Thursday, November 27, 2008

We Are Living in an Internet Spiral

Pike Place Market Blur, I love the unintentional result

Today we seem to be in a tricky spiral. We get sucked up into this internet world, willingly or unwillingly. We find ourselves migrating more and more of our daily lives to the web each day. Today, our lives are increasingly an open book; we bank online, we shop online, we make travel arrangements online, we post pictures of ourselves, our friends and our families online, we blog, we laugh, we cry and we seek out someone at the other end to listen. We are "connected" to everyone who has internet access 24/7, whether we consciously want to - or not. We implicitly trust the other person at the other end, that he or she has no malicious intent and that they at least will treat us in the good and noble way we treat them. While we are connected in this World Wide Web, every second, web hackers try to get access to our PCs and steal our personal information. Every so often, we were prompted by our computer that it had successfully blocked an attempt to gain access. It freaks us out and we rush to Frys or Best Buys, to buy a nicely boxed web internet security software...Norton, TrendMicro, Zone Alarm or McAfee just to name four of the hundreds out there, forking out $39.99 a pop. We hope this will finally give us a piece of mind. To our dismay, we find ourselves embarking on a never ending merry go round journey of spending more and more money protecting our information as newer and more sophisticated internet viruses and worms flourish across the World Wide Web each day preying on us as soon as our digital guard is breached.

We would like to appeal to the good side of our peers at the other end of the World Wide Web that they would not hijack our information for their personal gains. That is the premise of most people who have migrated their lives online. Unfortunately, the digital assassins of the hacker hordes are constantly waging a war - seeking to harvest their thirst for instant gratification and financial gain as they monetize the information they are able to gather from our PCs. They are working faster than our paladins of security can mount defenses. Over and over again, even with web security software already in place on our computer, we are alerted of fresh attempts across the internet to gain access to our information. Each time, we freeze and then dash out to see if we should fork out another large sum of money to buy newer and more current AntiVirus software. We just don't want to have to through these frequent adrenalin rush again. To me, this just sounds like a bad musical chair between the hackers, the Anitvirus software manufacturers and you and I. It is going to end badly one day with once again us, the consumers left holding the bag.

I am just an ordinary gal who is very alarmed by how readily everyone has embraced the internet and swiftly migrated their lives online. I appreciate the many good things that have come out of the internet revolution that is moving us forward - whether we want it or not. No doubt, the power of the internet is evident in the recent historic election that is putting the first African-American President in the White House. A mighty feat indeed. The internet has also provided a voice for many ordinary folks whose lives are impacted by sweeping decisions made by a powerful few on the Hill. It has allowed them to have a say and hopefully initiate positive change. I am not arguing against using the internet totally as it has greatly increased productivity for many of us. I am merely asking if it isn't time that we draw a line in the sand on how far and how emcompassing we conduct our daily lives on the internet so the bad does not overwhelm the good. Is it perhaps not time to step back, take a stand and think hard where we really want to go from here.

Be suspicious when everyone is complacent as the saying goes. I fear this is one of those monsters that will blow up in our face someday. Has anyone considered this possibility?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lake Union and Center For Wooden Boats - A Visit In The Rain

It was a wintry morning as we drove up north on I5, I had with me a tiny umbrella and a small backpack full of camera gears (well, my mindset is still very much that of an island girl from sunny Southern California, never needed a raincoat then, and don't have one now). I was convinced that at some point the rain is going to stop and the sun is going to pierce through those rain clouds. Shall we say I was secretly hopeful my trip would not be in vain.

I got out of the car (I was getting dropped off) at the parking lot at Joeys. The rain was coming down hard still, making little pools out of sidewalk around the Lake (Union). My camera backpack and I huddled and we walked sheltered by my little umbrella, sizing up the view as if ready to jump into action as soon as the weather permits.

I was in a pensive mood, deep in my own thoughts, surrounded by a sweeping view of big yachts that line the dock in the near view. It was still early and there was not a soul on deck. In this bad economic climate, these mega yachts are probably a rather expensive toy for the fortunate few. I often wonder about the amount of diesel they consume just to be out in the water but I guess we all have different goals in life, who am I to judge.

As my eyes scanned the horizon to the left of me, gorgeous sailboats appeared in my view. Like a little girl I walked as fast as I could and soon arrived at a covered wooden porch for a quick shelter from the rain. The charming shelter turned out to be a workshop for students at the Center for Wooden Boats, a place to work on boat carpentry. The view of the wet wooden platform leading to the Center was quaint and beautiful. I took out my beloved Canon A1 and loaded a roll of TriX 400 and proceeded to shoot a few frames. Armed with my Canon 10D in my other hand, I snapped a series of shots as I walked down the wet and slippery walkway, composing my shots of the many elegant canoes in bright red, blue, and white and wooden sailboats tied to the marina platform. Raindrops were still falling around me, and the water danced with little round circles. I was geedily happy as I clicked the shutters away.

It was indeed a trip in the rain good for my soul


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Digitally Speaking

I spent a big chunk of my day today digitally rendering a few of my still life photos using art filters in Photoshop. I like the artistic filters more than others, such as the stylised (glowing edges), mosaic tile texture and neon glow filters. I often adjust the parameters like brush size and intensity in each makeover until I arrived at the image I like. I usually start with a still life photo I took of my favorite subject. Most of my stock worthy ones are on Fotolia for sale, and the unique non stock ones (well to the eyes of the beholder anyway) are getting a second look and worked on digitally. The process is fun and it often consumes me for a couple of hours. I feel like I am a child playing with crayons again.

Below is one of such digitally rendered art. It came from a still life photograph of two pastel colored acrylic cups. Colors and light are my two favorite subject matters in photography and art and one could imagine I love Henri Matisse's art. I have always been so awed by his use of colors and light in his paintings and his art. The walls of the cups in the image below seem to crackle and shimmer with light. I am going to see about putting this image on a couple of cool items on Zazzle