Wednesday, November 22, 2017

And the “Most Superfluous Message” Oscar goes to …

I won’t tell you where I saw this, but I will tell you that it confirms my suspicions about the level of critical thinking that many people put into their software …

image

Define necessary … sheesh …

Monday, November 20, 2017

Shame on Lexar for a Horrible Product

I needed a thumb drive quickly a few nights ago to bring some movies to a friend who is ill. So I popped out to WalMart (open past 10, so they win) and scanned all the offerings. It had to be USB 3.0 at least, and it had to be reasonably priced for the size. I found a Lexar USB 3.0 64GB for $38cad, which I considered acceptable.

dav


I cracked the package and plugged it into my USB 3.0 hub, finding it disconcerting how flimsy the plastic business end felt. In fact, the whole thing felt flimsy, with unsatisfying action when extending and retracting the plug, and with it weighing essentially nothing. This is not a good thing with electronics, and it usually indicates minimal structural integrity. It really feels like one of those knock offs you find in a dollar store rather than a fairly expensive product from a well-known brand like Lexar.

IMG_20171120_110813

So I soldiered on and copy the files over. One of the reasons I bought this particular model was the claim of up to 150MB/s read speeds, and it did pretty well in my tests.

 image

That’s not bad at all. For a comparison, I checked the speed on a 32GB ADATA unit that feels like a high end thumb drive with high quality plastics and some weight, and of course a metal plug.

dav

Note the marked difference in how the tabs stick up in the quality drive. So how does the cheaper, but much nicer drive fair in the same test?

image

The performance falls short, but that may very well have to do with the capacity of the drive, since higher capacity drives are typically able to stripe their writes (write in parallel since they might have twice as many raw chips), which makes a huge difference in sustained speeds. But the ergonomics are so much better that I would easily make such a trade.

Getting back to the story …

The drive feels terrible in hand, and plugging it in is universally scary since it feels like it is going to break every single time. The plastic lock that holds it extended is extremely weak, allowing it to pop shut at any resistance, so this is not the drive for awkward spaces, like behind a TV.

And speaking of TVs … the ultimate test was plugging it into my friend’s TV, which failed miserably. It kept popping the lock and so I eventually had to hold it tightly with thumb and forefinger to get it into the slot. It flashed once, but never registered as a thumb drive. We tried it several times, and tried another drive that came up instantly. So it definitely was incompatible with her TV.

So we tried a Bluray player and a DVD player, each of which had a USB plug on the front. None of them could recognize the drive. We gave up at that point.

At home, I checked it on a laptop and back on the same switch that wrote the files, and it was recognized both times.

Once wonders what sort of compatibility testing Lexar did for this cheap piece of crap?

It’s going back today, obviously …


p.s. It is entirely possible that this design was commissioned by WalMart specifically.

If so, shame on Lexar for going along with it, and of course for the obvious lack of compatibility testing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Published again in the Ottawa Citizen Newspaper

Get yours this Thursday to see all that is happening in Ottawa this weekend and for the next while. This is an image taken on rural roads near the suburb I live in.

image

A lovely day that was.

And once again I have to thank Robbi Hay, editor the Ourtown section of the Citizen, for using my work.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Panasonic loses mind?

image

Panasonic has the best game in town for lovers of dSLR styled mirrorless bodies. The G5 was amazing, as was the G6. But Panasonic really stepped up the game with the G7, giving us 80% of what we wanted, but most importantly cranking up the image quality with the newer sensor.

And then came the GX85 and G85 and our minds were partially blown. But the prices started to get crazy too.

I purchased the G5 and G6 kits for around 600 to 700 cad. This was considered a bargain and everyone knew that they were punching above their cost.

The GX85 was kind of expensive at 900, but the camera is a gem and I still have that one, with all the rest sold off in my trip back to dSLR land.

The G85 really annoyed me because it came out not long after I got my G7 and I felt like an idiot Smile

I ended up preferring the GX85 over the G7 by a country mile and that was that.

