I’ve always loved photography. Back in the day though, taking regular photos was just a pain in the backside. When I was preparing to come to Canada, there was lots of stuff I had to get rid of, being too impractical for me to bring, namely my vintage computer and console collection, which I sold on eBay for £700. One of the things I promised myself once I sold my collection, was to pick up a new fangled digital camera. Remember this was back in early 2000, so digital cameras were pretty expensive and also nowhere near as good as they are now.
I didn’t want to blow all my money on something overly expensive so settled on a Samsung Digimax 800K, for which I paid something like £120. This was a very small camera. Looking back on it, the resolution was also pretty pitiful at 0.8 megapixels. That being said it still took pretty decent pictures, with a decent dimension of 1024×768 pixels. Even though the camera had a flash, it was very harsh, so the best results were gained in natural light. Taking pictures was also a bit of hit or miss, as there was no rear LCD display. On the plus side though, because of this, the two AA batteries lasted quite a while. If I remember correctly the camera came with a 2 Meg SmartMedia card. SmartMedia was very similar to SD Cards, but were very, very thin. On a 2 Meg card you could get about 90 pictures, which was more than enough for my needs back then.
Although I used a digital camera, it was by no means my main camera, which was a Pentax regular film camera. I rolled that out for all the main occasions, using the digital camera, mainly for snapping and as an additional camera. You know that you’re not getting the most out of your photography though, when you discover a bag full of undeveloped films.
Sometime in 2003, I made the transition to digital photography full time, when I purchased a Pentax Option 33L. I didn’t buy this because of the film camera I already had, but as a result of researching the best in my budget. The camera took some really great pictures, but there was a noticeable lag between snapping a picture and it saving. It also had a cool feature where the LCD screen could be turned and flipped out, for taking awkward pictures. The camera took 3.2 megapixel pictures, which were far and away better than the Samsung, but you still noticed they weren’t as good as a film camera when getting the photos printed, especially if you wanted anything bigger than the standard 4×6. It was also the only camera I’ve had that took Compact Flash storage cards. The camera worked great until just before my twins were born in 2004. For some reason the camera kept failing to focus properly, resulting in blurring pictures, more often than not. I managed to borrow a camera for a few weeks, to take all the early pictures of the twins, but sorely needed a new camera.
In between work and cleaning up the various substances emanating from children, I did some more research on cameras and finally settled on the Casio QV51. For some reason I really loved this camera. It took great 5 megapixel pictures, was nippy and performed faultlessly. Unfortunately a piece of plastic from the flap covering the batteries and the SD Card slot, broke off. I tried securing it with tape, but it would only work for so long, before popping open. Also I found myself wanting to take more and more videos, but the Casio only took video without sound. The time had come to move onto yet another camera.
In the Summer of 2007, with a little extra money, my options for digital cameras were expanded somewhat. I don’t think I’ve ever researched something so much. I finally plumped for another Casio camera, this time the Casio Exilim EX-V7. Unfortunately the camera didn’t live up to the specifications. I mainly plumped for this camera because of the high quality video mode, but the resulting video was choppy and grainy. The pictures also suffered from very bad focusing. Now it could have been a duff camera, but I find that if something doesn’t feel right it’s better to go with you gut. Another thing that had nagged me, was the Casio didn’t take regular batteries. So I took the camera back and exchanged it for a Canon Powershot A640. So my love affair with photography began. The Canon was an amazing camera. It took 10 megapixel images, but there was something about the resulting pictures that just screamed of quality and put them way above par compared to the other cameras I had. Although it took 4 AA batteries, they lasted quite a while, but also gave the camera a nice weighty feel in you hands. The LCD screen also swiveled out, which was useful for taking self portraits, or for taking shots from an awkward angle. I took thousands of pictures with that camera, but last year I somehow misplaced it, after going on a family picnic.
During this time I also purchased a HP Photosmart M525 camera, as I went back to the UK in November and wanted to leave my wife the Canon. It was a 6 megapixel compact camera, that spent most of it’s life in my pocket. This camera also somehow disappeared. I’m beginning to think that cameras have legs. It took fairly reasonable pictures, but wasn’t a patch on the Canon, but then I only paid about $70 for it.
So last year I found myself without a camera. We were due to go to the beach in summer and I couldn’t go without having a camera, so back on-line I went to see what I could pick up for about $100 or so. I actually decided on a new Nikon camera, but when I got to the store found out it didn’t take AA batteries. The only other option was a Fuji AV150, which seemed on paper an OK choice for the money, taking 14 megapixel pictures and also 720P video. There’s something hard to quantify about the relationship you have with a camera. While the Fuji takes OK pictures, there’s something about the operation of the camera that just feels not quite right. This has resulted in me not taking half as many pictures as I used to do.
And that is my digital camera road trip. While I do hunger for a nice Canon DSLR camera, finances mean that will have to wait. I will probably pick up another Canon camera that’s similar to the Powershot A640 that I had, but will for the moment put up with the Fuji.
“Time is an illusion. Lunch time doubly so”, so begins a classic line from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Not that, that has much to do with this article, but you have to get the classics in when you can.
