Vernal Equinox 2019

March 20 2019 21:58 GMT

Canon D20 verses Nikon D40

Canon   Nikon

Neither of these digital SLRs are the top of the line or new models from either manufacturer; but I own one of each, and both are considered to be extremely good pro-sumer models.

With a DSLR, like an SLR, the quality of images you take will depend on the lens and skill of the photographer every bit as much as the equipment.

I’ve be interested in photography since I was a teen; and to be honest, I’m a technically great photographer, but I’m not a great photographer.  Or as I tell my friends, I’ve taken millions of technically perfect photographs in my years; and I have one or two that are actually good photographs.

What’s my criteria for comparison?

That’s easy.

I think you need to consider…

Price; that’s not easy with these two — in the years since I bought the D20 this technology costs significantly less — and even purchasing the 20D refurbished it will set you back substantially more than a D40 (you really have to go with a Rebel XSi or XTi or XS to be at a comparable price point, and those have plastic bodies like the D40 but more resolution than even the D20).

Construction; here there’s no comparison, while there’s nothing technically wrong with the D40, the 20D is solid, the magnesium alloy makes the plastic D40 body look like a joke.  And of course the additional weight of the 20D makes it handle like a “real” SLR, the D40 is so light that it has a bizarre center of gravity with even the lightest of lens attached.

Controls; both cameras are made by a camera company, so they act like cameras and you’ll be able to control them much like you can any SLR.  You might find the controls a little different than an SLR, but both companies have made an effort to make the cameras similar in many ways to their comparable SLR lines.

Ease of use; though rather than call it ease of use we should probably define this as straight forward controls that don’t require inordinate steps to do useful tasks; here the two are fairly similar, though I’ll have to say Nikon’s inclusion of “editing” features seems like a total waste, and serve only to clutter the menu.

Available accessories; both have an incredible range of accessories you can purchase for them, but I’ll have to say that in general the Nikon accessories will cost less than Canon.  Third party accessories for both are, of course, substantially less expensive.

Lens; again, both Nikon and Canon have an incredible range of lens for their cameras.  Nikon has, unfortunately for those of use who own an F series film camera, changed their lens (AF).  Third party lens for both are, of course, substantially less expensive — and you can argue the quality.

Raw imaging; both have raw imaging.  And both cameras offer

Image quality; both have impressive quality.  The 20D has more resolution than the D40 (you can get higher resolution Nikon models for about the same price, but the D40 is considered to have one of the best CCDs, and of course has a very attractive price).  The real difference for me in the image quality is I think the Canon has a more accurate rendering of color and detail (now you’re going to find people who say the exact opposite, in fact I was looking at a comparison between a Nikon and Canon model and the person was saying the Nikon was better, but in my mind 90% of the images looked like the Canon was better).  The bottom line of this is it’s going to depend on what you like individually — there’s no right answer, both of these cameras do an incredible job, and it’s DIGITAL, so you can apply some corrections with your favorite photo editing software.

Which is better… well, I’d give the Canon 20D that vote, which is interesting since I’ve used a Nikon F4 for years.

Whether you choose a Canon D20, a Canon Digital Rebel XSi,  Canon Digital Rebel XTi, Canon Digital Rebel XS, or a Nikon D40 you’ll be getting a quality photographic instrument made by camera company that will be a good general replacement for a SLR.  While all these DSLRs offer “point-and-shoot” modes, it really only makes sense to buy one if you’re a little more serious about photography.  As I said before, it’s also going to depend on the lens, accessories, and operator skill what kind of results you see.

For pricing and availability, you can check the price search engines on my side bar.  One word of caution when buying photographic equipment online; try and deal with a reputable company and avoid the headaches.  Also be mindful of grey market items and understand what you’re buying.  NOTE:  There’s no real issue with buying a grey market item (item that was not intended for US sale), but you should be aware of what you’re getting before you get it.

Originally posted 2009-02-26 01:00:22.

CompactCMS Review

CompactCMS is an extremely light weight and fast Content Management Solution (CMS).  Actually it might be a bit of a stretch to call it a CMS, it’s more like a content management foundation.

