New Cat Photos

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I just posted my cat photos from February and March.

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A Walk Through Durham Township, Pennsylvania

If you want to see the landscapes and culture of rustic Pennsylvania captured and presented beautifully on an almost-daily basis, then check out the photoblog at A Walk Through Durham Township, Pennsylvania.  Many of the photos are simply breathtaking, particularly the landscapes; and every once in a while there’s an extremely cute one, like this:

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That’s just a small crop -- check out the original image for the full effect.

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Hack Your Visual Cortex

One of the coolest optical illusions I’ve ever seen.

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Cheshire and Chloe

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My January cat photos are posted.

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I’m guessing thats what it’s called? =] Anyway I wanted to say that I love the winter picture! It’s awesome!

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Get-Together at Rolly and Margie's

Photos from yesterday’s get-together at Rolly and Margie’s are now online.

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Digital Photo Editing

It’s interesting to look back on the photos that I was taking 6 years ago when I got my first camera.  Going through my favorites page recently, I noticed the photo that I’ve posted below.  I’ve liked this photo from the first time I saw it -- obviously, since I tagged it as a favorite -- but looking at it now, after having not really looked at it for a long time, I see that it’s just crying out for some post-processing.

Actually, the first thing I thought when I came upon this photo the other day was: "what was I thinking??"  Not because it’s a bad photo, but because just glancing at it, I immediately saw a few simple things I could do that would make it look much better.  I realized just how much I didn’t know about digital photography 6 years ago, and it kind of surprised me.  Things that are now obvious to me were not even on my radar back then.

Anyway, I quickly applied those fixes to the photo, and you can click here to cause the image below to cycle through the different editing steps.

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The first image is straight out of the camera, no editing applied.

The second image is the result of a 5-second one-click operation: open the image in the GIMP, click Tools > Color Tools > Levels, click the "auto" button, click OK.  No brainpower required.  Of course you can tweak the levels manually if you’d like, and auto-level isn’t a cure-all for every photo, but for many photos it "just works" and gives great results.

The third image modification took about 2 minutes to complete.  I used GIMP’s Lasso tool (for freehand selections) to draw a selection around the sky in the photo.  It did not have to be a precise selection -- I did it in just a few seconds, very roughly.  Then I clicked Select > Feather and set it to about 100 pixels and hit OK.  This causes GIMP to change the selection from having a sharp, well-defined boundary to having a soft blurred boundary, so that any operation you apply on the selection will be nicely blended with the surroundings, instead of having a sharp and obvious edge.  Finally, I clicked Tools > Color Tools > Colorize, and used the 3 sliders (Hue, Saturation, and Lightness) to bring out more of the blue in the sky.

The fourth modification also took just a couple of minutes.  I started by creating a new layer and filling it in with solid black.  Next I clicked Select > Rounded Rectangle to create a selection that included the entire image except for the corners, which were rounded out.  Then I used Select > Feather again, to blur/blend the selection.  Then I clicked Edit > Clear to clear out most of the black layer, leaving just the corners black.  Finally, in the Layers dialog, I used the Opacity slider to decrease the opacity of the corners.

I think the final image is much better than the original.  Of course, some might prefer a less saturated image, and the image might work just as well without the vignette.  But the point is, applications like the GIMP (or Photoshop, etc) give you a lot of power that’s pretty simple to use, and allow you to really get the most out of your photos.

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iPhone Photos

I’ve posted a set of miscellaneous photos taken this past July.  Well, they’re not that miscellaneous; mostly they’re of Cheshire.  But they were all taken with the iPhone.

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I’ve taken about 200 photos with my iPhone so far, but haven’t really organized them into sets yet, and most of them are just random photos of Cheshire anyway.  This is one of my favorites.

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iPhone vs Super Old Cell Phones

I dug up my ancient Nokia 6161i phone (circa 1998) and updated my iPhone photo set with new photos that include it for comparison.

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Hello iPhone

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On Sunday, Kim and I went down to the Apple store in King of Prussia and I got an iPhone.  Despite people lining up outside the stores for hours and even days before the 6 PM Friday launch (including Philly’s mayor John Street), most Apple stores were still well-stocked with iPhones by Sunday, and I had no problem getting mine.  We walked into the store and it was a mob scene: there must have been 100 people in the tiny ~1500 square foot store.  If I had wanted to check out the iPhones that were on display, I would have had to wait for quite a while, because people were three-deep around those displays.

