Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Tech toys

952 words

When meeting friends from school yesterday – not a reunion thing but a small meeting that’s actually to be enjoyed – at some stage we noticed that every single person in the room was a Mac user. It’s a bit scary. But much less scary than the fact that half the people in the room are medical doctors by now and that they all love sharing the disgusting things they’ve seen or heard of. It appears that one of the main things about being a doctor is learning how to stomach all that without problems.

In other, tech-related, news, I’ve enjoyed playing with my dad’s new EOS 350D in the past days. And it’s a very nice camera. While less than ideal in a few places, I find it quite usable and easy to navigate in total. That may be due to me having grown up on Canon cameras but I think it’s also because their menus are quite clear and easy to understand. Finally a digital camera where the whole ‘digital’ business doesn’t get into your way!

And it’s necessary that their menus are good. Because the manual that came with the camera is pretty much a bad joke. And a non-excellently translated one at that. What’s far less than ideal is the software Canon gives you with the camera. You end up installing a large number of different tools for all the different tasks you run into. And while those tools tend to do the job, they come at various levels of bad localisation and tend to make it hard to figure out which one you really want to use by their sheer number and ambiguous icons. The tool you can use to control the camera, i.e. to set the aperture or exposure time, white balance &c and take the shot is a particularly bad joke. Not only is it harder to use than pressing the buttons on the camera itself would be. It is also limited by the camera’s design which has a number of settings that can only be set on the camera itself.

Thankfully, you don’t really need all those tools as iPhoto will happily import your photos and spare you the extra pain. At least the JPEG files, that is, as the combination of the extra smart people at Canon who like to use different names for the same camera in different regions of the world with the extra smart people at Apple who love denying the existence of non-U.S. customers almost as much as they hate testing their software means that iPhoto isn’t able to read the camera’s RAW files. It works fine for the camera’s rebellious American cousins… but it doesn’t work for the European models. Braindead and hopefully fixed soon, so all those internet fixes are no longer needed.

And those RAW files are wondrous things… they’re huge and I have the impression that using them in iPhoto may just be a waste of disk space. iPhoto seems to only copy JPEGs when moving files across the network on iPhoto Sharing. And it’s similarly unclear to me what happens when I do several changes to the look of a RAW file in iPhoto. Will the new versions all be generated from the original file or will there be a JPEG that’s made at first and which all changed are applied to? As in all other situations in iPhoto, it looks a bit like the latter case to me. Bum! But then again… nobody expected version 5 of an Apple program to be particularly useful.

And with Apple’s new Aperture toy being around now, I wonder whether we’ll see any substantial iPhoto upgrades in the future. It’s unlikely that a non-professional photographer will want to pay half a grand just to have a glorified photo manager (i.e. what the Finder should be doing smoothly out of the box), something that moves the files around at a speed that seems adequate for the ‘supercomputer’ hardware we’re having and that has a few sliders to slightly improve the photos. Because it sounds like that’s the ‘niche’ filled by Aperture these days. All-right photo management and manipulation for the non-professional.

Finally, let me note that despite a number of attempts to do so I have yet to make a decent photo of our christmas tree with the camera. One which captures the dark and warm colours of the room where the tree is lit with candles (i.e. no flash) but where details can still be seen clearly without things being drowned in noise. Seems trickier than it sounds.

Another thing that seems inevitable for the ‘holiday season’ is that my mum thinks I need to re-organise all the drawers in my room and whatever other storage I might be using in the house. It’s stuff I haven’t looked at for years and I have mostly forgotten about but which I hesitate to throw away without having looked at it first. Naturally, I think everything is just happy in its respective drawers and that I shouldn’t need to care right now. But I’m always pushed and I need to have a little look here and there… so I end up going through a batch of things and throwing half of them away. And if I continue at the current speed, I might finish the job in late 2012. During this year’s ordeal I came across a matchbox full of barcode labels which I cut out of boxes. I don’t know when I did that. And neither do I know why I did that. But it made a fun picture. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out the products belonging to these barcodes.


December 28, 2005, 1:29


Comment by d.w.: User icon

Fun with barcodes.

December 28, 2005, 3:54

Comment by ssp: User icon

Thanks Dave, but I doubt that’ll help much with those. Too old, too uncommon.

December 28, 2005, 23:08

Comment by Jennifer: User icon


I stumbled upon your site today and was quite impressed.

I wanted to let you know about CheckUPC.com — a search engine for barcodes similar to UPCDatabase — except its far better organized and has more detailed info on products.

October 10, 2007, 10:06

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