Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post-Election Snapshot #1

IT'S NOT JUST A RUMOR ANYMORE:
In the Wake of the Dems' Takeover, Rumsfeld Resigns

Read all about it in this late-breaking Baltimore Sun story.

Since well before the 2004 elections there'd been a growing chorus of complaints about Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's management of the Iraq war. Yet President Bush has stuck to his guns in his support of Rumsfeld.

But that was then and this is now: Speaker-in-Waitng Pelosi and the Dem leadership have said from the beginning that they wanted a more "bipartisan" approach to the Iraq war, and to that end Bush's Secretary of Defense had go.

Perhaps this gesture of pre-emptive bipartisanship by Bush was intended to put Pelosi & company on the spot.

Monday, October 23, 2006

"UNTIL THEN..."
A Magnificent Tribute to Our Guys and Gals in Iraq

The above-linked Flash presentation incorporates some wonderful photography of our troops "over there," together with a recording of Marta Keen's gorgeous song "Homeward Bound," the lyrics of which are as follows:

In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing and the sky is clear and red.
When the summer’s ceased its gleaming,
When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure’s lost its meaning,
I’ll be homeward bound in time.

Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I’ll return to you somehow.

If you find it’s me you're missing, if you’re hoping I’ll return.
To your thoughts I’ll soon be list’ning, and in the road I’ll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its end.
And the path I’ll be retracing when I’m homeward bound again.

Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I’ll return to you somehow.

In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing,
I’ll be homeward bound again.

-Music and Lyrics by Marta Keen

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Good news for Canon EOS owners too?

NEW ZEISS LENSES FOR NIKON USERS
Legendary Lensmaker Offers New 35mm Glass in F Mount


One of the best pieces of news to come out of Photokina 2006 is the announcement by celebrated German lensmaker Carl Zeiss of four new high-grade fast manual focus lenses for street and macro shooters who use Nikon bodies, both film and digital.

But this is also good news for those who use Canon EOS bodies, especially those who own full-frame DSLR's and therefore can take the fullest advantage of this legendary German glass. (This is something Nikon owners can't do unless and until Nikon decides to come out with a full-frame DSLR.)

As many EOS owners know, any manual focus Nikkor lens can mounted and used on EOS bodies merely by purchasing a Nikkor-to-EOS adapter such as this one by Novoflex

Of course, there's no AF with such a setup on a Canon EOS body, and the aperture must be set manually on the lens as well. But the same is true on a Nikon body, too. However, like their Nikon counterparts, EOS users can still use their automatic metering once the lens is stopped down.

Most likely, these same Nikon-to-EOS adapters will work equally as well with the newly announced Zeiss lenses.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why Fredmiranda.com Has Lost a Customer

OF BAD MANNERS & ILL TEMPERS:
Encounters with a Photo Forum Bozo


One of the downsides of posing queries to internet message board moderators is that you never know what kind of responses you'll get, no matter how courteous and "just the facts, ma'am" straightforward your questions may be. Most of the time, you’ll receive a polite and informative professional-caliber reply by someone you can take seriously.

The rest of the time, however, you’ll instead receive amateurish nincumpoopery or arrogant defensiveness or both by some arrested-adolescence jerk with a misplaced ego bigger than Bill Clinton's but with the same percentage of logic synapses functioning in Paris Hilton’s brain –say, around 2.3%.

A case in point is my own recent encounter with one Scott Sewell, who moderates the Buy & Sell forum at photographer and Photoshop plug-in developer Fred Miranda's website at http://www.fredmiranda.com/

Miranda's site is dedicated to photography and its forums were set up to allow photographers to communicate with each other, including posting ads to buy or sell used photography equipment.

As an avid amateur and freelance photographer always on the lookout for bargains and/or has older or underutilized gear to sell, I had often utilized the Buy & Sell forum, along with four or five other similar venues, such as PhotoNet, PBase, and Craigslist.

I highly recommend all of them with the exception of Miranda's venue while it's still under its current moderator, who seems to know nothing about public relations and/or is utterly clueless about how to conduct himself with Mr. Miranda’s customers and subscribers.

Here’s why:

The problem began with the following message from Mr. Sewell informing me that I had "duplicated" one of my ads at the Buy & Sell forum:

[SEWELL, Sep 30, 2006 at 09:52 AM]

You made two identical posts on B&S. If these are two pieces of gear, please combine the listings. If it's a mispost, please delete misposts like that.

Of course, the above was a reasonable enough notice except that it provided no titles or dates or links for the alleged “identical posts,” nor any other clue as to which post was being referred to. Apparently, it never occurred to Sewell that forum members often have more than one ad on that forum --which was indeed the case here, as I explained to him:

"Whenever I post any FS or WTB ads to FM I do likewise at PhotoNet, Craigslist, and two or three photo websites. .... During the months of August and September, I had ads for four items for sale as well as two items to buy on most or all of the abovementioned venues."

Nevertheless, I conducted a search and could not find any duplicate posts. So I sent him the following replies:

"Can you be a little more specific, please? I looked on my list of posts under ‘posts’ in my profile and didn't see any duplicate ads there. Can you point them both out to me? Thanks!"

and

"Here is the list of posts appearing my profile: [URL snipped] As you can see, there are no duplicate posts for selling any gear on that list."

But apparently granting this simple request was waaaaaaay too much work for Sewell, for instead of providing clarification and information he shot back with this:

[SEWELL, Sep 30, 2006 at 05:13 PM]

More specific? You made two posts that appeared to be identical. Either it one was a mispost on your part or you had two pieces of gear that should have been combined into one listing. One post was deleted.

and this:

[SEWELL, Sep 30, 2006 at 05:15 PM]

Do you think I make up things to PM people about? You had two identical posts. I deleted one of them. In the future, misposts like that will BOTH be deleted (without notice) so there's no confusion like this.

Of course, I was quite taken aback by such bizarre non-sequitur responses:

Perhaps, I speculated, Mr. Sewell had a fight with his wife (God help her!) that morning. Or maybe, I suspected, he had forgotten to take his medication. Or, quite possibly, English is his second language. Or perhaps he just needs to take a remedial reading course.

But be that as it may, I replied as follows in the hope ( a vain one, it turned out) that he might wake up and smell the cognitive cappuccino:

"By 'more specific' I meant which ad you were referring to in your original notice. The meaning of the phrase 'more specific' should have been obvious from the context established by the rest of my query."

and,

"[You said] 'Do you think I make up things to PM people about?'

"Oh, for crying out loud. How in the world did you manage to parse the above presumption out of what I said?

"All I told you was that I could not determine what you were referring to. That is why I asked you --TWICE-- to point out to me which post was duplicated so that I could take the appropriate action. Had you done so in the beginning I could have and would have taken care of the matter.

"Instead, you send me a nastygram in response to my query??? Sheesh."

Things went downhill from there.

Instead of going back, re-checking his facts, and replying with the information I requested --as any sane and civilized forum moderator would do-- Sewell just became more rude, and even resorted to thinly veiled threats:

[SEWELL, Sep 30, 2006 at 06:41 PM]

Yes, "sheesh" is right. I deleted only one of the two identical posts. They've BOTH been deleted now, so we can get past this matter.

You kept questioning me like I didn't even deleted a post...like I was just making up the PM to you. If you hadn't made two identical posts to begin with we wouldn't be having this PM exchange. And then you keep questioning me..."which post did you delete"? [Of course, that's not what I asked him. I asked him --twice-- to tell me which of my ads I, MYSELF had DUPLICATED, not which ads he had deleted. His response here seems to support my theory that either (a) English is a second language for Sewell or (b) he needs to take that remedial reading course. --JE]

I deleted BOTH of the posts in question. That must be what you wanted? There will be no notices of future edits/deletions of any misposts or off topic posts, and there is no reason to continue this PM exchange. [Apparently, merely questioning him is a crime in Herr Sewell's world.--JE]

At this point, I'd about had it with this obstinate dunderhead. So on Oct. 1, I demanded an apology from Sewell for his disgraceful attitude and conduct.

I also informed him that I would take this matter up with Fred Miranda himself (the owner of the web site and therefore, presumably, Sewell's superior) directly. In addition, I said, I would demand assurance from both that neither I nor any other fredmiranda.com customer and subscriber would be subjected to such mistreatment again.

I immediately informed Miranda of the situation via email, which I cc'd to Sewell.

In response, Sewell deleted all my ads. The next day, my account was locked. That's right: It appears that for having the temerity to register a complaint about Miranda's abusive forum moderator, I was banned.

As much as I've enjoyed using Miranda's Photoshop plug-ins and actions and other photo-editing programs over the past 3 years --I have over half-a-dozen-- I will not purchase another license from him ever again.

Fred Miranda has lost a customer.

[UPDATE: 10/09/06]

[1] At the time of publication on 10/04, a link to the above article was sent to both Sewell and Miranda for review and comment. Both were invited to refute it here. So far, neither has done so.

[2] It has been over a full week since I first emailed Fred Miranda on this matter, three days before publishing this blog. I have yet to receive a reply from him. In the closing of my fourth and final e-mail to Miranda, dated 10/03, I posed the following question about Scott Sewell's treatment of Miranda's customers:

"Is this the kind of conduct you allow on the part of your associates or employees?"

It seems that he does. At least he hasn't said otherwise.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A TRULY UGLY PICTURE:
Gunman Kills Children at Amish School

According to this story via the Associated Press, an apparently deranged man has mowed down, "execution" style, eleven young girls at an Amish community schoolhouse in Lancaster County, PA killing at least six before killing himself.

So far, the killer's motive remains unknown except for veiled references, in a suicide note to his wife, to a grudge he held since he was 12 years old.

This is truly tragic, and sad beyond words.

Monday, October 02, 2006

CANON'S NEWEST TOY:
Still Engaged In the Megapixel Wars

Back in March when Canon introduced the EOS 30D digital SLR, the update of its wildly popular EOS 20D "prosumer" body, many reviewers and photographers alike noted with some dismay that it retained the 20D's 8-Megapixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC II processing chip. This was especially troublesome to Canon fans because Nikon immediately released a 10-Megapixel competitor, its by-all-accounts-very-excellent D200, at only $300 more than the 30D.

Why, it was asked, did Canon not raise the MP bar with the 30D? Apparently, Canon was caught off-guard by Nikon, because the company's PR department quickly went into Damage Control Mode:

The 8-MP CMOS was retained, Canon argued, because of image quality concerns. A 10-MP 1.6 crop sensor would produce too much "noise" (the digital photo world equivalent of film grain) at the higher ISO settings. Therefore, Canon had decided that it would not put such a questionable 1.6 crop sensor in its D-SLR's.

Or so they said, and most of us bought that explanation and declared the megapixel war over and done: After all, the leading D-SLR maker had declared image quality rather than marketing its main focus.

Well, that was then and this is now. Canon, it seems, is still engaged in the megapixel war after all: Before Photokina 2006 began on Sept. 26, Canon announced its own 10-MP D-SLR --the Digital Rebel XTi, aka 400D in Europe and Kiss Digital XTi in Japan.

Does this mean that owners of the 20D and 30D can look forward to a 40D sporting a 10-MP 1.6 crop sensor (and the new DIGIC III chip) yet retains the same very high/low noise ISO image quality of their current cameras?

Maybe we'll know in the Spring.