Fail Me Once, Shame on You; Fail Me Twice, Die

After having an brandless SD card (2 GB) fail my sister for the second time, I decided to give it the treatment. I killed it. But hey, let's turn this into a learning experience:

1. Never buy or accept brandless memory cards for your invaluable digital photographs.
2. So that's what it looks like... Unsurprisingly, its a Samsung inside.

Google Voice, Yay

I just got my Google Voice invitation late last night. I just set it up and was trying out the pretty cool automatic transcription feature for voicemail.

This is what I said:

Hey, this is a test of the Google Voice voicemail box. Good bye.

And this is what I got:

hey this is a test of the go over your sweet voicemail box alright

More Rain in the Forecast

Looking up the forecast for Hicksville on my iPhone, I was dismayed to see the following. There is more rain in the forecast. Boo...

This is turning out to be a really unproductive summer.

White-Naped Crane

I don't usually do this, and I probably shouldn't, but here's a side-by-side comparison of "White-Naped Crane." Photoshop can be amazing.

Before
After
Just in case you're interested, here's some information about this bird.

Unedited "Nikon" E-mail: Part Two

Back in May, I had posted an Unedited "Nikon" E-mail, which provided a new photographer some pointers. This time, I talk about color calibration and some lighting conditions.

1. Color Calibration

Getting in to color calibration is a whole other mess. You can't just compare it with what you see on the back of your camera's LCD. If you really want to get into the proper way of calibration (which is very expensive), keep in mind you'll need to to calibrate everything down the line, from your camera RAW output image file to your LCD monitor to other people's LCD monitor to your printer to Kodak's printer
service, etc.

What you see on your screen, once you touch it up perfectly, might not be what other people see on their screens at home. So my personal rule of thumb is that if it is for the web, color calibration isn't that important. (Even if you are perfect, other's people's monitors
probably aren't.) If you are printing it yourself, then you have to deal with other problems. You have display profiles and printer color
profiles, etc. It's complicated. I don't know how to do it all.

There are external USB color calibrators for your monitor ($70+, maybe) if you're interested. It takes the ambient light and adjusts
accordingly, but then, of course, the color of your photo is affected by how the screen or print is lit. (That's why real photo galleries
are very meticulous about controlling lighting and positioning, among other things.)

Doing it by eye might be okay, but it's no where near what it actually should be. Apple has a built in calibrator you can use by eye. You can adjust the colors and the levels of contrast, etc. I don't know about Windows. (You can't simply download color profiles because each
monitor is physically different and your individual room lighting conditions have other needs.)

These are at the low end of things:
http://spyder.datacolor.com/index_us.php
http://pantone.com/pages/pantone/pantone.aspx?ca=2 (the Huey)

2. Poor Lighting Conditions

Problems with the situation you described is very common, when the sky is overexposed and the subject is underexposed. Shooting on a
cloudy day is actually preferred because everything is lit evenly (for the most part). Sun actually messes things up. Clouds actually act as a natural light box. http://www.cheapshooter.com/2007/07/26/do-it-yourself-pvc-light-box/

The easiest way to counter your problem is to shoot at different times of day or on different days entirely. (Photography is about waiting
for the right moment, and not showing up at a place and expecting things to be perfect for you. But I understand.) Otherwise, there are
processes called tone mapping or HDR that you can look into. Basically (with a tripod), take multiple shots at different exposures. You can then merge them together in post-processing and manually adjust the the level of shadow and highlights you want. Because you have multiple exposures, you have more detail over the range. (In Lightroom, you can adjust the highlights and shadows of your photo otherwise. If an image is whited-out, you have lost detail at the high end, and if an image is too dark, you have lost detail at the low end. Use your histogram to help you judge. You can recover some of the detail in post, but if it's blown-out, there is no information for you to recover. Very helpful to know and use: http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/guides/digital/histogram_101/

Another option you have are polarizers. They are considerably expensive for such a small piece of glass. For example,
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-lens-filters.htm

P.S. I'd advise against shooting in "Green" Mode (aka Automatic) because then you wouldn't get a feel for the mechanics of photography. Plus, once you're good enough, you wouldn't want to shoot green anymore. Otherwise, you're basically buying a DSLR for the bigger sensor (which does deliver sharper images with more detail), but you're still treating it as a point-and-shoot camera.

P.P.S. You don't want to be using flash ever unless you have a reason to. I see plenty of people with their smaller cameras having the flash turned on trying to take a photo of, say, the full moon. The light from the flash sure as hell isn't going to reach the moon. Light from a flash also has a maximum "focal length" distance that they can reach. Light photography (strobist) is a totally different way of shooting. I really only use flash if it is an emergency or if I'm using it as a fill light to bring out the subject. My personal tip is use flash when you think you don't need it, and don't use it when you think you do. For example, a flash late summer afternoon at the park can help bring out the face of a subject, and flashing when you are shooting fireworks just isn't going to cut it. Do you see what I mean?

