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Scott's Column
Digital Printing, Digital Cameras, Cars vs. Computers

June 1, 2002
By Scott Lewis

It has been a very busy month. No time to breath. Here are some details. More will come next month.

Digital Printing

We are well underway with converting to digital printing. It has been a lot of fun. Serious coding. I haven't coded like this in years. I love my work.

Part of the conversion to digital printing was to switch products that generate our Postscript files. Currently we use Mecca on a Unix server. This server is running an old version of SCO Unix. The server is unreliable. It reboots a few time a week... all by itself.

We are a small company and don't have a lot of money and resources to throw at a problem. The operations people are trying to find out why the server keeps rebooting, but so far to no avail.

The product we are considering is Datalogics Formatter. This will generate Postscript in a Windows NT/2000 environment. Since I don't know anything about Unix I am glad to hear this. Plus the tools we would use to work with Formatter are much better known in the marketplace. It is far easier to find someone skilled in Adobe FrameMaker or InDesign than it is to find someone that already knows Mecca.

Unfortunately, I found a bug in Formatter. They promise us they would fix the bug I identified with the next production release which which should be available to us by June 7th. We are going into production on July 1st, so I won't have a lot of time to soft proof my work. Hopefully this won't impact my timeline.

I'll keep you posted.

Digital Cameras

I recently read an article on the new Kodak DX4900 camera. I like it. But it lacks a few features I will need in my next camera. 1) 2x optical zoom is worthless. That is the same optical zoom I have on my Kodak DC280, and I find it way too little. I would need at least 4x optical zoom in my next digital camera. 2) Lack of f-stop and shutter speed control are show stoppers for me. I love playing around with f-stop settings to blur backgrounds and such. 3) This is a personal one, I want a camera that can easily be connected to a telescope for deep sky photography. I am thinking mildly about getting a telescope. Eventually I want to have a telescope and camera that work together.

I have gotten a little tired of mucking around with my digital camera and love the idea of the Kodak EasyShare Camera Dock for transferring pictures at the push of a button. It is a feature I will definitely look for when I consider replacing my current digital camera. But this is probably at least a couple of years away.

Cars vs. Computers

I recently wrote about possibly building a new computer, or even upgrading my current computer and using the spare parts to build a cheap-o mini server. I have forgotten about that. Having bought a 67 Camaro convertible I have all my spare cash spent for the next 2 - 3 years. I will be building up the Project Car section of this site to cover all the things I want to do to the Camaro. Many of things I would add to the Camaro cost more than a computer, and those that don't would cost more than a computer upgrade. Why do cars have to be such an expensive hobby?

Besides... computers are boring. I don't have any software that doesn't run well on my 450 MHz Celeron. I have tons of storage at about 80 GBs. My wife's laptop is fast enough for her and all she does. There just isn't a compelling reason to get a new computer.

Maybe Warcraft III will be so great, and need a lot of horsepower, that I will have to upgrade my computer to enjoy it. Their web site says it will be out in the first half of 2002. That is now. Where is it? I can't wait. I am also considering buying Motor City Online. The cars look cool (they have a 67 Camaro list on the box). I will have to hunt down a demo. Also I need to see if it can play both offline and online.

Conclusion

At the moment I am having trouble getting this column (and all my columns this month) out. I am trying to install an above ground pool, and I need to pick up my 67 Camaro on June 1st. The time I usually have to prepare my article for posting is flying by way too fast.
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