Wikimedia 503 Accessibility Hack Day (May 19, SF)

[The Wikimedia Foundation][wmf] is organizing a mini hackathon related to
accessibility (ensuring [our software][mediawiki] is usable by people with
disabilities or special needs). We’re working with Lucy Greco, an
Assistive Technology Specialist at the Disabled Student’s Program of
UC Berkeley on this.

If you’re a front-end developer or UI/UX designer, you can help. We’ll
work with a user of Dragon text-to-speech, a user of
on-screen-keyboard technology, 2-3 users of the JAWS screen reader,
and 1 user of a Mac screen reader. So you can directly help improve
the experience for real people who encounter issues with [Wikipedia] and
our other sites.

The event will be at the Wikimedia Foundation offices ([149 New
Montgomery Street][wmf hq], third floor) on Saturday, May 19, beginning at 10
AM and ending probably in the late PM. Lunch and dinner will be

Please RSVP with Rachel Farrand rfarrand [at] wikimedia dot] org by May 15 if
you’re interested in attending.

[wmf]: “Wikimedia Foundation”
[mediawiki]: “MediaWiki which powers Wikipedia”
[wmf hq]:,+San+Francisco,+California+94105&gl=us&t=m&z=16
[wikipedia]: “Wikipedia”

Automattic outro

[The company I work for][automattic] is distributed [around the world][map]. Automattic is the company behind WordPress so we keep in track of each other using a hundred different internal blogs known as “[the P2s][p2].” Since we might not see each other for over a year, someone (probably [Sara][sara rosso]) got the crazy idea of that new employees should record a video introducing ourselves to the rest of the company. Later, around my birthday, some of the old hands also belatedly created and posted videos to the P2s.

I secretly recorded one.

Since I am leaving Automattic, it made sense that I had better posted it before I leave.

By the way, Automattic is a great company, [you should work there][work at automattic]. As Marie said to me once, “It’s like a big company picnic…[with BBQ][matt bbq].”

[automattic]: “Automattic”
[map]: “About Us—Automattic”
[Automatticians]: “About Us—Automattic”
[Lloyd Dewolf]: “A Fool’s Wisdom: A Fool and his wisdom are soon parted”
[office porn]: “Office Porn”
[p2]: “P2 WordPress Theme, like twitter”
[sara rosso]: “Sarra Rosso: Technology, Communication, Photography, Food & Travel”
[work at automattic]: “Work With Us—Automattic”
[sopa blackout]: “Wikipedia, other websites back after anti-piracy bill protest—CNN”
[wordpress]: “WordPress: Blog tool, Publishing Platform, & CMS”
[Wikimedia]: “Wikimedia Foundation”
[matt bbq]:

What follows is a slightly modified version of my Automattic farewell.

Continue reading my farewell after the jump→

Nikon D7000 availability

> When will the d7000 be availible in stores again cant find one anywhere?

The Nikon D7000 is produced in the superfactory in Thailand. This means that production was halted because of the flood in Thailand last year. The supply channel has emptied out during the holidays. Production should be back online this month and you’ll find availability you should find the stores will all have availability by March at the latest.

Try to get onto a waiting list at your local camera store. Due to the way Nikon is regulating prices, other than sales tax, the price should be the same as online. It will be much lower than trying to purchase on eBay today.

Will my D40 lenses fit the D5100 or D7000

More fun on NikonUSA

> Will my D40 lenses fit the D5100 or D7000?
> Subject says it all–will my D40 lenses fit the D5100 or D7000? And how, in general, can one tell which lenses will fit which cameras?

The short answer is: Yes, all lenses that “fit” your D40 will fit the D5100 D7000 and later Nikon dSLRs with an F-mount (that’s currently all Nikons dSLRs).

The only Nikon F mount lenses that will not fit on these cameras are some that were designed to operate with the mirror up and had different box dimensions. These mounts would crash the reflex mirror. Fortunately there are very few of these lenses around and most are collectors items so you won’t run into it. A quick google will warn you if this is the case.

But what you are really asking is do they mount and work the same? The answer is still: Yes, but with one exception. Nikon lenses with a “G” designation but not an “AF-S” one will not auto-focus on the D5100 or D7000, but will on the D40. Fortunately, there are very few lenses that qualify for that, and those that do are low-end lenses that have since been replaced by better/cheaper models—the only time you have to worry is when someone is trying to pawn off a dud second-hand.

Note that any old AF lenses you purchase for the D40 will now auto-focus on the D7000. Whereas before they didn’t at all because the latter has an in-body motor while the former does not. You do lose matrix metering capability vs. the D40, but most people will take AF over the matrix meter.

As for understanding the smorgasbord of compatibility, [Nikonians has a friendly chart]( (There may be a slight error. I don’t believe the D5100 has an AF motor in it.)

Another thing to note is that where the Nikonians chart has a big “No!” for pre-AI lenses, you can use a [John White’s conversion service]( to “upgrade” the pre-1977 lenses to an AI lens so that the aperture functions correctly when the shutter is pressed. (These lenses, with the exception mentioned above will mount, but they the aperture controls won’t be automatic.)

