Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Newsgator Toolbar

I'm a little behind the curve on this one, but Nick put together a pretty sweet toolbar for Firefox and IE. It automatically discovers RSS feeds and subscribes to them in Newsgator.

It also has a nice feature that shows who is linking to whatever page you're currently on. It's an addictive little feature, particularly when you hit a rich vein of posts linking to posts linking to posts. Of course I'm not exactly impartial; there's a bit of my code behind the scenes powering that particular feature.

So go check it out!

Newsgator - It's Where You Want To Work

Newsgator has had a number of positions open for a while now. Despite repeated exhortations by management I have so far not posted any of them because I thought I knew everyone that read this little blog of mine and most of them already work for NG. But today I discovered that I've got at least one heretofore unknown lurker (you know who you are!) So on the theory that I might have more, here are those job reqs. If you or anyone you know might be interested in any of these slots, please drop me a line!

DBA for Production Operations
Contract Delphi Developer
ASP.NET Software Engineer
Software Presales Engineer
System Engineer for Production Ops
Web UI Designer

Come on, you know you want to work here. We've got foosball, free soda, free parking and even pretty solid insurance. Plus it doesn't suck like working a crappy IT job for some giant DilbertCo.

Monday, August 28, 2006

PPD 28

Another fierce urban predator, the pug. As you can see these pugs are hunting in a pack, although their efficacy is somewhat reduced by the prominent warning sign and the three foot tall fence.

PPD 27

Today on Urban Wildlife Week we have the common housecat, Felis silvestris catus. This wily specimen is hiding in the shadows, lying in wait for an unwary homeowner to step out of the bathroom. At that point anything could happen, although it will most likely involve some leg rubbing.

Taken: Monday, August 28th
Edits: Cropped, Color Balance Adjust (reddened), Texture Preserving Smooth

PPD 26

I've just now decided that this week is going to be Urban Wildlife Week here on PPD. Partially because I think I'll definitely give Discovery Channel a run for their ratings, but mostly because that's what I happened to get pictures of today.

So continuing from yesterday's picture of a wittle bunny wabbit, today we have a picture of a squirrel in a window.

Taken: Monday, August 28th
Edits: Cropped, Color Balance Adjustment (reddened), Saturation Enhanced

Sunday, August 27, 2006

PPD 25

Once again not a particularly artistic photo, but still a great example of urban camouflage. Of course the poor bunny was completely freaked out :)

Edits: None
Taken: Friday, August 25th

Picture In Picture

I'm not normally one to post pictures of pictures, but just today I picked up a new commercial photo that I'm particularly happy with. It's a photograph titled "Blue Ocean Bungalow" that was taken in Puerto Vallarta. I knew it would look good in my house, but it ended up being even better than I thought. The red of the wall on the left side matches my paint well, and the lighting in the picture coincides with the lighting on my mantle. Almost like it was meant to go there. I also managed to get the third print in the series. I wanted #1, but the photographer kept it. I take that as a good sign for my taste. Print #2 has been hanging in Cherry Creek Mall getting smudged by little kids for a while so I didn't want it. Hence #3 it is.

Speaking of the photographer, this one is by Mike David, a Denver local. I've seen his work around at a number of shows in the area, most recently the People's Fair. I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes this style of photography. His website has quite a few more photos. I especially recommend some of the photos from Greece, unfortunately I can't link to them because it's a Flash-based site.

Since I'm already writing about my little art collections, I thought I'd post a picture of the other half. This one is actually a painting made to look like a piece of stained glass. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the artist or I'd refer you to him. Especially nice because it was surprisingly inexpensive, and not just because Wendy paid for it as a birthday present.

Update (08/01/2006): I must've been really been out of it when I originally wrote this. Edited the language so I don't come off like such an illiterate.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Out of the woodwork

This was just a crazy day for running into people.

On the way to work I ran into Wendy's mom on the street.

After I left her I walked around the corner and ran into Chrissy, a friend from happy hour.

At lunch I ended up seated at a table next to a group of coworkers.

At Starbucks after lunch I ran into Shannon, a former coworker and current neighbor.

On the way home I ran into Tanko, a former coworker I haven't seen in two years.

None of these by themselves is terribly surprising - after all, we all work downtown. Still, I haven't seen most of these people in months, so it isn't all that common. I guess it's just my day for random encounters...

Monday, August 21, 2006

PPD 24

This is just a funny door in my neighborhood. You just don't see this kind of character out in the suburbs.

Edits: Increased saturation
Taken: Thursday, August 17th

PPD 23

This is another one by Wendy. On top of just being cool lookin' I think it's neat that it looks like the window is iced over when in fact it isn't.

Edits: None
Taken: Monday, August 15th

PPD 22

What can I say? I just like this one. Oddly enough it's the back parking lot of the Mercury Cafe.

Edits: None
Taken: Monday, August 21st

More photos posted

In addition to the PPD postings, I uploaded some new stuff this weekend. First off are some pictures of the twister near DIA on Sunday.

I've also got some pictures Wendy took of our street during that rain/hail storm last week. Yeah, it was a little bit damp out.

I also pulled a bunch of stuff off my old photo site and posted them to the new one. Most of these have been around for a while, so a few of you will have seen them before (ie, Nicki & Wendy. Hi!). But anyone else might have some interest.

As always the really decent stuff is tagged as such. There's also some new random pictures in Stuff. And if you're really trying to avoid work you can even check out some of my
old vacation pictures. But damn, you'd have to be really bored to do that :)

PPD 21

I like this one because it's so achromatic that it really highlights the texture of the brick and the dark lines & shadows. Plus it's on a side of a downtown building that most people don't see.

Most pictures look better if you see a larger version, but I think that's even more true of this one.

Edits: Cropped
Taken: Monday, August 21st

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I Don't Have Jack

Ah yes, time for another tale of the weird people that live downtown.

I went out for a little jog this afternoon. It would've been a big one except that it was about to rain and I'm too lazy. But anyway, as I was running along a guy stopped me to ask for something. I assumed it was money, because that's happened before (who carries money when jogging?) But not this time. This guy wanted a jack. As in a car jack, to fix the tire on his car.

Now, I was dressed about as you might expect for jogging -- tshirt, workout shorts, shoes. No backpack. No car. No Batman utility belt with a collapsible hydraulic Batmobile jack. I didn't even have pockets, much less any big enough to conceal a car jack. I cannot begin to fathom what this guy was thinking, but there it is.

PPD 20

On my way home from the Chili Peppers concert I discovered the "night" mode on my camera. Basically it just takes a really long exposure shot. Of course, taking long exposures without a tripod drunk at 1 AM crouched in the middle of the street isn't exactly a recipe for a sharp picture, but I think it looks appropriate anyway. :)

Edits: Cropped, Unsharp Mask
Taken: Friday, August 18th

Thursday, August 17, 2006

PPD 19

This is my attempt at abstract art via closeup. I'm not sure if I like it or not, but it's been bugging me for a while so here it is.

Edits: None
Taken: Thursday, August 3rd

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dirty bombs not actually that bad

In finishing up a previous post I was going to link to the Wikipedia article about dirty bombs. I ended up not doing it because apparently they're just not that dangerous. According to a number of sources the average radiation dose would be on the order of one-to-two years natural radiation exposure, which is to say not a problem at all.

So I guess if you hear about a dirty bomb going off, you need to worry more about being trampled by the crowd than dying of radiation poisoning or cancer.

Now you know... and knowing is half the battle :)

MySpace makes me want to gouge out MyEyes

I know for a fact people other people have mentioned this before, but holy crap is MySpace annoying. I'm not much of a designer, but it's got to be the ugliest site I've seen in years. I usually use the old-school blinking text from the web ca. 1997 as my "Gold Standard" of annoying design, but I seriously think MySpace has surpassed that. But really, they do go above and beyond. They also allow users to add theme music to their profiles. Basically this means that anytime you make the mistake of viewing someone's profile you're going to be assaulted by some really awful music.

It's quite amazing in it's own special way. I never thought anything could make me envy Helen Keller, but I think MySpace just might be it!

PPD 18

I don't really have a lot to say about this ones. It's kids playing in one of those "dancing water" kind of fountains.

Edits: Histogram adjust, sharpen more, crop
Taken: Sunday, August 6th

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

PPD 17

This is the river near where I grew up in Wisconsin, but in my opinion it really looks more like something from Lousiana.

Edits: Histogram adjust, cropped
Taken: August 9th, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

PPD 16

I've been on vacation for the last few days, hence the lack of PPD action since last week. I guess next time I'll have to post a notice ahead of time to forestall whining on the parts of certain of my coworkers, who I would name except that it would be in violation of corporate blogging policy :) Anyway...

This is part of a private school complex in East Denver. Lots of cool buildings, but this one is by far the neatest. Not a super-cool picture, but I still like it, partially because of the crow that chose to perch on it at an opportune moment. There was actually a very close runner-up to this photo in which I caught the crow flying away. I promised not to post more than one per day, and I certainly won't repeat an almost-identical shot, but if you click on this link it's not my fault... :)

Edits: None
Taken: Sunday, August 6th

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

PPD 15

You see some goofy stuff if you wander around the city enough. This was outside some sort of art-related building near 40th & Lafayette (maybe, I wasn't exactly keeping track).

Edits: Cropped
Taken: Sunday, August 6th

PPD 14

Yay wine! This is what happens when you start drinking and have a camera lying around - you take 30 pictures of wineglasses. Just be glad I didn't post the other 29 ;)

Edits: None
Taken: Saturday, August 5th

Sunday, August 06, 2006

War Against Weeds

As I wrote about a month ago, I've had some problems with the postage stamp of dirt that I sometimes call a lawn. I spent a bunch of time weeding it all out. I assumed that after removing all competition, the grass would take the opportunity to solidify it's hold on the yard. But no, evidently I have heretofore unheard of species of Surrender Grass. Pretty much any weed seems to be able to push that grass around like it's a scrawny eight year old.

Within a week the weeds were back. Within two weeks they were stronger than before I had weeded them. By week three the grass had rolled over like a whipped puppy, and I figured I should intervene again. So I got a product called "Weed and Feed", which is supposed to feed the lawn while killing the weeds.

Perhaps I have mutant strains of weeds. Maybe the stars are against me. Perhaps a tragic mistake at the factory led to me buying a bag of "Feed the Weeds". Whatever the cause, my lawn has completely given up. The closest thing to grass is the crabgrass, and even that isn't doing all that well. Any day now I expect

Given that the weedkiller has proven ineffective, I've started to daydream about some more drastic measures. For instance, paving over the front lawn. Perhaps buying some surplus Agent Orange and covering the lawn to a depth of six inches. But what I really think I need is something more. More effective, more drastic, more final. I think I need a dirty bomb. If it's good enough for the terrorists, it's good enough for my lawn!

Then again, I'd probably just end up with a giant anthropomorphic vegetable to growing in the front lawn and eating small dogs.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

PPD 13

A fine question indeed...

To be fair, this was actually taken by a coworker, but I still like it.

Edits: Cropped
Taken: Thursday, August 3rd

PPD 12

Raindrops keep falling on my head...

I kinda like this one. It's a little artsy, but still ok, and I just like rain in general. Probably has something to do with growing up in Wisconsin, which is pretty close to being the polar opposite of Denver in the sunshine department. I'm also happy anytime I can get a halfway decent depth-of-field shot out of my little compact camera with no manual focus or aperture settings.

Edits: Cropped
Taken: Thursday, August 3rd

PPD 11

Today's PPD is dedicated to the incredible ingenuity of Newsgator's newly appointed, in-house mini golf course creator, who shall remain nameless in accordance with the blogging policy which he himself wrote.

Using little more than office supplies, a lot of beverage containers and few rocks (where'd he get those anyway?) he built an entertainment extravaganza for us all. Thanks nameless blogging policy author!

Personally I think this is one of the better holes from the course (certainly one of the easiest to photograph!)
Edits: None (I'm lazy today)
Taken: Thursday, August 3rd

PS, I would like to take this opportunity to recite the following of my own free will, and certainly not to "tow the company line." Please picture as toneless a voice as possible:

“The views expressed on this website/weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.”

God's Debris (book review)

God's Debris is a different kind of book than anything I remember reading recently. It's a work of fiction, but it reads more like a eclectic combination of theology, science, self-help and philosophy. It certainly doesn't read anything like what you might expect from the creator of Dilbert.

