False expertise from lack of experience

Sometimes I get into places on the Interet where I am not sure I know why that I am there. There is no map out there as to where you should focus your time. I like to try a lot of things since this is a very new world for almost everyone. New tools, sites, and ways of relating to each other pop up all the time.

Bogue Inlet Pier SunriseI do everything from share things on Google reader to trying new things like Squidoo and having a rarely visited spot on MySpace. I have several blogs and photos at Flickr and Picasa Web Albums.

I have accounts at Digg and del.icio.us. I even use Linkedin.

One thing that I am very passionate about is my photographs. I recently posted one on Spock. It got deleted.

I have tried to figure out how a sunrise of pier taken on the beach was offensive. Maybe I do not understand the whole concept of Spock. That is a distinct possibility.

My only other guess is that some expert decided the photo looked altered. That brings up an interesting point which has had some discussion on the Internet recently with the disclosure that someone using Photoshop placed a herd of antelope under a train bridge to make a point about the lack of environmental harm from a new rail line.

It is very easy to alter photos. The challenge is present photo which looks as close to the original scene as possible. That is the commitment that I make with every photo that I share, and I share a bunch including a number that have been on television recently. Sometimes you might make a mistake getting it exactly like your eyes saw it, but most people doing this try really hard to stick to the scene. Cameras are machines and aren’t perfect. Also my eyes might not see things exactly like your eyes.

I have taken literally thousands of sunrise and sunset pictures. I am sure the total is approaching 30,000. I have a site with ones I took over the years in Roanoke, Va. I have a few there where I played with some artistic results so I know the difference.

I am often shooting right into the sun. Sometimes I get some unbelievable results. I never do anything other than crop, straighten, and sometimes adjust the lighting on the color to the way my eyes captured the scene. I often have lots of photos to help me do that.

If you have done a lot of shooting directly into bright sunlight, you know that it is a challenge to capture a scene without optical artifacts that are not in the scene. They end up in the pictures that you take with the camera, but your eye does not see them.

Very often the camera darkens a scene in order to handle the sunlight.

The biggest thing that I do to capture amazing sunsets is to use the optical zoom on my cameras. Very often a scene can look very ordinary from a distance but will be spectacular close up.

The picture in this post is unaltered. It is right out of iPhoto and stuck on the web with no modifications or touch ups.

This is the same picture that has been inserted into a webpage by Photoshop. My eyes cannot tell much difference.

I have taken the unusual step of posting the over 110 photos that I took that morning of March 31, 2007 including the ones that washed out. I think it is useful for people to see how the light changes depending on the camera angle and the direction.

Somewhere in the process I come out with some very nice photos. Sometimes I will take a photo and make sure the blue in it matches the blue in one like the one at the top of the page. In my mind, I have declared that the true blue that my eyes saw that day.

Now there might be other reasons that someone removed my photo from Spock, but other than it was over 400K, I cannot think of one.

So I have to think that a person with a false sense of expertise or who has been too lazy to ever get up and watch a few thousand sunrises voted my picture off.

It is a real picture. Check out the two series of over 110 photos taken with my Nikon DSLR and my Panasonic Luminix cameras.

Nikon Bogue Inlet Sunrise

Panasonic Bogue Inlet Sunrise

They are amazing photos.

They are not amazing from being run through Photoshop.

They are great photos because I was in the right place at the right time with the right light.

That is the integrity that I bring to the process.

River and mind fog

River FogToday, December 29, the air temperatures on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast are so warm that fog is forming over some of the rivers.

Sometimes I think we live in a fog of technology. While the river fog will go away when the weather changes, I think we have to work at losing the technology fog.

Almost every home has a computer, and lots of people depend on email to do their jobs and to stay in touch with friends.

Most people, not including my wife, use a cell phone with a camera phone.

Wireless networks are everywhere, and few homes are without an all in one printer/scanner/copier.

Then there are the digital cameras and movie cameras. We have HD televisions with HDMI inputs so I suppose the next thing is a Blue Ray or HD DVD.

