Will technology ever catch up?

Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Web: Create photo mosaics with Mosaickr – Lifehacker

Posted by cascadehush on January 17, 2007

Create photo mosaics with Mosaickr – Lifehacker:

Turn Flickr photos into a cool-looking mosaic (a big photo composed of lots of tiny photos) with mosaickr.


There’s no charge for the low-resolution version of your mosaic, but the high-res version will cost you 1.49 Euros (payable via PayPal).

Apart from seeming to be an interesting service, what is more interesting is that they are trying to monetise it with micro-payments per service. No doubt this is what web 2.5 will be about. Advertising can only go so far. Sooner or later people are going to have to pay something for their web services or lose them in a Web 1.0 style bang, as I’ve mentioned before.

Posted in Amusing, Internet, Opinion, Photography | Leave a Comment »


Posted by cascadehush on January 10, 2007

Here is a list of recent stories I have found noteworthy but don’t have the time to blog about specifically. Call this a bit of a trial-run; most of them are Lifehacker articles but next time I’ll try to mix it up a little.

Highlight overused phrases with the Cliché Finder – Lifehacker

The Cliché Finder leaves no stone unturned in the hunt for overused phrases in your writing.

Create smart sets in Flickr with SmartSetr – Lifehacker

Web site SmartSetr lets you create smart sets for your Flickr account based on predefined criteria, like tags, text, date taken, or date uploaded.

Download of the Day: Ophcrack Live CD – Lifehacker

The free, open source Ophcrack Live CD is a Windows account password cracking tool designed to help you recover lost Windows passwords.

Download of the Day: Docsvault (Windows) – Lifehacker

Windows only: Organize, manage, search and archive all your documents with Docsvault Home Edition. Reminiscent of the PaperPort document-management software that used to come with Visioneer scanners, Docsvault helps you organize saved and scanned documents using a simple cabinet/drawer-style filing system.

How to Change the World: The Art of Schmoozing

The key is to establish a relationship before you need it. And this is why I’d like to provide the art of schmoozing.

Web Worker Daily » Blog Archive 20 Different Ways to Manage Your To Dos «

How many ways are there to manage your task list? Almost as many as there are people with tasks to do.

Geek to Live: The command line comeback – Lifehacker

But I don’t use the command line, you say. Oh but you do! Let’s take a closer look at this surprising “circle of life” right back to the trusty old command line with some examples of CLI in modern personal computing.

Track your reading trends with Google Reader – Lifehacker

Google has added a Trends feature to Google Reader, allowing you to track your reading and subscription trends in Reader.

Boot Linux from a flash drive – Lifehacker

you can boot the Linux distro Knoppix right from your USB flash drive. A simple new tutorial shows you how.

Mac Switchers Tip: Remap the Home and End keys – Lifehacker

details on how to remap those keys to behave the way they do on other operating systems.

What Does 200 Calories Look Like?

Each of the photographs below represents 200 calories of the particular type of food; the images are sorted from low to high calorie density.

Free e-book teaches Ruby programming – Lifehacker

Mr. Neighborly’s Humble Little Ruby Book, a new e-book that teaches the basics and then some.

Posted in Freeware, General Knowledge, GTD, Links, OSX, Photography, Productivity, Software, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Photography: Pentax Optio W20 First Impressions

Posted by cascadehush on January 4, 2007

First thing you pull out of the Box after the warranty card is the “PC Connection Manual”. This must mean Personal Computer in the broader sense, because even though most of the instructions and software are for PC, it does contain ACDSee for both Windows and Mac.

As usual I ignore the bundled software.

Battery and Memory card
The camera has it’s own lithium battery and charger. As a nice surprise, the charger does not use a wall-wart. The battery did have just enough charge for me to setup the camera and take 3 shots, but one should really charge these things first anyway. The battery takes about 100 minutes to charge (their figure, but it seems about right) and the red light on the charger changes to green when it is done. Nifty!

The W20 takes SD cards, which is nice, since they are the best anyway for anything less than a DSLR. The camera supports SD HC, so large capacity cards should not be a problem.

Both the battery and the memory card are inserted by opening a hinged door on the base. Next to these you’ll also find the USB socket and a power socket. It is necessary for all these sockets to be hidden under this door because it allows for a single waterproof seal. It is not entirely convenient to have to have the door open whilst you are using the USB connection to transfer photos, but it is the price you pay for a waterproof camera.

Unlike my Canon S3 IS, digital zoom is on my default. Naturally I turned it off as soon as I got it out of the box. The camera has a 3x zoom which is surprisingly useful. Since my other camera is a superzoom, I had thought that a 3x zoom would not amount to much more than a rarely used gimmick. Quite the contrary. It provides great flexibility when framing shots.

