Hmm… three posts to cover 2011? This blog has not turned into what I originally intended. I was thinking a post a month at the very least would be good. Oh well… it is what it is, I guess.
I had a fantastic time camping with my friends back in June. It’s been a while since I had gone camping. We stayed at the Wakins Glen campground Friday night through Sunday morning.
Friday night after everyone had finished setting up, we spent hanging around the camp site – drinking, talking, & playing card games.
We spent a chunk of Saturday walking the gorge. Of course I took my camera; my friends got a little annoyed with how long I was taking… but being a photographer, I couldn’t help but stop to take pictures. I was taking a lot of long shutter speed pictures and multiple exposures for HDR images. After walking around the gorge for a while we went back to camp; we made some new friends that were there camping across the way from us.
After that a group of us went out on wine tasting. I didn’t do any tastings, because I decided to drive. When we got back from the tasting tour, we went back to our new friends’ camp site and spent the evening partying.
When I had finished post-processing my photos and posted them, most of the people that had complained about me taking so long responded with something like, “I see what took so long, good thing you didn’t rush. These are some gorgeous shots!”
I spent the fourth of July with a bunch of friends; there was a BBQ at Katie’s house. That night we drove to the city to watch the fireworks. I made my first attempt at taking photos of fireworks and think I did rather well. After watching the fireworks we made our way back to Katie’s.
Most of the group was ready to head to bed, so they left. Katie and I decided we wanted to watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog.
After that night, Katie and I started hanging out on a daily basis, up from our once every month or so. We started geocaching & going on all sorts of adventures together.
Katie and I went on our first date on July 19th; we took a day trip to Niagara Falls. She likes to think that she asked me out… in all honesty, she kind-of did, but I like to think of it as a joint effort [haha]: I mentioned that I still needed to get up to Niagara Falls so I could take pictures; she said that she wanted to go up there again soon, and said we should go together. One of us [I don’t remember who] made the semi-joking comment, “It’s a date.” Well, that semi-joking comment made us think, is it really a date-date or was it just a date we had set to go?
On the 19th, I drove out to Katie’s and we packed up lunch and snacks for a picnic, then left for Niagara Falls. After walking around for a while [and me stopping repeatedly for photos], Katie poked fun at me & told me that she was going to make me an “I break for photos” patch for my camera bag [which I’m still waiting for, lol]. After we had been there a while we began talking about what there was between us… were we just awesome friends, or was there more? Shortly after that, we made our relationship official.
In August, I had my first legit paid photography gig – a wedding vow renewal. It was a bit nerve-racking, but it was my first paid gig, and it was a wedding. At least it wasn’t their first wedding [not to make it sound that the renewal wasn’t important], so it wasn’t as stressful as if I was in charge of getting all the pictures perfect or suffer the wrath of the family. They also understood that I was new to the events/portrait photography. It was a great experience and even though it was stressful, it was a lot of fun. I think I still prefer landscape/nature photography though.
Katie and my next great adventure together was the Sterling Renaissance Festival, we went with our friends Kat and Shannon. They managed to get me in a kilt. Not that it was very hard, I think it went something like: Katie- “I want to see you in a kilt before we leave.” Kat & Shannon- “Yes!” Me- “I was thinking about checking them out anyways, but ok… if you insist.”
My 10-year high school reunion was in August of 2011. I had some car problems and almost couldn’t go due to repair costs, but then I suggested being an unpaid photographer in exchange for free admission & got in to the reunion that way. It was cool seeing everyone again, even though I didn’t talk to most of them back in high school.
Katie and I attended Uproar Festival 2011 with a bunch of friends… that was a great day. All day at the Darien Lakes Performing Arts Center listening to a bunch of great bands while hanging out with some awesome people. Katie and I ended up taking almost the same picture, just a slightly different angle, and I edited mine a little.
Last year was the first time I’ve dressed up for Halloween in a few years. Katie and I dressed up as Desmond Miles and Lucy Stillman from Assassin’s Creed.
We started off by doing a bunch of the traditional shots, where Katie was helping with getting Tommy into the positions that they wanted for indoor & outdoor shots. After we had finished with the traditional sets, Tommy and I screwed around and got a few fun pictures of him with his dirt bike.
One of my instructors at school invited me to pick up my third paid photo job. There was an event at the Phelps Art Center where Stan Munro, the creator of Toothpick City was at the center giving a demo for some kids & there was a reception after.
It was a lot of fun & great getting to meet Stan. I had been to the Phelps Art Center a few times before to look at & take pictures of the display. It’s amazing what he’s done with just toothpicks & Elmer’s Glue.
I honestly haven’t played a ton of Assassin’s Creed. Between Katie, school, & Battlefield 3 – I didn’t have enough time to invest and get caught up in the story. Maybe I’ll hit it up some more later this week.
