Batteries   Sensor   Infrared   Cheap
A540   Working A540   A1200 & the Road's End   a650   The Forgotten   The Remembered
Raw     Lo-light     Focus     Freedom     Paint

The DSLR, its Sacred Mirror, & the Baryta Paper[8]

I needed yet another snooty hobby for my golden years, and what could be better than taking arty pictures, printing[11] on expen$ive “baryta” paper,[8] and bludgeoning friends and relatives into breathless admiration — all with an exquisite DSLR camera with its ever-so-svelte and completely pointless SLR mirror?!?!!? ... I’ve already beaten-up on my poor mirrorless Kodak “zoomer” point ’n’ shoot with its three-minute battery life, apparently a universal feature of modern enthusiast LCD cameras ... and my DSLR definition expounds relentlessly on the absolute wondrous utter utility of a little mechanical mirror-based viewfinder in a computery gadget where an EVF is obviously superior. ... But the meandering years were too much even for the poor bumbling boomer geezer foto fans, + they’re dying off, and there’re sad indications that the mirror-flipping DSLR’s days of faith may be numbered.

... So I figured I’d get one while they’re still going, and bought a beautiful <$200 used gadget (at amazon!) of 2008 vintage — perhaps the zenith of the mirror-flipping cult, before the dark mirrorless heresies rose from the swamp in the foetid night and stalked the land. ... Also the day of the dawn of the power-annihilating LCD live view, which my precious DSLR implements (but, blessedly, doesn’t require), and a definite forerunner of the end times as the cowering antique technology was forced to compete with the swarming point ’n’ shoots surrounding it, which are disappearing in their turn in our sad camera-phoning latter days. ... There are still camera departments in Walmarts et al, but often sadly tattered / understocked, soon to be obliterated without recall — like the pitiful home organs still puffed even today on the odd music store sign, without a remaining trace of physical incarnation....

But a true flipping-mirror adept in those golden days would’ve spent at least $500 for such a kiddie-wheels “starter” DSLR, which has degenerated to today’s pitiful $400 for the Canon 18 megapixel T5 / 1100D (with “kit” lens @ Amazon), which at least one web puff derides as a super how-low-can-they-go entry-level spit spit crummy cheapo camera — it’s fun to see the parasites assault their food source as it so-poignantly contracts.[12] ... My <$200 used artifact with its measly 12mp was significantly cheaper than my $280 (!) Kodak zoomer, which is of the same vintage and megapixels, although I foolishly got the Kodak new.

... And then I learned the utterly most up-to-date “flagship” Canon EOS-1D X DSLR (p 42 PhotoPlus 12/15), a mere $4,600 (body only @ Amazon), has only a minuscule 18 megapixels! ... My mouth is agape in stunned amazement! ... And, naturally, now I won’t feel so cheap ’n’ crummy....

The Ecstatic Hobbyist and His Toys

So when my antique DSLR turned-up, a life of aching hobbyist ecstasy could begin at once, at last. ... I could hardly wait to peer through that optical viewfinder and hear the mirror thump!

... But wait! — I did all that the first time, in the ’80s with a low-rent Vivitar SLR still lurking in the garage somewhere, and worth about $20 not counting sentiment ... or maybe even. ... We could call them ASLRs, for “Analog” Single Lens Reflex, but tragically the FLA is already taken, although I have seen the term “analog camera” used. ... But lamentably Seattle Filmworks is no more, so I bought some real film for my Vivitar from Fuji (@ amazon of course), with infinite pixels. ... And in the ever-spiraling rush to pretension, a few of today’s photographic super-adepts actually use chemical film cameras, develop prints or perhaps just negatives, digitally scan them, and are ecstatically proud of their incredibly subtle and expen$ive æsthetic.

... And my beautiful DSLR came and was a lesson in packaging: the Amazon pre-owned Canon 450D / XSi, nothing; the usual expensive toy, lots. ... I would say about equally frustrating: in both cases I feel compelled to test a minimal set of features, but in the low-rent rendition there’s much less debris to fight through, although the fear-of-brokenness is obviously higher — so it about evens-out.

... And then, because it is so beautiful, and to make-up for its empty box syndrome — actually, there was a battery + charger — but I bought it some treats: AC power, extra batteries/charger, lens cap/filter kit — all of my preferred low-rent brandX flavor, which will doubtless provide the missing infuriation of the new product box. The ridiculous full-color “Your Canon 450D/Rebel XSi” books were also cheap used — the Dummies book was just 41¢ + $3 S&H! ... They aren’t as reliable as the Canon pdf manual, and certainly not as succinct, endlessly blathering on the Beautiful Wonders of Photography — albeit with lovely color pictures + strangely-esoteric suggestions about the millions of camera settings.

The REBEL XSi

Thus at last have I so belatedly entered the age of the DSLR for a precious little while. ... And it is lovely. I can unscrew the lens and see the silly mirror, which is ravishing of course. ... But as everyone knows by now, the camera in your phone is almost as good if not better since it’s ridiculously more convenient/easier — hence my unlikely baryta aspirations, a modern-day incarnation of the 35mm slide ritual torture practiced in ancient times by elderly tourists upon their innocent whimpering home-bound relatives. ... And finally, tragically, I must note that my Canon does not have the classy European “450D” designation but instead the embarrassing murican low-caste “Rebel XSi” sobriquet — which, naturally, I consider an adornment of its religious virtues. ... Although in Japan it was supposedly “Kiss X2” which is even sillier....

The Case

Another hideous flaw in the fading fallen latter-day DSLR world: the ridiculously-expensive cute camera cases are AWOL! In the day, they were form-fittingish, leather-like or better. They just vanished. Instead there are lumpy clothish cases that are probably actually useful. ... No sense of tradition there. ... Well I see I lie; there are leather cases — but they’re not nearly as plentiful as they once were, vastly outnumbered by the lumpish flavor. They used to be a standard part of the fraudulent “kit” our beloved low-life camera vendors would try to stick the whimpering hobbyist with. The kit lives on, but not, poignantly, the leatherlike case....

But when I googled-enough, I found such a case for my antique DSLR, only $50! ... But I think I’ll stick with the cunning bubble-wrap bag I contrived for protective storage. The cute cases were mostly annoying: I’d struggle to get the camera in/out of it to do something like change film, and they were always in the way while trying to actually photograph anything. ... The excuse was the amateur enthusiast used the beautiful leather case to protect his sacred instrument in dangerous foreign lands, so he could take beautiful pictures for the sacred relative torture rites. ... Which brings us to ...

The Thieves

How could I forget!? Another major contributor to fancy camera bag extinction was theft! ... My goodness as in so many things I was ahead of the curve generations ago, switching to a cruddy canvas bag in preference to the tarty leather “steal me” thing — which I probably still have around somewhere, crammed with camera junk far more antique than the beloved DSLR. ... Well, actually, it was empty....

And it turned-out there were lots of steal-me form-fitting cases; just not leather. ... And after all, they are stupid; just like the beautiful mirror itself! ... I could get a $15 neoprene case and put it in my genuine leather camera bag ... like Eeyore. ... But the form-fitting leather cases of yore used to at least pretend you could take pictures without removing them, although they’d always thwart some essential movement so you couldn’t really, but the neoprene makes no such pretence and you have to remove it to do anything. So the bubble-wrap bag probably still is more functional, or at least easier to get off ... but not as cute! ... And then I discovered my adorable neoprene case also fits my zoomer ... at least as good as the bubble-wrap....

Batteries?

My beautiful Rebel XSi presumably shares the modern super-camera’s legendary LCD battery life — but only if I should pathologically set the beautiful LCD to always on (aka “Live View”). Of this edifying phenomena I opine pitifully in my zoomer obsequies, where I mention the “battery grip” accessory my beloved Kodak doesn’t have. ... But the treasured antique DSLR XSi does, and my preferred cheapo Neewer variety was only $30! ... Sadly, the result won’t fit the steal-me form-fitting case, but such are the sacrifices we make for great art.

... But the battery grip is complicated! ... Who knew? ... I had to read the tiny translated-from-chinese pamphlet, which I regard as a tyrannical imposition on the freeform flipping-mirror fan. ... Some hints for the wandering aficionado:

  • The canon camera battery door comes off — which it must, to insert the grip — via its tiny spring-loaded hinges; and the battery door is then cunningly stored in the battery grip!

  • The trays for the grip are removed/installed via the little bar over the “open” legend molded in the plastic tray, and then turning the little handle that springs out....

And one of the two supplied trays is for AA batteries — so I’ll be able to revisit my Z990 NiMH recharging adventures! The second tray supports two standard Canon rechargeable batteries. ... Sadly, the DSLR does not attain added beauty with the battery lump, which is just another poignant testament to the legendary battery life of today’s enthusiast cameras. ... The lump, incidentally, is a kind-of sentimental “ghost” of the film camera motor drive, a super-pro accoutrement ideal of antique hobbyist aspirations....

Canon XSi Defaults to Battery-draining LCD Off

I must emphasize that unlike my infuriating zoomer, my beloved Canon DSLR does not default to battery-annihilating LCD halogen-bright illumination — I would have to stalk through the menus to enable its “live view” which I have no intention of doing, so conceivably the batteries’ll last weeks or even months! ... And indeed, even the zoomer’s been copacetic since I suppressed its LCD in favor of the EVF. ... If only these manuals could talk....

Video!?!?!

Again, my mouth is agape in stunned amazement: my precious relic DSLR is so ancient, it can’t take video! (although dubious web enthusiasts murmur of laptop-tethering thaumaturgies). ... My approximately contemporaneous zoomer does take video, so everything’s OK. Not to mention my broken A540. And a shelf of adorable obsolete flip movie cameras. ... And there’s always my phone; & my other antique cameras....

Viewfinder Obscura

Apparently the DSLR mechanism is so authentic that if you take a picture where light can sneak into the viewfinder — on a tripod, and/or using the battery-annihilating LCD “live” view — i.e., not obscuring the viewfinder with your eye by peering through it — it can screw-up the automatic exposure. So in such cases you’re supposed to stuff a plastic thing, that came attached to the original camera strap, over the viewfinder. ... My empty box didn’t come with a strap, much less a plastic thingey, and the idea is apparently so silly that none of the numerous aftermarket vendors offer a replacement. ... And I would suppose that given the astonishing battery life you have to peer through the viewfinder anyway, or use an AC adapter for the LCD “live” view.

... But, wait, I get it; the solemn cover-the-viewfinder warning/gadget was for the innocéntes, who bought their beautiful “enthusiast” Canon and, with considerable effort, always used it with the LCD “live view” — involving significant sacrifice, since it apparently doesn’t work in the EZ “basic” zones — and then were indignant that pictures came out bad! Aside from the battery draining in 3 minutes. ... Of course even without the battery-extinguishing live view, any tripod use might expose the viewfinder, and the foto fan might well rely on the apparently easily-upset automatic exposure. ... Ah, the vicissitudes of the enthusiast’s sacred way, yet another demonstration of the marvelous utility and ridiculous value of the DSLR flipping mirror camera. ... In the unlikely event the need should ever arise, I plan to contrive a viewfinder light-shield out of a spare XSi eyecup I have carefully secreted for the purpose, + the usual random shreds of cardboard. Although that would be annoying — as would the thing-on-the-strap for that matter — and maybe I’ll figure-out some easier more-informal mechanism. Just sticking-in a piece of appropriately-shaped cardboard looks like it would work pretty good; a piece of thicker stuff might work better, stuck into the rubber eye-relief cup....

Lenses?

And then I realized I might resurrect my real-SLR Vivitar 250/SL “M42” mount (?) lens herd with some kind of adapter thingey! Cheap! It might even work good, what with the crop factor, although apparently there’s many a slip twixt the lens and the lens mount. ... But imagine! My cheapo telephoto & “kit” hobbyist lenses of yore, attached to an antique Canon DSLR! ... Oh rapture. ... When I got around to checking things out, two of my antique lenses were actually wide-angle “add-on” atrocities for a beautiful Minolta super-8 movie camera still in the garage & not likely to be resurrected anytime soon (although apparently Kodak might try). And an adorable little box of closeup adapters was for it also. I believe I used both of these in my glorious cinéma vérité days.

... One of my Vivitar lenses turned-out to be some kind of lash-up with numerous elements stacked together and a note from myself describing how I used it to make a “blow-up” of my name in typewriter type for obscure primitive computery résumé purposes, before the $100 scanners and wondrous paint programs. So I took it apart to liberate a pitiful f2.8 55mm “kit” lens, which’d be equivalent to the 3x optical zoom on the XSi kit f3.5-5.6 18-55mm lens. ... So that’s the 55mm, + a derelict wide-angle f2.8 thing on the Vivitar (what’d be wide no more with the Canon APS-C crop factor), another (wide-angle-no-more) f2.8 35mm, and a 200mm (crop-factored to 320mm!) with which in ancient times I was stunned to discover I couldn’t take telephoto pictures without a tripod. But apparently autofocus doesn’t work so great with long lenses or high fstops or something anyway, so that’s OK.

... And then I bought a brand-new — but cheap — $55 prime brandx 50mm/f1.8 “portrait” lens from Amazon, just to see what it felt like. ... Which was underwhelming, not unlike the beautiful DSLR itself. The picture-taking experience was just like the kit zoom, flash, auto-focus, and all, without the zoom of course. I had a vague feeling that perhaps it should’ve used less flash — because of the fabulous 1.8 f-stop? ... But then again, inspecting the pictures on the computer, perhaps there was a bit less flash ... probably one of these subtle æsthetic things which I am so crudely incapable of perceiving? Or another job for intricate manual settings? ... A youtube review was predictably snooty, but with an amusing brit/chinese accent and surprisingly uncondemnatory. And I will treasure the souvenir of my brief venture into lens lust. And I’ll be ready for a ridiculous macro-bellows reverse lens extravaganza....

