Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

I got the idea for the title of this post from a quote I found about writing:

writer

The craft, art,  science, practice, or whatever else you wish to call it, of photography is all about light. Light’s a form of electromagnetic energy—one our bodies have evolved to sense and interpret.

We’ve also developed ways of recording light. We started with cave paintings, in which we recorded the results of successful hunts. Over time, we evolved our techniques for recording and enhancing images. The Italians discovered perspective in the 1500’s; it was a new technique for more accurately representing the 3-dimensional world on a 2-dimensional surface. Now, it’s something we all take for granted: from our viewpoint 500 years later, we can look back and say, “Well, duh! It’s so obvious! What took them so long?”

But now we’ve evolved our technology to the point where we can use chemicals and plastics to record light. Where once taking a scenic photograph involved carrying bulky and heavy equipment and supplies of chemicals and other materials, we can carry an entire photo lab in our back pockets.

I’m talking, of course, about mobile phones. In most areas of society today, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have one. Governmental agencies have set up programs where even the homeless can get free phones and calling plans. Rarer still is the mobile that isn’t capable of taking photographs. We have become a nation of people obsessed with taking pictures of ourselves—the infamous “selfie.” And I don’t use the word infamous lightly; far too many of us have become so addicted to capturing the moment that we don’t experience it. Our $800 mobile phones have become $19.95 Kodak Instamatics.

Let’s be honest: how many of those thousands of selfies you have will mean anything to you in a year? A decade?

“You hold in your hand a device with more computing power than the computers that got us to thee moon, and all you can do with it is throw birds at pigs and take pictures of cats!” –often misattributed to Neil Armstrong

Stepping Down From my Soapbox

Okay, that’s enough ranting and editorializing. Let’s get back to the topic at hand, shall we?

There are numerous web pages which offer classes designed to teach you how to get rich from your photography. Most of them charge hefty fees, leading me to conclude that the best way to get rich quick from photography is by selling on-line classes that profess to teach other people how to get rich from photography.

Today, for the very first time ever, I am going to share you my own class on how to get rich from photography. And since it’s you, I’m making this one-time, never-to-be-repeated offer for only $99.95 $49.95 $29.95 $19.95 ABSOLUTELY FREE! Sorry, but at this price, I can’t afford to throw in the Amazing Ginsu Knives. But the best part is you already have most of what you need to succeed. Are you ready? Here’s my guaranteed foolproof way to get rich from your photography:1

  • Read everything you can about photography. Pinterest is a good place to start. It covers more photographic topics than I can list here. If you’re looking for a place to start, try right here.
  • RYFM! (pronounced “riffim,” it’s a hold-over from the early days of computer tech support and means read your f***ing manual!”  You need to know the basics of how your camera works.
  • Your mobile usually doesn’t come with a manual, so try here, here, here, and here.
  • Read as much as you can about photography, especially the fields that interest you the most: fashion, portraits, still life, macro, etc.
  • When my first daughter was born, her grandmother gave us a copy of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care. On the inside cover she had written, “When in doubt, put down the book and pick up the child. The same holds true with photography: you learn by doing, so log off the computer and go take pictures!
  • Study your results. What went wrong? What went right? Back in the days of film (yes, I really am that old), I always carried a notebook with me in which I recorded the details of every picture: film, camera, location, lighting conditions, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. Today’s DSLR cameras (and most smartphones as well) record all hat information for you, right down to the GPS coordinates of where you were. This information (EXIF, for Exchangeable Image File Format), will help you analyze what you did wrong or right. Learn from it.
  • Above all, take pictures! Photographic skills are like muscles:  they need to be exercised for them to develop.

( 1-There really is no guaranteed, sure-fire way)

minipod

A New iPad

Posted: 9 May, 2018 in Apple, Blogging tools, Good News, Technology
Tags: ,

My iPad Mini was starting to show its age. It was slow, and I made the mistake of buying one with the minimum amount of memory. You can’t do a whole lot with 32Gb, and I wanted one with more.

The problem? I couldn’t afford to buy one outright, so I took me off to the Verizon store, where I picked up a new iPad with 1128Gb of memory. It came with a phone line, and I only had to pay the sales tax. THAT I could handle. 49 bucks and some change.

When I got home, it took me about an hour to backup the iPad Mini and wipe it clean, and then restore that backup to the new unit. Finally, I updated all of the apps on the new one and loaded the latest system update.

Best of all is discovering that if I take the old iPad into the Apple Store, they’ll give me a $95 gift card, which I’ll use to buy a screen protector and a new case, since the old ones don’t fit the new device.

I’m running a backup on the new iPad right now, and once that’s done, I should be good to go.

It’s nice to have something good happen for a change.

ipad

Pretty catchy title, eh? Sometimes just coming up with an idea for a title is harder than writing an article.

I don’t speak French. Oh, sure—I know a few words, but not enough to claim I understand the entire language. And sometimes I can even understand what I’m hearing based on context and tone of voice.

Which brings me back to Skype.

Apparently, rebooting Ed’s system fixed everything. At least, when he got back from walking the dog, everything seemed to be working.

This morning, we verified my theory that I had fixed Skype when a friend in France called Ed via the program, and they talked about 30 minutes. Now here’s the thing—and the whole point of this post—about language: From what I was able to understand in my limited knowledge of French, they were both railing against modern technology in general and Skype in particular.

Let me repeat: they were both railing against modern technology in general and Skype in particular—all the while sitting in front of computers, chatting between two countries thousands of mile apart, complete with live video feeds—and not seeing the irony.

And my frustrations? I drowned them in TWO large cups of whole-leaf Assam.

To paraphrase that great American philosopher, Homer Simpson, “Tea: is there anything it can’t do?” (Homer actually asked this not of tea but of jelly donuts, but hey, poetic license!)

Frustration is…

Posted: 21 January, 2018 in Frustration, Technology
Tags:

…Trying to Provide Tech Support to Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Learn Anything

My landlord Ed is a pretty intelligent guy. My rent includes free Internet, so from time to time I have no issue helping him with his computer. But usually the first I’m aware that he’s having an issue is when I hear him downstairs, screaming at his computer.

The latest problem began when one of the agencies he contracts with for jobs told him the reason he was having problems logging into their billing system was that he needed to empty his cache and clear out all of his cookies. So he did, only to discover later when he tried to answer a call on Skype that deleting the cookies broke Skype. He could see and hear the caller, but the caller neither saw nor heard him.

Robyn to the Rescue!

Except Robyn has never used Skype, and so knows absolutely nothing about how it works (Coincidentally, my ex texted me a couple of days ago asking for help with Skype.)

Okay, okay. I can take a hint. I guess I’ll have to learn how to use Skype. But so far as Ed’s problems go, well, I’m running Windows 10 and he’s still on Windows 7. So I’m worried about possible compatibility issues between the two versions of Skype.

A Learning Disability?

Can the fact that someone refuses to learn anything new truly be considered a disability? Because this, more than anything, is Ed’s problem: he doesn’t want to learn anything new. He has his own ideas about how programs should run, and gets frustrated and angry when they don’t fit those preconceived notions.

I once considered recommending he get a computer where everything works the same way (Macintosh), but then I realized that would mean having to learn new things.

Peace and Quiet

Ed’s pretty quiet now. At least he’s not screaming at the computer any more. So I’m going to take the opportunity to sneak back upstairs and learn how to use Skype.

Because I don’t know if it’s truly quiet, or if this is the calm before the storm.

George Harrison Had it Right

Posted: 20 January, 2018 in Rants, Technology
Tags: ,

As a child of the ’60s, much of the soundtrack to my teenage years was provided by the Beatles. I wasn’t quite as fanatical as, say, Douglas Adams (who wrote–besides A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) also famously said,

I remember my school days. They were what was going on in the background while I was trying to listen to the Beatles.

Still, I was so into the Fab Four that even now, some 55 years later, I still remember the lyrics to most of their songs.

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
‘Cause I won’t be there with you.

That was one of George’s contributions, Think For Yourself.

Which brings me to today’s post.

You’re Smarter Than You Think You Are

Trust me on this. Know how I know? Because you in your great wisdom close to read my blog instead of Netflix and Chill. Instead of Facebook.Just kidding. I do both of those things when they’re appropriate.

But here’s the thing: as I was conducting my morning ritual of brewing the perfect cup of tea (which will be the subject of a future post), it dawned on me that before Google, most of my knowledge came from my own investigation and experience.

library catalog

Remember this? This was my generation’s Google. The library card catalog was where we started our search for information. It was a system which itself took practice before we could consider ourselves its masters.

This system still exists, although in many libraries it’s been computerized. It’s quicker to find what you’re looking for, although I would argue that mastering it on the computer requires its own set of special skills.

Google and World Domination

Now consider Google. You can think of it as a huge library card catalog containing the contents not only of your library, but every library in the entire world. In a sense, it is the 21st century’s Alexandria Library: a repository of all the knowledge in the world.

And therein lies the problem. Imagine going to your local library and asking the librarian for a book about the silk industry. She (or he: after all, we must be politically correct) returns with a cart overflowing with books about the history of the industry, ancient Chinese and Japanese history, the silkworm, the care and feeding of silkworms…you get the picture.

Information overload. A concept more common in the Age of Google than any other time in world history. I can’t give you an exact dictionary definition, but to me, it means too much information than I can possibly absorb.

And that’s the problem. It’s like asking for a glass of water and getting the Pacific Ocean.

If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?—Anonymous creationist

If we have Google, why are there still stupid people?—Me

So What’s The Point?

Think for yourself, ‘cause I won’t be there with you.

Although your mind’s opaque,
Try thinking more if just for your own sake.
The future still looks good,
And you’ve got time to rectify all the things that you should.