I should stop saying “Real Camera” versus “Phone Camera”

It's A Nice Day For A Light Wedding

Language is tricky. A camera is a camera is a camera. Sometimes I need to clarify that I’m referring to a traditional device and not a hardware feature on a phone. One answer is to refer to such things as a “real” camera, and yes, please, include the quotes Mr./Ms. Editor.

I won’t do that any more, even if I’d done it half-jokingly in the past. Last night I was at the LA County Museum of Art and happened across a couple getting professional photos taken in their wedding clothes. I was spending the afternoon in tourist mode so of course I had my full Urban Guerrilla camera on a sling, and two lenses. I wound up using the iPhone 6s Plus for this instead.

This photo is about 90% as the iPhone shot it. I did push some sliders around in Lightroom. A hardware generation or two ago, I’d be doing that to rescue the photo. Here, I was just improving it adjusting it to my taste, as I do with the stuff I shoot with my Olympus E-M1.

I’ve been deep-testing the cameras of the iPhone and the new Nexus phones. Modern phone camera photo quality is excellent across the board in flagship-class devices. Now, “it’s a good camera” means it <em>handles</em> extremely well, and (like my Olympus) acts as an extension of my brain’s visual center.

There were a couple of practical (boring) reasons why I used the iPhone instead of the Olympus. Yes, one of them was that I knew it’d make a cool demo photo for my Sun-Times review. Another: I hoped that if I used the iPhone’s burst mode, I might get lucky and catch a frame illuminated by the photographer’s flash.

But just as important is the fact that I trust the iPhone. If I have a tiny window in which to get the shot, I know that the iPhone will come up with a halfway decent photo. (So long as the subject isn’t moving. The iPhone loooovvveeessss slow shutter speeds.)

At my skill level, getting a good photo with the E-M1 in a lighting situation I’ve rarely had to deal with requires some trial and error. A woman in white in front of 200 densely-packed streetlamps at night certainly qualifies.

Sometimes, I even just want a snapshot. I enjoy the immersive creative nature of photography but the risk is that I go into my Photo Trance and I’m no longer really there. In this case, it was the end of a long and fun day, my brain was in “dinner and bed” mode, and I no longer had enough mental bandwidth for immersive photography. I was in “push a button and get a photo” mode.

This year, time and time again, I found myself treating a phone in my pocket as a “second camera”…part of my arsenal, alongside the Olympus on my shoulder, to be used when it felt to me like the more appropriate camera for the situation.

A camera is much more than a good picture. A camera is how you take that picture. Today, a phone camera is manifestly a “real” camera.

Did Colorado’s Open Carry Law Delay Police Response to a Mass Shooter? | Mother Jones

Did Colorado’s Open Carry Law Delay Police Response to a Mass Shooter? | Mother Jones


I wish I understood the philosophy behind open carry. I just don’t…and I’m not someone who thinks that private citizens shouldn’t be allowed to carry guns (after completing a vetting and licensing process).

The spokespeople for the “open carry” movement seem to be jerks who enjoy walking into a Burger King with a cosplay-fabulous AK-47 slung over their shoulder just to get a rise out of people. This is, as they say, Bad Optics for the movement.

Hotel Innovations

Things that have made hotel stays 10000% better than they were during my first years of business travel:

  • WiFi. Goes without saying. I used to pack a whole little bag of cables to ensure that I could connect my modem to anything I encounter in a hotel room. Once, I connected to Compuserve through an ice machine. (That’s a lie. But yes, a screwdriver and a set of alligator clips was part of my kit and I needed them more than once.)
  • Google Maps. Because it’s trivially easy to look around the neighborhood of the hotel in advance and discover that there’s a pharmacy, a grocery store, and a cleaners within walking distance. This inserts a certain carefree attitude into the packing process.
  • Amazon.com. If there’s something I need and I can’t get it at the CVS or the grocery store near the hotel, I can have it delivered the next day. Even if it’s an inflatable wading pool and 50,000 chopsticks. (Shut up. It’s part of my writing process.)
  • Hulu, Slingbox, and other streaming TV services. I take my day-to-day TV viewing habits with me and don’t have to miss the first ten minutes of something while I figure out where this freakish hotel room cable lineup has hidden PBS.
  • The evolution of the in-room desk from “bigass desk” to “sideboard table that garages a generous worktop on wheels.” I can move that sucker wherever I want it, including over the balcony and into the pool. (Shut up. It’s part of my writing process.)

Peanuts Archive Debut – Comics by comiXology

Peanuts Archive Debut – Comics by comiXology:

Today, more than 30 Charles Schulz’ Peanuts collections published by Fantagraphics are now available on comiXology.

The New York Times bestselling series, The Complete Peanuts, has sold over half a million copies of the print edition in North America. In anticipation for The Peanuts Movie debuting November 6th, comiXology is offering the entire Fantagraphics Peanuts catalog digitally – including Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron, a close tie-in to the major motion picture. 

Very few press releases get me so excited that I just cut and paste something from it. But oh, boy! Every single Peanuts strip ever published, all on your iPad! That’s nearly fifty years of iconic comics!

I’ve been buying every volume of Fantagraphics “Complete Peanuts” as soon as each has been released. The penultimate one (volume 24, 1997-1998) arrives at the house over the weekend. I was happy to get it, but also a little sad. Because, you know…only one more left to go.

I’m posting this from a short stopover on my flight to LA. The sooner I post this, the sooner I can buy a volume of the Sunday strips and see if I can download it all to my iPad before they close the cabin doors.

Life Behind (Menu) Bars

Well! I finally figured out how to use a web browser’s bookmarks toolbar. And it only took me twelve years of daily usage!

It used to be kind of a mess of links and bookmarklets that either I placed there to try out, but almost never used again, or bookmarks that were placed there by accident when I intended to save them into a folder or something.

Screen Shot 2015 10 15 at 4 43 05 AM

Yesterday, I wanted to install the MarsEdit bookmarklet (current tab becomes the raw material for a new “link”-style post on your blog). But of course there just wasn’t any room for it.

Screen Shot 2015 11 02 at 9 24 43 AM

So I removed everything and started over. Now it just has the three buttons I need immediate access to, when I’m using the Web as a tool:

  • Twitter bookmarklet that tweets the URL of the current tab. Mostly for sharing links to articles I’ve written.
  • MarsEdit bookmarklet, when I want to dash off a comment about an article I’ve read. Like this one.
  • Finally, a plain old bookmark for the Sun-Times’ CMS.

Then two and only two folders for actual bookmarks. The name of my pain, as you can tell from that second screenshot, is when I’ve got loads and loads of pages open, because they’re related to a topic I’m researching or fact-checking or I want to remember this article as a potential column topic. So I just keep opening tabs, hour after hour, until everything slows to a tectonic speed. Then I have to spend fifteen minutes closing tabs I don’t need and Evernoting the ones that are still part of an ongoing project.

No, I just never got into the habit of manually organizing bookmarks. By the time it comes to that, I’m preserving brain bandwidth for other functions.

But now, there’s a new mission rule. I “put aside” a useful page by dragging into this lone bookmarks bar folder. Unlike a search through History, each link here has been “blessed” by my as “worth coming back to,” and the fact that the folder is in the menubar keeps it at the forefront of my consciousness. At the end of the month, I move that folder into the Bookmarks menu and create a new one for the new month.

I’m also in the habit of saving interesting photos and artwork that I encounter. Usually comic book and animation art, fine art, NASA photos, and vintage photos like this one:

Tightrope Walker

But those images go to my home NAS, so I can get at them from anywhere (and they don’t choke my MacBook’s little SSD). When I had to clean my web desktop, it took me ages to label and organize them. And remember, usually the trigger event for the cleanup is “I desperately need to get some work done but my Mac is getting all snitty and punishing me for only having about ten gigs of free space”

So now the links go into the folder, and I can download and organize them later, when I have time. Actually, it’s more likely that I’ll just write a script to automate the whole thing.

