A Week in March 2012

Tall and Small
Olympus E-P2 and Panasonic 20mm

This has been a very busy week at work. I always carry a camera with me, the E-P2 with a prime on the front. Zoom use with the E-P2 is now a rare exception with me. All photos in this post were taken with primes.

My wife's Mac had to go back to the Apple store because the WiFi was still malfunctioning. While we were turning it in for a deeper inspection and possible repair we also noted that the screen's backlight was intermittent. We left it to fix that problem as well as look at the WiFi issue.

On the way out I happened to see this particular father-and-son tableau (I'm assuming it was a father and son), with the son up on the table and playing with an iPad. The adult seemed transfixed by either another device or something else equally small. He's clutching his wallet at the same time he's concentrating on the other item next to his wallet. Is he thinking of buying the little one an iPad?

The week was spend with me visiting the construction zone next to the BK. On the way into work I'd stop there for a sausage biscuit and a small orange juice. The secondary reason is for me to pick up extra coffee stirrers that are large enough to double as very small straws for cans of soda. When I grab a fist full of the stirrers I don't feel so bad if I've gotten something there for breakfast.

I know what they're doing now; they're digging out the soft wet wetland soil and filling it in with denser clays. You can see how deep the hole was in the nearest photo, and how much dirt has been added two days later in the next photo down.

More Dirt
Olympus E-P2 and Olympus 45mm
At Rest
Olympus E-P2 and Olympus 17mm

All was not happiness and light with the Apple Store. On Sunday they told me 3-5 days and they would call me about the WiFi issue. I didn't hear a peep out of Apple until Thursday morning when I called them. The woman on the end of the line said that what they really meant Sunday was that it would 3-5 days before they even got to my wife's Mac, and not very nicely. We We Not Amused, and I'm sure it came across.

I got a call later in the day informing me that the Mac was finished and I could come pick it up. I told my wife, and around 7pm that evening we went over to the Apple store for me to pick it up. My wife was not feeling well so she stayed in the car. I went in to pick it up, meeting someone at the store who checked me in via a dedicated iPad they all carry now. About 10 minutes later I got a call on my cell in the store from another employee in the back. She tried to tell me that my wife had to come pick it up, even though I was the one who was the contact on the repair order, and that was my phone on the order. I was getting cranky.

In short order the Apple employee with my wife's Mac came out, and repeated the same line about my wife needing to pick up her Mac. But because I had answered the number on the repair order she felt it was OK for me to pick it up, and oh, by the way, pay for it. I was wondering how it would look at Apple HQ if somebody got into a fistfight with an angry customer over a four-year-old Mac and a $42 repair bill.

Olympus E-P2 and Panasonic 14mm

As I was walking back out to the car, I passed this outside section of Neiman Marcus and, just happening to look up, felt compelled to photograph this monolithic monument to decadent consumerism. I felt inspired by my less-than-stellar experience at the Apple store.

They didn't repair or replace the WiFi card. I was expecting to spend upwards of $150 for everything. One of Apple's drones ran the same basic diagnostics on the card, and just like a week before, it came up basically working. But that just tested electrical and communication connectivity from the motherboard to the card. It didn't really exercise the card and check the radio portion. Rather, they checked to see if it could see the Apple WiFi, which it could. But that was with a cold system, not one that had been operational for an hour or more, which was where we were seeing the fault.

In the mean time I reset the Cisco E3000 wireless router at home back to factory defaults, then got into it again and reconfigured it back to a locked down state. This time, instead of configuring the SSID not to transmit I let it be transmitted, but locked both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels with WPA and a long password. I have a feeling that the last OS X update has a problem with WiFi access points that don't broadcast their SSID. Everybody else does, in particular Apple. So far, after 24  hours, the Mac hasn't lost WiFi connectivity. I'm hoping that the Mac stays together long enough until the mid-year Mac model refresh. Then I'll get a new replacement with the latest and shiniest from Apple, to last another four years with my wife. And this time I'm getting a silicone keyboard cover to keep my wife from spilling more soy over it and into the guts of the machine.

Dawn is for Testing
Olympus E-1 and ZD 50mm

Tonight I fired up the KT E-1 with the ZD 50mm and took some test photos at ISO 800. I wanted to try out  a technique for removing color noise at high ISOs, something that the E-1 really suffers from at ISO 400 and up. Since it was after dark, I just focused on a domestic scene near the kitchen sink and fired off a few shots. I then ran this through Lightroom 4 with color noise reduction set to 100%.

It seems to work. That and the Adobe raw engine seem to wring out a bit more from this nine year old DSLR and 5MP 4/3rds Kodak sensor. Yes, if you pixel peep and look at the shadows, especially around the corners, you can see grain and maybe a little artifacting. But if I were to print this I doubt you'd see anything. Good images out of the E-1 are more than adequate, at least up to 8x10. I need to re-enable E-1's ISO extensions and try this up at ISO 3200. I'm also using the same technique with the E-3 and the E-P2. They often say a rising tide lifts all boats. In this instance an evolving Lightroom lifts the quality of all my Olympus cameras.


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