The more you learn…

…the more money you spend. One of the highlights from Lisa and my trip down to Florida was a stop in The Pro Shop in Delray Beach. What started as an attempt to purchase an inexpensive telephoto lens resulted in a 2 hour discussion with the owner, Art NeJame (pictured here with beard). I can’t even begin to describe how much I learned from that conversation – not just about photography, but also life. Art was not just a great salesman, but a wonderful teacher.

Sure he talked me into the $500 lens, when I was originally looking at something in the $200 range, but there was good reasoning behind it. Even Lisa (who is far more frugal than I) encouraged me to make the buy. And the following day while taking some shots of a Great Blue Heron, some far more experienced photographers confirmed that he purchase was wise. And so did the photos I took!

But along the way he explained the benefits of various lenses and what other accessories I might need. The best comment he made was when he saw that I had the Digital Rebel and he noted that it was an excellent camera and a great unit to start with. He later added that between the stock lens, the 50mm f/1.8 Lisa got in Staten Island, and the 75-300mm IS USM I was picking up, I would be pretty set on lenses for awhile. So the only other major purchases I should look at would be a tripod (Lisa already has two, but he agreed with me that a monopod would be a smart buy), a better camera bag (since I’ve outgrown the original one), and maybe an external flash and a cable release (which will come later).

Looking at the UV filters I had smartly picked up for both lenses, he also recommended getting hoods for them all. They help cut down on excess light and glare and, along with the filters, protect the lens. Unfortunately he didn’t have the one I needed in stock, but now I’ve got all three in my Amazon cart, along with a replacement eyecup since mine managed to be pulled off somewhere. But Amazon’s helpful suggestion has led me to start poking around at all of the various purchases I could make. Now I’m reading about how extenders add better macro capabilities to your current setup and looking up prices on Tamron lenses.

The more I learn about photography, the more I want to buy all of that pretty, shiny equipment, and the more my paycheck dwindles. This time around I’m limiting myself to the more essential purchases. But I fear that has more to do with my desire to physically pick and choose items like a bag or a monopod than my need to conserve funds.

But what can I say, once I get into a hobby and really fall in love, it’s tough for me to hold back.

Late to the game

Of course everybody knows about the glory of Google Maps by now. And even more importantly, you all know about the bitchass satellite view that gives us all freaky cool, Orwellian super powers. I meant to write about all of this. Really, I did. I wanted to mention what a superb job they had done in building a clean interface that actually made me excited to use the Web for directions again. I wanted to point out how easy it was to maneuver around the map and get a better feel for the area to avoid the usual pitfalls of Mapquest, et al. I wanted to praise their implementation of satellite imagery that, long after the gee-whiz effect wears off, will actually be useful in online map usage.

Really, I wanted to say all of that. But I didn’t…

I also wanted to point out the weird “censorship” they’ve done on places like The Capitol Building. Or the really beautiful images you can find of evaporating pools or the Frisco Bay. And of course the funny parodies floating all around. Not to mention the new concept of Memory Maps.

But I didn’t, and you’ve all seen them by now…

So instead I’ll just point out Google Sightseeing – a new blog dedicated to the cool images Google Maps is providing.

Also, Dave Shea talks about how this technology could be used by watchdog groups, and Jeffrey Veen points out how this is a somewhat inverse Orwellian model.

In conclusion (I hate it when people say that) I really want to point out to all of you geek-wannabes that this is not merely people jumping on the Google bandwagon. Yes, this technology has been around for years. Yes, it has been available to the public for years. But it was never this good. Kottke was right – it is about the user experience.

She was a showgirl

Did you know that “Copacabana” is about a murder and some old showgirl broad going crazy? I’ve heard that song so many freakin’ times, but I really had no clue what the story was about. I think I always just fazed out after the first verse and chorus. I swear I thought Lisa was making words up when she got to the part about the blood and gunshot. But she certainly is a lyric master.

Man, that Barry fellow wrote some messed up lyrics. Next thing you’ll tell me is that he wrote a love song about his dog or something…


First, a brief note about work. I don’t talk about work much, but some really exciting stuff has been going on and I need to share. I have successfully installed a T1 line between the two facilities. Okay, in reality there were a dozen guys from Verizon that actually ran the fiber, spliced it, and hooked up the many boxen that converted light to electric signals. But I was the man standing next to the man! The important thing is that it works. No more crappy VPN file transfers, we’ll be able to work together as a real company. Now I just have to transfer the IP configurations to the new setup…

On a personal note, my car is now officially inspected until next March! That’s right, state of New Jersey, suck it! I went just over a year with an expired inspection sticker and suffered no consequences. Do you realize what that means? Laws do not matter. Go forth and do whatever you like, they can’t catch you! Ok, maybe that’s a little extreme, but I like the feeling that my laziness was a little bit of social defiance rather than merely… well… laziness.

