Archive for October, 2007

The Map is About to Change (and now it has)

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

This is an image of the map of the hardware sector of the stock market at close of trading on Monday, October 22, 2007.

IBM $154B, Apple $152B. Intel (INTC) at $155B.

Assuming after hours trading mostly sticks, Apple will open tomorrow with a market capitalization of $162B.

That map is going to look a little bit different tomorrow morning.

Wow.

(Yeah, yeah… volatility, etc,etc… Goodness knows what tomorrow will bring. I remember when AAPL first eclipsed DELL. Fell back. Was a few months before that become permanent. Now AAPL is rapidly approaching 3x the market cap of DELL.)

Tuesday is upon us at it appears to have stuck through the night.

The Color That Cannot Be Captured

Sunday, October 21st, 2007
The Color That Baffles Digital SLRs (Normal Exposure)
The Color That Baffles Digital SLRs (Exp -1)
The Color That Baffles Digital SLRs (Exposure -2)

I have zipped up the original RAW files and made them available for download (19MB) if anyone wants to play with these images.

Yes — feel free to play with them all you want. If you want to publish something commercial– i.e. for pay– based on this message or the incredibly valuable information contained within the comments on this post, then contact me.

List of updates: This article is getting quite a bit of traffic and some really excellent comments. I will keep updating it as information is added. I have also split the article into the original post and the updates.

  • Added link to RAW images.
  • Clarified CC license; do anything you want with it, just don’t make money off of it without contacting me.
  • Added a rainy day shot of the same flowers.

There is one particular shade of something between pink and purple that my digital rebel just cannot correctly expose. I have heard tale that this phenomana is not limited to Canon, but Nikon, too.

In any case, the top photo is what the camera thinks is the correct exposure in Program AE mode.

The color is completely blown out. Totally oversaturated. Lots of detail lost.

Even with the exposured adjusted by -1 (still in Program AE), it still blows out the color. The detail is much better, though.

Finally, with the exposure adjusted by -2, the detail of the flower becomes very clear. But that is about the only good thing about that photo.

An exposure adjustment of -1.5 is about right to capture this particular color. However, every other color is completely dark.

Odd. I’m not sure why this particular color causes such hell. Could it be because of the sensor site layout? I wonder if the Foveon X3 sensor exhibits the same weirdness?

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Medium Big Green Egg

Sunday, October 21st, 2007
Medium BGE

Last Wednesday, Dad and I went out and bought Dad a medium Big Green Egg.

Since then, I have cooked (while teaching Dad how to use the egg):

  • Lamb chops — basic chops
  • Beer butt chicken — rub on the outside, stuffed with spices under the skin. Juicy and delicious.
  • London Broil — Salt, pepper, and oil rub. Took it to an internal temp of about 135 and tented it for 10 minutes. End result was perfect medium rare london broil.
  • Salmon — covered it with dill, a touch of dried peppers, and thin slices of orange with the skin side heavily salted. Cooked to an internal temp of 135. Excellent.

Next up? We might try a pie or baking some bread. Dad picked up a plate setter which, when reversed, makes an excellent surface for cooking pizzas, breads, and pies.

Of course, we picked up a probe thermometer to go with the BGE. It appears that Taylor has largely moved to using silicon covered probe wires. Awesome! Not only can the probes handle slightly higher heat — though not flare-ups — but they also don’t fray over time.

Without the Stoker, I’m not sure if I’ll attempt pulled pork. But I might do some ribs.

Watching You Watching Me.

Saturday, October 20th, 2007
Watching You, Watching Me

I believe this is a Sulfur Butterfly of some kind. Not sure.

This is a Male Orange sulphur or Alfalfa butterfly (Colias eurytheme).

Love the polka-dotted eyes. Monarch eyes are polka-dotted, too.

It is sitting on a faded gallardia blossom.

Sulfur Butterfly on Gallardia

I also captured a bit more traditional shot of the same species of buttefly sitting on a bit less faded gallardia blossom.



Identification and additional information from Philip Koenig, Missouri regional coordinator for Butterflies and Moths of North America. See www.butterfliesandmoths.org/ for more information. (Phil: Thank you!)

Plume Moth (Pterophoridae)

Saturday, October 20th, 2007
Moth

Anyone know what kind of moth this is?

One of Missouri’s two species of Plume moths (family Pterophoridae). Neither of the species has a common name. The scientific name of this species is Platyptilia carduidactyla. The larvae feed on thistles.

It alighted upon the backstop behind the stove in my parent’s house. Conveniently, the stove is lit by high intensity point source halogen bulbs.

Since it has no common name, I’m going to call it the jesus moth.

Love that shadow. Almost like bat wings.

Indentification and additional information from Philip Koenig, Missouri regional coordinator for Butterflies and Moths of North America. See http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/ for more information. (Phil: Thank you!)

Canon 50mm f/1.4 vs. f/1.8

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

I did go ahead and purchase the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Medium Telephoto Lens (pictured at right).

For an extra $225, you get a faster lens (f/1.4 vs. f/1.8) and a much much higher quality build. It features an ultrasonic focus motor that is quiet, smooth, and very fast (unlike the loud and clunky focus motor in the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8). The f/1.8 lens has a metal mount and is about 3x as heavy as the f/1.4 50mm lens.

Optically, it is a superior lens, but not entirely!

Now that I have both lenses, I’m actually torn about parting with the f/1.8 super-cheapo lens. A little bit. Not much, though.

