Saturday, January 27, 2007


[reading: Ty Fischer, "Color Blind"]

For one of the projects I've been playing with recently, I've been thinking it would be good to get a printed version done. The biggest print-on-demand site seems to be Lulu, so a couple of weeks ago I ordered one of their books at random to see what the printing quality was like. My project is going to involve a bunch of black and white photographs, so I picked the cheapest B&W photo book I could find in their listings.

The book arrived this morning, and the quality is very disappointing. The photographs look a bit like newspaper pictures did 20 years ago, with not-dissimilar paper quality. It's definitely down to the halftoning of the printing too—the original photographs online look fine. It seems other folk have similar concerns; rumour has it that their colour printing gives better results, but it's three times the price and seems unnecessary given that everything I'll want to print is monochrome.

So does anyone know of a print-on-demand place that gives decent results with monochrome images?

[A:41925 B:3278 C:346 D:9187 E:71686 Total:126422]

Friday, January 26, 2007


[reading: Douglas van Duyne et al, "The Design of Sites (2nd edn)"; recently: Steve Krug, "Don't Make Me Think"]

It's been a while since I last tried to book tickets for live music, and I'd forgotten how extraordinarily annoying the added extras are. I was thinking about going to a Tom McCrae gig, and the tickets are listed as £15.

Of course, it's naïve to think you can actually buy a ticket for that price—there's the £1.50 "booking fee" to pay too. (What exactly does that pay for? The tricky business of keeping track of what tickets are left? Given that it's a standing-only venue, that involves … counting up to 500.)

OK, so the £15 tickets are really £16.50 tickets. I'm annoyed but I can just about cope with that, until I get to the checkout and discover the additional £2 "transaction fee". (Presumably this is to pay for the back-end credit card processing, but I've looked into how much this sort of thing costs, and 5.7% (assuming people normally buy 2 tickets) is ridiculously high.)

So listing the tickets as £15 is a flat lie; they're actually £17.50 tickets.

(In the past, I've tried physically turning up at the venue to buy the tickets with cash in an attempt to avoid the fees, but it didn't make any difference—they still added on all the extras. They don't call themselves "Mean Fiddler" for nothing.)

[A:41925 B:3278 C:346 D:9187 E:71632 Total:126368]

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Continuing the theme

[reading: David MacDonald, "The Encyclopedia of Mammals"]

I got rid of an old camera today (by donating it to the nice folk where I did a studio lighting course), which reflects a grudging acceptance of the new era—my primary camera gear is now entirely digital. In some ways I'll miss the physical experience of the darkroom, but on the other hand the efficiency gains are just too enormous to ignore—a ten-second tweak in the Photoshop Levels dialog equates to twenty minutes of producing test strip prints.

I still have a medium format camera that I use occasionally, but even with that I'm unlikely to do any darkroom work—a scan of a 6x6 negative gives a monster-megapixel image I can play with in Photoshop.

[A:41925 B:3278 C:346 D:9187 E:69754 Total:124490]

Monday, January 22, 2007


[reading: Peter Hopkirk, "The Great Game"]

I heard today that someone I know might be getting a new job, working as a part-time photographer for a web retailer. For some reason I'm slightly envious….

[A:41925 B:3278 C:346 D:9187 E:69180 Total:123916]

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Error in Server Configuration

[reading: Tanya Huff, "Blood Bank"; recently: China Miéville, "Looking for Jake and Other Stories", Neal Asher, "The Parasite"]

Worrying—Thunderbird is currently reporting "Sending of password did not succeed. Mail server responded: error in server configuration". Not sure what this means about my current email connectivity.

[Edit: seems to be back to normal now.]

[A:41925 B:3278 C:346 D:9187 E:67154 Total:121890]

Saturday, January 13, 2007


[reading: Phil Wilson, "The Definitive Guide to Windows Installer"]

Hmm. Not having the most competent of days—I managed to buy a computer game that I already owned and also to leave behind something I'd bought at the supermarket, both within the space of a couple of hours.

[A:41892 B:3278 C:346 D:9187 E:64585 Total:119288]

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bright Idea

What a surprise. It turns out that IKEA use different lightbulb fittings than everywhere else in the UK.

It does induce a potential business idea though: surely it would be possible to make adaptors that fit into IKEA lamps and take UK-standard bayonet fitting light bulbs? You could set up a van in the IKEA carpark selling them to customers leaving the shop; a sales pitch along the lines of "Buy one of these or else you'll have to come back here again" ought to work nicely.

(It's not an entirely dissimilar business plan to the estate-car taxi services that operate outside IKEA, mopping up the customers who discover the limitations of the IKEA "delivery" service.)

Saturday, January 06, 2007


[reading: Kurt Cagle, "SVG Programming: The Graphical Web"]

I've started investigating SVG, and it's beginning to look like I chose the wrong book to read. In the source code download, the second file from the book is corrupted; the author's website has gone so there's no chance of finding fixed versions, and the Apress site for the book doesn't have any errata listed (despite the fact that the book has been out for five years and I've spotted 3 typos in the first 40 pages).

Still, at least it was cheap.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

End of Another Era

[reading: Justina Robson, "Natural History"; recently Anne Deans, "Your Pregnancy Bible"]

For one reason or another, I've sold my motorcycle.

Ducati_Monster_M600_small Ducati_Monster_M600_3_small

It's a bit of a wrench: I've had a bike since December 1992, but now I'm reduced to the vagaries of London Transport. Which may not be the best of timings (well, mebbe not).


[A:41892 B:3278 C:346 D:9187 E:64522 Total:119225]