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Thank God for backups

I was writing a tool in python to automatically move images into a directory hierarchy based on the stored EXIF date...Everything was working great until I decided that I should run it on ALL of my images, even those which were already in the correct location. The program as written did something like this: - Oh, you want to move file /pics/2004-12-21/dscn001.jpg? Ok, where should it go? - Based on the date, it should be renamed to /pics/2004-12-21/dscn001.jpg - Does that already exist? Yup! - Do the SHA-1 sums match? Yup! - Therefore I must have copied the file there before, delete the original! That last step, by the way, was added to prevent duplicate images from accumulating all over my hard drive. It works great when the "source" and "destination" files are actually different! Good thing I've got backups. The only problem is that it takes forever to recover as they're all on CDs.

MMOFM: Massively Multiplayer Online...

...Fridge Magnets? This reminds me of an idea Travis and I had for Massively Multiplayer Online Solitaire. One person would play a regular game of solitaire, and everybody else would watch. Of course, if you've ever watched somebody play solitaire you know that you can't help but suggest what their next move should be. So in the online version everybody would have a little pointer thingy that they could use to tell the actual player what their next move should be. We figured it would be pretty funny to have a few hundred of these pointers flying around the screen trying to get the player to do something! It still cracks me up thinking about it :) But maybe you had to be there...and a little bit of booze probably wouldn't have hurt either.

My Linux Christmas Wishlist

A recent Ask Slashdot story, Professional Photographers Using Linux?, got me thinking about what I'd like to see on Linux in terms of image editing. I use Linux 99% of the time (the only time I boot into windows is to do my taxes...maybe I'll see if QuickTax will work with wine this year), and although far from being a professional photographer, I'd still like to see Linux become a viable platform for professional image editing. In no particular order:

  • Colour profile support across the board. GIMP needs to support it, the display drivers need to support it, the printer drivers need to support it. Drivers for calibration tools like the Spyder would be the next step.
  • More than 8-bits per channel in GIMP. 16 would be nice, floating point as an option would be better (RAM is cheap, right?).
  • A killer workflow / image management app. I'm hoping f-spot fits the bill.
  • More polished photo-oriented tools in GIMP. Preview on the unsharp mask would be great. Preview of the dcraw input would be great. Being able to tweak the values of a particular operation afterwards would be wicked. Think editing an operation's parameters in the undo list and having those changes take effect and propagate forwards. Being able to create customized toolbars / dialogs with my commonly used operations would also be great. Right now the top 3 operations I do are: levels adjustment, unsharp mask, and resize / crop. It takes quite a few button clicks to get to these operations right now.
caveat: I haven't tried GIMP 2.2 yet (if it's not in debian unstable, chances are I won't check it out), so some of these things may be done already. They may even be there in 2.0 and I just haven't found them yet! If that is the case, could somebody point the way for me?

A new toy

Well, I finally did it. I bought a Nikon D70. A guy at Henry's made me an offer I couldn't refuse. If you live in Mississauga, I can highly recommend Lan at the Henry's just north of Square One. He took very good care of me and I left the store a very satisfied customer, and definitely willing to go back. So far I'm very pleased with the camera. It's lightning fast, and the first pictures out of it were razor sharp. Ok, maybe not the first pictures; it took me a few minutes to realize that autofocus wasn't enabled... Unfortunately I haven't had a lot of time to play with it, so all you get for now are the three images I've got up there now. More to come soon, I promise :) What happened to the Digital Rebel, the 20D, or the *ist DS you ask?
  • Digital Rebel: Inferior build quality and a feature-crippled body. Come on, a plastic lens mount on the kit lens?
  • 20D: Too expensive. I think my wife would have something to say if I bought the 20D...
  • *ist DS: Not a great lens selection. For a little bit more $$$ I could get the D70 with a superior lens, more features in the body, and the way is open to all of Nikon's lenses and other accessories sometime in the future.
This is not to say that these cameras aren't great cameras. But for me, looking at what kind of budget I had for this, the D70 was a no-brainer.

Chronicles of Narnia

I meant to post this a long time ago, but never quite got around to finishing it off...But better late than never! I finished reading all 7 books in the Chronicles of Narnia. A very enjoyable set of books that I would say everybody should read at least once in their lifetime. I remember going to see a live performance of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was quite young. I came away with this sense of adventure and mystery surrounding Narnia and the wardrobe in particular. The scene where Lucy first comes through the wardrobe into Narnia was very powerful in my mind from the play, and the book did not disappoint. One thing I particularly enjoyed about the series was the Christian parallel that was present throughout the books. I never realized this as a child, but it was quite evident to me when reading through the books, particularly The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Last Battle. Everything is there: Creation, the Fall, the Incarnation, the Apocalypse. I'm very much looking forward to the movie.

Pentax *ist DS

So Pentax's latest offering is out. By all accounts it is a great camera, priced between Canon's Digital Rebel and Nikon's D70. One thing I like about is it's side-by-side comparison: D70 vs. *ist DS. Very similar specs. The D70 has some advantages in some areas, the DS has some advatages of its own. One big thing that doesn't show up on this comparison is the fact that the DS's RAW files are not compressed. They estimate you can fit 90 RAW files onto a 1 GB SD card. Compare this to the D70 (and the 300D?) which uses lossless compression for its RAW files which means that you can get somewhere in the neighbourhood of 190 pictures on a 1 GB flash card. Using compression lowers the bandwidth load between the camera and the flash card, so the D70 is also able to get images onto the card faster and clear the buffer faster so that the next picture can be taken sooner. The D70 or 300D give me more bang for the buck in terms of memory cards. The D70 has an orientation sensor (a nice feature that I would have expected to see on any camera made since 2003), faster max. shutter speed, faster shot rate, can have more images in the buffer before having to wait, wider range of exposure compensation, and probably the best metering system out there. On the other hand, the DS uses regular AA batteries, which is great. You can get decent NiMH batteries that last a long time, and in an emergency, AA batteries can be found pretty much everywhere. It looks like it's got a better viewfinder than the D70, has a larger LCD (although that can mean it uses more power), and is smaller and lighter than the D70. I guess the proof is in the pudding - can the DS take great pictures? I'm going to wait until some more complete reviews come out before making any judgements...

Getting nervous

So with the majority of my nintendo stuff sold ("why not all of it?" you ask? stay tuned....), I've got a great wad of virtual cash burning a hole in my virtual wallet and have been poring over local camera shop ads in search of the "Best Deal" for the Nikon D70. I've also been reading a few different photography forums online, and for the most part people seem quite happy with the D70. But as they say, every silver lining has a cloud. There have been a few reports that the D70 sometimes just stops working. Permanently. While the D70 hasn't been out long enough for any of the cameras to be out of warranty, this is a little distressing to say the least. It seems that there is no user error here - the camera simply goes to sleep one day and never wakes up again. What if this happens after the camera is out of warranty? What if this happens while on vacation? Since I had pretty much decided on the D70, I haven't been paying as close attention to the Canon 20D to see what serious issues, if any, have come up with it. There were some issues with firmware upgrades, but as far as I can tell they were mostly user error, and all new units have the most recent firmware installed. Compound that with the ever-increasing number of hot pixels in my 3 year old Coolpix 990, and the flaky battery contacts and I cannot help but start to pay more attention to the little voice inside that questions the long term reliability of digital cameras.