"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."
- Nelson Mandela.
In a matter of hours on Friday, Typhoon Haiyan completely devastated parts of the central Philippines. It was one of the strongest storms ever recorded. The death toll is estimated up to 10,000 with hundreds of thousands more displaced. The country has declared a “state of calamity.”
To all our…
Typhoon aftermath 'apocalyptic' -
Storm chaser, James Reynolds shot some incredible video of the super typhoon as it hit Tacloban City.
Folks. A true tragedy has unfolded in the Philippines. These folks could sure use your help. We’ve donated a piddly $75 from our home ($25 from me, from Beata, and from Marzocco the dog, who loves the Philippines!) And I’m challenging all of you reading this to do the following:
1. Post a tumblr post about the tragedy in the Philippines and ask people to donate.
2. I challenge you to match our $25 per person (or living being) per household to the relief funds for this tragedy. $25 is nothing to most of us - it’s a lunch with a beer, it’s two tickets to the movies, it’s a week’s worth of morning cappuccinos at Starbucks. But that $25 (or more) will go a long way to helping these folks hit by such devastation.
Donate. Spread the Word.
Here’s several donation links:
Canadian Red Cross Haiyan Relief Fund
American Red Cross Typhoon Relief Fund
British Red Cross Typhoon Relief Fund
Philippines Red Cross
Shelterbox (already in Philippines because of earthquake)
CNN List of ways to help
Who knows. This might be my next camera. I’ll probably have to sell my Leica M6 to buy it though.
So I managed to finally get a Chromecast. I’ve been to the states a few times since it was launched and tried to buy it at Best Buys a few times only to find it sold out. I finally ordered it through Amazon and had it delivered to a US mailing address I have. Here’s some thoughts, especially for folks in Canada.
Redonkulously easy to set up. No IP Address in Canada issues. Plug it in, download the Chromecast app for your computer (or get the APK for your Android phone or tablet) and let it search for the Chromecast. Register, copy an id number, and bam, it’s registered to your Google account. Plus others in the house can access it through Chromecast in Android, and Chrome browsers. Multiple units, no problem - assign it a name (bedroom tv, living room, etc) and they’re listed in plain english on your devices.
Play music works almost flawlessly, if you have done various tricks to get Play music working in Canada (for storage of your own music - you still can’t buy music in Canada from Google Music). I’ve seen a few hiccups, but mostly it works fine. Ditto for Play Movies and TV. The Chromecast pulls this content direct from the Internet, so it works better, and in full HD.
Netflix works well, and full 1080p HD on my Chromecast! It’s quite good and flicker free when it is running HD content. However, if you’ve done things to get Netflix USA on your devices (via Unblock US or other services) you cannot play that content on the Chromecast - at best it’ll start loading the content to 25% and stop. This is because your VPN / DNS tricks don’t work on the Chromecast - it has Google’s DNS servers hard baked into its OS.
Broadcasting Chrome browser tabs works very, very well, and is pretty smart too. It knows when stuff is full screen, as an example, and if you’re viewing pages off the web with high quality video, etc, and go full screen, the HD video plays on your Chromecast tv without any problems or hiccups.
Youtube generally works well, but seems like it could use some work. I like the Android Youtube link better than the desktop browser linking. But see below.
Want to play your local computer content on your Chromecast tv? You can, by loading your movie files into your web browser, then broadcasting that tab to the Chromecast. But this doesn’t work very well - the video gets choppy and stutters after a few minutes. Basically, your Chrome browser is doing double duty - showing local content and trying to stream that local content via wifi to the Chromecast (which can’t pull the content direct from the Internet).
The Not So Good
Netflix US won’t work. Google hard baked in their DNS servers (220.127.116.11). But this also means any other cockblocked content (ie, stuff only available in the US or UK or whatever) won’t work, so any Youtube US only stuff won’t work; The Daily Show, etc ditto. You can try broadcasting a tab in your Chrome Browser showing the Daily Show, but it won’t play on the Chromecast TV.
