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Spliced

Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2013

Dave!Flipping through my photos often results in my find two shots that would be better if they were spliced together. Sometimes it works out better than others.

Stonehenge Plain

   

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NOLA One

Posted on Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Dave!One of these days I am going to visit New Orleans and never leave.

It was here in The Crescent City that my life of travel began. Back in 1983 at 17 years old I took my first "real" trip on my own with no parents and no rules. Many important things were found... and lost... in New Orleans 30 years ago, and the city has had a hold on me ever since.

This is my first visit to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in 2005. My previous trip coincided with the 200th anniversary of The Louisiana Purchase in 2003, and I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that it has been an entire decade since I was here last. It doesn't feel like it's been that long.

But a visit to the National World War II Museum makes me feel the time passing. When I last visited there in 2000 after it opened, it was called "The D-Day Museum" and half the size it is now...

WW2 Museum

The new "Victory Theater" expansion houses a special "4-D" movie titled Beyond All Boundaries which features narration by Tom Hanks and other stars. It was pretty good. What was not good was the boring-as-hell Final Mission submarine "simulation" which felt pointless and stupid. Not at all worth the extra money to see. But even if you skip Final Mission, walking to the massive Freedom Pavilion is still worthwhile because of the planes they've got on display...

Freedom Pavilion

There are walkways which literally allow you to walk around the full-size aircraft suspended there...

Freedom Pavilion Walkways

NOT for the faint of heart, however. Those upper walkways really took a toll on my sanity given my crippling fear of heights. Not that they don't warn you...

Freedom Pavilion WARNING!

The exhibits in the main museum are still nice, and has some terrific artifacts to look at...

WW2 Museum

After an early dinner, it was time for a trip to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, which always looks so tame during daylight hours...

Bourbon Street Daytime

Dessert was (obviously) freshly-cooked beignets at Cafe Du Monde...

NOLA Cafe Du Monde

NOLA Beignets

Dusk falls over Jackson Square as I walk the riverfront...

Jackson Square Neew Orleans at Dusk

Apparently Bad Monkey now has his own Mardi Gras beads...

NOLA Monkey Beads

Things start to heat up on Bourbon Street as the sun goes down. Never mind that it's a TUESDAY, it's time to get your party on...

Bourbon Street at Dusk

Bourbon Street Famous Love Acts

And, lest I forget the reason I came here... Hard Rock visit No. 150!

New Orleans New Hard Rock Cafe

New Orleans New Hard Rock Cafe

It's a nice enough cafe... but it's decorated in the shitty "new-style" hipster lounge motif that I hate. The original New Orleans Hard Rock may have had a less-desirable location on Jackson Square, but at least it had a beautiful selection of memorabilia and the classic Hard Rock stylings that define the chain.

And so ends my first packed day in The Big Easy.

   

NOLA Two

Posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Dave!I awoke to rain and overcast skies on a cold New Orleans morning.

My motivation to get out of bed and wander out into that dreary morning was effectively zero. But to waste a day in one of my favorite cities on earth would be a terrible sin, so I sucked it up and decided to visit some places I hadn't been before.

I started out with The Pharmacy Museum, which is a little place on Chartres Street I had never even heard of. As far as museums go, it's pretty tame... but it only costs $5 and there's loads of beautiful old bottle labels to explore...

Pharmacy Museum

Pharmacy Museum Shelves

Pharmacy Museum Bottle Label

They also have a collection of very old eyeglasses and other cool stuff, but a French tour group had their shit spread out all over the cases and would not fucking leave the exhibit, even though there were people trying to take a look. The worst part? THEY WEREN'T EVEN DISCUSSING THE STUFF IN THE ROOM! They were talking about historical figures or something (I'm guessing they didn't want to take it outside because it was raining). What a bunch of rude assholes thinking only of themselves and ruining the experience for everybody else.