Sensor Cleaning

In the DSLR golden age (~2010) you were advised to take your precious device into the “shop” to get its sensor cleaned if blots showed-up on your baryta prints. Which’d happen after you foolishly changed your wonderful interchangeable lens in a mud storm or something. And you were warned you should never clean the sensor yourself, unless you were super-DIY-competent. ... With the beloved chemical film of another age, the “sensor” would be cleaned every time you rotated the film advance, although the SLR mirror could still get dirty in the proverbial mud storm, but in the astonishing digital age the film never changes and you’re stuck. ... On the other hand, the wretched beneath-contempt digital point ’n’ shoot cameras like my dubious/beloved A540 et al don’t have removable lenses and you can’t clean or dirty the sensor — or to put it another way, if it gets dirty you throw the camera away. But the glorious interchangeable lenses allow dirt to get into the camera, and when next the mirror flips, it can get on the sensor. ... Of course there are no camera stores anymore (well, few). In the past, manufacturers provided mail-away services and perhaps this is Canon’s, and there are 3rd parties; my first hit was $60 — the Canon site, as far as I got, was priceless.

... But in the new age it turns-out it’s perfectly safe to clean your own sensor, and to do it you can buykits” and gadgets at any price you desire. ... I of course bought some cheap junk for my beloved DSLR, and will keep it with the other sacred objects. ... And now Brit mag Digital Photo explains in their 10/16 issue on page 155 that “regularly cleaning your camera’s sensor” is a great idea, as they fulsomely puff a sensor-cleaning product advertiser....

The Subtle Beauty of the Invisible Infrared

A particularly charming icon of the beautiful DSLR’s whim & whimsy is the infrared filter which, to the naked eye, appears totally opaque — because, of course, we can’t see infrared light. But the camera can, maybe, a little, but, to be sure, must be exposed for minutes and minutes on a tripod of course to see anything and then one has to fiddle with the image in your Photoshop magical abattoir to get any kind of picture. Of course you could just skip the infrared step and go straight from any picture to the abattoir — the pictures look like weird-color effects easily achieved even with PSPX, and indeed some squalid photography mag had a free free photoshop magical infrared plugin that did just that. ... The propaganda tripe on the web mostly observes omerta on actual exposure times, but this fellow tells how hed did it with his very own 450d in ancient days practically beyond recall, and suggests mere 15-second exposures. And also mentions his previous camera, the beautiful Canon S2! ... So my cheapo infrared filter was a mere $12![4]

Cheapness

And now let us joyously celebrate the internet/Amazon epoch of cheap camera junk. ... One merchant “Neewer” stands out for the weird name and most inspiring bits of debris. ... A photoflash wireless gadget — so you can set off your Neewer flash over in the corner from the “hot shoe” of your beloved silly DLSR — for $20!?!? ... <geezer accent> I can tell you sonny it wasn’t like that back in the day nosiree. Why, “$20” — it’d just get you snickered-at at Willoughby’s; guys’d likely roll in the aisles. </geezer accent> And that was when $20 was worth something! ... I should note that my beloved XSi 450D Canon DSLR was apparently quite popular, which is probably why cheap accessories for it are so plentiful.

The way this entrancing odyssey goes is I will read about some astounding photo accessory in the enthusiasts’ magazines with a “round-up” review of so many possibilities usually starting at $199.95, or there’s also the odd gushing DSLR book, and then I go buy the cheap-junk Neewer equivalent @ amazon. ... The flash guns for instance can be got in endless proprietary/customized models that’ll work automagically with your very own DSLR but poking around the web it seems all the in-the-know savants use their external flash in manual mode anyway. And the $35 Neewer flash (manual & 2 slave modes) is the highest priced accessory my beloved empty-box-syndrome DSLR has gathered around itself yet!

And no, the point is not to be cheap — not that there’s anything wrong with that — no, the point is to amuse ourselves with minimal penalty. ... An amazon commenter complained his Neewer trigger receiver failed after a few weeks; but he apparently knew how these things were supposed to work, actually used it, and used this one because it was cheap. And got his money back too, because it’s Amazon. Which is the way I like it too, and I have little clue of how it’s supposed to work, and would really object to finding-out with some expen$ive gadget like the ~≥$100 “Pocketwizard” brand — I had to google a bit to even find a non-cheap product!

The magazine puffs/articles are typically sterilized of any useful information — the better to gull you into buying stuff, the prime directive — they’re paid to mystify the pitiful fan and make him buy more stuff! It’s the innermost secret of the cult! ... Although the camera manuals & enthusiast books sometimes let a little slip through. ... So these are truly marvelous times for the irresponsible hobbyist....

And then a foto mag mentioned a collapsible reflector for $30, what I got at amazon for $12, and I finally discovered the real distinction betwee the tough professional versus the pitiful foto fan amateur such as myself: The pro is able to collapse the collapsible reflector back into its case without hurting itself! ... I can’t; not with ease anyway. Of course when I take it out it’ll try to snap at me. ... This is real pro-level stuff....

The Lens Pouch!

Lens cases used to be so expensive, and the rip-off lenses would come without, but now $17.99 bought me an assortment (@ amazon prime of course) of adorable foam pouches which’ll probably work better. And which I stuck in my official antique steal-me leather camera thing, with the neoprene camera case.

The Macro Bellows!

It’s all so beautiful; you stick it on your camera and then you can focus your macro ever-so-carefully to extract beautiful significant beauty from some bug or flower. ... And then there’s the reversing ring, what you can stick one of your lenses on backwards which will produce wondrous macro effects without duct tape.

Meaninglessness

I note with deep sorrow that “XSi” apparently doesn’t mean anything, nor does the previous model’s “XTi”. I consider this at least a shocking violation of the lower-case “i” “internet” significance, as in ipod, imac (1998!), iphone, etc....

One More Thing ...

It’s true it’s new — yes it’s pitifully ancient: I can see through my DSLR viewfinder even when the Rebel XSi is turned off! ... Oh the wonder the transformative ecstasy! I can even adjust the lens, and the focus. ... Can’t take pictures[1] — unlike a real SLR (after you wind the film / shutter, probably). And I can also see through the power-off optical viewfinder of my tiny antique broken Canon PowerShot A540 and its little friends....

Shameless plug: Dpreview.com

I must recommend this camera-fanatic web resource; it is endlessly-amusing, for cameras almost as good as my beloved SOS magazine for ridiculou$ audio junk. Dpreview googles-up whenever I search for some ridiculous topic like “450D video”. ... Like all such sources in our wicked mortal world, never is heard a discouraging word — but they do have lots of ’em....

— the æsthete-nevertheless programmer
7/16


My Broken 2006 6mp Canon A540: An Imaginary Enthusiast Point ’n’ Shoot

As an imaginary enthusiast myself, I’m OK with that — it’s been a pretty good 6mp point-n-shoot camera pretending to have fancy enthusiast adjustments, but when I whirl the mode wheel nothing remotely related to shutter timing or aperture (Tv, Av, M) ever showed-up.

... I’ve apparently discovered its perfidy in the passing years before, and forgotten, as the calendar pages flutter by in the presumably black and white movie cliché. ... I vaguely remember struggling with it, refusing to read the manual — it made no **** sense anyway, which of course it didn’t — but since in latter days I’ve joined-up with the Holy Mirror DSLR cult and got my own beautiful flipping mystery mirror camera, I figured’d I’d be enlightened-enough to at last master the inscrutable A540; I thought the Mirror Mysteries might somehow be miraculously illuminating. ... But they weren’t. And I searched A540 reviews @ Amazon for “aperture”, “shutter”, and “ISO”, and not one hit gave the slightest hint of anyone having actually used the features. ... Even the bad reviews didn’t seem to complain about that complicated camera stuff. ... An online site lauded the P/Tv/Av/M modes and is quite convincing, as if he had a different, better, camera. ... After all this dubious no-fault-admitted internetery, I actually went and checked my DSLR and zoomer, to verify it was possible to adjust aperture etc. with at least some cameras, and I wasn’t somehow trapped in an alternate universe where Av/Tv were all nonfunctional....

I Am Alone

Finally recollected in tranquility, I concluded my addled A540 is, if not alone, at least a minority. The way the positions on the shooting mode dial are mostly unrelated to the software behavior — it seems too weird for even the most dedicated idiot not to notice. ... Of course it took me 10 years....

It’s like a lesser point ’n’ shoot got grafted onto an A540 body, in some hideous Vincent Price-esque experiment gone horribly awry. It probably wasn’t unique — because these computery snafus almost never are — and was some kind of manufacturing software who-knows-what screw-up which uniquified more than a few A540s — and my unerring instinct guided me to one such, at the scammy camera stores wherein I spent so many joyous hours, who no doubt flogged the thing to me at a bargain price — $180, according to my ancient “diskette” file entry, around 12/06. And in my ignorance and sloth, I didn’t notice/bother to return it and get my money back — and Amazon says it had a “199.99 list price”, so I guess I was roundly gulled indeed in the golden vales of retail cameradom. And not for the first or last time....

The A540 successors, at least the A550, 560, 570, had lesser point ’n’ shoot wheels, with only a manual “M” for the pitiful enthusiast, but resemble the A540, and might well have had identical circuit boards except for a few tiny components you could hardly see, if at all, and perhaps that’s our sad story. ... Apparently the range runs from a510 up; all with lesser mode wheels compared to our beloved aberrant A540. ... An enormously valuable technical oddity no doubt....

How My Broken A540 Actually Works

Anyway, on reacquaintance I did eventually figure-out how I was probably supposed to set those hidden speeds and apertures — by pressing the +/- button and then using the arrow keys (pdf 49 aka p47, advanced manual, “Manually Setting ...”). In some of the actual modes, that procedure does the exposure compensation thing (lighten/darken). But my wacko A540’s mode wheel is still abridged as per my illustration <=; the top “creative” side just does random “auto”s and “portrait”s. ... But it still seems to have video!

The Wonder & the Charm

It’s really amazing that I could spend a decade without noticing exactly how this thing doesn’t work. I remember being intensely puzzled when I couldn’t set the aperture. I could do that with the zoomer but that wondrous device’d always run out of power in a few minutes, and it seemed the photographic furies were determined to deny me my high f-stop/depth-of-field in-focus photography. And so they did, for around a decade. With the assistance of dedicated industry scammery and, to be sure, my distracted inattention, until the iphone camera wiped the slate....

As an inspiring wacko fluke my impaired point ’n’ shoot has its own special charm, and is eminently suited for membership in owenlabs’s Silly Camera Collection — the entire DSLR concept itself is a bathetic fake, so whyever not? There were probably few returns — aberrant A540s or DSLRs — ’cause who knows what all that foto fan stuff is supposed to do anyway?!?!

Broken A540 versus iPhone

Any SD camera, even my wacko A540, has it over the iphone in the getting-hold-of-pictures department — even if, as everybody knows by now, the phone’s usually a better camera at least considering it’s in your pocket and the camera’s not. ... I use an intricate dropbox/wireless system to get pictures out of the snooty iphone, and when it works it’s OK. But at a motel for instance I must connect my computer and iphone to the local malware/spam generator — well, if I want the pix soon; otherwise just the laptop. ... And even at the home base, during the periodic wireless router explosions that we all know & love, it’s a pain.

Of course other non-Apple phones (and my addled A540) have the SD/µSD “film” which can be removed and stuffed into an inexpensive USB card reader. Aside from my A540’s peculiar disabilities and shamefully low megapixel count, its remaining features are not unlike the iphone’s camera, but better, with the convenient SD and a zoom lens and a viewfinder. And I don’t believe in those megapixels anyway. ... Except for the ravishing Baryta prints[11].

... And then, in the wandering mists of time and computer files, I found that my beloved gifted this thing to me, @ xmas 2006! ... So now I can blame her! ... Oh what a relief....

A Working A540?

I bought another A540 at Amazon, where it was $35 used! — but, sadly, too used; some little component within had fallen over never to get up again, and it would always plaintively whimper for the date/time every time it was turned-on. And I returned it to Amazon, no questions asked. ... And then realized a month or so later the tiny fallen-over part was the date battery which if I’d just had half a wit I could’ve gotten it up again myself! ... The vendor should’ve supplied the camera in working condition anyway — or at least told me....

But it did have more-or-less working software, at least corresponding to the mode wheel, as opposed to my beloved broken rendition. ... And I did not despair; there were more of them, and as I was now a date/time battery expert I bought one and some CR1220 date batteries for the same price — the used A540 got cheaper in the interval, in the ever-shifting Amazon used camera market.

The Time Battery

And my new-old A540 came, and its little coin battery was indeed dead as the dodo, and it remembered not its date or time and pestered me at every power-on, as before. The coin battery’s rôle, I believe, is to power the clock while the user changes the main batteries or opens the compartment to get the SD card so he can look at its pictures on his computer. But, honoring the ancient tradition of retail camera sales — and so the AA batteries won’t leak and destroy the thing — the vendor stores it without AA batteries, which puts the whole load on the coin battery which rapidly depletes, and of course who would ever think of installing new batteries, coin or AA, for the sale?!? ... So replacing the CR1220 coin battery cured its pitiful memory lapse and now it is perfect and good as new.[5] ... Well actually its LCD & viewfinder are more scarred than my carefully-preserved broken unit, but that’s just more authenticity....

And my original poor confused A540 has retired to a Silly Camera shelf — on top of its original box! — to photograph no more forever ... well at least until the “new” old one breaks. I did an SD-ectomy so the decade’s worth of A540 pictures live on in their new/old resurrected home.

... But I will cherish my time of A540 mystery as a kind of photographic anti-paradisiacal Tempest, where I played the brave-new-world innocent — since I was obviously not the wizard....

The Road’s End: 2011 12mp Canon A1200

... I was having so much fun I thought I’d get a (2011) A1200 with 12 megapixels — the same extravagant resolution as the sacred ~2008 DSLR itself — and only $52 used @ amazon. ... They seemed to have dumped the point ’n’ shoot viewfinders after that — the cheap flavor anyway — which is why I am doomed to live in the battery-conserving past — but that’s right, my beloved viewfinders are ecological! Who knew?!?!

