Boeing's new super secret "Black Phone" is the world's first self destructing smart phone.


Having bad credit doesn't mean you can't get financing on instruments anymore.


Scientists discover gene that maintains gender.


A shocking look back on the substances that were sold in pre-FDA America.


A shocking list of 33 facts that you've probably never heard about.

Unordered List

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My New Photography Portfolio

Benjamin Sullivan - Photography of Benjamin
Coming Tomorrow: My Art Photography Collection Premier on Photography of Benjamin
As of tomorrow, 5 new collections of my photography will be released on my new web portfolio,

The collections date back to the winter of 2012, and represent my life journey over the past 3 years. My premier collection 'Visual Poetry' will see it's official debut in this unveiling.

Photos were shot throughout North America via a Samsung NX20 and Nikon D810, using a variety of Samsung and Nikkor Lenses.

All collection will be available as fine art prints with a plethora of canvas and framing options. Size availability will range from 18x12 to 48x32.

Please experience and enjoy! Below are a few sample images from the exciting new collection Visual Poetry.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How to Install Photoscape on Fedora

How to Install PhotoScape on Fedora 21, Red Hat, Open Suse
Not only can you install Photoscape on Fedora, we made it easy for you!
PhotoScape is an incredibly powerful, lightweight photo editing software that runs on Microsoft Windows. Thanks to the Wine app (which allows Linux to run Windows software), this can be easily installed on Fedora, Open Suse and other Red Hat based Linux distros. If you want to install it on Debian or Ubuntu, check out this link!

In this case, I'm installing PhotoScape on the all new Fedora 21 - which so far is honestly the coolest linux destro I've ever test driven, but that's a different story.

The first step to putting Photoscape's magic on Fedora is to install Wine (if you haven't already done so).  In order to do this, simply open a terminal window and type or copy paste:
howto@blogofbenjamin:~$sudo yum update
howto@blogofbenjamin:~$sudo yum install wine
Next, you'll need to install WineTricks.  To do this, simply type or copy paste:
howto@blogofbenjamin:~$winetricks msi2
Next, install gdiplus:
howto@blogofbenjamin:~$winetricks gdiplus
Finally, install the Microsoft 2008 Visual C++ Libraries:
howto@blogofbenjamin:~$winetricks vcrun2008
Now either open the wine configuration from the applications menu or run the following in terminal:
Click the Libraries tab, select msi, click Edit, then tick Bulletin then Native and click Apply.

Fedora Wine

Now (still in Libraries) select gdiplus, click Edit, tick Native, then Bulletin and click OK.

Fedora WineTricks

Finally, download PhotoScape by clicking the big blue button below, install and enjoy!

Download Photoscape

PUBLISHED: 10:18 PM EST, December 16th 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

My Religion is Life and My Church is the Universe

The Emblem of Deism 'My Religion is Life and My Church is the Universe' Benjamin Sullivan
Deism is Based on Observable Truth and Logic Rather Than Faith in the Unknown

Modern Deism is a religion or philosophy that isn't really well understood by the general public. As a deist, I've decided to dedicate an article to explaining what it is and is not.

Deism is almost entirely void of faith.  As a deist, you observe the perfect balance and incomprehensible complexity of the universe and consider a creator to be self-evident through it. Many of the greatest minds in human history have come to the same conclusion through observation. Einstein, whose theories unlocked the key to understanding the very substance of the universe once said

"Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe - a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive."

Deism is understanding God through personal observation. There is no hidden or abstract meaning to attain, no ritualistic practice to elevate one's spirituality, and no prayer to alter destiny. There are innumerable things that are self-evident and by choosing to embrace or ignore these things, we alter the quality and depth of our experiences.

Deists reject 3rd party information from people who claim to have spoken with God or spiritual entities. However, we don't claim they are impossible or don't occur. For example, it's not that we reject the concept that an angel could appear in your bathroom and demand you stop eating tacos, it's that the only person who's obligated to believe that angel and stop eating tacos, is you. If every person on earth suddenly had a an angel telling them to stop eating tacos, we'd certainly stop eating tacos and start believing in angels.