We were in Best Buy the other day and actually stopped for a couple of minutes to look at a comparison between Blue Ray and regular DVD. I will admit to the Blue Ray images being stunning.

What I can do with the technology that we already have in the home and that which is accessible on the web like geotagging and Google Earth is astonishing.

While I cannot yet send an image that rivals Blue Ray, I can send some very stunning images.

Someone sent me some fantastic images that are going around the web. While my images might not be quite in the same class, they aren’t bad. I think a lot of people can say that these days.

We have such good tools today, that anyone can be an expert, by capturing an image, balancing the color a little, and easily sending it by email or MMS.

Not only can you send it to someone, but likely they will be able to get it even if they are traveling. There is so much content, some of it very high quality, and delivered very quickly that we are in an information fog.

There are people who have trouble processing it all. And above all it is harder and harder to get information to stand out.
It is easy to lose track of what you want to focus on because there is so much information. Sometimes it is more than you want or need to know.

There are times you have to back away from the technology and what it delivers until you can see through the fog.

Too much information can take away your decision making ability. Maybe I am old school, but once in a while you have to go with a gut feeling and not let yourself get overwhelmed with instantaneous high tech data.  Once in a while, all this high tech stuff lets you turn something not so appealing into something not exactly as good as it looks.

Maybe it helps to go back to a basic computer that does not overwhelm you with its possibilities. I am trying that with a new Zonbu computer.

The operating system lock

Fall on the coastSometimes our technology decisions keep us on a certain path that is hard to leave.

Most of the world uses Microsoft operating systems.

There are some significant minorities out there.

That would include those using Linux and Apple’s OS X along with those who don’t use technology at all.

So I wonder how does going down one operating system path impact the rest of your life.

I once penned a post, The liberal Mac and the conservative PC. In the post I guessed that people who bought PCs bought them for a specific task while Mac users purchased their computers for what they might do.

I think there are very few PC people who fall in love with their computers. There are a number of Mac users who find computing close to a religious experience.

I recently bought a PC for a specific use, to handle the real estate forms that I need in my career as a real estate agent.

I don’t feel any different from buying a PC except maybe I am very happy to have some a significant chunk of change.

Admittedly this isn’t my first PC, I have a Dell desktop that I bought three years ago, and on which I ran Linux off of one hard drive while running Windows XP on the main drive.

I don’t get too excited about computers since they are everywhere.

I do wonder if never having left your operating system is something akin to never having left your hometown or traveled overseas.

If you haven’t enjoyed the agony of viruses or the ecstasy of a Steve Jobs keynote is your life somehow incomplete?

Does that operating system lock prevent one from seeing the big picture. There are plenty of people who have used multiple operating systems, do we occupy a special space as the gurus who which path someone should follow?

Actually, I think a case could be made that operating systems are so similar today and so much happens in the world of Google, including their applications, that there is very little difference in the capabilities of computers or their users.

Character

beachI have heard it said that your real character shows late at night when you are alone, and no one can see what you’re up to.

While that is probably true, the problem for the rest of us is that no one is there to see you, so we cannot figure out your character.

Maybe your character shows on a nearly deserted beach like this one near Emerald Isle, NC. At least someone might catch a glimpse of what you are doing.

Actually I think technology has made it much easier to see inside that protective coating which keeps most people from knowing who we really are. It has nothing to do with cameras or surveillance.

So how does technology reveal our character?

Sometimes it is as simple as technology providing anonymity through a nickname with instant messaging.

Most often it just provides distance or a buffer from real personal interaction.

What better to really tell someone off than in a voicemail or perhaps a cell phone call where the connection is so bad that they can’t even fight back?

Then of course there is the flaming email which is well known to all corporate dwellers.

In a sense people really do hide behind the technology. Technology lets the real person sneak out without fear of consequences that might come from a face to face confrontation.

The other day, I had someone go off the deep end in a phone call. They said things which they should have never let slip out of their mouths. I seriously doubt if the conservation would have been anything near that had it taken place in person or face to face.

