Archive for October, 2008

Voting for a change.

October 30th, 2008 No comments

The Maldives has a rich history of systematic repression and election rigging, and it is no surprise that the hopes of thousands of Maldivians hinge on the freeness and fairness of the presidential election of 2008. As this will be the first multi-party election in the Maldives, one is hopeful of a freer and fairer election.



October 12th, 2008 No comments

Reciprocity is the rule that states that if, beginning with the correct shutter/aperture combination to yield a perfect exposure, the shutter speed is adjusted in one direction (faster, for example) and the aperture is adjusted correspondingly in the opposite direction (opened up, for this example), the exposure will be the same.
Let’s say a correct exposure for an image is 1/125 at f8. Charting all equivalent shutter speed/f-stop combinations would look like this:
1/15 1/30 1/60 1/125 1/250 1/500 1/1000 f22 f16 f11 f8 f5.6 f4 f2.8
Each combination would yield the same correct exposure. What would change would be the amount of blur in a moving subject (or moving photographer) as the shutter speeds got longer, or the amount of depth of fi eld in the image as the aperture became progressively smaller.
Note that this is a constant rule only when the light source itself is constant. Sunlight and most available light is “constant” in that it doesn’t change over the course of the exposure. Fluorescent lights are not considered “constant” because they fl icker on and off 60 times per second. Studio strobes and on camera fl ash units are not constant sources of light because they fi re and expire somewhere between the time the shutter actually opens and closes, so the amount of light they produce may be fi gured into the equation (like fi ll fl ash) and used to advantage to either supplement existing light or overpower it.
Back in the days of fi lm, most of us were trained to think in terms of whole stops and half-stops. In other words, I might have told my assistant to “get me 11 and a half” if I wanted a little more light. Canon’s EF Series of lenses, designed for the EOS camera family, easily work in thirds of stops, much more accurate for the touchy digital environment. Similarly, digital cameras have added additional shutter speeds to refl ect the additional aperture settings. An expanded version of the reciprocity scale looks like this:
Shutter speed 1/15 1/20 1/25 1/30 1/40 1/50 1/60 1/80 1/100 Aperture f22 f20 f18 f16 f14 f13 f11 f10 f9
Shutter speed 1/125 1/160 1/200 1/250 1/320 1/400 1/500 1/640 1/800 1/1000 Aperture f8 f7.1 f6.3 f5.6 f5 f4.5 f4 f3.5 f3.2 f2.8
Should you decide to set your camera to work in half-stop increments, here’s how the reciprocity scale would work for the same 1/125 at f8 exposure:
Shutter speed 1/15 1/20 1/30 1/45 1/60 1/90 1/125 1/180 1/250 1/350 1/500 1/750 1/1000 Aperture f22 f19 f16 f13 f11 f9.5 f8 f6.7 f5.6 f4.5 f4 f3.5 f2.8
These are not complete scales, of course. There are lenses with a maximum aperture greater than f2.8 and there are lenses that stop down below f22, but the principle remains the same and can easily be charted for whatever lenses you may own.


Aperture and Depth of Field

October 12th, 2008 No comments

When we refer to the “aperture” of a lens, we are speaking on an iris, similar to that in the pupil of an eye, that opens or closes, allowing light to enter and strike the optic nerve,
sending impulses to the brain. A lens aperture works much the same, except it will allow as much light to enter as we tell it to allow. While our brains can automatically compensate for light or dark (a human with good vision is capable of seeing light as dim as a trillionth of a watt), should we tell the aperture to allow too much light for the ISO we’ve set the chip to record, the result will be an overexposure that the camera cannot compensate for.
A camera’s aperture is composed of thin metal blades that, when the shutter is actuated (and at any f-stop other than its widest), move together in less than a blink of an eye to form a circle corresponding to the chosen f-stop. After the chosen shutter speed has expired, and the shutter has been closed, they move back to their zero position to wait for the next actuation.

Unlike older irises, which were assembled by hand, Canon’s are created and assembled robotically, in a super-clean, in-house environment, assuring a quality of design, construction, and control.
Throughout this book, you’ll see references to “opening up” or “stopping down” your lens. When a lens is opened up, the iris is enlarged, allowing more light to strike the sensor. But, as with so many mysteries of life, things work in reverse; opening up a lens means changing its value to a smaller number. Lenses are rated at their maximum, or fastest, f-stop, thus a lens with a maximum aperture of f1.2 is faster (will gather more light at its maximum aperture) than a lens with a maximum aperture of f2.8. When we shoot “wide open” it means we’re shooting at the lens’ maximum aperture.
When we stop down a lens, the result is that less light will strike the sensor, because we change the f-stop to a smaller number. f22, for example, allows less light to reach the sensor than f16 because the circle is smaller.
Mathematically, when the aperture is “opened up” one full stop, the amount of light reaching the chip is doubled. For example, changing the aperture from f11 to f8 will double the amount of light falling on the chip and result in a one stop overexposure, assuming that f11 would provide a correct exposure.
When the aperture is “stopped down” one full stop the amount of light reaching the chip is cut in half. For example, changing the aperture from f11 to f16, assuming that f11 would provide a correct exposure, will result in an image underexposed by one stop


