Difficult To Use Is Good

I enjoyed reading Why We Should Design Some Things to Be Difficult to Use by Brian Millar for WIRED. It caught my attention and held it by referencing Dan Pink’s book Drive. I posted his TED Talk on Drive back in 2009. The sections of the piece:

  1. The Pleasures of Mastery
  2. Difficulty Makes Things Exclusive
  3. Danger May Be Safer
  4. Expert Mode and the Pro Am Phenomenon
  5. Are You Making It Easy to Do Something Badly?

It made me think about my decision to own a dSLR camera back in 2006. When I finally learned how to take good photos in a single take using Manual mode, I felt accomplished. It was something over which I felt proud. Even when I used a Point-n-Click or cellphone, my photos were much improved. Even looking at the work of others took on a new element of having some idea what went into creating such a gorgeous piece of art. (Or what shortcuts some took to create a sloppy mess.) Getting to know other photographers seeking to learn and improve and help each other changed the game for me. I understood why artists build a community.

Risk homeostasis, aka the concept that people will change behavior until the risk level is back up to the prior amount, was new to me. You know where to find me. (At my laptop Googling more.)

 

Family Stories

The adult table was the place to be growing up. I knew a story was particularly good when an adult looked at me, looked at my Mom, and my Mom asked me to leave the room AND close the door. I became pretty good at silently listening at that or another door (or the window when I got taller).

Photos are nice, but they are frozen moment in time. The moments leading to the photo, the significance, and how things changed are all not captured. The story does.

My grandmother wrote down her stories at one point, I think around 2003. With my digital point-and-click camera acquired in 2005 being able to take video, I thought about recording her telling them, but she commented on the camera any time I had it out. Then I noticed she stopped commenting about the camera, so when I had her to myself for a week in 2008, I recorded many stories and otherwise just getting her to talk. Occasionally since, when she was in a talkative mood and my camera was available, I would get more.

Maybe my sibling and cousins will find them interesting.

I definitely need to do the same with my parents.

Me Social Media

Dan Schultz doesn’t like Facebook or Twitter because they are too focussed on individual expression rather than the community.

That may be because he is using them wrong. I liked photography as a kid, but I didn’t know any photographers. Flickr happened to come into my life just after I bought my first digital camera. My participation in photography exploded. Not because I had a way to post my photos but because I had a way to find other local photographers for mutual encouragement. Even better was forming local groups to encourage people to meet. The value of Flickr is developing the community.

Worldwide Photowalk Panorama

Similarly, I got into Twitter because my community, peers at other universities running the same software as myself, were seeking help there. Any place with answers to the problems we face, which is where people with the answers are watching, is where we go. Twitter was the place to get the attention of the right people not a forum like phpBB. (There are already lots of email lists.) My other community, people using the software I run are also on Twitter. I’ve resolved issues for many clients by finding their public complaints and offering solutions. When my focus changed away from using Twitter for the community is when I stopped liking Twitter.

Personally, I have yet to find much sense of community in the phpBB, Google Wave, and Ning. So I find it strange these are the exemplars of community applications. They seem fractured so one finds dozens of groups to covering the same interest. Sometimes this is because some moderator upset a portion of the community with draconian behavior causing people to form an alternative community. Bad blood exists for a while. Other times people set up a new community unaware others exist.

Why Read Books?

That I read books probably lowers my highly coveted geek cred. Instead, e-books read on the computer screen, phone screen, or e-book reader should have long ago replaced reading on dead wood. Unfortunately, I am intentionally avoiding reading books much on computers, phone, or readers.

  1. Why I need a purseNo purse to carry more stuff. I have big fingers, so I need stuff with big buttons. Things like iPhones are maddening to use because I cannot seem to hit the buttons correctly. Things with lots of big buttons tend to be big which makes them a pain to carry.

  2. Never underestimate my ability to break toys. Only the most resilient of electronic toys survive me. It isn’t uncommon for my laptops, phones, or cameras to experience 5 foot falls. Everything I carry with me ends up with marks from the abuse even books. Paper can take the abuse. I have no faith e-book readers could maintain their screens from being around me.
  3. Computers tend to tempt me to fail at multi-tasking. When I shut down my computer to go home, I typically have at the minimum a dozen windows. (Even the client I use to connect to my servers usually can fill that dozen.) Reading on a computer rarely will result in more than a page of reading every 10 minutes. Because blog posts are usually pretty short, distractions have less chance to interfere with reading them.
  4. Books are common enough people accept them as normal. Cool toys attract attention. I’d expect an expensive phone or e-reader or laptop to attract the kind of attention which results in theft. Books are cheap few would care to go to the effort.
  5. Phone are becoming more like computers. What I don’t want is a phone (or another device) which I treat like my computer, aka failing at multi-tasking. Just today I squared 1024 on paper instead of using the calculator on my phone. Having access to the Internet through my phone could be bad for keeping me on task.
  6. Why faux paper when you could use paper? The e-book readers market how much their technology looks like paper. Paper looks, feels, smells, and tastes like paper.
    🙂
  7. Spending money on a device to get to read seems counter-intuitive. The devices should be subsidized by the content. But that would mean Amazon $10 books would cost more like $20.

Typically I don’t change until I have a problem with what I am using. Books don’t cause me problems. So I am happy to continue to read books for the foreseeable future.

Strobist Meetup

Renee Back in July I mentioned Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk. A number of people from the Athens Flickr Meetups group showed for the August walk at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia (my photos). At both of these, the same individuals talked quite a bit about the newest toys Tim Rogan built and strobist techniques.

From what I gather strobist is about shifting camera flash from near the camera lens off to the side. Similar to golden hour sunlight, the light is more dramatic when not coming from near the camera. Also, camera flashes throw harsh light so soften the light by having it reflect off surfaces or go through translucent material.

Interest built about having a strobist meetup to shoot together and help each other. Steven Skelton, Tim, and Megan arranged a meetup last Saturday (group photo set). I was the only photographer walking into this totally cold without having at least read or watched any tutorials. So the quality of these pictures could better be a testament to the efficient teaching by Steven and Megan. At least it didn’t seem nearly as difficult as I expected.

LeannThis would also be the first photoshoot where I consistently used Manual rather than Shutter Priority.

This was also the first time I worked with models. (top right: Renee, right: Leann) The one wedding I shot taught me I really do have to direct people to get what I want while listening to get a feel for what they want. Megan sensed my hesitancy and worked through some ideas with the first few pictures then let me to go work on my own ideas. Models are people too. As a card carrying introvert, dealing with people normally exhausts me. This not so much.
🙂

This was a fun experience. I know I have things on which to work:

  • Putting together my own strobist setup.
  • Compose more carefully.
  • Find dramatic locations.
  • Become more social to approach people to photograph.

Perils of a Photoshoot The mechanics of photography are also entertaining. Call me a geek, but that there are so many values to track in photography fascinates me. Plus there are tons of toys. I’m not really a builder, so I probably will not be crafting custom flash grids or softboxes.

I knew I enjoyed watching the antics photographers go through to get the right shot. The antics a good model will go through to be in the right shot adds a whole new dimensions for me. For example, pictured right is Clinton easily a dozen feet off the ground so Megan can take a dramatic shot.

For about a year I’ve really slacked off using my camera. The wedding, photowalk meetups, and now strobist meetups put me back in the mode of thinking about what I should do next. That is a great thing.

P.S. Normal is about 100 views of my photos a day. Since I posted the photos Sunday, traffic has been 250+ views a day.

Losing My Mind

CPR/AED training requires time on the floor rescuing dummies. Objects in pockets, like my Digital Elph, interfere with rescuing dummies. Digital cameras on desks without supervision have a tendency to disappear. (Not so much from coworkers kleptomania but from my distractions.) So I put it in my work backpack. 

Today is the First Day of Ridvan. So earlyish this morning I went down to the Botanical Garden since I wasn’t going to be at work and didn’t go this past weekend. I spent ten minutes looking for the Elph in the work backpack. So I went and just shot with the Rebel. I chalked it up to having left the camera at work. After all, the last place I recalled seeing the thing was at work.

