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Portrait (cc) Joi Ito.

Jeremy Clarke is a human web developer from Montreal. He loves his job building Global Voices and participating in open-source software like WordPress.

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Say “Romantic Companion” instead of Boyfriend or Girlfriend

Posted by jeremyclarke on January 31, 2016 · Politics

TL;DR: Avoid the words “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” because they are inherently gendered and exclude many people’s reality. “Romantic Companion” is a good alternative that works across gender and relationship types. 

In love - Dublin, Ireland - Black and white street photography

Since I got hints of gender theory at university it’s bothered me that there are no great gender-neutral words to describe casual or semi-committed relationships. I wanted to quickly describe my “girlfriend” in relation to myself without referring to her gender or whether I was queer (I like to keep people on their toes).

A relationship matrix based on “partner”

I love the word “partner”, and the social connotations that it has built up, but feel like there are times when it’s an overstatement to call someone you are dating a “partner”. It diminishes the impact of partner, which I’d rather reserve for deeply committed long-term relationships more closely equivalent to “spouse”. I want a word like partner, but for describing what we usually call girlfriend/boyfriend.

I tried a few versions on different people, all of whom of course didn’t know the expression but could sometimes guess my intentions. It would have been cool if it had “friend” it in (*friend), but all of the options ended up confusing, like “special friend” or “romantic friend”.

In the end I found that “romantic” was the most general concept that distinguishes “girl/boyfriend” from “friend”. It encapsulates sexuality, but also the emotional component of attraction. Maybe most importantly, romantic partner makes clear and unambiguous sense to people.

The following hierarchy resulted, with “romantic companion” holding the boyfriend/girlfriend slot.

  • Romantic Associate
  • Romantic Companion
  • Romantic Partner

Couple in Honolulu Rain

Suitable for everyone!

An important goal was to avoid stereotyping or confining anyone with the language used, and I think these words are successful with various types of people and relationships.

Queer people: SAFE

Since the words are gender neutral there’s no real difference between straight, queer, bi or pan-sexual relationships. If you are involved with someone romantically then just pick a level of commitment that describes you.

Trans people: SAFE

Gender goes unmentioned in this system. Anyone can be your companion and the ways you do or don’t have sex isn’t part of the definition.

Polyamory/Relationship Anarchy: SAFE

Compared to boyfriend and girlfriend, romantic companion doesn’t come with nearly as much baggage, and the words certainly don’t specify exclusivity. You could have one romantic companion and several associates, or many people who are all associates/companions/partners.

The words are generic, and the important thing is agreeing with each person what your relationship means and being able to simply communicate that with others.

Wuthering Heights

Romantic?

The main idea is that in a business context we say “partner” but are really referring to “business partner”, so the question I asked is: What kind of partner are we referring to when we use it to mean spouse?

To me “romantic partner” is a good equivalent to “business partner”, and encapsulates a lot of the important aspects of a “loving” (too vague) or “monogamous” (too specific) relationship. What makes them not just a friend is the emotional and usually sexual attraction felt between you,  whether it’s casual or serious.

Romantic Companion

Again the key element is that people understand what you mean, so you have less explaining to do when describing your relationships. I think people will understand “romantic partner” and “romantic companion”, even if they’ve never heard them before, and get a similar sense as “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”, but without needing to know the genders involved.

Silhouette

Associate -> Companion -> Partner

Here’s how I would use them:

  • Dating, hooking up: Romantic Associate
  • Going steady, boy/girlfriend: Romantic Companion
  • Committed, married: Romantic Partner

In pretty much all of them, you could replace Romantic with Sexual if it describes the relationship better.

Associate is the best “partner” analogue I can think of for new or uncommitted relationships. There is a relationship by definition, but its nature is in flux, and you haven’t necessarily spent a ton of time together.

Companion I like because it implies a close friendship and mutual support, which to me are the core of meaningful long-term relationships. You are companions because you spend your life together, go places together and help each other. You are romantic companions because the basis for all that is love and attraction.

