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Showing posts from 2008

User Interface and Market Size

When cars were new, a hundred years ago, each had different arrangements for the controls. There were hand throttles, foot throttles - originality was more important than consistency. Those were the days when a European automobile executive foresaw a market for a million automobiles, since that was his estimate of the number of peasants intelligent enough to be trained as a chauffeur!

The consistent user interface observed in all cars is a prerequisite
to their omnipresence. Imagine getting into a rented or borrowed car
and needing to figure out where the controls are. In the late eighties
I remember being unable to use a friend's car, unaware you have to
push a button to turn the key. But muscle memory is even more
important. Driving on British highways is not a problem, you stay in
your lane with all the other people. But when you're going down a
narrow country lane with hedges either side, and a lorry comes around
a corner up ahead, my Canadian instincts take me the wrong way, and I


We had our company holiday party recently, where I work. I set up a photo booth, to get some practice in doing studio type portraits. Lesson one: I should have taken my own backdrop, instead of using the net and painted background of the indoor driving range. I thought it would go darker and more out of focus, but not quite enough. I do like the portraits, all the same.

Happy Birthday, Paul!

Got my new Canon 5D Mark II camera, and took some pictures at a party in a dark restaurant.

ISO 6400, F/4.0, at a mix of 1/10s, 1/20s, & 1/30s, handheld, 105mm except the wide shot, 24mm. Lenses with Image Stabilization are a good thing.

The real reason people hold birthday parties:

Never leave out the party organier:

Almost Full Moon

The moon is pretty big and pretty bright tonight, and I'm supposed to practice focusing my new telescope.

ISO 100, 1/100s, and the telescope naturally provides f/8.

On the canon XTi, the 500mm lens acts like an 800mm. The camera shoots 3888x2592. This image is 1778x1778. Ignoring the wasted sky outside the central square, cropping doubled the apparent size of the moon.

Clearly, I'm not finished practicing, that focus needs to be sharper. Still, an interesting addition to the collection, especially considering the price. Of course you have to count that against the time you spend doing multiple takes, trying to get the focus right. Let's rate that at just $20/hr ... it adds up.


I came across a store selling telescopes as camera lenses. It's reflector telescope designed to be used with cameras. Doesn't have an eyepiece, doesn't attach to a tripod. Does attach to a camera, does have a focus adjustment, marked with distances.

Looks like this:

A Canon 300mm lens is $4000 US, that's f/4, IS Image Stabilization, USM focus motor. A Canon 500mm lens is $5700, an 800mm lens is $11,000. That's more than my motorcycle!

My lens cost me $135, including shipping and border fees. At that price, you sacrifice a few incidentals, such as IS Image Stabilization. You don't get a focus motor, you have to focus manually. You don't even get an aperture, to reduce the light you have neutral density filters which cut the light be 2 and 4 f-stops. No, the filters don't go on the front, you have to take the lens off the camera and fit them on the rear.

As for the focus, you have to get it dead right. At a distance of 12 feet, you get a depth-of-field of 1/…

Military Families Speak Out

The US organization Military Families Speak Out opposes George's war. MFSO raises awareness of their existence and the possibility of opposition using toy soldiers tagged with their URL.

Since Canada hosts a number of AWOL and other military resistors, I thought MFSO needed some Canadian content.

The Charge on the Skating Rink, Toronto City Hall

MFSO take on the Blue Jays

The Tower Tour

Nuit Blanche

October 4 Was Nuit Blanche, an overnight art event organized by the City of Toronto. I was assigned to document some of the sites.

A couple of the sites lent themselves to particularly interesting photographs ...

But my favourite wasn't an art event at all, but a guy who put glowtubes all over his bicycle.

What's Your Octane?

Wherever I go in eastern Canada and the US, I've found three octane options at the gas pump. Bronze, Silver, Gold. 87, 89, 91. Regular, Plus, Premium. Western states add a discount option, 85; I'm not sure whether they're stingy or whether conditions allow a cooler fuel. I know 85 is throughout Utah, but I'm sure I've seen it elsewhere.

Just about everywhere, the button for the inexpensive, low-octane option is on the left, with the higher priced options further to the right. Except, every once in a while, you'll come across a station where they put the low octane in the middle, and the medium octane on the left.

I don't think it's an accident, or a local tradition of reading out from the middle. I think because the owner of that station believes that tricking people into buying a higher octane than the customer actually wants, is more important than serving the customer honestly.

It can't make much of a difference. Regular customers know which button…

Photo from David Levine's Exhibit

Gallery345 opened their exhibit of David Levine caricatures, last Friday evening. I took some photos of the people:

Which Dwarf Are You?

I'm a software developer trying to re-invent myself as a photographer, so I thought I should create a blog to generate some awareness.

Then I realized there are a number of things I want to discuss, not just the arts. Most of all, I want to express some opinions about things that are wrong all around me.

I thought about calling the blog Out in Left Field, cause the ideas are different, or, since I'm complaining about things, Grumpy Old Man. But I'm not so sure I want to create an impression of advanced age and feebleness. Then I came across the perfect way to left people know that I Am Not Happy ...

I rear-ended a car this morning. So there we are alongside the road and slowly the driver gets out of the car . . . I could not believe it . . he was a dwarf! He storms over to my car, looks up at me and says, "I AM NOT HAPPY!"So, I look down at him and say, "Well, if you aren't Happy, which dwarf are you?"