Mustang Obsession

I found myself in need of a new mid-life crisis, so a while back I found myself at a Ford dealership trading my 2012 Mustang in on a shiny new Ruby-red GT. I’ve been wanting to take some pictures of it, but the combination of good weather and a clean car has been elusive. I had a few minutes the other day after washing it to stop in an empty parking lot, so I pulled in and snapped a few quick shots. This quickly uncovered another problem, which is that car photography is hard. Reflections, glaring highlights, backgrounds…not to mention it was a crappy time of day, with the sun high in the sky.

There were only a couple shots that weren’t completely useless, but even the best was only marginal. My favorite of the bunch was the one below. I posted it on a couple sites, one a photography site and the other a Mustang enthusiast site, and in both cases I got some nice feedback, which I didn’t expect. A question I was asked was how I managed to avoid harsh highlights and weird reflections, esrecially given the time of day. The answer was that I didn’t. The SOOC shot was pretty messy, and it took a lot of good old-fashioned Photoshop to fix it up. I spent a LOT of time getting it in the state it’s in now. In fact, it turned into a bit of an obsession. I spent probably 15 hours over several days working on it. I thought that it would be fun to show the original shot, along with a number of intermediate iterations I went through before I got to the final version. If you’re interested in seeing the progression, click here. Please note that the shots are large, and they’ll take a while to load. Just click on the small versions to see the full-size ones.

IMG_9071-23

Delivering on a Dream

Over a year ago, I wrote a post entitled “75 Days to Freedom” that more than anything else, was a letter to myself. In it, I talked a bit about the life changes I had undertaken to try to regain my health and the progress I had made in that regard. I also stated that my goal was to get even better, and to ultimately run in a half marathon race. I’m proud to say that in that intervening year I dropped another 50 pounds, ran over 1000 miles, and on October 25th, I fulfilled my promise to myself and ran in a half marathon race. I finished 182nd out of 369 participants, in a time of 2 hours and 16 minutes. It hurt like holy hell, and I nearly collapsed at the end, but I got it done, and at the end I felt like a podium finisher. I also fulfilled another promise, which was to take a photograph of a race as a participant, which I also did. The only downer was that Cami ultimately didn’t run with me, but she was there to cheer me on, as were the rest of my family. It was, needless to say, a great day for me, and in no small part it was due to the tremendous support I got from my family, friends, and co-workers. I can’t thank them enough.

Me, before the wakeup call, at a svelte (NOT!!) 263 pounds…
1-before

Me, a year and 90 pounds later…
2-after

The Start! Taken about 30 seconds before the gun.
3-the_start

Me at Mile 10. Tired, but hanging in there.
4-10miles

Me at the Finish Line. Toast!
5-the_finish

I survived!
6-survived

Denver Zombie Crawl 2015

Had a blast at this year’s Zombie Crawl yesterday. Awesome zombies, and Umbrella Corp. Denver absolutely outdid themselves. They were a blast to hang out with a bit! I’ll be posting some shots here, but you can find the full gallery (along with past years) right here:

https://howardw.smugmug.com/Events/Denver-Zombie-Crawl

500px Does Not Protect Your Information

I set up the HJWPhotography site, domain, and associated email address about 7 months ago. In the first 6 months of that, in spite of the fact that my email address is displayed prominently on my Contact page, I had received a grand total of one spam email on that account. ONE. Count with me…ONE. In six months.

Then I made a mistake…

I signed up for a 500px.com account to associate with this site, and I of course provided them my email address. Within 48 hours, I started getting spam emails, first a trickle, then a torrent. Now I’m getting several dozen spam emails a day, and after carefully reviewing how I’ve curated my own email address, it undeniably comes back to 500px. I can’t say if they shared my address with marketers, although that’s what I suspect, but what I do know is that they have proven themselves to be very poor stewards of my information, and I would also assume many others’ information as well. I’m not very happy about it, but the cat’s out of the bag now, so I have to live with it.

spam

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, this email address is not associated with my Amazon account, or anything else EXCEPT for this site and 500px.com.

The point of all this is to say you need to be careful how you manage your own information, and remember that even popular and well-respected sites can do scummy things with your personal information. As for 500px? Well, I signed up with a free account to review before I upgraded to their “Awesome” (read “Paid”) package. Well, you are NOT awesome, 500px, and I’m not going to be either. Shame on you.

Geek Tip for Fast File Transfers

My 6-year-old desktop computer was starting to show its age, so I decided it was time to build a new one. I did some research, ordered all the parts, and spent part of the weekend assembling the new box. As part of the build, I got one of Seagate’s brand-spanking-new line of desktop hard drives, the 8TB Archive drive, which will house my ever-expanding photo library, among other things. Of course, part of the process of using a new hard drive is getting files onto it, so I started the process of copying files from my old drive, which was now connected via a USB 3.0 drive dock (affectionately known as “The Toaster”).

The copy started out fine, albeit slowly, with transfer rates in the 65MB/sec range. Strange, seeing as how both drives are quite fast, and the USB 3.0 connection certainly isn’t a bottleneck. Be that as it may, I let go until I noticed that the file copy would frequently stall and would sit there idle for as much as a minute before suddenly continuing as if nothing had happened. After 20 minutes or so of this I stopped the copy, removed the drive from The Toaster and connected it inside the machine via a normal SATA port. I restarted the copy and sure enough, the stalling problem went away, but the transfer rate was still abysmal.

While the copy ran, I searched for answers to the stalling issue. I found a number of things I already knew and had checked, but I also found a little nugget on a hardware forum that intrigued me. A user was having a problem that was similar to mine, and I scrolled down through the posts of potential solutions until I got to the bottom, wherein someone asked the OP to mark a particular post as the best answer, since it solved his problem.

The fix involves setting the security permissions on the drives in question. I was dubious at first, since in my experience security issues usually result in access denied errors or something similar, but I figured I’d try it. For each drive, I gave my user permissions for full control and applied the changes. I then restarted the file copy. The result can be described in two words. Holy. Shit.

In short, the transfer rates were now in the eye-popping range. Speeds were now in the 150-200 MB/sec range, and frequently burst to well over 200. At one point, I glanced down to the copy window and saw this:

261mbps

Speeds like this, and even much higher, aren’t at all uncommon among today’s smoking-fast solid state drives, but when you’re talking about two consumer-grade spindle hard drives, and in fact one of which (the 8TB) has only a modest 5900rpm spindle speed, it’s pretty darned amazing. This indicates that the 8TB was consistently running right at its design limits throughout most of the copy process. Later, I also removed the drive from the computer and put it back in the toaster, and confirmed that the stalling problem had been solved as well.

I have searched high and low, and I haven’t found another single reference to drive permissions having an effect on speed. I don’t know why or how it works, but I’m here to tell you that, while your mileage may vary, it certainly worked for me. Copying 1.9TB of data in just 3.5 hours was proof enough for me. So if you’re having stalling problems with an external drive, or maybe even just speed problems across any drives, try checking the drive’s permissions. You do, of course, need to exercise caution, since mucking around with permissions can cause some massive problems if you screw them up. But in some cases at least, it can certainly be worth checking it out. If you try it, and it works for you (or if it doesn’t), let me know!