Info - Useful information: August 2005 Archives

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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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This page is a archive of entries in the Info - Useful information category from August 2005.

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