The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The 30-Park Geas, revisited

The 30-park geas can resume now that I'm done with school. Here's my progress so far:

City Team Park First visit Last visit Next visit
Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field 1977 Jul 24 2011 Aug 6
Los Angeles Dodgers Dodger Stadium 1980 Jul 28? 2001 May 12
New York Mets Shea Stadium [4] 1988 Sep 15 [1] 1997 Apr 19 [3]
Houston Astros Enron Field
Minute Maid Park [2]
2001 May 9 [3]
2009 Apr 7 [1]
Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park 2006 Jul 29 [3] 2008 Aug 11
Kansas City Royals Kauffman Stadium 2008 May 28 2008 May 28
San Francisco Giants AT&T Park 2008 May 31 2008 May 31
Chicago White Sox U.S. Cellular Field 2008 Jun 6 2011 Aug 1  
Cleveland Indians Progressive Field 2008 Jul 10 2008 Jul 10
Baltimore Orioles Camden Yards 2008 Jul 26 2008 Jul 26
Philadelphia Phillies Citizens Bank Park 2008 Jul 27 2008 Jul 27
New York Yankees Yankee Stadium 2008 Jul 28 2008 Jul 28
Washington Nationals Nationals Park 2008 Jul 29 2008 Jul 29
Atlanta Braves Turner Field 2008 Aug 13 [1] 2008 Aug 14 [1]
Oakland Athletics Oakland Coliseum 2009 Apr 25 2009 Apr 25
Detroit Tigers Comerica Park 2009 Jun 24 [1] 2009 Jun 24 [1]
Boston Red Sox Fenway Park 2010 Aug 21 2010 Aug 21
Pittsburgh Pirates PNC Park 2011 Jul 9 [1] 2011 Jul 9 [1]  
Los Angeles Angels Angel Stadium 2011 Sep 3 2011 Sep 3  
Miami Marlins New Marlins Ballpark 2012 Apr 19 [1] 2012 Apr 19 [1]  
Tampa Bay Rays Tropicana Field 2012 Apr 20 2012 Apr 20
Still to come
Arizona Diamondbacks Chase Field
Cincinnati Reds Great American Ballpark
Colorado Rockies Coors Field
Minnesota Twins Target Field
New York Mets Citi Field [4]
St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium
San Diego Padres Petco Park
Seattle Mariners Safeco Field
Texas Rangers Rangers Ballpark
Toronto Blue Jays Rogers Centre

[1] vs. Cubs
[2] Renamed Minute Maid Park in 2004
[3] I've decided not to count parks that were rebuilt after I started this geas in 2008.
[4] Shea demolished in 2009; Citi Field opened 13 April 2009

Last edited: 20 April 2012. This page replaces the original page started in 2008.

How to prepare for the zombie apocalypse: CDC

Via Bruce Schneier, evidence that the Centers for Disease Control have a sense of humor:

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.

This is a lot more entertaining than Internet Information Services configuration, no?

How Microsoft finally got SSL right (long, computer-geeky post)

Problem: I have multiple websites on a Windows 2008 server (using IIS7), and I need to enable SSL (i.e., https:// connections) on more than one of them.

Generally, secure websites get their security certificates from trusted providers. Most modern browsers verify that the third-party certificate came from the purported vendor and are attached to the purported website, and give you a nice warm feeling when your address bar turns green. (I have used Comodo most of the time, though because of some experiences helping a local small business renew their certificate recently, I might switch.)

The way SSL works, however, you don't actually need third-party verification to keep the conversation secure. Many servers issue their own SSL certificates, which secure the traffic between the browser and the server regardless of which server or who issued the certificate. In other words, a self-signed SSL certificate will keep the conversation private without guaranteeing that you are talking to the person you think you're talking to. If you can confirm the identity of the server through other means, and then trust the certificate, then you're golden.

Because only I or my subcontractors will ever need to visit these administrative sites within Inner Drive Technology's Worldwide Data Center that I want to secure, self-signed certificates are perfectly appropriate. Under previous versions of IIS, not only did this cause enormous headaches, but also IIS would only support one and only one secure site per server instance. That really sucks if you have, as Inner Drive does, about 30 sites on the same server.

