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Archive for April, 2007

15 Minutes of Infamy

April 20, 2007 Leave a comment

Why do attacks like at Virginia Tech and Columbine continue to happen? No doubt there’s something wrong with the attackers, but what better way to get their perverse message out to the masses than to shoot up a bunch of people and make national news, who will gladly air your message or even make a movie about the event.

Free speech can be dangerous, and I’m not arguing we shouldn’t have free speech or even restrictions which can slowly diminish our freedoms. What I do believe is that news outlets have a moral obligation to their readers and viewers, as well as their source. Recently, the name of a CIA official was leaked and the focus seemed to be on the White House source of the information, Karl Rove, but very little on that Time went on to leak the name in media. News outlets will tell you they have an obligation to report this news, but besides our enemies who actually cared about an operative’s name? It’s simply an excuse to attract more readers and viewers, if even for a moment. It’s about greed.

I refuse to watch the gruesome details or anything he who I shall not name thought. If his and so many others’ messages were not leaked, I believe we’d see less most-desperate cries for attention. And isn’t that what’s more important?

Categories: News and politics

New Lens for New View from Office…While it Lasts

April 4, 2007 Leave a comment
After a long time deciding, I decided to buy the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF Zoom-Nikkor lens for my Nikon D70s. It was a tough decision, having to balance quality and price since I don’t (currently) make any money back from my hobby. It’s a superb lens that is built rugged and has a good resale value, which emphasizes its quality.
 
I weighed this against many high-power zoom lenses, including the hard-to-get, do-it-all Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor, and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM lenses. What I wanted most was a lens with a wide-open aperture that allowed me to stop subjects in motion. The Nikon 18-200mm that is still in super-high demand is a good lens, but starts to fall off at 200mm from what I’ve read, plus has a maximum aperture of f/3.5. Not bad in bright- and medium-light conditions, but I love photographing around sunset. I also didn’t mind having a couple of good lenses, and wanted this before our trip.
 
The Sigma faired well in reviews but the Nikons had better resale value and what I got was about the same price as the Sigma. Honestly, I didn’t see a lot of negative feedback, though some compared to the Nikon lenses.
 
I simply couldn’t justify the price of the Nikon 18-200mm VR lens. Besides, VR actually steps down the aperture a couple of stops when in use, and Nikon recommends you turn off VR when mounted on a tripod because the motor will keep running needlessly (not to mention the aperture). At 200mm I’ll certainly be on a tripod if not shooting super fast.
 
The choice between my new 80-200 f/2.8 and the smaller, less-expensive 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 was a tough decision. I didn’t really care so much for the extra 100mm focal length, but the price and size were nice. I don’t really even care about the VR for reasons I’ve previously mentioned. In the end, VR won’t stop a moving subject like a fast shutter speed will; and with such fast shutter speeds I want as open an aperture as I can get. f/2.8 is a couple of stops more open than f/4.5 at a minimum, so my choice was made.
 
It is a good lens and I’m sure I’ll get good use out of it. Maybe even someday I’ll start making a little bit of money back. Probably nothing like my father ever did, photographing weddings and such, but maybe some stock photography. People say I have an eye for framing, and I certainly see so much beauty in nature that I love to share through my eyes (and the lens).
 
Below are a couple of photos I took from around my office, while I still have it. All of Microsoft is cramped for space while we hire more people before more buildings are fully constructed. Compare those photos below with my previous shots from my office.
Categories: Hobbies

Fox Lost Big

April 3, 2007 1 comment
I’m not a big fan of Fox. They have a couple of good shows, but may as well have a big disclaimer at the beginning of the day for all the raunchy and pointless shows they air throughout the day. They also have a way of tanking shows that people actually like, replacing them with yet more "reality" TV.
 
More specifically, they dropped the ball on what I believed to be the best Sci-Fi series ever, Firefly. This blend of Western and Science Fiction had the best cast of characters that complimented each other perfectly, and showed life out in space as something not supernatural but similar to our lives and trials now. No "Force". No aliens. No stargates. Just drama – in space. The creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel (another series cancelled way too early), Joss Whedon was doomed from the start thanks to Fox. The 2-hour pilot was aired after the series started! Fox didn’t want to take a chance.
 
After only 11 episodes, the series was cancelled. Fans were outraged and with enough support the movie Serenity came out. Fox wouldn’t let them use the name Firefly nor even the original theme music written by Joss Whedon himself. Fox didn’t want the show, but didn’t want anyone else to have it either. Joss and produces worked around the problems to release the movie.
 
Unfortunately, the movie didn’t do as well as hoped and joss quashed all hope that another movie would return, citing there wasn’t enough profit from the movie to get another studio to produce it.
 
Even years after the series was cancelled and the movie was released to DVD and now HD-DVD, something truly amazing happened and I hope Fox gets the message loud and clear. A reader poll conducted by SFX Magazine has voted Serenity as the #1 Sci-Fi movie of all time, beating out Star Wars 2 to 1! Blade Runner came in third, showing that the readers polled are true Sci-Fi fans.
 
Serenity embodied what Sci-Fi is supposed to be: commentary on society today from a different perspective, often from the future. George Lucas ruined and set the theme for most Sci-Fi these days, where action dominates instead of social commentary and excellent writing.
 
Do I think Joss Whedon will return with another Serenity movie or continue the Firefly series? Doubtful. But I wish to congratulate and thank Joss Whedon for what I believed – and many more people, obviously – to be the best Sci-Fi movie – and show – ever.
Categories: Entertainment