Battlefield 3, ah… Battlefield. I have heard friends say both good and bad things about BF3. All-in-all, it’s pretty much the same game as Bad Company 2. Sure, they’ve made it much prettier, added a few things here and there, and added a new physics engine… but it’s essentially the same game as every other FPS out there. Even so, I still enjoy the game immensely. It’s not a game I can spend days playing though, it gets too repetitive.
I was debating getting Skyrim, I’ve messed with most of the past Elder Scrolls games, but I never got very involved with them, I just got bored. Ever since I snagged Skyrim, most of my gaming-time is spent there. To say the game is amazing would be an understatement. The world is massive, there are tons of quests and things to be done. I have a level 37 Orc warrior that focuses on bows & two-handed weapons. I started a mage & thief characters around the same time as my warrior, but the warrior was the only one that has really kept my interest.
Red Dead Redemption is another game I wasn’t sure if I wanted. It was neat and all, but I had played a bit at a friend’s and wasn’t very impressed. The lack of excitement probably stemmed from a few weeks after it was released, when a friend tossed me the controller to a game that he was half way through and didn’t give me much of the back-story or any real instruction about what I was supposed to do. Katie got it for me as a Christmas gift and my interest in the game perked up again. It’s a pretty good game, kind of like a GTA of the wild west.
Skyrim is still consuming most of my gaming time, which is hindering progress in the other three games… but they are coming along, slowly.
This past semester at school went really well too. I took my first Photography class; it was all black & white film, and I loved it. As much as I enjoy digital, it’s a blast developing and printing photos. I also took Computer Imaging, which was loads of fun… even though a good chunk of it was review. I finished up the Design & Foundation Drawing class chain taking the second part of each. The last class I took the past semester was Ceramics I, I decided to take this so that I could make things that I can actually use in every-day-life now that the classes are done.
The other day I received a letter in the mail from school, I was worried that it might be an issue with billing or something. Luckily, it was to tell me that I was added to the Dean’s List this semester because my GPA was above 3.5!
All that being said, I leave you with an inspirational video for the start of the year. ❤
The words in this video are from Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.
And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.
No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
*Copied and pasted the following post from here*
We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog for a Public Service Announcement. This is a post I put up on my guild forums a while back, but with the recent report of a supposed account hack to an authenticator-enabled account, I figured I’d repost here for mass consumption. In regards to the above link, I’m calling BS until I see more about it, and this post should explain why I feel that way. I’m far more likely to believe that the account was compromised by some manner of social engineering (be it a Blizzard look-alike phishing site, an irl “friend” theft, a shared account, or some other manner – any and all of which involve user error) than I am to believe that one of the most widely-considered secure systems in the world, used by banks, casinos, credit bureaus, government agencies, and high-profile data security firms has been circumvented by Chinese wow hackers to be used for in-game gold theft rather than, say, nearly any other possible use of such technology/cracking ability. I just don’t buy it. Read on, and be informed.
How the Blizzard Authenticator works, and why it improves security.
The Blizzard Authenticators are once again in stock!
On 26/06/08, Blizzard announced the Blizzard Authenticator, a device that provides your WoW account with an extra layer of security. They sell this device in their Blizzard Store for $6.50. You may consider buying it, but is the extra security really worth the money? How much more secure does it make your account? This post will explain how this device works, and exactly why it makes your account more secure.
===How the authenticator works===
The Blizzard Authenticator is a token that you can put for example on your keychain. It has a little display that, once your press the button will generate a 6-digit number that changes every minute.
This number is used as a 1-time password. This means the password is only valid once. When you use it to log in, the code becomes invalid and any hacker trying to access your account later with the same number won’t be able to log in.
A hacker wanting to access your account will now, in addition to keylogging your username and password, have to physically break into your house and steal the authenticator to see what number it displays. But hackers are clever people. Isn’t there any way for them to know which number the authenticator is going to display? The answer is no, and here’s why.
Every authenticator has a little built-in clock. This clock keeps track of the number of seconds since, for example the WoW release date, Tigole’s birthday or whenever. Each authenticator also has a unique key, which it uses to encrypt this number of seconds into what looks like a completely random number. There is no way, without knowing the encryption key, to guess what number is going to be displayed at any point in time. Even if the hacker has all the numbers you entered before, he can’t extrapolate that into what number will be showing next.
The hacker also can’t hack into the device itself to find out it’s key, because it doesn’t connect to the computer in any way. Even if the hacker were the mailman who delivered the authenticator to your house, he would have to open it up and extract the hardware that contained the key. These devices are generally tamper-resistant and will purge themselves when opened.
So, if the hacker can’t know your 1-time password, how is Blizzard going to know? The difference is, Blizzard has the key for every authenticator they made. When you log in, blizzard looks up which authenticator is associated with your account, and finds the matching key. They then use this key to decrypt the number you entered into the number of seconds the authenticator has been counting. They then verify that this number matches the current time.
