Cortana had a crappy CES

 Cortana gets no respect. Microsoft’s smart assistant is actually pretty solid, all things told, but it rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant. Maybe it’s a problem of marketing —the company was quick to point at Build in May that its smart assistant now has 141 million monthly users. More likely though, it’s a problem with… Read More

39 million Americans now own a smart speaker, report claims

 One in six Americans now own a smart speaker, according to new research out this week from NPR and Edison Research – a figure that’s up 128 percent from January, 2017. Amazon’s Echo speakers are still in the lead, the report says, as 11 percent now own an Amazon Alexa device compared with 4 percent who own a Google Home product. Today, 16 percent of Americans own a smart… Read More

IBM may be prepping for massive changes at Global Technology Services group

 IBM has been a company adrift for the last several years with 22 straight quarters of declining revenue. Against that backdrop, The Register published an article yesterday suggesting there could be massive changes afoot for the company’s Global Technology Services group. Global Technology Services is the business consulting arm of IBM that deals with infrastructure support and… Read More

Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica begins testing in San Francisco

 Waymo is bringing its self-driving cars back to San Francisco streets for testing. TechCrunch has obtained pictures of the Waymo Chrysler Pacifica autonomous test vehicle on SF city roads, and Waymo confirmed that it is indeed bringing test vehicles back to one of the first spots where it ever tested AVs in the first place.
A Waymo spokesperson provided the following statement about its… Read More

Alexa will have her own opinions on beer, TV shows and more

 Alexa is starting to think for herself. The personal assistant that’s built into Amazon devices like Echo smart speakers and Fire TV may better distinguish itself from competitors like Google Assistant in the future by offering up not just facts or recommendations, but by having her own opinions on things that weren’t explicitly added to her programming. This will come into play,… Read More

First Roll From The Exa Is Back

f/2.9, 1/100

I sent the first roll from the Exa off and the scans were done today. I also sent off the mystery roll from the Yashica. Sadly, the Yashica roll didn’t have anything on it. I was pretty sure it was completely used, but maybe it got loaded but never exposed. Or maybe after 35 years, it was just undevelopable. The negatives are being sent back, so I’ll have a look at them myself in a few days.

EDIT: For those that have no idea what this is about, read this post first.

But on to the roll from Exa that I took. The film I shot with was Fujicolor Superia X-tra 400 that I found in the house. It’s probably 20 years old. These shots were really just to get a feel for the camera and to see how it performed. I did run the scans through Lightroom for some very minor color and contrast adjustments.

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As far as the camera, it’s fickle. When shooting at f/2.9 (the largest aperture) it’s hard to get the focus on exactly what you want. Like the cat picture. I wanted the head in focus but I was a little off. Looking down through the viewfinder is a little weird, but I’ll get used to it.

The depth of field at f/2.9 is really really shallow on this thing. Even f/4 is really shallow. Another issue is that when shooting at 1/25, the camera gets enough shake to make everything a little fuzzy. The shutter button is on the front face of the body. Pressing it contributes to the movement. The shutter itself also causes a lot of vibration. I think a tripod and release cable should be enough to get crisp shots every time at 1/25.

Here are the pics in the order they were taken. Some are of the same thing in different conditions and/or with different settings. I’ve put the settings for each picture in the caption.

f/2.9, 1/100

Selfie in the mirror. I probably moved a hair after setting the focus and put the mirror out of range. I could probably get away with f/4 and 1/50.

f/5.6, 1/50

I thought there was enough light for this shot. I guess not. Not even close.

f/2.9, 1.25

This came out exactly like I thought it would.

f/2.9, 1.50

These first outdoor day shots were on a very overcast afternoon.

f/2.9, 1/100

Photographing red objects sucks.

f/2.9, 1/25

Camera vibration at 1/25.

f/4, 1/25
f/4, 1/25

On these two, I set the focus at 40 feet. With f/4, the field depth should have extended to infinity. It did not. The 1/25 shakes also mucked them up. On the second one, you can see the tree is almost in focus. It suffered from less shake, but you can clearly see the field depth isn’t what I thought it would be.

f/2.9, 1/100

I was trying to get some more flowers in focus, but again, the tricky viewfinder made it hard to do.

f/4, 1/50

Again, the shallow depth of field and the slightest movement put my subject out of the focal area. Even at f/4, there is no wiggle room.

