Again it makes me think about the whole idea of historical accuracy vs. great presentation…

4 minute read

October 16, 2011, 4:32 PM

So this Sunday afternoon, I’m at my desk at the house, hard at work restoring photo sets from 2003 for Schumin Web. And as I do this, I’m constantly thinking about the work that I’m doing, and how I should be doing it.

I made the decision early on when planning this restoration and conversion to be amazingly thorough. In a few of the quote articles that I’ve restored, I replaced the images with different but similar ones. These were cases where the source of the original images was a little murky due to my not having tracked where these images (that weren’t mine to begin with) came from. It was unfortunate that the handling of that was sloppy, but I was much younger at the time, between 19 and 21, and didn’t know any better. Now I’m much better about image credits and such, and the only images these days that don’t get an image credit are the ones that I own myself. Two quote articles that are getting new images entirely that I can think of right offhand are the fireworks quote from 2001, and the relaxation quote from 2002. It’s nothing drastic, though. Just replacing the images with sloppy sourcing where the specific photo is not crucial to the discussion with similar free content from Wikimedia Commons.

Then the other part of this is the photo sets. The images there, like everywhere else, are being reprocessed from the original material to improve their appearance. Let me give you an example of what this entails, from the “Autumn Leaves” photo set:

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

My first Breda ride…

3 minute read

October 11, 2011, 10:22 PM

So I was scanning again on Sunday, since I brought all the old photos up from Stuarts Draft a few weeks ago.  Among other things, I scanned in the photos from our family’s first trip to Washington DC, which we did with friends of ours visiting from out of town, on June 21, 1994.  The night before, all of us had stayed with another friend in Tracys Landing, Maryland, and then drove over to Pentagon City Mall, where we caught the Metro at Pentagon City.  We rode into DC from there to McPherson Square.  That first ride was on a Rohr (1000-Series) car, since I specifically remember the red door release covers from that ride.

Getting off the Metro, we toured the White House, went to the Natural History museum, and then saw the Air and Space Museum.  Not too bad.  We were definitely all tourists on that trip, and so we did the tourist thing.

Then on the way back, we took Metro from Smithsonian back to Pentagon City.  As chance would have it, either Mom or Dad took a picture of me on the return trip home.  And much to my surprise, in looking at the photo this weekend, it turns out that the return trip was on a Breda:

My first Breda ride, from June 21, 1994

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Categories: Washington DC, WMATA

What an, um… unfortunate… placement right there…

< 1 minute read

October 6, 2011, 11:02 PM

This is a rather unfortunate design:

A rather unfortunate design

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Categories: Amusing, Products

Who would have ever thought that “A Protest Against the War” would be such a pain to prepare for restoration?

5 minute read

October 5, 2011, 12:16 AM

This falls under the category of things-you-did-back-in-the-day-that-you-didn’t-realize-would-be-such-a-pain-to-deal-with-today. I’m currently getting things together to restore all the photo sets from 2003 for the WordPress site, and right now I’m specifically working on A Protest Against the War.

First of all, you remember that set, right? That was the first time I had ever been to an anti-war demonstration, and thus the character of this set is different than most other photo sets for political demonstrations. After all, it is in the Photography section, and thus is formatted like Photography sets (“Photo Essays”, as they were called back then) were formatted at that time. Protests now normally go in Life and Times, and take the form of a heavily-illustrated narrative. Then the wording sounds a little too academic in places, which was unusual for a photo set then, and still is today. When I wrote the text for that set, I had just completed a course in western political theory, which explains where all the academic-sounding wording came from. In rereading it this evening, I really had to think about what I was talking about back then.

The quality of the photos is all right, but the post-production processing was poor, as the color is a little washed out and the images are too light. That’s what this whole restoration is about, though – redoing the post-production work on the photos and generally making it all look better, plus fixing any mistakes, writing in more context (for instance, a lot of older photo sets lack explanation for some things because I considered them a given at the time), adding more links, and updating the photo set to match any new conventions being introduced on the WordPress site.

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Categories: Myself, Schumin Web meta

When writing Metro’s customer service, remember: be polite, be specific, and keep it to the point.

8 minute read

October 3, 2011, 6:31 PM

So many people complain on the Twitter about having a bad time contacting Metro’s customer service. Take this exchange from earlier today between @jb_martin and myself, for example:

#WMATA‘s cust srvc dept needs a complete sandblasting from top to bottom…a child could handle complaints better than they could.
October 3 10:23 AM by @jb_martin

@jb_martin @FixWMATA WMATA customer service gives good service as long as you are polite, specific, and to the point. Doing that? #wmata
October 3 10:45 AM by @SchuminWeb

@SchuminWeb do you happen to have the coordinates for the gateway to the parallel universe you’re obviously referring to? @FixWMATA
October 3 12:08 PM by @jb_martin

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who has nice things to say about Metro’s customer service department. But if I have a concern that I need addressed, I am polite, specific, and to the point. I do not provide my personal opinion about what I may or may not consider the value and importance of what I am bringing to their attention. Obviously, if I am still thinking about it when I get to a real computer and go to Metro’s comment form to send Metro a note, it is assumed that it is important to me. However, while I make no explicit value judgments, I will try to give an educated guess as to what I believe the problem might be if I can.

