Out of Focus – How A DSLR Hunt Ended In A Digicam! Darn!

There was once a point of time when all I knew about cameras was the Yashica Electro 35 – my dad’s famed possession which he bought for some 2000 bucks way back in the 80s (or 70s, I’m not so sure). This was the time when he used to tell me how hard photography was – well, with that film camera, it sure was darn hard. It was a single-lens no-zoom kinda camera – but it sure got me hooked for a while with its self-timers πŸ˜‰

After that, I never gave much thought to cameras, photography et al but of late, I’ve been having – much like the generation I belong to – an enormous craze towards DSLR cameras. So, as is the usual case, the hunt begins.

Having handled pretty deftly (which, coming from me, should be read as awkwardly) some FujiFilm camera with good zoom and an EVF I began liking the EVF-kind very much. Yes, I still like these a lot as opposed to the LCD-only point-and-shoot cams.

Well, β€œthe hunt” began something like an year back – or.. oh fish! I don’t remember it. Must be late last year or early this year. I first took a look at those DSLR-like superzoom cameras and was like β€œWow! this is it! I am going to get one of these and zoom-in from different angles and look like a professional photographer and wowww!” None of it, eventually, was to happen.

So this was a time when I was a part-time work-from-home guy – with a rapidly deteriorating savings account (whose downward trend, even today, seems to be perfectly intact)! And so, I had a heavy budget of 10k-15k. For that budget, if you are on the camera scene, you’ll know, you get what DSLR-camera-owners like my buddy Sujan would call β€œa piece of sh*t.” Boy oh boy, I had lined up a few FujiFilm, Kodak and other cameras – with EVFs – and I also had some refurbished ones on Amazon bookmarked.

With money, my story has always been the same. If I save enough to decide to buy something I consider worthwhile, some or the other obligation comes up – and I end up having to put off things. It happened with my laptop. And it just happened with the camera too πŸ˜›

Well, all those things apart, here’s the kick. Someone who decided not to have the point-and-shoot ever just because he wanted the DSLR so badly turned up buying just the thing he would not want to have. And here I am with the Sony DSC S3000!

I like it, though, and that’s in the day. In the night, especially outdoors, I would rather not talk about it!

Yeah, this is a rant. A bloody rant with no other intention! πŸ˜› Well, let’s see. Some more work would probably mend my finances enough – and by six or seven months down the lane, we’d buy a good DSLR. We as in Rakesh and me πŸ˜› If you’re reading this Rakesh, I want you to make sure you too get ready for a May/June/July 2012 DSLR hunt! πŸ˜€

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The Tragicomedy of a “Martial” Status

Married or Single or Both? :P

Married or Single or Both? πŸ˜›

That must’ve been “Marital Status”, eh? πŸ˜›

I dont know why my brain works at a snail’s pace when I want it to work like those supercomputers up in the third floor of Google’s HQ.

But I know why my brain works almost like those supercomputers when I dont want it to work at all – empty mind, devil’s workshop or something of that sort, huh? May be.

So yeah, I was idle – idling away the time without even an idli to feed my stomach. Strange how stomach, mind, purse and everything seems to be empty at the same time.

That was when a strange analogy – yeah i think that’s the word “analogy” – hit me like a truck. (that’s just a figure of speech I wanted to use. The analogy in question never really hit me, no flash bulb suddenly glowing few inches away from my head)

Worried or Single?

Worried or Single?

Single or Married? What’s the difference other than the happiness quotient?

Let’s be naiive – very naiive – and say celibacy is one of the differences, okay?

Hey dont laugh that hard!! This is India, I am from Chennai – a comparatively conservative metropolis and yeah, I am very sarcastic at times.

But besides that, there must be something that defines – or differentiates – both, right?

I think hard, not because I am concentrating well on these things, but because there’s a martial exercise going on between a couple whose marital status would be Married had Facebook not got me confused with its huge list of relationship statuses.

Facebook Sure Knows About Relationships!

Oh yeah I get the answer.

But to understand, unfortunately, you should have been in Chennai, seen the two landmarks I am going to speak about. Well, dont worry, I will make it as clear as I can – which means you might end up understanding nothing.

Okay. Screens up on The Analogy:

Single is like the sub-way bridge near Loyola College.
Married is like the over-bridge in Kodambakkam.

