February 2004 Archives

Cool pics of the week

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I suppose the one a few days ago also counts.


Clouds at sunset, Feb 27
(larger version)


15 sec exposure, looking down highway 24 toward SF from the Rockridge BART station, Feb 26
(larger version)

Golf ball-sized hail

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It hailed like crazy a few minutes ago. I always enjoy watching this, as it happens so rarely here. Anyhow, that's not really a huge piece of hail on the doormat, it's the golf ball that found it's way into my yard last week. I can't imagine those falling from the sky!

Decisions, decisions

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Waiting for the skies to clear

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Right now these two beauties (along with several others) are gathering dust while rain falls from the sky. I need one day of blue skies so I can take as many cameras as possible to my usual photo spots in the city. Rumor has it that Monday will be dry. Maybe that will be my chance.

As an aside, I believe that the two Canon Digital ELPHs shown above are the best looking digital cameras ever created.

Update: Today turned out to be a nice day. Unfortunately two of the cameras I was expecting didn't show up due to a "fax error" on the other end. Grrr...


(full size image)

Rain delay

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i was supposed to go to Southern California this weekend. One day was a trip to San Diego to visit my old haunts. Sunday was Disneyland, and Monday was to be spent hanging out with Jackson.

Unfortunately the weather was not going to cooperate. With heavy rain and flood warnings in the forecast, I decided to postpone my trip a few weeks, hoping that the weather gets better. Unfortunately, I booked my hotel with Priceline... which is non-refundable. I guess it's the price you have to pay for getting a cheap price on a hotel room.

So hopefully I'll try this trip again soon.

Update: Looks like I made the right decision [link]

Foveon vs. CCD

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If there's any doubt about just how amazing the Foveon X3 sensor is, have a look at these crops:


From Sigma SD10 w/Foveon sensor (view original)


From Pentax Optio 33WR w/traditional CCD sensor (view original)

The original images tell the full story, so check'em out if you care. Too bad the X3 sensor is only 3 Megapixel. And yeah there's dust on the sensor in the Foveon shot.

Frogs

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It must be frog mating season, because if I step outside, I feel like I'm in a swamp somewhere (though my lawn does feel swampy after I water it). I'm pinned between two golf courses, which is where (I assume) the frogs are. In my previous entry, I mentioned how quiet it is in the house. Well, the frogs are so loud that I can hear them with all the doors and windows shut. Not that it's a bad sound or anything -- I kind of like it.

Listen to the frogs (QuickTime, recorded in my backyard)

A little too quiet

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Overall, I really like my new house. My complaints are few. I still have two flaky recessed lights (soon to be fixed) and a screwy microwave (soon to be fixed for the second time), but other than that, it's great. There's one other thing that, while not really bothersome, makes me miss the places I used to live: noise -- or a lack of it. This place is sealed up like Fort Knox, from the insulation to the double-paned windows. In fact it may be airtight. This is great for my electric and gas bill, and I don't have any neighbor noise to speak of, but I miss hearing the rain and the wind. Sitting here at my desk, I would never know that it's rainy and windy outside. At my old place, you could hear the rain, and you really knew when it was windy (leaky windows, anyone?). Maybe I should put on a jacket so I can open the window and listen to the rain.

Mechanically separated chicken

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Strange backyard discovery

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I looked through the sliding glass door into the backyard this morning, and saw something I was not expecting. "That's not a golf ball, is it?" I thought to myself.

Stupid claims in press releases

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In the last week, I've had the misfortune of having to look at 30-40 press releases related to digital cameras (see below for why). Some of the press releases have the most ridiculous claims that just make me roll my eyes. I've indentified two types of dumb PR claims:

1) Total absurdity
PENTAX USA ANNOUNCES NEW STATUS AS "THE OFFICIAL DIGITAL CAMERA OF THE INTERNET" (link)

Quote:
PENTAX tagged the line, “THE OFFICIAL DIGITAL CAMERA OF THE INTERNET” to illuminate Optio digital cameras’ significance in the Internet Age.

Who came up with this nonsense? Actually, the release says who (Della Femina Rothschild Jeary and Partners). These cameras have absolutely no Internet functionality. You can't check your email or surf the web on them. They're cameras, nothing more.

2) Qualifications
New Minolta DiMAGE Xg (link)

Quote:
With the world's fastest start-up time(*) of approximately 0.8 seconds, users will never miss a photographic moment
(*) As of January 1, 2004, for 3.2-megapixel, 3x optical zoom models.

Well, gee, that narrows it down. Why can't they just say that it's one of the fastest digital cameras, instead of the fastest as long as it's 3.2MP, 3X zoom, and silver-colored.

