Talking About Hyperspectral Imaging

Imaging remains a key focus of this site, and will be forever. While I’ll grant you that our original focus on photography alone was a solid one, recently, we have decided to expand what we write about here into more esoteric concerns, as well as those concerning personal health. But that does not take away, for sure, our original focus, which remains key to our heart.

Today I’d like to look at Hyperspectral Imaging – an area that is seldom talked about in the photography community, but one that has a great number of scientific applications that not only help with business, but with society in general.

To explain: hyperspectral imaging basically collects and processes data from across the electromagnetic spectrum in order to analyze a wide variety of things. All of this information is of course not available to the naked eye, and is particularly useful in a lot of different fields, such as agriculture, physics, mineralogy as well as for surveillance. The military surveillance sector remains the key component for hyperspectral imaging companies like Surface Optics, as it is where hyper and multispectral imaging is incredibly popular.

Another important thing to know is that the acquisition and processing of these hyperspectral images is often referred to as imaging spectroscopy.

This a fairly leading edge industry, of course, particularly because of the fact that the equipment tends to be very expensive. This is an “engineers and scientists” movement only, as currently the technology is something that is out of reach for most businesses.

Mineralogy And Mining

But did you know that hyperspectral imaging is particularly important for things like mining and oil drilling? The key, of course, is the fact that changing electromagnetic fields tend to tell you a lot, so a good hyperspectral imager can actually detect the presence of certain minerals – sometimes from incredibly huge distances (i.e. from space). The technology is beginning to be placed in satellites, which allows geologists to gain a rather amazing “macro view” of the terrain they are dealing with. Diamonds, as an example, are particularly easy to spot from airborne images, which makes this particular technology huge for companies in that sector.

Keeping Us Safe

I guess one of the key things that struck me about hyperspectral imaging is the fact that it can actually detect chemical warfare agents. This is something I’m sure the Bush administration could have used, at least before they decided to get us into a massively long war. Although there are those that would say that the moment Desert Storm was lost, Iraqi Freedom was basically in the planning.

All in all, it’s an exciting field, and one that I was pleased to find out about.

Choosing A Technician To Fix Hard Drive Failure

fixing-hard-drivesWhen you are experiencing computer problems, you have to hire a technician who can fix hard drive failures efficiently. There are a number of computer technicians these days who offer different kinds of expertise, services and prices. The challenge now is to find the right technician who can deliver the right data recovery service for your needs at a reasonable price. If you are searching in the web, make sure that you gather all the important data of these companies and compare them one by one. If you are asking for recommendations, make sure also that the technician is a reliable person who can fix hard drive failure without causing potential damages.

You can always have the best technician if you carefully choose one. As much as possible, save all the important data in a backup system before letting him manipulate the hard drive. Although the technician knows what to do already prior to repair, it is always best to ensure your files are safe beforehand. Ask several tips on how to avoid malfunction hard drive in the future. A computer hard drive will later on wore out but you can do preventive measure to lengthen its purpose.

It is also important that to remember that when it comes to recovering data, which typically involves fixing the hard drive, you must remember to get the right provider (a good note on that is here).

There Are Good, And Bad Providers – Buyer Beware!

Understand also that the industry is rife with rather sketchy data recovery scams. The previously linked provider, sadly, has a history of holding hard drives hostage, and not paying vendors. Because this is such a specialized industry, it tends to be quite expensive for customers, and also attract some really dishonest vendors, much like Eco. Stay away from these guys and you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle.

Find a good provider, though, and you’ll come out on top with all of your data intact.

Turbo Storytelling – Writing For Lightning Quick Books!

What used to be considered a fast turnaround has become the norm for today’s writers. Here’s how they’re coping with writing in the lightning age.

The definition for what constitutes an instant or “quickie” book has evolved with the advent of less-than-one-minute printers such as IBM’s InfoPrint 4000, services such as Ingram Book Group’s Lightning Print and e-books. As a result, what used to be considered a fast turnaround–four or five months–is now not considered “instant” at all.

To Judith Regan, editor and publisher of Regan Books at HarperCollins, an instant book is simply a book with a quick turn-around. “Instant book only means that the process of producing it goes very fast,” she says. “Instant books are things that happen in a weekend, like Ken Starr’s book.” But typically, she concedes, most books with a quick production turnaround are tied into news events.

“You have to have timeliness and you have to have quality,” Regan says. “I did [O.J. Simpson prosecution team member] Christopher Darden’s book within three months of the trial. It was one of the first books published about the trial and it was by far the most successful. It also has to be a very good book, and this was a quality book that was written quickly and published quickly and as a result, it was the most successful title.”

True Crime and Pop Stars

Last month Regan published The Summer Wind, by George Anastasia, an award-winning journalist with the Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s the story of Thomas Capano, a lawyer and high-ranking politician in the elite of Wilmington, Del., society, who was found guilty of murdering Anne Marie Fahey, his mistress and the Delaware governor’s secretary.

With true crime books, both Regan and Anastasia agree timeliness is half the battle. To make sure his book released on time, Anastasia was on a tight deadline and consulted with experts. Tighter than he would have liked, he admits. “I had to have the manuscript done by July 1, and the trial didn’t end until the end of January, so we’re talking five months.” The Summer Wind does have competition. There are three other books on the topic–two hardback and one paperback–scheduled to hit bookstores this fall. “Jokingly, but I think with a lot of truth to it, Judith Regan said to me when she bought the book, ‘whoever’s first wins,”‘ says Anastasia. “And I think that applies. The paperback and hardback are different markets, but whoever is first in each genre is better off, and because there’s four books, you know, how, much can the market take?”

The flip side to tight deadlines is a fast turnaround from manuscript to book. Anastasia saw his book hit stores Sept. 16, two and a half months after he kissed the goodbye at Regan’s door. “It’s manuscript great! It’s quick ego gratification. Doing books, it’s been, you turn in the manuscript and in a year you see the book, and it’s almost in the past already when the book comes out.”

Writer Alix Strauss writes entertainment books in three weeks for St. Martin’s Press. Work with young-adult magazines such as Seventeen and Twist and a background teaching drama at Dalton High School in New York prepared her for books on teen pop stars such as Britney Spears and the musical group No Authority. But nothing could prepare her for the pace: “One week I spend researching: The next I write and go back to get information I’ve missed, and the third I’m revising and refining the manuscript.” After that, says Strauss, it’s off to the editor and onto the newsstand within a month.

Instant books fill curious readers in where magazines and newspapers have left off. They provide in-depth background at a time when a topic is hot and readers aren’t able to wade through piles of newspaper and magazine articles to get the full picture. To fill that need, writers have to be able to produce fast, quality work, and that’s hard to find these days, Regan says.

“Every book has its own life. Not everybody can write quickly and think quickly and develop quickly. Some people have to take a year or take three years to write a book,” she says.

Lawrence Schiller, author of Perfect Murder, Perfect Town (HarperCollins) works on newsworthy cases, but that book, about the JonBenet Ramsey slaying, was his first on a tight deadline. He started working on the story for The New Yorker in May 1997 and began the book in the last week of April 1998. The delivery date was Dec. 28, and the book was published by its publisher on Feb. 17.

“I tell the story’ behind the headlines, behind the six o’clock news or morning newspapers,” Schiller says. “I try to put things in historical perspective and take them out of the context of sound bites and wire-service reporting. Sometimes I interview people 100 to 200 hours over four to five months.” His previous work includes American Tragedy: The Uncensored Story of the Simpson Defense (Avon) and as interviewer for Simpson’s I Want to Tell You.

Schiller says he did have to sacrifice some editorial content for the tight deadline he faced with Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, and says he wouldn’t do it again. “I regret certain things,” he says. “The publisher felt the delivery date was important because -nobody knew what the grand jury was going to do. Therefore I had to end the book in a certain way which I would rather have not…. I could have used another three months on the book to edit it and end it a different way.”

Cracking the Market

How do you become an instant book author? Judith Regan gets “lots of proposals” each year. “But,” she says, “I don’t think I’ve ever published an instant book that I’ve received a proposal for.”

For Strauss, her work with young-adult magazines gave her credibility, and’ magazine articles she showed editor Joe Veltre proved she could speak to the market when a project came along. However, “Even though I had written the Spears book, I still had to do a proposal for No Authority,” she says. “You have to write a proposal that shows you know what you’re talking about. It’s short, only a page and a brief outline of how you would handle the subject.”

Anastasia had also done work in the area where he landed his first true crime book deal. “In 1980 I started writing about the mob in conjunction with Atlantic City and ultimately there were prosecutions and a mobster became a government witness. [The witness] was looking for someone to write a book about him. So the agent came to me and said ‘I’ve got this wiseguy and I’ve got a publisher who wants to publish his book. Would you be interested in writing it?’ A lot of this comes from just doing it and doing it and doing it. I mean the payoff is now, but I’ve been working at this for quite a while.”

Schiller still shops all of his projects from house to house. “I have to go out and sell my own projects,” he says. “Publishers don’t come to me and say, ‘Would you like to write a book on this?’ I have to go and sell the idea to the publisher because I do too many things. But that may be because I’m difficult to deal with, too.”

Strauss plans to do more instant entertainment books, but adds: “I couldn’t do more than four a year.” Even though the books only take her a month or so to write, “they’re exhausting, and you have to put the rest of your life on hold,” Anastasia agrees. “The writing itself has never been a struggle. It’s the time and being able to squeeze it in around everything else that I’m doing. But if I could do this full time and make a living, yeah, I’d be doing it.”

