Starting December 26, 2000
It's 2001, More about digital vs. film: Paper prints, Happy New Year!, Digital vs. film for retrieving memories, Trip to Florida
Tuesday, January 2, 2001
It's kind of weird typing 2001 as the year. It is a bit better than 2000, which as a multiple of 100 or 1000 did not feel like a year number. The weird thing about 2001 is that it is one of those two "magic" years from my youth, 1984 and 2001, both because of fiction (book and movie, respectively).
Last night we went to downtown Boston for "First Night" and watched some of the early fireworks and looked at the ice sculptures. Getting back to my house, we watched the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, and then the ball drop on Times Square.
Looking at ice sculptures in Boston, ball dropping in Times Square
Watching the movie was quite strange. I hadn't seen it in many years, probably since college in the early 1970's when they'd show it every year at MIT. (I've probably seen the movie 5 or 6 times since it came out in 1968.) The film is of interest today because it emphasizes mundane, everyday things and shows them. In putting the film together the filmmakers had various companies predict what would happen in their field 30 years in the future to help fill in lots of details. Examples of those mundane things are telephone calls to home, chit chat, people who aren't witty when they talk, airline food, long complicated instructions on a consumer device (a zero gravity toilet), the boredom of long space travel, and taking pictures of a group of people in front of a wondrous background. In hindsight, some areas advanced slower than predicted, like space travel, natural language voice communications with computers, and more. Some technical things predicted happened (like flat screen TVs in the seat backs of all first class seats on passenger travel). Seeing monopoly Bell Telephone as the phone company, or notetaking on paper at the same time they have thin tablet video screens, or a centralized computer controlling simple servo motors, showed that we've moved further than expected in other areas. They expected communications to be telephone calls (augmented with video), with no hint of email or other uses of the Internet. The whole personal computing / personal communicating / personal electronics world we have today (PCs, PDAs, cell phones, Walkmans, etc.) and miniaturized electronics were not foreseen. Of course, maybe engineers' distrust of centralized computing after seeing HAL mess up influenced what we built... (Lots of articles are being written, it seems, doing this comparison of prediction vs. actual, so I won't go on.)
More about digital vs. film: Paper prints
I received comments from my discussion of digital photography, such as this one from Miguel Marcos:
...when it comes to social gatherings, paper beats digital anytime. The social space of a gathering is inhibited by any type of digital device since people have to gather around a device which not all get a good view of. When you have a collection of paper snapshots you can all sit around a table or in the living room, and conversations float from person-to-person to the entire group; everyone experiences participation in a unique way, people bring up different remarks. This is very much related to the one of the gravest problems I still see about any digital device: there is little of no comfortable social context embedded in the interface...
I replied to him, saying that I agreed that paper prints are important at times, especially in frames on the mantel, on the refrigerator, and when given to others. In fact, that is what pushed me over to all digital: On-line print services (such as Shutterfly, Ofoto, PhotoAccess, EZPrints, and lots of others) let you easily and inexpensively get paper prints from your digital pictures that are basically at least as good as those you get from the "1-hour" photo places. Inkjet printers and special papers let you make pretty good (but not much more inexpensive nor quick) prints at home. Film doesn't have much advantage anymore. If you have a digital camera and haven't tried these on-line print services, you should. They often give new users lots of free prints as a trial.
Of course, if you have a digital camera and haven't tried sharing your pictures on the web, you should try that, too. If you need a place to try doing it and software to make it easier, try Trellix's new Web Photo Manager on ZDNet. Just sign up for a ZDNet account at www.zdnet.com. Other Trellix partners will be upgrading to provide the Web Photo Manager in the coming weeks. Fortune Magazine is running a very nice review of it in their current issue.
Friday, December 29, 2000
Happy New Year!
In case I don't get to post anything else this year, let me take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy new year! Thanks for the support.
Digital vs. film for retrieving memories
On the trip back from Florida last weekend I had an interesting experience. I ran into an old classmate from high school. I hadn't seen her in a few years. For part of the trip her husband and I switched seats so we could talk. As you might expect, we discussed some of the teachers and students. I said I had pictures, which of course she wanted to see. I retrieved my laptop and within a few minutes I found pictures from a reunion a year and a half ago as well as some from my Mom's award ceremony last year. It was great. After we got off the plane, I made sure to take a (digital) picture of her and her family to share with others.
On the trip out I remembered I had taken some pictures at the Agenda conference in October 1999 of George W. Bush when he was the dinner speaker. He was one of many people running for President at the time. Now he's the only one left and is about to be sworn in. I looked through my pictures on my laptop and, sure enough, I had many of his classic poses, taken with my camera from much closer than I'll get to him for a long time. When I started this log I used one of them to illustrate something about Walt Mossberg (I have a picture of Walt questioning George on October 28, 1999), but I wasn't writing about George W. If it happened today, I'd show lots of George.
Pictures found in my laptop of George W. Bush at a conference, October 1999
A couple of days later I was writing the entry below about Butterfly World and I remembered I had taken pictures there when I visited a few years ago. I rummaged through boxes of old pictures for quite a while and couldn't find any pictures from that trip. No order, just lots of envelopes with negatives, and many prints strewn about. I finally gave up. I wish I had been able to switch to digital back then.
Another thought: Copies of many of my digital pictures are on a few different computers, some in different cities. (On one trip I brought along a CD on which I had written thousands and copied them onto a relative's large hard disk.) If anything happened to my house I'd lose all sorts of visual memories...but not all my digital ones. As technologies change I'll copy them to new media and formats. Hopefully I'll get around to scanning in my negatives someday.
Tuesday, December 26, 2000
Trip to Florida
I haven't had much time the last several days to add to this log. Among other things, I was down in Florida for a few days visiting relatives. It was very strange to be driving around in an area with "famous" names from the election: Signs said "Leaving Broward Country", "Entering Palm Beach County", etc. I was reminded of a trip there several years ago when I visited Butterfly World in that part of Florida (an enchanting place, as I recall, with thousands of beautiful live butterflies). Who would have thought butterflies of a different type (ballots) would become associated with Florida?
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