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Hackintosh

After five years I have finally reached the point where I can no longer coax my MacBook Pro into handling the tasks I find myself now asking of it. Lightroom, Photoshop, video editing, and increased streaming are now simply too much for an old Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, and integrated graphics. So, the quest for my newest toy began. Little surprise, budget was my primary concern. I first looked into the new retina MacBook Pros, but my needed specs brought it in the realm of $2500. Not going to happen. I then considered that my laptop was already acting solely as a desktop machine anyway, so I looked into an iMac. Unfortunately, the iMacs have taken the same route as the MacBook Pros with soldered RAM and more difficult upgrades. Again, not going to happen. All that was left was the Mac Pro, and I can’t begin to touch that price point.

After some research I was reminded of the hackintosh concept. I had found my solution! A couple months of component research later and with the help of the guides at tonymacx86, I arrived at this build:

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 65.0 CFM CPU Cooler
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP5 TH ATX LGA1155 Motherboard
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory
Storage: Sandisk Extreme 240GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card
Wireless Network Adapter: TP-Link TL-WDN4800 802.11a/b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter
Case: Corsair 500R White ATX Mid Tower Case
Power Supply: Corsair Enthusiast 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer
Monitor: Asus VS239H-P 23.0″ Monitor
Keyboard: Logitech Solar Keyboard K750 for Mac Wireless Slim Keyboard
Mouse: Logitech Performance Wireless Laser Mouse

About half of my components have already arrived and I’ll be ordering the rest this week. I feel like a kid at Christmas! Now I just have to sit down and read up on the actual build. It’s been quite a while since I last tinkered inside a computer—much less built one from scratch!—so this should be fun.

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Vox Clamantis In Deserto

[quote style=”4″ author=”-Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead“]He was addressing everyone. He was addressing no one. He felt no answer, not even the echo of his own words striking against the membrane of an eardrum. His words were falling down a well, hitting stone salients on their way, and each salient refused to stop them, threw them farther, tossed them from one another, sent them to seek a bottom that did not exist.[/quote]

My friends, today I offer you an apology. I have become one of the very people from whom I myself turn away. I recently realized that I now post or comment on little except items related to politics. No sane person wishes to be bombarded with endless proselytizing, especially not from someone who is still finding his way in the world. Were I on your end, I would likely have turned myself off by now, just as I have done with others for the same reasons. I hope you will permit me an explanation and a promise for the future.

Over the past few years I have found my philosophy dramatically changed, leaving little of the naïve character of my high school days. In some ways, this revolution came so smoothly as to go unrecognized even by myself, while other aspects were forced into change by conflict. In the end, though, what I found was that my guiding principles and beliefs were now largely at odds with nearly every person I knew. I was uncomfortable. I was afraid. Had I come to the right conclusions? Could I be following yet another dead-end path, just as before? Despite my fear, all of my reason and all of my heart reassured me—and continue to—that this was the way. Indeed, I had found a peace I had never known before, a confidence and a sure foundation necessary for building a life.

But, as always, there’s a second side. As I said, the core of my philosophy was now in near constant conflict with those around me and even more so with a large portion of our society. Undoubtedly to the despair of some, I have also become increasingly vocal since my days as an acquiescent schoolboy. In the realm of politics this characteristic fits well, as long as you’re one who somehow still sees a two-sided coin. In this tunneled setup all you have to do is argue back and forth with the other side. I am not one of those people. I can only see a coin with two heads, each spouting with forked tongue it’s own take on the same evil. With every discussion I must enter the fray with sword and shield, battling one misguided side while I fend off the other. Now, in the wake of recent events and a tyranny that seems to neither acknowledge any bounds nor owe allegiance to any oath, I grow tired.

I’m furious, I’m bitter, and I’m weary. The joy and hope I found in my new worldview that took over my old life has been usurped by a deep cynicism and anger. As the siren draws the sailor, I can’t rest for hearing or reading something that enrages me to comment or argue. And as with the sailor, I foresee my doom by the hand of this siren if I am unable to change my course.

There is certainly just cause for my anger: I’m forced to stand by and watch as my liberty and my future are obliterated by the very system intended to protect them. How can I possibly stand by in silence? But there was a time not long ago when I reveled in the works of Thoreau and the like, dreaming of hiking part of the Appalachian Trail, to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived.” Today I find myself in constant conflict, unable to simply live. I’m hoarse from yelling at insufferable, ignorant “news” reporters. My keyboard is worn from diatribes against politicians and their moral bankruptcy. I want to return to dreaming again, and just enjoy life.

You’re not fortunate enough for me to go completely dark on politics, though. Particularly egregious items will still draw my venom, but I sincerely hope they will be few and far between (honestly, I’m not holding my breath on that one, though). I want to return to sharing the things I love: music, photos, technology, etc.

I hope you will continue with me in this renewed direction and maybe even help keep me accountable. Thank you, truly, for sticking with me these past months. I hope I may once again earn your friendship and your loyalty.

Google+

Hello all! You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting here often. Thanks to time constraints and for convenience I’ve been posting almost exclusively to Google+. I still try to post big items here, but for more frequent updates I invite you to find and circle me on Google+.

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Simplification is Wonderful

Two days, two critical web-related changes. Back in Summer 2010 I began work on my dedicated music website. As I relearned bits and pieces of web design and applied new techniques I had picked up from around the web, the site came together ever so slowly. By time I launched the site in October 2010, I was quite proud of my work, and still am. However, I quickly discovered that my infrastructure was in no way designed with future changes in mind. Even subtle tweaks ended up taking me hours to perfect, and as we move increasingly toward a mobile-focused Internet, I was going to have to make some very significant changes to adapt my design to mobile platforms.

