Submitted Photos

19.48.42 - Mark

Two days, two different papers, 3 or 4 published photos (the forth was one I may have taken, but with someone else's camera) all with a "submitted photo" credit which I hate, especially since some of them are published online, but it's better than wrong credit (which one of the paper's did). The reproduction isn't as good as it could be either. Still it's publication which is nice in a way.

All the photos are scouting related but they're good photos for a paper. e.g. They're not line-'em-up-against-a-wall-mugshot type pictures which most people submit to newspapers, well one is but I wasn't in charge of that set up and I at least got something other than a face forward angle. My only real gripe with trying to take photos with the goal of newspaper publication is getting names. As soon as you start taking names people start posing or running away, or think you're with the paper, or think that because you're taking names they'll automatically be in the paper. When I do that it starts becoming work (usually unpaid and unjustified work) and stops being "just fun"

Anyways, here's two of the published photos:
Submitted and published photos

Left: Cub scout Pinewood Derby Winners in Tuesday March 11th's Surry Messenger (page 2).
Right: Boy scouts lashing poles together in Monday, March 10th's Mount Airy News (front page) Large version

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14.59.16 - Mark

It's one thing to wonder why the newspaper industry is dying. It's another thing entirely to wonder why the newspaper industry is dying when a local 5-day daily can print a huge 1/2 page photo as the top half of the front page. Particularly when this half page photo is a week and a half old, poorly composed, no color correction, has a terrible headline, craptacular layout and no accompanying story, and the only information is in a 3 sentence long caption which implies that the photo was taken 3 days ago, not 10. Further more the lazy ass reporter/editor/photographer who "covered" the event was too lazy to stick around to get the conclusion of the event and report on the winners, or even use his 10 day window to do a follow up call.

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Clearing out the undergrowth

13.51.11 - Mark

My RSS feed reading has been on and off for a few months. Part of that is flaky hardware, most of it is the mess of RSS feeds I try and keep up with. Up until this week I've been keeping related feeds together. All the news in one folder, all the blogs in another. It was a tangled mess and my irregular reading left a lot of dead feeds in the system next to some hyperactive feeds reporting hundreds of unread posts. When I was browsing feeds half the time was finding the good feeds with information I wanted.

Last week when 43 Folders posted a tip on organizing feeds by the value of the source rather than the topic I set it aside to use as a guide line for sorting out my RSS mess.

I'm not 100% done with the sort and toss, and I've got a folder filled with broken feeds, but I can already tell the new system is working for me. I'm staying caught up with my low signal to noise ration feeds, nearly caught up with middle of the road feeds, and I'm almost comfortable with ignoring everything I have ranked below that threshold. It feels good to have organized feeds again. Which I suppose means I need to stop putting off some of my planned code updates for this site...

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Gore/Obama '08

17.59.42 - Mark

Sometimes I get tired of the Cult of Al Gore, but there are a lot of things I respect about Gore, and would likely vote for him in an election. Now that he's Won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the environment, it would be a good time if he announced his intentions to run as president. The Peace Prize secures his credibility as an international leader, which is what the United States needs in a president right now. If he then got a strong domestic candidate (I like Obama, and he's probably smart enough to do this) to sign on to a ticket, they would have a distinctive edge over other candidates.

As influential as Dick Cheney has been in the Bush administration, I can see this election cycle focusing on both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. At least I hope it does, VP is too important a position to hand over to just anyone.

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Stuff I Make (and sell)

02.34.14 - Mark

Blogging has been light recently, part of it's being lazy, part of it is working on other websites, part of it is some light changes I made to this site last week.

Some of the cooler or more useful items I create here are going to get passed on to a Goodies section. We'll see what direction it takes, but right now it's a mini store for my Raven Knob panoramic. I'm also making my web development a little more visible but linking to my portfolio. I need to update it, but I've got other projects that need more attention

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Petty Bickering

19.51.36 - Mark

Apparently NBC and Apple are bickering over video on iTunes, with NBC saying they're not going to renew their contract (which expires at the end of the year) with Apple because they want to bundle Movies with TV episodes, jack up the pricing and throw more DRM at non-existent problems. Apple meanwhile is more than happy to let NBC screw themselves.

