Monthly Archives: June 2007

What a delightful advert

I was shown this lovely advert by Gmail early this morning. Needless to say, I didn’t click through; the mental image was bad enough.

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Foreigners Not Welcome

Is the concept of the global village simply a myth? Looking at certain US based web sites one might think so; do the designers of these sites not realise that more potential internet users exist outside the US than within?

A little while ago I was catching up on one of my Flickr photo feeds when I came across a reference to a competition with a Leica M7 as first prize. I’d love to earn one of those so of course I visited the link. Turns out it is a promo for uber.com, a new photography site, apparently started by Chris Weeks, a photographer whose work I am familiar with from Flickr.

Having been through this kind of thing once or twice I immediately checked the rules to see if I was eligible and found that I wasn’t, as they say “Leica M7 Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are at least sixteen (16) years old at the time of entry.” I don’t really have a problem with this as there are physical prizes involved, and with the cost of foreign shipping and other, possibly legal factors to consider, it is not unusual for web sites to restrict competition eligibility to the country of origin. Being a sucker for photographic web sites I decided to join anyway so clicked the link and got the registration form, which has a Zip Code field. Most of the world outside the US has postal codes, not zip codes, but web sites typically accept them along with US zip codes. Not this site though; when I submitted I got back a message saying “Please enter a valid US zip code”, and this is why I’m writing this post.

What is the deal with sites like this? Are the owners or designers ignorant and not realise they are excluding most of the world’s population? Do they deliberately exclude those outside the US for some reason? In which case why not go that little bit further and analyse visitor’s IP addresses so that they can block us from accessing the site completely, perhaps with a nice polite(?) “FOREIGNERS NOT WELCOME” message. I prefer to think that it is not malicious and in the case of uber.com, I still want to join, so thanks to Aaron Spelling for giving us Beverley Hills 90210, which not only provided us with entertainment but also provides foreigners with easy access to a US zip code that can be used to circumvent silly blocks like these.

Chris, if you should happen to read this post, I don’t really live in Beverley Hills, but in Cape Town, South Africa, where foreigners are welcome.

Father’s Day

I had a really nice Father’s Day this year. Woke up around 8am, had a shower, grabbed breakfast and sat down at my computer. Not too much later Rory and Chris woke up, came through and said “Mom’s not up yet but here’s your gift from all of us.”, whereupon Rory produced a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label from behind his back. Yum, and with me being such a heavy drinker that should last me well into next year.

Downstairs (by Steve Crane)

Mela and I went for a drive over to Simonstown to check out some ruined houses I’d heard about. I thought they might make a good location for shooting with a model or two and I wanted to see it for myself. They do look promising so now I must line up a model or two, put in an order for good weather on some weekend and go for it. After leaving there we drove down the other side of the peninsula to Scarborough and along the coast road round the point, back to Simonstown where we stopped for a late lunch. It had started spitting before we got there and we had just sat down outside the coffee shop when the rain came bucketing down so we dashed inside and had our lunch in the warmth while watching the rain come down outside. After lunch we headed back home again and just chilled for the evening. All in all a pretty cool day.

Stone With Intersecting Shadows

Stone With Intersecting Shadows

Can anyone else read this logo?

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New Toys From Old

Martex Rangefinder (by Steve Crane)I am fascinated by old cameras but don’t have the money to be a collector, as such. No fancy old Leica’s for me, but occasionally I manage to look in the right place to find something interesting, if not valuable. On Saturday I popped into Cash Crusaders to see if they had an interesting old cameras there. They had two SLRs, a Pracktica and a Zenit, but the Praktica was in much worse shape than the one I already have and was also rather pricey. The Zenit was quite cheap but also looked pretty battered. What really caught my eye was this Martex rangefinder. I’ve long had a hankering for a rangefinder and at only R145 there was no way it wasn’t coming home with me, even if I found it didn’t work. It was Sunday before I got round to buying a roll of film to try it out. After cleaning the camera, loading the film and figuring out what appeared to be the right way to use the light meter, which seemed to be working, I headed off down to the beach, my favourite haunt. It was near sunset when I got there and being winter there weren’t too many people about. I strolled around and shot off my roll of film before heading home again. As I was very keen to get it developed and see the results I popped the film into the Kodak minilab in the mall next door to our offices, rather than making the trip into town to the more professional (so I’ve been told) lab I would normally use. I picked up the prints at lunch time and was pleased to find that the camera works perfectly. The photographs were pretty much (it will take a little practice to get spot on) correctly exposed and accurately focused. I was worried about the focus as I’d never used a rangefinder before. The only disappointment was that I was offered, and accepted digital copies of the photos on a CD, and the quality of these was terrible. they were horribly grainy and as the prints themselves were fine I can only assume that the scanning process was not all it could be. In the end I made my own scans of the better shots from the prints. Here is a selection of the photos I took, not too bad for a forty or fifty year old camera. These photographs have not been digitally enhanced in any way.

Bench (by Steve Crane) Last Holdout (by Steve Crane)
Strand Beach (by Steve Crane) Pink Sunset (by Steve Crane)
Pink & Orange (by Steve Crane) Curvy Building (by Steve Crane)
99 on Beach (by Steve Crane) Strand Pavillion and the Old Jetty (by Steve Crane)
Monte Carlo (by Steve Crane)