Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Horror of Party Beach

As some of you know, I use Google alerts to inform me of breaking news on the internet. Once again ghoulish horror plagues our favorite beach!

Horror of Party Beach by *BryanBaugh on deviantART

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Free Concert in Ashby MA

Bluegrass! Finnish fiddling, what fun. A FREE concert at Ashby Congregational Church on the town common at 7 PM , March 9, 2012 These folks are great, see you there!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

2012 Photo Themes - Week 8

Thank God for Saturday, it's been a busy work week for me, time to kick back a bit. Today marks the end of week 8 of 2012.

I've continued with my New Year's resolution to do more with photography. One way I accomplish this is by sharing my photos for the Daily Photography Theme project on Google+. I get a great deal of feedback from the community which inspires me to get out and take MORE photos.

It's been a great way for me to reassess my older shots and get them organized. It's also a  chance to add more descriptive metadata.  I get some help from the folks in my circles, especially with identification of insects, plants and exotic foodstuff such as my shot of a Durian fruit in Hong Kong.

Here is a sample of my contributions for the week:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fluorescent Wolf Puzzle

I would never have the patience to work on a 1000 piece puzzle which has parts that are almost interchangeable. I liked the puzzle of the United States in which each piece is in the shape of a state.

The  Fluorescent Wolf puzzle was a gift from my children to my wife and it is finally complete, missing a few pieces that the cats hid. There are some extra pieces that don't fit exactly meaning a few mistakes were made.

I did not help, but I couldn't resist seeing it under UV light.

I see the company makes other fluorescent puzzles.

Fresh Photos - 2012 Week 8

I'm sharing a few HDR tonemapped photos that we taken in week 8 of 2012. It wasn't a particularly colorful or interesting week for photo opportunities. I'm awaiting the new growth that is just around the corner. The sky was interesting on the 23rd of February, so I shot these in Tophet Swamp in New Ipswich during week 8:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Google Alert! - David Poltrack

I'm not sure how many folks are aware of Google Alerts. I have several of these set up for topics that interest me. I have one for Roycroft, on for The Horror of Party Beach and naturally one for Poltrack. Cousin Dave usually sets off the Poltrack alert, so I get a chance to see what he looks like after all these years. Here is his latest appearance on a documentary about the vast wasteland.

Sneak Peek: "The New TV Landscape" from Free TV on Vimeo.

Using your All-In-One to scan photos

It's fairly easy to share photos from a camera or mobile device. You connect via a USB cable and some software will pop up and ask if you wish to transfer it to your computer.

What about that drawer or photo album filled with all those prints? The ones that have been sitting there for 25 years? For that you will need a scanner. Scanners used to be expensive items, but not anymore.

Most printers are now sold as an All-In-One device. They can copy, print and fax. The scanners in these are capable of producing high quality digital files that can be uploaded to photo sharing sites like Google+, Flickr  and Facebook.

The secret is configuring the settings. My scanner has presets like "Picture to File", and "Picture to Email". I ignore these because I feel the scan quality is set too low. I've settled on 300 DPI for my scan settings. That setting is specified in "Advanced Picture Settings". I have selected file type to be TIF instead of JPEG because I intend to do post-processing and a TIF file is lossless (uncompressed). Most normal people will set this to JPEG (I am not normal).

I suggest that a preview view be chosen for the scan. The software will attempt to find the borders of the photo but usually some adjustments will be needed. Mouse over the black squares to re-adjust the selected area. The selection area is delimited by "marching ants" which can be readjusted to select the parts of the scan you wish to save. This application also allows some image adjustment, brightness, color etc.

Click finish and you have your digital file.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Photo Journal Week 7 of 2012

I've been keeping up with my New Year's Resolution to take more photos. This is a sample of Week 7 which ran from Feb 12 till Feb 18.

First I'd like to give a brief update about this blog and it's sibling  blog Musings. I did some remodeling in the right column. I put the search box right at the top (under the time widget). Search is Google Powered and is limited to the contents of the blog only. This has been around since 2006 so there is a lot of content. Give it a try. I also moved the +1 button near the top as a way to enable readers to share anything of interest via Google+. The followers widget had been moved way down since Google will probably remove support on March 1.

The final update is the addition of a link to Amazon Japan for my Japanese readers.

Enough housekeeping, let's share those photos:

What is a Google Page and why do I care?

Disclaimer: I am going to write about photo sharing using Google+ with pages. I'll admit that I am a big fanboy. I'm not going to bash Facebook, they have their own  way of doing things.

Google+ has two mechanisms for online identity. One is the user profile and the other is a company/organization  page.

They differ in two key ways. 

A G+ user profile CAN add (or delete) anyone or any page into a circle to share messages, photos etc. The profile is a single person, the management duties cannot be shared.

A page is a company/organization. It CANNOT add (or delete) anyone unless that person agrees  by initially "circling" the page. Management of the page can be shared among any number of people (as might be done by Honda Motors).

Naturally I had to create a Poltrack Family page  along with a few others. Facebook has a similar arrangement with groups and pages, so the concept should not be unfamiliar.

How can the Poltrack Family page be useful? Quick answer - common repository for sharing family photos.

For example, you have an Easter photo in your Google+ album. You can tag the people in the photo and they will be notified that they have been tagged (with the option to approve/reject). This is similar to the way Facebook shares tagging.

However you can also add a new tag with a PAGE name and the PAGE will be notified. Pages are like people (just like corporations). In this way the page manager can display photos from a number of different profiles at a single location. The daily photo theme pages  work this way and they have thousands of viewers.

What do you need to do to get circled by a page? You need to circle it first!

Here is a screen shot of Page tag that was added to a photo. My dad's furlough in 1943. On the right I clicked ADD A NEW TAG and entered the page name Poltrack Family. I could have added Honda or Ford but that wouldn't make sense would it?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Be Inspired

I tend to drift towards cynicism and pessimism, so it was refreshing to find this video to uplift my spirits. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hello this is Rachel from Cardholder Services

So the FCC is plugging a loophole so we can opt out of RoboCalls. I'm so pleased with the FCC right now protecting me from unsolicited calls.

That means that Rachel, Heather and Michelle won't be calling.... PACs won't be be calling. Hooray!

Oops some exceptions (My highlights)

New Rule Prohibiting Unwanted "Robocalls" to Take Effect on September 1

Telemarketers Must Obtain Prior Written Approval from Consumers Who Want to Receive Such Calls

Beginning September 1, 2009, prerecorded commercial telemarketing calls to consumers – commonly known as robocalls – will be prohibited, unless the telemarketer has obtained permission in writing from consumers who want to receive such calls, the Federal Trade Commission announced today.
“American consumers have made it crystal clear that few things annoy them more than the billions of commercial telemarketing robocalls they receive every year,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “Starting September 1, this bombardment of prerecorded pitches, senseless solicitations, and malicious marketing will be illegal. If consumers think they’re being harassed by robocallers, they need to let us know, and we will go after them.”
The new requirement is part of amendments to the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) that were announced a year ago. After September 1, sellers and telemarketers who transmit prerecorded messages to consumers who have not agreed in writing to accept such messages will face penalties of up to $16,000 per call.
The rule amendments going into effect on September 1 do not prohibit calls that deliver purely “informational” recorded messages – those that notify recipients, for example, that their flight has been cancelled, an appliance they ordered will be delivered at a certain time, or that their child’s school opening is delayed. Such calls are not covered by the TSR, as long as they do not attempt to interest consumers in the sale of any goods or services. For the same reason, the rule amendments also do not apply to calls concerning collection of debts where the calls do not seek to promote the sale of any goods or services.
In addition, calls not covered by the TSR – including those from politicians, banks, telephone carriers, and most charitable organizations – are not covered by the new prohibition. The new prohibition on prerecorded messages does not apply to certain healthcare messages. The new rule prohibits telemarketing robocalls to consumers whether or not they previously have done business with the seller.

Theo Jansen's Strandbeests

Theo Jansen, Kinetic Artist
My blog entries would be rather uninteresting without the contributions of a dedicated cadre of web-surfers who send me links to some really cool stuff. Many a time I wonder, how did I survive the dark ages before the web?

This link courtesy of John Weber:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Step One:  Check out the animated "doodle" on 

Step Two: Google this mathematical expression (cut and paste this into search box)

sqrt(cos(x))cos(300x)+sqrt(abs(x))-0.7)(4-x*x)^0.01, sqrt(6-x^2), -sqrt(6-x^2) from -4.5 to 4.5 

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Hampshire Orchid Society - 2012 Show

Photos from the New Hampshire Orchid Society 21st show "Parade of Orchids", held in Nashua NH. A few photos from that event.

Jai Kelley of Newton, MA won the artistic award for her creations of orchids and other flowers made from cornstarch and Elmer's Glue. Her Website is

Thursday, February 09, 2012

2012 Week 5 - Photos

I set a goal for myself to take more photos in 2012. The "Daily Photo Theme"  projects on Google Plus are a great inspiration. These are my selection for Week 5 of 2012 (Jan 29 - Feb 4). Most are recent shots with a few oldies.