Absurd though it may seem, I kind of felt it would be nice to do this analogy here – rather than in a seminar (few years in the future) where I’d be kicked out for this.

Single is living happily and then paying the price for that later. Well, yeah, that depends on how we look at it but it’s like the Loyola College sub-way, sweetheart.

You go down easily – no effort at all. Cyclists would clock 40km/hr and a crazy cyclist would overtake a share-auto. That’s the easy part. Those are the youthful days. Single and happy.

After you hit a stage where you cross the threshold of marri”age” and live the life of ‘conformed old bachelor’ (I am reminded of Prof. Pencier teaching us My Fair Lady – no he wasnt a bachelor, the character in the play was) – now, after you hit that stage, your journey becomes a bit tough. Solitude mostly, I guess. You have to climb uphill, mate.

Marriage is just the opposite – but I am just talking about the theoretical part of it guys. Anyone taking this stupid blogpost as advice and marrying that ‘right’ girl/guy would be doing so entirely at his/her own risk πŸ˜›

Marriage – the initial stages after the initial infatuated and intoxicated stages(!) – is a toughie. You gotta adjust with things you might dislike. You get to know a side of the spouse you never knew existed. You gotta compromise quickly if you want to save the marriage. Lots and lots of responsibilities. And oh my god – kids! Kids are fun as long as you’re not responsible for their behaviour for the rest of – say – ten or so years.

Yeah that last line goes out to every bloody girl I see who says ‘Oh I love kids so much!’ Oh come on, you’d hardly know what it is to raise a kid till you do that yourself in the next twenty years. Your entire existence has been twenty-odd something, so would you stop making it look as if kids are toys! πŸ˜›

So yeah, marriage is the Kodambakkam over-bridge. You climb up hard and sweaty – tough and tougher as you get up. And after that peak, it’s easy way down. If you did your job right, your marriage would probably be happy in the second stage of it. Kids would be in super-duper companies earning paychecks in lacs, you’d have been to foreign lands (where else? the same bloody story, States ku poitu vandhen, London ku poitu vandhen, Singpore ku poitu vandhen!) and all that.

After some thought, I think the analogy for marriage is kind of suspiciously ambiguous. Going down after going up.. does that ring an alarm? Oops!

An oft-quoted saying comes to my mind. I dont know if it’s George Bernard Shaw who said this, but here’s how it goes:

Marriage is like a golden cage. Those outside want to be in the cage, and those inside want to get out.

The Play Queue Lets You Get Things Done!

You probably already know this: music makes you work better, faster – and sometimes with greater efficiency. And this post is nothing new when it comes to that fact.

But I just thought I’ll blog about something that I only recently found – and this is a simple technique which has helped me improve the way I work – in those rare occasions when I choose work πŸ˜‰

All these music players have this play queue right? (Oh yeah, I heard iTunes doesnt have one. Really, Apple? Not sure of latest versions but the last time I saw, iTunes didnt have a queue :P)

So what I do is, queue up some 15 songs – which comes to around 1 hr and 30 minutes or so.

And I work till the last song in the queue.

As simple as it sounds, for the past few days, this has somewhat worked in my favor.

I am still experimenting it though. Like, I add songs that are slow and track how much work I get done. So far, the pace of the song has had little effect on the amount of work – but as I am typing this here, and a song with a fast tempo is going on, I see that my typing is faster too!! πŸ˜€

Like it? Use it. Hate it? Never mind πŸ˜› That probably works only for some. But thanks for reading this πŸ˜€

4 Things You Should Do Right After Getting Into GNOME 3

One of the best things about Gtk has been the recent upgrades – the GNOME 3 rocks. It brings a fantastic functionality – much inspired from various other areas of UI which we should rather not tell – but otherwise, it’s a wonderful time with Gnome 3.

