воскресенье, 14 августа 2016 г.

Nikon Coolpix S2900 - Twenty Megapixels of Disappointment

TL;DR - overmarketed piece of four letters, think before you buy.

The Megapixels

The camera can make up to 5152*3864 pixel shots which gets you about 19,9 megapixels so 20 megapixels claim is fair until you look at the image.

You shoot, download the picture to a computer, open it and zoom to one hundred percent. The image is all covered in noise and JPEG compression artifacts (even in 5152*3864-STAR quality mode) and you will never use that one hundred percent zoomed image unless you're either an idiot or write a camera review because a one hundred percent zoomed image is really ugly and whoever has to see it in its entirety will hate you.

So you downscale the image four times each dimension and get  decent looking image but its size is now 1288*966 pixels which gets you 1,244 megapixels.

The camera can make 20 megapixels shots which have to be downscaled to 1,244 megapixels before they look decent. Oookay, but that's not what I expect from a 20 megapixels camera, isn't that clear?

Performance - Series Shooting


This result is for a Class 10 speed memory card so noone claims the card is slow.

You point, you zoom and you press The Button. The camera makes the shot and gets unresponsive for up to EIGHT SECONDS and for that time you cannot shoot, you cannot change camera settings and you cannot even zoom.

The camera has "sport" mode for shooting moving stuff, you know. That moving stuff is snails - for anything that moves faster you will only make one shot and then the subject just goes away before the camera gets responsive again.

Even when you shoot still stuff the camera is so slow that it's annoying. You shoot, you want to zoom in and shoot again but you have to WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT and that's really annoying.


Performance - Single Shots


It takes up to one second for the camera to focus. So when you shoot moving stuff there's good chance you miss the right moment. You have to press the button about one second in advance and then maybe you're lucky and the camera focuses and shoots at the right moment and then you WAIT, WAIT, WAIT and you never have a second chance.

Performance - Warmup

It takes up to five seconds between you press the "turn on" button and the camera is ready to do anything. So if there's anything interesting suddenly happening near you there're good chance you don't have time to grab the camera and make any use of it.

Performance - NOT Intuitive

While you're WAITING you'd like to know when the camera is ready. The camera is ready once the two square brackets (the "crosshair") has appeared. So you shoot, "the crosshair" disappears, the camera DOES SOMETHING FOREVER, then "the crosshair" appears again and the camera gets responsive.

This is not explained in the manual. This ALL CAPS ANNOYING. You shoot, you rotate the zoom wheel but nothing happens because the camera is unresponsive and you have no idea why.

When you get the "wait for the crosshair" thing it gets a bit better - you move from hating the camera and trying to not smash the camera against a stone wall to just hating the camera.

The current interface is a piece of CRAP. The camera should display a clear "I'm busy" indication while it's "busy", not misteryously hide "the crosshair". This should be explained in the manual.

Modes


The camera has a ton of modes. That's it. With all the picture quality and performance problems those modes could be reduced to perhaps five - room, night outside, macro, landscape and "moving stuff". That would make the menu much simpler and the camera much more useful anyway.

Panorama Assist

Even in 20 megapixels quality mode the panorama height is up to 928 pixels high. Panorama software sometimes fails and then either you get a "cannot craft a panorama" message or  a distorted image. It kind of works.

Video Recording

It kind of works. The video lenght is limited to 30 minutes for lower resolution and to 10 minutes for higher resolution. No matter how much space you have on your memory card - you cannot film a movie longer than 30 minutes at once. Filming ends, then you can start filming again - for up to 30 more minutes. This is big time annoying.

Voice Recording

You use video recording to record voice. This is plain stupid. It can record video with sound but it cannot record sound alone.

Charge Level Indication


This is just insane. The camera displays a "full battery" symbol until the battery is almost discharged and once it's almost discharged it displays "a nearly empty battery" symbol. No "three bars" or "five bars" indication - just "I don't know/I know I'm discharged" indication. It's like a cheap electric shaver. VERY ANNOYING.

Charging/Interface Cable

A USB cable with some proprietary connector on camera side is used. It's usual USB-A on one side and some proprietary stuff on the other side. The is absolute evil. Lose or break the cable and you now have to look for replacement instead of buying a cheap cable at the nearest mall. It should be USB Micro or USB-B on camera side.

Charging while Shooting or Filming

This doesn't exist. Once you connect the camera to a USB port or the charger it won't shoot or film. IT WILL NOT. This means you cannot connect an external battery and continue shooting. Either you charge or you shoot. There's no combination of those.

Video Calls


Sure you cannot use the camera for video calls. You connect it to a USB port - and it retracts the lens and shuts down. Your video call is not going to happen.

WTF?


NIKON, ARE YOUR DESIGNERS LOCKED IN FOUR WALL WITHOUT INTERNET ACCESS?

The Charger and the Charger Uglifier

The charger is slim and compact and so neat ... if you plan to use the USA style flat prongs outlets. The charger dimensions are 53*53*22 millimeters AND the plug contacts rotate inwards and hide inside the casing until you need them. Very slim but that's only if you use the USA style flat prongs outlets.

If you happen to be anywhere like Europe you gonna need an adapter which comes with the charger. To attach the adapter you rotate the contacts so that they extend out of the casing, then "plug" the charger into the adapter and the adapter firmly attaches to the charger. It's now 53*53*67 millimeters and plug contacts no longer fold into the charger and it's VERY UGLY and fragile and takes a lot of space and no longer fits anywhere small.

Once you attached the adapter you gonna need a major effort to remove it before you go to a region with USA style outlets.

So it's not really a charger adapter, it's a charger uglifier. With the aglifier attached the charger is really ugly so the uglifier does its job perfectly. Of all the stuff which you find in the box the charger uglifier is the clear winner.


Bonus. The Manual



Absolutely do read the manual. It's full of excellent humour.

Did you know you should not touch moving parts of the lens and otherwise you might get injured? A 911 call: "My camera lens attacked me!!!".

Did you know that when you "delete" images from a memory card the data does not really disappear and can be recovered quite easily? Sure you did. Do you know how to address that? The manual says you should take shots of something like clear sky to fill the empty space of the card entirely. A 32 gigabytes card holds about three thousand shots with "the best quality" (the ugly noisy shots full of JPEG artifacts each taking up to eight megabytes but who cares). With about five seconds per shot you need about four hours of series shooting to fill a 32 gigabytes card. Btw you can make about three hundred shots on a single battery charge so you have to also charge the battery ten times. That'll be a nice weekend.

The manual even confirms that removing the charger uglifier is a major challenge. Thank you.

Conclusion or Something

WTF, NIKON?

среда, 21 января 2015 г.

We Want to Call You and Discuss How We Call Customers and Waste Their Time

Crappy support services... Everyone has dealt with them.

They're always annoying and especially when you're a corporate client - one who has to contact them to resolve his company's problems. This post is about services for corporate clients which require customers to fill an online form and include an email and a phone number.

You see, they REQUIRE to enter BOTH.

Well, email is one thing. A message arrives in ur mailbox and you can open it whenever you want. Most such services also use email to send you notifications as you support ticket follows the meaningless support pipeline and also to confirm that your request was proper filed in the first place.

Phone is another thing. It rings - and you have to FUKKEN answer. Otherwise it keeps ringing.

If it's you personal phone it will ring at some random moment - in the middle of the night or when you were proper using a toilet or whenever else. So leaving a personal phone number when filing a support request is clearly a stupid idea. You will rather leave an office number.

And it will ring in your office and annoy the hell out of everyone around. That's because not everyone's work includes using a phone more than once a year. Email and IM work just fine and there're millions of people who never use a phone at work except for private calls which they do somewhere where they don't annoy anyone. And these people have maybe one phone per ten people. And if it rings they first try to figure out what is ringing because they have already forgotten how it sounds - so rarely it rings.

And once it rings your coworker Bill picks it up and hears Curvy Jane from reception saying "Hey, Bob, Joe from Crappy Support Company is calling, will you talk to him?"

First you waste a minute figuring out that Joe from JSC is actually calling you, Bob. Mmmkay, you take the phone and go to some place where you won't disturb others and meanwhile Joe runs through the stupid polite script and asks what the problem is and you repeat all the details you've already listed when proper filing the request.

Joe now wants a screenshot or a log or some very long identifier or anything else which will help him isolate the problem. A very reasonable request, but... you need your computer to get what Joe wants and it is on your workplace and did you forget that you left your workplace because you talking there would disturb others?

Sure you do remember. And sure Joe has no idea because Joe calls lots of people every day to avoid being fired and your job is to do something really useful and the latter does not require using phone. And so you tell Joe that you sure will send all of that absolutely necessary crap just a bit later, mmkay?

What would a reasonable support engineer do in the first place? He would email you and say "mmkay, you say X doesn't work and I want a screenshot of X". You would make a screenshot and send it back. No stupid phone involved and it is much, much faster.

