Archive for June, 2009

Nate pics posted.

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Official notice to the Grandmas that I’ve put up new pics of Nate from last weekend:
Running around at the park, picking flowers and just all around being a crazy little boy.
More in the gallery as always.

Where I get it from… and the places I take it.

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

My Dad just sent me the following images:
rocket 1
He apparently decided to build a launch platform[1] and some water rockets to enjoy with my niece and nephew who are currently visiting. He said they were getting about 200-300 feet of altitude on 70 psi.

Since I am, after all, a camera geek AND a rocket scientist, I had to do a bit of photo analysis to extract some info from the image. Thankfully, the images my Dad emailed still had the EXIF data intact.

Here’s my analysis in the form of an open email to my Dad and sister. The references, [edits] and emphasis were added by me since the email.


  1. He says he got the basic plan from “Ask This Old House“. []

Pics Posted…

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

It’s been a week, but I’ve finally posted the pics from the MOMS Club summer picnic. If you haven’t registered on our Gallery, then you won’t be able to see the pictures in that gallery. The pictures of Nate are still viewable by all of our guests. [1]

Also up are the pictures from Jim & Robin’s baby shower. Congrats again guys! We look forward to meeting the temporarily named Tadpole in person.

  1. What are your thoughts on this? Do we have any regular viewers out there who aren’t already registered that wouldn’t be willing to register to access our family pics? I’m feeling somewhat more privacy oriented lately. []

Tetris Cravings, or how to find a good Tetris clone.

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Tetris had some kind of anniversary[1] a few weeks back and ever since hearing about this I’ve been itching to play the game. So I do what I usually do when I want to play a game but don’t want to actually, well, pay for it. I start searching the free[2] and open-source communities for knock-offs of the game I want to play.

Here is my review of the Tetris clones I have tried.[3] There are, of course, HUNDREDS of hits for Tetris on SourceForge alone, and I’m not playing them all.


  1. 25th []
  2. as in beer []
  3. This list does not include games that are somewhat like, but not actually the 4-square constructed objects falling down the screen game. []

A lens in hand…

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

My amazingly clean lens was returned to me today. It turns out the extra $7.60 mentioned in my previous post on the subject was tax. Per the original authorization the price was $95 plus applicable tax. The final repair invoice breaks it down as:

Summary of charges
Flat Rate Repair Charge
(Parts & Labor Included)
Sales Tax $7.60
Shipping $10.00
Total Due $102.60

I received back my original lens[1] and the following details were given for the repair (odd punctuation and phrasing original):

We have examined the product according to your request, and, it was
found that the part was deformed causing the focus ring to catch The
barrel,cam was replaced.Checked all, adjusted center/tilt/focus, cleaned
all factory specs.

I put the lens on the camera and verified that the focuser does operate in manual and auto modes, but haven’t verified with any test shots. In the end total outlay was $102.60 and total turnaround time two weeks exactly. This includes the 2-3 days it took me to print the RMA form and get it boxed up for shipment. Pretty responsive actually. The repair is warranted for six months, but only against the “same failure”.

Oh and did I mention that it is painfully clean? I feel I take pretty good care of the glass on my lenses, but factory[2] clean is pretty amazing. Not a spec on the glass, on the body of the lens or anywhere else. I’m guessing they use some kind of actual clean room for repairs, and I wish I knew what kind of cleaning tools. Of course, having the know-how [3] to take it apart and clean the individual parts probably helps too.

So overall Canon repair experience: pleased. I feel I got my money’s worth and the turn around was plenty fast. Perhaps it’s time to send the 20D in for general servicing…[4]

  1. yes, I recorded – photographed actually – the serial number []
  2. or in this case repair facility []
  3. Not to mention the confidence []
  4. The automatic service estimate is “Unknown”. They do promise to ship it back at no charge if I decide the estimate is too high after they examine it. So it would only cost me the shipping to get the estimate. Hmmm… []

A few weekend shots…

Monday, June 15th, 2009

From Friday afternoon, Nate putting on a burst of billowing speed.

And a gratuitous world dominating iris shot: [1]

Saturday morning, after the Wings’ defeat, I decided to show my team spirit by wearing my 2008 Stanley Cup t-shirt anyways. Rather amusingly Nate (not a hockey fan… yet) demanded to wear his “peh-gun wert”. [2] I decided this was a good excuse for a picture. You’ll have to (mostly) trust me on the content of my shirt though.


  1. These irises are taking over the world, not the shot. They grow like weeds! Beautiful weeds, but weeds. []
  2. We’re still working on the “s” and “sh” sounds. He’s capable of making them, he just doesn’t seem to realize they’re significant. We correct him as often as we think about it. He says “wah-dow”. We reply back “SHHHHadow”. “wadow, good,” he replies. []

Canon repair experience.

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

As some of you may know, I had a camera accident a few weeks back. I picked up my camera from the coffee table and the strap -the sole mission of which is to prevent damage from falls- snagged underneath the table. This pulled the camera from my hand as it was forced to follow the loci of points equidistant to the coffee table landing squarely on the lens. The glass was intact but the focusing mechanism was no more. When the motor attempted to turn the news made a slight clicking noise and gave up. A lens without focus is reduced to pretty much the cylindrical paperweight department. This was, unfortunately, one of my favorite lenses:[1] my 50mm f/1.4 prime. I use it for portraits, indoor natural light shots and with some diopter lenses for macro work. It’s a great bang-for-the-buck lens… and of course… out of warranty. The silver lining, I suppose, is that the body was fine.
Canon U.S.A. has a pretty efficient repair and service system. Enter your product, serial number and purchase date and it basically tells you this:

1. Request Estimate
Based on the information you provided please find below a standardized repair cost to repair your product. This standardized cost enables Canon the flexibility to provide repair estimates to our customers at no charge. Please note that this estimate charge does not include applicable tax.