Youtube has some problems. For instance, it won’t play a playlist. It will just play the first video then stop. It needs some work.
Of course, the other services Google is trumpeting for Chromecast: Hulu, HBO Go, CBS, ABC, NBC (coming soon) Pandora and other coming soon services will not work in Canada.
What it Needs
Chromecast needs a better landing screen on your television. When running, it just shows a photo, says its ready and which Chromecast it is (ie, Living Room Chromecast); as well as the network it’s on. It could use added content, like time, weather, calendar, or other stuff you might want to broadcast, like your schedule, news or the like.
Google has blocked any effective 3rd party access for now, so you can’t make use of the full power Chromecast offers. Google has to come up with an easy method to broadcast local content to the Chromecast (a la Airplay for iOS). This is Chromecast’s killer app, and Google needs to bring this out like yesterday.
When your music is playing, things are pretty bland on the screen - just a static image of your album art that changes position once in a while. It needs more, like a sound sensitive screensaver effects, or showing next songs on the playlist, or something.
The flex in a VST 18g basket under pump pressure, and if you look closely, how that flex is relieved once espresso starts to flow.
Happy Fathers Day Pops! on Flickr.
My Dad, the Rocker (photo’s circa 1959-1960).
Honest to a fault. Hard working, blue collar guy. Capable head of his extended family. Been through tough times. Salt of the earth guy who knew how to laugh and how to have a good time, but also knew his responsibilities.
A damned fine father.
RIP Dad; I’ll miss you fiercely, will love you always.
Gary Douglas Prince, January 26, 1943 - September 15, 2013.
Walkabout Gear, Sept 13, 2013. on Flickr.
Most recent walkabout gear. If you don’t want to visit Flickr, here’s what is in the picture:
- MEC Organic Cotton slight-v Tee
- Custom sport shirt, summer weight, dark blue weave. I have to get custom cuz of my huge neck ;) (they only cost about $75 custom made, not too bad).
- Adrian Kliss buffalo leather bag
- Borsalino summer silk knit cap
- “Petit Prince” Moleskine notebook (gift from Beata); for my photo notes when shooting film
- My favourite pen, a gift from my Mum a few years before she died.
- Nexus 4 smartphone
- Ray Ban Clubmaster sunglasses (I’ve owned these over 25 years now)
- Pebble watch
- Nikon SP 2005 Special Edition rangefinder with 35mm f1.8 lens
- The Nikon’s in a 1960s vintage Nikon half case I bought on eBay for $25.
In the bag is a few photography magazines I brought with me for reading. Also, my headphones and a few spare rolls of film. I shot one roll.
Walkabout Gear on Flickr.
You see a lot of these photos staged; this one’s real ;) It’s what I had on me last Sunday tooling around Vancouver. I’ll try to post one like this every week.
Have a look at the comments in this The Verge article on the new Olympus EP-5 camera. You’ll find a variety of people bitching about too many camera manufacturers going “retro” in their designs. One commenter says
The retro design was cute at first but I’m now so sick of Fuji and Oly taking it to the literal extreme.
I won’t comment so much on Olympus’ design choices other than to say I do think that Olympus has done some retro design work just for the sake of it looking retro.
But I can tell you as someone who’s shot film and digital cameras for over 25 years, in many ways the peak of functional camera design happened in the 1970s and early 1980s; at least in terms of usability and intuitive design. It really started with the Leica M3 in the 1950s; Leica came up with a design that, to many, made the camera an extension of your hand.
When Nikon developed their SP rangefinder, they borrowed a lot from Leica and included some of their own innovations - it’s almost completely natural to go from one finger (your index finger) at the shutter trigger area to two fingers - your index and middle finger - up in that area, one for shutter, the other to fine tune your focus. Nikon’s S range rangefinders gave you that option.
Then the Nikon F came along and changed everything. SLRs became the future, and because of the look-through-the-lens ability, the design and usability had to evolve once again.
