Thursday, December 30, 2010

When New is Not always Better - Windows Liver Writer 2011

Software Review


Don’t you just hate it when you upgrade a piece of software only to find that it doesn’t work as it did before. It’s just so dam infuriating. I  really don’t understand what goes through developers heads when they do this. They just don’t seem to realise just how pissed off it makes the users feel. Perhaps they just don’t care.

My rant this time is about Microsoft (yes, that company again!), and Windows Live Writer 2011. And before you get all picky with me for berating Microsoft, yes I do realise that this is free software, but that still doesn’t give them a reason to go and spoil it.

I’ve used Live Writer to write just about every blog I’ve written and until the 2011 version I’ve be pretty satisfied with it’s functionality and ability to do the job. It was just about the best blogging tool out there … until the 2011 version that is. Unfortunately I foolishly agreed to one of those persistent and most irritating messages from Microsoft instructing me to install an ‘important update’ and before I realised what I’d done, my Live Writer had been ‘updated’ (read destroyed).

I didn’t realise the consequences of what I done until I next opened Live Writer only to be greeted with that Microsoft abomination, the dreaded Ribbon. Gone were my easy-to-use tool bars, icons and menu and suddenly I can’t use the program like I did before. Now I have to hunt to find where everything has gone. Thanks a lot Microsoft. Is there any option to restore the old interface (that err, worked rather well), nope, not a chance. But wait, how do I open an old blog to edit? You can’t, not unless it’s one of the last 9. Excuse me Mr. Microsoft, which one of your idiots thought of that idea? And how do I specify the size of a picture when opened up in a new window … this was easy in 2010, but I haven’t find out how just yet.

OK, OK, I hear you say, give it a chance. Well I have, I’ve tried for a while, I really have, but I still can’t do things I used to do so easily in the last version. It has genuinely hampered my productivity and I’m at the ‘grumpy old man’ stage in life where I’m just not prepared to accept change for change sake.

Now, does anyone know how to get the old version back, ‘cos I for the life of me can’t see how?  If that’s not possible, can someone please recommend a some good blog writer software?

Recommendations, advice and assistance gratefully received.

(written begrudgingly in Liver Writer 2011)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Never Trust the Devil

The Devils' Golf Corse, Death Valley

Devils Golf Course (Jul 2009) 0005

This is a place I won't forget too easily as it was 'nearly' the site of one of my photographic disasters. I'd been up since before 4:00 am that day and had driven down from our hotel at Furnace Creek for a dawn shoot at Badwater. Unfortunately the dawn sky colour failed to really materialise and the desired reflections in the sparse salt pools were a bit meek to say the least. Never-the-less I'd continued to shoot until the first of the early morning tourists turned up; then I hit the road. On the way back I saw the sign for the Devils Golf Course and seeing no one was around headed down to take a few pictures. The sun was just breaking over the eastern ridge and it was beginning to get quite bright. The contrast was high, but the side light made the salt mounds look great. I was trying different combinations and strengths of ND grads to hold back the sky and whilst doing so I plonked my wallet containing all my expensive grads down in-between some of the salt mounds. Soon after a few tourists started to appear in dribs and drabs so I packed up my gear and left, driving the 17 miles back to the hotel.

I was just about back to the room when a sudden ominous thought arose; I just couldn't remember packing my grads. A hasty inspection of my backpack revealed my fears to be true, I'd gone and left ALL my grads out in the desert in the middle of Death Valley! What the hell was I going to do! I was just 10 days into a 5 week trip touring the South West USA and would have absolutely no chance of replacing the grads anywhere on the way. Three and a half weeks of once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities were just be about to go down the pan … the salt pan!

I jumped back into the 4x4 and immediately sped off down the road, all 17 miles back to the Devil's Golf Course. When I got to there the parking lot already contained several vehicles and a mini-bus and the place was littered with tourist posing for pictures and all armed with point-and-shoots. It was now over an hour since I’d been there, so it was pretty unlikely my grad wallet had not discovered by now. Things were looking grim.

I hastened over to where I thought my last shot was taken; several people were nearby. They must have thought me rather peculiar wandering around, eyes transfixed on the ground. l  around, but there in amongst a couple of Asian tourists, almost by their feet, was my grad wallet, exactly where I left it .. phew! I grabbed it and left.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Adobe Release Lightroom 3.3



Today Adobe have finally released version 3.3 of Lightroom; this has been released in conjunction with version 6.3 of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) for Photoshop. The update has been available for some while as a beta version for filed testing, but is now in its commercial version for general consumption. This release contains the usual additional support for a bevy of new cameras and some bug fixes. Perhaps the most interesting addition for existing Lightroom user are the addition of many new lens profiles. This includes 15 additional Canon lenses, 26 Nikon lenses, 14 Pentax lenses  as well as a few Sigma, Tamron, Ricoh and Samsung lenses.

Lens profiles were one of the great new features added in Lightroom 3.0 and it’s a feature that I find particularly useful. If you shoot a lot of seascapes and landscapes with wide-angle lenses then you’ll know unless your camera is perfectly vertical on your tripod and the horizon is smack bang in the middle of your frame, it’s going to appeared curved. I used to have to flip out to Photoshop and use PTlens to correct my shots but now this can be all handled within LR. It’s great for correcting verticals when shooting architecture too and can also be used as a creative tool.

You can download your copy of Photoshop Lightroom 3.3 Release Candidate from Adobe Labs here, find out full specifications of the Lightroom 3.3 release and a list of all the new lens profiles here.

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