Saturday, May 25, 2013

Geek Pride Day! The 2013 Edition

Happy Geek Pride Day!

Today we recognize one of the defining moments in modern Geekdom that was the release of Star Wars on May 25, 1977. As with last year, I will celebrate by featuring the some of the awesomely geeky things I have featured on this blog or photographed in the last year.

Sometimes I even surprise myself. What kind of a geek put this blog together, anyway?

This is the Army that turned the tide in the war against the Mayan Destructors.

Could it be the Mayans came up with that world ending calendar concept as an elaborate means to introduce a new typewriter acquisition?  Anything is possible in tinfoil hat conspiracy land.

The Christmas Squirrel is an astute military commander.

The freakingly amazing Curiosity!

Celebrating a special birthday.

Experts in green inspect a repainted machine.
Zombie on the streets of Kansas City. I hope no one steals their coffee.

The House Full of Nerds viewing the Transit of Venus.

Typecasting on vacation.

I got to see five separate Shakespeare performances since Geekday 2012.

A Maker, making.

You never know what will turn up at the local Maker Faire. Go, you must.

Your career at NASA

The Vintage Technology Obsessions crew visits San Francisco for Greenbuild 2012

Godzilla put up a valiant fight against the Mayan Destructors. Thank goodness the world didn't end!
The absolute highlight in my year in Geekdom was staying up to watch the livestream of Curiosity landing on Mars. This bit of awesome was brought to us via the great, modern disruptive force known as the Internet. It is gratifying to see personalities from the mission team become media rock stars. Really, we live in the Golden Age of Geek.

Photographing my screen.

That's without mentioning the amazing photos from the ISS courtesy of Chris Hadfield (my daily Twitter fix) and all of the awesome news rolling out of Elon Musk's technological market disruption empire. Tesla just became the first auto maker to fully pay back its government loans and is attempting to circumvent the dealer franchise model of selling cars. SpaceX completed the first commercial mission to the ISS. Geeks, without a doubt, are on a roll!

Oh, and thanks to Yahoo, Flickr and digital imaging, everyone is now a professional photographer!

Prom photos at the Duke University Gardens last week. Sure, Yahoo's CEO rolled back the snarky comment about professional photographers, but it appears she really meant it. Does that mean every 12-year-old that makes an app is on par with a Google system architect?

On a personal note, I am especially proud of my Geeklings. They have had an amazing year full of music, drama and obsessive academic over-achievement. Highlights include Geekling the Elder playing Curtis in a school production of "Taming of the Shrew" and Geekling the Minor (aka: gingercat) being recognized in the Duke TIP 7th Grade Talent Search.

In case you are interested, the 2012 parade of geek that is Vintage Technology Obsessions is at

Thanks all for reading this little blog of mine! I would probably do it without anyone looking, but the hit counts (approaching 50,000), Google Plus Ones and comments from people like you are gratifying.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Walking with Lemurs!

What do you get when you cross a well endowed research university and an endangered species?

One answer is the Duke Lemur Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is the one place on Earth that Madagascar based researchers can come to see their subjects up close and personal. In the wild, lemurs live up in the canopy and are observed with binoculars.

When Lemurs Attack
These amazing animals are Coquerel's Sifaka lemurs and are the most endangered with ever dwindling native forests. Wild lemurs are only found on the island of Madagascar.

Sifakas Bounding through Duke Forest
 Sifaka lemurs are able to jump 20-30 feet from tree to tree. Seeing them in motion is a real treat.

These lemurs don't stay still for long!
 I took my younger daughter to North Carolina for the Duke Talent Identification Program 7th grade talent search Grand Recognition ceremony. As with her older sister, she got to experience the incredible Duke Gardens, Duke's Hogwarts-like campus, the library and the Carolina campus.

My brother received his P.h.D. in Journalism at Carolina. I was ornery and showed up at the Old Well with a K.U. blue Quidditch shirt and a Duke blue umbrella. It rained most of the time we were there, so the Carolina blue sky was just a fantasy for us.

While we were in the neighborhood, an only at Duke experience with the lemurs was in order.

I told you they were hungry. Yes, this close. So cool.
 The rules are pretty simple:
1. Try not to step on the lemurs.
2. Follow directions.
3. The lemurs can touch you, but you cannot touch them.
4. Take all the photos and video you want, but share them with the world.