Asus Eee PC 1000H Netbook

October 4th, 2008 No comments

It has been almost exactly one year since we saw the Asus Eee line of notebooks hit store shelves and it has been quite a year for this little side project from Asus. The original Asus Eee PC lineup, even with its flaws, turned out to be a massive surprise hit, as Asus hit a price and form factor that the market was finally ready to adopt for an ultra-mobile notebook. The Eee PC, while not truly the first of its kind, cemented the “netbook’ product category, which has encouraged potential buyers to accept this genre of products. Since its release, we’ve seen nearly every major OEM produce a similar product to compete with the Eee, although Asus’s six month lead in this arena has helped them flesh out their product lineup even before their competitors got their first notebooks out.

In the last six months, Asus decided to explode their Eee lineup with a wide range of models, sizes, and feature sets. Depending on how you look at the situation, this can be seen as a positive or a negative growth for the Eee name. It’s still the most commonly thought of brand name when considering an ultra-mobile PC, however, with so many models now out on the market, buyers have to read a grid, more or less, to find which model works for them. One trend is quite clear, even without reading model numbers, however, and that is “netbooks” are getting bigger. Not only in popularity, but in size and features, in order to accommodate the needs of a wider scope of potential consumers.

The Asus Eee PC 1000H Atom Netbook, Google Chrome loaded up on Hot Hardware.

First generation “netbooks” were equipped with 7-8 inch screens, which were sufficient given what people were demanding of the form factors of that time. However, if you want to do any actual work on one of these things, bigger (higher-resolution) screens and larger keyboards become necessary. Also, while cheap (and often-times, slow) solid state flash disks were used as storage and any type of real business or power-user would feel limited with only 8 or 16 GB of storage space. While not as sleek as a solid state hard drive, a standard 2.5″ hard drive with a larger capacity would be needed. Business types won’t buy brightly colored laptops, either, so the original Eee colors would have to be toned down, color-wise, in order to appeal to the worker-bee.

The result of all these demands for a business-class Eee PC model have led us to Asus 1000H, one of the latest members of the Eee family. In comparison to the original Eee, almost everything has changed, however, the core ultra-mobile Eee feeling remains more or less in-tact, even for those who require a larger screen. Has Asus hit a sweet spot with usability, size, and price, or have they just made the Eee PC into a big, bloated monster? Let’s find out!

Asus Eee PC 1000H
Specifications and Features

“This Eee PC 1000H offers even more options to users for unique user experiences. Users will be able to enjoy stable and reliable computing on-the-go; 7 hours* of battery life, high speed 802.11n connectivity and exclusive 10GB Eee Storage makes it the ideal traveling companion for outdoor activities. The large 10″ display provides comfortable viewing, and a keyboard that´s 92% sized of generic notebooks make for easier typing and relaxing usage. It is also available in 6 custom colored designs to fit your unique personality.” – Asus

  • Intel Atom N270 Processor @ 1.6 GHz
  • 1 GB of DDR2-533 Memory
  • Intel 945GME / ICH7 Chipset
  • Seagate Momentus 5400.3 80GB SATA-II Hard Drive
  • 802.11 B/G/N and Bluetooth Wireless Networking
  • 10/100 PCI Express Ethernet
  • Realtek High Definition Audio
  • 1.3 Megapixel Integrated Bezel Camera and Microphone
  • Integrated Memory Card Reader (MMC/SD/SDHC)
  • 10.47″ x 7.53″ x 1.12-1.50″ (W x H x D)
  • 3.2 Pounds (w/ Battery Pack Attached)
  • 6-Cell Lithium Ion Battery (up to 7.5 Hours Stated)
  • 10.0″ Widescreen Display, 1024 x 600 Resolution
  • Windows XP Home Edition (32-bit w/ SP3) Pre-Installed
  • Available in Red, Green, Pearl White, Fine Ebony / Black

The retail box is extremely small and matches the expectations of a notebook which is largely targeting the budget market. The EeePC is nicely packed in a form fitting box – the accessories all sit in a separate area below the notebook unit. Don’t expect much in terms of extras – as you receive the notebook itself, an A/C power charger, a thin (but surprisingly nice) carrying case, and some install CD’s and manuals. It’s actually refreshing to not have tons of added extras which you may or may not ever use, so long as the essential components and peripherals are still there.