This is one of the strengths and pitfalls of the Nikon system. Nikon has decided to ensure mount compatibility for the F mount since its inception (it predates Pentax and Canon). But advances in technology need to be incorporated into the lenses also. Other companies either break backward compatibility across the line or are slow to implement new features to ensure body/lens compatibility at the right price. Nikon splits this difference with deciding how much of the old lens suite to build in the camera based on the price point/budget and usage scenario (size/weight) of its typical shooters.

Monitor cover for Nikon D5000/D5100?

Sometimes I get bored and answer questions on the Nikon USA forum:

> Is there a monitor cover which will work with the D5100? I am thinking of a cover similar to the BM-8 that came with my D70.

The 5100 has a flip out LCD, so there is no need for a monitor cover. Instead, just flip out the LCD, rotate it, and flip it back in.

There are third party sites that make “[screen protectors][google screen protector]” which are thin films designed to protect the LCD from scratching. I don’t know how effective or useful they are since the glass or plastic used to protect the Nikon LCDs has improved over the years and quality varies from model-to-model. Plus, it is simply not very likely that a dSLR camera LCD will get scratched—dSLRs just aren’t often found in your pocket along with your keys a la iPhone ;-)

For instance, my Nikon D3 with a glass screen and no plastic protector doesn’t have a scratch even though I’m and outdoor shooter and have tens of thousands of shutter clicks. Similarly, my GF’s Nikon D5000 doesn’t have a scratch because it is easy to rotate the display to a safe position for storage and transportation.

BTW, avoid most “anti-glare” thin film protectors unless you are sure you know what you are doing. They work by frosting the film to scatter the reflection. However the material used in the frosting may be too close to the size of the pixels in the high-density monitors of a camera LCD. When that happens you end up being able to see the individual red, green and blue pixels in the display making it annoying. :-)

[google screen protector]:

It's just a tool

Previously: [Part 1][programming1], [Part 2][programming2], [Part 3][programming3], and [Part 4][programming4].

I received an interesting question the other day from a recruiter:

> Would you be open to moving away from PHP?

My answer:

First, by analogy. I’m a photographer, most of the cameras I own are manufactured by Nikon. This is like asking if I’m open to using a Canon.

I happen to be very adept with using a Nikon. However, I don’t think [the photons bouncing around care much what logo sits on front of the camera][camera purchasing] they are in. I’d be a poor photographer if what I did was care about the brand of camera I carry instead of the picture I am taking.

PHP is designed to solve one problem: the web problem. It solves it very well—as evidenced by marketshare and its continuing durability. At nearly all other stuff, PHP happens to suck at.

However it (the web problem) [isn’t that difficult] of a problem (having been solved repeatedly by languages such as Ruby, Python, C, C++, Java, Javascript, etc.). The real difficult parts are invariably outside the “web problem.” (Example: Twitter’s web problem was solved in Ruby using Rails, but their real problems were not web problems and of those problems, the most prominent was solved in Scala.)

I happen to be very adept at PHP. That pretty much means knowing that there is a better tool than to use PHP to solve the problem at hand at hand, and using that instead of PHP: MySQL, Apache, memcached, MongoDB, CouchDB, Scala, Erlang, Puppet, CruiseControl, AWS, etc.—none of which, to my knowledge anyway, written in PHP.

I’d be a poor programmer indeed if I thought that the problems I solved cared much the language I was adept in.

I’m not a poor programmer.

The Short answer: “Yes. Depends on the problem and the existing environment.”

(Recruiter was amused by my answer because he was owns a Canon. I suggested we “get on either side of the street and start making threatening dance moves at each other like [the Jets and the Sharks][west side story].”)

Another question I got:

> Which do you think is better [some programming language] or [another programming language]?

My answer:

They’re just tools. That’s like asking a handyman which they think is better: a hammer or a screwdriver.

(That elicited a laugh.)

Using a programming language is simply [a choice][making choices]. There are many things that go into making a correct choice that are far beyond what language one prefers for a problem that happens to be not that hard to solve in the first place.

[programming1]: “Learning Programming Part 1: 5 million”
[programming2]: “Learning Programming Part 2: Programming Frameworks”
[programming3]: “Learning Programming Part 3: C/C++ superiority”
[programming4]: “Learning Programming Part 4: “Programming is Hard””
[camera purchasing]: “Camera purchasing advice”
: “Is Ruby the dog and PHP the dogfood?”
[making choices]: “Simple prescriptions and making choices”
[west side story]: “West Side Story—Wikipedia”

Scrivener Ninja

I recommend [Scrivener][] as **the** application for doing long-form writing. But since I’m no longer in academia and I don’t write creatively, I don’t often use the program—unless my blog articles run away from me. (Besides, my [vim][macvim] keybinding addiction is enabled by [QuickCursor][]). Even when I do, it is pretty much limited to its [MultiMarkdown][] export to HTML for notetaking.

The other day, I noticed they added a tutorial document to the application itself. I decided to go through it.