I am gladly fulfilling that final obligation.

Yes, they really are this adorable in person.
 The red-bellied lemurs were a bit more elusive and difficult to photograph since auto-focus doesn't pick up fuzz around the edges all that well. These two species wouldn't hang out with each other in the wild, but the Duke Forest isn't exactly wild, either.

As with all programs featuring endangered species, the Duke Lemur Center is highly regulated. The outdoor compounds are fenced, but the individual animals need to be a good fit for natural experiences. The tiny and nocturnal mouse lemurs are not candidates for life in the forest.

These lemurs dine on a special lemur chow and leaves.
These animals are well tended. We saw one fall around twenty feet when a branch broke. Such is life in the trees. The individual will be observed to assure there are no broken bones.

If you live anywhere near the Research Triangle area, you should treat yourself to the Walking with Lemurs tour. The money goes directly to Duke's U.S. and Madagascar based conservation efforts. It will be the best $95 you can spend. Really, just look at the stupid grin on this child's face!

I had an even goofier grin on my face during our visit.

The full album from our trip lives on my Google+ page at Claire and Duke TIP. As always, thanks for reading!

Copyright Notice: The words and image contained herein are copyright DwayneF of Vintagetechobsessions. Love the photos, share the photos, give them a G+ thumbs up, but please don't steal. The lemurs are hungry and they might track you down.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chicago Street Photography

I recently completed my second business related trip to Chicago in as many months. I was fortunate enough to have a few hours here and there that were not entirely scheduled. The weather was gorgeous for several days. Even a walk out to breakfast is a pleasure when it is sunny and 60+ degrees!

I have to admit cheating on the Typosphere. I've come to enjoy Google+ communities as a means to share my photography. We are also at the end of a school year with a seventh grader and a Freshman. Almost every evening is scheduled. Anyway, here are a few photos until my next installment on our scheduled trip to Duke University this weekend.

The World on Time

Yeah, I love fast and politically incorrect cars. This almost makes up for my daily 70 miles in a Prius. Being a large metropolitan area, it is not surprising that the preferred color for transit is basic black (enhanced with Picasa 3).

And kids will always be kids...

This is one of those joyous moments in street photography. In this case, I wasn't in good light and the camera was turned off. I saw the kid on the wall and two friends goading him on. I turned on the Sony NEX-6 and swung it up just in time to get this shot. Sure, a half second later would have been more dramatic, but I would have been more likely to miss the shot altogether.

Just five minutes later, the teen boys had moved on and the same spot was occupied by a couple in love.
Love and Flowers
I opted for a simple and compact setup for this trip. All of these images were shot with a Sony NEX-6 equipped with a Sigma 30mm f2.8 lens. I love the color and contrast from this lens and sticking to a prime helps me see compositions as I walk around.

I've mentioned before how much I enjoy watching people take photos of people. Tourists and their cameras are ubiquitous on the Magnificent Mile. I am also guilty as charged!

Just Another Flat Stanley

A tripod means you are serious!

Spring Tourists and Tulips

Tablet, Tulips and Towers

A Photographer on the Clock

One reason I enjoy pivoting LCD screens.
And moving on, here is a little bit of street life I enjoyed. I wasn't out at prime Busker hours, but I did get a couple of shots I like. Always tip the Buskers if you enjoy their work (or take a photo).

A Little Early
Making Music
And now for something completely different...

Um, don't ask me about this one. She had a tripod, that's about all I can confirm.
And more street life...

There were at least three officers every block, but only one team on horseback.

Birthday Fixings

I try to avoid taking photos of the homeless street people. That is a general principle in one of my favorite Google+ street photography forums. Still, the visible homeless population has mushroomed along the Magnificent Mile. When wandering with a camera, sometimes compositions appear.
Different Speeds
Different Worlds: Cropped and modified in Picasa 3
Lastly, I will depart from street images to something from the Chicago and Picasso exhibit at the Art Institute. It is an amazing exhibit and I recommend it highly along with the Othello, Remixed show playing through mid-June.

As always, thanks for looking and reading!

Copyright Notice: All images and words on this blog are copyright DwayneF of Vintagetechobsessions. While copyright is a concept viewed by some as antiquated, I am also well aged. You can always buy your own camera and visit Chicago and see what you can see. I highly recommend it.