Paris Exhibit Brings Britain To The French

In a city that prides itself on decorum, it’s not every day that artists huddle around a television cheering a soccer match while guests at the opening of their exhibit in a fancy gallery sip champagne and politely ponder their work.

The Chapmans get bizarre!

The Chapmans get bizarre!

But “Sex and the British,” running through July 15 at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in the Marais, is not your average Paris exhibit. It’s the type of show that can touch a raw nerve in even the most unflappable Gaul.

“It’s the first time this type of work has been shown in Paris,” claims Max Wigram, co-curator of the show with Norman Rosenthal, the director of London’s Royal Academy of Art.

Certainly, the British artists in the show — including Jake and Dinos Chapman, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Angus Fairhust, Sarah Lucas, Gilbert & George and Tracey Emin — are not news in London or New York.

In the British capital, their controversial work is a headline-generating machine. Last year in New York, they packed a punch when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani threatened to cut off city funding to the Brooklyn Museum of Art if it went ahead with “Sensation,” the first group show featuring young British artists in the U.S. But only now are England’s contemporary artists beginning to making a mark in France.

“I think it’s because this work is fundamentally opposed to the atmosphere ruling over French art now,” explains Wigram. “The French approach art intellectually, while this exhibit is more visceral — even guttural.”

The show’s title is enough to raise an eyebrow here.

“`Sex and the British,’ isn’t that an oxymoron?” purred one Parisienne at the opening. “What do the British know about sex?”

That the British dare assert any mastery of the subject amounts to a gentle slap in the face of the French, who love to boast their superiority in the art of love.

“I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that there’s more sex in Britain now than in most countries,” says Wigram. “What’s interesting about the show is how different artists use sexuality in their work.”

Much of the sexual component in the show borders on the pornographic: There are explicit videos, photos and sculptures using sexual devices.

“Erotic, even pornographic, work is amongst the most interesting at the moment,” says Ropac, who runs the gallery hosting the show. “Artists have always retreated into the dark corners of existence. And what the English are doing now is cutting edge and explicit. On the other hand, the French are more brainy and bloodless.”

Offering proof of that premise, Wigram compares the show to “Voila,” the larger city-funded exhibit at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. “`Voila’ is indicative of what’s going on here now,” he says.

Focused on the passing of the 20th century, the show, which runs through Oct. 29, is a humanistic meditation on the individual in the face of history. The artists involved are classic.

“Although it grew out of a set idea, we wanted to represent individual artists and their own vision,” says Suzanne Page, museum director and co-curator of “Voila.”

A common thread running through the show’s more than 60 artists, ranging from Andy Warhol to Gerhard Richter and Douglas Gordon, is the cataloging of human existence. For example, Hans-Peter Feldmann mounts 100 photos of different people aged one to 100, and Gilbert & George show a video of the two rummaging through archives of their lives’ work.

Interestingly, the duo is also featured in “Sex.” But while they pore over their past dressed in suit and tie for “Voila,” in the Ropac exhibit they don their birthday suits in a series of photo montages.

“[The French approach] is so much more detached than what we show,” says Wigram. “The British approach gets under the skin of life, while the French remains detached from it.”

Whereas “Voila” could be called brooding, “Sex” immediately elicits a strong reaction — be it revulsion or fascination. For instance, the Chapman brothers offer a replica of a severed head whose nose is sculpted in the form of a phallus. In an accompanying video, the head is used in the sexual practice of two women.

“France is still sleepy, but it’s on the verge of changing,” says Wigram. “I think it’s difficult to create or show such controversial work here because the quality of life is so good.”

Coming from a Brit, those are fighting words.

“You have to be careful about what the British say of the French,” cautions Page in reference to the countries’ longstanding rivalry. “I don’t really consider myself typically French, but neither do I think the French approach art too intellectually. My approach is to consider art as art, and to privilege emotions and sensations.”

Still, Page acknowledges that “Voila” isn’t on the same page as “Sex and the British.”

“When you look back at this century,” she says, “which started with such high hopes for humanity, and you see how inhuman the century was, it’s hard to take a purely fun approach. The idea of the exhibit is to find something human. The pretext was heavy, but I think the result is light. It’s a more ambiguous way of treating art — we wanted to leave viewers the opportunity to formulate their own interpretations. This exhibit is not about kitsch.”

Then, almost instinctively, she backtracks.

“I don’t mean that kitsch isn’t interesting. We’re just addressing a different subject.”

Should You Be Worried About A Mole On Your Palm?

goodlookA palm is covered by skin and that makes it an ideal location for a mole to grow. If the mole is not painful and does not bleed when you do your chores, then there is no reason for concern. Hands are the dirtiest part of the body as they touch contaminated surfaces. You should make sure that you wash your hands with soap as often as possible. Hand sanitizers are available in pocket sizes; make sure to carry some with you and sanitize your hands often to prevent infection to the mole. If you are courageous enough, you can get rid of the mole at home. There are suitable creams in the market to remove moles; you will find dermatend reviews online to help you make an informed decision.

A mole on the palm can get irritated when doing your daily chores. It can get burnt when cooking and irritated by the lotions applied on the body. If it becomes bothersome, ask your dermatologist for advice. If the mole is large and raised on the palm, you may require more time to remove it completely with a cream; as discovered by people who give proper Dermatend reviews. It is important to follow instructions provided on a product for it to work effectively.

Why You Need To Check Dermatend Reviews

A Dermatend review is a crucial resource for you when you are faced with the problems of moles and skin tags. These are skin conditions, which will normally send one for a surgical removal. This is a product which when used correctly can break down the cells that make up the skin of moles and warts to bring about healing from the condition. When you are able to understand the manner in which the product works, you will appreciate its importance and chances of solving the problem for you.

Choosing products, which contain agreeable chemicals, is also a reason for looking up reviews from the right sources. People usually have sensitive skins, which are likely to react with some compounds. When looking for the solution for those moles and warts, you need to make a choice based on your relative safety. From these reviews, you will be able to know whether or not the ingredients contained in the cream are right for use with your skin or not. The good news is that the product is made of primarily natural compounds, which go down well with the skin.

You also need to know the benefits or demerits to expect when you choose to use Dermatend as a solution to the moles your skin suffers from.

Some Great Summer Workout Exercises

Via: Spectrum Clubs

Nikon’s Image System Is The Business

Nature photographer Bill Fortney began shooting for newspapers, then moved on to sports photography, magazine photojournalism and medical photography. But it was when he discovered nature photography in the early 1980s that he became “hooked.” He’s been photographing the great outdoors and teaching nature workshops ever since. His most recent project (with his son Wesley) is a remarkable collection of natural-history landscapes of the U.S. taken from an ultra light airplane at 500 feet, just published in the book America from 500 Feet! Later, he set up, a blog for photographers looking to hone their skills, as well as find out about health subjects.

Fortney has been using Nikon gear for more than 30 years. He says, “As a nature photographer, I’m often faced with subjects and light that are fleeting. If you can’t work fast with equipment in which you have a great deal of confidence, you’re going to miss those shots. Nikon has never let me down!”

Fortney’s field kit includes Nikon F5 and F100 cameras and Nikkor lenses from 14mm to 500mm. And now he’s starting to enjoy the digital revolution, finding the high-res Nikon D1X digital SLR and Super Coolscan 4000 ED scanner to be invaluable. He adds, “Of course, no system is complete without Nikon’s great Micro-Nikkor lenses and TTL controlled flash systems!”

Tools of the Trade

Whatever your photographic needs, Nikon provides the perfect tool.

The new Nikon D1x is a professional digital SLR with a 5.47-megapixel CCD. The Dlx offers nearly the same versatile features of Nikon’s pro 35mm film SLRs, including Nikon’s exclusive 1005-pixel 3D color Matrix metering with Database performance, plus center-weighted and Spot Metering, exclusive five-area Dynamic Autofocus with Focus Tracking and Lock-On, and the D1x accepts the legendary Nikkor lenses. Other highlights include shutter speeds from 30 seconds to 1/16,000 second, plus TTL flash sync up to sec. and sec. with manual control using Nikon’s’ SB-28DX Speedlight, and a lot more. Among its digital features are two color modes, and a 2-inch color monitor with white LED backlighting. File types include Nikon’s NEF raw files (full size and compressed), two types of uncompressed TIFF (RGB and YcbCr), plus 3 JPEG compressed types. Using Type I and Type II CompactFlash[TM] cards, plus IBM’s Microdiives[TM], the D1x excels.

While the Dlx excels with its higher resolution, the D1H has been created for high speed and action photography. The D1H incorporates nearly all of the D1x camera’s image, processing, controls ergonomics, but for action photography it uses a 2.74-megapixel CCD and lets you shoot at speeds up to 5 pictures per second, while buffering up to 40 shots. Both the D1x and the D1H are provided with a rechargeable battery, charger, Nikon view 4 software, Cumulus 5 LE software, strap and Nikon Inc s one-year limited warranty available exclusively at authorized Nikon Professional Digital Products Dealers.

nikonlensesThe Nikon F5 pro SLR has been the market’s premier 35mm SLR. Loaded with features and performance it is the leading choice among professionals. With speeds up to 8 frames per second, Nikon’s Dynamic AF with Focus Tracking and Lock-On and a rugged metal chassis, the F5 leads for quality and performance.