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Categories: Social media, WMATA

Why on earth did I photograph…?

3 minute read

September 30, 2011, 10:35 PM

In my work in restoring the site content for the upcoming WordPress conversion, I’m currently working on Photography sets from 2002 – everything done after “The Schumin Web Photo Essay Blitz” that was done in March 2002. That means I’m working on Old Town Alexandria, Protesting the World Bank, Autumn Leaves, The Iwo Jima Memorial, and Botanic Garden. So this encompasses the last of the material from the original Mavica period, and the beginning of the Big Mavica period.

The last two photo sets that I mentioned – Iwo Jima and Botanic Garden – were both done a DC trip that Mom, Sis, and I took on November 29, 2002, while I was home from college for Thanksgiving. Big Mavica was still really new to me, so apparently I was taking more photos than usual just to get used to the equipment during the time home. I came back to the CD that these files were on when locating the source material for those two photo sets for purposes of restoration, and got lost in all of the other photos from my time in Stuarts Draft in late November 2002. I apparently really went to town on photos, and some of them, particularly at my parents’ house, were ones where I was looking at them and thinking, why in the hell did I take this photo? I just have to remember that this was the work of a much younger man, and with nine more years’ experience, well… there you go.

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My trip to Stuarts Draft… via Amtrak!

5 minute read

September 27, 2011, 10:41 PM

So this is actually a Video Journal entry. And here it is:

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And tomorrow, I’ll be treated to a lovely view of Virginia from the inside of an Amfleet coach…

4 minute read

September 20, 2011, 10:57 PM

Indeed, tomorrow is going to be fun. I’m going down to Stuarts Draft to visit the family, and unlike every past trip I’ve ever made between DC and Stuarts Draft, I’m doing it via public transportation. Specifically, I’m taking the Cardinal, Amtrak train 51. Since it’s only a four-hour train trip, I’m going in coach. That will be a new experience, because aside from like ten minutes in coach on the Capitol Limited in 2007, I’ve always traveled in a class higher than coach, being in the sleepers on the Capitol Limited, and then traveling business class on the Acela and the Downeaster (though it should be noted that the Acela does not have a coachclass section – business class is the lowest class of service).

The reason I’m taking the train is because I will be hosting a visitor as soon as I get back to DC. Specifically, Mom! The reason it worked out like this is because of a perfect storm of events. Sis and Chris are going to be in Virginia to attend a wedding in Blacksburg, stopping by to say hello and have lunch with all of us on Thursday. And of course, I just won’t pass up a chance to see my sister and my brother-in-law, since they live so far away and I don’t get to see them often. Then there’s the National Book Festival in DC, which Mom has attended for a number of years. So because of the timing, it seemed silly to drive down to Stuarts Draft in the Sable, and then take two cars back to DC. So the Sable is staying in Maryland (and it’s likely already parked where it’s going to stay for about four days), and Mom’s Scion is making the trip up and back. But we’re going to be leaving at 4 AM – yecch. I’m not going to the Book Festival, though. I’m just going home. So while Mom’s out meeting authors, I’m going home and taking a nap, getting the rest of the sleep I won’t be able to get on Friday night.

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And so the second round of car shopping begins…

5 minute read

September 18, 2011, 1:08 PM

For those of you who don’t know, I’m looking for a new car. As you may have noticed over the years, the Sable, while certainly a comfortable car, has been needing about one major repair a year as of late, and I’m tired of dealing with it. So I’m trolling around car manufacturer Web sites and dealerships looking for a worthy replacement for the Sable.

The first round of selection is complete – that was done from the comfort of home, compiling a list of cars to check out. I think the term for the kind of car I’m looking for is “subcompact“. In driving the Sable around for these last few years, I’ve realized that for most of what I use the Sable for, I have too much car. I don’t take passengers very often. It’s extremely rare that I’ll carry more than one passenger. In the entire time I’ve had the car, I’ve taken more than three passengers once – that time during the Boston Megaraid weekend when I carried six other people in the car, including one across three others’ laps and another one in the “trunk” – and that was only for about a mile (if that). Then it is also rare that I will ever fill the cargo area. I think I filled it completely up once or twice when I was moving things to Maryland, but otherwise, no. Buying groceries doesn’t even fill the back area up. So I end up transporting a lot of empty space around, and extra space (and the weight of material needed to enclose it) comes with a fuel penalty. Plus the car is simply too big for a lot of the spaces that I try to squeeze it into. There are plenty of instances, like the parking garage at work and the Whole Foods on P Street in DC, where I have a really hard time getting into and out of spaces because it’s a tight garage and my car is a few sizes too large. I have scuff marks on my car from where I’ve been less than successful in my maneuvering. If I had a smaller car, I’d be a lot better off.

So on Saturday afternoon, I went over to the Toyota dealership on Route 355 to try a few cars. I tried one car strictly for fun (but never tell the dealer that you’re doing one just for fun), and two were serious.

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Categories: New car

So how much smaller am I now, anyway?