CompactCMS is an open source software project and is totally free (nothing related to it has any costs or restrictions beyond the Creative Commons License).

No question it makes managing a small site very easy, and it has a huge selection of (free) CSS templates that offer a wide variety of layouts and appearances.

Why do I say it’s a foundation?

Simple, it provides the basic of editing pages and content, builds a sitemap — but it really doesn’t offer modules that provide enhanced capabilities.  Now in it’s defense, it does provide the ability to build pages that can call PHP directly, but it doesn’t provide any framework to use managed content within your PHP code (well — you can access the MySQL database directly, but there’s zero abstraction).

Several days ago I made a comment about most users only need a two page (mostly static) web site — and that’s true, and CompactCMS certainly provides that ability to users with very little understanding of web editing (it certainly provided more than that to users who have some understanding of web editing).

The main problem with CompactCMS for users who just don’t know anything at all about web technology is it requires a little understanding of how to setup a database, import a schema, and edit configuration files (by hand).  Yeah, that’s not really much to ask a techie for sure, but there’s lots of people who know where the power button is on their computer, but re-arrange the icons on the desktop and they’re lost…

I personally like CompactCMS — I’m not sure I have any real use for it, but it would be fine to use to setup simple web sites for clients that actually wanted to be able to make modest changes to the site themselves (remember, most low end web site offerings don’t include unlimited changes — and generally don’t include any changes).

http://compactcms.nl/

Originally posted 2010-04-07 02:00:28.

U.S. spying harms cloud computing, Internet freedom: Wikipedia founder

By Nerijus Adomaitis

OSLO | Thu Nov 7, 2013 12:36pm EST

(Reuters) – The United States’ alleged large-scale surveillance of global communications networks will badly harm the U.S. cloud computing industry, the founder of Wikipedia said on Thursday.

Jimmy Wales, who launched the online encyclopaedia service 12 year ago, said the U.S. eavesdropping, revealed by leaks from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, also poses a threat to Internet freedoms by giving an excuse to oppressive regimes to introduce more censorship.

“It’s going to have a big impact on the cloud computing industry as people are afraid to put data in the U.S., but it’s also devastating for the kind of work I do,” Wales told reporters after speaking at an IT event in Norway.

“If you are BMW, a car maker in Germany,… you probably are not that comfortable putting your data into the U.S. any more,” said the former futures trader who is still a key player at Wikipedia, one of the most popular websites in the world.

Cloud computing is an umbrella term for activities ranging from web-based email to businesssoftware that is run remotely via the Internet instead of on-site. It is being adopted by big companies and governments globally to cut costs and give flexibility to their IT departments.

Snowden’s leaks revealing the reach and methods of U.S. surveillance have prompted angry calls for explanations from France to Brazil. Germany has been particularly annoyed by revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“EMBARRASSING”

Wales said the revelations made it more difficult to convince oppressive regimes to respect basic freedoms and privacy as Wikipedia seeks to limit censorship of its content.

“They (spying revelations) give the Chinese every excuse to be as bad as they have been… It’s really embarrassing,” he said. “It’s an enormous problem, an enormous danger.”

China and countries in the Middle East have been most active in filtering Wikipedia content to restrict access to certain information, Wales said.

He said Wikipedia had no plan to introduce advertising.

“If we need to do that to survive, we will do what’s needed to survive, but we are not discussing that,” he said. “Some places have to remain free of commerce… Wikipedia is a temple for the mind,” Wales said.

Wikipedia has been financed through a non-profit foundation Wikimedia, which reported revenues of $38.4 million for the fiscal year 2011-2012, including $35.1 million in donations and contributions.

(Editing by Gareth Jones)

On Reuters.com

Originally posted 2013-11-07 14:00:05.

Holy Words

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?
· Buddha

Originally posted 2011-03-23 01:00:17.

An Evil of Television

Last week was the National Spelling Bee and this year the finals were televised on ESPN  and the “championship” round was televised in prime time on ABC.

