July of 2008

Howie Cohn once said, “Self improvement and home improvement are endless,” to which I might add: software and computer improvement--and acquisition.

Last year was the year of audio: I decided that although my main interest is 3D animation, (I’ve upgraded to Cinema 4D v. 10.1) I would eventually need background music, so I researched hardware and software for MacWorld 2007. I got a deal on an M-Box 2 with ProTools from B&H, and the demo guy for Reason did such a good job, I got that, too. He sang the praises of Ableton Live because he used it, not because he was selling it, and since I got an upgrade price on it with ProTools, I eventually got that, too.

I played with those apps for a few months, and then Apple cut the price on Logic Pro in half, so I got that, and it has become my favorite. I also got a better mic: a Shure Beta 58A.

In January of this year, I bought a Mac Pro with two 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon cpu’s, an NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT graphics card, 10 GB of ram; and I have two terabyte and two 500 GB hard drives inside. The G5 and it’s peripherals went to the highest bidders on eBay, but I still have the G4 Powerbook--I’m not traveling much.

I’ve upgraded to Final Cut Studio 2, although I haven’t used much of it except for Soundtrack Pro. I had to upgrade Photoshop to CS3, since the older version didn’t play well with the 8-Core Mac, and then I added Dreamweaver CS3, because Go-Live wouldn’t play at all.

Dreamweaver is great, and since I had to learn it, I decided to give this site a makeover. After adding bits and pieces to it for 13 years, It had become a real hodgepodge, but if you’re reading this, you’re seeing the new one.

I got two free months of Lynda.com with the new versions of Photoshop and Dreamweaver, and I fell in love. The instructors are great and the tutorials are wonderful. I learned CSS there, mostly from James Williamson, and I was so pleased that I became a Premium member, which gives me access to all the lesson files used in the tutorials. They have every app in the library I might ever want, and learning there is a joy.

I sold the Canon Rebel XT and lens on eBay in June of last year and bought a Nikon Coolpix S10. I had gotten used to the portability of my earlier Nikon point and shoot, and the Canon was just too much to lug around. Also, I came to the realization that my sole venue for photos is the web, and the Canon was overkill. The S10 has a swiveling lens, like the earlier pocket Nikons, and that feature alone is worth getting it. I also got a Canon HV10 camcorder, which I haven’t really used that much. Too little time...

I know this all seems like a lot of stuff, but outside my computer involvement, I lead a very simple life--I don't even have a car! Elsewhere on this site you'll see some evidence of how frugal I am in most areas.


March of 2006

A few things have changed in the last two and a half years, and I am now an apartment dweller, no longer living with Eve. I'm very happy with the new arrangement, but that story is told elsewhere.

I sold the Powermac G4, but I still have the G4 Powerbook and the G5; except the G5 now has 3.5GB ram, with two 250GB hard drives inside, and is running Mac OS 10.4.6. I didn't mention it before, but the SATA pci card is a SeriTek/1SE2 with two external ports bought at MacWorld 2005, and it has been joined by a SeriTek/1VE4 with four external ports that I bought this year. Those connect to a SeriTek/1EN2 Two-Bay enclosure, and a SeriTek/2EN4 Four-Bay enclosure, respectively. There are two 160GB drives in the two-bay, and two 250GB and one 160GB drive in the four-bay. If my math is correct, that's 1.48 terrabites of storage with one empty bay, still. That's pretty amazing if you look at the storage I had in 1995, and all of it has worked flawlessly so far.

I've upgraded to Adobe Photoshop CS2, and soon I'll be upgrading to Final Cut Studio. I'm still using Adobe GoLive CS, but the software I'm most excited about these days is Cinema 4D version 9.1. I'm dying to upgrade Cinema to 9.6, but so far have managed to restrain myself--my finances have limits, especially after my MacWorld 2006 spending spree.

