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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Video: Fix your photo's exposure in Photoshop

As if demonstrating how great ideas move around the Internet, this LifeHacker post (Fix your photo's exposure in Photoshop) refers to a post on Kottke.org, that points to a great video tutorial on how to bring out the details in photos that seemed to be destined for the trash can due to bad exposure.

Clicking on any of these links will get you to the tutorial and some other great content besides.

Find Detail in Your Photos That You Thought Was Lost... in Five minutes or Less! from [Photojojo via kottke.org]

(Via Lifehacker.)

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What I'm Reading...

Recently Completed:

Manhunt: The 12-day chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson

A detailed re-telling, from numerous viewpoints of John Wilkes Booth escape and capture after the assassination of President Lincoln.

Even 141 years after the murder, this story still intrigues and resonates in the American psyche. Using original source material, including Booth's own hastily written diary entries, author James L. Swanson creates a vivid picture of those 12-days when Booth escaped Washington, D.C., eluded capture in Maryland and Virginia and his final moments on Garrett's farm.

Also reading...

A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Web Young
The Timberframe Way by Michael Morris and Dick Pirozzolo
The Garden Maker's Manual by Rosemary Alexander
The Natural Shade Garden by Ken Druse
A Garden Galley: The Pants, Art and Hardscape of Little and Lewis

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Event: Nikon Camera Demo at MacValley User Group

Tom Burton, posting on the Web405 mailing list, informs everyone of a interesting demo at this month's MacValley User Group Meeting.

"Nikon will be showing their line of digital cameras at the August meeting of the MacValley Users Group. This should be an incredible presentation!

web405'ers welcome! Windows users welcome! This will be a useful and informative demo for all."

Wilkinson Senior Center
8956 Vanalden Ave. (1 long block South of Nordhoff), Northridge.

Wednesday, Aug 2, 2006 - 7:30 to 9:00 pm. Come early


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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Latest WelchWrite Newsletter Now Available

If you are not on the WelchWrite Mailing List, you're missing out on my regular email newsletter.

Click the links below to subscribe to the newsletter or read the latest issue.

Link: WelchWrite News - July 27, 2006
Link: Subscribe to the WelchWrite Mailing List

Monday, July 24, 2006

On Hawai'i: Waikiki

On our recent, first trip to Hawai'i we decided to leave a visit to Waikiki for the last few days. We had heard all about it from friends and were happy to spend most our time enjoying the more "local" parts of the island wherever possible.

Play video (0:37 secs)

Sure enough, if you visit Oah'u and only see Waikiki for most of your stay, it is my belief that you really haven't seen Hawai'i at all. Waikiki is a Disneyland version of Hawai'i, all neat and clean and filled with other tourists. It can be beautiful, of course, but during the summer months it is hot and packed with people. The shops are filled with generic tchotchkes and the available food is mainly from chains you would find on the mainland.

That said, there were a few highlights to our day on Waikiki. First was the beautiful restaurant aquarium, the Oceanarium at the Pacific Beach Hotel. While we didn't dine in the restaurant, checking out the aquarium was well worth the short walk from the bus stop. There is actually another, great aquarium in Waikiki, (other than the wonderful Waikiki Aquarium -- more to come on that later). Located in the Duty Free Shop Galleria, this aquarium is a 2-story tank with a walk-through, lucite tube in the middle. It was amazing to watch the numerous rays "fly" over and around you as you walked up the stairs. Quite dramatic and well worth 30 minutes or so of your time.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel is also worth a stroll. Hidden behind a lackluster 1980's mall, the hotel is quite beautiful. The striking pink exterior and the lush plantings make you feel miles, and years, away from bustling Waikiki streets. The interior decorations remind me of the Spanish Mission Churches, here in California with their exposed and painted beams.

The Waikiki Aquarium, while small in comparison to some, has high-quality exhibits rivaling some of the best here in California. We spent almost 2-hours touring the various galleries and tanks. I was specially taken with the various jellyfish displays and giants clams, which are their specialty. Like many attractions on Oah'u, the aquarium offered an excellent audio tour as part of your admission fee. These tours really helped Joe to engage in each museum and he often took longer to work through a museum than his parents.

