Hiding in My Cave

The weekend before the big Fourth of July holiday week, also the time for the mass migration of city people to the mountains… Lol, the tourists are like, “where are all the fireworks booths”? Mountain people… there aren’t any, we kind of frown upon burning down the mountains for entertainment. My  town is on a major artery to the Continental Divide and there is now a steady stream of trucks pulling trailers with ATV vehicles aboard, camper trailers, RVs and cars by the thousands. As for me, I will not be participating in the festivities… not a fan of crowds and noise. I’m taking a break from summer and shooting, doing some cleaning, some chores and catching up on my computer work.

Stock photography is purchased ahead of time in preparation for the next season’s advertising campaigns so I am going through my fall and winter images to see what I may have missed uploading at the time I did the shoots. Earlier this year I finally upgraded to a modern version of Adobe Photoshop and I am exploring all the new capabilities. One particular tool I have fallen in love with is the Fx tool in Camera Raw. The dehaze tool has assisted me with cutting through the whiteness of snowfall and bringing out detail in the hazy mountains and trees of on a couple of shoots I did in snowstorms.

Frosty Aspen TreesI remember this particular image well… I was hoping that by snowshoeing to the top of Bald Mountain I would be able to climb above the snow and clouds in order to get some unique shots of Pikes Peak across the valley. However I was not able to get above the snow this day and the images with snow and fog in them were quite white with little detail. As you can see by the small patch of blue sky however, I was nearly successful in climbing above it… Maybe a couple hours later would have done it. Too long to hang out chillin’ on a frozen mountain top though, I had to shoot what I could and get back down! The screen on the camera appeared to show that I had had captured sufficient detail, but Photoshop was just too confused by the snowflakes and fog for me to be able to bring it out. However with the new Fx dehaze tool which operates on the linear digital data file, new detail is a piece of cake 🙂

So, there it is, the plan is to just hang out in my cave relaxing with the puppies and kitties while the city people ravage the high country with their four wheel drives and terrorize the wildlife with their explosives.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

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Beautiful Morning

It was a beautiful cool morning today, a welcome relief to the scorching heat we have been experiencing here in Colorado this June. Lol.. I know we sound like real wimps when we get to complaining when the temps rise above 80 when the rest of the country is sweltering in 100 plus misery, but in our defense we are not used to it! There is no air up here to filter the effects of the direct sun so 50’s and maybe 60 are about all we can stand up here at 9,000 feet!

Fog on the PeakWell anyway I was up early and took the doggies on our usual stroll up the north side of Ute Pass which is when I noticed the beautiful fog bank rolling in from the east side over the north face of the massive 14,115 foot monolith to the south we call America’s Mountain. Thinking today might be a good day for wildflowers up there I loaded up the puppies and we headed for Bald Mountain, the highest point on the north side of the valley with an awesome view of the peak.

Unfortunately this appears to be a bad year for wildflowers. The mountain bluebell and columbine are all wilted with only the yellow daisy looking ones are in good bloom, whatever they are… Don’t have the patience anymore to try to figure out what they are for sure. The mountain was putting on a good show though, well worth the drive to the summit of the treeless vantage point.

Listening to a song on the radio about a guy who was thinking about ending it all because he was facing starting over with just his children and his wife. But according to the song he received his miracle of hope from a song on the radio and carried on. Same with the famous Lee Greenwood song, “starting over with my children and my wife”. Well thanks to cancer and life’s wicked twists and turns, songs like this make me wonder about people who’s greatest fear is considerably less than what many of us face, starting again not with our children and our wife but with nothing but the faith that there is a God who still cares about us even when there is scant evidence to indicate so. But for those in similar situations who are wondering, the Word says it is the righteous who “suffer many afflictions”, not the wicked. Some solace can be obtained in knowing that the enemy considers us worthy of so much attention.

Also in the area of random spiritual thoughts, recent headlines affirm another scripture… “Whosoever diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.”, Proverbs 26:27 also akin to “People in glass houses should not throw stones.”. Thinking of news headlines indicating new congressional interest in the infamous Bill Clinton / Loretta Lynch attempted clandestine collusion meeting on the tarmac and the Hillary Clinton illegal potty based email server not to mention new evidence that BHO knew about Russian hacking attempts long before the election, while he was still basking in the legend in his own mind glory… Just my opinion but it seems pretty stupid for the guilty to be screaming for investigations…