Now on to the picture shot in bright sunshine.

f/2.9, 1/150
f/11, 1/50

With two very different apertures, red still sucks.

f/2.9, 1/150
f/11, 1/150

Same shot, different aperture. Also, unlike the same shot from the cloudy day, the focus was set to infinity.

f/5.6, 1/150

This picture sucks. I think I triggered the shutter before I was ready.

f/8, 1/150

The pelican was stitting on the sign. He flew off right as I went to take the picture. I flinched and tried to bail on shot, but it was too late as I hit the button. Oh well.

f/4, 1/150
f/8, 1/50

Same shot, different apertures and focus settings. The top was set at 40 feet which should have extended to infinity but nope. The bottom was set at infinity and came out how I expected the first one to. Live and learn.

f/8, 1/150

The focus was set at 20 feet, which should have got everything past the first two trees in focus. Nope.

f/5, 1/150

The focus was set at 40 feet again and should have extended beyond to infinity. Nope. A nice section of water about 40 feet out is perfectly in focus. Had this been set to infinity, it would have worked.

f/2.9, 1/00

This was just the same as one of the cloudy day shots with a different shutter speed to compare exposure levels.

f/11, 1/50

For the last shot, I went with something a little more interesting. I focused on the flowers and wanted the tall palm in the distance to be slightly out of focus with that lovely clear blue sky softening up the whole scene. I didn’t notice the top of that other tree sticking up in the weird viewfinder, but whatever. I may edit that out just because I really really like this shot.

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So what did I learn from this test roll? Infinity will still give a great depth of field. Be very careful when shooting something within 10 feet at anything larger than f/8. Shooting at 1/25 is risky without a tripod and shutter release cable (which I just got for both the Exa and Yashica). The bokeh from this lens is fucking amazing.

Now that I know the quirks, it’s time to get weird. Next up is long exposures at night and maybe some double exposures. I also just took the Yashica out for a few shots tonight and hope to finish the roll by the end of the weekend.

Snapchat’s big redesign bashed in 83% of user reviews

 Confusingly jamming Stories in between private messages has sparked backlash amongst the first users of Snapchat’s sweeping redesign. In the few countries including the U.K., Australia, and Canada where the redesign is widely available, 83 percent of App Store reviews (1,941) for the update are negative with one or two stars, according to data provided to TechCrunch by mobile analytics… Read More

Nuheara’s voice amplifying earbuds offer customizable hearing profiles

 Nuheara’s new IQBuds Boost headphones exist in a a strange sort of in-between spot. Like the rest of the company’s line, they’re clearly one of countless devices looking to compete in the crowded world of bluetooth earbuds. Like the standard IQBuds before them, however, they’re also designed to boost hearing. But the Boosts are an attempt to be even more, offering… Read More

Blocks hopes to court enterprise customers with its modular smartwatch

 As we noted earlier this week, the mere fact that Blocks was able to bring its modular smartwatch system to market feels like a minor miracle. The company appears to have not taken the easy route in any respect. It could have launched an Android Wear device, but instead opted to skin a scaled down version of stock Android. And then there’s the modules — the company compares… Read More

Here’s what it’s like to ride in Byton’s new Concept SUV

 Byton’s electric concept car wowed at CES, and for good reason. The SUV has a lot of strong features, including a max range of 323 miles for the upgraded version, and a starting price of just $45,000. But the real jaw-dropping feature is a 49-inch display that covers the entire dash, providing a multifunctional information and entertainment interface unlike anything else in the… Read More