Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tech honey Natali Del Conte compares Pre to iPhone

Great little short comparison of the Pre vs iPhone from tech honey, Natali Del Conte -an admitted iPhonophile, whom has broken/lost 7 iPhones, and still keeps buying them. Only my sister is more destructive to electronic devices.

Of note from the video, I'm kinda amazed that the Pre battery is so superior, or rather the iPhone battery is so poor.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hadley Should Be Called "Not Too Hardley"

Hadley is listed as an "easy" family hike in many guide books, sure Hadley is a mere 2 miles, but it's steep. Vertically steep? No, actually not a single section of the trail can be categorized as a scramble., You never have to use your hands but it is constantly steep with an average 7% grade over the 2 miles.

Is it hard? Not at all, the footing is excellent for the most part on the ascent, but the descent can be a bit slippery in bad weather. Hadley is one of those deceptively more difficult peaks being  a 2600 foot peak that gains 1500 feet en route to the summit. Of course that can be said about many of the hikes in the northeast where trail heads can start out as low as sea level and climb as high as 6000ft.

Caney and I headed up to Hadley via route 9 by way of Wilton off the Northway, which much to my dismay is only 34 miles. Yes folks, Hadley is closer than Glens Falls, which means I was driving excessively far to get there. Probably 10 more miles going through Glens Falls. Going to short route sometimes takes longer, but aside from the annoying speed zones, it was actually a fast drive.

We got on the trail at 7pm sharp and hauled up the summit in some rain showers, I was hoping the weather would be much like it had been all week a mix of nasty storms and clearing blue skies. Great rainbow weather, and great weather potential for a great sunset. We did the 2 miles and 1500ft in 50 minutes.

Under the summer tree canopy unless the rain is constant and hard you really don't tend to get very wet. When we reached the summit at 7:50pm it had mostly stopped raining, and was just very lightly drizzling. I pulled my camera gear out of my LowePro Primus AW, which several months after buying it remains the best photo bag I have ever owned.

I set up my panoramic head, leveled everything and set my K10D to f/9 at 1/4th second, ISO 100, using a cable release and 2 second MLU. The resulting image is about 65MP at full size, from eight 10MP images.

We retreated off the summit after watching the beautiful lightening show in the distance, that eventually was overhead striking the fire tower (luckily we were already off the summit). The hike down took slightly longer than the trip up, and was a lot more wet.

Despite the weather it was a beautiful day in the mountains.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Palm Pre vs. iPhone 3G vs iPhone 3GS Speed Test

Since I turn my phone off about NEVER...and I reset it about NEVER the first test is irrelevant, but please do revel in it. In 3 weeks my Palm Pre has been reset once, when I turn it off I go to airplane mode, which kills 95% of battery drain and means I still have access to the media/pda functions and instant network access with a press of a button. I'm happy to concede the turn on time (which by the way, is sometimes a minute, sometimes 30 seconds hers was weird at almost 2 minutes, maybe it was earlier firmware). However, I do browse the web all the time, and I do send emails/photos/SMS all the time. An extra 15 seconds per web page, and 15 seconds per email would add up fast.

By the way, ATTs network is famed out west for being superior to it's east coast version, San Francisco is not a small market hill town, if ATT doesn't have Sprints coverage in San Fran why would I think it covers podunk any better? Service is key to a phone like this being fully functional, without it the phone becomes a fancy flashy brick.

I love superior products in both interface and speed! Also love the superior Sprint network.

I love Pre-edom

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Momma Eastman Don't Take My Kodachrome Away

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the worlds a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama dont take my kodachrome away
-Paul Simon

A lot of people, without ever using a roll of Kodachrome, are going to be blogging about the demise of another film emulsion. Either they'll be happy (for unknown reasons, but most likely because they revel in the potential for film to be extinct, and have an excuse to write a bunch of nonsense), or terribly saddened and terrified that THIS is the death of film, as their iconic favorite emulsion bites the dust.

