DirectMySQLObjects: Delphi Database Shortcut

(But see “MySQL Considered Harmful” below....) DirectMySQLObjects, an open-source product available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/directsql, flies in the face of Delphi’s database tradition by not using the built-in database components, but instead communicating through two objects. To use it in Delphi (I think version 5 and up; I used it with Delphi 6), you just include the source provided in his zip file in your project, reference two of the source files, and use two classes he provides.

One of the extremely cheery features of DMO is that it doesn’t use a DLL or anything; I gather it talks to the database directly through tcp/ip or whatever goes-on down there, but however it works, it is refreshingly-easy to get going.... I found one catch: DirectMySQLObjects113.zip (the version I got) does not include DemoObjectsSQL, and this latter package — a single source file plus a DPR to make-up a DirectMySQLObjects demo project in Delphi — I found essential for understanding how to use the classes. I could find it by clicking “files” on the sourceforge.net page above, and searching for DemoObjectsWin.zip. Or I could find it by googling for it. Fortunately I already had it from a beta version of the product I had downloaded a few months before, or otherwise I probably wouldn’t’ve found it, and wouldn’t’ve realized how EZ DirectMySQLObjects is....

But using the demo, I found DirectMySQLObjects an ideal way to connect to the database; the demo is really better than documentation (which as far as I can tell isn’t available). You just compile the demo in Delphi, do what you want with his buttons and stuff, and then trace through the source to see what you have to do in your program. Of course I decided a while ago the built-in Delphi database components aren’t much good for what I typically want to do — which is getting various machines chatting with each other and the database. The Delphi components, in contrast, seem useful for facilitating communication between human beings and the database, i.e. customer service rep types with head phones. But even there, Borland itself somewhere admits their cute components really aren’t ideal for dealing with SQL, which is really all that’s left standing in the database universe. And for that matter, the DMO demo includes a few Delphi string grid components which produce a pretty-elaborate presentation of SQL results, if that’s what you like....

MySQL Considered Harmful

So sad. ... MySQL is the open-source database company which offers a highly-respected SQL server, once available in GPL (GNU Public License) and commercial-license versions. However, the company adopted the Predatory GPL License: if you think about MySQL, and somehow make money, you must pay them a license fee....

Apparently what MySQL thought was like this: say somewhere on the internet there is a GPL MySQL database. Say you, in a hateful effort to pay for groceries, connect to this database, without using a byte of MySQL code. ... Oops, Mr. Programmer: you’ve been caught without a license, you’ll have to pay. ... It’s like MySQL is trying to render in living color Bill Gates’ wildest fantasies about FOSS.

And it gets worse: not content to foul their own nest, they’d claim their restrictions derive directly from the standard GPL (GNU Public License) which, if true, would mean that you couldn’t write any commercial Linux software — at least not without the possibility that some lunatic could sue and win. ... IANAL, but I just glanced at the GPL and I simply don’t see it....

But MySQL did, and eventually people “honored” their delusions but not using the product. ... Of course I should point out MySQL doesn’t preface every MySQL documen (or any, as far as I know) with a disclaimer like

    Please Note: Any Commercial Product That Connects In Any Way to a MySQL Database Must Pay a License Fee

because if they did, I and I imagine many others would have never bothered with the product in the first place....

Freedom?

The caring freedom-loving inspiring open source FOSS community of course unanimously disowned MySQL on these issues, reporting their community-destroying behavior far and wide — NOT. ... No, the caring etc. muttered not a syllable, preserving sacred omerta in defense of the tribe. ... MySQL has gone its tattered way and disappeared into the dust, but the brilliant capitalist responsible for the place started another version, and according to the FOSSers his career is simply brilliant and a credit to the open source esprit or whatever it is....

kitchen utensil clockBetter Choices: 1. Postgres

The BSD-licensed Postgres has made marvelous progress in learning to live with our favorite monopolistic operating system, and seems to be otherwise well-regarded in general. “BSD” means you can use the code anyway you like, and they’re unlikely to devolve into a MySQL predatory approach. And their Windows distribution comes-with the impressive pgAdmin3.exe frontend, so you don’t even have to scour the web for something decent.

