All posts by gabriel

Maker. Hacker. Burner. Photographer. 10th level technomancer. Gabriel does lots of things.

It’s that time of year…

Air Kraken Trike; shooting fireSo it’s time for the annual pilgrimage to Burning Man.  Like so many other folks, I’m going.  Unlike a lot of people, I haven’t had the ticket scramble that the selling out process led to — I bought mine back in January.  Anyway, this post isn’t so much about tickets, as it is about the experience, and how I feel about the upcoming trip.

I’m super excited about it.

This year, I’m bringing my own big art project to the Burn.  The Air Kraken has been a ton of work this year, and I’m so happy that I’ve gotten it done, and that it’ll be on playa.  The project has gone really well due to help from my friends by way of Kickstarter contributions, INW’s Art Grant, and construction assistance.   I’m super appreciative to all their wonderful help!

Check out more about the Air Kraken on my project page.

So what else is going on for the Burn?  I’m planning on taking a ton of photographs this year, and that means bringing a lot of storage… I’m bringing 28GB of CF cards, and 6GB of SD cards for two cameras.  I’m bringing a cool selection of lenses, too:  Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D, Sigma 21-35mm Alpha f/3.5-5.6, Nikkor 70-210mm f/4-5.6 D, and on my D80 the 18-200mm alphabet soup lens as backup.  There should be lots of cool stuff to see.

If you see me on playa, I demand you ask for a portrait. ;-)   See you in the desert…

(Not) Shooting the Perseids

So this past Friday, I went up with some friends to Rattlesnake Lake off exit 32 on I-90.  It was a lot of fun, and we laughed and talked and drank good wine.  It was a lovely time.  I shot a lot of photos, but didn’t catch any meteoroids.  The moon was too full and bright, and there just weren’t that many.  I saw about 10 trails in the sky, which was quite pleasant.   Here are some photos I did shoot.  Funny thing about the full moon… It’s a lot like the full sun. ;)

Specifically, 30 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 200 looks like a daytime exposure.  It’s pretty awesome to have images that look like daytime shots with star trails in the backgrounds!

One thing that I realized about this trip was that I was lacking a good release for my D700.  Fortunately, a quick trip over to Amazon and my Prime membership means that next time, that won’t be a problem for me.

Until next time…

Flash Bus, and Shooting Work

Waiting in the WindowSo on Friday, I attended the launch of the Flash Bus talk series by Joe McNally and David Hobby.  It was awesome.  Both of these presenters do a fantastic job of getting their points across in a clear and concise way.  Even as an experienced shooter, I got a lot out of the experience.  Watching them work with subjects and coax out awesome photographers was great.

So afterwards, I was inspired to go out and do some environmental portraits.  Near my studio is a lot of excellent brickwork and old, cool buildings.  These buildings make great locations for doing a shoot.  The shot to the left was done with two speedlights: a SB800 through an umbrella for fill, and a SB900 camera left for key.  This was a fun set to do.

The other shot I did was with my friend H at Golden Gardens park.  This is one of my favorite places to go, and to shoot at.  There’s lots of cool variety to see; train tracks, trails, beach with sand, with cobbles.  Lots of fantastic imagery to pick from.  We went there Monday afternoon, around 5PM.  It was a windy and rainy day, so the shooting was challenging.  The wind LOVES to grab hold of a shoot-through umbrella and carry it away. 

This shot (at right) was done with a single bare SB900 on a lightstand held down into the cobbles with rocks.  It was done in aperture priority mode with -1 EV exposure compensation to get nice colors out of the fading sunset through the dark and stormy clouds.  The wind was fun, but did present some difficulties, including the heart stopper of having your flash fall over onto the rocks.

Fun stuff!

Burning Man Tickets – How to reclaim your queue position

So today, like a few tens of thousands of other burners, I was after a ticket to go burn in the desert. I got in line promptly at 10am, and got the initial queue position of 2008. SWEET, I thought.

But no, there were server problems on their ticketing vendor’s side of things, and that resulted in the queuing system misbehaving and generally punting people way back in line.

So what I did, after waiting for a number of hours was I figured out how to retrieve my old queue position in line, and get my ticket.

Here’s what I did, and what you can, too. This only works on Firefox.

1) Pull up a blank page, and go to the URL about:cache. That’ll pull up the cache entries page where you can look through your browser cache for old URLs you’ve visited. Search the memory cache and then the disk cache for the string “key_queue=” — this will be found in URLs for the Burning Man ticket page links. You’ll want to find all of them, and collect them.

2) Then take the URLs you’ve collected, and load them into your browser. I was able to get immediately to the ticket purchase page doing this, and bought my second-tier ticket.

This worked for me. It might work for you, it might not. But I thought I’d share.

Aether Sight (Part 1 – Goggle Inset Build)

So it’s coming up on Halloween. One of my favorite holidays, and that of many other people, too. This year, I’m helping out my wife with her costume by making her some goggles that employ SMD LEDs to create a number of neat effects. To do this, I had to make some boards to fit inside the goggles, etch them, and solder up them. The embedded flickr set shows the process I engaged in in making these.

Each of the eyes of the goggles will have seven lights in it, and will support a variety of light patterns (to be determined), executed with an Arduino and two shift registers, one for each eye.

More design notes, and build updates to follow.  Enjoy the show.

Building Cassandra-Cacti-M6 on Centos 5.5

Turns out this is hard to do.    I’m writing this here for my benefit, and everyone else’s, too.  I’ve got a client using Cassandra, and of course you monitor that stuff.  So I figure that using the cassandra-cacti-m6 stuff is a good plan.  That’s cool, it works with Cacti.  Cacti’s pretty snazzy.   My customer is using Centos 5.5 on the monitoring box.  Turns out there are a lot of hoops to jump through for that to work.  So here’s what I did.

  1. Install jpackage-utils
  2. Install the jpackage.repo into /etc/yum.repos.d, and enable the rhel5 targets
  3. Install JDK6 Update 3 (because of the following step)
  4. Install java-1.6.0-sun-compat from

Then I go to install ANT, but I discover something — trying to install ant.noarch complains about “Missing Dependency: /usr/bin/rebuild-security-providers is needed by package”.  This sucks.  So I do some googling, and figure out that someone solved this issue on Centos 5.x.  I do what they did (documented at ).  This works great.  The package is built, I install it out of the local build dir.

Then I install ant.noarch and ant-nodeps.noarch.  These do the trick.

The I build cassandra-cacti-m6 as documented in its source tree.  Woo.

It took me a while to dig up and get all this working, but for you, I hope it’s fast and easy.  Enjoy!


Remote Working – Day Zero

Tomorrow is my first day with the new gig.  I resigned from my old job about ten days, and had a nice break.  But now it’s time to get back to things.  I’m a little apprehensive about this whole thing, as this is a new way of working for me.  Changing gears in so many ways after my long time at PopCap (4.5 years – Wow) is filling me with all kinds of feelings of volatility.  What happens now?

I’m eager to get into the swing of things, and past the anxious new beginning with this.   Until tomorrow.