I did not expect a week in New Orleans to be this anti-conducive to writing.
But, golly is this place pretty and the food so wonderful. If I don’t return with any sort of special insight into anything in particular, at least expect a quick restaurant rundown. I haven’t had a bad meal since arriving.
I recently felt like I needed a new crappy camera in my life. I found myself in a drugstore yesterday, where I purchased one of those miniature ones, a Vivitar Clipshot (née Sakar 11693). At $10, the price was right but it’s a little too cheap to have a screen built-in, and the “viewfinder” is a laughably inaccurate hole in the body. Even more exciting, I thought! It’ll be like taking photos with film and waiting to see what develops!
I couldn’t find reference to the camera working in Ubuntu with a quick Web search, but the specs on the package claimed that it works in OS X without drivers. This seemed to imply that it was a standard USB Mass Storage device, the kind you plug in and have just work, as it appears to the computer as a removable drive.
So I expected quick and easy access to my photos. I was wrong.
The OS detects the device, but not as a normal camera device, nor a Mass Storage device. This is what lsusb had to say about it:
Bus 007 Device 008: ID 0979:0371 Jeilin Technology Corp., Ltd
Searching for that lead me to a number of blog and forum posts where people discussed ways to possibly get the camera working, but to no avail. This post received a number of replies, with this reply being the most helpful: (emphasis mine)
Professor Theodore Kilgore from Alabama has been working on a driver for this camera. As of about 6 months ago, the Professor had me download his driver for the camera, and the driver lets download files from the camera. But since the pictures are stored in an encrypted format on the storage media of the camera, there is still work to be done to decrypt the picture files into a viewable format (this is the last I heard anyway).
The photos are stored encrypted on the camera, so you have to use the included Windows software to download them. Glad to know they’re being protected… from me. This crappy camera is a little too crappy for me. I haven’t tried it on a Mac yet, but I can’t imagine how this could possibly work without drivers.
There will be more crappy digital cameras in my life, but one can only hope that the next one sucks in the way it should.
Breaking news: This piece of garbage does not work in OS X either.
Ten years on, my first is still my favorite, my Game Boy Camera. Thank you Diego, for perhaps the greatest birthday gift ever. Sure, I had crappy film cameras before, but that didn’t stop me from loving my GBC like anyone does their first. Using film meant that I couldn’t go wild and experiment, take tons of pictures of stupid stuff like any kid with a camera does, and any self-respecting adult with one continues to do.
That wouldn’t exactly work with my Game Boy Camera, which only held 30 snapshots and didn’t come with any way to, you know, transfer them to a computer.
Details. To make do, I would delete all but my absolute favorites, the true ‘keepers.’ That awkward red cartridge still has photos from walking home on the day in 2000 I got the camera, of good high school friends, of a duck from Kendale Lakes, and self-portraits taken every few months as I grew my hair to a respectable shoulder length in college.
Last year, realizing that I was far from done taking tiny, grainy, black-and-white photos, I bought a second Game Boy Camera, and a couple of Mad Catz PC link cables, so I could finally transfer the photos. They’re cheap and plentiful on Amazon and eBay these days (the cameras, at least; the link cables are hard to find).
There was a time when mobile phones could be counted on to take photos of this sort. Sure it might be frustrating when you actually wanted to take a good photo, but think of the washed-out colors! The poor lighting! The blurry faces! Alright, maybe it wasn’t so great if that was the only camera you had at a memorable event, but if that’s the sort of camera you go out of your way to use for artsy, leisurely photography, I respect that.
My first mobile phone with a camera was a Sidekick, and its photos are by far my favorite:
I could add these effects with software, but what fun is that?
Then came my Treo, which was, unfortunately, a little bit better at taking photos:
I won’t even mention my G1, which takes practically perfect photos. How sad.
I’m glad I’ve been able to shoot with so many crappy cameras, because I know one I won’t be using anytime soon. Sigh.
