Have I mentioned…

Posted on February 8, 2012 at 11:18 by caw
Filed under: Microsoft, OS X, Software, Virtualization, Windows Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment

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Dear Mr. Balmer,

Have I mentioned
how much I hate that piece-of-garbage Windows Vista is? Even the I-paid-you-to-get-it copy I have? No OEM bloatware added. (Sorry, HP and Dell,but you "value add" is of little value. Just sayin’…) I’m running Vista in a VM on a MacBook Pro (dual core i7 @ 2.66 GHz, 8GB of RAM, etc.) running Lion 10.7.3 and Parallels 7. It shouldn’t run like a three (3) legged cat at the dog pound - and I’m just running Internet Exploder 8. (k12.com only works with Firefox 3 and IE 7/8 but don’t even get me started on them!) So it shouldn’t surprise me that a low-level COMPAQ (Celeron @ 3.33, 2 GB of RAM) with Home Basic is a two (2) legged cat! Of course you would think Home Basic would offset some of HP’s value-added bloatware. Not so much. I’m going to be upgrading that machine to Windows 7 but I don’t have much hope.

Don’t suppose you would reconsider your decision to EOL Windows XP would you? Didn’t think so. So very sad.

Well, Vista finished booting. Finally. Back to the hate mill…

Cliff

HP and their Printer Preferences

Posted on June 12, 2011 at 12:34 by caw
Filed under: Technology | Leave a Comment

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Ok, don’t ordinarily rag on hp. In fact I love their printers; I’ve had several and am currently using an Photosmart Pro B9180 for printing my photos. I love their printers; I hate their printer preferences software. Why is it that the Paper Type/Quality > Source always defaults back to Main Tray? 99.9% of the time I use Ilford Galerie paper and you have to feed it through the Speciality Media Tray. Why can’t the printer software remember that? At least for the session? Instead, after every photo you print, the printer software defaults back to Main Tray! And since we’re ragging on hp, why can’t they get their software to talk to the printer and find out that yes, there really are printheads in there and they are really correctly installed. This is a case of the boy who cried wolf! The one time I have a printhead out of whack, I won’t believe it because their software always tells me there is a problem.

Adobe Master Collection 5.5: Contribute 5.1

Posted on May 28, 2011 at 05:53 by caw
Filed under: CS5.5 | Leave a Comment

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Disclaimer: I use Contribute purely for blog posts. If I want to update web pages I use Dreamweaver.

Well, I did. I decided to go ahead and buy the CS5.5 upgrade. I was surprised to find that not every thing is 5.5 – several of the programs are 5.1. Don’t know that it matters any, just a surprise. This 5.5 release seems to be focused on Dreamweaver, Device Central, Flash, InDesign and Premier Pro. The rest of the lot just went to 5.1. Makes me wonder if they had anything other than bug fixes and minor additions or if Adobe is just trying to keep up appearances.

I decided to start my foray into CS5.5 with Contribute, mostly because I feel guilty I have not updated my blog recently and that is the app that I use the most. (In Contribute, why is Check Spelling… under the Format menu rather than the Edit menu where you would expect to find it? That may be one of the few things Microsoft did right. Or maybe you and Apple could work something out to get realtime spelling correction?)

One of the first things to know is that Contribute 5 and Contribute 5.1 on the same machine do not play well together. The 5.1 version works just fine; CS5 not so well. CS4 and CS5.1 play well together. Why does this matter? I keep multiple version of CS on my machine at the same time. I usually keep two: current and previous. That way if the current one has a problem I may be able to rescue it with the previous one. I may end up with CS4 / CS5.5 rather than CS5 / CS5.5. This may be like Acrobat in that it touches so many things it would get confused if you tried to put two (2) different versions on the same machine. Not a big deal but worth noting. Also worth noting is that Dreamweaver 5 and 5.5 may share this oddity. You’ll probably have to test each one to find out if you favorite apps play well or not on your machine.

Back to Contribute. The main UI hasn’t changed. Left side still has the pages/drafts console and the “How do I…” help pane. Double click on the dividing line between the pages and the text area and the panels collapse into tabs just like they do in Illustrator and Photoshop. Press the tiny ddouble triangles above the panels for the same effect. You can also reorder the two tabs just by grabbing the top of one and moving it where you want it. “Undock” a panel just by grabbing it and pulling it away from the left side to any place on the screen. Not sure why you would do this but it’s your setup so have at it.

A quick look at the menus doesn’t show anything that jumped out at me as being new but I don’t have CS5 on a machine to compare it to so check your favorites to see if you got anything new.

