Martin @ Blog

software development and life.


Archive for September, 2005

New prosumer cams

I know I’m a little bit slow (but that’s not uncommon for me), but I read today about a new prosumer digital camera of Sony, the DSC-R1. This camera has a 10MPixel CCD (which is not very interesting, because 8MPixels is already an awful lot). The innovative part of this compact camera is the size of the CCD, which is 21,5×14,4mm (the predecesor of this DSC-R1, the DSC-F828 has only 8,8×6,6mm which is the same as my Canon PowerShot Pro1 sensor). Most people now probably think: ‘so what?’. But the size of the sensor is one of the main differences between a digital compact camera and a dSLR (apart from the changable lens and ‘real’ viewfinder which a dSLR has). The cropfactor of the sensors which are used in most digital compact camera is very big. Old anlogue camera’s used 35mm film. The cropfactor is the number of times a CCD-lens in a digital camera is smaller than the 35mm format.
The result of such small sensors is that the Depth of Field is very large in current digital camera’s. For beginning photographers, this is actually a good thing, because it is almost impossible to make a bad photo because the object you want to photograph is unsharp. For more experienced photographers, however, it is almost impossible to take a nice portret picture where the background is a little unsharp while the person you want to photograph remains sharp. A larger CCD-sensor enables more possibilties to make ‘creative’ pictures. Additional, the larger CCD suffer less from color noise. The very small high-resolution (5Mpixel and higher) sensors, suffer from very much noise when used at higher ISO values. Therefore most compact digital camera’s are not usable with an ISO-value of more than 100 ISO. The new sensor in the Sony DSC-R1 is (according to the specifications) usable at ISO values of 1600 and even 3200 which is comparable with most digital SLR camera’s.
The DSC-R1 has a number of more interesting features. The lens is a Carl Zeiss lens with a range of 24-125mm. The 24mm is pretty wide for a compact camera (my PowerShot Pro1 has 28mm, which is already pretty good, because most other camera’s starts at 35mm). The tele range is a little dissapointing, but it is possible to buy teleconvertors, which extends the range to 200mm. Also the LCD and EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) has a resolution of 235.000 pixels, which is not exeptional, but pretty good. The lens has a mechanical zoom-ring which is also a pro. Only the fact that I own my PowerShot Pro1 only a few months, and the DSC-R1 is quite expensive with approximately 1000 dollar keeps me from buying this camera.

Sony DSC-R1

On the other hand, there are rumours that Canon is about to introduce a succesor of the PowerShot Pro1. If that camera also features the very good lens of the Pro1 and has a large CCD (for example from the dSLR 350D) I’m not sure if I’m able to keep myself from buying that camera. I like the possibilities of a dSLR, especially the possibilities to shoot in low-light conditions and the portraits you can shoot with it, which is not possible with my prosumer camera. But the cost and size of the lenses of dSLR made me decide to not buy a dSLR.


I have decided that I want to become a better photographer. In order to achieve this goal, I started practising. Yesterday I tried to make some shots of riding cars using a technique called ‘panning’. This means that you have to follow the car with your camera. The results which should be achieved shows the car ‘sharp’ while the background is blurred.

Today I tried to experiment with the ability of my camera to shoot in RAW mode. RAW files are also called ‘digital negatives’. Normal when you shoot your pictures, the camera applies some filters and algorithms on the picture in order to correct the white balance, brightness, contrast, etc. When you use the RAW fileformat, the raw data from the camera sensor is stored. When you get the pictures from your memory card onto your computer, you can apply the filters and algorithms on the computer, where you have a lot more control on the used settings. This way you can achieve interesting results. I made two pictures, one of the trees in front of our house and one of the sky with a beautiful sunset.


Weekend off

Last weekend we had a fun weekend with all the people of my work. We went to a vacation parc of Center Parcs where we had a cocktail party at friday evenening, games on the beach on saturday and saturday evening there was a barbeque party. The weekend ended with a terrific brunch on sunday. Fortunately the weather was great saturday, so it was a lot of fun on the beach. The absolute highlight of the weekend was the speedboat (see picture). Because I work at a website, most of the people who were at the ‘party’ are technically enthousiastic. A lot of people therefore had a digital SLR camera, which resulted in an incredible amount of pictures (currently there are about 1000 pictures on the internet, but there were more pictures taken). Because most of the people are very concerned about there privacy, I cannot put a lot of pictures here, because there is a big chance someone is on it who doesn’t want to see his picture on the internet. The three pictures here are pretty safe I think (because on most of them nobody is recognizable). The first picture shows one of the games we did during the afternoon on saturday. We had to build a catapult of a few given materials which was able to shoot the ball about 10 metres, the group which was the fastest in building a working catapult won (our group was the fastes \o/ ). Other games we did were beachvolleyball, a variation on hockey, building sand castles, etc.