I’m really pleased with all of this. One of my chosen tech mantras is that when you choose to buy or revamp gear, it’s not worth the time or money unless it creates opportunities or solves problems. This little reorganization does both. Chrome (at least for the past 24 very busy hours) rarely has more than four or five tabs open, and it’s now super easy for me to work with the Web. It’s like emptying your whole office, putting in the new table and shelving units you always wanted, and then the only stuff you move back in are the things you know you need.

Life On MarsEdit

Quick followup on my day with MarsEdit. The big takeaway was that I’m a colossal dope for forgetting it existed. Some apps are terrible. Most are simply “not right for your present needs” or, at worst, “clearly written by a serious and dedicated team, but not quite ready yet.”

I was a little amused when WordPress (which itself has come a long way) did the helpful thing I’d told it to do, and automatically found and linked other blogposts I’d written that talked about MarsEdit or blogging apps. In 2007…nnnno, clearly MarsEdit wasn’t right for me, for whatever reason.

I’m digging the hell out of it in 2015, though. It’s super-quick to just flash out a post. Is it because of the simplified, bespoke app, or is it simply because of my mindset? Who knows and I don’t care.

My friend (and MarsEdit developer) Daniel Jalkut offered to send me out a new promo/review code. I don’t need one. I downloaded the free 30-day trial direct from the app site — you can do that when you’re not selling it through Apple’s App Store — and if I’m still using it in a couple of weeks, I will be happy to pay him $40 for a license.

I feel like I’m doing a good thing when I pay a proper amount of money for a great app. As a way of saying “I like and respect the work that you’ve done,” throwing money at someone is a facile solution. But  not all facile solutions have the side effect of allowing someone to go out for a nice dinner.

MarsEdit isn’t the ideal that I had imagined. What I really want is a system-wide hotkey. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, tapping it causes a little note card window to pop up. I type a few sentences, maybe click a Twitter-style icon button to drop in a photo or paste in a link (which the app automatically grabs from the frontmost browser window), click the “Post” button, and then I’m back to what I was doing before I had this brilliant idea for a quick post.

The distraction of the WordPress webapp is a problem for me. I can’t count the number of times when I’d intended to just post a link to an interesting article, but then spent an hour writing 2000 words.

Sometimes, I’d read it back and think “Oh, neat…that’ll do for my next column.” But it’s not helping me form, sharpen, and then let go of a thought quickly. I admire and envy the authors of Sixcolors and Daring Fireball and The Loop, I’m proud of my longform stuff but wish I could develop the kind of skills required to maintain a frequently-updated blog. I’ve got the people who like to read long pieces but I’m doing nothing to help people who like to read lots of shorter things, too.

“Envy” isn’t a shameful thing if you remove the “jealousy and anger” component and pack the void they leave behind with Inspiration and Ambition. So I’m grateful to Jason Snell, John Gruber, and Jim Dalrymple for their fine examples.

Scum Class, Now Boarding

I’m flying out for the MacTech conference in LA tomorrow. Today was the first time ever, I think, that I upgraded my seating in advance, explicitly, instead of as a spur-of-the-moment thing at checkin because I was tired or the kiosk offered me a deal.

I don’t care so much about the extra six inches of legroom. I just wanted the Group 1 boarding. Even that isn’t precisely the big Get: I just want to avoid those tiny little cuts when I get my boarding passes and find out that I lost the big lottery. Group 4: scum class. “You may board after every category of desirable passenger has already seated themselves and stowed their luggage.”

I don’t fly enough to rate upgrade rewards and even if a speaking committee offered me First Class tickets, I’d probably ask them to put me in an aisle seat and coach and we could split the price difference in class.

I wish airlines had a sort of Frequent Flier program just for seat upgrades. Like, after I’ve bought $X worth of Group One Boarding privileges, I can spend some of my points and get to board the plane with the soldiers on my next flight.

So why did I do this ahead of time?