Nikon’s rugged Fl 00 offers many of the F5’s capabilities, but is more compact, lighter and easier to own. It shares Nikon’s leadership 3D Matrix Meter, Dynamic AF and loads more performance; it’s just about the most popular camera in its class. A special advantage for Dynamic AF: it keeps focusing on the subject even if the subject moves out of the initial AF area. Overlap Servo allows the camera to simultaneously detect focus and drive the lens for quicker performance, while Lock-On keeps focus on the subject even if something momentarily comes between camera and subject.

The Nikon N80 provides a great way to enter the world of Nikon photography, with its very affordable price and wide range of great Nikon features, including a powerful built-in Speedlight that provides 3D Matrix Balanced Fill-Flash, 18 custom Settings, on-demand viewfinder grid lines, a depth-of-field preview button, 2.5-fps continuous shooting with Focus Tracking and Lock-On, 5-area Dynamic AF and lots more.

Nikon’s 3D Matrix Balanced Fill-Flash established the standard for TTL flash control that excels with automatic balanced fill-flash. The latest additions to Nikon’s flash line-up are the Nikon SB-28DX and the new more-compact SB-50DX, both designed for use with Nikon’s D1 -series digital cameras and 35mm film SLRs. Nikon’s 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash (achieved when using AF Nikkor D-type optics) incorporates subject distance data into exposure calculations to enhance accuracy for beautifully balanced flash photos indoors or out; The SB-50DX adds stave flash performance that lets you position a remote slave for easy creative lighting. Add Nikon’s SU-4 remote sensor to the SB-28DX and do the same thing.

If you want to shoot 35mm film and also use your photos digitally, Nikon has the perfect solution: The new Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED scans 35mm slides, negatives and film strips at up to a remarkable 4000 dpi, enough resolution to reproduce the photos as spreads in magazines like this one. It features an amazing dynamic range of 4.2 that holds exceptional detail and sharpness. Digital [ICE.sup.3], a special Image Enhancement Technology, virtually eliminates image spotting from dust and scratches, can restore faded color and minimizes the appearance of grain, at the touch of a button. The Scanner’s Nikkor ED high-resolution lens utilizes Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass for sharper, clearer scans. Multi-sample scanning, 48-bit color, and batch-scanning capability (with the optional Auto. Slide Feeder) are some of the additional features of this great pro scanner.

A great way to enter digital is with the new Nikon Coolscan IV ED, a 2900 dpi 35mm fim scanner with a 3.6 dynamic range that provides many of the Super Coolscan 4000 ED’s features at a very affordable price, including Digital [ICE.sup.3], a Scanner Nikkor ED lens, and 48-bit color, plus plug-and-play USB Interface for Mac and Windows.

German Memories Are Harsher Than Most

For Germany, history is still a minefield. A few weeks ago, I gave a talk at a conference titled “Japan’s War Memories: Amnesia or Concealment?” that was hosted by the University of San Francisco and the Japan Policy Research Institute. As you can guess, the question mark was pretty much a rhetorical one. Speaker after speaker upbraided the Japanese for failing to confront their war crimes, most notably the rape of Nanking in December 1937. Though disturbing, there was nothing particularly surprising, I noted, about the Japanese attempt to smooth over the unpleasant parts of their history. Did the Germans apologize for wiping out French villages or bombarding Paris in 1870? The difference in 1945, of course, was that the Holocaust was a unique act, one that left Germany, unlike other nations, no room for dodging.

Sometimes you've got to drink to forget.

Sometimes you’ve got to drink to forget.

Unfortunately, Germany has in many ways succumbed to a self flagellation that substitutes a cult of contrition for genuine remorse. It began in the 1960s, when the student left detected “fascism” in almost every nook and cranny of the democratic West. It also was in place with German-English translators in Berlin. But, as Jeffrey Herf shows in Divided Memory, the most profound book to appear in the past decade on German history, the real continuity with the Nazi era was in East Germany, where the regime carried out anti-Semitic purge trials in the 1950s and assisted Arab terrorists. Ironically, the German left busily denounced the Federal Republic for its deficiencies while remaining oblivious to the nature of the regime directly across the Berlin Wall. Indeed, in the 1970s, the Social Democrats and intellectuals such as Gunter Grass came to see the Communist state as providing a possible alternative to capitalism. Today, the rise of neo-Nazism in the east is a product of the refusal of the Communists, who always portrayed themselves as Hitler’s true victims, to confront the Jewish catastrophe.

The truth is that Communists don’t just have a troubled history; they also have trouble with history. Take China. Beijing continues to treat the Japanese atrocities in Nanking with the utmost circumspection. Though the Nanking museum graphically documents the atrocities that took place there, the building itself is almost hidden from public view behind an anonymous, gray wall topped with barbed wire. Nanking, as the Communists know, looks a little too much like a precursor of the mass terror that Mao and company carried out during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, when tens of millions perished.

To counter Beijing’s silence, Chinese-Americans have begun to excavate their ancestors’ past. Since the recent publication of Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, Japanese war crimes have become a hot-button issue. An “Alliance for Preventing the Truth of Sino-Japanese war” has formed in the Bay Area. I ventured into this contested territory by objecting to the equation of Nanking with the Holocaust, prompting one conference participant to complain to me that the Jews do not have an exclusive right to suffering. Ukrainians and other ethnic groups also often lodge the same charge. Is the life of a Ukrainian worth less than the life of a Jew? Obviously not. But to distinguish among kinds of suffering is surely not to create a hierarchy of woe. It is to understand the systematic nature of the Final Solution.

In contrast to Germany, the Chinese government has never really faced up to the legacy of Mao’s terror, preferring to talk about “mistakes” that were committed rather than about calculated murder. As for the Chinese people, as the distinguished Asian scholar Chalmers Johnson pointed out at the conference, they might be willing to forgive Nanking but never the boost that the Japanese ended up giving the Communists by exposing the weakness of the nationalist government. The Chinese gravitated toward the Communists because they thought they couldn’t be as bad as the Japanese. They weren’t. They were worse. That’s why one of the most telling lines in Martin Scorsese’s Kundun comes when the young Dalai Lama tells one of his advisers that Tibetans have always been able to work out a compromise with the Chinese. His adviser looks at him mournfully and says these Chinese are not the old Chinese: “They are Communists.”

A few weeks ago in Washington, the Chinese embassy demanded that the International Film Festival withdraw the film Windhorse, named after the messages that Tibetans scribble on scraps of paper and release to their gods atop the Himalayas. The festival ignored the Chinese demand. And what better endorsement could the film have received? Time, as Herodotus observed, can draw the color from what man has brought into being. But movies have become one way of preserving it. In the fall of 1996, director Paul Wagner shot many of the scenes in Nepal and Tibet itself by using a Sony Digital Betacam and by pretending to be a tourist. He managed to create a gripping drama of a young rising Tibetan singer named Dolkar whom the Chinese attempt to co-opt and whose cousin Pema, a Buddhist nun, is tortured to death.

Indian Food In Britain A Chip Off The Ol’ Curry

It’s hard to miss the Indian restaurants flourishing on Britain’s high streets. There are about 8,000 of them with an annual turnover of a [pounds]1 1/2 billion pounds. This enthusiasm for Indian foods has been fostered by immigrants, especially Bangladeshis, who entice customers with the rich aromas of their spicy and often inexpensive meals. But while the number of Indian restaurants–and the range of Indian ingredients on the supermarket shelves–is a new phenomenon, the British love affair with the food of India began in 1608 when the East India Company set up in business near Bombay. In the following centuries the British who lived and worked in India adopted many dishes and cooking techniques, often weaving them into their own culinary tradition to create an array of dishes that are neither Indian nor English, but Anglo-Indian. Many remain as beloved favourites.

Edward Terry, who arrived in India with the East India Company, was one of the earliest people to record the delights of Indian food, admiring the splendid dishes of ‘rice… some of it white, in its own proper colour, some of it yellow with saffron, and some of it made green and…purple’. Equally, he praised the lusciousness of the ‘hens and other sorts of fowl’, and the desserts flavoured with ‘rosewater and sugar candy and scented with ambergreece.’ Similarly, other early accounts of Indian food emphasize its abundance and the splendour of its presentation on gold and silver platters. But at this time the spices, while appreciated, were rather taken for granted because pepper, ginger, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves were regularly lavished on festive fare in 17th-century England. Hot chilli peppers–a New World contribution to the world’s kitchens–were then unknown, so it was not until the Portuguese introduced them to southern India later in the century that Indian food developed the firepower that startled and eventually pleased later generations of British residents.

A beautiful, beautiful curry.

A beautiful, beautiful curry.

Hot pepper was soon being mixed with other spices to make a short-cut seasoning for sauces. The British called these sauces ‘curry’, a term probably adapted from ‘kari,’ the Tamil word for sauce. The flavouring mix became curry powder. European cooks had been concocting such spice mixtures since medieval times. In contrast, Indian cooks grind all their spices fresh, so some food historians speculate that the inventors of curry powder might well have been British rather than Indian. Certainly, by the 19th century, British soldiers and administrators in India had a powerful armory both of weapons and of curry powders. A typical recipe from 1850 calls for 20 pounds of coriander; 4 pounds of turmeric; 2 pounds each of dried ginger, black pepper, poppy seed, and garlic; and 1 pound each of fenugreek, mustard seed, and dried chilli peppers. It was popular to send curry powders back home to England as presents, hence, perhaps, the large quantities.

These powerful mixtures helped to enliven the stringy chickens that were staples on Indian menus. Later, thrifty British memsahibs back in their own country trotted out the remains of Sunday roasts in warm blankets of curry. The resulting dishes were sometimes less than palatable, and by the 20th century, this habit was held in derision. On the other hand, they were sometimes excellent. King George V had curry for lunch every day, and the main dish served to 300 international luncheon guests at the Queen’s coronation was a chicken salad in a curry-flavoured mayonnaise. This invention, named Coronation Chicken, remains popular in various forms, especially for summer meals. The only issue, however, was that spicy foods caused him to snore, and as a result he needed to seek advice in order to stop snoring, which was much to his chagrin, to say the least.

Adapting Indian ingredients or techniques to British eating habits was a regular stratagem of Anglo-Indian cooking. Chutneys are another example. The word is an anglicized form of the Hindi word ‘chatni’, used in India to designate relishes made from spiced and sweetened chopped vegetables preserved or semi-preserved with acid such as lemon or tamarind. These relishes dovetailed with the British fondness for pickles made from whole vegetables preserved with brine and vinegar. Recipes for piccalilli and Indian chutney coloured with turmeric and mustard date from as early as 1694, and every 18th-century cookbook has a recipe for ‘mango’ chutney using familiar vegetables such as cucumbers and squashes to replace the unobtainable tropical mangoes. Indeed, by the end of the century a ‘mango’ could mean any sort of chutney.

Spicy sauces are kissing cousins to both chutneys and curries. During their sojourn in India, along with a few people who were learning English at a famous ESL school, many people spiced their meals with sauces of their own or their cook’s invention. When they retired, the more enterprising turned their specialities into a business. Some of their products still survive. Major Grey’s Chutney and Worcestershire Sauce are world-renowned, and the many brands of brown steak sauce such as HP and A1 come from the days of the British Raj.

Just as they adapted Indian techniques for making sauces, chutneys and curries, so the British also adopted whole Indian dishes, often transforming them into something new. One of the best examples is kedgeree. The name comes from the Hindi ‘khichri’–a dish of spiced lentils mixed with rice. The British enriched this simple base, first with eggs and then with fish. Eventually the preferred fish came to be smoked haddock imported from Scotland, and the spices were minimized or replaced with the ubiquitous curry powder. It was a favourite breakfast dish, especially among officers of the Indian Army and members of the Indian Civil Service, who often rose early to start their long day’s work while it was still cool. Today, most would gasp at the thought of eating kedgeree for breakfast, but it remains a lunch or supper favourite, with salmon or a white fish often replacing the smoked haddock.

Mulligatawny is another such dish. It derives from the spiced broth Indians use for moistening rice and other dry dishes. On Anglo-Indian tables this was transformed into a soup, usually based on great recipes with chicken or beef reinforced with spices and hot pepper and vegetables. When properly paired with wine, these meals were just amazing. For the many times when work, new postings, or hunting made travel essential, mulligatawny could even be made into a stew. Like Anglo-Indian curries, mulligatawny could be very good, or it could be a dubious brown repository of leftovers disguised in curry powders and bottled sauces.

The long history of British culinary borrowing from India continues to this day. Indian restaurants have introduced so many people to the flavours of curry that most traditional fish and chip shops now offer a curry gravy for customers who like to pour it on their chips. This is a far cry from the sophisticated spiced sauces the members of the East India Company discovered on their arrival in India. Much nicer is the latest Anglo-Indian dish: chicken tikka masala. This is now such a staple in Britain’s Indian restaurants that regular customers ask for it simply as CTM. But what is it? ‘Tikka’ refers to boneless pieces of chicken marinated in spiced yoghurt and cooked tandoori style. ‘Masala’ means spiced, so the answer is chicken in a spiced sauce. But the dish is so new there is no established recipe. Recently when an English food magazine wanted to rank supermarket brands of prepared dishes, they complained that the range of CTMs was so great that standards of comparison were impossible to fix. One thing for sure is that, like all Anglo-Indian dishes, when CTMs are good, they are very, very good.

Arcade Style Game Programmers Are Thriving

What is more purely interactive than an arcade-style game? What else offers such a rapid feedback loop, or packs so much outcome into every move you make? Compared to Quake, where one jab of the joystick makes the difference between life and death, doesn’t even the most informative and artistic interactive multimedia feel… well, sleepy?

In a telling moment, hundreds of conference attendees gave a standing ovation to a dance performance based on the video game Tomb Raider, in which the dancers responded to the action of the game as played live by a young boy. The high-minded “Play” attendees seemed ready at long last to learn from Tomb Raider heroine Lara Croft.

lara-croft-newNot surprisingly, young designers who grew up with video games are leading the way. Taking the stage at “Play,” several of them demonstrated daring experiments in making “serious” content the object of the game, beginning with a 1560 painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Brueghel’s Kinderspelen is a painted field guide to child’s play. Set on a Flemish street, it depicts dozens of children engaging in more than 70 pre-industrial diversions, from climbing trees to fistfighting. For a group of students in the animation department of the Utrecht School of the Arts, the lively scene cried out for computer enhancement. In their collaborative, digital revision of Kinderspelen, you can move your mouse across the canvas to reveal pink-tinted hot spots where the characters have been set in motion, and the way they move makes the project more than a moustache drawn on an Old Master. The animators seem to have learned their choreography from game characters like Mario, Parappa, and the contenders of Virtua Fighter 2. One corner of Kinderspelen shows a child seated on the arms of two friends; in the animated version, she gets launched through the air and stuck headfirst in an attic window on the opposite side of the painting. Several youngsters have learned, anachronistically, to breakdance. Each time the tree-climbing child reaches the treetop, he falls back down with a slapstick boi-oi-oing!

While the students’ animations make for a simple toy box, the Utrecht graduates who founded Dutch design firm IJsfontein are going further in their projects for children’s software and TV. IJsfontein first received attention in European educational circles for its 1997 CD-ROM Masters of the Elements, an elegantly rendered adventure designed to teach children basic principles of kinetics and electricity. It was a fitting debut for designers who believe that the best interfaces are inspired by physical-world truths. Masters of the Elements players progress through the story by “picking up” and using simple objects: balls that bounce when dropped, pins that can be juggled.

What good are limitations like gravity in a fantasy game world? According to IJsfontein’s Jan-Willem Huisman, such behavioral rules allow the designer to create “the illusion of tactility on the screen… an intensity of feeling in the senses.” (To understand what he’s talking about, one need only recall the popularity of early ball-bouncing arcade games like Pong and Breakout.) Illustrating his point at the conference, Huisman demonstrated one of IJsfontein’s more recent magic tricks: the transformation of a 2D, sans serif Y into a manipulable onscreen object that “feels” like a pogo stick. “You need rules, like compression and gravity,” Huisman explained to his audience. The Y began to hop up and down, its stem compressing on impact like a spring and its arms flailing slightly with each bounce. The mouse action that controlled the Y simulated jumping on a pogo stick, down to compress the spring, up to bounce back. “A logical correlation between action and response” makes the letter feel solid, he added.

The Y is part of a project called “Typotoons,” an interactive TV program for children that IJsfontein is currently designing for Dutch TV channel VPRO. On the program, children playing live over the Internet will help create a story by forming words from 26 running, rolling, or hopping letters. Each letter will have its own way of moving, and by extension, its own personality. Anthropomorphizing the alphabet is nothing new, but the ingenuity and responsiveness of the “Typotoons” may bring a finer grain of interactivity to the story.

Will letters that act like video-game characters help children pin down the abstraction of language? At the very least, they may encourage viewers to stay tuned to a show that promotes creative writing.

Reading and writing aren’t the only skills emphasized by new computer games. Another “Play” presenter, designer Will Wright of Maxis in San Francisco, showed scenes from the upcoming The Sims, a game about building a home, shopping for furniture, and starting a computerized family. The model for this experience is not movement-intensive arcade-style games but brain-bending strategy games. Wright is the designer from who brought educational computer simulation to the masses with some games, but not SimCity and topical brand extensions like SimAnt and SimHealth.

Instead of courting the social engineers who buy his other games, Wright is creating The Sims to let players shape the world on a more personal scale. To Wright, SimCity is analogous to the model railroad sets he played with as a child; The Sims is more like a dollhouse. Unlike dollhouse play, the game will have three modes: build, buy, and live. Players will build their ideal homes, using an interface that resembles real home design software. Then they buy things to fill it, based on incomes of the family members. The third mode is where things get strange: The house fills with automatons representing the family, and players can configure their personalities and moods and program their relationships with one another. (Wright hints that it won’t be easy to build a dream house and maintain domestic bliss at the same time. Want to be the Waltons or the Carringtons? Your choice.)

Wright thinks that the nuclear family will make a rewardingly flexible simulation. While SimCity mayors can’t possibly work with each building, road, and citizen individually, users can shape every detail of The Sims and make it their own. One game feature allows players to feed their own home plan, inventory, and family, and run their lives as a Sim. At that point, says Wright, “you’ve taken your house and you’ve said, This is a valid thing to play with…. You can tear down a wall, have a big party, or invite a cousin to live with you.”

