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Why FireReady Info wasn't a waste of tax payers money!

From yesterday and over the next few days most Victorians will recieve “to the householder” mail from the Premier’s Office containing the FireReady information for this year.

Now I did notice a number of people in my Twitter timeline point out they lived in highrise buildings, or close to the city e.t.c and that that information was useless to them.

Sure, if you live in your house in the middle of the CBD like a hermit, then yes this information will be useless to you.  But if you live in Victoria and do go outside in summer then this information does effect you.  If you do any of the following for example: Head to the Yarra for wine tasting during the summer months, go for a BBQ anywhere close to the urban fringe, take visitors up to Mount Dandenong, head down the Great Ocean Road, go up to Healesville Sancturary, a day spa in Daylesford or just a country drive then this information is going to be helpful.

Unless you are aware of what the fire danger ratings are, who to listen to for emergency information and what signs to look out for, you could end up being caught in a rapidly deteriorating situation. During Black Saturday, the fire front was spotting 20km+ infront of itself.  This kind of situation is uncontrollable by the authorities, not being aware of how the Fire Authorities work, will lead to you being in serious trouble.

So before you go and jump on a bandwagon and criticise information that you deem to be useless, stop and think what you do during summer and realise you could be caught out.

I implore all Victorians ( and other states ) to stop and take 10 minutes out of your busy schedule to read this information.  Learn what the various levels of alert mean, learn which broadcasters will have the information on the day that could save your life.

And introducing Firmware Hell… thanks to Google, Telstra and HTC

Not to be a name dropper, but I do know people in Telstra, Google and HTC.  They are really smart people as well. I’d go out on a limb to say that most of the people that work in these companies are smart people. Knowing this makes dealing with the outcomes of doing a firmware update even harder.

Having all ready written about why I wasn’t going to update my firmware to Telstra Froyo until the official version came out, I can now finally deal with the firmware update. What should have been an easy process turned out to be a nightmare of usability, performance, general shenanigans and complete frustration.

From the last few weeks of miscommunication, lack of transparency and frustration about the whens and ifs of the update itself. There was a large audience of very technically literate people crying out for this update, months after Google release it, finally Telstra say it is coming.  Coming in  4 weeks, a few days, a few more days, sometime soon, we will let you know, soon e.t.c.  If they didn’t know what is wrong with saying you don’t know.  If there is a delay, what is wrong in saying what the delay is.  Being open about these processes will in most cases placate people.  Why can’t these corporations just realise that Lack of information is the main cause of audience frustration?

So finally, the firmware comes out yesterday. Now for reasons, that haven’t been disclosed, the firmware isn’t OTA ( Over the AIR ), meaning when you press “Settings: About phone: System software updates: Check Now” on your phone, it simply says “ Your Phone is up to date”. But it isn’t.  Why isn’t the system designed to handle non OTA updates?

So I know that there is a firmware update. Great, jump on the web and head to http://www.htc.com/au/, and yes HTC have a link to Telstra Firmware on the homepage.  But not so fast. This is a link to the version from 2010-04-30.  So to get the new version, you have to click product support, whats new.  Why is it so hard to update the home page?

Next, you have to get the serial number for you phone.  To do this, you have to take the back off, then remove the battery, then enter the serial number of your device.  Of course the file is now available on a number of forums without asking for a serial number to install. Why do I need to get the serial number again?

At least now I am at the download stage. Please do not be in a hurry to download.  A 173meg download taking 3 hours to download is just stupid.  I was average around 20kbs for this file. I’m sure Telstra have enough capacity to ensure a slightly faster download. Why wasn’t a local server for downloading the software available?

Now comes installing.  With 30 or so pages about the firmware update on Whirlpool talking about errors and work arounds to get the install to work. Seems that Win7 64bit and/or your choice of USB ports seems to be an issue. A random USB 170 or USB 171 error are really not helpful. This shows that perhaps a bit more real world testing of the update may have been required. Why not release a public beta version of the update to sort this out first?

So finally you get the installer to work.  Then you see the big red writing “Installing the ROM Update Utility (RUU) will delete ALL information and data on your Android phone.” Yes everything, all your settings, apps, messages, screens, everything.  Funny thing is I can update my Playstation3, my computers, my other phones ( eg Nokia’s ) without losing everything.  Of course there are backup apps.  But 3rd party apps, that you need to pay for just to back up your phone to do a firmware update. Why can’t they just back up your settings when installing?

Sure I know have Froyo, but was it worth it? If you include all the stress, running around and fixing I now have to do to my phone, I’d say only just.  But then I won’t know for quite some time, as all my contacts have got screwed up, I don’t have any apps installed yet and have to reset all my wifi passwords as well just to download stuff.

And if you are a non techie person, I’d say phone a friend before attempting this at home.


