Monthly Archives: December 2011

Mac nerd friends: A little help here?

“Hello, my name is John, and I practice unprotected computing…” (“Hello, John.”)

Until I upgraded my Mac to Lion, I was a rigorous user of Time Machine: I’d plug in a Drobo at work, and I’d connect to a Time Capsule at home. It paid off when my hard drive died & my bacon was saved.

Ever since moving to Lion, though, I’ve been unable to back up. Connecting to either backup produces a “Preparing to back up” cycle that can last for hours or even days. It’s unusable to the point that I think I should just wipe the backups and start fresh.

Here’s where more problems ensue, however:

  • Deleting the backup from the Drobo was incredibly slow, to the point that I reformatted the drives and thus somehow rendered them inoperable (!). I need to carve out time to work with Drobo tech support, but I haven’t been able yet.
  • I can’t wipe my Time Capsule (which contains other data), and due to space constraints, I can’t start a new Time Machine backup without trashing the first. I fear the process taking more hours or days.
  • Okay, fine–for now I’ll just buy a new, fresh, cheap hard drive. Without doing research (!), I grabbed a big Seagate 2TB USB 3.0 drive. “No prob,” I figured, “this thing should be USB 2.0-compatible and more future-proof.” Now, however…
  • After reformatting the drive, Time Machine backups continuously fail. Things seems to go great for tens or even hundreds of GB of data–then simply stall out forever. This has happened several times, always at different points, even across reformatting.
  • Okay, fine–forget Time Machine, let’s do Carbon Copy Cloner. Unfortunately, even after reformatting (again) per CCC’s instructions, the backup failed ~66GB in. Given the TM failures, I’m not inclined to try again.

So, here’s what I’m wondering:

  • Is there something wrong with the data on my Mac–something that would cause old backups to stall & new ones to fail?  And if so, is there a diagnostic I can run to find & hopefully fix the problem?
  • Is there something screwy with Mac OS support for USB 3.0 devices?
  • Is there something screwy with this particular drive?

My Google-fu has failed to provide a solution, so thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide.

A marriage proposal via Internet memes

At Christmas (or almost), here’s something awfully sweet:

Of the shoot the groom’s co-conspirators write,

We went to venue a day before to scout the place, discuss how to hide those cameras and look at how to be invisible.

On that day, we were all dressed in black. Talked using walkies. Used wine bottles, glasses, cutleries, vases and flowers as cover. We sat around the restaurant as guests but with our cameras on. And yes, we achieved total invisibility. Audrey walked into the restaurant, sat with her friends and never noticed us.

Not until the prime time when Tim revealed himself with meme place cards that was part of his proposal. That was when all the cameras (all 4 in total) started rolling.

The bride shares an after-action play-by-play on her blog.

Video: Vintage Russian animation

We’re awakened every day by young boys charging in & requesting “Truck videos!”–shorthand for watching random stuff on YouTube. Somehow we unearthed this weird old gem, a Russian production from the 60’s. Fair warning: It contains one an epic ear worms so catchy that it might be a mind-control plot.

Bonus kid-hypnotizer: The guys delight in this simple old Flash 3D piece. “Toss the monster truck out the top!!”

The Germans must have a word for this

Here’s the blog post I was drafting Wednesday:

Dear 5D & 24-70: I don’t know what I did to make you disappear, but on the off chance you read this blog, please come back. I miss you very much.  — Love, J.

I was utterly bewildered by it, but I’d begun slowly coming to terms with the disappearance of my camera and big, stupid-expensive lens. The pair had been MIA since Halloween, and all the king’s horses, children, wife, babysitter, and cleaning lady could not find them again.

Thus on Wednesday evening I found myself at San Jose Camera, checking out 60D’s, 7D’s, and stupid-expensive lenses. I was all set to ask your advice on the matter (how’s the 17-55 2.8 lens? are live view and/or a swiveling screen worth a damn? should I maybe go Nikon overall?), and I’d secured a cam or two to borrow from the Photoshop QE locker (one of the best perks of this job). After mourning my loss, I’d started getting excited about having features like video capture.

And then, what do you know, as I was talking to my wife about it at home, my eyes wandered into the china cabinet (never lit except, oddly, at this moment), into a crystal serving bowl… and to the camera!!  Our elderly sitter later remembered that she’d stowed it there while the boys were roughhousing–then utterly forgot about it.

And thus we come to the Germans*: Doesn’t it seem they should have a term for “Relieved delight in one’s good fortune, tinged with vague disappointment, seasoned with guilt regarding the disappointment”?

In any case, I’m looking forward to getting the big rig back in action. It’s true I shoot much less with the SLR these days, and yet when you need to nail a shot (e.g. with family visiting for the holidays), “accept no substitutes.” I just can’t miss any more kid photos when the iPhone or even the S95 takes its sweet time to fire the shutter.

Welcome home, boys.

*Interesting read: “A Joyful & Malicious History Of ‘Schadenfreude’“: “By leaving Germanisms untranslated, one always points to the sentiment expressed by the word as fundamentally and even organically German. My favorite, ‘Vergangenheitsbewältigung,’ means roughly to overcome or to come to terms with the past… In Gravity’s Rainbow, Pynchon notes ‘the German mania for name-giving, dividing the Creation finer and finer, analyzing, setting namer more hopelessly apart from named.’ Naming is not only a form of identification or labeling, but also of creation. To the eye, mouth, and ear, capacious German words seem to embody and externalize the weight of difficult emotions.”

iPen, "The first active stylus for iPad"

Having seen demos like this for the last 18 months, I’m keeping my expectations modest. Still, I love to see that industrious people are trying to help iPads realize their potential, and that customers are responding.

