The May General Meeting was the culmination of the first ever Pi Photo Contest. The meeting was a celebration of the Pi members who entered the competition and a showcase for their photographic skills. The top three winners in each class and category were recognized for their photographic achievements, and each was given an award certificate. And after it was over, with the final certificate and Best of Show trophy awarded, candid review and member feedback suggested the activity hit the mark!
On this Saturday morning of a Memorial Day weekend, over sixty faithful Pi members and guests filled the multipurpose room inside Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church, Virginia. The group came to hear the results of the photo contest; however, other things were planned as well. In addition to the usual Question and Answer session, there were three concurrent mini-training sessions. After these sessions, the disclosure of the winning photographs was again postponed while the Pi President prattled on and on about club business items. Finally, at last, the moment arrived to learn who had won.
The meeting appeared to be just the right combination of instruction, learning and entertainment. Even without the usual prize giveaway at the end, it appeared everyone enjoyed the show. And with the event ending right on schedule, for the dozen or so who went to lunch afterward, it was a nice conclusion to a great Pi General Meeting.
On cue at 9:30 a.m., Lawrence Charters kicked off the meeting with a Question & Answer session, and one of the first questions was actually an answer! Before the meeting of the members mentioned that they "solved" a problem with an iMac turning off unexpectedly by making adjustments to the power cord, illustrating an important principle of problem solving: go from cheap to expensive, i. e., try the cheapest fix first! If the computer doesn't start up, don't assume it has burned up and needs to be replaced. Is it turned on? Is it plugged in? Is the plug loose? Is the power socket working? Way over ninety percent of all problems can be solved "for free" with a little cheap investigation.
Another perennial favorite question: how often should you run Disk First Aid? Disk First Aid is part of Disk Utility and is located in the Utilities folder. Apple placed it there for a reason: it can fix problems before they become big problems. As a general rule, run Disk First Aid and Verify Disk if a program crashes. It is also a good idea to Verify Disk if you've recently installed a new disk (internal disk, external FireWire or USB disk), or before you make a major update to your operating system. (Why do this before? Because you want to make sure everything is working perfectly before trying to change it.)
Another question dealt with an application that couldn't be deleted from the trash. This often occurs when the application isn't really closed. So, if something seems to stubbornly resist being thrown away and refuses to disappear when you empty Trash, log out of the computer (this closes all files), wait a minute or three, and then log back in. If you still have problems, log into the Pi's TCS forums and ask for assistance.
As a side note, if the reader has any questions or problems logging into the TCS, there is a very thorough “how to” guide provided on the homepage of the Pi Web site, www.wap.org. Just scroll down to the Of Interest section and look for the line starting with TCS User Guide. There is a link there to a PDF document that will download to your machine. After you get the 2.1-megabyte file, view it with Apple’s Preview or Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.
The largest number of interested attendees chose to attend Lawrence Charters’ tutorial on Mac OS X Security. He kept the audience engaged for over an hour, and after conducting the Q&A the previous half-hour, he was going hoarse at the end. Nonetheless, Lawrence did come prepared (sort of) with twenty copies of a three-page handout, enough for less than half of those present. The intent was to give them something they could use after the inspired talk. To make up for his woeful ability to predict audience size, Lawrence has posted a copy of the handout on the Pi Web site at (right-click or Command-click to force a download):
Hal Cauthen continued his Living' the iLife series, using a few still images of his granddaughter to first build a “Slide show” with iPhoto. Then, with the same still images plus a video clip, using iMovie, he made a similar movie of her doing the “Macarena.” Comparing these two iLife applications, iPhoto and iMovie, Hal showed how easy both were to use, and how the added features and controls of iMovie can enhance a project.
Pat Fauquet led another session that focused on methods for organizing your Mac. She captivated a small room full of members with these basic tips and tricks on keeping their Macs running smoothly while using Mac OS X. The interest level was high, and her presentation was punctuated with countless questions and comments from the audience. An audio recording (right-click or Command-click to force a download; iTunes .m4a format, 24.4 megabytes; Zip archive, 23.4 megabytes), which principally captures Pat’s narrative, is available on the Pi Web site.
Finally, the moment of truth arrived. Bob Jarecke, Pi President, hosted this portion of the meeting, and his Keynote presentation unveiled the winners one by one. With the contest having five categories — Nature, People, Architecture, Travel and Washington Apple Pi — and two classes of photographers, Advanced and Novice, the end result was thirty winners. And topping it off, the crowning achievement, a Best of Show award closed out the formal event.
Best of Show, First, Second and Third Place Photos
Of course, no undertaking, such as the Pi Photo Contest, could take place without a key group of workers making it happen. In our case, central to the contest’s success was the involvement of two outside, independent judges. Bob offered a formal acknowledgement and thanks to judges Roy Sewall and Alan Sislen who, unfortunately, were not in the audience. Other key individuals were Tom Carlson, Ed Miller, Bob Jarecke and Mike Schneible. Lawrence Charters, Ed Bunyan and Brent Malcolm also lent support to the effort.
The award process was fairly simple: all the winning photos in each category were shown on the screen and the winning photographer, if present, came forward to the front of the room. The photographer, with newly presented certificate in hand, was then asked to tell us more about the photo and any other personal aspects of the winning shot. These few words added dimension to many an impressive photograph.
The room was whisper quiet as winning image after image was shown, but that changed in the final moments. To add a little drama to the presenting of the top award, Bob offered an automated pictorial review of the ten first place winners, from which the Best of Show image was chosen. In contrast, there was discernable movement and comment as the audience watched the photos flash and disappear one-by-one at two seconds intervals. When he asked them who was the winner, someone spoke up and said “the Tiger.” And they got it right!
Top honors went to Ross Hatch and his stunning photo, Shake It Off. He was presented the coveted trophy, aptly named The Brownie (an actual Brownie camera resides at its top). Along with the trophy, Ross received a Best of Show certificate (suitable for framing!), a brand new iPod shuffle and five thousand Pi Dollars! Ross definitely did well, since by placing first in the Novice – Nature category he had already earned three thousand Pi Dollars. Commensurately, all of the other first place finishers received three thousand Pi Dollars as well, while the second and third place winners received two thousand and one thousand Pi Dollars respectively. Everyone was a winner!
With awards closing out the event, the room was abuzz. There were a couple of kudos for conducting the contest and other earnest thanks for the opportunity to participate in this type of Pi-sponsored event. The results of this contest were very good, and, with that in mind, it should not be too long before the Pi holds another photo competition. Our goal was to have a fun event, and judging from the handshakes, positive comments and smiles, we did just that!