My savior? WordPress. I had been using WordPress for several years for my photography blog and had grown rather fond of it, so I decided to give it a go. The beauty of this new infrastructure is that I don’t have to do any of the backend work. While I was at it, I figured why not knock my newest personal webpage project out of the way too? Thus, today my blog became my personal website. I feel a sense of reduced stress already. All hail simplicity!

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Oops

Note to self: Unless faced with a certain lawsuit, do not under any circumstances change your URLs or site names. You will still be updating things two weeks later.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me about two years to notice that my software was exporting all of my images at 72ppi, which is standard resolution for screen display. However, the standard for printing is 300ppi. Oops! Since I’m out trying to sell prints, I opted to replace all of my posted images with proper resolution versions.

I had thought this would be a relatively painless process, since my photo host has a handy “replace” feature. For one reason or another, though, my originals were not being replaced when I tried to use the bulk replace tool. There was no way I was going to replace over 1000 photos one at a time, so I chose to simply upload new images, copy the captions and keywords from the old images to the new, and then remove the old images. After making my processor cry re-exporting all of my images over about a week or so, I began the process of re-uploading. As for copying the captions and keywords, never have I been so tired of: …[Cmd]+[A]…[Cmd]+[C]……[Cmd]+[V]… …[Cmd]+[A]…[Cmd]+[C]……[Cmd]+[V]… …[Cmd]+[A]…[Cmd]+[C]……[Cmd]+[V]… ad infinitum.

The only real downsides to this decision are that any photo comments were removed with the images and any prior URLs will no longer work. The URLs are primarily an annoyance for me, since I’ve had to go back through and update my image links in places like blog posts here. As for the lost comments, this will be a good excuse for you to get writing! 🙂

Please let me know if you run into any photos that are missing captions or keywords. With over 1000 images, I would be very, very surprised if I didn’t miss a few.

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Changes, Changes Everywhere…

…and not a drop to – wait, that sounded better in my head. Recently, my web presence has expanded beyond photography to also now include my music. At the time of each site’s launch, I chose titles and URLs specific to the individual site, such as nowlanjourneys.com and nowlanmusic.com. However, I soon found out that this decision made marketing and spreading the word about both of these sites surprisingly difficult and inefficient. So, I started working on a solution. Little did I know how big of a pain such a change could be.

First, I needed a central hub where I could easily direct visitors to my different sites. Naturally, http://christophernowlan.com/ was a perfect location for this hub. I tried out an about.me page and I liked that simple format, but the ads and prominent about.me branding really killed the professional feel of the page. The only problem standing in my way now was that I didn’t want to spend an additional $5.00 a month to host a single page.

christophernowlan.com

christophernowlan.com



UPDATE: And just like that, this page is gone. As you can see, I came up with an even better idea for christophernowlan.com.

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Breaking in the New Toy

My apologies for not updating lately; I can only blame laziness.  For the past two months I’ve been breaking in my new camera and I’ve learned quite a bit along the way.

The first weekend after her arrival my family and I took a brief trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.  Even from these first few days I was already impressed with my investment.

Jellyfish

Sunset

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, I Have a New Toy!

As luck would have it, I happened upon an alternate source that had the camera I wanted in stock for the same price.  Needless to say, I lept on the opportunity.

Meet the Sony α55:


This compact little beauty takes a unique approach to the traditional SLR (Single Lens Reflex) design by replacing the “Reflex” (the moving parts) with a fixed translucent mirror, thus creating an SLT.  No moving parts allows for a smaller body and quieter operation.  This unique design also means that the camera can maintain a constant autofocus, even at 10 fps.

Some highlights:

  • 16.2 megapixels
  • Full HD 1080/60i video capture
  • Built-in GPS (automatic geotagging)
  • Fully articulated 3″ 921K dot LCD

To start me off on this advanced road, I wanted a lens that would cover all of my immediate needs.  In the end, I landed on an 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens.  To my amusement today, the lens almost dwarfs the small camera body.  Over time, I’ll add to my lens collection.  Topping my list will be a macro lens and a wide-angle lens.

Conveniently, the family and I will be heading to the beach this weekend so you’ll hopefully see my first shots with my new toy sometime next week.

, , Slowing Down at Last

Sorry about the dearth of updates lately, but October has been in a word, booked.  Most of October has had me engaged at Carolina Ballet for a vocal part in The Masque of the Red Death.  Between 10/14 and 10/31, I have performed a total of 11 times.  My commitment will finally end with a run-out performance to Winston-Salem, NC tomorrow night.  So, now you know what I’ve been doing with my time instead of wandering around taking pictures.

Speaking of photography, I have decided to leave a gaping hole in my wallet this year and make the move up to a DSLR.  Well actually, to be technically correct, I’m moving up to a DSLT.  As it stands now, I have yet to see a penny in returns from my photographic ventures.  I’m hoping that with this long-awaited jump I can finally start marketing myself in a way that will hopefully bring in even a little revenue.  Sadly my newest tech child is backordered and isn’t scheduled to arrive before December, but rest assured you’ll know when she arrives.

, Coming Out of Hibernation

At last, our winter is drawing to a close.  Temperatures are slowly rising to perfection and color is gradually returning to this bleakly gray world.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy winter.  Being such a hot-natured individual, winter provides a long-awaited respite from the torturous days of summer.  However, this relief comes at the cost of acceptable photography conditions.  My favorite photographs are of nature, but let’s face it, bare twigs posing as trees are not the most attractive things in the lens.  So I am forced to sit out and wait for spring to make its entrance and welcome me back outdoors with camera in hand.  While I’ve waited, though, I have added a number of new locations to my “to visit” list.  Here’s hoping I can actually make it out to them before winter returns!