iPhone 4 Camera Tricks

26 Jul 2010 In: Uncategorized

I absolutely love my iPhone 4 — it’s by far the best gadget I’ve ever owned. This past weekend I purchased a fantastic app called Camera+ and it has some amazing filters and borders to make your pics look great.

The cloud pics were taken around 6:30am last Saturday when we were at the dog park. The pho noodles were taken at home that night — Chuck made homemade pho that was delicious.  I do admit, on the noodles pic, I pulled it into Photoshop, but only to add the text layer. The border, levels, and contrast are all stock from Camera+. I’m loving this new app!


Bad Navigation of the Day

22 Jul 2010 In: Uncategorized

The Problem:

When creating drop-down navigation, here’s a pro tip. Don’t add a tooltip! First of all, this navigation unnecessarily uses images as text for each of the main elements, while the sub-elements are all proper text. There is no valid reason for using images in this navigation scheme — in the end, everything is text and can all be easily achieved with javascript, CSS, and plain text.

Click image to enlarge

They created a bad user experience by making those primary nav elements as images. Why? They put alt tags on the images. Alt tags are great, should be used for accessibility reasons, etc, but not in this case. In this case the alt tags entirely obliterate one of the subnav elements. Every single main nav element here is using an alt tag on their image.

Quick Fix Solution:

The fastest fix is to just remove the alt tags from the images in the navigation.

Best Fix Solution:

The best way to solve this UI issue is to rework the navigation to not use images at all. Any javascript whiz could bang this out for the site in ten minutes flat.

RIP House AC Unit

7 Jul 2010 In: Uncategorized

Alas, poor air-conditioner, I shall miss thee. One week ago today, the house decided that it could no longer get cooler than 85 degrees. Two days later, the temperature during the day in the house was at a balmy 95 degrees. After several incredibly expensive ac unit quotes, we finally settled on a company that gave us a fair estimate for a 5-ton split furnace ac unit.

The old 4-ton unit had a long life, and lived to the ripe old age of 13 years. He has been replaced temporarily by the strange contraption you see in the photo above. Tomorrow he will be completely replaced by a brand new 5-ton, 16 “SEER” unit that should save us quite a bit on electricity bills. One more day of heat in the house and tomorrow I will finally get to enjoy a 78 degree house when I sleep.

RIP 4-Ton Unit 1997 – 2010.

Head First iPhone Development

9 May 2010 In: Uncategorized

Well, ballooning season here in Arizona is pretty much done for the summer. With the temperature beginning to climb, it’s time to take my hobbies to a more indoor variety. Since receiving the Macbook Pro Laptop of Awesomeness, I’ve been learning about iPhone application development.

Objective-C takes me back to my “olden days” of learning C and C++ in college. I had to smile the first time I saw a .h (header) file using XCode. Good times. :) Oh yeah, pointers are back, baby!

I’m starting up with Head First iPhone Development by O’Reilly Press. If you’ve never picked up a Head First book and you’re a techie, give it a shot. You have to have a sense of humor, but it’s a completely fun learning experience. Especially if you’re like me and get into puzzles and games. The books are full of excellent examples and you manage to learn solid skills while having fun reading. Definitely not your usual dry geek technology tome!

So this summer it’s coding, graphic design, and maybe reformatting my novel from NaNoWriMo 2009 and working on it in Scrivener. That and the occasional weekend 6am hike before the temperature is broiling. And of course, pool time. Swimming, that is!

I’m a Mac Now!

28 Apr 2010 In: Uncategorized

My wonderful husband gave me a surprise on our 4th anniversary last week in the form of a gorgeous, shiny, brand new Macbook Pro! It’s got the new Intel Core i5 2.4ghz processor, 4 gigs of RAM, and a 500mb 7200rpm hard drive.

It’s smokin’ fast, and I have it dual booting OS X and Windows 7 as well as able to access Windows 7 in Parallels from within OS X also. I’m excited to start working on some iPhone development with it, as well as having just an awesome code box for Ruby, Python, .NET, and anything else I feel like throwing at it! :)

I haven’t been keeping up on this blog as much as I should — every weekend has been about ballooning lately, so if you want to read about our balloon adventures, hop on over to http://sonoranstar.com. With the new Macbook Pro, hopefully I’ll get back to writing and blogging more, so that’s good. Plus with summer coming on, ballooning season goes quiet because of the heat — I should be writing a lot more.