This picture shows the boat in which we sailed through the waves.

This last photo shows the entire group (I think… probably there are a few missing).


While browsing the internet this evening, I came across a site with a few photos of streetpainting art. The artist who made this stuff has also a site of his own. I think it is very impressive. Especially the VAIO-drawing is very nice I think.


Some smart student from the UK who needs money to buy study books and other stuff, created a website which is divided in blocks of 10×10 pixels. People and companies can buy pixels on the site and use these pixels to publish a message or an advertisement. Each pixel costs one dollar and the minimum amount of pixels you have to buy are 100 (one block of 10×10). He already has collected 8,000 dollar with this site, which is not bad I think. The site will be online for at least five year.

Sun rejected ads

Sun has published some rejected advertisements for their new server line. Now that they have an agreement with Microsoft and thus cannot bash this company anymore, they seem to have choosen another easy target. Dell is this new opponent. Ads with the headlines ‘ 100% more bitchin’ than Dell’ and ‘Benchmark studies prove that Dell sucks’ are a little bit to harsh. But to make sure Dell gets the message, the company decided to publish the ads nevertheless.
Dell sucks More Bitchin\'

Office 12 user interface

Microsoft has revealed some screenshots of the new version of Microsoft Office. It is a tradition at MS that every Office version has a new interface, which is preferrably different from all current Windows applications which are available. The result of this is that there has never been an Office version which follows Microsoft own rules on user interface design for a specific Windows version.
But in my opinion they took the interface this time a step further. Especially when you look at the screenshot of Word (here and here). I can impossible imagine that a non-techical user easily find its way in this userinterface. The topbar (which is a mixture of a toolbar and a menu) is very cluttered. The concept of a toolbar is lost, because there are large chunks of text. The buttons are of different sizes and there are far to many buttons. The menu is also not very clear. To make it ‘easier’ they decided to change the whole concept of menus. All menu items which we currently know (file, edit, view, tool) are dissapeared and replaced with not very obvious ones. It looks to me that the menu itmes are very specific for a text editor, and therefore it is impossible to create a uniform feel across the operating system, because every application has a totally different menubar.
In my opinion the best userinterface for every application is the one which has as few buttons as possible. Apple Pages is a step in the right directoin (although not perfect), Abiword is (certainly for an open source applications) also doing a good job, but Microsoft seems to totally lost its way. It is a lot more logical to use preformatted items, such as default headers, instead of allowing the user to change every letter to a different font and size. Word is promoting this last option, and it seems that it is not very likely that this will change in the new version.
As a final note, I also like to mention the ‘looks’ of the new interface. To me it looks like a playmobil user interface. It does not look professional, mainly because of the strange blue/purple color of the interface and the looks of the icons. Of course this is personal. It seems I’m not the only one who thinks the user interface of Office 12 isn’t perfect when you look at the comments on the story about it on (Dutch).

I am still alive

Last month I almost wrote nothing. The reason for that is because I had not much to write about. The last few weeks of august I did two exams, which were hopefully the last ones ever. But unfortunately, at least one (Ontwerp van Algoritmen 3) I didn’t pass, so I have to do that one again next year.
I have to finish only two courses before I can start my graduation task. I already have a graduation task, which has to do with search algorithms and personalisation of the search results. I think it is a very interesting subject, because the accessability of information is a growing problem, and the goal is to make it easier for people to find information they need and to filter unrelevant information. The ‘new’ part of my graduation is to automatically decide if a document is relevant for the person who is looking for information.
Hopefully I will start at the end of this month with my graduation and I will write a lot about it on my weblog.

My girlfriend got his propaedeutics in one year (which only 46 percent manages at her study). So I gave her an iPod mini rose (which is not available at, because it is replaced with the iPod nano). I have bought a new Palm organizer for myself. I’ve choosen the Tungsten E2 with a 1GB SD-card. Unfortunately the shop were I bought it forgot to include the 1GB card in the package, while I already have payed for it. They told me they will send the card this week.

I also bought a new cd of the not-so-famous artist (at least I didn’t now it) Röyksopp. The cd is called ‘Melody A.M’ and the music genre is a mixture between lounge, dance and new age. I can recommend it to everyone. I bought the cd because I heard the number ‘Eple’ on some website I visited. Other popular songs of this artist are ‘Poor Leno’ (this was the single of this cd I have read) and ‘Only this moment’ (That one is not on ‘Melody A.M.’ but on ‘The Understanding’. When I heard that number, I recognized it. I don’t know if it was a single.).

I think it is a good cd (no copy protection 😛 ) and the music is very relaxing. The music is ideal when you are working. Maybe I want the other cd’s of Röyksopp also.

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