Monday, July 31, 2006

2004 Mary Michelle Cyntiana

This past weekend, I tried a bottle of 2004 Mary Michelle Cyntiana. It's a wine created right here in Illinois. The Cyntiana grape (a.k.a. the Norton grape), grows well in the southern Illinois climate. The wine is a light-bodied, medium-dry red with a fruity (but not sweet) flavor and a clean finish. At $10 a bottle, it's a great value. Try one out and support the Illinois wine industry!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nikon D70 Troubles

A few months ago, I turned on my D70 and the little green disk activity light blinked, blinked, blinked, and kept blinking until the battery died. I couldn't get into the menus, either, because every time the menu blinked, the device reset. There was pretty much nothing I could do. At first I thought the microdrive had failed (it is a spinning hard drive, after all). But replacing it for a solid state CF card disproved that theory.

Since then, I've had "call Nikon" on various TODO lists, but it always made me kind of sick to think that I had to send the camera in for service. Well, today I decided to actually do the first step of that TODO—find the number to call.

Lo and behold, I added "d70" to one of my Google queries (not just "nikon service") and found a service advisory. Apparently this is a known issue, and for whatever reason, they're offering "complimentary service." Sweet! (Sweet relatively speaking, since I'd rather not have any problems.) Good to know they stand behind their products.

In other camera news, I recently ordered the Canon SD700IS. I have the D70 (or, will have it again soon) and a crappy camera on my phone. I've wanted a pocket-sized point-and-shoot model for social shots, etc, when I don't want or need the quality of the D70. I should get it tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mapopolis Transformer

I mentioned earlier the tool I wrote to view my GPS trail in 3D on Google Earth. I cleaned up the program, added some comments, documentation, error handling, logging, etc, and released it. Download Mapopolis Transformer. Run it and hit F1 to see the help doc. I don't know if anyone will really use this program, but I thought it would be fun to release it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Great run

After spending a week at altitude (around 8000 or 9000 feet), my body started to get acclimated to the reduced oxygen. Plus I got quite a bit of physical exercise with all the hiking. There was also the uphill sprint, where David, Ryan and I sprinted up a 60-degree rocky grade, cutting each other off and sliding for about 60 vertical feet. Man, we all panted when we stopped and could not catch our breath.

Anyway, I went for a run yesterday for 3.6 miles, plus a little walking to cool down brought me to 4 miles. I think that's my best run yet since probably track in high school! Go me! Or, go extra red blood cells! (Or is it an increase in 2,3-bisphosphoglycerate? I love clicking around Wikipedia.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My vacation in 3D

Last week I went on vacation to Angel Fire, NM (a ski valley outside of Taos) with my family. I went on a lot of hikes and brought along my GPS unit. Check out what a little code to transform the log file into KML brought out. Install Google Earth, and then open the KML of my trip. Make sure you have 3D terrain enabled. You can see some of the pictures I took (sorry—cameraphone only) in the exact location where I took them. I'll make the code available to transform from Mapopolis to KML upon request (or when I polish it up a little first).

Edit: By request, here's a screenshot. So now if you're Mike and you don't want to install Google Earth, you can still get a feel for the end result.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Is Jon Stewart a danger?

Check out this video clip from Scarborough Country. Good times. The study claims that the host of the fake news show is a danger to American democracy because he makes voters more cynical and thus less likely to vote.