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Thursday, December 12, 2002
8:22 AM      

I started photographing jewelry for the site yesterday. We got a bunch of scratch shots, and started getting used to the lighting and set-up. Not surprisingly, most of the images didn't come out looking "Professional." Having read up a little on how to photograph jewelry, we had the lights and created a small diffusing tent, but the first problem we encountered were limitations in positioning the camera relative to the subject. The tent worked well for small pieces, but wouldn't allow me to move back far enough on the larger pieces. Shooting off-axis like the shot above looked OK for a few pieces, but didn't work at all for most. Oh, and there's the small matter of making the cross look a bit phallic.(Which, oddly enough may work for a portion of the intended audience!)

So, my job this week is to study composition, angles, and lighting in jewelry shots. I'll also take a look for more info on setting up lighting and diffusers to keep from creating hot spots. There's always something new to learn...


Hellen Keller Torture School
I had one of those "Duh!" momements this morning. Since starting to use OS X, I've been frustrated trying to use TextEdit to create text-only files. I'd start a new document, go to save it as text, and couldn't find an option for plain text in the save dialog. After all, that's the way it's always been in so many Mac applications of yesteryear...

Every time I'd create a new document in TextEdit, I'd get messages about how I have to save in RTF... not good. If I opened an existing text-only document, I could save it back as plain text with no problem, so I should be able to create a plain text document, but how?

For some reason, I was in TextEdit this morning, pulled down the Format menu, and in the middle, clear as day, was a menu item labeled "Make Plain Text". It even has a shortcut — shift/command/T. Voilà! Plain text.

If I'd bothered to look anywhere but the save dialog, I'm sure I'd have found the feature long ago. After all, the program is called TextEdit, not RichTextOnlyEdit. The moral of the story? If you want to trip someone up, employ the methods of the Helen Keller School of Torture: move the furniture around.

[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, December 11, 2002
8:04 AM      

I don't know what I'm missing, but it must be something. This morning, I heard a report that The Elected One has issued a threat to use "overwhelming force", including nuclear weapons, against anyone who would use "weapons of mass destruction" against the US or any of "our friends"... [In other words, "Are you listening, Saddam?"] The newscaster followed that up with results from a poll that showed 72% of the respondents expect us to go to war with Iraq, and another that shows the presidential approval rating at 62%.

There must be something wrong with my thinking. I can't see how, but 62% of the country can't be wrong, can they? You can't mislead that many people, can you?

I'm not happy about it, but I expect us to go to war with Iraq, too, but it's only because hawks are in power. I wonder if we'll even be able to use that oil if it gets irradiated. Looks like we learned the wrong lesson from Hiroshima. So far, the only country that's ever used nuclear weapons is the US - twice. I wouldn't be surprised if I see it again in the next couple of years. And then what? Are we going to nuke every country that Boy Wonder deems to be in support of terrorism?

There was another disturbing report this morning about scud missiles moving from North Korea to Yemen. We already know that North Korea has a nuclear weapons program. Are we gearing up to take them on, too? Denise said maybe we should consider moving to a small town far away from New York. I think she was only half-kidding. It stands to reason that New York, DC, and LA are likely to be the favored targets if folks get nuke-happy.

Einstein was said to be troubled after he'd done the math that made the nuclear bomb possible. Unfortunately, somebody else would have figured it out if he hadn't. That was part of the premise of the play "Copenhagen" brilliant people like Heisenberg were at work on the idea, too.

Now, we're waving bombs around as if they're the ultimate gun. Sometimes, when people wave guns around, they shoot themselves.


Something is lingering with me since my recent visit to New Orleans. I was driving my aunt around Canal Street, reminiscing about going to the Saenger Theatre, when she commented about not being able to go to many (any?) of the theatres on Canal Street when she was a kid. Of course not - this was the South, and "Separate but Equal" was the doctrine — I think they were better at maintaining the "separate" part; "equal" was just not a priority — but I digress... The thing that stuck with me, was when she said something about how black folks weren't allowed into those places until 1965.That's since I was born. It's not ancient history, but even in my elementary school, American history was taught as though everything was worked out with the Emancipation Proclaimation.

I read it again. The Proclaimation is an act of economic warfare against the rebelling states of the south. It doesn't set all slaves free, just the ones in the states that are causing trouble, and there are exemptions:

" virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three... designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit: Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth)...I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons..."

