Crossing the Line to the Other Side!

Approaching Finish Line
Photo by (© 2002) Steve Patt
How to make spreadsheets in a Linux terminal
by Adrien Brochard, Xmodulo, May 6, 2014.

Want to stop creepy online tracking? Help the EFF test Privacy Badger
by LinuxBSDos, May 2, 2014.

KNIGHT: Recovering the meaning of marriage
by Robert Knight, The Washington Times,
Apr. 4, 2014.

A Hilariously Harsh Guide to Millennials in the Workplace – And a Millennial’s Response to It
by Emily Hulsey, IJReview, Feb 7, 2014.

DHS “Constitution Free” Zones Inside US Ignored By Media
by Anthony Gucciardi, Infowars, Aug, 6, 2013.
me:Try this on me & there will be a lawsuit!

25+ examples of Linux find command – search files from command line
by Silver Moon, Binary Tides, Aug. 12, 2013.

Taking the Retirement Leap
Photo by (©) The Principal Financial Group
Iris (in my pasture)
“Iris”  by (© 2014) me. 
Mockingbird mocking my cat!
“Mockingbird mocking my cat!”  by (© 2014) me. 
I Can See Clearly Now“, by (© 1972) Johnny Nash
posted byRealityShifts. via You Tube

<<<< “School’s Out” (From “Live at Montreux 2005″)
by (© 1972) Alice Cooper; posted byEagle Rock. via You Tube

U.S. at 2014 Sochi Olympics, My View

Winter Olympics Diary: Everything's broken in Sochi, is my spirit next?
Photo by (©) Phil Noble, Reuters
story by (©) New York Daily News
Maroney, Figure Skater Ashley Wagner Is Not Impressed By the Olympics Either
“Not impressed” (Ashley Wagner)
Photo by (©) Darren Cummings,
Getty Images
Now that the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are now officially closed, boxed up, and put back into cold storage for the next four years, I can now officially award additional medals to certain well-deserving athletes!  I ended up watching very little of NBC‘s TV coverage this time due to my life’s current level of busification and my lack of inspiration for the Winter games in general (I have a slight preference for the Summer games).  My general opinion of this particular games was best summed up by a male DJ at KISS FM Radio a few Olympics ago (I’m thinking the Lilyhammer games, but not sure, or whether it was was Kid Kraddick or not), when he sang “I hate the Winter Olympics, little bitty countries kicking America’s butt” to the Olympic theme song on the radio and we broke up laughing.  I was not particularly impressed with the overall American performance either, particularly the “lack-of-speed-skating team” and either gender’s hockey teams.  The U.S. did take the Bronze medal in “overall medaling”, but only due to all the new “X-game” events just added this year.  One thing is certain though, THIS Olympics will forever have an ASTERISK next to it!  (see image above – at the Opening Ceremonies)  That made me ROFL!  I especially appreciated the Russian’s successful effort at self-depreciating humor at the Closing ceremonies (see story by (©) WGHP Fox 8) where actors repeated the unopened “asterisk” ring in formation and then opened it up properly!  One other really cool thing to those of us old enough to remember the Cold War and Jimmy Carter’s stupid Olympic boycott, was seeing and hearing the Star-spangled Banner played in Russia! :D

US women lose hockey gold in heartbreaking fashion
Photo by (©) Mark Humphrey, AP
story by (©) Greg Beacham, Yahoo News
I actually tuned into the third quarter of the Women’s hockey game and was delighted to see them up 2-0 on the Canucks only to get me all excited and my hopes up only to watch them completely crash and burn in the final three minutes to snatch defeat from the jaws of Victory¡  I could not bare to watch the overtime and found out later that they were beaten in a five-on-three power-play.  Hey refs, WHO calls that many penalties in a SUDDEN DEATH overtime in the GOLD medal game unless it’s blatant?!  Let ‘em play, for sport’s sake!  At least the women fought hard to the end.  I did not see the men’s games, so I can’t comment on those except that I found out later that the men just completely rolled over for Finland.  C’mon guys, the Bronze is still worth playing for!  Instead you co-own the “Wooden Medal” with your female counterparts for this Olympics!  At least, you did channel 1980 and beat the Ruskies!

