Friday, November 23, 2012


Is the number of cynics increasing? Do more and more people think an upgrade is just a ploy to make money without providing much or anything?

That conclusion could be why upgrades like the new Microsoft Windows 8 is not getting very much enthusiasm. But it could be a lot of other ideas, concerns and people do get tired of old habits. I remember during my youth each fall the big thing was to visit all the car dealers to kick the tires on all the new auto models. It was an expected unofficial holiday and almost every auto brand complied with new models every year and always in the fall. But these days trading in a year old car for a new one when the leaves turned color is a forgotten habit half the current population never knew. Now it is the realm of high-tech products. Currently the more fashionable thing to show off is your new laptop computer, it just lacks the excitement of everything chrome with finned rear fenders. And sadly the office crowd is blase about almost everything, thanks to IT managers who like nothing better than saying no, or was it the politicians that took over that world.

Anyway, upgrades maybe don’t deserve cynicism. The computer operating systems are just trying to keep up with the kids and their newest gizmos. Smart phones and tablets also have operating systems, so it has made practical business sense to incorporate the new device systems with what runs a personal computer. The short side of that is these new operating system upgrades do not run all the older software or have support for older hardware accessories like film scanners. Oh yes, there are workarounds, but a lot of computer users are just sitting tight and running their old system like Windows XP; and that includes many corporations. In fact Apple OS10.6.8 is becoming much like Windows XP in the hearts of users. But then you can’t buy new hardware like the latest Apple Mac or PC laptop and have it delivered with an older operating system, in many cases the new machinery will not run except with the latest software. More work-arounds, maybe and maybe not.

So has high technology created its own Catch 22 for itself? Yes if the companies like Apple, Adobe and Microsoft ignore the data indicating fewer and fewer people are choosing to upgrade. Of course some of the drag is just a kind of satisfaction in getting along with what one has, and a good part of that is that comfort comes with familiarity and there is an innate fear of having to learn new ways to do things - unless there is a very good reason to change. But as more and more computers have improved reliability, product failure is less of an incentive to invest in the newest system or to upgrade the operating software.

All this would be helped a lot if forced obsolescence was avoided in the process of upgrading. So why don’t companies that upgrade make a priority list of what helps not just them and their business, but what helps people. One solution is to make newer systems backwards compatible. This is built into CD/DVD disc design - my oldest music CD’s play well using almost any kind of disc drive in the newest devices. But of course Apple believes disc drives are no longer necessary, so it leaves them out of their newest computers - but fortunately you can add a disc drive externally connected to an Apple Mac. So as long as there is a readily accessible alternative you can hang onto the old, familiar and often essential ways to get things done.

I just wish this was taken all the way so all of your established tools and techniques can be preserved. For instance if you have an old Mac that is worn out you can get a new one and easily transfer all of the data on the old Mac onto the new one quite easily. Unfortunately if some of those goodies don’t work with the new one you are left hanging in an empty world. So why not also allow copying the old system too, and provide a way to run it virtually in the new one????? In a way this has been done by software companies like Parallels systems, which allows Microsoft Windows operating systems to run in virtual mode on an Apple Mac. But sadly neither Apple’s Boot Camp or Parallels allows running Apple’s 10.6 operating system virtually on a newer Mac that runs OS 10.7 or 10.8. 

This makes me reluctant and not inclined to buy a new Mac, because I have one relatively recent Mac mini with OS 10.7 and it won’t run all of my older scanners or the software I prefer to do my work. So this almost new Mac mini  gets used very little, and that pisses me off with Apple enough to not even think about buying a new toy. And that Apple has provided the joy in my life. I am not just into having things, but I get irritated when anyone gets in the way of my doing the work I most enjoy. So, Apple, Adobe, Microsoft et al when are you going to begin thinking more about the consequences of upgrades and that to some of us they are really downgrades!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Since photography began popularly at the end of the 19th century an argument has gone on whether making a photograph is an art or is it a science. It is a continuing question that has never been resolved for much of the 20th century, and still remains a question. Of course some photographer’s work is now accepted by the establishment and publicly as art. But the fact that the photographic process is scientifically based, even more so in the digital age, leaves much doubt and misunderstanding in the minds of many who adopt using a camera.

Much of that doubt and confusion is the result of a photographic business community that keeps the process as secretive and so little understood deliberately. Mystery is to their benefit in the marketplace - would you buy a sausage if you really knew what’s in  it? So the public is at the mercy of what companies are willing to share, and it does not amount to much understanding of the hardware and software they are using However, one thing you can be sure of is that the science behind photography demands that the photographer must think scientifically rather than artfully to make photographs.

Fortunately people are not so easily led to abide to the dictates of the establishment, and think and do more as their spirit demands. So a side business has developed that supports every creative image manipulation method imaginable to satisfy the quirks of individuality and self-expression. Sadly that has not added much to photographers understanding of how the medium, a camera, a computer and software function. Mystery still prevails and the “magic” remains in the hands of the establishment’s secretive possession. This is further complicated and made ever more obscure as today’s computers and software are inept at providing much control over the photographic process.

The personal computer business began in ernest in the mid-80’s with a lot more garage factories putting together components than is commonly known. But these were mostly difficult to use requiring the user learn command-line control. So the next development making computers user friendly was what is called a GUI (Graphic User Interface), that led to some off-shoots like computer games and digital image editing and processing. But the typical personal computer was always a mix of often not very compatible pieces designed and constructed to provide independent color reproduction. That situation still dominates and a personal computer has no idea of what image is presented on-screen and cannot identify what the subject of the picture is, even that it might be a photo of something natural.

In the mid 1990’s Color Management was introduced and soon was supported by the two most popular computer operating systems. This allowed for a translation of color values so any RGB number set would reproduce the same objective colors in a color reproduction device like a display or printer. Color management however is a limited value as it does not assure that the RGB color captured in a digital image is true to the subject color photographed. And, Color Management is still far from being universally used by photographers.
This leaves digital photographic imaging being subject the photographers’ perception to be able to adjust, edit and process digital camera or film scanned images to match or not the image that was the subject. So photo images, however they are reproduced are done so by personal, individual visual perception and evaluation. Whatever the image is in relationship to the subject is the photographer’s choice. As a choice made by diverse minds it must be called accurately art of some kind; good or bad.