Part 42 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal

Bad Mouse


Mon Oct 06 15:06:15 2008

In the past, when my Apple Mighty Mouse stopped scrolling, I usually wiped the scrolly with an alcohol pad and it started working again. Today, however, it did not work. After a bit of googling, I found a discussion on the Apple Forums— it involved turning the mouse upside down and rubbing the scrolly on a piece of paper.

Surprisingly, it worked.

Bookshelf: "A Distant Mirror" and "Ghost Wars"


Sun Oct 12 19:05:51 2008

Excerpts and brief reviews of “Ghost Wars” by Steve Coll (score: 7/4) and “A Distant Mirror” by Barbara Tuchman (score: 5/4) now online.

Canon 50D


Mon Oct 13 10:20:54 2008

After doing more research, following the announcement and previews of the Canon 5D MkII (body ~CAD$3k), I am re-considering my enthusiasm for it. I realized that I would have to buy a new computer (to be able to handle the camera's HD video) and more storage (possibly a RAID) to cope with the volume of data from the camera.

Instead, I am considering the Canon 50D (body ~$1.5k). It is a more reasonable camera to be stepping up from my S60 which needs repair. I would pair the body with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens ($400) after rejecting the lower-end f/1.8II lens due to common complaints about focusing problems in low-light and the high-end f/1.2L lens because I feel the price is too high for a "somewhat flawed" lens. For a macro lens, I decided on the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM lens

Henrys is out of stock of the 50Ds but Vistek, which has a much better website (I often get errors on the Henrys website "_ERR_CMD_CMD_NOT_FOUND: CMN3101E The system is unavailable due to CMN0203E."), is cheaper and has them in stock, hos their downtown store located quite out-of-the-way for me. In terms of physical access, I prefer Henrys because I walk by the store every day, however their sales people tend to be be somewhat snobbish.

Also, a nice DIY macro photography studio how-to.

$899 Macbook?


Tue Oct 14 05:24:52 2008

Based of leaked BestBuy inventory data, the rumour is that Apple is either going to announce a $899 Macbook or a LED display.

I think it's a Macbook based on the "MB" prefix, which is given to laptops (MB403LL/A Apple MacBook 13.3-inch laptop). The "MA" prefix is given to the Mac Pro (MA970LL/A) while the solitary "M" prefix is given to the displays (M9178LL/A 23 in. cinema display) and other accessories (M8754G/A DVI to VGA display adapter).

Update Tue Oct 14 13:54:42 2008: Nope, it's the display.



Thu Oct 16 09:12:49 2008

Trailer for the movie about the Apple Cult.

Canon 50D First Impressions

photography "delusions of grandeur"

Thu Oct 16 22:02:13 2008

Yesterday, one of my colleagues came in with a Henrys flyer which had a promotion where the purchase of any 50D body or body and lens kit would get a Canon camera bag, a grip and an extra battery. So this afternoon, I called the Toronto store to confirm they had one in stock and I picked one up just after 5PM along with the 50mm f/1.4 USM lens; my boss and my colleague walked down to the store with me. During check-out, when the salesperson asked if I wanted a UV filter, I turned to my boss quizically and he nodded and suggested I get one— it's $50 protection for the $420 lens from poking fingers of young children. As I was paying, the salesperson asked if I was a student (I had earlier said that I was calling from Ryerson when he had asked if I wanted him to hold the camera for me); Ryerson has a popular photography program.

After I got back, I cleared my work counter and while the battery was charging, I read through the manual. After the battery charged (100 minutes to full charge), I had to call my colleague over for help with attaching the neck-strap, as the single diagram showing the procedure was rather cryptic. Fortunately, he is experienced in this, as his wife has a Canon Rebel (film). Next, I tried to open the battery compartment and I gave-up, as I turned to the manual; he calmly reached over, opened it and inserted the battery. I took the 1GB CF card out of my S60 and inserted it into the camera and powered it up. I took a couple of shots and I was quite impressed with the bokeh (photos will be uploaded later). The view-screen is HUGE and AMAZING; it seems to have some sort of optical coating where the oil from one's face that rubs-off on the screen, does not seem to distort the image being viewed.

We had a difficult time configuring the inside of the camera bag using the velcro partitions, to hold the camera. More on this later.

The true test of this camera's capabilities will be in low-light. I tried taking some in my darkened apartment and it had trouble focusing on the far door; it instead kept focusing on a near-wall (I tried manually focusing but the results were blurry; I haven't figured out how to tell it to focus on something else.)

It's easy to take great shots in good light with this camera (in full auto mode). I am now thinking of going professional, hiring an extremely pretty female assistant (interested parties please include a recent photograph with your résumé) to walk around and take readings with a light-meter. Since Toronto Fashion Week starts next week, I wonder where I can get credentials to be able to photograph the models.

Time to watch Blowup again.

Update Thu Oct 16 23:16:43 2008: David suggested getting a Gorillapod.

