technology

Don’t panic…

I use Apple products. In fact, I use a lot of Apple products and some of my less generous colleagues might even label me a “fanboy”. I’d call that unfair because I’m not blind to their faults and I know that, like all technology, it will fail at some point.

I have tried my best to develop ways of avoiding failures, making sure that they cause as little damage or disruption as possible and generally covering my back wherever and whenever possible. The other day, whilst doing routine updates to one of the Macs in my office, I experienced something that would probably have completely freaked most computer users out and necessitated a lot of aggravation or even a visit to a service centre or Genius Bar.

dock_error

Simply put, all of the applications went AWOL. The dock, of which you can see a screenshot above just showed a whole row of question marks indicating that the applications were missing and a quick visit to the applications folder showed that the Mac clearly thought so too. The error message said that I didn’t have permissions to use the folder which made me believe and/or hope that nothing was actually missing. The “missing” applications included Time Machine and all of the repair and diagnostic tools that I would normally go straight to. I looked in the bin and I tried to search for items that I know should have in my applications folder but found nothing.

This has never happened to me before and I have never heard it described so I tried solution number one – to use a different device, get onto the internet and search the collected knowledge of the world’s computer users. The general consensus appeared to be that I had a major issue and that I needed to reinstall the Mac operating system. Easier said than done given that, despite trying every kind of reboot and diagnostic test I could, the App Store, all web browsers and Time Machine were amongst the locked/blocked/missing applications.

I could have done it all from one of the other Macs but I have, for many years, had a back-up drive from which I can boot my computers. These days it is a USB3 SSD drive with OSX Yosemite loaded on it and I used that to reboot my computer and install a fresh copy of OSX. Twenty-five minutes later with a mildly raised heart rate and some cramp in my fingers from keeping them crossed my computer was back as if nothing had happened. No screwdrivers were involved and nobody had to drive anywhere. No data was lost and I could get on with work.

Just in case you are wondering, panicking wasn’t even in the top ten ways to sort this out – about five places below a stiff drink or three!

A case that proves the old military phrase that I was taught at school in the 1970s and 1980s – “precise and proper planning prevents poor performance”.

Experimenting with EyeEm

©Neil Turner, June 2013. Fisherman's Walk, Bournemouth.

©Neil Turner, June 2013. Fisherman’s Walk, Bournemouth.

A lot of photographers have been playing around with various image sharing sites. Most are doing it because it’s fun and others because they have been told that it’s a great way to get noticed by new audiences and to be seen by clients as “up-to-date”. I simply wanted to ‘have a go’. Get with the fun. A lot of photographers that I like and respect have been uploading some lovely work using EyeEm over the last few weeks and, although I’ll never beat them, I thought that I’d join them.

I missed out on Instagram and I have publicly parted company with Flickr. I’ve used Moby to share a few images in Twitter and of course TwitPic has seen a few of my pictures too.

A couple of weeks ago I set myself the challenge of uploading a few pictures to the EyeEm sharing site to see what happened. The experiment isn’t over – far from it but I am starting to find it a bit limiting and I’m starting to worry that the lens of the camera on my iPhone is showing it’s 3 years and 4 months age.

Anyway, if you are on EyeEm please let me know and please think about following my experiment. I promise not to bombard you with art – even if I’m tempted! Most of the images have nothing to do with the kind of professional work that I do and a surprising number so far have been shot around my home town of Bournemouth.

The picture that you can see above is about the most extreme treatment that I’ve given any of my pictures to date. For the geeks amongst you it was processed (contrast, sharpening and cropping) in Adobe Photoshop Express on an iPhone and then given the moody treatment and distressed border in the EyeEm app on the phone.

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Beta

Like half of the photo geeks around the world, I have downloaded and started to play with the public beta version of Adobe’s latest version of Photoshop: CS6. This is a major revision of the software in terms of the interface which looks a lot more like Lightroom than ever before and is also a lot less “freestyle” than those used to versions such as CS3 and earlier would be familiar with. We now have a fixed window rather than the floating elements of previous versions and this will take quite a bit of time for me to get used to. It isn’t that I don’t like it, it’s just that it is a change.

Screen shot of the main window

 

To be honest, my main use of Photoshop is Adobe Camera RAW. I use it to convert the RAW files that I shoot into whatever file format the job requires, fine tuning the colours, composition and various other elements as I go. At first sight Camera RAW 7 is very little changed from Camera RAW 6xx that I use every day in Photoshop CS5. At least that’s what I thought until I used it in anger on a proper edit.

Screen shot of Adobe Camera RAW 7

 

If you look closely at the main adjustments palette to the right of the window, you suddenly see what the changes are and what they will mean for every day workflow. Gone are the labels such as Recovery, Fill-light and Brightness to be replaced with a set including Highlights, Shadows and Whites. So far, they seem to perform very similar functions when used on every day files but I have only edited two sets of pictures (neither of which have been “live” jobs) and so it may well be that I have missed something. Here are the two palettes side by side:

Adobe Camera RAW adjustments palettes from CS5 (ACR6) on the left and CS6 beta (ACR7) on the right.

 

I will continue to play with CS6 and ACR7 as long as the beta phase continues and I’m sure that I will come up with plenty more observations. I only use Photoshop as an optimisation tool and I don’t do any serious retouching or image manipulation with it so don’t expect an in-depth assessment of layers, filters and content aware fill from me – there are plenty of other photo geeks out there who will be able to blog about that kind of stuff!