CS5.1 screen capture with tool bar at the top, pages and How Do I on the left, text entry area on the right.The biggest change seems to be in the post space. In CS5, you wrote your post “in” your blog. That meant you saw you blog’s header and sidebar and the you had a window frame to write your post in. In Contribute 5.1, you don’t see all that when you go to write your actual post; you just see this nearly full-screen box. Does it matter? Well, no and yes. No, it doesn’t matter if all you are doing is writing a piece and putting in a few graphics. That doesn’t matter so much. Yes if you wanted a better view of how your text would interact with graphics (see beside or above or where ever). The root problem with all of this is the browser you reader is going to view this in. Unless you “own” the presentation space, that is how wide the blog body is irrespective of how big the window is (think three (3) column fixed) you text and image are going to float to the size of the window. Without the top and right side (or left or both depending on how you set you blog up) you don’t really know how things will flow out. I prefer to give my viewers as much freedom to resize the browser to view my comment. Some choose to own the browser. Most photographers choose to own the whole screen. Matter of taste I guess.

Guess that covers the things I have found in Contribute. I’ll let you know if I see any more.

Ad Sad

Posted on April 13, 2011 at 14:56 by caw
Filed under: Life on the Web, Social Commentary | Leave a Comment

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I just read an article by Jared Newman on Macworld’s web site talking about Amazon’s new, "Ad Supported" Kindle. According to the article (and Amazon’s web site), Amazon will be offering a version of it’s Kindle Reader that supports ads for $114, a whole $25 off the $139 regular price. For this sizable discount, you receive ads on the device’s screensaver and main menu.

What an offensive idea! What would be more offensive is targeted ads on your Kindle Reader: you do have to register your device which means they have access to your purchasing history via your account. Hence targeted ads.

Allow me a relevant digression…

Ads are certainly not a new thing. In addition to tradition sources like Amazon and Google, new services are entering the fray. Apple’s iAds is a good example of an up and coming player and with their share of the music player and tablet market, they could get big in a hurry!

Targeted ads aren’t new either. Amazon, Google and others have been doing it for years now. In an effort to make more money per view (or per click), businesses and web sites use targeted ads. Blogs with large followings have significant bandwidth needs which means you’ve to get a revenue stream from somewhere (or pay for it yourself). Free social websites, like Facebook, target ads based on your profile. I’m single with an interest in photography so I’m always seeing ads for photo kit and dating web sites. (I’m pretty sure there are no dating sites for single photographers or I’d be seeing those too!)

Back to the main topic…Amazon and its ad-enabled Kindle. What if they start puting ads, random or targeted, into your eBooks. They could be beneath the cover pick, befor the Table of Contents, every so many pages or randomly spread throughout the book? The author of the article on Macworld said that "If e-books could be had for cheap—or even free—in exchange for the occasional ad, I’d download them by the dozen."1

Let me go on record right now as saying this is a bad idea. Especially if they are free. While I am generally in favor of anything that will increase reading and expanding the reader’s vocabulary, not to mention teaching people that "4" is not a preposition, the whole idea is just…wrong. If I want a book the latest information and advertising, I’ll read a magazine. If I want real cutting  edge info, I’ll go to the web and put up with the ads there. Books are a different animal. I may buy a book and not read it for two years (my "to be read" pile is rather large). The ads you put in the book are long out of date so why bother? Or if you’re going to serve the latest ads, are you going to force me to connect to the publishing server every time I want to read the book or just when I open it for the first time? And what happens if you are in the middle of nowhere and you want to read your book?

"You could always do low-cost or no-cost versions with ads and a higher priced version without the ads," you say. Part of it comes back to the "how do I make a living?" question. I partially answered that question here and so I shant repeat myself. And no, I don’t have any more of the answer to the although Cory Doctorow’s might by suggesting what used to be heresy: self-publishing or publish on demand.

Regardless, I don’t want any ads in my eBook at any price! If I want to read a magazine, I hope it’s on Zinio, a digital magazine distributer.

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1. The original paragraph is "Am I the only one who thinks this is too bad? If e-books could be had for cheap—or even free—in exchange for the occasional ad, I’d download them by the dozen." The semantic construction is terrible; it leaves you with two interpretations: (i) the idea that ads in eBooks is a bad thing, or (2) that ads in eBooks is a good thing. Based on his second sentence I assume he is pro ads in eBooks.

Adobe CS 5.5 Announced

Posted on April 12, 2011 at 13:54 by caw
Filed under: Adobe, CS5 | Leave a Comment

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Adobe is finally doing something I have expected for a while: releasing an x.5 version between the x.0 versions (CS5, CS5.5, CS6). Technology is moving fast, especially mobile technology, and creative types need matching support technologies.

Image (c) 2011, Adobe, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adobe has traditionally released on an 18-24 month schedule with a major Acrobat release in between. (1) Now they are going to change it so that there is an x.5 release at the midpoint between the major releases (to wit, x.0, x.5, x+1.0).

