Written: September 29, 2013

Don’t Believe All Marketing Hype

This past week Apple announced a refresh of the iMac computers, their all-in-on design with 21.5″ or 27″ displays. I’ve owned an iMac before but never got used to the glossy display because it was like looking into a mirror at myself all day long. The marketing department at Apple made a bold claim about he newest iMac display:

“How did we make an already gorgeous widescreen display even better? By making it 75 percent less reflective.”

OK, that got my attention because I have a MacBook Pro laptop with a 17″ anti-glare display, along with two external 24″ matte monitors which provide me with three screens that have no glare, meaning that I can look at my work, not my reflection.

I visited my local Apple store this weekend at Bridgeport Village to take a look for myself at the 75% less reflective displays. To my immediate shock and dismay the new displays were just as glossy and reflective as the previous models. I could easily see myself in the displays along with every product on the wall behind me. The clerk tried to minimize my displeasure with, “Well, this store is brightly lit.”

I walked out of the Apple store knowing that I would never buy the “new” iMac because the display glare is still not acceptable for my use. So, don’t believe all marketing hype, look for yourself before investing in a new computer or display.

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Computer Woes this Week

A client informed me that the latest DVD I sent was not working, nothing was showing up even though on the back of the DVD we could see that data had been burned. Sure enough, when I loaded the DVD on my laptop there was no data. I tried putting a blank DVD into my HP laptop but it wasn’t recognized.
Oh well, the DVD burner was broken so I just ordered a replacement on eBay and will install it later this week.

Plan B – use my iMac. I inserted a new DVD, got my folder ready, clicked “Burn folder to DVD”, then nothing happened. Disappointed with this reaction I clicked the Eject button, again nothing. Then I tried five other ways to eject a stuck DVD but none of them worked.
On Monday I dropped off my iMac at the Apple store in Bridgeport Village and the Tech guy spent an hour on my machine. His conclusion, the hard drive was suspicious but it would take more testing.
Tuesday morning I heard from another Apple tech guy that my OS was corrupted and that he would have to reinstall the OS.
Tuesday afternoon the Apple tech guy said that my RAM was failing.
Wednesday morning I heard that installing a new Super Drive did not solve the eject issue, so it must by the Logic Board at a cost of $740 installed.
I chuckled and noted that I only paid $1000 for the used iMac in October, so I would not be having them replace the Logic Board.
So today I’m going to pick up my sick iMac without a working DVD, drive to Fry’s and buy new RAM. Maybe in a few years when the Logic Board prices go down I’ll buy one and replace my original.

Yesterday my PC laptop screen started to get fuzzy and show mostly red colors, so I phoned a local laptop repair place in Beaverton. We both thought it was the LCD display, so I drove in with my laptop and we plugged in a new LCD and all was well.
I went home, installed the new LCD and it was perfect for about 45 minutes, then back came the fuzzy screen and red colors. Some Google search told me that many other HP Pavilion laptop users had this similar issue and it was caused by an overheating GPU chip from Nvidia which was highly publicized.
I then remembered how my old laptop had so much dust that it clogged the heat from escaping causing overheating, so I got out my vacuum cleaner and cleaned my laptop. It’s been working great for almost 24 hours now so I think I’ve solved the problem. Now to find out if I can get a refund for a new LCD used only one hour.

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One response to “Computer Woes this Week”

  1. Daniel Payne says:

    Good news: Apple returned my iMac on Wednesday and charged me $0. They said, "Don't put another DVD into the iMac it doesn't work."
    First thing I did at home was install a DVD, and it's ejecting now!
    I took my defective RAM to Fry's in Wilsonville and they swapped it out for new RAM, thank you!

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Tethered Photography,Applescript, PHP, MySQL and Web Servers

I’m getting ready to do formal portraits at a corporate party in March so I’d like to share with you how I’ve automated my workflow to better serve clients. Here are my work flow objectives:

  1. Allow clients to be photographed, see proofs and order in a few minutes.
  2. Minimize any waiting in lines.
  3. Have fun, create lasting memories.

To achieve these objectives I’ve assembled the following technologies:

Here’s how the computers and camera are all connected:

I’m a geeky guy so I wrote my own Applescript to re-size and copy images, plus the proofing and order system was written with PHP, MySQL, Javascript, Dreamweaver and Photoshop.

My web server on the PC is using the popular XAMPP tools, which are Open Source.

I operate my Canon 5D just like always, on full manual with custom white balance, everything metered so there are no surprises. Using the USB2.0 cable it takes about 6 seconds for an image to go from the camera to the iMac. I shoot JPEG for event photos to save time and they look just great. 

