In the Antarctic

With the on-going discussion about the future of Nikon, let’s not forget that the current cameras and lenses are great tools. I surely hope Nikon gets back on the right track, and in the meantime I spend my time out in the field with my fantastic Nikon gear, you should too! Anyhow, long story short.

Over the past three years I have been to Antarctica two times. One time as a photography tourist, on board the smallest vessel operating in Antarctica, and one time as an expedition guide and photographer, on board the biggest vessel operating in Antarctica.

In some of the harshest climates, one finds beautiful creatures.


Nikon in decline

A rude end to a hundred years:

I warned way back in 2011 that the push in the consumer models was a distraction that was going to slam you against the wall at the end of the straightaway. And now that the concussion you received is starting to fade, you appear to be abandoning that type of car.

We’ll see the results in Nikon financials tomorrow, though they’ve already warned of an extraordinary loss. Here’s the thing, though: there’s nothing in anything Nikon has announced that will tell us the pain is over. Nikon is about to become a smaller company. Possibly far smaller.

Nikon's top cameras -- D5, D500, D810 -- are superb. The rest of their line up? It's a mess. Also, the quality control in the last decade has been dismal.

I haven’t been impressed with Nikon’s product management for at least six years, maybe more. There’s no “core philosophy” to what Nikon is doing. It’s all about cost management, for the most part. Yes, you have to manage costs, but that’s a lot easier to do if you produce the right products.

If Nikon had any sense, then they would hire Thom Hogan to be an advisor to the CEO to implement changes and make products that customers want.


Diminishing power gains

Almost ten year ago, I read about an amazing HD video -- a trailer about Terminator 2. Nearly 100MB per 1 minute of video. I downloaded it and started to play it.

It was all choppy and the audio and video was out of sync. I made sure that the latest media players were installed but it didn't help. Then, to my shock, I figured out that my CPU was too slow! It simply couldn't play such videos regardless of what software I used. 

At the time, my computer wasn't even two years old! Yet, it had reached its limit. My computer today is almost five years old and I still don't see any major reason to upgrade.


Overpriced and overdone

Vox Day:

It is rather ironic that the company whose fortune was made by its superior user interface is now heading downhill due to the worst UI experience in technology. But that's the way of the world; it turns out that Steve Jobs was irreplaceable after all.

Apple's main concern is now keeping people imprisoned in its walled garden, not luring them in any longer.

When Apple released an $800 accessory (iWatch) to the iPhone, I knew then that it was running on fumes. They'll still make billions of dollars of profit going forward but that staggering run from 2002 onward won't be repeated.

Oh, and I loath their walled garden. I've never bought an Apple product for that reason.


Google protects us from gruesome truth

The truth is unsettling, hurtful and deeply, truly racist:

Under the guise of tackling “fake news,” Google is removing search results that pertain to crime statistics that show black people commit more crimes, despite the fact that this is widely documented to be true.

An article in the Guardian entitled Google ‘must review its search rankings because of rightwing manipulation’ details how “leading academics” are pressuring Google to artificially edit its search algorithm to prevent certain subjects from appearing at the top of its search rankings.

In response, the piece notes that Google has removed search results that suggest “black people commit more crimes”. Negative results about the religion of Islam were also removed.

Vox Day:

This dedication to falsehood and deception will only make it all the easier to disrupt them when the time comes.


The myth of equality

First world "problems":

Why can't Silicon Valley solve its diversity problem? Maybe it's the same reason the coal mining industry can't solve its 99.9% male problem and why nine out of ten registered nurses are female. I think we need to just start forcing people into careers they don't want to satisfy the pie chart people.

Also, nobody mentions the structurally racist NBA that is 75% black. Where are you SJWs?


Represent!

What really matters:

Among young adults, emojis have even become a distinct and separate language, far removed from the limiting constraints of letters that some just can’t be bothered to type out.

However, as wonderful and beneficial as emojis have become in our communication with one another, they don’t always lend themselves to the diversity and beautiful cultural variety that exists in the real world — this has started to change.

It was a more than a year ago that Apple added different skin tones to its emoji app, an important add-on that that allowed those who use emojis in their texts to represent themselves in a more accurate manner.

Oh, I laughed out loud so much at this image:

Sharia emoji

I like this die-versity. I'm looking forward to these emojis:

  1. Bacha baazi.
  2. Guy killing a dog.
  3. Acid-burned face.
  4. A woman holding a child's head.
  5. An exquisite, floating, black garbage bag.

All in the name of cultural variety, of course.


Building a nightmare

I buy the components for my computer and then build the whole system. One time, after putting everything together, the system wouldn't boot. After about twenty minutes, I realized that the SATA cable to the hard drive wasn't properly plugged in. 

The unfortunate mistakes mentioned here were more costly.

“This took place when I was about 22 I think which would be roughly 13 years ago. I can't remember the CPU socket type of model but it was a top of the line intel. I was building a new PC and based on the recommendation of my brother, who was great with PCs, I ordered some arctic silver along with my gear. He had sent me the Newegg link. Unfortunately, I never reviewed the one he chose. So after I got the parts and was building it, for some reason I had to remove the CPU. Well, it wouldn't come off. Turns out he had unknowingly picked out the adhesive cement version of the arctic silver.

Damn.


