Archive for April 29th, 2008

Hand-coding

NYTimes say that they don’t use these dreaded WYSIWYG HTML editors for their site. Good for them. A good text editor is all what anyone needs for HTML. You might need a helping auto-complete tool for CSS, but it stops there. I am personally more interested in hand-optimized HTML markup than “validating” HTML. You see, these WYSIWYG editors can create validated markup, but that doesn’t make that code more compatible or faster.

If you are going to email me…

…at least email me on the right email account. Don’t email me on my Gmail account. Hotmail is my main email account, and it has been since 1997 (long before Microsoft bought the service). It’s a curious thing when I clearly show on my contact page that Hotmail is my preferred email address why everyone keeps emailing me on my Gmail one, which is only mentioned on the IM section. Now, send me some email love. 🙂

Incompetent

As you might have heard, Coldplay is giving away this week a song from their upcoming album, called “Violet Hill”. All you have to do, is supposedly go to their web site, give away your email address and postal code, and get in return an email with the download information.

Astonishingly, I never received their emails. When my first effort (much later after their “site crash”) yielded no results, I entered once more with my hotmail account and once with my gmail one, but I never received any emails from them. No, the emails didn’t got stuck in any spam folder, I made sure of that. And no, their form page didn’t fail. It clearly said that they received my info and that they sent the emails out. But I never received anything, and that was 8 hours ago already.

So, if they aren’t able to employ webmasters who can pull their shit together, then they deserve the piracy. I had no alternative but search on blogs to download the mp3 file directly.

And I did pay for that. With two of my email addresses and thrice the spam when they decide to send marketing email out.

Conserving some power

I am really bad at conserving power, as I have so many gadgets hooked up at all times (some of these older PDAs will lose their memory if they run out of battery).

So I decided to at least turn off the secondary 28″ 1920×1200 monitor of mine. It was used daily only with an XGA Firefox window in it, wasting over the half of the resolution of that big monitor with emptiness. So I thought, I should try to move my Firefox window on my primary monitor, and turn off completely the big secondary monitor (and only turn it back on when I do video editing).

Right now my 22″ 1680×1050 primary monitor is a bit crammed with an SVGA Firefox window, WMailLive and Trillian, but I think it’s usable.

Now, I need to get rid off of all these old gadgets that eat power for no good reason. It’s not that I use them anyway…

Bloatware

Looking at my XP installation over the years it shows how software bloats, how new developers don’t know how to optimize anymore. My first XP installation in 2003 was usable with 256 MBs of RAM. When I got my current DELL machine in 2005, I needed just 180 MBs of RAM to boot it up and about 260 MBs of RAM with Firefox/IE, OE and Trillian loaded. Today, with Firefox, WMailLive and Trillian I need 650 MBs of RAM — just to load them.

I checked my services, and whatever is in there is indeed needed, or I am forced to need them because new versions of apps need them. E.g. the Windows Desktop Search had to be added, otherwise WMailLive wouldn’t search within my emails! And then there’s iTunes, which consumes 20 MBs of RAM even when it’s loaded, just because the people who wrote its services don’t know how to write Windows software.

And speaking of WMailLive, it’s a piece of shit. Every time it loads it kills my hard drive reading God knows what for at least 5-6 minutes, its search ability is nowhere as good as OE, it crashes (I’ve already seen 3 bugs in 1 week while I found only 1 in OE bug all these years), and it has some usability problems compared to how OE used to work (e.g. there was an instance that I could not delete some text, or a URL I typed in an email wouldn’t be clickable but rendered as plain text). It’s a lot of small things like these that piss me off.

And don’t tell me to move to Linux or OSX, because the story there is EQUALLY shitty. Linux needs at least 512 MBs of RAM to work these days too, while OSX with Leopard needs 2 GBs of RAM to be usable. My Powerbook with Tiger runs out of RAM with its 640 MBs all too frequently for my taste. Besides, I need Vegas for my video work, so I can’t leave XP behind, not even for Vista.

The real problem is not XP or Vista, or OSX or Linux themselves. It’s the developers. They don’t write software as they used to anymore. They don’t care if the CPU spends more cycles here or there or if memory is over-consumed. PCs are fast enough today — they think– that they can afford to ship their application faster, rather than spend time and do the tedious work of optimizing. And this of course is true for compiler writers too, and so new languages and the apps they produce are by nature more bloated and heavy — but easier to develop, they say.

I don’t know, but I am getting older, and I just don’t like all this inconvenience. I want things that work, and work fast and as I expect them to work. I don’t want changes. I don’t want, as it happened a few days ago, to be FORCED to stopped using OE because some douchebag at Microsoft decided that OE won’t have Hotmail access anymore so we all had to upgrade to WMailLive. I was a paying customer for Hotmail (I asked for a refund after all this), and simply put, WMailLive sucks. It’s not ready for prime time and doesn’t have the usability, speed, memory optimization, stability, and all other features as found in OE.

I don’t want Windows Mail Live. I want a semi-updated Outlook Express.

The best focusing tool for the HV20/30

Last year there were a number of focus rings hacked together by enthusiasts to deal with the HV20’s flimsy focus roller button. The rings required quite some work to construct and it was adding to the bulk of the camera. Well, not anymore. The following solution is ingenious. It’s simple, cheap, easy, fast, and takes no space. HD version here.

Also check my friend’s Jay videos on how to pan smoothly with a fluid-head tripod and how to construct a dolly track.

The hidden value of Cinemode

I used to be against the use of the “Cinemode” mode that is found on the Canon HD cameras. Truth is, it clips the dark areas pretty bad, and it’s too soft. However, having worked with it for a few months now, it’s true that it provides a much better color response.

People usually don’t like cinemode because it looks too dull, it’s not sharp and it has low contrast. However, Cinemode is not meant to be used as is. It is MEANT to be color graded. Look at my bad-hair-day frames below, as shot, and after having been color graded. As shot the “auto mode” provides a more pleasant look, but after having color graded, cinemode looks fantastic: look how more natural the colors are! I used unsharpen mask with a large radius to fix the contrast and sharpen issues, bumped saturation a little bit, reduced gamma, and using “Curves” I bumped the the dark areas a bit too.

Sure it still looks like video, but it looks less of it. So, if you are after the movie look, always shoot with Cinemode and the “neutral” color setting. The duller the picture is when shot, the better color grading response it has on post which will help you achieve that movie look.