This script takes about 5 seconds to re-size the full-size image into a proof and thumbnail size images, then copies them over to a folder on the PC where the web server is running.

Proofing and Ordering
The client uses a web browser to see their proofs. At first they see thumbnails. Clicking a thumbnail brings up a larger image with a price list.


Post Event
When I arrive back home after the event, then I run another web page to take my batch credit card orders and process them. Yes, I wrote that one too.

I’ve been able to achieve my event photography work flow objectives by using some standard technology and some custom technology to get the job done. My clients can be photographed, proof and order in a few minutes. They’re happy and I’m busy sending orders to my lab and then delivering prints to clients.

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One response to “Tethered Photography,Applescript, PHP, MySQL and Web Servers”

  1. Chris Roane says:


    I love the article and your blog. Would you be interested in exchanging links with me? My website is http://www.montanaprogrammer.com/ . Please let me know!

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Week One of iMac Use

A funny thing started to happen this week as I used the iMac. The huge 24″ screen has now become just normal to me. I can certainly have more docs open at once and that improves my ability to get more work done on web development.

My once “large” 17″ laptop display has now become smaller to me and has a cramped feeling, making me less productive as I move multiple windows back and forth to see what’s happening between Outlook and Dreamweaver.
The “mighty mouse” could not track properly on my table top so today I’m the proud owner of the “magic mouse”.
It’s wireless using the Bluetooth technology and like all things Mac the setup was under one minute, and the big win – it actually tracks on my pure white table top. I was surprised that turning on Bluetooth for my iMac it quickly found my Samsung cell phone in addition to the Magic Mouse. Well done Apple.
Microsoft Word told me today that it had an auto-update. Fine, go ahead. Mistake.
At the end it tells me, “Your license key is invalid or there are more than one computer using the same key.”

Oh well, that’s what I get for buying an iMac used on Craigslist. The previous owner obviously has this still installed on his machine, and Microsoft won’t allow that copying.

I also upgraded from 2GB to 4GB and that took all of 2 minutes to complete.

My Canon 5D DSLR camera now connects tethered to the iMac, which I plan to use in December for some event photography.

I’ve outgrown the number of ethernet connections on my gateway router so it was time to add a gigabit switch, this one is from D-Link and the iMac connected and can now see my other PCs and networked HP printer.

Life is good and I’m learning every day about the simplicity and power of the iMac in my web development and photography businesses.

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iMac – first impressions from a PC user

On Wednesday I purchased a pre-owned iMac 24″ from a guy in Portland on Craigslist. We met at a Starbuck’s and I asked to see the iMac powered up.

My seller was a knowledgeable Mac user and gave me an intro on the machine. Right away I noticed that the “Mighty Mouse” couldn’t track on a wooden table top.

When I tried the Mighty Mouse on the next three surfaces it failed to track properly, and it bugged me because my Logitech mouse for my HP Laptop worked on all of these surfaces.
At home the only surface that worked well was a specialized laser mouse pad that my oldest son used for gaming.
I lugged the iMac along to a photo client’s home for proofing and they just said, “Wow.”
My home has WiFi secured with WPA-2 and the iMac connected effortlessly using the password.
We also use a networked printer, the HP 6490 Deskjet.

The iMac found it quickly and I was printing without ever reading the How To manual. On the PC side it takes several minutes of manual typing to configure a network printer. My iMac told me ink levels and could run printer diagnostics however my Vista and XP machines cannot do either of these, so the iMac wins this category.
The iMac screen colors are too vivid and over-saturated. Soon I’ll discover how to get more accurate color rendering, perhaps I have to purchase a colorimeter and create a custom profile.
The 24″ screen takes some getting used to compared to my 17″ laptop screen. With a smaller screen I can glance and see everything on the screen without head motion. On the 24″ iMac I find myself moving my head from side to side, and up/down. Over long periods this is creating some fatigue.
Photoshop CS3 opens and looks different on the iMac especially the fact that there is no application background, rather it’s transparent until I open up  a document. I don’t like that look and much prefer Photoshop CS3 on the PC where it has an opaque background at invoke time.

Operation of the iMac is quiet, something that even my Vista laptop cannot approach. I like silence.
Transferring 68GB of data from my Vista machine to the iMac took over one hour even with a gigabit switch! I thought that was too slow and wanted to compare with using a USB 2.0 drive instead.
Microsoft has an application to let me remote desktop from the iMac into my Vista laptop. I’ll let you know how that works after I finish the upgrade from Vista to Windows 7.

One thing I missed immediately on the iMac is the ability to resize any window by simply grabbing it’s edge or corner. It is certainly extra work on the iMac to find the lower right-hand window corner, re-size, then move the window by the banner. The PC is much easier for sizing windows.

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