LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You Know You're DOOMED When...
you're pulling an all-nighter and your co-worker says, "I drank your last Diet Coke."
You've stumbled onto another issue of The Crapolla, a journal written for software professionals. No not the managers; I mean the people who do the work.
This Crapolla is sponsored by...
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In This Issue...
Technology that goes... floop!
I just got back from central Florida. Mrs. Fek'Lar had to go on business, so I decided to tag along as her personal valet and driver. This was a great chance to test out all my semi-new digital photo gear.
This included my Canon Digital Rebel I have mentioned previously, my 1 gig memory card, and my MediaGear Flash HD to Go portable hard drive with built in card reader. I'm planning a one month long trip to Asia in May, and really wanted to give everything a shake-down cruise. I'm glad I did because I had a catestrophic failure on day 1 and didn't realize it until day 2.
I jumped into my rental car and headed from St. Petersburg to Sanibel Island. Sanibel is just off the coast from Fort Myers. I wanted to take the scenic route so instead of taking a couple hours, my drive took about five. Along the way we went through Sarasota, and Punta Gorda where the hurricane made land fall.
The beaches in Florida are made of highly pulverized sea shells. This is very different than California where the beach is made of eroded granite mountains. So for all you sprout eaters out there consider this, the beach in Florida is organic, in California it is not.
I pondered that the beach on Sanibel Island was much like the white cliffs at Dover in the UK. The chalk cliffs are made of countless remains of tiny sea creatures. The amount of carbon stored in the cliffs would be enough to ruin the atmosphere for humans if it was released. If you never thought of why we shouldn't be using the oceans as our toilet, there's a good one.
Lunch was at Sonny's BarBQ. We had ribs and sampled all four of their sauces. I was thinking of having a blind taste test, but figured that was going to freak the locals. Lots of truckers in Sonny's. When it was said and eaten, we bought a jar of the best sauce to bring home.
Photographers will tell you that the last hour of sun light is called "magic hour" it's the best light of the day. We arrived just in time on a beach littered with billions of sea shells that had yet to be pulverized. There were also loads of birds, and some people were talking about a dolphin they had seen just off shore. I was the complete Japanese tourist with my camera. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of the island to get the sun sinking into the Gulf of Mexico.
We left after sunset and took the fast road back to our hotel where I downloaded my pictures to the portal hard drive. Being battery driven the hard drive shuts down after 15 seconds of inactivity. It's also not particularly fast. I started the download, went off to the bathroom and came back to a turned off device. I then re-formatted the card in my camera to get ready for the next day.
On day 2 we got up drove across the state to Disney World and checked into the resort. At the Magic Kingdom I continued my Japanese behavior. I love shooting in the dark without a flash. I've mentioned before how digital doesn't have the same S curve problems that color film has in high and low light conditions. Most of day 2's pictures were taken at night.
What did this mean? What happened to yesterday's photos? Without a computer, I couldn't plug into the hard drive and see what had transferred. I tried downloading again and got the same error. Hmmm, maybe the problem is that I'm on battery. I plugged in the AC adapter. Same problem.
This was quite a disaster. The Sanibel shots promised to be grade A stuff. I was convinced that they were lost. All I could do was use my camera for the rest of the trip and figure out what was wrong when I got back to The Valley.
Once home, I copied the contents of the CF card on my computer and then ran a back up. No sense in losing any more images. Then I started looking through the Flash HD to Go. Not one of the Sanibel shots survived.
As I mentioned, the Florida trip was a shake-down cruise for my gear before a trip to Asia I will take in May. I had to find out why the malfunction had occurred. I only had two items to test, the CF card and the hard drive.
WTHAIS has several digital photographers in its ranks. I had one of them format my CF card in his camera and loan me his card. I shot 250 images on each card and attempted to download each onto the hard drive. My card failed, his passed. I repeated the tests with new images twice. The results were consistent.
I wrote to MediaGear tech support to see if there was a spec that CF card needed to to meet. A reasonable 12 hours later I received a reply that the hard drive would work with CF 1 and CD 2 cards. They suggested I re-format the card. Duh! I wrote back and said I had done that and wanted to know about minimum transfer speeds. I have never received an answer. This usually means the support organization, and probably the company don't know the answer.
The reason I was interested in transfer speeds was that the guy whose CF card had passed the test was into sports photography. He had bought a fast-drain card which was rated for 11 megs/second. My card had only been rated at 3.5 megs/second. With no real answer from MediaGear, I decided the replacement card had to at least meet the transfer speed of the card that passed.
Another guy at WTHAIS who is king of the Internet deal suggested a company who had very low prices and had a SanDisk Extreme III CF 2 card 50 percent faster than the one which had passed the test. This arrived two days later, and I'm happy to say it too passes the test.
It wasn't a successful shake-down. But I'm glad the malfunction only cost me a half-day of shooting. Had I run into this problem in Asia I would have been sunk. Where I'm going, there will be no replacement parts.
Lock Up Your Doilies!
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"If you have time later, I'll tell you about knowledge-centered support."
"As opposed to support without knowledge?"
"As opposed to the de-facto standard of making it up as we go along."
"The software only breaks if you install it."
"The QA process starts when software is released."
"I think he had good intentions, licking the player's knee."
"Is today over yet?"
I must go flog my technology some more.
(The Last Honest Geek)
Remember: The Crapolla contains my personal opinions. That's right they're mine, so get your own! And you kids get off my lawn!
Although written with the software professional in mind, my mind tends to wander all over the place, and I sometimes write about politics, mass stoopidity, dumb things I saw, and whatever else comes to mind.
From time to time, I use salty language, thus The Crapolla is not intended for children, or certain people in the Bush Administration.
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