Sunday, May 30, 2010

Week 42 - Yellow Lily

Yellow Lily (42/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
For some reason, I thought the yellow lilies in our front flower bed bloomed earlier than this in previous years. I checked photos from previous years and found that they usually bloomed in early June. I guess they're right on time.

There are many buds this year too. More than I've seen in previous years. This is one of the first and actually opened up the following day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Week 41 - Container

A container
Originally uploaded by Twister65
Yeh, I'm a day late... I was busy socializing on Saturday and then we had fireworks in the evening, and then I had to watch the series finale of LOST. Busy, busy, busy! :)

I originally shot this for, but it really turned out well so I chose it for this week's Project 52 posting.

I fired off about 5 or 6 shots before I ended up with this one. I placed it on my dining table, and the only lighting I had was from the light fixture above the table. I sat it close to one end of the table, and then I sat at the opposite end and almost rested the camera on the table to get the shot.

This container came from St. Maarten while I was on a Caribbean cruise that I won in 1989. I remember arriving on the island with hundreds of other people and we were all making our way toward these large taxis to ride into town for a day of shopping. Before we could get there, locals were lined up ready to sell their wares. I think I paid about $3 or $4 for this. It's cute... and currently holds loose change on my desk. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Privacy? What privacy?

I'm not a web expert, nor am I the paranoid type... but should, who has privacy concerns against Facebook, be tracking its visitors with cookies?

I found these in Firefox's cookies.


In case you're wondering what they do:

  • __utmz tracks where a visitor came from (search engine, search keyword, link)
  • __utma tracks each user's amount of visits, first, last visit.
  • __utmb and __utmc are used to track when a visit starts and ends to some decent time resolution (c expires quickly). If you look at cookie state changes (e.g. using firecookie), you will see these change regularly.
  • __utmv is used for user-custom variables in Analytics,_utmb,_utmz_cookies

Why would they care where you come from? Or how often you visit their site? Hmmm...?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Setting date and time on Mini DV Pocket Video Camera

Aviary cgi-ebay-ca Picture 1 I picked up a cheap Mini DV Pocket Video Camera off Ebay recently for 1 cent. Ok, so the S&H was $15.99, but for the whole price, it was a steal. My intent is to mount it onto my R/C plane this summer and shoot some aerial video like I did a couple of years ago with another camera. Since it has no internal storage, I also ordered a 2GB Micro SD card for it, from another Ebay vendor, for $7.

My purchase finally arrived yesterday. The camera is smaller than I expected which makes it ideal for my purposes. The brackets it came with will make great plane mounts.

The software drivers came on a mini CD and installed without a hitch. The printed instructions were clearly translated from Chinese, and not too surprisingly, difficult to understand. On the CD was a batch file, Updata Time.bat, used for setting the device’s internal date and time. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. (That’s not a typo – that’s how it is spelled) :)

I searched the web and found a couple of different YouTube videos demonstrating how to set the date and time on this camera. None of them worked. First, it didn’t seem to recognize this TAG.txt file that the videos used. The file created by the batch file is named time.txt. The information being put into the file didn’t look quite right. I determined that it was parsing the date from my PC incorrectly, either because I’m running Windows 7 or because the region is set differently than a Chinese system.  After some trial and error, I managed to fix the batch file so it inserted the date correctly, and in turn, was accepted by the camera.

If you have one of these cameras and the batch file isn’t working for you, the solution is really simple, and you don’t need to mess around with the batch file.

Open Windows Notepad (NOT WordPad) and enter the following information on a single line: hh:mm:ss.  So, for example, if you were to use today’s date and time, it would be 2010.05.18 08:29:00. Note: the time format is 24 hour time. Save the file to your desktop as time.txt, plug your camera into the PC, copy the file to the camera, unplug the camera and turn it on. When you turn on the camera, it will read the date and time, set it, and remove the file on its own.

If you’re the type, like me, who wants to fix the batch file, this is the section you need to change:
set b=%date%
set yy=%b:~0,4%
set zz=%b:~5,2%
set dd=%b:~8,2%
set xx=%b:~11,3%
Change it to the following:
set b=%date%
set yy=%b:~10,4%
set zz=%b:~4,2%
set dd=%b:~7,2%
set xx=%b:~0,3%
If it still doesn’t work, you may need to add or change one of these lines:
if exist J:\DCIM copy time.txt J:\
Change the “J:” to the drive letter that the camera appears as on your system.

That’s it, that’s all. I might throw together my own video and post it. In the meantime, I let the author of the linked video above know about this so if anyone contacts him, he can share the information.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week 40 - Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake
Originally uploaded by Twister65

Today was my daughter's 12th Birthday. She decorated this cake yesterday, for her Birthday party and asked me to take a picture of the masterpiece.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Habs are not Canada’s Team… sorry

I am an Ottawa Senators fan.

I stopped watching all hockey when my beloved Ottawa Senators were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in round one of the playoffs. That’s my choice – why can’t some people respect that?

I don’t believe that once your team has been eliminated, you should now cheer on the remaining Canadian teams fortunate enough to remain in the playoffs. That’s not my thing.

We have one Habs fan on my team at work. For the great run that the Montreal Canadiens are having in their playoff run, the Habs fan is not a problem. I’m happy for him and his team. He doesn’t seem to have any problem with me not cheering on his team or watching the games.

Which makes this somewhat amusing, and confusing.