You understand, I like it when an open-source project has a supported Windows version, because (1.) it indicates they’re not lunatic fanatics and (2.) Windows is much easier for playing-with these things — not to mention that many real-world applications will require Windows clients, even if the server is probably better-off running on *nix.

The Owen Version: So as my thoughtful contribution, I offer jgopg.zip, which is a demonstration program of theirs I managed to compile with Borland’s Builder 5. ... I mean, it seems to work; I make no claims that it works correctly, but it’s not complaining. ... Rather unsportingly, Postgres doesn’t include an already-compiled testlibpq.exe in the Windows release, so I can’t compare outputs. ... My next goal: Delphi 5 — and here it is: jgopgd.zip. Like the Builder version, all I can say is it looks OK, and doesn’t crash — and at least has output matching the Builder interpretation! ... I include Delphi translations of the PostGres files libpq-fe.h and postgres_ext.h; these are almost totally untested, not to mention incomplete; and I just looked at it again, and since the only thing the demo actually uses is a couple of anonymous pointers and the odd command string, I can’t emphasize how much it isn’t tested. ... But then again, that’s mostly what’s in there, with a few weird complexities; I added a test of PQconndefaults (see “else” menu) which uses an actual structure — and it works, or looks like it does. ... So, there it is. ... Oh yes, I should make it clear these have nothing to do with Borland database components — after a lengthy but essentially trifling acquaintance, I have sworn off those things. ... No, these two demos talk directly to the libpq.dll supplied by PostGres, and don’t use any database components....

2. SQLite

The public domain SQLite consists entirely of a 213K DLL and directly manipulates files on the local computer; no internet, no server, no users, no passwords. The web site has numerous interfaces (search for “bindings”), including some for my poor decaying Delphi, and I even found a nice, if somewhat limited, public domain front-end at http:// sqlitebrowser.sourceforge.net/. ... I believe php 5 contemplates this one in preference to MySQL because of the latter’s licensing weirdnesses....

No Stinking SQLite Types

An amusing SQLite quirk is typelessness: you can specify things (“employee integer, action text” etc.) but then you can stick anything in there, strings, numbers, whatever, and no complaints. They say it’s a feature, and types in “real” SQL are a mis-feature — and I must say I agree (ring the bells!). SQL typically chats with a machine running a program, and if the program gets an error for a bad type, it’s not likely there will be any plausible recovery; it’s a bug, and it should’ve been fixed in the program logic. The SQL type-error model seems to relate to some wretch typing directly into the SQL server, which of course happens — i.e., with browsers or the average awful command-line tool — but is hardly the norm....

— Monday, March 19, 2007 2:30 pm


1. Recently (~3/08) MySQL-Front rejoined the living with a brand new up-to-date version and even honored my pitiful registration code I paid-for so long ago! ... This probably in honor of the Sun purchase of MySQL which, I would guess, would make predatory licensing tricks less likely.

... And then a million bytes flew by, and Sun was devoured by Oracle, and then I read an interview with Mr. MySQL whoever he is, and he’s proud of his dual-license scheme; made good money! — which in turn makes FOSS commercially viable you see, and detested! Win win! ... Of course that commercially viable thing definitely has some weak spots; I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who abandoned the ingenious deceptive dual-license. ... But they were bought by Sun and Mr. MySQL apparently made a mint although any MySQL problems were as usual the fault of evil others....

IRONY

Saturday, May 11, 2013. And in a wonderful irony, Mr. MySQL has now started a new “open source” database product “MariaDB” and is casting aspersions on Oracle’s stewardship of the sacred MySQL which he made money on at any rate. I mean, I think it’s cool he got some filthy lucre; and I also think business people have to stand-up to the same scrutiny we give anyone in life who lies and cheats. ... Not that it makes any difference, but I don’t plan to be fooled again....


