Monday, June 30, 2008

HDR Photography

New York City at night, photographed using the HDR technique.Image via WikipediaI've discovered HDR photography.

What started as a simple browsing of some awesome photos taken by Chris Paltzat, turned into browsing various photo groups on Flickr that pertain to my Canon S3 IS, which in turn brought me to an HDR photograph Flickr group.

A quick Google search revealed to me exactly what the "Autoexposure Bracket" feature on my camera is used for. My interest peaked, and another Google search told me that I have software that can do the processing, and have had it all along: Corel's Paintshop Pro X2.

Now I'm anxious to get started and find some nice scenery to shoot.

Back to Chris Paltzat's blog. I had a brief email exchange with him after I sent him a message about his photos. He's a self-taught "amateur" photographer. I hesitate to say he's an amateur, because his photos are quite impressive. But, that's what he claims to be. I asked him for tips and his advice was to read as much as I can, and he kindly referred me to a few books with two of them being highly recommended. I plan to pick both of them up as soon as I can. (Thanks again, Chris!)

If you get a chance, drop by Chris's blog -- three six six -- and have a look around. He's posting a new photo every day of the year.

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I'm a qualifier!

The Ottawa Sun is running a contest to win a Smart Car and $1200 in gas.I've been entering daily since it began in April. Each week, scouring their web site for tiny car pic, and submitting the locations for it it after collecting 3 days worth.

This afternoon my daughter answered an unknown phone number. I was outside hanging Canada Day decorations on the house when she came out and said "Daddy, the phone is for you."

"Who is it?"

"I dunno.. they asked for Scott".

"So why did you answer it?" I'm thinking it's a telemarketer. We rarely ever answer the phone when we don't recognize the number.

It was someone from the Ottawa Sun. The first thought in my mind was they were going to ask me to subscribe. Even though we already do, we've had calls in the past asking us to subscribe. Weird.

Luck was on my side this time. They were calling to tell me that I am a weekly qualifier!

Sometime in October after the contest is over, they'll have a "wrap-up event" for all qualifiers. I have a 1 in 34 chance of winning the car and the $1200 in gas. Just for being a qualifier, I win $100 in gas.

I'm stoked. :)
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Poll finds number of Canadians playing video games naked

Digital Home Canada - Poll finds number of Canadians playing video games naked: "one in five Canadian men (17%) has played a computer game in the nude while a significantly smaller percentage of women (9%) have done the same"
I'm not sure if this is funny, or disturbing. Why anyone would want to play video games -- while naked -- is puzzling.

They also have other interesting stats in the story.
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Friday, June 27, 2008

NOT George Carlin on Aging

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 08:  (FILE PHOTO) Comedian and actor George Carlin poses for a photograph at After the recent passing of George Carlin, one of the first things that popped into my mind was "It won't be long before the alleged Carlin quotes start circulating again". Not that they ever stopped while he was still in the land of the living.

Sure enough, this morning I got notification of a new posting over at -- George Carlin on Aging -- debunking the rumoured Carlin quote.

If you reading this, take note. If someone sends you the email, send it back to them with a link to and correct them!

You can also find Carlin's own view of these quotes on his own web site.
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Monday, June 23, 2008

Paint Chips - the saga continues

I picked up the truck last Thursday... and paid $60 for the 3 "calendar days" of the loaner car. I tried to argue that it was only two days -- Tue > Wed and Wed > Thu, but he said "we count calendar days". Yeh, ok. I tried. :)

I took a quick look at the bumper before leaving the dealership and it looked pretty good. The truck was washed and the inside was even vacuumed. I was happy.

I got home and looked closer at the bumper. The passenger side was beautiful. No complaints. On the driver side, where there were two lower chips (I didn't take photos of that side) I discovered a new paint bubble, almost in the exact same spot that there used to be one on the passenger side. I gave it a light poke with my finger nail and it was indeed a bubble. Not just a build-up of paint.

