Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'll leave this here

One of the benefits of keeping detailed logs of your car's consumption habits: you can come up with weird and stupid graphs in excel.

Also I can tell you my gallons-per-hour consumption rate (typically around 1.1).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

These are pictures

They are pictures from however long ago.

Grapple with the Kraken:

What a wedding kit might look like if you're dumb and shoot with primes (cat included for scale):

At least the results are decent:

I probably shouldn't have been using ISO 800...

Low and wide:

High and wide:

A little late for peak colors, but still a pretty drive:


Caterpillar (I really like my 14, don't I?):


Rufous hummingbird in College Park in December!

This poor guy was ice skating:

Yay Santa!

And that catches me up with more or less the entirety of the time I've been without internet service. Huzzah!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I have internet at home, so expect a photo dump from the last couple months.

Having successfully finished the wedding gig, I proceeded to not really touch my camera at all for over a month. You guys were right - weddings are not for me. I had fun, a lot of fun, and I do think it was a good experience, but it's not my style.

That said, at least I'm good at people.

Anyway, thought you'd appreciate the update. I'm going to try to get back to normal now. Sorry, guys.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why I can probably never go back to HTC Sense

I've been using an Android phone - specifically, the HTC Hero (CDMA) - since January of this year.

Through the intervening 9 full months of use, I've been through three major OS versions, one of which was provided on the phone, one of which was hacked on and then officially applied, and one of which is not official in any way, shape, or form - and at least two root methods. I've seen at least four different interfaces - HTC's Sense, ADW.Launcher, LauncherPro (I think), and whatever the default AOSP launcher system is.

All three UIs depend on underlying frameworks I know next to nothing about to display information, but that's not of any particular importance for my conclusion at this point.

An important realization struck - I cannot go back to using HTC sense full time.

Let me first state that I love the unified phone/dialer/contact interface, and I more or less approve of the custom widgets, the custom mail application, and the fact that they provide a pretty good AIM client.

I'm completely indifferent to the Themes thing that allows multiple home-screen setups.

The things that really bug me, though, are fatal flaws - this UI is a complete and utter resource hog. It never should have shipped on a 528 MHz phone. Animations for everything? Great, awesome, how about instead of showing clearing fog and a sunbeam when I wake my phone up, you just focus on letting me use it? Fortunately, most of those can be turned off, but they're still there, wasting space on my /system partition. A browser that takes four or five seconds to launch and be ready for any sort of input is pretty sweet, too. The ROM backups take up a full 70 megabytes more space on SD than AOSP backups, even that for Cyanogen.

The absolute worst part, though?

You're required to have a default phone number for your contacts.

See, Android features this neat widget strategy of allowing you to have Quick Contacts show up on your homescreen. You tap on the contact icon and get this:

Tap on the phone and you get this:

Except on Sense. Because Sense requires contacts to have a default phone number, you are no longer two taps away from calling a contact at any one of their numbers; instead, you must either accept that pushing the phone button makes their default number happen, or you need to tap their contact card, go to their contact, select from a long list of visually identical options, and hope you did that right without being able to stare at the phone.

That one horrible usability flaw is enough to make me not want to use the one feature that was a draw to the phone in the first place - its customized UI.

This is all aside from the fact that neither HTC nor Sprint will acknowledge that the Hero CDMA can run 2.2 and will therefore not even try to put out an update for it. One system update for a phone they'll likely continue selling through the holiday season this year. I'm locked into contract on this thing until the end of January 2011, by which time the second major revision to be overlooked by Sprint and HTC will have come out. Great support, guys.

(nerd over.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pentax Strobism

I just found out my "broken" flash is really only broken because its screen doesn't work. If I put it on wireless mode and throw some Gels on there, I can use it with my working flash and paint.

[update] Here's the same idea, different execution.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

FA☆ 24: to infinity or just about 30 feet

I think I got a lemon.

I don't get a focus confirmation with distant objects. Set the lens to AF, let it go to the intersection and it just hammers against the infinity stop.

