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Archive for May, 2009

Typesetting

Remember to wash hands after handling lead.

Remember to wash hands after handling lead.

I spent the day writing my lab report for the quarter, today was dedicated to typesetting all of my equations and tables in LaTeX.

There is a certain amount of satisfaction in having sets of equations typeset correctly the first time without any errors. Similarly there is a relief in finally getting a particularly difficult (or new) equation to come out just right.

Now that I have all of my equations I just need to add that content part. And finish the actual lab.

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Some people blame the oil platforms for the tar on the beach when it is all natural seepage.

Some people blame the oil platforms for the tar on the beach when it is all natural seepage.

There are a handful of topics that really bother me when the government starts to consider them. Recently the California state legislation is considering taking away the autonomy of the University of California and placing it under direct control of the legislature.

Now this appears to me to be one very large bid idea. The University of California is one of the most respected and recognized university systems in the world, when I was talking with professors are other schools for graduate programs most if not all had been to UC Santa Barbara for some conference or another, ant this is just one of the campuses. I have gone through the California public school system from kindergarten through a BS in Physics and I can say that some parts definitely need improvement. However one of these is not the UC (I am looking at you standardized testing).

The Regents may make some decisions that I disagree with and some that I fully encourage, but by being autonomous they can make controversial decisions (such as operating Los Alamos National Laboratory). And as long as they remain autonomous they can keep making decisions, if they were run by a legislature that take months to agree on a budget then the Universities would have a larger budget problem.

I hope that these amendments to remove the UC autonomy do not pass and encourage everyone who lives in California to write to their assembly-person about the issue.

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Freeb!rds, the standard destination of Isla Vista.

Freeb!rds, the standard destination of Isla Vista.

Nothing make you feel more like a slacker then sitting a table with friends at a departmental awards ceremony and being the only one to not get highest academic honors, just normal academic honors.

This is of course a recurring problem that I have faced throughout my college career. I happen to hang out with science majors (physics mostly) who are the very top of the class, consequently I use them as a benchmark for what is to be considered normal. I feel like a slacker since I have no papers published, only one year of basic research, don’t know complex mathematical techniques and have not spent summers working in labs.

The only reference I have to what the average student does is the guys I live with. If I did not live with seven random people (always a roll of the dice) then I would assume that everyone has the same standards and dedication as physics majors. Still it is hard to undo perceptions of normal built up over the last four years.

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HDR Opinions

Smoke falling from the Jesusita fire a few weeks ago.

Smoke falling from the Jesusita fire a few weeks ago.

There seems to be some very mixed opinions about HDR photography. I know some people who love (like myself) but others who feel that it either takes away from the photo or distorts it too much. As it is one of my three favorite photography techniques (the other two being long exposure and panorama) I sometimes waver between wanting to correct the exposure of an image and creating fantastical effects.

For example, the above photo at it’s best exposure was either blowing out the sky or under exposing the foreground. Sure part of the problem was that I was taking a photo directly into the sun as it diffuses through a large cloud of smoke, except that is exactly what I wanted to capture. I tried to correct it in iPhoto and Photoshop to fix the exposure levels, but I am not that skilled in Photoshop.

So I ran it through Photomatix Pro as a single RAW file. The resulting image, I feel, looks pretty natural without the cartoony or fantastical look of many HDR images. Of course I was using the HDR technology to correct the exposures of an image and not create those effects. And there is the strength of HDR, it can easily do both with the same set of photos. I often find myself either processing two versions or struggling to decide between the HDR extremes.

I still want to make a long night exposure HDR panorama. That would just be quite a cold process.

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The main Isla Vista intersection.

The main Isla Vista intersection.

A few days ago my Dad sent me photos a friend of his sent him of a beach cabin I have spent a lot of time in.

It was interesting to see how a professional photography would photograph a subject I am very familiar with. The four photos I got were really good, it could be that only chose a small percentage of those he shot (I normally pull out 10% or so) or that he was using a better lens (a 50mm f/1.2) but the key factor was that he is a better photographer.

The main differences in his photos were the lighting (used more back lighting) and the depth of field. There was also more cropping and only showing the main subject (like cutting out unnecessary sky).

I must say that I was impressed.

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I Madonnari

In progress at the I Madannori festival.

In progress at the I Madannori festival.

This weekend was the I Madonnari chalk art festival in Santa Barbara. The event started on Saturday and was still going on Monday, or maybe it built up until Monday. Some of the artists were working seven hours a day on their piece and were still working Monday afternoon.

The subjects ranged from local firefighters to impressionist to portraits.

When I was there it was fairly crowded but not so much that the chalk-work was blocked out by the crowds. I liked the works but I was hoping for some of the large 3D chalk art pieces.

Still it was a good festival.

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Faces

A new series of graffiti pieces have been cropping up around UCSB.

A new series of graffiti pieces have been cropping up around UCSB.

I saw one of these faces and thought nothing of it. Then I noticed a second one across campus.

From then it has become a goal to find as many as I can. I did the same thing with the complementary graffiti a week ago (the “Looking Good” text bubbles). Similar there is another series of red Mario mushrooms around campus, which tend to be paired with no smoking stencils (I do not know if these are official).

These faces tend to be at intersections, car and bike ones. I think I have found three so far, I am sure that there are more around if not they will appear in the next week or so. I might have to start carrying my camera with me at all times so I don’t have to resort to my camera phone (though it is less noticeable).

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