Fortunately, I had been getting psyched about the iPhone for at least the past six months, so I didn’t need to play with one to know that I wanted to buy it.  I just walked up to an Apple store employee and asked, "Do you still have 8 GB iPhones in stock?"  He said he thought they did, and sent someone into the back to check; he came out with my iPhone, and I was out of the store in under 5 minutes.

No one knew for sure how many iPhones Apple was going to have available at launch, hence the thousands of people lining up 6-12 hours in advance across the country to make sure they got one.  It turned out that there were plenty of iPhones, at least at most Apple stores.  It was a different story at AT&T stores -- the only other place that iPhones are available -- with most of them selling out the first night.  All told, the estimates are that Apple and AT&T sold over half a million units during the launch weekend.

I’m not sure why I didn’t go out on Friday night to try and get an iPhone.  I guess I wasn’t 100% sure that I was going to get one right away, plus the word was that it was a hassle at AT&T stores, and the closest Apple store is an hour away from us.  But then as I read various bloggers saying that it did indeed live up to most of the hype, I caved.

One of the ways that Apple is redefining the cell phone business is that the account activation process is handled by each user individually, at home, over the internet, using iTunes.  You don’t need to spend an hour in the store with some clueless salesman getting stuff set up.  There were reports that some people who were already AT&T customers initially had trouble with the activation process, but for most people it was quick and easy: it took less than 10 minutes in my case.

Apple also managed to get AT&T to offer a plan that’s actually reasonable: $60 per month for 450 minutes, with free nights & weekends (and including rollover minutes), and unlimited internet access.  Many (most?) other smartphone data plans are $80-$100 per month, often with only limited internet access, and severe overage charges.

The iPhone itself is amazing.  It’s so thin, so solid, so industrial, the screen is huge and gorgeous, and the interface is so simple and useable it’s like a dream.  The decade-long nightmare of horrible cell phones is finally over.

For me, the combination of the real internet, email, and Google Maps in a portable device is just priceless.  The fact that it’s also got a cell phone, a camera, and an iPod, plus that it’s gorgeous, only make it more compelling.

The screen is about twice the resolution of most standard computer screens, which means that text as small as 5-6 pt is crisp and totally readable.  When browsing the web, though, you only need to double-tap on the portion of a page that you want to read (for example the main content column) and the iPhone automatically pans and zooms that area to be full-screen, with nice large text.  Scrolling up or down, and panning left or right, is as simple as dragging your finger across the screen.

There are a few things that need fixing: there’s no way to select/copy/paste text; you can’t save images (or any files) from websites; you can’t upload files to websites (the Browse/ChooseFile element is grayed out); the Google Maps app lacks the little scale image in the lower-left corner; the on-screen keyboard doesn’t always rotate into wide-screen mode, sometimes forcing you to use the narrower version of it.  But all of those are software issues, and since the iPhone is a computer running Mac OS X, Apple can (and will) simply issue automatic updates via iTunes to fix them.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that the iPhone is probably the coolest product I’ve ever purchased.  I can’t put it down, and when I finally do, Kim picks it up and can’t stop playing with it.

Here are some iPhone photos including side-by-side comparisons with a couple of my old phones.

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New Cheshire Photos

Here are some more kitten pictures from March.  The set contains a few funny movie clips too, of Cheshire attacking his orange ball.

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CMU Photo

I came across this sweet panorama photo of CMU on Wikipedia.  Makes me miss Pittsburgh!

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New Kitten, New California, New Photos!

OK, so California isn’t new.  But I did finally just post a set of photos from our trip to California: Redwood Trees at Muir Woods National Monument.

In even more exciting news, Kim and I got a kitten last night!  He doesn’t have a name yet, but he is already an internet superstar with his own kitten photos online.

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Microsoft Zune

Microsoft released the Zune today.  This thing looks totally sweet, but unfortunately it only comes in a 30 GB capacity.  I only have about 70% of my music collection copied onto my computer in MP3 format, but even that is 32 GB, already larger than the Zune’s capacity.  That would leave me a) no room for my existing collection, b) no room for future expansion, and c) no room for any photos or videos at all.

Once they release a new version with an 80+ GB hard drive, and with the ability to access the internet wirelessly (it already has wireless hardware, but only to connect to other Zunes -- lame), then I’ll really be excited about the Zune.

Posted by Anthony on 9 replies


Kim recently had a business meeting in Utah, and despite the fact that airfare to go out west is astronomical, I went along for the trip.  Her ticket was on the company dime, of course.