Finally, one hidden museum we happened across turned out to be one of the best of the trip. The Hawaii Army Museum is housed in one of the old batteries on Fort DeRussy. It is a large building, which so resisted demolition that it was re-purposed as a museum. the displays give an excellent overview of the Army's history on Hawai'i, especially the construction of these batteries during World War I. They provided excellent, in-depth information on the Army's role and losses during Pearl Harbor and its continuing presence on the island. This cool, dark museum is a wonderful respite from the hot mid-day sun of Waikiki.

Again, while Waikiki is fine for a short period of time to see its unique sites, I highly recommend you get out into the other parts of the island, especially the more rural sections and dig deeper into the Hawaiian culture and lifestyle.

Watch this space for more "On Hawai'i" in the coming weeks.

Previously: On Hawai'i: Cash Only
Link: Hawaii Trip Photo Gallery
Link: Waikiki Beach Video

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why do you podcast? - Douglas E. Welch

The ninth in a series of short videos from the LA Podcasters answering the question, "Why do you podcast?" with the host and writer of Career Opportunities and A Gardener's Notebook.

Play Video

Friday, July 21, 2006

$$ - Event: Madeleine Bistro Cooking Classes

Our friends and fellow St. Cyrils School parents, David and Molly Anderson, are beginning to offer cooking classes at their restaurant, Madeleine Bistro. Here is the info from their web site at http://madeleinebistro.com

Join us for our inaugural cooking class on Monday, July 31st, from 6:00pm – 9:00pm., followed by a food tasting. The theme of the class is: Corn, Tomatoes & Peaches, featuring a variety of techniques and preparations utilizing these essential summer ingredients. The price is $75 per person. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up as soon as possible. Make your reservation by calling us at (818) 758-6971 or online at dine@madeleinebistro.com.

Join our e-mail list today so that you can keep up-to-date on all of the happenings at Madeleine Bistro this summer and throughout the year. Just e-mail to subscribe@madeleinebistro.com and we'll add you to the list.

Madeleine Bistro - Unique Cuisine
Healthy - Organic - Vegan
18621 Ventura Blvd.
Tarzana, CA 91356
(818) 758-6971

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Geek Dinner #3 with BarCampLA Group

Originally uploaded by dewelch.
Had a great evening talking tech, Korean BBQ, and more with the gang from BarCampLA.

You can check out the wiki for future dates and all tech geeks are welcome!

Click the photo to link to more photos from the evening.

Monday, July 17, 2006

On my "To Read" list

Here are some books that are currently on my "To Read" list.

In most cases, I request books from my library to read before I commit to adding them to my library. I think it is a great way to hold my bibliomania in check a bit, lest I find myself surrounded by nothing but bookshelves.

The $64 Tomato by William Alexander
The Natural Shade Garden by Ken Druse
The Box by Marc Levinson
The Pursuit of Victory by Roger Knight
Juicing the Orange by Pat Fallon

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Get it fixed!

From the WelchWrite Email Newsletter....

All too often, I see computer users struggling with their systems, fighting against odd problems that destroy any hopes of productivity. This is frustrating and counter-productive, but, too often, computer users simply put up with the inconveniences and struggle through the best they can.

If you find your self in this position, it is extremely important that you you stop, today, and put yourself back on the road to computer happiness.

If you computer is crashing 5, 6, 7 times a day. Get it fixed.
If you laptop's battery doesn't last more than 5 minutes. Get it fixed.
If your desktop PC is running so slowly that you have time to brew a pot of coffee before it finishes printing. Get it fixed.

Solving these basic, but so annoying problems can open up entire new worlds of productivity and opportunnity. Yes, in some cases fixing the problem might require a replacement of the computer, but, if you really want to make the most of your computer and your skills, isn't it worth it. Shouldn't your computer be able to do what your mind is dreaming?

Take the pledge today to stop suffering with computer problems. Rebuild your computer's software, add more memory, buy a new printer, or even a completely new computer. You owe it to yourself and your productivity to have a fast and reliable computer system to help you get your work done.

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Browse Archives at groups.google.com

Intro to Podcasting Class - Sherman Oaks - August 19

Get started with podcasting!

