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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A daguerreotype photobomb from 1840!

"Daguerreotype portrait of an unidentified man holding a book with another man moving into frame behind him, c. 1840's. One of the earliest examples of photobombing."

Via VintageEveryday and Imgur (click for full size): http://imgur.com/gallery/WK69eW5

A map of every internet-connected device in the world.

Click to embiggify: http://gizmodo.com/a-map-of-every-device-in-the-world-thats-connected-to-t-1628171291

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Freelance Life

I'm fortunate to have a steady gig, but this clip nicely illustrates classic relationships between freelancers and clients:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Exploring Boston: Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

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OK, I admit: this certainly isn't Boston proper. The Ipswich River is a small coastal stream that rises in Burlington MA and empties into the Atlantic (at the town of Ipswich); the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary is about 25 miles from my apartment.

But it's an easy drive, and once you turn even a very short distance east of of the heavily-developed I-95/Rt1 corridor, the land quickly turns rural-ish and quite lovely.

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The Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary is run by Mass Audubon. The sanctuary is criss-crossed by numerous trails that pack 12 miles/19km of length into a very compact area. The sanctuary offers hiking, boating (canoes), and of course, bird- and animal watching.

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We did a simple figure-8 loop, trying to see as much of the water as possible. This GPS-track shows the route we chose; about 3.25 miles/5-ish km.

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The trails are well-trodden and easy to follow.

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You're never far from water.

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It was late for most summer wildflowers and early for autumnal ones, but the water lilies were in full bloom.

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In the wetter spots, the trails are augmented with footwear-saving boardwalks.

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Some of the larger trails have formal bridges, including this stonework.

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Some of the trails we chose meandered along sinuous eskers and over small drumlins; these glacial features allow vegetation that prefers well-drained soils to coexist virtually alongside the water-loving species. The up-and-down over the eskers and drumlins made the walk feel a bit longer than the simple linear measure would suggest.

But many portions were flat and very easy walking.

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Parts of the Ipswich River reminded me a little of the Everglades --- but it's a river of reeds rather than a "river of grass."

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But patches of open water appear here and there.

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And that's where the water lilies were abundant.

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We saw a number of birds, and signs of very recent beaver activity.

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There are some nice spots for picnicking.

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An easy walk back to the visitor center wrapped up the excursion.

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It was a very pleasant late-summer ramble.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Exploring Boston: Ellis and Delfeayo Marsalis at Sculler's Jazz Club

Boston is home to a number of good jazz venues, but two usually bubble to the top of the list: Wally's, and Scullers.

Wally's is the "oldest continuously-operating jazz club in the US;" a kind of hole-in-the-wall place that features professional acts and jam sessions with pros and aspiring musicians from the local colleges and universities, including nearby Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music.

Scullers is a more conventional night spot, with major "name" acts rotating through. It shows up on many "best of" lists: best jazz club, best dinner-and-a-show-venue, etc.The location --- a generic Hilton Doubletree --- is pretty mainstream and standardized, but the music is usually terrific.

(It's called "Scullers" because it's on the Charles River, where rowing teams from BU, Harvard, and other area colleges, practice and compete.)

Last week, I went to Scullers to hear the youngest and oldest musical members of the phenomenally talented Marsalis family play together.

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They're on tour in support of their new album, "The Last Southern Gentlemen." It was an excellent show.

Delfeayo Marsalis plays a very mellow trombone. He's the brother of Wynton Marsalis (trumpeter), Branford Marsalis (saxophonist), and Jason Marsalis (drummer). At Scullers, he played with his grandfather, pianist and music professor Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

The quartet was rounded out by Winard Harper on drums, and Dezron Douglas on stand-up bass.

The club was dark, and I only had a cell phone camera with me; I also didn't use the flash, so as not to disturb the mood or the performers. But you'll get the idea:

We had great seats.

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Delfeayeo was excellent.
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Dezron Douglas:
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The piano was off to the side, which limited the view of Ellis Marsalis; but the sound was unaffected.
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Winard Harper was outstanding:
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The family dynamic was interesting. At one point, a song began with a piano intro by Ellis, leading up to what was supposed to be a trombone lead by Delfeayo --- but the song grabbed Ellis, who wouldn't relinquish the lead. Delfeayo was visibly surprised, but then it became apparent that Ellis' muse had taken over; he was captured by something in the music, and wanted to see where his improvisation was taking him.

Delfeayo good-naturedly left the stage so his grandfather could have the moment, and the spotlight. Ellis played beautifully.
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Scullers offers a dinner-and-a-show package, which I tried; the meal, alas, rated only a "meh." I won't bother eating there again.

But the music was very, very good.

Wally's Jazz cafe is on my must-do list for this fall. It will be fun to compare.