Security Camera D-Link DCS-942L

The D-Link DCS942L camera is a feature rich security camera, but a bitch to configure manually. Even the setup wizard, once I finally got it working, didn’t work without some issues. It turns out most of the wizard issue is due to DLink no longer providing you a CD. If you copy the wizard you download to a stick and run it from there it works, even if registration on the mydlink site appears not to work – just login with the account info you gave it. I suspect it’s a problem with the so if you’re USA, this might work just fine. You can skip the wizard completely and just log on to the device directly browsing it through your network places. The initial login is admin with a blank password. The only think you’ll not be able to do is use Dlink’s site to see your camera remotely- for that you have to get the wizard to work – no manual registration is provided.

What follows is a long story detailing all the issues I had in pretty much two days of trying to get everything working.
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Teaching Myself Composition

I’m trying to teach myself better photo composition today. So, this essay is as much me talking to myself as it is me trying to teach you something. Composition is very important – you can’t fix very much of it in post processing beyond cropping. In photography, it involves mostly where you position the camera in taking a picture. Most people, including me, have a tendency to just point the camera at the object of interest and shoot. They get boring pictures because many times there is so much other crap in the frame that the viewer really has no idea of what the photographer was trying to capture. Come to think of it, photographers often have no idea what they are trying to capture either.

Here are a couple of photos of a really simple subject: an old speed limit sign. It doesn’t get much easier than this. I just needed some reasonable light, and the ability to get my subject in the frame, which I got. I have post processed these pretty much the same – tighten up the contrast levels a bit, bump the saturation levels a bit. These are 1/2 original size. Extra mgapixels don’t make these pictures any better. No cropping, as I tried to frame my subject tightly right in camera. I didn’t have all day to think about it either, as I was walking with a guest.
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Tax time eased with StudioTax

Just finished doing my taxes using StudioTax. It’s completely free, no bullshit, no income limits. They just ask for a donation, of which they bug you about only once, when you go and submit your netfile file. Studio Tax isn’t some light weight program either; it handles most situations and small business just fine. I give them $20 every year after filing because I think it’s so good of them to just give their software away. It’s worth more than $20 in saving me hours of going through a paper copy since I refuse to pay a service to pay my taxes. Yes, I can find cheaper pay services, but I’m donating to StudioTax in order to help keep them going so that those people facing tight finances regardless of income can get a free ride. Just pay it back when you do have money.
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Turning Science Fiction into Science

In this day and age, so many years after the first man in space, first moon landing, first supersonic flight, first test tube baby I forget that just once in a while, there is still the occasion when we manage to turn science fiction into science. I was reading BBC, and was reminded that Curiosity is to land on Mars, on I quote, “Monday 6 August, at six o’clock, 30 minutes and 13 seconds. British time” Britain and a good part of the world will be obsessed with that sports show the Oi-limp-icks which I don’t give a crap about since it’s all commercial anyways these days. I will be obsessing about the landing of Curiosity – wondering if those NASA boffins can pull this one out of their ass and get their complex landing system to actually put this Mini-Cooper sized robot down in one piece.

Consider this video – if you have not seen it, is well worth watching for it’s elegance in showing the complex nature of this robot’s transition from free-flight in space to being on Martius firma, all in six minutes, where every last planned event has to go off exactly as planned to get this 2.5 billion dollar 1 ton beast on the ground, ready for it’s next journey:

You could consider this a piece of science fiction, speculation on what might happen – someday. But that day is coming, August 6th to be precise, and if everyone converted their American Imperial to Metric properly this time, we might actually get to see the results some some extraordinary science being done for the very first time. Lest we forget, Opportunity is still doing amazing science, now beginning it’s 9th year of operation on Mars. Some people’s cars don’t last that long. This robot is our eyes on another world formerly imagined – now being seen from above and on the ground for real.

I hope that NASA can keep turning science fiction into science.

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My iPrayer to Steve Jobs

Hello Mr Jobs.

I see you’ve been busy in your new role as heaven’s technology innovator. I really thought you’d take it easy for a bit, but no, you’re right back in it, stirring things up as you always did in the mortal world. But I have to ask: what did I do to deserve today?