The problem I am having is with a couple of non-Habs fans who have jumped on the Habs bandwagon and feel that, being a Canadian Citizen, I should be cheering on the Habs because they are “the last Canadian team in the playoffs!”

They feel that, because I am not also on the Habs bandwagon, I am a “jealous Sens fan”, and anything I say that they feel might bring bad mojo to their adopted team, makes me evil.

Let’s be clear here. The Montreal Canadiens, or any “Canadian team” for that matter, is not “Canada’s Team”. The NHL is not the OIympics. The NHL is not the IIHF World Championship. Team Canada is not playing in the NHL playoffs.

The players on each “Canadian” team in the NHL aren’t even all Canadian Citizens. The only thing that makes a “Canadian” NHL team Canadian is their home city.  (We’ll ignore the fact that the Montreal Canadiens play for a city in a province that has tried to separate from Canada… that’s a whole other story) :)

“The cup needs to come back to Canada!”

Sure, that would be nice. But my cheering or not cheering for a team is not going to make a difference in whether or not the Stanley Cup comes back to Canada. That’s up to the mixed bag of nationalities playing for the Montreal Canadiens. Direct your energy into positive vibes toward the team, not as negativity toward me.

My decision to not cheer for the Montreal Canadiens does not make me a bad Canadian Citizen, nor does it make me a “jealous Sens fan” anymore than it makes you a “jealous {insert your team here} fan”.

Good luck to whichever team you cheer for, but please stop telling me that I have to cheer on a team that is not my chosen team.

My cheers are reserved for the Ottawa Senators.

GO SENS GO… maybe next year. :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Week 39 - Tulips

Originally uploaded by Twister65
I took this at Rideau Falls on the way home one day. I stopped to look for a monument or sculpture for the photo and they had tulips. It was really windy, so it made it a little difficult to get a nice shot. About 30 minutes before this, it was raining heavily.

Here's an amusing story about this location. About 5 minutes before I took this shot, there was a woman here pushing a child in a stroller. As I walked toward the tulips, camera in hand, she approached me and asked "Can you take our picture?" I paused for a moment wondering why someone would want me to take their picture with my camera... she didn't have one visible. I then asked "With your camera?" She nodded, and THEN she took our a small point & shoot from her bag. Now it made sense. Oops. I agreed and then she posed in front of the tulips with her son.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It started as a Tweet…

I was going to make this a multi-part tweet, but it was getting kinda long… so blog, it shall be. Plus, I can write more. :) If you took the time to click the link I tweeted and are reading this, thank you.

I lost my Dad in 1998 to live cancer. I lost a friend 2 years ago – he was 35 years old. It started as a simple mole on his arm. In less than a year, it spread and he was gone. Seriously… 35 years old. My wife lost an uncle last year. My brother in-law had it and beat it. That’s four people in my “circle”. I’d bet $5 that someone in your family, somewhere, has had it.

I decided that I had to do something, not only to raise awareness – clearly, we are all aware of its existence – but to help support those who are looking for a cure, or are making the lives of those affected by cancer easier.

In 2008, a friend and I put together a team for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and raised just over $3,073.

Last year I shaved my head bald after beating my personal fundraising goal of $1,000. It was awesome. Well, not the being bald part, but beating my goal. Being bald was actually rather annoying – head stubble is like Velcro. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Our team raised around $2,661.

This year I decided to raise the bar a little and set my goal at $1,500. In return for your generosity, I wasn't quite sure what to do that would top last year.

So, I pledged to shave off my goatee. That may seem rather lame in comparison to shaving my head, but personally, I'd rather be bald. I really like my goatee. My goatee is  like a security blanket, I guess. My kids (14 and 11) have never seen me without my goatee, or were too young to remember. It'll probably shock them. I will probably dislike being clean-shaven more than being bald.

This is where you come in. All of you. Canadians, Americans, Europeans. All of the people who follow me on Twitter and clicked the link I tweeted or posted on Facebook today and are now reading this. Well, hopefully still reading this.

If you knew me personally, you’d know how much I dislike asking anyone for anything. I’m not a pushy guy. Hell, if I had $1,500 to spare, I’d donate it all towards my goal so I didn’t have to ask anyone for anything. Seriously. So, asking for help is difficult for me. Asking for money is more difficult. But I’m going to do it anyway because it’s not for me.

And I’m not asking for a lot. A few dollars, or pounds? Anything that you can afford. It all helps. And it doesn’t matter that it’s going to a Canadian charitable cause because we’re all working toward one goal, right?

So instead of having three coffees today, how about skipping one and donating the money to me? Or, how about $5 for every person in your “circle”?


They both go to the same place.

Although I’d prefer that donations be made directly online via the Relay for Life web site, if using a credit card isn’t your thing, you can also send it as a “gift” via PayPal to spaterson AT and I’ll add it as an offline cash donation, with your name, so you can see it on my fundraising meter.

As of this posting, I am $1050 away from reaching my goal with 43 days left.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week 38 - It's beer:30

It's beer:30
Originally uploaded by Twister65
I took this shot for on Friday. The goal was to "make an artistic shot of your favorite beverage or libation today". It was as if the task was made for me. :) When I got home I grabbed a beer from the fridge, sat it on the floor, put on my 100mm macro lens and snapped a few shots.

I was surprised to find that I got a couple of comments on it too. I like comments. :)