So what is halfpress?

NOTE: This is the original “about” from I’m replacing it with the blog update, but leaving this for “historical” purposes…

Half-Press, halfpress, 1/2press?

Eh… doesn’t much matter how you write it, I guess. I tend to find halfpress to be the easiest one to type out of the bunch. (,, and will all get you here, by the way.)

What is it, though? It’s my personal, relatively photo-centric blog.

Why should you care? No reason, really… unless you’re a friend, a family member or just happen to be interested in any of the things I might write about, rant about, photograph or otherwise toss out for the world to see. It’s all about thinking out loud, sharing information and, from time to time, accidentally creating something that might prove useful (or serve as a warning) to others. 😉

I guess it’s about time I finally made a personal site on the web considering I’ve been ass-deep in Internet-centric resources (bandwidth and Unix servers galore) for much of my life due to my profession. While I’ve put quite a few topic-specific sites on the net for one reason or another over the years (my MAME’d Millipede project and political blog, for instance), I just never got around to creating a personal site that I felt I’d be inclined to maintain in the long run.

A little background…

For the last twelve years I’ve worked for Sweet Briar College as the Director of Network Services. Despite the somewhat specific, administrative sound of my title, my actual role is pretty broad and quite to my liking: network and infrastructure geek. 🙂
I’m kind of the hands-on “guy behind the scenes” dealing with most of the servers, the physical network, security, and anything related that beeps, blinks or relies on the flow of electrons to do its job. I’m one member of a pretty decent sized team (considering our relatively small size as far as colleges go) that handles everything related to computing on the campus.

My job keeps me knee-deep in Linux (my workhorse OS of choice), the usual Cisco routers, switches, DS1 and DS3 circuits, copper, fiber, wireless devices, a fair amount of programming (it’s all about the Python, baby!), and a great deal of freedom to explore new technologies that might help chart our digital course as an institution.

In the last year or so, I’ve also starting doing a tremendous amount of contract photography for the college as well as outside groups, have become editor and animator of a growing Art History podcast (iPod / HD feeds), and am dabbling far more seriously now in the 3D world that has fascinated me since I was a kid (check out Modo if you haven’t already).

Small colleges tend to be fascinating, diverse little worlds unto themselves with a strong sense of community. This is especially true when they are fairly rural, as is the case with Sweet Briar here in central Virginia. Fairly conservative Lynchburg is ten minutes to the south, comparatively (and refreshingly) liberal Charlottesville (home of UVA) is 45 minutes to the north and the rest of the world mere milliseconds away via the Internet. Throw in beautiful, mountainous geography, a lot of historical significance (heavy on all things Jefferson) and you’ve got a general sense of where I live.


The urge to create this blog stems from recognizing that the overlap of my professional skills, work environment, social scene and various hobbies generate a lot of thoughts, anecdotes and experiences that I’m increasingly keen to share. Oh… and photos. Lots and lots of photos. 🙂

A few years ago, a person in my line of work might be able to say that one of their non-computing related hobbies was photography. No more. Today, photography is so heavily dominated by ever-improving digital technology that photographers are rapidly becoming computer geeks and computer geeks are finding it less of a stretch to become accomplished photographers.
I’m speaking purely from a technical perspective in that last statement, of course. The real joy (and success) in photography lies in the creative outlet it provides, not to mention the challenges involving timing, precision, resourcefulness and myriad other skills. Luck is a big factor, too.

Of course, having a passion for photography is made all the more fun by sharing your creations with others. Being both a computer geek with resources and a photography addict leads to the inevitable: using your blog to share your photos and using your photos (and photography-related experiences) as a topic upon which to blog.

So, getting back to the point of this relatively pointless ramble…

What is a “half-press” and why use it as a domain name for a blog? There are a few answers to that question.

Since photography is something I enjoy immensely and it was going to be a key focus of the blog, I decided to seek a name that was, at the very least, suggestive of photography and could have some possible double meanings in other contexts.

A sidenote regarding domain names:

If you ever want to experience the equivalent of slamming your head in the car door repeatedly but wish to forego the cranial hemorrhaging, try to register a clever (or simply descriptive) domain name. Be sure to look for something related to a specific, popular topic (like, say, photography). Start with the obvious words and then make it increasingly obscure with your repeated failures. Yep, even the obscure ones are taken. So are the VERY obscure ones.

Rest assured, pretty much anything you really like is already registered. Be sure to also look to see how many of them are legitimately in use versus the number of names being held by opportunistic squatters. They paid the $7.95 you should be paying in hopes that the name is important enough to you to cough up what amounts to ransom ranging from hundreds to, literally, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The website at the name you want, if owned by a squatter, won’t have any useful content. It’ll most likely just be a self-promoting advertisement letting you know that somebody beat you to the punch… but not to be creative, helpful, or informative. No, they just got “firsties”. “Beat ya to it! Want it? It’s gonna cost ya!”

Go ahead and bang your head randomly on the keyboard and submit the resulting gibberish. Yeah, it’s probably already registered, too.

Bottom feeding bastards. Ask me sometime how I feel about spammers, by the way.

Halfpress came to me after, literally, days of playing this game. I don’t know whether it wasn’t taken already due to some cosmic accident or because it’s just freakin’ stupid enough that nobody else wanted it. The more I pondered it, though, the more I liked it.

The name rolls off the tongue in the same manner as other sites I admire, like Slashdot.

It has relevance to photography. A “half-press” is what you do with the shutter button on most cameras to lock the exposure, focus, or both while composing a shot. The half-press is a significant step in the composition process (psychologically and physically) that usually comes in the final moments before you turn a living, possibly fast-moving scene into a frozen, timeless photograph. There is something about that moment in time that I find intriguing.

On a slightly more obscure note, “half press” is something of a play on words related to the blogging world in general. I take this view particularly from my involvement (however limited) with blogging politics. The constant debate over the role and “legitimacy” of bloggers in the journalistic and media world is pretty intense. Some of it relates to a collision of communities (one established, one emerging) as well as real issues concerning ethics and bias.

Assuming (which I do) blogging is at least halfway legitimate in a journalstic sense, “half press” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to its stature in comparison to the established “real” press.

Maybe that bit of “cleverness” is exceedingly corny or obscure, but I personally find it amusing nonetheless. Your mileage may vary. 🙂

Whatever the case, I’ll be working to make this blog my home on the Internet and I hope others find it useful, entertaining, or at least worth the bandwidth it takes to give it a casual poke with a virtual stick from time to time.


Aaron Mahler

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