Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Don’t Know Why I’m Surprised

So… I have to lock down all of my flickr photos.  There are too many pervs on the internet.

Flickr allows you to track statistics on photos viewed, and I periodically check in to see what people are looking at.  I’ve noticed recently that pictures of the kids in bathing suits have become popular.

At first, I didn’t think much of it; I just figured people were catching up on old photos.  But then I started noticing weird patterns.  One or two photos would get viewed from a set that’s months old… “Hmm. That’s weird… well, maybe it turned up in a search result.”  As I noticed that it was almost always pictures of people in bathing suits, I began to worry. 

The more I considered the possibility that a perv was to blame, the more obvious it became… I googled “flickr perverts” and discovered horror stories from many people.  Their accounts typically describe the realization coming after they got a “favorite” request from a stranger, follow the link to the stranger’s profile, then discover that all of his favorites are young girls.  Terrifying stuff…

I hate that it’s come to this.  I really like being open with my life and with my photos.

So here’s my compromise – I’m going to upload all of the photos as private, then immediately post a guest pass to the gallery on this blog.  This reduces the attack surface – these people are looking on flickr or searching google; they’re not scouring blogs – yet.

We’ll see how this goes.  Additionally, I’m going to be scaling back which metadata I export with the photos.  Luckily, Adobe Lightroom allows you to specify that in your database, you want the tag to display “Tim Bellomo,” but on export, you just want it to show “Tim.”  Cool stuff.

What do you all think?  Is there even anybody there?

UPDATE:  Flickr adjusted their guest pass feature to allow a Guest Pass for the entire photostream.  This makes it so I can still just give friends and family just one link and they’ll always be able to have the latest and greatest.  Is this better/worse/same from a privacy perspective?

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I Kant Do It


The “ends” don’t justify the “means.”  You lose your soul in the “mean” -time

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Friday, September 11, 2009


Has anyone else noticed the sound of ice melting? Does anyone else thing that that's weird? Or is it more weird that I noticed and recorded it...?

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

What You Don't Understand, You Make Mean Anything


About 18 months ago, I bought a Canon Rebel XSi digital SLR camera. 

I love it. 

I love that I can change the lens out to suit a particular situation.  I love that I can use an external flash to bounce artificial light.  I love that the camera fires as soon as I depress the button.

I was just messing around with auto exposure bracketing, and seeing how fast I could take 3 continuous shots (for use with HDR imaging).  Although the camera is rated at 3.5 exposures per second, I was noticing that I was only getting 2, and only for the first second.  Subsequent exposures came at a rate of only 1 per second.  What the heck!?

I shoot in RAW mode, which generates very large files – somewhere on the order of 13-15 MB each.  Maybe the bottleneck was caused by the write-speed from my camera to memory card.  So I tried switching back to JPEGs.  Same problem.  “Hmmm… maybe they’re still too big…”  So I switched to the smallest setting.  Same problem.  Uh oh… prepare for camera repair…

Then I remembered.

When I first got the camera, one of the touted features was on-camera “High ISO Noise Reduction.”  Noise is the digital equivalent to grain.  As you use a higher ISO setting, you can get better exposures with less light – the trade-off is more noise.  This feature helps reduce the noise (read more here).

A720_1600 with detail


Noise reduction off

Noise reduction on

Excited by the prospect of reduced noise, I turned the feature on.  What I didn’t notice is that it drops the cameras burst rate down to 2.  Well… that explains it.  I turned the feature off and, voila, I can now capture 7 consecutive exposures in 2 seconds.

The worst/best part is: I shoot RAW (and process with Adobe Camera Raw), so the on-camera processing is ignored anyway.

The lesson for me is to not get feature happy.  If you don’t understand how it works, don’t enable it.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gin Me Hendricks

God save me for that pun… the worst puns are the ones that aren’t funny.

While this review was fun to do, the purpose was really more about editing video than getting drunk.  A few years ago, I bought a Canon HV20 High Def Camcorder.  One of the highlight features was that it could shoot “24p,” that is “24 progressive frames per second.” 

There are a couple of reasons why someone might want this, but suffice it to say, 24p footage has a different characteristic to it.  It’s less “fluid,” but some say it gives your end result a more “cinema-like” result.  I’m not kidding myself, nothing I’m shooting is going to garner an Academy Award – if anything, my stuff looks along the lines of The Office.  To me, non-24p high def stuff looks “hyper-real” and almost “too smooth.”

So why am I still talking about this?  Well, it turns out the “highlight feature” was a bit misleading.  You don’t really care, but the 24p footage is actually wrapped in a 60i (60 interlaced frames per second) “wrapper” in order to make it more compliant with the HDV standard (I guess…).  This is don’t through a process called “telecine” or sometimes “pulldown.”  You’ve lost interest at this point, but the bottom line is that I finally figured out the Gordian Knot of 24p footage from the HV20.  So this was my first full test.

For reference, here’s some non-24p stuff (though, I think these aren’t the best examples):

P.S. Melanie is JOKING! It’s her imaginary, horrible alter ego.

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Monday, August 03, 2009


Many people are surprised to learn that I was the male lead in a musical at the local all-girls' school eight years ago. I'm not sure which element of that last sentence surprises them the most, but suffice it to say that most are surprised.