Dang… I was going to devote this blog to photography only. Oh well, I guess in life no one thing is totally disconnected from another. Well just in case some photographers do read this blog post, I did put some technical thought into this series of the peak. It did seem like f11 would be a good lens opening for this morning so I switched from program mode to Av and set the aperture to f11… Which reminds me, I need to set it back to P so that I will be ready on a moments notice for my next shot whether it be an action shot or a surprise amazing landscape.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Day One

My blog post, “the Interview” continues to dredge up some great memories, particularly our first day on the job at the test lab at Control Data in Arden Hills. Our crew in Denver had written software to expand the amount of memory accessible to the mainframes to the equivalent of 40mb in today’s terms. Which doubled the amount we could previously use and was a very big deal at the time since the new hardware was already available and our operating system could not yet use it.

Well the software was almost ready to test and my boss approached me, of course at happy hour one Friday night so I was sure to be in a good mood, to travel to Minnesota to run the tests. And she offered me my choice of analysts to make the trip with me on the two week journey. For some reason at the time I thought it sounded like fun so I consented and I told her I wanted my buddy Dan to assist me there. Well Dan had not actually worked on that project, but he was an expert with the operating system and I knew he would be a great asset… So I convinced him, “Come on, it’s only two weeks, we’ll run some tests, go to some Twins games, drink a few beers and we’ll be back home before we know it!”. Reluctantly he agreed and the details for the trip were finalized.

So it was June when we arrived in Arden Hills and checked into the Shorewood for our two week stay. Our first task was of course to go in during the day to check in and get badges and briefings, etc. Then it was off to some dinner, which is when I imagine we discovered the mother lode of free tacos at the hotel bar 🙂 Then it was off to work… Now in those days computers had no permanent memory. Everything that we did was stored on tapes and removable disks, but the removable packs weighed about 20 pounds each. Our first task was to go to the tape library to check out our tapes and disks that we would be using. LOL.. up until now I had forgotten about the trips to the tape library… we would return with probably a dozen tapes worn around our arms like a giant bracelet and a disk pack in each hand. We looked kind of like the Michelin Man carrying all that junk probably a quarter of a mile through the building 🙂

Finally we make it through to the test lab to begin the testing… We step into this giant open room and there are desks strewn everywhere, covered in spare computer parts, wires, terminals, tapes, write rings, manuals and boxes of junk and floor tile pullers. There were cables lying around all over the place, sometimes hooked up on one end to something, sometimes to nothing. And there were also mainframes everywhere, and banks of tape drives and more banks of disk drives the size of small washing machines. And the only instructions we had were that we had mainframe #xx for the night, don’t actually remember the number. And we just stood there looking around in stunned disbelief. To this day I remember my initial highly technical analysis of the situation… As we stood there surveying the mess, I just said “Sh*t!”.

After the initial shock wore off we started poking around and discovered a piece of paper taped to something that sort of looked like a map of the room. We quickly learned that everything had a number and you just had to figure out what numbers went together and you could assemble a functioning computer system. It wasn’t long before we were crawling around on the floor, and under floor with the best of them, hooking and unhooking cables and after a couple hours we had a mainframe, complete with tapes, disk drives and a printer and a Deadstart Panel. Now the Deadstart Panel is an adventure in itself, a panel with a series of up/down thumb switches that are actually the first 12 or 16 instructions that the computer executes, there was no such thing as a BIOS in those days! And it has it’s own map in a manual that you had to look at to set the switches so that the computer can find the channel that the boot disk is on, device numbers and things like that. Kind of feels like you are getting ready to take off in a 747 or something!

Finally we are ready, and we sit down at the mainframe console. The console for those mainframes was the size of a huge old console television and it came with it’s own cabinet on wheels. Right in the middle under the screen was a recessed red button, the deadstart button. It was recessed so you could not accidentally push it and boot the computer. So, Dan was at the console and I was flying co-pilot when the button was pushed. At first, nothing but a “blank tube”, that’s what we called it then when the screen was blank since it was actually a cathode ray tube (CRT) device, and Dan says, “nothing is happening”. I said, “don’t worry, it takes a long time to initialize all this memory”, lol all 40 megabytes of it 🙂 So we sat there for the usual amount of time, and then a bit longer… Still, the “blank tube”… Once again, after sitting there a few more seconds, I offered my highly technical analysis of the situation, “sh*t”. Well there was a way in those days to have the computer barf up it’s memory to the printer, and that’s what we had to do. Hundreds of pages of octal digits, and using the manuals we were somehow able to figure out what had gone wrong.

