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Photography and New Media: Perspectives

February 20, 2011

As part of my Photography and New Media class, the purpose of these collages is to document a single object or a scene by splicing together images of varying perspectives and distances from more or less the same direction. I call these pieces “My Common Encounters.”

Even though this isn’t my vehicle, this is the one I’ve been using since my vehicle has been in the shop waiting to fixed in order to acquire an inspection sticker. It wouldn’t be a big a part of my life apart from the fact that I usually spend 45 minutes in it 6 times a week.

These light bulbs were part of a project from my Mixed Media class. However, it also represents my lifelong fascination with light bulbs.

This is my desk! As you could imagine, this is where most of my time is spent working on school, my website, things in 3D, watching animation, and just about everything else. The light bulbs are in series on each side, but I still only turn them on when it’s cold.

If you’ve been to my Solar/Wind System page, then it’s easy to figure why these would be a common encounter. I wish I could afford to put more up, but it’s a slow process.

Learn It, Make It

April 11, 2010

With so many resources available at the click of a mouse, you can find out how to do just about anything through the Internet. However, it doesn’t replace classic trial and error, and with so many different resources and tools, it’s up to you to determine what’s credible, pertinent, and useful. Many of you already know this, but I want to encourage those of you who haven’t reaped the benefits. If you put your mind to it, you can make something you never thought possible.

So many things, so little time

While there are probably many things you may want to learn, understandably, you likely don’t have enough time to learn them. Simply ask yourself what it is you really want to do or build. Of course, it’s good to keep things practical and in perspective. A nuclear powered house or a jet plane are probably out of reach in terms of time, budget, and legal issues.

Possibilities are endless in the digital realm

If you have a computer, making digital content of multiple types has never been so easy, and it should only get easier. With the freeware (and inexpensive software) that’s available today, the possibilities are virtually endless. You could:
  • develop a website
  • compose music
  • make a cartoon
  • develop a game
  • make a comic book
  • make a movie
Now, you may wonder how you could actually make something professionally done without elaborate software and hardware. … You can, as long as you discipline yourself and simply practice. It’s all about craft. Keep things simple if you don’t want to be inundated with work. The more time you spend doing something, after learning how to do it, the better it will look. You can also look at examples around you and make comparisons.

When something isn’t clearly spelled out, do a quick search

Don’t let something you read, or a term you encounter, get the best of you. If you come across a word or phrase you don’t quite understand, look it up and find out what it means. Some documentation will even tell you to do a quick search! Using “Find on this Page” makes things much quicker.

One day I determined I wanted to run the freely available “homebrew” programs that people make for the Nintendo DS. There were all kinds of terms and phrases I didn’t understand, but I didn’t let that stop me. Now I can read comics from my Nintendo DS with ComicBookDS.

If you don’t start, you’ll never finish

Sometimes it may seem impossible to do something, even when people around you can do it. But if you set modest goals and take a little bit at a time, you’d be surprised what you can learn to do. If you know nothing about making a website, then making a website is a huge goal. If you make a single web page, you’ll learn how to make a website and then grow from there.

When electronics think they’re smarter than you

April 9, 2010

Today’s electronic devices have a lot of features, automation, and indicators that are supposed to make things easier. Although most of these things may be well-intended, there are times when I find myself wondering if they weren’t actually designed to fail or make you buy more stuff. “Planned obsolescence” is the term for it. Bottom line: it’s hard to find things built to last that aren’t found in a military surplus store.

Beware of Flaky Sensors and Indicators

There are a lot more sensors incorporated into electronic devices than there used to be. Unfortunately, while some sensors serve a good purpose, many give misleading information. In a some ways, it’s reminiscent of the classic boy who cried wolf.

Generally, if you think something is amiss or “fishy,” take a look at it or research the problem. You might be surprised what you find. Rather than give a general description, I’ll give some examples in order to provoke more thought.

My experience with a Brother laser printer

Tape covering the hole disabling the toner sensor I like my Brother laser printer. It works great and is always ready when I need it. But, one day, it decided I needed to clean the corona wire because it was “out of toner.” I knew that was not true and found a great page discussing this problem at fixyourownprinter.com Ever since I’ve fooled the sensor, I’ve printed at least 300 sheets and am still using the original toner cartridge!