Scrivener Tutorial
This screenshot shows both normal and “smart” collections, split screens with audio dictation handling, custom templates with custom icons, and that I love my boo :-)

Very cool. I learned a lot that I didn’t get (not) slogging through the complete(ly boring) user manual.

Now if only if I can figure out some reason to actually use the program… :-D

[Scrivener]: “Scrivener—Literature and Latte”
[QuickCursor]: “QuickCursor: Your Text Editor Anywhere for Mac—Hog Bay Software”
[MultiMarkdown]: “MultiMarkdown”
[macvim]: “macvim: vim for the Mac”


Last year, I decided to do a fun project with me and 25 of my closest friends called PhotoAdvent. It was a shameless copy of PHPAdvent, but wherever you see “PHP” you replace it with “Photo” — I even swiped (with permission) their theme from the previous year (delta writing it by hand because apparently they don’t use WordPress to do PHPAdvent and I have to support the mothership.)

In any case, this year I contributed an article. Let me tell you it was work convincing the curators at PHPAdvent to accept my submission. But after an intense lobbying campaign with the other two editors, we finally posted it.

PETS: Reflections of the Internal | PhotoAdvent
Four out of five Scrooges agree, this is worth reading.

So read it or die! And when you are done, you better tweet it or share it on Facebook, or I will get Gibson to CUT YOU! (No, I do not declaw my kittehs.)

Oh yeah…Happy Holidays!

Take your best "Take"

The folks at [Popular Photography][popphoto] recently published an introductory book, [Take Your Best Shot][tybs]. Since I like introductory works, and I wanted to test what a photography books look like in digital form, I purchased it on my iPad through Apple’s iBooks.

By tip 5, I was confronted with a familiar scene:

Excerpt from "Take Your Best Shot"

I lived in SOMA for a couple years. In fact, I’ve photographed this same scene before (on an SD card that got corrupted), so I made a mental note that next time I was there with a camera, to have another (and my own) take on this “take”. Because [I was visiting Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to see my cousin and her son][ybca post], I had a camera with me, though not the right lens or equipment. That never stopped me.

SFMOMA from the terrace
SFMOMA from the terrace
Yerba Buena Gardens South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G
9 exposures @ ƒ9, ISO200, 24mm

Handheld, and in a rush to catch up to my nephew, I set my aperture to something non-diffractive and eyeballed the hyperfocal distance with my autofocus and held down the shutter for a bracketed exposure.

Even though I’d have much preferred a wider-angle lens, and the most-level bracket had to be chucked due to ghosting, you’ll notice from my take on the “take” shows I much prefer portrait-oriented landscapes. I find [foreground interest][symmetrical comp] contains details often lost in landscape-mode. It also forces the eye to follow much more rigidly down a path toward the background creating a more dramatic image (which I encouraged with post-processing).

(An added benefit: landscape is the way your eyes sees the world, flipping your camera to portrait-orientation forces you (and the viewer) to see the world differently.)

Next time you are out-and-about with a camera and see a familiar scene. Try to copy what someone else did, then have your own take on their take. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

(BTW, I have an iPad subscription to Popular Photography Magazine through Zinio. Always have a subscription to one magazine on photography, just to inspire you.)

[tybs]: “Purchase Take Your Best Shot on Amazon”
[popphoto]: “Popular Photography Magazine”
[ybca post]: “Her phone has more levels”
[symmetrical comp]: “Symmetrical compositions”

Notes from Checklist Manifesto

In Montreal this summer, while making idle conversation, [Paul][paul reinheimer] asked me if I had read anything interesting. Here was my answer…

Five years ago, I met [D. Richard Hipp][richard hipp] because my friends were thinking of bundling a database he wrote into PHP. Since that time, besides being in the PHP core and thus about 40% of the web servers on the planet, [SQLite][sqlite] is in every smartphone, in software such as Firefox, platforms such as Adobe AIR, and operating systems such as Apple Mac OS X. It is used by Oracle and Bloomberg.

I was curious how the unassuming man I met took the new-found fame of his pet software project. This is why, despite my hatred for all things database—they’re boring and talks about them are probably what it feels like to sit through a course on actuarial accounting—I popped into [his talk at OSCON][oscon talk].

I was glad I did. It was about, of all things, [checklists][checklist new yorker].

[paul reinheimer]: “<?paul”
[richard hipp]: “Home Page for D. Richard Hipp”
[sqlite]: “SQLite”
[oscon talk]: “Saving Time and Improving Software Quality Using Checklists—OSCON 2011″
[checklist new yorker]: “The Checklist—Atul Gawande @ New Yorker”
[checklist manifesto]: “THe Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right”

My brother and father are much more responsible than my mom and me. One things that separates them from us was in their methodical use of checklists. Watching his talk reminded me how important they are, how they can be used for so much more than I considered, and how thankful I was that I finally made a packing checklist before going to Portland (and Montreal). :-)

[Read the article][checklist new yorker], and, if that interests you, [buy the book][checklist manifesto].

With a little imagination, a checklist will change your life. Continue reading my notes from the book after the jump→