hello everybody

The laptop is suffering from an imbalance of the humors, most likely a melancholic hard drive or even a phlegmatic logic board. I won't be certain until the good doctors at the UDC can identify its temperament.

It's a good thing I recently backed up all of my data.

I'll be offline for the most part until it comes back from its trepanation.


I hate 'em. I hate the repetitiveness. Inevitably, I put them off for so long that they turn into big unwieldy messes that take hours to do. I hate "mega-task" chores. If I clean the kitchen, I hate that I have to do all the dishes, scrub all the pots, wipe down the stove, the microwaves, clean the counters, hand wash knives and chopsticks, clear out the fridge, sweep the floors, and then mop. I read about a technique on about breaking up mega-tasks into little micro-tasks and doing only a few each day. Properly scattered around, the task of cleaning the kitchen gets done over the course of time and ends up being constantly clean instead of getting progressively worse and worse until the threshold of filth exceeds the threshold of laziness.

The only thing is the act of micromanaging a schedule of micro-task chores ends up becoming a chore in itself. If only there was something like a robot overlord that would take care of that for me and order me around like a the little bitch that I am every day.

Yesterday, I read about a new site on that answered my wish:

It's easy. You enter the people that live in your house or apartment. Then you enter in all the chores that need to be done, their frequency, and (this is the important part) their difficulty/undesirability. You click a button and it prints out a weekly schedule with each task assigned to a person. Using the difficulty value that you assigned to each task, every person gets a fair amount of work over time. You can further customize it for your individual needs such as:
  • Scheduling days off for specific people on certain days (the Sabbath, for example)
  • Lighter workload days such as if someone works late one particular night of the week
  • An overall reduction in workload like for a young child
  • Vacation time in case one person is out of town or sick for a period of time
  • A chore can exempt a particular person from doing it (only I clean the cat litter box and only Jane folds clothes)
  • Shared chores that require more than one person can be created
Each day's schedule can be automatically e-mailed to each person every morning so once you set everything up, you can leave it alone until you have to add or modify your chores.

What I've done with it is add each micro-task to Chore Buster as a separate chore and arranged the difficulties so that they get distributed across Jane and me over time. For example, unloading the dishwasher and cleaning the sink are both easy so they get low scores but loading the dishwasher is slightly higher. Also up there is mopping the floor and scrubbing the stove. If someone gets one of the harder tasks, it's likely that will be the only thing they have to do while the other person gets multiple easy tasks. Really intensive or dirty jobs like wiping clean the fridge or scrubbing the toilet are ranked high so it's likely that if a person get one of those tasks, they will be given a reduction in the amount of chores for the next day. Overall, it balances out.

Because you can schedule when each cycle of chores begins, you can arrange for serial tasks to happen as they should. For example, we save our laundry and wash it all at once on the weekend. I scheduled the fold laundry task to also occur once a week and set the start date one day after the wash laundry start date. Now folding will always occur after the washing and our normal laundry routine is reflected in the chore schedule. Because I assigned the folding task a higher difficulty (it takes a while to fold a weeks worth of laundry all at once), Jane ends up with fewer chores on that particular day. The same thing can be done with sweeping and mopping floors. Make them two separate tasks, assign difficulties accordingly, give them the same start date and repetition period and the workload gets spread out fairly. Repeat that for each room in the house that needs sweeping/mopping and big jobs get chopped up into little manageable tasks. With this method there is more variety in your chores (you can even add in an extra random factor to mix things up even more), less repetition, and more fairness. We're giving it a try to see if it helps keep us on track with keeping our place cleaner and I think it's really going to help.

iPhone rate plans

Family Plan: $80 for 700 minutes (plus $30 for each additional line), unlimited data, 200 SMS messages, unlimited nights and weekends, rollover minutes, and unlimited mobile to mobile.