In Ubuntu, when you login, click on the winch/lever (setting) icon, and select GNOME to get to the Gnome desktop. Otherwise, you’d be sent off to the new Unity dash – which I have begun to detest πŸ˜›

Here are top four things I did – and which I think you should too, in case you havent already:

1. Get the Gnome-Tweak-Tool

One of the first things we’d need is to change the theme. (that’s so true at least for me :P)

  • Hit Ctrl+Alt+T to open Terminal. (or just open the dash, type ‘terminal’ and hit enter)
  • Paste the following codes:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3
sudo apt-get update
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ricotz/testing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool gnome-shell-extensions-user-theme

We’ll get to the Gnome-Tweak-Tool later – but you can change themes, change fonts and stuff from the Gnome Tweak Tool (accessible from dash search. The app would appear as Advanced Settings)

2. Try Running the Run Window? Alt+F2 not working? Here’s The Fix for That:

As luck would have it, the Run command shortcut keybinding doesnt work. Alt+F2.

  • Go to the dash, type Keyboard. In the results that come up, there’d be a Keyboard icon (clever, huh?). Click that.

  • Go to the Shortcuts -> System -> now select the ‘Show the run command prompt’ and assign the shortcut.

This will come handy in the next thing we’re about to do.

3. Get That Hibernate Back!

I hibernate my system a lot. My HP is a polar bear when it comes to that πŸ˜‰ So, when I found there was only Suspend on the User menu, I was a bit shocked. And what’s bad is, you have do a lot of stuff in order to get the hibernate back.

Dont worry though, it’s all simple copy-paste so it’s easy:

Run this code in the terminal.

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extensions-alternative-status-menu

Open up the GNOME Tweak Tool and in the Shell Extensions tab, switch on Alternative Status Menu Extension.

Now, hit Alt+F2 (see, it came in handy right? :P) and type r and hit enter. You’re system will do something like a restart – but not exactly a restart. It’s the shell restarting. Check the user panel now – chances are, you’ll see the Power off and Hibernate options πŸ˜‰

4. Go Download Themes!!

Get themes for your new GNOME 3 interface! Head over to Deviantart or see what OMGUbuntu says about GNOME 3 themes. You can easily install them through these steps:

  • Hit Alt+F2. Type ‘gksu nautilus’ and hit return. Enter your admin password. Hit Ctrl+L. Type ‘/usr/share/gnome-shell’ and backup the ‘theme’ folder to someplace safe. (most important step)
  • Now extract the theme you downloaded, and rename the folder to ‘theme’. Paste this into the /usr/share/gnome-shell folder which is open.
  • Again, restart the shell (Alt+F -> type r -> hit enter)
  • If the theme doesnt work properly, you can always switch back to the old theme from the backup. Just replace the new theme folder with the old backup.

 

Thanks to DebianHelp, Billy, OMGUbuntu (who unfortunately seem to be a fan of Unity too :P) and people who read this post πŸ˜€

Tales of A Tortured Soul: GNOME 3 vs Unity

Okay, yesterday was not my day. Deciding to upgrade to Ubuntu 11.10 would go down in my personal history as one of the bad decisions I took. I am – perhaps like many others, down, battered and tired. And a little less than torutured πŸ˜›

The first thing I do after every upgrade/install is to change the default themes. The default looks are – how to put it? – definitely not good in my opinion. Perhaps that’s the result of being in the loop of UI/UX design, and basic tenets of designing. Ubuntu’s 11.10 did not let me do that. And it took me several hours actually to find out a way – and then finally when I logged in via GNOME 3, I realized I didnt have to go through all that! 😦 πŸ˜›

GNOME 3 vs Unity

Almost everyone who’s writing about Ubuntu has posted something about it somewhere. One of the most comprehensive and balanced posts by LifeHacker comes as an awesome intro to the two.

There are three kinds of people after the recent Ubuntu upgrade – 1) those who like it despite the new changes, 2) those who do not like it due to the new changes and 3) those who are stranded. Like me, for instance.

I am not exactly saying I dont like the Oneiric, but the way Ubuntu prevents me from customizing my desktop is something that I cant understand!

The debate on GNOME and Unity began long back. Back then, Gnome looked like so… disheveled! Unity was a welcome relief – a sea change from the old environment. But GNOME 3 changes the entire game again.

And frankly, if you asked me, GNOME 3 wins the fight.

I dont know what GNOME or KDE means. I dont even know what they stand for. All I know is, I am a linux user – and Ubuntu has almost stopped being linux for human beings as of Ubuntu 11.10 – human beings as in people who are a little bit curious and would tinker with the system.

I wont get into the details because there are a lot of people who have already talked about GNOME 3 and Unity in tandem.