I decided to look at what I took. So I looked for the card reader in the main part of the camera backpack. To my surprise, the Elph was right there in the wrong backpack. The only thing that makes sense is I moved the camera but forgot I did so. 

Perhaps better brain food could help? Fish providing omega-3 fatty acids is already a healthy part of my diet. Maybe more eggs with choline with the vitamin B precursor could help?

Recovering Pictures

William borrowed my camera to go on his honeymoon. He also lost the photos with a poorly timed crash & drive reformat. So he wants to borrow the card and recover the data. Thankfully I have not used the camera since he returned it despite thinking I should.

Luckily I ran across A Computer Repair Utility Kit You Can Run From a Thumb Drive

I didn’t like the setup of Photorec as it runs through the command line. Navigating the tree was confusing at best. It did recover 1,166 photos / 3.62GB for me.

Not trusting a single method, I also tried Recuva. That worked a little better. It reported 1,395 files found. However, 177 were unrecoverable. Getting 1,218 pictures / 3.78GB back was 52 / 160MB better than Photorec. Though many of the “recovered” pictures just say: Invalid Image. Maybe they really are Raw?

While trying to use Restoration, it crashed the first time. Not sure why. It was fine the next time, though it only found 4 photos.

Filename: Photorec doesn’t restore files with anything like the original name. Recuva and Restoration do.

Meta Data: OSes and image editors know about the EXIF data in pictures. All the Photorec pictures have date taken. Most of the Recuva pictures do. Guess I could see if only 52 pictures are missing the EXIF? That might explain why Photorec lost some of them.

All in all, it was an fun experiment. I am not curious how these stack up against of the proprietary software? Why pay $40 when these are better?

Christmas Blog Post 2008

Last night I read Uncle Bill’s Christmas letter. He mailed it, but he apparently doesn’t have my postal address so I got the electronic version. Woohoo! His letter recaps the year for his family. Do any of you have such a tradition? Or a family member who does? Oddly my blog doesn’t provide much basis as it is devoid of personal information.

So here goes….

Family

Mom went off to Houston in January to consult with one of the best doctors in the country about a health issue. How things fell into place to allow her to get better amazed me daily. I got to grandparent sit for a week where I made Nannie tell stories so I could post them on Youtube. 😀

William married Nicole, his high school sweetheart. I finally have a sister. It rained on us briefly, so if you are into superstitions, that means either: 1) kids, 2) money, or 3) good luck.

I met Dad’s girlfriend, Sally, this year. She is definitely very nice. I’m happy with the match.

Friends

My only New Year’s Resolution for 2008 was to read 25 books this year. I completed that goal back in October. I’m thinking for 2008 to do a similar resolution. This time I’ll count up the number of pages and set a goal to read 20% more pages.

Some fellow Flickr users started an Athens Flickr Meetup. I’m hoping this is something to continue in 2009 as the weather improves. (Though who knew Georgia would be 20 degrees Farenheit above normal in December?)

RingsAdrianne and Britt asked me to be the photographer for their wedding. I spent hours looking at professional photographer portfolios for ideas about what I should capture. You see, while I do have a camera, I had never really taken photos at a wedding. Heck, few people invite me to weddings, so I was a little unclear what happens. In the end, I think it all turned out pretty well. Adrianne is happy. So I am happy. Working in computers became a profession because it was a hobby. Maybe photography will end up the same in the end? Posted 840 photos to Flickr this year. Started freelovephotography.com to show off my photography.

Las Vegas in July? Dumb. Star Trek: The Experience made my geeky heart soar.
NCC-1701-DNCC-1701-D @ ST: TXP

Thankful

  1. Family, especially gaining a new member in a few weeks
  2. My dart team members and their significant others
  3. Friends
  4. Having a job, especially my team at work
  5. No health issues this year
  6. My cameras and accessories
  7. Car
  8. Google Reader
  9. Flickr video

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