My projects, hobbies, interests, whatever.

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Museum of Jurassic Technology

The Museum of Jurassic Technology on Venice Blvd in Culver City, CA is a very fun place to visit.  Best described as a “cabinet of curiousities” and best left unexplained as well.  It’s one of those places that you just have to visit and experience.  Since the interior of the museum is very, very dark it’s very difficult to get decent photos but, of course, I tried.  So here are a few of my favorites.

This is a picture of … well I’m not sure … but it looks cool.
Museum of Jurrasic Technology

…and yet another interesting thing.
Museum of Jurrasic Technology

…and even more technological mysteries
Museum of Jurrasic Technology

To continue with this very uninformative post, something else interesting…
Museum of Jurrasic Technology

Sculptures on the heads of pins…
Museum of Jurrasic Technology

The museum has several mobile home dioramas.
Museum of Jurrasic Technology

Museum of Jurassic Technology 4.19.08

More neat scientific equipment. Mad scientists should especially like this museum.
The Museum Of Jurassic Technology

And even folk cures…. No, I really can’t explain this.
Museum of Jurassic Technology 4.19.08

…and I almost forgot the library with some very interesting titles as well as a whole section devoted to Napoleon.
Museum of Jurrasic Technology

Pen & Ink Without Pen & Ink

I’ve always liked pen and ink illustrations especially of cars. Car magazines like Road & Track always seemed to have some. Now as with most things digital this is quite easy to do on a computer. Starting with a photograph various types and qualities of pen and ink drawings can be simulated.

For example this is a photo of a Lamborghini V12 that was converted to a pen and ink drawing. It took a couple of layers in the Gimp, one line drawing and one black threshold that were combined to produce the final image.

Lamborghini V12

This photo is an Alfa with a Mini in the background done in a similar manner with “simulated” color paper.

Alfa

Adding some gray levels also gives and interesting result as on this (quite rare) Lotus 6.

Lotus Six

… and engines always look good with this technique. Blown Chevy V8.

Supercharged

OK, so it can be used on something other than cars. Here is the eye of a horse named Nick.

Nick's Eye

Reverse Polish Calculators

Standalone calculators are rapidly disappearing and becoming collector’s items. I still use mine quite often in spite of an ever present computer with far more capability.

The first electronic calculator that I used was an HP9810 back around 1975. This was a beautiful piece of equipment, very well made, readable and usable buttons with great tactile feel. And it was used reverse polish notation, i.e. you put in two numbers then added or whatever. I thought this was great since you could pretty much start anywhere in a fairly complex equation and solve it without resorting to storing values in memory and without planning ahead how you were going to go about solving it.  Later used an HP 9845 graphical desktop computer as well.  Kind of like a really fancy calculator.

Later, at the same company, they bought the first HP handheld calculator the HP35. As with the desktop calculator the keys had great tactile feedback and I really liked the reverse polish format.

Later when I bought my own calculator I first bought and HP21, then was given an HP11C and then thought I had lost it (found again a year later) and bought an HP42S. I still use the 11C and 42S today even though they are pretty much collector’s items. I hope they’re replaceable if they should finally die. And really wish that HP still had a calculator division.  Now I do also have quite a large number of slide rules but I really don’t use them any more.  Hmm, if batteries become an issue… just maybe…

My HP21

HP 21 Calculator

My HP11C

HP 11C Calculator

My HP42S

HP 42S Calculator

Panoramas

I don’t shoot panoramas very often but I do find them fun to do. I use Hugin for stitching them together and generally just do them hand held with no tripod. This works pretty well and everything can be cropped and corrected after stitching. Hugin is a free program available here http://hugin.sourceforge.net/ and represents some of the best in free software.

Disneyland Jan 7, 2009

This panorama was taken at Disneyland in ToonTown. Very surreal look in ToonTown, the lighting and everything just makes for an other worldy kind of look. Also, if you look very closely (there is a lot of detail) you’ll notice that people who move during the shooting of the panorama can be cut in half or just have a general ghostly appearance.

Disneyland Jan 25, 2009

This Disneyland panorama was taken in Tomorrowland. I’m not sure I like the overall composition of this but it has been a very popular photo of mine.

