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a change of scenery

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nom nomNo, I’m not moving: the scenery is being moved for me. This is a Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland, which means that they can close the DART line. Why do they need to close the DART line? Because the west stand of the Lansdowne Road Stadium is was built hanging over the DART line.

It meant an all-nighter: these photos were taken long after 2AM, with a tripod in my kitchen, which was an interesting challenge.Some came out really well, with interesting colours, and I may post one or two in my main photo gallery. It helped that I have a camera (Pentax *ist DS) with good sensitivity (ISO 3200), and a fast Sigma 70-200mm lens.

By this morning the stand was mostly gone, leaving nothing between me and the coast but a few low houses. I don’t quite have a sea view, because at that angle the coast is not that close. There are trees, which suits me just fine.

The scenery is changing in my office, too: on Friday I handed in my notice, kicking off a process that will occupy much of the next four weeks. I’ve already been heavily occupied in “knowledge transfer”, mostly informal “mentoring” so far, but I’ll be giving a presentation to colleagues on a particularly thorny product range.

I was going to say something about University, but the U key on my new keyboard is intermittent, so I’ll need to take a look at that, tomorrow. I was drilling holes in one of my guitars the other day, brass dust went everywhere…

Written by brian t

August 6, 2007 at 1:26 am

Posted in dublin, ireland, photography

early rainy

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For the last couple of weeks I’ve not had as much sleep as I should. There’s nothing in particular keeping me awake; I was simply not getting tired until after 1am, despite getting up at 7am every weekday. Even on weekends, when I could sleep as long as I could wish, I’ve been awake around 8am. It’s probably related to Daylight Savings time, since it’s still bright at 11pm, at this time of year.

After that happened again on Saturday, I decided to take some drastic action to mark the middle of the year. I’ve been up for 34 hours now, with the help of coffee, and took a very-early-morning trip in to Dublin with my camera. Two cameras, actually: I’ve got my old film Pentax going again, though if I get anything off the three-year-old roll of black-and-white currently in there, it might be somewhat avant-garde.

I walked through the Grand Canal Docks area, snapping buildings when it wasn’t raining; there was so little colour in the shots that it wasn’t worth keeping. The first picture above is of a low tunnel under the DART line, with some flash to bring out the texture of the spiralling bricks; the other is a new apartment block under construction. This building is so narrow and skeletal that I would not want to live in it, even if I could afford the extortionate price tag.

On my first-ever visit to Dublin in 1999, I had an “encounter” with a foul-mouthed six-year-old, who followed me down a street cursing and threatening to get his brother. Though Grand Canal Docks is a very upmarket area, it is close to some very downmarket areas, and I “met” two local teenagers this morning. One of them might well have been that same kid from 1999, eight years older: the two of them were drunk or stoned, barking incomprehensible vitriol in my general direction. As a parting shot, as a security patrol came in to view, they finished by throwing a couple of aerosol cans at me. They appeared to be cans of shaving gel, leading me to wonder if they were the latest trend in solvent abuse. Ah, the kids of today – aren’t they precious? Wankers. 🙄

I was back home shortly after 7am, so additional anti-sleep measures were necessary: cola, a couple of hours of Guild Wars in the morning, and in the afternoon, a movie on TV that I’d never seen before, but fit the “stay awake” bill very nicely. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is, when you get down to it, a two-hour-long music video. Spotting the bloopers was part of the fun: I mean, could three women really throw themselves ten feet into the air, through glass windows? One of them was carrying a full-grown man, who must have weighed the same as her plus half as much again.

My last cup of coffee was after 3pm, and should have worn off by 9pm, meaning that I can look forward to 8-10 solid hours of sleep tonight. If that means I’m getting up earlier, it will be only temporary unless I set my alarm; without a regular wake-up time, I’ll be up later every day.

