Monthly Archives: September 2006

Tom Niemann’s PTLens –

PTLENS!Ok, I can't remember if I've written about this before, but Tom Niemann's PTLens is a Perfect Example of why shareware is a Good thing.

Long story short: Among other things, It corrects Lens distortion based on Camera and Lens Profile. I find it so useful and easy to use that I just paid for it a Second time after downloading the most recent version and Data file. The Data file now includes my Nikon D80.

Believe me, at $15 dollars, PTLens is one hell of a deal. If you use Photoshop or just want a good stand alone program to correct Lens distortion, get it.

Music I'm listening to right Now:

"All at once" by The Fray from the "How to Save a Life".

Image from

On Going Phone DSL problems…

Old PhoneVerizon usually has no issues in phone service but this week, they're really having it Bad. Thursday, something big broke and it's affecting service in this neighborhood.

It's been out since Thursday, but Oddly DSL is working (As of this writing!). They have an ETA of 8:00pm  Saturday, but I'm not betting on it. I'm sure they're working on it as best they can. 

Update: Phone and DSL back as of 11:15am. Anyone from Verizon reading this, Thanks!

Music I'm listening to right Now:

"Wild" by Seal from his "Seal" Album (1991).

Really Cute Dog!

Really Cute Dog!

Originally uploaded by S.D..

Never underestimate the power of cuteness. This little guy has garnered over 1,400 views inside of 48 hours! At the moment, this is the most viewed photo I've posted on Flickr.

This has been a horribly unproductive day: My phone line and thus my DSL was dropping in an out all day. Where I  originally planed to work from home to deal with some issues here, I had to take a day off.  Now the DSL is up (for the moment!) but the phone has no Dial tone. Verizon is working on it as it affect my entire neighborhood.  

Music I'm listening to right Now:

"Life is Wonderful"
by Jason Mraz from his "Mr A-Z" Album.  I like songs with interesting lyrics and
"Life is Wonderful" has really good lyrics that are fun to listen to. 



September 11th, 2006 – Five years later

WTC Fountain

I will never forget where I was on September 11th, 2001 when the 1st plane hit. That Tuesday was such a nice, beautiful day and I drove in planning to go out that night. On the way in across the Midtown tunnel, I was listening to my car’s tape player so I was completely oblivious to what just happened.

By the time I got to my regular coffee stand the owner, Andrew, told me what he heard on his radio. Even after hearing it on the radio, I just couldn’t believe it. I thought “They must be wrong, it couldn’t be a jet!“. Of course, it was and by the time I reached my desk, the 2nd plane struck. Like so many people in NYC, I wondered if my friends and Family were ok.

That day and following week has been documented  over and over again so I’ll just summarize: Afterwards, I was one hell of a mess. I was sad, angry and scared for the future. In my anger, I abused my friends and co-workers, in my sadness and fear I was incredibly moody and not at all good company. I wasn’t depressed, but for a couple of weeks I was pretty close. After a while, one of the things I took from this tragedy is to appreciate my life and try not to take who I have in it for granted.

To that end, I take September 11th off to simply remember the people we lost and to think about what I have and where I want to be in my life. At this point in my life, I’m married to a wonderful lady, I have a great family and friends. It may be corny, but I’m happy and I hope I properly appreciate that.

Above is a photo from (Here is the link to the image). I went to college in Downtown Manhattan and later worked at The World Trade Center. I’ve had lunch, drank coffee, hung out, or crossed by that fountain more times than I can count.. This is how I want to remember the World Trade Center and the people I knew there, not the smoldering ruin or empty pit that it later became.

Courtesy of (c) Lawrence A. Martin

Music I’m listening to right Now:

Nothing. I’m listening to the ceremony at Ground Zero on NBC.

Still getting used to the Nikon D80

D80Still learning the finer details about the Nikon D80 camera. A professional photographer once told me that when she got her new  Nikon D2x after her Nikon D70, it took some getting used to. I didn't know what she meant until getting the Nikon D80.

It's a great camera, but I'm not yet utilizing it to it's fullest or effective potential. To make things more  amusing, I'm falling back on the ISO Auto feature. As per Nikon's Press release:

ISO AUTO mode automatically adjusts sensitivity between ISO 100 -1600 to maximize available light and achieve optimal exposure. Sensitivity can also be set manually between ISO 100 – 1600 in steps of 1/3 EV, plus HI-0.3, HI-0.7 and HI-1. Three levels of High ISO Noise Reduction are available when shooting at high ISO settings. Long Exposure Noise Reduction is also available when shooting at shutter speeds of 8 seconds or slower.

