Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The Camping Trip II

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Photo Credit: David July — A dragonfly resting on a wooden post in the campground on the shore of Lake Seminole, Three Rivers State Park, Sneads, Florida, 29 May 2010 After our successful outing to O'Leno State Park in January, I decided to join Mom and Ross on another camping trip. We were interested in trying the campground at Florida Caverns State Park; however, the Blue Hole camping area is closed for renovations from 15 March through 15 July 2010. We instead made plans for the Memorial Day holiday weekend at the nearby Three Rivers State Park. The thirty-site camping area proved to be ideal and rather private, considering our proximity to another site, the Lakeside Trail and the small road to the campground boat ramp—which turned out to be a concrete slab suitable for small watercraft only. There is not too much to do at Three Rivers, but it was perfect for what I wanted. The Lakeside Trail, starting behind our campsite three, offered a pleasant and mild hike through the woods and up to Lake Seminole in parts. There is also a wooden fishing pier on Lake Seminole, which was nice to visit numerous times per day. While not exotic, we did encounter several species of wildlife including white-tailed deer, armadillos, cardinals, loud frogs and one juvenile rough green snake. Most of all I enjoyed spending time with my family while sitting next to our campfire, drinking Tusker beer from Kenya, far from the lights of civilization.
See the accompanying photograph sets for Three Rivers and Florida Caverns.
On Sunday, the second day of the trip, we drove to Florida Caverns to take the tour and explore the area. Ironically, our guide was Park Ranger Frank with whom I last toured the cave. It was nice although I was spoiled by the last visit—there were twenty other people with us this time. Afterward, we hiked the Bluff Trail and walked through the Tunnel Cave, a one-hundred-foot passage through a section of the bluff, before heading back to Three Rivers. Though typical for the area this time of year, the weather was not particularly ideal. Periods of strong thunderstorms did nothing more than muddy the paths and campsite. The heat and humidity coupled with voracious mosquitoes made our usually leisurely hikes along the trails a bit uncomfortable. Despite all that, we made the best of our situation and the weekend was an overall success. I am not sure when we will be able to plan another camping trip but I am looking forward to it. Possible destinations include the popular Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park if we can manage to reserve a campsite and Suwannee River State Park.
Photo Credit: David July

The Artwork Collection

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Photo Credit: David July — A painting of Sutro Tower decorates the corridor, 1 La Avanzada Street, San Francisco, California, 22 May 2009 I have collected several pieces of Sutro Tower art in the past several months. It was bound to happen as I regularly seek out new and interesting information and links for sutrotower.org, including popular culture items and artwork. The first acquisition was Green Sutro Tower, the third limited edition Gocco print by A Minor Thread artist Charlie Wright. I had seen the earlier editions of this print but never got one before they sold out. Green Sutro Tower is hand cut 5.5 by 4.25 inches and printed on 80 pound Mr. French stock in green ink. I love the simplicity of this work and the peaceful scene it portrays, reminding me of my time spent in the city. For my birthday, Pam and Omar thought it would be fun to get something Sutro Tower related and did so perfectly with SFCA Sutro Dark, a t-shirt designed by PremiumPop. It is not quite Local but I really like this design and the pseudo-retro styling. SFCA Sutro Dark is color art screened on 100% cotton. The most recent purchase was of Sutro Tower 2 (6 of 12), a limited edition color linoleum block print by 3 Fish Studios artist Eric Rewitzer. 3 Fish Studios is no stranger to Sutro Tower art, but I was particularly fascinated and impressed by the manual production process documented by Eric on his blog. Sutro Tower 2 is hand pulled 9 by 12 inches and tricolor linocut. I am drawn to the texture of this piece, the detail of the lines and the framing; a true hero portrait of the tower. I am sure this collection is only beginning, however I must get frames and display these pieces before acquiring more. Future additions will be documented in the Sutro Tower Art album in the Gallery.
Photo Credit: David July Original Photo Credit: David July