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KD like it’s 1999!

Man, I never should have eaten that package of Kraft Dinner, about a month ago. It’s like getting back on drugs man, I’ve eaten two more boxes of the stuff since then! (Okay, not like drugs, but why would I want KD three times in one month after not having it for 5 odd years?)

Perhaps it’s just that KD has been in the news. Today, I see that Kraft Canada has been “cease and desisting” a local teacher trying to teach students how to eat less crap – ie there are alternatives to KD. He called his program “Kick the KD”, with a logo that is certainly evocative of the KD brand. While I have no problem with the company protecting it’s brand, I do have a problem with the media trying to make a story out of nothing. Kraft asks teacher to stop using their brand marks in advertising his course. Teacher complies. This is not a story.
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Magpie coming back!

When I was 17
I drank some very good beer
I drank some very good beer
I purchased with a fake ID
My name was Brian McGee
I stayed up listening to Queen
When I was 17

Okay – It wasn’t quite that long ago, but I did drink some very good beer from Big Rock sometime ago. It’s been gone a long time now…

But it’s back! May 1st! In stores! The beer is… Magpie!!! (Read the link if don’t know about what is one of the few rye ales out there)

I regularly visit Big Rock Restaurant, and the beer store attached to it, both of which are well worth a visit if you are looking for lunch in the 52 St / Glenmore SE industrial area. I have been lamenting the loss of Magpie pretty much every time I drop into the beer store. I kept getting the same response for the last while. Something along the lines of ‘We hear that a lot. Have patience, it might be back sometime.’ Thus, my continual lamentation. Teasing Ralph with beer bad. Ralph no happy. Ralph keep pestering Big Rock to bring back beer.

Last time I was in the beer store I get a different response. Do you have a few minutes? Come with me. We go upstairs to what is normally used as a wind down space after the beer tours, where they have some taps that you can sample the normal Big Rock products. Except now there are no normal products there, only a bunch of new beers I have never seen before, except the Magpie. My excitement is building – Magpie returns AND a bunch of new specialty beers? Could Big Rock be back to it’s roots of brewing good beer, domestic be damned?

We belly up to the bar, where sample glasses are being poured. Magpie must be had first – it is true to what I remember – must stock up when this one comes out, May 1st I have been told. I continue down the line and quickly come to the conclusion that Big Rock is back when it comes to brewing unique specialty beers that are different from the standard domestic mold. It’s been a month since I sampled them so forgive my beer and age inhibited memory.

There is a picture of an IPA that I believe is the new bitter. According to Big Rock, it’s very bitter. For you hop heads out there I would say it’s on the bitter side, but not extreme. It mellows to a nice floral aftertaste as you have a few sips. Could pair very well with a curry. There was a cherry beer that is going to be popular with the ladies – these tend to be too sweet sometimes, but Big Rock has resisted that and made something a little more citrus like, not to heavy on the cherry flavor. It will make an excellent summer beer for when you can’t decide between a cooler and a beer. There was an oak aged beer that I wasn’t too fond of. If you like that oak aged Innis & Gunn’s beer you should check this one out when it’s out. There was another heavy roast beer than had a wonderful smokey flavor – complex with changing flavors that I can’t even peg until I sit down with a whole glass. Woe is me – so much beer to choose from in front of me I didn’t have time to properly enjoy them. I can’t even remember the others. I think we were at around 7 taps, so there is at least one more, there might have been a tap of Trad or such mixed in there I didn’t notice.

According to the Big Rock Blog, it’s all part of there new Brewmaster’s Series of beers. Everyone of them different, with the first one being the triumphant return of Magpie. Now, unfortunately, it’s not a permanent return – it’s supposed to be one of a seasonal rotation of beers. The blog only has a hint of what is to come, (post to follow soon according to them). At least when the Magpie rotates out, I’ll have others to look forward to!

{edit Apr 15th} Went to the Big Rock for lunch today. Due to production issues with the new packaging, Magpie is delayed until the end of May. The good news is that Magpie is available on tap in the restaurant now!

