August 2005 Archives

This is one for the students in my fall Japanimation and Manga class. A movie theatre just outside of Tokyo is offering discounts to customers who declare themselves 'otaku' or nerds (well, nerd isn't quite the right translation). From the Mainichi Daily News:

Theater offers otaku cheap tickets

Declaring you're an otaku might get you strange looks in some places. But a Japanese movie theater is offering outspoken nerds something positive: a discount....

Otaku culture has become a legitimate field of research in Japan, and a study last year estimated that sales generated by goods targeted at the country's 2.8 million nerds totaled 258 billion yen.

"Densha Otoko" takes so-called geeks into a genre they're not usually associated with: romantic love. The 22-year-old otaku hero turns to a favorite geek refuge in search of girlfriend advice -- the Internet.

Anindya Bhattacharyya has a story in the New York Times about his travels as a deaf-blind man in the U.S.:

WHEN you are deaf-blind, technology is an ever-present companion. I travel with a laptop for e-mail, phone and Internet access. I use a G.P.S.-equipped Braille Note note-taker to get information about my surroundings. To communicate with others, I have a Screen Braille Communicator with two sides: one in Braille, which I can read; the other an L.C.D. screen with a keyboard, for someone who is sighted.

Back when I was first comparing mobile phone internet service providers, T-Mobile was $20/month for their slow 40-80kbps GPRS service while Verizon was $80/month for their blazing fast 400kbps EVDO service. Since I'm cheap frugal, I decided to go with T-mobile and I'm happy with that decision. Apparently other people have been too, since Verizon has been feeling the heat and will drop the price of their EVDO service to $60/mo. I'm still sticking with T-mobile, though. I need internet on the road only occasionally, so I can put up with the slow speed and use that extra $40/mo for better things.

From the August 26th MSN-Mainichi Daily News:

"A woman with gender identity disorder, a man suffering serious muscle atrophy, and a woman belonging to a minority ethnic group are set to run in the upcoming House of Representatives election in a bid to represent their fellows in the highest organ of state power."

MovableType (the blog engine driving this site) was officially upgraded last week to version 3.2. I waited the customary period of time (3 days... ok... I'm impatient) to shake out the remaining bugs and upgraded all my blogs this weekend.

Japanese Internet apparel retailer ImageNet has come up with a unique way to select new employees. It is granting interviews at a height of 12,388 ft at the summit of Japan's highest, Mount Fuji.

Link: CMOS Image Sensors

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Micron has a rather informative article on CMOS image sensors, comparing features with CCD sensors and highlighting their advantages. The article also shines light on the complex development process of CMOS sensors:

Someone's written a small depth of field calculator for Mac OS X dashboard widgets. I'm not sure how useful it is to pop open your PowerBook before you want to take a photo -- that's what the DOF lines on your lens focusing ring are for -- and the PalmOS ones are much handier if you need more detailed info, but I guess some people might be interested: DOFC - Depth of Field Calculator - Dashboard - Calculate & Convert: ""

About DOFC - Depth of Field Calculator
DOFC is a handy calculator for the depth of field, near focus, far focus and hyperfocal distance, no matter what camera you’ve got. It’s the perfect companion for the Apple PowerBook or iBook you probably carry to store and touch-up your digital images. DOFC will hopefully make a welcome addition to your shooting set-up, whether you shoot for soft Bokeh in portraits or ultimate sharpness in panoramic images.

Hasselblad has announced the release of the H2D - the successor to the popular (if exorbitantly priced) H1 medium format camera:

Hasselblad launches the next generation of professional photography

Four new products address needs of
both general and specialist professional photographers

A year from the launch of the new Hasselblad, the company is setting a new benchmark for digital professional photography with the announcement of new flagship digital cameras and camera backs based on a new digital platform, satisfying the needs of both the general and specialist professional photographer.

Does culture affect how we see the world? Researchers from the University of Michigan think so, according to this AP article reproduced on
Asians and North Americans really do see the world differently. Shown a photograph, North American students of European background paid more attention to the object in the foreground of a scene, while students from China spent more time studying the background and taking in the whole scene, according to University of Michigan researchers. breaks the news that the Canon EOS 5D and 1D Mark IIN have been officially announced.

The 5D specs were posted on this site previously and appear to be accurate, except for the price which is estimated at US$3299. That's ground breaking for a full-frame camera. I'll be pre-ordering one as soon as I can. What's really great is that the 5D's focusing screens can be replaced, this was a major bugaboo for me with the 20D/10D since I like to have have grid focusing screens for alignment and composition.

