Month: October 2009

Climate change action

TDust storm Hornsby 23 Sep 2009oday (Thursday) is Blog Action Day, and the theme today is Climate Change.

Here in Australia we’ve had almost weekly reminders that the weather is changing, and although we are often told that the changes we are seeing are not due to global warming, we have our suspicions. Where I live in Hornsby, in northern Sydney, we’ve had a dust storm, blown in off the farms and desert of inland Australia, and a hailstorm that caught me on the way home from my sister’s, all within a couple of weeks.

But it’s much more serious than this. It doesn’t matter so much that I have to hose the dust off my pot plants with water from my rainwater tank, or that my car has a few dents from the hail.

Whole nations such as Tuvalu are being swamped by normal tides. The ice caps are melting. There are twice the number of hurricanes than 30 years ago.

Even if the weather we’re seeing can’t be proven to be the result of global warming, and the evidence seems to me overwhelming that it is, is it worth the risk? Once it’s too late it will be no use to say, “oh, we thought they were over-reacting”. The planet will have changed, and there’ll be no going back.

The time to change is NOW and there are many things you can do:

Find out more:

An Inconvenient Truth

United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen

Climate Change presentation on Google Earth

TckTckTck Explore the Orb

Facts and Figures

Top 100 effects of global warming

Do something to make a difference:

10 Solutions for climate change

Sign a pledge

Take Action to stop global warming

Get involved on a local level

Photo editing software

I currently use 5 different photo editing applications for different tasks. Here is my attempt to document which one is best for which task.

The applications:

Corel PaintShop Pro Photo X2 – this is an upgrade from PaintShop Pro 7, which I bought when I was looking for photo editing software and it looked easier to learn than Adobe Elements. I had another look at Elements before I upgraded, and it’s so big and still not as easy to learn. PaintShop Pro is just more intuitive.

  • copy and paste from the web to create an image.
  • cropping

Adobe Photoshop 7 – an old version I had for work some years ago. I can’t afford to upgrade it.

  • resize to precise number of pixels for websites
  • crop to precise size
  • add text (citations of document images).

Picasa 3.5 – free software

  • culling of new batch from the camera
  • best for levelling a crooked photo
  • face recognition (haven’t tried this yet)
  • creating web albums (although I seem to put them in Facebook these days)

Faststone Image Viewer – free software. I know others swear by Irfan (?), but I liked this one better.

  • batch renaming, resizing, compressing for the web.

Windows Photo Gallery – the one that comes with Vista.

  • culling of new batch from camera
  • simple fixes – crop to standard size, red-eye, brighten and auto-contrast. Has taken over from Picasa because it is the one that the photo automatically opens in.

I know there are other applications out there, but I’m happy with the ones I have, although it would be fantastic if I could just use one or two.

Which ones do you use? Have I left anything out, tasks or software?

What’s in a married name?

I’ve been thinking about the reasons we research our family trees, specifically women who research their husband’s family. You know the ones – the husband isn’t interested and the wife is stuck with hers so she moves on to build a tree for her husband, and gets hooked.

I’ve never really understood this clearly, until today.

We’re all familiar with the phenomenon of the genealogist who is only interested in their own surname. These are mostly males, in my experience, who follow their direct male as far back as they can go and then stop. I can sort of understand this – there is an attraction to seeing your own surname in the records that is reduced when you see maiden surnames. It’s a bigger thrill for me to find a Riley than a Stewart or a Goode.

My breakthrough came when I considered that I didn’t change my name when I got married. I’ve been married for 22 years and some months, and I made the decision to keep my name. It’s my name, after all.

But what if I had changed it? What if I’d spent the last 22 years as Carole Bassett (it seems weird just seeing it written there) instead of Carole Riley? I’d been writing it and signing it and answering to it and filling in forms with it and opening mail with it on the front? I’d feel like a Bassett now, wouldn’t I?

So of course I’d be interested in the Bassetts, and where they came from. Especially if I had kids and their name was Bassett. Or some awful hyphenated Riley-Bassett or Bassett-Riley. So if my Bassett wasn’t doing his own (a rarity among husbands!) I’d be doing it and saying it’s for him. When really it would be for me.

You just have to put yourself in the shoes of the people you are trying to understand, and it all becomes much clearer.