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If you are reading this…. Chances are you are not the iPad audience…

I’ve given up even trying to read the pro and anti iPad hype or even the iTampon jokes (yes I may have made one or two on twitter myself).  I’ve given up trying to argue with zealot fans on both sides of the argument (*). I’ve even given up reading the tech specs of the competing devices or which price point each device fits into.

Lake Mountain Snow ChaseI thought about doing a blog post pointing out how my 3 year old Asus R2H is still more powerful. How flexible and user friendly it is in the full knowledge that I could do a nice little graph showing all the features and benefits of the device.  Here in lies the issue, the R2H is a great device which I use all the time. Sadly though as one of the first Origami devices from Asus and Microsoft most of you have never heard of it.

This is a device like so many was built for those like me. Not built for an audience that was going to buy it.

This is where people are failing in their criticism of the iPad.  Of course the Kindle is cheaper; of course a Win7 based netbook has more functionality for half the price; of course the Nexus One has a processor just as if not faster.

Why would anyone buy an iPod when the Zen drives have more storage and are cheaper.

Yes if you are reading this and even know what a Zen drive is you are already showing yourself not to be the target audience.  In a world where people Google for something, Photoshop an image and listen to their music on an iPod you see what has become genericized in the tech industry.  People may not even use Google, Photoshop or an iPod, but these are the terms we use when using similar tools. Not because these companies were the first (or even best) but they were the ones that created the tools and the framework to establish themselves as the dominate paradigm and a verb.

The CrowdSure the iPad doesn’t have a changeable battery, can’t multitask, is a closed OS environment, doesn’t have Flash, and so forth.  There is also the very long list of acronyms that the public never understand, that is does and does not have. Even with all of these points there is the fact that it costs more than devices that can do all of the above.

The feature list on my 2 year old Nokia N95-8GB in some aspects still outstrips the iPhone 3GS, such as the camera, flash, Real (for streaming audio), multitasking. Which phone do people now own and which phone do people even remember.

People are buying iPhones and iPods despite the reasons the tech commentators complained about in the first place.  Why because Apple marketed the devices to the people that wanted them, not people like you and I.

When I built my new computer for home last year it would have cost me twice as much to build even close to the same specs in the Apple environment, but then I am not the audience.  If you are dual booting your Mac laptop into Linux distro’s and have jail -broken your iPhone you also are not the audience.

Front row at #media140The iPad will make a lot of money for Apple, you developers are going to need them.  I guarantee before year’s end you will see people sitting on the train reading books and watching video on the commute to and from work.  Parents will buy them for themselves and quickly work out that the iPad is the perfect way to quiet children in waiting room or the back of the car. Before very long they will be buying a second device just for the kids.

We can at least for today all pat ourselves on the back as we all know why we won’t buy the iPad.

The arguments that we all used when the iPod and the iPhone were released are still the same today with this new device.  Yet the cult of Mac has grown, grown to the point that now a large number of very technical people use nothing but Mac.  Sure it is not Mac as the public knows it but seeing the Apple logo on the back on a laptop all they see is that it’s a Mac.

Yes we are not the audience… but a large number of you even reading this blog will go out and buy one.  You’ll wait for the jail-break and side load all that useful software.  Some of you will even work out how to put Linux or even Android on the device and Apple will be grateful for the sale.

But you are not the audience, try and remember that.

*ok this part is not true 🙂

Social Media is Smokin’

A few of my favourite thingsOf course Social Media is hot at the moment.  It is the buzz term covering everything from Twitter to Facebook , from real-time news to yesterdays memes.  You can’t go passed any of the major news outlets without seeing at  least one Twitter/Facebook does good and one Twitter/Facebook does evil  story, every day, in their online editions.

But what all of these stories miss is the “social” part of Social Media.  Most people think of the volume of traffic, the celebrities with over a million followers, the immediacy of breaking news or viral videos… but none mention the key part – the “social” part.

