The Ask Jake Photography Advice Thread

PhotoRequest I figured I’d start a thread where we can carry a semi-private conversation with Jake on photography topics. Of course, Jake provided input on Mike and Derrick’s camera choices in previous threads, and helped out picking mine on the sly. Even so, I figure he can be a resource after the purchase as well. Best questions will be compiled as a FAQ.


Yes we can.

Yes we can
Today is the beginning. At 12 PM tomorrow in Washington D.C., Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. I am honestly excited & hopeful for the country under our new leadership. I believe that Barack Obama is uniquely qualified to bring together our nation, every citizen in the country. One man can only accomplish so much, but if we all work together– liberals and conservatives, men and women, the young and the elderly, new citizens and old, the skeptical and the hopeful– we can forge a more perfect union. What the future holds for this nation under the leadership of Barack Obama for the next four years will be decided not by the man himself, but by all the people of our country. His success is our success, and his success depends on all of us. As he reaches out across the partisan divide to rivals like John McCain and independent-minded folk like Joseph Lieberman and Colin Powell, Barack Obama is already demonstrating how he will lead our nation. Everyone will be disappointed at times, myself included, but as he builds coalitions across the nation, Barack Obama will have the ability to create better policies, with more public support.
It will take hundreds of millions of people, working together at times and as rivals at times, but we will move this nation forward. The United States of America is admired across the world for our openness, our freedoms, our technologies and our innovation. Together we can extend our leadership, and serve as a better example to the world. Yes we can.
Today is the beginning.


Pre Announced

There’s been a lot of talk, maybe too much talk, about the Pre, Palm’s new smartphone, and the webOS operating system it runs.
A while back, when I was a Palm guy and a company called Apple introduced their phone, I wrote a blog post about how I liked my Treo 650 just fine, and the iPhone, though nice, probably wasn’t anything special for me. Two years later, I’m eating my words as a happy iPhone user, and I find myself in the same position — the Pre sounds nice, but in the absence of any hands-on experience, I’m not sold. Maybe that will change, but here are my thoughts.
Syncing with the Cloud: One of the things that’s most interesting, and potentially most disastrous, about the Pre is that it doesn’t use a computer as a repository of information, requiring an occasional “sync.” (Interesting to note that it was Palm that introduced us to the idea of sync.) Instead, Pre collects information from all over the web (gmail, Facebook, Google Calendar, Outlook, etc) and puts it all together on the device. Called Synergy, this concept promises to finally integrate all the bits of data you have strewn all over the net. Here’s my problem — I don’t have all my information in one place other than my computer. Instead of making my life easier, I now have to sync my Mac Address Book contacts with gmail or something to get them on my phone (if I understand correctly). While I see the potential advantages of the Cloud, I kinda like having my data on my computer, and being in charge of where it syncs.
Some other questions about “syncing”:

  • Does it sync two-way? For example, if I change somebody’s phone number on my Pre, how would that get propagated to the internet? Where does it propagate? Could I somehow end up sharing phone number information by propagating my contact info from gmail to Pre to Facebook? If it doesn’t 2-way sync — let’s say somebody moves. Do I have to update that info all over the web or risk having both correct and incorrect info on my phone?
  • How does it handle duplicates? I know my Palm used to get cluttered with duplicates sometimes, even if I were only syncing from one source.

Web standards for programming: Palm needed to do something to compete with Apple’s App Store, and the fact that Apple will have had an 18-month head start on them in app development and deployment. It’s no secret that Apple hasn’t treated their iPhone developers too well, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of great apps being written for the iPhone — most of them by talented Mac developers who were already familiar with Objective C and the XCode development environment to more easily leverage work they’d already done. Palm’s strategy here was to appeal to an even broader developer population: web developers. There have been some good things said about Palm’s development environment, Mojo, and some developers who have written for both iPhone and webOS are big fans. Questions remain on how deep the hooks will go into hardware beyond the application layer, and whether Palm will exert any quality control. We’ll have to see how the 3rd party developer community reacts.
Osborne Effect: On their gdgt podcast (ep 20), Ryan and Peter brought up something that I hadn’t thought about, the Osborne Effect. Basically, Palm is a company without commercially strong products right now, and unlike other smartphone manufacturers who have been introducing paradigm-shifting handsets and OS’s (like Apple and RIM), they have a solid base of existing products that allow them to announce a product 6 months before it’s released. By preannouncing the Pre (no pun intended), they’re going to kill their revenue until then, since nobody who has heard of Pre will be buying a Centro or Treo Pro, their only two other revenue-generating products. Even Apple knew not to kill their iPhone sales by announcing the iPhone 3G too early (1 month).
Other unknowns:

  • Battery life. At least the battery’s replaceable.
  • Keyboard. I hate the Centro keyboard, and unlike many people, I actually like the iPhone’s keyboard, and can type pretty fast on it. Guess this is going to be a matter of taste, and finger size. But I don’t buy the argument that physical keyboards are always better.
  • Thickness: Sliders tend to be thicker than candybars.
  • Rev. 1. No matter how you cut it, this is a Rev. 1 piece of hardware. You take your chances as an early adopter (but that’s why it’s fun, right?)

My final take: The Pre looks great, and all indications are that it will shake up the smartphone world to some extent. The ideas behind it are pretty innovative, and I’m happy to see Palm, a company from whom I’ve had many products, finally doing something worthwhile after a long break. I don’t sense that this is an iPhone-killer, but it could have been if it had been announced before the iPhone 3G (how often are “Palm” and “could have been” used in the same sentence recently?). I think Android-killer is more likely — hopes were high, and the G1 hasn’t really delivered — webOS offers an open development environment on flashy hardware, and may be easier to develop for. It’s likely that there will be better Android phones out soon, even before the Pre, and I think that’s Palm’s main competition. I’m not ready to trade in my iPhone just yet.


PalmNote prēdictions

So the big Palm CES reveal is less than 24 hours away. What will Palm reveal? My predictions, ranging from sure thing to doubtful to wishful thinking.
1) Nova revealed.
2) The OS gets a new name.
3) Sprint Treo Pro announced.
4) New Nova devices shown.
5) Official AT&T support for Treo Pro announced.
6) Nova release date set.
7) Palm stock leaps to $5.


Lucas’ First Pro Haircut

Serena posted some pictures we took (using Jake’s camera) of Lucas getting his first professional haircut. Only lasted 5 minutes or so, but the little guy made it seem like the end of the world. What a baby :).
If your kid needs a haircut near the Los Altos area, we highly recommend this place, “Just Kids.” It was a bit pricey ($20), but the kids get to sit in race cars and merry-go-round horses!


The word is on the street about Altec Lansing’s BackBeat Bluetooth headphones – Engadget

New stereo bluetooth headphones from Altec Lansing. Nothing groundbreaking (very Motorola S9-like), but it makes for a good headline.

The word is on the street about Altec Lansing’s BackBeat Bluetooth headphones – Engadget


Welcoming 2009 in style!

Finishing 2008

We said goodbye to 2008 above. And below, we welcome 2009. Another great year for team Pyslent!

Cheers in 2009!