Update from HTC

To assist our customers in downloading the Froyo update for the HTC Desire in Australia, below are some helpful tips.  For any further assistance, customers should contact HTC Customer Care in Australia on 1300-482-482. An over-the-air update will be available soon for customers.

1.     Follow the installation instructions that are available on the HTC Australia support web site
2.     Before installing HTCSync remove any previous versions.
3.     Remove any HTC drivers from Windows Device manager
4.     Install the latest version of HTC Sync 3
5.     Disable any Anti Virus s/w or firewalls.
6.     Connect the device directly to the PC/Laptop and not via a USB hub
7.     Reboot the computer.
8.     If all fails try another computer


The above comments from HTC’s Facebook page also puts pay to the comments below that a OTA update would be to big!.

My advice would be to wait until the Over the Air Update comes out and has been tested, this would be even more true for Mac users.


final update…

Great news….  via @petesymons

FroYo OTA now avail for Telstra HTC Desire. Use WIFI & have 25MB memory free. Go 2 settings>about phone>syst software updates>check now


(p.s this post is also on the ABC Tech site, so head over there for more comments as well )

Quick Camera Show Down on the Nokia N8

First quick post to do with my new Nokia N8, one of the big selling points is the camera…  so lets deal with that first.

The Show Down Consisted of the following…
( plus the Nikon D90 DSLR, which took this shot)
Too many cameras is never enough

Overcast Sunset – Brighton, Melbourne, Saturday 23/10/10

All devices were set on automatic mode and a couple of shots were taken, the best of which I uploaded to flickr.

Each image links through to the flickr version, where you can see the full image as well.


Nokia X6 – 5MP
Comparing the N8 - Nokia X6 - 5MP

Exposure 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture f/2.8
Focal Length 5.2 mm
ISO Speed 100
X-Resolution 300 dpi
Y-Resolution 300 dpi


Comparing the N8 -  JVC FM1 - 8MP

Exposure 0.006 sec (1/163)
Aperture f/2.8
Focal Length 3.9 mm
ISO Speed 100
X-Resolution 72 dpi
Y-Resolution 72 dpi


HTC Desire – 5MP
Comparing the N8 - HTC Desire - 5MP

This is the only Exif Data for the shot from the Desire

ISO Speed 100
X-Resolution 72 dpi
Y-Resolution 72 dpi


Nikon D90 – 12MP
Comparing the N8 - Nikon D90 - 12MP

Exposure 0.006 sec (1/160)
Aperture f/6.3
Focal Length 18 mm
ISO Speed 200
X-Resolution 240 dpi
Y-Resolution 240 dpi


Nokia N8 – 12MP
Comparing the N8 - Nokia N8 - 12MP

X-Resolution 300 dpi
Y-Resolution 300 dpi
Exposure 0.005 sec (1/218)
Aperture f/2.8
Focal Length 5.9 mm
ISO Speed 105

I think the D90 wins… but then it should. But the N8 for a mobile phone, which of course happened to be the only device that could upload the photos from all the other devices, comes a very very respectable second.

The only Social Media Policy you need

Don’t crap on the hand that feeds you.

Of course the more “polite version” is don’t bite the hand that feeds you, but I think mine has a nicer ring to it.

This applies to most social platforms as well.  In many respects it comes down to treating your audience as you want to be treated audience may not necessarily be customers but could simply be people that you follow the public you want to follow of people that you interact with other casual basis.

In this day and age there is a good chance that somebody further up the food chain than you in your organisation is either going to be following you directly or have access to the material you have written through some means.  There doesn’t have to be anything nefarious in those means, it is just an is these days.  Say you’re having a bad day at work complaining loudly about your organisation will get you noticed in a way that you would necessarily be comfortable with.

That is not to say you cannot complain about your work but do it in such a way that you don’t bring your organisation into disrepute without realising it may be consequences for you.

Even if you only use Social Media for social interaction and have nothing to do with any job in any way what so ever, the hand that feeds you is your followers.  The relationship you have with them will define which part of crapping on the hand that feeds you something falls into.  I follow lots of people who’s material is not fit for work, or even for re tweeting for example.

If you use Twitter for incessantly tweeting about competitions inherently lowering your chance of winning a competition like all pyramid schemes you’re going to annoy lot of people.  If you consider having your timeline full competitions don’t expect the a lot of followers and certainly very little conversation, then go ahead. If you are a company getting people to re-tweet your competition,  you’re going to damage your brand not improve it doing this.  Why because your brand will be associated with the incessant re-tweeting as well as the person doing the re-tweeting.

Whether we like it or not our personal lives and our personal interactions on social media will come back to within the workplace at some point in time.  How these interactions affect us at work or even at home depend on how we conduct ourselves.

