Saturday, June 16, 2007

Adjusting depth of field with F-Stops

Ok, I'll admit it. I'm not a professional photographer, but I'm going to blog like one one the internet. Or at least make an honest attempt. F-Stop, sometimes called relative aperture, adjusts your depth of field in a photograph. Your depth of field is what is in focus in your photograph. Let me explain a little more. You're at a family gathering and they decide they want a portrait taken. You take a the photo of them against a wall. Both the wall is in focus and the family. There really isn't alot of distance separating the family from the wall, the depth of the picture is relatively shallow. Now they want some pictures taken outside. You set up a shot of them in a field, behind them off in the distance is a line of trees. It's about 1200 yards out or so. You take a picture and this time the family still comes out sharp, but the background is all fuzzy. Your depth of field between hasn't been changed on the camera, and it's still relatively short.

Part of what controls your depth of field is your f-stop. It's an adjustment usually found on most new digital cameras. The camera that I am using, is a Canon Rebel XT. This camera is a digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex), it has interchangeable lens. The lens I am using has the one that comes with the kit for this camera. It is a 18-55mm lens, and has an f-stop of 3.5 to 5.6. F stop numbers tell you the ratio of the amount the aperture is open in comparison with the length of the lens. It's semi-confusing to understand but bare with me. The larger the F-number, the smaller the opening in the aperture of your lens. Likewise, the smaller the number, the greater the opening.

Let me break out the visuals on this. I set my f-stop to 3.5 and took this picture.

You're going to want to click on the image ot enlarge it, or you will not see what I am talking about. See how the background is relatively fuzzy?
I took this picture at my max f-stop (5.6) and adjusted my shutter speed slightly, or the photo wold have come out too bright, more on that later.

Again click on it, see how the background is a little sharper? It's really hard to see at this small of a photo, and the range of my lens. I zoomed in on the image and isolated a chunk of the fuzzy photo, or the 3.5 f-stop, in the sharper 5.6 f-stop photo.

Again, click on the image so that you can get a better idea. You see the difference? If you have a lens with a greater f-stop range, you can make the change even more dramatic. It makes for a more interesting photo in some cases. There is more than one way to adjust depth of field. Theres more than one way get a lot of effects, but at least this gives you a better idea of what's what.

Le Mans Radio Coverage

If you're stuck on a computer away from the TV today, like me. Or you don't have a channel broadcasting the race you may want to check out Radio Le Mans. They are streaming a live broadcast through out the day. Beware though, the connection is a bit weak, so if you're on dial up or a poor connection you may be still out of luck. You can also check out Flying Lizard Motorsports broadcast as well.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I'm still here...

I'd was counting on posting a few more stories and a tutorial later today, but it seems my internet connection has died on me. Time Warner is absolutely terrible in my area. So I switched to Windstream, which won't be active till the 22nd. Right now I am at a Coffee (Caribou Coffee) house using the free wifi to take care of a few things. Hopefully Time Warner will get their act together and I will be able to post a few more stories today.


Dell demands blog remove story

Dell, apparently didn't like the fact that a former Dell rep spilled the beans on a the blog "The Consumerist." Dell sent them an email demanding that they take it down. The article in question doesn't really reveal anything earth shattering, which is kind of puzzling as to why they want it taken down.

The story gets more interesting when you read the letters sent to their editor, Ben Popken. Apparently Dell got upset that Ben is waiting for the legal department to contact Dell, and not taking down the site in the mean time. Dell representitive Tracy J. Holland, was upset she had to wait a whopping 9 hours, and the story was still up. Ben obviously points out that, he like many humans, sleeps.

Even at that, the blog isn't really under any obligation to take down the story. It will be interesting to see what happens.

[Read] Consumerist response to Dell Takedown Demand
[Read] Consumerist - 22 Confessions Of A Former Dell Sales Manager

Ducati Sport 1000 Mono SE

I have to admit, I'm a sucker for all things Italian. Especially Italian things with motors (or pasta). This Ducati is no exception. Although I've never ridden, it's been tempting. I'm no dummy either, a 1000cc bike is not for beginners. That and it's got no fairings or cladding whatsoever so if you drop it, you're at least going to the home with some decent road rash.

That being said, the lack of any coverings over the frame and the exposed motor are absolutely beautiful. Only in that, "face only a mother could love" kind of way. For just under $12 grand the bike is one of the cheaper special edition Ducati's (or production models for that matter) that I have seen.