To get up to date on cameras, I have to go back to MacWorld 2005, where I bought a Canon Optura 30. I haven't put any of it's output online yet, but some day... This year I bought my first serious digital camera, a Canon Rebel XT with a serious lens: a Canon CA241054IS 24-105mm f/4L IS USM AF, both from B&H photo, and I got my $75 rebate check from Canon just last week. I'm still using the Bogen 3021 tripod with a 3047 head. I had fantasies of never having to deal with noise again, but that is a little unrealistic. Still, I've taken some shots I'm very happy with, and if you keep checking the New Photo Index, someday I will actually post some of them online. I would have posted some already, but I've gotten involved with my podcast, Bare Brains, to the point of obsession, although hopefully that will wind down in a couple of weeks. I think I may run out of things to talk about; at least temporarily. For the podcast I'm using another MacWorld special from B&H, a Snowball USB microphone, that I'm very pleased with.

Summer of 2004:

I retired in January, after over 31 years on the railroad, and as a retirement present I bought myself a G5 Dual 2GHz with 1.5 GB ram, 160GB and 250GB hard drives, with a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse. I use a Griffin iMic for sound in and out.

My current still camera is a Nikon Coolpix 4300 which I got a year or so ago to record some railroad scenes I’ll never see again from quite the same vantage point. For video I bought a factory refurbished Canon Elura in 2000 that I'm still using. Eve and I share a Velbon Maxi 343E tripod and a Umax Powerlook III scanner with transparency adapter.

I have two Apple computers in addition to the G5: a G4 dual 500MHz with 1GB ram, two 40GB hard drives set up as RAID 0, and two 160 GB SATA drives running off a pci card. Hooked up to that is a Wacom Entuos 2 6X8 tablet, making this my main Photoshop CS machine.

Finally, I have a 15" G4 Powerbook, 1.5GHz with 768MB ram and 80GB hard drive. All three have Superdrives.

My main software are Adobe Photoshop CS and GoLive CS, and Final Cut Pro 4.5


I use a Canon T-90 (35mm), with several lenses: 20-35mm zoom, 50mm, 80-200mm zoom, and a 300mm (some bought used); and a Zone VI 4x5 field camera, (which has yet to see the "field") with one lens, a Schneider 210mm. A Bogen 3021 tripod with a 3047 head works with both cameras.

My kitchen is more darkroom than kitchen, with a Zone VI 5x7 enlarger (Cold Light Head with Variable Contrast Control, Motorized Focus Control, and Compensating Enlarging Timer, all from Zone VI, and two Schneider lenses: 80mm and 150mm. Since I live in apartments and wall-mounting is frowned on, the enlarger is mounted on a cabinet made of one-inch plywood that is so overbuilt it will print without shaking in all but major earthquakes. I process black and white film and prints in a Jobo CPA 2 rotary processor, and wash the prints in a Nova archival washer. I don't know much about the science of photography or processing--I get by, and I try to make the end products archival. I print almost exclusively on Kodak Polymax Fine Art paper.

my kitchen darkroom

My dining room is more framing studio than dining room: small table with two chairs; two 32x40 five-drawer flat files stacked up with a plywood work surface on top where the Rotatrim Mastercut II lives; a modular kitchen cabinet base unit topped with another work surface where the Logan model 350 matt-cutter lives; and a Seal Products Commercial 210 dry-mount press on a roll-around kitchen cart that came with the apartment.

The computer is a Power Macintosh 7500/100 with 80 megs of ram, a built in 4x CD-rom player, and two internal hard drives: the original 1-gig Quantum Fireball, and a 4.3-gig Quantum Atlas. The modem is a Global Village TelePort Platinum. On the scsi chain are a Smart and Friendly 1002Pro CD recorder, a SyQuest EZ 135 and a La Cie Silverscanner II. Software: Adobe Page Mill 2.0 and Photoshop 3.0.5, Claris Works 4.0, Live Picture 2.0, and Netscape 2.0.

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