ISO Auto allows me to get the shot, but I'll be surprised with the slight amount of noise that is in the shot due to the high ISO (Not a problem at all, just unexpected). To put it mildly, ISO Auto is spoiling me silly. 

Another thing that slows me down is that Adobe hasn't updated the Adobe Camera RAW importer yet. So I'm using Nikon Capture NX Trial version to open the NEF files. It's good software, but different than I'm used to.

For photo's I've taken with the Nikon D80, see here on Flickr.

Music I'm listening to right Now:

"Future Love Paradise" by Seal from his "Seal" Album (1991).

My Review of the Nikon D80

 Rather than reinvent the wheel and write Another comprehensive review of the Nikon D80, I figured I'd tell you my impression of it. Keep in mind, I'm a hobby photographer, not really a professional. Also, while I think you CAN'T go wrong with any DSLR on the market, I'm biased towards Nikon. I started with my cousin's Nikon F, eventually got a Nikon 5700 with a SB-80DX Flash, currently own a Nikon D70s, a Nikon SB-800 Flash, A Nikon 18-200mm DX VR lens and now a Nikon D80.

I think you get the picture: I like Nikon products, so consider yourself warned.

To start to describe the D80 in a word: Fantastic

Like the other Nikon's I'd had, it has a very comfortable feel to  the grip and the camera is nicely balanced. It's a slightly smaller camera than the D70s but not too small. I didn't think of the D70s as a large camera, but apparently it is bigger than normal.  It also has a few features that I really like:

  • It's Fast. According to Nikon, you could continuously fire off up to 100 jpegs. Excessive? Maybe, but it's nice to know it's there.
  • ISO Auto. This adds ISO setting as a parameter to the program modes (i.e. Shutter or Aperture Priority). Via the Menu, you set the Max ISO you will allow and the Minimum shutter speed. In my case, this is very Useful as I don't like to fire below 1/60th of a second. If I set the ISO to 320, go into a sudden shade area, the camera will raise the ISO if it has to to get the shot at least 1/60th of a second.
  • A programmable function button. This is entirely a creature feature under the focus assist light. Out of the Box, it will display the ISO when hit. Me, I have it set up to turn the Grid on the viewfinder. I don't need the Grid on full time, but occasionally, I like it to help me line up a shot.
  • Easier review of images. On the D70's you hit the pad to scroll thru the images. Up or down to change images, left or right to get info on that image. On the D80, you use the Command Dial in the rear to scroll between images. The Command dial on the front scrolls between information on individual photo's.

These items are just the ones that come off the top of my head. My short Wish list for the D80 has nothing to do with the D80: I can't wait for Adobe to Update their RAW importer. Currently, it does not support the D80, but I bet it's just a matter of time before it does.

For photo's I've taken with the Nikon D80, see here on Flickr.
I'm particularly happy with this one:
Close up of One Madison Avenue Tower

More photos after the break. 

Music I'm listening to right Now:

"Cambia La Piel" by Ricky Martin from his "Sound Loaded" Album. 

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OK go – Here it goes again

The band, OK go , has a music video played on Treadmills. It’s really well done and this got them a spot on the MTV Video Music Awards. The coreography alone makes it really interesting. I wonder how many takes it took? Either way, the video is really good.

Music I’m listening to right Now:
Here It Goes Again” by OK go from the “Oh No ” Album.


History Textbooks

Just Say MaoThe New York Times has an interesting article called "Where’s Mao? Chinese Revise History Books" about Senior year "History" books in Shanghai. What should be in a History textbook is an issue that every Society has to deal with.

IMO, I think it's healthy to question any official History. History textbooks for high school tends to be very filtered and watered down. Often it's not done to follow any Political agenda as much as there is a space limitation for the book and for the class. for example, American History covers over 200 years, how do you Cram that in two to three hundred pages? In China, it seems to have a lot to do with the current Message that the current Gov't wants to deliver. If it's a "Social Studies" class, then it has more to do with a message than actual history.

Back in the day, my high school history teacher, Dr. Kahn, had a discussion about the difference between History and Social Studies. He pointed out that labeling high school Social Studies as a History class might not be accurate.

Personally, when I feel like exploring history, I go to Newspaper microfilm archives in a library (Are they still available??). Even if the newspaper coverage is biased, it's a bias that was current to the time of publishing. Another advantage of reading the old newspapers is looking at the printed advertisements. Go back ten years and it's a completely different world with very different products for sale. The concerns and issues are totally different too. Jump 10 years back each time and you'd be surprised at the changes that have happened just in your life time.

Music I'm listening to right Now:

"Call Me When You're Sober" by Evanescence from the "The Open Door" Album.