Archive for September, 2007

The Ultimate Oktoberfest FAQ

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Due to the high amount of traffic this page has been receiving, we decided to move it to a new location on it’s own server at oktoberfest-insider.com, a site that is also run by Mark.

Please click here to get directly to the Oktoberfest FAQ (don’t worry, it’s the same content, and it’s printer-friendly, too). :-)

Photoshop Lightroom 1.2 available

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Last week Adobe has released the second minor update to it’s popular Lightroom software, upgrading from version 1.1 to 1.2 (download). It did not take them as long as I predicted here, so someone somewhere in San Jose was busy fixing bugs. :-)

At first glance, the installation looked simple and flawless, just as usual for software from Adobe. Just download the update file and install it “over” your existing Lightroom 1.1 installation. The file contains three languages: US-English, German, and French. During the update I was asked for the language of the current installation. Well, they should be able to figure that out on their own, but heck, maybe they want to give the users a choice? I could not be more wrong. In fact, I selected “English”, but Lightroom started in German. Huh? What was that? I had an English installation since version 1.0, I wanted an English installation, and I selected US-English during the update. But still they displayed the whole user interface in German. Guys, a German installation has no value to me (zero, zilch, nada, keinen, de rien, nüüt). I used to work with a “Quick Collection”, yes, but I hate to see words like “Schnellkollektion” or “Erkennungstafel”! No, no, no - I now had the impression this update is possibly not good.

But the official Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Support Forum with the ever helpful user crowd comes to rescue. In my case, photographer Sean McCormack from Ireland pointed me to this article on the Lightroom Journal. Yes, creating a folder “disabled languages” and manually moving the unwanted languages to these folders worked for me. Great stuff. Wow! Except, when you think about it, you’d probably get your doubts. Photoshop is around since about 1990. They should have figured out by now that there are users who prefer an English software on a non-English operating system. 17 years later noone should have to go into the file system and shuffle around language files to manually enforce a certain GUI language. Anyway, thanks Sean for the tip, and keep up the good work with your Lightroom Blog.

Let’s see whether they fixed any of the major bugs I (and others) have been experiencing:

1. Photos fail to export [not fixed!]
To see whether this severe bug has been fixed, I took a larger gallery (141 photos) and created three simultaneous export processes working on 16.7 MP images from my Canon 1ds mark II. The processes went through flawlessly, the exported photos look fine. Fixed.

A few words about the performance: During the export mentioned above, both processors were running at 100% load constantly (something that was not the case before), and the swap file stayed just below 1 GB most of the time. Interesting: the first two export processes now seemed to have a higher priority. Their status bars proceeded at the same speed, while the third process got slowed down. It picked up speed once the first two processes were done, but it did not fully utilize both processors at 100%. Apparently, the first two processes now get more CPU power assigned. So the development team has really looked into the performance matter. As a result, the overall performance has also improved. The 423 photos took 3,960 seconds to process. The RAW files were 423 x 16.7 MP = 7064 MP, i.e. 0.56 sec/MP. An improvement of roughly 20% (read about the previous test).

Update 25/09/2007: Apparently, I was just lucky with the test I explained above. Yesterday, while exporting three streams of photos of the same photo set, Lightroom went through the whole exporting process without error message, only to show an error message at the end (!) that 56 photos could not be exported. Fortunately, I exported each set to a different directory, and I could see which photos were missing from the file count. Still, I think this bug has not been fixed. Too bad.

2. Database corrupted? [not fixed!]
Just as Lightroom 1.1, Lightroom 1.2 also detects a corrupted database. And still is apparently unable to fix it, despite working OK after pressing the “skip” button. At least they now show a button “Tech Note” below the error message, that brings you to this page of the Adobe Knowledge Base.

3. Undo [not fixed!]
The nasty “undo” bug is still present in Lightroom 1.2. Every now and then the software will not only undo the last step, but the last steps. Not good.

4. The Tab Key in Development [not fixed!]
The Tab key still does not hop between fields just as every other stupid Windows application on this planet does. Duh!

