Ray Camden helps kick off *first* meeting of the Boston CFUG

The Boston ColdFusion User Group is being revived! This Friday evening will be the first meeting of the new season with guest speaker Ray Camden, organized by Brian Rinaldi of RemoteSynthesis.com.

IEEE Computer Society Courses for Spring 2006

At the recommendation of a friend I recently joined the IEEE Computer Society, which has a local chapter in Boston. I'm just starting to discover the benefits of membership with this prestigious group, and today's newsletter revealed a wealth of very interesting local courses sponsored by the IEEE. Courses seem to generally run on a single Saturday or a series of weekday evenings so that working professionals can attend.

Upcoming courses that immediately appeal to me include a series of evening lectures in May on Introduction to Java Servlets and JSP, and a full day course on the Eclipse Development Platform and Application Framework.

One other very tantalizing course is How to Build and Maintain a Profitable Consulting Practice, on March 25th at the Lexington Sheraton.

Check it out.

Ice Climbing, Winter Hiking, Rock Climbing, Snorkeling, and Copper Canyon

Over the winter holiday, I had the opportunity to spend some time scanning in many of my old photographs from various trips. I've finally managed to put them together in online photo galleries:

Brandeis Mountain Club, Ice Climbing on Arethusa Falls
The highest waterfall in New Hampshire. Brandeis Mountain Club guided by Kurt Winkler and Ian Turnbull of Mountain Guides Alliance. The highest waterfall in New Hampshire. Brandeis Mountain Club guided by Kurt Winkler and Ian Turnbull of Mountain Guides Alliance. January, 1999.Read the full story


Brandeis Mountain Club, Winter Hiking on Mt Moosilauke
The Brandeis Mountain Club spends a couple days camping and hiking in New Hampshire's western White Mountains to climb Mt. Moosilauke in February, 1999.


Towson University's Project Marj
Project Marj was run by Towson State University modeled on the Outward Bound experience to build teamwork, leadership, and many related skills intended to assist personal development during the college experience and throughout life. We spent a full week camping and hiking long days throughout Shendandoah National Park, Virginia. August, 1990


Swimming with Manatees in Crystal River, Florida
Biology students from Towson State University spend a week in Florida, January, 1994.


Copper Canyon, Mexico
Copper Canyon, also known as Las Barrancas del Cobre, is Mexico's equivalent of the Grand Canyon. You can take the train from Chihuahua through high mountains to arrive at Hotel Divisadero. August, 1995


Bahamian Field Station, San Salvador
Marine Biology class at the Bahamian Field Station on the eastern most island in the Bahamas. This place currently known as the Gerace Research Center. Towson State University 1991.

Outlook for my professional development

Since I began supporting ColdFusion customers for Allaire many years ago I've taken a wide range of computer and web development courses in local universites and vendors, as well as many internal training classes on Macromedia products. Except for a few vendor certifications though, I have no advanced degree or similar milestone to demonstrate my aptitude and achievements in computer or web technology.

I'd like to be able point a tangible and definitive milestone to demonstrate my technical level to others, as well as to satisfy myself when reflecting on the subject. To address this need, I've committed to a 6 month Master's Certificate in Java and J2EE from Boston University. I think a Certifcate from an accredited university carries much more weight than most vendor "certifcates", so much so that I wish the naming convention was different because you can't compare a 60 minute multiple choice test with a 6 month program. At any rate, the BU Master of Java & J2EE Certificate includes the following sequence of courses which could be broken down into two sub-areas:

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Coulton on Creative Commons

Folksinger Jonathan Coulton extolls the altruistic virtues of Creative Commons licensing and propagates the art of giving one step further by composing a song inspired by and set to a series of random Flickr photos that are themselves licensed for non-commercial sharing. This creative music video is available in quicktime format, and begins with a recent photo of mine taken of Concord Center after a heavy snow.

Thing a Week 14 - Flickr
By Jonathan Coulton
See his blog link for the 17 MB .mov file

Christmas card made from photo of Concord's Colonial Inn

Christmas Card Concord 2005
Do it yourself greeting card, made with Adobe Photoshop CS 2 from this original image. Printed on 10 mil Epson Archival Matte Paper with HP Photosmart 7960 inkjet printer at 300ppi resolution in 5x6 inch size. It looks even better in print than here onscreen.