I sort of grew up on Kodachrome. By that I mean I shot that most often early on, and essentially learned photography on it. I never liked Velvia because it was too "punchy" with all the colors from the vibrant section of the crayola box. I also loved the etched in glass look of a K64 slide versus the E6 emulsions which are vibrant and beautiful on a light box but lack that etched look. Beyond that, Kodachrome is lauded for it's archival qualities, which are significantly better than other film emulsions.

The first roll of slide film I ever shot was Kodachrome 64, and I shot many rolls of that emulsion along with an occasional roll of K200. It was easy for me to expose, and seemed to do much better for me under varied lighting than Velvia, which had very precise needs for proper exposure. You can't shoot people with Velvia, you can't shoot in contrasty lighting, and Velvia was really an ISO 40 film rather than a 50.

Kodachrome 64 and 200 were very fine grained, high resolution films with a natural color palette. They could shoot people, wildlife and landscapes all on the same roll. The processing was more tightly controlled than other professional slide emulsions because Kodachrome was a K14 process. Pushing Kodachrome 64 to EI100 yielded very good results with no real loss of quality.

The K14 process which most likely created that "etched in glass look" is what in my opinion killed Kodachrome. In the late 1990s there were at least a handful of labs in the US that processed K14, film was also processed at Kodak in Rochester. I believe my K64 and K200 was sent out to NJ for processing. Then one by one the labs dried up across the world. At first it was just a matter of sending it to a different region. If you were in Europe your Swiss K14 lab might now be in Germany, and in the US you might send it to NJ from Mississippi, but it was still easy enough. Then one day it was just Dwayne's in Kansas for the entire world. Yes, 1 lab in the entire world to process K14 films. Since Kodak was the only manufacturer that I know of to use the K14 process, it meant there was a small market for it, unlike E6 slide films which had many films and could support more labs.

Imagine shooting Kodachrome 64 religiously and having to pay $25 to ship it each way to Dwayne's from Europe? You are out $50 before the film cost and the processing cost. Only the most loyal Kodachrome shooter is going to go through that expense and hassle for the love of an emulsion.

Once I realized I was at the mercy of a single lab to process my film, and also realized Kodachrome emulsions were at best OK, and at worst poorly designed for scanning and no longer fit into my hybrid film/digital work flow, I decided to find a new emulsion. That emulsion was Fuji Provia 100F. Provia is another well rounded film that was designed with the hybrid "shoot to scan" photographer like myself in mind. Provia is a beautiful film, and better for my needs, but Kodachrome K14 films are still something that has never been reproduced when directly printed from or viewed on a light box. Provia on the other hand can be processed at home, or any lab that does standard E6 processing. If you get a good lab, your results should be as consistent as Kodachrome, although probably not as archival.

Despite some of the rampant complaining on these internets, Kodak didn't kill Kodachrome, why would it? Kodak wants to sell film and sell a lot of it. Sure Kodak makes digital camera sensors, and digital photo frames, and Kodak is a world leader in all sorts of imaging technology from medical, to document scanning, to the technologies that aren't even main stream yet (think OLED among many others), but film and paper are still the core of Kodak's name, and it's business.

There is still a strong market for film, but it's a reduced market fueled by enthusiast and disgruntled digital shooters. Film isn't the must have of a few decades ago, it's now largely a niche market. If a product isn't pulling it's weight, it needs to be discontinued for the financial health of the company. The bottom line is Kodak could go down with Kodachrome or cut the dead weight and produce films that it can sell.

Kodak, in my opinion, has never caught up to Fuji since Fuji released Velvia and changed the color film game. Part of Kodak's problem (again in my opinion) is it tried and tried to reproduce Velvia but never could prove it had an emulsion that was better, and thus had no stability in it's film lineup. One Kodak film after another challenged Velvia, but none were Velvia, even Fuji couldn't reproduce Velvia and eventually had to reintroduce it's discontinued Velvia. However, Kodak has produced many fine films before, and most importantly after it went from #1 to #2 in the race for the best emulsions. Kodak films have gotten better at being scanned, and improved in resolution and tonality. Over the last few years Kodak has released several entirely new or reformulated films.