[Read] Luxist via RoadRacing World

Thursday, June 14, 2007

eBay Vs. Google

Apparently, the two internet giants just aren't playing nice. Google's Checkout, a service aimed at PayPal, to replace online transactions, will not be adopted by eBay. Much to the disappointment of Google. If eBay were to use Google Checkout it would be a huge advantage to Google of course, as gaining a partner the size of eBay could entice, if not force eBay users to use PayPal. It could also mean that PayPal would loose out significantly. Google already has a major share of the search and online ad sales market, their Checkout service has seemingly not come to fruition.

In response to eBay not signing up with Checkout, employees at the Boston office decided to throw a party to thumb their noses at eBay. eBay then pulled all of their text ads through Google AdSense, it is unclear if the two events are related, but it is rumored that it is the case. Well, Google canceled the party, but the two aren't making up just yet.

[Read] The Register

Web Comics: Ctrl+Alt+Delete

I started reading Ctrl+Alt+Delete a few months ago, and I check back regularly for updates. The artist, Tim Buckley, updates Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. His comics are pretty funny. If you play alot of video games, or just know people who do chances are you will relate to it and get the jokes. It's definatly in my list of comics right by Dilbert, FoxTrot and a few others. He also blogs about some of the latest video games too. It could save you from wasting your time on something that, is, uh lame.

Understand Web Standards - CSS & Tables

While not a web standard in the sense of a W3C standard, CSS is becoming, if not already, a layout standard. For good reasons too. The "old" method of tables, still in use of course, should be avoided if at all possible, and for lots of good reasons. Tables do a lot of things that, more than 5 years ago made life easier, but they didn't make them correct.

Tables take longer to load than CSS, in many ways. For one, the code in and of it self takes longer. Secondly if you are using a CSS style sheet for more than one page, the sheet doesn't need to be loaded again to go in between pages. There is no need to have miles of code in your pages too, it is much easier to read CSS than it is to sort through tables.

Another great benefit of having one style sheet for a bunch of pages is that changing your layout on every page can be done simultaneously. If I change the parameters of one div tag is goes through the entire site. If you used tables, you would have to change each and every page, what a pain.

Going back to our W3C post, it's easier to write valid CSS once you get the hang of it. Part of the reason tables are bad is that they don't play well for web accessibility. This means that for the blind, who use web page readers, elements on the page don't come out verbally, as they may appear visually to us. This is especially important to educational and government institutions, but that certainly doesn't mean that it shouldn't be important to you too. Especially if your business web page isn't web accessible, you don't shut your doors to blind people, do you? Of course not.

There is a downside to CSS though. It doesn't render the same in Internet Explore as it does in Firefox. Which can create quite a headache for web designers sometimes. There are "hacks" for these issues, most notably perhaps is the box model hack, but hacks are hacks for a reason. It's a cheap way of coding and it also isn't web accessible.

If you're looking to learn about CSS, or more information I suggest you check out these pages:

CSS Zengarden
W3C Schools CSS Tutorials

Apple issues Security fix for Safari

Apple issued an update to their Safari for Windows beat today.
Hopefully they have patched some of the issues with stability and
performance that I was havingwith 3.0. I will update this article later with my results.

[Read] The Washington Post

Computer fails on International Space Station

A computer has failed on the International Space Station. The computers control the oxygen and water supplies, as well as the rotation of the station. The computers that failed were Russian. Russia and the United States work together on the space station with help from Canadian, European and Japanese space agencies.

Astronauts have already made a space walk earlier to fix a thermal blanket. Engineers hope to have the computer issue resolved within a day. If not the mission could be shortened and all the astronauts may have to come home.

The agencies are optimistic however, because they have many resources at their disposal. For most of us, the first action to solving a computer issue that doesn't involve our immediate knowledge is to do reseach. Unfortunatly for NASA, I don't think the answer is on Google.

[Read] via Houston Chronicle

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Now that's a truck...

I was watching the History Channel, Modern Marvels to be exact. This show was about the history of Semi-trucks. The first thing that caught my eye, was the guy spending $500 in gas to fill up. Ouch. But what was really awesome was this company, ARI Legacy sleepers and the cabins they make for trucks.

It used to be, you laid across the seat when you wanted to take a nap. Now they have 144" sleepers with wide screen TV's, microwaves, sinks, toilets, beds, and even showers! I know a long haul trucker or two and they never told me about these. That's because they don't come cheap. They come in around $70,000 big ones.

Another part that was rather interesting was this innovation called IdleAire. Instead of truckers having to let their trucks idle all night to keep the heat and AC going, truckers affix this to their window and it pumps heat and AC in, while the truck is off. Truckers can even order movies and TV shows, and watch them through a screen on the lid of the unit. Makes a cross country haul seem like a good idea.