My Dokorder 7140 Triumph: Deoxit the head assembly!

Not a triumph, really. But it’s lasted for half an hour or so, which is as long as I’ve gotten the thing to play for years....

I bought my beloved 4-track sound on sound 1/4’’ tape recorder in a distant time and place, even before cell phones. ... Before the world trade center ... down at radio row! ... Men were men, and connectors were, apparently, made of pewter. Today’s triumph, briefly, was to remove the head cover (of course) and then unscrew two screws in the head assembly, whereupon the thing unplugs from a proprietary multiple-connector plug thingey, which implements the sound-on-sound feature — so one can switch, using those four wretched little switches just under the take-up reel, from monitoring the playback head as is normal in a 3-head machine, to monitoring the record head, which is necessary for doing synchronous sound-on-sound. I then proceeded to apply the magical Deoxit to the plug, repeatedly, pulling it out and pushing it back in, and during these exercises it managed to play a large part of a stereo tape without the right channel dropping-out, which it’s been doing for the last decade at least....

However I don’t really expect it to continue working, since it’s relapsed 3 or four times today already. But I hope. And this is the farthest I’ve gotten in at least a decade. Apparently I didn’t realize before that the head assembly unplugs relatively easily. ... However the entire Dokorder should probably be bathed in Deoxit; I’m almost sure that at least one of the events I thought was the head assembly failing was the RCA receptacle on the back of the unit, which I then proceeded to furiously deoxitify. ... In the past I believe it’s this Dokorder that I “fixed” by carefully beating a mass-termination plug assembly within, tiny connector by tiny connector. But of course I didn’t know of the magical Deoxit then, which is available at Amazon for the usual extortionate sums. ... Well I’ve played a bit of another tape and the right channel still remained; obviously I have finally bathed the wretched thing in adequate quantities of deoxit and now it will now play all channels flawlessly forever....

— the cranky-and-nostalgic programmer
Mon 12/16/13

My Kodak Memories: the Printer & the Zoomer

I will beat the dead horse joyfully! ... I am triumphant that Kodak’s teeming evil minions are forced to grovel in the shadows, searching for other tech scams in a harsh unforgiving world. ... To express this another way, amongst extremely stupid bankrupt American companies, Kodak holds a special place in my heart.

In their pre-bankruptcy days, I bought two things from Kodak:

  1. At 8/11, a $280 (!) 12mp Z990 camera — although I’ve come to suspect its major sin is perhaps collective, if no less despicable.....

  2. At 11/11, a $120 Kodak ESP 7250 printer.

The printer I threw away even before the Great Move it was such a paragon of absolute brokenness. The camera I’ve retained. I almost took it to the goodwill before it poisoned my life forever, but at last I came to know & sympathize with its fraudulent ways. ... To understand it, is to despise it — but poignantly. ... But it kinda works when I turn-off the LCD....

The Enthusiast Camera’s Ephemeral Battery Life and the Brilliant Shiny LCD Live View[3]

Check-out the beautiful digital camera ads in the magazines/online for “battery life”; or this specification of the Silly Camera Collection’s Canon 450 DSLR. ... Or for that matter the same review site’s Z990 specs. ... I’ll wait....

... Oh! ... Didn’t find anything, did you? ... Why do you suppose that could be? Hmmm? ... Let’s press our fingers to our foreheads and concentrate. ... Oh I see: they all have 10 minute battery lives! ... Until proven otherwise. ... And that ungainly object => is a “battery grip”, which is probably what anyone uses who for some bizarre reason wants to take more than three pictures, or use the camera more than 10 minutes. Sadly the Z990 apparently never got one of these inspiring devices — but the Silly Camera Collection’s DSLR does!

... Anyway, 10 minutes is generous for the Z990. I should’ve known when the camera was supplied with a fast recharger and a set of NiMH AA cells. ... And because the handy built-in time-of-day clock is apparently spring-wound, if I just leave the camera off, the batteries are still gone in a day or so. ... And this puff actually reports a Z990 “short battery life” — presumably shorter than all the others, but since all must lie, it’ll never be clear....

