365 Week 1

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And that’s seven! The first week of 365 has been great. No photographers-block as yet!

I’m limiting myself to just a few shots each day and a minimum of fussing in Photoshop/Lightroom. It seems to be going quite well.

Only 51 weeks to go.


365 days of photos

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Tomorrow I’ll take a photograph of something I see, import it into Lightroom, agonise over it for hours, export and upload it to a website. The following day I’ll do the same thing. And the day after that.

And every day until 30 June 2015. Three hundred and sixty five photographs in as many days.

Why?

  1. Community. My friends and colleagues at Sunrise undertook this challenge last year. David set up a site and folks posted their work there. Many of them are redoing the challenge this year, and I feel like joining them.
  2. Practice. I want to exercise the photograph-making muscle more regularly. Weeks can go by without my fairly nice camera 1 being taken out its bag.
  3. Consistency. Dan Benjamin often remarks that the secret to success is showing up consistently and doing what you said you’ll do. Well, outside of the most mundane of daily tasks, I can’t think of anything I’ve done consistently for an entire year. This is a test to see if I can change that.

I’m scared.

  1. I shoot a Canon 650D with a couple of entry-level Canon lenses. Current favourite is the EF 40mm f/2.8.


My First Mac

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I often feel a pang of regret that I came to the Mac so late in its return to popularity. My corner of the internet is littered with epic stories of the Mac in the 80’s, heroric tales of the dreadful 90’s and the renasiance from ‘97 into the early 2000s.

I grew up in the early 90’s in Cape Town. While the Macintosh was not doing well globally, it was doing even worse in South Africa. Apple had pulled out of the country in 1985 as a result of the then government’s policy of apartheid making them difficult to find and very expensive.

Our house had a IBM PC clone with a monochrome orange screen running MS-DOS 5. It was at that blinking “C:>” DOS prompt that I developed a love for computers. I typed up projects in Word Perfect 5.1 and studied the “toolbar” that my father had attached to the top of our keyboard. It wad three rows and twelve columns. The rows represented the modifer keys CTRL, ALT and SHIFT, while the columns were aligned with the “F” function keys. I learned to spell through playing Space Quest and Police Quest… and King’s Quest! I made a menu appear at startup through what I thought was some impressive autoexec.bat hackery.

But as I read Stephen Hackett and John Siracusa detailing their early and formative experiences with the Macintosh, I can’t help feeling like I missed out. What I do know is that there was something deeply formative about learning DOS on that clunky PC clone. I remember bawling my eyes out when I had to tell my mom and dad that I’d accidentally run RD C:/ and formatted the entire drive. I remember the feeling of finding QBasic for the first time.

Years later I would use a Mac for the very first time. It was 1999 and we were at Legoland during a family holiday to the UK. My dad had booked my brother and I into the Mindstorms Programming Class.

Yeah, when your parents are teachers, you’re going to be coerced into something educational wherever you go!

We sat down at these funny looking computers and were shown around. I was floored. The monitors where blue in colour and semi-transparent, the mouse was this funny round disc and I couldn’t figure out where the tower was hidden. The software looked unlike anything I’d ever used, but oddly familiar. I’d seen these windows and icons in computer books at the library. That afternoon we programmed Lego robots to drive around the room, pick things up and make sounds. And we did this all from an incredible little Apple computer.

Eight years later I finally bought my first Mac. It was a late-2007 Macbook Pro. I was in my third year of university studies and used up every last cent of my savings to buy it. This was before the era of unibody construction, button-less trackpads and solid state drives. It had a 15” glorious matte screen, a screaming-fast Intel Core 2 Duo and Nvidia graphics. Driving home I wondered if this machine had been worth all that money.

And then I kinda never wondered again.


Rebooting

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Most years I spend a couple of days in December planning for the year ahead. That process usually results in a blog post detailing my broad goals and ideas for the year ahead. This year is a bit different.

After five years at Umoya and seven years working on Staffroom full-time, I’ve found myself facing a fresh start in a completely new job and in a totally different industry. I’m now working at Sunrise Productions as a Senior Developer.

Initially I’ll be helping the CG Pipeline team with some tools development - specifically for Maya and Houdini. New, unknown, exciting. It’s a massive change, but I must admit that my first week has been fantastic. Sometimes the most uncomfortable decision turns out to be the best decision.

So here’s to the next chapter…

Update 2014-05-18: Staffroom was sold to EiffelCorp in April 2014.


Battle won, now the war

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Derek Keats says it best:

Freedom requires vigilance, and understanding as we move into new domains where it is contested, and new forces act to take it away. This past month or so, a number of us came together as FOSS businesses, activists, and concerned citizens to challenge the DBE on the contents of Circular S9. It seems that DBE listened.

The Department of Basic Education has withdrawn the requirement to switch to the proprietary Delphi programming language and Microsoft Office software.