just one more geek in a sea of austin techies

September 19, 2012

Improve photos by avoiding the knee chop #PhotoGeek

An otherwise nice photo whose
subjects are chopped off at the knee. 
Here's one to file under "pet peeves": photos of people cut off at their knees (or waist, or ankles). There is a strong tendency for people to frame their subjects near the center of a photograph. For portraits it's often people's heads that get centered instead of the entire body. While this works for some shots it usually results in way too much overhead space and not enough under-head space. This tendency is so common that, when handing the camera over to someone about to snap a quick portrait of my family, I often say "make sure you get our feet, too". The person snapping the photo may find the request a little odd but I end up with better-framed photos.

Once you've gotten your friends and relatives to master the art of not chopping people off at a joint, try sharing the "rule of thirds" to make shots much more interesting. From there move on to a few more simple techniques for improving photos.

September 14, 2012

GoDaddy FAIL = SAVINGS #WebHostingGeek

GoDaddy FAIL
GoDaddy didn't quite meet its 99.999% uptime goal this week when technical difficulties affected a huge number of websites and millions of users. Every cloud has a silver lining and this cloud's lining comes in the form of GoDaddy apologies -- apologies backed by hard cash (er, credits).

You don't, however, automatically benefit from GoDaddy's mea culpa credits.  You have to log in and do a bit of manual click labor to reap the downtime rewards...

September 13, 2012

Password Cracking Estimation Tool #SecurityGeek

By now most of us have seen the "password strength" estimators when creating a new account on websites. That's handy but it's not nearly as eye-opening as the "time needed to crack your password" tool over at

Just enter your password -- or, preferably, a password that's similar-to-but-different-than any password you actually use -- and the tool estimates how long it would take a standard PC to crack your password. Although there are a number of advanced password-cracking techniques in common use (such as rainbow tables) the estimate appears to be based purely on the simple brute force method. This means the estimate is actually a best-case scenario -- a real world password cracking attempt is likely to take even less time.

And, yes, that "3 hours" estimate shown in the screenshot *is* the result of me testing a password similar to the passwords I get using my favorite password generation method. Time to rethink my password strategy...