Tired of walking in the cold, I decided to take in a couple of book shops, then grab lunch before heading back to my hotel room. But I kept seeing advertisements for Mardi Gras World that looked interesting. I had never visited there before because it used to be across the river. But now it's moved down by the convention center, so I decided to take the piece of shit Riverfront Streetcar* and take a look.

Mardi Gras World is a working facility where they build most of the floats for the 12 days of Mardi Gras parades that happen here every year. They're rather ornate affairs, and the work that goes into building them is pretty intense. So intense that as soon as one Mardi Gras ends (as 2013's just did in February) they immediately start work on next year's 500 floats...

Mardi Gras World Float

There are dozens of huge warehouses packed with floats and the equipment needed to pull them through the streets of New Orleans. The factory tour only runs through half of one warehouse, but it's still a lot to see...

Mardi Gras World Warehouse

Every year, each of the "krewes" responsible for the various parades come up with a new theme. Since the theme is always changing, they have to start from scratch every year. This means building or remodeling all the various big props that are stuck on the floats...

Mardi Gras World Worker

Mardi Gras World Props

Mardi Gras World ALIEN Prop

The tour lasts about an hour and, much to my surprise, the clouds and rain had completely disappeared by the time I was finished, and it was all sunshine and blue skies...

Mardi Gras World Sunny

Now that I wouldn't be slogging around in the cold and rain, I decided to use the free ticket I got from my hotel to visit the Ogden Museum of Southern Art...

Ogden Museum of Southern Art

From their roof terrace, you get a great view of the massive expansion efforts going on at the World War II Museum I visited yesterday...

Ogden Museum Terrace View

On the top floor of the museum there's an exhibit dedicated to the elaborate Indian costumes used during Mardi Gras...

OgdencMuseum Mardi Gras Indian Costume

And, of course, paintings and photos and sculpture featuring Southern life... including this painting of the levies...

Ogden Museum Painting

Next door to the Ogden Museum is the Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall. It's a very nice place, and has quite a few very old artifacts from the war...

Civil War Museum

Unfortunately, there's no photography allowed... but the guy manning the ticket desk said it was okay if I took a long shot of the beautiful building interior...

Civil War Museum Hall

After going back to the hotel and working for a few hours, I decided to go hunt down a falafel wrap for dinner...

Falafel Wrap!

Dessert was at Cafe Du Monde again, of course...

Cafe Du Monde Redux

And thus ends my second (and last) day in The Crescent City. Hopefully it won't be another ten long years before I can visit again... and hopefully that visit will be longer than two days!

   
*Streetcars in New Orleans are always late, never seem to run on schedule, and will skip a stop at random with absolutely no warning. I started at the Ursulines Street stop where the streetcar was 12 minutes late. The stop for Mardi Gras World was the end of the line (John Churchill Chase stop), but the operator decided that he'd randomly eliminate it, forcing me to get off at the Julia Street stop. No warning. No Explanation. No notice of any kind at any station or on the website. Nothing. Just get the fuck out and walk 20 minutes around the convention center because he felt like it, I guess. So, yeah, the streetcars may be a charming New Orleans throwback, but they are complete bullshit for actual transportation needs

   

Goosey

Posted on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Dave!When I was looking for geese to use on the cover for THRICE Fiction No. 7, there was one goose that wasn't going to work... but I liked the way he looked, so I shoved him aside. Today as I was working on another project, he popped up...

Lucy Goosey

   
This is one of the geese that hang around the courtyard at Barcelona Cathedral (also known as "La Seu"). As I started snapping photos, he became curious about the noise from my camera, and just kind of stared at me until I stopped.

Silly goose.

   

Disneyland: Day One!

Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Dave!The nice thing about working in Anaheim? DISNEYLAND!

It's the perfect place to take extended lunch hours for a ride and a meal. And, for this week at least, visiting an exhibit on Iron Man Armor to promote Iron Man 3... arriving in a theater near you on May 3rd!

They relocated Tony Stark's "Hall of Armor" to the Innoventions pavilion in Tomorrowland...

Iron Man Hall of Armor!

Iron Man Hall of Armor!

But the best part? You can SUIT UP to BE Virtual Iron Man!

Iron Man Suit Up!

It kind of works like an Xbox Kinnect game, where you stand in front of a screen with a camera to control the action...

Iron Man Suit Up In Action!

When you start up, the armor comes flying onto you so you can dance, shoot stuff with your repulsors, and fly around...

Iron Man Me!

Really, really cool.

I opted for a pricey (but delicious!) lunch at Wine Country Trattoria, because you can get a dining package which inclides priority viewing for Disney California Adventure's "World of Color" show. The dessert plate was awesome...

Disney Dessert

Off to Paradise Pier for the show...

Paradise Pier at Night

I didn't want to get soaked, so I decided to watch from the second level reserved area, which was perfect. It reminds me of a show I saw as a kid called "Dancing Waters" which was at Sea World in San Diego...

World of Color

It's all water, colored lights, lasers, and projected animation.

World of Color

Pretty cool. And totally worth buying that expensive lunch pacakge to get such great "seats!"

YESTERDAY...

The drive over the mountain passes was pretty harsh. It was snowing like gangbusters, and there was water a half-inch thick on the roadway...

Snowy Passes

Snowy Passes

But, when I got to Seattle, the sky was on fire, so it all turned out okay in the end...

Sky Fire Seattle

Annnnd... I'm spent.

   

Suite?

Posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Dave!Most every single thing I do for my job is with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign. These are the apps I need to do whatever it is I do, and my work would be very difficult indeed without them.

Not to say that there aren't alternatives... there are plenty... but when it comes to the feature-rich tools I know best, and the ability to work together in the way I need them to, Adobe is the only game in town.

It used to be that Adobe apps were purchased like most any software... you buy them. Well, not "buy" per-se, it's more like a "one-time permanent lease payment"... and once you pay your money you can use them for as long as they work for you. This "Creative Suite" can then be upgraded every year or two when Adobe finishes up a new version.

Last year Adobe introduced a new way of using their products... renting. They call it "Creative Cloud" and for fifty bucks a month, they're all yours to use as much as you want...

Adobe Creative Cloud

The good news is that, so long as you keep paying, your apps are always up-to-date. You always have the latest features, and Adobe rolls them out when they're ready rather than making you wait for the next release. That much is really sweet.

But two days ago Adobe announced that "renting" their "Creative Cloud" is now the only way to go. As of now, they are discontinuing "Creative Suite" (for the most part) with the current version 6.

I had already moved to Creative Cloud last year, so this doesn't really affect me. But what if it does?!?

This could be bad.

Because what if Adobe discontinues an app?

As unlikely as it may be, let's say that Adobe kills off Illustrator in a couple years. You can't rent it any more. It's gone. And since you aren't able to buy it, you can't access any of your files created with it. You can't open them. You can't print them. You can't export them for use with another program. All your years of hard work essentially vanishes overnight. Everything you've created in Adobe Illustrator has to be recreated from scratch in a different program. Unless some other app comes along that reads the format.

But that's not all though. There's all kinds of doomsday scenarios that come to mind. What if Adobe doesn't kill an app... but instead raises the price of using it to $1000 a month? Pretty much the same thing, isn't it? You're trapped. You pay what Adobe wants or else you lose everything. Or maybe they don't raise the price... but all of a sudden your financial situation changes and you can't afford the rent? Again, pretty much the same thing. You're locked out and all your stuff is inaccessible.

So I guess this is bad.

And right now I'm more than a little worried.

Adobe needs to do two things to make me feel a bit better about this New World Order...

ONE
Release free "reader" programs for all their apps that at least let you look at your work. And print it. And possibly convert it to an open format so you could take it elsewhere if something happened that you couldn't use Creative Cloud any more. Knowing that I could at least see my work... and ideally export it somehow... would go a long way towards easing my mind and helping me to accept our Adobe Overlords.

TWO
Create smaller bundles of apps. As I said, I use three apps from Creative Cloud. THREE OUT OF WHAT... THIRTY?!? Give or take (some of these are services, not apps, that I won't use)...

Creative Cloud Apps

It feels like a complete rip-off that I have to pay for development of huge bunches of crap I will never (or rarely) use. Even if it were to only save me $10 a month... perhaps by renting a "designer bundle" with only the "Big Three" that I need or something... well... I would feel much better about my rent. As it is, I think it's absurd that I am forced to pay for shit like "Flash Builder Premium" that I would sooner light on fire than ever load onto my computer. This is like the cable company all over again, and it's not a good thing.

Realistically, Number Two will probably never happen. But Number One pretty much has to. If it doesn't... if there's a risk that all my work could become inaccessible tomorrow (for whatever reason)... well... is that a risk I can really afford to take?

Perhaps it's time to start exploring some of those other options?

   

NEX-6

Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Dave!Ever since I returned from my "Wild Africa Trek" back in September, I've been saving up for a new camera. I love my Nikon D90, but it's like a boat anchor hanging around my neck when I'm leaning over cliffs, hiking on rope bridges, and otherwise actively goofing off. It's bulky and heavy and has lenses that are equally bulky and heavy, so I find myself leaving it at home more often than not. My iPhone may not take "great" photos, but it's certainly good enough (and at least it doesn't get in my way).

But what camera to buy? I already have a pocket camera, which is okay, but hardly the quality I'm looking for. A next-generation "mirrorless" camera seemed like the way to go. They're much smaller than a DSLR, but produce similar quality photos. At first I was looking at Nikon and Canon, since those were the brands I was familiar with. But the reviews of Nikon's N-1 were less than stellar... and when I played with Canon's EOS-M it was a piece of crap.

Enter the Sony NEX-7. A serious photographer friend of mine has one and won't shut up about how much he loves the thing. I borrowed it for a couple hours and was suitably impressed. Right then and there I knew that Sony was the camera for me. Though I did bypass the NEX-7 for the newer (and slightly less expensive) NEX-6. It just seemed like a better fit for me...

Sony NEX-6

My "review" and random thoughts on the NEX-6 can be found in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Anywhere

Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2013

Dave!Summer is really here!

And tonight I decided to cut off all my hair again so I  look  feel cool. It's not so much an act of liberation, but one of convenience. And comfort. I just can't take having a sweaty mess on my head when the weather goes from hot to unbearably hot. Especially when I'm traveling.

Giving myself a haircut was the highlight of my day. All I did outside of that was work.

And wish I was anywhere but here. Perhaps here...

Haleakala Sunrise

There are certainly worse places to be than Mt. Haleakala at sunrise.

   

Memorial

Posted on Monday, May 27th, 2013

Dave! Hope everybody is enjoying their Memorial Day weekend.

When I was in Tunisia my tour group consisted mostly of Americans, so the guide was kind enough to drive us through the North Africa American Cemetery where soldiers from World War II are buried. As it was 9-11, the flag was flying at half-mast...

Flag Half-Mast at the Tunis American Cemetery

Tunis American Cemetery

It's very difficult not to think of these fallen heroes far from home when Memorial Day comes to pass.

To all those who paid the ultimate price for our country, I thank you. Your sacrifice and courage will not be forgotten.

   

Randyland

Posted on Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Dave!Back home, safe and sound.

Yesterday Becky took me to Randyland, which is a photographer's dream come true in Pittsburgh. From the minute I saw all the bright colors and craziness that is so beautifully splashed across everything, I knew I wanted to play around with some HDR photos to see what I could capture.

Welcome to Randy's head...

Randyland Corner Street

Randyland Pigs

Randyland Bistro

Randyland Heads

Randy Dinosaurs

Randyland and Becky

Randyland Gator and Snake

Randyland Garden

Randyland Imp

Randyland Doors

Randyland Signpost

If you're ever in the Pittsburgh area, Randyland is well worth checking out!

   

CC

Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2013

Dave!Adobe Creative Cloud has arrived.

