After a pain-staking year of development and perfecting, and not-yet-perfect, I've managed to finally launch Suitebids. If you are a hotel owner, sign up here: https://www.suitebids.net/SignUp.aspx. If not, you can sign up here: https://www.suitebids.net/CustomerRegistration.aspx. I tried to use web technology du jour to make the user experience as easy as possible. Have I succeeded? This is only the beginning of a revolution...
I think the cool thing these days is to get those photos with the background "blurred out." First off, the best way to do it with your iPhone is probably to get as close to the face of the person whose photo you're taking, focus on their face, and snap it. On your DSLR, though, there's a couple of more steps, but it's still pretty simple.
First thing you've gotta do is set your camera to Aperture Priority (usually an "A" or "Av" on the mode wheel), then set your camera to "single point focus" (you should find this pretty easily in the quick menu). The next part is key: fiddle with the thumb wheel until you've got the lowest possible F number (also called "F-stop") and the lowest exposure time. Then, and this part should be obvious, but I've seen people who aren't aware of it, make sure your point of focus (usually a little red dot you see when you look through the view finder) is on the object you want to appear in focus.
This is called minimizing the depth of field. In other words, you're minimizing the range of distance at which objects appear in focus. I've taken and noted a couple of photos here to demonstrate.
Oh ya, I finally got a lens hood for my 18-55mm lens that works well. I had one of those stupid "tulip" lens hoods, but at low focal length you could actually see it in the photos leaving these hideous black area around the edges of the photos. The new one I got is a bayonet lens good similar to this one (actually, I think that's the one but I got it for a couple of bucks cheaper). It works like a charm.
Gunnar Digital Performance Eyewear
I've gotten some new glasses recently, and it's some pretty interesting stuff. First were the Gunnars. Thanks to the great folks at Today's Vision in Spring, I got a pair of Gunnar Digital Performance specs. On average, I probably spend about 6-8 hours per day in front of a computer screen, typing my life away, kinda like I'm doing now. Recently, I've begun to experience headaches or my eyes just begin feeling heavy after the first few hours. The Gunnars are tinted slightly yellow (and have some other fancy things done to them that I don't understand), filtering wavelengths that cause strain on your eyes. Immediately, I began to notice that I was able to stay an entire 6 hours in front of a screen, without a break, with my eyes feeling just about as fresh as they do in the morning. Because of the tint, I have to take them off for any photo editing that I do.
Ever since I was introduced to it by an old friend, TOMS have always been a personal favorite. The simple shape, coupled with the selection of the creative designs, make it a great product. Though they aren't the most durable shoes, the thought that you are doing something good make up for it. TOMS' one-for-one model is a brilliantly sustainable way help a lot of needy people, while feeding consumerism. Warby Parker takes on the same approach to eyeglasses. They styles are all 50s-ish, hipster plastic frames that sucked me right in; 90 bucks for a complete pair, AND they'll give a pair to a kid? Sold. But wait, there's more. Seeing as how they don't currently have many showrooms in the states, and how most people are skeptical of buying things like glasses from the internet (considering that trying them on is kinda important), they run a "Home Try-On" program where you can pick 5 pairs and they'll send them to you for 5 days. Meanwhile, you try them all on, ask all your friends about them, and then order the one(s) you want accordingly! I chose the Fillmore in Revolver Black.
I was getting tired of all the darkness. This is better.
For the past several weeks, since before my birthday, I've been messing with my Nikon D5100. It came with the Nikkor 18-55mm VR lens and I also bought a decent distance shot lens, the Nikkor 55-200mm VR lens. So far I've managed to make some pretty decent shots.
I also got a filter kit for $3 off E-Bay. It included a fluorescent light filter, UV filter, polarizing filter, and lens hood. The 55-200 lens also came with a hood of its own, but it won't fit on the 18-55 lens. Using some stale credit card rewards, I also ordered a 35mm f/1.8 Nikkor. Can't wait to see what I can do with that!
Another cool thing that I ordered with those point was a Wifi enabled SD card that is capable of transmitting the photos directly to my computer using a wifi connection. It also has a 4gb internal storage capacity.
Steve Jobs just passed. A sad moment for people who are as serious about Apple products as I am. He really revitalized the fanboy community, which eventually revitalized the company entirely.