Joe is not like that. He calls you and says he needs a screenshot and he knows you will not dictate the screenshot over the phone. And btw once you send the screenshot he will call again and Curvy Jane will connect the two of you. And then Joe will say that yes, he's got the screenshot and now he wants another one with some other piece of non-working X.

Yes, Joe thinks it makes sense. He's busy and employed. You're wasting time but who cares?

And did I forget to say that the phone is FUKKEN QUIET and so you barely hear Joe (and noone cares because you use it once a year)? Did I forget that long distance calls go through a chain of codecs, filters, packet networks and whatever technological crap is there which makes the voice sound INCREDIBLY FUKKEN CRAPPY?

Did I also forget that you're not Bob, your real name is Guido and English is not your native language and altough you can read and write English quite well your accent is terrible? Did I forget that Joe is not really a Joe but his real name is Aditya and English is not his native language either and his accent is terrible and differs from your terrible accent?

You think it is impossible. It not only possible but it very likely now when everything is outsourced and every service is used by everyone.

Now you, Bob-Guido with your horrible accent have to talk to Joe-Aditya with his horrible accent over a quiet phone which makes every voice sound crappy. And Joe-Aditya still thinks it is EFFICIENT. And his boss thinks the same.

Yes, it VERY EFFICIENT AT WASTING TIME and keeping everyone employed.

This is why unless you're completely brain dead you will never leave a phone number when filing a support request. You will leave an email address and try to avoid leaving a phone number. Most of the times the submission form will not allow you to leave "phone" field blank, so you will enter some crap there - a short string of ones for example.

This won't help Joe at all. He will say "Oh, please provide a phone number so I can call you".

Yes, he does this every time. Every Joe will ask for a phone number. You will have to answer him that you don't want to talk on the phone. Most of the time it helps but this stupid completely useless email transaction happens just about every time.

An even more idiotic scenario is the following. You needed help with red routers and filed a request asking a specific question about red routers. Joe responds and provides a lot of details on blue keyboards.

This doesn't help you at all, so you say you were not asking about blue keyboards and your problem was with red routers. Joe will want to call you. And if you give him your number he will repeat all that useless crap about blue keyboards and you won't understand anything because of accents and the damn phone.

Think of it. You were using dark letters over the light background and proper explained you problem with red routers in writing and Joe had time to read all of it and still he didn't even understand that you're not interested in his blue keyboards explanation. Yet he truly believes that once he calls you your communication improves greatly because now you have two horrible accents, a crappy phone network and no time to think.

THIS MAKES NO FUKKEN SENSE

If someone wants to talk he will provide his number when proper filing the request. If he doesn't provide his number it means he doesn't want to talk.

Doesn't want to talk, isn't that clear?

Now a question for an interview. You're a support engineer and you are assigned a support request which only has email address provided and the phone number is 000111.

What do you do?

If you ever think that you need to ask the customer to provide a phone number you are not hired. Joe already does this - why would you be needed? Go find the nearest McDonald's and get yourself employed there. Joe will join you soon.

The right answer is that YOU NEVER TRY TO CALL THIS CUSTOMER UNLESS HE EXPLICTLY ASKS TO CALL HIM

IS THAT FUKKEN CLEAR?

And btw NEVER means NOT IN YOU WHOLE LIFE.


No phone number on the request - no calls, period. Use email. Your customer can type and so can you.

вторник, 13 января 2015 г.

Welcome Azure API Management Which Is Completely Unrelated to Azure Management API

Woohooo!!! Meet new Microsoft Azure service - API Management which is something cool for exposing your service as API.

Cool? Sure!!!

The best thing is... There is Service Management API which was introduced years ago and is ...

TOTALLY COMPLETELY FUKKEN UNRELATED

... to API Management service. Yet since both of them are named using a completely random combination of buzzwords which have no meaning in real life a lot of people think these two services are the same.

For example:

- Jane, check this out, there's no SLA for Azure Management API, so if it fails to work on Sunday we're SCREWED!
- Come on, John, don't be a dick, here I've got an SLA for Azure API Management and it looks good and btw I gonna file a complaint with HR about you sexually harassing me using the word SCREWED.

Several meetings later Jane finds out Jonh was talking about a COMPLETELY FUKKEN UNRELATED thing, but it is too late - John has been terminated by that time. A week later the company were Jane works is SCREWED because there's no SLA for Azure Management API.

Dear Microsoft...

Thanks a lot for complicating life a tiny bit more!

среда, 7 января 2015 г.

Milk With Crossed Barcodes Is Not Stupid, It's Marketing Genius

This good old case of milk cartons with crossed out barcodes (one, two and google for "milk with crossed barcode" for more)... A dairy company located near Moscow, Russian Federation crosses barcodes on its products with two diagonal red lines to counter "number of the beast", hereinafter referred to as "bad number", which it claims is present in every barcode...

People hear it and are immediately pissed off. They accuse Russia of leaving in Dark Ages and company owners being lunatics.

First things first. Is there any "bad number" in the barcode?

Milk cartons carry EAN-13 barcodes - plain boring barcodes used for labeling groceries. Evil Wikipedia (pun intended) to the resque! Every such barcode consists of a number of vertical bars and there're three groups of bars that are slightly longer than the rest of the bars. Those groups are designed to serve as alignment markers to help barcode scanners proper identify where the barcode is and they don't carry any data in them.

It just so happens that those alignment markers have bar width identical to how number 6 can be encoded (but this is not the only choice). The claim is therefore because each barcode contains three such markers those are three sixes and that's the "bad number".

Well, not so fast. Read Evil Wikipedia (pun intended). "Six" can be encoded various ways depending on where it is located in the barcode. There're three ways to encode each of the ten digits and they are called encoding schemes. Different barcodes will use different schemes depending on what the very first digit is.

Since the dairy company in question is located in Russia the first digit will be "four" and so according to Untrustworthy Evil Wikipedia (pun intended) the barcode should use "LGLLGG RRRRRR" encoding scheme which means that some digits are encoded using scheme L, some are encoded scheme G and some are encoded using scheme R.

Now schemes G and R indeed encode "six" with two closely located narrow lines but scheme L doesn't do so - it uses a very wide line combined with a narrow line to encode "six" instead. If a scanner finds those two narrow lines where a scheme L must be used it will produce a read error - those two lines will not be treated as "six" because a "six" represented this way at these positions is impossible.

So just looking at the bar is not enough to say if it is a "six". Position also matters. How about the alignment markers? Which scheme is used to decode them?

None.

Just in case you're not good at reading, I'll repeat - NONE. The alignment markers are not to be decoded and so they don't have anything encoded in them. There're no digits in them and so there're no "sixes" in them and so there's no guaranteed "bad number" in every barcode.

Done with this. Let's proceed to the marketing side.

No matter what analysis you carry out many people are so stupid they will be unable to understand it. They will trust anything if it comes from a source they wish to trust. If that source claims there's a "bad number" in EAN-13 barcodes - they will trust it.

So, suppose you're a dairy company and for whatever reason you want to show that you're uncomfortable with EAN-13 barcodes because of "bad number" in them. What can you do?

Let me think... You don't like X and X is usually printed on milk cartons and you produce milk cartons...

How about not printing the barcodes? No barcode - no "bad number" and everyone is happy.

No, then you're not happy because you cannot sell you milk anywhere - retailers won't accept goods that cannot be scanned fast on the counter.

So what do you do? Ditch the idea?

No, you'll cross the barcode and claim that the "bad number" is now neutralized. Just be careful - you need the lines to not interfere with the scanning process otherwise no retailer will buy the product.

So you carefully design a crossed out barcode and print it. You claim the "bad number" is neutralized and everyone is happy. Pure marketing genius. Should have been nominated for Red Dot Communication Design Award.

Is the "bad number" neutralized by such crossing? It is likely not - the barcode was designed for scanners and scanners scan it in their evil scanner manner (pun intended). If they still can read the barcode it means they still see it reliably and can still read all the evil stuff presented in there.

There's no "bad number" in there. If it was there then crossing the barcode would either have not neutralized it or it would have damaged the barcode and make it useless for retail.

Is the world approaching its end? Yes. Is that because of barcodes? No, it's because so many people are really stupid.

четверг, 1 января 2015 г.

Whoever Advocates CFL Bulbs Should Also Advocate Crack Cocaine

What if I tell you crack cocaine is good, neat and beneficial to your health and environment? My guess is you'll think I'm nuts and rightfully so.

Then why does anyone still buy CFL bulbs? They are as good, neat and beneficial to anything as crack cocaine. The only difference is that crack cocaine is banned and CFL bulbs are actively promoted.

Let's look into details. How hard it is to accidentally break a CFL bulb? Not hard at all - the damn thing is brittle and breaks easier than a bottle of beer.

What happens if you drop a bottle of beer and it breaks? Well, nothing horrible. You swipe the broken glass, optionally wipe the floor with a piece of cloth, go get another bottle and life goes on as if nothing happened. The worst thing that can possibly happen is you get a minor cut that heals within a week.

What happens if you drop a CFL bulb and it breaks? You'd better died before letting it happen. You have to follow a special thorough cleaning procedure described by EPA - just search for "cleaning up a broken CFL".

Yes, it is so beneficial for the environment. It contains fucking mercury which is fucking toxic and can damage your health unless you run a thorough cleaning procedure. And it breaks easier than a bottle of beer. And you cannot buy beer unless you're of certain age and you cannot drink beer in public in many jurisdictions but you can buy CFLs at any age and carry them around everywhere.

The best thing is both of them are sold in the same supermarkets. You get into drinks section, get some beers there, then move a dozen feet and get into household stuff section where CFLs are being offered.

They are both consumer products. CFLs are consumer products - same as beer, meat, dairy, vegetables and toilet paper. Yet meat and dairy are almost absolutely safe but if you dare break a CFL you have to yell everyone out of the room, vent it and then run a thorough cleanup procedure.

Now tell me how crack cocaine is beneficial for the environment - I guess because it kills people and prevents them from using CFLs.

среда, 31 декабря 2014 г.

Logitech K310 Keyboard - 100 Percent Washable, 98 Percent Amazing

This is one hundred percent insane. Red Dot design award went to Samsonite for Inova suitcases which are... well, plain boring suitcases with plain boring zip locks and... WOW!!! hard and durable plastic body.

Curious to see how they look like after several dozen trips and how using such suitcase changes its owner's life for the better and especially whether the change is worth the overwhelming sticker price of the suitcase. Seriously, does anyone have any case studies or success stories about that?

Meanwhile on the bright side of the planet... Why didn't Logitech nominate its K310 keyboard which is just two steps from being absolutely amazing?

K310 is neat, thin, lightweight, strong, durable (as any other Logitech keyboard for the record) and you can wash it under water tap.

Dust between keys? Tiny food particles between keys? Fibers from office paper towels between keys? You don't have to clean this keyboard with compressed air or the like - you just unplug it and wash it under the water tap. Then you let it dry for several hours and your keyboard is almost new.

It's "almost" because water leaves occasional light gray stains on the dark gray plastic when it dries - same as stains from raindrops on a dark car body. This is what happens when dark colored stuff gets wet and then dries. Too bad dark gray is the only choice of color with this keyboard.

There's just one thing which is really uncool with this keyboard - the space between the groups of keys (between the letters and the up-down-left-right block and between the latter block and the numbers block) is just a bit narrower than it was on Deluxe 360 model. Why would this design change be necessary? Saving a gram of plastic at the expense of user frustration? Was the focus group formed of typists who never use a computer or what? The bright side is that a human can adapt to almost any piece of design crap and especially so when the piece is not very large.

So after a week or so of frustration and hitting the wrong keys you have good chances to either violently break it into pieces or accept it and enjoy the fact that you can wash it as easily as you wash your jeans and cookware.

It is a much larger improvement than it looks like. Totally should have been nominated for Red Dot Award. Perhaps Logitech will do this once it masters a more practical color for the keyboard body and stops saving plastic where a tiny saving notably worsens user experience.

четверг, 21 ноября 2013 г.

The Most Useless Microsoft Initiative EVER

The following message appeared in Windows Azure OS Updates RSS on November 13, 2013:

We are responding to customer feedback and now adding information to this page on the next upcoming Guest OS release. We hear that you want to know when your roles will reboot. Guest OS releases can move around by days or even a week. The announcements will give projected and approximate dates for the upcoming releases. Updates to the Guest OS Matrix are in process, but not completed yet.

What? Microsoft suddenly cares about Azure Cloud Services users?

Surely not. Not a chance. Here's why.

Those users who have guest OS automatic updates switched on (that's the default osVersion="*" in the service configuration) will be updated withing a rather long timeframe - typically several days - and this will happen before that new guest OS version can be explicitly selected in the Management Portal.

So those announcements will basically mean: oh, dudes, we gonna roll out something which you can't try yourself yet and your service can break in an unexpected way withing the following several days. WTF should the user do? Should he pray or should he pray harder? Should he go to his psychoanalyst and talk about the problem?

WHAT ON EARTH SHOULD USERS DO WHEN THEY SEE THAT NOTICE?

Anyone who cares about their service being broken by a guest OS update (you should too if you claim your service is a Serious Business) have switched guest OS automatic updates off long ago. They manually change the OS version in a testing environment first, ensure that it still works, then do they same in production. These users control their update process and don't care of those announcement just as well.

These announcements are the most useless Microsoft initiative EVER. Just extra noise in the RSS.

And once again - if you have a service hosted as Azure Cloud Service and you want your service to run in stable manner then you should have switched guest OS automatic updates off long ago.