Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Album Cover

Never to let a good meme go to waste, I've taken up Damana's challenge to produce my own album cover.

Imaginary album cover

Here's the band name, the album title, and the album art. I think it works rather well!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Seagate's Power-Hungry Woes

Not too long ago I bought a Seagate 250Gb 2.5" SATA2 notebook drive, intending to use it as an external hard drive in a USB2 enclosure - very handy for backups and lots of portable storage in a case that will fit in your pocket.

Unfortunately, Seagate's drives appear to be notoriously power-hungry when spinning up, drawing up to twice the current that other brands use. This means that the drive is completely useless when drawing its power from the USB bus - you'll need an external power supply to keep it stable.

For me, this means it'll go into one of my HTPCs; my Vista Media Centre is about to be upgraded to have run off a RAID 0 array of Seagate 160Gb 2.5" SATA2 drives, so I guess this one will go into the XP Media Centre. Hopefully it will contribute to reducing the amount of noise from the system. (Oh, and my laptop runs off a Seagate 160Gb 7200rpm SATA2 drive. Notice a pattern emerging?)

So, you have been warned. If you want to use a notebook hard drive in a portable enclosure, don't buy Seagate.

The Trouble With Sharing Photographs Online

Duck-Billed Platypus, spotted while on holiday in TasmaniaHaving recently spent several weeks processing a few hundred photos taken while on holiday in Tasmania, I then spent most of another evening uploading them to the Internet. The trouble was, where should I upload them too?

Top of the list is Flickr. I have it listed to the right, and I can upload a lot of photos there and generally network with other people who love photography.

Then there's Facebook; this one's more for my friends, as they nearly all have FB accounts these days, and the notifications when photos are uploaded help encourage them to come and have a look-see.

Finally there is Ringo. Not as high-profile as the above two, but a lot of people I know in the church are on it, and again it's good for keeping people updated when new photos come in - an ecclesiastical Facebook, if you will.

So the problem is threefold - firstly, choosing which photos to upload to which site; secondly, the time/bandwidth necessary to upload the photos to the site; and thirdly, and the biggest killer, the time necessary to tag and identify the photos. Flickr is the easiest, as Jeffrey Friedl's Export-to-Flickr plug-in for Lightroom will set tags, title and description from metadata already entered in Lightroom. Facebook can manage dates extracted from the EXIF data embedded in the photo by the camera, while Ringo can't manage anything.

I haven't mentioned the Kodak Gallery nor Picasa, since I don't use them for storage, although I have friends who do. So there's two more photo sharing sites to check out from time-to-time.

Isn't it about time someone started rationalising a few of these sites? Having so many sites to upload to, or to keep up-to-date with is not an easy job, especially when the site makes you key in your data all over again.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lightroom 2.0 Request List

Scott Kelby is putting together a feature request list for the next version of Adobe's fantastic Lightroom product, based on user feedback from the many training sessions he runs.

Based on my experiences with Lightroom since Beta 2, my two requests are:

  1. Better management tools for keywords - dragging and dropping keywords into a category is OK to start with, but when your list starts getting long, management gets really difficult.
  2. Slideshow DVD authoring - as Scott points out, even consumer-level tools like iPhoto do a better job of slideshow generation, and Lightroom is supposed to be a tool for professional photographers. Even Lightroom's nearest direct competitor, Aperture, does a better job.

I did consider adding panoramic picture generation, but I'm still in to two minds as to whether it belongs in Lightroom or not. Others have requested it, though, so that base is at least covered.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Computer Generated Crowds

One of the reasons for the success of films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy is the relentless onslaught of technological progress allowing intense battle scenes featuring thousands of characters to be filmed with hundreds or even dozens of extras. The days of films such as Gandhi using in excess of 100000 extras for a scene are consigned to the same bin as men in rubber suits pretending to be Tokyo-saving lizards.

Barely 5 years since the Return of the King hit the big screen, and that technology has already filtered down into the hands of the little guy. Or in this specific case, four guys armed with a video camera, some World War 2 uniforms and four days on Omaha Beach. Throw in some explosives, a green screen, and some time behind the computer, and you have a film that would have cost Steven Spielberg millions to shoot. Just awesome.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Certified again

Having completed a Microsoft certification just before Christmas, I've added another to my collection (Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 - Web-Based Client Development). This now makes me a Technical Specialist, and one small step away from the lofty heights of being a certified Professional Developer.

The world is truly my oyster, and the $$ signs are already going up before my eyes...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Round and round we go

Damana has been blogging about meta blogging - the way most blog entries these days seem to be referring to what somebody else has been blogging about.

Having just proved her point, I thought I'd add an AOL-style "me too"; quite a few of the tech news sites I follow with RSS are feed aggregators; I get quite tired of playing "follow-the-link" to try and find the original article.

It also leads to feeds being saturated with nearly identical posts when a significant (at least, significant from the very narrow viewpoint of the community) event occurs. Best time to witness this effect is barely a week away, when Apple will raise their skirts to reveal their latest shiny toys. You'll suddenly find your aggregator full of posts referring to the same announcement, some of them indirectly as Damana contends above. You might as well just click on one randomly and have done with it.

P.S. Props to Damana for not completely embarrassing herself with Martin Fowler :-)