Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Canadian election

Results are in...

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Price Above Rubies

Following on from the 24-hour rule from the previous post... tonight I learned Ruby in about an hour, including some exploration of branches like XML processing, Ruby on Rails, and RubyCocoa for the Mac. Takes me back to the days of Scheme and SNOBOL back in university. Since the advent of Java I've gotten bored with memorizing a zillion variations of IF syntax or array notation. But the way I could immediately grok Ruby made me think it really will be worthwhile to pursue.

John's 24-Hour Rule

One of my most cherished maxims is that anything that's worthwhile to learn or implement, you should be able to do within 24 hours. I've found it's true for everything computer-related. If you get an idea in the morning, you should have a working prototype that evening. If you start researching a subject at lunchtime, by lunchtime the next day you should have developed some expertise in it.

Conversely, if you can't get something working within 24 hours, whatever system you're working with is too user-unfriendly, or the idea is a dead end, or the methodology doesn't match up well with your mindset.

300mm of Fun

This year, Santa brought a new Canon lens, 70-300mm to go on the Canon 20D that was last year's gift.

Recently, we took a vacation down to Santa Cruz where I took pictures of butterflies clumped together on tree branches, and wetsuited surfers riding the waves. In each case, I got some good pictures but only by extensive cropping, losing enough detail that it would be tough to enter those pictures in competition or get good prints.

Hoping to use the new lens soon for some birdwatching pics along the SF Bay shore!

This lens is the mid-range of Canon's 300mm lenses for mere mortals, that is, the ones without "L" glass. The highest-priced one is the super-compact DO model, which uses some optical engineering to give the same amount of telephoto without actually extending the lens. The lowest-priced one is actually a very inexpensive model without Image Stabilization (IS) or Ultrasonic motor (USM). I couldn't justify twice the $$$ for the DO lens just to make the camera easier to handle. I was very tempted by the cheapest model -- it should be affordable for anyone with a Canon SLR -- but the bigger and heavier the lens, the more important the IS and USM features are. No point in having a 300mm lens where I couldn't handhold a steady shot at full zoom!

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The End of Wisdom

Over the Christmas vacation, I had all four wisdom teeth taken out. You'd think after 25 years of peace in the mouthal area, there would be some statute of limitations, but no. Luckily no complications, and I've noticed that I'm a bit lighter due to the week or so of cautious eating.