Random thoughts

Buy less stuff you don’t need.

If you’re sitting in your parked car, shut it off.

Turn the thermostat up a few degrees in the summer, and down a few degrees in the winter.

Don’t grab that plastic straw.

Use cloth napkins at home.

Turn devices off when you’re not using them.

Turn the light off when you leave the room.

Dry your laundry outside on the line.

Delete social media from your phone.

Play board games. Play card games.

Randomly text your friends.

Don’t put chemicals on your lawn.

Listen to music. Watch classic movies.

Bike instead of drive when you can.

Take a walk every day.


Convert PCT / PICT file to JPG

I had over a thousand outdated PCT (PICT) files I needed to convert to JPG. I wasn’t having much success with Preview, Photos, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc. I tried this Resize! app but it gave me blank images.

So, I wanted to share my method I finally came up with.

We’re going to use Automator to convert to PDF then to JPG. The main problem I ran into was that Automator would combine all the PCT files into ONE HUGE PDF. So we need the “Dispense Items Incrementally” action.

First, download the action installer “Dispense Items Incrementally” from this site. It should show up in Automator automatically (if you have Automator open, quit and re-open).

When Automator opens, select “Quick Action” (or “Service” if it’s an older version).

Search for each of this actions and drag them into your workflow in this order:

Get Specified Finder Items

Dispense Items Incrementally

New PDF from Images


Set “Loop” to Loop automatically and Stop after 30 minutes (or longer if needed — it can’t be 0). Select “Use the current results as input”

Set your Output folder in the New PDF from Images action. Keep the default settings.

Now just add the PCT files in the Get Specified Finder Items action using the “Add…” (or drag them in) and click Run at the top.

When that’s done, we need to convert the PDFs to JPGs.

First: Select New in the Automator File Menu.

Create another Quick Action/Service:

Get Specified Finder Items

Render PDF Pages as Images

Move Finder Items

Click the “Add” button or drag the PDFs into Get Specified Finder Items window (like before).

Specify where you want the images saved in the Move Finder Items box.

Click run. If Automator gives you a message, “This quick action will not receive input when run inside Automator,” just click Ok.

That’s it!




For summer students…

Photoshop class

Digital Photography class

Photojournalism class

OS X Mountain Lion unstable Wi-Fi issues

I doubt this will show up in Google search results, but in case anyone else is having Wi-Fi issues after installing Mountain Lion (10.8), THIS is your solution.

For my new students…

History of Photography class website

Principles of Digital Photography class website

Nerdy fun: Interactive Fiction

Sometime back in the late 80s when our family had a Commodore 64, we’d go to the public library and check out games on 5.25″ floppy disk (and occasionally cartridges, which were great because they loaded instantly!).

One game looked amazing…. Zork. Well, maybe we didn’t actually know was it was about, but the cover looked cool, and that counted for a lot back then. We got it home and it turned out to be an all-text based game. A so-called “Text Adventure.” I’ll be honest that it didn’t really grab my attention all that well. I was more interested in shooting aliens.

I think my brother Ben got more into it, but we scoped out a few more similar games like Zork II and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, written by Douglas Adams himself. HHttGG was a tough game! I don’t think I got very far past the bulldozer.

Eventually I (and my friend at the time, Jim) grabbed the Commodore 64 manual and lo’ and behold, it had some instructions on how to actually write your own programs in BASIC. This was pretty interesting to me, and I figured out how to write very simple text games. They might still be on a disk somewhere, victim of technological obsolescence.

It was pretty fun and it made me think I might be interested in programming someday, although that didn’t last too long in college.

Anyway, a few years ago a documentary about Text Adventures called GET LAMP (link to full movie on YouTube) was made by the same guy who did a 10-hour documentary on Bulletin Board Systems (which I bought when it came out), so it should be right up my alley. I probably won’t force Aimee to watch. Probably.

The term for the genre now-a-days is “Interactive Fiction.” It turns out there’s a language called Inform that allows you to write your own. It’s a bit messy to learn but I’ve finished my first attempt at Interactive Fiction: Billings and Spivey: The Game. It’s a short game starring some characters from a TV show we worked on in college.

The Inform 7 language is interesting. For example, in my game, the “donut” is created as so:

The donut is a thing in the Break Room.
The description of the donut is “[if the donut is stapled]It’s a donut that some numbskull tried to staple[otherwise]Glorious fried dough. Sugary frosting. Sprinkles. This is what dreams are made of[end if].”. The donut is edible. The donut is stapleable.


It’s a little like programming. Inform has  a lot of built-in actions like eating and examining (try typing “look at (object)” as a start). The tricky part is trying to anticipate what the player will attempt to do, and give clues as to what they need to do (and what they can do). So, check it out and let me know what you think.

Remembering Steve Langager

My dad’s older brother Steve passed away yesterday. He was in a coma for almost two weeks following being hit by a drunk driver while riding his bike in Arizona, his winter getaway (he lived in Spicer, MN).

I wanted to post this in case people were searching for an online presence to share stories and memories about him.

I’ll always remember his sense of humor and quick wit. We kids could always get him to chuckle by bringing up the Minnesota Vikings, whom he gave up on after they lost their fourth Super Bowl. He would mock us for still cheering for the Vikings and needle us when they did poorly.

He also had a curiosity  in technology. Sometimes he would put aside his jokey demeanor and ask me computer questions. He was always having virus issues with his PC and I kept telling him to get a Mac. He seemed pretty tech-savvy and knew about the latest gadgets coming out.

He lived near our Grandma Rachel (who passed away a little over a year ago) so he’d drive her up for holidays, always with a large mug of coffee. When the time was approaching to go back home, he’d joke that he was going to forget her in Duluth.

We really only saw him at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but even then not so much these past couple years. I’m sad he is gone and he’ll be missed.