Long weekend in Zion National Park

This past October my wife and I had the opportunity to vacation in Zion National Park in southern Utah, following the Adobe MAX conference in Las Vegas that month. This was my first time in the Southwest USA, and while I'm not inclined to return to the Las Vegas Strip, I would love the opportunity to spend at least a couple weeks visiting Bryce, Arches, and the Grand Canyon. I've been very satisified with the photos I've taken in Zion over the brief three day immersion, so I anticipate photographing much more from that region.

The Wikipedia article on Zion National Park begins with the following:

Zion National Park is a United States National Park located in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah. A prominent feature in the 229-square-mile (593 km≤) park is Zion Canyon, 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River... A total of 289 bird species, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), 32 reptiles and numerous plant species inhabit the park...

Human habitation of the area started about 8,000 years ago with small family groups of Native Americans; the semi-nomadic Basketmaker Anasazi (300 CE) stem from one of these groups... The Kolob section was proclaimed a separate Zion National Monument in 1937, but was incorporated into the park in 1956.

The geology of the Zion and Kolob canyons area includes nine formations that together represent 150 million years of mostly Mesozoic-aged sedimentation. At various periods in that time, warm, shallow seas, streams, ponds and lakes, vast deserts and dry near-shore environments covered the area.


We rented a Chrysler Sebring convertible at the Las Vegas airport, and made the trip to Springdale, Utah in just 3 hours. The highway from Vegas to St. George is largely desolate and uninteresting, but as soon as you get past Hurricane the scenery begins a dramatic change. I won't be renting the Sebring again because my eye level was the same height as the visor and the top of the windshield, forcing me to turn my neck and slouch down in the seat in order to get a good view, and even with the top up I couldn't get past the visor's annoyance factor.

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Adobe MAX 2006 on Flickr

My week in pictures... on Flickr.

Adobe MAX Developer Conference, October 23-26, 2006, at The Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada.

MAX 2006, the annual Adobe user conference, offers the Adobe community an unprecedented opportunity to learn about Adobe software, interact with industry experts, connect with other Adobe software users, and have lots of fun.

Choose from over 100 unique sessions organized into eight tracks in topics such as web design, rich Internet applications, and mobile and devices.

Connect with other members of the Adobe community at a variety of networking opportunities, including the community lounge, sponsor lunches, and "Birds-of-a-Feather" sessions.
www.flickr.com


See also the Adobe MAX 2006 Flickr Pool and all photos tagged with Adobe MAX 2006

Saving costs in Linux environments while still using a stable server platform for ColdFusion

I began this as a comment to Matt Woodward's blog entry on ColdFusion start scripts on Ubuntu Linux. I just wanted to add some links, but it became lengthy and is better suited as a blog post of my own.

I'm not a Ubuntu user, but strictly Red Hat, Fedora, or Red Hat clones. I just wanted to post some related links for Red Hat users.



On the topic of running ColdFusion on "unsupported" Linux distributions, I recommend using Red Hat clones such as CentOS, rather than bleeding edge distributions if you absolutely cannot run a distro supported for use with ColdFusion by Adobe.

Fedora Core Linux, for example, is a bleeding edge distribution and is not appropriate as a production server even though it is sponsored by Red Hat. For a server you want stability with a well tested suite of packages rather than a distro that has all the bells and whistles but hasn't been put through its paces or tightened up as much the stable commercial release.

CentOS is built from the same source as Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Effectively CentOS is RHEL, except that CentOS is free and supported by the community. This is possible because under the GPL, Red Hat must make its source available, and CentOS takes advantage of that. I'm not bashing Ubuntu or other distros here, but CentOS is a recommended stable OS that is appropriate as a production server, and I've had some Red Hat instructors tell me so off the record.

Since ColdFusion is QA'd on RHEL you can feel confident that a Red Hat clone will be as reliable as RHEL itself, even if that OS doesn't show up on the ColdFusion System Requirements. Still, however, should anyone using a clone need to seek ColdFusion Support from Adobe, you may be asked to first reproduce the problem on RHEL itself.

A good use of Red Hat clones for a small shop would be to use the clones for development and staging/QA of ColdFusion web applications, then host the final application on a paid RHEL server. This way you can save costs on non-production environments.



The same argument applies to clones of SuSe Linux Enterprise Server as well, although since I'm not a SuSe fan I can't name any of their clones.

Adding Authorship, Description, and Copyright to images with Adobe XMP in Bridge

I've been asked many times how I embed information in a photograph (i.e. a jpg file) such as my name, my contact info, a description, a location, and even a copyright (such as a Creative Commons License). This metadata becomes part of the image file, and remains part of the image even if renamed or resized by me or anyone else. If you ever find that someone has used your photo without permission and even perhaps claimed ownership of the photo while denying the theft, then IPTC metadata is a good way to prove ownership. The metadata can be deliberately changed or removed by editing the IPTC metadata, but I think most unauthorized usage of images is done without tampering with the metadata since its hidden in the image file, and you can't see that its there by looking at the picture.

To embed this type of metadata in an image I use Adobe Bridge, a product that ships with Adobe Photoshop CS2. Here's a screenshot that show's the IPTC panel in Bridge. You can select one or more images and edit the IPTC metadata simultaneously.

