Got my TiVoToGo update

The headline says it all; my TiVo got the TiVoToGo update last night, and I set my Windows desktop to downloading a swath of shows before I headed to work. It looks like I’m able to get best-quality-recorded shows at approximately 2x watching time, which is just fast enough. Much more info to come, of course.

Approaching Great Sand Dunes

Fresh out of a mountain blizzard, more bad weather ahead, this is the stretch of highway (150, just off of US 160) leading to the Great Sand Dunes National Monument and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Cropped 2:1 with a contrast tweak. November 2004.

Running notes

I love running in cold weather, and last week did not disappoint. An hour on Company Mill last Sunday was fun, and warm enough that my light fleece top was off and tied around my waist within ten minutes. The same run this Sunday was in weather in the high twenties, with wind chill in the single digits.

Less exciting were five four-miler mornings around Apex lake. Running on a two-mile paved trail is just plain boring after becoming accustomed to rocks and twists and turns. I’m still a bit tired and slow, but I feel progress just around the corner.

Weight is still hovering around 205. I feel noticeably better about ten pounds lighter, which hopefully won’t take much more than a few months to achieve.

In gear notes, the convertible gloves were marvelous all week; I’ll have to get some pictures to illustrate. Anything else would be too cold in the wind, and too hot after ten minutes of running. I’ve bailed on my Mizunos and am back in my very-worn Asics Gel-Nimbus. Honestly, the Mizunos were good shoes, but the heels pick up rocks and mud badly on trails, and I’ve never quite forgiven the laces for my disasterous fall in November.

Off for an early-Monday run. The temperature is currently 13F.

Insomnia

I’ve made a successful effort lately to adhere to some normal sleep hours, and for the most part it has to been to my benefit. The downside to not collapsing from exhaustion is the possibility that I won’t sleep through the night. Which was the case tonight.

When I was very young my legs would ache at night, and as I got older I generally just had problems sleeping. So, by my early teens I had gotten in the habit of staying up as late as possible. As I age, I greatly favor occasional insomnia over my habitual alternative.

To be perfectly honest, a heavy Mexican dinner and too much sweet tea before bed is really asking for it. I shouldn’t be so surprised when it answers.

iPhoto love and disgust

iPhoto 5 has a lot of improvements, but it also has a number of bugs. None seem to terrible, but I expect a patch pretty soon. RAW support is here, and it has been nice dumping a card of RAW images directly into my library. iPhoto’s RAW support is not without issues (read this excellent article for more complete iPhoto/RAW details), but the ultimate moral to the story is that, if you need the additional control RAW gives you over your images you shouldn’t be using iPhoto for any of your editing in the first place.

I really only have one major gripe about using iPhoto, and while it might sound minor, it’s pretty much a deal-breaker (well, it will be when I find a better alternative). When first loading a picture in edit mode, the antialiasing is too aggressive, and some pictures appear to be slightly out of focus. Apple’s Preview application does the same thing, so I assume it’s some default smoothing setting in their Quartz system or something; zoom into the picture a single click, and the picture snaps into a much sharper rendering. It’s not just me, either.

Why is this a deal-breaker? Maybe it’s not as big a deal for the average user’s casual snapshots, but I really need to know on first glance if a shot is out of focus or not. It’s less an issue in slide-show mode, so this is the way I’ve been first checking out a new batch. But, still, I bother to put on my glasses before I use my computer, so I need a photo browsing application that makes that effort worthwhile.

iView MediaPro seems to be worth a look. It has a 21-day trial period, though I’m worried that I’ll find I can’t do without it and I’ll be out $199.

I really should start hacking on F-Spot. In the meantime, I think I will pitch in some cash to help fund some hardware for an OS X native GTK+ port.

Adobe Photoshop CS also has a full-featured trial version. I haven’t used a full version of Photoshop for quite a while, but GIMP on the Mac leaves something to be desired (mostly just pains of using X on the Mac), and Photoshop Elements 2 just doesn’t quite cut it (no layer maps, no RAW support, tedious cropping, very slow). The largest drawback to Photoshop, of course, is the price, so even if I find that I can’t do without it, it’s expensive as all hell.

Picasa

After reading Cetan’s mention, I checked out Picasa. It’s a photo managment tool that was bought by Google last year, and now released as a free application. Dave also has a nice entry on it. Basically, it looks like it may be the best photo managment app for the PC. Granted, it’s Windows-only, and some of it might just be a feel thing, but parts of it seem to be nicer than the previous iPhoto version. My iLife ’05 (includes the revised iPhoto) came this morning and I have yet to give it a go, so I’m sure I’ll have comments soon about how it compares.

If you use Windows and do anything with photos on your computer, download Picasa. It isn’t a total replacement for GIMP or Photoshop, but it’s pretty good for keeping things organized.

Breaking news: USB 2.0 faster than USB 1.1

According to the Merril Lynch analysis cited in this MacNN post, the experience of using a new iPod Shuffle with a piece of shit computer may be less than stellar! The ground-breaking study notes that moving smaller, highly compressed audio files to the device with a fast transfer protocol is quick, but transferring larger, dynamically converted files on a low-end machine, with a slower transfer protocol, is just plain sluggish.

Be that a lesson to you.

Crabtree Creek, swollen

I originally wasn’t going to post this shot of a swollen Crabtree Creek, but Kevin needs all the photographic encouragement he can get.

This was taken just before dark, and due to my very crappy (almost impossible to adjust) tripod I had to significantly rotate the image. While I was editing, I also stripped the reds for more of the look I was wanting. I look forward to shooting this scene again with much better light and a polarizer, as it is one of my favorite spots on my Company Mill trail run.