Canon 50D Second Impressions


Sat Oct 18 10:48:20 2008

One of the problems I'm having, is adjusting to the weight of the camera— my right hand and wrist are sore after a shoot. Having become accustomed to holding my lightweight pocket cameras in my right hand with my index finger extended over the shutter button, I instinctively began doing the same with the 50D. However, since the 50D weighs 2+ lbs. and the body is taller, it puts a strain on my wrist and hand. I have to keep reminding myself to hold the camera with my left hand under the lens, relax my right hand and index finger and only use it when i need to compose and shoot.

Settings I have customized:

I am finding the 50mm lens rather limiting for "landscapes" and large group shots, requiring me to stand quite further back than I am used to with my S60 and also not being able to get the same view angles as with the S60. My next purchase will likely be a wide-angle lens rather than a macro.

Update Sat Oct 18 16:34:15 2008: David responds:

The 50D has a 1.6x crop factor, so your 50 mm lens is acting like an 80 mm one--that's basically a portrait lens.

If you want a lens that has a field of view roughly as wide as your eyes, you would need to get something like the 28mm (f/1.8 available). Multiplying by 1.6, it will act like a 45mm lens; much closer to the "standard" 50 mm view of the old 35 mm film cameras (and current full- frame dSLRs).

If you're planning on doing more wide shots, it may be worth considering getting a wider lens. In a lot of cases it's easier to step in to get a close up than it is to step back to get a wide shot. Also, you can always "zoom in" my simply cropping the picture to get the proper framing that you want. If it's not possible to step back any further you're stuck.

Update Sat Oct 18 21:45:58 2008: Eric has a follow-up to David's comment, above, about a, "lens having a field of view as wide as your eyes":

Your eyes have an angle of view that might be as much as 120° (wiggle your fingers off to the side while staring straight ahead to see what I mean). On the other hand, your perception of detail anywhere but straight ahead is atrocious, and then of course there's the "blind spot". So it's meaningless to talk about your eyes' "angle of view".

I'm pretty sure that standard lenses are standard because: the 45° field of view happens (for reasons I don't understand) to be the easiest lens to make so for a given price, the 45°-field-of-view lens is the fastest and has the highest quality.

Lenses have easily-determined fields of view; it's your eyes that don't.

Maybe I should start blogging on so people can comment publically. I had created a test blog some time ago but it remains unused.

I've created a separate journal for the Canon 50D.

Canon S60 Photos


Sat Oct 18 16:35:39 2008

Note that these are not Canon 50D photos. They are the last few photos I took with the S60. The 50D makes me appreciate the versatility of the S60 so much more. But I think the 50D bokeh will seduce me.

(L-R) The interior of the old CIBC building photographed from Jordan street, behind Commerce Court (shot in Program mode whilst leaning the camera against a pillar); a window washer with the reflection of the rear of the King Edward Hotel, I had to wait about 15 minutes while the washer descended to an photographically appropriate point (it made hotel security rather nervous); a rather gigantic cricket on the train platform at Port Credit GO Station; a symbol of excessive greed as a sobering reminder (anyone who displayed this on their backpack while in high-school would surely have paid for it dearly, but on me, it takes on a menacing look, and that is comfort enough).

Poster Design


Sun Oct 26 12:43:51 2008

I was asked to design a poster to advertise graduate research seminars in the department. I was given a Word document containing, in tabular form, the dates, presenter names and seminar titles. Based on the number of participants, I decided to make two posters, one for the October seminars and one for November.

First, I Googled for posters to get an idea for what a seminar poster should look like. I found several posters that could be described as, "single column with large, centered Helvetica text". However, there was one for a drama school that caught my eye, it had two columns (proportioned 1/3 and 2/3) with the narrower column which was filled with colour and listed the participants, while the wider column contained an eye-catching graphic. My first poster (3MB PDF), advertising the October seminars, essentially copied this design. I replaced the drawing with a stock photograph from my collection.

I designed the November poster with the same structure but with different colours (I sampled the photograph in each poster to get a colour palette for the poster).

After a few weeks, I decided that the design of the second poster was too derivative and that I would use it for next year. Instead, I thought about creating an original poster using colour only. I thought about what the purpose of a poster— the primary purpose of a poster is to grab a passerby's attention, make them stop and read it. This is done using colour, a large graphic or both. The main theme of the poster ("garage sale", "concert", etc.) is typically written in the largest font; in this case, the theme is "seminars". Inspired by discussions of the grid system (see Thinking with Type), I created a new poster for the November seminars using a "calendar grid approach".

I haven't decided if it's too colourful (but from a distance, it certainly grabs your attention) and whether it should be toned down a lot or just a bit. I have until the end of the week to submit a final copy.

The posters were created in Pages 2.1 on my Mac Mini running OS X 10.4.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 42 / Last Modified: Sun Nov 02 00:01:52 2008