Adobe software upgrades are usually a reason to celebrate, but their controversial decision to make a monthly Creative Cloud membership the only way to use such popular apps as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign has made a lot of people upset and angry. Sure you can still buy the old CS6 software, but any new stuff is members only. This kind of sucks, because if you aren't able to pay your monthly fee, any files saved in the newer CC format become useless. And, of course, to use the latest features you have to save in CC format. Catch-22.

Regardless, I thought I'd give a quick overview of the thing for anybody out there who's curious. And if you don't even know what Creative Cloud is? Hark! A promo video...

And now for this Creative Cloud business...

The bad news is that Adobe still doesn't beta test anything before release. Or, if they do, they do a really crappy job of it. Just as it's always been with their apps, I've found bugs and problems on my very first day. How the fuck Adobe can miss or overlook stuff that I run across after mere minutes of use is just beyond me. The only thing I can guess is that they know their users don't have any realistic alternative to their tools so they just don't give a shit.

Anyway...

Everything I cover will be on a Mac, because I honestly don't give a flying fuck about Windows anymore after Microsoft released the horrendous pile of shit known as "Windows 8." If you're using that hot mess of an OS, I apologize, but, damn.

Creative Cloud Logo

   
The boat-load of apps that come with a Creative Cloud membership are now managed by a menu bar extension. I thought this was a lot nicer than the previous method of hunting down Adobe's Application Manager app, but the thing is (of course) buggy and defective, so it's a mixed bag. Never mind that it doesn't update itself after an app is installed (you have to restart your Mac for that), there is a much bigger problem. In that most times when you switch between Apple's virtual desktops (called "Spaces") the damn thing activates. That's right, it just opens up for no reason at all. And this is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about when I question whether Adobe bothers to test their shit. I ran across this problem immediately after installation. How in the hell did Adobe's beta testers not notice it? Do they ignore basic Mac OS X features? This is fucking insane. And the fact that Adobe isn't embarrassed by things like this speaks volumes for what you're getting into when you sign up for their products.

But I digress. The menu extension looks like this...

Creative Cloud Menu

It's nice that you're told if your app is up-to-date, even though it makes the menu window huge. Oddly enough, if an app is not up to date, Creative Cloud doesn't have the ability to update it. Instead it launches Adobe Updater, which is kind of crazy. Why have one tool that can handle multiple tasks when you can clutter up a hard drive with two? Or, more likely for Adobe, twenty?

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

If you are a professional, you'll want to install the new CC apps next to your old CS6 apps in case you run into some heinous bug that prevents you from getting work done. Thankfully, this is fully supported. But what if you're a rebel like me who only wants the new apps? Do you have the option of overwriting Photoshop CS6 with Photoshop CC? Of course you don't! That would be too fucking convenient, and Adobe has a reputation for shitty, inconvenient installers, so that's not going to happen.

Welcome to Adobe manual uninstallation! It's stupidly inconsistent, but that's the Adobe way!

Some apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat have uninstaller apps in their folders. That's not so bad, right? Well, sure... if they worked. The uninstaller for InDesign hanged and had to be force-quit. The unistaller for Acrobat said that Acrobat was an invalid application to uninstall. You get the picture. Though at least they have uninstallers. Apps like Bridge don't. Regardless of how much work you put into uninstalling (Mac App Cleaner helped a lot), you still end up with traces of crap scattered over your hard drive. I did a search to root out all things "Adobe" so I could trash them, but I'm sure pieces are still around somewhere. Guess reformatting my hard drive is the only way to truly clean out old Adobe apps?

After installation... which was surprisingly smooth and easy... I thought I'd just quit Creative Cloud since I wouldn't be needing it the rest of the day. But, surprise!, Creative Cloud doesn't like that because Creative Cloud doesn't fucking know if it's working on an installation or not!

Creative Cloud Quit Warning!

I suppose it's possible that Creative Cloud hands off installation to yet another app but, if that were the case, why would quitting cancel the install app? Insanity.