Today’s big music news is the Princess Diana Memorial Concert, which did not sound at all promising, but passing through the channels now there was one pleasant surprise: Roger Hodgson, by himself, has got the whole of Wembley Stadium singing Supertramp songs. “Well, this is cosy, innt?” 8)

Written by brian t

July 1, 2007 at 6:12 pm

Posted in dublin, ireland, photography

wreck of a day

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Saturday will be over by the time I post this, and I will be asleep soon after. This was a day marked by violence and collisions, none of them involving me, thankfully, but still jarring.

Riot AftermathIn the afternoon I went shopping, and carried my camera, because I heard there was going to be a parade of Unionists through Dublin. I thought there might be an photogenic angry scene or two, but the reality was far far worse, and I’m not annoyed that I missed most of it. The mere presence of Unionists in Dublin was enough to attract Republican thugs from across the 26 counties, and they didn’t even need to see the Unionists to go on the rampage, attacking police and wrecking half of O’Connell Street.

Unlike London in 1999, I didn’t get to see the fighting for myself, only some running people, and a long view of a Garda (police) baton charge. A view of the aftermath was quite enough.

Next: a bruising Rugby clash between Scotland and England, the “Auld Enemy”, at Murrayfield near Edinburgh. After 80 minutes of scrums and rucks, plenty of kicks but no tries, Scotland came out 18-12 winners to pick up the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 2000.

Cra-a-a-ashFinally, late this evening, a car punched a hole in the wall opposite my apartment. It sounded like a blowout, and no-one appeared to be hurt, though an ambulance was soon on the scene.

At least I got a leather jacket at a good price. Can I go to sleep now?

Written by brian t

February 26, 2006 at 1:17 am

podcheck people

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Thanks to Scott Fletcher of PodCheck Review for the “shout out” yesterday, though I should warn folks that this site may not be quite what he led you to expect. Recently it’s primarily been my Blog site, where I get to spout off about anything that gets my limited attention. I’m on holiday (a.k.a. vacation) from my day job at the moment, which explains the recent flurry of activity.

I have a stereography page that documents my initial experiments, but I haven’t done much photography of that type recently. I migrated to a “real” camera a year ago, a Pentax *ist DS digital SLR, and though I have a Loreo 3D lens for it, I’m not happy with the quality of the results so far. I need to spend more time with it, and that means setting up lighting etc. indoors, since here in Ireland the outdoor light is poor in winter, what little of it there is. (You don’t realize how poor it gets until you see how a camera’s metering struggles to find a usable exposure!)

PodCheck Review is well worth listening to, for an alternative viewpoint on the world of Podcasting, from someone who has not (yet?) “drunk the Kool-Aid”, as it were. By that I mean the pursuit of the goal of doing Podcasting for a living, as many would like to do. In my view the numbers don’t stack up: I think there is a serious misapprehension of the size of the market. You can’t really compare it to radio, not unless you want it to be radio – that is, full of commercials, yet not a good investment for advertisers… who really listens to commercials on radio any more?

Even Adam Curry, the main driver of podcast commercialization today, gets this – he is fond of saying that without passion about a subject of interest, podcasts just don’t catch the ear. My question then is: how can you commercialize something that depends on the way someone feels? Could you sign a contract that specifies what you will deliver and when you will deliver it, if there will be times when you don’t have passion for your subject?

I used to write for a living, a decade ago: I took a computer testing job, initially writing comparative test reports to be handed off to a “real” writer, but then doing the actual writing, once people noticed I had a knack for it. This was the job I referred to yesterday, the one that nearly drove me mad, and made me resign for my health’s sake. I don’t have access to any of the work I did back then, and while I think I did wonders under pressure, I would not want to put my name to work that I was not enthusiastic about.

If you’ve tried listening to Podcasts and found yourself doing a Queen Victoria impression -“We Are Not Amused” – I can recommend PodCheck Review. Not only is it entertaining, it gets additional credit for avoiding all the things that threatened to turn me off: a) Scott has a great voice, well-recorded and produced, b) it doesn’t go on too long and outstay its welcome, c): it has a good mix of fact and opinion. Most important is d): – that is, it’s clear that Scott is Passionate about Podcasting!