There are a few things to note in this little mess. First, at $1.99 the networks are making a decent wad of cash. I haven't dug up the numbers recently, but for an hour long prime time TV broadcast the network will make about $.60 per viewer selling advertising spots.

I'm sure what's bugging some idiot executive at NBC is that they can't price the iTunes videos the same as the inevitable cost of the same episode of DVD. While things like Heroes, Studio 60, and other broadcast shows might sell for just under $2 / episode in a box set, some of their cable properties like Battlestar Galactica, Psych, or Monk are well over $2.50 an episode (BSG is over $3.50 an episode on DVD). There's a certain understandable logic in that argument, but it's flimsy at best.

iTunes videos are low quality, limited to a couple of devices, and lack all the special features you get in a DVD box set, so in reality iTunes videos are, bluntly, a rip off already. Jacking the price up any is stupid, but pushing it up to, is one article has placed it, $5 an episode is just shy of mugging your customers and leaving them for dead.

Personally I've got bittorrent.

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The worst part of camp...

00.01.27 - Mark

I've been up at camp for about two weeks on and off, and despite working hard it's a rewarding experience (as always)

It's biggest attraction, isolation from the "real world" is also a severe weakness. The camp doesn't place a strong emphasis on outside communication. No TV, impeded radio signals, irregular newspaper deliveries, and practically being a cell phone free zone make regular news a rarity. Fortunately we have a couple of wifi hotspots scattered about camp but the signals aren't great and you have to make it a point to access them and even then news isn't a matter of great importance.

Had it not been for a friend who came up for a night, I could have easily missed the drama brewing between the Bush administration and Russia and I certainly don't have enough knowlege to make any decent comment about the mess.

Ph, and in case you haven't figured it out, this is a semi-formal note to let you know posting will be extremely light for a couple of months. I'm going to try and post a couple times a week, but I doubt that will happen.

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Morbid Facinations

12.22.53 - Mark

If you've been under a rock for the last 24 hours, you might not know about the Virginia Tech Shootings. I didn't pay any attention to it yesterday, aside from opening up a CNN article or two, but this morning I was watching some of the various news channel coverage for a couple hours, and I really should have pried myself away from the coverage sooner than I did. The act of watching rampant speculation from a slew of talking heads - qualified or otherwise - and seeing the networks scramble for the next inconsequential piece of information like hyperactive 10 year olds looking for easter eggs was an eerie reminder of 9/11 for me.

I'm not disputing that the VT shootings is an important news story, but the morbid fascination that the news networks and by extension the American people have with it, and any number of other disasters, is frankly disturbing. They present continuous coverage of these drive by disasters, with limited commercial interruption, but what point is there to watching 24/7 coverage when most of it is speculation and none of it helps resolve the situation?

It almost feels like a form of manipulation. We all know that yesterday's events is going to be dredging up a handful of hot button issues, from gun control and security to immigration policy. Is the media just preparing us for the debates that will occur over the coming weeks and months?

I'm ready for the real stories to come out from this. From the uses of social networking and the technology gaps between organizations and individuals, the use of camera phones and 1st person accounts online to get the story, to how security theater failed and situational awareness succeeded. I've just had enough with the speculation, repetition, shallow political condolences, and false empathy. Let's move on. There are much better uses for our time.

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Live on the scene.

00.32.45 - Mark

I've been checking in on the Eastern Guilford High School fire by flipping onto the local news stations this afternoon. Unquestionably its a serious problem that the school will have to deal with over the next few months, and in all likelyhood - years.

I'm not going to try and compare this to any thing I've ever seen, heard, or experianced, as it would be stupid and wouldn't end well (I've never figured out the whole school pride thing), but I'm deeply interested in the news coverage as the events unfolded.

I first heard about it after fliping on the TV this afternoon and catching a sound bite from the local Fox station. It hooked me pretty quickly (what red blooded American isn't grossly infactuated with live disaster stories?) and I sat around watching it for a few minutes.

I don't expect great production values from the local TV stations, and would probably go nuts trying to engineer live TV, but the first thing that struk me is that there was a lot of fluff. Anchors talking about observations from a staging area hundreds of feet from the activity. My timing was fairly good as it didn't take long for the on-the-scene crew to start finding people to talk to from firefighters and parents, but the questions, again were weak.

