Lightroom Masterclass

posted in: Art, Fun, The Tools | 0

Finally learn Lightroom!

Remember last week, how I was saying that I used Lightroom more than Photoshop? There’s a reason for that. Actually, there are several reasons, but the big one is that Lightroom is actually made specifically for photographers. For most of us, it has the basic tools that non-techs would want to have to quickly edit our photos. Granted, I am, actually, a computer geek, but I generally don’t want to spend hours and hours of my non-work time in front of a computer. (Yes, I do see the irony of that statement one a blog/website, but, still…) In any case, Lightroom lets you quickly get just enough editing to make good photos a LOT better. But, it only does that if you know how to use it. Personally, I hate spending money on training, if I can help it, but, sometimes, I have to admit that it’s good to see the industry accepted way of doing things with software. So, all of that is to say that this week, thanks to PetaPixel, again, I’m bringing you a link to a 30-minute Masterclass in Lightroom by Mango Street. They really cram in a lot of information in that 30 minutes, too! But, trust me, it’s all great training, even if it goes a little fast for someone who hasn’t used Lightroom much. Good news, though, you can go to the Mango Street YouTube channel for all their other tutorials where you can get a bit more in depth and get more tutorials about other aspects of photography, too.
It is all free, and all very good info, so go check it out!
Then, after you get inspired, go out and shoot some fresh photos to test out your new editing skills!

Quick Photoshop Tutorial

posted in: Art, Fun, GUI Center, The Tools | 0

Selecting edges is hard!

As a professional computer geek and an amateur photographer, everyone expects me to to know Photoshop like a graphic designer. The truth is, though, I enjoy photography because it gets me out from behind the computer. I really spend more time making the photo in the camera than I do editing it afterwards. Oh, sure, I do pull all my images into Lightroom to clean up the exposure and colors a bit, but I rarely do more than that. Unless it’s a little cropping.
But, a couple of jobs ago, I did find myself doing a significant amount of editing for the company website. Usually, that meant cutting out some one of the company products and putting on a better background or no background at all. I hated it. I hated it because selecting fine edges was incredibly hard for me. It was super tedious and if I ever hit something like hair, well, let’s just say I was glad to be working in a mostly industrial environment.
Of course, the truth is that I wasn’t using all the selection tools to their greatest effect. If only I had been following PetaPixel back then, so that I could have possibly found their 1 minute tutorial on using Photoshop’s refine edge brush! Wow! What a huge help that would have been!
So, in the spirit of helping my fellow geeks, because who else would be reading this blog on a Friday, enjoy!
Seriously, it really is only a minute and it will help you tremendously with your selections in Photoshop. And, if you like that, there’s a whole Definitely worth checking out.

Civil Engineering Explained

With videos, not math!

Not so many months ago, my wife and I were talking about a plumbing problem in our house. It was relatively small and has long since been fixed, but our discussion hinged on water pressure. Specifically, in this case, water pressure in the house and how that meant that there was always water in the horizontal pipes. Honestly, I hadn’t given it a lot of thought, but, of course, the pipes have to be filled with water the whole time, and under pressure, for water to be forced out of a shower on the second floor. Not enough pressure to fill the pipes with water means that there’s not enough force to create a flow. Makes total sense when you think about it, right? But, have you ever wondered how that pressure is created before it makes it to your house? That process is due to the miracles of civil engineering.
It’s also explained via helpful videos for the curious on the Practical Engineering YouTube Channel. In fact, water towers and the hydrosystems that allow us to enjoy showers, instead of having to use a hand-pump to fill a bath, are covered in the playlist titled Public Works; Season 1. But, they also explain concrete, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and more! It’s definitely a video destination where you can waste hours and hours of time watching videos about the miracles of the modern world.
And, it’s educational, in case you need an excuse to watch these instead of doing your actual work on a Friday afternoon!

Shop Helper

posted in: Art, Fun | 0

This is apparently all true.

