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Tuesday, August 28, 2007 closed for business

The personal blog here at is now suspended indefinitely.

I just had too many websites and not enough time, especially as my photography is taking up the bulk of the limited free time I get.

That said, the site will remain up with the blog archived, and also as a place to find all the articles I've written over the years. That section will still be updated as and when there's something new to put up there.

But it's not all bad news, there are still two main places to keep up with my doings:

Tech blog on the Moore Consulting site

Photoblog at Clearing the Vision



PS: Or there's always the Flickr fun:
wycombiensian's photos More of wycombiensian's photos
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Friday, March 16, 2007

Going Digital

Durango omelette, please

Back in September, I wrote about how the explosion in digital photography had created some bargains for film SLRs. I benefited from this myself, when my mother in law upgraded to a new Canon digital SLR, and gave me her old film camera.

This, together with the natural desire to take lots of pictures of my young daughter, rekindled my interest in real photography - after I’d been distracted for years by the ease of digital point-and-shoots. And I got some shots I was really happy with.

I was right - getting hold of cheap (or in my case, free) film SLR is a good way to start taking more pictures, and now is a great time to get hold of one. But I was also completely wrong, in ways I’ll now describe.

Cheap Camera, expensive running costs

The problem is that if you’re interested in photography, you want to take a lot of pictures, and film doesn’t really make that very easy.

Sure, you can send your films to Shutterfly or the like, and only pay to print the ones you like, but that takes a while, and there’s a hidden catch I wasn’t aware of immediately. I thought that if Shutterfly developed the film and put the digital versions online for you to see (which they do), then you could download the hi-res versions for no cost - since you’d paid for the developing.

In fact they show you a lo-res version that you can use to decide if you want prints or not, but the hi-res versions will cost you the price of an archive CD - in my case nearly $20 for 150 images or so.

Grass is always greener

Welcome to Santa FeThe other thing working against film is that the lenses on most SLRs are ‘cross-platform’ - working on that brand’s digital SLR bodies too. So the nice Canon 28-105mm USM I inherited would fit on the Canon digital bodies I soon started ogling. That meant it wasn’t going to cost as much as I thought if I wanted to go digital.

After a lot of research, and much pained inspection of my bank balance, I was the proud owner of a Canon 350D (or Digital Rebel XT, as they insist on calling it here in the US), bought without incident from Beach Camera.

So now I can shoot like a crazy person, and sort out the keepers later, without fussing with film and delays and all that. And I’ve greatly enjoyed the who experience - supporting it with a useful 4-class course at the local community college to fill in the gaps in my basic knowledge.

Birthday Photowalk

As the camera was technically a birthday present, I took some time on Tuesday to walk around town a bit (and take some shots of my subject, Finn). The results are here.
I’ll write more later about the learning curve, and about the search for software to help on the computer side of things.

Posted by David in • Santa Fe and New Mexico
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Monday, January 08, 2007

Making a vow

OK, so it’s a resolution, but that’s just so, January, you know?

I’m going to ride the Santa Fe Century this year. The last couple of years I’ve sort of been meaning to do it, and then sort of meant to just do the 50, and then sort of didn’t do it all.

Which is no good. So I’m making it public in the hope that now it’s out there I have to do it.

I went to my first spinning class in a couple of weeks this morning, and feel like I got flattened by most of the Irish rugby union back row. Which is a pretty good reason for going more often.

Then, when the streets are finally clear of slushy icy cinder-brown piles of snow, I can get back out on the bike, which is currently buried behind house extension-related boxes in the garage.

I’ve done a couple of centuries (both in Ireland), and some other long day rides (starting with a 75 and then 50 around the Sonoma Valley in 2000), so hopefully the legs haven’t completely forgotten about those (or the 2000 miles in 2 months I notched up in 2001 and 2003 for the long trips, but that’s sort of a different thing).

Firstly, I need to flick through Marci’s cycling training books and build myself a plan.

Then I have to stick to it - basically, I’ll be trying to get all the necessary training by riding only two (or towards the end, three) times a week. Time is tight with work and my Fionnuala-minding duties, so the biggest problem will be just getting the necessary miles done.

But the benefits in terms of fitness, energy and general good humour should be good to see. I’ll keep you posted.

Posted by David in • LifeSanta Fe and New Mexico
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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Getting dumped on

crazy snow on our patioSo what did you do between Christmas and New Year? I stayed in and got stir crazy because we got 2 feet of snow in 36 hours.