The musical was "Cindy," a very loosely interpreted "Cinderella story." The setting was a 1920s Jewish deli in New York... or at least, that was the original setting. Given that the reproduction was being performed by a Catholic school in California, the setting was changed to a '90s Italian pizzeria in Los Angeles. The transition was not entirely seemless, despite the best efforts of the play's producers to amend the song lyrics.

I had a lot of fun being involved in the production. I was one of two guys present daily at a Catholic all-girls' school three days a week for as many months. It was actually far more innocent than stereotypes allow. I'd say the same in regards to the other male present, my 22-year old counterpart, but he did end up dating the female lead after production had ended -- that was the rumor I'd heard anyway.

I'd happened upon the gig after being invited by a freshman (or rather "freshgirl," but that just sounds wrong) to their Winter ball. I was a lousy dance date. I was obstinately critical of what we called dancing, so if I was your escort for the night, you likely sat around and watched everyone else have fun. In my defense, I did warn my host to this end.

I'd attended another variety show on the campus a few weeks prior and mentioned to one nominated princess that if she was elected "queen," I would sing to her at the dance. I really couldn't say how this all came about, but sure enough, she was the queen, and before the night was through, I was on stage in front of a couple hundred singing "To Make You Feel My Love," a capella. This resulted in:
  1. My host becoming incredibly pissed with me. I wouldn't dance for the life of me, but I'd sing a capella to some other girl?!
  2. An innocent young girl perceiving that I'd just expressed my undying love for her.
  3. An audition in the La Reina High School Players' production of their Spring musical "Cindy."
I auditioned with Billy Joel's "For The Longest Time," and was type-cast in the role of "Lucky," a hopeless romantic constantly wooing Cindy Bella with little success. The result of this affair is embedded below.

I learned quite a few things during those few weeks, not the least of which were:
  • James Taylor's "Greatest Hits" album just scratches the surface, and
  • You can't chase one sister if you've already expressed your undying love -- on-stage, in song, and in front of everyone -- to the other sister.
Thanks & apologies to everyone involved! Read More about "C-I-N-D-Y"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Gift-Horse

Photo by Sara McGee - - via flickr... CC FTW!

This is very hard to say without sounding like a jerk.  “If as you read this, you start to take offense, please keep in mind that I’m doing this for your own good” he says, sounding jerkier with each syllable.

Don’t buy me gift cards.  In fact, don’t buy anybody gift cards.  Boycott. 

Hey, I’ve been there.  It’s the last minute (or even a month ahead of time) and you have no idea what to get somebody for whatever occasion it happens to be.  You feel awkward shoving green bills into an envelope and calling it a day.  So you buy a gift card.  It’s likely for a specific store.  Maybe it’s to Best Buy, because you *know* the person LOVES electronics, so obviously, there must be something they want to buy at Best Buy.  It feels more personal – like you did your duty as a caring person in the recipient’s life.

Recent analysis shows that Americans spend about $65 billion of gift cards, annually.  Of that, over 10% never gets spent.  That’s almost $7 billion thrown away.  You’ve experienced this first hand, haven’t you?  I have $3.83 remaining on a $25 Amex gift card sitting on my dresser right now.  That’s 15% of the card’s face value going to waste.  If you factor in the $4.95 set up charge tacked on by Amex at the time of purchase, the total waste exceeds 35%!

The girl working the counter at Tony’s says she’s got at least 3 of similar remaining value laying around her house.  I’m sure that most of you have at least one (please answer the poll).  You’re not getting full value for your money, whether you’re the giver or receiver.

But all of that’s kind of beside the point.  It’s more about freedom.  Now, I’m not suggesting that gift card-ing is un-American, but there’s something I don’t like about being forced to spend at a store that I didn’t choose. Maybe I’m saying up for something big.  I like to shop around.  I like to find the best price. The aforementioned set up fee on American Express gift cards outweighs any freedom they bring to the table, and if I’m locked into a given store, I —once  again— can’t get full value for my money. 

“But, it’s not ‘your’ money, you ungrateful jerkface,” you say.  And you’re right.  It’s not my money, and I’m an ungrateful jerkface.  But still, can we get over the unfair stigma placed on giving cash?  There’s not logic to it.  It’s not like giving a gift card is ANY more thoughtful.  To me, it’s less – because it’s the self-serving illusion of thoughtfulness.

Some suggest that by giving a gift card rather than cash, the likelihood that you’ll actually “treat yourself to something” is higher.  Maybe – and it’s a noble cause that I can get behind –  but that falls apart when the cards are for stores like Target or Costco.  I guarantee you that money is going to toilet paper and gasoline.  Either way, it all balances out.  If you can satisfy your needs with your gift cards, you free up cash for your wants out of your normal budget.  But why not just give cash in the first place and save the recipient the shell game.

It’s not more thoughtful.  You’re not saving face.  You didn’t know what to get me.  That’s OK.  Cash is fine.  Hell, nothing is fine.  But for the love of God, don’t buy me a gift card.

Addendum: Gift certificates don’t carry the same negative feelings for me.  That is, so long as they’re gifts for a specific service or good – like a 1 hour massage or a movie ticket.  In that case, you chose to give someone a specific gift, you simply allowed them to redeem it at their leisure.  But certificates carry their own risks, like of expiration.  In CA at least, gift cards are not allowed to expire.  Though, strange things are afoot…

Also, gift cards are a good idea for distribution stimulus money if you’re the federal government and you want to force people to spend rather than pay down debt.

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