Morning Discussion

By Alice O'Connor, Jan 04, 2011 5:00am PST Oh, hello there. I didn't hear you knock, Internet. Sit, sit. I've been on holiday since Crimble, getting high on life and a mysterious elixir I found in a bucket round the back of Tesco in Tooting. Tingly! Now, it's back down the video games mine to pry gleaming chunks of glee from the gameface for your delight, education and amusement.

Is geek culture mainstream and what does that mean for geeks? A chap by the name of Patton Oswalt has written for Wired that geek culture must be destroyed to save it. I might suggest that what he seeks still exists, unknown to him, and would argue that geek culture must be destroyed to save us all but I'm like that. Still, I found it an interesting read, especially as I had only known Oswalt for 'King of Queens.'

I'm home, you wonderful little darlings.

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  • I picked up Bill Slavicsek's trade paperback "The Mark of Nerath" at B&N last night. I settled on it at the last minute after spending an hour scouring the shelves, going through my mental Rolodex of authors and their available works. Every now and again I would become distracted by a cover or a title of an author I knew nothing about and would read the summary on the back and put it back because I had no connection to the author. I like Bill's writing for WoTC and wanted to give it a try.

    It's always a bit of an energy drain when I don't know what I want, as I find myself scurring from alphabetical section to section, hoping to find something that catches my eye.

    Then I recalled the massive kiosk at the front of the store right when I walked in, the new Nook Color. I guess switching to ebooks would make new author experimentation more convenient, and B&N's in-store Nook free content program would be interesting - if the selected content was a genre I was interested in, and I happened to be in the store.

    I purchased the book and went to Amazon to check the reviews after the fact. That's when I noticed the Kindle price, $1.60 less than what I paid for the TPB, the same as the Nook Book price. Other TPB titles I looked up were about $2 cheaper on average. An aside: as I started reading the book I remembered a couple of things I have always done with TPBs: see how accurately the cover art depicts it's counterpart scene in the book, and discover where the exerpt text hook inside the front cover appears in the book, as those are traditionally the first things, the hooks, that a potential reader consumes before buying a book.

    Which brings me to this: how do Kindle or Nook owners make impulse purchases and browse the virtual shelves? Excluding Amazon's "Click to Look Inside!" option which isn't available for each title, or relying on the reviews of others (Amazon had 9 reviews for the book I mentioned above, B&N had 2), what new methods are employed before making a purchase.
















  • Shack photo menz... some ruminations.

    Doing some rethinking on extensive use of Camera Raw. One thing that I have problems with is that Adobe cannot match the color and contrast properly on my camera (1D mk IV). If you go out of the gate with the camera raw defaults, and say set it to Camera Standard, the image always lacks the right contrast and midtone contrast especially, vs. what the camera produces in a JPG file. I don't get any visible artifacts on the large size JPG either, the sharpening is handled a bit better as well.

    Messing around with the camera raw settings to try to get it to replicate exactly what the camera's idea of the image is becomes an exercise in frustration. Maybe you can get to 99% of an existing image, but once you change to another image, the mismatch becomes apparent again.

    So for all of the intent of Camera Raw, which is ideally to preserve a more accurate version of the image, this fudge factor on color and contrast ends up being worse than any artifacting introduced by a low compression JPG. Sometimes the fudging ends up looking pretty unnatural when using the Adobe Standard camera profile, colors are pretty messed up. Sometimes it works out as a tweak improvement.

    I certainly do like the controls in ACR for editing images, but I find that with the fudged starting point, I'm lacking that honest impression of what the camera recorded as the starting point. But, it comes around to another problem, in that with nearly infinite amount of tweaking and profiles you can attach it becomes difficult to just know which way to go on the image, especially when you're lacking the reference image coming out of the camera's processor. Which is, what I would hope, the most true and accurate and at the very least is the definitive "look" of the camera.

    I went and did some detailed comparison between Canon DPP, the JPG produced out of the camera, and ACR on a DNG file and DPP gets pretty reliably close to the JPG, much moreso than what ACR provides. DPP is a fucking mess in terms of software usability though, for this Adobe is so far superior that even with the better image production out of DPP I could never use the thing.

    I have many thousands of DNGs kicking around and in comparing what ACR produces vs. the JPG ripped from the camera, it is just seeming to fall short. In concept, I think this is really wonderful and is the right idea (uncompressed image data). Just with their inability to hit the starting point for an honest replication of the camera's look, when the look is good and superior to what they produce out of ACR, it seems a bit all for naught for me.

    I think there is an honest and legitimate preference to get away from compressed, lossy images. I'm just wishing there was more of a middle ground, that I could just get a TIFF out of the camera. CR2 is based on TIFF so the concept should be there, I am just not seeing why ACR is unable to get the starting point right when the DPP software and the camera JPG agree.