Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Go Android!

http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/19/steve-jobs-android-porn/

Steve Jobs says:
We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.
This is wrong on, oh, so many levels...

First, Apple is a technology company, pure and simple. Their role is to manufacture cool gadgets for consumers to enjoy...and make tons of money in the process. Who appointed them the moral police for the global community?

Second, Apple's criteria for determining what is, or is not, porn include the presence of nudity. Not all nudity is pornographic. Not all nudity is sexually arousing (pornography is intended to sexually arouse). Context is vital (but unfortunately it is also subject to interpretation). Images of genitalia have appeared in works of art throughout history. It takes a person who is extremely erotophobic to be offended by any and all kinds of nudity.

Third, why is porn "immoral?" Why is it immoral to be sexually aroused by images?

And if you believe that the source of objection is in how those images are produced (through human exploitation), then you are incredibly ignorant. Hugh Hefner would not consider his girls as exploited, nor would the girls themselves. Jenna Jameson, the most successful porn star in the world, does not feel exploited. And every hour of every day, thousands of people around the planet are uploading amateur porn to the Internet, NOT for profit (because they don't get paid) but because they enjoy their sexuality. This is not exploitation.

Fourth, iPhone users (even the most prudish) are not obligated to purchase or view porn. It is entirely the consumer's choice. What is wrong with simply making porn available for purchase? Put the software in its own special category and set up parental controls.

(Not that there's any point. Anybody who wants porn can easily get it off the Internet -- and there are no parental controls! For example, youporn.com and redtube.com.)

BTW, there's a *lot* of money to be made in adult apps. Apple are depriving themselves of a great deal of revenue.

But, hey, this *is* Steve Jobs' App Store -- he can do whatever he likes. And we can eschew the iPhone in favour of an Android phone.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Upgrading to the Canon EOS 7D, Part 2

Sweet Mother of Jesus, I'm talking myself into buying a 7D!!!

Next year, after I've settled in at my new West Harbour City condo, I may upgrade my 40D to the 7D. As a special treat to myself, I may also buy the first, and probably only, 'L' lens in my lens collection: the 300mm f/4.0L IS for C$1,400. This baby is equivalent to 500mm on a full frame camera! (The 500mm f/4.0L IS sells for C$7,000, a difference of $5,600. This monetary difference could pay for a vacation in Japan and Australia!)

Not only is the 300mm a lot less expensive than the 500mm, it's also a lot lighter -- 2.6 lbs vs 8.53 lbs. This hernia-inducing 6-pound difference makes using the 500mm a terrible burden.

Now you understand why the 7D, with its 1.6x crop factor, is so attractive. You can achieve much longer focal reach for less money and less weight.

Here's a review of the 300mm f/4.0L IS.

To recap, the choice of 7D over 5D Mk II saves $1,000. The collateral choice of 300mm over 500mm saves $5,600. Total saving? $6,600. Don't we feel richer now?

Upgrading to the Canon EOS 7D

A friend, who was looking to buy a new Canon DSLR to replace his aging 300D, asked me for a recommendation. The short list included the (full frame) 5D Mark II and the recently released 7D. After some deliberation, we decided on the 7D (with a couple of caveats).

The 7D offers very impressive features:
  1. dual DIG!C 4 processors, which not only aid in high fps, but also in improved in-camera image processing
  2. 8 fps continuous shooting speed (which is pretty darn close to the blistering 10 fps of the 1D Mk IV)
  3. a new, super-sophisticated AF system with 19 cross-type points
  4. 100% viewfinder with 1.0x magnification -- every photographer should *demand* this feature!
  5. ISO sensitivity up to 12800 (perfectly usable at 6400)
  6. a new, 63-zone, colour-sensitive metering system
  7. wireless flash control
  8. 18 mp resolution for when you need large prints
  9. the best HD video feature on the market -- just in case you *ever* need video
  10. the best weathersealing short of buying a pro camera such as the 1D Mk IV
The 5D Mark II falls far behind in terms of features. And my friend values the 8 fps shooting speed and 1.6x crop factor more than full frame Image Quality. The wireless flash control is also a major attraction.

The 7D costs C$1,000 less than the 5D Mark II, a very significant difference.

The first caveat is: the 7D's AF system seems to throw a lot of owners off, so be prepared to do your homework. RTFM and be sure you understand how to use the new AF. It's not rocket science, but less acute minds will falter over this.

The second caveat is: the 7D has only been selling for 6 months -- much too soon to buy. All Canon cameras need time to sort out initial problems, esp. the high-end DSLRs. I would recommend delaying your purchase until the fall.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tips for Optimizing the Toshiba NB305

When you first turn on the NB305 netbook, you will be prompted to restore the Operating System from its recovery disk partition. Once completed, you will have a pristine copy of the software environment.

Tip #1
Before you connect to the Internet, create your Recovery DVD. If you connect to the Internet immediately, updates will be made to your software environment and you will no longer have a pristine copy.

Tip #2
Get rid of Toshiba's bloatware. This includes trialware such as Norton Internet Security, MS Office, and WildTangent. Also, get rid of MS Works -- there are better office suites available such as Google Docs and OpenOffice.org.

After you've activated your warranty online using Toshiba Bulletin Board, get rid of Bulletin Board, as well. This piece of bloatware consumes 42MB of valuable memory and, in my opinion, its functionality is not worth it.

Tip #3
Set your taskbar to 'auto-hide' -- your screen real estate is already highly constricted, thanks to the 1024x600 resolution, and there's no need to have the taskbar visible all the time.

Tip #4
In your browser, hide any unnecessary toolbars to maximize the client area (for the same reason as in Tip #3). I use Google Chrome, rather than Internet Explorer, and I hide the Bookmarks toolbar.

Tip #5
When watching 720p HD videos off the Internet, make sure you completely download the video first before playback. The NB305 is normally too slow to play HD video and you need to give it every chance. For some reason that baffles me, downloading a HD video consumes a large amount of CPU cycles.

In my experience, QuickTime HD plays best while Flash HD stutters from time to time.

Tip #6
To download and play Flash HD, I recommend making a copy of the temporary Flash video file and playing it with VLC. To make a copy of the temporary Flash video file, you need a tool such as HoboCopy.

I created a desktop shortcut to cmd.exe (to run in Administrator mode). For convenience and safety, I created a batch file in the default starting folder (Windows\System32) to change directory to my home folder, where hobocopy.exe resides. I created two more batch files:

whatflash.bat:
dir appdata\local\temp\fla*.tmp

copyflash.bat:
@echo off
if .%1 == . goto end
hobocopy appdata\local\temp desktop fla%1.tmp
:end

...where %1 is the 3 or 4-character suffix from fla*.tmp.

Whatflash.bat tells you what temporary Flash video files you have from Chrome's online access of Flash video.

Copyflash.bat copies a particular temporary file (identified from whatflash.bat) to your desktop. Subsequently, you need to rename the file as .flv for playback with VLC.

Note that the above only applies if you're using Google Chrome. For other browsers, you will have to find other workarounds. (Good luck!)

Alternatively, you can use a third-party service such as keepvid.com to convert a YouTube HD video to MP4. I don't like relying on a third-party service unless they're a big name and likely to be around for a long time (eg, Google).