One of the reasons I love photography is that it lets us see things in ways that we couldn’t otherwise see them.
Now, I’m mostly a still photographer, though I’ve dabbled a bit in video. If you look at my Flickr portfolio, you’ll see a lot of macro, or close-up, photography. The camera, and nice macro lens that I have, let me see things that I might otherwise miss. Details that I wouldn’t experience any other way. But, too, beyond that, photography captures not just a vision of things, but also their time. A photograph is quite literally a little slice of frozen light and time that we preserve forever, that we capture for future use and enjoyment. Video, in many ways, is that and much more.
The link I bring you this week made me smile, which, frankly, is sometimes the best you can hope for. It’s been a bit of a rough week and a smile was definitely needed. So, if you’re in the same spot, hop over to PetaPixel to see a mouse clean up a man’s shed. Yes, that’s right. Just like the mythical shoemaker’s elves, a retired electrician had a little helper cleaning up his workshop every night. A helper that seemed impossible, until he worked with a friend and a game camera to discover who was cleaning up for him
Seriously, it’s amazing and seems like it can’t be real, but it is.
I’m pretty sure my wife would like to have an army of them to try and tidy up behind me!
Either way, it’s only a 2 minute video and definitely made me smile.
Enjoy!

Government Sponsored Font

posted in: Art, Fun, The Tools | 0

Your tax dollars at work for better design!

No, seriously, this is actually US tax dollars working to develop a “better” font. Not even kidding.
Believe it or not, there’s a little something called the United States Web Design System that’s collaborative team specifically started to “…make it easier to build accessible, mobile-friendly government websites for the American public.” And, as it turns out, they have some resources that might be helpful for non-governmental web designers, too. One such is a simple font called Public Sans, which they call “A strong, neutral typeface for text or display.” Which it is, actually. It can be downloaded from their GitHub page, which further describes the font as “principles-driven” and “open-source”. It’s also a fairly nice, and free, change from Helvetica. Oh, and it includes webfonts, so you can, in fact, use it to unify your on-line and off-line branding identity.
And, again, all freely available and all brought to you, one way or another, by the United States of America Federal Government.
Sometimes, the government really IS here to help!

Enjoy!

A Conspiracy of Facts!

posted in: Fun | 0

What if “facts” are what actual “news publishers” wanted you to know?

Since the last US Presidential election, there’s been a lot of focus on “news” and “fake news” and what the difference between the two might be. Many have suggested that it’s the super vague and click-bait-able nature of the “information” being shared. I tend toward Marshall McLuhan’s idea that “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” At first, we responded to these eminently shareable factoids because they didn’t mean much. It was the mental equivalent of a junk-food snack. Not harmful in and of itself, but not very satisfying either. Then, because the little independents were getting more clicks and more “eyeballs”, the big boys started doing it and now, well, here we are.
But, it’s Friday and I refuse to let these thoughts curb my enthusiasm for life! So, I today I share with you the humorous and ironic Prospiracy Theories! It takes the tone of those terrible social media conspiracy posts and substitutes real, actual facts!
It’s hilarious and accurate. What could be better?

Enjoy!

Size Effects

posted in: Art, Fun | 0

How big are those Star Wars ships?

This week, I just have something quick for you because I’ve been busy. Stop laughing! It happens!
Also, this is just cool, so I’m glad to be sharing it. Have you ever wondered just how big the ships and stations in the Star Wars movies really are? I know, sometimes, I wonder about it, because of the engineering that must have gone into it. But, also, I think about how long it takes for people to get from one part of the ship to another. Not only that, but what about all the places that have those huge, open spaces where people inevitably seem to get pushed and fall into oblivion? How can that even happen if the place isn’t gigantic? Anyway, this week, I’m giving you a link to something that explains it pretty well. Personally, I like reading the written word and seeing infographics that I can study, but I know a lot of people prefer videos and that’s what leads me to share this. STAR WARS on Earth! – How Big the Ships REALLY Are.
It’s only a five minute video, which is time you can surely spare on a Friday if you’re reading this post, so go, look and be amazed. Revel in your geeky fandom!
And come back next week for more!

