About Me

My Photo

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

 photo 1_zpsfeddfd1a.jpg

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.

 photo 2_zps9152ec38.png

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.

 photo 3_zps1a597fd5.jpeg

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.

 photo 4_zps7903eea9.png

The trails are well-trodden and easy to follow.

 photo 5_zpsfbba65f1.jpg

You're never far from water.

 photo 6_zps3d966534.jpg

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

 photo 7_zps19cadb51.jpg

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

 photo 8_zpsd3f6ca15.jpg

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

 photo 9_zpsc578d46d.jpg

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.

 photo 10_zpsf2f4d565.jpg

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."

 photo 11_zpsbe761177.jpg

But patches of open water appear here and there.

 photo 12_zpsd420c37d.jpg

And that's where the water lilies were abundant.

 photo 13_zpsbb1860b4.jpg

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

 photo 14_zpscacfa413.jpg

There are some nice spots for picnicking.

 photo 16_zpsa481054d.jpg

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

 photo 15_zpsab944bc6.jpg

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.

 photo ticjpg_zps52fea521.jpeg

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.

 photo 20140815_201031_zps8fe49b19.jpg

Delfeayeo was excellent.
 photo 20140815_202753_zps94f38dc9.jpg

Dezron Douglas:
 photo 20140815_211537_zps6d93267a.jpg

 photo 20140815_202733_zpsc1747030.jpg

The piano was off to the side, which limited the view of Ellis Marsalis; but the sound was unaffected.
 photo 20140815_201044_zps4aa3fc9d.jpg

Winard Harper was outstanding:
 photo 20140815_202949_zpsa9d6458d.jpg

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.
 photo 20140815_204040_zpseeefb87f.jpg


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.