Because I’m old and tired. Or, maybe more experienced and wise. Whatever, I’m encouraging myself to look at experiences that I dread and try to identify elements of it in which the awfulness is largely voluntary. So this time, I’m paying for early boarding, and I’m taking an afternoon flight from a regional airport instead of leaving at oh-my-god o’clock to get to an 8 AM flight from a larger airport that everyone’s trying to get to, all at once.

(I am a mental powerhouse. I only have to keep my hand on a hot stove for twenty years before I give oven mitts a try.)

The Devastating Effect of Ad-Blockers for Guru3D.com

The Devastating Effect of Ad-Blockers for Guru3D.com

(Via Guru3D.)

As I’ve said and written elsewhere, everything that’s happening with adblockers is just a war that definitely had to happen sooner or later, and will leave the world in better shape. Part of the problem has been that websites with terrific commercial content have never charged for what they publish.

And by that, I mean that they never explained the transaction. If there’s a paywall up, well, that’s crystal clear, isn’t it? “If you want this, here’s what you need to do.” If not, then the site is simply “free” and the users lack any sort of awareness about what the publisher needs to have in order to keeps the site operational.

The upsides of adblocking (controlling the threat to personal privacy, making browsers run faster and more reliably) have always been obvious. Thanks to posts like Guru3D’s, users are being educated about a big downside that affects writers to whom they probably feel a great deal of affection and gratitude.

As for the publishers, I hope they change their site scripts to clearly lay out the “deal” they’re making with readers. If you want to read our stuff…you’re going to have to whitelist us.

When I found out that Teslas cost $70,000 I didn’t scream “unfair!” I nodded and simply acknowledged that the price of admission wasn’t something I was willing to pay. Similarly, there will be readers who, on a case-by-case basis, are fine with enabling trackers and blockers on certain sites but not others.

I’m not saying that this will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for all. But it’ll surely replace the old, unworkable foundation with one that will let more people succeed in publishing.

And finally: thank God that the ad industry is finally seeing large-scale pushback. That’s often what’s necessary. An industry (or a business, or even just a person) assumes that you’re OK with certain behavior and policies unless you somehow communicate that you aren’t. Let’s see if all of this leads to some new self-restraint.

Would you buy an electric vehicle from ‘Wally Hotvedt’? | MinnPost

Would you buy an electric vehicle from ‘Wally Hotvedt’? | MinnPost

I watched the 1997 documentary “Trekkies” again last night and found myself Googling around for the “Where Are They Now?” on some of the people. I later became a fan of Rich Kornfelt as “Wally Hotvedt” on the super-funny bowling show “Let’s Bowl.”

Turns out Rich is now building electric cars (or at least he was in 2013). It looks like a neat idea: an electric car charged in part by bicycle pedals.

I like this sort of idea. I’ve been tempted to buy an “electric assist” motorized bike. It looks like and works like a normal bike, but when the onboard computer senses that you’re really pushing hard (like when you’re grinding up a long hill) the motor kicks in and “helps” you. Or, you can just open the throttle and take a break from pedaling altogether. I have an old bike, but almost never ride it. When I walk, I can pick up the pace or slow down as needed, but always be moving forward with my heart rate up. On the bike, there comes a point where I’m on a hill and I’m just dying and I need to dismount. It makes me feel not unlike a loser.

The trouble with these assist bikes is that they cost a couple of grand and that’s more than I can afford to lose if it gets stolen, or if someone chooses to smash it up because they weren’t allowed to use a toilet without a parent present until they were fourteen years old or something else that explains psychotic behavior. If I were regularly commuting ten miles to work, or regularly wound up going places where I know my bike would be safe…

Well, it’s still be two grand, which is probably more valuable than my (old but beloved) car. But I’d be tempted.

Here’s a “Let’s Bowl” compilation on YouTube.

Don’t Mind Me

…I’m just trying out MarsEdit again for the first time in a couple of years. It used to be my regular thing, back when the WordPress native editor sucked. Then that didn’t suck any more, and actually got great. But then it was the editor I always used because I always used it.

