January 28, 2009

Photosynth, changing photography?

I just learned about an interesting new program for photographers called Photosynth. It was created by Microsoft Live Labs and the University of Washington. The software analyzes a cloud of photographs taken in the same locations and compiles them together using pattern recognition into points on a 3d model scale which the user can move in and out and around, just like any other 3d model. Its a little techy but this video explained it a little better:

A group has recently used the technology on the Washington D.C. mall during the inauguration of Barack Obama to show the power of the software. They solicited snapshots and cell phone pictures that were taken during the inauguration and compiled them for a wide angle 3D view of the Mall.

I think its a really cool hybridization of photography and computer technology. Just thought I would share some geek stuff today.

January 22, 2009

Wedding registries and recent happenings

Photo by legos+dream on Flickr
Well, you know its getting serious when you spend almost 4 hours at Bed Bath and Beyond and actually have fun. Yes, Andrea and I were registering today for our wedding gifts that we will hopefully receive from our generous guests this coming June.

For those of you who haven't heard... yes, I'm getting married on June 27 to my best friend. I talked a little bit more about her in my previous post "Ahh... Engagement, Wedding Planning and Getting Serious". Anyways we had a blast today registering and I think we picked out some cool stuff.

For those of you who haven't quite gotten to this step yet, never fear, The Horse is here to help ya out with some advice for how and when to register.
  • Most wedding planners and websites say to register a good 4-6 months in advance. This gives you a chance to change and move things around or delete items that were "impulse registers".
  • Stick with one store for the majority of your registry and a maximum of three stores or you run the risk of spreading yourself thin.
  • Your main store should have a wide variety of home goods. Some great stores to register at are places like: Bed Bath and Beyond, Pottery Barn, Macy's, Target, and Wal-Mart.
  • Many couples are also choosing to register at internet storefronts. Sites like Amazon, Etsy, and Ebay have either actual online registries or shared wish lists.
  • Try an online registry compiler like MyRegistry.com.
  • Be sure to check your store's return policy. Many, like BBB, have a very liberal return policy. They will even give a cash rebate for anything that you decide you don't want after the wedding! (very nice!)
The store employee will usually tell you to register for more than you need and try to push the more expensive china on you. These days many couples on a budget are not registering for expensive china that they will probably never use, and in its place, registering for more useful items like small electronics, or high end pot and pan sets from brands like All-Clad or Calphalon (we chose the latter).

But, after all is said and done, don't get caught up in the technicalities of it all. This is the time for you guys to have a fun day with each other getting to know each other's tastes and likes. Make it an afternoon when you don't have anything else planned... oh, EAT BEFORE YOU START!

January 16, 2009

Twitter - The next big thing or TOO MUCH! (or how I learned to stop hating)

What is this Twitter thing I've been hearing about, and why should I care?

You may have been asking yourself this question lately (or maybe not). But I'm here to clue you guys in on the next big social media craze. Twitter!
So, you've heard of MySpace. Maybe you have a MySpace page, and even if you don't, I guarantee that you at least know someone that has a MySpace page. How about Facebook? Facebook is for the more calm, intellectual types. YouTube? Flickr? This is called Social Media.

According to Wikipedia:
Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.[1] The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. [2] This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and "building" of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.
So, basically social media is:
  • computer and Internet based
  • revolves around human beings
  • is shared multi-media or text with groups or everyone
It naturally brings people together through blogs, stories, pictures, videos, games, applications stored on the Internet and accessed by anyone that the author allows.
I won't go into the specifics of each site but they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I will, however tell you about my latest addiction, Twitter.

Twitter is a microcosm of social media ideas, in its simplest form. It asks you the question: What are you doing? and you answer in 140 characters or less. Basically, it lets everyone who follows you know what's going on in your life.

Isn't this the same thing as a Facebook status update?
Well, yes and no. Updating your status in Facebook is usually done once or twice a day at most and only for letting people know the really important things. Sending a Tweet (as they are called in the Twitterverse) is done as often as you want! Find a funny video? Tweet it. Want to break some recent news before anyone else? Tweet it. Announce a new blog post, party, trip, movie, tv show or book you've seen or read? Tweet it! Twitter is more of a micro-blog that you can quickly update to let people know whats going on with you and what you think is cool. You can tweet as much or as little as you want. To me its kind of like taking the pulse of social media. You get to hear about all the cool stuff first from your Twitter buddies.

So, just sign up, find some people and businesses and even celebrities to follow and people will start following you back. Its a great way to meet friends, get advice on a hobby or learn about a topic you are interested in. The trick is to follow people that will give you good information that you want to hear. If someone is ticking you off, just unfollow them. Its not as drastic as a MySpace unfriend... Check out my Twitter feed in the sidebar to your right and follow me. I'll help you --->

I may get into Twetiquette (yes, we add "Twi"to everything) in a later post but I'll leave you with the decision:

Is Twitter right for me?
  • Do you love social media? Are you slightly OCD about having to know what's going on in your friend's lives? Have you secretly ever wanted to be an exhibitionist? (not that way, dirty mind!) Are you on the Internet ALOT? Do you like knowing stuff first, ahead of everyone else? Do you like meeting minor and even major celebrities? - Then Twitter is for you! Go sign up now!
  • You've heard MySpace and Facebook are full of perverts and stalkers, so social media must be bad. You don't really use the Internet that much. You would rather go read an encyclopedia to learn about your hobby or interest. You would rather just keep to yourself. If someone wants to know about me, they can call me or write me a letter. Zzzzzz... I'm boring myself just writing this...
OK, so I'll admit, you've got to be a little geeky to like Twitter. Its takes some upkeep, but its worth it to me in the payoff of new friends and personal free advice you can glean from your Twitter friends.

Next time, Twitter desktop clients and Twetiquette

January 12, 2009

My new Wedding Photography Blog

In the past few months I've posted a few articles about my wedding photography business (JSP) and the reaction has been pretty positive. So, I decided to create a blog devoted to the starting and day to day running of a freelance wedding photography business including:
  • What gear is worth the money
  • sales techniques
  • what to sell to your clients (what goes over well)
  • shot ideas and examples
  • how to shoot engagement pictures
  • what I learned the hard way (so you don't have to...)

The blog is called The Wedding PhotogBlog.

Basically, you get to follow me around as I start up my business, and we can all figure out how to do it together. I've got about a year head start, but that doesn't mean I know it all and I'm not learning anymore. I learn new things every time I get a wedding gig and each shoot I do.

So, if you are interested in wedding photography, or you're a beginner, want to start your business or have been around the block a few times, please come check it out and leave me a comment! In the mean time I'll be posting all wedding photography related articles over there from now on. I'll still be posting pics and talking about regular photography and gear and geek stuff here on The Horse as well as your normally scheduled program, but I just thought I would let you guys know about my new project from... The Horse's mouth.

January 11, 2009

New at CES, Palm Pre - iPhone killer?

With CES 2009 winding down this weekend, one product stood out in the smartphone category. The new Palm Pre smartphone from Palm.

And now for something completely different...
::Arrow shoots into Concorde::
LANCELOT: Brave, brave Concorde! You shall not have died in vain!
CONCORDE: Uh, I'm-I'm not quite dead, sir.
LANCELOT: Well, you shall not have been mortally wounded in vain!
CONCORDE: Uh, I-I think uh, I could pull through, sir.
LANCELOT: Oh, I see.
CONCORDE: Actually, I think I'm all right to come with you--
LANCELOT: No, no, sweet Concorde! Stay here! I will send help as
soon as I have accomplished a daring and heroic rescue in my own
particular... (sigh)
CONCORDE: Idiom, sir?
CONCORDE: No, I feel fine, actually, sir.
LANCELOT: Farewell, sweet Concorde!
CONCORDE: I'll-uh, I'll just stay here, then, shall I, sir? Yeah.
(from Monty Phython and the Holy Grail)

Pardon the interruption, but this is how I see Palm (the company, Palm = Concorde) these past few years. Lemme 'splain...
Palm was riding along the smartphone highway happy go lucky, and all of a sudden - an arrow (Blackberry, and iPhone)! Palm insists that they can go on, but they know that they are dying. The bad thing is, that everyone else (Lancelot = the smartphone community) thinks that they are dying too, so poor, sweet Palm is left behind in the swamp.
The question is: Will Palm pull the arrow out of its chest with the Palm Pre and move ahead to take the victory at Swamp Castle with Lancelot? (sorry, my analogies are a little strange...)

Some stats on the Palm Pre:
  • slide down full keyboard
  • 3 MP camera
  • USB 2.0, GPS, Wi-Fi & EV-DO, Bluetooth 2.1 with stereo support
  • 8GB of storage, and 3.5mm headphone jack
  • all in one calendar view (syncs Outlook and Facebook)
  • 3.1-inch, 320×480-pixel touchscreen
  • Cut and Paste functionality (try that on an iPhone!)
  • wireless charger (First of its kind!)
  • should start around $200 later this year
This weekend the Pre was awarded the coveted Best of CES 2009 at CES in Las Vegas. No sooner was this announced than Palm's stock shot up over 38%! So, its definitely got some buzz going on right now in the mobile world.

One good thing to come from this news is maybe this new competition will bring the price down on that BlackBerry Storm I'm wanting to buy this year!

January 7, 2009

Are we all going to die? Planet X (Nibiru), 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar

Have you heard the rumors going around? The Earth is going to be turned into a wasteland starting in the year 2012!
Apparently this is a fairly popular rumor floating around the internet at websites like Your Own World USA.com, Planetxvideo.com and a whole boatload of videos on YouTube.

The theory is that this planet is the ancient Sumerian planet Marduk or Nibiru and it is the eleventh planet in our solar system that has a large orbit that is off center from the rest of the planets. It appears once every 3600 years and has caused destruction and chaos every time it rolls around. According to some ancient extra-Biblical texts, Nibiru was the cause of the plagues of Egypt, Noah's Flood, and it was the star of Bethlehem that led the wisemen to Jesus.

In 1976, a new age-writer by the name of Zecharia Sitchin linked the Planet X-problem of the astronomers up with the Sumerian and Babylonian mythology of Tiamat and Marduk. (You may have heard him on the popular radio show Coast-To-Coast with Art Bell or George Noory).

I admit, I was a little bit freaked out. I spent a whole day this week watching videos and reading about Planet X. Then I started looking for real scientific proof and hard astronomical facts and couldn't find any. Finally, I found this very logical web page by the fine people at Exitmundi.nl. I don't want to copy or redistribute the writing and facts that they have already researched here. So I would suggest anyone that has further questions about Planet X to go check them out.

Then in a still small voice I heard Psalms 116:7:
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
and I felt better because I know God is in control... :-)

Update! Another great debunking post is available at: Astrogeek

January 5, 2009

Resolutions and Promises for the New Year

If you could make one resolution this year that would be guaranteed to come true, what would it be?
Lose weight? Earn more money? Travel? Learn a new skill?

We all have our New Years resolutions. Its a good time to "start over" and think about your goals for the following year. What if I told you that you could guarantee yourself success in any of these areas? Listen to what these guys said:

"Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life."
- Wayne Dyer
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
Thomas Edison
"Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get."
Ray Kroc

The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self activity.
~ Thomas Carlyle ~

Follow their advice and you are GUARANTEED to achieve your goals.
  • Love what you do: You will never get traction in your goals if you don't like doing that thing. Do you enjoy working out or exercising? If not, is there a way to make it fun for yourself and make it a habit that you will enjoy?
  • Put some muscle into it!: Nothing worth having is free, or even easy for that matter. Want to make more money with your photography business? Put some time and energy into making a great portfolio, create and run an ad for your business in: a local newspaper, Facebook, Google AdWords, make business cards, network...
  • READ!: all you can about the subject you want to learn about. Learn from other people's success and mistakes. Then take that model and add to it using your own style or flair.
With that in mind, I still usually make a few modest goals at the beginning of the year to just keep pushing myself a little bit more. So here are mine for 2009:
  1. eat better and lose 20 lbs.
  2. design and set up JSP (Joshua Self Photography)'s website and gallery for my wedding photography business.
  3. start up "WaiterGossip", a new blog and website for all restaurant industry employees. (more info coming soon).
  4. start up a new photography blog on Blogger (DONE! Check it out...)
  5. Start writing more short stories and screenplays on Storycrafter.
  6. Revamp my photography portfolio
  7. Revamp my wedding photography portfolio
  8. Start a new ad and marketing campaign for JSP and get at least 5 weddings this season.
  9. Pay off 2 credit cards
  10. Plan our honeymoon road trip.
  11. Get married!
  12. Save $20 / week
So, yea... looks like I got a little ambitious. I'll use this as a list to mark off as the year goes by. I know, now that I've written them down, that I can't just sit around watching Entourage and X-Files all day, I need to do something productive.

I also want to quickly thank all of my new readers for checking out The Horse. I will strive to provide some entertaining, or at least readable information that you guys can use this year. I know its gonna be a good year! Woot!