cool now.  No humidity at all and winds are blowing over 30km/h.    Family and friends down east are being lashed by Hurricane Earl and friends in Bermuda with Tropical Storm Fiona, so I won't complain.

Jen and I are just having a lazy day and decided to play around the farm with the camera and photoshop.  A few pics that I thought were fairly neat ;-)

A 9 image HDR the a light find edges.

An HDR to extreme.  Converted to B&W, then heavy multiplied find edges.

A few of the horses around the farm.

Best horse image I've gotten yet!

Playing with the macro, electric fence.

Hope everyone is having a great long weekend.   Jen won't let me post pictures of her :-(   But I'll keep working on it!  ;-)

Sep 3, 2010

A New Camera!

No, not a new SLR or anything overly special ;-).   Don't have the money for a major upgrade just yet and when the day comes I'll have to figure out what to do, stick with DX format as most of my lens are DX or sell it all off and go FX.  Big bucks to do that!   Or even scarier, switch from Nikon to Canon to get the amazing landscape quality of the 5D mk II?   

But as I have said many times, and I still believe it, "it's not the camera that makes the picture, it's the turkey behind it".   Words I live by.   

The problem is, I haven't been taking pictures.   Why would I get a new camera when I'm not using the one I have?  Well the problem is that I just haven't had the time or ambition to get out there and shoot.  You all know that I've gone through a separation this year, a rough patch with a former girlfriend and now I have Jennifer in my life.  It has been a year of transition.  But my life is on track now and I am starting to feel the bug to get out there shooting again.

Many of the best shots that I have been seeing this summer have been while I commute to work and I kick myself for not having a camera with me.  I have loaned my Canon S3 to my son, Keaton, for a photography class last year and he has continued to shoot.  Instead of taking it back, I want him to keep it and continue to explore.  Maybe he can become a more serious photographer then I have been, he has more artistic talent then me in other areas, so maybe.....

So no small camera to keep in the truck and taking the SLR to work is just not an option.  I can't bring it inside my work place (rules) and I'm not comfortable leaving my expensive toy locked in the truck, not to mention the extreme temperatures of Canadian summers and winters.   We have a lockup for electronics at work but the SLR will not fit in the hole.   

But I had noticed that todays point & shoots seem to be taking some wonderful pictures.  So I started doing some research to see if I could find something small that would give me good landscape shots, something cheap so if it get stolen I won't be heart broken and something more practical for having in the boats.   I started with the Nikon and Canons given they are the big names, then did some research on the Kodaks and Samsungs, then I found a little gem made by Panasonic, a Lumix FH20.

The more I researched the more impressed I was by this little camera.  14 megapixel, a wonderful little sensor and very easy to use.  The reviews all pretty much say the same, this is a wonderful camera;

So I took a run up to Henry's Camera, which is wayyyyyy to close to where I live, and put one in my hands.  OMG is this thing ever small.  It is loaded with features, 8x zoom, 14 megs, HD video, a billion scene modes etc etc...   But the price blew me away - $199.99 Cdn.   

I figured I had nothing to lose so bought one and a 4gb SDHC card (boy have these ever gotten cheap since I last bought one) and took it home.   Charged the battery up and took it out to a party that afternoon without reading the manual or really playing with it.

I found it pretty straight forward.  Not much for the full manual crowd out there, you can force the ISO, change the exposure value and do a few other adjustments but that's about it.  It's a point, shoot and forget.  And you know what?   It does a pretty decent job of it.

For straight snapshots it has an IA mode where it will guess the scene or portrait and just switch itself.  I found it pretty good with people but a bit shaky when it came to sunrise/sunsets.  Time will tell how it works on landscapes etc.    I did find a bit of fiddling with scenes gave a better image but they are easy to access and I think they will be pretty consistent once I figure out which is the best for what.

But for something that is 1/40th the size of my SLR and 1/15th the price I can't complain much.  So into the truck it went, caught this sunrise on the way to work yesterday.  Very little post processing done to these images, a bit of a bump in the curve and straightening, some are lighter then others as I was playing with the different scene modes;

Just before sunrise, looking down my driveway

Stopped on the side of the road to catch the sun coming up over a field

You can see where the exposure is taking a beating on the sun itself

A sample of portrait work, my daughter Toria in the pool last weekend

Toria with a friend ;-)

So for 200 bucks I'm not complaining.  I now have a backup to the SLR and something I can have with me everywhere I go.   Now I can capture those little moments where I don't typically have a camera.  Fits nicely in my pocket and I never know it's there.   

Long weekend coming up so hope everyone enjoys themselves.  Weather is suppose to be poor but we'll see if Jen and I can get the cameras out and do a bit of shooting this weekend.