I’ve found this very well made page with tutorials on all aspects of photography. It’s very well designed and the explanations are to the point and complete. Especially the article on sensor size was an eye-opener for me.
Rootation (facebook) played an awesome gig this weekend at the opera. They played at the premiere party of the ballet’s newest piece “Tango!“. It was a big success and Rootation heated up the time-honored walls of the opera with their reggae tracks.
You can imagine the surprise of the mostly grey- and white-haired audience when Marvin Lewis opened the concert with one of their most energetic songs “Bitches & Gangstas”. Nevertheless many of the ballet dancers still laid done some virtuoso dance steps and filled the hall with a groovy atmosphere.
Click the image to see the Picasa album with some shots from the concert.
While researching the open-source firmware for canon compact cameras, I found out that there similar projects for some of the recent new DSLRs from Canon. There’s 400plus for the EOS 400D/XTi, which features scripting support and a whole lot more control on the exposure and ISO.
And there’s Magic Lantern which supports the 550D/T2i/Kiss X4, 60D and 600D/T3i/Kiss X5 and it has partial support for the 50D, 5D Mark II and 500D/T1i. Magic Lantern also offers more refined exposure control, different methods for focusing, long running timelapse photos, shooting several shots for HDR and motion detection.
I would be very excited to try this, but unfortunately my camera is exactly this one model that was left out from the firmware projects; the EOS 450D. Lucky me, I guess, but now I have another reason to get a new camera body .
Free open-source software always fascinates me. You have a product that was designed and produced by an industrial manufacturer and then you have a bunch of free-minded people that just decide to take this peace of plastic — or metal — and turn it into something different; supercharging/pimping it. In an earlier post I’ve written about Rockbox, which managed to free some limited devices from their simplistic firmware and added lots of features and the ability to play all kinds of other audio formats that were not playable before because of weird music industry politics.
CHDK is a bit different in that it only adds some features to your camera and runs beside the original firmware. Like Rockbox it adds another format, in this case RAW, and it makes a whole lot of other ways to use the device. CHDK gives you more control over all details of the picture generation too and allows you a closer look at the inner workings of a camera. You can control the details of exposure and bracketing. I’m curios about how you can use another feature; scripts. You can write scripts that tell the camera when and how to make pictures. If you combine this with the motion detection, you get a pretty sophisticated camera. Maybe, I’ll use it for some timelapse experiments. It seems like that should be easy. It’s also possible to make HDR pictures (blog post in German) like this.
Installing the firmware is not soo easy, but doable. Find your camera’s installation page, download the modified firmware, extract it on a SD-card, change to playback mode, press the firmware-update entry in the menu and be happy. Upon restart the firmware is gone; it’s only temporarily loaded to memory.
There’s one thing that still stands out in these times of impersonal internet shopping; great customer service. One prime example of greate customer service was CDBaby. Instead of only sending out boring notification emails for sent orders CDBaby had this (I am not sure if they still use it):
Thanks for your order with CD Baby!
Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.
Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.
We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, October 7, 2009.
We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
We miss you already. We’ll be right here at http://cdbaby.com/, patiently awaiting your return.
The little store with the best new independent music.
http://cdbaby.com email@example.com (503)595-3000
Nowadays everybody gets so many automated emails, that it’s sometimes a relief to realize that there actual humans at the other end. The makers of the app fetchnotes can relate to that. The essentially called their customers “bitches”, but having a sort of more human style to their email increased the success by a lot.
CDBaby didn’t stop there. It’s founder Derek Sivers, who sold CDBaby some time ago, had a third of his company deal solely with customer service, making it a priority. Moreover they had a little box in their ordering processing that said “Can we do anything else for you?” or something to that effect and here’s what happened when somebody actually entered sth. there:
It’s all nice and dandy to read about these stories on the interwebs and you might think “That’s all great, but it just happens so seldomly that it doesn’t matter.” But I’ve seen some examples of great customer service myself.
I’ve supported a project on kickstarter, that aimed at producing a camera clip to attach your DSLR to your belt or backpack strap. When the founding was over we got very frequent updates on the shipping process from the engineer Peter Doering behind it and when it arrived I was very happy with it. Some weeks later I lost one of the fly screws that holds the whole thing together and posted a message on his facebook page, about where to get replacement screws and what size I’d need. He responded and asked me to send him an email with the details. Being fairly busy at the time I didn’t answer for some days. Then I got an email notification that there was a package sent out to me from Peter Doering via air mail. I was thrilled that he actually took the time and effort to look up my name from the kickstarter supporters and just send me the screw without any bureaucratic support process behind.
Another case of great customer service happened to me 2 weeks ago. I had sent my Ultrasone headphones in for repairs, because one plastic part had broken after years of use. Contacting their service about this was very easy and they quickly told that I’d probably have to pay some 30 euros to get the headband replaced. Great was my surprise when their package arrived some days later with a replaced headband AND new leather ear pads. In their email they said — I’m paraphrasing the German letter here: “We replaced your headband because it was still under warranty. Additionally we put new ear pads on you headphones – for free. We hope that we made you a little more happy — now your headphones are “like new” ”. Needless to say that I was very happy indeed and it was like this company had just made me a really great present.
When given such a great customer experience, many people are overjoyed tell their friends about it and thus create a nice little ad that is 1000 times more credible than any fake amazon review rating can ever be.
Although Hannover is supposed to be one of the most boring cities in Germany, it has a lot of dark corners and less known locations that prove this prejudice wrong. There is a lively alternative scene in Linden and around the Glocksee Cafe with lots of beautiful and stunning graffiti. Because the graffiti are regularly oversprayed and lost I made a tour around the neighborhood and collected some pictures for posterity. Sometimes I just wonder what great pictures some sprayers could make instead of only writing their own name like: “I can write my name very beautifully, aren’t I great?”. Nevertheless I marvel at their great skill, that I don’t have.
Click on the picture for the picasa web album:
Artsy senseless violence:
Around 400 protesters gathered in Hannover to protest against ACTA last Saturday. When everybody else shopped eagerly in the city center of Hannover the protesters were mostly met with incomprehension by older people that also shouted “Stop this” — maybe referring to the shouts “Stop ACTA” — or amusement and curiosity by younger people “What are they shouting?”. Most of the protester were very young, which seems to support the thesis that this is a new generation protecting their freedom. It could also mean that a lot of people have become numb against the constant whistle blowing against repressive laws. Nevertheless for me and probably some other people too, it was the first protest against such a law, that they participated in and there’s certainly also a growing group of people that not only oppose repressive laws, but are also willing to move their lazy asses to give a more visible sign of opposition. At least many of the shoppers must have asked themselves what this protest is for and must have gotten some food for thought.
Here are some more photos from the demonstration.
P.S.: “ACTA eunt domus” is a reference to the film “Life of Brian”.
When you watch films like Star Wars or Star Trek you usually just marvel at the imagination of the creators, but if start thinking about it you realize that it has a couple of weird properties. The one that one strikes me every time I see a SciFi movie is the sounds space crafts make. In a vacuum like space you cannot hear anything. I can understand that a silent space would make many battle scenes utterly boring, so this might be an acceptable break from reality.
This site has a very big list about common errors in Space movies, like my argument under “Space Is Noisy”, space suits for women and the overall problem that “Science Fiction writers have no sense of scale”.
After this big discussion around SOPA happened around the world, sneaky lobbyists managed to convince enough politicians in the european parliament to vote ACTA. It’s supposed to increase legal means and penalties against copying and use of digital media and will severely damage our daily use of the Internet. Apart from fair use it will also mean the death of services like youtube or many functions on social networks.
Here’s a youtube video that explains the law: