Picture This!

For the first time in years, I actually hit the woods to do some photography. An example of what I found there is on the right; click for a sampling of some of the pics that I took today.

It was a beautiful day – a fall day: cool (high not breaking 60 degrees), little breeze, clear as a bell. Leaves starting to change and the flowers all, for the most part, done for the year. (I should have gone out last week, when the flowers were still popping to a degree.)

Nice day, nice area – Ryerson Conservation Area. Forest, prairie, a working farm (currently closed for renovation, unfortunately).

This really drove home a point I already knew: I need a better camera. The one I’m using is great for snapshots and such, but … I don’t do snapshots. I do heavy backlighting, extreme close-ups, document the division between water and terra firma.

For example, I grabbed three shots of a heron wading in the water in the middle of the Des Plaines River. With full telephoto (I don’t even know what it is, but it’s only a 1:3 ratio, so maybe 80mm equivalent?), the heron was just a dot. Blowing up the pic didn’t help, as the low light in the picture resulted in a slow shutter speed, which (in turn) results in a blurred bird.

Damn. I hate when that happens.

Was fun to see the critter, however.

Computers Still Too Complicated


The more computers change and improve, the more they don’t improve the overall (non-geek) user experience.

Yes, I could write until I ran out of disc space about this, but my latest hiccup was one that was good but ungood.

I’ve been using FireFox, and they just came out with an alert for a critical patch. OK.

I tried installing it, and it just wouldn’t take. No message, just a spinning graphic with “downloading and installing patch” message.

OK – be patient. Take shower.

Still spinning. WTF?

I went to /. to see if others have been having this problem, and I got the anwer: I have to enable web site downloads (on a per site basic) through FireFox preferences.

While this is a good thing – block trojans and so on – it’s not intuitive. And the installer message never said (even after a half-hour [shower] of trying), “uh, dude, must allow installs or I can’t help ya…”

Once I enabled downloads for the site, the install took about < 5 seconds. Again, excellent. But this is not a good user experience, overall. Most people would just give up and say, “This browser is hosed – it tells me to install this patch but it won’t install. Back to IE..” Which would be a bad thing…