Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Digitizing Film: Review

This post is the second in a series of posts regarding using film scanning services, namely, for converting my old 35mm film negatives to digital prints.

Three business days after my negatives arrived, I received notice that the images were available for review. The review process was straightforward. I was presented with a page showing the 24 pictures I had submitted. Each could be reviewed using a magnifying glass feature and then, if desired, rejected from the final order. I removed 5 images from the set that were not relevant to the pictures that I wanted to keep and went ahead and placed the order. Digmypics will refund up to 10% of the price for pictures removed this way. After the credit was applied and the order paid, I was also given the option to upload my pictures to Picassa which I did. The upload finished in less time than it's taken me to write this post. Here is an example of one of the images scanned:

I am very pleased with the quality of the scan given what I can see from this JPG conversion. The raw TIFF file should give even more detail and be great to make digital prints from. I'll post some additional updates after I receive the full resolution TIFF files and have a chance to look at them in detail.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Digitizing Film: The beginning

Before we made the switch to a digital camera, our household was an avid film user. And not the point and shoot variety, but we had a decent Canon Rebel 35mm and took a lot of pictures. We were very well known at our local development places after a while. I recall that we were very excited when the local Sam's Club began offering photo CDs of our memories. As I look back on them now, though, those digital versions of our film shots are woefully inadequate compared to what we would generate when we upgraded to the Canon Digital Rebel XT or even our now, newly purchased Rebel XTi. The digital versions were small and grainy, nothing like what I remember the prints looking like. On top of this, I had recently began thinking that it would be nice to have great digital copies of our wedding photos which are spectacular in our album. We were lucky enough to get the film negatives from our photographer and this seemed a great way to "back up" and preserve our photos. It didn't take long to put those two together and wonder, "How do photo development places handle digital copies of film now?"

Film is going bye-bye quickly and it didn't take long to realize that, even now, your one hour photo place still does not provide high resolution scans of film developing. Some online searching revealed a number of sites that provide this service with formats ranging from 7 megapixels and higher for a relatively reasonable price. In this series of posts, I will give a running commentary on my experiences in scanning our film negatives into digital prints.

To start, I chose as the first test for scanning. They are US based (some sites are overseas), had pricing comparable to other competitors, and were fairly well reviewed online. I went through all my film negatives, divided them up into groups including our wedding photos, important events (graduation, births, etc), and the rest. From the important events, I picked one set of 24 photos that included a few of our kids but mostly some shots of the opening of my gradeschool time capsule to use as an initial run. I wanted to see what kind of quality I would get from the service before sending them the really important pictures.

The online ordering process was straightforward as was arranging for my negatives to be send. I put them in a standard mailing envelope with some padding and some cardboard to prevent folding during transit. I mailed these on Monday. As today, Thursday, I have received the initial email that they have received my negatives and I will be monitoring the scanning process and posting updates as the pictures are made available

Friday, September 17, 2010

Archos 32 first impressions

My son started saving his money during the summer after setting his sights on an iPod Touch. While we went through chore lists, used video game sales, and near mint Pokemon cards, I introduced him to an alternative I had come across, the Archos 32. He was interested mostly in the reduced price and as long as it had some games, he was in. Yesterday we received the unit and he couldn't wait to turn it on.

My impression of the device are overall positive. It is smaller than I thought being 3.2 inches compared to the 4.4 of an iPod touch. It seemed perfectly sized though for my son's smaller hands. The screen was responsive without having to do much double tapping or pushing harder to illicit a response. I did notice a bit of font "jagginess" when scrolling or even reading the screen. Maybe this is normal for Android devices, but that remains to be seen. The device itself was very responsive and seemed to have plenty of horsepower to do what was needed.

The included racing game demonstration worked wonderfully with sharp, snappy graphics and play and great use of the accelerometer. What was a disappointment is the lack of the Google Marketplace. The included Appslib is fine and has a selection of programs to choose from but none seem near the polish of what is now appearing in the marketplace. I had no problem sideloading some apps, though including the SlideME alternative marketplace. Unfortunately, Angry Birds Lite failed to run (it would install and load but crash back to the desktop) which I thought would be a great test of the device. It seems my first order of business is going to be to figure out how to get the Google Marketplace to install like had been done on other versions of Archos devices.

The basic functions worked as expected with WiFi being easy to set up. I was able to easily synchronize his iTunes music playlist with the device using doubletwist. Music and video playback worked fine and the camera seemed to be acceptable. We should have more time to play with the multimedia this weekend as he's already asking about loading videos on it from our home library. It would have been nice if the device had included a MicroSD slot for additional expansion.

Overall, he is very pleased with it upon inital inspection. I'm happy with the purchase as well, but from a techie standpoint, the app selection and loading process is going to be a pain for the forseeable future unless the alternative app marketplaces start to show the same selection we see, but can't access, in the Google Marketplace.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I love it when a plan comes together

Part of my plan for 2010 was to get more organized, both at work and in my personal life. We all have things we should be doing but have put aside for one reason or another. In my case, it's usually just laziness or a lack of motivation. Recently, I took the time to document the wiring of our server rack, something I had been meaning to do for a long time. As part of this, I was able to then go through the Netapp vSphere storage best practices and identify a few places where I hadn't implemented certain features, most notably, iSCSI multipathing. This came just after we had gone through Netapp upgrades to enable MPHA (multi-path high availability) on our FiberChannel connections.

Following this wonderful blog post on implementing iSCSI multipathing in vSphere and the best practices guide, I turned our single path failover NIC iSCSI connection into a multi-path round-robin load balanced one. You can see from the graph above when it was activated and the two NICs began to work in harmony. Since we currently only have one iSCSI LUN, the benefits are not great, but I will be adding a second one later today which should start to show the benefits of the configuration.

Monday, May 10, 2010

iTunes Home Sharing disaster (and the fix)

My son got his first iPod this weekend. It was his opening line: "Hi. I got an iPod." I had loaded it with some songs synced to my iTunes and he was quite pleased with the entire thing, even enjoying the mini games that came with. I started our evening with the simple thought of installing iTunes, plugging in his iPod and using Home Sharing to sync music between our computers. So much for simple...

The iTunes installation worked well and connecting the iPod resulting it the slightly aggravating "You have to erase this iPod" message. After doing so, I enabled Home Sharing with my iTunes account only to find it didn't see any of our shared computers. Numerous google searches directed me to the Apple technote on troubleshooting Home Sharing which is surprisingly sparse on actual troubleshooting advice. When none of that worked, I struggled with authorizing, enabled, disabling, and trying to make sure all the computers could see each other. What I discovered then is that my two other computers could see this new installation just fine while the new installation knew nothing about the originals. Very strange indeed.

I also noted that the two ports required to be open by the Apple technote were owned by different processes. iTunes itself was using the 3689 port while the mDNSResponder was using the 5353 port. mDNSResponder is part of Bonjour, which is Apple's UPnP like service for discovering network services. This led me to recall that I had once had issues using Bonjour to connect to my shared printer from my Airport Express on this same computer. After further reading, I downloaded a slightly older version of Bonjour and uninstalled then reinstalled Bonjour. Lo and behold, it worked! iTunes was now seeing both computers and the Bonjour Printer Wizard also was now discovering the printer it could not find before.

So, if you're struggling with iTunes not seeing your Home Sharing computers in one or both directions, check your firewall settings, then your authorized accounts, but then consider installing an earlier version of Bonjour and see if that fixes your issues.