Window 8 annoys

Windows 8 and its flaws:

The Windows 8 UI is completely flat in what used to be called the "Metro" style and is now called the "Modern UI." There's no pseudo-3D or lighting model to cast subtle shadows that indicate what's clickable (because it looks raised above the rest) or where you can type (because it looks indented below the page surface).

I haven't used the new OS but I've noticed this glaring flaw of Windows 8 in review videos. When users open a screen, everything looks flat and similar; it's impossible to see what is clickable and what is not.

I usually have to do some of my work at home. I prefer doing that on my desktop PC. The screen real estate is such a nice luxury. Unfortunately, Microsoft redesigned Windows for tablets and sacrificed the advantages inherent with large monitors.

The situation is much worse on regular PCs, particularly for knowledge workers doing productivity tasks in the office. This used to be Microsoft's core audience, and it has now thrown the old customer base under the bus by designing an operating system that removes a powerful PC's benefits in order to work better on smaller devices.

Why did Microsoft even have to subtract the ability to open and view multiple windows at once? They could have given the users the option of using the classic (Windows 7) way of dealing with windows.


Super, ultra, mega, super, ...

The ear pads on my over-the-ear headphones are falling apart. So, I checked online for the proper replacements and they cost $20 or more! Damn, that's some sweet margin on foam. 

Anyway, as I was wasting time trying to save a few bucks, I came across this epic, mammoth, giant, great, did I say epic?, comparison of 56 headphones!

Unfortunately, my relatively modest headphones weren't tested in the comparison. Still, I've bookmarked the E-P-I-C battle for future reference.


WTF Nikon?

Stuck in Customs:

I joined NPS (Nikon Professional Services) a few years ago. It’s easy to join — you just have to be signed up by an existing member. I didn’t really know what NPS did, but I figured it would be handy in case anything ever went wrong with my equipment.

A very sensible decision by a pro.

I’ve had three negative experiences and zero positive experiences with NPS. I’ll go through them here.

Uh oh. Nikon's market share in the camera market has been increasing since they released the D3 and D300 in 2007. Unfortunately, their customer service has become just plain idiotic. What they're doing, likely, saves them money but makes life miserable for their customers.

More on this later.


Flavor chaos

Thom Hogan on August 23:

What sticks in your head is the scream you hear from your local dealer as they realize that they have to stock 75 different cameras just to stock what's in Nikon's coop advertising flyers that you'll find in your local paper most weeks. And that's not counting special lens or other kits. As I noted in a story earlier this week, Nikon now has Coolpix cameras priced every US$15. There's gotta be something in there for you, right?

I feel sorry for the retailers. How can they explain the pros and cons of the different cameras to their customers?

Thom is right. This level of headache is not present in the DSLR range but still there's one big issue: sometimes older generation cameras are sold at higher prices than better, newer generation cameras. Example? D3X vs. D800.

Intel has had the same issues. They sell close to a hundred flavors of CPUs in the market. How do average folks decide on a CPU for their new computers?


Aspire S5 Ultrabad

What I wrote last month:

I have to say that Apple laptops, especially their screens, look very nice. For far too long on the windows side of laptops the screen quality has been utter crap. Of course, windows laptops are also cheaper but often the better quality screens (IPS) are not even presented as a possible option. So, even if one is willing to spend more for the quality, the option doesn't exist.

Acer released a $1,400 laptop with a spectacularly atrocious screen. Fortunately, they're not getting any love in the comments at Anandtech.


Sexy IPS

Anandtech:

The personal computer is getting thinner, lighter, more integrated and more appliance-like. The movement is no longer confined to just Apple either. The traditional PC OEMs are following suit. Even Microsoft has finally entered the PC hardware business, something it threatened to do for years but hadn't until now. Distribution models will change, the lines between different form factors will continue to blur. What was once a mature industry is going through a significant transformation.

More:

The impressively thin display assembly or overall chassis thickness look neat in a photo but it’s not until you actually live with the rMBP that you can appreciate what Apple has done here. I carry around a 15-inch MacBook Pro because it’s my desktop, and as such it’s incredibly useful to have with me when I travel. For my personal usage model, the Retina MacBook Pro is perfect.

I have to say that Apple laptops, especially their screens, look very nice. For far too long on the windows side of laptops the screen quality has been utter crap. Of course, windows laptops are also cheaper but often the better quality screens (IPS) are not even presented as a possible option. So, even if one is willing to spend more for the quality, the option doesn't exist.


Supermodel Doris

Bob Vishneski:

The more time I spend in my photography pursuits, the more I appreciate cameras that capture and photos that exploit their maximum dynamic range potential. Digital cameras have undergone dramatic improvements over the last 12+ years, but they still don’t come close to the human eye’s dynamic range capabilities.

True.

Post-processing techniques bring us very close to the perceived image as he shows. The vignette, especially, adds a lot.


Monster thunderbolt

I don't know what Intel and Asus are thinking. It's frustrating to see such a high price premium for Thunderbolt on desktop PCs today. One has to buy a new motherboard (~$200) and then buy an add-in card (~$200) to get a working Thunderbolt port.

The Thunderbolt cable is currently going for $50. So, that's $450* if you wish to utilize a thunderbolt device. I know people who spend that much on their entire computer!

* Of course, one has to buy a thunderbolt device separately. Unfortunately, they are not reasonably priced either.