Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Aperture 2

aperture.jpgWith the tremendous functionality of all the software that comes included with every Mac (the iLife suite), one tends to forget that Apple also makes pro versions for more serious users. Aperture 2 is the pro complement to iPhoto and it’s a fabulous piece of software. In a nutshell, it’s workflow software for the serious photographer. Something of a digital darkroom. Priced at 199 € (or 199 $ in the USA), you get a whole lot more functionality than iPhoto gives you when it comes to tweaking your images. It’s all the more so if you’ve shot your images in the RAW format. In this case, it’s really amazing the degree to which you can correct and enhance the images you’ve captured. It’s also fast, makes great use of screen real estate, and very logical in the way it helps you work through many pictures fast (a problem we all face considering the free nature of digital photography).

Apple has made for Aperture a dedicated video tutorial site to get you to learn the whole thing quickly and efficiently. It’s very well done avoiding you hours of reading boring manuals. Online learning is now really a fact of life.

I’ll finish by saying that you can find all the information about Aperture here and that if you own a DSLR (a digital reflex camera) and are serious about your photography you should buy this.

Leica C-Lux 1 : Sharing Magic with Henri Cartier Bresson

Henri Cartier BressonWho hasn’t dreamed one day of being Henri Cartier Bresson ? The man, whom the french call “l’oeil du siècle” (eye of the century), is widely regarded as one of the very best photographers of the 20th century. The adventurous life he led only added to his mystique. Henri Cartier Bresson was also synonymous with Leica, the famous german manufacturer, as he was always carrying at least one M-series Leica camera. His notoriety was a very big contributor in making the legend of Leica and the iconic pictures of Bresson with camera(s) could almost serve as advertisements for the brand. More after the break…

Leica, like many traditional camera manufacturers, has had a tough time of late due to the rise of digital photography. A couple of years back (and still not entirely impossible) the company almost went bankrupt. Panasonic, through a real stroke of genius, allied themselves with Leica to gain what is now much more than a foothold in the camera market (of which they were absent). Basically, Panasonic makes the camera and they use Leica optics (which are fast and high quality). They also payed significant attention to design and quality (typical Leica trademarks) which really gave them credibility.Leica, beyond their traditional range, also sell these same Panasonic Lumix cameras which they repackage under their own brand. They are however working on releasing a digital version of their enduring classic M-series camera which should be released towards the end of this year (more detailed information can be found here). This will be quite a challenge and one that I will be following with interest 😉

Leica C-Lux 1

I just bought an ultra-compact camera from Leica : the C-Lux 1. It’s a jewel of a camera and I love it. You can find all the details about it here. Suffice to say that it’s fast, has a big screen, feels solid and is beautiful. The Panasonic version is called the Lumix DMC-FX01. It got a very nice review at dpreview.com (the best site for digital photography reviews on the net). I bought my Leica at Colette, the absolute temple of trendiness in Paris (who wouldn’t dream of selling a Panasonic…). The Leica did however cost a lot more than the Panasonic which I saw later the same day in another store (almost 200 €…). There was no difference that I could notice except for color (Leica is black and Panasonic is silver) and the software that comes with it (Leica comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements, Panasonic with their own software). I think that the premium I paid had more to with Colettethan Leica but to their defense, the shopping experience at Colette is one of a kind.

It’s a great little camera, I carry it with me everywhere. Every time I pull it out, that little red Leica logo lets me share some of that Henri Cartier Bresson magic.

Ransom Notes

R version 2neon sign IDE

Li is for informationGOne Letter / Ht

Here’s a rather fun script, Spell with Flickr, that automatically generates ransom note type text by using flickr pictures. If you don’t like how it looks, you can change letters one by one.

(via Coolhunting)

A walk down Memory Lane

In this blog, I’ve already mentioned several times the rapid pace of technological change as a phenomenon that typifies our modern society. Nothing illustrates this as well as this article on the top 100 gadgets of all time inMobile PC Magazine. For any person over thirty, this walk down Memory Lane will bring up many reminders of past sessions of techno-lust. The speed of progress is almost quantified by some of the dates on these gadgets : the dates are recent but the gadget seems prehistoric 😉 All in all, a moment of cool retrospection !!!

Notebook for Macintosh

Notebook.jpg
Talk about a cool piece of software : Notebook from Circus Ponies Software is … exactly what the name suggests : a perfect notebook. It is the ideal repository for all that information that we get in this digital age of ours. MP3s, movies, web clippings, emails, scanned articles, PDFs are all everyday fare and I have longed for a solution where I could somehow store them in a way that makes sense but that also gives the possibility to retrieve, sort, classify them in a familiar way. We have all kept various forms of journals, agendas, notebooks, scrapbooks in our life. We know how to use them. They are familiar. This application takes that well known tool and applies it to the digital lifestyle. It does so exceedingly well !!! Check it out 😉

The Best Smartphone Today

P910i.jpgAfter years of walking around with a phone, a palm PDA (and a camera), I’ve bought an all-in-one smartphone: the Sony Ericsson P910i. There are tons of good reviews out there so I’m not going to write another one. I will just give you, after two weeks of usage, my first impressions in a pro and con list:

Pros

1) It’s first and foremost a great phone (great sound, reception and autonomy)
2) Beautiful and clear screen
3) Very complete software delivered with it.
4) Syncs easily with PC and Mac !
5) The little keyboard is in fact really functional.
6) It really does replace the PDA of which it has all the functionality except WiFi.

