This is a video about scanning negatives with a Fuji XT-3, a macro lens, a cheap copystand, and a film holder. The other element is a plugin for Lightroom called NegativeLab Pro. If I get into scanning negatives (after I scan all of the slides) some variant of this workflow will be what I use.

Date posted: February 11, 2019 | Filed under photography, productivity | Leave a Comment »

I drove up to Parkville on Sunday to pick up that lens I was talking about last week (it’s wonderful and was a fantastic bargain) and somehow misplaced this year’s Moleskine notebook, which has me feeling anxious.

As a longtime sufferer of ADD, I desperately need someplace to capture thoughts before they fly off into space. I’ve been using notebooks for the past 10 years to keep track of everything, collecting copious lists of tasks, ideas, plans, sketches, and other ephemera, and it helps me stay organized and focused. I carry a notebook with me wherever I go, and it sits at my bedside under my phone when I sleep.

Bel-Loc roofline

The last place I remember seeing this notebook was on the trunk of the car after I put it down to snap a picture of the Bel-Loc diner, where I’d just finished a stack of pancakes. I don’t think it made its way back into the car from there.

The big problem is, this isn’t the first one I’ve lost recently.

I keep a separate notebook for work, because if I combined the two I’d never keep anything straight–there’s too much going on in each place. The one I keep for work went missing last week.

I’m thinking this is the universe telling me something, because the sheer volume of projects we’ve got going on at work is too much to be contained in a notebook; they are all multi-level long term productions that require a lot more than one page to keep track of all the details and notes. I’ve been searching for a project management solution that fits with my particular needs, and I haven’t found anything yet–Basecamp’s organization is too convoluted, Flow isn’t robust enough, and Slack is more focused on chatting. Wrike could be close, but I haven’t had time to get it set up yet. Moving from paper to online makes me nervous, but if I can find something that works maybe I won’t need to buy a second notebook anymore.

Date posted: October 26, 2015 | Filed under photo, productivity | Leave a Comment »

I would have to agree with the author of this Lifehacker post: Carrying around a Moleskine note book for the last five years has saved me hours of grief and gray hair. I may have to try Field Notes next, because I’m not happy with the small Moleskine notebook–it’s too thick to lay flat and be useful as a sketchbook, which is what I ask of my notebooks about 50% of the time.

Date posted: June 23, 2015 | Filed under drawing, productivity, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Here’s some helpful shopping advice: The Best Times to Buy Clothing. (via TIME)

Date posted: October 30, 2012 | Filed under productivity, Purchasing, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Handy tip, via Sean Carton on Facebook: Find and Download PDF Manuals of Electronic Products using Amazon.

Date posted: March 28, 2012 | Filed under productivity, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Semi-furnished

Compare and Contrast:

Exam Room 1

Let’s see.

  • Our hand-me-down IKEA shelf is assembled and in the den (temporarily).
  • The coal cellar has been de-insulated and shot with Tigerfoam, as well as the southeast corner of the basement.
  • The 4,000 ton color printer is broken down and loaded in the Scout, ready to be driven to work.
  • The server is high and dry in the front corner of the basement.
  • Finn made it to dance class during the middle of the ice storm.
  • There’s 5 gallons of Pumpkin Ale fermenting in the basement.
  • My DJ Lance costume is assembled and ready for tomorrow.

Tigerfoam in

Date posted: October 30, 2011 | Filed under brewing, comparison, house, list, photo, productivity | 2 Comments »

I’m filing this one away under Future Upgrades: Going Flash-Free on Mac OS X, and How to Cheat When You Need It, from Daring Fireball. I’ve finally belatedly made the switch from Safari to Firefox after multiple crashes and worry about unencrypted HTTP headers, and I think another timely upgrade would be disabling Flash in my browser altogether. There are things I like about Safari (most importantly the RSS subscription counter) that I’m purposely giving up for added security, given the amount of logging in I do on a daily basis. I’ve noticed that when I boot up Safari on my G5 server at the house the fan spins up and the hard drive starts spinning almost immediately—this on a system with 2GB of RAM.

Date posted: November 9, 2010 | Filed under geek, productivity | Leave a Comment »

The weather finally broke here in Baltimore, and 90° suddenly feels downright balmy to me. Which is a sad state of affairs, considering the load we’ve put on our air conditioners in the month of July.