Here are some screenshots. I liked the screenshot capture {shutter} sound too! πŸ˜›

See the Mac-like close buttons on the windows? That’s quite a rip-off but a good one at that πŸ˜‰

The GNOME search in the application/windows is faster and slicker than that in Unity. There have been bugs in Unity’s finder – which are absent in GNOME 3. And I loved the wave effect as you move your cursor to the top-left edge of the screen (yes, it’s a rip-off from many other interfaces, but it still rocks here!)

Well, this is just my view – I prefer the slick, simple and minimal Gnome 3 interface. I sort of gravitate towards the emptiness it brings. It’s like an empty canvas to sketch all your colors on.

Google Reader – Old Wine, New Bottle. A Bit Broken Bottle!

I like the new Google Reader. I mean, I really love the simplicity and the minimalism on the new look.

Yes, that’s just me and a few others. I do see quite a lot of people very unhappy with too many things on the new Google Reader. One of the first things people are quite pissed off with is the loss of sharing features.

Folks at Google are probably the only people who’re very excited about Google Plus. Unfortunately, a lot of people have already buried it. So, when Google says you can only share via Plus, it sure sends a lot of people out. Of course, Google ain’t bothered about that now:

If, however, you decide that the product is no longer for you, then please do take advantage of Reader’s subscription export feature. Regardless where you go, we want to make sure you can take your data with you.

The new Google Reader suits me perfectly fine. For all the time I have been using Google Reader, I have not felt the need to share items. In fact, I haven’t shared stuff even once – except when I created my own bundle, which got shared automatically on my wall. If I wanted to share, I would do it from the webpage of the post I am reading – not from Google Reader – because if I find a post interesting, I go to the website directly and read it on the website.

Google Reader only allows you to share (via Plus), email or add tags to a feed item these days. If, however, the feed item itself has links to comment etc., you are up for bonus because Reader can’t do much about that πŸ˜‰

Well, there are certain things that I did find somewhat excellent and there are things which are unsightly, in my humble opinion. The UI does look stripped down – which is nice, because it looks like Gmail’s UI and I like the minimalism.

The way the Next and Previous have become simple buttons clearly paves the way for a perfect minimalism.

The padding on the sidebar pane is however questionable, I guess. I mean, look at this:

The All Items has a larger padding in the bottom, while the Explore has almost none. Looks ugly.

My shock came when I first took a look at the Trends page.

To Google: I wouldnt mind at all even if you used up quite a lot of space on my screen. Pad them, make this look better, please 😦

The vertical scroll bar looked quite disturbing to my eyes πŸ˜› I knew this was something odd – because Google’s designers are not that silly to have it on the pane. With some doubt, I tried on Chrome:

Dang! I am using Firefox 7 and still the veritcal scroll shows up. I was wondering why Firefox gets this treatment all the time. 😦 I am not shifting to Chrome just for this no-scroll beauty though πŸ˜‰

Oh yes, there are quite a lot of β€œpluses” though. What’s impressive is, all the good points from the old Reader have been retained (oh yeah, except the share). I am still adding feeds to my Reader – sometimes via mobile, sometimes via the web. For me, I am not going to move away at all. Google Reader is just getting interesting.

Quite a lot of people seem to be somewhat unhappy with the new changes.

Mashable reported this:Β 10,000 users signed a petition! Phew!

Someone who worked on the Google Reader changes – and quit Google in July as a PM – talks about the changes. Visibly unimpressed.

Rob here says feeds have gone missing. Thankfully that didn’t happen for me! I recently did an Ubuntu upgrade (I wish I hadn’t but after seeing GNOME-shell, I am happy) and lost bookmarks in my Firefox. That seems quite okay, but losing feeds on Google Reader would be – let’s just say mildly disastrous πŸ˜›

β€œOccupy Google” happened right after the guys at Google announced the changes. Just 15 folks who wanted to send out a message. Only, it didnt reach the damned offices of Google.

Well, except for the share, I don’t see how Google Reader has actually changed in its functionality. But you know what? The whole concept of web – as well as that of life in general – is determined by the word share. Happiness shared is happiness multiplied. Somewhere, Google forgot that part, in its attempt to make Plus more popular.

Update: Here’s more steam-venting:

http://fury.com/2011/11/my-offer-to-google-reader/