Partner is someone who you not only share your life with, but who you share everything with. Wealth, poverty, health, sickness, when your partner has it you have it, and you want it that way. You may be married, or not, live together or not, have sex or not, but you are dedicated to each other on an indefinite timeline.

 

 

Previewing Local/Dev RSS Feeds on Mac OSX

Posted by jeremyclarke on January 27, 2016 · WordPress

This post is filed under “I had an obvious need, I searched for it and found nothing, so here comes a blog post for the next searcher.” If you don’t do local web development or don’t know what that means, please watch this video instead, I promise it’s worth your three minutes and sex seconds.

TL;DR: You can preview local RSS feeds on OSX using ViennaRSS, a simple free app.

The problem: Previewing RSS output from a local development site

Developing locally: I run MAMP as my local server on my Mac to work on WordPress sites. As most developers know, this makes it easy to quickly edit the many PHP/HTML/CSS/JS scripts that make up the site using whatever tools I want, and importantly avoids my edits affecting the production server where my actual sites live. It’s easy to view local sites in any browser using generic URLs like https://localhost/ (most cases) or custom ones like https://dev.gv (which I set up for developing Global Voices).

Modern RSS services can’t fetch local URLs: What’s not easy is previewing the experience of reading your RSS feed, because the way most RSS services work these days makes it impossible. Generally speaking RSS readers function based on services which fetch the RSS for you, then serve you the results. These services can’t see your local feeds  because their servers have no way of accessing your localhost (nor would you want them to).

Why do I want to preview RSS? Whenever I add special formatting into the posts we use on Global Voices (things like expandable boxes, translation quotes, pull-quotes, user lists) I try to ensure that they look good in RSS as well as the homepage, which is not easy considering you lose access to all the JS and CSS the special content normally relies on. This can be a very tricky process, and being able to see the output rendered normally is really valuable (in addition to looking at the raw XML/RSS in Chrome which just shows you the code).

Old fashioned RSS was better at this: In the past RSS readers were much less efficient but also way more simple: You gave them a URL of an RSS feed and they fetched the content. The irony is that in improving the efficiency, reliability and performance of RSS, these newer services accidentally killed our ability to test and preview the content we’re putting out.

My Solution: Use “ViennaRSS” for OSX to Subscribe to your Feed

vienna_logoThere is nothing amazing or revolutionary about this solution, I just wanted to share the outcome of my search. After a few wrong turns and failed attempts, I found ViennaRSS, a straightforward, old-fashioned RSS reader that has been updated enough to work on modern OSX.

In Vienna I was able to add a new feed, give it my local URL (https://dev.gv/feed/) and view the posts to see how they looked.

It doesn’t have any inspect/dev tools to speak of, so don’t expect it to solve all your development problems (view the raw RSS in Chrome to see the HTML), but you can see what most users are likely to see and avoid any major blunders with your new code before it has any effect on your actual RSS readers.

Tips and Troubleshooting

Ticking the Mark updated articles as new setting in Vienna's preferences might make it update more consistently.

Ticking the Mark updated articles as new setting in Vienna’s preferences might make it update more consistently.

  • Remember to disable any caching on your local site, as it will likely serve out-of-date versions of your RSS to Vienna.
  • You can refresh your feed (after making changes to your PHP) by right-clicking your feed in the Vienna sidebar and choosing “Refresh”.
  • “Mark updated articles as new” is an option in Vienna’s Preferences menu that seems to help it refresh more effectively. If the “Refresh” tool doesn’t update the post with your changes, try enabling this setting first.
  • Another way to “force” the refresh of a post is to re-save it in your CMS. I found that Vienna will keep showing me the same version of a WordPress post regardless of refreshing, but re-saving the post, then refreshing Vienna showed me an up-to-date version of my RSS output.

Don’t forget to validate!

The W3 Feed Validator is an extremely useful tool for debugging production RSS issues (by giving it your feed URL), but it can also debug local feeds!  By using the Validate by Direct Input button you can copy your feed’s entire XML code from Chrome and paste it in.

It’s easy to break the “validity” of your RSS when you add things to it, so using the W3 validator is really valuable both for making sure your code is right and to debug any problems you might be having with Vienna or any other RSS reader that can’t handle your RSS.

