Archive for December, 2004

Utah – it’s not that far anymore!

Thursday, December 9th, 2004

Wow. According to Wikipedia, Utah is not that far from Massachusetts. If it’s where they claim it is (according to the map), I could drive to Provo in six and a half hours.

Evidence (in case someone over at Wikipedia notices):
Screenshot of Wikipedia (about Utah)


Camera battery status update

Thursday, December 9th, 2004

According to the non-scientific tests done at the office on Monday and Tuesday, I have pretty much determined that the camera energy crisis is due to what seems like faulty batteries.

Since I have five batteries of three different brands, all purchased at four different times, I believe that there are only a few things each has in common (besides being intended for my camera):
# They’re all near each other (in my camera bag), typically.
# I have used the same HUGE, clunky charger (which only charges one battery at a time despite having two slots). It and the power adapter cable are super expensive (although mine came with my camera); thankfully there are now cheap alternatives available, due to the popularity of the Digital Rebel.
# The use of my batteries has been pretty much the same: I shoot until they appear empty, just every once in a while pushing them until the camera shuts off. Regardless of battery life usage, I usually charge the suckers before going out for a photo excursion (usually during the night before).

Anyway, with the help of Rodney and his own camera equipment, I’m guessing that the batteries are shot — and it’s due to the charger. With only limited testing, it does appear as though my camera works without problems (although I’m not sure).

Here’s a rough overview of what we found out playing mix-and-match with his camera stuff and mine:
* His charger doesn’t like my glitchy batteries. It does the same thing as my charger (It responds with, “Oh this is full! I’ll stop charging” after a few seconds).
* My batteries are shown as “full” in his camera for half a minute, then the little batstat indicator flashes and the camera dies; excatly what happens with the same batteries in my camera.
* My camera appears to work fine with his battery.

I did not try his battery in my charger. Killing off his battery (if my charger is indeed breaking mine) wouldn’t be nice, especially when he helped me diagnose the problem.

The result? I ordered a new charger + battery combo and an additional battery. After the new goods are in my hands, I’ll get rid of all my old batteries and stop using the oversized charger for anything other than AC hookup.

The new batteries should last longer out in the field: They’re 1600 mAh as opposed to a mere 1100 mAh for the official Canon ones or the 1250 mAh for the generics. The price was nice too.

Cost: $31.85 (includes shipping)

If I would have gone with all Canon replacements, it would have been $109 for the CA-PS400 and $49.95 (x2) for two Canon BP-511 batteries. Grand total for official Canon stuff: $208.90 + $11.70 (for shipping) = $220.60.

Savings for going with 3rd party parts: $188.75!

Shopping on the Internet rocks.

New Industrial Firefox theme version: Priority text and other nice little things

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

I spent a little while this past evening working on a revision of the Industrial Firefox theme.

The quick list of little changes:
* Priority text for the back icon (as talked about earlier) – this only takes effect if the widgets are in icon-only mode and also set to the small size
* Better padding for the back and forward widgets
* Margin fixing for the toolbar search box – this fixes a too-large bar for both the toolbar and the menu if the search entry is placed in either
* Gnome looking “X” on tabs, if you happen to have TabX installed.

You can grab the latest Industrial (version 1.0.9) from the usual location.

Please note that recent versions of the Industrial Firefox theme require at least Firefox 1.0 to function properly.

By-the-way: If you are using TabX and want to make the default “X” go away, add .tabs-closebutton-box {display: none !important;} to your userChrome.css file (which can be easily edited through the chromEdit extension).

Priority text in Firefox

Tuesday, December 7th, 2004

Mike Rhodes sent me email to point out Phil Wilson’s weblog entry concerning priority text in Firefox. It may make sense to actually have the Industrial Firefox theme do this by default if the icons are set to small and “no text”, as other programs in GNOME do this as well, such as Evolution, for instance.

What do you all think?

Intelligent RSS/Atom feed reader

Monday, December 6th, 2004

There are a ton of feed readers (supporting RSS and Atom), but none are smart enough yet. The best of the best only go as far as to aggregate and display the lot in one merged stream. Others only provide a multi-stream interface.

What I want in the next-gen feed reader is some sort of smart keyword matching system, easy-to-use (and relevant) ranking, Bayesian filtering, similarity grouping (as seen in Google news), a TiVo-like intelligence (maybe going as far as suggesting new feeds it thinks I might like), a timeline widget, and a vFolder-like concept (saved searches) like Evolution has.

It should also be able to weight graphics-heavy posts a bit higher — think comics and photo-blogs. Most reblogged stuff is text-only, so graphic intensive posts would probably be interesting, easy to scan, and most likely original.

Feed readers need to take the next step. I want the reader to tell me what’s cool and what I should look at. I want it to know what I find interesting and tailor my stream of feeds to my constant updating profile.

Having these features would be great and would, as a bonus, save so much time.

Camera problems!

Sunday, December 5th, 2004

I went out to take a few pictures today (right before the sun went down), and noticed that my camera batteries are going from something that seems fully charged to completely empty within a couple minutes. All of my BP-511s were “fully charged” according to my charger.

The batteries getting drained issue is basically one of three things:
* My Canon D60
* The charger
* The batteries themselves

I would guess that it is less likely that it would be the batteries (of which my camera takes one at a time), as there are five different ones, many purchased at different times.

It could be the charger itself. It might not be charging the batteries appropriately. It is, however, a dual-battery charger so both charging points (or something that is common with each) would have to be out of whack.

If it is not one of those two, it could very well be my camera itself. I am, after all, getting a full battery reported for a few minutes before it goes dead.

Hopefully someone from work (with a compatible Canon) will bring in their camera, batteries, and charger to help in figuring this out as quickly as possible.

New York: before and after

Friday, December 3rd, 2004

There’s a neat project (by a guy named Douglas Levere) called New York Changing. Basically, he re-photographed areas of New York based on an old bunch of photos. His shots used very similar angles, lighting, equipment, and techniques so that the effects of time on the city could be clearly seen.

His work is great; it’s really worth taking a few moments to view all of the time-distant sets of images.