What's sickening about this all is that CNN and other news agencies had huge stories about his death out only minutes after the announcement was made by Apple that Steve Jobs passed. WTF? This means that CNN had a long eulogy pre-written, and they were just waiting for him to die in order to be the first to have it out. Sick is the world we live in today.
I've lost a hero.
I Stumbled onto the site pica-pic.com, which is a site that emulates some of those handheld electronic games that they used to sell (and maybe still do) at Wal-Mart. Anytime I see one of these game,s I remember the time I traveled to India as a small kid, I think around 5 or 6 years old. At this time, I was Addicted (yes, with a capital 'A') to video games. It didn't matter what the game was. If it had some kind of visual, buttons, and made sounds, it required the three senses needed to keep myself quiet for HOURS.
Yes, at this time the Nintendo Game Boy did exist, and why my parents didn't get me one until much later its not exactly clear, but it probably had something to do with my inherent tendency to destroy everything I touch. And with all the games and bulkiness of the Game Boy, I was sure to be rid of it quickly. Either way, waiting for me back home were the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
Super Nintendo was definitely my favorite. The graphics were a little cleaner than the Sega, from what I remember. My mastery of NBA Jam TE, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, and Maximum Carnage consumed my childhood, and I don't regret it for a moment. I was the king of the console from what I remember. If you remember otherwise, let me know. Actually, don't. You'll shatter my soul.
After the SNES, I didn't actually own another console until the XBox, and meanwhile I was all about computer games like Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Age of Empires, Diablo, Civilization 2, and Alpha Centauri. The XBox came out when I was a freshman in High School, followed by the XBox 360 when I was a freshman in college, and now I've got both, along with the PS3 and the Wii. I'm a die hard fan of the 360 tho, and the others have just turned to into my Blu-Ray player and Netflix machine.
So this video is one of the greatest I've seen in a while...
So I finished this last week, but I've finally pushed myself to talk about it. Everything went pretty smoothly. The case was a bitch to put together, but it looks awesome (check out the pictures). I'm running Windows 7, and it was giving me some trouble when I tried installing certain software (like iTunes) and software updates. I managed to straighten that problem out by trying to install over and over again. Now everything is running smoothly. It's pretty awesome watching Blu-Ray movies on this computer and it came with a few blank writable Blu Discs. I think that's all for now.
A big part of my life is missing right now and I need to occupy my time. I ordered about 60 blank white shirts, and I'm going to use my screen printing kits to start making hand-printed shirts. I'll post up some of my designs soon...
Also, to keep myself busy when the shirts are drying off (I'm supposed to allow 8 hours for them to dry apparently), I've taken on a new computer/dork project. Pimping my home office. I've already had the two LCD's mounted one above the other, but it just isn't enough. I was using a small, beat-up, 4.5-foot, hand-me-down desk, so I upgraded.
I went to Staples and picked up a desk that really fits my new idea. First off it's on wheels, which is amazing because I want everything in my life to be movable. I get bored really easily, and so I have to change the layout of my living spaces often in order to keep my productivity at its peak. Also, with movable furniture, its easy to clean behind them. This is important for my home office because I have a lot of components that collect dust: computer tower, lamp, 2 Sony Bravia LCD's (on full-motion all mounts), printer, speakers, AppleTV, AT&T DSL modem, Dish Network satellite receiver, and power strip. With a rollable desk, it's easy to move a litte so that I can sweep behind it. Plus, Max constantly sheds baseball-sized hairballs.
Now for the lamp. Also at Staples, I found the V-Light® Nickel Full-Spectrum Clamp Magnifying Desk Lamp. It uses a daylight halogen bulb which puts out a very comfortable light that is easy on the eyes. I also like this lamp because of the fact that it clamps to the side of the desk, meaning it doesn't use any of the work surface.
I'm using my old JBL Creature 2 (2.1 channel) speakers that I bought back when I was in Houston. Killer speakers and they have stayed with me for a long, long time. They get the party started.
Next is the Logitech MX5500 Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse. Other than the high level of comfort and functionality, this pair has some pretty cool (and some pointless) features. The weighted scroll wheel on the mouse is a really cool features which makes scrolling really easy. The keyboard and mouse buttons are very customizable, and the keyboard has a keystroke counter and an ambient temperature reading (two useless features).
