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Sunday, January 25, 2009

How to Install Firefox 3 On Mac Mini OS X

That's the thing about getting to know a new operating system. You make silly mistakes and use the systems in a way not intended until you discover otherwise. For me, I have been running Mozilla FireFox 3.0 (3.0.5) only in memory off of the mounted archive rather than installing the application on my Mac Mini for about two weeks.

The initial problem was that the installation of the Mozilla FireFox 3 browser is different than other application I had previously installed. Once I learned how to do it, it makes a lot more sense.

No having learned the correct way to install it -- I figure there may be some other Apple / Mac OS X newbies like myself out there that might be a little lost like myself, so here's a quick tutorial on how to install the Firefox 3 browser on the Mac OS X.

1. Just download the Firefox 3.0.5.dmg archive from the Mozilla website. Once you download the file, double-click on it to open the archive.

Just download the Firefox 3.0.5.dmg archive from the Mozilla website. Once you download the file, double-click on it to open the archive.

2. Once you double-click on the archive, it will mount the Firefox 3.0.5 archive on your Mac Mini (or similar system running Mac OS X).

Once you double-click on the archive, it will mount the Firefox 3.0.5 archive on your Mac Mini (or similar system running Mac OS X).

3. As the image (archive) is mounted on the PC -- you may need to double-click on it sometimes -- a Firefox window pops open with two icons, the Firefox application icon and the Application folder with an arrow between the two. If you double-click the Firefox icon, it will launch the Firefox 3 application out of the mounted archive. If you click on the Application folder, that will open. If you want to install Mozilla Firefox 3 drag the Mozilla Icon onto the Application folder and it will install (this is what I missed). Then Mozilla Firefox 3 will be installed on your hard drive and launch.

As the image (archive) is mounted on the PC -- you may need to double-click on it sometimes -- a Firefox window pops open with two icons, the Firefox application icon and the Application folder with an arrow between the two. If you double-click the Firefox icon, it will launch the Firefox 3 application out of the mounted archive. If you click on the Applicaiton folder, that will open. If you want to install Mozilla Firefox 3 drag the Mozilla Icon onto the Application folder and it will install (this is what I missed). Then Mozilla Firefox 3 will be installed on your hard drive and launch.

4. If you are like me and you want to use the Firefox 3 browser frequently, just right-click on the icon in the dock, and select Keep in Dock. You are now set to use and access your Firefox 3.0.5 browser easily!

If you are like me and you want to use the Firefox 3 browser frequently, just right-click on the icon in the dock, and select Keep in Dock. You are now set to use and access your Firefox 3.0.5 browser easily!

Hopefully this will help you avoid going through the embarrassment and slower running of the Firefox browser on your Apple Macintosh!

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mac Time Machine to Network No Simple Solution

I am still in the in process of getting my new Mac Mini setup and ready for “prime time” as possibly the primary personal computer at home. As I am well aware having lost my share of data and hard drives in the past – backing up the computer is one of the most important processes to get setup and be diligent about. Today I tried to get the Mac Mini setup with Time Machine.

I had heard good things about the Time Machine program that ships with Mac OS X, including the version of Leopard that I am running. Most of it had been anecdotal, but it seemed to get really high marks for both ease and reliability. Given that I have generally found most backup software programs to be somewhat complex to configure and run reliably, those high marks seemed to be in the right area of most important problems to solve. I was definitely looking forward to setting up the Time Machine functionality.

At first, I read some about the functionality as Time Machine backs up your data hourly, daily, and weekly – keeping as many weekly backups as possible until you run out of disk space. Given that I was looking to back this up to my Galaxy MGB Raid Pro 1TB NAS device, I assumed it would be awhile until I ran out of space.

I then started to configure the Time Machine. I went to select a backup device and curiously there were not any options. I then looked into the “Time Capsule” option and the Airport started looking for compatible devices. Very quickly I realized that there was some additional setup that I was possibly missing.