Nikon, Canon, Olympus and even Minolta fine tuned the SLR shooting experience through the 1970s onto the early 1980s. All these makers (and others) designed an amazing platform that worked with almost every pair of hands out there, no matter the size. They all helped evolve the SLR into a tool that almost literally became an extension of your hand. Everything felt right and natural. The placement of dials, knobs, levers, and buttons all fell into the right spots. The placement of the lens barrel acted as a place to not only hold and stabilize the camera, but also was perfectly placed for focusing… and then in the 1980s, a place to zoom in and out too.
For me, the pinnacle of camera design was the Nikon F4. That camera has an absolutely crazy amount of things you can control on it and everything is accessible through levers, buttons, dials and other electro-mechanical controls. That Nikon was able to make such a complex, intensive camera that still felt natural and comfortable enough to do almost all your control things with your eye to the viewfinder staggers my mind to this day.
But with that said, the camera is still crazy complex, and far too complex for most photographers today. Which brings me back to “retro”. I still think the best mechanical camera ever made for 35mm film is Nikon’s FM3a camera, introduced around 2000. It’s not only the best mechanical film camera ever made because of the technology inside, but also because of how usable it is.
At first glance, the FM3a looks like it could be from the 1960s or 1970s. Nikon didn’t do this to be “retro”; they did it because that design and shape works. It hasn’t been improved upon. The FM3a feels like an extension of your hands. To borrow from a famous quote, you “become one with the camera” when it is up to your eye and you’re firing the trigger.
The Leica M series is the same way. The M7, the Leica film camera still made today, isn’t that much different in shape or form or function than a M3 is. There’s a reason for this - the design works. It works a bit different from a SLR in one’s hands, but it still works. It’s not retro for the sake of retro; it’s retro because Leica nearly perfected the rangefinder camera’s usability design in the 1950s and has rolled with that ever since.
So when Fuji brings out the X100 and gives it dials, controls and layout that comes off as retro, I’m sorry but I prefer to think Fuji recognized historical perfection in usability design and tried to mimic it. The X100 mimics the retro design of old rangefinders because retro works. Of course, the X100 (and X100s) does miss a few things - like a larger focus wheel, or knowing that fly-by-wire focusing is no replacement for a true tactile mechanical focusing system - but they also incorporated a lot of the best things in retro cameras, including the hybrid viewfinder which borrows a lot from the way mechanical rangefinders work. And the aperture control. And the exposure compensation control. And even the threaded shutter button. I could go on.
I’m of the school that the functional design of a camera in one’s hand was perfected in SLRs in the 1970s and early 1980s; and the functional design of a rangefinder camera was perfected in the 1950s and 1960s. Until someone actually develops a new design that does better, I’m happy that camera makers are looking to these examples of engineering and usability brilliance, and are copying them.
The only thing I’m less a fan of is when camera makers go “retro” just for the sake of going retro. Especially if it’s clear these modern equipment designers show an ignorance of why those retro designs worked. Or worse still, not actually implementing the best things in those retro designs, when designing their new cameras.
I can say, having used them, Fuji has absolutely nailed the best of the best from history’s cameras, at least in their X100/s and X1 Pro lineup. Olympus with their EP lineup? Until they have a viewfinder, I think they may be doing retro more for the sake of being retro, than actually using the best parts of retro design.
Enrico Maltoni, a noted slow food activist, antique hunter, espresso machine historian and a fantastic fellow has a few books under his belt already. This is his latest effort, and his greatest one so far. Over 750 pages. At least five years in the making. I got to see a draft of this a few years ago and was so looking forward to the day he got it published. And now he has. You can find out more about it here.
Warning: this is a serious book, for serious coffee folk. It’s 100 euro plus shipping because of the small run and high costs of producing.
A new cocktail - what to name it? on Flickr.
Go to Flickr and help me name this (also see the recipe there).
W—Nikkor.C 35mm f1.8 on Flickr.