A fine old fox

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest As a lefty who couldn’t afford a pump or semi-auto southpaw model that wouldn’t eject spent shells across my face, I chose a side-by-side double barrel as my first shotgun. I found a Stevens Model 311 12-gauge new for $149 from the old JC Penney Warehouse store on Columbus far east side and I’ve shot side-by-sides ever since. Cheap ones, known as “beaters,” which I own in 20- and 16-gauge, all entry-level model 311s, as well as that original, hard-recoiling12 gauge.For years I pined for an upgrade, in 16-gauge, for that is my favorite, a size suitable for hunting everything from woodcock to wild pheasants. A year ago this month when I found a Fox model 16- side-by-side on the used gun rack at a local outdoors store at a price I could justify, I bought it.The gun showed enough wear for me to know it had been enjoyed countless days in the field, yet had received enough care to grant it many more. It swung true and felt good in my grip. I often wondered how many birds had been viewed over its single sight-bead.Two weeks ago, on a post-pheasant-season rabbit hunt with my 15-year-old son Ethan, I let him try it, while I used my old Stevens 16-gauge, so that we could share the box of low-brass shells we had. Shooting a side-by-side for the first time, the boy bagged three of our four cottontails that morning. This past Saturday, using “Dad’s new gun” he shot two out of the three rabbits that we jumped.Tuesday, February 16, he’ll wake up on his 16th birthday with a fine old 16-gauge at the foot of his bed as the old gun changes hands once again. I hope he’s still using it 16 years from now, and recalling those winter days spent walking the fencerows with Dad.last_img read more

One-Platform Wonders: Apps That Keep Us Dual-Booting

first_imgRelated Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#Apple#Microsoft In a world where HTML5 is supposed to be the Great Unifier, we still have to deal with apps that only work (or work better on) on one platform over another. These are the can’t-live-without apps that keep us running multiple machines or virtual machine instances until the software developers get their act together.Here’s a brief list of the apps that keep my office a heterogeneous environment, patiently waiting for the day when I can dump one platform or the other.If Windows Won’t Come to the Mountain Lion…Currently, most of my day-to-day writing is on OS X, and it’s because of one app: iA Writer.IA Writer is a text editor. And guess what? That’s it. No fancy formatting, no snazzy interface, just a simple white interface on which you can do what you need to do: Write.If you are fluent in markdown-language tags, you can put emphasis on text or create headings and lists, but for the most part, iA Writer just gets the heck out of your way and lets you get your ideas out of your head.Especially appreciated is the Focus mode, which grays out the rest of the document and keeps the sentence that you’re writing in regular black text. This keeps my attention on the words that I am pushing out at that moment. It also helps keep my eyes from wandering around the screen.There’s a decent spell-check, and you can export documents into HTML or RTF formats. I also like that the application connects to iCloud.As I have mentioned before, I try to adhere to the whole Getting Things Done method in my professional and personal lives, and for that OmniFocus has been a pretty good application.This isn’t a cheap application, either on OS X or on iOS, but it’s definitely worth it if you use Getting Things Done or want to. I actually started using the app on iOS first, and knowing that Omnifocus was on the Mac was a small but significant entry in the pro column when I was deciding to buy a Mac last year.Getting Things Done calls for dumping all of your ideas and tasks into one repository first and prioritizing and planning second. (The rule of thumb is, if it’s