However, the G85 costs around 1200, double what the G5 and G6 were costing in their day. So I never bothered, since the GX85 is still terrific and it is very compact. The D7200 and D600 fill my needs when I want to do serious photography, and I paid 2/3 of the cost of a new G85 for each of those dSLRs, with both crushing the G85 in low light.

And now comes the G9 … everything that the GH5 was for stills, and even more brilliance. Apparently the viewfinder is the true OVF replacement. And I’m sure that there are many more wonderful features (how does 20fps at full size grab you?)

Yet the cost has again more than doubled and I am finally over my love of the Panasonic bodies. I just don’t care any more, as they are gouging now.

C’est la vie I suppose …

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fuji Releases the X-E3 and related goodies … and they are so pretty :-)

I used to be big in the Fuji camp, but that was because they were doing great things in compacts. At some point, compacts stopped appealing and the market collapsed. Thanks to the smart phone of course. Their cameras are as good as or better than most of the cheaper compacts ever were.

But Fuji got clever and moved upmarket with the X series of cameras. Their advanced compacts are pretty well spec’ed and liked, cameras like the X10 through the X30 for example. The latest model is pretty special according to its users.

I went a different way … into Nikon dSLRs, away from those to the m4/3 system, then back to Nikon dSLRs with my last m4/3 body – the GX85 – as my travel kit with the 12-32 pancake lens and the tiny but very sharp 45-150 Panasonic lens. These together give me an effective range of 24 to 300, which is pretty good in a tiny kit with an excellent sensor.

Back to Fuji … they are showing us that a camera can be sized reasonably and still have superb image quality and advanced mirrorless features. This makes Fuji a possible compromise system for me, and something I will have to seriously consider.

Meanwhile, here are the new toys … enjoy Smile


X-E3

XE3FrontLens

XE3Front

XE3Back

Gorgeous in black. But how about silver?

X-E3_Silver_Front

X-E3_Silver_Back

X-E3_Silver_Side

X-E3_Silver_Top

It’s small and slick with Fuji’s now standard old-school controls. They look terrific. It reminds me enough of the Panasonic GX85 to consider it as a replacement.

Let’s keep going …

XF80 2.8 Macro

XF80mm

XF80mmF2.8Macro_Horizontal

X-E3_Silver_FrontObl XF80mmF2.8Macro

This looks great, even on this rather small body. It would be mandatory were I ever to jump into Fuji whole hog.

And finally …

GF45 2.8

GF45mm1

GF45mmF2.8_R_WR

GF45mmF2.8_R_WR_Vertical (2)



That’s some g.a.s. bait for sure.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sneaky Rogers and their Internet Plans (Edit: I broke down and jumped in …)

Make no mistake, Rogers’ technology is first rate and the reliability is pretty decent. Of course, every so often my internet performance goes into the toilet against what I pay for, and it is in fact ripping me off a bit right now. But all in all, it could be much worse. 

Example: I just returned from Winnipeg, where MTS and Shaw have divided up the market and the performance is terrible (on MTS) while the reliability can be terrible (on Shaw), so you have few options, and fewer good ones (as in none).

But … Rogers is not shy about dicking around with the plans, and they recently created a huge gap in service, eliminating my 250u plan completely. They dropped the performance at the $99 price point from 250Mbps down / 20 Mbps up to 150Mbps down / 15Mbps up. This is pretty shameless because those of us who like or need 250Gbps are now completely stuck. And frankly, the system continues to downgrade my performance periodically so that I have to call. This does not help and eventually the service seems to recover. Right now, I get 250 / 10, which is not what I am paying for.

image

So these lovely new plans are actually forcing me to upgrade and pay 20 bucks more per month, and for that privilege, I get to have my upload speeds restored!

I mean …. come on, does the CRTC really turn a blind eye to such blatant bate and switch tactics?


Edit 1: Turns out that my speed was restored by getting the new gigabit modem, which cost me nothing extra.

Edit 2: At some point, the cost of the 500u was to be about the same as the old 250u, so I jumped to it. The speed is pretty decent …

image