There is no plot to speak of in the book. Instead it is broken into a series of miniscule chapters, each of which captures a fragment of the Socratic dialogue between the only two characters. The chapters are typically very tightly written, comprising only a couple pages tightly focused on a single concept or idea. This keeps the book moving along nicely and even makes it a surprising page turner. Despite the high idea density I made it through the book's 135 pages in just about three hours.

As I mentioned earlier the book covers an extreme range of topics. Although they mostly hang together well on the overarching topic (the nature of God and the universe), some seem a little tacked on, notably the chapter about relationships. It's also true that what the book has in breadth, it lacks in depth. Very little real information is presented, and each topic is handled so briefly that some readers may be left wanting. Personally I found the pacing to be acceptable, although that may be because I've already seen many of the concepts elsewhere. For example, the discussion about the subconscious as a probability machine is straight out of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. Another, "Willpower", is strinkingly similar to a one of Adams' recent blog posts (though I think the book came first).

I should also note (as Adams does in the introduction) that this book deals heavily with the nature of God, free will and religions in general, and therefore could be rather offensive to some people. Nonetheless, I think anyone with even a moderately open mind would enjoy it.

Unique is binary

There are many abuses of the english language in our times. Too many really to list, but tonight I'd just like to talk about one in particular that bothers me to no end, the abuse of the poor word "unique."

If something is unique that means there is exactly one. Not two, not three, not "a few", just one. Uniqueness also does not allow degrees. There is no such thing as "a little bit unique", "somewhat unique", "very unique", nor even "extremely unique". These phrases are like "being a little bit pregnant" or having "large values of 1." It's just nonsensical.

Sadly, this particular transgression against the language is increasingly common. Even professional wordsmiths such as writer and television personalities misuse the term. So I suppose it's unreasonable of me to expect more of anyone else.

But it still pisses me off.

PS, I will grant one exemption, for John at Newsgator. Anyone who's talked to him for more than five minutes knows that he's got his very own language, with very different rules of grammar than what anyone is used to. Therefore the above rant doesn't apply to anyone speaking Johnish. ;)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

PPD 10

I know MADD is an organization that does good things in the world, but I just find this billboard humorous.

For starters, the phone number 877-MADD-HELP. Is it just me or does that sound like a halfassed whiteguy impression of ebonics? I picture Vanilla Ice answerring phones... "Yo dog this phone line be MAD HELPFUL!"

I also like the tagline "MADD Victim Services". Exactly what services do they offer to mad victims? Assassination for hire?

Edits: None
Taken: Wednesday, August 2nd

PS, I'd like to dedicate this "picture I took while walking home from the bar" to Ronnie. Hi Ronnie! :)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Damn Pennies

I've got a slightly unusual habit of picking up pennies. Not a lot of people bother anymore, presumably because they're practically worthless anymore. Perhaps you could say that's a bit miserly, but I prefer to think that I'm non-prejudiced1. I'll take free money regardless of color. Heck, I'll even pick up the ones that aren't heads-up. It's surprising how many you find around. I probably average about 5 a week. In fact, I picked up two pennies earlier today. (I also picked up a quarter, but that was only because Nick dropped it for me to pick it up.)

So perhaps this habit of mine is why on the way home I happened across this particular penny. I figured I was just having a good day, so I went to snag it. But no, this particular penny is actually embedded into the asphalt of the street, mocking me with it's unobtainability. Damn you penny!

[1] Which is not to say that I don't discriminate. Despite the bad rap that poor word has recieved for the last few decades, the ability to discriminate is essential. Don't believe me? Then I've got a lot of pennies I'd be happy to trade you for some twenties.


This is one of my favorite downtown scenes. I like the contrast of all the detail and classical architecture of the church contrasted against the flat modernism of the skyscraper behind it. Plus there's a lot of symbolism in the giant faceless tower with dark clouds behind it looming over the church. Not that I necessarily agree with that symbolism, but whatever :)

This is actually a picture I've taken a number of times, but it's surprisingly difficult to make it work out satisfactorily. I actually had to climb into the basement window well of the building across the street to get the angle.

Edits: Vertical stitch of three shots
Taken: Tuesday, August 1st