That is when the searching started. After a few minutes googling for the answers, I learned a couple of things:

1. Out of the box, the Time Machine for Macintosh does not backup to network devices. Your backup device must be attached in some manner: Serial ATA, USB, Firewire, etc.
2. There was a possible hack that you could to enable the Time Machine to recognize a network devices.


At first I was pretty disappointed. It seems like in many cases consumers like myself would prefer to push backups to a network storage device – which generally is more reliable and has much more space than local drives. Plus with the Mac Mini, it comes with a single drive – while you can attach additional storage devices – with over 4 terabytes of storage on other systems, that is the last thing I was interested in.

I was somewhat motivated to try out the hack.

Several sites I visited mentioned the solution was pretty simple. You just go into the MacOS X / FreeBSD shell and enter the following command:

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1


While it is pretty self-explanatory, the command basically changes you default system preferences for “TM” or “Time Machine” to show unsupported network volumes by flipping the flag to a “1” or basically saying yes. You can change it back if you want by entering the following command:

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 0


I went to the console shell and entered the command which was saved.

I went back into the Time Machine application and like magic my network device showed as an available backup device. Whew, it looked like it worked. However, my joy was short-lived…

I scheduled the Time Machine backup and after churning for about 30 seconds, I encountered the following error:
Time Machine Error - The backup disk image could not be created.
Time Machine Error
The backup disk image could not be created.


Great, another problem to solve. Some more search revealed that the native command that the Apple OS X issues to create the disk image fails unless it is run locally. There were some recommendations on how you might get around it – but appears as if there is some uncertainty about the reliability of the backup and most importantly, whether or not you can restore the backup. The largest concern I had run into yet.

The bottom line? It’s not easy to get the Time Machine to backup to a network device. Not only frustrating, but also quite disappointing.

One note of interest, I have discovered that there is one post at Vince’s Blog which seems to detail the overall process in a good step-by-step manner. I will be trying it out this weekend to see if I can get it to work and will update this post. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Windows 7 Beta Install on VMWare - 64-bit

Just because I now own a Mac, it does not mean that I still enjoy "toying" with Windows based computers. With the recent announcement of the open Windows 7 Beta and the rumors that Microsoft has stopped focusing on Vista and now has a laser focus on Windows 7 -- I thought it would be a prudent step to download and try it out.

I wanted to put it on my VMWare Server 2.0, so I hoped that after the 3.5GB download of the 64-bit (x64) version of the software there would not be any problems. I setup a new Virtual Machine, mapped the .ISO file to the CD Drive and I was ready to get started on the installation with 2 processors and 2GB RAM.

For any of those trying a similar thing, I choose the Windows 2008 64-bit option -- but assumed that the Vista 64-bit option would have been an equally good choice.

Here was the installation process and screen shots of a few of the screens.


1.  A standard and basic installation screen.  Looks very similar to what many of us are used to with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. 

A standard and basic installation screen.  Looks very similar to what many of us are used to with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.
2.  Oddly, Windows 7 gives me the upgrade option here after loading from the ISO at boot.  I know that there is no Operating System on the VMWare Virtual Server, so I choose the custom option.

Oddly, Windows 7 gives me the upgrade option here after loading from the ISO at boot.  I know that there is no Operating System on the VMWare Virtual Server, so I choose the custom option.
3.  Nothing really special here with the disk selection.  Same menu and options that you would find with Windows Vista.

Nothing really special here with the disk selection.  Same menu and options that you would find with Windows Vista.
4.  Installation was surprisingly quick for those experienced with installations of Vista, XP, or 2008 Server.  This portion took less than 10 minutes!

Installation was surprisingly quick for those experienced with installations of Vista, XP, or 2008 Server.  This portion took less than 10 minutes!
5.  Welcome to Windows 7 Ultimate.  Sample machine and user names below.

Welcome to Windows 7 Ultimate.  Sample machine and user names below.
6.  Something new and interesting.  Rather than having to leverage the standard Microsoft Windows Sharing, a new concept called the "Homegroup" is available.  You can select items from your Pictures, Music, Video, Documents, and Music to be shared with a simple key that is auto-generated by Microsoft.  I would likely never use it, however it may be interesting for some!