My Lies & the brilliant klieg light LCD

In latter days & a new world I put newly-charged original Kodak batteries into the Z990 weeks ago, and the battery icon is still full! And I took a picture (+ a second picture on AC). ... And countless weeks have passed, and the valiant Kodak soldiers on, battery-full icon held high. I even set the clock! ... But I have been religiously avoiding lighting up the LCD, and that apparently was my secret sin of omission — secret from me; presumably not to Kodak, who nevertheless defaults the camera to beautiful blazing instant battery-consuming beacon-bright LCD.

But after all, the supreme goal of manufacturers is to delude and gull the consumer in this way, so they can really alienate him and make him not only hate their products with an undying passion, but the entire industry! ... And it works great with the enthusiast camera battery life & their default / compulsory LCD displays. ... But actually the Z990 provided a little hint, in its dedicated EVF/LCD button....

Without any picture-taking or foolishly lighting-up the LCD — the camera approximately always off — the batteries lasted 2 or three (?) months. And when I changed them soon-enough, the clock didn’t lose time. My sacred DSLR performed comparably (with the 6xAA NiMH battery pack, to be sure)....

Their Lies

Latter-day magazine scammery continues the campaign enthusiastically, for instance referring to how “we ran out of power a couple of times while shooting long days” in an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II puff, p 63 Popular Photography 2/16 — thus apparently complaining about battery life just to show how honest they are, but actually mendaciously implying that any digital camera’s battery would last anywhere near a day while using the LCD — which they puff extravagantly.

They don’t actually say you can run your camera all day with the LCD on; but they never never NEVER say otherwise. The technical term for this practice is lying. ... Sadly these magazines are mostly consumed by innocent prospective purchasers — who else, except for the occasional lunatic cranky geezer? — who can be victimized with these ridiculous falsehoods by the high-minded magazine scriveners who are paid to sell the color ads and lie to the reader.

Eff-You “Share” Scammery[1]

But there are many fond Kodak memories that linger on. ... When I got the Z990 the SD card was to me still a hermetic mystery; I could barely deal with the Compact Flash thingeys. So I didn’t appreciate how thoughtfully the Great American Mediocrity forced its users to operate their scammy always-runs stupid icky-poo-paw-me-please “share” garbage program. Which I assume was going to herd them into a wonderful social world of Kodak web sites ruled with an iron fist. ... I’ll never know, because although eventually I actually installed it, I killed the service they thought I should have running at every moment because I don’t have enough junk to blow-up my computer, and without it, there is no way to transfer photos from the camera. Except by removing the SD card and plugging it in to an SD socket attached to the computer which for some reason they didn’t make impossible, probably too stupid — well, they probably thought it was so technical it’d never bother the little minds of their intended victims customers — but it’s obviously the easiest way, especially if you’re using the LCD and have to change batteries every 10 minutes anyway....

That is, just plugging it in with its micro USB cable does not access the SD card — the way numerous other less scammy cameras do — no doubt a circumstance of deep sorrow for those other less-scammy firms — I mean, what’s the point if you can’t torment and infuriate the purchaser!?!? ... Oddly, the USB cable does do something useful for the Kodak — it’ll power the camera, but it’s a secret and Kodak denies it![2]

Lens Cover

I almost forgot another brilliant highlight. If the batteries fail after 10 minutes as they do, or if you remove them without turning the camera off, which after all is going to be common what with the constant battery changing — the lens stays extended, so my lens cover won’t fit. ... Indeed, if you try to turn it on, assuming the unlikely chance that the batteries are functional, it refuses unless I remove the lens cover. ... Now that’s design! ... And I noticed it says “Kodak” on it! Me and a fan’s. So it was original equipment, and the way the camera won’t work with it on is a feature! ... Which does cut-down on those “blank picture” support calls, I suppose. ... And this just in: there’s no filter thread on the silly thing! I can’t attach cunning UV filters and fish-eye adapters and such nonsense. How could they?!?!