It’s been exceptionally busy the last couple of weeks, which means Idiotking.org is a quiet place. I’ve been juggling baby duty while Mama is recovering from a monster infection, helping remodel and move my daytime office, and also reorganizing my day to day life in order to be a better husband, father, and employee. No mean feat to be sure, but I think it may be easier to accept sweeping change when everything is in flux.

Riding

Mama is recovering from her illness, and I will be giving back the keys to the swanky babyhauler tomorrow (mainly because I have a dentists’ appointment in the morning, not because she’s at 100% yet) but I’ve enjoyed my mornings with the girl. Even when it’s been an hour before my alarm clock rang. She’s getting so big so fast. To see her walk a set of stairs, upright, by herself fills me with an immense surge of pride and a wave of sadness, because there’s no better feeling than to have her reach up for my hand and circle one or two of my fingers with her little palm, and there will soon come a time when she won’t want my help with the stairs anymore.

We’ve just finished remodeling our offices at work after about four weeks of work, and it feels good to be settled again. What was once a large space subdivided into tiny offices has now been expanded into an open-plan area with expansive desks, exposed brickwork (my suggestion), new carpeting, and better lighting.

Remodeling, part 1

In order to keep costs down, we all pitched in to help paint, move, assemble furniture, and organize the space, so I spent much of the early part of this month at the office after hours pitching in. The payoff has been immediate, though; I feel much more motivated and focused on my work being out in the open instead of holed up in my office.

Remodeling, part 2

On that same note, I’m trying a new method of personal organization, which involves a smaller, lighter notebook and a resolution to keep using it. I’m pairing this with my own basic version of the Getting Things Done Methodology that is in a state of kaizen, and I’m really going to work hard to make this stick. I’ve also started using Mint.com to track my personal finances and start setting some specific long-term goals for the future; I’m hoping to dovetail this in with all the work Jen has done on household budgeting in order to save more money than we currently do.

So, in a nutshell, I feel more optimistic than I have in a while, more motivated, and at peace with a lot of things in my life. The trick will be to maintain that peace and forward momentum.

Tomorrow morning I’ll see the dentist for the first time in ages, which is a good feeling.

Date posted: July 27, 2010 | Filed under design, finn, life, productivity | Leave a Comment »

Last week, Mr. Scout texted me about playing hooky sometime in the near future to hit the junkyard. As it turned out, I had an office holiday this Friday, he was on this side of the river, the sun was out, and Mama had Finn with her for the majority of the day. So we made the best of things.

New Saturn Taillight

Our wishlist was long, but one of my top priorities was to find a new taillight for the Slattern, which had been suffering from a bashed lens since last summer. Last fall, I couldn’t find a donor Saturn of compatible vintage for love or money over several visits, but we stumbled upon three candidates almost as soon as we walked in the yard. Two twists of a star-head screwdriver, one unplugged socket, and I had an unblemished replacement in my hands. Score!

JDM as F**K

We were also looking for Scout-related stuff, including replacement shoulder belts that could be retrofitted, or a decent set of rearview mirrors.

Meanwhile, picking over the lot from one side to the other, we found all kinds of humor, intentional and unintentional.

Thrashed Ghia

I’m a sucker for old, rust-prone, unusual vehicles, so whenever I see something interesting, I stop and shoot pictures.

Le Car adrift

This Le Car looked almost pristine, even as it sat up to its axles in muddy water. I tried to find a way to pull the single rearview mirror off the door, but I was foiled by strange French engineering and a fear of wet socks.

MG GT

Next to it sat one of three British survivors in the yard, a rusting heap of an MG. The wooden wheel had already been pulled, as well as the hood (that’s bonnet to you, mate) but the rest of the car looked pretty clean. I was tempted to pull the rest of the chrome badges off, but the entire panel felt like it was going to come with them, so I left it all in place.

