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Archive for November, 2008

GOOGLE Chrome, The Browser and why I like it

November 14, 2008 1 comment

Now, I know this is my photography blog, but part of my blog is to review new products and software. I was recently on Linked-In and answered a question with regard to the new browser from Google named Chrome. The question was basically, do you like it and if so why. The following is the reply I gave on Linked-In and thought it would be a good review while also providing some insight into the product at the same time.
Hi Christina,

I use the Google browser and I like it. The simple reason is that it is compliant and wicked fast. Having said that I also use Firefox, IE, Opera, and SeaMonkey. But when you do any kind of web development it’s a good thing to test on multiple browsers.

There is a point to the Google browser its entire design premised was to be optimized complaint and fast so that web developers could build next generation applications (think web 2.0 and cloud computing) as opposed to just augmenting our already bloated browsers. This isn’t a “Me Too” effort, this is something new, something different and something designed to take not just the browser to the next level but something to empower developers to create “What’s Next” on the web. One of the largest issues with the AJAX web sites (early Web 2.0) sites is that they browsers now are too slow at running the JavaScript. As a result, the applications are slow and sluggish and have been met with relatively low success. Now, with Chrome, the JavaScript engine has been completely re-written and optimized for JavaScript (reportedly 57 times faster than IE). That is the power that will allow developers to go forward and create the web apps of tomorrow now. If Google took this and put it on your phone the speed of web applications on mobile devices would then be to a point where a desktop isn’t necessary but that’s a different discuss for another time.

When I think about it, it’s clear just how deep Google planned this new approach to promoting web and cloud development. The team went to a huge effort to protect the tabs and ensure that the application running in individual tabs didn’t affect each other. Meaning, if a web page or app dies, rather than taking down the entire browser only that tab is affected. This was yet another significant design step in making sure that web applications could run in an isolated space and not be at the mercy of someone else’s poorly written site or app. Now, a site can crash and you can close that tab and everything just runs, its really nice to see work and honestly, its about time. While tabbed browsing has been around for awhile, this approach is more like virtual machines on each tab and is a fantastic step forward. Another really neat feature is tab dragging. If you want to see what a web app looks like, go to Gmail, drag a tab out to create a new window and set it to create an APP Shortcut. This makes the browser look like a regular application window (meaning the UI from the browser is removed and you work as if it’s a desktop APP). This is real nice feature that further demonstrates the thought and detail that was given to creating web applications.

So, for some, Chrome could be a real nice replacement for their current browser of choice. For others who are married to IE or FireFox and each browsers respective add-ons they may not like it much. But I tell you this, neither of those browsers are doing anything to promote the future and entice the growth of rich applications on the web. (well FireFox is closer) Chrome sets a new standard and it will be something that forces Microsoft and others to take a good look at what they are building and change their current development approach. While Google (and now… imagine this Microsoft) are getting heavily into Cloud computing the drive will be to change the container in which these applications operate in. Chrome is that first step and man-oh-man is it about time and it makes perfect sense that Google would do this.

While the industry has speculated that they would create their own browser for sometime its no wonder that it didn’t come out until they were positioned with the infrastructure they now have in place to create something “completely different.” Now Google has everything they need to truly go to new levels in the industry. With their massive investment in datacenters and infrastructure, their deep and talented development team and now a highly optimized presentation layer to do it in.

Check it out, but when you play with it, don’t make the mistake of looking at it as a competitor with IE or FireFox. Rather, take a deeper look and see it for what it really was intended to be.

I know I sound like a Google evangelist here, but I am not. I am just an old school developer that really appreciates products and application that make a difference, had a vision and executed to that vision well. I promise you, Cloud computing is coming; Amazon has spent a ton in DEV and infrastructure getting into this space. Google and Microsoft are next and even companies like RackSpace (Mosso) are getting into the promise of Cloud computing. Chrome will definitely have a place in your browsing future. Maybe not this release, but remember this was only version 1.0.

I should have blogged this.  Hope it helped.

