Mostly about my amusement

Month: May 2009 (page 1 of 2)

Facebook and Flickr don’t like each other?

Update 6/7/2009: Still broken.

Update 6/6/2009: I’ve used Flickr import three times and it looks like Facebook fixed the problem.


Facebook has really taken off with the 35+ age group (which I am part of). I have been connecting with people I have not interacted with in 20 years.

As a result, I find myself using Facebook as a means to keep my friends up to date. One of the things I have come to depend upon was the Facebook Flickr integration.  Using this tool, when I upload pictures to Flickr account my Facebook friends get a notice and see my photos.

Normally this works sporadically. For the past two weeks it does not work at all. And I can’t find a link to let me ask Facebook “Hey, am I doing something wrong?” This functionality used to work but now it completely doesn’t.

I can’t really complain or get upset simply because I don’t pay Facebook, so I’m getting my money’s worth. But I wish they could provide something better than “Please try again later”. I suspect that the two site’s API changed but I can’t see any meaningful error messages to help figure it out.

What, you don’t say hello anymore?

Sunday morning I had to be in New Jersey before 3 AM to work on powering up the data center there. The company tries to power down it’s data centers once a year to make sure that BCP and DR works.

I got there at 1:30 AM which was okay since we got the building back early and I started my tasks like a crazy person. Except for it being the Memorial Day weekend it was not bad at all. I might volunteer next year for the early shift when we do this again.

When you get to the front door they check that you are on the list and authorized to be there.  They also give you a badge signed by the coordinator that you have to wear. It has your name on it naturally.

After about 10 AM the data center started filling with server and application support staff. I work for Networks and until our equipment is up there is no point in those folks coming in. If they can’t communicate on layer 3 (look it up) then their apps can’t work.

Several times I was stopped and asked/told the following.

  • “Hey Stefan, how’s it going?”
  • “What, you are to good to say hello anymore?”
  • “I don’t understand. Why are you saying your name is Jan?”
  • “WOW. They messed up your first name on your name plate!”

You get the idea. I work in the same team as my identical twin brother and he’s been with the company for about 8 years. Lots of people know him. Even though they are aware that his identical twin brother works here, until it’s spelled out for them they just don’t connect that I’m not him.

Usually I walk back to the person, show them my name plate and explain it to them. I could have a lot of fun with it but by noon I was too tired to play games with people. My co-workers laughed it up though, so it’s all good.

Attention Apple: AT&T is hurting your brand

Another day and another 3G outage for my iPhone. Even EDGE is not working today. Voice works, just not data. If the Palm Pre is successful it will not be because of an iPhone issue, it will be because AT&T’s 3G network is a joke.

The iPhone is a great piece of convergent technology. But without Internet connectivity, it’s primary function is crippled. It’s a cool device and works well when the network cooperates but without it I’m left to listening to music and playing games.

I can now play 3 card draw solitaire as an expert and Bejeweled 2 bores me to tears. I would much rather read my RSS feeds via Google Reader but AT&T’s poor network just can’t work. This is why Apple should turn to Verizon or Sprint.

If Apple were to actually have a model of iPhone that works on a non-AT&T network, it would be a bigger hit than it is now. In the meanwhile I look forward to more Android phones and the latest Palm offering.

What I am looking for in a new camera kit

See what you can shoot with the Nikon D60? I took this photo at an aircraft museum. You can see a bigger version of the plane here on Flickr.


I have had the Nikon D60 for more than a year now and it’s been great fun.  Last I looked, the shutter count was around 17,000 pictures taken with maybe 13,000 kept on my WD MyBook and about 1,000 saved on my Flickr account.

The D60 is a good camera and has all the features I use. And it really is true that money spent on lenses make for better pictures versus getting a better camera body. Still, I find myself wanting more features and I will be upgrading the D60 to something more advanced.

I want more auto-focus points. The D60 has three horizontal auto-focus points. Most of the time I take pictures that focus on the center but more and more I find myself taking pictures of a scene and the subjects don’t quite line up in the view finder. With my brother’s D80, that’s not really a problem since the D80 has 11 focus points.

