Egret Launch

Egret Launch, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

An egret takes off from the marsh that borders on Mermet Lake in southern Illinois.

After having experimented with some image merging here, I decided to do a more normal version by excluding the egret in flight and using bits of other images to fill out the right side to create a composition that I am happier with.

The Mountain by Terje Sorgjerd

This is absolutely breathtaking and I had to link it here just to be sure I would always be able to find it again. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Egret Egress

Egret Egress, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

This is really just an experiment. On a little hike with a friend around Mermet Swamp in southern Illinois last weekend, we came upon this egret. Even though I was being extra stealthy, it decided to take off right as I was getting close. So I just held down the shutter button and let 'er rip.

What you see is a composite done in Photoshop CS5.

Ring A Bell, Do I Not Drool?

I have been noticing lately just how susceptible people are to behavioral conditioning. And by "people" I mean "me". I do notice this in others. Occasionally in users of applications or interfaces I have developed myself. But I never really considered that I was also as susceptible to these Pavlovian reactions.

Often these learned responses are as the result of poorly designed UI. We come up with workarounds, shortcuts or other habits designed to overcome some shortcoming. Every now and then, however, some experiences are actually positive. When we become accustomed to these, we are at best confused and at worst frustrated when things behave differently.

The following are a few examples of behaviors that I have come to expect as the norm.


I live in both a Microsoft and Apple world. My work life requires using Internet Explorer and the home page defaults to MSN. I'm fine with that considering I use Chrome for any "real" surfing. But I digress. It's not like I have to justify myself to you.

On MSN, they do something very simple. Just about every image has a Title attribute that renders as a tooltip. Rather than clicking through to read stories (which can be truly painful), sometimes I will simply scrub my mouse over pictures to figure out who/what/where something is and then decide if I want to follow that rabbit trail any further.

Unfortunately, most sites do not do this. Jiggling the mouse pointer over images on other pages does nothing but make me feel silly.


A variation on the MSN image tooltip theme, pointing to a movie/TV "cover" image causes a super, enhanced tooltip to appear. I want to mouse over cover images on any site that displays movie/book/music covers. The usual result is that I hope nobody notices what appears to be a case of "the shakes" and, once again, a feeling of silliness.

Twitter (iOS apps)

The Twitter client on iOS devices does not waste any space by providing a button to refresh the current view. Instead, you drag the list down and let it snap back to the top. This action will cause any new tweets to appear at the top of the list. It's a brilliant option that allows you to request the latest information with a single handed thumb-swipe where the target area is practically the entire screen.

Now there are other apps that follow suit, but they are few and far between. Any listing that occasionally updates (mail) tempts me to see if this update method is supported. It usually isn't.

I guess the thing that got me thinking about our mechanical interactions with computing devices is the pending release of Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and its reversal of the scrolling direction. Learned behaviors can be replaced with others and if a you are primarily a touch user, the change will probably feel pretty natural/normal. I already find myself touching the display on my Macbook Pro to select tweets or scroll a page. Of course it does not work, but that's not the point.

What is the point? We are creatures of habit by nature and whether we love or loathe how things work, we adapt to the point where when things don't conform to what we are used to, we are uncomfortable.

At least until we get used to that then.

Flamingo Face-Off

Flamingo Face-Off, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

I'm not sure if these two were happy to see each other or not. Everyone was asleep and then a ruckus and then back to sleep again.

I suspect they must have been married.

The Differential Gear

Here is another video for something that many of us know generally how it works, but that most of us take for granted. Even though it is about 80 years old, it's still very well put together.

Script-Based SharePoint 2007/2010 Site-Collection Backup - Part 2: Task Scheduling

This is the second installment of articles that describe a script-based method for creating backups at the site-collection level.

In part 1 I shared a script with a relatively long list of arguments that creates backup files for each site-collection in a web application. Since you will likely have more than one web application, we can simplify things by creating a CMD or BAT file (hard core, right?) that accepts only two arguments. These are things that will change for each web application, with the other script arguments likely being the same for each backup job.

It might look something like this:

CScript F:\Scripts\BackupSiteCollections.vbs %1 backuppath=%2 binpath="C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\BIN"

Keep in mind that you will want to adjust file/path names.

Now with this in hand we can create a scheduled task for each web application. What I do is set the Program to run as CMD with the following arguments:

/C F:\Scripts\BackupSiteCollections.cmd http://my.web.application "\\server\share\folder\"

So the argument breakdown is:

  • /C
    This tells the command interpreter (CMD) to execute the following command and then quit.
  • F:\Scripts\BackupSiteCollections.cmd
    This is the file we just created. Remember that it accepts two arguments.
    • http://my.web.application
      This is the URL for the target web application.
    • "\\server\share\folder\"
      This is the path to your backup location. I like to create a folder for each web app, personally.

Set up a task to back up each web application.

Have the tasks run as the farm administrator and allow them to run with highest privileges whether the user is logged on or not. When these run, you should see SCBackup (for Site-Collection Backup) files being created in your target share/folder.

The final part of this series will describe what I do to handle backup reporting and notifications.