Archive for January 2012

My Cats are Weird   3 comments

Yes, the water is on so Eddy can have a drink.

Breakfast with Fishing Cats   13 comments

One of my biggest frustrations with the Night Hunters exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo is that it is very difficult to take pictures there. I have a new camera that can handle low light better, but the lighting has a blueish tint.

I did, however, get a hint that, if you go early enough, you can catch these nocturnal creatures as they end their “day phase.” And, I got to see the fishing cats, my second favorite kind of cat, as they had their breakfast.
What's for Breakfast?

There are two, a female (pictured above), and a male.
Fishing Cat (Up High)

To be honest, I think he was a little afraid of the lady fishing cat, giving her space while she ate.
Chillin' Fishing Cat

He is a very handsome cat.
Big Handsome Fishing Cat

They eventually shifted to “night phase.” Below is a picture with no manipulation (other than a crop). You can see what I mean by the “bluing” problem.
Night Hunters Fishing Cat (Raw)

I’m still seeing what can be done with software. Here is my first attempt at processing my way around the problem.
Fishing Cat Bath
Kinda green.

I could just give up and go black-and-white.
Black & White Fishing Cat

I’m still working on it. Any opinions?

Other cats benefited from my early visit. The caracal was out and interested in what I was doing.
Curious Caracal

The sand cat wanted me to follow him…
You Coming?

…to the top of his hill.
Why are you still down there?

Neofelis nebulosa was having his breakfast.
Clouded Leopard Brunch

He has such a long tail!
Clouded Leopard Tail

Cats aren’t the only creature to call Night Hunters their home. Some bats were just hanging around.
Just Hanging Around

Cincinnati has been coated in a layer of ice the last couple of days. I didn’t get to see the cougars, as their window was, shall we say, double-paned.
Icy Window to the Cougars

Most outdoor animals weren’t out. Some, however, call this weather “pleasant.” For instance, there is the polar bear.
Lovely Weather We're Having

And, of course, the penguins.
Penguin Gaggle

I did shoot a short video (including the loud penguins).

On QR Codes   1 comment

qrcodeI wanted to get everyone’s opinion of QR Codes. I’ve been tumbling this in my head for the last week or two, and wanted to try to get some more feedback.

A QR Code is a “two dimensional” barcode. While they have other uses, the most popular is to easily redirect someone to a web site via a sign or flyer in the “real world.” The idea is you take a photo of it with a SmartPhone application. The app will then convert the barcode into a text stream, typically a URL. In a way, it is an idea very similar to the CueCat in the mid-to-late Nineties, except that the blend of technology and mobility have caught up to provide some utility.

I started pondering the QR Codes recently when I saw an opportunity to print up some business cards for free. The idea of having some personal business cards seems handy. I could use them for contacts that are not work related, but that I would want to be able to get in touch with me. Obviously, it would have some basic contact information (name, some description of who I am, etc.). In addition to some basic contact information (a phone number and an e-mail address), I had the notion of putting up a web page with “expanded contact information,” to include this blog, my twitter account, LinkedIn, etc. I had the idea of putting a QR Code link to this page on the reverse side of the card, to allow easy access.

I started having second thoughts when I simply thought about the QR Code. Quite frankly, they are somewhat ugly from a design perspective. Putting it on the back of the card would help. But how difficult is it to type in a short URL?

Then I had second thoughts about QR Codes in general. I started reading about QR Codes being a source of malware. Since you can’t see what the QR Code is until you scan it, I can see where the risk increases. While the same is true of URL shorteners, there are typically options to see what you are referred to. Also, there is a big difference between a random code on a flyer and something that can clearly be traced back to major business or an individual, such as my card.

What are your thoughts? Is the utility of a QR Code worth putting it on a card, or are they unnecessarily ugly and less-than-trustworthy?

The QR Code above simply links back to my blog–nothing to worry about!

Posted 2012-01-20 by Mr. Guilt in computers, Internet, IT Opinion, rant

Red Shouldered Hawk on the Little Miami Trail   Leave a comment

LTM BridgeA couple months ago, while riding my bike on the Little Miami Trail, a hawk flew next to me–right at head level. He pulled ahead, then up into a tree. I coasted a few hundred feet just amazed at what I saw–definitely a reason why I ride my bike. A few weeks ago, in the same spot, I saw two sitting on branches.

