Previously it was megapixels that marketing materials used to influence the less well informed into thinking one camera was better than another. Now it seems to me that the megapixel war is over, or has at least been forgotten for the moment. It’s HD video capability that is the latest feature used to market cameras and camera-equipped mobile phones.
Not that I’m denying that these HD video claims refer to valid, useful features. The point is that the marketing claims lead the less experienced buyer to assume they will be able to produce professional looking videos all by themselves, using just their shiny new camera. This is clearly not the case.
I don’t yet own an HD video capable camera nor have I any experience of making videos beyond quick, jerky clips grabbed with my non-HD compact camera or cell phone. But listening to podcasts like TWIP I have come to realise that just because we hear that some TV show episode was shot with an HD-capable digital SLR camera, we can’t make the assumption that they used just the camera. After listening to these podcasts I’ve come to realise that many accessories, often very expensive accessories are used as well. Professional quality external audio recording equipment, a variety of rigs to steady the camera or move it smoothly and devices to allow a focus puller to focus the camera are just some I have heard mentioned. Learning this has made me realise that just buying a new DSLR that shoots HD is not going to let me produce anything approaching decent videos; not without learning a lot about how movies are made and buying more equipment any way.
This was brought home to me on Monday when I came across a blog post highlighting Apple of My Eye, one of the first HD videos to be shot with the new iPhone 4. The movie is short and deceptively simple and the blog post says “Shot and edited entirely on the iPhone 4 / iMovie App (in 48 hours)”. This doesn’t mean that some guy just grabbed his phone and fired off a quick video though. At the end of the movie is additional footage showing how the movie was made. This makes if abundantly clear that without specific knowledge and extra equipment, you are not going to be producing quality video.
So, go ahead and buy yourself a new, HD capable camera; but realise that you will have to go through a steep learning curve, invest in buying or renting more equipment, and enlist the help of friends before you will be able to produce that hit movie you dream of.
Creative Commons licensed image courtesy of Damon Duncan.
Nerdmag are offering a BlackBerry Curve 8310 smartphone as a prize; so despite the fact that I am not the luckiest soul around I thought I’d have a go at winning it.
I’ve had a look at the features and think these are the coolest of them.
- I love the full QWERTY keyboard. Having a deaf wife that relies on text messaging, I think that all handsets should have these.
- The wide screen and trackball are great too as they will make web browsing that much easier. I do a lot of web browsing on my phone.
- The GPS and mapping features are nice for someone like me that is always on the lookout for and trying to find directions to cool locations to photograph.
I have no interesting cell phone related stories. I am “teh boring” when it comes to cell phones. I always have the more affordable, less featured handsets and have never lost, destroyed or had one stolen. So I think I need to win this shiny, feature-packed smartphone so that I can step into the light and catch up with all the cool kids of the cell phone world.
Today nearly every web site is an application of some sort, and requires a username & password. That’s great but it’s difficult to remember many passwords so what to do? Using the same password across all sites makes it easy to remember but is hardly secure; if your account on one site gets compromised you’re laying your accounts on all sites open to attack. A better way is to use a different password for each account but how do you remember them?
One way is to use some kind of password scheme such as combining a standard secret code with a code derived from the site name to form the password for that site. But again this is not totally secure as one password being compromised gives the attacker the secret part that is in all your other passwords and simplifies figuring out your scheme.
Another way; and the one I use is to use a password database application such as KeePass Password Safe to both manage your credentials. I do this; allowing KeePass to generate passwords for me and automatically enter my credentials into login forms at the press of a hotkey. This works very well and I have hundreds of passwords stored, most of which I’ve never even seen. Not only are these passwords automatically generated but the fact that I don’t need to remember them means I can use nice secure passwords like “y. I&DSe%b”.
This is where problems arise with the mobile web. Yesterday I was out and wanted to tweet from my phone so I opened Slandr in Opera Mini only to see the login page; must have been too long since I last used Slandr and the cookie expired. So I was stuffed, being out and nowhere near my computer or access to my KeePass database to look up the password. Even if I had a password database on my phone it would be tricky to type in a cryptic password without copy and paste. So what’s the alternative? Dumb down my password scheme again to the point where I can memorise passwords for entry on my phone? I’m not keen on that.
Photograph courtesy of Tom Hensel.
Since late this afternoon I have received 13 SMS messages from Ster-Kinekor advising me about an Iranian film festival at the V&A Nouveau. The second through fifth were merely annoying but since then they have been driving me crazy. They say that I can SMS some string to a number to stop the messages. It will just cost R1/SMS. Screw that, I don’t see why I should pay them to stop spamming me.
I have had my latest mobile phone, a Nokia 6233, for some time now and my annoyance with Nokia’s implementation of the T9 predictive dictionary just keeps growing. It doesn’t learn! Yes, you can teach it new words, but it doesn’t learn by observing the frequency with which you use certain words. It will always suggest the same word for a key sequence, even if you always select a different word when you type that key sequence. A good example is my son’s name, Rory. The default word selected for the 7679 sequence is rosy, and with my previous phone, a Sony-Ericsson K700i, I only had to enter Rory as a new word and select it a few times before the phone learned that this was my preferred word for the key sequence, and started suggesting it by default. My Nokia phone steadfastly refuses to do so, always suggesting rosy. This is just one example and there are other common sequences I use far more often that I have problems with. I understand that this is true of all Nokia phones and it will make me wary of choosing Nokia next time I replace my phone. I will probably be wanting to go for a smartphone with a full keyboard, or preferably stylus entry, in which case a may buy Nokia. But if I end up with another standard keyboard phone it is unlikely to be a Nokia.
I have a few other problems with this phone.
- The combination of shiny silver keys and a blue backlight make it impossible to read the keys in bright light unless I hold the phone at a peculiar angle.
- The battery cover is a flimsy plastic thing that kept coming off when the phone was in my pocket and lowers the stylish, weighty feeling of quality of the phone. My very stylish solution to it coming off involves a piece of duct tape stuck on the back of the phone.
- Being a smartphone, albeit only a Symbian S40 one, it is reasonable to expect that the phone will be used for Internet browsing. The native browser is a rather clunky WAP browser and I have installed Opera Mini, which works perfectly. The only problem in this regard emanates from the ridiculously short time that the backlight comes on for each time a key is pressed, making it impossible to read a screen full of information without constantly pressing a key to turn the backlight back on.
- The charger has a very thin cable with a very soft rubber covering. Due to its flexibility it has developed a break in the cable where it joins onto the charger and it takes some jiggling to get it to charge. I will undoubtedly need to buy another charger before my phone is due for replacement. This is quite ridiculous considering that Nokia chargers have traditionally been quite robust. Whether they are trying to reduce wight or simply cut costs I think that they need to go back to a more robust cable.
Posted in Thoughts
Tagged 6233, Cell, k700i, mobile, nokia, phone, predictive, SMS, sony-ericsson, spelling, t9, text
I got a new cell phone on the weekend. Rather than following my previous path of least technology, I decided to go with something a bit more up to date this time. So I got the Sony Ericsson K700i, which has a camera, colour screen, web browser and a bunch of other functions that go beyond my previous cell phone use, which was making calls and sending text messages.