On my D60, I focus on the center, hold down the AF lock button, reposition the scene in the view finder. I’m lazy and want something that will make it easier for me especially when I am trying to take a lot of quick candid shots.

I want better high ISO noise handling. I like to take pictures without movement blur and sometimes that means I need to step up the equivalent ISO settings, sometimes as high as 1600.

I took some photos of a friend using the 30mm f/1.4 Sigma lens. We were at a restaurant table and I did not use the flash. When I checked the image in the camera display, she looked great. The screen is pretty small and at the resolution it was a good picture.

I should have zoomed into the preview display. I neglected to turn off auto ISO so the pictures came out bright and noisy at 1600 ISO. There just was not a lot of detail in my shots and everything looked grainy.  I know that having auto ISO on was a mistake for that lens, but I’d like something that can handle >800 ISO equivalent well. Especially when I am in a museum or restaurant  and don’t/can’t use a flash.

I want a built in auto focus drive. The D60 (and the D40) lack a built AF motor so any lens I buy must have a motor in the lens to auto focus. These days that’s not too difficult to find, but if my camera could drive the lens for focusing, I get to open up a whole range of “legacy” lenses.

I don’t want full frame. Or more accurately I can’t rationalize the extra cost. With the D700 and above, you can have a full frame sensor but for now, that would be wasted on me. If I could allocate the time and plan my shots in advance, then yes, full frame would be great. But mostly I just chase the family and take pictures of my surroundings.

With full frame, wide angle really means W-I-D-E. There are many decent wide angle lenses for DX format so that’s not a big selling point for me.

Also decent non-DX lenses are very expensive: the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 is a sharp great lens that you can rent. Brand new it’s $1,700+and no way I’ll invest that kind of cash on a hobby.

What kind of camera kit would I like? A Nikon D300 with a Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX zoom lens would be ideal. The D300 has 51 AF points (and uses them), handles high ISO very well, and is weather sealed. I’ve borrowed a 18-200mm VR lens before and it’s AF is fast and it covers a lot of scenarios.

The D300 is a little dated, so I may do the waiting game till its replacement shows up. Nikon’s typical time line is to replace the current model every 2 years or so. For example the D100 came out in Febuary 2002, the D200 was release in November 2005, and the D300 came out August 2007.

The D5000 looks like a D60 killer and it covers most of my points above. The D90 would also fit the bill, but I want something more advanced than the D90 if only to ensure that I don’t look to replace it in a year or so.

Here’s hoping the D300 replacement will be before Christmas 2009.

Acer Aspire One UNR 9.04 settings

Sometimes I post things to be able to recall 6 months later what I did. This is one of those “I’d better write this down” articles.

After a couple of iterations, my Acer Aspire One Netbook runs well on Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04. Here’s what I did.

I created one root 8 GB filesystem formatted in ext2 with no swap space. I don’t know why but using ext3 (a journaling filesystem) and/or swap meant poor performance. It’s probably due to the SSD not handling the read/writes well.

Following the advice from the Ubuntu AspireOne documentation page, I installed linux-backports-jaunty-modules and ran all the updates.  Among other things this gets the wireless LED working. UNR 9.04 is still young yet so it’s not a lot of updates.

In my /boot/grub/menu.lst file I added “enable_mtrr_cleanup pciehp.pciehp_force=1” to my defoption line and kernel line. The mtrr_cleanup is to allow the X server to take advantage of a performance boost and with the pciehp I can use both SD card readers without any problem.

After using lspci to get the correct values, I added this line to my /etc/rc.local

echo "base=0x40000000 size=0x10000000 type=write-combining" > /proc/mtrr

The mtrr part is for improving video performance, the pciehp portion is to get both SD card readers working.

With these settings, the netbook is working well with only a few caveats.  Youtube is still jumpy and slow. But I got this netbook to play with Ubuntu, ssh to my servers, and view web pages so I’m satisfied.