New Lens - 24-105 - awesome

May 21, 2007

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Not too long ago, Canon introduced a new lens: the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. I've been lusting after this lens from the day I first heard about it. When I was shooting with my old Nikon F3, I would generally carry two lenses. A 24mm and a 105mm. Now, I can have them both in a single lens. Granted, my prime lenses were of the f/2.8 variety which would have been nice, but loosing one stop in light is worth it for keeping the lens a manageable size and weight. Last Saturday, I was shooting a wedding for some friends so I decided to finally break down and get the lens before the big day. From that experience, I think the lens is just about the perfect lens for wedding photography. On the wide side, a 28mm angle of view would have been just fine, but the 105mm is just right. I've always loved the perspective. It keeps enough of the background so you can figure out what's going on, but has a narrow enough depth of field to keep it from competing. Prior to getting this lens my main lens was a 28-70 f/28. And while I love having the extra stop of light for shooting bands (main venue where I shoot the lighting generally rings in at 1/15 - f/2.8 at ISO 800) the 70mm perspective just isn't telephoto enough for what I like. Of course, I could always switch over to the 80-200, but when running and gunning this is so much of a hassle that I wouldn't do it unless the shot really needed it. Now, I don't have to worry. This is my first Image Stabalization lens and I haven't really used it yet at all. Just turned it on for a couple of test shots. It was a little disorienting since it creates a bit of a disconnect between what you feel in the camera movement in your hands and what is going on in the viewfinder. I'm sure it'll be nice to have, but it'll probably take me a while to remember it's there. My only minor gripe is the fact that the lens hood is only effective at the wide end of the range. A nice thing about the 28-70 is that it moves to wide as the front is extended. This means that the hood works well the 70mm angle of view as well. Not a huge deal most of the time, but it would be nice if the 24-105 had similar working functionality. Bottom line. After one day of shooting with it, I'm very happy with the lens.


New Hard Drive..... and the cable

April 25, 2007

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Just got a new hard drive to get some more room on my computer. This one is the first "SATA" hard drive I've bought. Only problem so far is that since it's my first one, I don't have any cables for it and I didn't remember to order any. Pesky new technology and it's cables…..


Quick E-mail Backup Hack

April 25, 2007

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I just saw something about a hack that I use and wanted to pass it on. If you have some files that you need to have backed that are way more important to you than other ones, a great way to do it is to send them to a free e-mail account like gmail. For example, if you are writing your thesis for your Ph. D. it's probably a good idea to send copies to your gmail account every now and then. In the world of backups, one of the best things you can do is have an "off-site" copy of your files. Using a web mail account, you are all set without the headache of building a server. Google or the like has already done it for you. If you hard drive crashes or your laptop gets stolen you still have the most recent copy that you sent to yourself. If you made recent changes that you hadn't e-mailed to yourself yet, you'll loose those, but that's much less bad than having to start over from the top. In the past this was a little harder to do since the limits on email account sizes was pretty small, but when they started being measured in gigabytes, it's a valid solution. I've also taken to sending copies of software that I download to myself. For example, I use an editor called UltraEdit and every time I have rebuild my computer, it takes me forever to dig up a copy since it didn't come with a CD. I've sent a copy to myself so next time all I'll have to do is search for it in my account (which is incredibly easy) and pull it back down. (There are even some hacks out there that all you to see your email account like a hard drive on your computer that I've tried before that work pretty well. But, since that's not official supported by google, I'm staying away from it.)


Shiny screens seem to be okay.

April 24, 2007

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Last few times I've been to a computer store I've noticed that more and more of the displays on laptops are of the ultra shiny sort. Looking at them in the store, I couldn't imagine that they would be good to use since the mirror like surface does a great job of reflecting light and producing glare. The laptop I was looking at for my mom that we eventually got had one of these screens. I mentioned this to her before we bought it and figured we could return it if it was a problem. Once I got it out of the store, I'm happy to report the screen was just fine to work with. Didn't have any problems with glare at all. I think this would be the case most of the time. Unless you happen to work in a place that has endless rows of overheard fluorescent light strips like an big box store.


Why don't washing machines have buzzers?

April 24, 2007

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Just about ever dryer I've seen has one, but the washing machines don't. Best thing I can come up with is "they" figure you will hear the washing machine stop after the spin cycle. More often than not, this isn't the case for me. So, my clothes sit there wadded up in the washing machine until I remember to check which is usually an hour or so after it's stopped. Occasionally, it's the following day. Guess I need to get a little timer stick to it and set each time, but this is one of those things that seems like it should have been addressed a long time ago. Weird.


Lots of Visual Charts

April 24, 2007

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This is a neat table of charts. Mouse over an "element" to see an example. Found this on cool tools.


Domain Bot

April 21, 2007

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If you are ever looking to setup a web site and are trying to decide on a name, this site might help: http://www.domainsbot.com/ You put in some words or terms and hit search and it gives you a list of recommendations and shows you if they are available or not. While it's fairly easy to check on specific domains, it can get time consuming quickly. This little bot can at least help get you started.


New Laptop

April 21, 2007

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I was in HSV this past week while my mom was recovering from some minor foot surgery. She had planned to get a new laptop so that she could use it next week to get some work done while still on the couch (she has to keep her foot elevated for another week or so). I placed an order for one for her with Lenovo on April 4. The original note said that it should ship in 1-2 weeks. Then on April 18, I got a note saying that it wouldn't ship till May 5. This didn't do us any good so I cancled the order. Waiting a month to get a computer? Hell by that time it's probably already worth 20% less than when you paid for it. Anyway, we decided to bite the bullet and buy one locally. The first stop was compUsa where I quickly discovered that the only thing on the sales floor of the Windows variety was packed with Vista. My mom was come a long way, but she is still very un-savvy when it comes to computers. She needs XP because that's what she knows. Also, I've never used Vista which means I wouldn't be able to answer questions and frankly, I'm a big fan of waiting till after the first major service patch has been released before moving onto a new Microsoft platform. (Or most other software for that matter.) We went around to Office Depot and Staples too, and the case was the same. No machines on the floor besides the odd "display model" that didn't come with Vista. Luckily, you can still by XP in the box and the fact that we tried a few different places worked out pretty well anyway. We ended up with a $500 Compaq C500 laptop and purchasing a boxed version of Windox XP for ~$160 from staples. I must say I'm pretty impressed with the laptop. I didn't use Vista on it at all, but it runs XP very nicely and is more than adequate for the word documents, email and web surfing that is going to be all my mom does with it. The average price of the laptops at CompUSA was way higher. I think I saw one that was about $700, and a few for around $800, but most were $1,000+. It's odd to think, but going an office store (in this case Staples) was way better than buying at a computer store.


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