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Blog Moved

I have moved my blog to my web site at blog.cawilliams.us.


What were they thinking?

If I like your product, I tend to be noisy about. I'm a rabid fan of Apple's Macs, software and iPods. I love Adobe's Creative Suite software. I use Lexar Professional CompactFlash cards and readers. And I shoot Nikon cameras, lenses and flash units. I find things I like and stick with them.

So given that, what on Earth was Nikon thinking when they decided to charge $180 for their Camera Control Pro 2 software? The program allows you to do two major things: configure the settings on your camera and shoot tethered. That's it! $180 for that? But then this is the same company that charges $175 for Capture NX, their proprietary NEF (RAW) image processing software. (If you purchase a new D300 or D3, it comes in the box. Any other camera, you get to purchase the software.) Canon bundles their equivalent software with the camera.

Are you listening, Nikon?


Only in Arizona...

Sometimes, you just have to wonder. We spotted another one a few miles away - with bullet holes in it.


Having a Day...

“How are you?”

Amroth stopped and glared at her. “I’m tense, angry, upset!” He resumed pacing. “I’m nine kinds of hell on hot wings!”

“So you’re fine.”

The glass in his hand shattered. "Yes, just fine!"

The Blank Sheet of Paper Phenomena...

Have you ever run in to this? You sit down at the computer and start up your word processor with every intention of writing Something Big. And then you see this expanse of white space and suddenly you don't have anything to say. You sit there and stare at the screen. All the ideas you had when you were doing something vanish when you see that blank page.

It isn't just an affliction of writers. You always see the best photos when you don't have a camera or the best web site ideas when you don't have a hosting service. In any creative endeavor, the hardest thing seems to be starting with that blank sheet of paper.

I was just looking at my web site and realized I hadn't done anything with it since August 2007. Of course there are reasons. Excuses, really. And I have several story ideas that I really wanted to write about. And essays I wanted to write. And things I wanted to take pictures of... And I haven't.

Part of it is simple distraction. Sit down to do one thing and start thinking about something else. Our culture even has a word for it - shiny - which isn't quite the same thing as a lack of self-discipline but close. In the last 10 minutes or so I have type a few words on this post, went to Wikipedia to see if they had an entry for shiny (they do but for something else), added a dictionary widget to Dashboard so I could check my spelling of shiny, put a pizza in the oven, plugged my iPod in to charge, and then back to my computer and that blank sheet of paper.

One of these days though, I'm going to have something to say. And when I do look out.

Time to check on the pizza.


It's Always the Little Things...

Any time you do something as traumatic as upgrading or reinstalling your operating system you are pretty much guaranteed to forget a few items. And naturally, they aren't on any backup or server because you'll do that later.

I got bit by this bothersome fact today in the form of a font, Adobe's Copperplate Gothic Standard. I bought the font in late 2005 to use in my "CAW" logo and for my name in the banners of my web pages. The heavy, even strokes and small serifs give it a distinctive look. And I didn't stash it away just in case I needed to reinstall it.

At least I can go back to Adobe to buy it. Again.

Update to Nikon Capture NX Available

Nikon has released an update for Capture NX. The new version (1.3.1) is supposed to resolve issues with OS X 10.5 (Leopard). I would assume this is the fix for the corruption of NEF files on save. Note that you have to get this fix manually; the Nikon Message Center software won't tell you it's available.


Comments on Adobe Soundbooth CS3

My wife likes to listen to audiobooks while she does other things such as sewing. Most of the authors she listens to have audio versions of their books at Audible.com. Others are available only on CDs. That's okay though; you just pop the CDs into your Mac and rip them to iTunes and - voila! - audiobooks on your iPod. All that works as advertised.

One audiobook producer, Brilliance Audio, divides the content on each CD in very short clips - maybe 90 seconds or so. Since many portable CD players don't remember where you are in a track, the listener just has to remember what track they last listened to and the fact that tracks are short means you repeat a minimal amount of content. This a reasonable solution to the problem but it's painful when you import into iTunes. Those CDs can have up to 99 tracks and a typical audiobook has 8 to 12 CDs. A playlist with 1000+ tracks is annoying and wastes disk space.

I had thought to use Soundbooth, Adobe's new answer to sound editing for Creative Suite 3. I bought a copy of Adobe Soundbooth Classroom in a Book and started to play. Just as Apple did with iPhoto, Adobe built an easy-to-use program for people who aren't specialists in audio production. Being a new application, you should expect it to have a limited feature set. That's okay with me. I just wanted to stitch a bunch of audio files into a single file.

You can't.

Soundbooth is a "single-asset" editor - as in "work with a single sound file at a time." Or to put it another way, you need a multi-track editor like Adobe Audition 3 to do what I want to do. And Audition is only available for Windows. True, I could run it in Windows using Parallels but it kind of sticks in my craw to use a non-Mac-native application. There is also a price-for-features issue. Audition 3 is $349 and what you get is Audition plus content. In contrast, Apple has released the new Logic Studio 8 which includes Logic Pro 8, MainStage, Soundtrack Pro 2, Studio Instruments, Studio Effects, WaveBurner 1.5, Compressor 3, Impulse Response Utility, Apple Loops Utility, QuickTime 7 Pro and a boat load of content. All for $499. There is also a Logic Express for $299.

Of course for what I want to do (at least right now) either one is like swatting a fly with a hand grenade: it'll get the job done but it's way more than you need. On the other hand, I prefer to buy tools once and have done with it. Apart from this single track issue, Soundbooth is a simple and elegant application.

Oh, one other nit. Who on Adobe's HMI team decided a trashcan icon meant "close the file?" In every other app on the planet, a trashcan means delete.


I have been a printing machine this weekend. I started with the RAW files from shooting a couple of weekends ago. Call it 240+ images. I then went through and culled out the duds. Down to about 100 or so. Next, I selected a half-dozen or so to edit and printed multiple copies of each on 5x7, 8x10 and one at 13x19. Papers of choice included hp Advanced Photo Glossy and Ilford Premium Photo Glossy.

In the middle of this run, I had to stop and print several 4x6 prints for a friend of ours.

I'm glad photography is a hobby 'cause this seemed like work!

Adobe Lightroom 1.3.1

If you are a Lightroom on Leopard user, Adobe has release version 1.3.1. I am pleased to see they have a bug fix for the Print module. Hopefully this resolves the crashes I was having when using the templates. There are also bug fixes for importing from a card reader and an issue with the Develop module. An update is also available for Camera Raw (4.3.1).

The web folks at Adobe have been at it again, giving the Adobe Store a make over. Not quite sure why but, hey, change can be good. Someone must have discovered blocks and black-and-white because that seems to define the new motif. And it definitely sports the "swirling color" look of CS3. (If you have the CS3 apps and like the look of Adobe's packaging, Adam Betts turned it into a set of icons. Scroll down to the CS Icon Replacement entry.)

Given the amount of time and money they have invested in the new CS3 look, why would they change the Photoshop logo? The nature logos from CS1/CS2 were interesting but you still had to think for a minute to figure out what was what. (What has a feather got to do with Photoshop?) With CS3, Adobe has gone to two-letter abbreviations and a rainbow of colors. Very clean and minimalist and very easy to pick out. This new logo reminds me of PBS.