From the web page about Adobe eXtensible Metadata Platform (XMP):

Adobe's Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) is a labeling technology that allows you to embed data about a file, known as metadata, into the file itself. With XMP, desktop applications and back-end publishing systems gain a common method for capturing, sharing, and leveraging this valuable metadata opening the door for more efficient job processing, workflow automation, and rights management, among many other possibilities. With XMP, Adobe has taken the heavy lifting out of metadata integration, offering content creators an easy way to embed meaningful information about their projects and providing industry partners with standards-based building blocks to develop optimized workflow solutions.




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ColdFusion MX 7 support for 64-bit platforms

A clarification has been made to this ColdFusion technote. The current support policy can be summarized as

  • ColdFusion MX 7 is supported with a supported 32-bit Java VM running on supported operating systems on 64-bit hardware.
Although, you should read the technote for all the details. Previously, the technote generalized incorrectly that ColdFusion would not run at all on 64-bit platforms.

See also:

Performance Considerations for Running ColdFusion MX 7 on 64-bit JVM

Adobe Contribute 4 Adds Support for Blogger, Typepad, and Wordpress

Adobe Adds Sophisticated Blogging Capabilities to Contribute 4

Adobe Contribute 4 makes it easy for web designers and developers, as well as web administrators to help their users get started with blogs using the same familiar environment they use to update Web site content. Contribute also supports the most popular blog servers -- Blogger, Typepad, and Wordpress (but not ColdFusion-based BlogCFC unfortunately)-- and gives the option of connecting to in-house blog servers, straight out of the box. Rich media support has been enhanced in Adobe Contribute 4 enabling users to drag and drop images, movies, and now Adobe FlashÆ video files into their Web pages or blog entries. In addition, users can publish content from a browser to their Web site and blog. Contribute maintains the original formatting and automatically posts the source for the content as well as a link.


With AdobeÆ ContributeÆ 4, anyone can quickly, easily, and safely update existing websites and blogs.
With Adobe Contribute 4, anyone can update website content or create blog entries using a single application. True WYSIWYG authoring capabilities let users edit any website or blog in three simple steps, dramatically reducing editing time. Simply browse to the website or blog entry, click Edit to make changes, then click Publish when ready to post the new content. Alternatively, authors can publish directly from within Microsoft Office applications including Word, Excel and Outlook with the click of a button. Just open the document that contains the content to publish, click Publish, and select the target website or blog.


Read more about Adobe Contribute 4, available from $179 US.

Calling all ColdFusion Enthusiasts: Go Offline at Adobe MAX!

As a vibrant, active online Community of ColdFusion developers who largely interact online only, lets get together at Adobe MAX in Vegas to chat and network in person.

Members of the Online ColdFusion Meetup Group can meet at the MAX Community Lounge. If you're not already a member then join us! We could either have a free form networking meeting, or better yet, I'm thinking that we could do a type of speed-networking type of meeting where we'll seat people in two rows (or something similar) and each pair of people will talk for 5 minutes and then we'll all shift seats by one position to speak for 5 minutes with the next person, and so on.

I first saw this speed-networking idea on Alan Williamson's blog entry Do We Still Need Conferences? where Stephen Moretti linked to this site that contains a Google video of how it works: http://www.dott07.com/go/dott-blog

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Two Upcoming Online Meetings: FusionDebug and ColdFusion Security

Thanks to Charlie Arehart and Adam Wayne Lehman, the Online ColdFusion Meetup Group will conduct two online events in October. Be sure to check out Charlie's blog for a multi-part series on FusionDebug.

Please note the time: The event times are in US/Eastern Timezone. For timezone conversion, see:
http://www.timezoneconverter.com/cgi-bin/tzc.tzc

Click on the event link below to RSVP. On the event detail page, see the link under MORE INFORMATION for the Breeze Meeting URL. Then at the specified time and date, go to that URL and enter as a GUEST using your name, but on the login page please use the form field towards the right which does not require a password.

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Rob Gonda on Ajax for ColdFusion Developers... Watch it again!

If you missed tonight's Online ColdFusion Meetup Group event, you can still catch all the lessons and demos from Rob in the archived Breeze Meeting recording. Rob tailored his AJAX presentation to compare related technologies or libraries including Spry, dojo, Flex, Flash, and more, and provided copious demos and a thorough background.

Ajax for ColdFusion Developers
http://stevenerat.breezecentral.com/p34597793/


Look for new event listings soon. Booked for October we have Charlie Arehart on Fusion-Debug and Adobe's new ColdFusion Evangelist Adam Wayne Lehman on ColdFusion Security Best Practices. I'll be posting those event schedules tomorrow.

A shortcut to getting started with PostgreSQL database on Linux

Recently I've needed to install the PostgreSQL 8.14 database server on a couple Linux machines for testing. Here is some information and scripts to make it easier for you start and stop the database, since installing from source instead of RPM leaves you without the convenient /etc/init.d boot scripts for Postgres and requires you to start Postgres database with the postmaster command when su'd as the postgres user. A bit of a headache... so I wrote the script shown further below as a convenience when managing Postgres and it may be helpful for those who don't want to read all the docs right away.

After having downloaded and uncompressed (tar -xvzf postgresql-8.1.4.tar.gz), the installation instructions begin with the a short version, to be run from inside the uncompressed source directory. I've modified the short version such that when creating the system postgres user account, no shell is given for the postgres user, then later a shell can be specified when using the su command to run the postmaster (The postmaster command can not be run by root directly).

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