Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Purge

It's time to do some Fall Cleaning and to get started on the packing for back to school.

I'm taking this opportunity to get ready for the winter by:

1. Finishing statistics review
2. Continuing Java
3. Cleaning up my Cornell stuff
4. Back up hard disks and update computer
5. Deleting iPhone photos

MTA Service Advisory

Because of major temporary service changes to the LIRR line because of the recent series of accidents, I'd like to bring the MTA NYC Service Advisory Notification System to your attention. I have signed up for the service when it was still in beta, and while it doesn't prove terribly useful, it is still a good thing to have and to be made aware of.

It says:

"Access to our email notification system sign up and options designation is temporarily unavailable until Tuesday Nov. 25th at 11:00 AM. This will allow us to migrate to a more robust email and text messaging alert system.

"Email Alert Notifications for existing customers will continue to be sent during this time period."

Hopefully, it'll be something much nicer than its current advisory iteration. Sign up here.

This NYTimes article talks about this updated service.

Fieldrunner 1.1

The best game for iPhone was updated yesterday to version 1.1. I was hooked on it when I bought it before, and I am hooked on it now that it's updated and improved!

Currently Planning a Trip to Montauk

The problem for most excursions is the limit walking puts on the distance one can travel. My threshold is about one-and-a-half miles one way (from the LIRR station).

This trip is primarily a photo walk and an exploration of Long Island.

View Larger Map

Next Lens, Next Body

I have finally decided that my next lens will be the 105mm f/2.8 macro lens by Nikon. I would forgo the necessary "kit" range and stick to my guns of the 30mm and a 105mm, both primes, and both very fancy.

The problem is, I don't know if I'll have a camera for the lenses to accommodate. Haha. While the D90 is nice, I am not completely satisfied with it. Plus, seeing the direction of video in DSLRs and what good implementation could be(a la the 5D Mark II) and what bad implementation is (the D90), it would be a smarter decision to wait for Nikon's second generation video DSLR.

Plus, another excuse is that money is tight (which it undoubtedly is), and it would be unwise to splurge on something that is not critical and essential.

Photos from Stony Brook

This weekend was a trip dedicated to seeing Stony Brook as a resident of Long Island and seeing friends at the University. Weather was nasty, I didn't get much sleep, and the food was rather gross, but it sure as hell was fun. I am planning a second weekend trip to SBU.

While I am in the process of organizing over 400 photos taken this weekend, I'd like to post this one, taken on Sunday.

NYC Education Gets More A's

It looks like Bloomberg's focus on the city's education has yielded some high grades.

From the NYT article: "The number of New York City high schools receiving top marks on the Bloomberg administration’s contentious report cards jumped this year, with more than 83 percent earning an A or B, the Department of Education announced on Wednesday." Also, "the number of schools receiving grades in the second year of the program grew to 284 from 236, reflecting the shifting of the city’s high school map toward more and more new small schools (new schools do not get graded until a senior class has graduated). These small schools, broadly speaking, did better on the report cards: The average size of schools earning A’s was less than half the size of those getting D’s and F’s, and schools with fewer than 500 students were twice as likely to earn A’s as those with more than 500."

And Brooklyn Technical High School stepped up from a B to an A this year. All eight specialized high schools received an A. This sounds good, but at the maybe at the cost of waves and waves of standardized exams and assessments on students.

Birthday and Gifts

I have received my computer back from Apple's Texas repair center in Houston last Friday night. This is the second time I sent the MacBook Pro (first generation) to the Genius Bar covered by AppleCare. The first time, they replaced my LCD inverter and that got rid of my problem with the buzzing.

The buzzing returned more consistently every day, and this time, I was expecting the service to be somewhat the same. I was surprised to learn that the Apple technician not only replaced the LCD inverter, the LCD panel was replaced, the logic board was replaced, as was the Super Drive and a 1 GB DIMM of RAM. Wow!

When the computer was turn on, however, I noticed the display was rather blue. It was not only a little cooler, but it was noticeable cooler, as if there was another layer of blue-tinted film in the display. Using the built in color calibrator for ColorSync did not yield any nice results. My eyes have been strained by trying to calibrate this LCD this way.

I am waiting on Ricky's color calibrator, held hostage by Adrian. I hope it'll fix it. Otherwise, Apple's going to be hearing from me a third time...

As a result, even after a week and a half of the computer being in the shop, I'd rather not use the blue-ish MacBook Pro for now. I will still use the iPhone as my primary device. My photo work will have to be put on hold because of this. While I am glad Apple was able to help make my notebook run like new (for the most part), the LCD has made me very frustrated.

"Gifts" received at this time of this post:
1. MacBook Pro repair replacing nearly all components with refurbished parts, by Apple.
2. Ricky's Pantone Huey, from Adrian. (pending)
3. Crumpler's 'The Considerable Embarrassment' bag from my sister, but really from myself.
4. A box of Entenmann's chocholate chip cookies, from my train buddy.
5. Fieldrunners from the iTunes App Store.

6. Lysol for my cubicle.
7. Dinner with the family.

Mobile Me, Mobile You

Since my computer was sent away for "repair", I had depended on my iPhone as my primary computing device. It has worked out quite well. The only thing I still find my computer essential for day-to-day tasks is syncing podcasts and watching my TV shows on Hulu. Supposedly, the iPhone Software Update 2.2 will allow for downloading podcasts directly, without the need of a computer. Sweet!

At work, I have been using Mobile Me's services quite often, including organizing things in my personal calendar. It's still too buggy to be dependable, but it sure is slick.

Surprise Someone With Your Vote

The title of this post is my theme of this election (as indicated on the Facebook as well). I voted today from 7:00 to 7:30 am. There were surprisingly very few people. Maybe it was too early. Photo taken from iPhone.

From Greg Mankiw's Blog:

"What's the evidence that this theory is right, that nonvoters are less informed than voters? Studies of voter turnout have found that education is the single best predictor of who votes: The highly educated turn out more often than less educated. A classic argument for why democracies need widespread public education is that education makes people better voters. If this is true, then the less educated should show up at the polls less often. They are rationally delegating the decision to their better educated neighbors.

"So the next time a friend of yours tells you he's not voting, don't try to change his mind. It's a good bet that if he's not voting, he's not been following the election closely anyway. Maybe he watched a baseball game instead of the debates. Maybe he is bored silly with all the talk of targeted tax cuts, privatized social security, and campaign finance reform. Maybe he's as ignorant about public policy as those focus groups of undecided voters that are the media's latest darling.

"So rather than pushing your friend to the polls, perhaps you should thank him for staying at home. He's making your vote count just a little bit more."

Nice Comments

At work over the past week, I have received a good number of positive comments on separate occasions for this photo (on Flickr). Every time I tell them I had taken it this past summer, they become surprised and ask me how I did it. Heh. It was nice of them. The bottom photo was taken with the iPhone today.

Narrowing Down the Lenses

I've been doing some research on the higher-tier system I want to use with the D90 (should I get it in the future).

Currently, I'm using a Nikon D40 with a NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, a NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6, and a Sigma 30mm f/1.4. I've been looking for a more rugged and better build system (maybe faster and better image quality too). I have narrowed it down to these few, having considered essential features, reviews, build quality and their cost bracket.

AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED
AF NIKKOR 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF
AF-S NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED VR

For the more fancy stuff:

AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR (likely to be my next lens)
AF DX Fisheye-NIKKOR 10.5mm f/2.8G ED

I just wish Nikon would come out with more updated lenses, namely the wide and normal primes. Any recommendations?