Simon's tech blog and lab

One piece of gear your digital photography kit might be missing

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Spyder4ExpressI don’t have a natural eye for color, which might be why I shoot so much Black and White, so calibrating my monitors has always been a hit and miss exercise for me.  I’ve know about monitor calibration tools for years, but I could never get around to picking one up.  Last week I noticed London Drugs had a Datacolor S4X100 Spyder4Express on sale for about $60 CDN, so I finally got one (sort of on impulse).  Honestly I wish I had purchased one years ago now that I have it.

I use an Alienware M17x for my multimedia “work” (and gaming on occasion).  It has a beautiful, clear 17″ LCD at 1920×1080, that is calibrated horribly.   Since this is a system tweaked for gamers the LCD comes calibrated with an intentional, extreme blue tinge that’s really difficult to correct at least for me.  So I’ve been suffering with it for about two years, second guessing all my color photo enhancements.

Post calibration (which only takes a couple of minutes) my monitor immediately went from “Michael Mann Blue” to a color spectrum I could easily recognize.  Going back to look at my raw photos from the last couple of years I felt a huge boost of confidence; the pictures I took finally matched much more closely what I was expecting to take when I hit the shutter button.

So, if you’re a photographer and you don’t have one, get one while they’re cheap, it’s money well spent.  Think of it as auto-focus for your color calibration.

iCloud bridges Chrome on my Desktop and Safari on the iPad (at least for Bookmarks)

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ICloud_iOS7Chrome_logo-3Apple was pretty late to the party with iCloud, but it’s still useful, especially if you have an iPad with limited space.

And as a quick tip, I’ve discovered is that it’ll effectively (effectively being the key word here) sync your bookmarks between Google Chrome and Safari on the iPad.

While Chrome is also available for the iPad I find Safari is a much smoother experience on it.  The bookmarks seem to sync back and forth immediately, which is great news.


So everyone here knows about Demon Kakka right?

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Seikima-II live at Japan Expo 2010 (Paris, France).

Seikima-II live at Japan Expo 2010 (Paris, France).

Demon Kakka (デーモン閣下 Dēmon Kakka?, born November 10, 1962), previously known as Demon Kogure (デーモン小暮閣下 Dēmon Kogure Kakka?), is a Japanese musician, entertainer, journalist and sumo commentator. He is the frontman of the heavy metal band Seikima-II, and is known for always working entirely in character.

Pulled directly from the Wikipedia page, because really how could I have described it better?

Here are some videos.


Points of interest:

Photo via Georges Seguin

I ditched my Android tablet for an iPad

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Clickbaity headline aside, yes I now have an iPad Air and it’s great.  I’ve been avoiding Apple products for a couple of years because I didn’t like the weird direction MacOS X was heading (and I still think I’m right).  I actually didn’t give up the Nexus for any ideological reason.. I sent it to my Mom in the UK so she could keep up with us via Skype.  

I’ve had a classic iPad for the longest time as well as  the Nexus and I was always a fan of it as a creative device, but it was time to upgrade.  The funny thing is even as an Android fan there are some gaps in Google’s application ecosystem I can’t seem to fill outside of iOS.   The more research I did on what tablet I should pick up next the more arrows pointed at an iPad upgrade.

Then came the Target closings, and I couldn’t resist any longer.  What I’ve discovered since is that iOS has come a long way, and the creepyness of the App Store model isn’t as bad as I had suspected it would be years later.  In fact it’s kind of nice to download “mostly disease free” software (you can tell I’ve been using Windows lately).  Google has an app store as well, but it’s pretty easy to load your own ‘.apk’ files so I never considered it a closed device.

As a techie something I overlooked is that I’ve actually been using app stores for more than a decade, via Linux tools like apt and yum, and to an extent the FeeBSD ports repository.  All of these sources are maintained by failry centralized groups to one degree or another and the world hasn’t ended for those operating systems.  

I’ll never be able to do 100% of my work from a tablet, at least not in the next couple of years, but the amout of work I actually can get done via iOS these days is really impressive.  

Marble Madness @

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