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$3 Pizza review

So there I am at the mall at dinner time looking at the usual mall eateries. I’m not really feeling hungry, so I head over to Walmart, thinking I’ll grab some pasta and sauce and just whip up a quick meal at home. I wander through the frozen section and see this “Donatello’s” Pizza I’ve never heard of before. Hmmm, I could go for a gourmet pizza, what does this one cost? $3. $3?! Must be crap – move on. I find a “gourmet” pizza, on the other end of the frozen Isle (Walmart does some weird product placement). Spinach on a pizza, no thanks – I like my toppings meaty and traditional. Still not seeing anything else I might like for pasta sauce, so I wander back over to the regular frozen pizza. I could buy a Kraft Rising Crust for like $8. But there’s that $3 pizza right beside it… Do I dare? WTF, I’m not feeling like eating anything else, so I might as well go for cheap. It can’t kill me, right? Right?! I pick the pepperoni version (deluxe was also available) drive it home and throw it in the oven for 18 minutes (Preheat first according to the instructions).

So now we get to the fun part – the pizza. It lived up to it’s name “rizin’ crust”. Actually has 4 pieces of Pepperoni per 1/4 pizza. The cheese looks like cheese and seems to be there in a not too skimpy amount. First bite…

Hmmm. Not that bad. (Why yes, I *am* writing this while I’m eating the pizza!) Second bite. Crust is kinda doughy, some crispy on the outside – passable. Cheese is standard for a cheap pizza. Third bite – get a whole piece of peperoni in this time. The peperoni is not that bad, actually has a bit of kick to it – unlike the usual bland crap you see. Forth bite – get the crust edge this time. Perhaps shouldv’e kept it in for a minute more – not quite as crispy as I’d like. Stop writing now to finish off the piece. The tomato sauce is pretty bland, and a little too sweet.

Overall verdict: This pizza is a cut below the standard Mcain or Kraft rising crust, but not that far below. I actually think it’s better than say, a Little Caeser’s (more topping), definitely better than Pizza Hut, which is the worst grease fest pizza ever in my books. For $3, this is a steal of a deal for a 12″ pizza, feeds two hungry people, or one hungry teenager. As always, YMMV. I can’t find a web site for them, although I did find a reference to food poisoning (eep!). You’ll just have to head over to Walmart and get one of these things if you want to try it. If the pizza doesn’t agree with me, I’ll definitely write a follow up, assuming I live.

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3:2 where are you?

You’d think I’d be able to get a decent size digital picture frame in 3:2 format so I can display my DSLR pictures without having to crop the sides on all of them. For those of you that are going “huh?” here is a quick explanation:
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Do not support making the long form census optional

The government wants to make the long form part of the census optional – an important enough issue that I sat down and wrote a letter to my MP, despite being at work late again. I’ll let the letter speak for itself:

Dear Mr. Obhrai,

As a voter in the riding of Calgary East, I wanted to drop you a line regarding the current government’s plan to make the long form census optional. I do not support the optional aspect. I work as a data analyst, working with statistics and having a good knowledge of general statistical theory. I agree with those statisticians who have come out saying that results from the proposed census changes would result in bias data. The results coming from this proposal would not be as accurate – in fact I believe that the results would for the most part be ignored by most groups outside the government – leaving the government using flawed data to make important decisions about where to allocate our money. I feel this is an important decision – I rarely have offered anyone in any government my opinion on anything, yet I do so today because I feel the government is about to make a mistake that will affect pretty much every program the government rolls out to help its citizens.

I don’t buy the government’s argument that there have been many complaints – if so, please provide evidence to back this up.

What I would like to see is a review of the questions being asked on the long form census – if we need to remove some questions deemed objectionable by the public, removal is a better option than making the whole long form optional. I feel an open debate where statisticians, policy makers and politicians among others can argue the merits of the questions against the privacy of the citizens of this country would be more productive by far than what seems like an arbitrary move by the government to change the requirements for answering the long form census.

Thank you for your time,

Past Conservative voter, Calgary East.

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