An on camera interview with a parent picking up her children started with "First of all, what does it smell like?" Of all the even slightly relevent questions to ask a parent of a student whose school is on fire, "What does it smell like" ranks up there with "What does smoke look like?" and "Is fire hot?" as bad questions.

I turned it off shortly afterwards, but checking back later on I didn't hear many good questions. I understand its live TV, events are happening in real time, and new viewers are turning in constantly but news is supposed to be new. I'd like a little more than "Just the facts' mam.". It reminds me a lot of the 9/11/01 news coverage, when I spent most of the day watching a looping videos of a plane crash I saw live.

I suppose the point I want to reach is, is if media, new, old or a hybrid, is really capable of reporting news in real time?

Old media is good at getting a couple of basic facts out to the masses quickly, but is often little more than "something happened - fluff story at 11" while new media is huge ammounts of information distributed acorss hundreds of human filters before good stuff comes to the surface. The hybrids, so far I haven't seen much more than a thank you for reporting this story.

I'll admit that this isn't my typical beat, but it is something to think about (if any of this post makes as much sense as I hope it does).

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Our own little time machine

01.20.35 - Mark

One of the coolest things about the end of daylight savings time is staying up until 2am then watching the clock roll back. As long as you remmeber that daylight savings time is ending. Instead of an expected double take moment you start questioning your own mental stability. :)

Coolest article I've seen on the rollback - "Time to stand still" via the Bangkok Post

Call it Groundhog Hour.

On Sunday (Thailand time), most North Americans and Europeans will set their clocks back one hour and "relive" the previous 60 minutes.

For Thailand, the curious rites of the westerners mean only that the time difference between this country and the rest of the world will change.

Sunday marks the end of summer time, as it is called in Europe -- or Daylight Savings Time as the Americans and Canadians call it.

Each spring, these people put their clocks ahead one hour so that the longer days will extend even further into the evening, typically until 9 or even 10 p.m. This supposedly saves electricity.

By winter, when a solar day is well under 12 hours, they put their clocks ahead again, so that it is sunrise by the time most children go to school.

Because they often forget which way to turn the clocks on March 26 and Oct 29 (this year), these people have been forced to make up a pun, based on the seasons and the way to turn the clock: Spring ahead, Fall back.

Europe will move its clocks ahead this year at 8 a.m. Thailand time on Sunday. The US will do the same at 1 p.m. Sunday, Thailand time.

As a result, time differences will move back. Instead of 13 hours, Thailand will be 12 hours ahead of New York. Other, sample time differences as of Sunday afternoon, when Thailand will be:

13 hours ahead of Chicago
15 hours ahead of Los Angeles
7 hours ahead of London
6 hours ahead of Rome

Please check carefully for actual differences, as many provinces, states and countries have their own rules about summer/daylight time.

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Define Workaholic...

22.59.35 - Mark

Now, I've had people joke about how if I set out to do it, I could complete a 4 year degree in a couple year. Granted this was before HSU and the group in question didn't really realize that the reason I was so smart was because I had studied the same material before moving to NC and being forced to retake it, but this story of a kid graduating from university of in one year thanks to AP credits and an extreme schedule almost blows my mind.

I'm not so sure that the kid is a "genius". Dedicated, possibly addicted, to studying sure but Genius? I think the only reason you don't see this more is because most schools insist on making students stick to tracks and don't accomidate students who want and can handle heavy loads. I know that if a heavier load had been offered to me at HSU, I could have finished my degree in a year. There's no question that it would be more challenging and I actually would have had to apply myself to doing the work, but I'm not sure that would have been a bad thing...

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Misguided Lessons

07.41.25 - Mark

Of all the MySpace / Xanga / Blogger / Other social network site here youth protection disaster stories that the mainstream press is digging up I would be surprised by the stupidity of the involved school systems if I weren't so jaded by the crap schools I've been in.

One of these days, hopefully sooner rather than later, the schools with figure out that easily bypassed and highly localized filters aren't going to protect the children. The ultimate solution, the one that will really protect those not so innocent youth, is going to be competent instructors, or better yet parents, giving kids a crash course in identifiable information.

Addresses, phone numbers, social security number, the number and names of people you've slept with and your plans for world domination probably shouldn't go online. Most people already know this shit, but lets make this just like that talk about smoking - except without the hypocrisy.

That said can we stop running these damned stories about schools vs students?

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