So 6 months shy of Kodachromes 75th anniversary it's been announced Kodak is discontinuing Kodachrome, something only the most naive could claim they didn't see coming. 75 years is a long time in the modern world to produce any product, and K64 will still be on shelves and will still be processed on that 75th anniversary. I would say use this as an opportunity to shoot as much K64 as you can, and also as an opportunity to realize you can't shoot a roll or two of film a year and expect it to be produced. Personally, I won't be buying any K64, but I am supporting black and white film and my current favorite Provia 100F in 120 format.

If you like film, if you are interested in film, or if you just want to see your favorite emulsion survive, you need to shoot a few rolls a month. If you like developing your own film you need to process enough to keep the chemicals in production. I know a lot of people are like me, we like film, almost prefer it, but don't like the hassle of processing and scanning it. Unfortunately, the hassle will be gone all too soon if we don't suck it up and start shooting our favorites!


Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak's taking Kodachrome away

Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak is taking your Kodachrome away.

The Eastman Kodak Co. announced Monday it's retiring its oldest film stock because of declining customer demand in an increasingly digital age.

The world's first commercially successful color film, immortalized in song by Simon, spent 74 years in Kodak's portfolio. It enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s and '60s but in recent years has nudged closer to obscurity: Sales of Kodachrome are now just a fraction of 1 percent of the company's total sales of still-picture films, and only one commercial lab in the world still processes it.

Those numbers and the unique materials needed to make it convinced Kodak to call its most recent manufacturing run the last, said Mary Jane Hellyar, the outgoing president of Kodak's Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group.

"Kodachrome is particularly difficult (to retire) because it really has become kind of an icon," Hellyar said.

The company now gets about 70 percent of its revenue from its digital business, but plans to stay in the film business "as far into the future as possible," Hellyar said. She points to the seven new professional still films and several new motion picture films introduced in the last few years and to a strategy that emphasizes efficiency.

"Anywhere where we can have common components and common design and common chemistry that let us build multiple films off of those same components, then we're in a much stronger position to be able to continue to meet customers' needs," she said.

Kodachrome, because of a unique formula, didn't fit in with the philosophy and was made only about once a year.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, June 15, 2009

The genius of WebOS and Synergy

I use MS Outlook as my desktop client for email, calendar and contact info. Through third party apps (Fonebook) I can even download my friends Facebook images, and birthdays into my Outlook, as well as updated contact info.  Fortunately the Pre does away with local storage of data, and puts it all in the "cloud" meaning you can sync all your accounts (Facebook, Google, Palm for now) with Synergy without every truely storing a contact on your Pre (you have access even offline, but they continuously sync when you have a signal).

The fact that Synergy is cross platform, meaning it doesn't require an specific desktop operating system is ground breaking. Palm allowing PRE to be virtually OS independent using Synergy via the "cloud" is something that should both separate it from the competition and also force the competition to do similar things (competition is good!).

Unfortunately, not everyone has there data already in the cloud (Google or Facebook), and in my opinion Google's weakest application is Google Contacts. Plus, Google by default adds every email address you ever responded to you your contacts. Finally, the Pre is still being tweaked, and currently you can only select to sync all or none with Google and Facebook.The means if you are someone that friends every person you meet in life or online through Facebook you could have 500, 1000, or even 5000 contacts that you actually don't really know or need contact info on floating around your Pre. Google is just as bad when email replies are factored in.

So until Palm updates the Synergy portion of the Pre to break down contacts and/or selectively add groups of contacts, I will not use Google or Facebook with Synergy. .

What I did to solve the problem was sync my Outlook one last time with Facebook, then I did a 1 time, 1 way sync using Palms data migration utility for the Pre with Outlook to my Palm profile on the Pre. This is now synced with my Palm profile in the cloud. For the time being my Palm profile is my only contact database, but it's pretty accurate and essentially includes Facebook since I was able to update Outlook with Facebook using the Fonebook utility.

Palm truely has a cutting edge product and some head turning features, but the WebOS still is in it's early stages and not everything is perfectly sorted out, so for the time being little adjustments must be made to make the most of the WebOS and Synergy!

