July 2010 Archives

Red Eye Removal & The Bug's Return

Corrected my first red-eye photo today. Took some great shots of the Bug this week and the best ones all had red-eye.

Both Photoshop & GIMP have a tool designed specially for this purpose. Picasa, too, which is also free. [ For PS, you'll find it tucked under the Healing Brush grouping. ]

Simply select the tool and click inside the red-eye. Voila! Couldn't be easier. (Might help to zoom in first.)

I tried playing with some of the adjustments (Pupil size & Darken amount » both of which default to 50%), but didn't notice much of a diff - if any.

Fancy PantsHard to believe I haven't used this tool before. Maybe I thought it'd be complicated.

Red-eye is common at night, when the pupil is wide open and the flash reflects off the back of the eye.

These photos however, were simply too good. And the red-eye was very bad. The shots caught the Bug & two (older) girls huddled around a laptop, playing Fancy Pants. (Cool game.) All summer brown & sunkissed.

They were all focused on the main character (» Mr. Fancy Pants), who scurries about here & there, displaying acrobatic prowess. So I was able to catch the kids in their 'natural' state.

[ There's also a Fancy Pants 2, which looks even better than the original. ]

You know how kids can get when a camera is pointed at them. He didn't know I was taking pictures. (Or maybe they just didn't care.)

I'd like my family & friends back East to see WHAT I SEE » the Bug smiling, happy, engaged, handsome, playful, sensitive, silly, thoughtful. Difficult to get intimate photos when they're on guard .. posing for a shot. ('Cheese')

I also got some pictures of them running around at night with sparklers left over from the Fourth. Not easy however, to ignore the flash at night, tho. So those aren't as intimate. [ Would love to post some pictures for you, but the judge says I can't. ]

My favorite shot is the one where he looks happy & playful (big smile); my second-fave is the one where he looks thoughtful & handsome.

The Bug's eyes are blue. The Photoshop tool turns the red parts gray. So the result is that his eyes end up looking blue-gray. Kinda cool. Looks totally natural, tho.

Cold Turkey & Rad Movies

No coffee for a week. That's right. Seven full days. Cold turkey, baby. Not even tea or a cola.

Cup of coffee beansI detox periodically .. in an effort to keep the hounds of addiction at bay. Been a while tho, since I went without. So the bean-monster had ample opportunity to grow big-n-strong.

After the second day with no headache, I thought, This is cake.

Then it hit. With a vengeance. Ouch. Sweet Jesus. (Big ouch.) And Advil did nothing to loosen Fester's cranial vice.

Musta had enough caffeine in my system to keep me crankin' for a few days.

Few more days later and the headache started to subside. But by then .. well, do you recall that old song by Aerosmith? .. with lyrics that said » "My get up & go musta got up & went."

That's the hardest part. I can handle the headaches .. cuz I know they'll go away. (Eventually.) And because I've become quite chummy with mister pain-n-suffering, lately. But having no energy .. that really suks. Cuz it feels like the jam machine might not ever restart.

Lost 5 lbs, too. Without even trying. That was weird. Sorta lost my appetite. Drank lotsa water. Always thirsty. Never hungry.

So it's been a somewhat altered state this last week. Speaking of states of consciousness...

»»Shutter Island SHUTTER ISLAND

Saw Shutter Island last night. It's currently the most rented movie. Wasn't nearly as scary tho as I thought it'd be. Actually, it wasn't really scary at all. More suspenseful than scary. The trailers made it look pretty scary.

[ Must say, I enjoy most everything Scorsese does. He's an East Coaster. ]

Speaking of the East Coast .. when I was a kid, my dad would take the neighborhood kids to see scary movies at the local theater on weekend nights during the summer. They'd stop by during the day, eagerly asking, Is your dad going to the scary movie tonight?

We'd all climb in the back of his pick-up. The whole neighborhood. And go watch scary movies on the big screen at the local theater. We loved it. Would hoot & holler all the way home. Sometimes we'd stop for pizza.

But getting back to Shutter Island .. I love when movies challenge your view of reality like that. You think you know what's real. But then .. maybe you don't. Doubts arrive. Make you think.