The real kicker – not long after pulling out of my company’s parking lot I noticed a warning on my dashboard. Yup, the “Check Engine Soon” light had come back less than an hour after inspection.* Once again state of New Jersey, suck it! That little light ain’t fooling me, I’ll get it looked at next March.

* – In case I hadn’t made it clear, the whole reason I hadn’t taken my car in for inspection was that stupid light. It kept going on, which means I automatically fail. So what was the point of taking it in when I already knew it would fail?

the future is tomorrow…

Since it’s already being passed around LJ, I figured I’d try to help out in the blogosphere. From my friend Joseph, a request for help on creating a very geek-like library:

Subject: the future is tomorrow…
From: “joseph agostinelli”
Date: Thu, April 7, 2005 11:29 pm

Friends, strangers, and hopefully fellow geeks, your help is needed.

A very good friend of mine is the head librarian at a engineering college in Arizona; she is attempting to create what she believes will be the first comic book, anime, manga, sci fi, animation archive in the national library system.

the existence of this archive would set a precedent for the american library system, and seriously, would be a huge step toward “legitimizing” an art form that has made a profound impact on all our lives. other universities would in effect have to follow suit, and start archiving sci fi movies, comic books and so on themselves.

But she can’t do it alone; as much as we already know about these subjects, there are still large gaps in our expertise and we would greatly appreciate your help.

here’s what we’d love for you to do;

1. make a list of titles of sci fi, anime, manga, comic books, ect. that you consider indispensable in the experience of the genre.

feel free to geek out. you’re among friends 🙂

2. please list websites you know on the subjects mentioned. if you know a particularly great or informative website, please share it, as she will catalog the website and make it available to people searching for the subjects either just online, or at ANY library in the country. don’t be afraid to include sites designed for newbies.

3. feel free to explain and introduce esoteric categories, nomenclature, and so forth. pardon my own ignorance for only mentioning the genre’s i did.

4. pass this email to every geek you know.

5. make the subject of your email the word “geek”; it’ll make sorting things easier for us.

one caveat, and its a minor one; my friend is interested in including INFORMATION on, say, hentai and “adult” comics, but isn’t able to include them physically in the archive. websites and so forth are thus appreciated.

if possible, try to get back to me as soon as you can, and try to keep the info organized as best you can.

May the force be with you all.


aim — carda55ia prim3
live journal — n3xus6
msm — agostinellijp at hotmail dot com (nexus6)

I walked down the right back alley

Mark and I caught Sin City tonight. It was the most violent, gruesome, bloody, and graphic film I’ve ever seen. Wow, what a ride. The style, direction, and characters were all amazingly well done. From start to finish I was completely drawn into the entire comic world Frank Miller created. I’d say more if I could, but my mind is so completely scattered from the intense cinematic experience that I can’t organize my thoughts.

However I do need to make one major statement: DO NOT TAKE KIDS TO SEE THIS MOVIE! Yes, that did need to be in all caps. To the people behind us who brought their 9 year-old girl: YOU ARE HORRIBLE PARENTS. Incredible film, but not for kids.

Three coffees to the wind

New coffee machine at work… Seven or eight ways to serve up hot caffeine… Craziness ensues…

I’m so excited about this machine that I’ve tried three of the options today alone: Cappucinno, CafĂ© Mocha, and CafĂ© Latte. CafĂ© Mocha is definitely the best, but they’re all way better than the crap I had been drinking before.

But the real point of this post? To test out the Auto shutoff comments plugin, of course. From now on, comments will be closed after 21 days. That sounds like a good length to me.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, it worked. Great plugin, this should definitely cut down on spam, and all those stupid comments about how much you like cheese (I’m not making that up, 6 from one person on a post about censorship). We’ll see if I have to do it to trackbacks, too. Not that I get a lot of trackbacks…

UPDATE: For starters, after a quick trial I’m seriously debating a third cup of the Hazelnut Cappucinno – which I’m sure you’re all fascinated by. Secondly, I’ve already received 2 trackback spams, so it is quite probable that I will kill trackbacks after 21 days along with comments.

Drink up the vote

With all other world matters finally taken care of, we can now focus our attention on the important issues. What, pray tell, could that be? Why, “Which beer would you most like to drink?” of course. (which is based on the West Coast, lest anyone view this as regional bias) is holding its annual Battle of the Beer Championship, which finds two-time champion Dogfish Head out of Delaware fighting Cherry Hill’s own Flying Fish. Boy, the original Tri-State Area sure produces some great beer.

Make sure to fulfill your civic duty and vote. And remember, we need informed voters. If you don’t know the beers, go down to your loval pub and research.