But the Fans Love It!

And then I made the mistake of checking — and the Z990 was still for sale at Amazon! A year or so ago, it was a $100 more than I paid, but then it dwindled to $200 or less, used. ... But 335 reviews, average 4 (out of 5) stars! ... Battery life OK boss! ... I mean one or 2 cranks complain about the batteries, and one telling comment was “OK for a digital camera”....

... Ah well. I thought the vicious iphone killed ’em all off; but I guess these happy users didn’t get the memo — like the fellow with the picture => on his flickr page — well occasionally it runs the obligatory malware ad, but then when I clicked that off I got the fellow’s page....

And then, the Kodak ESP 7250 printer was still for sale; with 374 reviews but at least a solid 3/5 rating. ... Well wait this is a little hanky-panky; a bunch of the recent reviews are bad, and the printer isn’t actually for sale at Amazon; it’s available used, and for a ridiculous $1300 new from a third party (companies sometimes have to buy a particular product no matter how stupid). So that’s OK; probably Kodak started shipping bricks just about the time I showed-up or something....

My Battery Excuses

I will buy digital cameras no more forever, until I find a camera that at least advertises long battery life (or amuses me enough). I mean after all, the phones and laptops are all rated like that. ... And I broke down and googled for “camera long battery life” and found at least http://www.cnet.com/topics/cameras/buying-guide/ which claimed I should “check out how many shots its battery has been rated for”, supposedly an official standard. ... Well just so! My Z990 manual claims (page 65; pdf page 73): “500 pictures per charge. Battery life per CIPA testing method. (Approximate number of pictures in Smart Capturemode, using an SD Card.) Actual life may vary based on usage.” So it is rated, and the rating is obviously bogus; even with LCD securely off, although with it on it’d be more like five. ... I may actually have read that in the weary wandering years and it was so ridiculous I just paid it no mind. ... Presumably “usage” is CYAese for “if you leave the LCD on, like we default it, camera’ll run out of juice in 3 minutes”. ... Yeah probably they test it by going into continuous shooting mode and holding the trigger down until it keels over ... as a typical usage scenario....

Battery Sin

Kodak’s sin is cooperating with the industry-wide scam to pretend digital cameras’ battery lives don’t suck. ... This fraud is obviously designed to afflict newcomers such as I was, who discover the bitter truth via the stupidity-tax of paying for one of these things. Afterwards we’ll be forewarned if we’re stupid-enough to buy another, but I’m pretty sure many of us never reach that stage, hence the inspiring success of the digital camera biz.

And actually, I do have at least one non-enthusiast point-’n’-shoot digital optical viewfinder/LCD Canon PowerShot A540 into which I can place two AA cells, and it’s unlikely they’ll be dead the next time I use the thing! ... That camera is weirdly defective in other amazing ways, and the iphone’s 8 megapixels spit on its pitiful six. ... But I do tend to use its viewfinder in preference to the LCD, because of my years of 35mm SLRs. On my last SLR outing many years ago (reminiscent chuckling), the cut-rate Seattle Film processor sent back a snooty note about how if I just concentrated a little more I wouldn’t’ve taken a totally blank roll, never having actually advanced the film from the impossible-to-load cassette. ... So those days were not without their endearing charms. ... But I never ran out of power....

