Saturday, June 17, 2006

Speaking Geek or Lost in Transition

I have not abandoned the blog or fallen off the edge of the earth. I am trying to get The Pond up to speed and it ain't pretty. I was offered and interesting prestigious project which I decided to turn down because the problems in my office are driving me to distraction.

And the main issues that I face are computers. I have come to the conclusion that the present day photographer has to be a geek. I kid you not. Just like computers, handphones and even televisions, technology is constantly changing. And honestly, the cost of being a professional photographer is expensive. The equipment has to be ALL replaced in about 3 year cycles, both hardware and software. So what looked like mountains of film that was taken by the traditional film photographers, start to look cost effective when you start considering the cost of equipment and storage costs.

So one has to be a geek. One has to find ways of beating the system. I regularly read DPreview, Rob Galbraith and The Luminous Landscape. I trawl technology web sites and have searches on E-bay. Damn it, if technology is going to dig holes in my pockets, I am going to use technology to make those holes smaller. Going from web site to web site can be a drag. Although you cannot totally trawling some web sites, all the major news web sites, including The Pond :), have RSS feeds. Do yourself a favour, get a RSS aggregator. I use My Yahoo. I have the headlines from DPreview, Rob Galbraith and Luminous Landscape all in one place. I only visit the sites when there are new articles which interests me.

When I was in Chicago, I really liked the fact that all of Paul's music was stored on hard drives and played using itunes. Paul had a mac mini dedicated to playing music through his system. I decided to buy an Apple airport extreme. This little beauty allows me to stream music from itunes on any computer in the office, mac or pc! So I now have a computer in my office with most of my music on it streaming to my hifi system. Sweet. But the computer is in my office and I could be downstairs in the studio shooting or up in my room. What would be nice is a remote control program like timbuktu to control the music server computer. Timbuktu costs S$1,000 for a 10 user license. Luckily I talked to my friend Eadwine about this. He told me about VNC (Virtual Network Computing). This little gem allows me to do remote computing on my network for... FREE! At first I thought that it was only for PCs, but I found that there were MAC versions too. Sweet. Oh yes, I love the fact that itunes is FREE! too!

I am pretty pissed off with Microsoft, cornering the office suite market and then selling bloat ware for an arm and a leg. All I do in my office is basic word processing. I have no need for 99% of the functionality of Word or excel. And the bloody software gets upgraded regularly. Read S$1000 for EACH copy of office I install which has to be upgraded at least once in 3 years. I can skip a version but after 2 versions operating system specific features makes the programs buggy. I switched over to Openoffice. It is a FREE office suite with wordprocessor, spreadsheet, database and presentation software. It has been ported to different platforms including Windows and Mac. And one great feature is that it converts documents to PDFs without needing another costly program like Adobe Acrobat.

There is only one little hiccup with Openoffice. It does not have the equivalent of Outlook, the program that I need for personal information management. I am very happy to use Outlook Express for e-mail, but I need to run an office. What I have now is a couple of versions of Outlook on different computers which I synchronize using Yahoo calendar. And I also use Outlook to synchronize with my O2 PDA phone. Damn, am I going to spend thousands of dollars just for a calendar application??? No I am not. I am shifting over to Time and Chaos It is not free, but at US$45 a copy, I can live with that. What is more, they have a server that has a US$99 subscription so that I can sync all copies of Time and Chaos that I have as well as internet access all over the world. Bye-Bye Microsoft money pit.

Since I have decided to go with Time and Chaos, I have dropped the idea of using online services for project management. However, two free services really caught my eye. They are,
Iteamwork - An online Project management service
Google Spreadsheets - A beta program but an internet spreadsheet that can accept excel and CSV file.

Microsoft is offering an Internet version of Office. It is in Beta at the moment but will probably cost money once the beta is over. My advice is to just give Microsoft the Bird.

Enough Geek... For now.


ShutterBug said...

ohh lala.... music man :)

ead said...

*cough cough hwan tao zen dollars!! cough cough* haha.

dude, u just have to search alittle deeper into the internet and usually, u'll find what you need.