Steady temp gauge

Returning home, we lunched on some burgers and then set to work checking out Peer Pressure. We pulled the thermostat and tested it out in boiling water; the valve opened exactly as it should have. So we got to work pulling the radiator out completely. This is a job we’ve both had experience with before, so this time we knew what we were doing (mostly), and had it out within about 20 min. We drained the tank, made short work of each of the mounting bolts, struggled to pull the lower hose off, peeled back the fan shroud, and slid it upwards and out of the truck as pretty as you please. Over a couple of pails, we flushed out the interior and waited until the water ran clear, then flipped it over and hosed out the bottom. Once that was done, we threw it back in, tightened everything back up, swapped the battery in from the Jeep (the Scout battery was dead, dammit) and fired her up.

photo.jpg

I’m happy to say she idled for 20 minutes and the needle stayed where it’s pictured above—at the far left of the gauge. Mr. Scout had to leave, so I bid him farewell and then took the beast out on the road for some short mileage, figuring if she broke down I’d be close to home. I had her on the road for about ten minutes and didn’t see the needle budge an inch, at speed or sitting in traffic. I’m going to do some more short-distance test runs in the next week, but if she makes it through those, I’m calling her fixed!

Once again, and as always, thanks go to Mr. Scout, without whose help I’d still be working on the first bolt.

Date posted: April 3, 2010 | Filed under friends, productivity, Scout | Leave a Comment »

Saturday afternoon, while Finn was down for a nap, I decided to try something I’ve meant to do for months. After having left it alone in disgust since early January, I finally went back out and straightened up the side porch last weekend. All of the extra bales of pink fiberglas got stacked in one pile, the clouds of blown fiber were swept up, and I filled two contractor’s bags full of assorted garbage to be hauled away. This past Saturday afternoon, in one last-ditch effort, I went back out and screwed three sheets of plywood and a bit of drywall over the open area between the front porch roof and the side room, sealing off the area above the porch into a closed cavity. I also adjusted the relief valve on the radiator closest to the front door and made sure the shutoff valve was open (it wasn’t).

boarded up heatsink

The difference in the new office has been dramatic and astounding. I left the french doors closed Saturday night, as we always do, and when I stepped out there Sunday morning the front porch was warmer than the living room. It stayed like that for the rest of the day. Sunday night it got down to about 30° outside, and as I sat in the office typing, my hands were warm—and I didn’t need to wear fleece. It was more comfortable out there than sitting in the dining room, as a matter of fact. Opening the door between the front office and side porch produces a noticeable outrush of air, which confirms my suspicion that the area above the porch was subject to constant airflow, negating any heat-retaining properties of the insulation above.

New equipment

After some sweat, cursing, and great exertion, we have the new laser printer sitting between our desks in the office. It’s literally a tank—I’d say over 200 lbs., and not small enough to jockey around with only two people. We had some very appreciated help from Aunt C. and Dr. G., who were gracious and kind enough, after humping the new one inside, to help me get the old one out to the Jeep. I hooked everything up, fired off a few test prints, and got the seal of approval from Mama. It’s loud, there’s no powersave mode, and the fan stays on constantly, which means it’s really better suited in a side office or well-ventilated closet, but that’s an inconvenience I’m willing to put up with for the sheer utility and flexibility of this thing. We’ll just keep it turned off when we don’t need it. Meanwhile, I brought the Xerox in to work this morning, got it set up and tested in a mixed-OS environment, and everything seems to be working as advertised.

little girl, big shoes

Finn used her potty for the fourth time this evening. Sitting in her highchair, watching us as we made dinner, and eating vegetables, she got the worried look on her face and made a preliminary grunt. Jen asked her if she needed to use the potty, and she replied simply, “Potty.” We all sat down and read a book together, and the distraction made for a satisfying and successful outcome. We harbor no illusion that she will be trained by age 2, but if she continues asking for it, we’re going to keep offering it.

All of this really couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve been battling a debilitating feeling of ennui the last couple of weeks, in part because I don’t feel like I’ve made many advances lately. Work has been relatively constant, my family is healthy and happy, and we are blessed with a daughter who is whip-smart and surprising us with new discoveries every day, but for me personally, I’ve been in a bit of a rut with projects here at the house and at work. These small things have got me motivated to start pushing forward again, and that’s a feeling I like to have.

Step 1: Start carrying the camera everywhere again, and take pictures.

Date posted: March 2, 2010 | Filed under finn, geek, photo, porch, productivity | Leave a Comment »