Set it to MF, f8, put it so the camera will fire, take a shot:
From 24 experiments

From 24 experiments

Those look right to you? The grass near the bottom 1/4 line of the shot seems to be the sharpest thing.

FA☆ 24: focus

Here goes.

43mm @ 1.9, no focus correction:

24mm @ 2.0, no focus correction:

24mm @ 2.0, focus correction enabled and set to +7 for this lens:

24mm @ 2.0, focus correction set to +10:

Crops of the three 24 shots, off, +7, then +10:

And I'll tell you, I walked around a little earlier and it's field relevant - without the adjustment, I'm pretty consistently behind my subject:

(focus confirmation was for the foreground leaves.

Well, it's here

From Mobile '10

I've been playing around with it and have learned a couple of things:

1) This lens feels incredible on the camera. It is the best balance piece of equipment I have ever owned, without question. I actually like the feel more than that of the 77.

2) It is SOOOOOOFT wide open. Eh.

3) The autofocus/manual focus declutch works great, though I'm not yet convinced of its utility on a lens with such a short focus throw.

4) It backfocuses. Bad. I have the adjustment for the lens set to +7 (out of 10) and I'm thinking that's about right, but I actually had to print out a test chart to make sure it wasn't just something I was doing.

I'm going to be playing with it in context tonight and tomorrow; my hope is it shows some more positive character or else it's going back. The softness I could deal with, especially since it's considerably sharper by 2.5 and 2.8 seems as good as the K lens, but the focusing issues are a little on the inconsistent side and I'm pretty sure a lens I can't trust to focus correctly isn't worth $600. I am having trouble deciding if I got a bad sample or if I need to check out of this game and hope they sell a more modern lens in this class at some point in the future. The 21mm f3.2 just isn't enticing enough for its price.


From Mobile '10

This is what I carried to work with me today. 14/2.8, 24/2, 43/1.9, 77/1.8

Monday, September 20, 2010

I think I know how to solve the "normal zoom" problem

DA 18-135 f3.5-5.6.

Weather resistant, 7-blade rounded aperture, and it covers an extremely useful range of "I can't be bothered to pick lenses today."

Or I'll just save up for that DA* 16-50... oh here we go again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


DA 50-200

DA 50-200

DA 50-200

DA 10-17 fisheye... at 17.

and my favorite of the batch:

DA 50-200.

I took the 43 with me but used it on only one picture that didn't work very well. Who needs normal?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thoughts on 24mm

I did my walk today, as I had said. I took a kit consisting of 14, 24, 43, 50 macro, and 77 with me (all fitting within my crumpler 3-slot bag... fear the Pentax system).

Of those lenses, I only used three - 24, 50, and 77. I forced myself to use the 24 more than the others, I think, at least for a more widely varied range of situations.

I will be posting a gallery, hopefully tomorrow, with all of the shots from today that weren't horribly blown out for not paying attention to metering. Some of them turned out quite nicely, I think, but I'd like critique on the basic: considering how I prefer abusing wide-angle lenses, what do you think?

More coming as it develops (ha ha get it it is a photo blog)

[edit] MORE HAS DEVELOPED! The picasa gallery is here.

Some highlights from the 24:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Something for your trouble

Have an early morning skipper, courtesy the 77mm lens:

Philosophical question

I have a 16-45 zoom lens.

I also have 14mm and 43mm fixed length lenses.

Now, without looking at a focal length analysis of the shots I've taken with that lens...

do I buy a 24/2 and sell the zoom?

or will I miss the lengths between 24 and 43?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This on this route:

View Larger Map


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What to do without internet?

Take a few pictures!

The album is here, of course.

There's patapsco valley (duh) as well as a few things around the house, to include the new Blendtec blender. It obliterated a strawberry. I apologize for how loud this is; my phone didn't like me talking at it in the kitchen.

It also makes a damn fine smoothie, for what it's worth, and it's automated enough to do that without any additional input.