History of Doggos

posted in: Fun | 0

I think it’s understandable that I have dogs on my mind lately.

It’s only been a few weeks since I had to put my 16-year-old dog, Hilda, down and I’m still surprised how hard it was. Unlike almost any other domesticated animal, dogs have an incredibly close relationship with humans. I was always amazed at how Hilda could seem to read my every expression and know just what me clearing my throat at her meant. Frankly, I think that, along with the innate urge to please people, may be the chief advantage of having dogs over children. Also, dogs don’t ask for expensive electronics or college educations. Dogs are humankind’s best, and possibly oldest, friends. There’s evidence that humans and domestic dogs have lived together more than 12,000 years by even the most conservative estimates. And, all the hundreds of varieties of dogs all came from a common ancestor of the wolf. So, think about that, everything from the Bull Mastiff to the Shiba Inu to the Chinese Crested all came from a common, wolf-like ancestor.
And, that’s what I’m sharing with you this week, a TED video, by way of BoingBoing titled A Brief History of Dogs. It’s only five minutes long and mostly accurate, though it incorrectly says that all modern dogs are descended from the grey wolf, “canis lupus”, which researchers know is not quite correct any more. (For more on that, check out this article from LiveScience.)

Anyway, the video is short and fun and mostly accurate. And, it’s about dogs. Who doesn’t like videos about dogs, even if they’re animated and about science?
Enjoy your weekend!

Making a Great Space Helmet

posted in: Art, Fun, On Creativity | 0

It’s harder than you think!

It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I love science-fiction. I don’t know if it’s the escape of it, or the promise of a better tomorrow. Or maybe just the idea that we can engineer our way out of some of the troubles we have created for ourselves as a race. I know that I believe that the Universe is far too large for us to be the only intelligent life out there. It seems statistically improbable that we’re alone in the entire vastness of space. And, perhaps optimistically, I have to believe that if such beings exists, eventually we will at least find evidence of them, which most likely means traveling to distant worlds. Just how distant and by what methods require more math and physics than my poor, little brain is capable of dealing with, but I think that just makes it easier to believe it’s possible.
In any case, that belief draws me to science-fiction about space travel, whether it’s novels or movies. I have to admit, though, a good, realistic feeling space travel movie is really a joy. You may remember that I shared a short with you last year about this time called Prospect, about colonists on an alien world, mining some precious mineral. Well, that short got expanded into a longer feature that’s been the darling of several film festivals. And, this week, I’m just sharing an interview with the creators of Prospect, where they talk about the challenges of making a good prop spacesuit helmet. It’s actually quite an interesting interview, especially if you have any interest in making movies, science-fiction or making props. It’s not too long, either, which gives you plenty of opportunity to refresh your memory and re-watch Prospect so you can admire their handiwork.
Enjoy!

In Summary …

Executive summaries for internet articles.

I don’t read as many books as I used to when I was younger, but I think I actually read more text. Granted, I’m part of the generation that really grew the internet as we know it, and my entire career is technology-based, so I may be on the web more than a lot of other people. And, of course, there’s the fact that I blog at all anymore, since I’m told that the average internet use prefers video to text. I’ve been blogging for just under 19 years on various platforms, with a lot of that archive being at Diary of a Network Geek, and as a frustrated writer, text has been my preferred communication medium for a very long time. So, I read a lot. And, the web just keeps expanding, so there’s always more and more and more to read. Combine that with the unfortunate need to seem, and feel, well-informed and pretty quickly, I’m overwhelmed.
Imagine, however, a website that takes some of the best, most current non-fiction writing on the web and summarizes it into four or five salient bullet points. Seems like a dream for a guy like me, doesn’t it? Well, now it’s a reality! And, it’s called bullets.tech. Focusing mainly on technology and science, this site takes the “best articles” and shortens them to 5 bullet points or less for easy reading and digestion. I love it! And, they even link to the original article if you want to read more about the summarized subject.

So, there you go; your Uncle Jim bringing you technology to make your life better!
Enjoy!

1 2 3 4 50