Ensign marks tenth year of operation
FTLComm - Tisdale - Tuesday, May 20, 2008

To me it seems like only a year or two ago that I began putting together each day's edition of North Central Internet News (NCIN or Ensign) but in reality the fist edition of this project began on May 20 1998, a full ten years ago. The remarkable thing about this project is how little I feel I have learned. Each day I want very much to come up with something new and sometimes I do but mostly I fall back on things I have done which is not surprising because so much of our lives involves repeating those things that are familiar and sometime adding in something that are novel.

For 2004, 2005, 2006 and part of 2007 I was obsessed with trying to get more video content into the daily routine of this web site but discovered that the more video I produced the fewer days a week I was able to post new stuff. So since the fall of 2007 until now I have used video sparingly and gone back to using a few QuickTime VR panoramas to make things more interesting. As you are more than aware making things interesting is more of a need I have than for the readers and regular visitors to the site.

One feature of this site continues and is certain to remain a primary feature of the site is to emphasis the photograph. Of course what we call photography is really not photography at all but electronic imaging and in the ten years of Ensign's life we have seen the remarkable improvements in the everyday use of digital picture taking. The first pictures that appeared on this site were made with an Epson camera that was less than one megapixel the images used today for the first time came from a Kodak consumer camera, a EasyShare Z1285. In keeping with the basic principle maintained through the years this is not a high priced camera but the sort of camera that the readers of this web site would use. It has a 5X zoom lens and its CCD is 12 megapixels.

It surprises me to note that since all images presented on the web are reduced to a common 72 dots per inch image, those early pictures look pretty good today and that is of course because we kept the size of the image down. So far we have retired two Epsons, an HP and the trusty Canon video camera with its still camera capability has bit the dust or use and abuse. For the past two years I have relied upon a pretty pedestrian 4 megapixel Kodak and today I shot all of the pictures using the inexpensive Z1285. Well there is one exception. The image at the top of this page was shot with the new Z1285 for the background but the self portrait was done using the Apple iSight video conferencing camera that is part of the computer system.

As I look at the ten years of Ensign the computers used to generate the pages have only been three main ones. An unusual Macintosh Motorola began our journey then we went to the Apple G3 which served for most of the time with three monitors and then three and half years ago I began using a Macintosh G5 with four monitors. From time to time the pages have also been created on my wife's iMac, a Macintosh 61/66 and my wife's G5 iMac.

During the past few years I have been steering away from hard news and pictures that involve identifiable Tisdale people and the amount of political content has been reduced. Not because I have lost interest in political issues but because of the limitations of time and one of the site's major contributors Mario deSantis, is no longer generating the kind of academically sound and supported material, that I felt was necessary to produce credible stories for the reader. We still run a few political stories each week and hope to continue doing so.

One feature that is part of Ensign has become an interesting daily item and that is Kevin McIntyre's pick of the day. When he is able Kevin surveys the news both the oddities and those stories that seem to indicate a trend and they are mentioned on the front page of Ensign. Because so many news sources today produce material that vanishes from the net in a few days I have used PDFs to preserve these stories for you to refer to and recently began reproducing them in a permanent fashion.

The one thing that sustains this web site is the outstanding support and response from you the reader. The messages by e-mail of encouragement, the verbal comments by regular visitors and sometimes telephone calls and visits from readers around the world. Please keep on letting me know what you like and what you don't like and thanks so much to all of you who have spread the word and encouraged others to drop by this site on a regular basis.

In this tenth year of this project I will continue to post each week day but during the summer I will be taking a few holidays now and then and will only post a limited number of editions during July and part of August. I can not predict how many more years Ensign will exist all things have a natural life span of their own and Ensign is such an entity.

Timothy W. Shire

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This page is a story posted on Ensign, a daily web site offering a variety of material from scenic images, political commentary, information and news. This publication is the work of Faster Than Light Communications . If you would like to comment on this story or you wish to contact the editor of these sites please send us email.

Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
Box 1776, Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada, S0E 1T0
306 873 2004