Battery Adventures

So I bought some super NiMH rechargeables + a fancy recharger, with which I attempted to separate the sheep from the goats in my existing herd, with an arbitrary cutoff of 1,000mAh capacity — and who knew that regular Alkaline AAs supposedly come in at 1700-3000 mAh?!; I certainly didn’t (AAAs 860-1200). ... But then I was bloviating to the multitudes in an amazon comment, advising the simple folk to just get some expensive batteries, a working cheapo charger and a comparable battery tester, charge ’em up, put ’em the camera, and when the camera refuses to turn on or stops after 2½ minutes, test ’em — i.e., with the battery tester gadget — throw away the failures, and repeat — and I decided I’d take my own advice, at least for the vast horde I purchased in the old days, and so far only a small percentage failed, at least right out of the cheapo chargers. I’m assuming they won’t keep the Kodak going more than few seconds, so for that I’ll use a ridiculous fancy charger as soon as I can get one that actually works — the LaCrosse unit I returned didn’t, at least according to their highly-dubious pamphlet “manual” in seventeen mostly-human languages, although the NiMH insiders in the amazon comments seem to swear by it....

And a year or so later, with a “Powerex” charger, some of the sheep graduated to goats and joined their fallen brethen in the great lithium charger in the sky, and will charge no more forever here in Florida — oops, their mortal lithium lives will continue on a little further, just misunderstood the complicated charger gadget yet again — it tells you the total milliamphours “mAH” it’s managed to add to the battery’s charge, not the battery’s total mAH capacity, which apparently is unknowable in this vale of tears unless I go through an entire discharge/charge cycle, which the machine will happily do, and takes forever, and so I’ve never actually done it....

Alternating Current

I bought the Z990 so long ago (8/11) it was a time I did not routinely download the PDF manual for my gadgets, although I apparently did in extremis at some point, but anyway I was perusing the thing and happened to notice on page 9 (pdf page 17) an assortment of battery icons, one of which was “AC Power” — mentioned nowhere else except for exclusions / denials aka “safety” threats: I was warned against misusing the “KODAK High Performance USB AC Adapter K20-AM” which I’ve never encountered in my life, but the manual has nothing about using it....

The Z990’s Darkest Days

In the last dark days in 2012 when I finally foundered with the Z990 I was attempting to take pictures of motionless things, with no flash / small aperture (aka “high f-stop”), inside with a tripod — pictures of other gadgets of course — which the Z990 couldn’t manage without running out of power. ... I think then came the advent of our glorious iphones, and the rest is unedifying postlude — well, I must note that the iPhone with a tripod/iphone tripod attachment gadget will suffice for almost all web photos at any rate. And no alternating current need apply, neither — although as all mankind knows, the iphone runs good with a charger....

But if I’d’ve run the Z990 on AC — oh, the sensuous ecstatic joy! ... Leave that stupid LCD on forever! Wander out of the room and take a nap, everything’ll be OK! ... And apparently I could’ve. ... For a good time, you can google for “z990 ac power” and if you’re lucky find some guy on a forum quoting Official Kodak that “the Z990 receives no power through the USB port” which is amazing since I just removed the batteries and turned it on with a micro USB cable and a (forum-suggested 2.1 amp) USB charger — and took a picture <= of my batteries! ... This is why we hardened techie types are so tough on the miserably ignorant support creatures and the clueless scripts they read.[2]

... I mean I might still want to use the Kodak outdoors someday, but not likely, what with the iphone so portable & often in my pocket, so AC power essentially solves my remaining Kodak problem. ... But I will cherish my bitter memories. ... And my growing Silly Camera Collection, now that it has another member....

Z990 Muttering?

I picked it up, and in the beautiful silent morning I could hear the thing muttering to itself, doing, I’d guess, a recalibration i.e. checking the mechanical parts hadn’t been misplaced during sleep. That’s what takes so long before the full powered-on screen appears — in the viewfinder of course, since I’ve suppressed the LCD....

Z990 Telephoto

But I must admit that it is possible to take telephoto pictures with the Z990, handheld and not too wildly out-of-focus. At least I’ve demonstrated it to myself in a test and who knows someday I may actually use the feature....

