Monthly Archive for June, 2009

Nice, Bright Colors

Oh man. So, for some reason, I’m not taking this very well.

I had a hard time moving from film to digital. Not because of any technical hurdle; it just didn’t feel right. Like, film felt so real. There was urgency. Scarcity of film meant you had to make every shot count. It kept you on your toes.

I had a long history with film. We were buds. Twelve years of my life, getting acquainted with one specific medium. I rebuilt my brother’s old darkroom that had fallen into disrepair. I expanded it to more than 4 times its original size. I really, really got intimate with some chemicals. And light headed. Four summers in a row, every day spent cooped up in a darkroom, developing tons, and tons, and tons of negatives and prints.

I still have my N90s body, and an old Nikkormat FT-3. I grab a few rolls of T-Max or Tri-X, and mess around with them every year or two. Jon (my brother in law. Hi Jon!) has my FM-2n – a camera that is seriously no joke. “You could hammer nails with it,” and all that. It’s seriously a beast, especially with the MD-12 motor drive. 3.2 frames per second! Using 1982 technology! I still have all the old darkroom gear sitting at mom’s house. I guess I’d just need to grab some fresh developer and fixer and I should be all set. Still have tons of hypo-clear and photo-flo and a really nice stainless film tank. Jonesin.

So this whole Kodachrome thing. Ouch. I shot a lot of slides with K25. K64. Those film bases are like maps to parts of my adolescence. I might try to buy a box and stash it in the fridge, and make it a point to use the film cameras every month. If for nothing other than to have some slides from the very, very end of the Kodachrome era, as proof that I lived to see it.

I'll miss you, old friend

iPhone 3GS

So, it’s been about a week with this thing. My thoughts thusfar:

(As a general disclaimer, I upgraded from a 1st generation iPhone.)

1.) PLUS: Way, way faster: Way faster. Since I’m hearing that the processor in the 1st gen and 2nd gen (the 3G) were identical, the guts in this thing are clearly much speedier. Apps open and close much more quickly. Overall, everything feels more responsive. Games with large environments load much more quickly, which really adds to the whole ‘casual gaming’ aspect. It’s never fun to be in line and start to play something, but by the time it’s loaded and ready to play, you’re first in line and ready to be waited on. That may be a thing of the past given the horsepower in the new hardware.

2.) PLUS: Feels better in hand: The 3G struck me the same way: the edges are tapered, the backing is high-gloss. Since it’s so shiny, it sticks to your hand much more firmly. I always felt like I had to hold on extra tight to the 1st gen handset because it had that slippery back. The downside to the high-gloss is that it’s a super fingerprint magnet. I ordered a case and am waiting for it to arrive so I can evaluate whether I’ll actually use it. I usually leave the phone naked, but maybe I can shield it from some body scratches…

3.) MINUS: Stupid minor flaw: the increased bezel size at the screen edges. This bugged me about the 3G, too. It’s so minor that it’s almost stupid to complain, but like, the 1st gen’s screen went all the way to the edges. it looked so nice. I guess this new configuration allows more space for cases, but I still prefer the “screen-to-the-edges” design.

4.) ZERO: Home button: the clickiness of the home button feels weird. I’m so used to the exact minimum amount of pressure required to activate the old button, that this new one is taking a lot of getting used to. I don’t know if they used a different switch/button on the new model, or if the button on the old phone was just well worn.

5.) PLUS: Speakers / Microphones: Much improved. The speakers now have grilles (introduced with the 3G) that are slightly inset. I know I clogged up the speaker punch holes on the first model, so this is a good change. It should hopefully keep some debris and dust from clogging up the speakers/mic. Overall, the speakers feel much louder. The speakerphone now picks up my voice MUCH better. The mic on the included headphones also works very well. Which reminds me…

6.) PLUS: New-fangled Headphones: The included headphones now include a mic assembly with volume up and volume down. In addition, the old main button is there for skipping or pausing tracks, or answering a call. The speakers aren’t perfect, but good enough for most folks. You can also buy third-party headphones with the track skip button/mic that may better suit your needs.

7.) HALF PLUS: The camera: Finally. I was really disappointed when the 3G camera did not receive any attention. I believe that for a premium phone, there should be some crazy megapixels. In my opinion, the iPhone should be more in the 5 MP range by now. With those caveats in mind, it is much improved over the previous model. The addition of auto-focus brings the images into a whole new realm of sharpness. Tap to focus is also a totally intuitive feature. And fun. Video capture is also really fun. Surprisingly, the little, teeny microphone at the bottom of the handset does an excellent job of picking up audio for the videos you shoot.

8.) ZERO: Compass: This is cool and all, and maybe I’ll change my mind after I see some more apps that leverage the compass in interesting ways, but for now I’m kinda “eh” on the compass. Layar looks very, very intriguing, and wouldn’t really be possible without a magnetic compass, so… hm.

9.) PLUS: Voice control: Yeah, a lot of cheaper phones do this. Yeah, it took a long time to get it on the iPhone. But, now that it’s here, I can’t help but be amazed at how simple and easy it is to use. I recall programming voice command features on previous phones and always ending in frustration and never using the feature again. On the iPhone it requires no programming: you just talk. I have dialed into a ton of conference calls for work using only my voice. It’s really neat. Sadly, the iPod Voice controls get a little confused when you have a very large set of music to deal with. Sometimes requests for Bohannon end up playing Queen. Overall, this is a very cool feature, and I hope it eventually becomes as pervasive and accessible as the spoken commands interface on the Mac. With any luck, the accuracy and performance of this feature will improve over time.

10.) PLUS: iPhone OS 3.0: This is a big one. Landscape keyboard in more apps is majorly awesome. I’m intrigued by the smaller scaled “back” buttons at the tops of the screen when in landscape mode. I never noticed them being that small in OS 2.2.1 and prior. It just stands out a teeny little bit too much – it doesn’t quite fit. Copy/Paste is also a huge deal. This will make my mobile computing life so much easier. The new Spotlight phone search is so amazing, it makes me poop my pants. I think they could add a few more controls for this in the settings, but it’s off to a really great start. I can only assume it will improve over time.

The biggest thing that’s bugging me about the new rig: no jailbreak for 3GSs yet. I never realized how much I hated the chrome dock, and I can only theme it away with Winterboard, which is jailbreak-only. Also, SBSettings alone is MORE than enough reason to jailbreak: being able to toggle wifi and edge/3G and brightness, all from the home screen? It’s so convenient and natural, I almost can’t believe Apple hasn’t built something similar. I also really miss the taskbar notifier daemon: it would put a little phone, envelope or speech bubble if I had any missed calls/voicemail, new emails or unread text messages. Again, I can’t believe Apple hasn’t done this themselves already. I know the Dev Team will probably release a 3GS jailbreak in the coming weeks, so this is hopefully a minor and temporary inconvenience.

As an aside, I had a chance to play with an Android G1 from T-Mobile today for the first time. All in all, I was very impressed, and it made me more certain of my earlier statement: if not for the iPhone, I would have an Android phone or a Pre.