Sunday, February 24, 2008

Not Normal

I do not understand why Nikon do not make a 33.3mm lens.

Since the popularity of three-fourths sensors on semi-pro DSLRs, you would have thought someone would make a 'normal' lens for that sensor size, but no ...... the closest I could find is the 30mm lens by Sigma, which I have and like very much (but it is not quite normal).

I dunno, maybe I an being getting overly nerdy here ...... but all the advice about starting SLR photography says, don't use a zoom, use a normal lens first, learn to move not zoom, learn what that lens can do before moving on.

My understanding is that it is called 'normal' as it has the same perspective as human vision, making it appear very natural.

A normal lens on a full-size sensor or film camera is 50mm. You get many lovely, high maximum aperture, cheap lenses of that size. A normal lens on my Nikon D80, which has a sensor-size ratio of 1.5 would be 50/1.5 = 33.3mm, and no one seems to make one.

Zoom lenses are very convenient, I have one myself, I take it when I do not know what I am going to be photographing. Of course you could adjust the right zoom lens to be at 33mm, but you probably would not get such good results. Zoom lenses are always compromised in some way ....... at least ones in my price bracket. For instance the high aperture range of my 30mm Sigma (F1.4 to F16) opens creative low light possibilities that my zoom (F3.5/F5.6 to F22) could not.

So, do you have any suggestions?
Am I just being too nerdy about this?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Open Source VoIP

Amy Quinn (a distant relation, I wonder?) sent me this list of Open Source VoIP software : Wide Open VoIP: Top 50 Open Source VoIP Apps

Thanks Amy :-)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mobile PDF

At last I have found a reasonable PDF Reader on the iPod touch ..... and it was there all along .....

Unfortunately so far, all of the third-party PDF viewers for the iPod touch rather suck.
MobilePreview still in version 0.1 mentions reading pdfs as a "planned feature".
PDFViewer is too annoying to use, as it scales from the top-left of the document, not the centre of the screen and does not rotate.

The best solution I have found so far is to use MobileSafari, with the 'file://' patch applied.
I keep a folder of PDFs in ~/Media/PDF/ (which was where PDFViewer expected to find them), I copy them there using AppleFileProtocol, using AFPd (which also turns on Bonjour, nice).

MobileSafari is a far nicer PDF viewer than PDFViewer, but is less convenient because you cannot browse a directory.
What you can do though is to type in the URL to your PDF file, eg. file:///var/root/Media/PDF/TubeMap.pdf and when it loads, zoom into a representative part of the image and add it as a WebClip to your home screen.

Happy typing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Many updates from Apple over the last few days .....
A mixed bag really ......

I love the new Aperture 2 already, I am running it on an early low-end MacBook and it is really responsive. I was not able to get Aperture working here before.

The main disappointment so far is it still lacks the ability to write geolocation EXIF tags.
This means unless you add those tags before import, you've had it. What is worse, Aperture plugin and script writers cannot work around this omission as even the EXIF tag object in AppleScript is read-only.

Leopard 10.5.2 does not fix the things that I still miss from Tiger, like seeing WebDAV Shares in the Finder, missing SMS from AddressBook etc.. And Apple missed fixes for the various glitches to do with calendar entries in a CalDAV Server.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Linked In

I finally got linked in.
My friend Sena put me up to it.
He says he gets lots of work from it.
Let's see .......

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Getting Final

I never understood and definitely never used the final keyword in Java.

I saw it a lot in Giacomo's code, when we worked together on a project a few years ago. I was intrigued, but never really grokked it at the time.

I don't get to write a lot of Java, so when I recently got the opportunity to re-factor some code into a nice set of polymorphic classes I thought of looking at it again, and found this excellent article that helped me to understand it well enough to use it usefully in my code.

Friday, February 08, 2008

More Air

I was lying in the bath last night, listening to mucic streamed via wifi from my computer in my home-office, controlling it using RemoteBuddy on my iPod touch, thinking ..... Apple's AirTunes is such a great technology, why on earth do they not do more with it?

I was pretty organised back in 1985 when I re-wired my flat. There are speaker cables wired-in, running from the living room to the bedroom, office and dining room. That made a lot of sense when I only used my lovely old Quad 300 series Hi Fi, but these days, my music is on my computer in the office. The bath is one of those places where I really like to listen to music. I've been kicking myself for not wiring in speakers, but it would be really expensive to do now, I put fancy flooring down, I cannot get under the floor to lay new cables.

So I finally splashed out on a couple of AirPort Express. One in the living room to feed the wired HiFi, one in the bathroom to feed some old but good Yamaha powered speaker. Having to crank up the volume in another room, to be able to hear music in the bath used to really annoy my neighbours :)

So here Apple have this great tech, but what are they doing with it? One piece of hardware, not updated for may years (AirPort Express) and one piece of software that can send music to it (iTunes).

Rogue Ameoba, who make some great software for the Mac, like Audio Hijack, have a title called AirFoil. It allows any software's audio stream to be sent via AirTunes. In a recent update, they added Airfoil Speakers, a piece of software to turn any Mac into a player for AirTunes.

I think Apple should take note of this powerful idea (sorry RA). You see the problem with Airfoil Speakers is that it is not compatible with iTunes. Apple use some encryption in their hardware, that stops Rogue Ameoba from being able to fully simulate an AirPort Express.

Apple could solve this problem. Either open it and allow a "Made for AirTunes" programme develop like "Made for iPod", or just build AirTunes in at a System level (control speaker-sharing and audio destination in the Audio Sys Prefs).

Apple could make a whole new ecology of hardware and software for AirTunes.

Basically, any device with an audio out, and any device which has a library of music to play, should be able to play with AirTunes. Any device that can do both, should be able to play on another device, or play from another device.

A boom-box with built-in iPod docks and AirPort Express which runs on MacBook batteries would be a great start.
iPhones and Macs could play to it via Wifi. iPods without Wifi could play from the dock, or select another AirTunes client that the boom-box can see locally. Similarly now the latest AirPorts are coming with hard drives, why not add an amplifier and some iPod docks.

One of my favourite evening-with-friends activities, is playing music together, taking it in turn to play one track, it can be really good fun, specially with people who know their music. We used to do it with a couple of thousand vinyl LPs, then CDs, now MP3s. Do this with computing devices and you can makes games from the interaction.

Now that everybody is walking around with all of their music in their pocket, the next thing to sort out is how people can play their music to other people. Streaming is a great solution because it does not involve copyright-busting copying.

I hope you are listening Apple :-)