... But I reached too far: the glories of the mode wheel, that were so peculiarly broken on my original A540, were buried or worse in the A1200 menus, and in my unseemly hobbyist enthusiast haste I didn’t notice there is no way to set the aperture or exposure; it’s compulsory automatic — all that’s left is that pitiful deceptive “P”, providing access to a dubious group of supposedly “creative” tricks. So, failing to cancel in time, I considered returning the precious artifact if it displeaseth me, and enduring shameful Amazon penalties.

... Then again, it’s so cute. And it still has a viewfinder. And its primitive “P” mode provides exposure-adjustment at least, an actually-useful feature for those who want to capture images of anything other than standard portraits — in my case, the sun-dappled woods through a cabin window. And as I actually bother using these silly features, it turns-out I can leave the flash off in the “P” mode, and on in “auto”, suppressing the minor annoyance of turning the flash off/on (i.e. with software + buttons) which I otherwise experience with the adorable devices, and thus more conveniently accommodate convulsive snapshotting + delusional art pix. ... But still no baryta paper....

And the only reason I want the megapixels is for occasional detail extraction (i.e. with a paint program), which I could do with the sacred DSLR or the zoomer but as I’ve probably failed to conjure-up despite my endless diatribes I find those kind of devices too annoying for casual/ez use — although they are beautiful and sacred, at least if I turn the LCD off. ... And actually, despite my preoccupation with f-stops and other snooty foto-fan technical arcana, all my antique camera images then and now were actually taken in auto, except for my pitiful would-be high f-stop zoomer failures. ... And so the A1200’ll be my end-of-the-road marker in my poignant early-onset-antique camera adventures: thus far can I go on the silly camera road, but no further. ... And it fits in the fallen Nikon’s tiny (brandx) camera bag.

... But then after quite a while I forgot how to turn-off the LCD in “auto” mode! I actually tried to “make-do” with the SCN portrait thing before I realized with extravagant embarrassment I wasn’t using auto mode at all, but instead the “easy” heart-in-a-camera mode ... which, of course, lights-up the halogen-bright LCD. The actual auto is perfectly content to work without the LCD. ... Whew. ... But oh, look =>, they got a fisheye effect!

Silly Camera Tip

As alluded-to above, I figured-out how to set the “P” mode on the A1200 an fstop-or-so dark — 1⅓ actually — and it turns-out that numerous compositions involving sunlight and shadow are good that way. Not people probably, but mysterious shadow and light patterns, indoors and out. ... Chiaroscuro. The effect could easily be achieved, no doubt, with the beloved paint program brightness/contrast adjustments, but that would be cheating....

$tupid Market

Thus I progressed through the golden years of cute Canon cameras and my options became limited, as the beloved photography market got ever $tupider. ... After I stumbled upon the transcendently-obscure $16 five mp Canon A610, the only cheapo version I could find @ amazon with a decent mode wheel and more pixels — a mere 8mp — was the ~$40 A630.

... I am limiting myself to Canons, but I’m assuming the featureitis tracks-enough (or worse) to hardly be worth bothering about, and my broken latch experience with my Nikon (and a Kodak point ’n’ shoot in another age) persuades me Canon’s a reasonable prejudice since nothing physical’s broken off my beloved Canons. And really my broken A540 served me well nevertheless as an often turned-to point & shoot, even if I never figured-out how it worked, because it didn’t.

... But I consider Canon the originator of the ur-silly camera, the millennial ~$3K (body-only of course) EOS D30 DSLR. ... Well, the cheapest originator — there was also the Nikon D1 (~$4.5k) & Fujifilm S1 Pro (~$3.5k). ... And then in “How to choose the right camera for the eclipse” p 50 Astronomy 4/17 the fellow writes that “the first successful commercial full-frame DSLR was the Canon 1D, introduced in 2002.” ... Anyway I think Canon gets the prize, and obviously dominates the pitiful tattered remaining market today, because it won the competitive/promotional sweepstakes, no doubt at least partly because the Canons worked better. Mostly....

But back in the real world, Amazon’s got a used 2006 10mp Canon A640 — the more-pixels sister of my A610 — for $100; $170[3] for the 12mp 2007 A650! ... Obviously some other lunatics are buying these cameras, probably for reasons like mine — viewfinder, aperture/shutter adjustment — even if the prices are hurtful to my tender sensitivites. ... I imagine at least some purchasers are those whose beloved old Canon finally bit the dust and, after investigation, couldn’t stand the au courant overpriced/performance dungeon....

The 8/07 12mp Canon A650 & the Batteries of Doom (& Deoxit)

After a few days, my fiendishly-expensive A650 turned on me & snarled — with an almost invisible upside down “recharge batteries”[7] message on the LCD, which I wouldn’t’ve seen if I’d turned the LCD to its protective position — and otherwise was silent and dead. Cruising through denial & anger I arrived at bargaining and googled “canon a650 recharge batteries message[7] and found yesterday’s innocent victims bending up bits of metal in the battery compartment which oddly I haven’t done yet with any of the cameras, although it’s a common laboratory procedure for balky battery clocks & etc. ... And naturally, many of the complaints were indistinguishable from the super bright LCD battery-failure feature common to all the digital cameras.

... So I changed batteries a few times, all of which worked good, even the original set, which in itself implies intermittent contact problems just as the googled complained — those batteries didn’t get stronger in the trash. ... I looked in the battery compartment with a light and the little spring-up things seemed of excellent attitude & springiness. The battery door has cute intricate little bits of metal and plastic and perhaps in the wandering years a bit of gunk/corrosion got somewhere somehow, randomly reappearing to appall the innocent silly camera fan. But I applied the sovereign remedy DeOxit to the batteries + compartment, using a toothbrush on the door, and still it works, after the passage of days.[5]

... And I am bemusedly-content, and my bargain/nostalgia hunt has concluded with a point ’n’ shoot around the same price[3] — and date — as my beloved & sacred DSLR. ... Of course I then proceeded to further curatorial / senseless / cheaper acquisition activities....

Marvels of the East ...

From Dpreview I learned of this guy who validates my idiotic purchase by taking the most amazing snowflake pictures with an a650. He has astonishingly complex elaborations, including the “well-known lens reversal macro technique”: he attached his a650 and a respectable 50mm lens pointing the wrong way in front of it on a board holding them together.

He also uses “CHDK — Canon Hack Development Kit” which is “resident” on his SD card and lets him take holy raw pictures (sort-of) + heaven knows what else, but the CHDK web site @ http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK had at least one couldn’t-close pop-up on a linked page when I visited one dark & stormy night, strange & marvelous as it undoubtedly is....

Money for Nothing

I toyed with getting a modern point ’n’ shoot with appropriate enthusiast features and viewfinder, but once I figured-out how to petition the oracle — I beseeched Amazon for “electronic viewfinder camera” — there wasn’t much. There were hordes of recent ≥$500 cameras, but the few “cheap” zoomer candidates included a 2014 16mp Nikon P530, $235, and a 2010 14mp Fujifilm FinePix S2800HD for $180 / $90 used. ... Both with aperture/shutter/manual modes and the precious EVF. ... But indeed these are but my already-EVFed Kodak zoomer + a few tortured years of dubious featureitis / pixels, and they stir not my gadget lust nor joy.

To my considerable surprise there are actually Canon non-DSLR optical viewfinder cameras from as late as 2012, at least the ridiculously priced $590 Canon PowerShot G1 X was still for sale at Amazon. However its glittering $650 successor the 2014 Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II has only an “electronic (optional)” viewfinder, the $202 Canon EVF-DC1, making an $852 EVF point ’n’ shoot! Which pricing level is actually fairly common these days. ... And shamefully, the Mark II’s got fewer megapixels — 12.8 versus the G1 X’s 14.3!

My 5/02 2mp Nikon Coolpix 2000: The Forgotten Point ’n’ Shoot

A thing of beauty no doubt, and I found seventy images from it on at least one CompactFlash and an archived CDR — but I had no memory of the camera. ... My only clue was when pspx8 reported the pictures were from a “Nikon E2000” and I don’t doubt it, but it must’ve snuck into my hands and out because as opposed to all my other revered treasures it has left not a trace except for the jpegs. ... Well actually it turned-out I had a folder stuffed with the manual and everything, and an undated Walmart web receipt, but I got it for $250 @ 2/2/03; I must’ve been flush in those days! ... But no camera; maybe the battery door broke as usual, and I tossed it. ... But nevertheless it will not be left behind and it is memorialized here, for so many minutes as this web page shall last. ... Apparently I happily took pictures with this viewfinderless thing from 2/03 to 6/08. And even bought a few “Digital Camera” magazines along the way! ... Oh the ruined temples ... the fallen idols....

9/00 Kodak 1mp DC3200

I do seem to run through these things, but at least I remember my 2001 Kodak DC3200 perfectly well and of course it has a secure place in the silly camera collection. And an adorable genuine Kodak soft case! ... I took numerous undated 1mp images through its viewfinder, filling-up a compact flash card or so with its tiny 200k jpeg files. Its battery door broke after a few months, and Kodak sent me a “refurbished” replacement upon my indignant complaint. ... But the batteries lasted OK — no “live” view in those dark days.

Aiptek CUO-L22

And who could forget the tiny beloved Aiptek? ... Apparently the entire internet, where it googles not. A discard of the LOL, it is without viewfinder but takes very fine 1mp pictures and videos. We bought it in a bubblepack in Walmart or Target. ... And I forgot or never knew it can take 3mp jpegs! ... But it still seems to have a poor opinion of 2GB SD cards.

... My forgotten media nevertheless contain many fondly-remembered images which’ve appeared on the countless screen savers about owenlabs for years, even as I forgot the cameras. ... And now they’ve come home to the silly camera collection; in paradise. ... Including my beloved broken A540....

2/10 12mp Nikon Coolpix L22

But then another Nikon bubbled-up in the mists, which I have undoubtedly somehow confused with the beautiful Coolpix 2000. This L22 — no relation apparently of my tiny Aiptek — I got at best buy @ 9/26/10 for $119.47, and it also has no viewfinder! ... What a fan I was! ... And which also has an assortment of beautiful images from its up-to-date SD card, but fewer. Not as beloved apparently; mostly attic work junk back in the day, important technical pix, etc. ... This Coolpix survived in the flesh, until I took its last picture, in Florida, and the battery/card door broke off, as is usual with the crummier sillier cameras....

Remembrance of things past

The byways and overgrown wandering paths of American junk stores and random web rumors throw-up an occasional precious remnant of the dearly-departed digital cameras’ golden age, which I will treasure and heap with delighted scorn. ... Also of course see the torrid adventures of my Canon A540s ... and mysterious travails with the A1200 and A650.

... I should note that the golden age camera fan should know the name of his desiderata; just googling “used canon cameras” infallibly shows-up vast herds of relatively-recent expen$ive stuff, but “Canon A650” led me (@ 12/26/16) directly to a ~$110 amazon hit. ... And my intense silly camera expertise suggests that the winter holiday season may not be the ideal used camera purchase time....

4/16. In a preliminary warmup, before I realized my life’s mission to recover the world’s low-rent digital camera history slipping so shamefully into oblivion, I stumbled across the 8/05 Canon five megapixel A610 at a junk store, in America, with batteries, manual!, a 512 megabyte SD card and two beautiful pictures, of the junk store — and aperture/shutter priority / manual modes — i.e. a working mode wheel — and so much more! ... And a viewfinder of course, or I wouldn’t’ve bothered. ... Its sister cameras, the A620 through A650, had seven to 12 mp, but I got the cheap seats for $16....

Yesterday’s point ’n’ shoots, even my broken A540, still take lovely pictures, at least to my déclassé tastes — even my pitiful Nikon viewfinderless L22 (2010), whose battery door latch just broke off when I inspected it, still had beautiful pictures inside. ... While I will of course observe the religious pieties and worship my treasured DSLR and its wildly pricey descendants & cohorts, at least in a would-be amusingly hypocritical way, the cheap older toys are just so nice. ... So unpretentious; so friendly. ... And indeed in the day they were a bit more hostile — $100s more: the A610 was $250 MSRP. But it was $30 used @ amazon (~9/16?), so I still got a bargain.

... And oh be still my beating heart — the A610 has a tiltable rotating LCD screen, so I can run out of batteries in the finest style! ... I replaced the A610’s 512mb card with the vast 2gb broken Nikon SD, and I can still see the Nikon 12mp pictures on the beautiful LCD. ... And I can take 729 more pitiful 5mp pictures. ... I am so lucky....

8/16. For our first official memory lane diversion, let’s give a senseless silly camera welcome to the 4/05 Samsung Digimax A402 — four megapixels of truth ’n’ beauty, still for sale @ amazon prime for $120! (10/12/16) ... There’s a lovely macro mode with the canonical tulip LCD indicator, but unfortunately nothing in the manual on how to turn it off — it’s a plastic ring around the lens, probably so it’d look like it had at least one fancy feature ... or maybe it actually focuses the lens or something. ... An ugly small blot of dead LCD pixels doesn’t affect operation, once I figured-out the fuzziness was the macro setting. ... The A402 is heart-breakingly cute ... but no viewfinder; and phony digital zoom....

9/16. Next up is the also-4-megapixel 1/05 Kodak EasyShare Z700 — with a viewfinder, and a real 5x zoom, and only $300 new @ amazon @ 10/12/16 — used renditions were as low as $10, although my junk store got a shockingly-high $30. But it had its little Kodak promotional stickers still intact, and the SD has a few out-of-focus shots along with an image or two of the canonical kindly junk store lady. ... It came with a Kodak “KAA2HR” rechargeable battery pack in it, which presumably might recharge via a micro USB (?) receptacle — oops, wait, ol’ perfidious kodak just couldn’t resist, and used a wacko receptacle for the USB cable which I’ve duly ordered from Amazon for $6 — nope nope just didn’t calibrate my Kodak perfidy good, or I suppose I could’ve read the manual, although that’s hardly reliable....

No, the USB cable doesn’t seem to power the camera or charge it; it just connects it to your computer when you’re feeling suicidal, and the cute proprietary Kodak battery pack is so I could buy a custom charger which even Amazon is vague about. So I’ll stick with my readily-available/rechargeable NiMH AAs and keep the pitiful little cable/battery as yet another precious silly camera memento. ... At least it wasn’t the proprietary battery scam I momentarily dreaded after I installed some AAs the wrong way three times but, no, sigh, all is well and the camera lights-up in beauty.