Cornell LDAP on iPhone 3.0

My friends, now that iPhone OS 3.0 is out, we now have LDAP support for the iPhone and iPod touch. We can search the Cornell Directory on the go. How exciting.

First, go to "Mail, Contacts, Calendars" in your Settings application. Add Account. Other. Under Contacts, select "Add LDAP Account".

The server name is going to be "directory.cornell.edu", and the description can be whatever you want to appear in your Contacts application. No user name or password is required. I didn't have luck with connecting via SSL. Continue the setup without SSL.

You can hit the Save button from here. Just in case though, the Search Settings at the bottom should be automatically filled out to be "o=cornell university,c=us". The Search Scope is "subtree". This is probably fine for most cases.

More Cornell LDAP instructions here.

Testing a search:

Snow Leopard Wallpaper

In case you didn't know, the Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard's default wallpaper was called Aurora. Now, it's called Leopard Aurora, and the new Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard's default wallpaper takes the name Aurora. Very creative, Apple.

Here, I submit to you, the Leopard and Snow Leopard wallpapers (for a 15" MBP). Click for full-size.



Very subtle changes, and nice vignetting.

Another thing I noticed... Quick Look can now open in full screen mode by holding OPTION + SPACEBAR. Pretty neat.

Hi-Speed Scrubbing

The coolest iPhone 3.0 update is the way scrubbing is improved in the iPod application. If you touch and hold the scrubber, you have the option of changing your scrubbing speed. It reads, "Slide your finger down to adjust the scrubbing rate."

Scrubbing the traditional way is dubbed "Hi-Speed Scrubbing". It proceeds down to "Half Speed Scrubbing" and "Quarter Speed Scrubbing" when the finger is near the middle of the screen. Finally, below that is "Fine Scrubbing".

Pretty awesome. And podcasts (and I'd imagine, audiobooks) now have a 30-second step back button as well.

(The Casino Royale soundtrack rocks.)

Pre-iPhone 3.0 Update

Once the iPhone 3.0 firmware update is released this Wednesday, I'd imagine a few of these iPhone apps will become obsolete or replaced. Back in December, I posted screenshots of my home screens. I'm going to do it here again.

This Week in AAPL and MSFT

Playing around with iPhone 3.0, I checked out the new Stocks app feature of landscape charts. Following E3 and WWDC, I found this interesting. You see the trend, but also note the stock price and scale.

AAPL:

MSFT:

Interesting iPhone Note

Upon an iPhone (or iPod touch) restore, it loads in the default applications from the previously saved backup first, then the web apps on the next blank page, and finally loads in the other applications from the first blank spot (even if it goes back to the first home screen) in alphabetical order.

Bronx Zoo Photos

This past weekend, Adrian, my sister and I went to the Bronx Zoo (so freaking far away).


This next photo alone makes the outing worth the long trip. I like how it turned out.

Apple WWDC 2009

This time around, I was not in front of the computer trying to furiously keep up with the three to five live-blogs open side-by-side on my screen. I was sitting in on a meeting for EGO/D's (Electric Generation Operations and Distribution) now-quarterly "roadshow" meeting. I only took glimpses of Gizmodo on my iPhone near the end of the meeting that talked about the typical "good-job this year, but sorry no bonuses" and other corporate pep talk in a time of recession.

At least my iPhone 3G 16 GB is not yet obsolete for another year. How kind of Apple!


Summary of WWDC announcements:

1. New iPhone 3GS, with hardware improvements, coming June 17th (my sister's birthday).

2. iPhone 3G 8 GB still available, now $99. iPhone 3GS at $199 for 16 GB and $299 for 32 GB.

3. Mac notebooks refreshed and their prices lowered. 13" MacBook becomes 13" MacBook Pro. Cheaper white plastic still exists.

4. Mac OS X 10.5.6 Snow Leopard coming in September.

5. Safari 4 available.

Mangatar

Apparently, this is a recently popularized trend (is this redundant?) in some circles.

I tried and came up with this.

I can't say that it looks like me, but then again, I'm not the one looking at myself all day. Plus, my self image can be (and probably is) inaccurate.

What do you think?

Like Making Profile Changes?

I saw this yesterday and found it very weird. Facebook could've worded it a little better, I think. It's like saying, I like the way you drink tea, or I like the fact that you wash your hands after using the restroom. What the hell ...

(This was in response to me updating my profile photo. Thanks, Hans.)

GM Going Broke

USA Today posted an article about GM's bankrupcy, which is expected to be announced later today. "Seven reasons GM is headed to bankruptcy." It is a good read.

Some of the problems were a result of terribly poor business sense. How unfortunate. How wasteful.