Douglas E. Welch, host and writer of Career Opportunities and A Gardener's Notebook podcasts (http://welchwrite.com) and Lance Anderson, founder of the LA Podcasters and host of Verge of the Fringe (http://vergeofthefringe.com/) will be holding a 3 hour podcasting class on Saturday, August 19, 2006 from 2-5 pm.

We will be demonstrating podcasting basics, along with live demos of how we produce our podcasts. We will also cover concepts such as adding a blog/podcast to your web site, audio recording basics, recording equipment and more.

Price: $50

Email today (class@welchwrite.com) to reserve your space.

Web Service: Gliffy.com - Create and share diagrams online.

I came across this today, while reading my RSS feeds and it is too cool. I often have a need to hack up a quick chart describing a network or a process flow and this web service looks like it will be very useful in the future.

Create network diagrams, flow charts, user interface mockups, floor plans and more. You can print, save as JPG, PNG and SVG, collaborate with others on your diagram and publish the results to the Internet.

Note: Mac users will want to use the free Firefox browser (see the link at right), as Safari does not seem to work with the site.

Gliffy.com - Create and share diagrams online. Web-based replacement for Visio. I hope this means no more stealing a copy of the entire MS Office suite just to do one flowchart.

(Via del.icio.us/merlinmann.)

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Share Friends In Tech with Your Friends!

As you may already know, Career Opportunities is a member of Friends in Tech, a loose consortium of technology podcasters who work together for cross promotion, cross-pollination, and more most importantly, fun!

The picture to the right is a link to the Friends in Tech flyer (PDF) that you can use to introduce your friends to all the Friends in Tech shows. There is information on Friends in Tech, show topics and average length. You can email the FiT Flyer or print it out to share with your friends.

Thanks for helping to spread the word about Friends in Tech and my podcasts!


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Event: The Two Gentlemen of Verona - Downtown LA

Shakespeare Festival/LA Summer Festival

From their webs site...

This summer, SFLA is turning 21! We proudly present our Summer Festival production

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Set in the late 1960’s when Vietnam was raging, the women’s movement was defining itself, music was driving, and love was abounding, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” captures the passionate spirit and desires of rebellious youth willing to defy authority to follow their hearts.

In two outdoor locations Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles and South Coast Botanic Gardens, Palos Verdes Peninsula

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
555 West Temple Street - Los Angeles, CA 90012

July 19, 20, 21, 22 & 23 at 8 pm

Reservations are required to obtain guaranteed reserved seats.
Free reserved seating is available to the first 300 callers, per performance.
Guaranteed VIP Seating Is Also Available at All Times to Shakespeare Festival/LA Members. For more information and to make a reservation, please call 213-975-9891.

Cathedral Plaza is the perfect spot to enjoy al fresco dining with family and friends!

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Power" Serendipity

I recently picked up The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene from the library to re-read it. I must have read something that spurred my interest in the book again, although I don't remember exactly what it was.

Oddly enough, today's Los Angeles Times includes an article on how Hip-Hop artists are using it as a virtual guidebook to navigating the tough music industry.

See Laws for an Outlaw Culture, Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2006

While rappers might be reading this as a guidebook, I have always looked on it more as a self-protection manual.

For me, learning what you opponents might be trying to do to you is far more important than engaging in the behaviors themselves. The fact is, most of the "48 Laws" carry a heavy ethical, social and personal burden. Anyone attempting to live by these laws would soon find their existence a weird half-life where more time was spent attending to the "Laws" than actually living life.

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Web: Thumbstacks.com - Live presentations on the web!

If you do a lot of presentations, or find you prefer presenting information using PowerPoint or other presentation software, ThumbStacks.com might be a tool for you.

Using only your web browser you can create presentations that anyone with a web browser can view. Maybe now you can stop sending around those huge PowerPoint files that keep clogging up your email.

Thumbstacks.com - Live presentations on the web!

(Via del.icio.us/popular.)

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On my wishlist: Edirol R-09 Portable Digital Recorder

After having an opportunity to use this unit and hear its sounds quality, I have decided to add it to my Amazon Wish List and start reserving listener/reader donations towards purchasing my own unit. Special thanks to all who have donated in the recent weeks

I used my friend's Edirol R-09 to record my interview with Keri Dearborn, which listener's of A Gardener's Notebook have heard over the last few weeks. This interview was recorded with no additional equipment...just the recorder sitting on a chair between us while we talked. In fact, you can see the unit, tiny as it is, in the photo posted along with that podcast entry.

The R-09 also allows you to connect any sort of external microphone to the unit including lavaliere microphones for doing interviews and shotgun mics for long distance recording. My friend, Michael, has also simply fitted the windscreen for his shotgun mic (usually called a "muff") directly over the top of the unit to shield it from wind noise when using it outside.

This unit would make it so much easier to do interviews for the podcasts as well as un-tether me from my computer to do sightseeing tours and ad-hoc, man-on-the-street conversations. It would also make it very easy to record conference sessions and speeches that I attend.

So, if you have been waiting for a direct, tangible reason to donate to Career Opportunities or A Gardener's Notebook, here is where some of you money would be used.

Make a donation for the Edirol R-09

Link: My Amazon Wishlist
Link: Edirol R-09 at Amazon.com

Monday, July 10, 2006

Book: The Lost Gardens by Anthony Eglin

Listen to the podcast version of this review

The Lost Gardens, the second in a (hopefully) on-going series by Anthony Eglin picks up the story of Professor Lawrence Kingston following the murder and intrigue surrounding the discovery and theft of a unique blue rose, the Holy Grail of gardeners. This story is recounted in "The Blue Rose" and my review can be found in this previous post.

In this new story, Kingston is hired to restore a huge manor garden to its former glory after the property is inherited, unexpectedly and unexplainably, by a young, American woman. When a dis-used chapel is found on the property, complete with a skeleton in its well, Kingston is again involved in detective work, archeological mysteries and murder.

While not quite as action-packed as the first book, The lost Gardens is a grand combination of gardening lore, history, mystery and action-adventure. Kingston become even more likable than before, less curmudgeonly and might even be falling in love again.

Eglin gives a charming feel to the English countryside, despite the untoward events that occur and leads the reader down a wandering garden path to an exciting and satisfying conclusion.

I look forward to more books in this series that combine my interests in gardening and my love of a great mystery.

Link: The Lost Gardens by Anthony Eglin
Link: The Blue Rose by Anthony Eglin

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Review: Slim Devices Squeezebox

When I attended and spoke at MacGathering a few months ago, I met the representatives from Slim Devices, who were demonstrating their Squeezebox music player. This is a great device that allows you to link wirelessly to your computer-based music collection (think iTunes, although many other systems are supported) and play this content through your dedicated high-end stereo system. A few weeks later, Slim Devices was kind enough to send me a review unit so I could check it out in my own home media environment.

I often work with clients who are very interested in high-end audio and would love a device like this. I have recommended other, similar products in the past, but I am leaning heavily towards Squeezebox these days for several reasons. The Squeezebox is based on a free, open source, music server that allows programmers to easily fix bugs and extend its capabilities. Currently this shows itself in plugins that allow you to display RSS feeds on the device and provide alternate views, including analog VU meters on the display as it operates.

My experience

Setting up the Squeezebox was simple and straightforward. First, you visit their web site to download the latest version of the SlimServer music server software which runs under Windows, Mac OS and even Linux. While this is uncommon, I felt that having the user download the current version, rather than providing it on a CD is a great idea. Too often, with other products, I am faced with out-of-date software that causes problems with an installation. This download insures that I am getting the most up-to-date and bug-free version at the moment I begin using it.

Next, you install this software which, on the Mac, appears as a Preference Pane in the System Preferences. This program only allows you to turn the server software off and on. To configure the server, you simply use your web browser. The browser interface is easy to use and allows you to set various preferences, such as the name of the Squeezebox (important if you are running more than one) and which system you want to use to manage your music. In my case, I told the Squeezebox that I wanted to use my existing iTunes music library and playlist.

Once the server software was setup, it was time to install the Squeezebox itself. Two cables come with the unit -- a power adapter with a much appreciated, small transformer, unlike the power-strip eating monsters from other manufacturers, and an RCA audio adapter cable to connect it to your sound system. A headphone-style jack is also provided on the unit to allow you to connect the unit directly to powered speakers if you wanted to use it in temporary locations, like your patio or deck.

