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Stupid Designs Hold Digital BackApril 1, 2006
I've been doing digital photography for a long time, since the early days of the floppy-disk based Sony Mavica. By now apparently I know more than the dummies who design the equipment and run the services that support it.
So, it's high time that I shared my thinking with the larger community. Some of the ways things work today are just too stupid for words, but I'll try anyway.
Not an hour goes by without somebody on one photo forum or another complaining about all the images he or she has to keep track of. Just today, at Costco, I saw 1GB flash cards for $60--enough for a couple of hundred JPEGs. No wonder everyone is swamped. Whoever dreamed up the 1GB card is dumber than dirt. The answer is obvious--let's have cards that hold, say, 20 images. Now that makes sense! And, I know that for some rapid shooters 20 isn't enough, so, OK, I'm not rigid, let's have some 36-image cards, too. End of problem.
Which brings me to my next idea. After taking these digital images, what do people do with them? They copy them to their computer, fool around with them in Photoshop (not that the Adobe software guys are the only guilty ones), and then--this is really hard to believe, but try--copy them back out of the computer to a printer, and finally they have something real. Well, if the engineers had any brain cells, they would come up with a camera that could make its own images without all that computer/printer crap. I've read some recent optics and chemistry research papers, and even I now know that the camera can just make the image itself. Since there are only 20 (or 36) of them at a time, the camera just holds them in a metal canister until you want to see them. You apply some chemicals, and then--presto!--you just hold them up to the light and you've got your picture. (The computer and printer guys are paying somebody off--more than one somebody--big time, for sure.)
OK, that's solved. Now for the camera itself. I have one of those flip-flop mirror cameras, and, wow, is it a stupid design. I took my daughter to the zoo last Summer and nearly had a coronary taking a picture of a lion through my telephoto lens. The lion was a big as a house! Almost bit my head off! Really, did the dim-wits who came up with that flip-flop mirror design ever actually try their own equipment? Well, I'll answer my own question, they didn't, or they would have done the smart thing and just put a little peephole for you to look through, and then the lion would look like a little lion, and I'd be safe.
Well, I don't even know why I'm sharing this stuff, because, like I said, the engineers are too lame-brained to even know how to read, but I'm feeling generous, so I'll toss out one final suggestion that gets around what's got to be the most moronic thing of all. You take your stupid digital picture (see above), and then copy it to your stupid computer (see above), but, then, you think you're smart, so instead of copying it again to your stupid printer, you send it away to Adorama, or Kodak, or Shutterfly, or wherever. And, do you get your picture? No, you don't--that would be too intelligent. What you get is a long wait, and then a few days later you get your picture. How? Get ready, you're not going to believe this: In the mail!
So, my final improvement (for today, anyway) is this simple, but, if I do say so myself, brilliant improvement: They email you your picture, instead of using the mail. Doesn't everyone use email these days? When's the last time you actually got a letter? Emailing you the picture should take only a few seconds. Once Shutterfly and the others start doing it the smart way, you can bet that their business will explode.
Or, maybe not. If my camera-that-makes-its-own-image idea ever gets adopted, along with my 20/36 reasonable limit idea, nobody will need to send their photos anywhere. Now, that would be smart. Won't happen this April, or even next, but one of these Aprils they'll stop being so foolish.
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Creating a Google Photo Map (Revised) June 26, 2007
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Stupid Designs Hold Digital Back April 1, 2006
A small collection of my best photos (click the image). You can order prints, too.
The 2004 2nd Edition, a so-called "update" of the 1985 book, which turned out, not surprisingly, to be a re-write. Covers Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD, and Darwin (Mac OS X).
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