The interstates were closed, which I always enjoy, because it seems so unlikely. Coming from Europe, the worst we get it is a couple of exits closed due to a jack-knifed truck, but here I-25 was closed from Albuquerque to the Colorado border (over 225 miles), and I-40 closed from Albuquerque to the Amarillo, TX (that’s 285 miles).

So, despite being the state capital, Santa Fe was completely cut off for most of the day.

Even though we weren’t planning on going anywhere, this makes you feel claustrophobic on a philosophical level. On a more physical scale, watching the snow climb up the windows has a similar effect.

One benefit has been that I now appreciate how several older men from the Mid-West die every year while shoveling snow. Making a vain attempt to clear our steep driveway proved a huge workout.

Marci had a better idea - she strapped on her cross-country skis and slid down the (uncleared) driveway and along our road to check out the situation.

The snow has stopped now, and we can finally see across town (although the mountains are still shrouded in cloud).

We’re going to brunch tomorrow if we have to use tennis rackets as snowshoes. Another day in this white prison, and we’ll end up like ‘The Shining’.

Posted by David in • LifeSanta Fe and New Mexico
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

‘Studio 60’ - Smarter than your average show

Aaron Sorkin’s new NBC show ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’ is hitting its stride, and showing there’s mercifully some room for intelligent primetime TV.

Amid the smart-talking and wisecracks, there are some heavyweight references. In recent weeks the show’s namechecked Pericles and Strindberg, and this week there was a sensitively-handled storyline involving the Hollywood blacklistings of the 1950s.

The return of pedeconferencing

An ensemble cast of clever characters walking down corridors having sharp conversations ("pedeconferencing") was Sorkin’s stock in trade in ‘The West Wing’, but now his TV show is about a TV show (it’s set in a thinly-disguised “SNL"), he can explore the perils and opportunities facing his own medium now.

It’s a return to familiar ground for him - his first TV show was the lauded but overlooked ‘Sports Night’, set in the studio of an almost-ESPN.

Just as The West Wing’s Martin Sheen was the president many of us wished we could vote for, so Amanda Peet plays the head of a network we wish we could watch. She refuses to buy a reality TV show that subjects the competitors to media intrusion until they crack, and supports ‘Studio 60’ as it runs a sketch guaranteed to upset the Christian rIght.

In reality of course, no-one ever went bankrupt underestimating the public’s appetite for down-market TV, and the challenge facing both the show itself and the show-within-the-show is to prove that a smarter approach can also be a success.

Clever but flawed

One way to do this is to wear your learning lightly, and ‘Studio 60’ is careful not to take itself very seriously while making serious points.

The characters are clever, but they’re also endearingly flawed. Matthew Perry plays a version of Chandler (or is that Sorkin?), this time reborn as a neurotically talented head writer.  Bradley Whitford again gets to be a wry and loyal lieutenant. We’re in safe and crucially likeable hands here - and there’s good support from Nate Corddry and D L Hughley (who must be delighted finally to get a script worthy of his stand-up talents),

So, the characters feel real, and the plotting is tight and interwoven. But it’s the script itself that sparkles, without a word out of place. You know you’re watching something out of the ordinary, when the show finishes and you still hear the rhythms of the dialogue in your head.

A real imagined world

With The West Wing, Sorkin’s was an alternative reality that he could never make real. ‘With Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’, he’s imagining an alternate world of good TV, and creating a little bit of it for real at the same time.

Posted by David in • Arts reviewsLife
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Monday, July 03, 2006

Another year, another disappointing England performance

I checked the blog entry I wrote after the European Championship a couple of years ago, and damn it’s happened again:

It seems my adult life has been punctuated by the England football team losing on penalties in important competitions. We think it suits us, that we’re dogged and sturdy, but I think it just lets us off the hook.

Its as if, if we really tried and went all out for a win, and believed we could do it, and then failed, that would be much worse. Because we’d put everything into winning, and come up short.

This time it was Rooney’s disgraceful sending off that let us be plucky losers - disgraceful because no professional footballer playing for his country in the World Cup has any excuse for losing the head and stamping on someone’s crown jewels.

But where was the real spirit when we had 11 men? And the lack of will and guts when it came to the penalty shoot-out was horrible to watch.

Hargreaves (the only one in a white jersey who looked like he cared) ran his legs off during the game and scored his penalty. But Lampard and Gerrard (anonymous during the game) bottled it from the spot.

I’m not sure what it is in English culture, or at least the culture of English football that creates a team of such potential that always fails to deliver.

At least in Spain and Brazil (where the same conversation is no doubt going on today), they can take comfort from the fact that they played some great football during the tournament and were beaten by a team playing very well.

Posted by David in • Life