When you plug the unit into the power, the Squeezebox steps you through a series of setup options using its large and clear display. You select your location, your wireless access point name and provide your wireless network password using the included remote control. Within minutes I had my unit up and playing my music.

Navigating the Squeezebox menus and display was easy and straightforward. It recognized all my iTunes music and playlists (although it cannot play music purchased through the iTunes Music Store due to DRM restrictions.). Selecting music to play was as easy as using iTunes on my Mac and, in some ways, even easier.

When the unit is playing music it display information on the current "Now Playing" track using a variety of user-selectable formats which include track name, length, time elapsed, time remaining and different meters. After several minutes of inactivity, the display switches to a user-selectable "screen saver" that can present a wide variety of additional information including analog VU meters, digital audio meters and even a user-provided list of automatically updated RSS feeds from your favorite sources. This was my favorite screensaver and made the unit useful even when it wasn't actively playing music or podcasts.

Internet Radio and Webcasts

The Squeezebox can also be used to play thousands of Internet-based Radio stations and webcasts from your favorite traditional radio stations. Several stations are provided in the initial installation and you can easily add more using the SlimServer web interface.

Overall, I would highly recommend this unit to my clients. Its setup and operation is top rate, even when located on the fringe of a wireless network and its ease of use and sleek modern design make it a perfect compliment to any high-end audio system. Even in the largest home you can gain room-by-room control over your music preferences without expensive wiring and equipment.

Additional Features

If you are a bit more technology-oriented, the Squeezebox also provides 2 interesting features. First, it can operate as a wireless bridge on your existing network. This means that if you have a game console, such as the xBox 360 and want to play games over the Internet, you only need plug a network cable between the console and network port provided on the back of the Squeezebox. Next, with a bit of networking knowledge, you can configure the SlimServer software to share your music collection over the Internet to any network connected PC.

You can purchase your own Squeezebox via the Amazon link above or directly from SlimDevices at http://www.slimdevices.com/

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Elsewhere Online: iTunes multimedia tutorials

If you are looking to learn a little more about Apple's iTunes software, whether you use a Mac or Windows PC, here are some great video tutorials on the various operations of iTunes.

Learn how to use the Music Store, import your own CD collection, search your iTunes library, listen to podcasts and more!

Thanks to LifeHacker.com for the link!

iTunes multimedia tutorials

I admit it - I am an iTunes novice; in fact, I just got my first MP3 player two weeks ago.

However, with the help of Apple's multimedia iTunes tutorial, I've figured out this newfangled thing called "digital music" that all you whippersnappers are into these days. Nearly every article in this extremely detailed tutorial (29 separate sub-topics!!) is in video format, making it even easier for us iTunes virgins to become iTunes experts in a very short amount of time.

iTunes [Apple iLife Tutorials]

(Via Lifehacker.)

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What I'm Reading...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Hawaii Trip Photos

After a marathon session of photo selection and captioning, our complete photos from our Hawaii trip are now available.

Hawaii Trip Photo Gallery

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On Hawai'i: Cash Only

Joe and Lyn on Kailua BeachNow that we have returned from our first trip to Hawai'i *, I will take the time over the next few weeks to post some of my impressions of the island, the people and what it is like to be a tourist.

One item which we had never been told by any of our friends who visited Hawai'i before was how much of the island, O'ahu in our case, works on cash only. Sure, if you are in Waikiki and other established tourist spots this will be less true, but if you are venturing into more local areas, restaurants and stores, (and you should) be prepared to see the "Cash Only" sign a lot.

That said, it isn't that difficult to deal with this issue. The ubiquitous Long's Drug, Safeway and other stores allow you to use your debit card for a purchase and then receive cash back. This is far cheaper than paying ATM fees to access your money directly using a local bank's ATM. Long's has a $20 limit on cash back withdrawals, but that was plenty to make sure we had pocket change for lunch, drinks and trinkets.

You can find some of our Hawai'i vacation pictures on my Flickr account. A full photo gallery will be coming soon.

* That little apostrophe you often see in Hawaiian words is called an okina and represents a pause or glottal stop when pronouncing a word

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