That ain't a bad plan (although I think it's a bit more expensive than our current T-Mobile plan). I especially like the "unlimited data" part. I'm finally believing it. I'm believing the hype. It's not just the device but the device and the service and everything about it is going to shake up the industry. Finally.

Another interesting thing: Activation of the phone is done at home, by yourself, using iTunes. No pushy sales people telling you which plan you should upgrade to. Apple is bundling Safari for Windows with iTunes. Everyone who buys an iPhone will have to download iTunes and will probably get Safari for Windows with it. Apple has a plan for Safari and they're executing it.

Pacifica (100 deg)

Pacifica (100 deg), originally uploaded by Honou Flammen.

This is one of my submissions for the first assignment in the Strobist Lighting 102 Workshop going on right now. This assignment focuses on light position, how it affects the look of your photo, and how to pre-visualize what a scene will look like before you press the shutter.

For this series of shots of Pacifica, I had the flash set up on a stand positioned 4 feet away at about 100 degrees to the camera. Putting my eye right where the flash was at (example here) showed a perfect profile of the face which meant the other side would be completely in shadow, illuminated only by the ambient light (a very warm tungsten balanced florescent lamp) which was underexposed by several stops because of the shutter was set to the maximum flash sync speed of 1/200. The result is a dramatic shot with the profile of the figure cleanly highlighted and yet not overexposed.

One thing I noticed is that my cheap Hong Kong special radio triggers add considerable delay to the flash, enough so that the right side of the frame (the bottom, if the camera were in landscape orientation) is much darker due to the second shutter curtain crossing the sensor before the flash fires. This means that I'll have to limit my max flash sync speed to 1/160 when using the PT-04 V2 or use a sync cable.

Or I can spend $320 on a set of Pocket Wizards.

I think I'll just live with it for now.


all my secrets exposed...

Rats! Someone went and spilled the beans. Here is a most excellent write up on how to remove spyware and other malware from your computer using only two simple tools.

Yes, it's really that easy. Reading through it, it's completely on the mark. There are other ways to remove stubborn malware such as using the Recovery Console or a BartPE disk but this will suffice for almost anything out there.


Originally uploaded by Honou Flammen.

This is one of my first attempts at using my new light stand and umbrella setup. The advantage of using an umbrella to bounce the light of the flash is that it gives you softer shadows and a more even light. If you compare this to the previous shot of the go board, you can see that there aren't any sharp shadows. In fact, Arisa isn't casting hardly any kind of shadow at all. The light was placed camera left and almost even with the figure and angled at 45 degrees which created a nice soft side-lit look and a slender shadow down her left side which helps pull her away from the background. Click through for more information and to get a link to a photo of the lighting setup.


Get In Shape

Get In Shape
Originally uploaded by Honou Flammen.

My first attempt at off-camera strobing. First off, I have to say that David Hobby is my hero and I would follow him to death and back. Oooo-kay. His site teaches you how to improve your photography through the use of off-camera lighting. Where others would recommend spending thousands on studio monobloc lighting, he shows you how to achieve similar results using sub-$100 used flashes (external strobes) like the Nikon SB-24.

This was lit very simply with a single strobe (my new Canon 430 EX) triggered with cheap radio transmitters bought from some guy in Hong Kong. They're not the most reliable of things, but they cost less than a dinner for two -- unlike the professional radio triggers, PocketWizards, which cost $180... Each. And you'd have to buy two of them to trigger a single strobe.

The photo is of exercise 151 (or was it 152?) from Getting Good at Shape. Black's next move to secure shape on the left side is to put White's stone into atari.


How about some laws to keep companies from feeding our pets shit?

The Humane Society of the United States Praises Senate Passage of Legislation to Protect Food Supply

Today's amendment would require the Food and Drug Administration to set processing and ingredient standards for pet food, strengthen labeling requirements, establish an early warning system for contaminated food products, improve communication with the public and veterinarians during recalls, and take other steps to help prevent needless deaths and illnesses.

About fucking time is all I can say!