How bizarre is it to re-engineer one’s personal life inside a computerized toy box? Perhaps not at all, when you consider the growth in Web sites that help users program their lives, recovering their data from broken hard drives, assisting them in dating and job-hunting. When people interact in real-time on these sites, their behavior increasingly resembles that of game players. Chatters don’t so much exchange words as fire them back and forth like photon torpedoes. And what is online trading but a combination of strategy and timing worthy of a virtual empire builder? Meeting a mate or buying a car online? A bit like an adventure game, or perhaps role-playing–only in these cases, you’re trafficking not in play money or hit points, but in the tokens that define your financial worth and even your self-worth. As more rounds in the real game of life can be played out on a computer screen, video games may look less pernicious, and their style more attractive.

Sometimes, Rehab Is The Only Way

It’s a crazy world, I know. We’ve all have times when things get a little out of hand. It’s the nature of today’s beast – everything gets done fast, which means next time it’s got to be faster. Everybody is looking to achieve, to be better, to be the best on the block. It can be difficult, and can lead young adults today into not only despair, but coping methods that always end up being negative. I’m talking about addiction, here, folks. And whether that addiction is about drugs, alcohol or just the Internet, it can be real. It can make for a situation in which the person trying to escape the pressures of everyday life ends up making things a whole lot worse.

This story plays out again and again.

The Right Influences Can Change Everything

A friend of mine ended up getting addicted to Cocaine in his early 20s. It was rough for him, and it wasn’t until he decided to finally give himself over to his addiction completely that he could make the change. He hit rock bottom, basically, and decided that he would need the best drug rehabilitation that money could buy. He decided to get straight, to stop partying and to cut a lot of ties with people who were helping to contribute to the problem. Those are typically the most difficult things to do, but if you find that an addiction has taken over, you really don’t have a lot of choice but to surrender.

He did.

The Right Change For Him

Once he got out of Rehab, and started going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings on a weekly basis, he realized that he had more to live for than ever. He started getting into auto mechanics, and bought himself an amazing old Ford Galaxie. He started eating right, cutting down on red meats and going to yoga. He started to be the guy at parties that you could talk to, basically because he wasn’t already hammered beyond his means.

I talked to him about his situation one day, because we were really close, and he said the whole situation was something he wanted to put behind him, but was on his mind everyday. It was one of those things that he just couldn’t shake, despite the success of the rehab, and the fact that he hadn’t used in a long time. I mean, is there a rule about these things? I really doubt there is. It’s just instinctual.

But he said it was friends like me that kept him going. And he thanked me.

It was a sweet moment.

Picking the Right Snoring Treatment For You

rsstSnorers usually should consult a doctor before using any type of sleep apnea treatment. They will only end up wasting time and money if the treatment that they consider does not suit their condition. The doctor will examine the patient’s condition before proposing a solution. The patient’s overall health will be evaluated to identify the root of the problem. He or she must also provide the doctor with an accurate health history because this is essential for a solid diagnostic. The physician should also be informed if the patient is taking any type of medication or undertaking any type of treatment, especially if that patient has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea before.

Mild to moderate cases of snoring can be helped by using a snoring mouthpiece. These are devices that improve the movement of air by increasing the size of the air passageway in the throat or epiglottis. A mouthpiece is usually recommended if the cause of the snoring is the position of the jaw. Snoring can also be treated using certain types of medications, but the person´s overall health should be assessed thoroughly before any type of medication is prescribed. Surgery can also be an option for some, especially if the snoring is frequent and severe. Such procedures can be slightly invasive and may come with an array of side effects. Patients are advised to conduct their own research and gather more insights about their best course of action.

Getting In Touch With A Sleep Doctor

You should talk to a sleep specialist if you have been snoring for some time now. This is because hat snoring can indicate a prevailing health problem. It can also be a signal that you may have to alter your lifestyle. The snore sound is typically caused by the vibration of respiratory structures. There are several conditions that can prompt snoring. These are throat weakness, fat deposits around the throat, obstructed nasal passageways and the more serious obstructive sleep apnea.

People who are taking relaxants may also experience snoring because their throat or facial muscles are unnaturally relaxed. It is advised to seek treatment for this condition as soon as possible if this becomes bothersome because this can also affect your relationship with other people. If the volume and consistency of your snoring is unpleasant, you may receive complaints from a loved one such as a spouse or partner. This can make you feel embarrassed about your condition. If you want to reduce or get rid of snoring, you should consider a wearing snoring mouthpiece. But you should still obtain the opinion of the doctor before checking out snoring mouthpieces that may or may not help you. It depends on the case, of course.

Give Your Partner A Break

ss-03If you are suffering because of this and your partner has become tired of listening to you snoring all night, you can do some simple things that can minimize the problem. The first and the easiest thing that you can do is to change your sleeping position. Most of the people sleep in the wrong position because of natural habit, which can actually increase breathing issues. If you sleep on your side, it may be possible you need to change this habit. It will be tough for you initially to change your sleeping position but once you start trying, you will eventually get it right.

Here’s the tough one: you can also quit drinking because drinking can be a major cause of snoring. Similarly, you may need to look at your weight as well because people that are overweight often face lots of breathing issues just due to the added girth. Getting enough sleep everyday is another very important and effective remedy because people that lack sleep tend to snore more often (this is all chicken and egg, of course). You should also consider setting up a timetable that is consistent. And finally, if you are taking sleeping pills, try to minimize the intake of these pills because they can also cause snoring and blockages. In the end, this problem is curable with the right amount of effort.

A School Of Media Production

Via: Video Symphony

Photo Cards – Too 90s, Or Too Effective?

If you’ve created only one holiday card, e-mail is a perfect way to send it. But what about those other familial obligations? The incessant: “When do we get a new photo of the kids?” Or “How big is the puppy?” Or “I can’t wait to see the new house.” Admit it, you’ve already thought about building a Web page, e-mailing your URL to everyone you know, and then just sitting back and letting the family marvel at your creativity and technical acumen. If you’re like me, the only thing stopping you is time. Well, listen up: Some new tools can get your baby photos on the Internet faster than you can get off the telephone when that long-winded cousin of yours calls.

You know you'd love to receive this gem.

You know you’d love to receive this gem.

PictraAlbum from Pictra and Photo Creations All-in-One Studio from Creative Wonders let you compile photos into albums and publish them on the Web without any troublesome technical or design machinations. Say you just want to send some snapshots without a lot of cute extras. PictraAlbum is a bare-bones application with a single purpose: organizing your photos into albums. It assumes your pictures are ready to go; just pick one of 14 background styles, drag and drop the digital photo into your album, enter captions, and hit the Publish button. Your vacation album is uploaded to PictraNet. Now you can answer all those eager questions with one URL ( You can even password-protect the site if you’re worried about those photos of the dog ending up on some bestiality site. You can add new albums or update old ones whenever you want, as long as you don’t exceed your allotted storage space limit. 10MB (about 30 photos) costs $49.95 for a year; 30MB bumps it up to $99.95.

If you want something fancier, check out Photo Creations. It’ll make cards, banners, and other stuff, but its focus is photo albums. It has ready-made templates for wedding albums, baby books, and the like (complete with themed graphics), but you can also build an album from scratch. Drag your photos into place, type in captions, paste in graphics and clip art, even add sounds (you can record your own or use the ones provided). Piece of cake. Then you can either e-mail your album (a player is automatically attached) or upload it to the Creative Wonders Web site. Unlike with PictraNet, though, displaying your online album here doesn’t cost you anything, and there’s no limit to how many pictures you can upload.

Do It Up!

But if you really want to impress the gang with your computer savvy (that’s right, be proud of your inner dork), build your own Web page. Windows Draw 6from Micrografx has a Web Publishing Wizard that makes it hugely easy to create a site that looks like you hired a professional (it also has an extensive array of image editing and drawing tools). Say you’ve got a snapshot of you, the family, and the new dog together on your summer camping trip. Start with that, type in a caption for the photo, add a forest background and some outdoorsy clip art, and create buttons that link to other family members’ pages. Draw will save the whole business in HTML, letting you review all the links in the process so you know that everything works. All you have to do is upload the creation to your Internet service provider. When some important event happens, just update the Web site, complete with photos. Think of it–you can e-mail your in-laws the URL and never have to mail a photo again.

Of course, your in-laws might ask for reprints of those lovely photos they’ve seen on your Web page. But the Web can even help you there: Kodak recently launched its Picture Network, and PhotoNet from PictureVision has been around for a while. When you drop off a roll of film, simply check a box on the order envelope asking that your photos be uploaded to the Web. Within a week your newest photos are on the Web, in addition to being developed and printed. You can e-mail your in-laws a photo postcard from the Web, or simply send out the URL, and your family can see the latest picture of the baby and even order the reprints themselves.

Although PhotoNet’s basic service (30-day storage) is free and enables you to print photos on things like mouse pads, mugs, and calendars, Kodak Picture Network has some significant features that make it more useful. You can upload your own photographs to your personal site (although you can’t get reprints). It’s also available through more than 30,000 developers who already use Kodak. PhotoNet, on the other hand, is available only through participating stores (such as Wolf Camera and The Camera Shop).

