Friday, November 28, 2008

Propane Nightmares

For those who don't know, I play a lot of Team Fortress 2. Love the game. Saw this over at

Awesome fan created mod video. But, it's the song that really got me. That track in the background was amazing. After some digging I found that it was one of the singles from Pendulums latest album In Silico. Now I have two of their previous albums. And they're great, but since I've stopped buying CDs, and my music is pretty much 99% aquired through eMusic, I missed that they had released a new album this year. The song in the video is Propane Nightmares. My new favorite song.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

around and around

around and around
This is a great example of why I got the FM3a. Ok, it's not actually such a great example. It was a bit over exposed. The film is a cheap brand so it's grainy. But I still like it.

This photo is a 20 minutes long exposure. On digital this would require heavy noise reduction, usually something called dark frame subtraction. Mechanical cameras like the FM3a are great for long exposure shooting as you don't need the battery to do any shooting.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The CRTC, Bell and Canada's broken Internet

For those here in Canada who have not been paying attention, Bell Canada, along with Rogers have started screwing with our internet. Both Bell and Rogers monitor what you do on the internet, and based on that monitoring, shape your bandwidth based on weather you are doing something they deem appropriate.

Now Bell and Rogers are free to do this for the moment. However, CAIP, a group representing Canadas independant ISPs began having their connections throttled by Bell earlier this year. Keep in mind that most of these ISPs do not simply resell Bells services. They only lease the last mile. The actual copper line going from the switching station to your home. At the point of the switching station, the connection is wholly run by the ISP. These independent ISPs are not having a problem with bandwidth in any way. But Bell claims that these switching stations (specifically, the DSLAM hardware) are being saturated, and that they are forced to degrade service for "bandwidth hogs".

So CAIP earlier this year complained to the CRTC that this practice was in fact illegal. It took the CRTC 7 months to reject this complaint. Now, 7 months is a VERY long time on the Internet. It's been an incredibly frustrating time to have your 500kb/s + connection degraded to 60k (or worse) because you happen to be using an application that Bell doesn't like. The gist of the CRTC decision is that there is no discrimination against the independent ISPs since Bell does the same thing to it's own customers under the Sympatico brand.

The CRTC made some major errors in it's decision.

  1. The CRTC claimed that Bell is not actually monitoring the connection in any way that infringes on privacy. This is untrue because the very nature of the technology requires the connection to be analyzed. In fact the CRTC contradicts itself in ti's response by claiming later that bell does in fact inspect every packet.

  2. The response stated that Bell had to do this because of congestion. Bells proof of this congestion was submitted as part of this process and made publicly available (sorry, can't find the link right now). This document was made as confusing as possible. But the gist of it was that maybe a couple of it's DSLAMS was congested 0.1% of the time during one or two 4 hour monitoring periods. In other words they proved nothing. I doubt the CRTC spent any time actually reading this document or if they did, didn't understand it.

  3. Lastly, the CRTC is harming innovation and competition in Canada. With this decision, not only will Bell (and of course Rogers) continue to limit what people can do on the internet by application, they are about to limit what people can do per month. Starting January of 2009, Bell will be limiting the total bandwitdh usage of it's resellers as well to 60GB. This is especially ridiculous when you consider that the bandwidth usage has nothing to do with Bell as it's the ISP you're with that has to pay for it. I'm sure Bell will come up with some way to make the CRTC see their view, and after all, Bell does that to it's own subscribers. Now I have no problem paying for my usage. In fact, my current connection is capped at 200GB. But that I believe is reasonable. And that is only a temporary reasonableness for todays applications and media.

That last point is the major one for me.
Currently Bell does not allow P2P applications, and caps their users to 60GB transfer (for most of their offerings). That's almost reasonable for the average user, today. Now. And that's the problem. This is the Internet. This is technology. Think about how far we've come in the last decade. Just imagine what we'll be doing on the internet in another decade? Well, at least the rest of the world will. We'll be stuck in this decade.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My First Camera, the Nikon F601

My First Camera: Nikon F601

This is my first camera which I bought with my own money. I purchased it while in College. Many a roll of film has gone through this Nikon.

I hardly use this camera anymore since I acquired my FM3a. Still, if I need Auto Focus and have an urge for getting a nice roll of Fuji Velvia out, I will use this camera. One great thing about this camera, if you can get one used is that it meters with MF lenses. On the downside it doesn't work with G lenses in A or M mode. And it doesn't auto focus with AF-S lenses. Ironically, always wanted the 17-35mm AF-S but never got one until I got my D70, glad I didn't because I would have been very annoyed that it didn't auto focus.

This camera is fairly well built and very simple. This was one of the last consumer cameras before Nikon got into putting scene modes in place of actual useful controls. It has all the controls you need and still use today on my D200. The built in flash is useful in a pinch. The focusing is slow and noisy but that never bothered me. Lack of depth of field preview and focus assist is annoying. It only has one cross type auto focus sensor in the middle with spot, center weighted and matrix metering.

This camera can be had for $50-100 on eBay and I highly recommend it for someone looking for a film camera but doesn't want a fully manual camera all the time. If you are fine with manually focusing then get one of Nikons excellent FM series like the FM3a.

The viewfinder is huge compared to todays DX digital SLRs. It's bright and great for manual focusing. It's not like an F# (single digit) series or the D3, but still much better than any cropped sensor viewfinder.

The lens in this picture is also my first lens. It's a 35-80mm f4-5.6D AF Nikkor. I bought it with my camera. It's only current benefit is it's one of the lightest zoom lenses ever made by Nikon. It was also very cheap at the time, I was in college after all. Shortly after leaving College I got the 24-120 f3.5-5.6D. Strangely I still have this lens but not the 24-120mm even though I never use it. Probably because it's worthless. I think Henrys offered me $10 for it a few years ago.

See shots taken with my F601.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Avoiding huge accidents

This morning I was going to bike in from home to work.
I was feeling really tired so decided to do my normal half/half ride. Drive to Park Lawn and Lakeshore and then bike the rest of the way in. However, I got a call from Laura telling me the QEW was shut down at Evans. Ave.

Boy was it ever.

When biking down on Cawthra, the traffic was backed up as far as I could see going eastbound to Toronto. Lakeshore, same thing.

My ride probably saved me a heap of time, and was a pleasure to boot.

Onwards Toronto
Onwards Toronto
Originally uploaded by