Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Arrow Of Time


"On June 17th, every year, the family goes through a private ritual: we photograph ourselves to stop, for a fleeting moment, the arrow of time passing by."

See Diego, Susy, Nicholas, Matias, and Sebastian from 1976 to 2008.

The Arrow of Time

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Department of Creative Wastage

Kvetch! Randomly displays kvetches sent via Twitter. Such as: (1) "thank you for sucking my brain out and stomping on it." (2) "Me: 'I'm adopting a puppy!' Mom: 'Why not get a boyfriend instead? They don't pee on the floor.'"

That was epic. "decontextualized video comments become modern pieces of poetry." Such as: (1) "awesome, assassin monkey" (2) "I'm white and I love this song." (3) "their swedish creepy voices actually suit it"

"Seriously. Get your own hobbies and interests. Stop stealing mine."

References

Kvetch!
That was epic


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Itty Bitty Bit Tsunami

I have a new secret love.

When I switched from Windows to Linux about six months ago I needed a way to set up my Ruby on Rails environment. It's possible to do natively, twiddling this and that, configuring here and there, crossing and uncrossing multiple fingers. But I didn't want to do that.

I now have enough information to try, because it's something I need to do. It will be good to know, and doing things that way will be better in the long run. I will be more in charge of my development environment. It is simply necessary. No way around that.

But not just yet.

I had been using Instant Rails: "Instant Rails is a one-stop Rails runtime solution containing Ruby, Rails, Apache, and MySQL, all pre-configured and ready to run. No installer, you simply drop it into the directory of your choice and run it. It does not modify your system environment."

True. And it worked fine.

But it was a product for Windows, and, um, I wasn't there any more. And the original maintainer, Curt Hibbs, had decided to move on. So it became a bit iffy. And then again, Rails was moving faster, and going to new versions. I began to get dizzy.

So I decided to try the BitNami Ruby Stack.

Sounded a little iffy in itself. Download a whole environment, complete with Apache, Mongrel, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Webrick, MySQL, unpack it, and then run it. Oya.

But it worked.

It isn't as slick as Instant Rails, which truly is not amazingly slick. I have to manually start services and switch directories and use the command line to fire things up and shut them down again. But it works. Works fine.

Now I have a spare computer with a fresh copy of Kubuntu on it, and I can play there with setting up my own environment from the ground up. Meanwhile, I have BitNami. And in case you wonder about whether it isolates the development environment the way it says it does, I recently switched computers.

One I had been using mostly for writing, and the other for development. But the development box needs more memory. It's dead slow, while the computer I have been using for writing is new, has lots of RAM, and a faster processor. So I swapped them.

Moving my whole BitNami environment and two live development web sites plus a couple of test sites (along with the Radiant CMS system) was a matter of copying the directory tree from one computer to the other.

Bing. That's all.

BitNami is clunky in that the documentation is about as sparse as it can be without disappearing entirely, and it's awkward to doink with the command line every time I want to do something, but it works. Every time.

And for the price -- free -- who am I to complain?

BitNami stacks make it incredibly easy to install your favorite open source software. Application stacks include an open source application and all the dependencies necessary to run it, such as Apache, MySQL and PHP or Ruby. All you need to do is download the Stack, provide a few pieces of information when prompted by the installation wizard, and that's it. By the time you click 'finish', your new application will be ready to run. All stacks have been packaged using BitRock's multiplatform installer.

Easy to install: In just a few clicks, you can have your favorite open source applications up and running.

Multiplatform: BitNami Stacks are available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.

Integrated: By the time you click 'finish', the software will be integrated, configured and ready to go.

Independent: BitNami Stacks won't interfere with any software already installed on your system.

Run Natively: The stacks install directly on your system - no virtual machine required.

Open Source: All BitNami Stacks are free to download and use under the terms of the Apache License 2.0


References:

BitNami
BitNami blog
Instant Rails

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

People And Movies And Bears! Oh, My!

A couple of years back I heard a program about local bears on my local public radio station. At the time I'd thought that I had seen a grizzly in northern Washington's Pasayten Wilderness. I contacted the guests and sent in a couple of photos, but when I enlarged them enough to share it was clear that the bear hadn't been a grizzly after all, only an extremely large brown-pelted black bear (only!).

Anyway, I'm still on their mailing list and not long ago received a message from "Wildlife Media". It took me a moment to catch on before I remembered. But it was interesting, and I thought maybe someone else might like to know about these folks.

Here's the gist of it:

Dear friends,

It's been an amazing year - especially for our new non-profit conservation organization 'Wildlife Media' - the 20 minute promo film for "Beartrek", our first feature-length documentary, has been receiving rave reviews (watch it here - I promise it will give you goosebumps: www.wildlifemedia.org/watch-clips). We're filming the most compelling bear stories around the world, and also funding conservation efforts in those places as we go. First off was Alaska, among the biggest bears on earth. Our next stop was Borneo where the smallest bears remain largely a mystery to science. Once we gather the funds we'll be filming in Peru, the Arctic, and Mongolia. Please check out our site and tell your friends. It has been an incredible and humbling experience working with a small family of people to get this unique project off the ground. It's also resulted in other exciting steps including a new film we're working on for PBS/National Geographic Television about Alaska's bears!

Our local work to help people understand the grizzly bears of the North Cascades is also going really well through G-BOP (www.bearinfo.org), thanks to another great team of people. We have fewer than 20 grizzly bears left in the 10,000 square mile chunk of wilderness here, but through our work we've found that most people would like to see this change - there's a great deal of support on the ground for these majestic creatures. G-BOP is going so well we've even started working on education about cougars and wolves too!

For the bears,

Chris

PS. You can email me at chrismorgan@insightwildlife.com

Chris Morgan (MS) Scientist and Conservationist
Executive Director
Wildlife Media
www.wildlifemedia.org,
1208 Bay St, Suite 202
Bellingham, WA 98225, USA
360.734.6060 (office)


Wildlife Media is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promoting conservation via media, education and funding campaigns for the sake of both people and wildlife. "Good films do more than evoke wonder, inspiration and emotion. They can promote change," which is one of their goals. They concentrate on large animals and interesting ecosystems to "draw audiences to the world of wildlife conservation".

Chris Morgan also leads bear viewing trips to the Katmai coast of Alaska, where participants "see up to 100 bears per 5 day trip".

And the film ""Beartrek"" referred to in the email is a feature length documentary about a global motorcycle trip with Chris Morgan seeking rare bear species and documenting the stories of the people working with them. There are clips available (see below).

Footnote: On December 29, 2008, the radio program "Weekday" from KUOW in Seattle broadcast "The State of the Wilderness in 2008".

This was "A survey of animals facing extinction. In the Pacific Northwest, the endangered include Orcas, salmon, grizzlies, and owls. Tune in to find out the state of the wilderness from the experts. Also, we take a boating excursion on Puget Sound to track Orcas. Which animals are struggling to survive? What does it mean for our future and what can we do about it?

Guests were Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University; Chris Morgan, director of the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project, and producer of the feature documentary "Beartrek"; Brad Hanson, wildlife biologist with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle; Sara LaBorde, special assistant to the director of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

See below for links to audio files from this program.


References:

About "Beartrek" the movie. (Viewable clips.)
Chris Morgan's Brown Bears of Katmai tours.
Donate to Wildlife Media.
Wildlife Media.
Wildlife Media blog.
Wildlife Media brochure (PDF, 3.3 MB).

State of the Wilderness audio files:
RealAudio
MP3 MP3 High
MP3 MP3 Low