Repair Information
Model: EF 50 1.4 USM
Service Type: Out of Warranty
Estimated Repair Cost: $95.00 (plus any applicable tax)

In the unlikely event that any additional repairs are found to be necessary after receipt of your product, a revised estimate will be sent to you for your review and authorization. Please note that you will be able to approve or refuse any re-estimate online.

So basically my $399 lens[2] has a standard repair cost of $95. Presumably Canon has figured out that this is a price point that is generally profitable for the normal repairs on this product. Not a bad way to do business actually. Of course, then there’s the catch at the end… which is a bit worrisome considering I’m already in for $95 before they even tell me what I’m really in for. Let’s face it, I’m going to get back essentially a refurbished lens which has a street value of maybe $200. So if the ‘additional costs’ are more than $100 or so, I’d probably be better off buying a new one. So you fork over your credit card number and they send you a repair number to ship against. Oh, and I have to pay to ship it to them with tracking and insurance: about $10 at the post office.

On Thursday I got word that my shipment had been received, and strangely, now the repair cost reads $102.60. I honestly can’t remember if I paid tax or not but I don’t think so. I checked on the status today and it shows as “Completed” but not yet shipped. Strangely it now says “Amount Due: $102.60”. but yet… no bill. So either I’m about to receive one (I would have expected something by email) or this is just poor wording on the website. Since I’m already logged into their site, I’d expect a “Pay Now” button if they thought I owed them, but there isn’t one. I guess I’ll wait and see. In the end if the ~$105 is the sum total I’m out, then it certainly will be better than A) buying a new one or B) going without. $207.60… well still cheaper than a new one I suppose and since the $105 is sunk cost the decision will be $102.60 vs. $399 for a new one. Really no debate there.

  1. I don’t have all that many, so really they’re all favorites. []
  2. Current retail, but I think I paid less. []

Congrats Pens!

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Stanley Cup 2009
Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins for their 2-1 win to take the cup back to PA.
This was one of the best series I’ve ever seen with great play, heart stopping opportunities and great high-pressure play. I was rooting for the Wings to come out on top, but the Pens fought for it and deserved it. I’m glad Crosby wasn’t seriously injured, but I worried that any Wings victory would be shallow with him on the bench. The Wings certainly had their chances, but you don’t win or lose a cup in one game, you have to win four.

I hope this doesn’t sound like being a poor loser, but I really wish playoff games, and especially finals games were officiated like the regular season. Sure it’s consistent for both teams, but the style of play changes from what the teams have been practicing all season. I’ve never understood the ‘let them play’ attitude in any sport. I certainly won’t say that officiating made the difference. I just don’t enjoy the way the game degrades to grab and block hockey. I certainly found the last few games less enjoyable (even the 5-0 win by the Wings) because of this. In my opinion the NHL has made huge strides with the rules changes against obstruction of all kinds to make the game faster and more open. To see the finals somehow lower than the standard of the regular season is frustrating.

Still, the Penguins got the win they deserved for good strong emotional play. I’m not concerned, the Wings will be back in the mix next year. There are some folks who may not be back,[1] but I’m certainly looking forward to seeing Abdelkader, Leino and Helm bringing youth and playoff experience to the bench next year. The Pens are partying tonight, and a lot of Red Wings will be dreaming of a three foot thick crossbar or some other what-if. The only way to avoid a 7th game “what-if” is to make the opportunities in games 1-6. So Pens, enjoy your cup. Next year… maybe we’ll go for best out of three.

  1. I think Chris Chelios may finally hang up his skates. I wouldn’t be suprised to see him behind the bench some place instead of on it. []

Monday, June 8th, 2009

At both work and play my life is surrounded by software. To be fair, this is probably true of most people whether they realize it or not. This software increases in complexity with each passing day and will soon pretty much take over the world.[1] It’s a good thing it has no mass or we would be looking at an information event horizon.

Since I spend so much of my working life looking for and solving the crazy anomalies that crop up when complexity is multiplied by complexity, I am especially amused by funny little glitches I find in the programs I use. In my spare time, I’m often working my way through some video game or another. Whenever something goes awry I find myself thinking about whether it would have been practical to find a bug like one I’m experiencing. Unfortunately we live in a world where games are shipped incomplete, since the Internet can provide the patches (and missing features) later. In most games, this is immediately followed by wondering if this is something I can exploit when I get into trouble. Bill used to call this ‘optimizing’. My most infamous achievement in this arena is the famous Hyperspace Jump in X-Wing Tour 3, Mission 12.

Today’s silly example is from a game called GT Legends by SimBin Studios. (more…)

  1. See Augustine’s 17th law: “Software is like entropy. It is difficult to grasp, weighs nothing, and obeys the Second Law of Thermodynamics – it always increases (Law Number XVII)” []

Saturday Update

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Just a quick sampling of the day:

IMG_2355 IMG_2360 IMG_2362

Halos in the high clouds, Nate pushing his car and some early summer flowers….

Oh, and GO WINGS!