The EOS 1D Mark IIN has the same 8.2 megapixel sensor as its predecessor, which was designed for photojournalists who needed fast frame rates more than they needed megapixels or full-frame sensors. The main difference is the larger LCD panel on the back and a larger and faster buffer performance. It'll be listed at US$3999.

908759L.jpgI was browsing Costco's website when I came across this mini-dehumidifier (Royal Sovereign Silver Mini Dehumidifier $29.99 Item # 908759) that seems like it would be perfect for camera cabinets. I'm now living by the ocean and the humidity is quite high. I'm going to give this a go and report on how it works. See my previous blog entry on keeping cameras and lenses fungus free.

There's an excellent listserv run out of Stanford University's Center for Teaching and Learning called the Tomorrow's Professor Listserv. It's a wonderful resource for graduate students and faculty of all levels to think seriously about their pedagogy and how to be an effective teacher. There's also a very good link to an advice column on academic careers by Richard Reis. All in all, a must read.
There's a really good interview with disability activist Norman Kunc, titled ""The Stairs Don't Go Anywhere!" A Self-Advocate's Reflections on Specialized Services and Their Impact on People with Disabilities. In the article, Kunc links disability with racism and sexism in quite an interesting way. A must read for all.
If you think about it, from the age of three until the age of twelve, three times a week, women who were older than I was, who were more powerful than I was, who had more authority than I had, brought me in to their room, their space, their turf. They took off some of my clothes. They invaded my personal space. They gripped me and touched me, manipulating my body in ways that were painful -- it hurt. Some of the exercises that were done in physical therapy were very painful, others were threatening. For example, there was the one where you are sitting or kneeling on the floor and the therapist kneels behind you and pushes you in different directions forward and sideways. The stated purpose of that activity is to improve reactive balance responses, but when I do this with nondisabled people as a training activity they find it enormously threatening when a person behind them is shoving them, especially when they never know what direction they were going to get pushed. When I was in school, I didn't know I had any other choice than to go along with it. So when you think of it, what did I have from the age of three up? People, women, who had more power than I did, took me in to their space, they took some of my clothes off, touched me in ways that were painful, and I felt that I had no choice in it. To me it's a form of sexual assault even though it was completely asexual. It's the power and domination that's is part of the abuse. It's important for professionals to understand and acknowledge the power differential that exists between themselves and the children with disabilities they are supposed to be serving.

Youth Advisory Committee Recruitment

**Accessibility information at bottom**

August 9, 2005 Recruiting Announcement

Youth Advisory Committee for the National Council on Disability

Washington, DC-The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) for the National
Council on Disability (NCD) is announcing the opening of a nationwide
search for new members. The YAC, a 12 member advisory committee ranging
in age from 16-25, is recruiting members from cross disability sectors,
diverse cultures and in under represented areas of the country.

There's a credible rumor going around that the Canon EOS 5D is due to be announced on August 22nd, with shipping to commence in October. According to the info sheet I saw, it features:

  • 12.8 megapixel full-frame (24mmx36mm)
  • 3 frames per second (60 frame burst JPEG; 17 frames RAW)
  • 9 point autofocus (w/ 6 invisible points)
  • Compatible with all EF lenses (but not EF-S)
  • CF cards
  • Batteries use same BP-511a as the 10D/20D (yeah!)
  • New battery grip BG-E4
  • 152mm x 113mm x 75mm; 810 grams

Whether you are a grad student or junior faculty member, it is important to keep your grants and job searches organized. The deadlines are always different and have a tendency to creep up on you. Some people keep paper files and folders, but I am entirely electronic. I have a folder on my computer called "Jobs and Grants." Whenever I see a job posting, post-doc, or grant that I am interested in, I save as text a copy of the posting as a text file or PDF into a subfolder.

Ever since I upgraded to Mac OS X 10.4 ("Tiger") a couple of months ago, I lost the ability to double-click open Photoshop files in the Finder. I'd double-click on the file, Photoshop would open (or switch to the front) but nothing would happen. I've been living with this bug for several months until I was irritated enough today to find out if it was just me.

What is a disability? This is an extraordinarily complex question. The Americans with Disabilities Act was vague on this issue, stating that it was a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." In recent years, this definition has been severely narrowed by several Supreme Court decisions. In Japan, disability is defined medically through specific definitions of certain impairments -- degrees of motion in legs; decibels of hearing loss; etc.

