• "RACER is an analogue recreation of a coputer racing game in the style of the classic WipeOut. It consists of a modified vintage arcade machine, a RC model car with a wireless camera, an a self-constructed racetrack/game level made entirely from cardboard." Brilliant.
  • "It fools the government into thinking Local Development Agencies (LDAs) attract young creative people in “the regions”, and it fails to support the local young talent who probably prefer hanging out with their laptop in a place with perfect coffee. After all that’s how the Royal Society was created… I’ve been up and down the UK and those innovation spaces have the worst coffee in the universe. Just saying."
  • "Herzog Zwei was a lot of fun, but I have to say the other inspiration for Dune II was the Mac software interface. The whole design/interface dynamics of mouse clicking and selecting desktop items got me thinking, ‘Why not allow the same inside the game environment? Why not a context-sensitive playfield? To hell with all these hot keys, to hell with keyboard as the primary means of manipulating the game!" Brett Sperry, of Westwood, on the making of Dune II. Via Offworld.
  • "Changing the Game (order via Amazon or B&N) is a fast-paced tour of the many ways in which games, already an influential part of millions of people’s lives, have become a profoundly important part of the business world. From connecting with customers, to attracting and training employees, to developing new products and spurring innovation, games have introduced a new level of fun and engagement to the workplace.

    Changing the Game introduces you to the ways in which games are being used to enhance productivity at Microsoft, increase profits at Burger King, and raise employee loyalty at Sun Microsystems, among other remarkable examples. It is proof that work not only can be fun–it should be." I shall have to check this out.

  • "As a result, vendors here are more likely to decline to sell you something than to cough up any of their increasingly precious coins in change. I've tried to buy a 2-peso candy bar with a 5-peso note only to be refused, suggesting that the 2-peso sale is worth less to the vendor than the 1-peso coin he would be forced to give me in change." They're running out of coins in Argentina, and it makes for a seriously odd situation – and a reminder of the differences between value and worth.
  • "The artist Keith Tyson is offering 5,000 Guardian readers the opportunity to own a free downloadable artwork by him. The costs you'll have to bear are those of printing out the work on A3 photographic paper – and framing, if you so choose… You will be asked to enter your geographical location – which forms part of the unique title of each print."
  • "The media would have us believe that those with the best ability in Parkour require and condition to bodies of hypermasculine levels, and the first notions of this concept seem quite logical. However, it is known to any traceur that the spectacle of the masculinized body is not in necessary relation to one’s ability of movement. Mass media tries to paint another picture with a careful selection of handsome, muscular men as traceurs… At its simplest, the hypermasculine spectacle is an easier sell to masses. However, our problem does not end at the body. It is not only the body that is masculinized, though, as we see the same pattern occurring to the discipline itself." Interesting article on Parkour and gender; specifically, the hyper-masculinisation of the art by the media.
  • "Over three years ago I set a goal for myself. That goal was to have a max level character for every class in the game… Tonight, at long last, I’ve finally achieved my goal." Blimey.

Swings and readouts

07 November 2007

My colleague Lars has just bought an Epson R-D1. If you’re not aware of it, it’s a digital rangefinder (roughly modelled on a Voigtlander) that takes Leica M Bayonet lenses, is hard to find, and noticeable cheaper than a Leica M8.

Epson R-D1

It’s obviously a niche camera: M lenses aren’t common nor cheap, the rangefinder is hardly a mass-market camera paradigm these days, and it’s largely manual – aperture priority, manual focus.

One thing that really caught my eye – and that I initially dismissed as ersatz Japanese retro-fetishery – was the readout on the top. Which looks like this:

To explain: the largest hand, pointing straight up, indicates how many exposures are left on the current memory card. As you can see, the scale is logarithmic – 500+ is the maximum, and as it counts down, the number of remaining exposures is measured more accurately.

The E-F gauge at the bottom measures not fuel, but battery power.

The left-hand gauge indicates white balance – either auto or one of several presets.

Finally, the right-hand dial represents the image quality: Raw, High, or Normal.

Once you know what it means, it’s a wonderfully clear interface: your eye can scan it very quickly. It’s also hypnotic watching it update. To alter the image quality, for instance, you hold the image quality lever with your right hand and move the selection knob (positioned where the film-rewind would be on a Leica) with your left. As the quality alters (and the rightmost needle flicks to the appropriate setting), the exposures-remaining needle swings around to reflect the new maximum number of pictures.

You can’t always see the benefits of analogue readouts in still photographs; this one is a case in point. Once it starts moving – and you start having a reason to check that readout – their clarity becomes immediately obvious.

So whilst I may have thought this kitsch to start with… it turns out to be one of my favourite features on the camera.

(As for that manual “film advance” lever… I’ll write about that in another post. It’s something I found similarly kitschy to begin with, but understood in the end.)