In what I can only describe as some kind of bizarre tease, two of Creative Cloud's non-app functions... Cloud File Storage and Cloud Typekit Fonts... are "coming soon"...

Adobe Coming Soon!

   
The third non-app function is Adobe's acquisition of "Behance" which is an online portfolio you can share with people. I'm already using Deviant Art for my portfolio, but it's free so I went ahead and signed up. Eventually I might even put something there.

And that's pretty much it for Creative Cloud.

But what about the new CC apps? Are the new features in Photoshop any good? Does Illustrator have any cool new toys? Does InDesign finally have decent performance at long last? Tune in tomorrow and see!

UPDATE! And the hits just keep coming. Turns out that Creative Cloud saying an app is "up-to-date" is not always true...

Adobe Update Update!

Shocking.

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Creative

Posted on Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Dave!Yesterday I took a look at Adobe's "Creative Cloud" app. Today I'm going to look at the "Big Three" apps within Creative Cloud... Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

But before I go there, I have to come clean and admit that most of Adobe's updates have pretty much been "fluff" to me. Yeah, it's cool to get time-savers like the "Spot Healing Brush" and cool extras like "Perspective Drawing Tools"... but, overall, the basic stuff you need to do the job have been around for a long time and everything else they keep adding is nothing more than fluff.

My problem is that I like the fluff.

I get giddy every time Adobe drops some new nifty feature that makes my job easier... or more fun.

Unfortunately, I think we're getting to the point where the fluff is starting to affect app performance, and that's a problem. Kinda. So let me get the worst out of the way first...

   
InDesign CC
In a nutshell? Fucking horrendous. The program is practically unusable now.
Should you upgrade? Only if you enjoy excrutiating pain and endless frustration.

By the time Adobe bought out Aldus PageMaker in 1994, I had already moved on to QuarkXpress for page layout. The problem being that I hated Quark. So when Adobe came out with InDesign, I jumped... nay, I bolted to InDesign... and never looked back. Partly because I loathed Quark so badly... but mostly because I loved what Adobe had done with InDesign.

Fast forward to yesterday and I have to ask... what the fuck is Adobe doing with InDesign?

The previous CS6 update felt slower than CS5 and crashed quite a bit. But it's an absolute joy to use compared to InDesign CC, which is ungodly slow and clunky. The lag when typing text is agonizing. Moving objects is sheer torture because they... just... won't... move. Even hiding all the images and turning off every automated feature doesn't help speed things up much. I could go on, but it's pointless to do so because InDesign CC is pretty much unusable and worthless.

But before I go, a question... why the fuck hasn't Adobe gotten off their asses and hidden the temp files that have been shitting all over my hard drive since InDesign 1.0?

InDesign Temp

   
Illustrator CC
In a nutshell? Not a lot to see here, move along.
Should you upgrade? Sure. You get a few nice pieces of fluff and I haven't found a down-side.

Adobe Illustrator is my most favorite program ever. I love Illustrator. It's powerful. It's comfortable. It's friendly. And the pen tool I use constantly to draw stuff is sublime. It also doesn't hurt that I'm really, really good at it. Just so long as Adobe doesn't break something, I'm excited by any new feature they want to throw my way. This time I'm especially excited by the free-transform tool (which allows you to distort objects oh so easily, especially with a touch screen)... the "touch text" tool (which allows you to perform really slick adjustments to live text)... the smarter Smart Guides (which is much needed)... and the nifty stuff they've done with brushes (like automatically generating corners and allowing you to use images and brushes). Granted, that's not a lot. But Illustrator is so amazing it really doesn't have to be. Overall a minor, unobtrusive, and welcome upgrade.

   
Photoshop CC
In a nutshell? Pretty great fluff this time. No noticeable slowdown from the additional features.
Should you upgrade? Only if you have confirmed that any third-party plugins you need are compatible.