— the newly and strangely elated cranky programmer
6/16


1. Apparently the Kodak share thing drove me wild in those dark days, I suppose with the batteries failing and all. ... But then in my new age of innocence and peace, I decided it’s really just a harmless utility which, to be sure, does try to autostart itself but that kind of thing is fairly easy to suppress — CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL Oh innocent hapless folly! It’s still repulsive malware from h--l. It apparently installs a service or who knows what, but even after I uninstalled, the broken program / stupid company ghost window kept popping-up, obliterating parts of the screen and doing nothing. I hope. After rebooting, that stopped. ... My supreme sin was instructing my firewall to keep it from contacting the mothership, undoubtedly moribund and/or a thriving virus center. But my first sin was probably inviting the vampire in by plugging-in an SD reader with a Kodak SD in it! ... Astonishing how vile it all is, even after all these years....

2. Oh I get it: the poor Kodak script readers were so adamant about no USB power because otherwise the poor idiot user might imagine that when he plugged his beloved Z990 into his computer to use the wretched scammy Kodak Share program he wouldn’t have to worry about running out of battery power — which he undoubtedly would, since the halogen-bright LCD would still doubtless be helping-out, and the USB port probably can’t supply 2.1 Amperes — USB ports are like that; they have different capabilities, and will just turn-off the power if they feel like it. So the script phone support had to emphasize how you get no power, but never say why of course that would be telling. ... Some PCs — some Macs, in a good wind maybe — could supply adequate current to fuel the Z990 & its lovable LCD, but probably not the average USB port. Or who knows. ... Right, and probably the whole rigamarole was only tested with somebody’s Apple Macintosh — I mean, who would use that other — what’s its name? — kind-of computer?...

3. One obvious mystery of the 3-minute halogen-bright LCD camera battery life is, of course, its nemesis, the iPhone, and its swarm of follow-on competitors. How come their super-bright beautiful LCDs don’t make the phone conk out instantly? ... Indeed, phone battery life is constantly complained-of, but it has always been obviously superior to the cameras.


The Cameras of Doom: The Post-SLR Era

The epoch for me begins around 6/8/96, when I bought my first Casio digital camera for $513.15! 0.25mp! — that’s a quarter of a megapixel! ... And so, for a few years more, the chemical-film SLR industry was safe. Although at this time I was already neglecting the art — my marching SLR slide books stop at 1992, enticed-away by the beautiful video camcorders....

2006: Broken Canon A540

Canon’s market success EOS 300D / Digital Rebel appeared in 2003, so the post-SLR era was definitely underway @ 12/06 when I apparently purchased my broken A540, a respectable (non-DSLR) 6-mp camera which, at least in terms of images + ease-of-use easily outdid the SLRs I’ve known, no matter how much more incredibly detailed the 35mm film images might be. Sadly my introduction to the post-SLR digital camera was broken, the fault of the scam-o-rama that is normal camera retailing + gullible hysterical-enthusiast purchasing practices....

But I used this camera anyway — 70 pictures through 2010. Apparently I didn’t notice the defects; I’d just point ’n’ shoot, and the pictures weren’t bad! And the batteries lasted, presumably because I used the viewfinder by preference, avoiding the energy-draining LCD. ... And indeed, before the iphone & until a late-in-life antique acquisition frenzy, it was my preferred camera....

2011: Kodak Z990 Battery Life

But then came the coup de grāce: the Kodak Z990’s 3-minute battery life. I doubt I was the only geezer to be utterly defeated by this common “feature” of post-SLR enthusiast cameras with their brilliant LCD displays.

The result was quite simple: I didn’t even think about another camera for 5 years. Again, I doubt I was the only such; I’m confident vast herds abandoned the entire product category as too stupid after such uplifting experiences. Particularly, of course, after the iphone showed-up, but even before that there was the inspiring Flip video competition....

And I think it’s instructive — or amusing at least — that neither my broken A540 or the amazing-battery-life Kodak Z990 could use the fancy foto fan features, specifically manual aperture setting. It’s true my ardor was higly-intermittent at best, although at times intense, but for a decade, with two different cameras, I was unable to set an aperture basically because of the astonishing ethical standards of the digital camera racket.

