Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Parenting: Month 7 - Whole body smiles

Well, maybe a baby can sit still for a second
Grandma and Grandpa left at the beginning of the month, so now there are the three of us, just like a normal family life. Mom is done with school for the academic year, so she is playing the role of stay-at-home mom. (Dad is at a research university, where noone follows calendars anyway.) The effect of having mom home all the time. A very happy baby. Everytime dad takes T out he gets comments on what a happy and content baby T is. Every day we have several instances of the full body smile. In fact, T is even happy when he is sick (which leads pediatricians and nurses to not take this very seriously.)

I want to see what daddy is doingBesides being generally happy, T's dominant characteristic is alertness. He looks around at everything. Hears everything (and wakes up if not already). Tastes his food before deciding if he likes it or not. And it means he does not sleep.

The not sleeping part is exhausting, especially for mom. So we have a generally very happy baby, which is a lot of fun, but no sleep so we're tired.

Baring serious issues (other then lack of sleep and the endless string of mysterious ailments to figure out), the next task is to come up with a sustainable rhythm to this
thing called parenting. Because the next major thing on the way is mobility. That will be fun.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: Capture - Digital Photography Essentials by Glenn Rand et. al.

Capture: Digital Photography EssentialsCapture: Digital Photography Essentials by Glenn Rand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


When I started to get serious about photography, I turned to London and Upton’s ‘Photography’ as a place to go to understand the fundamentals of photography on the theory that you can get better at something if you understand how it works. Capture by Glenn Rand fills that same role for digital photography as London and Upton did. It peels back the layers of mystery of how things work.

What is the point of this? I learned photography with a manual camera and film. And I still shoot with fixed lenses and priority exposure, eschewing program modes and retaining creative control. Can we add to this and proper composition and general reading of the scene?

And the answer is yes. Digital was more then just replacing an silver based physical light sensor with a digital sensor. There were effects to having a smaller range compared to the old films. But because of the ability to process the image, this is countered by the ability to work with the image after the fact. Reading this taught me how to use HDR, what can be done with RAW or DNG files, compensating for the narrow dynamic range of digital, and the general physical of digital imaging.

Unlike London and Upton (but perhaps like some of Ansel Adams works in the same vein), Capture does not go into composition at all. The purpose of Capture is for the skilled craftsman who wants to learn the intricacies of his craft, and has learned the creative side elsewhere. And for that, I value it.

I received a free electronic copy of this book as part of the O’Reilly Bloggers Program. This book can be found on the O’Reilly website here.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book Review: iPad 2 - The Missing Manual by J.D. Biersdorfer

iPad 2: The Missing Manual (Missing Manuals)iPad 2: The Missing Manual by J.D. Biersdorfer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

iPad2: The Missing Manual by J.D. Biersdorfer

Thinking about a "Missing Manual" for the iPad2, the obvious first question is "Why?" The marketing is all about ease of use, and there are YouTube videos out there with toddlers adeptly maneuvering around the interface. And if you think of tablet computers as only a media consumption device or an Internet appliance, there probably is not need for a a manual. But if the iPad is a computer platform in it's own right, and you can actually be productive, there is a place for a Missing Manual. But I don't know if this is that book.

The iPad interface is largely intuitive, so the role of a manual is to provide trouble shooting and some insight into no-obvious functions. A second role would be to demonstrate enough
uses to expand on an owner's understanding of what is possible with the iPad.

The Missing Manual does well when discussing the included iPod type applications such as the Photo viewer or the iPod (music) application. And the chapters covering the many features of iTunes and how it integrates with the iPad are highly informative, especially if you are not familiar with the many features of iPods.

But past the built in applications, it is thin. It provides a tour some other prominent applications, mostly those sold by Apple. For each application it introduces it, installs it on the iPad or home computer as appropriate and guides you through basic use. But it does not go much past that. Some of the applications, such as the parts of the iWork suites or Adobe Photoshop Express, are barely more then an advertising brochure that let's you know that an application exists.

What it is useful for is how to use the iPad out of the box, especially for getting the most out of iTunes media (music, books, video, apps) management. But for using the iPad to be productive, the search is ongoing.

I received a free electronic copy of this book as part of the O'Reilly Press blogger program. This book can be found at the O'Reilly Web Site

View all my reviews
I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Parenting: Month 6 - Getting ready for this to be real

Visiting the Repetitive Vision room Is this his first fever? How exciting!
- Urgent care clinic doctor

With colic mostly out of the way month 6 was a taste of normal life. Two dates not including T for mom and dad. A social lunch outing. Dad continuing taking T out for a few hours every weekend for some father-son time.

And of course, a first real illness. Including a 103 fever. Calls to the on-call nurse. Multiple doctor and urgent care clinics. Oh, the joys of working with the uncertainty called a sick baby as the diagnosis changes day by day. And the reality, while the baby is sick and not feeling particularly happy, by far and away the parents are considerably more messed up then the baby by the time everything is over.

Playing with mommy at the hotel

As both parents are working through the flurry of activity called the end of the year and graduation duties at their respective institutions, upcoming is the dreaded day we have known would come. The coming departure of the grandparents, whose presence and help has been greatly valued and will be soon missed.