Thursday, 2014-08-14

Four States of Mind

(All pics from our trip are in this Flickr set.)

5th Avenue

New York is a woman — she’ll make you cry
But to her you’re just another guy

Suzanne Vega

Lake Meade

Well it used to be everything was fine
Everything, this all was mine
But one fine day, you might say
That I, I threw it all away
‘Cause I made up my mind
I traded holy water for cheap wine
I ran out of time
Or something that I can’t define
I traded my whiskey for your wine
Leaving my river running dry
And a waterline

Lloyd Cole

South Rim

We went to Grand Canyon
And we stood at the expanse
And we watched the rocks change color
And we watched the shadows dance

Drive-By Truckers

Venice

And if California slides into the ocean
As the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this hotel will be standing
Until I pay my bill

Warren Zevon

Thursday, 2014-07-31

July

Sjöstaden

Hanny & Toke

Henriksdalshamnen

Hammarby Allé

Tuesday, 2014-07-15

The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross

The latest Laundry novel takes on vampires! Stross does a good job integrating the known lore about his universe - magic as a side-effect of applied mathematics - and his explanation about the origins of his vampiric cell makes internal sense.

However, if there’s one criticism that can be levelled at Stross is that his plotting could be better. This novel deal with double-cross upon double-cross and it gets confusing about who’s crossing who. To deal with this, jarring interludes of exposition are introduced that try to explain what’s happening.

Monday, 2014-06-30

June

Michel

Tour Eiffel

Sjöstaden

Valhallavägen

Djurgården

Hanny & Patrik

Solbryggan

Saturday, 2014-05-31

May

A certain theme this month…

Kungsgatan

Djurgårdskanalen

Sicklasjön

Hammarby kaj

Hammarby kaj

Île Saint-Louis

Saturday, 2014-05-10

Two novels by Paul McAuley

  • 400 Hundred Billion Stars
  • Eternal Light

These are McAuley’s debut novels, and while they’re set in the same universe, they’re very different. 400 Hundred Billion Stars is basically an alien-contact novel. Functionally it’s a space opera, although thankfully not of the Galactic Imperium style. The main character is also a telepath, and although that’s handwaved as a form of quantum tunneling it’s still a rather 70s detail.

The second crams too much into one novel - Gibsonesque McGuffin chasing, virtual reality, intra-galactic wormholes, civil war IN SPACE, religious fanatic, alien macrostructures. The sensawunda is relegated to background noise.

However I’m a big fan of McAuley and I’m glad I’ve read these. They’re not bad books, just that he’s written better since.

Saturday, 2014-05-03

April reads

Bit late, I read the following books in April:

  • Sandman Slim and Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
  • Crack’d Pot Trail by Stephen Erikson

Wednesday, 2014-04-30

April

Garnisonen

Hasse

Kungsträdgården

Hammarby sjöstad

Tuesday, 2014-04-22

Confluence by Paul McAuley

A trilogy, comprising of the novels Child of the River, Ancient of Days, and Shrine of Stars.

It’s one of McAuley’s first novels and even if it’s cleaned up in this re-release I still think it’s a very good effort. The atmospherics of this far-future world are well-rendered. It reminds me of Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, in a good way. Recommended.

Friday, 2014-04-04

Adventures in tiny Nikonland - a review of sorts of the Nikon V1

Hammarby sjö

So… in 2011 Nikon mystified everyone with the introduction of their mirrorless system, called “Nikon 1”, featuring a relatively tiny 1” (2.7x crop) sensor. Nikon was very proud of this sensor, because it had fast AF and a bunch of other things no-one really cares about; everyone wanted a 1.5x crop sensor or bigger that they could mount their big lenses on. Oh, and Nikon decided that this little sensor was worth a lot of money so their pricing was insanely high. The Nikon V1 cost ~$900 at introduction, with the kit 10-30mm lens.

Well, you don’t mess with Mother Market, and a few years later I could score a nice used V1 kit for 170 EUR. So, how does this little runt compare with my other used old camera, the Nikon D700 DSLR?

Nackanäs

This is only my superficial notes. If you want a rant-y real review of the Nikon V1, check out Thom Hogan’s one here. Thom also publishes an ebook that covers the first generation Nikon 1 cameras - Complete Guide to the Nikon 1. I’ve purchased it and can recommend it. That work also tells some of the history of the Nikon 1’s design. Basically, Nikon skated in the opposite direction of the camera market puck…

Garnisonen

What I like

  • It’s small and light. It fits (with some effort) into my coat pocket, and doesn’t weigh down my bag. This is good because the D700 is way too big for everyday carry, at least where I am right now in life.
  • The image quality seems ok to me. The short focal length of the kit lens doesn’t really bother me, as much of my so-called “work” is “urban landscape” and I’m not that interested in thin depth-of-field. If this is important to you, go ahead and get a Sony A7.
  • It’s an all-dancing, all-singing techno-wunder camera. It has stuff like VR in the lens that helps with slow shutter speeds, Lightroom does auto-correct of distorsion, there’s a fancy EVF in it, it takes movies… considering my D700 is treated as a digital FM2n, this is a big deal for this cheap-ass Luddite.
  • It doesn’t break the bank. I paid as much for this camera as for a crappy little P&S my kid got for Christmas. The lenses available for it aren’t that expensive either (I’m looking at getting the 30-110mm tele-slowzoom, and maybe the 18.5mm normal)
  • Image quality is “good enough”. If I ever feel the need to create a masterpiece fit for a giant printout with oodles of dynamic range, I’ll bust out the D700 and tripod. But for cat pics on the internet the V1 suffices.
  • It has an EVF - this was a dealbreaker for me when it comes to compact/mirrorless cameras. While I appreciate the read LCD in some situations, I really prefer holding a camera up to my eyes and squinting at the scene through a tiny hole.

Sickla udde

What I don’t like

  • the controls are retarded. See Thom’s review for more details. The “mode” dial in particular is a pain, as it often slips from the only good position into stupid stuff like “Motion Snapshot”.
  • There’s no built-in flash, something that can be forgiven due to the size of the body. But the accessory slot is not compatible with any SLR flash, and there’s no adapter available.
  • Battery life could be better, but that may be due to the battery I have being used.

Conclusion

The digital compact camera is an endangered species - cellphones are eating their lunch, and the traditional camera manufacturers don’t have a good answer to them right now. The Nikon 1 series was designed for a world where there would be a niche between compact cameras at the low end and DSLRs at the high end. It tries to combine the portability of a compact with the fast AF of a DSLR, adding exchangeable lenses and balancing the act with a small but not tiny sensor.

Now that niche is no more, and the Nikon 1 is floundering in a sea of mirrorless cameras, many more capable and cheaper than it is. But if you can find one for a decent price, I can recommend it. The pros outweighs the cons.