An Ode to Walter, who was afraid of a lot of stuff in Pawnee, Indiana

Posted by jeremyclarke on October 16, 2015 · General

I finally started watching Parks and Recreation recently and it’s a wonderful show. The humor is goofy but also really subtle and honest. I love the many details they work into the shot or script that reward you for paying close attention.

One such detail is the brief but heartwarming appearance of a character named Walter (Walt) Koypond, played by Brendan Jennings, in Season 5 Episode 12.

A public meeting is taking place and “Walt” stands up to speak.

walt-koypond-par

Walt: I’m afraid this park will raise my taxes.

April: Ah, well, fear not! Between the normal parks budget and our corporate partners…

Walt: [interrupting] I’m also afraid the park will be noisy.

And full of spiders.

And dark at night time.

I’m scared of a lot of stuff. [pauses]

Everything is fine!

I’m fine.

I’m Walter and I’m fine.

He sits down slowly, giving up.

I love that no one replies to him because he’s already contradicted all his own complaints. His fears about the park collapsed in upon themselves and everything is fine.

walt-koypond-3-par

I love the comedy gag about “being afraid”. His first two complaints – “I’m afraid this park will raise taxes” and “I’m also afraid the park will be noisy” –  sound like things anyone might say. It’s only the absurdity of his other worries that imply – surprise! –  his previous statements were based on phobia rather than rational concerns.

I love the backstory this scene implies, of the phobia-riddled person who comes to city meetings to express their unusual fears, but is aware enough of themselves to know when their fears aren’t going to be taken seriously (“Dark at night time”).

walt-koypond-2-par

I like to think this character comes to many meetings with similar complaints, but no one notices they all start with “I’m afraid”. It’s heroic in a way, since it must have taken a lot of courage for him to speak his fears publicly.

Unfortunately there’s only one credit for “Walt Koypond” and/or Brendan Jennings on IMDB, so we’ll have to wait for the fanfiction to find out what else Walter has contributed to Pawnee government meetings.

I have no idea why he’s credited as “Walt” when he clearly states his name as “Walter”. It seems like something that would bother Walter a lot.

I think there’s an underlying joke and message to this scene, about how democracy is so often driven by fear, whether it’s rational or not. We need to check ourselves and ensure we aren’t making decisions only out of fear.

We can’t pretend that spiders and night time and noise and our taxes don’t exist, our denial just gives them power over us. We need to seize power over ourselves, remember that everything is okay, and reject all fear.

 

The time Yahweh tried to Kill Moses, but left him alone in the end.

Posted by jeremyclarke on October 5, 2015 · General

Exodus 4:24-26 (New Century Version):

24 As Moses was on his way to Egypt, he stopped at a resting place for the night. The Lord met him there and tried to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife and circumcised her son. Taking the skin, she touched Moses’ feet with it and said to him, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me.” 26 She said, “You are a bridegroom of blood,” because she had to circumcise her son. So the Lord let Moses alone.

A lot happens in these three verses from Exodus 4. Yahweh has just sent Moses to Egypt with his “walking stick of God“, his 3 new miracles and an existential threat for the Egyptians.

Out of nowhere, while Moses is resting for the night God shows up and tries to kill him. The following verses imply that God was angry at Moses for not circumcising his son, but it’s never mentioned before this. His wife Zipporah seems to know that God is killing Moses because their son is uncircumcised, and does impromptu surgery which seems to satisfy Yahweh who leaves them alone and doesn’t kill anyone in the end.

To me the emotional crux of this passage is Zipporah’s reaction, which implies that she had wanted to avoid circumcision for her son, and she’s mad at Moses for forcing her to do it. She calls him “bridegroom of blood” which was probably a sounded better in the original language.

There are a lot of scenes in Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy where Yahweh suddenly gets really angry and kills one or many of the Hebrews with little to no explanation or warning, but this is a rare one where he tries to kill the main character. It’s interesting how passages like this were maintained in the Bible despite making God look pretty terrible from just about any vantage point.