You can get all the details on the Adobe web site here: Master Collection, Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, and Production Premium. Also, Terry White has a list of CS5.5 information resources here.

In the past, in the mid-point between CS releases (for example, CS34 and CS5) there was a new Acrobat release (Acrobat 8 for CS3 to CS4, Acrobat 9 for CS4 to CS5, Acrobat X for CS5 to CS.x). The upgrades were $150 and you got a "credit" when you bought the new CS upgrade (it’s a warm fuzzy thing I think but I might just be cynical). It will be interesting to see what the new pricing will be for the CS5.5 upgrade if you have already purchased the Adobe Acrobat X upgrade. Now will you get the discount at the x.5 upgrade or at the x.0 upgrade? Probably at the x.5 upgrade; that’s where I’d expect to see the new version of Acrobat come out.

(1) This is my experience since I started using their products with CS2. I have no history before that nor do I have history with macromedia.

Preserving Memories

Posted on March 20, 2011 at 10:20 by caw
Filed under: Photography | Leave a Comment

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You have probably heard this before so I’m going to say it again.

If you are like me you probably have a ton of photographs and slides sitting in boxes or in memory albums. From time to time you might even take them out and look at them. In my case, I still have a small stack of photos of my late wife to digitize. In my parents case, they have a box full of slides from the 70’s back who knows how many decades. All of them are subject to damage from water, fire, natural disasters like your 2 year old son and your brand new puppy.

Now, your first thought is going to be "I have all my photos on my hard drive of my computer." Good start; hard drives last on average two (2) years. Try again.

But I have duplicates on a drobo raid array right next to my computer that has all my photos on it, too. Great, when the theives come they can take them both.

But I have them on on DVD and just to be safe I put them in my safe deposit box at my bank. Getting better. Did you back up the images from the last three (3) months? Oops!

In the past you’ve heard me talk about the value of services like Photoshelter. Even if you don’t plan to sell your photographs, they are a great back up service. They also make a great way to display you photos in a way that isn’t flickr (yes, I have a flickr account, too, just like everyone else on the planet).

So that takes care of your digital assets. What about your slides and printed photographs – you know, the ones that came from film? These have to be scanned to digital format - usually JPEG, sometimes they can do TIFFs. This is a pricey adventure whether you buy your own scanner and do it yourself or you have them professionally scanned. The real question is how much is you time worth to you? For me the answer is clear: a lot!

Because of that, I chose to take mine to Colormark, a local printing and scanning company here in metro Phoenix. (Doesn’t hurt that they are right next to Photomark, my favorite store for curing NAS – Nikon Acquisition Syndrome!) I have history with Colormark so using their service isn’t a big risk for me. Finding a service in your area might be more of a challenge. I suggest you takes some samples to have scanned and make sure you like the results.

If you can’t find one locally, you can try the Internet and here I can offer no advice. I have never used an online scanning company. All I can say is do your research, ask your local camera stores, and send samples.

Bottom line: backup, backup, backup and keep a set off-site.

iTunes 10

Posted on September 3, 2010 at 08:58 by caw
Filed under: Apple, OS X | Leave a Comment

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Apple has released the new version of iTunes, iTunes 10. This one has new features (obviously) including the ability to rent HD TV episodes for 99¢, a new thing called Ping that lets you keep up with your favorite stars and their most rabid fans, new iPods for those who like to collect hardware, play music wirelessly via AirPlay on AirPlay-enabled speakers (I wonder how long it will take to get the first version of those out), plus some other  goodies.

Image © Apple, 2010

I know wireless is a popular item these days but is it becoming too much of a good thing? Chances are, if your house was built for you and you thought you might want to put in a security system, you probably had it hard-wired in. Why? Because you get contact points everywhere rather than the limited number a wireless system can support. Same with your surround sound.  Chances are you won’t be moving those speakers around too often, so again, you likely have them wired in. Phone lines? I bet you didn’t put them in every room, just the ones that would either support your wireless base-station or that would need them for PPV TV access. Computer networks? Have you secured them? Have you changed you passwords for them recently?

If you have a wireless setup for your keyboard or mouse, say hello to Bluetooth. Got a hands-free for you cell phone that came with the car? that’s Bluetooth too, and very easy to listen in on your conversations by the way.

All I’m saying is all that wireless may not be so great after all. The boxes outght to come with stickers that say "Use with Caution!"

For those who might not have been watching, Parallels’ has released a new version of their Parallels for Mac, version 5.0.9376. This looks like another patch release but I’ll post something if I see anything interesting.

DSLR Video

Posted on June 6, 2010 at 01:48 by caw
Filed under: Photography | Leave a Comment

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Yesterday I did two things I said I would not do: get into “video” via my DSLR camera and buy another DX-format camera.

I must admit I have thought of video-via-DSLR somewhere between a fad and a joke. It seemed reasonable that if you wanted stills you would use a DSLR and if you wanted video you would use one of the digital video cameras. How difficult can that be? Not very until I read a post on Sallee Photography’s blog. In it, there is a great quote: If you aren’t learning something new every day, you competion is! While I am not a wedding photographer (and not sure I would want to be one – the pressure of a once-in-a-lifetime shoot), there are other aspects of photography I am interested in such as portrait, pets and nature photography. Video-via-DSLR seems to be one of those things.

Which brings me to my second point: I’m not buying another DX-format camera. I’m not! I did, a Nikon D5000.  Now let’s clarify a couple of things. First and foremost, I got spoiled in a hurry by my FX-format D700, especially when I went to fast lenses. No more 1.5x conversion factors, no more “if I want a 75mm I have to use a 50mm lenses”, no more “I wish I had better color” or “I wish I had a higher ISO”, none of that. The full frame of the FX means lenses are what I expect them to be (i.e., an 85mm protrait lenses is really 85mm).

Second, why the DX-format D5000? Well that is a bit of perverted thinking on my part. Call it an experimental camera. I’m not interested in spending $6K to get an FX-format camera (read “D3s) until I know what video from a DSLR can do. (I know, several big name photographers have done amazing video with their cameras but I’m talking about me here.) Either way, I expect to “ebay” the D5000 within a year and, assuming I like what I see, buy a used D3s, which is what I really wanted in the first place. Better to lose a few hundred dollars than a few thousand, neh?

And about the October 14, 2009, post… ignore that one.

Even Microsoft Doesn’t Know Which Keys Are Valid!

Posted on April 4, 2010 at 10:32 by caw
Filed under: Microsoft, Windows 7 | Leave a Comment

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Microsoft, in a bid to stem the rate of piracy of their software, has come up with the "Genuine Advantage" program. It allows you to check you 25 character key to determine if it is valid or not. They spend significant time and resources trying to keep up with Apple and the company wants paid for its efforts. Fine, I have not itch with that. But when they can’t even figure out if the key for the software they sold me is valid or not, that is a totally different story.

I bought Vista at the time they were running the "buy Vista now and get a free upgrade to Windows 7" promotion. (Before you castigate me, consider the number of web sites that still only run in Microsoft Exploder.) I elected to download both and burn my own CDs if needed (read "instant gratification"). Microsoft dutifully sent me a key for Vista which works just fine.

(Sorry for the delay. Figured I had better go and check that Vista was still ok. It is.)

Yesterday I wanted to load a program on my Windows 7 instance (remember Windows in Parallels on a Mac) and was shocked to find out that the key I had been using successfully for quite some time was no longer valid. In other words, Microsoft thought I was a pirate! I tried checking the key with the tools they supply (like Genuine Advantage) and they told me I had a bogus key. So I called the Microsoft Store, who connected me to Tech Support, who connected me to Tech Support Escalation, who sent me back to Microsoft Store, who sent me to Tech Support, who finally sent me to the one person who said "I’ll look into this and get back to you."

And she did. She got me an answer that fixed my problem. While I wasn’t happy at getting the run around I did and I certainly wasn’t happy that Microsoft couldn’t decide if the key they sold me was valid, at least I did get my problem resolved.

"Is the iPad Green?"

Posted on April 4, 2010 at 10:02 by caw
Filed under: Apple | Leave a Comment

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I read an article on whether or not the iPad was a green device. (Did I mention that I was reading the article about the iPad on my iPad? But I digress.) The article quotes several reasons why the iPad is a green device: reusable aluminum shell, LED-backlit screen, PVC-free, saves trees (as do Kindle and nook and the others), etc. In short, yes the device is green – or at least greenish enough to qualify as green.

Now comes the stupidity…

The "no" part comes from cloud computing and the massive data centers cloud computing requires. They aren’t so green it seems, specifically because they get most of the energy from non-renewable (read "dirty") energy sources – mostly coal and nuclear. People the point is the iPad is greener, not the data centers! And I have news for you: most web sites, not just the social networks like Facebook and twitter, are also hosted out of massive data centers as well!

There are a couple of old proverbs that fit this: Every journey begins with a single step. The other is "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." And don’t bother yelling at me about eating elephants, that isn’t the point. The point is, you are more likely to see long-term success if you start with the "disposable" electronics like cell phones and data pads and computers than you are trying to attack the elephant data centers. Most people toss phones every couple of years, computers every three to five. When was the last time you tossed your data center in the trash, eh?

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