The greatest gift of life is that we exist and are able experience. Through experience we observe God's creation and using the gift of reason, we seek understanding on everything around us. Because we are conscious beings capable of experience, we are able to love, to create, to be inspired, to be moved, and to change the world around us.

God is discovered entirely through creation - the brilliance of a sunset, the powerful roar of  a waterfall, the symphony of sounds you hear in the heart of the forest, or the vastness of space and its countless stars. God is the mastermind behind all matter - every earth shattering scientific discovery and mystery that is yet to be unraveled was dreamed and enacted by God.

God is perfect and doesn't need to intervene in creation. A creator complex enough to construct the universe would clearly be aware of its outcome, eliminating the need to change it down the line. Deism observes a balance that allows for both free will and autonomous correction.

Evil is a necessary component of a multi-faceted existence, without it, good has no definition. It is only through our struggles that we can triumph, only through chaos that we can know order, and only through conquering our own infirmities that we can comprehend the joys of a life well lived. Since we are free beings and live in a world that allows choice, we are exposed to both elements and whatever joys or sorrows they may bring.

As a whole, humanity already has the resources to abolish many of the problems we conveniently attribute to God. Through reason, we have risen to technological levels our predecessors could never have dreamed would be possible, and we continue to advance. Hunger, poverty, and disease could all be eradicated if we learned to think outside of ourselves and consider each human being as an equal part of an integral whole. Yet so far, we have chosen to hoard. We've created a world view in which people in one culture are dying from obesity while people in another are dying of starvation. It's only through our own efforts that we can make the world into the kind of place we want it to be. We can blame no one for the state of civilization, it is merely a reflection of the majority of our own actions and mindsets.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

You CAN Install Luminance HDR on Ubuntu

The Quick Easy Guide to Installing Luminance HDR on Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu and More.
Here's a quick, easy, 3-step guide to installing Luminance HDR on Ubuntu based distros.

Luminance HDR is one of the leading opensource HDR applications, which means it's totally free to setup and use!

So to get started putting this photographic magic on your drive, open a terminal windows and add the repository by typing or copy pasting:

ben@blogofbenjamin:~$sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dhor/myway

Next, you'll need to update the OS cache.  To do this, simply type or copy paste:

ben@blogofbenjamin:~$sudo apt-get update

Lastly, install Luminance HDR:

ben@blogofbenjamin:~$sudo apt-get install luminance-hdr

That's it! You should be able to locate Luminance HDR in applications. Start the app and enjoy!

Also, check out some the awesome HDR images I've made using the software (below).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How to Be Happy

In Order to be Happy, Reinvent Your Thought Process and Learn to Find Joy Through Choices Instead of Possessions.
No offense, but the first thing to keep in mind if you really want to be happy is to realize that you probably don't have any idea of how to go about being it. While you might think that that a bigger house, a nicer car, living in a existential paradise, or a life of travel and vacation will bring you happiness, you probably couldn't be farther from the truth. Because here's the thing, that sort of happiness is based on a completely un-subjective fantasy that each of us invents and it's 99% ego and 1% reality.

This very mentality based on greed, insecurity, envy and malcontent is ruining your life. The fact is, you are and always have been you - no more and no less. Pouring gasoline on the fire of your own insecurities isn't going to make anything better, and believing that you actually need a bunch of ridiculous stuff to attain happiness is just silly.

So what is 'happy' anyway? What if it was letting go of your ego? What if it was letting go of all the preconceptions you've walled yourself in with your whole life? What if it was learning to look into the future while actually embracing the present? What if it was finding what you love and holding on to it instead of chasing after what you think everyone else wants you to have?

We live in a society that tells us that 'happy' is the fruit that's out of our reach. It's that beautiful girl you dreamed about until she gave you her heart. Now she's part of your greed driven existence that seeks only what it doesn't have and you're already trying to bed your next conquest.

Think of the most beautiful moment you ever shared with someone and realize that you are the only one preventing every moment from having the same kind of beautiful impact. It's human nature to take everything that means so much as an aspiration and make it meaningless once we've got it. But what if we learned to look at things differently? What if we learned to appreciate everything with the same fervor every time we experienced it? Imagine how in love you'd be with your partner, how happy you'd be at your job, how unspeakably awesome everything you owned would be?

