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Entries from June 1, 2007 - June 30, 2007


How To: Take Great Naturally Lit Pictures with Your Point-and-Shoot

Hot poop. It's been awhile since I've posted anything. My excuse: I'm in South Korea. What's your excuse for not getting work done?

On this trip, I find myself taking quite a few pictures--as you would on any trip I suppose. I discovered that the flash is "evil" in the programming sense (i.e. you should only use it when you absolutely need it). Natural light, in almost any photograph, looks much better and the people don't look like ghosts.

Because of the way camera technology works, when you don't use the flash, you'll need to hold very still. Or you will need a tripod. I don't know about you, but when I go out with friends I don't carry a tripod with me. So there are a series of steps that I do to take pretty good low-light pictures:

  • Seek out a sturdy object in your environment. Preferably one that you can set the camera down on.

  • Turn the flash off.

  • Set your camera to the timer function. (You know, the one that takes the picture after 10 seconds and plenty of blinking.)

  • Turn down the ISO as low as it will go. (Optional, but it makes the picture have less grain.)
  • Have everyone hold still. (Important!)

  • Let the camera do the rest.

With any luck, you will have a great, naturally-lit picture. This does have some drawbacks, such as not really being able to shoot candids. Also, you need a ledge if you want to be in the picture.

In the past, I have pushed the side of my camera against a pole or a wall for added stability when I was the photographer. As long as you keep pushing, the picture should turn out okay.

Here are two example pictures to demonstrate. These are pictures of the group I'm with in Korea on a boat cruise on the Han River in Seoul. Neither of them are very good, but I hope you get the picture. (Zing!)




Two Time Wasters

If you're not going for productivity today:

  • Bloxorz shapes your spatial skills. [via DownloadSquad]

  • UpBeat could be called Keyboard Revolution (i.e., similar to Dance Dance Revolution).

I've been playing the latter game for a while now, but I am nowhere near any of those high scores.


Kill That Beer Belly!

SIOnCampus just posted a good article on how to accomplish that and more:

With school in session, we're all packed in the dorms. We can easily get our posse together for a quick pick-up game of basketball, and we can pester a roommate to spot us at the gym. But when school's out, and everyone splits up to go home for the summer, this becomes a bit more difficult. But don't fret. The Internet offers several solutions. And none of them are on MySpace. [SIOnCampus]

Get off the couch: Five ways to get your sport on this summer


Stop Losing Your Numbers: Get Zyb!

Way too, too, too many college students either lose their cell phone or get a new one and then advertise to all of Facebook that they've lost their contacts. Boo hoo. Have none of them ever heard of Zyb? Now you, loyal HackCollege reader, have.

Zyb is (of course) free. The service will store and keep all your contacts, your calendar, and even those text messages from your lover that you cherish... safe, online, and available 24/7. It supports virtually every mobile phone (even the old ones).

Sign up and follow the directions to sync your phone with the service. You'll need an Internet connection, but practically all cell phones these days have that capability. If you've downloaded ringtones from your phone before, you're fine.

Zyb will send their "settings" right to your phone, and whenever you remember, you'll just click "sync" now and then. No need to get on a computer. No need to type in your contacts. Just click "sync" right from your phone, and Zyb will receive all your contacts, calendar, and sms.

This is perfect if you lose your phone, if your phone dies, if your phone stops working (i.e., you spilled liquid on it), or if your phone gets stolen. If you're abroad this summer, get this service immediately.


How To Build Your Own Air Conditioner

For those of you in summer school, this idea is surely a godsend.

I know when I took summer school, there was certainly no air conditioning in the dorms, and that was dreadful.

University of Waterloo '05 graduate Geoff Milburn explains how and why he decided to build his own air conditioner for under $25:

To avoid dying in the summer of 2005, I built a primitive air conditioner. It's a basic heat exchanger, using water as the medium.

You'll need a fan, a large garbage can or cooler, and a trip to Home Depot. Read the directions. [via LifeHacker]

Let us know if any of you try this one out!


Shopping for College Bedding

Need a new comforter for next year? RealityBedding delivers twin-size (dorm-size) comforters with females on top, and right now, they're having a summer sale: Pay only for shipping and handling.

Why not.


Summer Hobbies: Biking

The summer is a great time for developing hobbies, like drinking. Not for me though, I'm throwing myself into the realm of biking. I've been biking semi-seriously since about January, and that will soon change now that it's officially summer around the U.S.

If you're already into biking, then these two links are for you:

  • My friend Garrett left a comment a great comment on the post. He mentioned, a site similar to CouchSurfing, except specifically for traveling cyclists. Rock on.

  • Cleaning a bike is very important. I cleaned my yesterday for the first time. (I didn't have degreaser or Teflon spray in my dorm room. And I was lazy.) I found this great tutorial on cleaning a bike yesterday. I used it and would recommend it.

If you're looking to get into road/mountain biking this summer, your first stop is probably a swap meet or craigslist. Or I suppose you could always email me, I'd be happy to help.

What are you doing as a summer hobby?



What We're Reading: June 19, 2007

I've been back from Germany since Saturday. If you do the math, that amounts to about three days of unproductive ass-sitting. I've hardly been keeping up with my Google Reader. Here's what I have been reading though:

What's on your summer reading list?