What it did let me see is the real person who masquerades behind a facade of civility. I now know that the person is someone whom I probably rather avoid, especially in business dealings.

I recently had another illuminating moment with a business partner.   His real character wasn’t revealed by technology but the way he said something had almost the same effect.

He decided that he wanted to get out of a joint business deal with me. Instead telling me directly, he waited to dump it all on my wife while I was at work.  My wife had not been involved in setting up the deal, and actually wanted no part of it.  She had even recommended against it.

It is probably one of the more cowardly episodes that I have ever heard.  It is perhaps something that only a very small minded person would do especially since it almost knocked my wife into depression.

His actions showed a complete lack of real character. It was pretty obvious that his only consideration was his self. I actually cannot think of someone who has so grossly violated the code by which most men of honor operate.

I guess it goes to show that while technology can reveal a lack of character, those completely without character don’t need technology’s help in showing their lack of worth.

I have an interesting post on the concept of “Sour Grapes” at my Blogger site.  I wrote it after an Apple maniac decided my purchase of a Windows laptop was based on dissatisfaction with my former career at Apple.

The machines that own us

combineThey say that machines are supposed to work for us.

For a long time I have been skeptical of that.

When I bought my first tractor back in 1971, a very intelligent Uncle of mine said that to really pay for it, I would have to run it day and night.

Well I haven’t yet figured out how to work without a little sleep so I still can’t do that. Perhaps it’s good that I no longer own tractors.

Now I just have to run computers day and night to make them pay for themselves. Still when you have a machine worth a few hundred thousand dollars, it just blows my mind to see that it is only one man and the machine. While this combine was grabbing corn and shelling it (the work of many people), there was another tractor with an auger wagon almost full of corn.

I’m sure the combine driver would finish a load and head home for lunch and come back with an empty wagon. It seems so weird that one person with machinery can do so much work.

I saw another example which I had been waiting to see.

We went over to Beaufort, NC to have a look at Blackbeard’s cannon which had just been raised to the surface after nearly three hundred years under water.

There were some reporters from local television stations setting up to do stories. At least one of them happen to be reporter and crew in one person. She got the camera running and started talking in front of it. She checked the film she had done and then interviewed someone with a camera crew.

I am not so sure, but the machines might be winning.

The information glut

Just right beachThere is something interesting that can happen if you write a lot on the web on specific topics.

You can end up being your own expert. That’s fine in theory but has some problems if you want to expand your knowledge.

Sometimes the web can be a crude tool when you used for search. Most books aren’t on the web, and we end up being reciprocal experts.

I provide you with information for the area you’re interested in, and you provide what I am looking for today.

We can do little more than hope that each of us is doing a good job. Considering it is hard enough to get anyone to proof your free writing for spelling errors, I seriously doubt that we will have much luck finding folks with the time to start checking for accuracy.

I hope we can keep ourselves from one hundred percent reliance on the web.

The reality is  that much of the web information is never validated. We have more information than we could ever hope to grasp, yet much of it means little.  We should be careful what we believe.

Maybe one of these days all those old encyclopedias will be worth something, or we will get some web sources that we can count on for accuracy.

Communicating without connecting

Roanoke ValleyWe have more ways to communicate today than ever before.

There is instant messaging, smart phones, voice mail, email, presentations, and even the venerable memos.

Sometimes it seems that we are saying more and understanding less.

We have lots of ways to say things and plenty gets said.

Often in spite of all the communication, people don’t understand each other.

Part of the problem is people don’t say what they mean. Another challenge is that some folk hear what they want to hear.

The challenge is to not only get the audience’s attention but to set the stage so that a properly crafted message hits receptive ears.

Few people can do this consistently. There are lots of tips that can help get a message across, most of them don’t involve technology and certainly not Powerpoint slides.

If I could pick one thing as important in setting the stage and delivering a message, I would pick consistent eye contact.

If you cannot look a person in the eye and say what you have to say, then don’t bother saying it.