chris barr


2015 Photo Project – February In Review

Pine Mountain

February – Photo #4 -02/14/2015
Location: Top of Pine Mountain in Cartersville, GA.
Camera: Canon 7D w/ Canon 16-28mm 2.8L Lens.
Settings: Several photos taken with 1/200 second @ f/5, ISO 100, no flash. Stitched together in Photoshop.


February – Photo #5 – 02/15/2015
Subject: My wife, Kirstin
Camera: Canon 7D w/ Canon 16-28mm 2.8L Lens.
Settings: 1/640 second @ f/2.8, ISO 100, no flash.

Snow Day

February – Photo #6 – 02/24/2015
Camera: Canon 7D w/ Canon 50mm 1.8 Lens.
Settings: 1/320 second @ f/1.8, ISO 400, no flash.

2015 Photo Project – January In Review

You may recall that I’ve decided to take at least 1 photo per month for all of 2015, and the first month of 2015 has already passed us by.  So below are my best photos for the month along with some quick info about them.  Let me know what you think!  I’ve gotta start getting some ideas for February now…

Streaming By

January – Photo #1 -01/11/2015
Location: Cartersille, GA.
Camera: Canon 7D w/ Canon 16-28mm 2.8L Lens
Settings: 145 seconds at f/22, ISO 100, no flash.

Foggy Midtown Morning

January – Photo #2 -01/13/2015
Location: Midtown Atlanta, GA. 8th floor of the Regions bank building.
Camera: Canon 7D w/ Canon 16-28mm 2.8L Lens.
Settings: 120 seconds at f/22, ISO 100, no flash.

Disappearing Into The Sky

January – Photo #3 -01/13/2015
Location: Midtown Atlanta, GA.
Camera: iPhone 6, edited with Mextures app.

User Psychology Presentation

I work as a UI designer/developer for AppRiver, and every week someone presents what we call a Ten Minute Topic (TMT) to the entire development department.  A few weeks ago I presented a very non-technical presentation about user psychology, mostly dealing with how we as website developers & designers can make websites work better for the people who use it. We can do this by better understanding how the human mind works, and knowing what the person using the website is expecting to happen.

We record these presentations internally so we can watch them later in case anyone needs a refresher or if anyone missed a week.  A fellow coworker, Shane Drye, has written a blog post summarizing the main points of my presentation, and you can even watch the video of my presentation!

Check it out here: AppRiver DevBlog: “Ten Minute Topic Review: User Psychology”

Set Goals, Not Resolutions

“What are your resolutions for next year?” – a question we all hear every year near the border between December and January.  Often we don’t give this much thought and any resolutions we do make we don’t take too seriously, usually forgetting about them within a few months.  Instead of general “do _____ more” type of resolutions, I’ve found more satisfaction and success in setting specific achievable goals instead.  The problem with a resolution like “lose weight” or “blog more” is that these aren’t specific enough, you can’t point to a date on a calendar when it was accomplished. If you lose just one pound or 50 pounds you’ve technically fulfilled that resolution, and if you’ve got 50 pounds of weight to lose then chances are that the 1 pound loss isn’t going to feel like much of an accomplishment. Each goal you set should have a specific end point that can be reached.

I’ve tried this for the last two years, although at the time I didn’t fully stick to my suggestion above.  I wrote my goals down in my phone so I always had the list with me and I could check them off throughout the year. Writing them down in some form is absolutely key, otherwise they only exist in your mind and you have no accountability to actually accomplish them.

See? Even Dave Ramsey says so! Let’s break down each of my goals for the past 2 years and the results.

2013 Goals

Screenshot of my 2013 Goals

  • Bench Press 100% body weight – I was able to do this once, but I was hoping to do 10 reps. So, it actually was accomplished, but I was being strict by not checking it off. Meh.
  • Run a 10K – I had hoped to run an official 10K race, but it got rained out. Before the event I had run a 10K (6.2 miles) at home on my own to prepare for the official one. So this goal was also technically met, but not in the way I originally wanted.
  • Work on more code projects at home – This is hard to point to specifically, but I did work on more code stuff at home. Most notably was my LyricConverter project! This goal should have been defined more clearly.
  • Get Engaged – My then-girlfriend and I took a trip to Savannah Georgia in July, and I proposed on top of a lighthouse on July 15th!
  • Re-launch Personal Website – This website was feeling a little neglected, and since my full time job is as a web developer/designer it really looked bad on my part. So I worked hard and got this site launched in February.

All in all not perfect, but my 2013 goals were a success!

2014 Goals

Screenshot of my 2014 Goals

  • Deadlift 300lb. – Sometime in November I deadlifted 295lb. but failed at an attempt for 300lb. I had plenty of time to make another attempt, but I actually didn’t accomplish this until January 2 of 2015! I had every intention of doing it, but time just slipped away… totally my fault. But on January the 2nd of this year I was able to lift 305lb. and I was happy. Goal met, but slightly late.
  • Greatly reduce debt – This goal wasn’t defined very well, but in November I was able to make the final payment on my car that I bought in 2012. Hooray, for less debt!
  • CrossFit “Fran” in under 9:30 – When I joined CrossFit in 2013 I did the Fran workout, but I was dissatisfied with my time which was over 10 minutes. So I set a goal to finish Fran in under 9:30, which I did on December 26th with a time of 7:39! Huge improvement!
  • Get Married – I proposed in 2013, and in 2014 I got married on July the 19th!
  • Run a 10K – On March 29th I was able to run a real 10K (6.2 miles) at the same event that was rained out in 2013. I ran it side-by-side with my then-fiancé and my final time was 1:02:30.

