The OU photography course has been pottering along, and I've just about been keeping up with the weekly assignments -- though not so much with the video tutorials; I'll need to go back and watch some more of those, sometime. It's not really helped by the fact that the guy doing the voiceover for some of the earlier videos speaks so slowly and enunciates so carefully, it drives me nuts... I wound up reading the transcripts for those, checking to see if there was anything that was actually going to require me watching the relevant stuff. (There wasn't, as it turned out; it was some fairly basic stuff about Photoshop Elements.)
One other thing that is driving me to Tetch Factor four or five is that some people seem to have a very limited range of subject matter for their photos, no matter what the assignment. (With the exception of the first couple of weeks, the assignments have generally been exploring a particular technical photographic issue; low light, depth of field, colour... that sort of thing.) Now I can understand that some people will find it hard to get out of the house to find other subject matter, but why is it that the photos of people's kids are almost invariably the worst of the lot? It gets really hard to give constructive criticism on photos where you're just waiting for people to take it the wrong way... "I like [X effect] but maybe you could have tried [Y small change]" has this potential for being read as "OMG ARE YOU SAYING MY BABY IS UGLY?!!". I tend not to comment on pictures of people's children for this reason -- if it was children belonging to someone I knew, I'd feel safer, but not in the case of near-complete strangers.
At least I have, finally, at long last, ordered myself a Shiny New Computer. My existing desktop box was second-hand from the last time bytepilot's place of employment were getting shot of some boxes, and while it was fine for browsing, text stuff, and the like, it was always a bit of a struggle working with large images. (Plus it is running Win2k, and the version of Elements that the OU provides will only run on XP or Vista. My laptop runs XP but is significantly underspecced for image stuff and was flailing a bit.)
The Shiny New Computer now has somewhat over 100Gb of digital photos transferred across to it, and also has Elements and full Photoshop installed -- the latter being the version I bought from the US last year and which has been sat on my desk, awaiting the arrival of _a_ Shiny New Computer, ever since. (It seemed a bit of a bad idea to acquire a SNC while the place was still knee-deep in dust.)
I headed out to sunny -- well, okay, dark -- Portsmouth on Friday of the week before last to take sweet_lil_sis out for dinner for her birthday (which was the next day). There were very tasty burgers and a pleasant evening's chat, at least once I managed to get into Gunwharf Quay (loads of roadworks). She has acquired herself a nice new compact digital camera -- a Canon 720 -- to replace the now rather elderly and slow Kodak that she keeps failing to destroy by taking it to gigs.
The bookshelves in Library II are now being filled with actual books (well, and RPGs, but most of those are in book form). I actually have some shelf space free in my office! It won't last...
Unlike some, from the sounds of it, I enjoyed Charles Stross's next-to-latest, Halting State, an awful lot (to the extent of picking it back up and reading it again after finishing it the first time round, to giggle some more. Once it comes out in a UK edition, I think a lot of people in my personal universe are going to be bought copies... maviscruet, you especially need to read this. There's one line which very nearly caused me to cover the immediate vicinity in coffee; I have this vision of Stross thinking up that line and writing a book around it...
And finally.... ye gods, a weekend off. rotwang was off to Amsterdam with some of his school mates to celebrate the recently-past 40th birthday of one of them; at least it wasn't that friend who realised on Friday night that his passport was a month out of date. I therefore decided that a weekend in Copenhagen with (non-LJ) friends was called for.
We arrived Friday night and found that there was a steak house opposite our hotel which served food until four in the morning (just as well since it was about half past ten by the time we'd got out of the airport and reached the hotel). Mmm, steak. On Saturday we went to admire the Royal Library; failed to visit an art gallery which was closed for renovation; boggled a bit at the shops largely closing by 3 or 4pm on a Saturday (and not being open on a Sunday); admired one of the city parks; and discovered that both of our first two choices from the Time Out guide's restaurant section had vanished into the mists of oblivion (at least I hadn't had a reservation with them this time, unlike our problems in Granada last year...). We eventually had very fine sushi, followed by a bottle of wine and nightcaps back at our hotel.
Sunday involved a return visit to the same park, as the sun had come out (better for photography). After that we took in the National Museum, followed by the Cisternerne -- a modern glass art museum in what were previously underground water tanks. It also has statues. This is possibly the Gothest place I've ever visited; it has "LARP venue" written all over it... We then realised we were only about 200 yards from the zoo, which was still open, and so we went for a look around and happened to catch feeding time for many of the animals. The bears were particularly impressive; they knew it was that time of day and were waiting impatiently for the keepers!
It all went a bit downhill from there. We got back to the airport in plenty of time, having checked in online. SAS's concept of "check in online" is a bit different from most other airlines I've used; you don't get to print off your own boarding pass, you have to do that at an airport kiosk and then drop your bags off. Some people seemed to be able to print off their own baggage tags, but not us, and the stupid, STUPID woman on the bag drop desk didn't realise she needed to print off tags for the bags until we went back and said "wait, shouldn't we have tags for these?" Our bags are, therefore, still in Copenhagen, and may hopefully catch up with us at some point (having no tags at all on them will at least probably mean they've not got very far). The plane back was a bit late, then we had to sit on the tarmac for 20+ minutes while the previous plane at our gate was still in the way, then the jetway turned out to be broken and we had to walk down stairs, once they'd found stairs. Then our bags didn't show up....
And I still need more coffee!