5 minute read

September 15, 2011, 10:50 PM

So it’s been six months now since my journey towards physical fitness and a slimmer figure began. Now I’d like to show you some results. Last Friday after work, a coworker and I were discussing how a lot of my clothes don’t fit right anymore, and my coworker wondered how the black zentai fit me these days. I admitted that I hadn’t worn the black zentai in over a year, and so I had no idea, but I was kind of curious as to how it fit as well. Somehow we came to an understanding that I would try it on and see how it fit these days.

So that evening after I got home, I pulled out the tripod, set the camera up on it in the kitchen, pulled out the black zentai, and put it on. Now the benefit to this setup (with the camera on a timer) is that this is pretty much a straight apples-to-apples comparison, with all variables controlled for except the one we’re trying to demonstrate. See, I took a series of photos of myself in the black zentai in July 2008 in the same location and under the same conditions. So here’s a side by side comparison:

Black zentai on July 1, 2008  Black zentai on September 9, 2011

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Categories: Clothing, Weight loss

Well, I’ll be darned – Metro passed the test.

5 minute read

September 10, 2011, 9:08 PM

Well, I did exactly what I said I was going to do in my previous Journal entry. I did some railfan photography on the day before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, expecting to be confronted so that I could give ’em the smackdown about not following the WMATA photo policy. And (surprisingly), Metro passed the test. 176 photos later, I left the system for the day at Glenmont without a single negative word from a Metro employee.

I was impressed. And I was being really blatant about my photography, on purpose. At one point, I was holding the camera in the air above my head and snapping photos on the platform while going through Gallery Place. I even specifically photographed the kiosk at all of the stations I visited – Glenmont, Fort Totten, and Gallery Place. Take a look:

Glenmont kiosk on the way in, photographed from the elevator.
Glenmont kiosk on the way in, photographed from the elevator.

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Categories: Photography, Security, WMATA

It is time to put WMATA’s knowledge of its own photography policy to the test…

5 minute read

September 9, 2011, 8:02 PM

Let me tell you… tomorrow is going to be fun. I’m heading into DC tomorrow for a Wikipedia meetup. On the way over, I’m going to be doing a little railfan photography.

The railfan photography is going to look something like this, I’m sure:

Gallery Pl-Chinatown station

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Categories: Photography, Security, WMATA

This is the interesting part of all the photo work I’m doing on the site…

2 minute read

September 5, 2011, 1:28 AM

I made quite the interesting find while digging around for a few images. Take a look:

The locations of all the fire alarm notification appliances in Potomac Hall

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Nobody told me that converting the site to WordPress would be this painful…

2 minute read

September 4, 2011, 6:20 PM

So the conversion of Schumin Web to WordPress is going along quite well for the most part, aside from the odd having-trouble-locating-an-image kind of issue, where I really have to go hunting through the discs to find an image. That’s annoying, but not insurmountable, since I am a bit of a pack rat when it comes to these things, as I keep everything, whether it’s actually worth keeping or not.

First of all, my organization in the early days was less than efficient. While I arranged photos that were taken together into folders like I still do today, they were not content-neutral in relation to the site. For most of my photos, it’s arranged by date with a note as to the general topic of the day. For instance, if it was a protest, the folder would be called, for instance, “October Rebellion – 10-19-2007”. But with the really old material, stuff was arranged under “Miscellaneous”, “Photography”, “College Life”, and “Life and Times”, and then by date and topic. And since the time that I arranged the material on the disc, some material has changed locations on the site, and some things aren’t on the site anymore. It definitely makes researching photos a challenge, that’s for sure.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

I am now part of the SmarTrip pass test group…

5 minute read

August 31, 2011, 11:20 PM

So I was waiting for the bus this morning, and was checking my Email on my phone. I got a message with the subject of “Pilot Invitation” from a sender called “noreply”. Turns out that “noreply” was short for “”, and the Email was to notify me that I was randomly selected to participate in the load-your-passes-onto-SmarTrip program. Here’s the message:

To SmarTrip® Account Holder

You have been randomly selected to participate in a pilot of several new system functions.

We sincerely regret to inform our MTA customers that the MTA system does not yet support these new functions.
We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause our MTA customers.

These functions will enable you to use your credit card to purchase stored value and passes for your SmarTrip® card.
You will also be able to save your credit card information to use for future purchases, and to print detailed receipts.

The next time you log in to your SmarTrip® account, you will see several new links on your account pages. For example, on the page with the header “View Card Summary”, you will see the following changes:

– A shopping cart icon on the left side of the screen
– A new group of links under the heading “Online Purchases” on the upper right section of the screen; and
– Within the text in the middle of the screen, there are links to “Add value” and “Add Pass”.

Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the new functions, and the steps that you will need to follow to load your purchases onto your SmarTrip® card.

These new features are intended to make it more convenient for you to manage the balances on your cards and avoid the lines at ticket vending machines.

We encourage you to take advantage of these new features. If you have questions, or experience any problems when using these new features, please contact the Regional Customer Service Center at 1-888-762-7874.

Your SmarTrip® Account Team

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Categories: WMATA