I’d worn a wristwatch for pretty much my whole life, barring say my first 4 or 5 years. I saw the introduction of digital watches, back in the 70s. I can remember my brother getting his first digital watch, an amazing piece of technology. Some things nowadays we take for granted, like the ability to look at your watch and see the time. Back in those days, digital watches were a huge drain on the battery, as they were LED, as opposed to the now more common LCD. To extend the life of the battery, the watch only showed the time, when you pressed the button. Now you didn’t just have to press the button, you had to hold it in. Looking back, this is almost laughable, but at the time, it was an amazing feat of engineering.
Although I had a brief dalliance with digital watches in the 80s, I always found my self coming back to the friendly face of an analog watch. This culminated in my Mum and Dad buying me a Seiko automatic watch. Ah the joys of a watch that you put on your wrist and forget. Waterproof, shockproof and self winding. I’d worn this watch for nearly 20 years, when finally the strap broke. Now it’s only a small pin that needs replacing, but it’s has sat in Sherri’s handbag for well over 2 years and in that time I have been watchless.
After having been so used to wearing a watch, the first couple of weeks were pretty odd. I used to get a sense of panic, as I would check my wrist for the time and upon remember I didn’t have a watch, would have to frantically hunt down the time, from another source. It was then that I became aware of my unhealthy obsession with the time. It’s incredible to realise just how much you look at the time, even when you have no real need. As I became less and less reliant on a watch, I began to feel myself becoming more relaxed. This became all the more apparent when I used to pick up the kids in the morning from school and play in the park. I had no pressing need to get back home, but I found myself constantly looking at my watch, counting down the minutes to a non defined lunch time. Without a watch I was much more relaxed and had more fun with the kids.
I know soon or later I have to get my watch fixed. It’s too nice to spend it’s life in a handbag, but now at least I will be more aware of the dangers of wearing a wristwatch and will endeavor to remain less driven by it.
To those of you who regularly visit this blog, you may have noticed that all has not been well. With life being as hectic as it is, I have to admit, this blog has been neglected somewhat and I only found out about the break in service last week.
Anyway everything seems to be fixed and working, with the benefit that I am now using the latest version of WordPress. I’ll detail the problems in a little more detail soon.
So thanks for coming back, look forward to some new posts soon. Colin
I love London with all my heart, but its always so sad to hear about the city I love, losing more and more of the things that define it. Roger Ebert the noted film critic wrote a wonderful blog post yesterday about the redevelopment of Jermyn Street, including the hotel 22 Jermyn Street, which I didn’t even know was a hotel, even though I’ve passed it hundreds of times and now will never get the chance to try it. The full blog post can be found here :
I’m not usually one to jump into a conflict, but sometimes it’s too much of an effort, trying not to bite my lip. Jeff Attwood is a respected blogger and programmer, who now write professionally. His blog Coding Horror is one of my essential blog reads, because it’s sometimes thought provoking, interesting and entertaining. Aside from his blog, Jeff has also created a startup called StackOverflow, along with Joel Spolsky another respected blogger and programmer, which at present is in early development, but has a highly entertaining podcast, detailing the goings on, in both their startup and tech stuff, more specifically programming in general.
During this podcast, there has been discussion between Jeff and Joel regarding the computer language ‘C’. Joel think it’s an important language for all developers to learn and Jeff thinks the opposite. This debate has popped up a few times and to be honest I never really thought much about it, although I do have my own views on the subject. Anyway Jeff was taken to task, by another blogger Alastair Rankine, within a blog post, taking Jeff to task on a few things. This is an except of what he wrote :
“In a recent podcast, Atwood disclosed recently that he had never learned C, one of my developer essentials. To me, this revelation is a profound hit to his credibility; it is like finding out that the chef who cooked your meal is a robot with no sense of taste or smell.”
This statement really got my back up. While I tend to agree, that the more computer languages you learn the better, I’ve never dictated to anyone that they should learn a specific one. Yes some languages are better suited to certain tasks, but to say a developer has to learn ‘C’ is ridiculous. Learning more than one computer language, often helps you understand new concepts and allows you to think through problems from different perspectives. I’ve been a professional programmer for over 20 years, programming for fun longer than that.
In all that time I’ve learned and actively used many computer languages including various dialects of Basic (PureBasic, VB.NET, VB) and xBase (Clipper, FoxPro, dBase, Force), Pascal (Delphi), Python, Ruby, many different hardware proprietary languages and many more I’ve now forgotten. I tried many years ago to pick up ‘C’, trying Zortech which later morphed into Zorland C and also Borland’s Turbo C, but just couldn’t get into it. From this list you’ll see that I’m primarily a high level language programmer, so picking up ‘C’ is very alien, as what takes a few lines in a high level language, often takes many, many more in ‘C’. Admittedly ‘C’ does have it’s place. Many assembly language programmers find ‘C’ a breath of fresh air. If you’ve ever programmed at this lowest level, you’ll know why, but they both share a common trait in that they allow the programmers to talk to the hardware at a very low level. This low level isn’t something I’ve ever really needed, as I primarily write bespoke applications that are database dependent.
To say ‘C’ is a number 1 essential for a developer to learn, which Alastair does on one of his postings is crazy. I’ve been programming 20 years and never learned ‘C’, does that make me a bad programmer? Does that make someone who does know ‘C’ a better programmer than me? To me a good developer is someone who is constantly learning. Yes I may pick up ‘C’ and dust off the cobwebs and I may learn many of the new languages bursting forth on the development scene. Developing is a constant, evolving field and one in which ‘C’ may or may not have a place, for me at least.