In-Camera Sharpening
was not able to turn down the sharpening. I’m sure there is a way to do it but it seems odd that the menu option does not respond to any button presses. Zooming in on the Images, the default sharpening is conservative enough to prevent halos whilst still providing the sharpening effect. It also seems smart enough not to sharpen any noise. For any snapshotters this setting is a sensible default, and this really is a snapshotting camera.

Noise, Anti-Shake and ISO
Noise levels are about what I expected, maybe even a little better than I expected. The camera does not have and anti-shake system, but the auto-ISO mode works well to help alleviate blurring due to low light. You can specify how low an ISO mode is allowed, so you can avoid overly noisy shots. There is a special Anti-Blur picture mode which quickens up the shutter time and sets the auto-ISO mode to the widest range of settings (64 to 1600 ISO). It is probably better than nothing, but this is not to be confused with the types of image stabilization systems that Canon and Panasonic use.

Naturally the higher the ISO, the more noise, but a 400 ISO image had much less noise than the Canon S3 IS at that setting. In general I can say that leaving the camera to set the ISO with the range set to 64-400 is a good practice because it provides an excellent balance between possible blurring and noise. This is the range that the Auto Picture mode uses by default.

Green Mode, Auto Picture mode and the Flash
Initially I have been using Auto Picture mode, which offers a few more options than Green mode, the Pentax standard automatic mode. There is a green button dedicated to this function. So, if yo get totally stuck, or are new to photography, just ‘press the green button’ if anything goes wrong to revert to a setting that should work in most situations.

The camera has a habit of setting off the flash when the subject of the photo was way out of range. It’s a shame the camera isn’t smart enough to work this out, but for most people I guess it won’t matter anyway, except for wasting batteries. It is possible, however, to turn off the flash and still have the camera in ‘green mode’. It’s not hard to do (i.e. I didn’t have to read the manual to discover this).

Menu System
Speaking of turning off the flash, the camera has a nifty set of dual-purpose buttons. The 4 cursor buttons each have a clearly marked function associated with them when you are not in the settings menu and therefore don’t have any use for cursor buttons. There is a button for flash mode, timer/high speed mode, focusing mode (including macro) and picture mode.

Picture mode includes the usual setting like portrait and landscape plus some unusual ones like food and text. Personally I like taking pictures of things that I eat on special occasions, and I also take lots of pictures of signposts and tourist info boards. It will be interesting to see if these modes really make any difference.

Startup time is about a second, which is quite good. There is a high speed shot mode that unfortunately locks the display so you don’t have any idea what you are shooting. There is a delay if you want to switch between shooting mode and picture view mode, but it is not a long time.

First Impressions are good. The camera is a little heavier and bulkier that I would have liked, but this is down to the sturdy construction and waterproofing. As a camera you can take almost anywhere, startup quickly and take shots in a wide range of light conditions, it seems pretty good. I’ll write another review when I have had time to use it more extensively.

Posted in Photography | Leave a Comment »

links for 2007-01-01

Posted by cascadehush on January 1, 2007

Posted in Photography | Leave a Comment »

links for 2006-12-31

Posted by cascadehush on December 31, 2006

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Photography: Save Money with the Nikon D50 digital SLR

Posted by cascadehush on October 31, 2006

Save Money with the Nikon D50 digital SLR:

Overall, the Nikon D50 offers a lot of value for the money, and should be at least considered side-by-side with the newer D80 and other entry-level dSLR models.

Do you always need the latest and greatest, or will an older model at a run-out price offer better value? Especially one that has been well respected as the entry level dSLR.

This is especially worth considering when you consider that you can put any money saved towards better lenses.

I don’t have a dSLR yet myself, but I have considered whether a slightly older model may prove a cheeper way to break into this kind of photography.

Posted in Photography | Leave a Comment »

iPod: A video player? Forget it!

Posted by cascadehush on October 30, 2006

The iTunes+iPod software update has decided to mess with the aspect ratio of all the video files that I spent some considerable time and processor cycles re-coding. They worked fine before, filling the screen perfectly. Now I get a letterbox view with the picture all squashed up to fit and 2 black bars at the top and bottom wasting many precious pixels.

So I’m giving up on this. I always knew that the iPod would be stupid as a video player because if it’s severely limited range of supported video file formats. But I thought I could figure it out, I thought I had figured it out. I could probably buy some shareware to do it, but I just don’t think it’s a problem worth spending money on. I don’t think I should have to, just to be able to use the iPod for the purpose for which it was designed.

So, now my iPod will only being used for the purpose I originally intended, as a photo viewer and as an in-the-field memory card backup unit.

It’s better this way.

I already mentioned how fantastic the new iTunes/iPod software is for viewing photos organised in iPhoto.