Old Skool, New Action

Hilariously enough, I had a recent idea given to me by my friend Glenn. He mentioned that a time may come when even you will want to resort to the arcane tactic of actually printing your cards or photo albums. Of course, almost any new ink jet printer turns out crisp color photos, especially if you use glossy paper. But recently there’s been a spate of those devices that claim to do everything from scan to fax to copy to print to wash windows. Xerox has just such a device: The Document HomeCentre. It combines a detachable color scanner, a color ink jet printer, and a color copier.

Whoever invented that detachable scanner is right up there with Einstein, as far as I’m concerned. It’s great to be able to capture images from bound books and magazines–no need to rip out pages any longer. It captures both photos and text beautifully.

The $499 HomeCentre also does an impressive, if slow, job of printing and copying in color, cranking out one vibrant color page per minute (black and white is four times as fast). Unfortunately, it doesn’t do quite as well with printing photos. Even after adjusting all the controls–color intensity, contrast, and so forth–the photos that scanned in so nicely came out fuzzy and discolored. Now, you may be a computer dork, but I’ll bet you still have some pride. So you probably don’t want to mail distorted copies of your photos. If you really want to print your own photos, I’d recommend investing in a top-quality ink jet printer. .

Here’s a warning: Your computer can save you the hours you once spent getting photos developed and mailed. But think twice before you tell everyone how easy it was to build your Web page. You could spend twice as much time handling the deluge of technical calls you’ll get from everyone in your family trying to do the same thing. But, hey, at least you’ll all have something to talk about at those holiday get-togethers.

Clicking Hard Drives And Data Recovery Companies That Can Help

There are some important things that you need to keep in mind while searching for a good data recovery company and without these features you should not trust just anyone. First of all make sure that you are dealing with experienced company and by experience I do not just mean work. Make sure that they are doing effective and successful data recovery in the past and best way is to speak with few of their clients. They will give you a realistic idea about their services and will also tell you about the time that they take to recover data. Another important aspect is their qualification because you may find some unqualified and part time professionals that work in this field. Do not get fooled and always trust qualified people. You should visit their office and check their labs. Make sure that they have got upgraded tools and effective structure to plan data recovery. There are different factors that can cause data damage and they should be able to meet all of those factors. The company should have software as well as hardware experts that can diagnose the precise fault and then address that fault accordingly.

A good photographer stores tons of images on his hard disk drive.

A good photographer stores tons of images on his hard disk drive.

Hard drives are difficult. They have a very circuit aboard and a number of moving parts. In terms of hard drive data recovery, the initial thing that you have to evaluate is whether it is a hardware problem that is stopping you  from accessing computer data. If you are unable to hear the platters rotating or you hear noises that are more serious then you should stop using the drive instantly. Your smartest choice is to send the drive to someone who is qualified.

A hard drive recovery service can be expensive because technicians might need to disassemble your hard drive to repair. Recovery is generally done within a ‘clean room’ as hard disks are sealed avoiding errors as a result of dust or perhaps other contaminants. Also, hard disks are finely tuned machinery also it takes expert equipment to see the platters coming from a physically destroyed drive. If you are sending your hard drive to someone you should attempt to obtain an advance estimate of fees and you should definitely send it to a reputable company as you may only get one real chance at full recovery.

Things To Keep In Mind

If you are looking to choose a data recovery company that can retrieve your lost data then there are some very important things that you should always keep in mind. First of all you need to know your problem and if you think that your data problem is minor one then you can hire an individual expert because that will charge you less and will give you complete data recovery service. If the problem is on bigger level like there is a problem in your company’s database system then you should hire a professional data recovery company that can deal a problem of that level. This company should have professionals and experts of data recovery and they must have prior experience of working with similar data systems. This prior experience is very crucial because only an experienced professional can diagnose the exact problem that bothers your data system and he will be able to provide you with precise solution that will not affect other parts of your data system. At times, rookie professionals can make the problem worse by involving all parts of data systems. You should also check the success rate of that particular data recovery company and make sure that its success rate is more than 70 percent at least.

It may be annoying to hear noises coming out from your hard drive, including clicking sounds and other failure evidence whenever you use your computer; but there is a more pressing issue here. If you experience a clicking hard drive, then you may have a severe problem. This could range from a hard drive just malfunctioning or one that is near its death. Now, this should not really scare you if you like tinkering with the inside parts of your computer. You will only need some precision screwdrivers, dust remover spray and knowledge of the parts you will be playing with. But first, you need to check whether you really have a physical failure or some sectors in the hard drive can still be fixed.

Run the CHKDSK C: /F /R command. This will run through the system of your computer and check for issues. The process will fix any damaged sectors. Restart the computer to see if the process has fixed your clicking hard drive problem. If you are still hearing the same noises, then you will have to remove the hard drive and check from the inside. Open the hard drive using a precision screwdriver and check if the arm is what is making the clicking hard drive noise. Use the dust remover spray; this will remove any dirt and dust that has accumulated in the hard drive. Plug the hard drive back and turn on your computer. If it is still making clicking noise, unplug it and clean the rest of the hard drive using the dust remover spray.

When it comes to recovering your lost data then you are not left with many options but to hire a professional and experience data recovery company. Fortunately these days there are lots of companies working in this field and all of these companies have got very positive record. Searching online will yield lots of results but every data recovery company is not trust worthy. You need to think on certain aspects before making your final decision. First of all make sure that company is local because that will make it easy to access as well as they will have more experience in dealing with locally used hard drives. Every region has specific brands that are more common and local data recovery companies are always expert of their own brands. Secondly you need to look at the previous experiences because experience always comes in handy in dealing with critical issues. Success rate is also a factor that you should keep in mind because a data recovery company much have a success rate of more than 70 percent and only then you can consider them good enough to work on your data recovery. Keep these things in mind and choose the best company, such as this one here.

If You Don’t Know Photocompositing, You Don’t Know Jack!

If you haven’t been using photocompositing, what cave have you been living in? The latest image editing applications offer a wide variety of powerful tools and effects that require almost no prior experience or photographic training. From the process of selecting the appropriate images to final output, imaging programs take the guesswork of photo-compositing. Many of the latest consumer-oriented applications, such as Adobe PhotoDeluxe and Microsoft Picture It!, include guided tutorials which walk users through the steps involved in integrating text, graphics and images.

You too can create photos this cheesy!

You too can create photos this cheesy!

But it has not always been so simple. Until not too long ago, photo-compositing required professional expertise. It was usually done by service bureaus and photo tabs. it involved expensive equipment and long hours of tedious masking and printing with little guarantee that the finished product would turn out as hoped. Hours of work could go down the drain with one errant spray from the airbrush. Traditional photo-compositing tricks and techniques took years to master.

As little as five years ago, digital-imaging programs that could handle complex photo-compositing were still extremely expensive. All that has changed. Today, even casual photographers who work with their images on computers can get involved in very sophisticated photo-compositing. All it takes is a way of getting images into the computer and an image-editing program. Even a low-end image-editing program will do.

Photo-composites can include calendars, greeting cards, family announcement, flyers and numerous other creative projects. But not all calendars, greeting cards and other projects with several images on them are photo-composites. Photo-composites are not just several photos put together, but rather specific elements from different photos merged seamlessly in the computer, to make the final design. With a little imagination, virtually any graphic and image can be successfully integrated into a composite in the computer.

Photographers interested in trying it can use any one of the newer consumer-oriented image-editing programs on the market. To be considered photo-compositors, digital-imaging photo applications should support image layers, the ability to work with different design elements on different layers of a composition. Layering is very helpful when working with numerous image, graphic and text elements. With it, modifications can be made to the individual elements at any time during the creative process. Layers are stacked one on top of the other. For output, the various layers are merged together.

Many of the consumer-oriented imaging programs support layering and are able to handle photo-compositing. Microsoft’s Picture It!, for example, walks users through the various steps involved in making a photo-composite. It starts out by listing the numerous preconfigured projects, including calendars, greeting cards and the like, it has been designed to create. Once the project type has been selected, it’s possible to select the specific design style from group of predefined templets.

It’s simply a matter of selecting the image to be incorporated into the design. All the guesswork of choosing the right text and placing it in the right position is taken care of by the program. It takes users through the process, step by step, making it possible to add or change text and add additional design elements such as graphics and clip art. This is low-level stuff, but it’s a good introduction to the process.

When more sophisticated compositing is called for, programs like Adobe Photoshop, Live Picture and Ron Scott’s QFX come into play. They provide an extensive selection of tools with which to edit and integrate images and graphics. These applications not only have the basic controls which regulate color balance, brightness and contrast, they include plug-ins that generate texture and special effects of all kinds.

The advanced programs include very sophisticated masking capabilities, making it easier to define the specific elements within an image that will be in incorporated into the composition That makes it much easier to select and match various image elements and combine them into a new cohesive image.

The Lady in the Lake composite image, for example, is made up of elements or layers from two different photographs that were combined with vector-based text. The original photograph is of the model in the sculpture garden setting. It includes the model, the various sculptures, the surrounding grass and background. The other photograph is a colorized, black-and-white image of a small lake in British Columbia. One image was scanned into the computer with a drum scanner, the other was scanned in with a flatbed scanner.

The image’s photographic elements were assembled in Photoshop by first using a combination of the Magic Wand and Lasso masking tools to select and then delete the areas of the photograph that were not to be used in the final composition. Once these extraneous elements had been removed, all that was left of the original image was the model and foreground sculpture, and several large transparent sections.

