Blogging

Today is my little brother‘s birthday.  He would have been 30 today.  Since it is Micah’s birthday, I want to celebrate his life.

Micah's 3rd Birthday: A Zippy Cake!

Micah's 3rd birthday with a Zippy the Pinhead cake.

I am trying to collect as many good stories about my little brother as possible. If you or someone you know would like to share a story, either send an email or call this number to leave a message:

(415) 869-5322

(This number is an automatic voice mail box that will send me the recording you make. Call as many times as you like and tell any stories you want to share.)

Please feel free to pass along the number or my contact information to anyone you think can contribute.  I am hoping to put together at very least a blog entry of all the good memories each of us have of Micah.

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(Click to see my Flickr set of test images used to write this article.)

The much loved photo app for the iPhone, Hipstamatic, is one of the first apps I booted up when I got the new iPhone 4. Sadly, I ran into some problems right away. What should be black & white pictures come out with odd blue swaths (like in this extreme example) in the darker areas. The other problem seems more serious: The first few times I took pictures it froze just as the shutter went off.  I took some time to look into both of these problems.

Hipstamatic tests on the iPhone 4

The new camera on the new phone is impressive.  Most of us have read the tech specs, but in use the 5 megapixel camera really goes all out for a phone. Impressive low light response, nearly instantaneous click & shoot, the ability to click on the screen where you want to be focused, HD video, and a built in flash.

I would love to be able to choose, in the application itself, what resolution I want to take the next picture.  I have frequently wanted to just get a quick snap shot, but then wanted to take a picture that I could use as a high resolution piece of artwork.  The resolution and processing is there, I just think they have to take the opportunity to use it.

It turns out that this built in flash is what causes Hipstamatic to crash.

Here is what is going on…

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Automated iPhone Upgrade Call

Automated system in action.

AT&T has a nice system in place to instantly check to see how current iPhone users will be charged to upgrade to the new iPhone 4.

“Am I eligable?”

“Do I have to pay $600 to get the new iPhone 4?”

“How much will AT&T charge me to get the new iPhone 4?”

“I got an iPhone 3GS right when it came out. Is AT&T going to screw me?

Turns out you can quickly find out the answer to these questions by a simple phone call.

Here is how it works:

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I recently called 911 on my iPhone 3GS and was greeted with multiple busy signals. In the back of my mind I quietly rely on the knowledge that three little numbers can get me help in an emergency. I have sadly had to do this a few times; a busy signal is absolutely unacceptable.

I was driving South on 280 in San Francisco about to merge onto 101. I could see the blinking lights of a car pulled off to the small shoulder on the right. Traffic was moving at least at 50MPH getting ready to merge into a single lane going onto 101. Once I came upon the car, I realized they were dead center in the lane. I only had a moment to act and veered into my right hand lane nearly getting into an accident.

Thankfully, no one that I’m aware of was injured.

I knew right away that I had to report the car stalled in the middle of the lane. It was situated in a very precarious spot right at 2AM on a Friday night. The car was sitting there just waiting to cause an accident.

I got my hands free for my phone on, called 911 and looked for the nearest exit to pull off the road. I couldn’t believe what I heard in my ear:

A busy signal.

I tried again. Busy.
And again. Busy.
Must be a mistake. I tried again. Busy.


An old, but sadly undated, report by KRON Channel 4 about 911 issues.

I have heard of cell phone routing issues with 911 before, but that had been years ago. I had only assumed that this had magically been fixed since last time I had looked into it. Sadly that is not the case. Not only are the systems over run and the routing is out of date, there is no good front end solution to patch the problem for the user other than calling a different number (e.g., local police).

AT&T After Hours Customer Service Number: 1-866-801-3600

I finally got through on my fifth try.

Keep reading for more problems and some potential solutions…

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This video is best viewed in full screen mode in order to see it in HD.

Kandid Fullfrontal Consumption” is a short film that I shot starring my (usually) vegetarian friend, Mr. Where.

I edited the video before I wrote the music.

The process that I used was quite interesting. “How do you go about editing a video with probably a couple hundred edit points all in time to music that doesn’t yet exist?!?”

How the filming came about

You might want to read this after you have seen the short film. There are some spoilers below.

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Red Peppers

Artwork Anywhere

by Tobias on June 7, 2010

L'Enfant Station: Washington DC Metro
A picture I took with my iPhone (unedited) of L’Enfant Station (Washington DC Metro)

With the right kind of eyes, you can almost always find artwork surrounding you.

The artwork of photography is knowing when the happenstance of beauty is upon you so you can put your eye in the right place at the right time, taking scissors to reality and grabbing a moment.

I posted the image of L’Enfant Plaza I took at the DC Metro stop for multiple reasons.  For one, I took it with my iPhone’s camera.  It wasn’t taken with an exceptional camera. I really wish I had a DSLR at the time, but I was still able to take a picture that I still find to encapsulate the beauty I saw at that moment.  Is it a bit noisy? Sure thing! In the end what matters is that I have an image I’m still proud of, encapsulates a moment, and I find beauty in. The artwork of photography is knowing when the happenstance of beauty is upon you so you can put your eye in the right place at the right time, taking scissors to reality and grabbing a moment.

Do your best to look at the world around you through alien eyes; pretend that everything around you is new and you may see something that should become a photograph.

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Hunting on HWY 1

by Tobias on June 2, 2010


View Larger Map

Last night I took a trip down to Montara beach which is just off Highway 1 (CA).  I drove West on 92, hit 1 and took a right.  It was the middle of the night.

Just before I had to break for a stop light, I saw a bird of prey with an immense wing span dodge my car by flying right in front and then off to the right.  I did my best to make sure I didn’t hit such a beautiful bird, but I had a question:

What in the world was a bird of prey, like a hawk, doing flying around in the middle of night?

The question itself was the answer.  It, upon review of my memory, was actually a tall and wondrous owl out at night.

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Montara Beach

I spent my evening taking night time photos.  Starting off in Montara and ended up in the park I grew up in taking pictures late at night, like the picture below of the rose.

When I got to Beresford Park, I could hear all the way accross the park the rat ti tat tat of teens in the muck of something they probably shouldn’t be doing once the park was closed, let alone if the park were opened.

It was 1AM and I was curious, so I wandered over, while keeping my distance to see if they were doing anything interesting.  Perhaps I would say hi.

It was two guys and two girls clearly with beer in their hands and beer in their stomachs.  As I walked near by, then walked away down another path, I could hear something akin to, “I’m not sure…it seems a bit sketch…”

Rose in the middle of the night

I wandered over next to the community garden and took a few snap shots.  I was on the park premessis, but only for a short period of time.  I could hear the loud kids head from the shelter down to the swing set.  Once they got to the swing set I could hear the girls yelping in what I hope was excitement and the creaking of the swings.  I ended up walking down the sidewalk next to the park and wandered in 20 feet because I saw a rose bush I wanted to photograph.  In the distance I could hear the kids reveling in their midnight excursion.

I noticed a car coming by slowly behind me just as I heard the kids, who were clearly not trying to be subvert in any manner, say “Yeah, that’s a cop!”.

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Dopamine

Dopamine

by Tobias on May 31, 2010

I am doing a lot of research on the brain, stress, depression, etc. Many things point back to dopamine.

I have been reading and watching lectures and documents about brain chemistry.  Lately I have been running into many that discuss how dopamine is a key element in happiness, reward, etc. mechanics in the brain.  Seeing charts descriping how dopamine levels in the brain reinforce data got me thinking:

How can I test myself for dopamine levels?

As far as I can tell, the only solution is trepanation. Sadly, I don’t think this is a way to go.

If there is a viable way to accurately and safely test for dopamine levels, then shouldn’t we be actively integrating this into our mental health care system?

If you or someone you know has more information about the research involved in collecting dopamine data on human subjects, please enlighten me.

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A Year Ago Today

by Tobias on May 19, 2010

Memorial for Micah

One year ago today my little brother, Micah Ethan Tenney, passed away.

This date is one I will never forget, but never want to remember. I miss my little brother.

I intend to celebrate his life on his birthday, not this horrible day.

Instead, here are some resources for those in need.  Suicide is something that can be prevented.  I can’t go back in time to save my brother, but you can be proactive and save lives merely by being aware.

If you or someone you know is in suicidal crisis, here is a phone number you can call.  Don’t be afraid to call or worry about consequences of calling. Anything is better than the alternative.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Here are some online resources:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

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