And when I changed the batteries in latter days, I realized why it’s do difficult: (1.) the little printed illustration is obscured by the batteries so once I put the left one in, I can’t see it; and (2.) the illustration so-ingeniously shows how the batteries would look if you were inside the camera at the bottom of the battery well — not, as the entire rest of the world does in such cases, how the batteries should look once they’re inserted. When of course I can’t see the illustration anyway, I suppose. ... Moving right along from Kodak incompetence to scammery: there’s an imitation filter screw thread around the lens! ... If you could actually mount anything there it would be broken-off when the camera lens extended as it does @ every power-on, but the Kodak scamster boffins figured people’d think the thread makes it a more “sophisticated” camera, and so thoughtfully ginned-up an imitation.

Anyway, according to dpreview it’s got aperture/shutter priority! Menu-based no doubt, ’cause no mode-wheel positions — but I lie; there’s the “PAS” aka “Program Aperture Shutter” (?) position, which position produces a handy menu on the bottom of the screen. ... But it still honors the digital camera’s — and especially Kodak’s — highest ideal 3-minute battery life with its power-annihilating “Live view” — which I could turn off, but only in “auto” mode; all the other thronging modes including the adept’s “PAS” ignore the “Live View” setting and light-up the battery-draining halogen bright LCD for your battery-destruction pleasure. ... But wait! There is an “LCD” button! ... So I can’t default Live View “off” for anything but auto, but I can turn it off, with the button, if I remember. It’s probably like that ’cause Kodak’s low-rent software afrits were unable to distinguish between the necessary menu elements — essential in the PAS mode and presumably others — and the halogen bright LCD “Live” view. ... So sad. ... But cute....

I bought a broken 2/99! Olympus “Camedia” 2mp C-2000 Z for $2 or so at a local garage sale around 6/16. The viewfinder was obviously gershtunk, and the camera got resurrected amidst the constant search for new junk to conquer around 3/17 when I was considering various Olympus cameras and their dubious SmartMedia electronic film which, all on its own, eminently qualifies for the silly camera collection. The format disappeared pretty early in the march of foto fraud, although the wikipedia article is mute as to dates — but be sure to see the “Format errors and data loss” section. ... PC USB readers for SmartMedia are not common; I found one at amazon. ... However, I will persevere, and make the silly camera collection safe for StupidMedia cameras — although I’ll probably stay away from the special battery scams; oddly, the C2000 takes AAs.

... I should note Olympus was a piker in this field compared to Sony, whose cameras not only used proprietary “memory sticks” but also battery/chargers; I assume Olympus just didn’t have the industrial oomph to scam batteries, although at least one Olympus I’ve encountered had an obscure battery, at least. ... And of course all the sacred DSLRs use proprietary batteries/chargers, but not custom memory....

Fortunately my StupidMedia reader showed in a little while, because I was unable to get an even stupider option going, the amazing diskette-based FlashPath gadget, $9.99 at amazon, windows 98/XP/Windows 2000 drivers included. My up-to-date 2011 windows 7 USB diskette drive saw it not; which, to be sure, was warned-of on the internet jungle drums. ... But it is a precious artifact of the times and, after all, it was pretty clever of Toshiba et al to provide a USB-like attachment hack in 1999, when the other cameras — and I know, I was there — had appalling RS-232 barely-working schemes.

Resurrection!

But since I had gone through the trouble of procuring some amazing StupidMedia cards, I put one in the C2000, and Lo!it worked! ... Even the “defective” viewfinder sprang back to a slightly speckled life: apparently before, without power, it was showing the focus of the retracted lens, and that makes it a high-class feature instead of a broken viewfinder, and the wonders never cease.

... And the USB stupidmedia reader showed-up and worked wonderfully! ... My beautiful ~2mp Olympus jpgs in all their stunning glory. ... And now, flush with StupidMedia capability, I can buy more cameras!


10/16. Infrared adventures led me to the inspiring 4/05 Canon 5mp S2 IS, a mere $55 (used of course) at Amazon! Maybe I should’ve got one of these instead of my stupid zoomer — the S2’s got 12x zoom ’n’ image stabilization and shutter and f-stop settings ’n’ everything! ... Of course the S2 was supposedly $460 (?) and only 5mp, and the Kodak’s got 30x zoom, so maybe I wasn’t so stupid, although the S2 should’ve got cheaper by 2011 — but I was ignorant, which is how the racket works. ... But now, through the magic of accelerated retrospective enthusiast camera acquisition I get a redo, and really, megapixels are so yesterday — after my 1mp DC3200 in 2001 I didn’t care — unless I wanted to blow-up something, which is uncommon.

... Indeed after I got the thing working and took some pictures, and discovered the pernicious digital zoom was enabled and, after suppressing it, decided to do the all-important reset everything function — and then I discovered I’d been taking 2mp pictures! And how little difference it made, at least in the Faststone browser — neither picture size fit on my 1980x1080 “Full HD” screen, and clicking them to see a 100% view and scroll around hardly seemed to make much difference....

The gaff is all-but-obvious in contemporary photo puffery magazines, where every page glamorizes how you’ll want to print[11] your beautiful creations as large as anything! Why, you’re hardly a photographer if you don’t print lots of big junk. ... Which must be my problem — even before the cameras, I was a digital kind of guy and wasn’t really into printing stuff so much — maybe I got all blasé from working in the biz. ... And after all, we all sit in front of these screens, and most of us — not me, to be sure — live & work in wretched cubicles — so what’s all this printing stuff?!

... Well my children it’s so the sneaky merchandisers can sell the cameras, see? — not to mention the printers — otherwise you might as well use your phone. ... And actually when I printed my S2 infrared picture, it didn’t look good until I cropped it a lot to highlight the ghostly palms in the center. ... Probably my cheap crummy printer. But I needed the pixels for the crop....

S2 Tragedy!???

Oh so sad! ... It was broken and only displayed a “NO IMAGE” message — which for some reason I concluded was supposed to mean a TV was plugged into the tiny socket which of course wasn’t. But I was wracked with guilt & anxiety that I wasn’t clever-enough to figure-out how the stupid thing worked, just like my “working” A540 tragedy. ... And so it was, silly enthusiast that I am, it actually says “NO IMAGE” when the SD card’s empty! ... Of course! ... I was such a fool! ... Well really the S2’s adorable and quaint, and the power button is a two-way affair, one way of which sets it to play the images on the SD card, which is when it says “NO IMAGE” if you just put in a blank new SD card like I did. ... I must work on my hair-trigger return-the-junk tendencies....

So to make up for my gormless cluelessness, I bought it a 58mm adapter which is supposed to let me use my beloved DSLR toys and especially the superlatively silly infrared filter with the beautiful Canon S2 IS, like the infrared guy did — but my $13 brandx adapter was probably cheaper than his[11]....

2/17. In a demented burst of completism, I got a $31 amazon 8/06 Canon 8mp A630 ($295 new!), so I’ve got a spectrum of Canon A6s: 610/630/650. ... I’ve made its space in the silly camera collection and I’m sure it’ll be wonderful whenever it turns-up — and so it is! Except the auto-lens cover thing had sticky stuff and stuck at or so open, but I heroically cleaned it with antique Kodak lens cleaner + a lens cloth + a derelict toothbrush, and now it works perfectly and will do so forever! ... Probably why it was cheaper than previous rumors.

The Attachments

... & then, like the true fan-boy hobbyist idiot I am, or at least aspire to, I finally noticed the whole A6 series has an attachment feature, so one can install meretricious behavior-modifying lens gadgets that won’t work with the optical viewfinder, requiring the battery-draining LCD. ... I must get some! ... Indeed, my beloved ur-silly camera the A540 has the feature, which I have cruelly neglected/not-noticed since I bought the broken thing in 2006! ... So I scour the junk marts of amazon & ebay for suitable treats.

These attachment gadgets are different for the various silly cameras, even in the same series. And I had assumed/hoped the gadget-mounting end of the attachment at least would all be 58mm like the beloved S2, which matches the DSLR kit lens and its silly add-on toys — the S2, incidentally is the only one with an EVF so I don’t have to drain the battery for attachment excitement. ... But no; there are at least some 52mm. ... And the a610-a640 range doesn’t use the same adapter, so I had to return the fabulously fraudulent amazon gadget which asserted that claim and didn’t fit. Although I must say, reviews of two such products — i.e. which claim the 620 through 640 range use the same adapter — say it works great. Probably all fake — even “verified purchases” would only cost the sneaky merchandiser whatever % amazon takes.

... And so I will recommend “snapitdigital” in Brooklyn (!) who I googled-up on ebay (!) and who managed to send me a working 52mm / A540 attachment gadget with telephoto + wide-angle for a mere $40 what showed-up in a week or two. And I learned that not only must I turn-on the LCD, but that I can’t use the flash, ’cause the lens thingey sticking-out casts a shadow. ... This is the kind of important professional insight you can’t get from those magazines.

... And finally I got a 760nm infra-red filter with a 52mm thread, so I can take exquisite 12mp infra-red pictures[4] with my a650 at least....


3/2/17. A 2/03 Nikon 3mp Coolpix 3100 3x zoom was $20 used @ amazon (only $350 list), and it came with a box, manual, and accessory cables! And a compact flash with summer + winter w/grandpa pix, presumably @ 2003; he never set-up the camera to date the images. ... But it takes lovely pictures, like all the silly cameras.

... & I am minded of the cultic path: the seeker buys practically any camera since ~2001 or so, and when it’s not “good” enough, he’s conned into buying a “better” camera. But his pictures aren’t defective; they’re boring, because most picture are boring, but some kind of jedi/zen hermetic rigor will convince him that $Ks in cameras’ll make interesting pictures, at last. ... And such is the one-fold way....

But the lovely picture of the 2003 suburban cul-de-sac is interesting ... somehow....


At 3/20/17. A 4/01 ~2mp Canon PowerShot A20 3x zoom, also $20 used @ amazon. ... List price $600! — no wonder I didn’t buy these things in the day. But it has all the features, white balance, continuous shots, macro, etc etc. ... And I got 256 pictures left to take on the 256Mb compact flash, generously included in the $20....


3/22/17. A 5/02 3mp Olympus C-720 Ultra-Zoom eight times zoom, a hefty $37 at the amazon previously-owned wonder emporium ... but $600 list! ... And it has a lens cover, which is so much cooler than the other point ’n’ shoots’ self-covering retracting lenses, although this one still retracts — well actually I see my Olympus C-2000 should’ve had a lens cover, exhibiting shocking naked glass even at retracted power-off. It, also, uses the wondrous StupidMedia, a mark of distinction, soon to disappear in the wandering years. ... And of course they both take beautiful pictures, like all the silly cameras. ... And then I belatedly realized the C-720 has an EVF, the luxurious little thing....


3/27/17. In a perfectly respectable effort to bring more silly into the silly camera collection, March Maddness continues with a $29.99 1/00 3mp Nikon Coolpix 990 with a 3x zoom. It is silly, but really, more stupid; the rotating thing seems mostly annoying — although while the manual hasn’t heard of “selfies”, the camera can easily take one, but then lots of non-wacko cameras with cute rotating LCDs could too.

The cp990 came with a 1/3-full 1mb CF card, but sadly the pictures were not as high-class as my Nikon 3100, being perfectly respectable but boring images of the probably-youthful photographer’s family / friends. And perhaps a few selfies. ... And I think I’ve finally got one of these things that’s actually broken, at least the manual seems to think the optical view finder should track the zoom like a decent Canon point ’n’ shoot, but it doesn’t, and makes sad groaning noises instead....

Innerestingly, the camera in its day was priceless: the totally-unbiased impartial reviews all omit a price, no doubt at the strict totally-unbiased impartial behest of Nikon. ... So I will assume it was $1,000 originally — which is not farfetched, maybe even low. It’s three megapixels & the year 2000. ... Well OK that’s unlikely; probably a mere $700 or $800, like the year 2000 3mp Canon cameras. Although the cp990’s got the special feature stupid rotating thing....


3/29/17. In perhaps the final episode of March deMentia, an extravagant $40 bought me a 7/03 5mp Sony DSC-V1 with proprietary battery (Sony NP-FC11 3.6V 2.8WH) and proprietary memory stick that can’t be read in my entire collection of readers (two; memory stick “pro”?). But the $40 also got a charger and a standard (!) mini-USB cable which, plugged into the camera, produces the Sony pictures as an external drive and transferred OK — which is astonishingly less screw-the-customer than the 2011 Kodak. ... Also I got a precious original box, and a brandx camera bag.

But I think this may be my furthest excursion into the magic of proprietary scammery. And the camera of course was priceless, but probably originally ~$500, the price of the 6/03 Canon 5mp powershot G5 — see, Sony’d charge approximately the same, and then screw the customer with proprietary accessories — which they all do to be sure, to a greater or lesser extent, a grand foto fan cult tradition. ... It’s almost amusing, reading the amazon reviewers of various would-be memory stick readers, and the authoritarian know-it-all who explains how it reads perfectly well, it just won’t read “pro” memory sticks, as if “what’d you expect!?!?! ” — although they obviously fit into the memory stick slot in my pitiful readers. ... And here’s a thoughtful analysis of various memory cards including the beloved memory stick ... search the page for “memory stick”. ... As the feisty columnist Dvorak said of Windows 10, “I’m amazed it works at all”. ... But wait! Here’s an official Sony website with the most amazing chart, from which I think I learned that my adorable memory stick is indeed the “pro” — not the “pro duo” which of course is an entirely different component, only to be used/accessed with an extravagantly-obscure adapter hardly known to man nor camera. ... And I bought another $7.99-at-least usb reader, what an amazon commenter claimed read his memory stick pro; which will be delivered, appropriately, on 4/1. ... And it works! So I bought some more....