Written by brian t

December 14, 2005 at 6:49 pm

Posted in photography, podcasting

colour blandness

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I just took two quick tests on colorvisiontesting.com, along with a colleague; while I have doubts about such tests, because of the variability of computer monitors, these ones gave a clear result, confirming that I’m colour-blind relative to “normal” people.

I would never have known I was severely colour-blind if not for the Ishihara tests, which I took under medical supervision years ago. One translation of Ishihara (石原) might be “stony wilderness”, which (I suppose) describes where the Cones should be in my retinas; I hope that means more Rods, since I do think I have good night vision. Apart from that, the only effect visible to me, outside the tests, is difficulty distinguishing between similar colours in poor light – which I thought everyone had problems with.

I took a more thorough test, a few years ago, in the research department of the Royal Victoria Eye Hospital here in Dublin. (An Irish institution named after an English Queen, with the Royal prefix? Hey, if it ain’t broke…) It involved laying little pots of colour in order, e.g. from blue to red. Didn’t do too well there either, if the tut-tutting of the researcher was any clue. (I admit to being slightly distracted by the researcher, who was named Hilary, and was rather beautiful in a slightly Lilith Sternin Crane fashion.)

So, if I’m colour-blind… what am I doing learning photography? Or should I stick to black-and-white film? I find some software colour correction of digital images to be overactive, but I think I have to trust it, at least on pictures aimed at this site.

No, it’s not spelled “color”. I don’t mind using some American spellings, particularly those where a “s” is replaced with a “z” (e.g. “realize”), since I think the change aids in correct pronunciation, but this one is a little beyond the pale (pun intended)…

Written by brian t

October 24, 2005 at 6:14 pm

mobilism

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Yesterday I finally gave up my struggle against the mobile phone, and signed a contract with O2 Ireland. At least I found the handset I wanted, a Nokia 6021, which is almost unique in having Bluetooth, which I want, but no camera, a feature I definitely do not want in a phone.

Even if I did want a camera, my office asks that we don’t carry cameras in our building. We’re not such a high-security office that they need to enforce this tightly, and I sometimes carry my SLR camera to use on the way there and back, but that might change. Besides, why would I want a toy camera when I have a real camera?

My first cell phone was a Nokia, a model I can no longer find any details on, but it was very well-built, and survived numerous knocks and the loss of half its antenna. The 6021 is a fraction of the size, but solid with no protrudng antenna. I think I’m more in danger of losing it than damaging it. As with all these phones, the microphone lands halfway up my face when in use, but a test with the voice recorder sounds reasonable. This phone supports Push-To-Talk too, although O2 doesn’t, yet.

Not long after arriving home, last night, I had the Nokia PC Suite installed. When it works, it works, but I don’t think I’ve seen a flakier piece of software. Sometimes it locks up to the point where I have to reboot the phone and the laptop. Other times it pops up a dozen error windows saying “phone did not respond”, in the middle of normal operations. The text message facility works well, and I bet the people I wrote to are wondering how I got the full spellings and strange punctuation in there…

Written by brian t

July 24, 2005 at 12:37 pm

weather or not

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I found out last night that one of my photos was selected as finalist #17 in a photo competition this week: RTÉ Summer 2005 Weather Photo. This is a quarterly competition for photos to use as a backdrop to the weather forecasts on the Irish national broadcaster. I’ll be getting my 15 seconds of fame in the weather forecasts of 4 August. Yee Haw!

My entry was one of the pictures I took early one Monday morning, just over a month ago, while adjusting my circadians for the trip to Paris; another from the same session, just a few minutes later, is in my wraparound blog entry. It illustrates one of my favourite things about digital photography: my winning picture was actually cropped out of a larger picture that was taken in Portrait format. Good thing I had plenty of pixels to play with. The guys at RTÉ cropped it a little further for a widescreen format, which I can’t complain about – it’s got to fit within their screen format.

OK, it’s not much, but it is “One Little Victory”, useful encouragement to go out and shoot some more. Even if that means staying up all night again, and hitting the scene at 5AM.

Written by brian t

July 19, 2005 at 4:49 pm

Posted in culture, photography