Olympic Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom Results 2014: Men's Medal Winners and Recap
Photo by (©) Charlie Riedel, AP
story by (©) Bleacher Report
Jordan Malone of the United States celebrates their second place finish with the flag of Texas
Photo by (©) Darron Cummings, AP
story by (©) Paul Newberry, AP
courtesy (©) Stamford Advocate
I was most impressed with Ted Ligety’s giant slalom win and Mikaela Shiffrin’s gold medal slalom performance, particularly after she came oh so close to wiping out on the second run but recovered nicely for a gold medal!  In the meantime, (my) hometown’s favorite son Jordan Malone anchored for the men’s 5000m short track speed-skating relay team which took the Silver medal!  Jordan showed off his Texas pride by skating a second victory lap with the Texas flag held high!  Way to go Jordan, the eyes of Texas are upon you!

Anyway, time for the final 2014 Winter Olympic medal awards!:

Mikaela Shiffrin
Photo (©) Russell Isabella,
USA Today Sports
Johnny Quinn
Photo (©) JohnnyQuinnUSA
Johnny Quinn forced to use his 'push training' to break down door of Sochi hotel
Photo (©) JohnnyQuinnUSA
via
Twitter
story by (©) Mail Online
This game’s “Iron Medal” (awarded for sheer toughness, grit, determination, stick-toittiveness, overcoming difficult odds, and overall good bull) is a tie between Johnny Quinn of the United States bobsledding, and Mikaela Shiffrin (United States Alpine Team).  Johnny, for overcoming his spartan Communist era-like hotel accommodations and making it to his event after having to break down his locked-from-the-outside hotel room door and then getting stuck in an mal-functioning elevator!  Mikaela, for overcoming certain elimination by coming as close to wiping out as possible and still managing to both fully recover instantly and still finish in gold medal-winning time on the very difficult and treacherous women’s slalom course with sheer grit and determination!

This game’s “Wooden Medal” (awarded for (usually) 4th place and below (expectations) finishes due to utter underwhelming performance, lack of preparation / work-ethic, rotten luck, choking, excessive whining, embarrassment, and / or otherwise snatching defeat from the jaws of near-certain victory, etc.) goes equally to both gender versions of the U.S. Hockey Team; with the whole Men’s Long-track Speed-skating Team finishing a very close second.

Congratulations, Team USA for these and all the other medals won and to everyone for their efforts, medal winning or otherwise who gave their best to represent themselves and the United States in this year’s Olympics!

Pentax DA 70mm f/2.4 Ultra Compact Limited (“Pancake”) Lens – Review

Candid shot in downtown Bowie, Texas
Candid shot in downtown Bowie, Texas (1/1250″ f2.4 iso100), by (© 2014) me.
My Christmas gift to myself this year was an SMC Pentax DA70mm f2.4 “pancake” prime.  This is the third and final “pancake” of the three-piece set that I’ve purchased over the last two years.  I have never regretted purchasing the other two since they are simply two amazingly well-crafted works of sheer glass and metal art!  The images I get with them are simply amazing and completely blow away what I can get with my kit zooms.  They are also compact enough to carry in my pockets.  I often now travel “bag-less” on many shoots with only these two lenses – one on the camera and one in my pocket along with a polarizer and a spare battery (If I do bring the bag, it stays in the car).  I had been somewhat hesitant to add this one after swallowing hard and coughing up the dough for each of the other two – used, since the focal length seemed to me to be the least useful of the three (the other two are 21 and 40mm).  I had begun to feel the urge for having the longer focal length one and had started watching prices for used ones on Amazon, since Pentax had recently announced that they were replacing all the “pancake” lenses with identical new “HD” ones with some new-fangled coating.  This meant that the current “SMC” ones were being discontinued and could probably be had for a discount.  The final straw that led me to finally go for it was when, on a simple lark, I decided to check the Black Friday sales on B&H Photo‘s website and, gasp, saw a NEW one for LESS than $400 and LESS than any of the used ones I’d been following on Amazon.  Without hesitating I snapped one up Friday morning!  Sure enough, I just checked again a few hours later and they were GONE – Sold Out!  Anyway, mine arrived a few days later, opened it up and checked that everything was in order and, according to family tradition, it had to go under the Christmas tree until December 25!  (Click on an image to view larger)
Jupiter Coffee House, Denton, Texas
Jupiter Coffee House, Denton (-1.7ev 1/1250″ f7.1 iso100), by (© 2014) me.
Since Christmas, I’ve had time now to get it out and put it to work!  One thing I will have to say about this lens is that it’s the tack-sharpest lens in my bag now, even slightly beating out my 40mm – wow!  That is saying a lot since both my 21 and 40 are very sharp and produce outstanding images.  There’s also almost no purple-fringing.  The only way to see any at all is to shoot a high-contrast scene and then fully crop it down and display it on my 21 inch computer monitor!