Photoshop is a stunning example of what people mean when they use words like "invaluable" and "essential." It is the irreplaceable tool I need to do my job. I use it most every single day and love it more than chocolate pudding. So how does Adobe make a great thing greater? Welllll... the show-stopper this time is "Shake Reduction" which is a really smart, mostly-automatic, all-new version of "Smart Sharpen." And the results are pretty impressive...

Hard Rock Shaken
Oops. In my defense, my camera didn't have image stabilization. And I was drunk.

Hard Rock Unshaken
Yes. This. With just a press of a button. Is it magic? It's Photoshop.

And, speaking of Smart Sharpen, that's been improved too.

Next up? Camera Raw now only works as a filter now for quickly working on non-RAW images, but they've added some new toys too... like auto spot removal. And a cool little feature called "Automated Upright" which will allow you to more quickly and easily straighten buildings and stuff...

Photoshop Auto Upright

When enlarging photos... especially ones with well-defined edges... I usually use a third-party enlargement plugin that has edge detection or fractals or some method to preserve details in the image. Now Photoshop has a new enlargement method called "Preserve Details." And it works pretty well...

Photoship Preserve Details
It's tough to tell at this small size, but the "Preserve Details" enlargement on the right is much better.

There are other new features, improvements, and a few tweaks... but the above three are the biggies. And I think they're worth the price of admission when taken in a lump sum. But there is a down-side. Some of my third-party plugins are not working. Most notably, Imagenomic Noiseware. Until you're sure that your essential plugins can work with Photoshop CC you might want to hold off upgrading.

   
And there you have it. A mixed bag. Mostly thanks to a jaw-droppingly shitty InDesign update.

But also because Adobe can't be bothered to make their apps work well with my Mac. Full-Screen support is broken. Still. And my Magic Mouse acts like a total spaz with accidental scrolls and crappy tracking even though it's been out for nearly four years... so I have to downgrade to my Mighty Mouse, which is much older, but does work for some reason. Yet Adobe did expand Mac Retina Display support, so what do I know?

Now that we're stuck in the Creative Cloud I'm already looking for sunnier weather. Because even though I love Adobe and their critical tools which allow me to to what I do... they simply cannot continue to unleash horrendous piles of shit like InDesign CC any more.

Ever.

When you're responsible for something "invaluable" and "essential," you have to do better than that.

   

Delight?

Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Dave!Yesterday morning I had to head back over the mountains early so I could make it to work on time. The drive is usually 2-hours, 15-minutes... but I always budget 2-1/2 hours just in case something weird happens.

Like some asshole in front of me deciding to drive 15 miles an hour under the speed limit while in a no-passing zone for 20-minutes.

Or, more likely, because I have to stop at McDonalds for breakfast. Which went something like this...

      "Welcome to McDonald's! Would you like to try our new Egg White Delight McMuffin Sandwich?"

      "What? — No. — Oh gross. No."

      "Sorry, we have to ask. What can I get for ya?"

Now, I'm not doubting her word... I'm sure they really are required to ask people to try the Egg White Delight. My question is why? Do they expect that you'll order that hideous-sounding sandwich in addition to what you're already buying? That's not very realistic. Best case scenario is that you'll eat that egg white shit-sandwich instead of what you were already going to buy. Are they cheaper to make, thus more profitable or something? I doubt it. So I just don't get it.

Especially since the Egg White Delight McMuffin looks like this...

McDonalds Egg White Delight McMuffin

Oh hell no.

Because that photo comes directly from McDonalds where it was undoubtedly styled perfectly and still looks like shit. I can only guess how utterly awful it looks "in real life." The best part of an egg is the yolk, and I sure as hell ain't going to go for a sandwich without it. Go sell that disgusting, slimy, mass of vomit-inducing hell to somebody else, McDonalds.

And speaking of food styling... this is what I'm talking about...

From experience, I can tell you that a really good food stylist is worth their weight in gold. The better they are at making stuff look amazing, the less time you have to spend in Photoshop!

But even the best food stylist in the universe would have trouble making the Egg White Delight McMuffin look edible.