Something new and interesting.  Rather than having to leverage the standard Microsoft Windows Sharing, a new concept called the Homegroup is available.  You can select items from your Pictures, Music, Video, Documents, and Music to be shared with a simple key that is auto-generated by Microsoft.  I would likely never use it, however it may be interesting for some!
7.  The first look at Windows Vista 7 64-bit desktop.  Nothing life changing here, some updated and simplified navigation panes are on the bottom taskbar -- similar to what many of us use the Quick Launch toolbars for.

The first look at Windows Vista 7 64-bit desktop.  Nothing life changing here, some updated and simplified navigation panes are on the bottom taskbar -- similar to what many of us use the Quick Launch toolbars for.
8.  And another great relief, the VMWare Tools installed with ease.  Better mouse and keyboard response as well as general performance and behavior.

And another great relief, the VMWare Tools installed with ease.  Better mouse and keyboard response as well as general performance and behavior.
Brief commentary. The Windows 7 update is nice, but not impressive or revolutionary by any means. While there are some new areas of improved navigation, you will find much of the same with Windows 7 that you experience in Windows Vista. There are some nice new menu touches (like the Display Resolution Slider), but other than that -- I do not see any major improvements that "change the game" in terms of the next generation of user interfaces. It frankly feels like more of a server machine than an end user from an experience point of view.

However, there was one improvement that I consider to be huge. Despite the large size of the installation at 3.5GB, the 64-bit installation just took a total of 18 minutes on a virtual machine until I was using the new. By far the fastest installation I have ever seen with a Microsoft Operating System, let alone on a virtual machine. Full reboots only took a total of ~90 seconds, pretty good performance overall.

In short, I will not spend much time on the current version of the beta which I have not encountered any glitches with. I will most likely look for additional version in the future to see if Microsoft can improve the user interface.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Mac Mini and Missing iLife '09

When I walked into the Apple Store to consider purchasing my first Mac, the poster on the easel as I entered was that for the new iLife '09. Seeing additional advertising throughout the store, I was thinking -- wow, what great timing -- I bet my Mac Mini will come with the new version of iLife with all the upgrades to the latest versions: iDVD '09, iPhoto '09, iMovie '09, GarageBand '09, and iWeb '09.

When I purchased the Mac Mini, nothing was mentioned at checkout so I figured I was good. I arrived home and fired up the Mac Mini and almost immediately noticed that the version of iPhoto did not have the latest bells and whistles that were promised as part of iLife '09. Big surprise, iLife '09 was not installed or included with the computer.

For anyone who bought a Mac Mini, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, MacBook, MacBook Pro, or Macbook Air on or after January 6th, 2009 -- you too are entitled to an upgrade of iLife '09 to your computer for only $10, err...$9.95.  All you need to do is go to this site, fill out the forms that include the serial number for your Apple Mac and you will receive the CD towards the end of the month.  I filled out the forms and it went flawlessly.
Then I visited the Apple Store online and could only find mention of an upgrade for $79. I thought to myself -- I just paid $650 for this and the software was already out. Why was it not included on my Mac Mini? Or at least a coupon included for a free upgrade. Why was I expected to spend $79 on a brand new machine to upgrade to the software that should have been included with it?

Annoyed enough by the outdated software that only 3-4 hours into the new machine I was seriously considering returning it.

I decided I should probably call Apple Support before fuming too much about the situation. I placed a call to Apple Support and while the agent tried to find out the details on the machine. After a few minutes and conferencing me in with the Thousand Oaks Apple Store, it was determined I purchased my Mac Mini after the launch date of January 6th, 2009 -- so I could make an appointment at the Genius Bar and bring it in to have it updated for $10. The only catch was that the CD's were not widely available, so I would need to wait until the end of the month.