But anyway, amazon had some battery/charger things supposedly for the DSC-V1 Sony NP-FC11 3.6V 2.8WH battery, so I bought one for $12. ... The card reader after all is just luxury; if I have some kind of mental convulsion and buy another Sony camera — but then its memory sticks wouldn’t be compatible anyway — apparently they never are. ... But so long as I can power-on this Sony, I can get the pictures out of it. ... But I must admit, a working card reader feels wonderful; no doubt traumatic stress from the days with rs232 and the eye of a newt....

What is Raw?

At their most sophisticated settings the very finest digital cameras (and some of the lower classes under obscure regimes) can take raw pictures, a term of art expressing a savage close-to-the-metal realness, a horde of all but overwhelming screaming pixels.

But when the world was young & gay, the pictures my crummy casio cameras took were tiny and I’d get hold of them in (≤half-meg) TIF files, a standardized “non-lossy” graphics format which still litters my hard drives. Then of course the pictures got bigger and huge and the foto fans’ computers didn’t, so the JPEG was born and the foto fans were at peace, or at least pacified. JPGs compress so well because they’re lossy, so if I want to edit my pictures in a paint program I’m stuffed, since every time I save a JPG image it degrades, because of the lossy compression, so you shouldn’t do that. I set the read-only attribute (in windows of course) on all my jpg files, but some heroic programs’ll just ignore that (including the usually-blameless irfanview)....

So the fancy cameras, in my case my beloved DSLR and even the sometimes-unloved zoomer, have an alternate/additional/huge “raw” capability, where the term is supposed to sound sexier than “un-lossy proprietary format”. The proprietary part didn’t go so good, and nobody’s screwed the customers for raw support in a while. ... No, they’re just left dangling in the wind — well, Kodak did that, with their repulsive useless “share” junk....

Raw Software

But Canon’s free “Digital Photo Professional”[6] works OK with my XSi’s raw CR2 files. PSP X8 can open both my Kodak KDC and Canon CR2 raw files, after occasional minutes furiously running the desktop’s fan. ... Included with PSP X8 was “AfterShot” version 2 which seems considerably less pathological, but won’t open my precious ridiculous Kodak Z990’s KDC files — or even Adobe’s DNG things! The Aftershot version 3 preview seemed similarly afflicted.

... And then I went and unchecked PSP X8’s “File / Preferences / File Format Preferences... / General tab / Open RAW images with Camera RAW Lab” and it seemed to open them a little faster although it restricts me to using the “Adjust” menu for “lens correction” stuff and such, instead of having it pop-up on the right pane for my childish pleasure.[9] ... And then a PC Magazine review explains the “Raw Lab” is supposed to look like the equivalent photoshop window; of course. Although really like the more limited Elements raw thing....

The free FOSSRawtherapee” also opens both Canon CR2 and my ridiculous Kodak KDC files, although its typical FOSS documentation is elusive if not actively malevolent. Sadly, Rawtherapee has the magic-file crashing syndrome — an unknown offending file in one of my vast picture directories confounds it, but so far it hasn’t crashed in directories with a few raw & jpg files. Various other bugs and annoyances appear. But the price is right ($0), and the adjustments are obviously more splendiferous and varied — although I did have some problems selecting the right lens correction — it doesn’t find it automagically like other suspects, even ’though the camera/lens name are part of the raw & jpg “metadata”. ... And apparently Rawtherapee’re such photo software fanatics they haven’t managed to get-up a donation page!

... Presumably there are other possibilities — including my beloved & free irfanview which at least pretends to view CR2s.

Why?

apx. megabytes? (12mp) raw jpg dng
canon 450d/XSi CR2: 15.3 3.9 13.2
kodak z990 KDC: 22.7 4.3 13.8

So what do we want to do with these precious giant raw files in our ridiculously complicated and slow raw programs? ... Why, we want to edit them! We will make the colors glisten, the details glint. And we want to do it in the raw format because....

... Well, actually, I’m not real clear on why we want to edit raw files. I can just “save-as” the JPG file from the camera’s SD card in the non-lossy proprietary format of my beloved paint program, and then adjust the resulting gigantic file to my heart’s content without image degradation. ... But the raw file will have so much more image information in it; that’s why we paid the big bucks for the raw-capable camera, see? ... A few minutes of googling raw vs jpeg produced a few supposedly “bad” jpegs which looked like something that could easily be fixed in a paint program, which is exactly what some of the savants advocate doing with the raw image. ... That, + a good deal of enthusiastic hand-waving. And under-dressed women (check-out the images). ... Similarly, “how to process raw images the right way” using the sacred eternal-slavery Photoshop™ somehow never gets around to the legendary raw image features. ... But my simpleton outlook must be showing....

Well I did do something useful with a canon CR2 image in the Aftershot program what came with my PSPX: when I checked “Enable vignette correction” the edges of the image brightened noticeably. Not that I had noticed before. Kuel! ... Of course in PSP X8 (and presumably elsewhere) there’s “adjust / lens correction / vignette” thing that has the same effect on lower-rent images....

& .DNG?

In my rush to snootery, I overlooked an entire raw format! ... “DNG” is supposed to mean something like “Digital NeGative” and is apparently some kind of Adobe super-TIFF lossless thing what bubbled-up years ago, supported by numerous programs probably and a free Adobe converter, which is in itself suspicious coming from the eternal slavery folks. The program converts CR2 & KDC files to DNG, but it still takes forever to read the DNG file, Aftershot doesn’t see ’em, and why bother. ... From my (typical) incomprehension of the Rawtherapee “help” I concluded that one could use the “lens correction profiles” included with the Adobe converter to do Rawtherapee lens correction but I couldn’t, but apparently there’s a bunch in it already, or who knows.

... Well in the brit Digital Photo magazine (6/16 p32) it’s pointed-out that “if your camera’s RAW files can’t be read by your software” the Adobe converter probably can convert them to DNGs your software will be able to read. By “your software” is presumably meant Photoshop version #6, the last non-slavery rendition. The rest of the “Get it right with RAW” article is the usual hodge-podge of pointless incitements....

Raw == Ugly?

Yes it does. In the foto fan puffery, occasional tips ’n’ tricks relate how your raw files might look a little “flat” compared to the wildly-vivid jpegs, but that’s only so you can use your wonderful eternal-slavery photo editor to fix ’em. ... Because the camera manufacturers tart-up the camera’s jpegs — don’t want camera B’s pictures looking hotter than A’s! ... The magazine puffs actually review these effects, allowing as how some ridiculously-expen$ive camera’s jpgs have such vivid reds, or such delusional drivel — ’cause after all, we’re spending $Ks on these silly gadgets because of the flat raw and the wonderful slavery we can apply, to produce our own delusional hot effects....

Darkness

Poignantly, my older Canons take darker pictures — the A540s, the A610/50, i.e., in their “auto” modes. They knew it, too, ’cause the LCD “view” renditions are obviously tarted-up to look bright. But the histogram doesn’t lie. The 2011 modérne a1200’s pictures, however, are brighter and cheerier, perhaps light metering improvements, or mindless æsthetic shift. ... But I will not despair; a moment in a paint program, and they are as bright as the sky! ... Or of course I could use my phone. Or exposure compensation, now that I’ve studied its ways....

And I was fooled when I took a picture with one of the beloved antiquities and the LCD showed it too bright — washed-out! But the actual image proved to be fine, at least by my pitiful amateur geezer standards, so a happy ending for all....

The Beauty & Wonder of Low Light

One day I went and set my beloved antique DSLR to the “extended” ISO of 1600 and took two pictures (i.e. in “P” program mode), and they weren’t ravishing magic suitable for framing in foto fan magazine hagiography — well actually nothing I take is ever like that — however they were usable pictures, and I deliberately made no effort to hold the camera steady or of course use a tripod.

... So then I moved on to my ridiculous Canon A650 which also has image stabilization and 1600 ISO! The combination of my naturally low standards and the adequate ~2008-quality images will provide me an endless new repertoire of pointless amusement. ... Well heck my battery-draining Z990 zoomer’s got 6400 ISO! ... Murk on! ... The DSLR’s high-ISO images were, predictably, the best, but the Z990’s and even the A650’s were usable — and I haven’t even begun to tinker! — for instance, the A650 was undoubtedly improved after I disabled the -1 stop exposure compensation I acidentally left on, which induced entirely too much murk. So now it’s just about equivalent to the sacred XSi.

... To be sure, they’re all kind of cruddy, but still much better than the “automatic” out-of-focus default — that is, they are focused more-or-less, but pointillist-level graininess to various objectionable degrees. ... The insider super-technical reason they aren’t blurry is that the high ISO makes for shorter exposures: my A650 picture of a dark bookshelf, for instance, was 1/10“ @ f2.8; a more normally-lit room came in at 1/60” @ f3.5.

The Ignorance of the Geeky Foto Fan

I will confess: I was certain the automatic camera shots, with the flash turned off, would force long shutter speeds and, therefore, blurry pictures. But not so — in my vast collection of silly cameras, not one answered to that description! I’m almost certain I remember this happening, and it may be one of those things that someday I’ll figure-out how to reproduce it — just when it will be most annoying no doubt — but in fact at least 3 or four of the herd, at worst, took too dark pictures. Which, with the magic of our beautiful paint programs, can easily be adjusted to acceptable brightness/contrast, and still look better then my high ISO renditions. ... So, although wrong wrong wrong, at least I’ve reintroduced myself to the wonderful world of available light photos, from which I was exiled in delusion & ignorance....

But I’m still not buying the latest $10,000 camera until I can experience — before taking-out the mortage — superior pictures in dim light without a tripod — and I note that all the new point ’n’ shoots still have built-in flash.

Movies?

Amongst the 35mm slides of my tattered history there are “home” movies, mostly with a beautiful minolta xl-400 super8 camera which apparently used Kodak Ektachrome ISO (actually ASA) 160 — not very fast and there was no flash unless one trucked-around one of those giant lights, which I never did, but nevertheless movies taken indoors were often acceptable. Like the later videos, they gained in focus via the multiple frames, at least some of which would be in focus if only by accident, and if it wasn’t anything like cinemascope it didn’t look just silly. ... Well, fairly silly; I mean well qualified for the silly camera collection, but still not dark unfocused gunk — of which, to be sure, there was a plentiful supply also. ... As far as I can ascertain in careful tests, the resurrected Kodak Super 8 camera doesn’t include the ASA 160 flavor, but the more arty/stupid 50 ISO for solar flares / nuclear explosions. ... Although they’re coy about admitting it; that may explain the apparent hitch in the project, since someone might’ve discovered that only super-experts can use the 50 ASA film; ASA 12 with the indoor incandescent tungsten filter nobody got, and there are very few solar flares / nuclear explosions indoors — oh wait they have a “high speed film” with an indoor tungsten 500 ASA — but it almost certainly won’t work with my old minolta and all the other antiques....

Available Light

... And I can remember “available light” photography — before wikipedia, in the distant 35mm b&w past, in which I indeed lived, although there was always color film in my times but often too expensive / restrictive — right, because you had to take it in bright sunlight or with annoying flash bulbs or ridiculously expensive pro lights ... until the golden age of 400 ISO seattle filmworks. ... But artistic progressives would take arty dark b&w urban pictures, or rural ecological beauty, with just the light the Great Nullity gave us. The camera cults used to worship it. But no más — seemingly replaced by the cult of off-camera flash, which couldn’t have anything to do with the vast amounts of money the manufacturers make with proprietary super-automatic flash acce$$ories. ... So I went and bought some 400 Fuji 35mm film for my beloved antique SLR. And resurrected my vivitar flash....

Focus

The snootier digital cameras have clouds of focus points, miniscule electronic gadgets that make our pictures perfectly in focus, except if they don’t. The lower-rent cameras have no points, but automagically focus without saying why, although there is a skittery green box that occasionally wanders around the LCD/EFV of my zoomer....

But I took my wretched chemical slides for years without bothering much about focus. Like most people I’d leave the lens set to infinity[13] and chances are the picture’d be OK. Some lenses’d have foot/meter numbers on the side, and a helpful scale with fstops showing how much depth-of-field leeway you’d get, but I never used those, and of course I would look through the SLR viewfinder so if it was really out of focus I might notice. But most of my shelf of slides are, in the technical argot, focused-enough. ... Indeed, many point ’n’ shoot and phone cameras of that age were “self-focusing”, a term of haught scammery signifying fixed infinite focus aka no focus, living-on even today for cheap binoculars....

And I don’t think I’ve ever taken an out-of-focus picture with the automatic cameras, either! Or the iphone of course — although maybe that’s where the low-light out-of-focus pictures were? ... Except when I left the DSLR manual focus switch on by accident. ... No, it is the vast digital-camera book / magazine / internet industry who are so anxious about focus, compassionately on our behalf.

Focus Points?

... The foto industry is so concerned about focus that the cameras have developed hundreds of focus points in the usual mindless competitive struggle which, it should be made clear, has nothing to do with an in-focus picture. The normal way to focus something which isn’t obvious to the camera’s magic brain is something like centering the desired focus point in the viewfinder, press the button the sacred half-way, then move the camera to frame the picture the way you want, and take it. I’ve never seen an explanation of why the 5 million focus points will improve this process, since it will inevitably involve fooling-around with buttons etc to select one of them, and what it means to select a group of them is beyond the ken of mortal foto fan — but what I know is it won’t make all of them in focus (unless they were already), not in this tawdry mortal physical universe. ... Unless of course you use the wondrous A-DEP mode, what my beloved DSLR’s got (i.e. a larger depth of field will focus better than a short one)....

Megapixel Madness: the hard stuff

It bothered me that higher megapixel cameras did not seem to deliver commensurately bigger pictures — and they don’t: to get actually twice as big, you’d have to double both height & width, so a picture perceptibly twice as big as a 6 mp image’d be 24mp or so — four times the pixels! ... For twice as big as 12mp — 48!

... And actual pictures indeed show that. Which is of course the only reason I noticed, but it’s all really simple arithmetic, and a 12mp picture isn’t twice as big as a 6mp in my paint program on my “HD” 1920x1080 screen, although they’re both so huge they never actually fit on the monitor screen anyway, so I’m comparing comparably reduced renderings , usually 1/4 or smaller. Such esoteric topics are never discussed in official photo puffery because it’d make it all the more obvious how silly the escalating megapixels are.