Here’s another analysis of this passage that I pretty much agree with (though the author is probably coming from a very different perspective than me).

I kind of wish this scene had made it into the movie.

Slides from my WordCamp Talk: Put A Map On It!

Posted by jeremyclarke on July 5, 2015 · design · GlobalVoices · WordPress

These are the slides for my talk at WordCamp Montreal 2015, about integrating maps and geolocation into your WordPress site with the Geo Mashup plugin. There should be video eventually and I’ll add it here :)

Full talk description

WordPress has built-in support for storing location information on posts, but no real way to make use of it. The Geo Mashup plugin enables deep, powerful geolocation in WordPress, letting you easily add geolocations (coordinates) to almost any content type. It also displays locations on maps you can embed in your theme, posts or widgets, with a dizzying array of options for what to show and how to display it.

This talk will start with the default geolocation system in WordPress and how Geo Mashup integrates with it. We’ll then cover the basics of setup and adding locations on posts, then the different map types and situations where you’d use them. We’ll finish with some dev considerations for displaying maps as elegantly as possible.

Experiences with the Fuji X-T1 in light of the X-T10’s imminent release

Posted by jeremyclarke on June 18, 2015 · General

As an enthusiast photographer I chose Fujifilm as my system about a year ago, buying the already out of date but affordable X-E1 camera ($800 with the 18-55mm kit lens). My plan was to upgrade to whatever came out as an update to the X-E2, which I already knew was missing features from the flagship (i.e. expensive) X-T1 that had been announced. Fuji is releasing a new camera, the X-T10, a cheaper but feature-compatible version of the X-T1 without weather sealing, missing the coveted ISO dial and with a smaller EVF (electronic viewfinder). This article is my analysis of the most interesting features of the X-T1 that are new to me as an X-E1 user and the ways they do or don’t apply to the X-T10.

I’ll start with a spoiler alert: I’ve already pre-ordered an X-T10 and am psyched to get my hands on it, so I may be biased and my criticisms of the X-T1 may be sour grapes. That said, I had a really interesting time finally using an X-T1 for a project and I wanted to share my thoughts on what was good and bad about it, and what I’ll miss/won’t miss about it when my X-T10 arrives.

Context: The project was my first serious wedding, done as a gift for a friend. There were 60 attendees, it was in the country so there was lots of nature for portraits and a small, bright naturally-lit indoor venue for ceremony. I had my untrustworthy X-E1, 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens and dreamy 35mm f/1.4 prime lens, but I wanted a second body and a little more reach so I rented the X-T1 and 56mm f/1.2 (~100$ Canadian at Lozeau in Montreal).

X-E1: It’s old and missing features

A lot of this is from the perspective of a 1st-generation Fuji X user. The X-E1 and X-PRO1 were updated many times with vital firmware fixes and new features, but they won’t be updated meaningfully again, and are missing pretty much all of the features discussed below. I’m going to keep my X-E1 as a second body and still consider it useful, but I’ll definitely use my X-T10 any time I need decisive autofocus or stealth.

Electronic Shutter: The silencer works

I already wanted a second body as a backup, but the true reason for my rental was the silent “electronic shutter” (ES) on the X-T1 (Firmware announcement). During the ceremony it was a godsend, letting me snap away constantly without distracting the audience with noise. By default the electronic shutter makes a simulated shutter noise with the speaker, so you need to disable all shutter and system sounds if you really want the camera to be silent. I forgot this initially, but once my the sound setting was disabled it worked like I hoped.

When I switched to my X-E1’s mechanical shutter (MS) the difference was deafening. CLACK, CLACK, CLACK, people were turning their heads to look at me as soon as I took a shot. Switched back to X-T1 in ES mode and everyone stayed focused on what was important: My friends getting married!

The worst risk with ES is of course “rolling shutter”, which I’ve read happens any time the movement would normally blur at 1/15s. This is a real problem and it’s important that everyone is careful to avoid using ES on anything with significant movement. In practice though it’s rarely noticeable, even when there is some movement that should look distorted. None of the photos I took at the wedding were ruined by shooting in ES mode, though I tried to explicitly switch to MS mode any time there was fast action, such as the walk down the aisle.