My Flawless Market Analysis

Traditionally, high-end cameras had been promoted in the scamiest possible way, and photo fans just put up with it. The idea that this arrangement would successfully continue in the age of Amazon and free information was faulty.

But the real killer was the technology itself. In my lifetime, 35mm cameras were a known quantity, well-understood by fans, and when one purchased a camera from one of the typically-loathsome dealers, I at least still felt it was not a totally uneven contest.

But the digital cameras were unlike their chemical/mechanical predecessors, even ’though considerable effort was made to imitate their appearance. Thus, it seems obvious that the default brilliant LCD display of my Kodak Z990 — and every other LCD camera on earth — would drain the battery quickly — but it didn’t occur to me, which is particularly startling given my ridiculously technical background. It didn’t, basically because I couldn’t believe anyone would sell a camera that defective....

In summary, camera promotion is based almost entirely on industry-wide fraud, and every newcomer will have the same awe-inspiring ridiculous battery experience.[1]

The Three Stigmata of Digital Camera Fraud

  1. Brilliant beautiful LCD screen => ridiculously short battery life.

  2. The ridiculous DSLR mechanical mirror. And the mechanical shutter it came in with, for that matter....

  3. Ridiculously ever-higher megapixels.

Some lesser frauds:

  • The “shooting mode wheel”: portrait, sports, hawaiian barbecue, etc., selections which supposedly set-up the perfect shot but whose effects are barely distinguishable.

  • The point ’n’ shoot cameras with no viewfinder — almost all (?) of today’s under-$300 flavor — so they can’t take pictures outdoors in sunlight!

  • Low-light performance still inferior, perhaps ’cause they make much so much money off-of proprietary flash acce$$ories.

More to come, as the world turns and the digital cameras get sillier.

... But They’re Not Paying Attention!

Oddly, despite my thundering tirades, the dying camera industry[1] hasn’t reformed. ... Maybe they only lie so assiduously in English; perhaps the Japanese market is full of truth & light. ... But I will not be severe; I love the silly cameras; they light-up my life, as they have so many others’, I’m sure, but I indulge the special pleasure of mocking the camera manufacturers & adepts & especially their cameras. Which are silly; but lovable nonetheless, with their truly weird defects & imitation traditional buttons & knobs & intricate & dubious software/hardware mysteries.

But I am

... And I will miss them, when they disappear utterly in a few more years. Perhaps a few will get to museums or whatever dim fate the future holds, but probably most will be forgotten, like other embarrassing fads and frauds which we do our best to bury in unmarked landfills. ... Look for them with the PDAs and those awful pre-Apple phones. ... But the cameras and their cryptic mysterious mechanisms will still call to me ... from beyond the landfill — that’s why I have such compassion for them now; they’re my future antiques, to join the beloved technological marvels / junk preserved and not forgotten, what I am so smitten-by. ... And the future antiques thing works out particularly well for the adorable cameras, since they will not last the traditional 100 years or even 20 or ten, particularly those with whirling mechanical mirrors in them. But all the computery electronics, as we all know by now, is like unto the mayfly — although apparently the fancy cameras are far less populous — and I will enjoy their peculiarities while they last and I may — and the used ones are cheap-enough....

— the kindly digital-kind-of-guy
2/17


1. Innocent googling of 2016 camera sales provides endless support for my unremarkable assumptions. DPReview alleges that Canon’s doing better than the general death march; the picture <= shows the parade stumbling into the wall around 2011 when, despite the camera industry’s amazing ethical standards, the ~2008 iphone camera and its tag-along competitors were doubtless a major factor.

... Obscure but still-startling counter-evidence is AmazonBasics’ Lightweight Tripod, $24 which, when I ordered it, they ran out of! ... But in its small way it’s just like Apple’s super-success with the ipod et al, as the music industry keeled-over — monetization of a contracting product category. I.e., the entire secret of the camera collapse, and so many departed treasures: things got cheaper.

... But then again, dpreview says (5/17) things are getting better! ... The Trump boom no doubt....