Check out the project’s Kickstarter page for more info. According to the FAQ, the product does not support pressure sensitivity, though they say it’s planned for inclusion in a follow-on version.

Lightroom 3.6, Camera Raw 6.6 updates now final

Lightroom 3.6 (Mac|Win) and Camera Raw 6.6 (Mac|Win) are now available as final releases on and through the update mechanisms available in Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3. These updates include bug fixes, new camera support and new lens profiles.

New camera support in these releases:

  • Canon PowerShot S100
  • Fuji FinePix X10
  • Leica V-LUX 3
  • Nikon 1 V1
  • Nikon 1 J1
  • Panasonic DMC-GX1
  • Ricoh GR Digital IV
  • Samsung NX5
  • Samsung NX200
  • Sony NEX-7


In addition, the releases add support for numerous lens profiles while squashing a number of bugs. Please see the Lightroom Journal for details. [Via]

Delighting in the details

Interface designer Neven Mrgan made a good point on Friday:

Touch gestures are the new keyboard shortcuts, but the difference is delight: no one ever saw ⌘⇧S and thought “awesome!”

To which I say: Well, no normal person, maybe. 🙂

I remember learning Photoshop and discovering that holding Option would turn Cancel buttons into Reset buttons.  “They didn’t have to do that,” I thought–delighted.  Later when I learned After Effects, the teacher showed that Shift-dragging did one thing while Option-dragging did another.  I asked how one would do both things at once, and though he didn’t know, when I combined the modifiers, sure enough, it worked as I wanted.  “My people, my people…” I thought. And just the other day, I took enormous pride in persuading the Photoshop team to get the semantics of a new shortcut just exactly right.

It’s craftsmanship that counts*, and delight flows from the feeling of speed, power, and control. Whatever the surface, let my fingers–and my brain–fly.


* As Photoshop godfather Mark Hamburg observed, “People pay for features because it’s easier to justify the expense. People adore polish because it makes the product feel good, and that adoration will carry you farther in the long run than features.”

Adobe's sticking with Flex, investigating HTML5, for CS extensibility

PM Gabriel Tavridis shares some thoughts on where things are headed. Key points:

  • The Creative Suite SDK and CS Extension Builder will continue to be developed and enhanced with new features and support for Creative Suite applications.
  • We will make CS Extension Builder available through the Adobe Store at a compelling price point. We want the tool to become broadly available, so that every Creative Suite developer can enjoy its benefits.
  • We will continue our investigation on new technologies (e.g. HTML5) for extension development and occasionally share our findings with the developer community. We want to be transparent with the community and keep you involved in our planning.

All these tools & runtimes are just means to an end–specifically, that Photoshop and other apps get really well tailored to your needs. Your feedback is always welcome.

Students: Enter the Adobe Design Achievement Awards

Check it out:

Students are invited to compete in 13 categories, including Game Design and Development, as well as Application Development and Mobile Design. Since the ADAA competition began in 2001, nearly 25,000 students from 73 countries have been involved; in 2011, a record 4,600 entries were submitted.

Free to enter and open to students, faculty and staff of higher education institutions worldwide, the 2012 ADAA will be judged by a panel of international design experts in three independent judging sessions. Submission deadlines are January 27, April 27, and June 22, 2012.

Semifinalists will be announced after each judging session, providing participants with early visibility into their competition status. In October, finalists will be invited to attend the ADAA awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Calif., where winners will be announced and awarded Adobe software and cash prizes.


SF Photoshop User Group tonight: Creative Digital Post-Processing

Starts tonight at 6:30pm at Adobe San Francisco (see details):

In this presentation, master photographer Harold Davis explains his complete digital workflow starting with his digital photography techniques. He shows how he uses multi-RAW processing and hand-HDR with layering to enhance original photos.

Along the way, Harold will demonstrate how he uses the LAB color space to improve imagery and create special color effects.

Finally, Harold will discuss how his images are prepared for publication and archived in the books he packages for major publishers, including Focal Press.

There will be ample time for Q&A, so please bring your questions for Harold to this presentation.

Love for Photoshop Touch

I’m delighted to see reviews like this continue to roll in. A few recent quotes:

  • “Photoshop Touch is a triumph of mobile computing, allowing for deep image manipulation, with very usable touch screen controls.” — Nick Moore, Galaxy Tabs
  • “Photoshop Touch, a nearly perfect paring-down of its desktop counterpart… packs in almost all of the things I need for on-the-go photo editing.” — Liam Spradlin, Android Police
  • “All in all, Photoshop Touch provides a wide array of useful and easy-to-use tools for manipulating images on the go.” — Michelle Mastin, PCWorld

"HTML5 Now and Next" event in SF Monday

Adobe’s hosting an “HTML5 Now and Next” event next Monday, Dec. 5, in San Francisco:

  • 5:30pm – Registration Opens
  • 6:00pm – Welcome
  • 6:05pm – Greg Rewis “HTML5: What’s now. What’s next.”
  • 6:30pm – Tab Atkins “The Future of CSS: Current Experiments and Near-Future Reality”
  • 7:00pm – Vincent Hardy “New CSS Features”
  • 7:20pm – Quick Break
  • 7:30pm – Paul Irish “HTML5’s History and Vocabulary”
  • 8:00pm – Steven Gill “HTML5 and Phonegap, Now and Next”
  • 9:30pm – Networking ends