It's too easy to look at everything as obvious - the people we love, where we live, our jobs, our possessions - nothing is exempt from being made meaningless by the human mind. But here's the reality. We live on a sphere that's orbiting a massive burning ball of exploding gas at about 67,000 miles per hour. You're made up 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion give or take) atoms, and these atoms somehow all come together to form the blob of matter (that is you). If that's not weird enough, think about this - 99.9999999999999% of your 7 octillion atom existence is made up of space, void - nothing! You hang in a delicate balance of unfathomable complexity - anything could change at any moment.

55,000 people die every hour on this planet, yet we look at our sphere as secure, our friends as here forever, our families as eternal entities, but they're not and the truth is that every single person you know is going to die and you're going to die. The only thing you have is the gift to experience, and if you've decided to put a clause requiring a major landmark on your own happiness, most of your life is essentially a miserable occupancy of space. One day it'll be too late and you'll have regrets piling up that aren't ever going away.

Don't worry about where you are or what you have or even what you think you want. Take one step at a time and worry only about only this - who you are - who you really are. Find what you love, love what makes you happy - try giving instead of getting, try caring instead of hating. Remove the mindless distractions from your life and focus on the things and people that matter the most to you. Follow your heart to discover what makes you happy, never let go of it, never devalue anything that is beautiful, and build a life that lets you be yourself.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to Get a Keyboard or Digital Piano on a Payment Plan

No Credit Check Payment Plans on Keyboard Instruments
Having Bad Credit Won't Keep You From Financing a Digital Piano or Keyboard.
With the credit crunch in the US, it's never been more difficult to finance the things you want and need, keyboards and digital pianos are certainly no exception.

There are still some pretty amazing financing options out there that work for everyone though, in fact, they're so good that they may be alluring even if you have perfect credit.  While credit cards usually rack up interest, getting a musical instrument on a payment plan is often completely interest free.

While many music supply box stores have opted to go with big banks and only issue a store credit card, there are still some venues big enough to offer in-house-financing options.  I narrowed down the best in my previous article about no-credit-check music financing and found that zZounds offered the best options and features in their payment plans.

So if you need a digital piano, keyboard or synthesizer, don't let your credit stop you.  Get what you need right now and play it while you pay it off in convenient, interest free monthly installments.  You'll also have the comfort of knowing that zZounds guarantees the best price on everything they sell.  If you find a better deal anywhere else, they'll beat it.  They'll even honor sales that take place up to 45 days after you make your purchase.

To use zZounds' payment plan, you need a valid credit or debit card (not pre-paid) and an order totaling 249.00 - 3,000.00 USD.  Once you've added what you want to your cart, simply tick the 'I want to make 4 payments' option at checkout to apply financing.  zZounds also offers an 8 payment financing option, but for this, you'll need a credit check.

To get started, click on the big blue button below to visit the zZounds website.

Monday, June 16, 2014

How My Digital Cameras Have Evolved

Kodak C183, Kodak C340, Fujifilm HS20 EXR, Samsung NX 20,Kodak Z8612
From Kodak's C340 to Samsung NX20
I was recently looking through my digital photos on Flickr and realized from the EXIF information that I've had quite a few digital cameras since 2007.

I did some Googling to try and recall exactly what each of these had looked like and as the images came up, the memories surrounding these devices surged back into my conscious mind.

Image Demo Kodak C340
Lake Champlain, Plattsburgh, NY (Captured with Kodak C340, Photo © 2014 Benjamin F Sullivan)
The first camera I had used for Flickr uploads was the Kodak EasyShare C340.  I remember it seemed so modern and compact at the time I bought it, now it looks kind of like R2D2 from Star Wars.  It had a mere 5 mega pixel resolution (not bad at the time), captured a maximum video resolution of 640x480 (at a clunky 13 frames-per-second), and had a tiny CCD sensor.  Yet, I owe this funny looking little camera a lot. I had plenty of other traditional film cameras and a even few digitals before it, but for whatever reason, my love of photography just clicked with this one.

It was while using this camera that I realized there was a part of me that wanted to immortalize the ambiance of the moment.  I started to strategically plan my photography, watching for the perfect lighting conditions and analyzing my surroundings for artistic merit.  A foggy morning or a rainy day wasn't just something to take in from a distance anymore, it was a challenge to go out in search of the capture that would perfectly represent what I saw or felt, forever.