I am also working on building a new computer. So far I've gotten the case (Sunbeam UFO ACUF-HUVB UV Blue Clear Acrylic ATX Cube Computer Case), hard drive (SAMSUNG EcoGreen F2 HD103SI 1TB 5400 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive), and the video card (PNY Verto VCGGT2401D3XPB GeForce GT 240 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card). The rest of the parts are as follows:
- Intel 112BN.HMWWB IEEE 802.11b/g/n Mini PCI Express Centrino Wireless-N 1000 802.11b/g/n Wireless Half Mini PCIe Card Up to 300Mbps Wireless Data Rates WEP, WPA, WPA2 802.1x (EAP-TLS, TTLS, PEAP, LEAP, EAP-FAST), EAP-SIM, EAP-AKA 64-bit
- ASUS P8P67-M (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
- AZiO BTD211 USB 2.0 Micro Bluetooth Adapter
- LG Black 12X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 12X DVD-RAM 10X BD-ROM 4MB Cache SATA Super Multi WH12LS30 LightScribe Support - OEM
- Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K
- 2x CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 15000) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1866C9B
I completely forgot to report on my completion of the Video Wall ("HershalVision") project. I guess it isn't really complete since we haven't yet ordered the 9 screens, but the computer that's going to drive it all is built and works like a charm. Check out the pictures and their descriptions to see how it all happened.
In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, I undertook this challenge in order to build a video wall for use at the Hilton. A video wall is basically a bunch of screens operating as one. Usually you'll see these video walls forming the backdrop on news channels. I'm making one to make a giant screen for running presentations, photo slideshows, and, like the news channels, I nice backdrop for a performance or speech. You may be thinking that it's a little overkill, but remember that LED and LCD screens are, unlike projectors, impervious to ambient lighting conditions.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANYWAY, this thing was a nightmare to put together. First of all, let me begin by saying that EGVA makes really shitty motherboards. I ordered their top-of-the-line motherboard, the EVGA 170-BL-E762-A1 LGA 1366 Intel X58 4-WAY SLI Classified XL ATX Intel Motherboard. Piece. Of. Shit. First off, the motherboard never worked properly for more than a week. But I successfully replaced it with the GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard. This one works like a charm. Too bad I haven't had to use it to its full potential yet.
Here's a pretty interesting excerpt from a post on Cracked.com:
Hallucinate Like You Just Took LSD, Legally
Yes, that's right kids! Tell your dealer goodbye and worry no more about winding up naked on the roof of an office building after a bad trip. Now you can be stoned out of your mind by building a homemade deprivation chamber out of some regular, completely harmless household objects.
Holy Shit, How Can I Do It!
You are going to need three things: a ping-pong ball, a radio with headphones and a red light.
Step 1: Turn the radio to a station with just white noise (static), and put on your headphones.
Step 2: Cut the ping-pong ball in half and tape each half over your eyes.
Step 3: Turn the red light so it's facing your eyes.
Step 4: Sit there for at least a half an hour.
Step 5: Follow Ben Franklin and your new friend, Harold the unicorn, into the gumdrop forest, and live happily ever after.
How Does It Work?
It's called the Ganzfeld effect, and it works by blocking out most of the signals that go to your brain. It's the same kind of effect you get when looking into a soft light for a while and lose vision, except at a larger scale.
The sound of the white noise and the light from the outside of the ping pong ball are eventually ignored by your brain. With all those signals out of the picture, your brain has to create its own, and this is where the hallucinations come in. We can't guarantee they won't involve, say, the ghost of Lizzie Borden trying to hack off your scrotum with an ax, but that's the risk you take, dammit.
There's a pretty cool iPhone app out. I think ima get it.
This morning all of my sites on my Dreamhost account went down for the second time in a month. This is outrageous for anyone that is at least as engaged with the web as I am. The first time was an 18-hour downtime, that crippled all of my WordPress installs and MX record. The second, that happened this morning was for a little more than 3 hours, and came right back up with everything intact.
This left me in dire need to a backup system and I think I have the perfect solution. Dreamhost is cheap and, well, you get what you pay for. I have a virtual private server (VPS) setup with them, which allows for large amounts of memory usage and my sites sometimes spike up to, sometimes due to spambots, crawlers, and other crap when I forget to put my defenses back up, because these spikes tend to lock up my entire account. Highly inconvenient, but the cheapest short-term option.