There are plenty of cases of people overstepping the boundaries in some cases it may well have been deliberate or a one off the error of judgement.  But in all these cases it still comes back to level of personal responsibility and personal judgement.  If you can justify through your history on social media that you haven’t broken the rules as a standard practice you may find yourself in a lot better place if you do overstep a  boundary.

For an organisation the audience are all potential customers and while some organisations embrace social media and the opportunities that it presents many worry about the risks outweigh the benefits.  There is not to say that social media is a panacea for every company and their woes. There are though are lots of opportunities to be had.  In this case the hand that feeds you is easy to define and the risks of making a mistake is somewhat higher.  However like above if you establish the history a single mistake can be overlooked or addressed quickly and easily.

The harder part of this policy is the common sense aspect.  People are going to complain. You need to work out if your behaviour is something that is worth complaining about. People said I posted to many photos in one go, and guess what they were right I did.  So I tweak the Twitterfeed to reduce the volume. Problem solved, this had nothing to do with work, but I took my followers as a hand that feeds me.  When I had a bad few days at work with general stress, I just jumped of twitter for a while.  I happen to like where I work and having a bad few days wasn’t going to change that. Bitching on Twitter would have.

So next time you are having a bad day, somebody has annoyed you, got under your skin, or just even themselves being an idiot, consider your response.  Is your response going to crap on the hand that feeds you. Really it isn’t that hard!

RAW versus JPG: Digital Camera File Format Faceoff

This is a cross post of a joint blog post from Neerav’s article…

RAW and JPG are different ways of creating photos in a digital camera. Each has advantages and disadvantages. In the Blue corner we have Wolfcat who argues in favour of the RAW file format and in the Red corner we have Neerav who argues in favour of the JPG file format.

Neerav Bhatt Photos Shown at Lumixlife Gallery Exhibition
Neerav Bhatt Photos Shown at Lumixlife Gallery Exhibition

Pro-JPG Argument

For some background so you understand where I’m coming from: I love to take photos, mostly of urban streets, wilderness and wildlife.

I take 99.9% of my photos in JPG format and have used these successfully to create A4 posters, a photo book, sold photos for use in technology websites and magazines to accompany my articles, and had some displayed in an art gallery on 32-50inch TV screens.

I understand that RAW has some technical benefits but for the vast majority of photographers out there JPG will be the best option because:

  • for 99% of people JPG image quality is already far more than they need
  • it’s convenient because images don’t require any post-processing
  • the vast majority of keen amateur photographers don’t have the time or inclination to sit at a computer for hours after a day spent taking photos, post-processing RAW camera files into JPG photos manually one by one.
  • RAW files cannot be immediately shared to the Internet because they require processing with a computer that is reasonably fast. When I take photographs at events I can share the best JPGs to Flickr within minutes using my cheap, underpowered netbook computer,
  • the more affordable digital cameras used by keen amateur photographers are noticeably slower at taking RAW format photos than JPG’s. I guarantee “RAW only” hardliners have missed out on photo opportunities because their camera takes time recording each massive RAW file,
  • JPG file sizes are far smaller and therefore take up less space on your camera card, in your photo archive, and when transferring them internally on your home network or on the internet.
  • Arguments that storage space is getting cheaper are irrelevant. Try calculating how many camera cards you’d need to store 100 photos/day, every day for a month on holiday and you’ll see what I mean,
  • JPG files can be viewed on any desktop or laptop computer as well as many electronic devices including smartphones, TV’s, dvd/bluray players etc,
  • RAW encourages lazy “i can always do it properly on the computer” photography. I own Photoshop CS5 and find it useful, but much prefer to get the camera settings right first time in the camera and not have to spend time fiddling later

There are over a hundred different variations of RAW file formats needing special software to convert them to JPG. Often new cameras record in a RAW format that can’t be opened by older image processing applications like Adobe Photoshop.

If you must use RAW then DNG is the best RAW format for archival purposes. The US Library of Congress classified proprietary RAW files as “Less desirable file formats” suggesting that DNG be used instead.

The only times I would ever consider using a RAW format such as DNG are:

  1. if I was being paid to do a commercial photography job. Even then I’d use DNG+JPG which takes each photo in both formats so I could use the JPG’s immediately and the DNG’s only if required.
  2. If I was on holiday and paying lots of money for a unique one off experience eg: hot air balloon ride then I’d set my camera to DNG+JPG.

I leave the final word to respected amateur photographer and camera reviewer Ken Rockwell:

If you shoot hundreds or thousands of images in a day shoot JPG and don’t worry. The quality is the same for almost all intents and purposes as raw, and the raw files would take gigabytes or tens of gigabytes and resultant hours to download, convert, catalog and burn to backup CDs. In fact, if you shoot this much then JPG can give better quality since attempting to shoot this much raw will constipate your workflow and you could miss making some images entirely as your cards fill up. You’d always be running out of memory cards or time waiting for the access light to stop blinking.