= shudder =

   

Day Five – Hội An (Part Two)

Posted on Friday, October 11th, 2013

Dave!And here we are for "Part Two" of my second day in Hội An.

As this was a "Day on Your Own" for our group, I had booked a morning photo tour months ago. Then yesterday our Disney guides tell everybody that they have organized a trip to the "Marble Mountains" and I was like "Oh crap! I'd like to see that!" and I was bummed that I would miss it.

But no worries... this is Disney after all... and so the guides arranged to have the hotel take four of us to Marble Mountains when we got back. Turns out they're a cluster of hills which are filled with caves and tunnels, and became a Buddhist retreat where many pagodas and grottoes can be found.

The main "mountain" has a path you can climb but, since we were short on time, we took a newly-installed elevator part-way up. From there you can see other "mountains" in the chain...

On Top of Marble Mountain

I probably only ended up seeing a small part of the stuff that seems to be packed into every nook and cranny, but what I did see was pretty spectacular...

Marble Mountain Pagoda

Marble Mountain Buddha Wheel Vietnam

Marble Mountain Hoi An Dragon

Marble Mountain Entry Way

My favorite part was this massive cave with sunlight streaming in. Just past the light there's a small Buddha statue waiting...

Marble Mountain Cave Light

Marble Mountain Cave Buddha

Marble Mountain Cave Light

Marble Mountain Cave Tiger

Everywhere you look, you see something that pretty much looks like I dropped out of an Indiana Jones film...

Marble Mountain Arch

Marble Mountain Tree

I only had an hour-and-a-half to walk around and, before I knew it, I was having to head back down the mountain. But not before searching for a bathroom and running across yet another Buddha, temple, and cave...

Marble Mountain White Buddha

Marble Mountain Temple

Marble Mountain Lucky Buddha

So... pretty much a must-see destination if there ever was one.

And when we got back to the resort? It was time for a barbecue and... the DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY!

Hit the Beach Disney Pin!

Hmmm... well, the only beach I saw today was littered with fish guts and garbage, but I finally have a pin with Mickey Mouse on it, so I'll take it!

   

Day Thirteen – Angkor

Posted on Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Dave!After two weeks of jam-packed Disney magic in Southeast Asia, I knew that I would need a day to recover from it all. And so I booked an extra day at the end of my vacation, just so I could lie around the resort and relax for 24-hours before making the long trip back home.

At least that was the plan.

Turns out it is impossible to hang around Cambodia's Angkor Wat region and do nothing. So out I went in the crushing heat so I could see a few things that I had missed yesterday. Starting with an hour tuk-tuk ride out to Banteay Srei. It'a a temple famous for the "pinker" stone used to building it, along with lots of nifty wood-carvings...

Tuk-Tuk North

Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei

Then a ride back South to the island temple of Neak Pean...

Neak Pean

Neak Pean

Followed by a stop at Preah Khan...

Preah Khan

Preah Khan

It was here I ran into something very cool... a Cambodian boy painting pictures to sell...

Preah Khan Boy Painting

This was such a refreshing change from the throngs of kids selling cheap souvenir crap from China that nobody wants (JUST ONE DOLLAR!!!) that I couldn't pass it up. He was asking $15... I could have bargained down to $10 (or less)... so I paid him $20...

Preah Khan Boy Painting

Then into the town of Siem Reap proper for a look at where the new Hard Rock Cafe will be when it opens next year...

Hard Rock Siem Reap

Yeah. Won't be sad about having to come back here in a year or two to see it... that's for sure!

And, lastly, a stop at Peace Cafe so I could eat some amazing (and cheap!) vegetarian food...

Peace Cafe, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Peace Cafe Salt & Pepper, Siem Reap, Cambodia

And play with their cat, who was crawling all over me the minute I walked up to take his photo...

Peace Cafe Cat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Peace Cafe Cat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

And that would be the end of my adventures through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. I'd do a wrap-up of my vacation, but I have to head to the airport here in a few minutes to begin the long trip home.

   

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