Archive for December, 2009

There’s A Word For It

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

There’s a word, for people who, when given a choice, take the easier over the harder, regardless of any other consideration.  I’d look it up, but I’m just too lazy today.

Uncovertable TXTs?

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

A new kindle curiosity today.  I have some .txt files that an author put up on his website, of some of his classic short stories, for free.  I’ve been slowly kindleizing them, and ran into one today that Amazon’s online converter choked on.  Bringing the file up in UltraEdit showed nothing immediately obvious, so I try resaving as a UTF-8 only txt, still no joy.  Bring it up in MS-Word and save as a doc, and now everything is happy.  Someday when I have nothing better to do, I’ll start chopping up the original txt file, till I find the smallest subset that amazon will choke on, figure out what it doesn’t like.

More craptastic Kindle service from Amazon / resolved

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Just when you thought the issue was dead and buried, the less than stellar group in charge of Kindle support manages to make a mess all over again.  Seems that they are claiming they never received the damaged Kindle.  Unfortunately for them, I kept the UPS tracking number for both kindles I returned to them, and can verify that they indeed were successfully delivered.  Jeff Bezos, your staff is really making me regret my latest Kindle purchase.  Starting to think a Nook looks sexy, even with it’s silly touch screen.

UPDATE:  I dug up the UPS tracking numbers, which thankfully still work a month after the package got there, and they relented.  for now.  They seem dead set on making me regret convincing my family to go digital with me.

No Stairs

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

For any birthday I might have over, say the age of 70, if you want to get me something, make it a party location that doesn’t have any stairs.  I just left a birthday party for a 91 year old father of a friend.  It was going very well right up to the point where he fell down some stairs at the restaurant, and had to be taken to the hospital with a possible broken/twisted knee.  Here’s hoping he’s all right in the end.

Tetris Fail

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

You would think that all those hours spent on tetris would finally have found a practical application.

I got a new camera bag that has reconfigurable baffles, and I just can’t come up with an elegant arrangement of camera body and lenses.  I found one that I’m happy with from a functional standpoint, but aesthetically, it looks like ass, and I can’t help but feel like there is a ‘right’ way I could make it all this fit in the bag and look like it belonged that way.

All in all, a minor complaint compared to where I was with the first bag, which I hated with a passion.  Not the passion of a thousand suns or anything, more like 20-30 suns tops, a sub-standard mix of red, yellow, and a smattering of white dwarfs for flavor.

Tomorrow, I’ll head out to see how it works in the field.

They Shoot Hard Drives, Don’t They?

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I’ve been getting a blue-screen warning of hard drive failure about once a week, but the box kept soldiering on, so I put off swapping out the HD.  Last week, a new laptop HD was on my shopping list, but I forgot the list at home, and didn’t get one.

Tonight, it finally bit the permanent big one.  Lucky me, I had a spare laptop HD, so I just have to reinstall an OS and essential apps.  It is a little odd to be replacing a drive from 2005, with a drive from 2000….that made a noise if I turned it on it’s side.  eh, it’s not an important box.

New Camera (Nikon D90) for Christmas

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

My big self-gift for the year is my first proper Digital SLR.    Back in the long ago days, I had a film SLR, even got paid to take pictures with it for a while.

When digital came around, I held off on buying a decent camera, in hopes that they would eventually make replacement back-frames for my existing camera, so I could upgrade to digital without changing the basic hardware.  Well, despite some initial positive press, that market never seemed to come together.  In the meantime, I bought a series of mid-range digital point and shoot cameras that did a good enough job.  The last one was even waterproof, so I could take it everywhere.  But I missed the control and expandability of the SLR.

Tempted by Best Buy’s 18 months no interest deal, I finally settled on the Nikon D90.  I got a package deal, with a decent wide-to-zoom lens, and a proper zoom-to-super-zoom lens.  I haven’t had a chance yet to do any significant shooting with it, the size and weight are too much for any bag I’ve got currently, and the bag that came with the package, while fitting the body and two lenses inside, does so in an ungainly and annoying way.  You can’t store all the items in the bag if any lens is actually attached to the camera, and with my cat and his fur, I hate the idea of having to open and close the body up so often.

It’s odd, how much heavier and bulky the digital cameras are, versus the old school film SLR.

The coolest thing I’ve discovered about the camera so far is the depth of data it adds to the EXIF.  Amongst the many bits of data it records and stores with an image is something called “Focal Length In35mm Format”.

So tempted to get the little GPS dongle.

UPDATE:  Finally got word back from Nikon tech support, they are aware that months after Snow Leopard was released, they still don’t have a compatible version of their RAW format viewer program, ViewNX.  They do have it scheduled for release by the end of January 2010.   Strikes me as an annoyingly pathetic effort on their part, but then again, I noticed that some part of their program is still written in PowerPC code, and requires Rosetta installed to run.  Sounds like they really don’t give much attention to their software devs outside the camera.  I can only hope they show more care with the software inside the camera, though without a way to use the RAW images, it’s all an exercise in futility.  If you are thinking of buying a Nikon D90 for someone this year (who has a MAC, and Snow Leopard), don’t bother, they aren’t ready for you yet, and you will only annoy the person you give it to.

UPDATE2:  Major points against the Nikon tech support drone “David”, who failed to mention that Apple’s own photo programs have support for the NEF format used by the D90.  That’s the difference between quality support, who goes the extra 2 inches, not even a mile, to find a workaround, and the kind of crap support you get from Nikon, where they just want to find the quickest way to close out your question, regardless of how helpful the answer is to fixing the problem.  Another reason not to buy from Nikon this year.

Kindle Encryption Curiosity

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

There are now three Kindles in my family.  The original one, the 2nd Gen, and now the DX of infamy.

I’ve bought lots of for-fee books from Amazon for each one, converted a lot of Gutenberg-esque free texts for them, and “purchased” a bunch of the free books that Amazon offers as well.  Plus a half-year of subscribing to a fiction magazine.

Lots of content, all scattered about.  Turns out, more of it is capable of crossing devices than I would have suspected.  As someone who works with cryptography for a living, I always wondered about the security implied in the service Amazon supplies, to convert your personal documents into the kindle format.  I need not have worried on their behalf; they don’t encrypt your personal documents, only re-encapsulate them.  They give you a different target address for each device, even when you’ll just be downloading to PC, so I assumed they were doing some sort of differentiation in content sent back.   But when trying to play around with Kindle for PC, I had to set up a separate Amazon account, I discovered that not only were all the personal documents, regardless of target machine, openable by the different account-ed PC, so were all the free-from-amazon public domain books, and the magazine issues.

So, it turns out you can share kindle docs with other users, just not ones you paid for.  Seems oddly reasonable.