Coldoleeza Rice and Colin Powell notwithstanding, there still are race-related divisions and wounds to be healed. We may see more on this in the near future, as the Supreme court recently entertained cases related to the validity of using race as a factor in maintaining diversity in academic settings.


Well, on those happy notes, I'm going back to work on Flash, and preparing to shoot some jewelry today.

[ link | e-me ]

9:58 AM      

Huh? Browsing the magazine racks at Duane Reade last night, I was really surprised when I came across the current issue of Popular Mechanics. The cover, as you can see, reads "The Real Face of Jesus..." the article is about how forensic scientists figured out what Jesus' face must have really looked like. The image shows a rather woolly, round-faced man with a brown/dark olive complexion. He doesn't look black, but he certainly doesn't look like the classical straight-haired European Jesus that is the standard. The article even went so far as to call the Shroud of Turin a forgery.

Interesting that this article appears in Pop Mech, not Scientific American, and not The Christian Science Monitor... Pop Mech's primary readers are mostly interested in automotive, home improvement, outdoors, science and technology; and I guess this is a science and technology story... I'm not sure how long this issue's been on the stands. It'll be interesting to see if there are any responses or rebuttals.

[ link | e-me ]

Monday, December 09, 2002
11:23 PM      

I had to laugh at the news tonight. They featured a clip of Jimmy Carter speaking on the occasion of receiving his Nobel Peace Prize about the weapons inspections and the possibilty of war with Iraq. He said that if Iraq complies with the UN resolution, he saw no reason to engage in warfare with them. He also acknowledged that there's no way to know whether Iraq will actually comply. That seems significantly different from consistent and seemingly continuous White House posture of openly asserting that Iraq is not complying, although they seem reluctant (unwilling?) to produce any hard proof. (You know- gotta protect those sources.)

The laughable part, is that the newscaster introduced the video segment by saying "Former President Carter agrees with the White House Policy on Iraq..." Uh, yeah.


We're probably on the verge of a transit strike. I should have seen it coming, when all the rhetoric about budget-cutting started a little while ago. Strikes are pretty much inevitable when unions' insatialble desire for salary increases collide with City Hall belt-tightening. We barely avoided a strike the last time the Transit Workers' contract was negotiated. I have my doubts about whether we'll pull it out of the fire this time.

The driver on the B52 tonight was chatting openly with a friend about the Sunday strike deadline. He's getting ready. One of the passengers ribbed him about the way he took a turn, apparently scraping the side of the bus on some ice. The driver said something funny over the PA about just trying to get us all from point A to point B safely, and that we should all call City Hall and register our support for the Transit Workers' contract. He was lighthearted about the whole thing, but the game is on, and these folks are playing hardball.

As good a driver as this guy was, I can't help but think of all the times I've gotten on the bus across the street, and had to immediately hang on for fear of being flung around as the bus pulled away from the curb and swung directly into a right turn. I figure the drivers must all wear standard-issue lead toed boots; that way drivers who don't have a natural "lead foot" can compensate.


The holiday season is revving into full gear, and I'm not feeling particularly festive, at least not yet. I think some of it has to do with Granny, and some has to do with money. Since 9/11/01, I've become even more sensitive to sales hype, and it gets so out of hand around this time of year. Oh, and there's the small matter of figuring out the best gifts to get people. Unfortunately, I don't spend enough time with my brothers to truly know what they've been hoping for at this time of the year, and we often fall short on exchanging those oh-so-helpful wish lists...


On the Flash front today, I had a mini breakthrough in working with color objects. I was trying to get some code from DragSlideFade to work in MX. There were a few subtleties that were giving me grief.

The idea is that you have a colored movie clip (a color chip) that you can drag on top of another. Flash then uses the _droptarget attribute to change the color of the second clip to match the color chip.

Here's some code:

colorObj = new Color(this);
thisColor = colorObj.getRGB();

dragswatch.onMouseUp = function() {
theDrop = eval(this._dropTarget);
targetColorObj = new color(theDrop);

There are a few things to know about how to get this code working. The first is that the getRGB and setRGB methods can only read and write the color of a movie clip whose color has been assigned as a tint through the properties panel. When I started setting up my test clips, I didn't notice that, so my color objects kept coming up with undefined values. Thank godness for Trace().

Now to make things more interesting. Tomorrow, I'll try to abstract the color chip code into a class, so that I can have as many on the stage as I like...

[ link | e-me ]
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