Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bill O'Reilly is not Independent

Bill O'Reilly speaking with Jon Stewart. O'Reilly (seriously) brings out every republican talking point and cliche. Instructive.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Sony NEX-3 is NOT a DSLR

I recently purchased a Sony NEX-3 camera, which puts an APS-C sensor (the kind low and midrange DSLRs use) in a much smaller form factor. They do this by removing the complicated mirrors that allow DSLR users to look through the lens as they are framing the photo. To me, the DSLR mechanism is just too old-school; I don't want to see what the lens sees, I want to see what the SENSOR sees. I would have preferred an electronic viewfinder over the ubiquitous swiveling LCD screen, but as a space saving measure I guess that makes some sense. The LCD is very high resolution and quality, at any rate.

They also make the camera smaller by creating a brand new lens system, what Sony calls the "E" mount. It seems to work well; the NEX-3 is even smaller than comparable Four-Thirds cameras, whereas since the APS-C sensor is larger than the Four-Thirds sensor, physics would seem to require a larger camera and lens to handle it! Well done Sony!

For me the important things were:

1) new and exciting form factor, which they did
2) very high ISO, which they also did; I defy you to find another camera under $1000 (with a lens) that can make usable pictures at 12800 ISO!

The user interface is practically guaranteed to offend DSLR users ;) This is exemplified by the review in dpreview. The review is typically thorough, but they conclude at the end that the user interface "falls down", evidently because it takes a few button presses and dial rotations to do things like change the ISO setting. I think, though, that they pretty much review the camera from a DSLR user's perspective, whereas I think they should have done it from the perspective of the user that is moving up from a point and shoot camera (like me); I like the interface; if you are not all that familiar with the arcane incantations involved in taking good photos with a high-end camera the interface makes a lot of sense; it's like a Mac camera versus a UNIX camera ;)

However, I agree whole-heartedly that it makes little sense to have a camera that can take good pictures at down to at least 3200/6400 ISO and then not allow these ISO settings to be used in full auto mode. That definitely needs a fix, Sony!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Unfortunate Allies

Those Libertarians who may be thinking about supporting social conservatives just to get a conservative into office, you might want to give some thought to, I don't know, maybe ... Iran? Where intellectuals and business leaders allied with fundamentalists in order to oust the Shah? Worked out great for them, didn't it?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music Synchronization, Android and MacOSX

I've got a problem; I've been a strong and relatively happy user of iTunes since it came out, since I'm also a strong and relatively happy user of MacOSX. Things have changed, though, especially since I no longer use an iPhone (for reasons stated in earlier posts) and my current phone, a "Google Phone" (Nexus One), running a 3rd party ROM, can play the free music file types OGG and FLAC. I no longer want to use proprietary music formats, such as Apple's lossless format ALAC or even MP3, so I need a method of music synchronization that can handle OGG and FLAC.

Now, I've been successfully using Salling Media Sync up to this point, as it seamlessly integrates Android phones and both iTunes and iPhoto. If you just want iTunes sync then I highly recommend it. It even handles OGG, since you can use plugins to get OGG to work in iTunes.

But for my current needs, I've tried:

1. Songbird
2. Banshee
3. Doubletwist

Banshee is quite a long way from usefulness on MacOSX; it's a Linux project being ported. Songbird is just not quite there yet; you have to edit raw XML to get it to handle FLAC for my phone at this point, and I just couldn't get it to work properly. And even without FLAC, it failed on an awful lot of files, even with the lastest MacOSX beta version.

Doubletwist seems to work. Basically an iTunes clone, it handles OGG on my phone natively and handles FLAC by converting it to OGG on the fly, which is not the perfect solution but it's certainly better than nothing. I've been told that it will soon have a feature to defeat all media conversion and just copy the files, which would be perfect for me. In the meantime, it's a little buggy and slow, but it's free and it works.