Just now, I realized that I (1) Upbraid myself for being unable to write short blog posts, while (2) Doing lots of “short blog posts” on Twitter. I wondered if I’d update my blog more, if I used an app that treated it a lot more like Twitter and less like a “publishing platform.” Mentally, I don’t take my Twitter writing so seriously, so it gives me a lot more freedom.

(It’s also a great to try out MarsEdit again because I know Daniel Jalkut and I think he’s a great guy, and I really enjoy using tools created by people I like.)


What do you think, sirs?

Push the button, Frank…


It’s New iPhones Day, a tradition that’s so well-understood among our community  at this point that I believe we’re only a couple of years away from all of the other stores in the mall making it into a relentless and overbearing nightmare. The CEO of Sears called in his team a few months ago and asked them why their stores don’t open at 2 AM that day, with suspiciously-low sale prices on objects shaped like TV and other electronics. And that’s when his staff finally told him that Sears has been a mail-order seed company since 2011, when their last retail store closed.

I’ve been bothered by the hype of New iPhones Day for a few years. My Twitter feed is full of stories of people lining up overnight. Big and small tech blogs are all clamoring around the first buyers, for photos and interviews.

I find it all very off-putting. I didn’t always. I used to think of it is something akin to the excitement of seeing a new “Star Wars” movie on opening day. I had a ticket to the first screening of “Episode 1” and I wanted to spend the nine hours leading up to it with other people who were way, way too excited to stay at home.

Somehow, new iPhone Day feels different today. The iconography hasn’t changed. I look at the same kinds of Tweets, and the same kinds of photos, and the same videos of cheering, waving Apple Store employees and shoppers. Only now, I can’t push away a fundamental clinical observation: people are cheering because someone, you know, bought a $900 high-end consumer item.

Am I…okay with that?

So I’m conflicted. I can’t fault anyone for experiencing and expressing pleasure. (PSA: People who say “Hey! You’re having fun wrong!” are wastes of good protein). At the same time, yeah, this kind of celebration and sense of gratitude and wonderment over what should be a simple walk-in, pay the person, get item, walk-out transaction makes me uncomfortable. It seems undignified. Why are we all making these people look lucky?

Yeah, yeah: there’s a huge initial demand and if you don’t get the phone you want on the first day, you could be waiting for weeks. But is waiting for a new phone such a terrible ordeal?

I don’t mean for this to be a scold. I’m scolding myself more than anybody because I feel like I contributed to this environment. No doubt it’s a big factor in my growing unease.

But let’s all take a moment to reflect a little. The mere acquisition of a new iPhone is exciting, but it’s a surface joy, at best; it’s a squirt of Happy Brain Chemicals. We should stop and reflect on the idea that true joy of a great new phone is in the pictures that it takes; the time and tedium that a new feature can save you, which frees up time and mental bandwidth for things that are more important to you; and the thoughts and activities that they enable you to indulge that were just too hard to mess with before.

I’m not going to tell people not to be excited about getting a new iPhone on the first day. And I’m not going to tell other journalists not to write about those people, either. Nor do I believe that either of these two groups should feel bad about themselves.

Speaking solely for myself: I don’t want to just make people want things. My covering New iPhone Day as a cultural event would be a step away from my goals.

I’m Ahmed. Except I’m Not Brown.

I’m disgusted by this story, reported by the Dallas Morning News tonight. A 14-year-old high school freshman named Ahmed Mohamed…

Do I need to fill in the details? I’m outraged about a story involving a kid named Ahmed Mohamed. Can you live in America today and not already understand the basic shape of what happened at his school?

He’s a kid with a keen interest in engineering. He made a simple digital clock at home and brought it to school so he could show it off to one of his teachers. After a different teacher subsequently saw it and thought it looked like a bomb, the school administration called the police and Ahmed was led out of the school in handcuffs in full view of the student body.