The more things change...

The more they stay the same.

Google and Intel, among others, are currently developing "green" products. "Going green" has become the new socially responsible catch phrase of corporations. You can't really complain, because energy conservation, no matter how small is a good thing.

Intel and Google recently joined the Climate Savers Computer Initiative. The CSCI says that

Believe it or not, the average desktop PC wastes nearly half the power delivered to it. Half! This wasted electricity unnecessarily increases the cost of powering a computer, and it also increases the emission of greenhouse gases.

While Intel says that it's going to increase the cost of computers, the increase will be offset by in a year by energy savings. So things aren't saving you any money, but at least it's better for the environment.

[Read] Independent News

Cheat Sheets

One of my favorite blogs, Lifehacker, has a post about a cheat sheet from the website It includes everything from Photoshop, to Office, to even CSS, so chances are there is something in it for you.

Read [Lifehacker]
Read []

Mahalo - Human Powered Search?

I've lost track of the number of times that I have Google'd something and not found what I've wanted. Although, I generally have great luck searching for something from the site that has now become a verb, it's not without it's flaws. Sometimes the search results just aren't relevant. The current battle I have had with Google, over my site, is that it keeps thinking about the number 10 ink cartridge. Well, I don't use those and I'm sure if you're looking for a web designer, you really aren't either.

That's where Mahalo comes in. Mahalo, the Hawaiian word for "Thank You" is a search engine that uses search findings based on what a person tags as relevant to your search. Which in theory should come up with more relevant search results. The catch? Humans have to do the leg work, which means every topic may not have a Mahalo'd result. Which means that for most people, Mahalo falls into the, Yahoo, and Dogpile realm of, "If Google fails." So it's going to be awhile, if at all, Mahalo becomes a verb. It has to past the test of time, which for some start ups, turns into purgatory before it goes anywhere.

Understanding Web Standards - W3C

The beauty of the web is that anyone (with a little knowledge and/or money) can have a web page. The first step in claiming your spot on the web is to claim a domain name. Then you code the page. Just like any other job, there is a wrong way and a right way.

For many occupations, such as lawyers, doctors, and teachers there are boards, such as the state bar association, medical boards, and education boards, that certify that a person or entity is entitled to practice.

There is a similar board for web pages, the W3C, or World Wide Web Consortium. Unlike the previously mentioned boards, they don't have any real power except to say that the code on your site doesn't meet standards. Instead, it relies on social pressure. It is similar to how the MPAA works. Technically, no movie needs to receive a rating, and it could be put into theaters with no guidelines whatsoever. What stops this from happening is that movie studios, the people who invest money in a movie, won't publish a movie if it doesn't receive a rating. Which in turn means, chances are conglomerate theaters, such as Hollywood Theaters won't play it, and you probably won't see it.

This peer pressure of sorts doesn't happen on the web to the extent it does in the movie industry. It comes into play in different ways, however. One frequent question that comes up around the design of websites is, "How do I increase my rank in Google?" While there are a variety of ways, one of them is having good coding practices. Also, most employers ask that their web designers are knowledgeable about them, if not comply with them as much as possible.

It can be difficult to find a page that validates with no errors to W3C standards. For instance, even Google, the simple logo and white page search engine, shows 51 errors. By comparison 10 ink studios shows only 9. Many of the web pages we design have less than that. Our CSS (cascading style sheets) validate 100% for all of our clients.

It's something that most people aren't aware of, but starting with a strong foundation is a great start to having a great web page. If you would like to test your web page for W3C compliance you can check out their validation page.

Apple Safari beta for Windows users

Much to the ire of this web designer there is yet another web browser out there for Windows users. Safari has been around awhile for Apple's OS X, but it never garnered the use that IE, Camino, and Firefox have on the Mac.

I downloaded the beta hoping to test out our current pages and fix any issues that might be wrong. However, using the browser has proven impossible. The program starts fine, but any text does not display.

I could not click any links or type a URL in the address bar. It loads Apple's website, sans text, and that is as far as I got. It seems I am not alone, as commenter's over at Engadget are reporting the same issues and even the software crashing.

So as far as fixing pages that may render differently, I can't do much. You may not want to, as it's full of security flaws. Which, is not altogether surprising considering it is a beta. Actaully, it's so unuasable for most that it should be considered an alpha. We recommend that you stick to Firefox.

Welcome to the blog

10 ink studios is starting a blog to cover new and interesting technology as well web design and new standard and practices. Check back frequently!