By that logic I could say that the DCRP is the world's most popular digital camera website. (*)
* As of February 12, 2004, for all camera websites with a purple color scheme

Yeah, I'm a little cranky. It's been a very busy week, and I've been sick on top of that. I never want to see another press release again!

My future, in a nutshell

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See all those cameras on my site? That's what's going to be keeping me busy until summer.

Glad to be home

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Back in December, I was planning to go to the big PMA show that's about to start in Las Vegas. Then, in January, I had meetings (mostly in person) wtih the various camera manufacturesr, and they showed me what they were going to introduce. I've written a preview of one such camera, and sent it back already.

Since I had those meetings, and don't care for tradeshows in general, I talked myself into staying home. I may miss a few leads, but I've got the important news taken care of.

And I'm glad I'm home. Because today I came down with a nasty cold, and I'm *so glad* that I'm not running around Vegas tonight.

Leaks

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I stayed up late last night, preparing the site for today's big Canon camera announcements. I put two of the new cameras into the Reviews & Info database, and set them up so they wouldn't show on any of the lists of cameras. The only concern I had when I went to sleep was whether the home page would update at the correct time (6am local time).

I sat down at the computer this morning and noticed an unusual-sounding e-mail from Phil Askey (of DP Review). When I opened it, I saw a link to his forums. I said "oh, shit" to myself and read the thread.

As it turns out, some dedicated soul decided to start trying different ID numbers on the camera detail page in the database. He found the last ID that I used (for the last camera added to the database) and added one. That brought up the PowerShot Pro1. He tried again and got the PowerShot S1. Both of those links were posted in the forum.

I saw another e-mail, from a guy who runs one of the European websites. He was going to post a story about the nwe cameras, attributing them to a leak on my site. Thankfully, my friend Tibor talked him out of it, so not many people found out about my big goof.

What lesson did I learn today? People are desperate to find out about "what's next" in digital photography. Even to the point where they will fool around with your site, trying to find something. And it worked.

I've since plugged the hole, so no one can do this again. I would never violate a non-disclosure agreement on purpose... and this certainly did not make me look good (except to the people who wanted to know about these products). Thankfully I did not receive any nasty phone calls from Canon... so in the end it was more a lesson to me than a major leak.

Simple pleasures

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There's nothing like a traffic-free ride home on Highway 4 at 7:30pm to make your day a little better. Usually that stretch of road has me cursing for miles.

A few photos from Big Sur

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What a beautiful day to go there, too. We stopped briefly in Carmel for a quick walk, then we headed south -- away from the crowds at the AT&T Pro-Am. Click below to see a couple of nice photos I took from a camera-to-be-named-later.

Great deal... for them

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Latest, more and more potential advertisers have been asking me about CPA ads. No, not accountants... CPA stands for "cost per acquisiton".

Traditionally, I sell ads by impressions. Let's say you want your ad to be seen 100,000 times on my site. Pay me $1000 and it's yours.

Lately, adveritsers are trying to talk me into doing CPA ads. Let's say you're selling a photo-related service. For each person who signs up, they pay me an aquisition fee (ranging from $3.50 - $8). They don't pay me unless they get a sale.

Now that means that I need to refer a lot of people to their site, and then they need to sign up too. If we suppose that they still get those 100k impressions in a month (again, at no cost to them), and the traditional 0.1% clickthrough rate applies, that means that 100 people will click. Even if ALL of them signed up (and they won't, believe me), I'd only get $350 to $800, depending on how much the acqusition fee is.

My conclusion: CPA campaigns just don't make sense. Advertisers still don't get it -- online ads shoudl be just like print or TV ads. You're paying for eyeballs, not instant sales.

I think I'll be turning down the CPA campaigns from now on.

(yawn)

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Boy am I tired. For some reason I just couldn't fall asleep last night. There wasn't one thing circling in my head like other times -- I just wasn't tired. Maybe it was the coffee I had at Cafe Abir yesterday afternoon that did it.

Regardless of the cause, I was a zombie this morning. I had another coffee then, which picked me up, but this afternoon I'm dragging again. I'm starting to think that coffee has a nasty rebound effect when the caffeine wears off.

Here's hoping that I get more sleep tonight.

Don't ya just hate it when...

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... you're assembling a piece of high quality Swedish furniture and you find out that one of the parts is messed up? And I was doing so well, too. Back to the store for that part!

Update: Got the part. Thanks, dad!

Not me

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Search google for "Jeff Keller" and this is the first result. Apparently there's a Jeff Keller who is a motivational speaker. You know it couldn't be me, since I'm rarely motivated.

My favorite quote from his bio (and I know Amit will love this):

Jeff is also the author of the video program, Your Path To Greatness, and the audio program Success from Soup to Nuts.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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