Another downside of ES mode is that flash is completely disabled because it can’t work with an electronic shutter. You need to remember to set the camera to MS any time you want to use a flash.

To me this feature is a no brainer for any candid photography where there isn’t too much movement, and I will never buy a non-silent camera again. Remember that smartphones and point and shoot cameras (i.e. also mirrorless) are all silent by nature too. The mechanical shutter sound is a curse tolerated on DSLRs because the mirror already made noise, but in the mirrorless present we shouldn’t waste the opportunity for quiet, undistracting operation.

MS+ES Auto Mode: Ultra-fast simulated shutter speeds came in handy

Aside from making the camera silent, the electronic shutter also allows you to simulate the exposure effects of super-high shutter speeds, which came in handy during outdoor portraits where there was too much light for the 1/4000 limit of the mechanical shutter. This comes up more often than you’d expect if you’re shooting at f/1.2 in the sun.

To get this effect I usually left the camera on MS+ES mode so that the MS would be used by default, with ES engaged only when the camera needed a shutter speed faster than 1/4000. This is important to avoid “rolling shutter” (discussed above) whenever possible by using MS. For most of my shots ES wasn’t necessary, but when there was too much light the automatic mode worked flawlessly to switch the shutter type. No overexposed shots at 1/4000 from not noticing the problem (common on X-E1) and no getting distracted trying to figure out what’s going on when I bumped up against the limit.

MS+ES auto mode: Thanks for fixing flash!

The new firmware for both X-T1 and X-T10 will make the automatic MS+ES mode even more useful by fixing a bug that blocked you from using flash even if MS was currently in use (most of the time). This meant you had to set the camera to MS-only to use any kind of flash. With the update I’ll be able to leave MS+ES on essentially all the time unless I want ES-only mode, with very little risk unless I’m in direct sunlight.

It will take time to develop instincts about when to use MS/ES/MS+ES, and most importantly when to disable ES temporarily, but my experience was that it was manageable and I didn’t end up with any important shots missed as a result. I had shutter type on a function button which worked fairly well, though the Q menu might work just as efficiently.

You have the electronic shutter as an option on both the X-T1 and the X-T10, so it’s not a big choosing point between them. That said it’s absolutely a knock against the X-E2/X-PRO1 which only have mechanical shutter, in case you were still considering them as options.

Fuji: Please change the effect of the “shutter type” function button!

Right now the Shutter Type control you can assign to a function button works like an ISO or white balance menu would: Click, up/down to choose, click to select. This is absolutely overkill for a menu with only three items. It should instead work like “View Mode”: Click and it switches the next item in the list. That would mean I only need to push 1 button once or twice, rather than needing at least two buttons and needing at least 3 pushes.

FACE DETECTION: Always focus on the nearest eye

Fuji’s face detection system is flawed but extremely useful, and I’ve definitely been missing it on the X-E1. I had it enabled almost constantly and it rarely caused problems. If there are no faces in the shot (details, landscapes, etc) you move the focus point like normal single-point AF, but when there’s a distinct person it locks on and nails focus on their eye even at f/1.2.

The worst case scenario is that it can’t find a face, and you need to move the AF point over your subject’s eye, which you were going to do anyway. Several times while I was picking a focus point because it couldn’t find anyone the face detection eventually found them, I still got precise focus even better than the AF box would have given. It seems it sometimes needs a couple of seconds to catch, but is pretty accurate if given time and good light. Learning how to use this “robot vision” and give it time to work is something I’ll have to practice, but for this wedding it was super helpful.

You can enable/disable Face Detection in the Q menu which has it’s own button, but I also set the front function button on the X-T1 to control Face Detection so I could quickly turn it off. There were a few times I needed to disable it because there were faces in the frame I didn’t want to focus on or it detected faces in things like curtains.

While face detection alone wouldn’t have justified the rental, it was a priceless feature to integrate. I’m really excited Fuji is continuing to innovate on this feature and take it seriously with the new firmware. Fast, precise eye-detection AF is a vital feature for users of ultra-fast primes like Fuji specializes in.

