The most evil feature ever conceived: the Exif Orientation Tag

(May 5, 2012)

There are some advances in technology that are actually steps backwards: features that look nice on paper, but always get in the way when implemented in reality. One of my pet peeves in this category is the Exif Orientation Tag, a little flag present in JPEG files generated by digital cameras that causes all kinds of havoc. It’s one of the places where the old proverb »the road to hell is paved with good intentions« holds true, because the idea behind this flag is a good one, whereas the flag itself is a product of pure evil. But let’s start the story at the beginning …
Read more …

Video on the Canon EOS 550D

(June 2, 2010)

A few weeks ago, my father bought a shiny new Canon EOS 550D DSLR camera, not only for capturing photos, but for videos too. Why not – after all, the video functions are finally taken seriously by the camera manufacturers and video on a APS-C-sized sensor is a very cool thing – in theory. I had the chance to analyze a few 720p/50 sample videos made with the camera, and I have to say that I’m quite disappointed.
Read more …

Four generations of iPod nanos compared

(February 16, 2009)

Over the last few years, I bought one specimen of all four generations of Apple’s iPod nano media player, mainly to make rePear compatible with each new model. (In fact, rePear’s main development target are iPod nanos.) Here are my thoughts about the benefits and drawbacks of each generation.
Read more …

Technology isn’t what it used to be

(December 26, 2007)

In the good old days, technological gadgets used to be very positive things: Power them up and have fun with them, that’s it. This christmas, I organized some technical gifts for me and my brothers that don’t fulfill this scheme completely: They all work, and they all are nice and cool, but they all have this certain bitter aftertaste.

Read more …

Quo vadis, Apple?

(September 15, 2007)

Once upon a time, there was a magnificent computer hardware and software company that revolutionized the computing world two times in a row. That was 1977 and 1984. This manufacturer continued to improve on its once-revolutionary products, but faced some problems in the mid-90s. However, at the beginning of the new millennium, it was back with full force and started a revolution once again, this time in a niche of the consumer electronics market. This turned out so well that the company lately even dropped the term “computer” from its name – which is quite ironic, because the quality, usability and innovativity of all the products dropped significantly since then, only the computer hardware is still on par with the competition.
Read more …

How not to make a new version of a product

(September 5, 2007)

If you think that I’m now going to write about the new iPod models, you’re wrong. Even though they would perfectly fit the headline, I think that everything that can be said about them has already been said already said elsewhere, so I’ll sum it up as follows: fat nano – ugly; touch – between the chairs; classic – couldn’t care less.
No, this article is about another product that was launched today: Paint Shop Pro X2. I absolutely love Paint Shop Pro, it’s my favorite image editing application. But since Corel took it over, quality seems to decrease steadily :(
Read more …

Doesn’t ĀµTorrent check hashes?

(February 15, 2007)

These days, I’m preparing my »Linux distributions for beginners« talk I’m going to give at CLT 2007. This means that I download a bunch of distro DVDs, burn them and install Linux from them to see how they behave. Having made some bad experiences with broken HTTP downloads last year, I’m now using BitTorrent exclusively, because it’s extensively checksummed and every broken fragment is downloaded again until it is OK.

It just so happened that I switched to µTorrent a few weeks ago. Before that, I used Azureus, which is written in Java, takes ages to load, eats up quite some resources and crashes at least twice a week. (Yes, you read this correctly: Although it’s written in Java, it crashes. Hard. With a General Protection Fault, in a different module each time. Don’t ask me.) µTorrent solved these problems all at once. Granted, the UI is even more cryptic than Azureus’, but that’s a fair price for stability.
Read more …

Ubuntu 6.10 is totally messed up

(October 26, 2006)

Today’s long-awaited release of Ubuntu 6.10 »Edgy Eft« was a good opportunity for me to restore the inactive Linux installation on my main workstation. This computer mainly runs Windows and since the installation of Vista RC1, the experimental Linux installation there was inaccessible. In my distribution tests carried out for the LinuxTag, Ubuntu always was among the top three distros, so installing the newest and coolest fresh release seemed like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the installer is so severely broken that I didn’t even manage to get the thing on my hard disk …
Read more …

Linux sucks (sometimes)

(May 20, 2006)

As you may or may not already know, I use both Windows and Unix-like operating systems, both at work and at home. (I’d like to add OS X to that list, but Apple decided to sell the underpowered x86 Mac minis at ridiculously high prices, but that’s another story …) In the last few days, I had a fair amount of »fun« (note the quotation marks) with Linux, though.
Read more …

Hype and Reality

(April 22, 2006)

In the last few days and weeks, it was rather hard to escape one »important« news: Tomb Raider: Legend, the seventh installment of the legendary Tomb Raider computer games series, is finally there. All the news media praised the game for its great graphics, story, controls … whatever. Finally there is a worthy successor for the venerable parts 1-5, after Core Design did most of its job wrong in part 6.

I decided to give all this hype a reality check (a playable demo of the first level is available). Read more …