I originally suspected that I might not be using this lens nearly as much as my 21 and 40 and now, having been out on some shoots with all three of them, actual experience is bearing this out.  The 70mm is somewhat long for most walk-around shooting like I do, but it does come in handy in certain situations!  One in particular is candid street shots and indoor portraits.  I found it worked great for chest-up portraits of people nearby but far enough away to not always notice you are taking their picture!  The f2.4 aperture permits very sharp flash-less candids at parties and in clubs, even with high ISOs in low lighting.  The lens comes with a cool little retractable metal lens hood and metal front cap, both inner-lined with black felt for a really pro look and feel!  The hood screws on either in place of or in front of a 49mm filter. The cap pushes on over the hood and the felt makes it fit snugly enough to stay on, but not onto the lens unhooded.  The hood also contains no threads for mounting filters on the front.  If you want to cap the lens unhooded, you will need to acquire a standard 49mm snap-on or screw-on cap.  With the hood on, you most likely won’t need the cap, since it seems to protect the lens pretty well and since it’s a special cap, you’ll probably want to keep it home in a safe place anyway.  The lens has a nice old-schoolish focal length and DOF scale etched and painted onto it.  Like the other Pentax Limiteds, it’s all metal and glass, no plastic and, though light-weight, still feels and functions very solid and well-made.  Also, like the others it comes with a cool little black fake-leather pouch with close-able draw-string.

Cooke Co. Courthouse, Gainesville, Texas
Cooke Co. Courthouse, Gainesville, Texas – fully cropped (1/320″ f7.1 iso100), by (© 2014) me.
Now for the drawbacks.  First of all, I’ve grown to somewhat despise the little metal hood this lens comes with (though I love the tiny and unique metal hoods that came with the 21 and 40).  It looks cool and does a good job, but adds 17mm of physical length to the lens (when compressed) and a full 26mm (extended) to a “pancake” lens that (hoodless) is 41.5mm long.  This makes it difficult to pocket this lens in jeans, though not so much when I’m in my cargo shorts or wearing a coat.  The little pull-out extender seems really cool in theory, but in practice I always find myself forgetting to extend it.  I refuse to carry the lens around without the hood since the large front element is otherwise very exposed and would easily scratch up in a pocket.  I thought about a simple UV filter to protect it, but that, combined with no hood, I feel would likely degrade image quality.  Anyway, I believe I’ve found the answer for my hood / size issues – I’m purchasing a second copy of the beautiful little metal hood that came with my 40mm.  I tried it out on the 70 and there was no vignetting and it does appear to protect the glass very well and only adds 7mm to the lens size, and is nice and well rounded for smoothly fitting into a pocket! I ordered a plain knockoff one online for $13 less change on Amazon and am now awaiting it’s arrival.  With this hood, it will be essentially the same length and as well-protected as my 21mm.
Denton Co. Courthouse
Denton Co. Courthouse (-3.3ev 1/25″ f2.8 iso500), by (© 2014) me.
Candid shot literally taken from my hip!
Candid shot literally taken from my hip! (1/50″ f2.8 iso25600), by (© 2014) me.

I have no regrets purchasing this lens, especially at the $399 fire-sale price I paid for it new and, though it probably won’t live on my camera, it will likely join the other one in my pocket on most, if not all shoots going forward! When I want a really tack-sharp image, especially in less than generous light, and can step back a bit, this lens will definitely be on my camera in situations where I would’ve used my 40 and cropped in the past.  The extra half-stop (f2.4 vs the 40’s f2.8) is a plus as well, often providing a better tight DOF alternative to my 50mm f1.4 due to it’s much-superior image quality, with a slightly further reach too.  It nicely fills the gap between my 40mm and my other long prime, a 90mm macro (which usually remains in my bag in the car due to it’s size).  You can also view my Pentax DA 40mm Review.

Sunset in Downtown
Sunset in Downtown (-1.3ev 1/2000″ f7.1 iso100), by (© 2014) me.
downtown Bowie, Texas
(-0.3ev 1/25″f2.8 iso500), by (© 2014) me.