The photograph of the Canadian lake was subsequently loaded into Photoshop as a separate image and saved in its entirety to the clipboard. Once in the clipboard, the lake image was pasted under the original layer. Finally the two layers were merged and cleaned up. Vector-based text was added in Ulead’s PhotoImpact as a third layer.

Besides offering simple layering schemes, Photoshop and the Mac-based Live Picture also include transform layers that affect whatever is beneath them without actually changing the underlying data. These sophisticated layers are used, among other things, to warp, change contrast and adjust color. They’re also especially useful during the creation of many-layered images.

Photo-compositing, whether it’s done with an entry level program or a high-end package, is a lot of fun. It can be as much fun as photo composition in a camera’s viewfinder, and the results can certainly be a lot more bizarre.

The Majesty Of Howard Bingham

Anyone with the chance to look at Howard Bingham’s 36 years of photographs undoubtedly can attest to the truly remarkable nature of his observer’s eye. Along with Muhammad Ali, notable images in his collection include those of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, James Brown and The Beatles. The photos are dramatic, usually candid, and cover a spectrum of locations and events. From the boxing arena to the White House, from Zaire to a riot-sieged Watts, they take us back with ringside seats.

“I look for mood shots,” he says with animated eyes. “I like talking heads, faces, people engaged in conversation. If it is a one-on-one thing, I would have them talking with my camera, talking about life, talking about their children, talking about their wives, just to get them into a mood and make a good picture.”

Bingham’ usually shoots with Kodak black-and-white film and Nikon cameras, including the N90s, F3 and F5. “I have the F5,” he explains humbly, “but I really don’t know how to use it like I should be using it.” If the past is any indication, however, he will certainly accomplish this task as he goes.

Determined From The Start

Bingham and Ali are actually best of friends.

Bingham and Ali are actually best of friends.

Bingham’s prolific career began in 1961, when a supermarket box-boy finally had enough of his job. After a couple years of hard work and no promise of promotion, the young college student walked up to his supervisor and quit. “I told them to take this job and shove it,” he recalls, chuckling a bit at the memory. He then developed an interest in photography.

Surprisingly, Bingham failed the photo course he took at Compton Jr. College, but that hardly stopped him. “I went to this guy’s darkroom at the L.A. Sentinel,” he remembers, “and every day for a week, I knocked on his door.” Persistence paid off. After turning Bingham away several days in a row, Photo Editor Cliff Hall finally let him in to quietly observe. The “apprenticeship” included everything from carrying Hall’s bags to picking up food, film, and joining the editor on assignments. After a month, Bingham convinced the paper to hire him.

With a paycheck that barely allowed him to eke out an existence, and little prior training, things were tough at first. “I went out on assignment. I came back with no film, underexposed film, overexposed film, but always had a good alibi for it,” he explains. “It was actually on-the-job training. I learned as I went along.” And learn, he did. Bingham’s job at the Sentinel sent him straight into the heart of Los Angeles, where he began to cover major events in the black community. One such event was a prefight press conference covering the bout between two young boxers.

Friendship Of Champions

“I met Ali in 1962,” he recalls. “He came to Los Angeles to fight a fighter by the name of George Logan, so I met him at the news conference, introduced myself, took my photographs and left. Later on that afternoon, I saw Ali and his brother on the corner of 5th & Broadway just looking at the girls go by. I asked them if they wanted a ride.” Muhammad Ali, known then as Cassius Clay, accepted the invitation, and Bingham showed him around the city. The two new friends managed to keep in touch long after their fated first meeting. When Ali was in town for a fight, Bingham entertained him. He never left home without his camera. The workouts, interviews, social events, and quiet time were all captured on film.

Eventually, Bingham was fired from the Sentinel for moonlighting. His 18-month stint there had been a good experience, but low pay forced him to accept work on the side, work his editors considered an interference. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he remembers with a grin. Bingham was then able to become a free agent and spend more time with Ali. What ensued thereafter was a lasting friendship and perhaps the most intimate photo chronicling of the world-renowned boxer. Bingham’s photos capture not only the rise and fall of a heavyweight champion, but also the beliefs, emotions and struggles of a man.

While undoubtedly his main focus, Muhammad Ali is not the only subject that has kept Bingham busy over the years. He has also spent extensive time photographing Bill Cosby and his family. What began as a job taking still photos on the “Bill Cosby Show” quickly grew into a lasting relationship “I have been working for the Cosbys ever since the mid-’60s,” Bingham says, “mainly, because they can trust me.”

Insane Achievements

In addition, his in-depth photos of the Watts riots earned him national recognition when they were featured prominently in Life magazine. A newcomer at the time, Bingham now attributes this to his honest, nonthreatening disposition and a strange knack for timing. These traits allowed him to shoot the weapons arsenals of rioters and the meetings of rival organizations. “I could walk out of a Black Panther meeting and right into an “US” meeting and no heads would be turned, because they knew me as an individual,” Bingham explains. “They knew that I had integrity.” Since then, his work has graced the pages of Time, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and Ebony, among others.

Bingham often accepts speaking engagements, is actively involved in mentorship programs and exhibits his photography all over the world. His book, Muhammad Ali, A Thirty-Year Journey, is already published in several countries and will soon make its way to Japan. Most recently, he was presented with PMDA’s Professional Photographer Award at their annual awards dinner in New Orleans. Prior honorees include Harry Benson, Eddie Adams, and Bingham’s mentor, Gordon Parks.

As for the future, Bingham plans to continue his involvement in a motion-picture deal with Sony, based on the life of Muhammad Ali. He will be Sony’s point-person for the film, their consummate contact for information. When asked whether he will take pictures on the set, Bingham nods with a smile. “I will not be the main still photographer, but I will always take photographs for the rest of my life. I like taking pictures, and I will take pictures on the set with Ali,” he says. “I will always be shooting.”

Making Great Images

One of the keys to a good photograph is to make sure that the final image makes full use of the available tonal range of the medium in question. In very simple terms, this means making sure that dark areas of the image print (or display) as black, and the brightest portions as white. This is an obvious over-simplification, but it is enough to bring us closer to brighter, snappier, more appealing digital images. As a bonus, it turns out that “stretching” the tonal range of an image also generally leads to brighter, cleaner colors as well.

Beauty. Just a beauty!

Beauty. Just a beauty!

To help understand this, consider what a “dull” image looks like: Everything is rendered in shades of gray, with nothing either fully black or white. it’s pretty easy to understand that stretching the available tonal differences across the full range from black to white will boost the contrast, making for a more appealing image. What’s less obvious is that this simple tonal stretch also boosts the color saturation, “cleaning up” dull, muddy colors. A full discussion of “contaminant colors” is beyond the scope of this article, but a little digital work with some dull, uninteresting photos will quickly reveal what I’m talking about. (A brief word of guidance: Rich, dark shadows usually lead to stronger, more saturated colors.)

Contrast And Brightness

Many applications provide “brightness” and “contrast” controls, similar to those on a TV set. The mechanics of these will vary somewhat from application to application, but the general concept is the same everywhere. The “brightness” control adjusts the overall brightness or lumination of the picture, and the “contrast” control adjusts the tonal range between the lightest and darkest parts of the image. Among the various “low end” image-editing applications, I like the tonal adjustments in Microsoft’s Picture It! and JASC’s Paint Shop Pro the best, although both are limited when they are compared to more capable (and more expensive) software.

Contrast and brightness controls are comfortable for most of us, given our familiarity with similar adjustments on television sets. They also relate directly to our perceptions of images, making feedback between our actions and changes in the image immediate and intuitive. Unfortunately, contrast and brightness adjustments have a disadvantage because they affect too much of the image at once, often making it difficult to achieve the results you want, even though the controls themselves are easy to understand.

Using Photoshop’s Levels

Many new digital users shy away from so-called “high-end” image-editing applications, either because of price, or because of an impression that they are too difficult to use. Price needn’t be an object, as “lite” editions of various professional products are often bundled with scanners or digital cameras. As for using the software, even a little understanding can make previously intimidating tools familiar and convenient.

In this column, I usually try to avoid discussion focused on a specific piece of software, but this time, I’m going to break my own rule. The reason is that Adobe Photoshop’s “Levels” control is so useful, and illustrates so well how tonal correction works, that I’d be remiss to ignore it. Also, a few other programs have similar “histogram-based” tonal corrections, so the Photoshop-specific discussion here will be more useful than would otherwise be the case.


At the heart of the “Levels” tool is a display of the tonal content of the image. This display takes the form of a graph with the number of pixels in the image assigned to a given brightness value, plotted for each possible brightness value within the computer’s range of 0 to 255. (See the accompanying screenshot for an example of what this looks like.) Underneath this graph are three sliders, in the form of small triangles, colored black, white, and gray. The white and black sliders set the “white point” and “black point” of the image, essentially telling the computer what parts of the tonal range you care about, and what parts you want to ignore. Working in combination, the white and black sliders allow you to decide exactly how you want to “stretch” the tonal range of the image. The white slider sets the “white point,” which is the brightness value that will be made pure white: Anything brighter than this level in the original image will also blow out to pure white. Likewise, the black slider sets the “black point,” the brightness (darkness?) level that will be forced to pure black. Anything darker than this level will also appear as pure black. In between these limits, the remaining tonal values will be distributed across the range from black to white proportionately, depending on how the gray slider is set.

