The Seeger Bros., 2012

The Seeger Brothers

The Seeger Brothers

The Seeger Brothers

The Seeger Brothers

The Seeger Brothers

The Seeger Brothers

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Safety Features that Frighten Me

Honda has a new safety package on some of their cars. The ads go something like, “Sooner or later you’ll be driving when you’re on the verge of falling asleep. Sooner or later you’ll make a sudden swerve across several lanes of traffic. Sooner or later you’ll be driving and not watching where you’re going. Our car has technology to make it safer to do those things! Yay Honda!”

Wait… what?

Already there are people out there, who, when the moment comes to make a life-and-death decision, will, because of this technology, be more inclined to choose death. Death for themselves and for those around them. Death for me, perhaps. Some of those people will choose death anyway, but now, with the assurance that their car is looking out for her, a teenage girl will veer across four lanes of traffic and be represented at her prom by a table with her photo on it, with candles and little mementos. Elsewhere, some guy is going to decide to cover an extra hundred miles while his wife sleeps in the passenger seat, confident that his car will wake him up, and he will leave his children orphaned.

This technology is part of a larger, encouraging trend towards cars that drive themselves, that plan ahead long before the desired exit, pull over when the human monitor is asleep, and talk to each other to warn of obstacles and negotiate safe passage. Steps like the ones Honda has introduced are valuable in reaching that goal.

But these intermediate steps? I don’t want them on the road with me.

Open Letter to Yontoo

Tonight I came home to discover that whenever I looked at this site, it was wrapped in advertising. Yikes! I was relieved to discover that it was ‘only’ on my machine; I had unknowingly inherited a browser extension that turned Safari into a giant billboard. Panic gave way to annoyance.

The creator of this extension is called Yontoo. They suck. But you can be sure that I didn’t run a Yontoo installer recently. Something else I installed did me the favor of sliding that sucker onto my machine. Tonight I wrote Yontoo this message:

How can I find out how you [sic] software was installed in my browser? I certainly didn’t ask for it, but obviously at some point when I thought I was installing something else, I got your stuff too. I want to know who to yell at.

Merry Happy and Whatnot

It’s been rainy here lately, downright Portlandic (do you feel the ’90’s?). The other day I stepped out onto my front porch to discover the poinsettias there bejeweled with glistening drops of rainwater. In the spirit of the holiday, I thought I’d share. You don’t have to thank me, it’s what I do.


Click the images to biggerize them. I think my favorite is the middle one.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Our Kitchen, Filled With Treats

Our kitchen, filled with treats.

Our kitchen, filled with treats.


Here’s a panoramic view of our newly-reconstructed kitchen. It’s awesome! It’s kind of hard to tell when it’s wee small (click to biggerize it), but there’s about ten different kinds of yummy holiday goodies piled up in there.

Yeah, life is good.

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This is Why We Don’t Get You Nice Things

xPad

xPad

Last weekend I decided that, before I went to a friend’s house, I’d knock down a couple of chores around the house. One of those chores was to unstick the gate to the backyard. I don’t have exactly the right tools for this job, but I have ones that are close enough.

It was Sunday, and while I’m not an avid sports-watcher, I have come to enjoy listening to a game on the radio while I putter about. And by “radio” I mean iPad with the Tune-in app. (I came close to buying a cheap radio for the garage before I realized I probably already had one.)

Due to the geometry of house and WiFi station, when I’m outside I need to keep the iPad elevated to get the signal. So I propped it up where the fence attaches to the house, double-checked it for stability, and set to work on the gate. Fast forward to when I was working on the pier that the gate latches against. Apparently the vibration caused the iPad to slowly scoot to the left, unobserved by me. As I attacked the wood with the sander I heard the clatter behind me. I turned with my heart in my throat and saw the iPad, face down on concrete, six feet below where it had been, the sound of the broadcast still coming from its dinky speakers.

It still works, if you don't mind dragging your finger across broken glass.

It still works, if you don’t mind dragging your finger across broken glass.

I allowed myself a moment of hope. If it was still working, perhaps it had miraculously survived the fall. Gingerly I picked up the fallen gadget. As you already know from looking at the pictures, the iPad was now an exPad.

Had I purchased AppleCare with the iPad, I would have been able to get a free replacement. In general I’m not a big fan of warranties on solid-state devices, however, preferring to simply not break them in the first place. Which is a perfectly workable theory except when I do break things.

Happily for me, I work with a group of people who are, shall we say, ethusiastic about iPads and whatnot. A co-worker had an iPad substantially better than mine, that she no longer used because there’s one out now that’s even better yet. She was willing to sell it to me for a (relative) song, and now I have my retina display (which is sweet). And, oddly enough, AppleCare.

Photo notes:

Turns out my 24-105mm zoom has pretty nice bokeh as well. I was using it as a macro lens, and actually stopped it pretty far down to get more depth of focus. When you get that close, however, there’s only so much you can do. The pros use a technique called focus stacking to overcome this difficulty – they take a series of pictures with focus at slightly different distances from the front edge of the product to the back, and combine them together with electronic magic, taking the in-focus portion of each slice. The high-end shops actually have servo-controlled gizmos that move the camera a tiny bit at a time between shots. I saw an animation of an iPod photo that had fifty-something individual slices.

Photoshop has the tools for focus stacking, but taking the slices would have required far more effort than I was prepared to put into the project today.

Looking for my New Team

Since the KHL seems to be the preeminent hockey league these days, I need to adjust. My dilemma right now: Do I pull for Lev Praha, the team from Prague? It seemed automatic until I saw Slovan Bratislava in the standings. Slovakia’s pretty cool; it wouldn’t be hard to root for them.

The Slovak team has way more history; Lev Praha was founded this year, Slovan dates back to 1921. Not a lot of names I recognize on either roster (Why the hell is Zdeno Chara playing for the Czechs rather than the Slovaks?), and should the NHL start playing before the KHL completely eats its lunch, those names I do know will be back here in North America.

But if I were an enterprising sports network, or a desperate one, I’d consider banging out a contract with the KHL, and bringing more than just a token couple of games over here. It might be too late to really make bank on this labor stoppage, but it seems a safe bet that another will come along soon enough.

I looked in the KHL shop, and you know what you can get with Slovan’s logo on it? Nothing. A big, fat, zip. Which makes me really want a Miroslav Satan sweater. (He’s the only name I recognized at first glance, and he’s also the only player on that team’s injured list.) Anyone in Bratislava who can hook me up?

Edited to add: The league does have a Che Guevara hockey shirt, which appeals to me most because it’s their best effort at capitalist exploitation to date — but we can’t underestimate the impact of Che in a hockey helmet. Viva La Hockey!

Yet one more addition: I might have to root for Kazakhstan! Because it’s Kazakhstan! The only thing that cools my enthusiasm is that less than half the team is actually from there.

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