When I first joined my current work place some 8 years ago there were still smokers allowed on the premises.   Smokers were already relegated to the outside of the building when I joined, but they still could shelter from the rain.  (Note kids:  these people now hover around the back alleyways, at least 10 metres from the building, in slowly dying numbers). These smokers were never hanging around talking about what brand of cigarette they were consuming, they were discussing the day to day running of the corporation, the minutiae of the company and the projects they were working on.  These conversations were held amongst people from the different levels or divisions and from a wide selection of people across the organisation. Over a five minute smoko, frustrations would come out about how project X could not progress due to process Y.  Often something remarkable could happen out of these discussions.  Process Y was not always the bottle neck you thought it was and someone else may have a work around or have the connections to ensure that it wasn’t the problem that you thought it was.  Thus over a 5 minute smoko networking was utilised and sometimes a solution forthcoming.

Of course now we know just how bad smoking is for you, no longer seen as cool.  Certainly for the last 20 years it was never seen as productive.  The weak bonds that formed across the company through the smoko break have diminished greatly.  However the need for this kind of informal communication never did.

my "I'm a small j journalist" t-shirt arrivedNow however, we all have a new tool on the block. “Social Media”, the quick update via twitter is still however like the smoko, frowned upon by those that don’t use it. More often than not just seen as wasting time, not head down bum up as it were.

The weak social bonds that a smoko gave can now be much stronger when using social media as the catalyst.  Unlike the traditional smoko bonds, (irl in one location) can now reach further; across a business or even the globe.  In my own work place I have discussions with everyone from the person working on a similar project to the managing director.

There are those people that will fret when the boss or even the competition starts to follow them on Facebook or Twitter.  What they don’t see are the opportunities the connections can bring.  That problem Y you are having is not going to be yours alone, nor your companies alone.  It is likely to be something that someone somewhere has already encountered and solved.  So talking about it gives people the option to help.   You can talk about a lot of problems without divulging confidential information or even bringing your company into disrepute and find the solution. There are tools like Yammer you can use internally to create a social network if you wish to limit discussion to an internal network and helping those not ready to step out into the big wide world.

#spillThe #spill tag showed how media organisations in Australia shared information.  The traditional rules of journalism, if only for a brief moment in time, were shaken as journalists and media commentators shared information retweeting each other, correcting, enhancing and distributing information outside the walls of their own institutions. This was the “social” aspect of Social Media coming into play.  These are people who traditionally in the old days, would have had private conversations over a smoke, out the back of parliament house. Now they could share what they’ve learned with not only those directly around them but with the rest of the world.

The times they are a changing, is not really what is happening.  The community where you talk over problems and information just got a whole lot larger and a whole lot faster.

And remember that person having a twito (a twitter smoko) is not always wasting time (though they may be :-)) they are collaborating solutions to problems across not only their organisation but the whole world.

It may just be time to put down the cigarette and get back to your desk and tweet someone.

Auto Mode is not always your friend….

Here are a two shots of the moon.

The first shot is taken with the Nikon D90 in Auto No Flash mode.

Half Moon Auto
Camera:      Nikon D90
Exposure:     0.167 sec (1/6)
Aperture:     f/5.6
Focal Length:     300 mm
ISO Speed:     800
Exposure Bias:     0 EV
Exposure Program:     Auto:No Flash

As you can see this shot is to put it blunty crap.  Crap for a few reasons… firstly it is over blown and secondly it is blury as the shot is hand held on a non VR lens.  But this is what Automode does….

This shot however is not so crap 🙂  It is still a hand held shot on the Nikkor 70-300mm F4.0-5.6G lens… which the first shot was taken with, taken only a a few seconds beforehand.

Half Moon
Camera:      Nikon D90
Exposure:     0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture:     f/10.0
Focal Length:     300 mm
ISO Speed:     500
Exposure Program:     Manual

Here you can see the moon is nice and crisp, the craters are visible and even at 11pm I can hand hold the shot, because the object I was photographing was bright enough.

So remember get your camera off Automode every now and then and you might just get the shot you are looking for, not the one the camera thinks you are after.

