Professional Digital Photography at CDIA

This year I've taken a big step towards turning a long time personal interest into a professional skill. In May I enrolled in the Professional Digital Photography program at Boston University's Center for Digital Imaging Arts, or BU CDIA for short. The curriculum spans 24 classes over nearly 18 months, and requires the commitment of 2 nights per week and every other Saturday.

First Class at CDIA
First class at CDIA
Over the years I've been able to study at various local universities to build web technology skills, including Bentley College, Brandeis University, Harvard Extension School, and BUTrain (Boston University's corporate education). Compared to CDIA, I would be hard pressed to describe a curriculum or facility that was more current and state of the art, or better staffed with highly qualified instructors. CDIA's facility, conveniently located on Moody Street in Waltham, can hardly be called a campus, although it occupies three floors of a huge building converted into classrooms and studios, and will soon expand into an adjacent building that formerly housed a Jordan's Furniture store. In retrospect, only Harvard's Extension School rivals CDIA in quality of equipment and facilities as well as teaching ability of instructors.


Fastest Growing Tech Companies and the Rebounding IT Job Market

CNN Money published an article on the rebounding of the IT job market, citing the best places to live for jobs in IT, as well as which companies are growing the most and which skill sets are in demand.

Where the tech jobs are now
The IT job market is rebounding, but where you live matters.
Plus: Do you have the hottest skills?
By Anne Fisher, Fortune

To my surprise, Adobe was ranked 4th in hiring, although 91st in growth, and Red Hat ranked 2nd in growth, six percent higher than 3rd ranked Apple Computer.

Cringley Speculates About Apple's Plans to Win the OS and Application Markets

In this week's edition of I, Cringely, Bob Cringely reflects on Microsoft's struggle to maintain dominance in the OS and applications market while the project schedule for Vista withers on the vine. Furthermore, Bob speculates that for Apple to remain competitive, eliminate its vulnerabilities, and even beat Microsoft on technical merits, Apple will have to entice independent software vendors to continue developing applications for OS X. Just how will Apple do that? Bob thinks Apple will buy Adobe.

Killer Apps: For Apple's Windows Strategy to Work, It Must Replace Microsoft Office and Buy Adobe Systems
by Robert X. Cringely, April 27, 2006

Kurzweil Keynotes Bio-IT World; Interview in CIO Mag; Using Text-to-Speech

The Bio-IT World fifth annual Life Sciences Conference and Expo on Biotechnology and Bioinformatics is to be held in Boston the week of April 3, 2006 (which coincidentally happens to be at the same time and location as the Linux World Expo). The conference will begin with a keynote lecture "Reprogramming Biology" by Ray Kurzweil, one of my favorite technology luminaries whose ideas constantly fascinate and inspire me.

"Reprogramming Biology" is the title of noted inventor Ray Kurzweil's opening keynote address. Kurzweil will expound upon themes in his latest book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, in which he predicts the next few decades will see the merging of human biology with the staggering achievements of "GNR" - genetics, nanotechnology and robotics - to create a species of extraordinarily high intelligence, comprehension, and memory.


Updated: Now Playing Pod for BlogCFC

Listen to iTunes for fun and profit!

The Now Playing pod has been updated to take advantage of the additional info present in the iTunes plug-in on Windows such as Amazon Associate ID URL, Amazon album artwork, and Apple Music Store URL. I've also added a Creative Commons license, and changed the pod behavior so when iTunes is stopped a message states that no song is playing but provides text, artwork, and URL of last song played.

The pod will link the album art or title to the Amazon URL with your Associate ID if you configure the Now Playing plug-in that way and if the plug-in sends that information with the now_playing.xml XML packet. The current Mac version of the iTunes plug-in cannot be configured for Amazon or Apple Music store, but if you use iTunes on Windows then you're good to go. At work I listen to iTunes on Mac, so you will only see the linked artwork in my pod on the left when I'm at home.


Apples, Softies, and Trains

Three Apple engineers and three Microsoft employees are traveling by train to a conference. At the station, the three Microsoft employees each buy tickets and watch as the three Apple engineers buy only a single ticket. "How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" asks a Microsoft employee.

"Watch and you'll see," answers the Apple engineer. They all board the train. The Microsoft employees take their respective seats but all three Apple engineers cram into a restroom and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the restroom door and says, "Ticket, please." The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on.

The Microsoft employees saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea. So after the conference, the Microsoft employees decide to copy the Apple engineers on the return trip and save some money (being clever with money, and all that). When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip.

To their astonishment, the Apple engineers don't buy a ticket at all. "How are you going to travel without a ticket" says one perplexed Microsoft employee. "Watch and you'll see," answers an Apple engineer. When they board the train the three Microsoft employees cram into a restroom and the three Apple engineers cram into another one nearby.

The train departs. Shortly afterward, one of the Apple engineers leaves his restroom and walks over to the restroom where the Microsoft employees are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, "Ticket, please..."

Starting ColdFusion MX 7.01 on Mac with

ColdFusionLauncher.appI recently realized that the new CFMX 7.01 Mac OS X ColdFusionLauncher utility isn't documented, so while it may bore some of you, here's a brief description:

ColdFusion MX 7.01 introduced the first graphical (GUI) installation of the Server Configuration for the Macintosh OS X platform. Under this configuration ColdFusion now provides a graphical utility called This utility can be found for example at the top level in the ColdFusion root directory such as /opt/ColdFusionMX7/

When double-clicked, this utility will launch a console having three buttons:

  • Start ColdFusion MX 7
  • Stop ColdFusion MX 7
  • Webserver Connector Utility

When the ColdFusion server is started or stopped from this utility status information is output to the console. The webserver connector utility can be started from the ColdFusionLauncher, but will prompt for the Current User Password before running.

While this utility is analogous to the JRun Launcher found with the Multiserver Configuration, the ColdFusionLauncher does not report details about the ColdFusion server such as Web Port or Directory.

Here's a walk through of installing ColdFusion MX 7.01 Server Configuration on Mac OS X.

Configuring the Oracle 10g Database Driver for ColdFusion MX

Oracle has recently released Oracle 10g Express Edition (XE), a free edition of their database server. While Macromedia supports connections to Oracle 10g from ColdFusion MX 7.01 using the built-in JDBC drivers that ship with ColdFusion, this version of Oracle is not officially supported with earlier versions including ColdFusion MX 7 or ColdFusion MX 6.x.

If you would like to connect an earlier version of ColdFusion MX to Oracle 10g, or would like to try an alternate driver if you're already using CFMX 7.01, then here is how to configure the 10g JDBC driver provided by Oracle for use with ColdFusion. This driver is often refered to as the Oracle Thin Client. Sometimes driver behavior varies between two vendors, so its often very helpful to try alternate driver versions.


Installing ColdFusion MX 7.01 Server Configuration on Mac OS X

I've put together a collection of screen shots to walk you through the new GUI installer for ColdFusion 7.01 for Mac OS X. Previously one had to perform several tedious prerequisite installations, but now CFMX is available in a clickable, user friendly installer.

Screenshots of CFMX 7.01 Installation on Mac OS X

For the first time, the System Requirements page lists support for production use of Apple Mac OS X 10.3.9, 10.4.2 and 10.4.3. Previously, the sysreqs had a footnote for for Mac to indicate support was development only.

Some versions of Windows now bear the Development Only footnote, including Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP.

For convenience in starting and stopping the server as well as using the web server config tool, check out the

[steven@macromedia /work]$ shutdown -h +360 'Going on sabbatical. Please log off'

Like many others at Macromedia, its my turn for a long sabbatical, although I've been eligible for over a year. For the next six weeks, until September 12th, I'll be out of the office. I suspect that this is the first and the last time I'll be able to take such an extended leave.

I plan to spend the first 3 weeks at home, biking, swimming, reading, and blogging. Some of my objectives include reading parts of several technical books including one on Eclipse which has a chapter on building plugins, one on building Dashboard Widgets on Mac OSX, and one on Photoshop CS. I may take some time to read up SELinux, too.

During this last month I've been reading Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, which I highly recommend, so I hope to finish that up. I think that Friedman's book is complemented by Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, and by Spencer Well's The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, but best if read (or viewed) starting with Wells and finishing with Friedman. If I find a day to spare, I think I'll finally sit myself down to watch the whole 8 hour series Cosmos, by Carl Sagan.

During the second half of my sabbatical, I'll be in Barcelona, Spain and then in the high Pyrenees. My wife and I were married in a civil ceremony two years ago and now we will be having a formal ceremony in a 12th century church in a small mountain village near the border with France, close to Pico Aneto, the highest mountain in Spain. I used Ray's BlogCFC to create a dual English/Spanish informational website to assist the guests.

If you're not familiar with the region, check this out. Its a small Javascript app that zooms in on Barcelona and the Pyrennes, which I made for those who will be travelling from the US. It's a little slow in MSIE, but great in Firefox. This was before Google Earth came out, so I was trying to provide a way for non-technical people to get their bearings.

shutdown -h +360 "Going on sabbatical. Please log off"
Broadcast message from root (pts/1)
(Fri Jul 29 11:56:35 2005):
Going on sabbatical. Please log off
The system is going DOWN for system halt in 6 hours!

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