My foray into the world of programming continues with PHP. Several readers wrote to recommend a book. All suggested the same title (by Luke & Laura). One even offered to send his used copy.

PHPEasy to see why they like it so much. The reading flows. Being the 4th edition, the editors had plenty of time to polish the text. It's enjoyable to read a well written book.

If you search Amazon Books for the query » 'php mysql,' this is the title that tops the (long) list returned. Published by Addison-Wesley, who have a reputation for releasing quality titles.

The book, as you might expect, goes into more detail than the video tutorial I was watching. Now that I have a feel for the language, these details are falling into place.

For example, they introduce & discuss the object model in Part I (chapter 6). Object-oriented programming (OOP) supposedly represents a new way of thinking, which differs from the old 'procedural' method.

I especially like how they point out 'common mistakes' (.. cuz I make them all).

Every reference I've ever read on the subject of PHP (including this book) always begins by noting how PHP allows you to serve DYNAMIC web pages (*.php), as opposed to 'static' pages (*.html), which don't change (.. unless you change them yourself).

PHP allows you to craft pages that change according to virtually any criteria you can imagine .. which is what makes it so powerful and useful. The book puts it this way:

If you've built websites using plain HTML, you realize the limitations of this approach. Static content from a pure HTML website is just that--static. It stays the same unless you physically update it. Your users can't interact with the site in any meaningful fashion. Using a language such as PHP and a database such as MySQL allows you to make your sites dynamic: to have them be customizable and contain real-time information.

MySQL databaseBut the fact remains that web authors still need to generate quality content. No matter how you might happen to retrieve & arrange & display the data stored in your database, the content is only as good as what goes INTO your database.

No amount of programming wizardry will turn krappy, poorly written content into a silk purse. (Wouldn't it be great if it could?) That's the thing staring me in the face, sobering my lofty techno esthusiasm.

Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. The handsome medical doctor from Argentina, who was executed at age 39 (.. in 1967, when LBJ was president & while the war raged in Viet Nam). The man the CIA called the 'most dangerous man on the planet.' His hands were cut off .. as tho they feared him, even in death. [ "Try shooting a machine gun now, Señor." ]

Ernesto 'Che' GuevaraYou've seen his revolutionary image printed on countless t-shirts & posters. It's the world's single most reproduced image. Ever! In the history of the human race.

"But what about Jesus?" my friends ask. Uh, nobody ever took his photograph. "Oh, that's right."

After watching the movie 'Che' last month, I got curious about what might lead a person to risk (sacrifice?) their life in order to (try to) bring social justice to the peasants of Latin America? .. and economic independence to the people(s) living there?

Guevara was born in 1928, so I knew his life coincided with the Great Depression, which began in October of the following year (.. when the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday).

A League of Nations report said Chile, Peru, and Bolivia suffered the world's worst depression. Argentina couldn't have been very far behind. Perhaps that global influence played a part, but there had to be more.

He was a little boy once. Were his parents nurturing or abusive? Educated or ignorant? Attentive or indifferent? Encouraging or critical? Affectionate or cold? Loving or manipulative? Wealthy or destitute? Was there harmony in the home or did his folks quarrel?

What were his strengths & weaknesses? People who excel in certain areas often have deficiencies in others. (The blind often compensate by developing their sense of hearing & touch .. to a remarkable degree.)

The movie is based on the "staggeringly researched" book (1997) by Jon Lee Anderson (« a stud in his own right) titled » Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life.

On my way to the coffee shop early one morning recently, I swung by the library to return a DVD before they opened .. hoping to avoid paying another late fee. Sitting outside were two bags of books, which someone had left there as donations (.. a fairly common sight).

Buried in the second bag was a copy of Anderson's 800-page book .. in perfect condition. Score! Seemed fortuitous, so I grabbed it.

I was only interested in the Argentine's childhood, hoping to find clues as to what might've led him down the perilous road to revolution .. where you "either suceed or die trying." I wanted to get inside his head, you might say.

Like technology, people interest me. Always have. What drives somebody to do radical things? What do they see?

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