Bad experience with Epson ink-jet printers

My family has also had problems with suicidal Epson ink-jet printers. Our first printer was an Epson, and it worked great for about two years. One day, while it was printing, after it finished printing a nice page without any problems earlier, it gave a “fatal error” code that couldn’t be done away with or reset.

Looking up the error code for the printer, we found Epson suggesting the printer be sent in for repair. … Who would do that since printers are so inexpensive? So, we bought another printer and made the mistake of buying another Epson. Can you guess what happened about two years later? … “Fatal error” with no prior indication of a problem. … Foul play (“Planned obsolescence”)?

My experience with the Sony Playstation 2

Behind PS2 laser head. I’m sure most people are familiar with the dreaded “disc read error” in many game consoles. Luckily there are many guides out there to fix various game console problems. This is how I acquired my Playstation 2 free, it had this problem. After correcting the problem (a few times), it has worked well for every game I’ve played on it.

As I addressed this issue, the thing that confounded me was that the variable resistors that controlled the laser voltage were on the laser head unit itself. As you probably know, the head unit moves around quite a bit, and there was no glue on the resistors to keep them from changing their value.

Trying to follow the circuit layout, it seems like the conductors connecting the resistors don’t even connect directly to anything on the laser head unit! It makes me wonder whether the engineers intentionally choose to put those resistors where things could purposely go wrong, or were they just ignorant.

My experience with an APC UPS

Bad relay cut open. (The relay is 1 1/8” or 28mm long.) Look at the wear on those contacts! You can read about my experience with a 400VA APC UPS under the last subhead “Using a Store-bought UPS” in my article about Building a UPS. As it turns out, I recently discovered the point of failure was the cheap relay they used to transfer power. Of course, the unnecessary wear on the relay could have been prevented had the “smart circuits” not wanted to test it every time I turned it on. … If I want to test it, I’ll just unplug it while everything is running.

My family’s experience with …

My dad, Lester Humphreys, is an electrical engineer. So it goes without saying that he is the reason I’ve learned so much about electronics. It’s also no surprise how many things we find questionable in terms of design. Most of the time it’s parts made of plastic that should respectably be made of metal.

Troubled by “automatic” toilet flushers, sinks, and soap/towel dispensers

There’s not a lot to say here that you probably don’t already know. You’ve probably seen or experienced:
  • continuously flushing toilets
  • the sinks that never work when they should or are always running
  • “hands free”dispensers that you practically have to touch
  • dispensers that give you as little as possible
  • dispensers with dead batteries
Who knew making life “easier” and cleaner would cause so much frustration? But I suppose it saves money in the long run for those that own the restroom.

Being pestered by car sensors

I’m sure many people have probably had this experience. It seems the newer the car, the more often it’s car horn alarm goes off when it shouldn’t. In my dad’s situation, it’s an occasional “change oil soon” light that can’t comprehend that he uses a longer lasting synthetic motor oil. Additionally, the “fasten seat belt” light comes on when you put a port folio bag in the passenger seat. The seat belt light also intermittently comes on when someone is actually in the seat with the seat belt fastened.

In my situation with car sensors, the “air bag” light came on after I had accidentally ran into a tree. … Shouldn’t that light have been on before hitting something? After the oil was changed, the “service engine soon” light stays on for no good reason. The “anti-lock break system” light also stays on, but I suppose I can understand that after hitting a tree. … But why do the blinker lights on the instrument panel stay lit when I turn on my headlights?

Choosing a USB Flash Drive

April 7, 2010

Choosing a USB flash drive may seem trivial with only a few things to consider, but there are a few technical details that many people don’t consider or know about. Storage capacity is a given, transfer rates are usually considered, but memory type plays a part in the latter. Also, you may be less likely to forget about your USB flash drive if it has a cap.

Memory type determines speed and longevity

There are two types of non-volatile memory used in today’s USB flash drives and solid state drives (SSD). They are single-level cell (SLC) and multi-level (MLC). Here are some significant differences:

Memory Type SLC MLC
Cost more less
Data Density lower higher
Write Speed faster slower
Endurance 100k write cycles 10k write cycles

I didn’t compare read speeds because they’re fairly comparable. Also, even though MLC has fewer write cycles, as a consumer, there’s not much chance you’ll have any problems. If you plan to have a server with an SSD, I would opt for SLC memory. You can find more details here: Different USB flash drives

Having a cap may help you remember your flash drive

It may be convenient and stylish to have a USB flash drive without a cap that slides in or flips out. However, if you need to use a USB port on the back of a computer or otherwise out of sight, it can be easy to forget. If you have a cap, you can place it in an obvious location near your hand or keyboard. When you see the cap, you remember your flash drive.

There are many ways to remember your flash drive, but I found this seems to work best for me.

The Problems with “Christianity”

April 6, 2010

Most of you probably already know I’m a Christian, but I know there is a growing number of people that may wonder why anyone would want to be a Christian. There is a definite distinction between Biblical Christianity and the generic “Christianity” that dominates society. This causes so many to turn to agnosticism or atheism. Too many take a blind leap of faith into any category, whether it’s a modern day denomination, agnosticism, or atheism.

Doesn’t God and Christianity cause confusion?

There are some today who argue that the world would be better without God, Christianity, or religion. The reasoning behind this thought process generally results from the confusion and hypocrisy they observe in so many denominational churches that exist today. While that reasoning seems good, it’s severely flawed. Examining a derivative or a denomination is not examining the standard, that is, the Bible.

God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:26-33). However, some claim that because He confused the languages at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-4), that He is the author of confusion. By doing so, they fail to understand that the context of 1 Corinthians 14 refers to confusion concerning speaking order, and more general, the order of the assembly. Also, those building the tower of Babel were apparently already confused about God’s initial command to “fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1), by trying to “make a name for [their]selves, lest [they] be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth,” (Genesis 11:4). (See Apologetics Press for more details.)

Mankind is indeed the author of all doctrinal confusion today. It seems the reasons are as numerous as the denominations existing today. Taking things out of context is the biggest problem. Men authored the contradicting creed books and commentaries that exist today, not God.

Some contend that men wrote the Bible, but God wrote through men (2 Timothy 3:16). With the Bible’s scientific foreknowledge, historical accuracy, and available manuscripts, there’s no good reason to doubt it’s divine origin. A great deal more could be said about the Bible’s authenticity, but not within the scope of this article.

People Pick and Choose

Many people want to believe what they like and remain willfully ignorant of what they don’t like regardless of its source or credibility. It’s preferable to look at the shiny side of a dirty coin. The children of Israel rejected knowledge many times from the Old Testament to the New (Hosea 4:6).

While people like to believe in things like faith only, purgatory, and miracles today, among many other things, they have no Biblical basis. People like to ignore the Biblical truth concerning marriage, divorce, remarriage, homosexuality, alcohol, and many other things explicitly discussed in the Bible. One group says one thing while another group says another, everyone teaching what they believe without consulting the Bible. As a result, people conclude, “wouldn’t we be better without God,” without knowing the Bible in its fullness, if at all.

Unfortunately, there are some genuine Christians out there who are unfaithful, causing reproach on the church. (1 Peter 1:13-16, 1 Peter 2:11-12) If you’re someone outside of Christ’s church, you can’t properly judge the church using an erroneous sample or too small of a sample.

What about Bible contradictions?

The Bible has many critics. In most situations, people want to disregard it because they don’t like the idea of being held accountable for their actions in this life or they do not desire to live a proper righteous life. Nevertheless, the Bible has stood the test of time, and you can find answers to most of the alleged contradictions and discrepancies at Apologetics Press - Alleged Discrepancies.

There’s a big difference in simply reading the Bible and understanding the Bible. This is not to say that the Bible is difficult to understand. In many cases, people are usually given “help” to misunderstand it. Unfortunately, there is much of that “help” out in the world today.

I like to take an objective view of everything, including the Bible. There are too many people that make decisions based on something they “feel in their heart.” Although I understand that few would agree with the Bible, I’d have more respect for an agnostic or a “Christian” (with a blind faith not based on the Bible) seeking the truth, than an atheist.

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