Given that that appeared to be where they hung out, as well as a number of nests visible in the naked trees, it seemed reasonable to find them there. However, I wasn’t going to take my DSLR on my bike–seeing them has been too inconsistent to make it worth the weight and the risk. I decided today to drive to roughly that spot and walk the trail with my camera. Would I see the hawks?
Peek-a-Boo

Within minutes of getting on the trail, I saw one sitting in the tree. It was quite calm, and let me get close. I am not an expert in birds, but I believe it is a red-shouldered hawk. The other hawk that is in the area is a red-tailed hawk, and this bird’s tail was, well, not red.
Over the Shoulder

It was quite impressive. I was especially taken with its talons.
Hawk from the Front

It did fly from tree to tree, though during only one of these moves was I able to react quickly enough.
Flying to a Stop

The only other bird I saw on this cold afternoon was a cardinal, providing bright color on this day.
Cardinal

I had spent an hour debating if it was worth trying to go before getting in the car. As I said, while I was confident the hawks called that place home, I was not sure they would be there when I got there. I was definitely rewarded with by being able to be in the presence of this magnificent creature.
On a Branch and Proud

Posted 2012-01-14 by Mr. Guilt in animals, Cincinnati, red-shouldered hawk

Very Superstitious   1 comment

It occurs to me that today is the first Friday the Thirteenth since we got the kittens. Is having a black cat on such a day bad luck?
Napping Black Cat

Only if you disturb naptime.
Annoyed Black Cat

OK…go back to sleep, Luna.
Dozing Black Cat

Posted 2012-01-13 by Mr. Guilt in animals, cats, Family, felis silvestris catus, Luna

Happy Zoo Year 2012!   1 comment

Christmas Tree in the Duck PondAnnually, the Cincinnati Zoo holds the Festival of Lights, where they put lights on throughout the zoo and open in the evening. The signs at the zoo say it’s “Cincinnati’s Oldest Holiday Tradition.” I’m not sure how accurate that is, especially considering the trains that used to be at the CG&E building (now at the Museum Center). However, I certainly enjoy it.

It’s a very impressive display. They are proud that the 20,000 lights are Earth-friendly LEDs. It makes the zoo feel different. Most of the vendors are selling hot cocoa, and there are puppet displays. Last night, there was a person dressed as a panda, decked out as baby new year.

It’s a great display. What’s more, on New Year’s Eve, they hold “Happy Zoo Year.” They have special puppet shows for kids, and a count-down at the parent-friendly time of 9 PM, followed by fireworks. This is the third year we’ve done this. This year, we’ve been lucky in Cincinnati with relatively nice weather–I almost was not sure if I was in Southwest Ohio or Southwest Louisiana. Fortunately, Cincinnati’s hills reminded me quite well.

To get to the zoo, you have to walk across a bridge from the parking lot. This was a nice tunnel of lights. My wife and daughter pose amid the flashing white LEDs.
Tunnel of Lights

My favorite light display, probably influenced by my mother, was the flamingos.
Flamingo Lights

In their central duck pond, they set up a syncrhonized light display.

Of course, the reason I like to go to the zoo is the animals. OK, cats. The ocelot was taking a nap, not doubt making sure he was ready for when the ball dropped.
Dozing Occelot

One sand cat thought that was a great idea.
Dozing Sand Cat

The other was busy making sure its hair was perfect.
Looking Good for New Year

Slurp!

The cougar brothers are getting so big! They just hit the one year mark a few months ago. A keeper said they still have about fifty more pounds to grow. I’m not sure which one this is, but the other one was right next to the glass–I couldn’t really get a good shot in this light.
Cougar Among the Rocks

The giraffes were staying inside, but were cool. Giraffes have no problem staying up until midnight. At four and a half hours, they require the least sleep of any mammal.
Oh Hai!

My daughter has been on an elephant kick lately, and why not? They’re magnificent creatures.
Elephant Face-On

One was sweeping up hay with his trunk…
Gathering Hay

…and having a snack.
Nom!

Nom!
Nom 2

This is a great event, and we had a lot of fun.
Main Tree

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