Kitchenbr>
For something different a stitched together a few fisheye images of our kitchen for an “artistic” pano.

Living/Dining Room

…and this is an “artistic” view of our living room. Part stitched panorama and part collage of just pasted in images. I liked the sort of random Hockneyesque perspectives that can be achieved this way.

Travel Town, Los Angeles, CA

Travel Town is owned by the City of Los Angeles and as they say in their literature it was supposed to be a petting zoo for trains. They have trains, cars and an N scale train layout. It’s a little depressing that many of the locomotives and coaches are in pretty poor condition… …but it’s still a pretty neat museum. There is a really beautiful structure built over some of the trains that is representative of a train station. It offers some great opportunities for over-the-top photography of very impressive machinery. So I took lots of photos and had fun with them.

The complete photoset is here

Travel Town, Griffith Park, L.A.

Travel Town, Griffith Park, L.A.

Travel Town, Griffith Park, L.A.

Travel Town, Griffith Park, L.A.

Travel Town, Griffith Park, L.A.

My Computers, Linux, Virtualbox

I realized recently while looking at some data backup disks that I have been using Linux for 10 years as of Dec 2008. I started with Slackware, used Mandrake (now Mandriva) for quite a while as well as Suse and now mostly Ubuntu. I used to dual boot, then had a dedicated machine, now I run Linux with guest OSes under Virtualbox. Now I can try any Linux distro on this machine to try it out and see what it may have to offer. Though trying a real time Linux like Ubuntu Studio doesn’t work so well in my experience.

Virtual machines are probably more important to data centers and large installations but I find it really useful for more mundane things. For instance, most of the hardware that I own (cameras, midi equipment, etc) only have windows drivers. So I set up a virtual windows machine for photography, or whatever, and have a complete consistent environment set up for that task. This is easily backed up and updated and minimizes conflicting pieces of software. Since the virtual systems can communicate with my host system I can keep all my data seperate from the environment running it, again making backups easier.
As virtual appliances become available to set up environments for specialized packages it also makes installing specialized packages trivial.

For hardware on the machine in these examples I’m using Ubuntu 64 on an AMD64 Athlon dual core 6000+ processor with 8 gig of RAM. ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card. 1.5TB hard disk space. ASUS M2N32-SLI AM2 Motherboard. The following screenshots were taken at different times and different variations.

The first screenshot is an example of running Windows 7 beta under Linux.
Windows 7 running under Ubuntu Linux

The next example is running a Django virtual appliance. About a 15 minute install from download to operating.
Django Appliance in VirtualBox

And finally just an example of my photography environment in Windows XP.
Sun VirtualBox

French Cars

It seems that French cars are usually the butt of jokes at least in the US. None have been sold here for many years. I’ve owned two French cars. A Simca 1204 and a Citroen SM. Saying that a car is French or from any particular country these days is problematic. The Simca was built during the time that Simca was owned by Fiat and then Chrysler (or maybe the other way around, I don’t remember).

I really liked the Simca. It was small (which I still like) and very nice riding and handling on rough roads a definite plus when, at the time, I lived in MA driving pot-holed and frost-heaved roads. It was the US version with 62 HP. When I bought this car the alternator didn’t work and I couldn’t find the French replacement (Paris-Rhone). I replaced it with a Ford alternator and regulator because it was small enough to fit. When I sold it the starter motor was failing which was completely unobtainable in the US (I think it was a Fiat product). I bought this car for $40 and sold it for $400. The only other times I ever sold cars for more then I paid for them was a Citroen SM and a Lotus Europa. Also the paint on this car oxidized very quickly so this photo was taken right after it was polished a couple of months later it would be a dull pinkish red.

my Simca 1204 - picture taken 1975

My Citroen SM was bought as a wreck with fire damage. Again this is not completely French. Most of the car was Citroen parts, but the engine was from Maserati. The engine, drive train and interior were shared with the Maserati Merak. In theory I was going to restore it but only got to the point where the engine was in running condition. I sold this car for a down payment on a new house. Houses were much less expensive then and fancy cars even as wrecks were relatively speaking expensive.

Citroen SM Fire Damage

Citreon SM Engine (Maserati V6)