The farthest west I’d ever been before this trip was Colorado, and Utah is the next state to the west, so it was a new record for me.

Utah is beautiful.  We only had 3 and a half days there, 1 and a half of which were work days, so we didn’t have too much time to explore; we saw Salt Lake City, Alta, and Antelope Island (briefly).  But even just in Salt Lake City, it’s so clean, and there are mountains everywhere; it’s a lovely city.

We took lots of photos.  Here are the ones I’ve posted so far:

Downtown Salt Lake City Sugarloaf Road Hike (Alta)

Update 2006-12-17: here are the final 2 sets:

Night Shots of Air Products in Bountiful, Utah, and Oil Refineries in Salt Lake City The Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island in Utah

Some random interesting things about Utah or the Salt Lake area in particular:

The highways are really wide.  Route 15 is 6 lanes in both directions at some points.

Every shopping center has a pawn shop and/or a payday-loan shop.  Literally every one.  There must be hundreds of them in and around Salt Lake alone.  It’s weird because those kinds of places are so tacky, and there were other tacky/gaudy shops, but then the next block would be really nice.

All restaurants in UT are non-smoking.  That alone is nearly enough reason to move there.

They have this great little restaurant called Noodles & Company.  We went there twice in 3 days if that tells you anything.  I had the mushroom stroganoff and the penne rosa, and both were amazing, for $5.  It is a chain, so I can only hope that one comes to PA soon.

And finally, not really about Utah, but about the flight out there: it was non-stop, which I always figured (you always hear) is ideal, but 2 hours into the 4.5 hour flight I started getting really claustrophobic and fidgety.  And the seat next to me was empty.  I don’t know what my problem was, but Kim also was really claustrophobic on the flight back (due to the huge guy next to her).  So from now on I think I prefer that longish flights like this have a layover.  And I would certainly always rather drive 8 hours in my own car than fly any amount of time.  Of course to go this far west, driving isn’t usually a viable option, but I’m just saying.

Also, they tricked us when we got our seats: they were like, you’re in an exit row, are you willing and able to assist others in the event of an emergency?  And we’re like of course, no problem.  What they DON’T tell you is that the exit row seats don’t recline!!  On a 4.5 hour flight, that’s something they ought to tell you.

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Dusk Moon

Here’s a photo that I took from the back deck last night.  The orange only lasted for a couple minutes, as usual.  When I looked again 15 or 20 minutes later, the moon had gone down in the sky, so maybe over the next few days I’ll be able to get some nice red moon shots.

Click the image to get the high-resolution version.

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Hawk Mountain Photos

I just posted photos of our Hawk Mountain hike from the other weekend.

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Windmill Photos & Photos For Sale

I’ve just posted my first photo set in quite a while: Windmills from back in September of last year.  I’ve been meaning to post these for a few months now.

I’ve also just updated my photo section to include a photo-selling feature.  This feature was primarily created for Caleb Foster, though it’s something I’ve been meaning to add for some time.

Caleb is selling both prints and the original full-resolution image files for some of his select shots; I’m selling just the image files, and for now I’ve done a blanket-enable of the sale feature for all of my photos, rather than picking certain ones.  I’ll probably go through and select some of them to not sell, or I may just do like Caleb and only pick certain ones for sale.  For now it’s all of them though.

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It's Alive!

Tasha has added photos to her website!  Go see at!

(I designed the layout a few months ago, which is why it’s all Autunmy.)

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News Flash!

As if you needed more reason to host your website with Dreamhost, they have just quadrupled their storage space and octupled their bandwidth.  So where you used to get 5 GB storage space and ~120 GB bandwidth for $8/month -- which was already pretty amazing -- you now get 20 GB of space and 1 TB of bandwidth.

It used to be that although I have tons of digital photos on my website, I had to keep the full-size original ones on my home server, because there just wasn’t enough room on a hosted account.  Thanks to Dreamhost that’s no longer necessary.


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Fightin' Aussies

Kim’s aunt and uncle are nature photographers, and they have some really amazing photos on their website from their recent trip to Australia.

There are quite a few photos, but be sure not to miss the kangaroo fight.  That set contains some of the most freakish and funny and awesome photos ever, like this one:

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They are even better if you imagine the captions being read in a super-calm National Geographic commentator voice.

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Honeymoon Photos

Photos from Honeymoon Day 1: The Day That Wasn’t Day 2 are now online.

There are lots more photos from the other days; this set is pretty light.

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