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Press Release: Adirondack Council Calls on Encon Commissioner Grannis to Close Forest Preserve Roads in Wake of Judge's Decision

Released: Thursday, May 21, 2009LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today called on NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Peter Grannis to use his administrative authority to re-close a former road in an Adirondack Wilderness Area that was opened to motorized traffic today by a state administrative law judge.“It appears from the judge’s decision that the state didn’t properly close this road when it assumed ownership of it and converted it to a hiking, ski and horse trail,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal. “But today’s decision doesn't have to be the final word on the matter.“Commissioner Grannis has the authority to use the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law to prohibit the use of motorized vehicles on this and other roads that are affected by this decision,” Houseal explained. “We urge Commissioner Grannis to begin that process right away. He should have done so today, as this decision was announced, to avoid the chance that someone is already out there riding a jeep or an all-terrain vehicle on this road.“It is also imperative that the DEC issue its ATV Policy for state lands, which was first announced by Commissioner Erin Crotty during the Pataki Administration,” Houseal said. “DEC cannot allow fragile wildlife habitat and water quality to suffer in New York’s premiere Wilderness Park due to DEC’s inability to complete its work in a timely way.”Commissioner Grannis can act right now to stop motorized traffic in off-limits locations in the Adirondack Park by exercising NYS Highway Law Section 212, Houseal said,
Press Release: Adirondack Council Calls on Encon Commissioner Grannis to Close Forest Preserve Roads in Wake of Judge's Decision

Threats to wilderness areas never seem to stop. Some people might call Article 14 cumbersome but without it and the APA (which has seemingly gotten soft over the years) the Adirondacks would look about as poorly preserved as our over commercialized national parks.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is Your Smoking Hot New Palm Pre Smoking Hot?? Bug Fix

Not sure if this is a bug, or not but there seems to be a widespread issue of the Palm Pre running hot and sucking battery down even when not being actively used. Below is a fix for it!

Let me just say, to the competition haters and Pre buyers who are crying about this, bugs occur with every new product. As long as the company acknowledges it and fixes it, it's not an issue.

Now you as a 1st generation buyer need to deal with these issues as best as possible. The Pre WebOS is awesome, and the phone works well out of the box but here is a fix for the heat issue.

1. Update to version 1.02 with OTA (over the air updates in your apps menu on the 3rd screen). It's 60MB but if you have a good 3G signal OR you have you Pre hooked up to WiFi it takes about 5-10 minutes to DL, plus 10 minutes to install. Technically Sprint and Best Buy stores should be doing this before you leave the store. The update is a major update, adds some features, and fixes some minor bugs, the OS seemed snappier as soon as I did it as well (and it was snappy before).

2. load your contacts into your Palm Profile from outlook if you use Outlook. Palm sent out an email to people who setup there palm profile when they turned the phone on with a link to this. Once this is done, sync with Outlook (this is a one time, one way sync). Set Palm Profile as your default contact management. This will sync your contacts to the "Palm Profile Cloud" as well as your calendar, notes, and task. The Pre auto backs up your Pre to the cloud daily, and auto syncs your contacts with both Palm, Google, Facebook and Exchange using Palms Synergy. This works great and means no more lost contacts and Apps. However, PLEASE NOTE THE PRE DOES *NOT* sync/backup your USB drive information which includes your photos, and MP3s. Please make sure you back this stuff up yourself.

3. Facebook seems to be fine in synergy, as does google (my wife is running both with no heat issues) but some people reported google to be an issue. Since at this time Google contact sync is all or none (as is Facebook),  I'd not use google contacts for the time being. Contacts is Googles weakest app anyway so just leave it off the Pre for now to play it safe. Google adds any email address you ever reply to as a contact, and all show up on the Pre.

4. When setting up email you CANNOT use Hotmail. It seems Hotmail is the cause, or the main cause of the heating issue. Microsoft has tried very hard to make it's email as proprietary as possible, and even as a long time Hotmail user I have to say, it might be time to move on. So remove Hotmail from the Pre.

4a. Google uses IMAP folders/sync so my advice is to go into your Gmail options and have hotmail checked via google. I would have your Hotmail sent directly to your archived folder, and not your Inbox to keep things more simple. This won't get your junk mail, but the bad news is since Hotmail is HTTP based, the Pre never could access your Junk mail folder anyway. Nothing is lost, and everything works just fine like this. Gmail is a superior mail server and the IMAP is less taxing on the Pre, plus IMAP syncs much better with Outlook and Outlook Express desktop clients.