I recognized this kid immediately. This was me when I was in public school. Even in sixth grade, my classroom cubby contained a lunchbox filled with batteries, wires, and random circuits. In later years, I had technical manuals and printouts filled with arcane symbols that I knew were 6502 assembler opcodes but could have been coded German Army ENIGMA signals for all my teachers knew. I might have had the components of busted floppy drives in my bookbag. During a frustrated, failure-filled period when I was trying to master photographic printmaking, my bookbag might have contained brown bottles filled with stinky chemicals.

I twisted doorknobs and walked into unlocked, dark rooms. On one occasion, this led to my discovering a long-disused DEC minicomputer.

Then there was the time I looked at my locker combination dial and realized that it was a total sham. The little paper sticker told me that the first number in my combination was “17.” But…this is a crappy little lock. Can’t I be off by one or two, and it’ll still be good? Fast-forward through a period of theories and experiments and trial and error, and I’d figured out how to determine the combination through guesswork.

My hobby was breaking the copy protection on commercial games; yes, technically, theft. The knowledge I gained in this pursuit allowed me to create my own heavily-patched (but innocent) version of Apple DOS, which was running on all of the computer lab’s Apple //es without anybody’s knowledge. Yes, technically, distributing malware.

All of these stories come across as Charming and Nostalgic tales of a nerdy little kid on his way to a predestined career in science, math, or technology. There was never any negative fallout. Yes, partly because it was more than a decade before 9/11.

But they’re happy stories mostly because I was a white Catholic kid named Andy Ihnatko. Not a brown kid named Ahmed Mohamed, and not a black kid named anything.

My stories about being a nerdy schoolkid all have good endings. My teachers took all of these things as signs that I had a lot of potential — it helped that I was not just white, but a white boy — and they responded by supporting and encouraging me.

More than that, they trusted me. They let me take broken computer hardware home so I could learn engineering by trying to fix it. They gave me the key to the school darkroom. They let me stay after school and mess with that minicomputer. Even when I proudly (and naively!) told a teacher that I had, in effect, worked out how to break into anybody’s locker, the only person she reported me to was a fellow student a few weeks later. He’d forgotten his locker combination and she figured I could get it open for him faster than the custodian.

If I had been a black kid? No way. I can’t imagine that the teachers of a white, white, white suburban Boston high school would have patted me on the head for all of that. Opening unlocked doors would have been taken as breaking and entering. If I told them that I’d put in a lot of time to decipher the mechanical workings of a common school lock and how to exploit its weaknesses, they’d have assumed the only reason I’d have gone to all of that trouble was because I planned to steal stuff, not because I was intellectually excited by an intriguing puzzle.

Most of these stories would have ended with me being forbidden to use school computers ever again and losing other privileges. At worst, sure, maybe I would have been sent down to a special separate school for kids with disciplinary problems; essentially, a lockup for kids deemed to have no future anyway.

Ahmed says in the article that he wanted his engineering teacher to see what he’d made so that he could make a good impression here at the start of the school year, and show off what he could do. It should have resulted in him receiving the same kind of positive attention that I did, back in the 80s.

But again: brown kid named “Ahmed.” And lest I come across as a Northeastern idiot smugly complaining about how things work in Texas: this is how things work in America. Not any one region.

Ahmed has been suspended. Is he in a school system with one of those idiotic “zero tolerance” disciplinary cultures? The kind that absolves the administration of any responsibility for what they do to kids?

I hope not. This is the sort of system that just tosses kids into the input hopper of a machine designed to be operated by unskilled and mindless laborers. He brought a device to school; the administration imagined that it could be construed as a hoax bomb; therefore, it is a weapon; and now, zero-tolerance demands that he be suspended and then expelled oh gosh well it’s not me destroying the kid’s life I honestly wish I had another option gee my hands are just completely tied okay anyway moving on let’s talk about this terrific season our Wildcats are having this year…

It infuriates me. Ahmed’s been suspended. I imagine that’s on his record. Is it on his record as “violation of school anti-weapon policy” or is it on there as “our administrators made a colossal error and nobody had the strength of character to take responsibility for that error”?