Now of course the master shot to get the moon this big is still a massive crop… from 4288x2848px to 1576x1278px but still the lens has a decent reach 🙂

Now to get my hands on 500mm lens with a teleconverter 🙂

Comparing Zoom Range FX/DX Lenses for a Nikon D90 11-300mm

My new 70-300mm F4-5.6G arrived today (review to come) which finally gave me the encouragement to do this series of shots.  These  shots cover the whole range that my lens collection has from 11mm at it widest to 300mm(FX) at its longest.   This 300mm does an interesting thing due to the smaller size of the sensor on the D90 and has 1.5x multiplier effect, giving me an effective 450mm range on the 300mm lens.

You will see this effect most clearly in shots 2 and 3 which are both at 200mm. Shot 2 is the FX lens, and Shot 3 is the DX lens.   (All the EXIF data is on the shots if you click through to them)

All shots hand held on auto no-flash mode.

1) Zoom Levels – 300mm FX Lens – DX D90 Body – Nikon 70-300mm F4-5.6G
Zoom Levels - 300mm FX Lens - DX D90 Body

2) Zoom Levels – 200mm FX Lens – DX D90 Body- Nikon 70-300mm F4-5.6G
Zoom Levels - 200mm FX Lens - DX D90 Body

3) Zoom Levels – 200mm DX Lens – DX D90 Body – Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.6
Zoom Levels - 200mm DX Lens - DX D90 Body

4) Zoom Levels – 18mm DX Lens – DX D90 Body- Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.6
Zoom Levels - 18mm DX Lens - DX D90 Body

5) Zoom Levels – 11mm DX Lens – DX D90 Body – Tokina 11-16 F2.8mm
Zoom Levels - 11mm DX Lens - DX D90 Body

I will do another version of this later showing all my lenses at work as well, as I didn’t use my Nikkor 18-55mm or my Nikkor 55-200mm Kit lenses as I don’t carry them with me every day anymore.  I still use them for planned shoots esp shooting in doors, but have an 18-200mm on the camera at all times is just a lot easier and a lot less weight to carry around all the time.

Circular Polarisers the 2nd filter to buy for your camera.

The first filter to buy is obviously a UV Filter…. for two main reasons. Firstly they block UV … and secondly they are a great sacrificial part of the lens. Scratch the filter and you’re up for $50-100. Scratch the lens on the other hand… Also the filter will break first if you drop your camera, the lens tends to hit the ground first and the filter takes the shock and breaks.

But back to Polarisers…. Ever wondered how people get those amazing travel shots where the sky is a deep blue and the water a stunning green? And yet every photo you take is all washed out and even overblown?

Like this shot perhaps…

Without a Circular Polariser

The only difference between the above shot and this one is the Circular Polariser that was on the camera.

With a Circular Polariser

Now as you can see, this shot is a lot richer in its tones and colour. I should have shot the second shot a bit slower (to pull in a bit more light to compensate for the filter) but I took these shots to show the difference between with and without the filter. You will also notice that the filter has cut down dramatically on the reflection in the water showing the rocks just below the surface.

Settings for both shots were:
Camera:      Nikon D90
Lens: Tokina 11-16mm F2.8
Exposure:     0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture:     f/8.0
Focal Length:     13 mm
ISO Speed:     200
Exposure Program:     Manual

Some people say don’t use Polarisers on really wide angle lenses like my Tokina 11-16mm. Or you get an effect like below. Now see, I liked the effect in this image… the dark banding across the sky helps weight the image to the side of the tower and results in a more dramatic effect. But one thing it does mean is that stitching a panorama can be nigh impossible (due to the colour banding across each shot). You could tweak the filter for each frame comparing it to the last (using a tripod to keep the camera steady).

