I Endorse This Event Or Product

Apropos the previously-mentioned digital camera, the SiPix Groove; do not purchase that product. I may or may not have taken some striking pictures, including a few of the Rideau river smoking under the sun during the recent cold snap and some great pictures of indoor Ultimate at the dome. This camera, which I exhort you again to not purchase, just forgot about them. Plain old forgot. Christ. I didn’t expect miraculous image quality, and Linux compatibility would have come as surprise, but complete amnesia is completely unforgiveable. Back to the store it went.

What I got to replace it came as a very pleasant surprise. I was offered a cheap upgrade for my frustrations, and bought a Centrios DSC-214. The images are somewhat better, “megapixels” being something of a crock as a unit of measurement, but the real seller is that the camera works with Linux right out of the box.


When I bought the first one, I was told by the Radio Shack goons that “It’s pretty standard, it should work”, which is Radio-Shackese for “I have no idea”. You can make a decent argument that shopping at Radio Shack was mistake number one, but that’s then and this is now, so put a sock in it. This lack of cross-platform function puzzled me, though; why would anyone would go out of their way to make their lives difficult by making a device that requires some exotic, platform-dependent driver? It’s a camera; whatever else it does, stores information. And it plugs into USB. So why not make it work like, you know, a USB storage device? Say, the kind of thing that that the entire universe can use?

Well, my camera now thankfully does that, and hopefully that will let me breathe a little more life into the badly-neglected Snapshot. All I need is another brutal -40 cold snap, and I’ll get those pictures right back.

I have a strong suspicion that a lot of these design decisions are rooted in programmer’s egotism, rather than on rational technical decision-making. Further, I’m increasingly of the belief that if an organization has both a business-product and consumer-product side, the consumer side is where you put the B team. It’s a lot like what Anthony Bourdain said about cooking, and the difference between Friday night dinner and Saturday morning brunch – the money comes in on Friday night, that’s where you put the talent.

I could easily be wrong about that; I’m not a fan of new year’s resolutions, but my resolution for this year is to read more and think more about things, because I’ve developed a nasty and unfair habit of judging the merits of an idea on the merits of its proponents, who I find I frequently believe to be idiots. I won’t maintain any kind of steely indealistic resolve in the face of actual evidence to the contrary, mind you, but this is a start. I suppose I could also resolve not to be as judgemental but, well, baby steps. There’s an old line about poker that goes “if you can’t figure out who the sucker is in the first five minutes, that’s because you’re the sucker”; I resolve that whatever I’m doing, if I can’t figure out in five minutes who’s got the dumbest idea at the table, I’ll just shelve my own and listen.

Unless it’s a totally sweet idea, you understand.

5 Comments

  1. Posted January 21, 2004 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Perhaps I’m missing something here, but why not just buy one of those $15 card readers, and take the CF/SD/whatever card out of the camera? Those things are utterly generic USB storage devices, so should require nothing at all in the way of drivers.

    Also, it’s vaguely disturbing to me that I’ve spent much of the last month reading about digital cameras yet haven’t heard of either of the brands you mention. Are these special Canadian cameras, or what?

  2. Mike Hoye
    Posted January 21, 2004 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    They’re not what you’d call A-list brands, so if you’ve been reading serious things about serious cameras, it’s understandable that you might have missed them. The SiPix, for example, did not have expandable or removable memory. The one I’m using now has 16 meg internal and a currently-empty SD slot, which makes me kind of curious about how it’s going to handle the file management once I plug on in there.

    I’m rarely without both laptop and camera these days, so memory isn’t a huge issue now that I can actually get the pictures off the camera.

  3. Posted January 21, 2004 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Oh, right, built-in memory. I always forget that exists, as it seems so odd.

    16MB is really enough for you with a 2MP camera, though? I mean, that’s only like 20 shots…

  4. Mike Hoye
    Posted January 21, 2004 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I say it is, because I haven’t needed more yet. The moment I do, 256 meg will no doubt become indispensable.

    I’m not travelling in the foreseeable future, though, and certainly not travelling far from my laptop, so the need’s just not there yet.

  5. Posted January 21, 2004 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Travelling in the foreseeable future is dull; I prefer either the distant past or the far future.