Less annoyed at the prospect of paying $10 for the upgrade, I was reasonably satisfied by the resolution and the effort that the phone support representative went to in resolving the situation. In fact, I would not be returning my Mac Mini. Whew. But, I was still uncomfortable with the idea of someone else installing software on my Mac, I guess I would have to get comfortable with it over the next 3 weeks.

And over the next couple of days, I learned a little more...

For anyone who bought a Mac Mini, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, MacBook, MacBook Pro, or Macbook Air on or after January 6th, 2009 -- you too are entitled to an upgrade of iLife '09 to your computer for only $10, err...$9.95. All you need to do is go to this site, fill out the forms that include the serial number for your Apple Mac and you will receive the CD towards the end of the month. I filled out the forms and it went flawlessly.

What I think happened -- because I looked at the Apple site when I discovered the missing iLife '09 -- is that the upgrade information for recent buyers of Mac machines was not published. The recent purchase upgrades were not mentioned in the press release, so perhaps they were added afterwards. Plus, I remember searching the Apple site only to find nothing on the evening on the 9th, only to find it show up sometime afterwards until when I filled out the form the week of the 12th.

Still, overall it is a very good outcome! I will have to let you know when the update arrives and how the process goes.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

BMW - Sliding/Tilt Sunroof Anti-Trap Function

I turned on my BMW M3 today and weird image showed up in my console display. At first, I thought it was the hood of the car -- which kind of made sense. I had just jump-started my Audi A4 (long story) and perhaps I missed closing the hood all of the way.

Nope. That was not it.

I took another look at the icon, and then in my i-Drive pane, I see the message:

Anti-trap function deactivated


Say what? What was the anit-trip function in the first place?

I then went into the system messages and I received a little more information:
Sliding/tile sunroof
Anti-trap function deactivated.
Have the system checked by the nearest BMW center.

Sliding/tile sunroof. Anti-trap function deactivated. Have the system checked by the nearest BMW center.

Ok, that icon now made a little more sense. But, ugh -- did I really need to go to the BMW center for this? I tried the sunroof, and it was jerky -- none of the one-touch buttons worked to either open, close or tilt the sunroof on the car. However, I had not used it in a few days -- leaving me a little curious about the cause.

But, then I found out what the fix was in my case. The anti-trap function for the sunroof needed to be reset.

How do you reset it? Luckily, it is easy.

All you need to do is push in the sliding sunroof button in and hold it for approximately 60 seconds. After holding for 15-20 seconds, the sunroof will start cycling through all the functions and then completes the reset once the sunroof closes. Release the button and then the anti-trap function has been reset.

Whew, that was a close one. The technology is great, but the false alarms are not quite as exciting.

On a similar note, apparently this can occur with power windows, possibly with the message "Power windows anti-trap function deactivated." If you encounter this message perform the following on the desired window:
- Start in the fully up or down position
- Either close or open the window all the way holding the button and hold for 5 seocnds after the action completes.
- Then reverse the action in the same manner and complete by holding the window button for an additional 5 seconds after the action complete


The window should now be repaired. If you're having either problem, hopefully this post helped you out. Good luck!

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Am I a Mac now?

I thought this day would never come, but it has.

All through high school and college I considered the Apple Macintosh computers to simple toys, just used for education and graphics. No serious programmer or business person would really use a Mac full time. In fact, most software was not even available for the Macintosh only on PCs.

But, over the past several years -- my opinion has slowly changed. First it was working in the web development world building e-commerce sites and using heavy graphics and I worked closely with a number of Mac users. Still, that was back in the days when you needed a tool like DataViz to transfer files between machines and PC users struggled with Stuff-It vs. Winzip.

Then OS X in 2001 and I thought it was pretty neat. Still, corporate adoption of Mac computers was still seriously lacking -- and frankly unusable. And as I moved more into the Linux / Unix world, the FreeBSD underpinnings became more appealing. Pair that up with the great usability and ease with the iPhone and iPod -- and I had to seriously consider.