What does the U.N. convention propose? This is an issue that is still under debate. From footnotes to Article 3 of the Working Group text:

12: Many members of the Working Group emphasised that a convention should protect the rights of all persons with disabilities (i.e. all different types of disabilities) and suggested that the term "disability" should be defined broadly. Some members were of the view that no definition of 'disability' should be included in the convention, given the complexity of disability and the risk of limiting the ambit of the convention. Other delegations pointed to existing definitions used in the international context including the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). There was general agreement that if a definition was included, it should be one that reflects the social model of disability, rather than the medical model.

This issue is coming up today as delegates discuss disabilities and secondary disabilities.

When doing archival research in Japan, I had a Canon flatbed USB scanner that could fit in my backpack and ran off USB power. I believe they call the series the LIDE scans. They're quite nice and very cheap, less than $60 or Y7,000. The problem though is that they are rather slow. They also do not have a lot of depth of field, so you really have to PUSH the book onto the bed of the scanner in order to read the text near the spine.

I found that if I was trying to copy a lot of pages, it was faster to set up my Canon 10D on a tripod (Velbon Carmagne) and photograph the pages instead. With the flatbed, I could maybe scan one page a minute, with my 10D, I could photograph over 10 pages a minute. At 6 megapixels, this is just about the same as scanning at 250 dpi. It was also easier to photograph fragile material like rare books, without breaking their spines by forcing them on the scanner.

Photographers are occasionally called upon to photograph paintings, prints, documents, or artwork. It's a bit more difficult to set up the lighting and artwork correctly without getting flare, reflections, or distortion. Paul Hill on the Hasselblad list recently posted some excellent tips on how to photograph artwork (or other photographs, documents, etc.) accurately:

Hasselblad's linear mirror unit has not been produced in a long time. Occasionally you can find a used one, but the price is usually above $200 US. has a
tutorial for achieving flatness with a simple mirror. has some diagrams for
lighting setup. Polarizing gels and a polarizer for the lens doesn't hurt
either. This is important for works covered by glass. The use of polarizers
may make your color balance more difficult, however, if you shoot a
calibration card at the start of the roll, or even in the same frame, you
should be able to achieve good results.

Another tutorial can be found at

The same considerations (distortion and reflections) are true when
documenting ceramics and porcelains.

I have some tips on photographing archival material that I'll post separately.

In case you were wondering if the US needs to beef up its domestic human rights record for people with disabilities, The Washington Post reports that D.C. Settles With Wrongly Imprisoned Man:

"Heard — who is described as deaf, mute and mentally impaired - was jailed in 1999 on a trespassing charge from a year earlier, although a D.C. Superior Court judge had freed him, declaring him mentally unfit to stand trial, Moustakas said.

Prison officials then lost track of his records and he was not released until 670 days after his arrest, when officials were processing a transfer of prisoners to a federal facility.

Heard's case alleged that the city violated his civil rights by falsely imprisoning him, and neglected to supply him with an interpreter or teletype machine to allow him to communicate with his jailers. His case against the medical contractor, the Center for Correctional Health Policy Studies, alleges that the firm administered psychotropic drugs to him without his consent, Moustakas said."

Lost in the prison system for 670 days???????? That's almost two years. His settlement is for $1.1 million + lawyers fees. I think DC got off easy. (Via TalkLeft.)

I was curious about the absence of the United States from the process and asked NGOs about this. Apparently the United States indicated very early on in the process in the second session that they would not be signing the International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities:

Day three of the International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations. We've been talking about draft article 17 of the convention. This has to do with the educational rights of people with disabilities. This is one of the most important articles of the convention and the committee spent much more time debating it than other sections.

Info: e-fax services

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This entire week I'm at the U.N. observing the disability convention proceedings. At the same time, I'm trying to close on my new house in New Haven. This would all be impossible if it wasn't for the confluence of two things.

First, the U.N. is almost entirely wirelessly accessible. All of the major meeting rooms have WiFi access. With the exception of the singular lack of power outlets in conference room four (the main meeting room for the convention), it's ideal for multi-tasking with your laptop.

I use two e-fax services to send and receive the many faxes that are necessary to close a house:

P1020002WTMK.JPGI'm writing this right now from conference room #4 of the United Nations in New York, where we're in the 6th session of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. I'm observing the proceedings that are going on this week and next (August 1-12).

Why is there a need for an international convention on disability rights? Aren't people with disabilities covered by previous international conventions on human rights?

Some members of the Leica Reflex list found that their manual focus Leica-R lenses were having slight exposure problems when mounted (with an adapter) on their Canon EOS 20D cameras. This was a problem that hadn't shown up in previous EOS digital or film cameras. Bob Palmieri on the list asked Chuck Westfall of Canon USA, who quickly responded with the cause and solution to the issue:

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