IIS 7 makes this so simple I almost cried with joy.

Step one: Issue a self-signed certificate

In IIS7, go to your server node, and open up the Server Certificates feature:

In the Actions list, click on "Create Self-Signed Certificate..." to bring up the dialog box. Enter a starred domain name for the certificate:

Once you click OK, you've got a self-signed certificate that IIS can find.

Step two: Open the right dialog box

Expand the list of sites in the Connections (left) pane, and click on the site you want to assign. In the Actions (right) pane, click on "Bindings..." This brings up the Bindings dialog box. Now click Add, to bring up the Add Binding dialog box:

Step three: Click OK

Drop the Type box down to "https." Enter the specific host name for the site, and choose your starred certificate:

That's it. Seriously. And anyone who's ever dealt with this configuration crap before will understand my teary-eyed joy.

Possibly inappropriate medium

Generally, I prefer to learn new things by reading first, then doing. I mentioned Wednesday that I've grown dissatisfied with my photography skills, so naturally, I'll go first to Amazon. You know: read about a technique, try it out, post the results online, rinse and repeat.

So it seems somewhat odd to me that most of Amazon's top-rated books on photography—like this one on Photoshop—have Kindle editions that cost almost as much. Because nothing will help someone understand how to do advanced photo editing than 10 cm, 18 dpi halftones, right? Even stranger: the example I just cited has a companion DVD, which I assume does not come with the Kindle version. That, to me, puts the F in WTF.

More than the camera

I'm slowly coming around to the notion that no matter how perfect the composition, digital photographs almost always benefit from some post-processing. Back when I shot hand-rolled Tri-X from bulk and printed everything myself, I routinely changed papers and printing filters, dodged, burned, cropped, and distorted, in search of the perfect print. (I have a great before-and-after example that I will post when I receive the subject's permission.) Ansel Adams, recall, did most of his work in the darkroom.

Here's a 10-minute example of digital processing. Let's start with the raw photo; only the output size has changed:

The near-sunset direct light makes Leah look radiant. The expression—this was during our dad's speech—is purely her. And the reflections off the picture behind her don't distract me too much. Why would I change this shot?

Because I think it can look even better.

Now, I really don't have much experience with digital photo alterations. And I haven't invested in Photoshop; I'm just using Microsoft's Digital Image Suite 2006, which they have discontinued. So you won't see any dramatic changes.

First, let me desaturate slightly (to 70%) and increase the contrast slightly (to 130%):

Huh. I think that's a little better. She's better defined, and the light looks more golden than red. What if I do more? Saturation 30%, contrast 150%, and reducing the shadow level by 20%:

Too much? Maybe. OK, add more color up to 50% saturation, stay at 150% contrast, shadows down only 15%, and change the color temperature from 5700K daylight to 6200K (adding some warmth back in after the desaturaion):

I'm not sure which of these looks best. I'd appreciate feedback from the blogosphere. I will probably do another version that removes her stray hairs, reduces the ghost reflections behind her, and brings out her eyes just a bit more. Maybe I'll even buy Photoshop.

Half Moon Bay, Calif., 5 June 2010, 19:40 PDT. Canon 20D, 1/200s at f/6.3, ISO 800, 200mm.

French newspaper suggests pilot error in Air France 447 crash

Le Figaro is reporting that the French accident-investigation authority (BEA, the French equivalent of the NTSB) reviewed the flight data recorder from AF447 over the weekend. Airbus Industrie, the airplane's manufacturer, this morning reported to its customers that they do not anticipate a finding that the airplane was at fault, an elliptical way of saying it's pilot error. The BEA is livid that Le Figaro leaked the story:

“Sensationalist publication of non-validated information, whilst the analysis of the data from the flight recorders has only just started, is a violation of the respect due to the passengers and the crew members that died and disturbs the families of the victims, who have already suffered as a result of many hyped-up stories,” the BEA said in a statement responding to that story.

Le Figaro, though almost completely consumed for the last three days with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, still seems to have come to a reasonable conclusion based on leaked information from the BEA:

Selon les sources interrogées par Le Figaro, de nouveaux éléments sur la responsabilité d'Air France ou de son équipage seront communiquées par le BEA dans la journée de mardi. Le rapport définitif d'enquête du BEA devrait être rédigé durant plusieurs mois mais il est possible que le scénario du drame soit définitivement établi d'ici la fin de semaine. Contactée par Le Figaro, le porte-parole d'Air France s'est refusé à tout commentaire, «tant que le BEA n'aura pas mené à bien l'ensemble des vérifications nécessaires». De son côté, Airbus s'est également refusé à toute confirmation.

Translation: According to Le Figaro's sources, new information about Air France's responsibility or its crew's will be released by the BEA on Tuesday. The final report on the accident won't be released by the BEA for several months, but it is possible that the drama's scenario will be definitively established by the end of this week. Air France has declined to comment; for its part, Airbus has also refused to confirm the information.

The most widely-held hypothesis, advanced by PBS's Nova a couple of months ago, holds that the plane's computer lost airspeed information due to pitot tube icing, but the pilots failed to respond correctly to the problem.

Put your English skills in the "on" position

Via Gulliver, an Economist post on the English-distortion field around airplanes:

In general, flying is filled with phrases you’ll never hear anywhere else. You must “deplane”, not just leave the airplane. In a theatre you’re asked to switch your mobile phone off; on an American airline you’re told to put all electronic devices "in the off position”, whatever that is. Carry-on suitcases with wheels apparently became "rollerboards" "roll-aboards" in the mouths of the airline staff at some point. Many of the instructions seem replete with extra verbiage: seats and tray tables in "the full upright and locked position". Flights that are not just full but completely full.

Pat Smith ("Ask the Pilot") complained about this a while ago, but I didn't find the column in four minutes so I'll leave the search up to my loyal readers.

Holy cold front, Batman!

The temperature in Chicago dropped precipitously mid-morning:

Temperatures are dropping up to 14°C in less than an hour as a lake enhanced cold front sweeps across the Chicago area. The steepest temperature drops have been occurring along the lakefront and in the Loop where readings hovered in the mid-20s Celsius for a while this morning. Post-frontal temperatures downtown and along the lake are now around 10°C, with little or any recovery expected today as a stiff northeast wind prevails.

At Wrigley Field, the temperature dropped from 22°C degrees at 10:10AM to 14°C degrees at 10:17AM.

And now it's raining. The good news is, I brought an umbrella to work. The bad news is, I also brought a dog, and I'm wearing jeans and a polo shirt without a jacket. Brrr.

Great music in Evanston

Girlyman played Evanston SPACE last night:

Coyote Grace is touring with Girlyman this year; I'll be looking for them again. Also, surprise musical guest The Shadowboxers, who graduated from college Wednesday, led the show with a 4-song set. Again, another band I need to follow.

I'll have more photos next week. Tomorrow I'm off to Duke for our graduation ceremony. The school awarded our degrees in January (retroactive to December 30th), but I still want to walk—and see my classmates. Only, with work, a 7am flight to RDU, and everything going on this weekend, I don't expect to have time to organize last night's photos for a few days.

I will say this: even with the 7D's amazing low-light abilities, shooting a concert is hard. I experimented with a dozen or so combinations of ISO, aperture, and shutter, and I quickly put away my 18-55mm zoom in favor of a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. The shot above was ISO-3200, 1/125 at f/1.8. I tried slower shutters with tighter apertures but the band were so energetic that led to lots of subject movement. Lower ISOs gave me less grainy photos, but again, required slower shutter speeds, so they weren't quite up to my standards. And black & white, which ordinarily covers many sins in variable-light environments, didn't look right, because the lighting makes up part of a live performance's appeal.

I also shot about 18 minutes of video (which looks OK, actually), making my total haul for the evening a whopping 12 GB. I don't think I can post any video, though. (Pesky copyright laws.) If I find out from the band it's all right to do so, I'll put some up.