4b. If you have other accounts it might make sense to check them through Gmail as well. Although it seems Yahoo and Exchange are not an issue as both are currently running on my Pre, and it's now running ice cold.

4c. My setup is this, Hotmail through Gmail, my corporate exchange email through exchange set to continuous checks (counter intuitive but seems to not drain the battery), and my Yahoo at 6 hour intervals since I don't use it for much except Yahoo based services (Flickr and such).

5.Turn off the GPS auto locate. This wasn't and isn't a cause of any known problem but it will increase battery drain with all phones.. If you are questioning why you would do this I can assure you that your phone also uses A-GPS which means it can get a rough location (actually VERY ACCURATE) from your cell tower triangulation, just open the Google Maps app with the GPS off while standing in your basement with a cell signal, and notice the blue dot is fairly accurate!!. This means GPS is just a drain. Again, you might be wondering if Sprint Navigation will still work? The answer is yes, when you turn on Sprint Navigation ( a very good TeleNav/TeleAtlas based text to speech GPS app) the GPS DOES turn on. However, when you close it the radio turns off again and you go back to A-GPS. This is the best of all worlds!

6. Finally to increase your battery life while at home, make sure your Pre Wifi radio is on at the house or at known WiFi locations.  The Pre will turn off the EVDO search when a strong WiFi connection is present. Sprints 3G network is great but the WiFi is stronger, and faster in most cases. This will give you better performance, and better battery life. Turn it off when you are out and about since it will continuously search for networks, many of which are secure and useless.

I just want to stress that I know many people are going to jump on any issue found with the much hyped Pre. All I can say is I will have my 96 hour hands on review out shortly and overall this phone meets and exceeds expectations, CONSIDERING the fact I have waited through 6 months of hype for this phone. Deal with the minor issues by fixing them yourself where possible, report them to Palm/Sprint, and give Palm and Sprint the 30 days you have to return the phone to work out any MAJOR bugs in a 1st generation hardware and software system. Believe me when I say, if this phone fails, Palm is gone, and Sprint has nothing novel to bring customers back to it's revamped and very good network, both companies have a lot at stake and this phone has to be priority #1 for both companies.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, June 1, 2009

Have Camera, Will Time Travel

Traveling through the Charlotte Airport on our way to Memphis in 2007, I noticed the lighting and architecture of the airport. Unlike the spartan concrete prison block look of Memphis (or many other airports in the US), Charlotte had some interesting design and lighting.

I've always had no problems pulling my camera out at airports, after all, you often spend hours waiting with nothing to do. My camera is frequently my only sanity when forced to deal with extreme boredom, or as an escape from the reality of certain situations where I'd gladly load a round, spin the revolver and see what happens with a shot to the head. These days with laptops and wifi, time passes a bit more quickly while traveling, but airports are in many ways an interesting photograph waiting to happen, and a camera is still the best escape from reality.

My wife asked me why I titled this "Time Travel?" I liked the futuristic feel of it at the time, and also later in the finished photo. Yet, the black and white with the old biplane makes it sort of timeless. It makes me wonder whether I were going back in time, or maybe forward in time. Second, I shot it in 2007 and it is coming to life as a finished product in 2009. I suppose this photo was like going back to the future.

There were a few photos I really liked the concept of at the airport, but at ISO 1600 in color, with the contrasty mixed lighting sources, nothing really worked off the bat. While I envisioned the final ISO 1600 photos being black and white to make use of the pleasing digital noise structure of Pentax cameras at high ISO, I also liked what I took in color.

This conflict led to me processing and reprocessing the images in color, and then in black and white. I never could get my favorite of the bunch to work, eventually I grew tired of working on the airport shots, so they languished in digital purgatory for 18 months till I could revisit them with a fresh look. In the end, "Time Travel" wasn't even the photo I had originally picked as the best of several different scenes, but looking at the various scenes from a fresh perspective I finally got what I was looking for.

Blogged with the Flock Browser