Meet Sonoran Star

15 Mar 2010 In: Uncategorized

We’re leaping into ballooning feet first, and we got a great deal on a hot air balloon! We named the balloon “Sonoran Star” and had it inspected by an FAA Repair Station (Balloon RX) last week. He said it was in fantastic condition and a great deal, so we bought it. This weekend it looks like we’ll go pick it up and then we’re going to head to Sedona for our first flight in it. I am so excited!

hot air balloon, sonoran star

This will allow us to continue gaining flight hours towards our private pilot certificate, but we’ll be learning on our balloon, so hopefully it’ll give us a bit more confidence when we go to take our FAA check ride. Way too many pictures to follow, I’m sure. And then of course, we have to make the balloon cards (they look like baseball cards, with your balloon’s pic on the front and its stats on the back). Then we need to make pins, a few shirts, maybe a couple of ballcaps. I can already hear my husband going, “Oh boy, here it comes.” ;-)

Keeping the Dream Alive

18 Feb 2010 In: hot air balloon

I haven’t posted for way too long — this year has already been a flurry of lots of work and lots of outdoor ballooning activities. My private pilot training is coming along swimmingly (flyingly?) and I’ve logged about 2.7-3 hours of the ten hours of flight time I need. I’m studying no less than a dozen FAA books — and practically turning into a meteorologist thanks to the amount of weather you have to be familiar with for ballooning. And I’m loving every minute of it.

Second Flight Lesson

Since I have a “coder” job, I sit at a desk all day and then come home and sit around at a PC most evenings as well. On the weekends that I get to go ballooning, it’s just hard, physical work. Tough work — pulling ropes, hauling envelopes, working the crown line. And it feels great. Even the parts of ballooning when I’m not flying — set up / tear down / chase — I love it all. It’s a full-body workout that beats a treadmill in some dank gym any old day.

What are you doing to make your dreams come true this year? It doesn’t have to be to end world hunger, or cure cancer. It could be to lose five pounds or learn a new song on your guitar. Just find something you love, and then get out there and DO it. Don’t talk about doing it, just go do it instead. Make “one day” happen this week instead of some far-off pipe dream that’s always out of reach.  Find something that makes you smile as goofy as I do when I’m piloting a balloon. Trust me, that’s a goofy, happy grin. ;)

Goofy Happy



Student Pilot – Look Out Above!

20 Jan 2010 In: hot air balloon

I got my official Student Pilot Certificate last Friday which means I can begin logging my ten hours of flight time needed for my Private Pilot – Lighter Than Air license. The past few weeks I’ve been crewing for balloons as much as possible and studying the test questions for my Private Pilot exam.  There are quite a few fixed-wing questions on the exam even though I’m not going to be flying a plane.

Crewed for Calypso (90cf Lindstrand balloon) at Glendale Glitter and Glow last Saturday — it was so fun getting to see about 24 balloons lined up along the streets of downtown Glendale. This week we have a huge set of storm systems moving through Arizona, so I don’t think any balloons have been flying lately. I’m supposed to have a flight lesson this Saturday so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good weather.

My mantra for 2010? “Keep your dreams close.” Three months ago, I’d never even touched a hot air balloon, and now I’m looking to have a private pilot license by the end of the year, and maybe our own “starter” balloon next year.

Wish me gentle landings and calm winds this year!

Happy New Year!

29 Dec 2009 In: hot air balloon

Disneyland was the wonderful park of my fond childhood memories. I used the Flip camera like crazy, but as usual, I’m too lazy to get the video clips all together into a single video. Maybe I’ll do that tonight and post it. Christmas was great, I got a silver hot air balloon necklace and earrings from my beloved (aside from the Flip camera and Disneyland trip).

Calpso before inflation
The day after Christmas we got to crew for the Calypso hot air balloon and got to ride as well! It was a wonderful flight, if super cold. It was 28 degrees while setting up the balloon and it only took a top-of-envelope temperature of 70 degrees to get us lifted off the ground!

Here’s a YouTube video I made of our flight. We’ll be crewing for Calypso again this Friday, I’m so excited! I can’t think of a more wonderful way to start the New Year than by getting to see Arizona by hot air balloon.

Hope everyone has a safe, happy New Year with many blessings. Keep your dreams close!

Goin’ Back to Cali – Tech Style

16 Dec 2009 In: Uncategorized

Looking forward to spending some time in the Magic Kingdom. Yep! Headed off to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. I think this will be my 34th trip to Disneyland, but my first to California Adventure Theme Park.


I have TomTom for iPhone all set and ready to go with our hotel, Disneyland, and Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles (gotta have Roscoe’s if you’re anywhere near Los Angeles!) coordinates all plugged in. I also have two iPhone Disneyland apps called MouseWait and Wait Times, which give you the current wait times of rides. We’re gonna tech this place up by grabbing our Fast Passes and rolling onto the next ride!

Looking forward to Disneyland being all decked out with the Christmas spirit too. To get in the mood, I’ve been listening to “Disneyland: The First 50 Years – A Retrospective.” Nine CD’s of wonderful music from Disneyland. Everything from the Matterhorn Queue music to the tunes played in the secretive Club 33.

My Christmas present (got it early from my sweetheart for this trip) is a Flip Ultra video camera. Expect lots of silly video of me acting like a six year old at Disneyland this weekend.


About this blog

UI/UX Developer by day, a million other hobbies by night. Attracted to shiny objects that need recharging. Passion for life, love, and sushi. Trail running, hiking, books, gaming, sketching and travel are just a few of my interests. Multi-platform (Windows, OS X, Android, iOS) enthusiast.