And when the MacBook Air came out -- I wanted one. I just could not justify the price. So for the better part of the last year I have considered the MacBook, the MacBook Pro, a Mac Pro, and the Mac Mini. I had not really thought abou the iMac since I already had a 24" widescreen LCD that I am pretty happy with. But, in the end -- could I really justify having three machines -- I did not need the Mac for anything other than to toy with. (There is some fun in that, right?)

But, this past weekend -- I finally took the plunge.

Why?

Well, I have been messing with Ruby (and still have work to publish) and I wanted to do some iPhone native application development. That meant I needed to have the iPhone SDK -- which the current version only runs on Leopard (10.5.5 or higher). I first looked into running it in a virtual environment on VMWare, but apparently it is neither easy nor legal.

What did I end up with?

I decided to put my toe in the water so to say and I purchased a Mac Mini. I ended up with 1.83Ghz combo drive:

- 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
- 1GB memory 1GB memory
- 80GB hard drive

My new Mac Mini.My new Mac Mini.

I guess this means I am a Mac now, rather than a PC. Although I still have two other PCs. My guess, I'll get rid of my Windows Vista desktop and just rely on my Windows Server 2008 machine and my Mac Mini. Plus, I'll probably use less energy!

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The 2008 BMW E90 M3 Post

As I have done with many of the subjects that I choose to blog about rather frequently, I am creating a central index in order to better organize the posts in an easier to find and digest manner.

I originally purchased my 2008 BMW M3 E90 Sedan from Bob Smith BMW in Calabasas, CA in October 2008 – taking great advantage of aggressive pricing and BMW Financing’s great incentive rate of 0.9%. The M3 is my first BMW, and replaces the 2006 Audi A4 that I have posted frequently about here. I choose the M3 over the upcoming 2009 / 2010 Audi S4 for the simple reason that the S4 was not due to be delivered stateside until the latter half of 2009.

The BMW USA website describes the BMW M3 sedan in the following ways...

The BMW M3 Sedan

For insurance purposes, we call it a sedan.

Headlining this next chapter of the BMW M story, is the first ever production 8-cylinder M3 Sedan. It hits the road strutting 414-hp, redlining at a never-before-experienced 8,400 RPM. It's 21 years of motorsports brought to the streets.


I could not agree more. Having just passed 2,000 miles on the vehicle, I could not be happier with the quality and the performance of the vehicle. While I had a minor service incident at the dealership, that was the only blemish so far.

The details on my BMW M3 Sedan include:

- Jet Black Non-Metallic Pain
- Black Novillo Extended Leather
- Blue-Gray Brushed Aluminum Trim
- Technology Package (Voice Activation, Electronic Damping Control, Comfort Access system, Real Time Traffic Information, M Drive, Navigation System, HD Radio)
- Cold Weather Package (Retractable headlight washers, Heated front seats, Fold down rear seats)
- Premium Package (Universal Garage Door Opener, Digital compass mirror, BMW Assist, Power folding mirrors)
- 19” Forged and polished wheels
- Moonroof
- Enhanced Premium Sound
- iPod and USB Adapter
- Satellite radio with 1 year subscription


Here are the posts I have made on my 2008 BMW M3 E90:
BMW M3 E90 Test Drive
BMW M3 Delivery
Problems with Bluetooth and the BMW iDrive System
Connecting the Blackberry with the BMW iDrive System
BMW 1200 Mile Break-in Service
M3 Breaks Down, Needs a Jump Start
1200 Mile Service Part 2, Battery Replacement
Tire Pressure Monitoring on the M3
M3 Cruise Control Feature Review
M3 Video: Startup and Engine Rev

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Annual Summary, Statistics and What's Ahead

2009 is already here, boy did 2008 sure did go by quickly!

As we exit 2008, it is time a quick annual update to the SomeLife Blog. 2008 was an awesome year for both the content and the site, so here is the summary and statistics for the year. The total traffic to the site blew away all expectations that I had, which makes me very excited for 2009!

First at the high level, comparing 2008 to 2007.
SomeLife Blog traffic statistics for 2008.