Posted in iPod, OSX, Photography | Leave a Comment »

OSX: Using an iPhoto Library on a Removable disk

Posted by cascadehush on October 3, 2006

I have a Mac mini and an iBook. Neither have a large enough hard-drive to support a decent
size iPhoto library. In fact I had to stop using iPhoto when it became clear that my iBook was becoming unstable due to a lack of free disk-space. I almost gave up using the program altogether.

It was a time of deep reflection… I considered other photo management solutions. I considered writing my own. I considered using spotlight comments as a way to tag and rate photos. But at the back of my mind was the memory of how much I loved iPhoto, until the magic was destroyed by external practicalities.

But then I decided that I would store my iPhoto library on a USB hard-drive. I could buy an 80GB laptop drive, all just for photos. It would give me heaps of room to grow. If I needed more space I could replace that drive much easier than upgrading my iBook or Mac Mini.

iPhoto Buddy is a free library manager. I don’t have any need for multiple-libraries. However this program also makes it very easy to create a new iPhoto library or to tell OSX to load your iPhoto library to another disk. In fact, in order to get your library running on an external drive, first copy the iPhoto library folder to the external drive, then you only need to run the program once in order to point iPhoto to the external drive. From then on it will remember.

So now I can browse my library on my iBook and do some tagging and organising, or I can load it up on my Mac Mini, with my nice 20″ widescreen LCD, for a serious session of editing with Photoshop Elements.

Since I used a FAT32 partition to store the photos, I can also browse the photos on a PC. I don’t have iPhoto, but I can still navigate through the directories and view thumbnails in Windows XP, which is a lot better than having no-access at all.

Posted in OSX, Photography, Software | 3 Comments »

OSX: Sync your iPhoto library to your iPod

Posted by cascadehush on September 25, 2006

So Apple have trundled out another release of the idiosyncratic bloat-ware that is iTunes. Pardon me while I completely ignore it… oh, hang on…

You see I got the update by accident when I forgot to untick the relevant box on the Software Updates nag-bot. It would have all gone unnoticed, except that I wanted to delete the photos from my iPod to make way for some videos. There wasn’t much point wasting the space, the photo collection was a dis-organised mess of dupes.

You see, the only way to get photos onto the iPod was to point it to a directory full of photos. When I bought the iPod, silly me assumed that there would be integration with iPhoto. Nup, no-way. Idiotic Apple. So I pointed iTunes (version 6) to my iPhoto folder and it merrily went away, copying not just the proper images, but the thumbnails and the ‘undo’ copies as well. They were, after-all, image files underneath the folder I had pointed to.

Utterly useless.
(BTW, I will get to my point.)

But tonight, when I was looking, in iTunes 7, for the place to delete the photos, I found the sync photos with iPhoto page. Now I’m almost certain this feature was not there before. I went looking on Apple’s site, and on Google for some mention of this. I paged through the entire iPod + iTunes sub-site for a “what’s new” or some other mention of it. No mention at all. Not a one. Not even really any mention of storing photos on one’s iPod.

This, I think, is the only real interesting new feature for several versions. And now that my photos have finally copied across (it took about 3 hours to process and copy about 4000 5MP jpegs) I can say that it’s totally great. I can browse photos only by album, but who cares. It all syncs up, it works, no dupes. Fantastic!

(I bought this iPod specifically for storing photos, as an ‘in the field’ backup unit using the USB adapter and also to be a pocket photo album)

Posted in OSX, Photography, Rant, Software | 2 Comments »

Windows XP: Photoshop Elements 5

Posted by cascadehush on September 20, 2006

Adobe have announced Photoshop Elements 5 for Windows, and have listed the reasons to upgrade.

It would seem Adobe have run out of ideas and have decided to add a bunch of trivial features stolen (probably) from a bunch of also-rans which use them to mask their lack of true power.  The only actual useful feature that they mention is the addition of curves, but then there is a work-around for that if, like me, you are still stuck with choose to use version 3.

I can understand why Adobe are stuck though.  Even Elements 3 is a very capable program.  I imagine it does what 99% of hobby photographers need to do 99% of the time, so long as they are prepared to learn how to use it.  And Photoshop CS2 is a very, very expensive program.  I would love to have it, for the other 1% of times, but I just can’t justify that cost, even though I could afford it if I really wanted it.

So Adobe can’t make Photoshop Elements much better than it is without further canabalising their own market.  If they add any more actual, real, photo editing features, it will give more people less reason to pay the exorbitant premium that CS2 carries.

Maybe the product will be much more impressive when it ships.  It’s also possible that the marketing department have entirely missed the point and failed to highlight features which would actually be of use editing photos.  Perhaps Photoshop Elements is now going to be marketed to scrapbookers and turned into a kind of desktop publisher.

It seems that Photoshop Elements 3 will be with me for awhile yet.

(N.B. That the OSX version is often a version number behind.  Version 4 has only been out a few months.  It will likely be quite awhile before we see version 5 for OSX.)

Posted in Photography, Rant, Software, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »