Saturday, 17 March 2012

Unpacking a Sony Nex5n

New Camera
I bought a new camera today, the Sony Nex5n. It was the model I'd set my sights on when I left the house this morning, so I did pretty well to avoid being put off the scent by not-quite-scrupulous salesmen. To be fair, every one of the salesmen I spoke to said it's a great camera - one let me "handle" (his word) his personal one because the shop had sold out. He told me he'd swapped his DSLR for this model because of its capabalities so I was impressed.

I haven't actually taken any pictures with it yet, the battery's still charging. In anticipation, I took some pics of the unpacking and thought I'd share my initial thoughts.

The Fun Stuff In The Box
Clockwise from top left we have:
  • Flash unit. Although a built-in pop-up flash would be more practical, this peripheral unit is pretty neat. It comes in its own plastic case which can be attached securely to the strap, so it's always there when you need it.
  • The camera. It comes with a 18-55 zoom lens so looks a little top-heavy given the camera's dimensions.
  • Petal lens hood.
  • USB cable.
  • Strap.
  • Power cable.
  • Battery charger.
  • Battery.
The Camera
Nice shape for the hand
None of the 70s retro-look - this body is a magnesium alloy
Like the brushed metal lens
Touch screen on the back for setting up a shot. Already has fingerprints, may need a protective cover 
The screen flips up. And down (imagine that one, no picture) 
With the flash unit on. It slots into the port on top of the body and screws in. Down = disabled 
Up = enabled
18-55 lens at full stretch
Can't wait to get snapping with this and see what it does. Let's hope it's not raining too much tomorrow.

Photos of the Sony were taken with a Lumix DFC-FS10, also a fantastic camera.

howto: Ignore directories in Git on Windows

I recently created a local Git repository (see Steve Fenton's step-by-step guide) for a hobby project - it needs some rehactoring (sic) so I want a reliable fallback position. After I'd committed the source files I wanted to track, I was left with a lot of chaff:

I tried all the obvious tricks, in the obvious order: select the files, hit delete; select the files, right click, hunt for "exclude"; check each menu item; Google it; search StackOverflow; search the GitHub help. Nothing that said "This is how you exclude chaff files". So...

This is how you exclude chaff files

  • Create a file called ".gitignore" in your repository directory. This is incredibly easy in Windows, despite the "extension only" Unix style: Open Notepad, click Save As, navigate to your repository directory (not in the .git directory, but at the same level) and save the file as ".gitignore".
  • Edit the file to include the names or patterns of the files or directories you want Git to ignore. As an example, I used this list
  • Rescan the repository in the GitGui - this should now look much cleaner

  • Add .gitignore to the repository; stage, sign-off, commit etc
That's it, it's too easy!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Rent-a-Kindle Business Idea

I know someone who loves books, not just reading them but the physical books themselves. She has been toying with the idea of getting an eBook reader and has got as far as deciding on the model she would get. Given the effort that others have put into comparing the front runners, she'd go for a Kindle.

The stumbling block for her is the love of a book; the feel of a book in your hands, the smell of an old book, the walking round bookshops touching stuff. I'm not judging; I feel the same towards books but most of my reading these days is technical books and there's no self-respecting bookshop in the world that's going to stock this any more.

She's not the only person I know who's hung up on holding a book. I think there's a gap in the market for Kindle hire. Let someone who is not sure about them see the benefit, maybe take it on holiday for a week or two. I know Amazon lets students rent electronic text books for a term, so they could let you rent a novel for a week along with the hardware to read it on - a bit like letting a potential car buyer take it for a spin over a weekend. It would be a great way of opening up into the "not sure if I'd like it" market, because I've never met someone who's bought a Kindle and regrets it. That's my pitch finished, thank you.