Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Reason To Buy An iPhone

All Images courtesy of Fullpower MotionX.

Need another reason to buy an iPhone? How about because of its GPS capabilities?

I’ve been mulling over whether to buy and iPhone 3g or iPod Touch for surfing and emailing at wifi hotspots while travelling, and one reason that might swing me over to getting the iPhone instead of the Touch is because of its GPS capability. A GPS is only as good as its software and MotionX has been getting some good reviews. Here’s a pretty good review by Navigadget.


Note that there are no stored maps, so you’ll need to use it in conjunction with paper maps or prepared waypoint/destination coordinates that you can punch in. The downside is that the iPhone’s battery will only last about 4-5 hours, so your time with the GPS is limited, and probably only good for short trips or the odd emergency.

You can read more about it at the MotionX website or download the app at the Apple App Store. There is also a free version that you can try out, the MotionX Lite, but that comes without a Heading/Track Up display and will be less practical to navigate with. Personally, I’d just spring $2.99 for the full version.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Backup Backup Backup

This is something everyone needs to do. How regularly one chooses to do it, what storage media to use, and how many backups one chooses to make then really depends on how much one values the data. I use a 15” MacBook Pro laptop for my work, and I’ve been researching external hard drives for Mac to do just that. I’ve found a couple of interesting ones for the Mac user:

Data Robotics Drobo
The most interesting product I’ve come across is Data Robotics Drobo. This is a drive enclosure with four empty bays. You need to provide it with at least two hard drives for data protection, but you can eventually house 4 hard drives allowing up to 16TB of storage. Drobo automatically configures the appropriate array to protect your data.
Drobo will salvage and rebuild your data in the event of a hard drive failure, and it does so automatically. Drobo lets you know when a drive needs to be replaced, either because of drive failure or because of more space is required, and you simply pop out the old drive and insert a new one.

There's a demo video here on the Data Robotics website.

The best price I’ve found for this is $369.95 (after rebate) at Amazon.com: Data Robotics Drobo 4-Bays USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 Fully Automated SATA Robotic Storage Array

Western Digital My Book Studio II
I ended up buying a 2 TB Western Digital My Book Studio II. The unit is essentially 2 x 1TB WD ‘Green Power’ hard drives in a brushed aluminum case that nicely matches my MacBook Pro. The Green Power drives use 30% less energy, do not get hot and the drives work very quietly because it doesn't need a fan.
The drive comes preformatted for the Mac as a Raid 0 array (2 heads writing shared information to the two separate drives simultaneously, increasing speed). I chose to configure it as a Raid 1 array (each head writing the same information to its own drive, duplicating the same information, thus taking more time, but creating a mirrored backup). This means that I reduced the available storage capacity to just 1 TB, but that data is backed up. The provided software from WD makes it easy enough to do. The software also installs a WD icon on the Mac, which warns you if the health of any drive deteriorates or if you’re running out of storage room.

It costs $296.99 at Amazon.com: Western Digital 2TB My Book Studio Edition II Hard Drive with Quad Interface (FW400/FW800, USB 2.0 & eSATA)

Summary
There are a number of storage options out there. These are just a couple of interesting options I looked at for my Mac. The Drobo is not exactly cheap, but the combination of ease of use and expandability are very compelling. The 2TB Western Digital My Book Studio II has a more limiting storage capacity, but it is very good value if your storage needs are smaller.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Back To Basics

Mountain Biking Nepal. Manual Everything! (No help with the horizon ;) Taken with a Nikon FM2, 24mm, exposure unrecorded, scanned from Fuji Provia 100.

Last week, I received an urgent text message from a friend. Her ‘brand new’ used Nikon D70s would not shoot. I went down to meet her and quickly discovered that the reason it would not shoot was because the camera’s autofocus was not working (the D70s will not allow you to take a fuzzy picture with the AF on). After more investigation, I found out that the camera’s AE-L/AF-L function had been inadvertently set to AF ON. This function removes the autofocus function from the shutter release button, and moves it to the AE-L/AF-L button next to the viewfinder.

Cameras are becoming increasingly smarter; allowing most of us to shoot faster, better, and with more ease. At the same time, this has the effect of increasing the camera’s complexity, and requires more input and technical knowledge from the photographer, and increases the chance of something not working the way the photographer thinks it should.

The solution to any problem that you come across while shooting is to go back to basics. This usually means putting the camera in manual mode so that you can keep on shooting. That means that if the camera fails to autofocus, use manual focus; and if the auto exposure is not giving you what you want, use manual exposure.

For some photographers, there is a fear of shooting manual, simply because they’ve never done it; or perhaps because they think that the camera is capable of taking a better picture than they are. That brings us back to the topic for this post: going back to basics. You have to know how to use your camera in manual mode. It is fundamental to understanding how your camera works, how to keep shooting when the things go wrong with it, and ultimately, improving your photography.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hello 2009


The Supplement Warehouse in Singapore, has printed a calendar using some of my images. I think it’s free if you buy something from them.

For me, it’s a good start to a new year!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My High Energy Workout Playlist Dec ‘08/Jan ‘09

Brian Molko of Placebo, Live at the MTV Exit Concert at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

I haven’t been working out much these last few months. I’ve been recovering from some serious overtraining and the recovery is taking longer than I thought. Nevertheless, I’m making an attempt to get back in game and have loaded my iPod up with some tunes.

I’m a new fan of the band Placebo, which I saw at the MTV Exit Live concert at Angkor Wat when I was in Cambodia last month, so there are quite a few songs by Placebo on this playlist. Here’s a Youtube video of the concert:



Here's 15 songs from my current playlist:

Every You Every Me, Placebo
Gotta Be Somebody, Nickelback
Post Blue, Placebo
Check Yes Juliet, We The Kings
I Don’t Care, Apocalyptica
The Bitter End, Placebo
Song To Say Goodbye, Placebo
Indestructible, Disturbed
Don’t Hold Back, The Potbelleez
Devour, Shinedown
A Lot Like Me, The Offspring
Slow Burn, Atreyu
Love Story, Taylor Swift
Day That Never Comes, Metallica
Twenty Years, Placebo