If you love to tweak your images one-by one and shoot less than about a hundred shots at a time than raw could be for you. In fact, if you prefer the look you can get from raw (it may be different from JPG in some cases depending on software) you can let your computer batch process images and save the results as JPGs, too. I almost never shoot anything in raw, and when I do I never see any difference for all the effort I wasted anyway. (I can see differences if I blow things up to 100% or bigger on my computer, but not in prints.)

JPG vs RAW – Get it right the first time (Ken Rockwell)

Further reading

The RAW Flaw – Luminous Landscape

Are Raw Files Forever? – Luminous Landscape

DNG – Sustainability of Digital Formats – Planning for Library of Congress Collections

Still Image Preferences – Sustainability of Digital Formats – Planning for Library of Congress Collections

Raw as Archival Still Image Format: A Consideration (University of Connecticut Libraries)

Adobe TV – Advantages of DNG format

Pro-RAW Argument

First confession I shoot RAW and JPG. However 99% of the time I just ignore the JPG files, cause I never use them, never see them and they just end up taking up space on my harddrive.

I’m a keen landscape shooter. I like to document the world around me looking for that unique angle on this great country we live in. Whilst I shoot in colour.. I’m a huge fan on the black and white as well for real story telling.

  1. There is only one kind of RAW. The kind your camera shoots. I shoot with a Nikon D90, so I get .NEF files. I really don’t care about other RAW formats. Why, because that is like saying I drive a Diesel powered car, but there are too many kinds of Petrol to confuse me.
  2. Quality doesn’t matter. No of course it doesn’t, unless you care about the photo. Unless that photo is a touch under/over exposed, the white balance is out, the horizon line is a few degrees of centre, the lens you used has a certain type of distortion that throws out straight lines or the highlights are a bit over exposed. Any of these mean you are going to want to “fix” the photo.
  3. Sure Ken Rockwell can shoot in full manual mode and get White Balance and everything perfect every time, never needing to touch Photoshop at all to fix any image…. But are you Ken Rockwell.
  4. You’re are sure that you know what the correct colour temp for each setting is, because you shoot in a perfectly stable environment, with colour charts and controlled lighting every time. Nope didn’t think so. Guess what you are going to want to correct that photo.
  5. Batch Processing is your friend. I use Lightroom3 to processes all my RAW images. If they are similar I can spend time on one image get the settings right and apply them to hundreds of photos in a few minutes.
  6. Raw is non destructive, you aren’t dealing with a lossy compression like JPG you have all the information to play with. You don’t have to trust the camera to guess what you wanted, you have complete control. JPG is also 8bit colorur. The RAW files I shoot are 12bit colour.
  7. Cost of storage is cheap. I have an offsite backup of my photos on a 1.5TB drive that I purchased for $98 dollars. I run a few 4gb cards and can shoot around 240 images per card. And I always take a harddrive with me on trips to backup the images anyway, that drive is a USB powered HD that is 880gb which cost me $120.
  8. JPG is easier. Yes it is, but then so is buying a pizza from the supermarket compared to making one at home. The one you make at home will have all the toppings you want and be to your taste, not the cheapest food to make the pizza.
  9. And finally how often do you need to “get” the shot up straight away. If you are really doing that, you are shooting from a mobile phone anyway. Most of the time you are going to have access to something to process the image regardless. ( I know I do )
  10. If you only store the JPG’s in 6 months time or a years time when someone spots that great image and wants the full size image for print… what did you do with it, oh yes that is right, you compressed it put lots of effects in photoshop and compressed it again.

While I do agree that JPG is easier to use, just because it is easier doesn’t make it better. I like to ensure that the colours on my image are visually correct and that the tones reflect the mood of the image. Say I want a black and white image, shooting RAW gives me complete tonal control much more than JPG ever can. And all for very little work!

And I’ll leave the final word to these images….

The JPG VS the RAW.


RAW VS JPG ( JPG Version )

This RAW took me a minute to tweak in Lightroom 3.

RAW VS JPG ( RAW Version )

Further Reading

Why Shoot RAW – Photography Review

When to Shoot RAW – Macworld

Understanding Raw Files – Luminous Landscape

Photo Lightroom -Adobe

Open Source Raw Processing Win, Linux

How To Shoot RAW without Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt by Michael Tapes

Top 10 Rickrolls….

    In no particular order.

    1. Apple have released a new product
    2. Microsoft Security Hole
    3. Flash for the Iphone
    4. Famous Person does something stupid
    5. Silly Joke about breaking news
    6. Twitter release something
    7. Facebook release something
    8. Google release something
    9. April Fools
    10. 4chan do something