As for my solution, it begins with a mirror site. What I need to do is open another hosting account with a difference company, in this case. I opened the account today, ready to rock and roll and I ran into a brick wall when I started getting some kind of server-side permissions errors. I have no idea what this stuff means, but it really pissed me off. Once this is done, I will deploy a WordPress install, get a clone plugin to make one install fetch content from the other. This should, if done correctly, produce two, identical WordPress installations on two difference servers. The I will hop onto a failover service that will revert to a backup copy of my site when the main one goes down. I can have as many of these backup installations as I need. For my purposes, I think two is ample insurance.
HOPE IT WORKS!
I'm sure any of you who actually read my rambling know about my monster of a computer that I built. It's working like a charm, but it was INSANE getting to this point.
I opened all of the packaging. I was excited. Not having assembled in a computer in over 6 years, I screwed up right away. See, motherboards look like any other electronic component out there that you may have seen. It's a board with a bunch of small components stuck to it with thousands of electronic connections running through it. Where each of these components are mounted to the board, there are little metal spikes on the underside. These spikes actually conduct signals to other parts of the board. For this reason, when you mount a motherboard to a case, there are little spacer screws that need to be used to keep the spike slightly elevated above the metal case to prevent the metal contact from short-circuiting the circuitry!
Well, I, being the "idot" that I am, mounted the motherboard without the spacers! Unbeknown to me, this caused two of the leads on the bottom to bend and touch one another. I struggle all damn day to figure out what was wrong. I called NewEgg to return it, thinking that I received a bad motherboard. Just as I was packing everything away, I took one last look at it, noticed the problem, fixed it, and the rest is Hershalvision.
I posted some pics on Facebook about it too.
Also, I got my new MacBook Pro a couple of weeks ago. It the newest one, 15-inch, with the i7 and Thunderbolt. Amazing stuff. It's making my life much more incredible. I picked up a tip from a buddy of mine and now I've got my email, calendars, and contact all in sync with my iPhone 4, iPad (the old one), my iMac, Gmail, and, of course, my new MacBook. I have all these things reminding me of what I need to do anything I have something to do! Its awesome. I know I'm pretty late with this, but, hey, I've been a little busy, but now I'm up to speed.
School's been going pretty well, but there's something extremely exciting that's been taking over my mind for the past week or so. Here it is:
Inspired by that huge screen floating above Cowboys Stadium, yes, Jerryvision, I've decided to attempt to build a video wall. A video wall is basically when you use multiple displays to show a single image. For instance, which is what I plan to do, if you take 9 TVs and arrange them 3x3 and display one image across them all, you've created a video wall. Seeing how this kind of system must be driven by a computer, I've decided to build my own computer to drive this video wall. I've ordered the parts from NewEgg and I plan on getting them tomorrow or the day after (bad weather in Dallas slowed UPS for a day, damnit, so we'll see what happens). Here are the specs:
- 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950 130W Quad Core, 256KB L2 Cache, 8MB L3 Cache
- AVerMedia AVerTV HDMI Interface
- This has 2 HDMI input so I can hookup DIRECTV or something like that.
- 5x GeForce 9500 GT, 1GB 128-bit DDR2
- That's right. FIVE OF THEM! That bring me to a total of 10 DVI-out's. Amaze.
- 24 GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM
- 'nuff said.
- 'nuff said.
- In Win Dragon Rider Black Full Tower Computer Case
- This thing comes with a 22cm fan built into the case. I'm pretty sure I haven't even seen a case fan that big.
- Sony Optiarc Blu-Ray Burner
- I decided to go with this since it can burn and play everything, so I shouldn't have to upgrade this puppy for a while.
- LGA 1366 Intel X58 4-WAY SLI Classified XL ATX Intel Motherboard
- Just the regular stuff except that its and XL ATX with 7 PCI-E's.
- Xigmatek 800W, SLI Ready, CrossFire Ready, 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
- Maaaaaybe a little overkill, but it sounds cool, right?
- Samsung EcoGreen 1TB, 5400 RPM, 32MB Cache, SATA 3.0Gb/s, Hard Drive
- Just. In. Case.
BTW, if any of you reading this know for a fact that this machine will not accomplish what I'm trying to do. Please tell me. This monster would make a pretty sweet work computer anyway.
Here's the NewEgg un-boxing video for the case I bought:
- 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950 130W Quad Core, 256KB L2 Cache, 8MB L3 Cache