Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Craig Ferguson & Prince Charles

One of the funnier programs on TV (for me) is the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Normally I wouldn't see it, but because I have a TiVo I can record the program and watch it later. Craig is Scottish and brings all of the humor of Scotland combined with the zaniness of Hollywood to the show.

It is one of those shows (like Letterman) where you have to watch it a while to get the in jokes. Having made that investment, I have spent many pleasant lunchtimes watching while I eat my lunch.

One of the skits that repeats on the show is one where Craig impersonates Prince Charles. These clips crack me up every time I watch them.

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Prince Charles

Posted Nov 14, 2005

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Hyannis Sound

The Hyannis Sound

We went to a wonderful concert last night and I want to share this with you and hope that you get to see them this Summer on Cape Cod. The group is The Hyannis Sound, an a cappella singing group. They perform regularly 4 nights a week at 4 different locations (Falmouth, Hyannis, Chatham and Brewster) Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, through the middle of August (see their Schedule).

This group attracts men in their early 20s from college a cappella singing groups. The group has been performing on the Cape for about 15 years. Each year a couple of new members are added as vacancies happen in the 10 man group. The guys live in one house and appear to have a great time on the Cape. Tim Bongiovanni, a graduate of Lexington High School and Berklee College of Music is a member of the group this year.

Their show is very entertaining as they interleave singing with humorous stories about their lives. I was blown away by their rendition of James Taylor's "Walk Down That Road". In addition, several members of the group have really excellent solo voices, including Micah Christian who has a wonderful high, but light tenor voice, and Cooper Cerulo, the musical director this year, whose Tenor/Baritone voice was rich and mature.

All in all, a wonderful group, and a great concert for all ages and levels of appreciation for a cappella singing. Go see them!

P.S. I should also mention a brother group, The Vinyard Sound, started by the same person who started The Hyannis Sound. If you are on Martha's Vinyard, check them out. They have a similar performance schedule as Hyannis Sound. The Vinyard Sound web site and click on Schedule on the right side of the menu bar.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Adobe - Lightroom

Adobe - Lightroom

Every once in a while I have come across a piece of software that just does the right thing with a clear interface. Intuit's Quicken is one such example. Adobe Lightroom is a new example of such an application.

If you are just getting started in digital photography, or if you haven't noticed many differences between how you take pictures in the digital world from the film world, you probably don't even know that you need an application to do the things that Lightroom does.

Lightroom helps you follow a process or workflow -- the steps you must take after you take a digital photograph until you arrive at rendering the photograph in whatever medium (print, slideshow, web) you choose to use. You may not be aware that you are doing this, and you may not currently be doing the same set of steps every time. You should. Why? Because that is the only way you can improve your technique of going from the camera to the ultimate presentation of your photos.

Lightroom helps you follow a standard set of steps you should take with every photograph you take:
  1. Off load the pictures from your camera
  2. Catalog them according to a standard naming and filing convention.
  3. Make "mechanical" improvements to a photo such as rotation and cropping
  4. Make "subjective" improvements, such as brightness, contrast, color balancing, and a whole host of other possible picture quality improvements
  5. Allow you to add labels, titles, captions, tags to photos. Allow you to examine and compare photos and form collections of selected photos.
  6. Render a photo or collection of photos in one or more ways including prints, slide shows, and web pages.
  7. And, do this all in a completely non-destructive way to the original photo that came from your camera. This is important because mistakes do happen and you never want to modify your original.
And, finally, did I mention that Lightroom is designed to works with the thousands of photos a digital photographer finds s/he has to manage. It has been built with a lot of input from professional photographers who take and process a lot of photos. You may say, well, I am not a professional, so I don't need this. But before long, you will face the same problems that professionals face and the strategies worked out in Lightroom will support you also.

For me, Lightroom has answered a set of needs I have had for quite some time.

How much does it cost? A pretty hefty $300. But wait: are you in school or do you have a child in school? If so, you can get this for $100 through the academic discount.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hans Rosling and GapMinder.Org

Hans Rosling: Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen


From TED.Org:
Hans Rosling
Even the most worldly and well-traveled among us will have their perspectives shifted by Hans Rosling. A professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, his current work focuses on dispelling common myths about the so-called developing world, which (he points out) is no longer worlds away from the west. In fact, most of the third world is on the same trajectory toward health and prosperity, and many countries are moving twice as fast as the west did.more ...

GapMinder.Org is a web site where Rosling makes many of the displays and tools available for viewing. It's a lot of fun to interact with the displays.

I discovered Rosling through the TED conference (see below) videos.

From the web site:
About this Talk

You've never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called "developing world" using extraordinary animation software developed by his Gapminder Foundation. The Trendalyzer software (recently acquired by Google) turns complex global trends into lively animations, making decades of data pop. Asian countries, as colorful bubbles, float across the grid -- toward better national health and wealth. Animated bell curves representing national income distribution squish and flatten. In Rosling's hands, global trends -- life expectancy, child mortality, poverty rates -- become clear, intuitive and even playful.

TED: Ideas worth spreading

TED: Ideas worth spreading

My friend Joe Walters reminded me about the TED conference, and the wonderful videos of talks given at the conference that are available on the web. From the web site:

"TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers
and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 100 talks from our archive are now available, with more added each week. These videos are released under
a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted."

I will be posting some talks here as I watch them. They are really very impressive and worth the time spent watching them.