I started to play with shutter speeds and ISO settings and marvel at the different results I could get by adjusting them.

This little camera that once had a perfectly respectable retail price of 179.95, now sells on Amazon for a near insulting $15.  Just another piece of technology made irrelevant by progress - to me though, it will always have merit as the medium that I first discovered a passion through.

Image Sample Kodak Z8612
Mill Pond, Washburn, ME (Captured with Kodak Z8612, Photo © 2014 Benjamin F Sullivan)
Next was Kodak's Z8612 IS.  I remember I got it on sale. In fact, it was left over from an underwhelming Black Friday sale in Presque-Isle, Maine and had been marked down a second time for not selling during the event. It was in the last box on the promotion shelf. The original price tag was supposed to be $250.00 (I think) and I believe it was marked down to $150 and then to $80.  I gazed at the image on the box of the gleaming, German made Schneider Kreuznach lens, saw '8.1 Megapixels' Printed in bold font and couldn't resist.

As much as C340 brought me into photography, the Z8612 model solidified it.  Now I wasn't just some guy with a camera looking for a great shot, I felt like a photographer.  Taking shots inside without using a flash was no obstacle for my 35mm German lens and 1/2.5' optical sensor.  Even the 640 x 480 video resolution now captured at a smooth 30fps.

Sadly, my time with Z8612 was cut short.  The camera met a tragic end in the back seat of my car where it was dismantled by my two-year-old daughter.

Image Sample Kodak C183
Fargo, North Dakota (Captured with Kodak C183, Photo © 2014 Benjamin F Sullivan)
Even at 14 megapixels, Kodak C183 and it's 1/2.3' sensor felt like a downgrade.  By this time, Kodak was phasing out it's line of digital cameras and was focusing on low cost point-and-shoot models.

I bought this shortly after moving to North Dakota to accept a position at Microsoft.  Though I wasn't in love with this model at the time, in retrospect, the photos were markedly crisper than the previous two cameras.

With C183 I Captured my my initial impression of the Midwest.

Image Sample S290
(Broadway Street, Fargo, Captured with Fujifilm S290, Photo © 2014 Benjamin F Sullivan)
The Fujifilm S290 was also a 14 megapixel camera, but it more felt official than the Kodak I had before it. It was heavier, it had a rubberized grip and the manual settings were more readily accessible.  The sensor in this camera was ironically a 1/2.3' CCD (the same sensor used in my C183 and even smaller than my C340).

Image Sample Samsung HS20 EXR
Little Yellowstone, North Dakota (Captured by Fujifilm HS20 EXR, Photo © 2014 Benjamin F Sullivan)
The Fujifilm HS20 EXR was a landmark for me.  It was the first truly semi-pro level camera I had owned.

The heavy body and manual zoom made it feel more substantial and authentic, but it's tiny 1/2' EXR CMOS sensor was definitely outflanked by the large super-zoom lens.

This camera went through a lot with me.  It saw me through the loss of my four-month-old son and captured the only memories I have of him, it saw me through a divorce, and my transition into single parenthood.

Perhaps this camera only served as a stepping stone to my NX20.  The color rendering wasn't terribly accurate and some images seem a bit bleached, but this camera and I went many places and captured a lot together.

Image Sample Samsung NX20
Island Park, Fargo, North Dakota (Captured by Samsung NX20, Photo © 2014 Benjamin F Sullivan)
In February of 2012, Tore Thiis Fjeld (a pro photographer from Norway that I had come to know through Flickr) encouraged me to get a Samsung NX210.  Tore actually uses NX210 as an additional camera to his Nikon D800 and was taking some incredible shots with it at the time.  I decided go with Samsung NX20, which is basically the NX210 in a different style body with a built-in viewfinder.

I've been very happy with this 21.3 megapixel interchangeable-lens camera.  It's large 23.8' CMOS optical sensor captures everything in crisp colorful detail and all my photos are true to life.

Funny, but in some way, despite all this obvious technological improvement, I think some part of me misses the simple feelings of discovery and fascination that I had back in the Kodak C340 days.