Graham, Jacksboro Texas, etc. Photo-shoot

I35 in Sanger, by Stacey Spiker
I35 in Sanger, by (© 2013) Stacey Spiker.
We here in North Texas are completely iced in this weekend.  This picture pretty much sums up the condition of all of our antiquated major roads around here.  The streets are mostly deserted.  Fortunately for me, I work at home and our power has not yet gone out!  The temperature has not been out of the twenties since Thursday morning.  Today, the sun came back out and I got a rare opportunity to photograph some Autumn leaves together with the frozen Winter sleet in our yard.

Fortunately (#2) I knew this was coming and so I took the day off Wednesday (sunny and 70s) and went driving around and taking photographs in several North Texas small towns, then met up with friends in Denton to have dinner and hang out!  I drove out to Graham and while there, had lunch at this cozy cafe on the square called “The Big Chill”.  Then I got some shots of the Veterans’ Memorial, the Young Co. courthouse, and other buildings on the square.  Next, it was on to Jacksboro via Bryson.  I stopped at an old-fashioned drug store with a real, working soda fountain and had a delicious chocolate milkshake!  There I also got photos of the Jack Co. courthouse and other assorted stuff.  (I sort of have it now as a goal to eventually get photos of all 250 or so county courthouses in Texas.  Many are very beautiful and over a hundred years old.  You can view all these photos and more here, courtesy Camera Enthusiast or here on my Flickr stream.

I’ve also started working on my third annual photo calendar for next year.  Not sure about the price/cost yet, but if you’re interested on one, just message me and let me know and later I can give you a price and if you want, have one made for you!

Autumn meets Winter, at my place
Autumn meets Winter, at my place;  by (© 2013) me.
Front lobby, Young Co. Courthouse, Graham, Texas
Front lobby, Young Co. Courthouse, Graham, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
The Big Chill Cafe, Graham, Texas
“The Big Chill Cafe”, Graham, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
Young Co. Courthouse, Graham, Texas
Young Co. Courthouse, Graham, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
Veterans' Memorial, Graham, Texas
Veterans’ Memorial, Graham, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
Downtown Jacksboro, Texas
Downtown Jacksboro, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
Jack Co. Courthouse Square, Jacksboro, Texas
Jack Co. Courthouse Square;  by (© 2013) me.
Mmmmmmm, chillin' w/a milkshake in a Jacksboro drugstore
Mmmmmmm, chillin’ w/a milkshake in Jacksboro!
Artist in Graham, Texas
“Artist in Graham, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
Classic '50s era Chevy Biscayne, Godley, Texas
Classic ’50s era Chevy Biscayne, Godley, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
Lone Star Cafe, Denton, Texas
Lone Star Cafe, Denton, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
Movie theater on the square in Graham, Texas
Movie theater on the square in Graham, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
Jack Co. Courthouse, Jacksboro, Texas
Jack Co. Courthouse, Jacksboro, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
Last Supper mural, Lone Star Cafe, Denton, Texas
“Last Supper” mural, Lone Star Cafe, Denton, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.
Denton Co. Courthouse
Denton Co. Courthouse, Denton, Texas;  by (© 2013) me.

Still more Audacious Hackery, and Photography

Dual instances of Audacious
Muting commercials while listening to music!…
BOOYAH!  I now have my Rush Fix BACK!  I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh on our wonderful local AM/FM radio station WBAP, which I lovingly refer to as “Bubba-BAP”.  All was well until they decided to move their FM broadcast to some new-fangled “HD-radio” channel that will require me to buy a new radio in order to get – SCREW THAT!  I could go BACKWARDS in technology and get it on AM, but AM has gotten much too staticy around here of late with people using arc-welders, etc. – Screw that too!  I USED to be able to stream it with Audacious while concurrently running a second instance of Audacious streaming my music and pause-toggle between the two during commercials (using my awesomely-cool HACK) that will mute only the radio instance while continuing to stream (to the bit bucket) allowing resumption post-break, (about five minutes later).  This was well and good until WBAP javascripted, encrypted, and cookied up their site to no longer stream except via their site on your browser through their super locked-down proprietary special snowflake media player (which grabs and monopolizes the sound-card preventing you from muting it only there, so you can’t listen to something else.  Pausing it will only let you pick up where you left off – at the beginning of the commercial break) – SCREW THAT!  I decided that’s it, I’m going to find another way to do this!  I won’t bore you with the gory details of the trial and error I went through to get this to work again, but will simply tell you what does work.  I ended up going to IHeartRadio.com and found WBAP at: http://www.iheart.com/live/5350/.  I unsuccessfully tried searching the page source for a streaming link, so I installed a Firefox addon called “Media Stealer”, which I used to tell me the available media URLs (after I clicked the “Listen Live” button) and ultimately ended up with “http://8273.live.streamtheworld.com/WBAPAMAAC?terminalid=152″! This I plugged into my old WBAP script and it works like a dream!  See my bash script below:

#(RE)SET UP A FIFO (NOTE) - I RUN THIS UNDER A SEPARATE, LOW-PRIVILEGED USER ("browser"):

sudo rm -f /tmp/fifo.wav
sudo su -c "mkfifo /tmp/fifo.wav" browser

#NOTE BELOW THE "n" OPTION WHICH OPENS A 2ND (NEW) INSTANCE OF AUDACIOUS
#SO YOU CAN HAVE ANOTHER ONE ALREADY RUNNING PLAYING YOUR MUSIC DURING COMMERCIAL BREAKS!
#THE "P" OPTION CAUSES BUTTON TO MUTE ONLY;
#THE "q" OPTION TURNS OFF EQUALIZER (IT'S TALK RADIO):

sudo /usr/bin/nice -n -5 su -c "cat /tmp/fifo.wav | audacious -nPq file://-.wav &" browser
sleep 1
sudo su -c "mplayer -idle -slave -msglevel all=-1 -af volume=13 -nojoystick -nolirc \
http://8273.live.streamtheworld.com/WBAPAMAAC?terminalid=152 -vc null -vo null -ao \
pcm:waveheader:file=/tmp/fifo.wav &" browser

In other news, I had the opportunity to go to a shooting range for a “guys day out” last Saturday with some fellow guy friends from Church and try my hand as shooting some pistols and other guns that I’d never shot before!  It was a new and rewarding experience for me.  The weather was perfect and, of course, I also got to shoot my camera some too (photos were portraits of friends so, not posting publicly)!  I must say that I’m a bit more accurate with my camera than with a pistol, but hey, I’ve had a lot more practice with the former!

This week’s been typical Texas weather.  I captured these two sunsets Thursday evening while out walking in shorts on a nice 75° evening after work, knowing that that was the last chance to do that for the next week.  These clouds were a gathering line of storms ahead of a Canadian cold front that, within the next three hours, brought nearly two inches of rain and took the temperature down into the 30s, from which it has not risen above, nor has the sun peaked out since!  Winter’s officially here now, so I’m sitting here inside with nothing better to do than to actually write a new post!

Gathering Winter Storm
“Gathering Winter Storm” – by (© 2013) me.
Sunset on Autumn
“Sunset on Autumn” – by (© 2013) me.
Moon caught in the Rocks
“Moon caught in the rocks” – by (© 2013) me.
Fibromyalgia solved; A pathology, not in the mind
by Paul Mountjoy, Washington Times, Oct. 17, 2013.

Using TrueCrypt on Linux and Windows
by Doug Vitale (blog) Nov. 18, 2013.

10 basic examples of linux netstat command
by Silver Moon, BinaryTides, Nov 12, 2013.

Pytube – A Python Based, Command Line Tool To Download Youtube Videos
by Himanshu Arora, MyLinuxBook, Sep. 20, 2013.

Top 5 Video Editors for Ubuntu/Linux
by Manuel Jose, Tech Drive-in, Sep. 22, 2013.

Shell In A Box — A Web-Based SSH Terminal to Access Remote Linux Servers;  by Ravi Saive, Tecmint, Oct. 2, 2013.

10 Lesser Known Linux Commands – Part 2
by Avishek Kumar, Tecmint, Oct. 30, 2013.

8 Ways To Mount SMBfs (SAMBA FILE SYSTEM) In Linux
by Surendra Kumar Anne, The Linux Juggernaut, Sep. 8, 2009.

How to compile the Linux kernel on Debian or Ubuntu
by Dan Nanni, Xmodulo, Aug. 23, 2012.

What is a good HEX editor on Linux?
by Dan Nanni, XModulo, Sep. 30, 2013.

Switching Monitor Profiles
by Kyle Rankin, Linux Journal, Oct. 24, 2013.

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