So as it turned out, we didn’t have this model of mainframe in Denver to test with and the memory addressing was different. A serious oversight 😦 Our algorithm and methodology were sound, but almost every line of code we had written over the previous year had to be changed to include a variable starting address for the memory. We had counted on it being zero. In that moment, our two week vacation in Minnesota turned into four months of 16 hour nights seven days a week 😦 By the time we were done, summer had changed to fall and all the leaves in Minnesota were off the trees and raked into piles on the ground. There were many setbacks and a lot more software had to be written, but we finally got the job done and we got to see a lot more Twins games than we had originally planned on, and had acquired a semi interesting story to tell to a future generation of “computer people” 🙂

The Interview

Just happened to check in on my blog to discover that two years ago today was the day I signed up at WordPress. Haven’t thought of much to write about in the last few weeks… March has had some rough memories the last couple of years and my inspiration is in a bit of a valley these days. But I was talking to a friend today and something reminded me of a memorable day from my computer programming days 🙂

Now this was back in the 80’s, well before PCs, when graphics workstations were a marvel to the tune of $100k each! My buddy Dan and I were mainframe operating systems analysts and we drew the task of traveling to Minneapolis to test some operating system software our crew had written in the Denver office. The software was extremely important to our company and a number of defense contractors in the Denver area so it was quite an honor to be the ones called upon to head up the last leg of that multi million dollar contract.

Now in those days there were no independent computers, just terminals connected to the mainframe and everyone used the same mainframe. So if you wanted to do any significant operating system testing you had to have the mainframe to yourself, which meant working from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. So that’s what we were doing, 12 hour shifts, then off to breakfast and back to the office for the 9:00 status meetings, seven days a week for several months. No status meetings on the weekends of course but needless to say we were exhausted… all the time.

OK, so that is the background for this blog post. We were staying at a place in Arden Hills called the Shorewood… I think now it is a Holiday Inn. Well anyway, the Shorewood had an awesome happy hour… free tacos, all you can eat. For mainframe software engineers, free is a price too good to pass up, so we pretty much went there every day before our night shift. Computer rooms were cold in those days… Mainframes generated a lot of heat and required massive cooling systems, cold air blowing through raised floors and liquid cooling systems for the mainframes themselves. So it’s summer in the twin cities, temps in the 90’s with humidity to match. But we had to dress for the frigid computer room, which meant layers of clothing, whatever we had, t-shirts, football shirts, flannel shirts, thermal shirts and of course the obligatory blue jeans and tennis shoes.

The Shorewood was a fairly upscale place and the hotel bar attracted a pretty good crowd of suit wearing professionals for happy hour, but Dan and I were in no mood for anyone’s preconceived idea of proper attire, we just put on our layers and went for our free food and cheap beer regardless of what anyone might think. So one evening we showed up as usual, with our layers of hodge podge clothing in the 90 degree Minneapolis summer heat, tired and bleary eyed from weeks of sleeplessness, basically having beer and free tacos for breakfast 🙂

So this beautiful young woman comes into the bar with a clipboard and tape recorder and we are just sort of stupefied watching her get ready for some obviously extremely important engagement. After a while she appears to finally be ready for the important executive who is sure to appear any minute. Much to our surprise she saunters over to our table and introduces herself, a reporter from a local news agency.  Of course we are so stunned that we can barely speak coherently, but it turns out she is there to interview out of town computer professionals and when she discovered that we were software engineers from Denver she was intrigued and began peppering us with a million questions that we were really in no mood to be answering… Not to mention the fact that we were there working for the only major computer firm in the city, and we were drinking our breakfast just prior to going to work!

However, she was pretty and we were young males, and somewhat impressed that she was interested in our activity there so we were polite in trying to explain what we were doing there in the best layman’s terms we could think of, which wasn’t that easy back in the mainframe days when nobody had any idea what programming a computer was like! Well after awhile more people started filing into the bar… men with suits and briefcases. Soon our new friend was looking around and getting a bit fidgety, and after about 10 more minutes of this she just turned to us and said, “Do you guys mind if I go talk to these other guys…. ?”.  We of course were totally relieved to get off the hot seat and go back to our beer and tacos in peace 🙂

But to this day the whole episode is one of my favorite memories, our big but reluctant day in the sun and subsequent rejection for the fancy guys in the suits who’s jobs were probably not half as important as ours in the overall scheme of things.  And to this day we laugh at the stress on her face as she worried that we would be insulted by her ditching us for the suits when we were actually so happy to be just left alone for a few minutes before our long night began 🙂