My worry is that the administration will want to find a fast solution that helps them to duck blame. That they’ll offer Ahmed and his family the choice between suspension for the rest of the school year, which they can contest over a period of several months through expensive arbitration, or Ahmed can admit that He Done Wrong and he’ll be back in class at the end of the week. See the kid admitted he was wrong just as we said he was so we’re sure you’ll agree that there’s honestly no story here we’re here to ensure the safety and security of our campus and it speaks well of us that we were willing to give this poor troubled kid a second chance now how about you go and write about a real story like the successful bake sale to support our French club’s trip to the Lafayette museum…

Previous news stories about similarly-idiotic incidents of school discipline have, at the time, gotten me thinking about how I’d handle a situation like that as a parent. What should I do? How could I stand to allow a serious suspension to appear on my child’s school disciplinary record, to be seen by future college admissions boards? Do I fight it to the end? But that’s my kid on the battlefield. Should I try to resolve this as quickly as I can, to allow the kid to return to something akin to a normal school year?

But Ahmed can’t, can he? He started the school year as a brown kid named Ahmed Mohamed, which in many (if not most) schools brings enough unfair trouble. He’s now the brown kid named Ahmed Mohamed who was taken out of the school in handcuffs by police and was brought to juvenile hall, where he was fingerprinted and interrogated at length before being released to his parents.

I’m angry, and I’m a little upset with myself because I want to be useful. 

I suppose one useful thing I can do is write and post this. I hope his family sees the words of everybody who’s lining up to support Ahmed tonight.

Ahmed, you are a great kid. And the world is so much bigger than the town you’re in, and idiots are not entitled to define who you are. 

Smart people aren’t entitled to do that, either. Only you get to define who you are. You do that through your choices in life. From what I’ve read in that article, you’ve been making some terrific choices. You’ve defined yourself as the kind of person that I instinctively like, and I can see you continuing to be downright awesome.

Keep on building and making and learning and be proud of the things you build and make and learn. You live in a country that tries to pour sand in someone’s gears if they’re not a white dude. But there are plenty of places and communities where your curiosity, your industry, and your Ahmed-ness will be applauded and appreciated.

You are your own greatest build project, Ahmed, and you have nothing to worry about on that front because you have the soul of a terrific engineer.


I said this when Obama came out in support of marriage equality and I said it when Bin Laden was taken down and I’m saying it a third time now:

This is the BEST season of “The West Wing” EVER!!!!!!

Angel on my Shoulder

Angel On My Shoulder

Through the entrance; approach the grand staircase; proceed instead through the little hallway that runs alongside it on the right; enter the big medieval church-like exhibit space; exit immediately to the right; go through hallway of additional medieval art; straight past the silver saddle in the glass case and Gallery 700 (the Charles Engelhard Court of the American Wing) is just past the double glass doors.

Yup, I’ve now been here so many times I know the way by memory. The Met sculpture garden of 19th and early 20th century American works is slowly closing in on the Boston Public Library as my favorite photo spot.

It has that same sort of appeal for me as a photographer. The more times I visit it, the better I know the place and where to look for photos. I think I build a map of the space that informs me on a subconscious level as a walk around with my camera. If I were a better photographer, I might have spotted this shot on my first visit, instead of here on my…tenth? Well, it’s been a lot of visits and I’m neither the photo geek nor the guy interested in lovely art is anywhere near tired. I’m so lucky to be able to sneak up here during so many of my visits to the city. It’s become my default place to go when I’ve got a couple of hours free and no time to make plans to see something new.

Oh, and there’s another advantage to familiarity and repeat visits: I remember the shots I screwed up the last time. It’s too bad I can’t arrange a do-over on some of the photos I shot in Beijing!

Select All-Copy-Paste, the Hard Way


Snapped this shot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Thursday.

“Watching someone who’s good at something, doing that thing”: Whether it’s on TV or happening right in front of you, it’s never less than 100% enthralling.

She’s clearly not a hobbyist. I wonder if she prepared her canvas beforehand with layout lines. Because if she’s duplication the composition this precisely by eye…well! That’d be even more amazing.

Continue reading Select All-Copy-Paste, the Hard Way