- 1.186M visitors came to the SomeLifeBlog site in 2008 vs. 500k in 2007, an increase of 133%
- Thanks to a great December, the biggest month over month increase for 2008 was 20% between November and December 2008, primarily driven by traffic in the last 8 days of the year which has sustained itself into 2009.
- 86% of the traffic to the site is driven by search engines, 87% of that is from Google. Which in effect, means that Google Search alone is responsible for roughly 75% of the total traffic to the site. Wow, I guess paying to be added to the Yahoo! directory did not help much. :-)
- Internet Explorer (55%) and FireFox (37%) still have the lions share of the browser eyeballs, but Chrome (1%) is already making a dent. In fact, it was already 3% in December 2008!
- 70% of visits are from the US, followed by the Canada (7%) and the UK (7%)

The top 5 posts from 2008 were:
1. The Nintendo Repair Guide
2. The RAZR Guide
3. How to Sync the Wii Balance Board
4. How to Install RAZR Themes and Skins
5. How to Install Games on Your Blackberry

And the good news is that heading into 2009, the traffic is keeping at those unbelievably high rates that ended the year -- so I am hopeful that the site can continue the upward trend in 2009. Looking ahead to 2009, here are a few things I am considering.

Site Split Into Categories
I realize that the mix of photos, family, technology, photography, and other subjects are mainly what I am interested in rather than what everyone else is interested in. That is a huge reason why given the traffic to the site that the RSS readership is so low. (~250 or so)

During the month of January, look for each main focus area (such as the Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, RAZR, Family) to have it's own header post as an index with it's own RSS feed so that you can keep up to date on postings in the areas that interest you. You can still subscribe to everything if you want to as well!

Newer, Updated Design
I have been talking about a site redesign for a long time. But because of the difficulty of migrating all the custom items in the blogger platform to another design, I have been avoiding it. However, recently with the new Daily Jokes site I created -- it was really, really easy to put in a new more current 3 or 4 column design. My goal is to have this done by the end of March.

Finally, an about SomeLfie Blog Post
An Achilles heel to say the least. I have been trying to write an "About SLB" post for the better part of the year that has gone through 4 drafts that I was not too happy about. But, on my 5th draft now -- I am simply going to post it -- probably in the next week or so.

2008 was a great year and I am really looking forward to 2009. I hope you are as well, thanks for reading!

-Ken

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Photo Blog: New Year's Day at the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl

As I mentioned last week, Ashley and I had the good fortunate of having the opportunity to attend the 120th Annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California and the Rose Bowl (USC Trojans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions) on New Year's Day, 2009.

So, we woke up early yesterday morning - 5:00am - way too early for a New Year's Day to make our way 45 miles down to Pasadena, California to catch the Rose Parade with the Pepperdine Alumni Association. With the parking pass and grandstand seats, we made it to our seats in no time -- we could have probably left an hour later and still been ok. Partially, because our seats were at mile 4, at the corner of Colorado and Sierra Madre streets meaning the parade would not reach us until roughly 9:30am.

Once the parade was over, we made the excruciating drive over to the Rose Bowl. It took us almost two hours to get there. We then had to rush inside to catch the pre-game festivities making the mile long walk across the golf course. I thought to myself, UCLA fans do this for every home game -- crazy. The Coliseum in downtown is so much easier to get into.

Once insider, we enjoyed a great game that turned out USC's way. Sitting as the only two people dressed in cardinal and gold amongst an entire section of Penn State fans was quite an adventure during pre-game and the first quarter, but calmed down after there.

Here are a few pictures from the day...

Bright and early at our spot in the grandstands on Colorado and Sierra Madre for the parade.  We're both pretty excited and this is my first Rose Parade, the 120th!Bright and early at our spot in the grandstands on Colorado and Sierra Madre for the parade.  We're both pretty excited and this is my first Rose Parade, the 120th!


