December 2022

Back to scanning film with a real scanner

Epson V750 film scanner on my desk
Epson V750 film scanner on my desk

I tried, I really did. The Wise Old Internet guided me into changing my film scanning process from a dedicated flatbed scanner to using a mirrorless digital camera setup. I did everything right. I bought good equipment and the right software.

I hated it.

To scan using my flatbed, I load the negatives, hit “Prescan”, confirm that things look ok and press “Scan”. I go do something else for a while and come back to a folder full of JPGs. I edit the files by adjusting contrast and cropping as needed in Lightroom or whatever and I’m done.

What the internet told me was that I needed a mirrorless digital camera, a quality Macro lens capable of 1:1 magnification, a copy stand, a bright, even light source, film holders/transports for every size negative I plan to scan, and Negative Lab Pro (which requires the use of Lightroom Classic).

To scan negatives using a digital camera, I first have to mount the camera, level it correctly, set up the appropriate negative mount. Then I make sure it’s focused properly, and adjust camera settings as needed. Then for each frame, I advance the film, trip the shutter, advance, and repeat 36 times. Then I must import the raw scans into Lightroom, load the NLP plugin, convert all of them, then adjust them using NLP. Finally, I have to export positive TIFF or JPG copies from NLP. I just don’t see how this is easier. No one agrees with me, but the old way is better.

35mm film holder for for Epson scaner
35mm film holder for for Epson scaner

What about scan quality? That depends upon a hundred variables. Honestly, I can probably squeeze a tiny bit of quality/resolution from the digital camera scans, but the effort getting there isn’t worth it. My flatbed 35mm scans are fine, although if you read anything online you won’t believe me. “Flatbed scans are shit!” is the usual trope. OK, but they look good to me, thanks.

Also, the grain from dedicated scanners looks better. And if I’m shooting color, there’s no match for digital ICE.

I tried the new way, but I prefer my old-fashioned scanning system.

Ulysses for posting to WordPress?

Ulysses is a nice app, but it’s been a while since I’ve used it regularly. We never really clicked. There’s something about the editor and its variation of Markdown that felt off, somehow. What I’ve wished for was iA Writer’s editor attached to Ulysses’ library.

I enjoy checking it new features in Ulysses when updates are released. My license is part of the SetApp subscription so there’s no cost for keeping Ulysses around.

One of the things bringing me back to Ulysses today is the new Projects features. It’s like “hoisting” in a decent outliner. Or narrowing a buffer in Emacs. I like the focus it promises.

But the reason I’m typing this in Ulysses today is that I kind of hate writing in the WordPress editor. Gutenberg has come a long way, and is very powerful, but it’s still annoying for actually writing. If I want to drop in and resize an image or include a quote with citation, Gutenberg is great. If I simply want to lay down some text, it sucks. Whatever nits I have to pick with Ulysses’ editor are meaningless compared to the annoyances I have with WordPress. So here we are.

Other than the editor, I’m still happy with my recent switch to WordPress. If I can find a pleasant way to write for WordPress, I may stick with it.

Matt Mullenweg on giant header images

Can we all agree that giant per-post image headers look terrible on most blogs? It’s been a curse of default WP themes past few years, too. We need it to be easier to have posts without image headers and even without titles.

Matt Mullenweg, Twitter

Yes, we can all agree.

Many of the responses in that thread argue that posts need giant images for SEO. Possibly, but the theme could, like mine does, allow for featured images but doesn’t display them. That way the image is in the metadata for SEO, but doesn’t force me to scroll past 500KB of unnecessary, unrelated image data to read a 200-word post. Go Matt!

And building WordPress to be less dependent upon post titles would be a great thing. Let us reel in our social graphs if we want to. And just like with images, the theme could simply hide the image from the viewer, but include them in the OpenGraph data. Everyone wins!

Khoi Vinh’s movie reviews

Khoi Vinh is Principal Designer at Adobe. He’s done great work at more than a few high-profile companies. I’ve been reading his blog for as long as I can remember.

I always look forward to his “Movies Watched…” posts. He summarizes movies he’s seen recently and gives a one or two line summary along with a star rating and link to a (usually) longer review on Letterboxd.

I look forward to the reviews because I disagree with so many of them. My goodness, he has the worst taste in movies. Not always, but often enough that I can’t wait to yell at the screen every time a new post hits my reader.

I think what I disagree with isn’t always whether the films are good or bad, but that he seems to think he’s smarter than everyone making the movies he doesn’t like. Maybe he is, but there’s a smug undercurrent that infuriates me. I love it!

Examples from Movies Watched, April 2022, with bits of smug superiority highlighted:

“Drive My Car” (2021) ★★½
Is Haruki Murakami really that good of a storyteller, or are we all just deluding ourselves? This movie really made me wonder.

“Drive My Car” gets 2.5 stars hahaha I get it you’re smart and a contrarian. How dare you question Murakami.

“The Great Beauty” (2013) ★★★½
A somewhat preposterous protagonist makes for a movie that is shallower than it thinks. Still, Paolo Sorrentino’s incredibly vivid direction turns it into something exactly as rapturous as his aspirations.