Now first of all let’s be adult.  The only reason that the National Spelling Bee was on TV was money – everyone involved wanted to make as much as they could… and that’s really the bottom line of what drives TV (within the framework of regulations set forth by the Federal Communications Commission).

The thing about this that caused quite a ruckus is that ESPS halted the sixth round in the middle; so what was televised during prime time was going to be the last part of the round currently in progress, and then any rounds that would follow.

Now this isn’t something they decided at the last minute; it was clearly stated in the terms of the contract — and the contract wasn’t so long that you could say no reasonable person would have read and been familiar with the terms.

If the ESPN broadcast concludes during a semifinal round, spellers who have not spelled in the round will advance to the championship finals for the conclusion of the last semifinals round.

There are many that will say that this simply wasn’t fair to the children involved — and I’ll say you’re damn right.  But what wasn’t fair was televising the competition the way it was — making the contestants part of a commercial endeavor for networks, sponsors, broadcasters, and advertising to maximize their profit was simply unthinkable…

Somewhere along the path to present day American’s have simply lost sight of simple core values… and now we live our lives focused on television and letting television dictate to us the terms of living our life.  Sure, many delude themselves into thinking that their DVR gives them the control, but in the end it is the commercialization of television that really has control… and it can be seen most clearly on networks like ESPN that focus on sports.

If you want to take control — take the remote control and turn off the television.

Originally posted 2010-06-15 02:00:52.

Sam’s Club Discover

I was at Sam’s Club on the first of this month, and they had a promotion going on that you’d get a $40 instant credit on $100 (or more) purchase if you applied for and were accepted for a Sam’s Club Discover Card.

It was a no brainer —  what I was going to buy was $120, and the $40 instant credit would pay the fee for renewing my Sam’s Club card (NOTE: the renewal fee was excluded from the $100 minimum purchase).

GE Money Bank (the issuer of the Sam’s Club and Walmart Discover cards) issued a stated on the second of the month (the day after the charges); and had my statement to me less than a week after I’d opened the account.  However, I just received the actual card today.

Like with most credit cards you needed to call a toll free number and enter just about every piece of personal and confidential information you’d provided when applying for the card — at what seemed like the end of the activation, I got a message to please hold that I was being transferred to customer service.

After almost five minutes on hold, a very cherry woman come on the line, ask me how my day was and immediately launched into a sales pitch — I cut her off and told her whatever it was she was trying to up-sell to me, I wasn’t interest… that their system had kept me on hold for nearly five minutes to just try and sell me something I wasn’t the least bit interested in, and then I told her I wanted to close my account.  She responded that I’d need to look on the back of the card for the number, and I told her I wanted the number from her.

She gave me the number, and I hung up and called.

The automated system answered immediately, forced me to hear all about my account balance and due date — presented a myriad of twisty little turns to finally get to a customer service representative.

I told her I wanted to cancel; I told her why — she started to sputter out some apology and ask me to reconsider and I told her I didn’t care about her time, but I was tired of wasting my time and I just wanted the account canceled now.  The call was disconnected.

I called back; and same thing, a very long hold.  By the time that I actually got to talk to a customer service representative I’d been at this for over half an hour — and I pointed this out to her, and told here that I was in none to good a mood — that she would cancel the account, and I didn’t want to hear anything but it was done.

I wrote an electronic message to Sam’s Club on their web site after all this was done telling them what a poor reflection GE Money Bank was on their reputation.  The reply I receive (almost immediately) was just an apology, and told me what a valuable customer I was.

Right — GE Money Bank had been telling me what a valuable customer I was all the time on their automated system… but the bottom line, they didn’t value me as a customer — they wanted to treat me like a schmuck who’s time was totally worthless.  Clearly a company that didn’t value my time — or value me as anything but a potential source of revenue.

I’ve always considered Sam’s Club as low rent compared to other warehouse clubs such as Costco — and they continue to reinforce that image time and time again.

Costco selects American Express (which I consider to be thieves and liars — but they at least do pretend to respect their customers) for their credit card; Sam’s Club chooses GE Money Bank (how much more low rent can you get).

