Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happiness and names

A friend of mine recently posed a question about how she is perceived and how closely it is tied to her name.

The result was, after some deliberation, that she changed her name to one that she thought others would relate to as a stronger name and would make her feel more comfortable in the world. Of course part of the problem is that, while this works well for the new people you meet, it doesn't really work for all of the people who know you by the name that you met them with.... in fact it could have opposite effect.

I knew a Geraldine back when we lived in South Africa. Her father wanted a son and Gerald would be his name... so as she grew she understandably came to hate the name and eventually changed to it a more neutral one. She moved to another country and has a new network of friends who know her by the new name. We, of course, still call her Geraldine because that is how we knew her. The name was formed in our minds by combining everything we experienced with and about her over the time we got to know her. The name morphed with our experience of her.

I admit that my take on this is that you get to own the name that you are given. It can be tough to go through life with a name like Emerentia (for example) but you roll with it - become Emma or Em or Renti. In my case Timothy became Timmy (I know a bunch of dogs called Timmy) and I chose to be Tim when I left for the Army.

Perhaps the point is that you do get to change your name - most people do it a little by adopting or being given a nickname, or by abbreviation. It is rare, but this can happen in your adult life too.

So today a colleague gave me this article from the UK Daily mail (actually an abreviation of this article appeared in the Boston Metro so it was probably put out on the wire.

A psychologist (Dr David Holmes of Manchester in the UK) did a study of peoples names and personalities and made a judgment on how happy they were. His contention is that people's names are like product brands - the name gets associated with how others have carried it and with what is generally associated with that name and this rubs off on people who are given the name.

So people with the name Judy have it lucky while if your name is Harriet you are likely to be at somewhat of a disadvantage. I suppose this is a pretty basic assumption... people take stage names if theirs is not interesting enough. David Bowie was David Jones and Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan... in fact the list of actors and their real names makes quite an interesting read.

At the bottom of the story was the list of names that are the least happy.
Charlotte, Tina or Tara, Andrew, Edward, Tim or Owen...

I guess I am unhappy.

I loved some of the comments at the bottom of the story though:
What absolute rubbish, I know someone called Judy, 3 times married, 3 times divorced, and the most miserable person I know despite having plenty money.

What a load of utter rubbish!! Yet another exercise in job justification!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jaguar Nick

Jaguar Nick
Originally uploaded by bowtoo
All credit for the idea to Josh Sommers whose Solomon Tigcelot image has been on my mind since I saw it last July

I used an image of Nick that I took from roughly the same angle as the one I took of a jaguar at the zoo recently.

I had to use two different images of the jaguar to get the mouth believable.

This was a great deal of fun,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nahant Vertorama

Nahant Vertorama
Originally uploaded by bowtoo
I was pretty happy with how this came out.

I was shooting for HDR (multiple exposures that can be blended in post processing to give you a much wider range of exposure in the image) but took a few vertical pano's with the intention of stitching them later. Trick is to blend two different exposures (focused differently and with camera distortion on the wide angle) without the seams being visible.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Visit to Salem

I was prompted to visit Salem today after Friday the 13th as part of an assignment for a flickr group that I am a member of. The group encourages members to take photographs in a weekly theme.

I mentioned elsewhere in this blog that my most viewed photograph on Flickr is of Suzannah Martin - one of the Salem Witches who was hanged in 1692.

Salem village was where Danvers is today, and is where most of the trials were held. There is a separate memorial across the road from where the old meeting house was where many of the examinations took place.

Salem was the port

The old burial ground in Salem has the grave of John Hathorne, who was the magistrate and chief interrogator in the infamous witch trials in Salem Village in 1692.

John Hathorne lived at the top of the hill that was to become the Danvers State Lunatic Asylum that HP Lovecraft fictionalized as Arkham Sanitarium and was also used in Batman comics as a tribute to Lovecraft.

The engraving at the top reminds me of an angel of death.

The inscription says: "Here lies inter'd the body of Col John Hathorne Esq, Aged 76years who died May 10 1717". So he lived 25 years after the trial.

Nathaniel Hawthorne the famos author of "The House of Seven Gables" and "The Scarlet Letter" was a relative of his. He added the "w" to his name to dissociate from the witch trials.

Of the victims of the witch hunt, one who has the most striking story for me is Giles Corey.

He refused to plead guilty or innocent in his trial and was subjected to a torture that was supposed to encourage a plea... he had a board placed on him and was pressed to death over a few days by having stones packed on the board. He died on September 19, 1692. He was over 80 years old. Aside from his contempt of the process, a motive for his refusal to plead was that his farm would go to the state if he was found guilty. He wanted his sons to inherited it. He is said to have called for more weight when he was asked to plea during his torture and those were his last words.

His third wife, Martha was hanged for witchcraft on the 22nd of September, 1692.

