Post PDC 2008 Wrap-up

Windows Azure. Admittedly, quite cool. I don’t have any uses for it right now, but I like the fact that it’s fully .NET friendly. The bad: a confusing mix of technologies somehow “lumped” under this new brand-name. When are they ever going to learn?

Windows 7 (engineering blog here). The good: a refreshed UI and a bunch of things that hopefully will make it faster (like Vista should have been). The bad: showing a cool demo of the new UI at the PDC 2008 main session, yet giving attendees an older build that contained the least interesting pieces. Seriously bad form Microsoft.

XNA Studio 3.0 released (coincidence actually), cool nonetheless. Makes it so much easier to write games than ever before for the Windows, XBox360, and Zune.

Universal Studios Event. I’d been there before several times, so there really wasn’t much to do, and I’m totally not into “haunted” mazes and such. The bad: there was a lot less fun food options than there had been in the past. Even worse: at least one bus got lost on the way from the hotels to the park (and it took about 1.25 hours to arrive!).

Visual Studio 10. The UI will of course benefit from the switch to WPF – including some slick ways of enhancing the editor. Maybe some nice open source will appear which will all but eliminate the need to buy expensive 3rd party options for editor and shell enhancements (sorry, but they’ve always been too pricey for me).

Microsoft Surface: Yawn. Multi-touch in Windows 7 is where it’s at. Plus, you’re not hindered by the horizontal-only user experience and expensive tables.

 

Bigger shock:

Evaluations

What would they be announcing next year already? PDC generally happens only when there’s a big new “WAVE” planned. Maybe it will be canceled like last years.

Off to PDC 2008 in Los Angeles ….

If there’s something interesting that is announced, that hasn’t already been posted to death, or that I’m particularly excited about, I’ll post it here.

Did you see that Microsoft announced a new .NET logo?

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Supposedly it’s a “wave” that demonstrates the key values of .NET: consistency, robustness and great user experiences. Huh?

The old logo needed an update – but the characteristics they’re suggesting are conveyed … a bit of a stretch. My reaction: a blurry “N” or “we couldn’t actually decide and everything is a bit fuzzy, “.NET”. 🙂 (That’s the .NET message I’m most familiar with!)

I can see the inspiration… (everything’s blue and they’re using the same basic font).

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Cameras and Lens, oh my!

My wife and I are doing a bit of international travel soon and I had decided that I’d buy a new point and shoot camera to take with me. The trouble was that although there were a few new cameras out, none seemed to be available locally. I really like to try a point and shoot out before I buy it – to see how big it is for real (in my hand), to take a couple of shots, try turning it on/off to get a sense of how fast I can take a shot, etc.

I’d narrowed choices down to:

  Nikon Coolpix P6000 (B&H) Canon PowerShot G10 (B&H)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 (B&H)

  image image image
Optical Zoom 4x 5x 2.5x
Optical Stabilization Yes Yes Yes
GPS Yes No No
Weight 8.5oz (240g) 0.77 lb (350g) 8.0oz (227g)
Dimensions 2.6 x 4.2 x 1.7”
(66 x 107 x 42mm)
3.1 x 4.3 x 1.8”
(78 x 109 x 46mm)
2.4 x 4.3 x 1.1”
(60 x 109 x 27mm)
RAW? Yes (1) Yes Yes (2)

(1) New RAW, NRW, supported by Adobe imaging products through Raw Update

(2) RAW Not yet supported by Aperture or Lightroom 2.1

Again, without seeing them, I wasn’t sure of how’d they feel. Would they fit in my pants pocket (without a carrying case)?

 image

The only camera that seemed like it might fit would be the Panasonic. So, I compared it’s size against my current favorite, the Canon Powershot 870:

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(The Canon is on the left, Panasonic on right).

So, the Panasonic would be a bit bigger, but it would probably fit in my jeans pocket. However, there were three things that kept me from jumping and buying the Panasonic:

  • Lens cap. Like a DSLR, it has a lens cap that must be managed. There’s a little “tie” of some sort that it ships with, but I like the convenience of not worrying about extra pieces when I’m carrying a point and shoot camera.
  • Zoom. A sad 2.5x zoom. I can’t always use my feet to get me closer to things – so zoom comes in handy. 2.5 is really sad.
  • Proprietary RAW. There’s no indication that Adobe will support this custom RAW format any time soon. I like Lightroom 2.1 … I don’t want to use more than one tool to process my images.

The image quality, from what I’ve read is pretty good on the LX3. Better than a lot of cameras before it. The low light handling is also good (from what I’ve read).

The Canon, although the G9 was well rated, is just too big and heavy for the point and shoot style camera I’m looking for.

Then there was the Nikon … cool that it had built in GPS, (yet I read some people suggested it drained the battery too quickly and wasn’t as accurate as other GPS chips – here for example), it was a bit bigger than I would like. The RAW support, although more proprietary than the preview RAW formats released by Nikon cameras (NEF), is supported by Lightroom.

In the end, I decided not to buy any of these for now – and I’d rather wait for something that doesn’t have as many compromises for me. I bet they all will take great pictures – and if your needs are slightly different than mine, you’d likely be very happy. (If you don’t have a desire to carry the camera in a pants pocket….)

What did I do instead? I bought a new vibration reduction telephoto zoom lens for my D300! 🙂

imageI bought the Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC LD Asph. Macro Lens. It’s a 72mm 3.5-22/6.3-40 f/Stop lens with great wide-angle to awesome zoom abilities in a very compact lens. I own the 18-250 (no vibration reduction), which I’ve taken many thousands of photos with and been extremely happy with the high quality images. So, I had no reason to doubt that this lens would be equally good for my needs. I could have bought the Nikon 18-200, but the Tamron is a bit cheaper, has a better zoom range, and the brand has proven it’s capable of good things.

Both lens are about the same length and weight – so I couldn’t see any reason not to go with the slightly more capable lens. I’m not a professional photographer and I don’t have expectations that a $600 lens will be of the same quality as a $5000 lens (unlike some people in forums who seem to expect that).

I don’t have any shots I can post yet from the Tamron 18-270mm, but when I do, I’ll be sure to link to them (they’ll be on my SmugMug page).