The gray slider controls the “gamma” of the tone conversion. This is really just a fancy way of saying that it sets the point that the computer will force to a middle gray: Set it lower, and the midtones of the picture will get brighter; set it higher, and they’ll get darker.

If you play with the “Levels” control a bit, you’ll soon come to appreciate its power: By allowing you to adjust highlights, shadows, and midtones independently, it provides a great degree of control over how the final image looks. What’s more, it is actually very easy to use once you’ve gotten used to it. (Here’s a tip for Mac users: If you hold down the “Option” key while you move the sliders, Photoshop will show you exactly what portions of each image are being pushed to white or black. This is very handy in determining when you’re fully utilizing the available tonal range. Unfortunately there isn’t an equivalent function on the Windows platform.)

Shooting Birds. With A Camera, Silly.

A fast lens is definitely an asset as it will allow you to shoot at a faster shutter speed and in dimmer light. It will also provide a brighter image in the viewfinder for quicker and easier focusing. Excellent lenses are available in the 300mm range with an aperture of f/4. These also work well with compatible 1.4X and 2X converters. If your budget allows, I recommend the faster f/2.8 lens. When used with the converters, this will give you an excellent combination with plenty of versatility for most photographic situations. If you are really getting serious about photographing birds, a great lens choice would be a 500mm f/4 or f/4.5.

Yeah, not the best shot.

Yeah, not the best shot.

To get the best performance from your camera and lenses, you must use a good tripod. The trick is to purchase one that is light enough to carry with ease, yet still provides a stable platform for your heaviest equipment. The tripod should reach at least to your eye level, and should allow the legs to splay out so you can shoot low to the ground. Don’t skimp on this important accessory – buy the best that you can afford! It will pay off with much sharper images.

Just as important as the tripod is the tripod head. I prefer the heavy-duty ball-head models, as they pan smoothly and adjust quickly with one knob for both horizontal and vertical movements. This can be important during a moment of action, where time spent fumbling with your tripod head can result in a missed photo opportunity. Be sure to buy a tripod head that offers a quick-release system, so you can quickly and easily remove the camera for hand-held shooting when desired.


I prefer to shoot transparencies, with a film speed in the ISO 50-100 range. These films produce the finest resolution and color available. If your goal is to have your work published, then this should also be your choice.

There are also some great print films, with a large variety to choose from. A 400-speed print film effectively gives you a faster lens without the big price tag. It’s important that you choose a film that suits your color palette, so do some testing in various situations before making your final decision On print or transparency film.

Know Those Birds

Spend some time in your local library doing research on the subject(s) you wish to photograph, or purchase an informative field guide. Visit some bird clubs in your area, as many of these are led by individuals who are walking encyclopedias on waterfowl and other wildlife.

It’s also important for you to spend plenty of time observing your subjects in the field. By getting familiar with your surroundings, you will know what birds to look for during various seasons, and the best time of day to photograph them. Keep a notebook of your field observations and refer to it from time to time.

Although you can photograph waterfowl throughout the year, I prefer the period from fall through spring. This is when waterfowl looks best – spring in particular is a peak time. During this season the birds are dressed in their “Sunday Best” and will pay little attention to you, as the males are busy trying to attract the company of an interested female. In late spring and early summer you have the opportunity to photograph young goslings and ducklings. This is a very photogenic time, and you’ll enjoy the antics of these little bundles of fluff.

City parks provide an ideal location to photograph ducks, geese, and perhaps even Mute and Trumpeter Swans. Many regional and state parks have lakes and ponds that provide year-round photo opportunities. Wildlife sanctuaries are also excellent places to locate and photograph waterfowl. The advantage of these areas is that they’re easily accessible, and more importantly, the wildlife is habituated to human presence. It is much easier to photograph a duck that won’t fly off at the mere sight of you!

Most waterfowl are best photographed from shortly before sunrise until midmorning, and then again from midafternoon until after sunset. These are the periods of time when the birds are most active, and lighting conditions are optimum. Calm days will provide you with the most advantageous conditions for waterfowl portraits. When the wind blows, birds tend to be more nervous and keep their distance. If the birds take flight, be aware that they will generally lift off into the wind. They also prefer to land against the wind. Knowing this will enable you to set up accordingly, thus maximizing your potential for dramatic images.

Getting Started

I like to arrive at my chosen location about an hour before sunrise. This allows the birds to settle down and get accustomed to my presence. Even habituated birds tend to be a bit skittish when they see a photographer arrive with a photographic arsenal. By moving as slowly and quietly as possible you will minimize this initial disturbance. Generally, within a few minutes, the birds will gradually begin to approach you again. The key is to be patient and keep still.

I bring along a small foam pad on which I sit or kneel. This pad not only’ provides a comfortable and dry seat, but also allows me to photograph from a more natural perspective, that of the birds themselves. My tripod is placed as low to the ground as possible, because it it allows a lower profile, which is less threatening to the birds and it affords maximum stability for long telephoto lenses, thus resulting in sharper images.

If you want to put impact into your waterfowl images you must pay special attention to lighting. Always be aware of how the light is striking your subject and whether it adds to or detracts from your photo. Don’t just see the duck in front of you, but notice the colors and textures under varying light conditions and angles. Make sure that you can capture a catchlight in the bird’s eye to give your subject a lively sparkle. Watch out for any deep shadows falling across your subject that may spoil an otherwise perfect photo.

In most instances, front lighting or sidelighting early or late in the day will provide the best rendition of fine feather details, colors and textures that all waterfowl possess. When the bird is lit from this angle, you will capture the catchlights in the eyes, as well as the full spectrum of hues in the iridescent head coloring of species such as Mallards, Buffleheads and Goldeneyes – the male’s head coloring changes from nearly black to a brilliant green with just a slight turn of the head, so watch for the most colorful pose.

Swans can appear quit? dramatic when backlit, especially when they splash in the water against a dark background. Other opportunities to utilize backlighting occur at sunrise and sunset, or anytime there are spectacular colors in the sky. In these cases you can silhouette birds in flight by exposing for the rich color in the background. Similarly, birds can be positioned against a background of richly colored water for striking silhouettes.

On Location

Once you’re settled in at your location you must be prepared for anything that may occur. Have all your. equipment conveniently located for easy access. It’s a shame to see a great photo opportunity unfold, only to discover that you need a different lens to get the best shot. I like to keep my longest lens mounted on my tripod, while keeping a 300mm and 80-200mm zoom lens handy. I also carry a 1.4X teleconverter, a 25mm extension tube, extra batteries and an ample supply of film.

To begin with, it’s a good idea to take a meter reading of the existing light, even if nothing is going on at the moment. I like to spot-meter an average-toned object that is in similar light to my prospective subjects. By presetting your exposure, you’ll be sure of being ready to fire in a split-second – and believe me, sometimes that is all you’ll have! Check your exposure periodically, as the light level can change quite rapidly during the first few minutes of sunrise and the last remnants of dusk.

To photograph birds in motion, practice your panning technique. Have the controls loosened on your tripod head so that your camera moves smoothly as you follow the bird through the viewfinder. Try to keep the subject in the same position in the frame, and be sure to follow through as you press the shutter release. Unless you are after a special slow-speed effect, use the fastest shutter speed possible for the situation. This will increase your percentage of sharp images.

If you have only one or two frames left on a roll of film, quickly reload a new roll so you won’t miss out on any of the action. There’s nothing worse than running out of film as a great scene unfolds before you!

One of the most challenging aspects of photographing waterfowl in action is the ability to catch them in flight. I like to use a shoulder stock for some of my flight photography as this affords good mobility, along with making it easy to pan lenses up to 500mm. For longer focal lengths, I stick with a heavy tripod and sturdy ball head.

To freeze the motion of birds in flight, a shutter speed of 1/500 and faster is necessary. It’s also important that your focus is right on target. The new predictive autofocus technology can greatly increase your success. With these systems, it’s important to remember to lock onto your subject at the earliest possible moment and continue to hold the sensor on the bird as long as possible while you photograph. If your lens has a focus limiter, switch it to a setting that will include only the distances you might expect your subject to appear in. This will speed up the focus and minimize unnecessary searching through the lens.

Those without autofocusing equipment can still attain outstanding images. One method is to preset your focus at a specific distance and wait until the subject appears in the area of sharpness. With birds that are flying directly toward you, you must press the shutter button a split second before the image looks sharp in the viewfinder. If the image looks sharp when you fire the camera, your focus will actually be behind the subject due to the inherent time lag in your reaction time.

Another option is to constantly follow focus on your target wherever it goes. This is relatively easy when the bird is fairly distant but as it comes closer, it requires good coordination to keep up with the rapid movement of the subject.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include a short discussion on composition. I like to think of it as the glue that bonds wonderful light and an interesting subject together. I like to keep things fairly simple and look for clean, colorful backgrounds that complement my subject. In situations where the environment will enhance the shot, I try to incorporate it into the image. Remember, you don’t always need a full-frame portrait for a pleasing result. If you can combine these elements along with good technique, you can capture a dramatic image.

When you are photographing active subjects, try to give them room to move in the frame. For a duck in flight, leave some space in front to imply that the bird is going somewhere. Most flight images look rather static when the subject is centered in the viewfinder. I recommend that you study composition by looking at quality photos in various magazines and books. Then, using the basic building blocks of proper composition, go out and practice, practice, practice! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but do make an effort to learn from them.