2015 Goals

A new year is upon us, and now I’m married so it’s not just my goals to keep track of any more!  I sat down with my wife and we each set some goals for ourselves individually, and we set some for ourselves as a couple.  To ensure that we don’t forget about them, I put something together in Photoshop, printed it out, and framed it.  We’re going to keep our goals displayed where we can see them every day, and check them off as we complete them.

There’s a lot listed on it so I don’t want to get into the details all of them. However, here’s a brief overview of the goal subjects: we each have a few personal weightlifting & fitness goals, we want to take a nice vacation, plan for the future, and reduce our car & student loan debt by about 50%.

I also have a personal goal of taking 1 quality photo every month.  In 2010 I took a photo a day for the entire year (Read my summary of the project here, and you can see all 365 photos here.) While that was successful it was incredibly stressful and not something I want to repeat. Coming up with a minimum of 1 photo every 30 days is a lot less pressure and it allows me to still pursue my photography, but focus on quality instead of quantity.  I’ll be posting my 2015 photos here as I take them!

At the end of 2015 I truly hope that I can write another blog post showing every item on our goal list checked off.  Here we go!

Light(n)ing In A Bottle

A few weeks ago I decided to finally photo-document a step-by-step process I’ve been working on for a few years now for how to drill a hole into a glass bottle and get an entire strand of Christmas lights inside it.  As seen above, it look pretty cool and these can make for pretty great decorations around your home, or if you’re feeling generous they’re not-too-shabby gifts either.

I made this as an Imgur Album and submitted it to Reddit (my most popular submission to date!), but I hardly post enough content on my blog and I’ve not seen this type of thing documented well elsewhere, so…

Here’s Everything We’ll Need

We will need some pretty bottles, LED Christmas lights, a drill, spear drill bits for drilling glass, and a container of some kind that can hold water.

Up first, a Bombay Sapphire gin bottle

Submerge it

Put the bottle in the container and fill it up with water so it comes over the side you plan on drilling. Make sure the bottle fills up to or else it will probably float. We need to drill this underwater so that we don’t have glass dust going everywhere, we don’t want to breath that or clean it up!

Glass drilling drill bits

These are a must. You can’t drill a hole in glass with normal drill bits. I’ll start with the 3/8 inch bit, it’s the larger on on the right half here.

Let the drilling begin!

Make sure everything is underwater, and drill slowly. Don’t go too fast or press down too hard or else you might shatter or crash the bottle. On this bottle I have a nice flat surface and the glass is thick, but on something like a wine bottle that is a bit thinner and has a curved surface, it’s much more difficult to drill and more likely to break (trust me…)

A hole!

Start with a small bit, and we get a very small pinhole. Stop when air bubble come through.

Time for a bigger bit!

Now we switch to a different kind of glass drilling bit. It’s about the same width, but now we can make a slightly larger hole. That’s the key with this, make a small hole and gradually make it larger.

Slightly larger…

After stepping up the drill bit size a few times, we have this

Bring out the big guns

Time for the biggest glass drilling bit I could find. This ons is 3/4 inch, which makes a large enough hole to put stuff in it!

We begin…

We might have to start at an angle at first…

Now we have a 3/4″ hole!

The edges might be a little rough, but if you drilled slowly and didn’t press too hard then it should be mostly smooth. You can use the drill bits at an angle to help smooth out anything that needs it.

A nice clean hole

Time for another bottle

I did another bottle, and now a standard wine bottle.


Still Drillin’

Notice how cloudy the water is? That’s the glass from 2 previous bottles. That’s all the glass that we are NOT breathing in!

3 bottles with holes!


Dispose of the glass water

Glass particles in your sink are probably not the best thing for it, so I say pour this outside. Pour it slowly so the larger glass particles stay in.


Here’s all the remaining glass bits. Clean these out with lots of paper towels or something so you don’t cut yourself!

Stuff those lights

Now, take some LED Christmas lights and stuff them into the hole we made. Be sure to choose LED lights instead of traditional incandescent bulbs because they don’t produce heat inside the bottle and they are brighter & easier it see through the colored glass. The strand I got for this bottle was 50 lights, which seems about right for this size of bottle. 50-100 lights is probably good for a normal sized wine bottle, but 100 is a lot and it will get TIGHT! 75 is probably a better number to shoot for, but idk if they make lights in that amount.

Keep stuffing

This strand of lights has a plug on both end for connecting multiple strands. We can’t fit that through the hole, so we can either clip it off and put electrical tape over the wires, or just leave it hanging out like this.


Every now and then it might feel like you can’t stuff any more in there, and thats when you need a trusty coat hanger. Make it into a hook and pull the wires around to make more space near the hole for stuffing more lights.

All done!

They all fit!

Our first bottle finished!

200 lights!

The Bombay Sapphire gin bottle is a lot bigger, and I bought this strand of lights last year and I’m ready to put it to use… so hopefully I can fit all 200 lights in here.

Lap-full of lights

So. Many. Lights.

Keep going

This one was just about too many lights, it got really difficult to stuff them all in, but it all eventually worked in the end with enough coat hangar work.

The finished products!

I’m happy with the results. All of these contain white LED lights, and the colored glass really makes a difference on each one. I’ve found myself in the wine/liquor aisle buying things purely based on the cool bottles after I’ve started doing this…

Daisy Chain!

Since we have both ends of the plug on each bottle, we can plug them all into each other, or even plug something else into it. Handy.

Kitty approves

Actually he doesn’t care at all.