Back from Vegas

I returned Saturday from Photoshop World in Las Vegas. It’s a conference put on by NAPP(National Association of Photoshop Professionals, 70,000+ members). I had a great time and stayed at the Desert Rose Resort. It was like having an apartment in Vegas without the noise and smoke of the casino. I had a great time and was able to meet up with people from the NAPP forum as well as the guys from PhotoshopUserTV at the House of Blues. Here is a brief video. I enjoyed the conference, but it was nice to be back with my family afterward.

Relaxing Labor Daybor

We had a relaxing Labor Day Weekend. We ran to the mall for an oil change and car(truck)wash. We stopped by Barnes & Nobel to pick up my reserve copy of Inferno, the new Legacy of the Force Star Wars book. We went to the not-quite-a-dollar($3.50) theater and watched Ratatoullie. That afternoon we sat on the porch and enjoyed watching the lightning from nearby storms and even got a few sprinkles. Sunday morning, we enjoyed service live from Lakewood Church in Houston, TX for the first time in over 2 years. Jesse and I enjoyed a few rounds of LAN gaming(AOE III & UT2004). We cooked up a few Brats and had some potato salad yesterday. By last night, I had finished the new novel to cap off a pretty relaxing weekend.

RANT WARNING!! – Ok, so it wasn’t as easy as I thought…

It turned out it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to get DSL up and going at our place. I had to spend 2 1/2 hours on the phone with Verizon tech support in Manila trying to get the DSL modem to communicate with their servers. It had been shipped in the wrong configuration to communicate with their network. My next challenge was trying to get Jesse’s PC to connect. It took two days of my uninstalling and reinstalling drivers and updates on his PC before his PSP helped me discover that the problem was the modem. I rebooted it and viola it works. Lastly, there was the issue of canceling my dial-up service with Verizon. When I called, I made sure to tell them my e-mail address would remain with my DSL, but it was canceled anyway. I then spent 1 1/2 hours arguing with their tech support in India that the problem was on their end. The idiot “tech”(using the term very loosely) kept wanting to screen share and I had to explain to him it was an issue with their database and that I was only using a web client to access my e-mail. I literally had to walk him through what needed to happen before he was able to fix it. Then the guy had the nerve to say “if you had told me this in the beginning” after I repeatedly stated what the issue was over a dozen times. I am glad I have DSL, but I really dread ever having to call Verizon tech support as they are not the best. Like all other major companies, they farm out their tech support to guys with binders who cannot deviate from what is in front of them and engage logic to solve a problem. Ok, I now return you to your rant free lives.

Hit the road Jack , and don’t ya come back no more…

It FINALLY happened. The phone company we call Verizon has delivered on a promise to give us DSL. After two years of wrangling and an eventual complaint to the Public Utilities Commission of California, we now have a broadband connection to the world. No more dial-up speeds ranging from 44kb to 9kb. Oh happy day!!! We now have a 3MB connection that was activated yesterday. I was able to get our computer online, but am still working to get Jesse’s on. I should be able to do that tonight after our modem/router arrives. It was great to be able to watch video again over the internet and have more than one webpage loading at a time.

Video Editing!

I used to edit video for our church in Kentucky and I had forgotten what a tedious and time consuming process it is. I picked up a convenient USB interface that let’s me connect the VHS to the PC and capture video. Spent most of yesterday slicing up clips and edit points. Honestly made me want a new PC that could handle the rigors of editing. Maybe someday soon as amazingly our PC is three years old and that is a decade in regular years. So my new hobby until I can get all the tapes done is video editing. Fortunately, the new camcorder has a firewire hook-up that makes VHS obsolete. Goodbye VHS, say hello to cassettes and 8-tracks for me.

Another one down…

Seems like the summer months just pass faster than the winter ones. July 31st and another summer is waning. Not much going on other than work and video games. Work on my part and video games on Jesse’s. Though I must admit to playing a classic game at night. They opened a Gamestop here in AV and we were among the first to visit. Pretty amazing to see the place with all games in Alphabetical order and with titles that are hard to find. So I coughed up the money for the Ocarina of Time on Gamecube which contained the unreleased MasterQuest version. Nothing like wandering around Hyrule and killing skulltulas to pass the time. I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Back from San Diego!

We spent the last week in San Diego while I attended a conference for work. It was very pleasant and we enjoyed getting together with my best friend Jim a couple of nights. Jesse enjoyed the pool and attended a special session of the conference for high school students. It was pretty funny to see the people’s eyes open wide as a 6 foot kid with a blue mohawk strolled through thier door. He enjoyed the session and by the time I arrived to get him, the wide-eyed instructors were telling me what a smart young man he was. We visited the San Diego Wild Animal Park while there too. It was my first visit in over 20 years and I was a little dispappointed. The monorail around the park had been discontinued two months prior and you now have to pay for all the little tours they have on top of the cost of entry. We returned home to our lonely cat that proceeeded to scold us for the next few days about leaving her alone all week. It was a nice break from the norm and now its back to to work and the heat of the Mojave.

Max Headroom Tribute

Each week the NAPP Forum posts a Battleground image and we all see what we can come up with. I was pleased with how this came out and wanted to share it on the blog. I used the Dodge and Burn tools to achieve the highlights and shadows. I then used the smudge tool to attain the air brushed appearance.

When Atari = Video Games!

I am a child of the 80s and grew up with Atari and Video Games being synonymous. We went to Sears in the mall and got the latest cartridge for the 2600. I remember many a hot afternoon spent with friends playing Pitfall, Gunlinger, or Tank Battle. If you are from that time and would like a blast from the past, check out http://www.simmphonic.com/programming/flash.htm and enjoy one of my all-time favs nicely converted to Flash.