The New Computer II

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Photo Credit: David July — Hemingway's writing studio on the second floor of the carriage house at the Ernest Hemingway House, 907 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida, 11 November 2008 When I ordered a custom Lenovo ThinkPad W500 (specifications) last month, the estimated ship date was 22 March. I was therefore delighted when on 22 February I received an e-mail indicating my new computer was on its way. The slim box arrived via UPS on 24 February having flown across the ocean from China, spending two days in US Customs along the way. My excitement only grew as I extracted the notebook from its minimalist packaging, connected the battery and fired it up for the first time. My first impression of the factory software install was positive. There was a minimum of third-party applications installed and no pop-ups or prompts to buy or install anything. A temporary partition with recovery media images was included in lieu of a DVD. The only annoyance was having to use Lenovo's clunky application to extract the data before reclaiming the disk space. Photo Credit: Lenovo — Lenovo ThinkPad W500 4058CTO, Windows 7 and Lenovo Enhanced Experience Logo (inset) Fortunately, I have no real need for recovery media. I copied the contents of a Windows 7 Professional 64 DVD to my SanDisk Cruzer Micro USB flash drive and booted off it. Windows was installed and operational in eleven minutes. There were a few pieces of hardware that required vendor drivers but that was a simple matter to resolve, especially with Lenovo's System Update 4. Over two weeks later, I continue to be impressed by the performance and stability of my ThinkPad. Applications like Firefox, Photoshop, Outlook, 7-Zip and Google Earth run quickly and smoothly, even when under high processing loads. Furthermore, the speed of the computer is not affected while multiple processes consume system resources. Multitasking, indeed. I have found numerous sites and forums where people share their Windows Experience Index score as computed by the Windows System Assessment Tool. WSAT quantifies the performance and capability of a system's processor, memory, graphics card and hard drive, producing a subscore for each. The lowest of these subscores, which at present range between 1.0 and 7.9, is also the reported base score. These are the results of my assessment test.
Component What Is Rated Subscore
Processor Calculations per second 6.2
Memory (RAM) Memory operations per second 6.2
Graphics Desktop performance for Windows Aero 5.9
Gaming Graphics 3D business and gaming graphics 6.4
Hard Disk Disk data transfer rate 6.7
Base Score Derived from lowest subscore 5.9
As you can see, the W500 performed excellently during these tests. I was a bit surprised at the 2D graphics score (5.9), but the Mobile Intel 4 video chipset appears more than adequate in real world use. When graphics performance is required, the ATI Mobility FireGL (6.4) takes over. I was most entertained if not unsurprised by the scorching hard drive performance score (6.7). I definitely made the right decision by selecting the solid state hard drive. Instead of using additional benchmark tools to spit out more figures, I decided I would time the boot and Windows loading sequence. For starters, POST takes four seconds from pushing the power button to when the OS starts to load. With the wireless network and Bluetooth adapters turned on, it took Windows thirty seconds to get to the login screen. With the wireless and Bluetooth turned off, the time was reduced to 17 or 18 seconds. Windows is immediately ready to use after I log in, with all services and start-up applications loaded and running in under eight seconds. The ThinkPad W500 and Windows 7 seem to be a match made in heaven. Only time will tell if the reputation of the ThinkPad line stands, though based on what I have seen thus far I have no reason to doubt it.
Photo Credit: David July Original Photo Credit: Lenovo

