warrenharris.net

Archive for August, 2013

New Slideshow Galleries Posted

by on Aug.22, 2013, under gallery updates, News

Well it’s been a long three days, but I’m finally finished upgrading all the web galleries to a new slideshow format.

In the past, our online galleries were Flash-based, which meant they were not compatible with Apple’s IOS-based portable devices.  The reason I haven’t rectified this issue sooner, is that building the new galleries requires a lot of painstaking manual effort.  The Flash galleries are an automated process that takes less than 2 minutes per gallery.

In the process of upgrading the galleries, the home page received a complete makeover which includes a slideshow of images above a grid of large thumbnails for the various disciplines I market.

Stop by and take a look.  Let me know what you think.

Our Texas As I See It site has also received slideshow galleries.  Vivid Pixelz as well.

The next step is to create fully mobile-compliant subdomains for the Smart Phone market.  Stay tuned

This is what the new gallery display looks like:

TreZ Gallery

TreZ Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Links to some tertiary galleries:

Austin 8/23/2013

Dallas

Frisco

Celina 8/23/2013

San Francisco

Route 66

Rustic (8/23/2013)

BarnZ

TreZ

SignZ of Our TimeZ

Music Lessons

Freelight (70’s Jazz with Pam Tillis, Jarrett Washington, Tim Timmermans and John Cipollina – 8/23/2013)

John Cipollina and Friends 8/23/2013

Sly Stone 8/23/2013

Vortex

Alien Vistas

Cadillac

Oil and Gas 8/23/2013

Texas Flags

Texas

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Bitcasa Review

by on Aug.19, 2013, under Instructional, News, Recommendations

I am running a 12 core Mac Pro with 16 gigs of ram, 13TB of internal storage, 4 monitors and the newest updates to OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.4.

Recently I have been searching for cloud-based backup for my massive image library.  Bitcasa has been making news with their incredible offer of infinite storage for only $100 per year.  I had read the reviews and a lot of forum posts regarding problems with the app, but results seemed to have been improving over the last year, so I decided to give it a try.

In late July of 2013 I downloaded and installed the Bitcasa app (version 1207).  The installation went smoothly and it immediately identified the primary data folders on my boot drive and began backing them up.  This is a small portion of the data I need mirrored, as I have several Terabytes of data stored on my system.  I added a few more folders that I wanted mirrored and let it run.  I immediately noticed a massive degradation in performance.  I let the computer run around the clock for 3 days to get the queued material synced.

On August first, when I was finished with the computer for the night, I closed all running apps as I normally do before shut-down and tried to close Bitcasa.  It would not shut down on it’s own and I had to initiate a Force Quit command to unload it from memory.

The next day when I booted the computer, Bitcasa was crashing on load and generating error messages to accompany this activity.  This happened repeatedly.

Bitcasa Crash Dialog

Bitcasa Crash Dialog

I noticed the temperature monitor on my display showed my computer running at 61 degrees C.  Normally it ranges between 39 and 41.  I immediately loaded Activity Monitor and found Bitcasa’s CPU usage was at 1,420 %over One Thousand Percent ?!?!?!?!?!  I immediately executed a Force Quit of Bitcasa, as it would not close on it’s own.

I then contacted Bitcasa support via online chat and began the laborious process of clearing the Bitcasa cache (this can take hours) and downloading the newest build with instructions for removing the current version and replacing it.  Chris was very helpful and my assessment of their support based on this single sampling is excellent.

Since replacing Bitcasa 1207 with build 1.3 1217, it no longer crashes on load.  However, it still does not handle threads or process priorities correctly.  Both Aperture and Photoshop, which I use constantly, become unresponsive on launch or import / File Open when Bitcasa is loaded.

I routinely have to pause the sync process, then Force Quit Bitcasa in order to free up other running applications.  It will NOT close on command either from it’s own menu or via Activity Monitor.

When it is actually syncing, it uses all the bandwidth of my fairly fast UVerse pipe and I have to pause Bitcasa Sync in order to stream video or watch something on YouTube on any computer or TV on the network.

To qualify what I am about to say:

I have spent most of my life in technology.  I was a Recording Engineer for Motown Records and worked in almost every studio on the West Coast.  I designed and built numerous Recording Studios in Northern California, including MC Hammer’s in the early 90s – and Metallica’s favorite rehearsal studio in the early 80s.

I owned and operated several technology companies over nearly 40 years, including AudioCraft Engineering in Marin County, which serviced the Pro Audio gear for studios and musicians up and down the West Coast.  I was on the team that built the very first computerized house in Tiburon, California in 1983.  My tasks were to build the circuits we needed and interface the entire system.

In 2010 I sold a very profitable computer consulting company I started in 1994 upon leaving the employ of Symantec (where I was Beta Administrator for Time Line 6).  This little consulting company made me a lot of money solving other people’s PC, network and software issues until I decided I needed a change of pace. For many years I was a computer Forensic Analyst and Licensed Private Investigator.  I’ve recovered a lot of data in my career and continue to do so today.

In the early days of computers I learned to code first in Basic, then in Turbo Pascal and finally in C before I lost interest in writing and debugging code.  I’ve been coding my own websites since 1995, first in text on a Unix platform and now with Dreamweaver.

 

What I really think about Bitcasa:

In all my years in technology I cannot remember a less well-crafted application  being unleashed on an unsuspecting buying public.  It’s been causing nothing but trouble for their users since the day it was introduced and I knew this going into it, but figured I’d give it a try.

My assessment of Bitcasa so far is that it is one of the worst pieces of code I have seen in my entire career.  Whoever is compiling this app should be fired and they should hire someone from Silicon Valley that has half a clue.

Bitcasa is not even Release Candidate quality.  It is Beta – plain and simple.  Charging money for this app is somewhere between unconscionable and criminal fraud.

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Before and After Example: Point Bolivar Lighthouse

by on Aug.07, 2013, under Instructional, News, Projects

As anyone familiar with my work has observed, all of my images are enhanced – sometimes to the extreme – to achieve the effect I envisioned when I took the original photo.  Many factors influence my decisions.  Sometimes I want to “push” a certain element in the composition, other times I prefer to downplay a certain element or eliminate it / them entirely.  The majority of my work is cropped to focus on certain components and add drama to the final image.  As a result, my work tends to be very wide or tall compared to the alternate dimension.

Today’s example is the Point Bolivar Lighthouse, an historic site on the Bolivar peninsula across from Galveston Island.

 

Point Bolivar Lighthouse Original

Point Bolivar Lighthouse Original

The original image was taken on a blustery day with dramatic storm clouds.  I wanted the “atmosphere” to be prominent, so I processed the image accordingly, making it darker and more ominous than the original.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Point Bolivar Lighthouse Enhanced

Point Bolivar Lighthouse Enhanced

After processing to produce a more intense and ominous effect.

 

 

 

 

 

Point Bolivar Lighthouse Final

Point Bolivar Lighthouse Final

Due to the (frequently annoying) nature of wide-angle lenses, vertical elements undergo some lens distortion, making them tilt toward the center of the image. This can be corrected with certain architectural lenses, which I did not have with me on this trip. As a result, some manual straightening was required.

I meticulously masked out the original lighthouse, pasted it onto a new layer and then rotated it into position. When that looked right, I erased the portions of the tilted lighthouse by hand and then replaced the sky around the straightened element.

Next, the reflection of the lighthouse needed similar straightening, so I carefully selected only the reflection, copied it and pasted it onto a new layer, then rotated it into position.

 

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