... So this fellow has strenuous gobbledygook explaining the “Airy Disc” vs. megapixels and why Apple’s super-snootiest iphone 6 had only eight of ’em! ... Which is, basically, if the pixels are too small, they’re no good — kind of Duh. ... He derides a Sony 20mp phone as having “16 MegaPixels and 4 MarketingPixels”. ... And now Apple evolves in the marketing pixel field with the 12-megapixel iphone 7 (here’s an ecstatic puff). ... But I’m sure all my silly camera pixels are big enough....

Changes?

Something else what isn’t what it used to be is the glorious interchangeable lenses that are “available” for every respectable SLR, DSLR, and whatever the rest of them are called, compact interchangeable mirrorless something whatever. ... Naturally “available” means “ridiculously expen$ive” and back in the days of chemical film, at least the colorful kind, it was a pretty-much mandatory way of getting hold of different-sized beautiful pictures.

Today, changeable lenses are quaint — although still ridiculously expensive to be sure. But the modern paint program + our monstrous megapixel images + a typical “kit” zoom like my beloved DSLR’s or the all-but-obligatory zoom on the point ’n’ shoots brings to the pitiful hobbyist almost all the capabilities the Ansel Adams adepts had with their camera bags o’ lenses & darkrooms of mystery & magic. ... Even I used to toil in a b&w weekly oubliette, striving after super high-contrast photos that’d show-up legibly in our low-rent rag. ... But the photography magazines’ super talented pro photo meisters’ exciting adventures continue nevertheless, with all kinds of lenses and intricate ideas about how marvelous they are. ... An increasingly-puffed term of high art is “prime”, which means a non-zoom lens, so rare and precious and obviously more expensive, since you gotta collect ’em all. ... But what is the point of all these ridiculous megapixels if you can’t extract anything you want from a picture in a decent crashing modern paint program!?!?

And I should mention the free autostitch software which, at least for still-life / landscapes, can replace the very widest wide-angle lenses. It’s very simple-minded software, but that’s the charm.[10] ... Although I’ve also got a meretricious “fisheye” adapter (<$30) that fits my beloved DSLR kit lens and the odd point ’n’ shoot....

Foreigners

And so I must make fun of the delightful British photo magazines. The US Popular Photography’s final issue was 4/17; there are a few others, but as is the case with the beloved electronic music magazines, foto fans across the pond are a decade or so behind the muricans, largely I imagine because the iphones et al cost twice as much due to the blessings of socialism. So there are two fat British shill magazines, Nikon’s NPhoto and Canon’s PhotoPlus. These are not like the beloved British masterpiece of puffery Sound on Sound — no, these are apparently wholly-owned subsidiaries of japanese companies but they are fat and happy and chock full of amazing creative things you can do with your beloved DSLR + a DVD with cloying videos of the same. And of course interviews with astonishingly successful photo meisters divulging their innermost tricks and magic.

... But I must say, reading these thick volumes I am amused by the beautiful color pictures, but appalled at the endless struggle which apparently is expected of the photographic hobbyist. No wonder everybody uses their cell phone. ... And then the 2/17 brit Digital Photo was its last issue! They didn’t even pretend to translate to the internet. ... Which, I realized, just means they assume anybody stupid-enough to buy these silly DSLR magazines must be technically illterate — I mean, they’re the people who can’t figure-out instagram. Of which of course I also know nothing but that’s only because I’m so subtle & high-minded. ... And I let my PhotoPlus sub lapse; I just couldn’t stand it anymore, and of course it’s not cheap, even in the sceptred isle....

... & Sadly, Beautiful Pictures Are Free

When any idiot can take pictures and distribute them with his phone, the price falls to zero. Of course the average picture is much uglier than it used to be — maybe? — but there are zillions of the things shooting up to the internet every minute.

It is the bounden duty of camera companies, photography magazines/books, and all the foto-fun advocates to persuade enthusiast and “professional” potential camera purchasers alike that this isn’t so. By lying. And the photographic lobby takes pitiful exception to the obvious general debacle, shouting “sports!”, “news!”, “ecology!”, even most pitiably “weddings!!” — but really, it’s all about the same. ... I’m not insisting no one can sell a picture now and then — but that it is a lot like being a professional lottery player....

The Antiquity Biz ... in Black & White

And that’s what the DSLR sunset and my parade of prematurely-antique cameras and disappearing viewfinders is all about. The end of the photo biz. Like the buggy-whip biz before it.

... But, really, I won’t be so harsh — it’s a conversion, into a kind of antiquity biz, a nuanced photograph technology art form in itself: the strange features, the ridiculous attitudes, the amazing falsehoods. ... There is actually a $7,950 (body only) 18mp 10760 M Leica mirrorless black & white only digital camera[2]. The aspiring photographer who wishes to take only black and white digital pictures will rush to acquire one of these — if Amazon isn’t out of stock. ... I have seen this marvel actually extolled in a camera magazine puff review....

The Paint Program

Finally, I will snootily admonish those who follow the idiotic digital camera path but foolishly neglect the paint program — you are sad pitiful people who will remain unhappy in the digital world of light & beauty. ... As noted in my paint program definition, there are more than a few freebies and anyway you’re paying $100s if not $Ks for the camera, so you shouldn’t be stupid. ... Well that does seem unlikely, doesn’t it? ... But sadly, even despite my vast technical savvy I wasn’t born knowing these things: it took me years with my beloved 1998 PaintShop Pro before I figured-out the layers, much less the more advanced gobbledygook — and please inspect my stirring derision of popular paint programs old & new here....

So go ahead, see if I care. Shovel those megapixels; get that b&w camera — you can’t do anything like that in a paint program, can you!?!?!?![2]

— the imaginary enthusiast
5/17


1. Pitifully the DSLR manual claims the shutter’ll still work: “Even while the camera is in storage [i.e., without a battery], press the shutter button a few times once in a while to check that the camera is still working” (“Handling Precautions / Camera Care” pdf p 12, 3rd graf from the bottom, Canon EOS 450D Instruction Manual). ... They also suggest we should “avoid storing the camera where there are corrosive chemicals such as a darkroom”. ... I’m not cruel-enough, and too lazy, to check more recent manuals for these poignant obsolete shreds of SLR wisdom....

2. When I got around to installing the “on1” freebie that came with my wretched PaintShop Pro X8, it had zillions of b&w “effects”, supposedly simulating every black & white film known to man and no-doubt many distant star systems. So does the newly-free Google “nik” assortment I installed, and many others I’m sure. Even my beloved antique DSLR has a “monochrome” setting, as do all my silly digital cameras! ... So I guess the $8K b&w digital Nikon is for the poor little rich guy who can’t make those computer thingeys go right, and I can feel so superior. ... And I should note that the Nikon 10760 price at amazon rose from $5,500 to $7,950 in just a few months — in which time the productbecame unavailable at other sites, to the dark frenzied anguish of the black & white infatuati.

... And this just in (5/17)! If $8,000 isn’t enough, you can get the $50,000!!! “Phase One 100MP black and white medium format IQ3 ’Achromatic’” you lucky photographers. ... Oh excuse me! That’s just the “back”; you have to spend additional trifling sums on an actual camera....

3. If I’d only waited patiently a little while, I could’ve gotten the beautiful 2007 Canon A650 used for a measly $135 @ 5/26/16 — the Amazon silly camera market is not without movement. Or varying amounts of wear, of course....

4. To get the Infrared effect in psp x8 + free google nik collection: psp x8 / edit / effects / plugins / nik collection / color effects pro 4 / infrared film / Method (drop down list). .... It’s magical! ... On1 Perfect Effects 9 that came with PSP X8 has only a single offering, in black & white (!): Presets / Film - B&W / Infrared. ... Well there’s also Hipster / Holga Infrared, also b&w. Shocking!

... But my grand S2 infrared adventure was not adequately amusing; my 450d/S2 infrared fellow explained how he just had to “look through” his S2 to see the infrared and I was so looking forward to that but no, it was still dark as the tomb. If I pointed the S2+58mm adapter+infrared filter directly at a high-intensity lamp, something’d show-up in the EVF, implying it’s not totally bogus, but when I went outdoors into the bright beautiful day, not a twitch to be seen. Which is approximately what happened with his 450D, so who knows? ... And after all, my junk and his finely-tuned apparatus are completely disjunct — the blank-450d / beautiful S2 image could be the result of a different frequency infrared filter or some such depressing nonsense.

... But then behold, an old gypsy woman @ dpreview — actually some guy answering a forum question — avowed that the 720nm flavor infrared filter was more visible, although, I infer, not as pure and decent as the 920nm that I randomly picked-up, which is apparently opaque in almost every camera in existence. ... So perhaps my S2 infrared adventure awaits me yet, since I of course immediately ordered a $14 Neewer cheapo rendition — and thus I will have two infrared filters, and earn the envious respect of the international photo-pretension community. ... And then to cinch my prestige, I bought a third 650nm filter. Due to my keen techie background I can’t remember which way the visible wavelengths/frequencies go, but with a chart from the internet I’m pretty sure the smaller red wavelengths are more visible, and no doubt 650nm is even more low-rent than the others — but it cost a dollar more! ... And when I finally got it from Shenzhen, GuangDong, it was indeed actually transparentit looks like the red side of a pair of red/green 3d glasses....

... But at last, my towering victory! A genuine 720nm infrared picture =>, hand-held to be sure with a few seconds exposure, but I could see the image in the S2 evf and thus the world is made anew. ... And see this page for why the silly trees are white.

... And behold <= the incredible beauty of tripod infrared — tampered-with via psp9’s 1-step picture fix....

5. My A650 Deoxit adventures were reprised with my “working” A540 which, after a week or two, complained with a “low battery” icon on its LCD. And then when I replaced the batteries temporarily, the A540 presented a dead-coin-battery forgot-the-date-time symptom. But both the new AAs I had installed originally and my new coin battery tested OK; of course. So I did the Deoxit with both batteries/containers, toothbrushing the door metal/plastic, and now it works perfectly. ... I’m not planning ritual deoxitifcation for every silly camera, however; I will demand complaints first. ... So far, the fault seems associated with disuse: the sad empty-on-the-shelf years. ... Too Big NiMHs: Various battery adventures included using NiMH AAs occasionally or continually, and despite supposedly being recommend by Canon, or so says dpreview in their A650 specification page, presumably reporting a Canon opinion, they didn’t fit good and were too tight, at least in the A540. I couldn’t find the slightly-larger rechargeable size problem documented anywhere — so only I know about it, and a few other random web wandering cranks — but unless the gadget is designed with this in mind, etc. ... But NiMH brands vary; the Amazon house brand I just tried seems to fit cozy, but OK.

6. Canon’s DPP (“Digital Photo Professional”!) program is available free somewhere, but only version three; when first I looked — the cla$$sier version 4 would only work with newer full-frame cla$$sier Canons. ... But a Canon suck-up magazine claimed version 4.4.30 works with cameras from “2008“ and indeed when I put my XSi serial number into the download screen, it downloaded OK. But apparently Canon’s been distracted by bright shiny things and the downloaded program dies with a “Fail to Expand Files” error; idiots on the web have idiotic solutions from safe mode to astral projection. ... Aka NFG. ... But then the weary milliseconds passed and the bright shiny things wandered away and I was able to download a working DPP 4.5.0 from hereabouts. There’re also a bunch of picture “style” programs there — which I fear.

... So anyway, in Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D (such a catchy title ... Christopher Grey, Focal Press) the author obviously couldn’t be bothered with the boring gee-whiz details of the gadget and makes sloppy mistakes — as do most of the silly enthusiast books — but he was apparently amused in the chapter on “The Software” and thus I learned how Canon’s Digital Photo Professional works — particularly that I was supposed to click the “edit” icon to do anything. ... But I’m slow that way; it took me years to notice in various versions of pspx that I was supposed to click the corresponding edit tab — and the PSPX tabs are much bigger, and there’re only three of ’em! ... So Canon’s DPP’s probably the “ur-Raw” processor, since Canon’s clearly been dominating this silly market from long ago, and the fellow explains you can recover an f-stop or so of over-exposure with your giant raw file, and you can’t do that with a jpeg — so there, your 15 megabyte CR2 file is good for something, or so he claims. But he concedes other DPP tricks and games can be done with a measly jpeg. ... He also details the wonders of the Canon “Picture Style Editor” and the glorious “EOS Utility”, both of which have astounding super-powers. ... Incidentally a helpful site explained that to get DPP (version 3) to open in a particular directory i.e. in a batch file, “dpp /path particular_directory” seems to do it. And thrillingly, “/file afilename” will fling the file into the edit window without stopping at the file manager. ... But they just seemed to upset DPP version 4....

7. Actually the mysterious A650 power-failure message might’ve been “Change the batteries”, at least that’s what my beloved $16 A610 said to me just now while I was playing with a power supply — it would show the message and refuse to operate with the wall power until I removed the batteries. ... And after-all the A650 might’ve said “recharge” anyway, as per time and tide and I’m not going to bother and meticulously check....

8. In my over-enthusiastic hypocrisy I didn’t even realize the ridiculous Baryta papers are tied-up with the oh-so-æsthetic ’n’ astounding latter-day black & white cult! Even weirder than the DSLR cult itself. ... To be sure, enterprising merchants advocate Baryta for everything today especially color, but they are just opportunistic schismactics — originally, the stuff was actual light-sensitive enlarging paper with chemicals, which the finest æsthetes of the golden era of b&w photography would worship in their hermetic darkrooms. ... Note the beautiful ad <= with the inkjet printer in the wizard’s antique darkroom — I got two of those timers shown in the left back of the ad....

9. At Thu 9/8/16 12:09 pm, I opened a CR2 image in PSP X8 with the “raw lab” option unchecked (files / preferences / file format preferences / general tab / uncheck “Open Raw images...”), and it took 2’12’’. Then I checked the raw lab option and opened it again, and took only 1’33’’. Which was the opposite of previous experience, when of course I followed the opposite procedure. I assume these are artifacts of mysterious caching effects and so are essentially random. Aftershot version 2 appeared to open instantly; all the other suspects took a while although, for instance, Rawtherapee even more randomly. ... And I tried the preview of PSP X9 and it didn’t seem to make much difference.

