Friday, 25 January 2008

Digital SLR's

I must make a confession - much of this blog is prompted or wholesale driven by the pithy content on John Gruber's renowned Daring Fireball blog - so if you find this too windy, boring etc just read that instead as it is the business.

Anyway, on the back of this John linked to this article on Digital SLR's. I get asked about digital cameras a lot and I always shy away from recommending digital SLR's on the basis that most people who need to ask what camera to buy will not want the extra weight, flexibility/complexity etc of the SLR format. However, this is not always the case and this article is a great way of pointing the interested party to a place to make their own decision. In short they are wonderful and I really wouldn't want to go back to any other camera but then I suppose I am a fully paid-up fan and have been for a while.

Given that we are on this subject there is always the question of Canon vs Nikon which is well covered here. I seem to see a lot of Canons on the touchlines of sporting events (more than Nikons, anyway) and also in the hands of the paps but then a lot of the pro & pro-am photo blogs seem to be populated by Nikon users so maybe there is something in the artistry of the Nikon and the 'get the job done' nature of the Canon.

Not that it will affect my very basic photography as I have much learning still to do. Current rig, for illustration, is a Canon EOS 5D (packing the full 35mm sensor) with Canon 50mm f1.4 prime - all they say about this lens is true - and a very nifty Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 L USM lens, and a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM which rocks the telephoto jobs. Not too heavy, quite flexible.

Recent purchases include the SanDisk Extreme Firewire Reader which can transfer images at FW800 speeds - quite useful when the 5D's full sensor RAW images are 12MB or so.

Monday, 21 January 2008

iTunes Movie Rentals in Europe & UK

It was always going to be a question of how long it would be until Apple could get the rental store rollin' for us Euros but this post from Engadget suggests that it will be as difficult as we feared...

On the positive side I was heartened to see Jobs announce all the major studios on board in the US which suggests his negotiating powers are strong (or he has learnt to give a little more to the other side) and so maybe his mojo can work wonders over here. And also I like the sound of Viviane Reding (who seems to be a man in the Engadget story) as we surely need a consumer rights battle-axe to strip some of the excess margin from our digital lives over here.

Anyhoo - here's hoping for an 'upside surprise' (as they say on conference calls) on timing.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Open letter to Ashley Highfield, BBC Director of Future Media & Technology

In this post Mr Highfield suggests that he may launch BBC's iPlayer on the newly updated Apple TV. Given my experience of customer's desires for easy-to-use replay facilities for mainstream TV I had to jump in and give him full support. Therefore the following letter:

Dear Mr Highfield,

As someone who installs and maintains household technology (with an emphasis on the convergence of the traditional visual formats like TV, Video & DVD with digital music, photos and movies) this is a HUGELY encouraging post.

My clients are crying out for a simple way to interface with the forms of high quality content on the web. Apple's 10-foot interface for the AppleTV was always excellent but it was let down, as everyone knows, by limited content and the hoops needed to get that content onto the device. With the iTunes movie rental store the filmic side of the issues disappears.

If Mr Highfield can bring BBC's (truly excellent) iPlayer to the Apple TV then we will have the highest quality broadcaster on British TV front and centre.

I believe my clients (ABC1's across the southern UK) are representative of a large proportion of BBC stakeholders and I can guarantee that this move would be widely praised.

Please do it, Mr Highfield.

Yours sincerely,

Will Brocklebank

So - join the throng and post a comment in support if you believe in this!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Apple's Time Capsule announcement

Time Capsule is no doubt a great addition for the ease-of-use brigade but there are two small philosophical difficulties for the home network:

1. If the internal drive (up to 1TB) is used solely for Time Machine backups then it is not a NAS. From the forum responses on Time Capsule it seems many people are interested in using this as a NAS device. Can it be partitioned to allow for a NAS volume and still maintaining room for the Time Machine backups?

2. If it is used as a NAS (either in its entirety or a partition of it) then isn't it a little bit of a concern that in effect Apple are encouraging people to store vital household files centrally on a single disk with no RAID protection? It will be a significant single point of failure which could potentially wipe out a household's crucial files.

I am not suggesting that Apple should have offered RAID in the device as that would have increased cost and caused design issues but maybe they could solve these problems by allowing the external USB slot to be used for adding a second USB HD in the same manner as the original AirDisk was planned and have this as a RAID drive to protect the internal HD or, if people aren't fussed about RAID, optionally turning it into more storage in JBOD fashion.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Home from the holidays - posts coming tomorrow

Hi all - (I write this knowing that no one is really going to read it but you can't let the reality grind away at your optimism)

I am back from my holiday with some fairly groovy new photos and some thoughts which I'll publish tomorrow. In the meantime I'm off to bed as my car tells me that in two weeks I have driven 923 miles, over 18 hours at an average speed of 57 mph, fuel consumption 26.9 mpg (down from a usual 35 mpg because of the bloody roof box that was needed for baby clobber on our multi centre holiday). Did the last 4 hours and 20 minutes this evening on the way back from Cornwall and seriously need a rest.

A bientot, and happy New Year.