Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Phone line working again

Last Wednesday, my home office phone line all of a sudden stopped working. The telecom provider tried to reset devices along the route to my home to no avail, so they promised that someone would look into the problem and call me back within 48 hours (on my other line, of course).

Time went by, and at Friday night nobody had called, and my phone line still was not working, so I called again. After enjoying some 20 minutes of "All service representatives are currently serving other ..." I spoke to someone who admitted that nothing had been done about my problem, and nothing could be done about my problem as it was now out of hours and technical staff would be back on Monday morning, I would get a call.

You probably guessed the response when I called again Monday morning, the problem ticket was still untouched and we scheduled an appointment for an on-site check this morning. My phone line was still dead and my mood had shifted from annoyed to resigned already. Around 2 a.m. in the morning, just about before going to sleep, for some reason I tried one more time and—my phone line was perfectly fine again! (This is like me feeling much better already when I have an appointment scheduled with a doctor, all the symptoms just go away and I question the need to see the doctor. Electronic devices seem to work the same way.)

The one week phone outage had a positive side effect though: Desperately trying to regain the convenience of a desk phone with a headset and a mute button, I successfully connected my mobile phone to my desk phone via Bluetooth. To my great surprise, this works perfectly fine. I can easily accept mobile calls on my desk phone, and choose between land line and mobile phone for outgoing calls ... nice!


Thursday, November 22, 2007



After several months of battery problems I finally had my Nikon D80 repaired; late autumn seemed like the perfect time, not much outdoor activity and photo shooting opportunities any more, and we had most family visits in October already and I definitely wanted the camera repaired while still covered by warranty. I recently got my camera back with the electrical system repaired, and so far it has been working nicely again.

Today I picked up some photographs which I had taken with my old Minolta Dynax 7xi SLR on November 1, and what can I say, I was very pleased with the results. Not that the D80 is a bad camera, it is an absolutely fantastic piece of technology, fast and easy to use and absolutely suitable for taking great pictures, but there is something about photography the old-fashioned way too besides the differences in resolution, dynamic range, depth of field, etc.

First, with film you don't end up with dozens of very similar pictures because you only take the one or two that look most promising. There are probably as many good pictures in the gigabytes of digital cruft accumulated on my hard drive, only they are harder to find and who really goes through and cleans out all the not-really-that-great-but-still-acceptable pictures taken digitally?

Second, there is the lack of immediate feedback which helps. Yes, that's right. Admittedly, I did miss the nice bright screen showing me what the picture looks like when I shot on film, so I had to make an effort to get everything right instead of going through several iterations, trying to judge picture quality from an LCD screen.

Third, picking up photographs at the store, flipping through prints which bring back recent memories is a ritual I have become so used to after more than two decades of doing it that I do miss it.

(If you want to know more about the technical aspects, Ken Rockwell has written a great article Film vs. Digital explaining pros and cons, with some eye-opening crops of analog and digital photos. Norman Koren has even more technical details in Digital cameras vs. film although the Website has not been updated in years.)

Back in 1998 John Patrick, then IBM's Vice President, Internet technologies, in his keynote speech at the WWW7 conference in Brisbane talked about how Internet technology impacted our lives and would change expectations. If memory serves, one of the examples he mentioned was the 1 hr photo lab and that people would not be willing to wait for a full hour to see pictures, they would want them right away (and students asking for a T1 at work, too).

Less than ten years later, broadband connectivity is widely available and is cheap, or sometimes free, photography is mostly digital and there are few labs offering decent film developing these days.

Neither would I want to go back to 56K dial-up at EUR 30 per month plus charges per minute, nor would I want to pay per picture (prints for a single roll of film cost another EUR 30), nor would I want to miss the convenience of my digital camera, despite my nostalgic, misty-eyed views.

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