something you can’t do in two minutes, write it down.) By capturing the task and getting it off your mental plate, you really can let a lot of stress go. OmniFocus works perfectly within this capture-and-review framework, which I am vastly oversimplifying here.There’s a lot of overlap in the capturing functions with Evernote, especially if you use the tricks outlined by David Sparks in his OmniFocus Ninja screencasts. Where OmniFocus really shines, though, is in organizing tasks for completion.You can see your work in the default views of OmniFocus, or customize the views to get them exactly the way you want, both on the iPad and the Mac.Given that I’m doing most of my writing and the administrative work on the Mac, it only makes sense that I am doing a lot of my research on the Mac as well. For that I use Reeder, a newsreader app that works exclusively in the Apple product pantheon.There are a lot of good newsreaders out there, and most do a good job. But the one function of Reeder that I find indispensable is the sharing function. With one click, I can send any article I find to Twitter, Evernote, OmniFocus, or Pocket – among many others. If I were not a feature-hound, I would almost say there were too many services to link to, but that’s just crazy talk.It’s not perfect. Recent updates to Mountain Lion’s Twitter service means that Reeder now uses the Twitter pop-up that iOS uses. That’s a pain, because it was kind of nice to find an article, use Reeder to construct a quick Tweet and then copy and paste the whole passage (link and all) into HootSuite for scheduling. Now the link is embedded, and only shows after you’ve actually tweeted. So, to schedule, I have to cut and paste the article’s information into HootSuite.For all of that, these tools are very much ones I cannot live without on the Mac.Windows On The WorldThere aren’t really a lot of apps that exist solely on Windows that I can’t find an equivalent for on the Mac. In fact, of the two platforms, Windows’ days are numbered in my office. Currently, there are only two software reasons why I keep a Windows machine going.Before all the Apple kids get on me for not using the Parallels virtualization client, let me interject I do indeed use it, but the memory management in OS X is such that my system slows to a crawl when the guest Windows system is running. So, for now, a dedicated machine.The first application I need Windows for is Intuit’s Quicken. Not just any Quicken, mind you, but Quicken Home and Business. Intuit decided a while ago not to support specialized OS X versions of Quicken, like H&B. Execs instead opted to release just a simplified Quicken Essentials for Mac. Which, as a business owner, does me little good.I could, if I really wanted, move to Quickbooks for Mac, but Quickbooks for home expenditures is like using a nuclear bomb to weed your garden. And Mint, which became the online version of Quicken after Intuit acquired it, is even weaker than Quicken Essentials for Mac.Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio is an application that I don’t use very often, but when I do screencast work for clients, I have found it’s the best tool for me.Like Quicken, Techsmith made a Mac version, and it does a decent job, but it’s not as feature-rich as the original Camtasia. This one might be Techsmith’s fault, but it could also be my own entrenched methodologies refusing to adapt.It’s kind of curious to me that both of the apps on my Windows list actually have Mac versions, but they have limited features compared to their Windows counterparts.Intuit’s belief that Mac users don’t do business is just silly. And given that so much graphics work happens on Macs, it seems odd that Techsmith would send in a weak contender.Whatever the reason, these are the apps that keep me hanging on to two operating systems. At least for now.Image Coutesy of Shutterstock A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market brian proffittlast_img read more

Keying Fundamentals in Adobe After Effects

first_imgQuickly composite your talent using a green screen. In this After Effects tutorial we’ll create a garbage matte, apply Keylight and add effects to increase realism!Filming against a green screen is a popular technique to composite the talent against a different background. This allows for great versatility, with the ability to put the talent in exotic locations or in fantasy worlds. All professional video editing and compositing applications allow for keying, but in this green screen keying tutorial we’ll show you how to utilize the powerful keyer inside Adobe After Effects, called Keylight.  Shooting plays an important role in ‘pulling a clean key’.  For a high quality key you’ll need a professional high resolution camera and an evenly lit green screen background. If you have to work with challenging footage or if keying is part of your daily workflow, check out third party solutions like Red Giant Keying Suite, Phynx Keyer, & Boris Continuum Chroma Key. These third party solutions tend to be quicker and offer more advanced keying features.To see some great examples of keying check out Stargate Studios (Walking Dead) Virtual Backlot Reel:Creating a Garbage MatteWhen working with green screen footage you’ll want to composite the foreground green shot on the top layer of your video editing timeline, with the video background on a layer below.Create a Garbage Matte to mask out areas away from the talent. This way you are only keying out the necessary areas close to the talent, while ignoring lights, badly lit edges or any other objects you don’t want to see. In After Effects, click the pen tool (G) and draw a mask around the talent.  You can animate the mask shape with keyframes if you need to adjust the garbage matte over time.  The free footage used in this example is from Hollywood Camera.Before the Garbage Matte:After the Garbage Matte:Pulling a Basic Key with KeylightSelect your footage.  Then, in the Effect and Presets panel type Keylight. With the layer selected double click on Keylight to apply it.Now, double click on the layer in the Composition to bring up the Layer panel. Click on the gripper area (red highlight) for the layer, and drag it to the right til you see a blue area and then let go. This puts the layer panel beside the Composition panel. By doing this we we will be able to select a green area to key in the Layer Panel and see the results in the Composition Panel. In the Effect Controls panel, change the view from Final Result to Status. We will use the Status view to see the matte that we create using the eyedropper to remove the green background.Both screens turn white, but when you uncheck “Render” on the Layer panel you will see the footage again. Back in the Effect Controls panel click on the eyedropper and then in the Layer panel hold option (Mac) or alt (PC) and drag near the talents head and don’t let go.  You are looking for the talent to be white and the background to be black. We only want the edges of the talent to be gray, as these are areas of semi transparency (this will give you a better initial key).  Drag until you find a good spot and then click.Increase Screen Gain to remove more of the gray spots in the background. A little goes along way so hold down command (Mac) or control (PC) as you drag to move in smaller increments.Click the twirly for Screen Matte and adjust the Clip Black until the gray goes away in the background and adjust Clip White until the gray disappears inside the talent.  The background should be white and the edge of the talent with semi transparent area is gray. Change status back to Final to see the Results.If you see an edge you can adjust ‘Screen Shrink/Grow to a negative number until the edge disappears. Keylight auto removes spill, so if you need to remove more select the “Despill Bias” eyedropper and click on a skin tone and more spill is removed.  For more  specifics on Keylight check out the user guide here.Color Correcting to Match the shotsNow, to increase realism between the green screen shot and the background we will need to tweak the colors in After Effects to match the shots.In this example I can tell that the white levels in the two shots do not match.  If I scroll over the white cup in the foreground and then over a white area in the background (clouds) I can see in the info panel that the background is a bit more blue.To remedy this, I’ll select the foreground green screen layer and apply the Levels effect. The cup brightness doesn’t match the background, so I’ll decrease Output White to reduce the whites and then increase Gamma to brighten up the midtones.I also added Vibrance (increase saturation of the less saturated colors) to add in a little color.Like this example, you may find that the background is a bit sharp so apply the “Camera Lens Blur” effect to increase the realism and reduce depth of field.Adding a LightwrapTo make 2 shots look even more realistic we can add a light wrap in After Effects.  A light wrap will help blend the edges of the keyed footage with the background.Most of the third party keying apps have a light wrap feature, but you can also download a script from AE Enhancers that will do this for you.  After you download the script, select the 2 layers and go to File > Scripts >sb_Lightwrap.jsx.  You will need to check “allow scripts to write files and access network in Preferences > General.This will apply the defaults and create a nested comp (your original is untouched and underneath the nested comp). If you want to learn how to make your own light warp check out this article.Have fun with keying and remember, the better footage you start with the easier the key!last_img read more

Kalmadi meets Reddy ahead of GoM meeting on Monday

first_imgThe Group of Ministers (GoM) on the Commonwealth Games will focus on how the Organising Committee spent the amount of Rs 1,600 crore given by the Centre at its first meeting in New Delhi on Monday after the conclusion of the mega sporting event.On the eve of the crucial meeting, the beleaguered OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Sunday met Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, who also heads the Group, but details of the deliberations were not known.Kalmadi will be also present at the meeting.”He (Kalmadi) did meet me. It was a Dussehra festival greeting,” Reddy told PTI.Details of expenditure on a massive inventory of venue-specific overlays for the games, which were either hired or bought from foreign companies, will be also looked into at the meeting, official sources said. Some of the items were reported to be overcharged.Significantly, the Central Vigilance Commission(CVC) has asked the OC to retain in India for investigations a sample of each item of the equipment and props hired from foreign suppliers for the 17 Games venues.Kalmadi’s meeting comes a day after being snubbed by both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who didn’t invite him while felicitating the Indian medal winners of the Commonwealth Games.The Prime Minister had interacted with the medal winners on Friday, while Sonia Gandhi had called them to her residence yesterday but on both occasions, Kalmadi was left out.The Delhi Chief Minister had also said that the “suspicion” of corruption in the Commonwealth Games is on the Organising Committee headed by Kalmadi.advertisementDikshit said corruption could have taken place in the activities undertaken by the Organising Committee to which the Central government had given loans to the tune of Rs 1,600 crore.She had said the “real corruption seems to be with regard to the money given as loans (to the OC)”.Kalmadi had come under fire in the controversial run-up to the Games, which was marked by a series of corruption charges, mismanagement, leaking roof and collapse of footbridge.The Prime Minister had set up a high-level committee headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) V K Shunglu to probe the organising of the CWG.With inputs from PTIlast_img read more