Archive for February, 2012

this is why you fail

Most of the photos I’ve taken of my daughter are with a now nearly eight year old Canon SD500.  Every once in a while, I think that I should replace it with something newer and faster: Theda tends to move at near-mach velocities in her calmer moments, and I miss a lot of shots waiting for the autofocus.  I’ve been thinking this now for a good two years, and yet I have not actually replaced the camera.  Why?  Well, this is what I see every time I go to Canon’s web page and start researching replacements:

I’ll spare you the effort of counting them up: that is THIRTY TWO distinct models of compact camera that Canon is currently attempting to sell.  Almost all of them are priced within the range of $110 to $250, and the model names are a sludge of letters and numbers that could only make sense to some sort of obsessive camera-otaku.  Some, but not all of them have completely meaningless star ratings: shockingly, they all get four or five stars out of five! And best of all, their “compare models” tool only lets you compare three models at a time.  So that’s helpful.

The only sane answer to the question “which one of these cameras do I want?” is “fuck it, I’ll just use the camera in my cell phone,” and according to Canon’s most recent financial results that’s pretty much what everyone is doing.

You’d think that someone in the camera business would have noticed this and decided to try something different, but they’re all just as bad: Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Samsung, you name it.  They all have dozens of nearly identical models, and they all introduce new models like clockwork every six months.  Surely the introduction of the new SX128g878ASDF7-HSPRO model in shiny purple (that won’t ship anywhere outside Japan for another four months by which time the details of the next model will have leaked) will reverse the trend!

The single smartest thing Steve Jobs did in the first FIVE YEARS of his second tenure at Apple was to take a very large axe to Apple’s overgrown product line, and reduce it from over 25 models to six, with clear feature differences at each price point.  It’s always amazing to me how many industries have yet to grasp why that was a good idea.

[After the fact edit: yes, people, thank you for the camera recommendations.  And yes, I know about third-party review sites that attempt to ameliorate the suckage of the original manufacturers’ product lines and web pages.  My point, such as it is, was that the manufacturers should stop sucking.]

[Edit the second: the really frustrating thing is that at least in Canon’s case, they demonstrably know better.  Their DSLR selection is everything that their compact line-up isn’t: there are 9 total models (really actually 7 with some older out-of-production ones still in stock), each at a different price-point, and with a clear and obvious performance reward for spending each additional $500-1000.  There’s no earthly reason that their compact selection couldn’t work the same way.]

the hunt, redux

I am, once again, apartment-hunting in San Francisco. It is even more awesome than last time.

Inquiry:

Subject: your 4br listing on craigslist
From: "Dr. Memory" 
To: pdgfr-2829561917@hous.craigslist.org

Hey there.  My wife and I are very interested in taking a look at this
unit; when is a good time for you to show it?

-Dr. Memory
 (phone number)

Response:

From: Val Robertson <valrobertson18@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: your 4br listing on craigslist
To: "Dr. Memory" 
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2012 06:10:22 -0800 (PST)

Hello,

I got a contract job in an engineering company for a construction project as
part of the structural engineers to build a highrise building in West Africa. I
am a Building tech specialist, so my accommodation period in Nigeria will be
about 4 years, so that's the reason why i am renting out the unit. I do not
intend to make profit out of it all i want is to find a good and clean person
to take good care of the place. I`m the owner of the unit and it is furnished
but if you want you can make use of your furniture's and help keep mine in the
storage locker which is situated both in the unit and in the building and these
does not attracts any funds.

The monthly rent am requesting for includes all utilities (water, electricity,
Internet, cable, 1 parking spots, air conditioning, dishwasher, garbage
disposal, microwave, refrigerator, stove, laundry in-suite, washer and dryer)
the monthly rent you will be paying includes all this and they will be taken
care of as soon as you pay your rent.

Everything in this unit is functional and in good working conditions. Once you
started staying in the unit and there is any case of any repairs which is as a
result of normal faults like leakages, you will get in touch with me and i will
get it fixed, i am in possession of the keys to the Home which makes hard for
you to view the unit. You can move into the unit when you receive the keys but
the only problem is that am the only person who has the keys but i hope that we
will be able to reach a compromise on this.

ADDRESS TO THE PROPERTY: 1034 Delaware Street, Berkeley CA 94710

TERMS AND CONDITION:
The lease is month to month , 6 month or 1yrs and can be renewed ~It can be
rented furnished or unfurnished ~ You will have to take good care of my unit
Utilities are included in the rent ~Pets Allowed Any further questions please
contact and get back to me for the pics of the unit and the application form.
Thank you for your interest and i`m awaiting your response.

Thanks.

Counter-offer:

Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2012 10:07:43 -0800
Subject: Re: your 4br listing on craigslist
From: "Dr. Memory" 
To: Val Robertson <valrobertson18@yahoo.com>

Val: this sounds like the deal of the century!  In Jesus' name, I am most
happy to have met you.

I would be happy to pay you the full year's rent in cash, as I have
recently come into a large sum of money left to me by Maryam Abacha, the
widow of General Sani Abacha, ex-military Head of State of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria who died on the 8th of June 1998 of heart problems.
Since you are in Nigeria you are undoubtedly familiar with how generous the
Abachas were with their estate!

Madam Abacha left to me the sum of 30 million dollars US, out of which I
could easily fulfill the terms of your lease.  As you are currently
residing in Nigeria, you would be the perfect person to help me secure the
transfer of these funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria to my accounts at
Citibank NY.  I would like to hire you to be my agent in this matter, for
which I will pay you 15% of the total funds once they are transferred.

If you are interested, please respond immediately.

-Dr. Memory
 Global Skunkworks Investments, LLC
 San Francisco, CA

So far no reply, but I live in hope.