Read on for details…

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Sony: Barfing Up Pointless Products While Spiraling the Bowl

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Today, Sony announced the HDMS-S1D “Digital Photo Album”. A standalone box that can read from various flash cards, has an internal 80GB drive for buffering photos, a CD/DVD burner and can play “professional quality” slide shows (whatever that means).

A pretend question/answer session:

Q: Can it play audio?

A: Yes — it comes with 30 pre-loaded tracks that can be used as sountracks for slideshows.

Q: No, can it play my music?

A: You can load up 5 songs from your own CDs!

Q: Uh… No. Can it play any of the 16,796 tracks I have ripped from my CDs (which are buried in the garage) or purchased from iTunes or AmazonMP3?

A: No.

Q: OK — spiffy network port. Can it play or stream video?

A: No.

Q: Mmmm-kay. Can I publish my photos to Flickr or, even, some Sony’s own proprietary Sony ImageStation site?

A: No… but you can burn photos to CD, DVD, or write them to Flash media!

…btw: we shut ImageStation months ago and will take it offline by February ’08…

Q: Let me rephrase– Can I share photos of my son’s birthday / first concert / first lost tooth / first bike ride / big finds in the woods / first day of school with family that is 2,500 miles away in less than 3 days without paying an arm or a leg for shipping?

A: Well… You could buy them a plane ticket and get them into your living room faster.

Q: Right — I’ll count that as “No”. Now, the slide show does look really good. Totally dig the face recognition. Given the rest of the features and assuming I hadn’t already solved this problem, I’d pay $100 for such a device. Sound about right?

A: No. That’ll be $400, pleeze. Kthxbai.


What the hell is Sony smoking?

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“It just works”: MAME OS X & Totally Cheap GamePad

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

I recently had a hankering to play a bit of classic video games and downloaded MAME OS X. Awesome port; Dave Dribin has done a completely kick-ass job!

Of course, playing via keyboard is painful. Especially for a 7 year old.

So, I browsed over to amazon and looked up USB game pads. Finally, I settled on the one pictured at the left. Why that one? Cheap and delivered via Prime.

Ordered and received.

Opening the box revealed no drivers. Going to the Logitech website revealed only Windows drivers. Searching around revealed some HID hackery that might work with some god-awful keyboard mapping things.

Wait — maybe MAME OS X has a clue in its documentation. If it has any.

It does! Built in! And it says:

Using Joysticks and Gamepads

USB joysticks and gamepads should be detected when the game starts up. MAME OS X does its best to map joystick buttons and inputs to MAME inputs. The player mappings should be based on which USB port the joystick is plugged into. If you have multiple joysticks, and the player order is incorrect, try swapping the USB ports.

OK… here goes!

It just works.

Dave, dude, you rock. Beers on me the next time we are in the same city. Thank you.

The game pad, btw, is about what you’d expect for $10. It works, but doesn’t compare to real arcade sticks. Maybe I’ll rip it apart when I get home and solder it into my big old honkin’ scrap wood arcade control deck.

Butterflies (And Too Much 50mm is Too Much 50mm!)

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Butterflies and how too much of a good thing leads to disappointing photos. I would like to thank someone (Gruber/DF???) for posting a link to this incredible article, which ultimately led me to picking up the 50mm f/1.8 lens. Since posting my semi-review, much discussion has been spawned. John Gruber/DF, Duncan (post 1 and post 2), and Fraser all have written some thought provoking words on the subject and I hope to drop some more semi-clueless observations in the coming days.

Thank you to all that have commented. I know that my photography skills have improved in the past week as a result.

Monarch Butterfly

Coincidental with our visit to Missouri, it appears to be Monarch Migration Season in the midwest.

At least, there have been many (4 in this picture alone) monarchs feeding on the milkweed planted in the garden border.

Absolutely gorgeous butterflies.

In this particular closeup (which I find more interesting than the traditional closeup from behind/above), it looks like the monarch’s body is covered in little paint splotches.

Zooming in on the full sized image, even the eyes have little faint white spots.

This image was taken with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens; 1/200th of a second, f/4, ISO100.

Click on through for more flittery photos.

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New Toy: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

I have been wanting a new lens for a while (what SLR photographyer — amateur or otherwise — doesn’t?) and had been eying up some serious pieces of glass.

Roger Climbing Tree

After doing a bunch of research, I ended up with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens. Complete opposite end of the spectrum from the various L series bits of glass linked above. Instead of dropping $1,500 or even $5,000, it cost me all of $76.30.

Why such a cheap lens?

Because it is a total gem.

The build quality is crap, but the image quality is outright amazing — doubly so for less than $100.

It is an all plastic lens with a focus motor that sounds akin to an old 110 film camera with an autowinder. Yet, that also means the lens is extremely lightweight. Combined with my Rebel XT body, it makes for one very small picture taking machine. It is probably 1/3rd of the weight of my 100mm Macro lens (that was pretty much my default lens until now).

With a maximum aperture of f/1.8, the lens eats light. Better yet, I’m finding that I can use the ISO 200 and ISO 400 settings of the camera without worrying too much about noise.

For example, the picture at right was one that I could not have taken with my other two lenses (the 100mm and a 17-85mm IS EF-S lens that is effectively a kit lens). I was shooting under a fairly dense pine tree in a relatively dark environment (all things considered). This is at ISO400 so could capture the always-in-motion nature of a 7 year old in a tree at a fairly high shutter speed (1/200th at f/4). It isn’t the best picture in the world — legs are a bit washed out — but I’m just happy I could take it at all and much more so that I could take it without really having to work at it much.

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