Concord Community Swim and Health Center To Open Soon

The Concord Carlisle Community Swim and Health Center is nearing completion. The state of the art facility continues to accept charter memberships until the middle of February '06.

UPDATE: The opening date has been pushed out to April 18, 2006
Read about the Grand Opening of the Beede Center.


The facility will have the following features:

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Snowfall at Concord Center

View this photo gallery. Yesterday's snowstorm on December 9th lasted over twelve hours, blanketing Concord, MA in 15-18 inches of light, powdery snow. This morning I was up before sunrise to photograph the town before the traffic and christmas shoppers would swarm to the center.

www.flickr.com


Below, I've also made some renderings from these images in Adobe Photoshop, so check them out too. They are available for printing up to 20" x 30", so contact me if you're interested.

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Renderings of the First Parish of Sudbury

www.flickr.com


Winter settles in at the First Parish of Sudbury, MA. The sign reads: First West Precinct Meeting House on the Rocky Plain built 1723. This is the Second Meeting House. Built in 1797. Unitarian since 1839.

For this set I used a Sigma 10-22mm ultra wide angle lens on a Canon D20 Digital SLR, with bracketing at 2/3 stop and manual exposure at f8. Selected photos were post processed in Adobe Photoshop using a technique that includes applying a medium degree of Poster Edges which creates a watercolor with pen & ink look as though they were hand drawn.

This photo gallery also available on Flickr.

Learning about printing and framing of large prints

Shutterfly print of Concord CenterShutterfly print of Tunkhannock Viaduct This fall I've starting making a more serious effort to learn and practice photography as an art. I've purchased a Canon EOS 20D digital SLR with a variety of lenses, I've taken a class on using Digital SLRs at the Decordova Museum, I've taken a local printing workshop, and I recently purchased a 21 hour Total Training Photoshop CS2 DVD from Adobe.

While I think my technical mastery of the digital SLR is good to very good, and my composition is very good, I still lack printing skills and equipment. One day I'd like to have a home studio with large format printer from Epson or HP where I can print 13x19 inch prints on high quality art paper or canvas like that from Moab. From there I'd like to try to sell my work for a small profit to recoup costs and then a little more for my effort. I'm thinking over methods of selling that include dutch auctions on eBay, negotiating with local restaurants to hang and sell framed images, participating in arts and crafts festivals, as well as obtaining a permit from my town to sell them on the street in the town center. I'm not sure what's possible yet, but check back here next year and hopefully I'll have it figured out.

Until I can develop my own photo studio at home, I had a couple of my favorite recent images printed in 20x30 inch format by Shutterfly. The original images were high quality and suitable for printing in 11x17 inch, so rather than having Shutterfly englarge them, I used a technique in Photoshop to upsample them by first adjusting the resolution from 72 ppi to 300 ppi, then incrementally increasing the print size until I reached 20x30. The result is an image file about 5 times larger but with a resolution and size suitable for this large format printing without noticible degredation in quality.

I was moderately satisfied with the prints as they came back from Shutterfly. While the site says they will be printed on a flat, low-reflection matte paper, in reality it looks more like semi-gloss because it much more shiny than I hoped for. The image quality was quite good, and I'm having these two photos professionally matted and framed by Corner's Framing. The staff at Corner's Framing was very patient and helped me understand the whole process and the cost breakdown so that I could make choices to lower the cost. Framing is quite expensive, and I learned that the frame itself is by far the largest factor in the price. Our initial selection for a frame cost $444 just for the wooden moulding, but they helped me find a a nice looking, suitable frame for about $175 instead. It will be 2 weeks before they are ready.

Should I start selling my prints, I think I'll try to have them professionally matted for about $40 including dry mounting and backing, but I'll either sell them matted only or in inexpensive metal frames. You can view a smaller version of the Concord Center print and the Nicholson Bridge print.

Resources:
Framing Large Prints
From your hard drive to your wall

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