Cons

1) It’s not that light (155 g).
2) It’s sort of bulky.
3) It feels fragile (I’m told it’s not but…)
4) The processor feels a lot slower than my Palm T3
5) The interface is a little less intuitive than Palm OS (you do need the manual…)
6) The camera is a joke

Conclusion : Do I regret the purchase ? No. It really does replace two items in favor of the one I never leave at home. Am I really excited about this product ? No. The software is just quirky enough to aggravate me. An iPod is a much better designed gadget. But for right now, after my own little market research, I do thinks it’s the best smartphone available on the market. There is however still room for improvement.

G5 PowerMac : A performance beast

G5mac.jpgThis week, I received my latest Macintosh computer : a dual processor 2Ghz Powermac + 23″ screen. I have been a Mac user since 1991 and have owned about 30 different Macs since then. I’m something of a fanatic (though show me a Mac user who isn’t). I buy high-end Macs and don’t keep them too long which gives me the possibility to stay abreast with technology. I always have one desktop and one notebook (and yes, I also have a PC….).

This latest Powermac is a real beast. It’s huge and it breathes power in it’s aluminum body. And the specs are truly incredible : two 2 Ghz G5 processors, 2 Gb RAM, 128Mb graphics card, 250 Gb hard disk, bluetooth, WiFi, 8x DVD burner. I haven’t really done anything very intensive on it yet so I can’t really say if it’s as fast as it looks but all the benchmarks on this machine seem to be promising. One very good thing about it (definitely compared to earlier powermacs): it’s very quiet. The screen is a real joy to use. It’s bright. It’s huge. On the picture, I put my notebook (12″ screen) next to it so you can compare. It took me a few moments to get used to it’s sheer size. I’ve never had this big a screen and I can still remember what it was like to work on 640×480 resolution so imagine 1920×1200 😉 . But as the nature of progress requires, you immediately adapt your way of working to what you have available to you and enjoy the newfound advantages.

One last thing. The coolest feature that this machine came with is the migration functionality. When you start it up for the first time, it asked me “Do you own an older Mac”. Upon answering yes, it then proposed to transfer all of my existing documents, apps, settings etc… by simply connecting the old mac to the new one with a firewire cable. It worked flawlessly and one hour after having set up the new machine, I was ready to go. My applications, documents, bookmarks, passwords, email accounts, digital photos etc… had all been transferred and set up. Anyone who has changed computers often can identify with the huge hassle it represents. Not this time 😉

Nikon D70 is Awesome !!!

D70.jpgI bought a Nikon D70 in Tokyo and (compared to Europe) at a good price: 1150 € for the camera, a Nikon G 28-80 zoom, a Nikon G 75-300 zoom, 256 Mb Compact Flash card and a tripod. I have started using this camera and I have to say it’s simply awesome. A true digital SLR… It’s fast, it has instant on, the battery lasts forever and of course and most importantly the pictures are great. It’s one of those instances where you take the thing out of the box, start using it, and for a brief moment, feel like a pro 😉

For those of you out there who want all the tech details check out this great review .

A few more points, don’t buy the camera like I did, but get the Nikon Kit camera + Nikon DX AF-S 18-70mm ED lens. This lens is much better than the G series lenses and you get about 50% discount on the lens if you buy it with the camera. I ended up buying it separate which lost me the benefit of my Tokyo price. Last, if you do travel around, the cheapest place to get this camera that I’ve seen is Singapore (995 € for camera + good lens + 256 Mb Card).

Dashboard vs. Konfabulator continued…

A very detailed analysis (which also pointedly ridicules my precedent article leaving me a little abashed) of this controversy has been posted at the following URL:

http://daringfireball.net/2004/06/dashboard_vs_konfabulator

My point of view has definitely changed since reading it though I still think that Apple could have avoided the negative PR by speaking to the Konfabulator people and buying them out (probably less expensive than the negative PR amongst developers…). Hard to say though… Meanwhile, I will continue using Konfabulator whilst eagerly anticipating the release of Tiger 😉

Dashboard – Konfabulator Controversy

I will add my two cents to the Dashboard – Konfabulator controversy.

First, let’s set the stage. Steve Jobs announced and previewed the next major release of Mac OS X codenamed http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/ last week at the Apple Developers Conference. A typical Steve Jobs keynote where this consumate salesman wowed the audience with all kinds of nifty new technology. This new OS was of course compared to the upcoming Longhorn, long overdue, from Microsoft and, in the traditional Mac – Windows rivalry spirit, banners were hung proclaiming « Redmond, start your photocopiers ».

A controversy quickly arose though. One element he presented was Dashboard , a java runtime environment for tiny applications named widgets that run embedded in or floating over the desktop (examples : a clock, a battery meter, airport signal strength, weather reports, stock quotes etc…). The problem : this concept already exists as a freeware named Konfabulator and Apple apparently simply went out and copied it. Apple has already done this several times in the past and the result has often been for the better because Apple has more muscle to develop and promote technology. There has never really been any controversy about this because Apple usually bought the technology or the company that created it. This time they didn’t…

My opinion is that Apple can’t claim some kind of moral high ground versus Microsoft if they do the same to their own developers. Apple should in fact treat these people with great care and empathy as they have so little marketshare that it’s usually a labor of love more than common sense to develop software for the Mac platform. Apple has a huge pile of cash stashed away and should use it in this type of circumstances.

So please, Apple, even if you did develop this stuff internally, it looks too much like Konfabulator for you not to compensate them…. It’s only fair. It lets you keep face. It gives an incentive to all the other developers out there to come out with new and great ideas for the Mac.

Lastly, lest you wonder if all of this is worth the time you spent reading this article, let me just say that I love Konfabulator and that I highly recommend it 😉