Even if the time on your authenticator doesn’t exactly match the time on blizzard’s server, they still allow you to log in within a minute or so of the defined time, just in case the clock in your authenticator is running a little slower or faster than normal. This still does not allow hackers to use the number from a minute ago, because when you log in successfully, that number is then disabled and prevented from being used again.
If you still think someone may eventually find a way around it, this security measure is used by businesses and government agencies around the world to provide security, and they have a lot more sensitive information to guard than the login information to a WoW account. One of my good friends, who is a VIP services lead at Mohegan Sun, saw me log in once and went “wow, *I* use one of those to get into secure areas at work.” This is a tested method that has proven itself to be secure.
===Is existing security not already enough?===
While the authenticator provides an extra security layer strong enough to make your account virtually unhacklable, you can already secure your computer a lot. Is the authenticator really needed?
If you’re running Firefox with Noscript, Flashblock, adblockers, 5 different virus and spyware scanners, a NAT router with it’s ports strictly regulated, using Linux/MacOS X or another operating system, and other security measures I can’t think of at the moment, you are probably really secure. The danger is hackers finding a new way to enter your system that isn’t being guarded yet. Until the vulnerability is patched, or instructions to disable the exploited software are issued, you could potentially get infected with a virus or other malicious software during that short time. The more security measures you take, the lower the chance you will be vulnerable. But security is an ever-changing thing. You have to keep things up-to-date constantly in order to stay secure.
Using an authenticator is completely optional, but it does solve the problem by taking another approach. Instead of preventing keyloggers from getting onto your system, it makes you virtually immune to them. They can try, but with a login code that is always changing logging your keystrokes won’t be any good.
If you wish to better secure your system without buying an authenticator, instructions are given in stickies on the WoW forums, links to which are provided at the end of this post.
Then there is the issue of cost. Blizzard is offering these for $6.50, but should they? It would be a lot better if they provided them for free right? Well, I doubt Blizzard is making money on these. The manufacturing and distribution of these tokens costs them money, and $6.50 is actually pretty cheap. Market prices for these devices can be around $50.
I myself have been playing for over five years, so that’s roughly $900 this game has cost me already, and I’m not even counting the money I payed for the original game and the expansions (or my second account, or name changes, or transfers). I’m not going to mind another $6.50, especially since it provides me the peace of mind of never risking account theft. I purchased one the day I took Guild Leader, because the security and safety of my guild is far, far more important to me than $6.50 or the three seconds extra it takes me to log in every day.
As an aside, there are to date no known account hacks1 to an authenticator-enabled account. There’s really no reason not to have one.
If you wish to learn more about this authentication technology, most of the information for this post was obtained from the Security Now podcast. All episodes are freely available for download on http://www.grc.com/securitynow.htm. Transcripts are also available. The particular episode that deals with the authenticator technology is #90: Multifactor Authentication, the part which covers some of the information above starting 20 minutes into the episode.
More information about the Blizzard Authenticator:
Support page: http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24986]http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24986
FAQ page: http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24660]http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24660
Activating your authenticator: http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24987]http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24987
Links for securing your system against keyloggers (no authenticator required):
Protect your PC guide: http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=273198555]http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=273198555
Avoid getting hacked: http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=102690401]http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=102690401
Account security: http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=35983697]http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=35983697
How to recover a compromised account: http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=17191745]http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=17191745
*this post shamelessly stolen/paraphrased from Ysgarth. (I’d link directly, but I honestly lost the original)
Not only does having an authenticator save you trouble, it saves your guild leader trouble. You see, every time a member gets hacked, each of their toons steals items/money/whatever they can get from the gbank. When the hacked accountholder goes through their restoration process, GMs only help with THEIR account. The gbank is considered to be an extension of the Guild Leader’s account/responsibility, and as a result, *they* have to put in a ticket, too. This makes GLs like me die the little death every time. Don’t make us pay for your negligence!
1Again, a unsubstantiated report arises now and then, as I mention above. Until I see an official report from Blizzard or some tech industry standard saying keyfobs aren’t as secure as we thought, I don’t buy it – the science just isn’t there. Most importantly, though, it is still important to remember that although authenticators do, to the best of our knowledge, make your account hack-proof, they do not, in fact, make them doing dumb stuff-proof. In order to have your authenticated account compromised, you have to fall for a phishing/fake site; you have to give your account info/keyfob/unused current number out to someone; you have to be gullible enough to do exactly what Blizzard has said to never do – NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR INFO. Never! Don’t enter your account info into a linked site, ever. Go to what you know to be the real login site, always. Don’t tell anyone your account name, your password, your keyfob serial number, anything.
I’ll repeat – never trust another player, and never trust a link. Ever.
And get an authenticator.