5. Grabbing the focus [fixed]
Seems to be fixed. Lightroom now exports photos in the background without grabbing the focus again and again.

Verdict: My first impression was not good,and even upon second glance it looks like a rushed maintenance update more than anything else. This was also confirmed by the update log (usually found in the help files). The text still refers to version 1.1 while the software clearly identifies itself as “Lightroom 1.2″. And no odd “readme.txt” file to be found anywhere. Ho-hum. Now, the help file offers a link to “LiveDocs”, an online version of the help file. Yeah, right. Still refers to version 1.1. Vacation time in San Jose? (No, someone was working and has been publishing the changes in this article.)

The change of the language was a major issue to me, but I could manually change that. The fact that at least major bugs have not been fixed also does not exactly qualify as cool. Things have improved in the backend of the software, especially in the CPU management department, so I still recommend to install this update, with all the usual precautions (backup, backup, backup)!

What to wear to Oktoberfest?

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Due to the high amount of traffic this page has been receiving, we decided to move it to a new location on it’s own server at oktoberfest-insider.com, a site that is also run by Mark.

Please click here to get directly to the page that explains what to wear to Oktoberfest (don’t worry, it’s the same content, and it’s printer-friendly, too). :-)

Where…?

Friday, September 7th, 2007

(Originally posted on Blogger.com on Sunday, October 29, 2006)

Another month has gone by, and I am again taking a look at your questions in the log files. This month I would like to focus on questions that ask for specific locations. I went the extra mile for you and looked up the locations on Google Maps. Convenient, huh?

1. Where are the worst drivers in the world?

Well, this is quite easy: Rome, Italy. I do not have numerical proof for that, but a brief look at the chaotic traffic will tell you the truth. We saw four minor accidents in just one day. And you’ll hardly find a car without dents in Rome.

Photos of Rome, Italy
Rome on Bing Maps

Strasbourg/Alsace, La Petit France
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

2. Where is Alsace, France?

Alsace is located at the eastern border of France, towards Germany. In the north of Alsace you have Weißenburg, in the south of Alsace you have Basel. As you can imagine, the area is very german while it officially belongs to France. In many restaurants and hotels you may order in German, and many people work across the border. It is a beautiful destination for a short trip, say up to a week, depending on what you want to do (it’s a good place for wine tasting, eating out, hiking, and wellness).

Photos of Alsace, France
Alsace on Bing Maps

3. Where is Lake Garda in Italy?

This all time classic has been answered before, but as this question is so popular – here is the again the answer: Lake Garda is located in the north of Italy, close to Austria, and just a few hours by car from Germany. The perfect spot for a weekend break, especially when it is already/still too cold in Germany or Austria. :-)

Photos of Lake Garda, Italy
Lake Garda on Bing Maps

4. Where is Pienza in Italy?

This small town is located in Tuscany, south of Florence and Siena. It is a beautiful spot and well worth a visit. An overnight stay gives you the chance to experience the town without the day tourists, which is certainly a very good experience! Just enjoy good Italian food and wine in one of the taverns, and mingle with the Italians.

Photos of Pienza, Italy
Pienza on Bing Maps

5. Where is Sorrento in Italy?

Sorrento is located just south of Naples, about an hours drive by car, depending on the number of photo stops you do. :-) What can I say? It is beautiful. It is completely different than Naples. And it is certainly worth to stay a few days! If you are still unsure whether to go there, just have a look at the photos.

Photos of Sorrento, Italy
Sorrento on Bing Maps

View across Bologna
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

6. Why is Bologna called the “Red City”?

Two reasons actually: (a) the roofs of the houses are all red (just have a look from the satellite perspective), and (b) the city has been ruled by the left wing (i.e. red) party for a very long time (which can’t be displayed on Google Maps).

Photos of Bologna, Italy
Bologna on Bing Maps

7. How far is Macduff from Cullen in Scotland?

About 13 miles, according to Bing Maps.

Photos of Macduff area in Scotland
Route from Macduff to Cullen on Bing Maps

So, I sincerly hope this was useful and/or entertaining for some of you. Keep your questions coming, I’ll be happy to answer to the best of my knowledge!