... When I got calmed-down and let the machine sort-of sneak up on the photo — I stare at the “manage” screen a while and let the fan settle down — the delays seem to retreat to almost usable levels. ... But somehow Aftershot doesn’t delay. ... But the PSPX “raw lab” route doesn’t seem to offer much; the stuff available in the raw modal window appear to be variations on the stuff in the normal “adjust” menu, including lens correction, and who knows how they differ? Probably not Corel. But the regular “adjust” has lots more stuff. But supposedly level corrections at least are enhanced by the RAW image’s large tonal range which is for some reason inevitably compressed for the jpg....

10. To use one of the cute canon golden age cameras with the amazing autostitch, I thought the right way was to figure-out “Auto Exposure Lock” — but then, I couldn’t, at least with my beloved a1200 or a650. + I realized a failure I had with the a1200 at any rate was simply not waiting for the flash after I pressed the button. That is, to do an indoor panorama to document the contents of a room, which I find very useful or at least enchanting, I was whirling around, click click clicking, but I was doing it too fast; I was rushing the innocent thing, but when I just waited after I pressed the button for the flash to go, it seemed to work great!

... Autostitch is so simple-minded it scorns drag & drop, so I suppose figuring-out how to select the files could be challenging for the techno peasantry. ... And I should note that as supplied it produces a disappointingly tiny 2mp picture unless I change its settings — that’d be the giant gear on the main screen, “Output Size” panel, “Width” and “Height”. I set both to 4096 to get a gratifying 12mp result. ... Which, despite my derision in the megapixel definition, is occasionally desirable, in my case when I reproduced my ridiculous living room wall filled with mysterious junk to print and annoy friends, for which I took four vertical 5mp s2 FElocked flash pictures for the panorama, opened them in autostitch, and got a giant sideways picture which I then rotated 90° right to make it good — i.e. autostitch did not honor the orientation thingey in the jpg, like some programs do, but not my beloved 1998 psp. ... The result was the maximum 4096 pixels wide by 3148, but presumably in autostitch’s robot mind the 4096 was its height. But an experiment with just two of the s2 pictures produced 5481x4096 despite the specified 4096 width and height ... so I’m not real clear on what those things are exactly — but who’s counting? ... Anyway, I figure four 5mp pix are enough for a 12mp panorama, and so appears to be the case @ 100% magnification. ... As I’ve become so much older/wiser in the silly cameras’ ways, I’ve learned I want the pictures for the panorama to be smaller — that is, I use the camera’s esoteric controls to set a 2mp picture — it was the “function” button itself on the canon a1200! — ’cause even stuffed-together into a giant autostitch panorama, one takes so many pictures even two megapixels is probably overkill....

And I can use autostitch for portraits — not those boring things where everything stands still, but with at least the occasional delightful artistic aberration. And handheld! — the tripod is so boring. ... If I just make sure there’s enough detail in the photo — that is, not too handheld, and adequate flash — and the angle — i.e. from picture to picture — doesn’t vary too much, autostitch magically creates giant pictures with ease. Even when it goes crazy, the results could be good. ... And autostich understands “vertical” segments, i.e. I’ve taken a set of pictures of one section, pointing the camera down and up and I thought that worked too....

11. Any picture will look better on any computer screen compared to a comparably-sized printed version, with very rare exceptions. The computer screen is illuminated; it’s bound to look better. That’s why the photography cult/$cam is so bound-up with printing your beautiful photographs on big big BIG paper — measured in yards or meters, not inches — which of course require mucho megapixels so you gotta buy that ridiculously-expensive camera — see?

12. Sadly the marching days have obsoleted the T5 in its turn, and now the $450 T6 is the new cheapo canon standard ... and the T7 is not far behind — but wait! The T7’s not the cheap camera; could it be that Canon’ll give-up the “cheap” cameras, as it stumbles into oblivion? ... And the t6 has itself mutated into a range of superior products, at least the T6i & T6s, which got 24mp instead of the cheapo T6’s 18....

13. And then my Canadian astronomy magazine Skynews (p 38, 5/17) tells me “most modern lenses allow you to turn the focus ring beyond the infinity point marked on the lens”! ... Presumably so the auto-focus’ll work without banging, but it also pretty-much makes old-style autofocusing — setting the lens at infinity — verboten. ... So sad....




The Stereoscope (“Stereopticon”?): it’s Time Has Come!

I mean, really, we have the cameras, we have the printers, we have the software, ’n’ everything’s so cheap ’n’ EZ — so why is the world not exploding with new-age stereoscope pictures? ... I certainly can’t think of a reasonable excuse. ... So get to it, world! The delay is unforgivable....

... And it used to say here or somewhere that referring to this instrument as a “stereopticon” is “a common misnomer”. ... But the Great Wikipedia has changed its collective mind occasionally. ... But I will grovel and call it stereoscope — ’though it grates — apparently the “stereo” in “stereopticon” refers to two lenses used to dissolve one projected slide into the next, to no-doubt approving oohs and aahs from the entranced audience. Like powerpoint. And the same idea as the DJ’s two turntables, to avoid annoying delay at least....

Then again, in honor of the stupendously silly Avatar — movie and 3D effects — you can use the “Stereo PhotoMaker” program to create ravishing images in strange-o color. The stereoscope 3D process is inherently superior — after all, you have to have a specially-prepared image and a viewer in both cases — but the “anaglyph” 3D version is sillier.... Although some of us superior persons can “see” stereoscope-style pictures in 3D without a viewer, even I can’t do that with the red/blue kind, nor can you; we need silly 3D glasses to see these things right — well, however....

... When I was a lad, such blue/green 3D pictures had to be in black & white; the real colors were “used up” doing that 3D effect. But the world turns and color printers/viewers abound, and it turns out the bogus effect looks pretty-much as effective/bogus without or with color and those wretched 3D comics I so relished were just cheap! ... How civilization progresses....

— Wednesday, June 30, 2010 3:39 pm


JG32: My Own Private RS232 Program

And yours too, if you have some version of Delphi that can compile it; it comes with source (Delphi version 5). Source for an RS232 DLL, which I hacked from the admirable Howe code, is also included (C++Builder version 5)....

Also known as a “terminal emulator”, I wrote JG32 so I could talk to my ancient PROMPRO7 (1984) Eprom burner; which, since I set my ChipMaster 2000 on fire (1985? — that’s when I got it; I set it on a fire a few years ago), is the only thing in the Computer Attic that’ll burn an 8749, an obsolete microcontroller ever so close to my heart....

And RS232 itself is mostly obsolete. ... As am I, for that matter. ... But here it is, and maybe you can talk to some old RS232 junk with it....

— the prom burners of fire programmer
Monday, July 7, 2008 6:42 pm


The Web isn’t fast-enough: get some Ajax

“Web 2.0” and Ajax are really side-effects of the widespread adoption of high-speed internet access across our fair land. ... For years they told us the web would work great once we got rid of our childish amateur-night modems. ... It’s an example of the “scam penetration” effect I’ve noticed, when some wonderful thing becomes generally discredited when enough consumers have actually experienced the thing, as opposed to lying scammy media hype. ... Whereupon we all move on to the next thing....

Which, in this case, is Ajax aka Web 2.0. The web was supposed to be eventually fast-enough so the round-trip to the server would be unnoticeable, requiring at most some kind of anti-flicker trickery in the browsers. But sadly reality didn’t conform, so now they fundamentally hacked the browser model, adding asynchronous trickery + totally spaghetti weirdo programming so we won’t update the entire page, and instead just transfer little dribbles of data when it’s appropriate. ... Which hides the annoying hesitations of the web: when we want to zoom on the wonderful Google maps, it can still take forever, but at least now we’re not staring at the entire page stopped at the 2nd letter of the headline while it happens....

... Of course, if we can just get those hyperspace modems working, everything will be unimaginably fast and sleek....

— the still-cranky-after-all-these-years programmer
Tuesday, September 11, 2007 7:18 pm

Broken Type in Firefox Web Browser?

Looks kind-of like “” but not quite that bad? ... For me, it happened only on one machine, started with Firefox version 19.0, and stopped I sincerely hope with “Options / Advanced / General”, uncheck “Use hardware acceleration when available”. ... Brief google spelunking suggests the option rarely increases browser speed, and it seemed to have no effect on mine, but does occasionally do bad things. ... It probably sped-up some 386 machines in 1998 or something....

Friday, November 22, 2013 7:45 am. Alert Alert : same “fix” also cured a dual-screen system, where firefox’d (25.0.1) disappear in the “other” screen on the left (internet explorer, of course, didn’t). ... I’d view some page, move it over to the left screen, then close firefox and foolishly run firefox again later and all I’d get is an empty transparent display frame — just the outside rectangle, no content controls nothing. I could resize it into the other screen where it’d restore itself. ... Or defeat this now obviously pathological “hardware acceleration” bug, which is presumably just unsupported cruft left-in by the Google-financed fun-loving Mozillaoids.....

Or Herky Jerky Scrolling?

Yes folks disabling hardware acceleration will fix the distressing personal Firefox malady of Sudden Scrolling Bumps also! No more screens-a-scrolling like MSDOS! Smooth again like the Great Nullity intended! ... I take it back; it did that for a day. Probably some stupid always-on bug, like the brilliant firefox programmers like to do (“those stupid lusers don’t know what they should want”). ... Or it might’ve been a bug. I tried to exit/start again, and firefox complained that it hadn’t stopped, and I told it to kill itself, and after that the smooth scroll was back. Ahhh the joys of precision programming. ... And I like the idea of a bug inspiring the intrepid browser to use hardware acceleration by accident; it just fits somehow....

Disappeared Download Manager

This has been going on for years, as the moron forces at firefox gain the upper-hand and make that nasty download window disappear, and then presumably the frontal-lobal bunch put it back; and finally, the morons won. Search for a plug-in that’ll do it good; some of them do it bad....


Apple Sux

Let’s just admit it; they’ve jumped the shark and joined the great American mediocrity parade. I never updated my pitiful little iMini to rabid cat or whatever it was because the previous catastrophe was so weird, but then I forgot and foolishly upgraded my iphone & ipad to iOS 7 just because they whined at me. At least rabid cat never did that....

And now the stupid ipad, in a cruel mockery of my advancing years and deteriorating mental states, can’t remember its wireless password any more. And appears to have whacked my wifi generally, although that’s a tricky determination, the wonders of modern technology and all. ... Ooops my bluetooth keyboard is apparently gonzo too; so I can enter the password with their creepy useless screen keyboard. ... Reducing my beloved ipad to slag....

So, don’t be like me; DON’T UPGRADE ANYTHING APPLE! at least until the seasons change and the storm passes. ... Just don’t; wait. I knew this, but I did it anyway because I forgot and of course there’s no way back, unlike the kindly Microsoft which at least lets you roll back their catastrophic security upgrades — although, to be sure, not their operating systems either; but then they don’t whine at you to upgrade those....

— the truly cranky programmer
Saturday, September 28, 2013 5:05 am

P.S. Well the thing has managed to sign-on to the wireless twice without demanding a password. Who knows? Might go for three. I’m leaving my passwords taped to the case. ... And the bluetooth managed to spring to life, with a trick: “forget” all the existing devices, and then pair up anew. And it tried to have bluetooth with an HP laptop it never considered before, but I soon put a stop to that. ... So I guess everything’s OK; it’s just like a Microsoft operating system and you expect it to fail in stupid new amusing ways. ... And looks so cute with meaningless graphics window dressing! // Cancel faint praise. The most amusing wacko user hostility: trying to enter the guest wifi password, and it refuses to use bluetooth! Must do it with stupid graphics keyboard. I’m surprised they don’t force me to use iCloud-it’s-so-wonderful-why-does-it-languish for that; although they try to get me to sign-up at every twist ’n’ turn....

Appledammerung

And then I discovered it did the favoritist thing ever: destroyed my notes! Hey go stupids! No upgrade from hell is complete without destruction of the user’s text! It’s just the thing to do! ... It converted all the line endings on my beloved “notesy” dropbox documents, which is practically the only reason I ever use the thing, to transfer my notes to the wonderful open world of Windows — well, it converted all the line endings to cutesy better-than-you our-line-endings are hot Apple stupid fan boy moron line endings. In ASCII, they look like lizard droppings. GO APPLE! ... Maybe I’ll buy a surface and see how stupid Microsoft’s got....

’n’ How ’Bout that Garageband?!?!

Version 11? Google for it, and the web is filled with the usual suck-up reviews for the wonderful version 11. But all my garage band admits to is version 10.something. Which after numerous hangups seems kinda stable for a few minutes, but I can reliably “open existing project”, browse around a little, click cancel — hey, where’d it go?! It disappeared! ... Gotta quit and start again. This is how I learned there are no demos for the program, no cute little projects you can just load-up and watch it play; of course maybe the installation is full of ’em and Garageband has its own secret dysfunctional reasons and won’t tell. ... I mean, it is free; I paid $5 for “additional content” but I don’t feel cheated yet. Although then again I engaged in the usual cranky maneuvers to hook it up to my Bose desktop speakers. ... And I imagine version 11 wandering around in the dark, perhaps operating perfectly — well not judging by web chit chat — oh I see it’s version 2011, i.e. 11 with an apostrophe. ... OK I think I got it. So version “X” aka 10 just doesn’t work and probably never will. ... But it’s free....

Win/Lose

These sad reflections broadened to a visionary realization: Apple, despite its overwhelming success with iTunes, lost the music wars. And iTunes was always a mop-up operation anyway; Apple didn’t monetize the music biz or create new markets, they took over the end of the music biz. Commercial music was going downhill, it’s all but disappeared today, and Apple made buckets of money by creating a commodity monopoly for internet music as the biz died. But competitors didn’t arise; the entire market shrank as people do other things and no longer dote on their playlists; it was fun for a while presumably, but it’s just too much trouble and the people aren’t excited by new songs as is obvious from the ghastly prevalence of old ones.