I first became aware of the band from the mostly-excellent, but not often released, Cactus Killer Radio podcast. While the stuff CKR plays is varied, the common thread that ties it all together is that, for the most part, it makes an excellent driving-at-night soundtrack. I would often wait months to listen to an episode, until finding myself alone in the car at night with a long drive ahead of me.
When I listen to an episode of CKR, I almost without fail need to make one or two mental notes to find out more about a band, or at the very least, find an MP3 of the song that caught my ear. (Other bands I’ve found this way include My Teenage Stride, Spike, and Sing-Sing.) Episode 52, which featured Quiet Loudly’s “Over the Balcony,” had me rewinding to hear it again, multiple times. I ultimately shut off my MP3 player at the point in the podcast where the song began, so I could hear it again the next day.
I tracked the band down to their MySpace page, where I came across a blog entry promising a copy of their never-to-be-released debut album Destroy All Monsters to “anyone that asks nice enough.” I went ahead and did that, and before long found a CD‑R and nice handwritten note in my mailbox. The disc had unfortunately cracked in transit, but on the strength of “Over the Balcony” and the kind gesture, I made a mental note to buy their soon-to-be-released (second) debut album, Soulgazer.
The release date must have slipped a bit, because I checked their MySpace a few times in mid-2009 and found no sign of the album. Then it slipped my mind for a number of months before, lo and behold, I checked in and found Soulgazer had been released!
I knew I wanted it on CD (I like making my own MP3s, and when disk space gets even cheaper, FLACs), but the disc was only available from this not-very-reassuring page. I bought it there anyway. I didn’t get any e‑mails acknowledging my purchase (aside from the usual PayPal receipt), so I was a little worried, and made a mental note to try to find someone to contact if a few days passed without word.
What I ended up getting instead, seemingly out of the blue, was a ‘follow’ notification from quietloudly on Twitter! I didn’t realize that I had purchased the album directly from them. That they take the time to stalk track down their fans online is, well, completely fucking awesome. While it’s typically my policy to use social networking services for only keeping up with people I know, I was glad to make an exception for them (even if most every tweet they tweet is about shows they’re playing in New York).
I took the ‘follow’ as my receipt and eagerly awaited the album’s arrival. It came a week later, but I hadn’t taken into account that my only CD player was the one in my car, so I spun the disc for the next few drives, waiting until I found a computer with an optical drive, on which I could LAME up some MP3s.
I guess I didn’t give the envelope a thorough enough look-through at first — and it’s a good thing I didn’t throw it out — because I had missed something else inside.
Seriously. How awesome are these guys?
I hope there’s some New York in my future, because I must see Quiet Loudly live, perhaps many times.
Generally speaking, I’m a fan of emerging technologies and stuff like that. I just don’t always get it right off the bat.
I first heard of RSS/Atom in 2002 or 2003, whenever LiveJournal started actively pushing syndication, making feeds on journals discoverable. I looked upon these alien terms with interest, but some confusion. Wait, I can subscribe to a blog? Why would I want to do that?
I know what I probably sounded like back then. Perhaps in a couple of years, I’ll be laughing at myself, wondering what I’d do without PubSubHubBub. Just perhaps.
For now, though, I’m not quite sure I get it. Since Google Reader now supports the format, I went ahead and found a WordPress plugin to enable it here on writegeek. I understand that to an RSS subscriber, it means faster or near-instantaneous updates. And to a publisher, it mean not only faster updates for one’s readers, but less load on the server, since millions of desktop feed-readers won’t be regularly requesting one’s RSS file. (Not that that applies to me… yet.)
Yeah, I’m a bit intrigued at the instant publishing, but have a bunch of unanswered questions. Which servers should I be pinging? What motivates one to run a server? What are their business models? A couple of years down the road, when they realize that they’re running the most popular servers but still aren’t making money, will they be putting ads in my feed? And I think I read something about servers talking to each other; how does that work?
There seems to be nothing to lose, no lock-in or single baskets in which to place all of my proverbial eggs, so I’ll try it out. (That was basically the point of this post.)