</david>

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Texas Tech Football – In The ZoNe! with Photoshop CS4

November 6, 2008 3 comments

What better way to start off a new image than using a new tool. Finally after all of my issues with CS4, I can happily write and show my first image produced using the new tools. This image is of Heisman leading quarterback Graham Harrell of Texas Tech. This September for my birthday I was given a trip to Reno to shoot Texas Tech football. While there I had the distinct pleasure of photographing and watching two Heisman candidates while also enjoying a win for Tech. (TTU Grad 90′)

This shot is roughly 30 layers in CS4 and finished up being 600MB when completed. I used both the 32 and 64 bit versions to create this image. The 32bit version of CS4 works fine in Windows XP64 (now that the Nik Select issue is resolved). The new UI for CS4 is great. It didn’t take me anytime to get up and running. Now, while this particular edit didn’t make use of any of the new wiz-bang features of CS4 I did get to enjoy the new UI and replacement of modal dialogs. One of the new features they don’t mention online nor in the write-ups is the healing tool. With the new version when you ALT+Click an area to sample as you move the mouse over the area to be fixed you get a preview of the pixel pattern inside the circumference of the brush prior to placing the edit. This is a great new feature especially when you are editing areas that have lines or patterns in them and you want to make sure you place your cursor in the right place. The zooming in and out really is a huge improvement over CS3. Despite the limitations of OpenGL in WindowsXP64 there is a very noticeable gain in speed when zooming, rotating etc. You do have to experiment with the GPU settings and your individual video card (in XP64) to find the sweet spot of performance but its well worth playing with. As I dive into CS4 more I will write about my experience as well as how the tool is performing and focus on some of the new functionality. As for right now, I am real happy with how this shot turned out and with my investment in CS4.

The original image was shot with my D700 and my 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens. ISO 800.

The goal of this shot was to visually depict what it’s like when an athlete is in the ZONE. This Zone is this mystical place where your senses are razor sharp and you isolate all distraction and focus on the play or the game. It’s like moving in slow motion and taking everything in while in reality a split second has elapsed. I had tried this once already, but this is a new effort and focuses on the top of the Heisman list Graham Harrell, the best quarterback in Texas Tech school history if not the country.

In The ZoNe!

In The ZoNe!

As always comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.

UPDATE:
This image is now available in our online store for sale. To order this image go to the FPT web site or go straight to our online store: Here

</david>

Issues with PhotoShop CS4 (take 2)

November 4, 2008 1 comment

Welcome to round two of my battle with Photoshop CS4. In the first round, I expressed some issues with performance, menus and 64bit usability/testing and support. As I mentioned in my first post it was time to take the issue to the Forums as the email support Adobe has (while appreciated) isn’t that great.

The Adobe forums are FANTASTIC, the people are very helpful, full of information and ideas to try. I tried them all and despite several people trying to give me an idea of what could be causing the screen and menu redraw issues was beyond me. After three days of fighting with the program I got out my old developer tools and did some spying on the windows message loop. I discovered what was wrong and wrote a small program to fix the issue. Then in my triumph over the issue I discovered the root cause and am here to tell you, it wasn’t Adobe.

The real culprit was Nik Software’s Select tool. Apparently, the select tool for Nik’s Color Efex and Silver Efex software caused several issues with the Menu’s in CS4 and the programs ability to re-draw the screen. (My symptoms exactly). I discovered this when I was searching for 64bit versions of my plug-ins. I eventually (even though I fixed it the hard way) reached a point where my frustration with the speed of the 32bit version of CS4 on XP64 was too slow and I wanted to use the 64bit version. So, in my search for 64bit plug-ins I discovered a KB article on the NIK web site that mentioned this display issue. The company has it fixed in the Define product. Since the Select interface is common amongst Color Efex, Silver Efex and Define you only need it once. A quick update of my software and the problem was gone. (Now I had to go eliminate my program which forced a WM_PAINT message to be sent to Photoshop so it would re-draw its screen, but that’s another story).

So, if you or anyone you know is experiencing re-draw, re-fresh or menu access issues in CS4 32bit and use these plug-ins, go download the free trial of Define and you are fixed. The reason this issue never presented in the 64bit CS4 is that the NIK plug-ins aren’t compatible in the 64bit version yet and so the issue never showed up when running that version.

The performance of the 32bit version in XP64 with a Dual/Dual Core Xenon Server with 8GB Ram is TERRIBLE. It’s useable, but terrible when compared to CS3 32bit. The 64bit version of CS4 works fine (so far) in Windows XP64 and is much faster. Only a handful of my plug-ins are compatible. When I can get them all in place, I won’t be using the 32bit version anymore. Yes, there is that much of a difference in the two. Especially when you need that extra RAM to work on files that are between 300MB and 1GM each.

Now that I have the basic UI issue solved and have to deal with the speed issue for the time being, I will focus on writing a review on the actual program. Thanks again to everyone in the Adobe Forums, the help was sincerely appreciated and thanks to the team at NIK for quickly identifying the issue and having a fix in place.

</david>