Archive for the 'Tech' Category

Posts relating to techie things

Thoughts on the Venus/Laowa 60mm f/2.8 Super-Macro Lens

After seeing it mentioned on PetaPixel earlier this month, I ordered a Venus (LAOWA) 60mm f/2.8 Ultra-Macro lens. For less than $400 I didn't expect much, but it was worth a try.

(It seems they're changing their name from "Venus" to "Laowa". The Chinese characters for "Laowa" seem to be 「老蛙」, which means "Aged Frog", at least in Japanese.)

This is not a "review"... just some observations that I haven't seen others make yet, and some illustrative photos. In addition to the review on PetaPixel, other reviews I've seen include this and this.

For the TL;DR crowd, here in short [...]

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Photo-Development Challenge: Inspire Me and Others With Your Artistic Interpretation

A week ago I posed about a fantastic video of an experienced photographer giving a quick once-over to photographs submitted by strangers. The change from unprocessed original to processed result was often striking and of interest on its own, but the true value of the video was the running dialog of the what/why/how of his editing decisions. No right or wrong... just inspiration and ideas.

With that in mind, I think it could be quite interesting to see how different people interpret the same photo, so I'd like to offer a few unprocessed raw files from my own photo archives, [...]

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Facebook Engineering Opens a Satellite Office in Kyoto (For a Few Hours)

Facebook engineer Ryan Mack and his wife Nadia and their blissfully-sleeping two-year-old took time from their 10-year-anniversary Japan trip to join me for dinner at Uroko (鱗) in downtown Kyoto the other night.

Ryan has sometimes provided help or insight on navigating the complexities of Facebook's third-party app API, which I must use for my Export-to-Facebook plugin for Adobe Lightroom, so I was happy to finally meet him in person. Meeting Nadia was a wonderful bonus, though I didn't really get to meet his son, who slept the whole time we were together. (Jetlag sometimes giveth, I guess.)

It's just [...]

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New Lightroom Plugin: People Support

I've finally released a new plugin for Adobe Lightroom that I've been working on for some time, my "People Support" plugin. Once configured, it can tell you the age of people in a photo, and include that data in exports.

It's consumed me for weeks. The idea of calculating and displaying a person's age seems quite straightforward and simple, doesn't it? It's not. Date calculations are surprisingly fraught with complexity, and presentation all the more so when you take into account dealing with all the languages that Lightroom can work in.

English is simple in that we use the same [...]

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The Art and Science (and Complex Frustrations) of Creating my Wigglegrams

This post is about the art and technology of my 3D wigglegrams, but first a bit of context about the location seen above.

This wigglegram was taken during my first visit to Kyoto's Shugakuin Imperial Villa (修学院離宮) two years ago, a photographically-fruitful outing first posted about here, and most recently revisited a month ago here.

During the tour of the grounds, at one point you descend stone steps set in the side of a mountain....

There's a waterfall and a small stream... it's all quite picturesque.

As I described on that first post about the outing, the tour moves along [...]

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Fixing Lightroom Problems Caused by the POODLE Security Vulnerability

A security weakness dubbed "POODLE" has recently been discovered in how internet-connected applications make secure connections, and this is having an increasingly-detrimental impact on Lightroom. Thankfully, it's easy enough to fix for most folks, and this post tells you how.

POODLE manifests itself in that certain kinds of secure connections are no longer quite as secure as they're supposed to be, so until you fix this for your Internet-connected applications, your data may be at risk. But the secondary problem is that, until fixed on your system, your Internet-connected applications like Lightroom may experience seemingly random network errors as more [...]

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Populating The Drive Bays of a Synology NAS Unit: Lessons Learned

(Recent posts have been filled with fall colors, so for some balance, I'm dipping into my cherry-blossom archives)

For the last few years I've had a Synology DS1511+ NAS unit... an always-on "network drive" that sits in a closet at home that I can access on my home network from all my computers at home. I use it for local Time Machine backup, as well as a local CrashPlan repository for various backups. (I also use CrashPlan to keep backups offsite.)

The Synology unit has five drive bays, which I initially populated with 3TB Seagate Barracuda drives.

That was a [...]

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My Best (and Last) Score in the 2048 Game: 76,936

This won't mean a thing if you don't know this game, but if you do, I hope your jaw is suitably on the floor at that score.

When I still had the cold that I recently got over, I would sometimes pass the time playing the simple game "2048". I played on my phone, but anyone can play for free at the creator's website. It's fun and addictive.

During this sick time a game would last a few minutes, and I could get a score of about 2,000. Anthony and I had a running competition, and at first he could [...]

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Sigh, Lost All Email For the Last Day

I've used Emacs as my primary email client since about 1982, and for the first time in those 30+ years it inexplicably deleted my entire queue of unread mail (about 1,400 messages) when I tried to load the last day's worth of new mail this morning. Doh!

The thought of losing 1,400 messages awaiting my attention was both frightening and liberating. Sadly, I keep good automatic backups (in this case with Crashplan), so I was able to recover my mail queue as it stood a few hours ago.

As I mentioned yesterday, I've not been too attentive to email lately [...]

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Lightroom Catalog Maintenance: Clearing Out Edit History For Potential Performance Gains

This post is about trimming down the file size of an Adobe Lightroom catalog. In keeping with the off-season them of my previous post (which was filled with fall-foliage photos), this post is sprinkled with a few photos from Kyoto springs past, chosen more for their mentally-calming effect than for photographic quality, which they generally lack. (Sorry)

In a nutshell, if you have a large Lightroom catalog, and if you don't need the detailed editing history for your photos, you might be able to significantly reduce the size of your Lightroom catalog by flushing that edit-history data, which might generally [...]