Time to click Publish and start jabbing my F5 key…
I just realized that I, basically, have the mobile phone I want. I use a T‑Mobile G1 (HTC Dream), rooted, SIM-unlocked, and running the great CyanogenMOD.
I could not really say this about my previous phone, a Palm OS Treo. Though it had its strengths (read: the organizer features), I bought it pretty much right before the first iPhone was announced, which, for better or worse, redefined what a smartphone would be.1
My affinity for the G1 re-occurred to me as I opened the Terminal app to check something. I slid the screen open with a satisfying click, typed su and checked that something. I wanted to go back a bit through my shell’s command history, and a quick flip of the trackball made easy work of that.
Sure, I have my gripes… it’s a little sluggish sometimes, completely short on app storage space (rooting fixed that) and takes the crappiest videos I’ve ever seen (worse than my circa-2001 Nikon CoolPix). And now that newer Android devices are out, I completely have 1 GHz CPU-envy, high-res screen-envy, and Android 2.1‑envy (Google Earth, want!).
But for the foreseeable future, my G1 and I are cool. Its form factor is perfect. Its physical keyboard is unmatched by newer devices with cramped layouts. It’s clearly no svelte iPhone, but it’s not too chunky either.
My satisfaction is matched only by my anticipation for whatever could materialize in the future and top this. Bring it, future!
By this, I mostly mean “have a real web browser,” not “have no native app support and a charismatic CEO try to convince you that you don’t really want apps on your smartphone, anyway.” ↩
See, I was located squarely in Piaget’s pre-operational stage of development, and something funny seems to happen there: you’re only able to take things at face value, missing out on subtlety, double-meanings, sarcasm… and all that good stuff that isn’t stated bluntly. Once you’re a fully cognizant individual, you can appreciate all of that.
As a teen, or perhaps slightly earlier, I was suddenly able to see these sorts of things for what they really were. Well, most things. But for a certain class of things that I first experienced during my pre-op stage, I continued having trouble seeing them for what they truly represented. Here’s an example:
When I was growing up, this was the Burger King logo. (I also walked uphill to school in the South Florida snow, both ways. Kids these days.) It’s pretty simple, right? The words represented the meat, between a couple of buns. To whom was that not abundantly clear that the logo is a burger?
I didn’t realize that until I was a bit older (high school, maybe), at which point it just hit me. It was not for lack of exposure; I had been eating at Burger King practically since birth. I had a birthday party there in elementary school. I was in the goddamn Burger King Kids Club!
The fact that I was exposed to this logo so early in life is precisely why I took it for granted. I missed the visual pun; as far as I was concerned, the logo looked the way it did because that was just what the Burger King logo looked like. I simply couldn’t imagine it any other way, or having any other purpose than telling people who see it on the side of a building that they’re looking at a Burger King location.
I had no such difficulty with the stupid-simple McDonald’s arches. It’s just a big “M.”
Here’s another example of a logo I didn’t fully understand or appreciate. For the record, I wasn’t a Milwaukee Brewers fan, but at the age of four or five (and thanks to a friend’s father) I found myself with a huge collection of contemporary baseball cards. Again, until I was much older, all I saw in this logo was a stylized baseball and glove… which to a child, seems a perfectly appropriate logo for a baseball team. And your average sports-team logo is on the literal side.
I believe it was at some point in college that I noticed the subtle lettering in the Brewers’ logo. What a brilliant design!
There’s a completely different class of logos that are more subtle, with something intentionally hidden within. You don’t need to be a youngster to miss it.
These tend to be great:
The FedEx logo is widely celebrated, its pun masterfully subtle. It only occurred to me it a few years ago, while driving to work one day. I was behind a FedEx truck. Then it hit me. (Thank you, I will be here all week.)
As for the Goodwill logo, this blog comment made me see the light, or rather, the huge “g” in negative space. I had always just seen it as a face.
The day I realized that the Amazon logo wasn’t mean to be a smirk was the day I saw the A -> Z.