How much dirty lens affects image quality

The photographer Kurt Munger ran an experiment on how much dust, scratches and damages of the lens affect image quality.  The results are very counterintuitive.  At least for me.  Fingerprints, dust, scratches, and even bits of non-transparent duct tape have no effect what-so-ever.  The first signs of something going wrong appear with very serious lens damage, like this:

broken lens

Even then, the image is not as bad as you’d expect.  Here it is.


Read the whole thing for more details.

Google from the 700 MHz point of view

In the last two years, the well-known fact of Google offering free WiFi Internet access in Mountain View, California has almost been forgotten (except, of course, by people living in Mountain View and Googlers themselves).  At the time of news many were wondering about why Google is doing such a thing.  Not it all suddenly became obvious…

Slashdot reports that Google is preparing for a bid in the upcoming auction set up by FCC for a 700 Mhz radio frequency.  There are a few interesting twists about the offer – “open access” and “nation-wide”.  With these news, it’s hard to see the Mountain View setup as something else rather than a test platform.  With the recently released Android open mobile platform, the connections seem obvious.

The stakes for the band are high, and Google is planning to bid at least $4.6 billion USD dollars.  And they are paying this all out of their own pocket (not sharing with another company, etc).   Wh?  Because there are quiet a few things on Google’s agenda.

If you are like me, and need more information on this whole thing, here are a few pointers:

P.S. : Now those Indian telecoms have to re-think their position.

P.P.S. : In the completely unrelated news,  Ubiquiti Networks announced world’s first 700 MHz WiFi radio.  Here is the official press release.

Some problems never get old. Or do they?

A couple of years ago I went through all our (Olga’s and mine) printed photographes, selected the good ones, and ordered scans from the studio, so that I could have them all in digital form. One of the annoying problems I came across when catalogueing those images was the date.

Most images didn’t have any date reference what-so-ever, so I had to guess when it was or date these images as very uproximate. Others, did have a date added by the camera. The problem though, was that in many cases, the date was way off. That’s because the camera was never properly configured (users hate manuals).

Today, while importing images to Flickr I realized that the same problem applies to digital cameras too. Many images in my gallery had a really wrong timestamp in the EXIF data. Useless. Good thing I was keeping them in the directory structure, which referenced the date (2005/2005-04-15_My_birthday). I could easily fix it with a tiny script.

This got me thinking. How can the problem be solved once and for all? Is it even possible? Is there a way for digital camera to know what time it is, without user telling it? How about people who travel a lot – do they have to reconfigure their cameras at every time zone?

The travelling bit gave me an idea – GPS. Some cameras already use GPS to add geolocation coordinates to the meta data of the picture. But GPS receivers can be also used for maintaining the precise clock, which can be autoconfigured, and autoconfigured with time zone of the actual camera location. This is sweet!

Hopefully Canon (and other vendors who I don’t care about) already does it, or plans to do it in the nearest future. That could be an excellent technology application – useful, and invisible to the user. Just as it should be.

Again with an ‘S’ word

This is yet another post that mentions Skype. As you probably know by now after reading this and that posts, I am really enjoying Skype.

In order to expand the joy, I decided to follow my brother, and buy headphones with microphone to use voice features of this application.

You might think that I am one of those “whatever my brother gets, I’ll get two” types, but I am not. I really have two very separate computers – my home workstation and my office workstation – that I need to equip with whatever software and hardware I use. So, I bought two headsets. Those are A4Tech HS-7 if you are interested.

8 CYP a piece. Fit my head nicely. Micrphone is attached via a wire that you can bend any way you like. There is also volume control and microphone on/off switch right on the wire. Comfy.

I haven’t tested the sound yet.

Hardware tetris

I try to stay as further away from hardware jobs as I can. But sometimes there is no way around…

I’ve been promising some fixes to Olga for about six month now. No music played in our living room during this time. And Maxim was continiously getting closer to power cables and outlets.

So, today I fixed everything. Appologies for a little downtime, by the way. I had to rearrange my harddisks and move about 80 GBytes of mp3s and oggs. I also had to disconnect power cables in order to properly move all cabling behind the table, so that Maxim won’t reach it. Or at least where he won’t see the cables so often.

Now everything is done and back to normal. I even got a bit of free disk space that I can use to refresh my music collection…