I enjoyed “The Great Beauty,” too. It would have been better if it weren’t so damned shallow, I guess.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022) ★★½
Rewatched. I went back because my wife wanted to see it, and I liked and understood it a little better, but it still fell short for me.

Of course it fell short, because you’re way ahead of it (and everyone else, probably?)

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” (2022) ★★★
A fun enough ride but way more self-congratulatory than substantive.

Nic Cage playing Nic Cage is self-congratulatory? No shit. It would have sucked had it gone for “substantive”.

I’m just poking fun. No harm intended. Believe it or not, I very much enjoy Khoi’s reviews. Keep ’em coming!

At least he’s right about Dune.

What’s their business model? Huh!?

Do you know what I don’t need? I don’t need a feed full of people assuming they know the intentions of others all the time. If one more neckbeard says “…but Business Model!?” I’m going to crack.

There, now that that’s off my chest…

Continue reading…

Say vs. Share

I’ve maintained a “daily notes” blog in one form or another for years. The current iteration is at baty.blog and is managed using Tinderbox. It’s like an online journal. It’s a pleasure to write in, and for me, a pleasure to read.

But sometimes I wonder whether I need a second blog for short, “micro” posts. I could instead put them here at baty.net, but I’ve never been able to wrangle WordPress into doing that properly. Or perhaps they could go on the wonderful micro.blog, Tumblr, or even Mastodon.

A few days ago I decided to try using a self-hosted Mastodon (actually GoToSocial) instance for short, frequent daily posts. That’s what it’s for, right? I installed GoToSocial on one of my servers and began posting. I immediately didn’t like it. The feed on my one-person instance is mostly empty but feels like it shouldn’t be. It’s hard to explain, but it felt wrong somehow. It felt like a social network comprised of one individual. Also, it looks horrible.

What about my usual Mastodon account at fosstodon.org? Why not post there? The timeline is busy and I don’t even have to bother maintaining anything. Fosstodon doesn’t work because it’s not mine. I want the sort of stuff I’m writing on my daily blog to be entirely under my control.

All of this reminded me that there’s a difference between the things I want to say and the things I want to share. There’s a lot of overlap, but the distinction is important. There are things I want to say out loud, but not necessarily to a room full of people. I don’t mind if someone reads them, but I don’t want to force them into anyone’s social feeds. If someone wants to read them via RSS, of course, that’s cool. I prefer that most of what I post be read via pull rather than push, if you know what I mean.

So I guess for now I’ll continue to post the things I want to say, to baty.blog. The things I want to share will go to Mastodon. Some will go both places. I hope that’s OK.

It’s a blog about nothing…

I just wanted to say that I love having a blog. I love having a place to write where I don’t have to be precise, polished, or even complete. I don’t have to stay in my lane. I can write about whatever I’m thinking about, in whatever way I choose. It doesn’t matter what that is.

I hope people are able to find a little value in it, but it’s OK if they don’t.

DEVONthink or EagleFiler (or Finder?)

One of the many things I waffle about is the choice of software for managing my many PDFs and other files. I often wish I could just keep everything in organized folders and use my Mac’s Finder to manage it all. That sounds great on paper, but never sticks.

I’ve used DEVONthink for years because it is so mature and powerful. I continue to find new features or techniques even after all this time. It does everything!

EagleFiler comes into play when I’m feeling overwhelmed by DEVONthink. EagleFiler is much closer to the metal, so to speak. It’s basically a thin, smart layer over a set of folders. Everything is accessible “natively” and its capture and organizational features are simple and useful.

But after using EagleFiler for a while, I start to wonder why I’m not just doing everything in Finder. I mean, if we’re going to mess about with files in the filesystem, why not just do that then? What was EagleFiler offering me, again?

After a short time, I end up back with nicely organized files and folders and it’s such a relief not needing to deal with databases or any of that nonsense!

Except it’s harder to get things into the right place using just Finder. It requires me to, for example, save a PDF to my Desktop then find and open the destination folder, then drag it on in. This makes quickly capturing stuff cumbersome. Search is fine, but harder to use than in the other apps. And I miss the way DEVONthink would intelligently sort and rename files for me. So always return to using DEVONthink, until I end up back at the beginning.

Where are we today, then? Today, it’s DEVONthink. My feeling right now is that if I’m going to abstract myself away from the actual files, I may as well use the tool with the coolest, fanciest ways to do that.

However, I can feel the pull of a simple set of folders and files. I am thinking about ways of making 2023 the Year Of Less Software, so stay tuned. 🙂

It was meant to be a workbench but has become a writing desk

My “workbench”

I put together a workbench in the basement after moving into my wife’s house. It has all the things I might need for minor repairs or electronics projects. You know, in case I ever feel the urge to fix or build something.

I often imagine myself as someone handy with tools. Someone who is not just creative, but can actually implement his ideas. Or someone who can repair things. It’s fun to imagine myself as that person, but I am not that person.

Since the “maker” urge hasn’t arrived, instead of using my workbench as a workbench, I’ve been using it as a standup writing desk. I have my notebooks and paper-related doodads within reach on a shelf to my left. My pens and stamps and pencil sharpener are on another shelf in front of me. It’s working out well, so I don’t mind that it isn’t used for what I intended.