My Dad’s 90th Birthday, Faststone Maxview, More Stabs at HDR Creation, Fred Langa’s Journey

My Dad’s 90th Birthday

I was a late child – an ‘accident’ as my wife likes to tease me about.
While growing up, most of my friends and peers had parents the age that my sister and brother were, with grandparents the age my parents were.
It usually didn’t make much of a difference either way to me, for the most part. But let’s just say I didn’t do things like bring home the eccentric, sometimes strange, sometimes wild girlfriends I preferred at the time.
In later years I found myself doing some extra caring for them as they got older, more and more. They were always self-sufficient but as we all know sometimes we need an extra hand when we get older.
Before my mother passed away I made every day trips to check on them, sometimes more than once a day, and help them out with whatever they needed. I sometimes took them places and made sure things went smoothly, lending a hand as much as needed. In these later years I probably saw them more than I had seen them later when I lived at home and before I moved out.
After my mother passed away I took extra care to continue being there and making sure I was available to help my dad when needed, doing the at-least-once daily visit with him and helping him with what was needed – though he’s still very much self-sufficient.
Last week he celebrated his 90th birthday and last weekend we had a little BBQ/birthday party for him, organized by my wife and I and my sister. I think he enjoyed it, and below is a quick pic I took of him with his birthday cake.
As everyone who knows him says – he’s in great shape for his age. And especially after working all his life in a fairly dangerous profession – farming.

Faststone Maxview

I’m always on the look-out for the fastest image display program. Something for those times when you just want to take a peek at a bunch of photos or pics, maybe do some simple rotations or contrast changes, or look at the f.stop info for that pic, or something along those lines – faster and better than the built-in XP one (which I haven’t used in years) but for those times when you don’t need to load a pic into something as heavy-duty as a full-blown image editor, or even a simple one.
For awhile I had switched to the commercial program ACDC, then Irfanview (crappy but fast), then XNview, and a few other minor ones.
Finally I ran across something called VJPEG – a frameless picture/photo display program. It had some nice features; like frameless photo display and like being able to resize the displayed photo by grabbing it and bumping the edges of the screen.
But it was a bit simplistic and basic, plus if any other windows covered the displayed VJPEG windows it wouldn’t show up on the task bar.
Previously I had tried out Faststone Image Viewer – very similar to XNview and earlier versions of ACDC.
It was a toss-up between Faststone and XNview but I finally settled on XNview due to a slight speed advantage.
So after messing with VJPEG I had a taste for something like it, something to replace the very nice but still feature-heavy XNview.
I came back to the Faststone site and found something I hadn’t previously tried, even though it was right before my eyes when I tried the Faststone Image Viewer – something called Faststone Maxview.
A quick download and I had it plugged into my system. Very shortly I had changed my associations for graphics to this one.
It was fast, quick to display, and frameless until you bump the top. You could resize it and pick various options for displaying part of all of a pic.
Maxview also showed up in the taskbar, allowed multiple instances and was moveable, and when you bumped the top you got a menu with some more options; like a lossless rotate, brightness control, sharpness, and a bunch of other basic options. Right-clicking brings up more, including the ability to send/edit the photo in any number of external programs. Bumping the bottom of the displayed pic gives you zooming, smoothing, SAVE AS (for converting to other formats), slideshow, next or previous pic, etc as well as an overview window (for when you have it zoomed).
Fullscreen mode works beautifully, with an additionally option of giving your camera/photo properties when you bump the right side of the screen.
The program also lets you open your graphic or pic in the more fully-featured Faststone Image Viewer using the Edit With External Programs Options (which you can also additionally set up to allow a photo to be sent to Adobe Photoshop or any other programs, and any number of them).
Many, many other nice options I haven’t mentioned here. A definite must-see if you need something like this.

More Stabs at HDR Creation

If you’ve read my previous blog entries and/or are into photography you probably have heard of HDR – High Dynamic Range photos. It’s a way to fit more picture information into one photo, a way for a photo to display more than a camera will normally capture; by using multiple shots with various contrasts.
Here’s my latest creation (see above pic), the best of a few. Not bad, getting there. Click to see a larger version.
I’ve also been experimenting with the long exposure settings on my Canon Powershot A570 IS. Great camera, see previous blog entries. I’m continually impressed with the many features this camera has, rivaling much more expensive ones yet with automatic modes easy enough for the casual photographer to use.
The below photo was done the same way as the above. It’s okay, not great when talking about HDR’s. But what’s interesting to me and my continually efforts in improving my photography skills is that this was done in near-darkness. The bright spot is the moon, not the sun. Notice the illuminated clouds near the moon. Love the long exposures. Good stuff.

Fred Langa’s Journey

If you’re a ‘computer person’ then you probably know Fred’s name. He published the Langalist for years until he retired (it’s still running, under new management) and has his post-list blog. He sure knew/knows his stuff.
Mr. Langa had decided to take a long motorcycle trip with his wife after he retired, and photo blog (via a motorcycle enthusiast’s site) the whole thing as he made the trip.
But circumstances changed and he had to make the journey by himself. His roadtrip went from a simple vacation to an experience of acceptance of his situation.
And, of course, a great number of incredible pictures and personal experiences. Take some time and check it out.
I wish Mr. Langa very well.
(The entry below is no longer relevant)
New Quote System For My Blog Nothing major – just tweaked my quote system for the blog. It now isn’t graphically-based but inserts the text directly, making it look a bit nicer. I inserted the code reference directly into the HTML code of the template itself, of course; for better integration.

Marc M

I am a web developer and fitness geek, but I have a heck of a lot of differing interests.  Biking, the Internet, technology, movies, fitness, running and walking and hiking, science fiction, photography, graphics, WordPress, flying and aircrafts, pets and animals, history, and much more.  I like to stay very fit but I don’t mind sitting at my computer for work and play either.  I live in upstate New York (that’s far from New York City) in a rural area, yet close to a small city, with my beautiful awesome wife, a bunch of beloved cats and dogs and chickens in a very old multi-century house.

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