The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

That seemed to go well...

The deployment, I mean. Everything works, at least on the browsers I've used to test it. I ran the deployment three times in Test first, starting from a copy of the Production database each time, so I was as confident as I could be when I finally ran it against the Production database itself. And, I made sure I can swap everything back to the old version in about 15 minutes.

Also, I snuck away to shoot publicity photos for Spectralia again, same as last year. I'll have some up by the end of the week, after the director has seen them.

Are more megapixels inherently good?

I debated this question with someone at a dinner a couple weeks ago. She suggested higher megapixel numbers told you more about the ego of the camera buyer than about the quality of the images.

I said it depends on how you're using the photos, but generally, more data yields more useful photos.

Here's an illustration, using a vaguely-recognizable landmark that I happened to pass earlier this weekend, and just happened to have photographed with three different cameras. All three photos are from approximately the same location at approximately the same time of day. Obviously there are some differences, but the illustration should work regardless.

Let's take a look at three images stored as 600x900 JPEGs and displayed at 500x750, the standard size for this blog. First, let's see one from a Kodak DC4800 in February 2001, 13 years ago. The original size was 1440x2160 at 3MP:

Now skip forward to August 2009, using a Canon 20D shooting a 2336x3648 JPEG at 8 MP:

Finally, two days ago, using a Canon 7D shooting raw at 3456x5184 (18 MP):

The photos look pretty comparable at this resolution, don't they? So let's zoom in on a 150x150 pixel view of each:

So each one has successively more data than the previous, which becomes obvious when you zoom in.

Another difference: I shot the one from this weekend using the raw format, which preserves all of the information the camera had available at the time of the photo. JPEG images are lossy; they always leave some information out. And because raw images are easier to manipulate using software, I was able to make the third photo a little bit better than I could make the other two.

So are more megapixels more useful? Not if you're just putting up blog posts, but for serious photography, absolutely.

Shuttered and stopped down

Calumet Photo, one of the last real photography stores, has closed abruptly:

Calumet Photographic, a Chicago-based camera supply and photo services provider that first opened 1939, has abruptly closed its doors and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

Calumet said on its Facebook page that it was closing its stores in the United States, but that its European stores would remain.

In its Chapter 7 filing, in which a company prepares to liquidate, it listed between $50 million and $100 million in assets and $10 million to $50 million in liabilities.

I rented lenses from them for my trips to Korea and Sint Maarten recently, and I found them truly helpful on other photographic issues. This is a big blow to photography.

About this blog (v 4.2)

Parker, 14 weeksI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 7½-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in September 2011, more than 1,300 posts back, so it's time for a refresh.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than 13 years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago (the greatest city in North America), and sometimes London, San Francisco, and the rest of the world.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until early 2011 when I finally got the first digital camera I've ever had whose photos were as good as film. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.

I also write a lot of software, and will occasionally post about technology as well. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got more than 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Two nations, one tiny island

When I last visited St. Martin five years ago, I struggled a bit to get through the heavily-defended border between the French and Dutch sides. I am happy to report that the two countries have made significant improvements to the border since then. For starters, they've put up a brand-new sign:

Unfortunately, it appears that an aggressor nation has taken over part of the French side:

All right, I'm wasting time writing a blog post when I could do it with something else. If only this Internet connection were faster, I could be offline a lot faster.

Better photo of the JSA

I posted a photo of the Korean Joint Security Area the night after visiting it, while still in Seoul. Finally, today, one of my colleagues had time to assemble a high-dynamic-range image from a set I took for that purpose. I think it's a much better photograph:

Not only did I get the colors closer to reality (always hard to do with a laptop), but combining three different exposures into this one HDRI brings out the details in the shadowy foreground as well as on the DPRK building we were facing.

Thanks, Matt.