Asus 1000H Shipping Box Front…

The overall aesthetic of the Eee PC 1000H is clean, simple, and works very well. With the black shell and shiny outsides, it actually looks slightly bigger than it is in real-life, and the unit is amazingly easy to fit into small bags or storage areas in cars. It is quite portable, but yet, pretty rugged too. However, given the unit’s 2.5″ standard hard disk, we wouldn’t consider it to be quite as rugged as the Eee PC models with solid state hard disks, which have no moving parts. Regardless, it’s a notebook hard drive so it’s no more sensitive to shock and vibration than any other standard notebook. Also, the Eee PC 1000H is shiny — very shiny. Perhaps a bit too shiny.

Shiny Top Cover w/ Eee Logo

While Asus has improved the look of their Eee PC’s by toning down the logos and keeping things simple, the company still suffers from OEM-itis, where we see a load of stickers on the bottom of the keyboard. Removing these stickers typically leaves the unit somewhat sticky, and it’s always just an eyesore to look at. Especially Asus’s huge sticker on the bottom right with their technical support number. That seems like something which could have easily gone on the bottom of the unit out of day to day view. We do, however, like the unit’s four clean, small, integrated LED status lights for power, battery, data access, and wireless connectivity.

The Keyboard. Nearly Full-Size!

The customizable hot keys are the only really unique things we see when we open up the notebook. The keyboard is impressively spaced considering this is a netbook, and is close enough to the size of a full-sized keyboard that it makes typing quite easy to pick up on. The one compromise we wish they wouldn’t have made with the keyboard is the removal of the right side shift key, which is commonly used. Without this right side shift key, we have to rely on our left finger to find the shift key, this is not a common movement, therefore, it slows down typing by a significant margin, almost to the point where it frustrated us. It’s a shame, too, since every other layout option on the keyboard seemed to work quite well.

Customizable Hot-Keys

The unit’s trackpad is square in the center of the model, and it supports two button controls via some nice brushed aluminum buttons. You do not have any scrolling abilities with this trackpad, which can become time consuming if you’re a heavy user of scrollbars. The trackpad feels a little dull and flat, but is accurate and responsive after a few minutes of use.

Looking around the unit, there are four ports to consider. On the left side, you have a security lock on the left side next to the RJ-45 network connector. You’ve also got a single USB 2.0 port (one of three) along with audio in/out ports. The audio ports are connected to a modern HD audio CODEC, and can pump out decent sounding audio through its headphones – although the integrated speakers of the Eee PC leave much to be desired. Between the USB 2.0 port and audio ports, you can see cooling channels which exhaust internally created heat. The heat exhaust is only slightly warm at times, as this notebook runs fairly cool inside.

Ethernet, USB, Audio Connectors

On the right side, you have a memory card reader (MMC/SD/SDHC), good for digital camera users or those who want to expand the Eee PC’s storage capabilities on the cheap. On this side, you have another two USB 2.0 ports, a 15-pin VGA analog video output port, and the power connector port. There are no connectors on the front or back of the unit.

Battery Life and Power Consumption –
The unit weighs 3.2 pounds, about half of that weight coming from the unit’s six-cell lithium ion battery pack, which snaps onto the back of the unit (and is replaceable quite easily). Asus claims that the unit can last a full-day’s worth of work on battery (7.5 hours). While great in theory, even with the most aggressive power-saving modes enabled, we were only able to average about 4.5 hours of battery life work standard browsing / work loads. This is certainly quite good for a notebook with a screen size as this and a large hard disk, but it’s not a quantum leap longer in terms of battery life compared to what’s out there currently. When plugged into the A/C outlet, we can see that the Eee PC 1000H consumes about 44W of power at its peak load, whereas most of the time when it’s sitting at the Windows desktop, it can consume as little as 18W, which is pretty terrific for a fully functioning notebook.

1000H with bundled battery pack and A/C adapter.

Most Windows desktops consume at least 100-200 watts with towers and monitors. For those who only need very basic computing abilities, having an Eee PC instead of a tower and a monitor, could actually save quite a bit in terms of power bills. Especially if you are the type who leaves your computer on 24/7, as more people are doing lately due to the ubiquity of broad-band Internet connections and the need to be connected at all times.

We could see the Eee PC also being used as a portable, low-end server, as the hardware is cheap and it still has enough power for a lot of low-level server tasks, and it has a hard drive of usable size. The unit also starts up much quicker than a normal PC, as an average power-touch on to fully working desktop time is about 30 seconds. Starts up and shut down is much faster compared to most desktop PC’s, and, you’ve got a one-touch button on the left side of the keyboard to turn the LCD display off – useful for both server environments or for presentations and/or meetings.


  • Great Value (Under $500)
  • 10″ Widescreen Display
  • 80 GB SATA-II Storage
  • 802.11N / Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Lackluster CPU Power (in Multimedia Areas)
  • Missing Right Shift Key
  • No Wi-Fi On/Off Switch
  • Virtually No Graphics Power
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