Black Mountain Perspective

One thing to watch for in really wide lenses however is Vignetting (darkening in the corners of your shot, which is almost black). The Tokina 11-16mm at 11mm with a Polariser on is so wide and the filter so thick, that vignetting does show up in the corners of the shot. In most cases here I ended up shooting at 12mm or higher – just to keep the filter out of the shot. Sure I could crop out the vignetting later but pushing the lens that little bit saved me a lot of work in Lightroom later. (Best clicked through to see the large versions on Flickr)

With Vignetting

Vignetting Removed

The other issue is not touching the damned filter. It has taken me a while to get used to spinning the filter to the correct level or polarisation without touching the filter itself. Also watch for lens hoods… most of them even petal shaped hoods make it very tricking to reach the filter to move it. Now my fingers are not big mens hands either, so you may need to work out which works best for your lens and hood combination. The Tokina for example I just don’t bother with the hood when I have the filter on, the Sigma 18-200mm that I have is o.k – now that I have got used to it.

So if you are thinking about ever shooting water, sky, or the big landscape that is Australia go out and get yourself one of these filters now, in fact get more than one if you have more than one lens… you will not regret it for a minute and will be wondering why they hell you didn’t get one earlier.

Red Earth, Blue Sky Country

For more info read the Wikipedia link on Polarising Filters

Putting the #wtrip09 5000KM across Australia into perspective.

Now Australia is a big country….  a very big and very empty country.

The #wtrip09 drive ended up being 5025km so all the side trips added 800km more than the planned route.  But that was not a surprise…

So here it the route I had planned (still cleaning up the KML files) then compare what kind of road trip that would have been below…

View Larger Map

Or 400km less is this drive

View Larger Map

Or only 100km more…

View Larger Map

Or 200km less than what I did would be this drive…

View Larger Map

And 200km more is this trip….

View Larger Map

or across China

View Larger Map

One of these days I might even do some of these drives….

#wtrip09 Quick Facts and Figures

Been home a week now and busy sorting out KML/GPX Files, dealing with photos and putting all the camping gear away.

So here are some of the facts and figures from the trip 🙂

Red Earth, Blue Sky Country

  • Minimum distance planned for the trip: 4,203 km
  • Total distance (that is door to door): 5025KM
  • Total Cost of Petrol: $623.24
  • Total Litres: 491.17
  • KM/Per Litre: 10.23
  • Most Expensive: 138.9 BP Cunummulla
  • Tweets where I wrote in the Lat/Long: 48
  • Early MorningPhotos: 5000+ (including family Xmas day ones)
  • Percentage of Photos Geotagged to within 20Meters: 95
  • Hardware Failures: 1 320 WD HD Drive… Rooted when we stopped in Canberra (MBR error)
  • Roadkill: 1 Bird (countless insects)
  • Near Miss: 1 Emu (missed by 30 cm or so)
    Driving into Rain (B&W Version)
  • Total Distance of Video for the trip: Approx 3300km (will try and rescue another 500km of video yet)
  • Total Distance Recorded as GPX files: 5000km (only one Nokia GPS fail on a small side trip)
  • Number of Twitter followers meet IRL for the first time (Not including a dog): 4
  • Number of Bolt of lighting seen: 4 (number missed because storms hit the day after I left 30K+!)
  • Number of States/Territories Driven in: 4
  • Damage to the Car: 1 Stone Chip to windscreen (Location Dual Carriage way just outside Taree of all places!), 1 blown rear power outlet.
  • Most Easterly Point: -28.636305°, 153.637817° (Cape Byron Light House)
  • Most Northerly Point: -26.397385°, 147.176207°
  • Highest Point: 850M -35.275425°, 149.097745° (Black Mountain Telstra Tower)
  • Lowest Point: 0 Meters (Surfers Paradise + Norah Head and other beaches)
  • Longest Distance Between traffic lights (not inc side trips): 1800km (from -35.836815°, 144.907532° which were roadworks in NSW to Dalby in QLD)

Storm Over the Field

I will put together the driving videos and the KML files when I have finished cleaning them up.  Most of the KML files are a lot larger than they need to be as I would leave the N95 running whilst I stopped to take photos and wandered around.

The rest of images I uploaded to Flickr are in my #Wtrip09 Set