Legend has it that Giles Corey's ghost appears in Salem before a major catastrophe. A figure was seen walking in the graveyard before the Great Salem fire of 1914.

A Wikipedia article gives a good account of all of this.

There are several countries in the world where people are still being accused, persecuted and killed for being suspected witches. A newspaper article, as recently as 2008, reports of a witch killing in South Africa.

Martha Corey was the wife of Giles Corey and was hanged on Sept 22, two days after he succumbed to being pressed to death for refusing to plead guilty.

Her son was given $50 in restitution for her death in 1723

Sarah Good was one of the three first accused as witches in the Salem Witch hysteria of 1692. She and her husband had been forced to sell their property and were destitute. She was reduced to begging and grew angry with people who were not charitable to her.

A interesting account in Famous American Trails describes how when she was about to be hanged, a minister tried to extract a confession. The article (by Douglas Linder) describes her response "You are a liar. I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life God will give you blood to drink." Her curse seems to have come true. Noyes died of internal hemorrhage, bleeding profusely at the mouth. Despite the seemingly effectiveness of her curse, it likely just further convinced the crowds of her guilt.

Elizabeth was one of the victims of the Salem Witch hysteria in 1692. She was accused and examined on May 31 by John Hawthorne and two other judges, tried and condemned a month later and hanged with four other women on July 19 of that year.

She said "If it was the last moment I was to live, God knows I am innocent of anything of this nature" in response to the accusations against her.

Her trial and accusation is an interesting example of how far afield the rumors went. She lived in Ipswich which is a fair distance from Danvers - back in those days probably half a day's ride on horseback.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In the theme of trojans and viruses

Common lore is that you get a virus or trojan on your computer by opening a malicious file (either an attachement in email or from a website that has the file masquerading as a new video codec or enhancement for your computer).

A blogger, Didier Stevens recently created a youtube video showing how a vulnerability in a PDF file has been exploited so that you trigger the exploit by clicking on the document (selecting it) or by having a "thumbnail" view of the document.

In the video a debugger is launched as the exploit gets activated to illustrate the point.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Project management truths

Well I had to laugh out loud at a few of these - they were written in a Computer Weekly blog by Tony Collins and forwarded to me by a colleague.

  1. Projects with realistic budgets and timetables don't get approved
  2. Activity in the early stages should be dedicated to finding the correct questions
  3. The more desperate the situation the more optimistic the progress report
  4. A user is somebody who rejects the system because it's what he asked for
  5. The difference between project success and failure is a good PR company
  6. Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it
  7. Every failing, overly ambitious project, has at its heart a series of successful small ones trying to escape
  8. A freeze on change melts whenever heat is applied
  9. There's never enough time to do it right first time
  10. You understood what I said, not what I meant
  11. If you don't know where you're going, just talk about specifics
  12. If at first you don't succeed, rename the project
  13. Everyone wants a strong project manager - until they get him
  14. Only idiots own up to what they really know (thank you to President Nixon)
  15. The worst project managers sleep at night
  16. A failing project has benefits which are always spoken of in the future tense
  17. Projects don't fail in the end; they fail at conception
  18. Visions are usually treatable
  19. Overly ambitious projects can never fail if they have a beginning, middle and no end
  20. In government we never punish error, only its disclosure
  21. The most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest
  22. A realist is one who's presciently disappointed in the future

It's "Guest Blog Wednesday" featuring Syl Arena!

  1. If you can’t be remarkable, be memorable.
  2. You are NOT defined by your photo gear or your computer’s operating system.
  3. Powerful photographs touch people at a depth they don’t anticipate.
  4. You have to let your images go out into the world without you.
  5. Cross-pollinate with photographers and other creatives.
  6. Photography slices time. Photography gathers time.
  7. Learning to create photographs that “look” like your world should be only a milestone - not the destination.
  8. “Coopetition” is a new business model that’s here to stay.
  9. Wars have been fought to protect your copyrights.
  10. Your photographs have value. Don’t give them away.
  11. Your photographs have value. Give them away.
  12. Resist the temptation to become a pro photographer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tigger - another fancy trojan that likes stockbrokers

I mentioned here a trojan called Sinowal.

A friend forwarded a link to an excellent article by Michael Kassner on a similar trojan.  The article contains a detailed description on how he delved into it, with some interesting links to related articles.

Notable is that this trojan is targeted at stockbrokers with some specific trading firms flagged for interest.

It steals email passwords, does keystroke logging for passwords and credit card numbers, sets itself up so that hackers can gain remote access and watches for connections to some popular trading sites.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Stone's Zoo

I went to Stone's Zoo this weekend as part of a field trip for the Greater Lynn Photographic Association.

It was pretty cold but that meant that we could wait at the animal enclosures for them to do something interesting.... they didn't dissapoint us!