Blog entries from October, 2010

Three months with Android

Sunday, October 17th, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Three months ago I switched away from an iPhone to an Android based device. About a week after it arriving by courier the iPhone 4 was released in Australia and I began writing a post about my first week and a bit with the Samsung Galaxy S (SGS).

I didn’t get very far as the week turned into a month, then into two and now into three. Part of my excuse is that the official release of Froyo (Android 2.2) for the phone was imminent. That is still to happen, but of course it will be released for Australia tomorrow now that I have written this post.

So what is the phone like?

To be honest it is nothing special, because it does exactly what I expect from a device of its kind. It does phone calls, text messages and most importantly it has a web browser. Of course it has other features, which have been occasionally useful. These include a camera, playing videos, viewing photos, listening to music and downloadable apps. But these are all expected.

One thing that did surprise me was the Gmail client. At first I still had my email hosted at home so I tried out a few IMAP clients. None of them worked as well as I wanted them to.

However, once I moved my mail up into Gmail I was able to use the Gmail app, which, unlike the IMAP apps I tried, just worked. Actually, no. It didn’t just work, it worked extremely well. It works so well that I am happy to state that anyone reading email on an Android device that isn’t Gmail is doing it wrong.

I would also take that statement the other way, that anyone using IMAP to access Gmail is also doing it wrong. The Gmail model of messages is different enough that IMAP has to make compromises to work at all. I assume there are some people that can make Gmail over IMAP work reliably, but the majority of people don’t and that just seems to cause problems.

But back to the phone…

During the three months I have played around with other aspects of the phone (including SL4A, the Scripting Layer for Android, which allowed me to control the phone using perl) but none have progressed from playing to regular use.

What I have realised from this is that I am too lazy to care about shiny things, I need them to be practical. The SGS has proved to be that, practical.

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After dark

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 at 11:19 pm

The judging at the camera club didn’t run as smoothly as it normally does due to a last minute replacement for the judge. Fortunately the replacement, at 36 hours notice, was excellent.

As I prefer, there was a set topic for this month’s competition: after dark. ie taken between sunset and the sunrise on the following day. Predictably most of the entries were of the city at night. The judge picked up on this as a larger issue in that to have your image stand out, you can’t take the same shot that everyone else takes, you need to obtain a different perspective.

At a recent outing to Albert Park lake we were shooting shots of the city. Nice shots, but nothing special:


Another common comment from the judge was in regard to the sky. A black sky will result in the city lights blowing out due to the high contrast. While a sky with light will both reduce the contrast of the city lights, it can also add interest with colour. The sky in my image above still has colour and texture from the clouds which makes the buildings stand out.

When I first heard his comments about the sky the expectations for my other images lowered as I knew they had a black or a very dark sky as in this image from the development near the Exhibition Centre on the Yarra:


This image was awarded a highly commended despire the dark sky. There isn’t that much of the sky in the shot, the leading lines from the boxes and decking, and the zigzag of the lights provide enough interest.

My two digital entries have pitch black skies. Yet they were both awarded merits.

One night after Perl Mongers I stopped by the Shrine to take some night shots. The shot I entered was taken square on to the Shrine and from low to the ground. Afterward I changed it to monochrome and increased the contrast to bring out the texture in the stonework.


Although it is a common shot, the judge liked the strength of the shape, which is why having a black sky in this case works.

My second digital entry was a slight rework of a shot I took in Brisbane the night before OSDC last year which the judge liked as it wasn’t the typical side-on shot.

On edge

First I tried cropping out the distracting detail at the bottom, but the wheel looked too short and the supports wrong. So I decided to keep the detail, but the window to the office was off centre which made the whole image look a bit off centre. I moved the window across to better balance the image.

Next month is again an open topic, so the images I have submitted are a bit of an experiment. I shall find out if the experiments worked in a month’s time.

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