The Patriot and the Ram

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Photo Credit: David July — The Francis Scott Key Bridge (1923) beyond a rock along the Little River off the Swamp Trail, Theodore Roosevelt Island, District of Columbia, 05 September 2009 Stepping outside the office to take a break on a not-so-cold day about a month ago, I noticed a co-worker's sweater had a familiar logo on it. Most people, the wearer included, would immediately recognize the logo as that of the New England Patriots North American football franchise. This was not my first thought, however, as my former high school sometimes uses the very same logo. Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Florida, is home of the Patriots, where they used to "meet the challenge" but now apparently "make the difference." While the mascot, school seal and other official materials contain original works of art, the New England Patriots head logo and script typeface "Patriots" are/were featured on athletic uniforms, t-shirts, websites and documents. I explained all this to my co-workers and wondered how this never resulted in a lawsuit for trademark infringement. I suppose it is not outside the realm of possibility the National Football League decided not to take action because it was a high school, not to mention one with a well-established football program. Then again, of those copyright and trademark holders most inclined to sue I would think the NFL would rank highly. Photo Credit: National Football League — Two Patriot Heads, New England Patriots football team (left) and Lake Brantley High School Patriots (right)
The Tale of Two Patriots: New England (left) and Lake Brantley High
When I was at Lake Brantley (1995–1999) the registrar was Regina Klaers, a kind and professional woman with whom I was fortunate to know. She was promoted to the County level before I graduated, but I made a point to stop and visit her from time to time. She has no idea1, but she just answered this long running question for me in a one-sentence quote in the Orlando Sentinel: "The NFL does not have a problem with schools using the logos as long as there are limitations on it." The same article goes on to note that as long as no competition is involved with NFL licensed firms, "teams often are happy to have high schools emulate them." The quote was prompted by a recent situation involving Lake Mary High School, home of the Rams. For reasons past understanding, Lake Brantley has long been high school rivals with Lake Mary. I remember their logo being a bighorn sheep standing with the word "Rams" in script below it. They still use this version apparently but a few years ago started using the Dodge ram head logo on uniforms, benches and even the gym floor. Tipped off by an anonymous citizen, Chrysler sent a cease and desist letter to Seminole County Public Schools and threatened to sue. The district decided to comply, intelligently concluding the financial resources could be better spent on students then on a hopeless legal battle, and Lake Mary must eliminate the infringing logo by the end of the school year. Photo Credit: Chrysler Group, LLC — Two Ram Heads, Dodge Ram (left) and Lake Mary High School Rams (right)
Two Rams Not Better Than One: Dodge (left) and Lake Mary High
In response to criticism over their move, Chrysler spokesman Mike Palese told the Sentinel, "it is a course of action we have to take to protect our trademark rights. If we don't approach these kinds of things with dilligence [sic]2, we can lose our trademark rights." Interestingly enough, Chrysler will stop using this logo itself in 2010 opting instead for a text-only logo. Quickly working to distinguish corporate decisions from their family owned and operated dealership, Orlando Chrysler Jeep Dodge has offered to redesign the Lake Mary logo for free. In the meantime, the old bighorn sheep just have to do.
 1  Unless she is reading this now. In that case, hello, Mrs. Klaers!  2  It seems the Tallahassee Democrat is not the only newspaper to forego spell checking.
Photo Credit: David July Original Photo Credit: National Football League Original Photo Credit: Chrysler Group, LLC

The New Computer

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Photo Credit: David July — UNIVAC 1232 computer in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Virginia, 06 September 2009 Believe it or not, I am writing this article on the Gateway Solo 2500 notebook I customized and purchased, or rather had purchased for me as a graduation present in May 1999. It arrived at my house in early June while I was vacationing in San Francisco and was the only thing enticing me to return to Orlando. This system has provided reliable service to me for 10 years and 8 months now, but is obviously slow and underpowered for my current needs. My philosophy on buying a new notebook is simple: upgrading them can be difficult and expensive so I get the most powerful one I can afford. Although prices have fallen and technology improved in the past decade, my philosophy remains valid for modern desktop replacements. Entering the 21st century, Gateway hit hard times and the quality of their offerings lessened. In the meantime, my line of work has provided me the chance to use a variety of business notebooks from Dell, Toshiba and HP/Compaq. By far the most impressive notebook is the well-designed ThinkPad by IBM, acquired by Lenovo in 2005. I have logged incalculable hours on the ThinkPad T43p and T61 and am continuously impressed with their quality and performance. Yesterday afternoon, I placed an order for a custom build ThinkPad W500. The W Series is a recent line of systems designed as upgraded successors to the popular T Series and could probably be referred to colloquially as the Cadillac of ThinkPad notebooks. The W700 even comes with a secondary flip-out LCD panel and built-in tablet. Now that is overkill for me, but I am saving nearly $1000 on the W500 between a sale price and coupon discount. My ThinkPad W500 will be equipped with the following components: Needless to say, I am fairly excited to get my hands on this computer. I will likely be compelled to run and post some speed tests and boot-up times. I have yet to use a solid state hard drive, but I am preparing to be blown away based on the performance results I found online. With any luck, the shipping estimate I was provided—22 March 2010—is highly conservative and it will only be a matter of weeks before it arrives. Update: I received an e-mail on 22 February that it would arrive on the 24th and it did. I will elaborate at a different time, but for now it is sufficient to say this notebook is the fastest I have used and I absolutely love it. Update: Read the follow-up article The New Computer II.
Photo Credit: David July