Old Dogs

The eyeI’ve been developing software since the days of the Apple II. Back then everyone who used a microcomputer had to know something about how software worked. Most people just wanted to use VisiCalc or play games on those early machines but a few of us were fascinated by the technology. I can tell you the exact day I became a programmer. It was Thanksgiving Day 1979. After a marathon twenty hour session learning MS BASIC I could code. It was such a rush.

From that early day I started writing code for money and continued to do so until a couple of years ago. Suddenly after I turned sixty it was like someone turned off the light. Software developers are young and I was not young. Over the years I had opportunities to become a manager but the code always spoke to me. So I became an ex software developer.

Now after some time has passed it seems that code still speaks to me. In fact I have begun to recapture some of the excitement that I felt in the early days. I no longer have endless meetings, pressing deadlines or code reviews. Now I get to write code to make the machine personal again. My projects are small and completely non-commercial. Most run on my desktop machine but I dabble a bit with mobile Android stuff.

A few months ago I put together an application to generate PDF calendar sets and web ready images. My idea was to be able to take a finished full sized photograph and generate several sizes of images for publishing online along with two different calendars types in encrypted PDF format. This has worked extremely well. I can now generate all the image content for a post on phototrice.com in a few seconds with no hand work.

My old habits have also served me well in that I continue to write reusable object code. This has come in handy for my latest project creating photo mosaic images. This project highlights the differences between makers of things and consumers of things. It would be simple and faster to pay a few bucks to buy some photo mosaic software. It would be simple and boring that is. It is better for me to build the software and learn something new.

To that end I am finishing up the first phase of the project which consists of discovering images, cataloging and producing graphic tiles. There are lots of ways to accomplish this task. I decided to leverage my existing code from the calendar project to automate Photoshop to do the imaging work and use a Sqlite database to manage the cataloging. Works like a charm.

I’m really looking forward to the next phase which is actually creating the mosaic images. I will be writing code using the .Net framework rather than automating Photoshop to accomplish this. It is the interesting part for me. I have done quite a bit of document imaging work over the years but not much actual graphics programming. It should be fun. So in a few weeks you may see some really bad photo mosaic images here on phototrice.com.

Border Watchman

Border Watchman
Border Watchman
It is with regret that I see my country closing borders and stopping immigration. I am a second generation American. My grandparents were immigrants who came to America after the First World War. When I was a child my older relatives spoke Dutch among themselves but only English to me. My generation was to be fully American.

Looking back I understand that I’m an American because my grandparents wanted a better life for themselves and their children. I’m grateful for what this country has given me. I hope other families will be allowed to follow a similar path to a better life in this country.

People who live near the border in the United States often have family and business ties on both sides. The border may be an exact line to some but it is also a region of cultural and economic exchange. We should be careful not to deprive citizens who live near the border of opportunities because others in different regions lack opportunity. We can and should address economic problems where they exist without depriving others.

We often choose to speak of the world using confrontational language. It is worth considering whether less divisive approaches might serve us better. There are ways to accomplish our goals and maintain security that are less fear based.

Download the latest Phototrice calendar in PDF format. Direct download links – No signup required.

The North America calendar
Weeks starting on Sunday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 26 – North America

The International calendar
Weeks starting on Monday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 26 – International

In Transition

A Good Day for the Republic
A Good Day for the Republic
A few years ago I managed to get press credentials to cover the tax day Tea Party rally at the Alamo in San Antonio. It turned out to be the largest Tea Party demonstration ever held in Texas and one of the largest anywhere in the country. It was quite a scene with tens of thousands of people on the streets, live national television broadcasting and headliners such as Glenn Beck taking the stage.

To be honest until that moment I had no idea of the cultural and economic disconnect developing across America. While walking and photographing the crowd it became clear to me change was coming that would shake the country. We had crossed a threshold, political momentum had shifted and there was no turning back. I was part of something similar once a long time ago. To be honest I think the political shift we see today started in 1968. What goes around comes around.

Tomorrow with the inauguration of a new president the country officially changes direction. It is a hard thing to change and I am proud that we, as a country, have held true to our democratic principles. As much as we complain and yell at one another about politics the fact remains we will have an orderly transition of political power tomorrow. In many ways we are facing the most revolutionary change of government in nearly fifty years. Best of all we did it with ballots and not bullets. It is a good day for the republic.

Download the latest Phototrice calendar in PDF format. Direct download links – No signup required.

The North America calendar
Weeks starting on Sunday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 23 – North America

The International calendar
Weeks starting on Monday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 23 – International