My wife called the dealership back on Friday and left a message with a brief explanation. No return call. So she called them again this morning and explained what the problem was. "Jamie" said he wasn't aware of this new problem. He said that they don't inspect anything other than what is reported and repaired. My wife told him that we were sure it wasn't there before, so this was likely new due to the repainting. But regardless, since there's a 3 year warranty on the paint, it doesn't matter if it's new or old. He said something to the effect that if they fixed every little thing like this, they could be doing this 5 or 6 times. My wife said if that's the way it has to be, then perhaps the bumper should be replaced? And we're not going to keep paying for a loaner car every time when it should be fixed right the first time.

He said he would have to speak with the service manager.

Now, I can understand that time is limited and maybe they don't have time to inspect the entire bumper, but realistically, how long would that possibly take? I'm not a body repair expert, but it took me all of 10 seconds to spot the bubble when I got home. This new bubble is like a foot higher from where the chips were that they repaired. How could they not see it? It's not like it's on the back of the bumper where they wouldn't have been looking during any preparation or repainting. It's 12" above it!

Now we wait....

(Original post here)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Relay for Life -- Our First Year

Team W.T.F. - Walk to Fight survived the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life! Our team raised $2,943 for our first year.

It was a great event, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We're already talking about next year! Now that we've experienced the whole event, we'll try to make it even more fun for everyone on our team.

I managed to stay away the entire time, meaning I was awake for about 26-27 hours in total. My entire body is achy and sore. Mostly from carrying the 200lbs of stone dust filled bags that we used in place of tent pegs.

I think my favourite part was the Luminary ceremony after sunset. The field lights were all turned off, leaving the track lit only by the luminaries. It was a very touching moment when the bagpipers played Amazing Grace as Sandra and I stood in front of my Dad's luminary.

I think the only downside was having to move our tents 6 or 7 times on Friday morning to make room for the track. Ideally, it would have been nice if the tracks had been marked prior to setting up.

The funny moment of the evening was when three teens stopped in front of our tent and asked if they could take a picture of our team sign. One of them said "it's the most awesomest team name!" Apparently there were other people who commented on our team name.

The last time we managed to see our total laps, we think it was around 130-140. That's about 5 minutes per lap. However, more often than not, we walked in pairs or small groups and those only count for 1 lap. One lap counter per team. We didn't have any designated times for when each member took their turn. It simply worked out that someone was always willing to take the lap counter and do their part, throughout the night. We had a great team!

A few things I learned from all of this that might help for next year:
  • Most people either ignored, or weren't aware of, the "no pegs" rule for tents. I was told that there's an underground sprinkler system on the field, therefore they asked that we didn't use tent pegs. We had 200lbs of stone dust packed in freezer bags to use in place of pegs. Moving the bags to and from the truck was a pain. We'll have to think of a better way to "peg down" our tents next year, or get a cart to move the bags!
  • I am way out of shape. I should start walking more in the weeks leading up to the event. My body hasn't stopped complaining since we got home yesterday. :)
  • We packed way brought way too much with us.
  • Parking wasn't as limited as we were told it would be.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life - THANK YOU!

What started out as an idea about 5 or 6 months ago between a friend and I after a mutual friend passed away from cancer at a very young age earlier this year, is about to become a reality.

This Friday night, I will be participating in a 12-hour Relay for Life to help support the fight against cancer. I am the captain of a team of 12 people who have have collected a total of $2,898 in pledges for the event.

I am extremely grateful to all our generous friends and family who have who made a pledge to help us achieve this amazing total. Thank you everyone!

With rain in the forecast for Friday and Saturday, it is certain to be a very wet night for us, even though we will have shelter when we're not walking around the track. Let's hope for reasonably warm temperatures!

I'm sure we'll have plenty of photos to post and share with you all.

If you'd like to make a donation, it's not too late! You can do so online by following this link. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

Again, thank you all for your generosity!

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