Archive for June, 2007

Linton Festival - a chance to try my 5D


IMG_0674, uploaded by Mark Sweeting.

I went to the Saturday evening portion of the annual Linton Festival last weekend, which gave me a chance to try out my new camera (Canon EOS 5D).

The festival was great, with a nice selection of real ales and some good bands (mainly blues while I was there, though there was some jazz too earlier on).

I was messing around with my 17-40mm lens most of the time, which on the full frame sensor gives an amazing wide angle view! As it got darker I switched to my 24-70mm lens, which is great for low light and was used for the photo above.

Although I’ve still not really put the camera through it’s paces, I’m very pleased with it so far! It looks like the EOS 5D Mark II is still a while off, so glad I finally jumped in now while the prices are (relativley) low!

The low light performance of the camera seems excellent (with very low noise), and the bigger viewfinder makes it much easier to see if the subject is in focus! I still feel that it slightly over-exposes the images compared to my EOS 20D, but I guess I just need to get used to the meter.

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My new baby: EOS 5D

I treated myself to a new baby today: a Canon EOS 5D. I’ve been after one of these for a long time - it seemed so fitting as I used a film Canon EOS 5 for many years before I got into digital with my EOS 20D. I’m pretty sure that Canon are going to replace the 5D with an EOS 5D Mark II, but given the likely price hike when the replacement comes out, and the relativly few enhancements that you’ll get for that extra money, I think I’ll be pretty happy with this version.

The best thing about it is the full frame sensor and the massive viewfinder that this gives you. This makes all my lenses much wider than they were on the 20D (in fact, its just like using them on my film SLR ;-) ), which is fantastic for some of the kinds of photography I like.

It’s been chucking it down with rain today so I haven’t had much of a chance to play with it, but I’ve got all of tomorrow still to come!

TTFN :-)

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Collaborative Bookmarking

After attending the recent Blogs and Social Media Forum, I had lots of ideas about how we should be making more use of collaborative and “social” tools where I work. We’ve had a wiki in place of the intranet now for a couple of years, and so collaborative bookmarking seems like it would (should) be one of the easiest and next most useful things for us to implement.

I’ve used del.icio.us for a while now, and find it very handy indeed. Although I don’t really have much of a network on del.icio.us, the benefits of this type of application seem immense when used by a whole development team, or a sales team researching competitors and so on.

However, the draw-back with del.icio.us is the lack of group-level bookmarking and privacy. If our development team started bookmarking content related to new features that they may be working on/researching, then it would make it very clear to our competitors what we’re doing.

I’ve had a few thoughts on how we could get around this, but it would mean writing more code… and I’m sure it would be reinventing the wheel!

This is where the “enterprise collaboration bookmark server” steps in. But can I find a decent open source one? Well, not yet! In fairness I’ve not spent much time looking. Mike Gotta publishes a useful list of alternatives to del.icio.us, and through this I discovered that the code to connotea is available for download. Just need some time to have a play. I also need to look more at the XML Bookmark Exchange Language (XBEL) to see if that throws up any good ideas.

In the meantime, if anyone knows any good options for me here, please feel free to leave a comment!

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Blogs and Social Media Forum, and other ideas.

It’s been an interesting day for several reasons:

  1. I reminded myself why I never want to work in London, after I had to suffer the discomfort of a morning train and tube ride at the peak of rush hour,
  2. I went to the second Blogs and Social Media Forum at the Marriott London Grosvenor Square Hotel (more about this in a mo’),
  3. I think I may have found a solution to something BritBlog related…., and
  4. I’ve made some career decisions….ish.

So the main event of the day was the Blogs and Social Media forum, subtitled “The impact of social media and enterprise 2.0“. This was useful for two reasons: (1) it has given me some interesting ideas to play with at work, which could have a significant impact on both our business and my job, and (2) it helped me crystallise some thinking around BritBlog and what the right next step is.

I’m afraid I can’t really go into point 1 much at the moment - I really need to think about more about the pros and cons of what I’d like to do at work, but point 2 is quite interesting.

Those of you that have been following the BritBlog saga over the last, umm, ‘many’ months, will know that I’ve been working on lots of new ideas for the site. Alas I’ve not managed the work very well (the day job kinda interferes…), and it’s been getting quite messy and very depressing.

Anyway, today has given me some time to stand back and think about the project, and I’ve pretty much decided to scrap all of my work from the last few months. A chap called Lee Bryant from a company called Headshift was talking about a project they’ve recently done for BP/Castrol, and he made some very interesting remarks. I suppose the two that may the biggest impression with me were these:

  1. Firstly, they didn’t mind so much about releasing a site to the public before it was finished. There is a theory that an unfinished project encourages members to get more involved than they would otherwise, because they feel like they are able to participate. The example given was MySpace — you know how messy it tends to look? — but it made me think of flickr also, as it was in public beta for years.

    Anyway, this made me worry less about getting things right with BritBlog straight away, and it leads me into point 2:

  2. They would make frequent small changes/releases to the website, and gather feedback from users about them. This stuck a chord too: rather than getting all the new ideas out there in one mammoth go, we could release them it stages, making fairly small changes at a time. This will allow us to get the changes right each time, and will give us the room to fix problems that may arise before they get too complex. There are loads of incremental changes I can see us making to BritBlog, and tackling it in this manner makes it all feel much more achievable.

So perhaps nothing ground-breakingly new there, but I clearly needed someone to spell it out to me…

The final thing that happened today was I was able to give my career a bit of thought. This is something I’ve been putting off for a long time because it’s something I don’t really like thinking about! Anyway, although I’ve not made any concrete decisions today, I have at least had some interesting ideas. Again, I want to discuss these with other people before saying anything here about them, but perhaps the future is bright…..*.

*And no, that is not by any means a clue. I have absolutely no desire to work for Orange. Or at least not yet!

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