Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Today is America's birthday!  She is 236 years young by my calculations.  I wanted to write something to commemorate the day but feel a little overwhelmed with picking a topic.  I am going to fall back into my safety net and write about a ceremony at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World that feels right for today, the flag retreat ceremony.

Every day at 5pm, since the park opened in 1971, the Magic Kingdom has done a flag retreat ceremony at the flag pole on the end of Main Street near the train station.  I had learned about this event a few years ago but had never managed to attend.  This past May, during my solo visit, I made it a point to experience the ceremony.  I was a little shocked by the small size of the crowd that assembled but happy to be able to get a great vantage point to take pictures.  You can not help but get emotional experiencing this ceremony and it is one event at the Magic Kingdom I am going to tell everyone they should not miss.

I wish I could provide more details about the veteran who participated on May 17th, 2012 but I got so caught up in the moment I was barely able to get the pictures I wanted.  I also felt I should not be snapping away during the Pledge of Allegiance or the playing of the Star Spangled Banner while the flag was lowered.  Maybe the next time I'll pick a different vantage point so I won't feel weird taking pictures while these portions of the event are occurring.

The Dapper Dans before the ceremony

Playing America the Beautiful

Just as the flag was to be lowered

The presentation of the flag
I was very happy I finally attended the flag retreat ceremony.  I can see myself making this a must see event every visit to the Magic Kingdom.  Here are a few other resources/blogs on the flag retreat, they provide much better coverage and detail than I was able to get.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Books and Their Creation

It sure has been a long time since I last put words to post on this blog.  I mentioned yesterday on my photography blog that I wished it was due to something cool or important but actually I just haven't been feeling the need to speak out.  Anyone who knows me understands that is a rare event when you get me talking about a favorite subject.  I'm hoping this will be the start of something more regular...

Yesterday I explored the new book creation module in Lightroom 4.  I have been getting requests from family to put something together to show off my pictures (family is always a nice ego boost).  I suppose I should have done a little more research but with the tool already available in a software I am familiar with I decided to jump in with both feet.  The service associated with the book module is blurb, so I created an account and starting working on putting a book together.

Front and back cover for first book.

I decided to start with an easy subject for me, Disney, specifically our last vacation to Walt Disney World.  I already had pictures processed and ready to use which was probably harder than the actual creation of the book.  The Lightroom module was easy and very intuitive.  Of course, it doesn't help with picture layout, order or the story I was trying to tell (which ended up being just a wandering of the parks).  I threw something together in a few hours and sent it off to blurb to be created.  The book should be here in a few weeks.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Working from Home

I am working from home today.  I have to take my daughter to the doctor's office for a shot and it is just easier to stay at home then drive back and forth to work multiple times. I am lucky that I have a job where this is possible and a boss who practically encourages me to do so.  I think he has an ulterior motive because he knows I generally sign in way before my normal start time and have less distractions.  Although, that Uncharted 3 game in my PS3 is calling my name...

Why does working from home have a different feel than working at the office?  I am still sitting in front of a computer programming, administrating, developing, etc.  Is it the fact that I didn't have to get dressed?  I can sit in my pajamas and nobody would know?  If we could capture this work at home feeling in the office would our employees be more productive?  What has to change so work doesn't feel like work?  I am not sure why these thoughts are running through my head now...  oh, look, the data transfer script is finally done.

OK, I know, my break is over.  Back to the grind...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Civilization Revolution

I've been a big fan of Sid Meier's Civilization franchise ever since I bought Civ II on a whim for my PC.  I'll confess now I am no great master at the game.  I have even been known to get frustrated with it and leave its many incarnations sitting idle around my house.  Eventually I work my way back and start playing again.  I hope I don't ever get so good at the game that it becomes boring.

I have really enjoyed the 'console' version called Civilization Revolution, owning a version for my DS, PS3 and iPod.  As I was syncing my iPod yesterday I noticed there was a new version of Civ Rev being uploaded.  The previous updated failed to transfer due to it only being available for iOS 5, so I wasn't too interested in whether this version will transfer.  To my surprise it made it to my iPod.

Last night while walking the treadmill at the gym I was bored with listening to music and decided to see what was new with the game.  I like the changes!  There is a definite improvement in the graphics.  I see some changes to the game options and even the menu system.  I'm sure there has been some game play tweaks as well.  Heading back to the gym tonight and I might pull it out to continue the game I started.  So easy for me to get addicted to this game...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It has begun...

Even though I picked up a copy of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception on Sunday.  It wasn't until Tuesday night that I kicked my daughter out of the video game room so I could play.  Naughty Dog has up'd the graphics again!  The game experience is approaching a cinematic quality.  I'm not saying you are going to think you are watching a movie but I sure get the feeling I'm not in a game at times.

I've only managed to make it through the first few hours of the game and that has been attributed to getting back into the controls.  I've never been a great FPS gamer and learning how to run & gun is going to take some time.  I'm also not so sure I am a fan of the brawling mechanism but it appears it is going to be a big part of this game so I'll have to adjust.

So far I like the game.  There have been a few moments where I yelled at it for making me run around the roof tops looking for the one correct path while avoiding the enemies, but I eventually got through it and when it was over it was good for the story.  I think it is more me than the game.  As much as I like this series, I'm an RPG player at heart and more accustomed to being able to pause the action while I figure out my next move.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this game is going to get me hooked again and then I’ll be buying a PS Vita so I can play the Uncharted: Golden Abyss game when it is released.  Not such a bad thing I guess…  I have been keeping an eye on that system’s development with much anticipation.  For now, I’ll be making time at night to continue this story…

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sealed Fate

I think I just sealed my free time fate for the next few weeks, if not for the next month.  I purchased a few games today in anticipation of winter actually settling in soon.  The weather has been fairly mild up until now but I have a feeling February is going to get even with us.  If I'm going to be stuck inside I might as well have a few things to play.

I have read good things about Heavy Rain and I have wanted Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception since it was released in November.  I couldn't decide so I ended up bringing both home.  Which to play first?

Uncharted has been one of those series that I was thrilled I liked and surprised I could actually play.  I've been an RPGamer since I got hooked on video games.  I have quite intentionally avoided most FPS games because I just could never play them.  These games have pushed me beyond my usual capabilities and because of them I have branched out into new genres.  I'm leaning toward starting with this one...

This game is suppose to be a totally immersive experience, almost like playing your way through a movie.  It is suppose to be a cinematic, mystery thriller so maybe I should tackle this one after getting my Uncharted fix out of the way.

I suppose in the long run it doesn't matter which game I start with.  Either will probably provide the entertainment I'm looking for...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Back in Time

Just before the holiday break, in late December, I decided to dust off my old Xbox and bring it to work.  I'm able to make this work since my office is down in the basement and I rarely get visitors.  I had an old 20" TV that I had been storing in my office so naturally I hooked up the Xbox and have been playing video games during lunch.  I've found it really helps me escape for an hour and not feel burned out during the afternoon.

Game Logo

I started with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic from Bioware.  Getting back into my Jedi mind set was not difficult and playing through for the third or fourth time has been a blast.  The game holds up well for me and considering how bad my memory is the story still works and keeps me interested.  This was the first Bioware game I played and have been a big fan of the company ever since.