I don’t do much business at Sam’s Club; and I certainly won’t be increasing the amount of business I do there… but I certainly won’t be doing any business with GE Money Bank — and personally I think they tarnish Discover Card’s exceptional customer service.

Originally posted 2010-09-16 02:00:55.

My Admiration

There are three (living) individuals who I have a great deal of respect and admiration for.

They all happen to be Americans, and they all happen to be male — but neither of those are really factors in why they have earned my respect and admiration.

The order below should not be considered random.


Jimmy Carter

Former president of the United States of America, a brilliant man with a deep rooted sense of honor and a desire to improve the human condition.  Quite possibly the last great president the US had; and he should definitely be considered the last to truly serve his country.


Warren Buffet

One of the wealthiest individuals in the world, money is not his defining characteristic.  He has a deep social conscience and has repeatedly displayed a desire to leave the world a better place.  An exemplary model for successful and sustainable business.


Bill Gates

A man I have met (and worked for).  Also one of the wealthiest individuals in the world.  For him, money is not nearly as important as his commitment to doing what he believes is right.  He’s far more of a man who wants to improve the world, than merely change it. Even to his detractors he is consider a man who has had profound influence on shaping the course of human kind.

Originally posted 2010-03-22 02:00:05.

US Health Care Reform

Today US President Barrack Obama is supposed to deliver a revised plan to overhaul US Health care… but yesterday Warren Buffet hit the nail on the head while speaking on CNC he said the country’s out-of-control health care costs — at US $2.3 trillion a year and growing — are like “a tapeworm eating at our economic body.”

Mr Buffet underscored that he would support overhaul legislation proposed by the US Senate, but that he would prefer existing proposals be scrapped in favor of a new plan targeted at addressing costs.

“What we have now is untenable over time,” said Mr. Buffett, noting the U.S. health-care system eats up about 17% of the country’s economic output, compared with about 10% for Canada and many other countries. “I believe in insuring more people. But I don’t believe in insuring more people until you attack the cost aspect of this. And there is no reason for us to be spending 17% or thereabouts when many other developed countries are spending, we’ll say, 9 or 10%. They have more beds, they have more nurses, they have more doctors, they even have more consultations by far.”

The major obstacles to any real reform would be the power health care lobbyists (representing pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, doctors, and other health care related entities) as well as the American public.

Without reform, the cost of U.S. health care — already the most expensive in the world — is forecast to jump to around 25% of the US economic output by 2025.

My feeling is that since the Democrats couldn’t come up with a plan that they could all get behind when they had control of the House, Senate, and Presidency it’s extremely unlikely that they can build bi-partisan support for much of any real reform now.

American politics is always a shining example that change isn’t always progress.

Originally posted 2010-03-04 02:00:40.

Acronis TrueImage 11

I honestly can’t remember how many years ago I gave up on Symantec Ghost… but I do remember Acronis TrueImage 5 (at least that’s the version I remember) was a much better, much easier to use, and much less expensive product.

I recently played with TrueImage 11, and it’s certainly got more features, but it appears a lot of the focus for Acronis now is in there higher end products.

A few noteworthy things about TrueImage 11.

  • Windows Vista Support
  • Modern Hardware Support
  • “Try & Decide” Support

Vista support is only important if you have or plan to move to Vista.  Supporting more current (modern) hardware is particularly important if your machine doesn’t work with older versions of TrueImage.  But maybe the most significant addition is “Try & Decide”.

“Try & Decide” is what Acronis calls shawdow copy / snapshot and commit or rollback.  Basically, you checkpoint your system at a particular time, and then you can decide later to either commit all the changes or roll them back to that point in time.  So you could install a piece of software, play with it, and then if you decide to keep it, commit the changes or you could roll your system back to the way it was before you installed the software (you would lose any other changes as well — so you have to be careful).

The rollback requires a reboot; and to use “Try & Decide” you have to have an Acronis “Secure Zone” partition (but it will automagically create that for you).

Acronis also throws in some additional utilities that they used to charge for. 

Overall, I’d say it’s a great product, a great price — and better than any of the competing products I’ve ever tried.

Acronis TrueImage 11 Home

Originally posted 2008-05-11 16:32:06.