The decrepitude of Garageband 10 is a symptom of the one new thing in music: well, we used to call it “disco” and it’s hardly new, but at least people still dance for it in Europe — but Apple can’t get those people even if they give it away, and their senior product the $200 Logic DAW is, like their other artistic offerings, and their entire computer line for that matter, neglected at best. Because they’re making too much money on phones and not enough on what today’s kids call EDM which is all but the singular focus of all my music magazines, at least the European aka the prosperous ones, excluding the redoubtable but also still opulent Sound on Sound....

And Apple has a serious competitor for Garageband and Logic in the thumping world of EDM: Ableton Live, who can still sell their products for $400 and $600 to my continued consternation; I can only afford the kiddie wheels freeish crippled “lite” version which is actually far more than I’ll ever use or comprehend. ... But Ableton’s “session view” is the way the people want to make their mechanically repetitive beats, and it’s not in Logic or Garageband. ... Sun 7/3/16 I believe in the last few months or so Apple finally added an obvious Ableton session view to Logic and/or Garageband I forget....

Sad Spybot + XP

Mon 11/24/14. I went and paid €9.99 or something for the licensed version, ’cause Spybottery are such good guys — but it didn’t work with my last pitiful acer XP laptop! I tried their spybot2-license.exe 2 or three times, after uninstalling spybot each time. ... It’d download/install, but was unable to update, and complained about it. ... That bold “No update attempt registered” may be the European way of reporting repeated failures to update, but whatever, it is a sad sad thing for spybot fans everywhere.

Insult to Injury

1/16: And then it had the nerve to ask me to re-up! ... The low scheming robot....

Hewlett Packard: Malware Vendor

That’d be my beloved 8/11 HP Pavilion p6320f desktop =>. I added the “scum” by editing c:\hp\support\HPsysInfo.ini, and while satisfying, I still can’t stop the thing popping-up whenever I press control-alt-S.

... For a while I vaguely suspected I’d invited the vampire in by installing some Hewlett-Packard DVDRW drive — but no, the taint came with the machine’s virgin boatloads o’ bloatware, lurking lurking down there, waiting to trip me when I foolishly thought I’d use ^@S for something. ... I must admit the poor thing has pretty-much passed beyond the pale already, since it took to hanging-up when I’d do the first backup in the morning, a ritual I am devoted to. Months before that, when I rearranged some USB or something, it took to a flat-out startup crash until I rearranged the USB some more, but I figured that was almost normal. ... But now I’ve finally removed its beautiful extra LCD screen and bought another computer — an Acer laptop this time — and put my poor malware server out to pasture, with a timer running at every boot; if I don’t try backing up until it’s had a good 10 or twenty minutes to calm down, it hasn’t hung-up ... yet. But I assiduously neglect it anyway....

So after uninstalling every HP thing I could find, “c:\Program Files (x86)\Hewlett-Packard\” went from 1.6Gig to a mere 625Meg; more than half reduced! Of course the Windows uninstall entries for “HP Odometer” and the all-important “HP Support Information” won’t; clicking/right-clicking does nothing — these important central HP functions are above all that. ... Typical malware behavior....

Towering Victory Over HP Scum Alt-Control-S

Actually, googling for “HP alt-control-S” got me someplace where the gracious malware vendor offered advice on how to kill this ever-so-helpful shortcut key which, on my poor battered crate, resided @ “c:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\StartMenu\Programs\PC Help & Tools\HP Support Information” but won’t be there on your computer — again, typical malware behavior. But I right-clicked on the “HP Support Information.lnk” I think it was, and then “properties” got the Windows screen over there <=, and then clicking on that “Shortcut key” field and pressing backspace got rid of the pest, after the obligatory invocation of “administrative mode” or whatever the gobbledygook is called. And at least I am free....

And I suppose I’ll be avoiding HP computers for a while. ... Well actually I had been already.

I hasten to concede that my beautiful new laptop came with its own bloatware boatload — but it all uninstalled. ... Gone. Mist in the morning. ... And if I’d responded promptly back in 2011 maybe the HP fungus would’ve uninstalled too. Before it updated itself perhaps. ... And thus we learn life’s bitter lessons: computers must include bloatware, to punish the innocent. But to avoid taking our place among those poor beaten victims, we must uninstall early....

Another thoughtful lesson: sufficiently-stupid software is indistinguishable from malware....

The Awful Dénouement: Still Better Than Windows 8

And then the world turned as I barged into the future with my shiny new Windows 8 acer laptop ... but it wasn’t nice. Stuff didn’t work; including the drivelling Dreamhost with which I update this beautiful site. Stuff was embarrassingly awful, really, and the gracious Usux™ has abandoned win8 for the at-last really wonderful this-time-we-won’t-screw-you Windows 10 (but of course it did). ... I should note that my scheme to replace the desktop with a laptop also wasn’t such a great idea: I wound-up with about the same pile of junk & hideous wriggling cables, with less features. Even ’though eventually I did discover that I could have three screens — i.e., two full-size + the laptop screen — in win8 anyway, which made the setup much less annoying. Although even more wires....

... And the HP system — well, it’s not so bad ... I’ve seen worse. ... It doesn’t do that boot-up crash thing anymore either; I suspect it was the nest of USB hubs, some of known dubiety. ... The only advantage my shiny Windows 8 laptop retained was USB 3, and so I bought a $25 card and upgraded the HP desktop[1]. ... Now everything will be perfect.

The Last Days

And then in the fullness of time — around 11/16 — windows could no longer download its updates and in a fit of hysterical paranoia I tried to run malwarebytes (free! anti-virus scanner) and windows claimed it couldn’t find it! ... So I just assumed the weary hewlett packard had been rootkitted. Demonstrating the old adage, that a sufficiently stupid computer (+ user) cannot be distinguished from rootkitting. Because the malware bytes thing was just the idiot user — me — forgetting a hyphen in the path name.

So all is forgiven. In the interim I went back to the pitiful Windows 8 machine, which is just as wacky as ever, and the malware HP still can’t do windows update. So at last HP beat me, beyond doubt, without hope. ... Oh pitiful user! Oh sad Win7 aficionado! — it did its pitiful update OK at last and now it’s all copacetic. I will cloister it away somewhere where it can’t hurt itself — or me — quietly whiling-away its days amongst a herd of XP and Vista machines....

   or is pushed

In its unending effort to improve our Windows Experience™, Usux™ has cunningly broken its update mechanism so Windows 7 systems will fail to update. On a random basis, of course. So they won’t all stop at once. This is relatively easy for your repacious giant monopoly to do; just neglect the thing, and it’ll happen naturally. ... So far all my windows 7 machines have updated eventually, but often only after weeks, which indeed convinced me my pitiful cranky desktop was rootkit-riddled and in a sense, it was — infected with the Usux™ virus through-and-through.

... Today another innocent win7 machine (well, an HP laptop) was “unable to update automatically” — imagine! — Usux™ failing to automatically update, what is proclaimed as the Holy Sacred Usux™ Way. And when I investigated, the machine wasn’t set to update automatically; it was set to “download updates” and “let me choose”. Which of course everyone knows they never actually downloaded; the scam presented the usually-opaque titles, I’d enable the “important” ones, always carefully excluding any skype and win10 scams, and then it’d proceed to laboriously download them. Maybe. ... But I took the obvious preference of the consigliere to heart and switched to automatic updates anyway, and maybe I won’t have to pay win10 protection too soon. ... I assume the un-updatable periods will lengthen randomly to months and then forever, if they don’t come around and break a few windows, and we can thank the criminally-inclined wizard win10 professional fan-boys @ Usux™ for such amusing & inspiring innovations.

... Eventually I suppose we’ll stumble on to Linux, whose defects are of the ignorant idiot kind, as opposed to Usux™’s relatively-intentional destruction, and it’ll just be @ the point where ignorant idiocy is still better than Usux™’s intentional malfeasances. ... What fun we’ll have!

Et Tu MaximumPC?

12/10/16. In an extravagantly unusual fit of truth-telling, the 1/17 MaximumPC admitted Usux™ perfidy, and that Windows 7 updates are being systemtically destroyed. Good to know. ... Even odder, they admit that Windows 10 “Anniverary” updates are making machines unusable to the point that they’re reverting to Windows 7. They had some pitiful suggestions. ... But for a prime PC puffery mag to admit this much is staggering....

12/13/16. If you google for “windows 7 updates” you’ll find many gormless renditions of why windows 7 doesn’t update anymore, supposedly cured with Usux™ update “KB3172605”. The infoworld rendition wasn’t terribly useful, but according to them, your bluetooth better watch out.

... So I set Windows6.1-KB3172605-x64.msu off on my poor dying win7 HP laptop, and it immediately ever-so-slowly started “searching for updates on this computer” forever. No doubt after the usual Usux™-stupid-software 4½ hours it’ll quit with a totally useless message. ... I googled for the “searching” message, and it’s apparently just another incompetent spavined attempt by the conspiracy-in-restraint-of-trade monopoly to run something forever. So I managed to cancel KB3172605, and then, from ancient web rumors, in an elevated command window I went

net stop wuauserv

I think, and then when I double-clicked Windows6.1-KB3172605-x64.msu, it started its endless search for updates but gave up in a minute or so — speedy for Usux™ — and proceeded to install the update, I suppose. And I am now rebooting and of course everything will work perfectly — well actually it’s preparing to configure something, but that’s a good sign.

... And Microsoft Security Essentials MSE was able to update itself! Which it hasn’t for weary months if not years. ... Or at least when I came back after a few hours, it wasn’t still relentlessly “trying” to update, and the update tab said “last updated 12/13” or something, which was today’s date! Who knows? Maybe someday the machine will perform the normal Usux™ updates like it’s supposed-to — although that seems too wildly utopian....

The Beloved Hewlett Packard

Both of these un-updating machines were HPs, both bought @ 2011. A comparably-antique Lenovo has not succumbed — at least yet — to the un-updating disease. Indeed it claims to be downloading updates even as I type. ... And it claims they were successful! And the Lenovo is still a tell-me-don’t-reboot-whenever-you-feel-like-it machine. ... Oh be still my heart.

The second derelict HP, with its Windows6.1-KB3172605-x64.msu duly installed, is doing the reboot-configure dance without asking of course, since I told it. I’ll have to fix that. ... Assuming it ever gets beyond its “12% complete” forever update screen. ... Took about 15-30’.

... So going forward, my arbitrary test for the dreaded “Win7 Usux™ virus” will be when MSE can’t/won’t update. Until I find-out otherwise....

Serene Conclusion

1/17. I abandoned my Windows 8 acer laptop system again.
  • My belief that my windows 7 hp crate was root-kitted was erroneous (hysterical/stupid).

  • Actually, it had the well-known Usux™ virus — the conspiracy-in-restraint-of-trade buy-another-computer + OS virus, which Usux™ has been supporting naturally for years. But the windows 8 scam was a particularly virulent case, helping my windows 7 system appear particularly broken when, totally-by accident, Usux™’s amazing inability to update the operating system they were trying to kill in fovor of, this week, Windows 10, made the machine behave badly, since the update demon was running constantly, and failing. There was more than one machine I retired after experiencing this “bug” aka Usux™ conspiracy in restraint of trade. All KB3172605 resurrected now. ... Some kindly tort lawyer really ought to class-action ’em....

  • Restored to updating regularity, the windows 7 hp crate is still better than the 5-year-newer windows 8 atrocity. It can ftp to this website; windows 8 can’t. And windows 8 has gotten arthritic in the morning, and has taken to hanging-up on the first EXE of the day ... or something. And of course my beloved PSP9 works better on Windows 7.

  • And this just in — windows 7 still better than the Windows 10 atrocities I’ve finally spent a few minutes with....
  • But then again, I will survive — with my beautiful new Lenovo Windows 10 system. ... It’s not so bad ... I’ve seen worse. ... And I have....

So all is well. And thus our technical experiences take the form of the ouroboros serpent, wandering pointlessly in circles. ... And I went into the organ room and played a gentle rendition of Toyland....

A Tale of Two Desktops

So instructive! My HP and Lenovo desktops, both born in 2011, August and October respectively, and the Lenovo still ticking along where I write these deathless missives, while the HP has exhibited numerous signs of cranky decay, some minor, some of course monstrous. ... But at least, in these computery end times, I managed to obey my own historic prohibitions and got my 2017 HP replacement desktop from Lenovo. ... But the LOL swears by the HP laptops, so, whatever....

And then at last ...

@ 4/18/17, I at last switched from my cranky threatening but still-works-better-than-the-others desktop to a brand new Lenovo Win10 crate ... which is only a little worse than the HP win7, and noticeably zippier.

Win10™ Only a Little Worse

And I was hysterically irked at firefox opening a new copy for every single URL I ask for in my intricate command-line batch files, instead of decently using the running copy. ... But it turned-out, just because it’s so cool, Firefox had defaulted the option to do that stupid thing just for Wonderful Windows 10. We all smiled and giggled hysterically.

... But I guess my Windows 10 cargo-cult-like pitiful/magical attempt to revive the old vocational desktop days works OK, I suppose ... I’m almost used to it....

The End of Our Times

But it’s really all part of the twilight of my beloved PCs, as they drift off into aberrant freaky touch-screened something-tops or the billions of phones. All of which I lament at excruciating length elsewhere. ... But I will miss them, of course; it was my time, when I danced with the electrons....

— the kindly programmer savant ignoramus
4/17


1. Actually the USB 3 never worked, HP scoring yet another retroactive point. I had previously installed the same USB3 card into a Lenovo 2011 windows 7 machine, which worked wonderfully, and in my innocence I figured I could so the same to the HP, child that I am. ... To make matters worse, it seemed all amazon had in desktops was more HPs — but just a cockpit error; I’d guess they finagle themselves to the head of the list somehow, but selecting “Dell” or “Lenovo” in the brand category produces a slew of appropriate candidates. ... However, @ 3/17 the first desktop in the unselected amazon list is a refurbished Windows 7 machine....