D90 Support - Apple Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update

Now the Nikon D90 RAW format is supported by Aperture and iPhoto. You can get the update by going into Software Update in your OS X “Apple Menu”, or, at Apple’s Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 2.3 page. The supported cameras are:

  • Nikon D90
  • Nikon Coolpix P6000
  • Canon EOS 50D
  • Sony DSLR-A900

Thank you, Apple! Finally!

Address Book vCard to Windows User - Garbled Japanese Fonts Etc.

Apple’s ”Address Book” is included with OS X and is part of the “triumvirate” which also includes Mail.app and iCal.app, gives you the ability to drag address cards to Mail, where they are automatically pasted in their vCard, or VCF, form.

Problems Sending vCards to Windows Users

In trying to send VCFs to Windows Outlook users, I discovered two problems by trial and error. First, the Windows users could not open what I was sending even if it was in English, and second, the Japanese fonts in the vCards were garbled. The bottom line? Use Format version 2.1 for the greatest compatibility and set your language accordingly.

Word 2007 Performance Optimization Tips

A Windows user colleague asked about optimizing Word 2007 documents because he is having no end of problems working with 100 or 200 page documents in Word. If you are pushing the envelope in Word use, you might like to keep in mind several recommendations.

Here are some Optimization Hints for Word 2007

Defragment your hard disk regularly. This is not necessary on a Mac but for Windows, you definitely need to do it. (There are other maintenance tasks you have to do for a Mac, of course and you can use OnyX for those.)

Use the Microsoft “DOCX” format which is the default for Office 2007. If you are collaborating with a person who only has Office 2003, there is a free filter they can download and install, which allows them to use the latest and more efficient format. The DOC format is binary, while DOCX is XML-based and much better for efficiency. The new DOCX format is 75% smaller than the old DOC format, and is less prone to corruption. Your colleagues using Office 2003 will need to install the Microsoft compatibility kit, that allows them to open DOCX.

Do not keep all revisions of your document, for the life of the document. Instead, “accept” revisions in, at certain times during the edit cycle. Having 100’s of revisions in a Word document will degrade performance.

If you are using a lot of graphics in your Word 2007 document, do not simply paste in BMP files because these are large and inefficient. Instead, use PNG and adjust the PNG to be as light as possible before you paste it in. If you are taking a lot of screen prints / screen shots, you can do this easily using Techsmith’s excellent utility SnagIt. It is much, much easier than using the print screen button and MS Paint, and the results are light and better for long documents. In addition, you can use “picture placeholders” instead of the actual graphics, to save memory. Click the Office Button, Word Options, Advanced, Show Document Content. Select the “Show picture placeholders” checkbox. Or you can simply use the Draft view to display graphics as empty boxes.

Use fewer fonts in the document, and uninstall fonts you do not use. Fonts use up system resources.

Disable background saves which Word 2007 has enabled by default, and which take up memory. You can disable them by clicking the Office Button, then in Word Options, click Advanced, and in Save, clear the “Allow Background Saves” checkbox. If you do this, remember to save frequently.

Disable automatic grammar and spell checking, which constantly checks text in the document. Click the Office Button, then Word Options, then Proofing, and clear the “check spelling as you type” and “check grammar with spelling” checkboxes.

It goes without saying, but confirm that the PC you are using has enough system resources to complete the task, including disk space and RAM. If you have a desktop, you can install a fast secondary hard disk, such as a SAS or SATA drive, and put a page file on this drive. Further, you can help performance by moving your My Documents and work files to this faster hard drive.

In my experience, Word has never been an excellent platform for long, complex or heavy documents. I too had a lot of trouble writing manuals for technical training courses 10 years ago. In the end, the best thing is to use a proper DTP program if you are doing long documents, such as Adobe InDesign and Quark Express, or, if you are working large documents with a team, Adobe InCopy. If you must use Word, then you might give the above a try.

Upload Photos in Specified Order to Flickr From Aperture for Better Visibility

Pro photographer Thomas Hawk gives good advice in his article about getting attention on Flickr (whether that’s a good thing or not is a different matter!) that you should upload fewer shots with the best one last.

So if you’re an Aperture user, how do you accomplish this sort of forced upload order to Flickr without having to upload each photo individually? I’m using the Connected Flow FlickrExporter plugin for Aperture, and all you have to do is choose your photos in reverse order with the best one selected last.

Here’s How to Force Upload Order in Aperture

Let’s say you have 5 photos to upload, since 5 is the number that Flickr will announce to your contacts if they have chosen to be updated via email. Choose the couple you judge to be the worst first, and then choose the top ranking ones in reverse order best-is-last, holding the cmd key down while you click. Remember the keyboard shortcuts that are similar in both Windows and Mac: click to select, Shift-click to select a range, Cmd (or Ctrl)-click to select noncontiguous items.

When you do File, Export, you will notice that they are in the selected order.

Japan Is Mascot Land

There’s no shortage of cute mascots in Japan. They look like they are made of fiberglass, and are in front of storefronts here and there. The one pictured here is the Megane Drug mascot, who has a peach on his headband, leading me to think it might be Momotaro, he of childrens’ story fame. The thumb below is his back, with the kanji for trust “shinrai”. Search Flickr for fiberglass Mascots and there is a whole group devoted to them.

Do ya shinrai us?

New Google Gadgetry in Gmail

Photo of - New Google Labs Features - Google Calendar and Docs or other Gadgets in Gmail.You might have noticed a couple of new Google Labs features available in Gmail. If you have your Google Labs tab enabled, you can go there, scroll to the bottom, and check the new Google Gadget-related features out. Now you can get a Calendar view or a Docs view via Gadgets right within your Gmail, or specify any Gadget URL as well. Google moves so fast sometimes it is hard to keep up. Nice to have the new features, though!

Totsuka Construction - Big Pillars

There are these huge pillars being built near Totsuka station, on the Hitachi Software side of the main road, and these struck me as being an interesting photo. The 40 km speed limit seems to apply to the slow pace of the construction!

Click on the photo to explore my photo sets on Flickr, or see my Totsuka Construction photos.

Ladder by Georgios Karamanis

I love this shot by Georgios Karamanis. Incredible color! Flickr is such an incredible resource for finding great photos.

Japan Rail Kudos - an Amazing Record

I ride the Japan Rail trains daily in Japan, and sometimes take it for granted that they will be on time. Occassionally there is a problem and a delay, but there’s amazingly always an alternative route and always a clear announcement (er, incessant announcements?). Japan Rail - here’s to your professional approach and to getting people to where they need to go. Amazing years of basically accident free operation!

Tokyo Nightview - Cogley 2008JR Japan Rail at Totsuka - Cogley 2008JR Japan Rail at Totsuka - Cogley 2008JR Japan Rail at Totsuka - Cogley 2008

Aperture 2.1.2 Update - No Nikon D90 RAW Support

Apple updated Aperture to 2.1.2 today, but alas, no support yet for RAW files from the Nikon D90. RAW files are a capture of the data right off the camera’s sensor, and are so-named because the files are not yet processed into something that can be viewed or printed. RAW files are usually something only pro photographers or at least “prosumers” are concerned with and are only output by DSLR-type cameras, but recently even high-end compacts like the Nikon CoolPix P6000 or the Canon G10 support RAW.

Camera makers include proprietary software with their cameras that can read their own RAW file format and display or edit it, but the included software is often less-than-stellar in quality. And despite the drawbacks like the proprietary nature of each RAW format (Nikon’s NEF, for example), and the large file size (usually twice the size of a high-quality JPEG file) you want to use RAW when you want the highest level of control in post-processing the photograph, since so much detail is available in the RAW file in the first place. So, people turn to software programs like Apple Aperture, Bibble Pro and Adobe Lightroom. It must be a huge challenge for Software Makers to keep up with RAW formats. Here’s hoping that Apple puts Nikon D90 Support in version 2.1.3.

Update - after further research and to be accurate, Apple updates its RAW support with “Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update” software updates such as this one, which either come as standalone updates or as part of an OS X update. See ”Digital Camera RAW Formats Supported” and Aperture’s RAW Support Page. So, this is not an Aperture issue per se, as Apple has built RAW support into the Digital RAW Compatibility module. Maybe the fact that Adobe Lightroom has been updated to support the D90 will help motivate Apple.