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Mini Rant: Disappointed in Netflix Video Streaming

I've been subscribing to Netflix's video-streaming service for a month or so. For $9 bucks a month it's a great deal and I recommend it, but that being said, it's also a big disappointment over what I expected.

YouTube has defined what's expected in video streaming, and the Netflix experience is so much worse. One problem is that the video quality is usually pretty bad -- blocky and pixelated -- even though I have a very fast connection (even via the VPN that I require to access Netflix from Japan). I can watch super-HD 1080p videos on YouTube without problem, [...]
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Congrats to Jan and Brian: From Zero to $19 Billion in Five Years

A couple of ultimate-Frisbee friends from my days at Yahoo!, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, went on to make a little messaging app with the silly name "WhatsApp" that I've been running on my phone for a few years. It's quite convenient for communicating with friends while on the go.

It's much nicer than the traditional SMS phone messaging. "Frictionless messaging". That's why 320 million people actually use it every day. I last used it an hour ago to chat with my brother.

Anyway, I just found out that these friends sold their little messaging app to Facebook for $19,000,000,000.

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Ugh! Recovering From the Accidental Deletion of an Important iPhone App

Well, that wasn't fun. While at Anthony's soccer game the other day, I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket to find that a couple of apps had been "pocket deleted", with the screen showing the dialog to confirm the deletion of a third. Apparently I put the phone in my pocket without deactivating the screen, and it bumped around in there in the just the appropriate way to jump through the hoops to delete an app. Twice. I should have had my pocket play the lottery that day.

I've been "pocket dialed" by friends before... the call comes in [...]

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A Couple of Mini Bluetooth Reviews: Braven 710 Speaker and Mpow Sport Headphones

This post is a mini review of a couple of bluetooth (wireless connection) speakers I've been using recently, one small "brick" speaker for the home, and a pair of earbuds for the gym.

Above we have the Braven 710. I lifted the (almost-certainly CGI) image from their web site; if I would have not been lazy and instead taken a photo myself, I would have put something there for context so that you can see that it's small... it's about the size of a sort-of-squished hotdog bun.

We like it. It's got great sound from such a small package. I've [...]

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Bunch of Goldfinches, Google “Auto Awesome” Version

The other day I posted some Goldfinch photos that I took on my folks' back deck. I included that post's lead photo on my Google Plus "Select Blog Photos 2014" photo album, where I put a photo or two from most of my blog posts.

Google Plus has an "Auto Awesome" feature that can automatically do things to copies of your photos if you opt in, and in this case it decided to add the snowfall to a copy of the goldfinch photo. It's a simple snowfall animation that repeats every 4/5th of a second. Simple but nice.

They've since [...]

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Recovering from an OSX Format of your Garmin Device

I hate to have any negative articles on my blog, much less two in a row, but wow, it's difficult to count how many ways Garmin's products are so much worse than they need to be, from devices designed for the pocket but without a way to lock the buttons from being bumped in pocket, to worse-than-nothing "features" you can't turn off, to memory-card slots buried behind batteries (really? How does one screw up something as simple as a memory card slot? Ask Garmin.), to any number of additional "what on earth are they thinking?" observations.

From hardware to software [...]

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Holy Cow, iOS 7 Has Some Really Horrible Design

The user-interface (UI) design of iOS 7 seems to be of the radical variety. Not quite as radical as the initial iPhone was to the cell-phone world at the time, but also not as universally lauded. A lot of people really hate iOS 7.

(Except the first, the photos on this page have nothing to do with the text; they're just random photos I've taken recently.)

Until recently I'd never actually used iOS 7, but from seeing it in news and advertisements over the last few months, I knew I didn't like the new look. The same aesthetic that [...]

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Why Does Photography with an iPad Look so Silly?

What is it about taking photos with an iPad or other tablet that makes it look so stupid?

My iPad has no camera so I've never been tempted to take a photo with it, but even if I could, I'm not the kind to take advantage of its social-networking benefits (like immediate posting to Facebook or Instagram or whatever the current fad is). So I'd probably not use it for photography any more than I use my iPhone, which is to say, not at all unless it's the only camera around and my quality threshold happens to be low.

But [...]

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Setting a Custom Search Engine in Firefox

Recent versions of Firefox inexplicably removed the ability to set a custom search engine, which one used to be able to do easily via the keyword.URL configuration. However, you can accomplish pretty much the same thing by installing a new search-engine profile that you craft yourself in an XML file.

Here's a sample profile file, for a custom Google search...

You'd copy this to an *.xml file and update the highlighted areas for your needs, adding/removing "ParamR 21; tags as appropriate for your search. (The "tbs" parameter in the example is the one that limits results to those updated in [...]
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The Joy of a Fast Photo Proximity Search in Lightroom

I popped up to Kyoto's Shogunzuka Overlook (将軍塚) today for the first time since March, hoping for a nice sunset.

As you can see above, I didn't get it.

However, due to my blog's proximity search feature, we can follow the "nearby photos" link under the photo to see other shots from Shogunzuka that I've posted over the years, including:

I added the proximity-search feature to my blog several years ago, and I use it often in various ways because proximity search can be extremely useful, but my blog proximity search is obviously limited to photos I've actually published on [...]

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