Street vendors with pennants and other fun things.  I always things of these vendors, the little plastic horns and other trinkets that you can get at parades.Street vendors with pennants and other fun things.  I always things of these vendors, the little plastic horns and other trinkets that you can get at parades.


One of the highlights of both the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl -- a B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber flying directly over us.  Absolutely one of the most impressive sights I have seen.  The wing span on this marvel is amazing.  In fact, when it flew over the Rose Bowl stadium it felt like it briefly covered the whole thing!One of the highlights of both the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl -- a B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber flying directly over us.  Absolutely one of the most impressive sights I have seen.  The wing span on this marvel is amazing.  In fact, when it flew over the Rose Bowl stadium it felt like it briefly covered the whole thing!


The 120th Annual Rose Parade is underway with an old Pasadena Police department car leading the way.  The theme this year was Hats Off to Entertainment -- a fun theme.The 120th Annual Rose Parade is underway with an old Pasadena Police department car leading the way.  The theme this year was Hats Off to Entertainment -- a fun theme.

Mechanical Melodies float -- one of the first and one of my favorites.  This was a self-built float which garners so much more respect in my mind with 80%+ of the floats these days being built by float companies."Mechanical Melodies" float -- one of the first and one of my favorites.  This was a self-built float which garners so much more respect in my mind with 80%+ of the floats these days being built by float companies.


Hats off to New Mexico -- BEEP BEEP!  Just a fun looking and impressive float.Hats off to New Mexico -- BEEP BEEP!  Just a fun looking and impressive float.


Cloris Leachman presided over the parade as the Grand Marshall and waves to us in the stands.Cloris Leachman presided over the parade as the Grand Marshall and waves to us in the stands.


After the parade was over due to roads being shut, it took about two hours to get to the Rose Bowl.  One hour to get out of downtown Pasadena and then another hour sitting in traffic to get into the Rose Bowl -- pictured here.After the parade was over due to roads being shut, it took about two hours to get to the Rose Bowl.  One hour to get out of downtown Pasadena and then another hour sitting in traffic to get into the Rose Bowl -- pictured here.


Seriously, I was not joking when we were the only two USC Trojan Fans in the section.  Thanks Stubhub for the tickets, and boy did they make a lot of comments about the Pac-1 (yes 1) and USC being overrated.  Not a good idea to talk smack before a game.Seriously, I was not joking when we were the only two USC Trojan Fans in the section.  Thanks Stubhub for the tickets, and boy did they make a lot of comments about the Pac-1 (yes 1) and USC being overrated.  Not a good idea to talk smack before a game.


Because, as it approached halftime and just before it became 31-7, the vultures were already circling around Penn State.  See the buzzards in the pictures?Because, as it approached halftime and just before it became 31-7, the vultures were already circling around Penn State.  See the buzzards in the pictures?


Half-time was depressing to be around the Penn State fans.  Head in the hands, sitting there stunned.  No more smack talk about USC.Half-time was depressing to be around the Penn State fans.  Head in the hands, sitting there stunned.  No more smack talk about USC.


And after the game, some Penn State fans were nice enough to take out picture.  Frankly, the Penn State fans were pretty admirable in defeat -- many congratulated us, and hung out to chat as the Rose Bowl Ceremony take place.  I must say that they were some of the better fans if you had to sit in someone else's section.And after the game, some Penn State fans were nice enough to take our picture.  Frankly, the Penn State fans were pretty admirable in defeat -- many congratulated us, and hung out to chat as the Rose Bowl Ceremony take place.  I must say that they were some of the better fans if you had to sit in someone else's section.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Photo Blog: 2008 in Pictures

It's that time of year -- the time when we reflect back on what happened this past year and look forward to what is in store for us in 2009. While looking back, one of the most important things I do is review the pictures that were taken.

And golly, there sure were a lot of pictures taken in 2008. Before I started my yearly cleaning and backup process (talked about in this post) -- I had about 6,000 photos taking up over 35.0 GB of space on my hard drive. Those were the ones that made my first cut on upload. Over the past week -- I narrowed it down to roughly 4,000 photos, about 16.0GB worth of photos. I still need to make one more pass through until I have the "final" set for 2008, and hopefully I can get it down to 3,000 shots.

After reviewing all the photos, I was again both grateful and thankful for all the opportunities and experiences that Ashley and I were fortunate to have in 2008. Many of the visitors to this site helped to contribute to those opportunity, so I thank you for that as well.

I decided this year to create a quick retrospective of my favorite pictures from 2008. These are the pictures that I enjoyed the most -- whether they were the expressions of the person, or the time and place where the picture was captured. After sorting through the 6,000+ original pictures and narrowing it down to 33 -- it feels like even though these snapshots are just my personal favorites -- they are a great representation of what 2008 was to Ashley and I.

I hope you enjoy...Happy New Year!

Note: On this page, the pictures are displayed as 400 pixels wide. If you want to see better detail, simply click on the picture and it will open at a much larger resolution in a new page.

Garth Brooks, live at Staples Center. Ashley and I had wanted to see Garth for the past 10 years and in the beginning of 2008, we were fortunate to catch one of his three fire relief concerts in Los Angeles. Awesome!

One of the first shots after my transition to DSLR cameras from Point and Shoot. A great shot of Mount Boney in the Santa Monica Mountains on a crisp winter day.

Our awesome chocolate Labrador retriever Luey. He is so much fun and takes great pictures.

Parliament in London, England. I love that this was shot through the trees.

One of the sides of Westminster Abbey. Love the detail and color variation here.

The Eye of London. Just love the perspective of this picture at another pod with people taking pictures of the view just as I was taking a picture of them.

Crepes and Ashley. Enough said. :-)

A powerful tour of the Normandy beaches and the American Cemetery.

Luxembourg Gardens on a chilly February morning. The rain the previous day made the sky so clear.

Ashley and her favorite creperie in Paris near the Notre Dame.

Ashley gets all the credit for this picture. The blossoming trees in front of the Notre Dame.

Ashley and I goofing off in front of the Eiffel Tower.

A decent night shot of the Eiffel Tower lit up. I have learned so much about photography since this picture that I could greatly improve on it -- maybe some day I will have the opportunity!

Another great shot of Luey, chilling on our grass in the sun.

I love this shot of my dad as he's planting at my sister's house in preparation for her baby shower. I love this shot of my dad as he's planting at my sister's house in preparation for her baby shower.

My grandpa on his 95th birthday. My grandpa on his 95th birthday.

My cousin Andy and I hanging out at my Grandpa's ranch for the 95th birthday. I had not seen my cousin in about 10 years.

One of my favorite shots ever of my sister. Caught her in this candid photo right before the start of her baby shower.

My sister and brother-in-law's dog Buddy, wet just out of the pool. His a great play partner for our Labrador Luey.

My mom -- grandma with her grandson, my nephew. Priceless.

Our Aunt Felicia at her 95th birthday.

Brother-in-Law Dominic with his father on his 30th birthday party.

Picture of the Tuscan countryside on a summer afternoon -- just after our arrival in Italy.

Family life in Italy. Friends, fun, and food. Great, great memories.

Possibly my favorite "self-portrait" ever in Saint Mark's square in Venice Italy. It's my current Facebook Profile picture and I love how the bird is fly through the picture!

Not sure why this was my one of my favorite pictures -- but it is. I think part of it is because of the clarity of the picture with my F/4 L 70-200mm lens. The other part is that this is how I saw the Venice train station -- constantly buzzing with people coming and going.

Postcard perfect panorama of Florence and the Duomo.

A courtyard in Santa Croce, my favorite church in Florence, Italy. There is a leather craft school in the building on the right side.

Candid shot of our cousin Matteo in Poveromo, Italy.

My favorite monument / structure in the world. The Coliseum.

S. Andrea della Valle just in the right afternoon sunlight.

Our nephew, Lincoln at Pismo Beach, CA.

Ashley and I at a Dodgers game late in the baseball season.

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