Fuji: Please fix the Face Detection function button too!

The criticism of the shutter button applies in the exact same way to Face Detection, which should just switch the feature on/off rather than pulling up an awful up/down menu with only two options. If they made it work like View Mode it would only require 1 click on 1 button in all situations, rather than 3 clicks on at least 2 buttons.

Fuji: Face Detection needs an escape hatch

If I want to keep face detection enabled all the time (I do) I need a way to disable it temporarily for a specific face it finds, without turning it off completely. There should be a button that cancels the currently targeted face and lets you choose a focus point. 

E.g. You’re framing a shot of something in someone’s hand, but face detect focuses on their face in the background. Hit a button (focus assist?) and the box dissappears, returning to the single AF point that would show if there was no face (currently you’d have to disable face detection completely and re-enable it after).

Fuji: Let me pick the face I want

Another thing that’s direly needed is a way to switch the “dominant” face in the shot (MUCH more than we need to pick left/right eye as was added in the new firmware). Currently it picks one face (based on centrality according to the manual) and you are stuck with either focusing on that face or turning off Face Detection completely. This is a huge bummer, because the camera already knows there are many faces (non-dominant ones are shown in a white box) but has no way to let you choose which to focus on. Some mechanic to cycle between the various faces would be extremely useful (I keep thinking of how the tab key works in Word of Warcraft to cycle between enemies). Obviously a touch screen would be ideal, but even without it there must be a button that could cycle between faces and let you pick the most appropriate for your composition and depth of field. Why not the left/right arrows on the D-pad?

Fuji: Show me whether the other faces are in focus too

In group portraits I was dying for a way to know whether the non-dominant faces were also in focus or not. My goal when using shallow DoF is to get the eyes all lined up, line myself up with that plane, then focus on one person so everyone is sharp. As-is all the non-dominant faces are surrounded by a white box no matter what, so there’s no way of knowing whether I’m aligned with the group. It would be great if there were three colors: Green for dominant-focused, white for non-dominant-also-focused and red for out-of-focus. This would let me rotate myself until there was no red before firing and not end up surprised by one blurry face when I get home.

PHOTOMETRY DIAL

Now we’re getting into differences between X-T1 and X-T10, because the spot/auto/full metering dial is among the features “missing” on the X-T10. In summary this dial is useless. I didn’t really need to change the metering mode over the course of the weekend and when I did (heavy backlighting) it didn’t solve my problem and Exp. Comp. was faster and more effective.

The dial itself is cool to look at, but surprisingly hard to manipulate in the intended way. The tiny nub at the front got “stuck” in the left position (spot metering) and I had to fuss with it to get it back to auto, making me not want to use it too often.

Of course it DID move a lot when bringing my camera in and out of my bag, which was obnoxious and resulted in me being confused about how dark my shots were coming out at one point.

Final verdict: Anyone who loves this dial please say so, otherwise Fuji should find another setting to create a hardware switch for. Personally I’d have WAY more use for an AF type (single/zone), Face Detection or Shutter type switch than this photometry one. As-is, this dial is a reason NOT to get an X-T1 since it’s a useless liability (to me at least).

ISO DIAL

Like most others I was fascinated by the ISO dial when the X-T1 came out. It felt like the final frontier of manual control, and I was worried I’d miss it if I bought a camera without it (i.e the X-PRO2 who’s format seems like it wouldn’t have space). Having used it my heart has grown cold. I don’t think it’s necessary and was fine with Auto-ISO over the course of the weekend.

The real problem is that Fuji’s Auto-ISO implementation is so good that the dial isn’t necessary. There’s no “creative” reason to select a particular ISO (unlike shutter speed and aperture) so there’s no real reason to choose a specific value as the dial implies you should.

I set the minimums/maximums for the auto system and just pay attention to whether the camera is able to use them or not. For me a switch that just said “base ISO” and “auto ISO” would work just as well and take up a lot less space/visual clutter than the current dial on the X-T1. Alternately a nub-style dial with just “auto1” “auto2” and “auto3” would completely solve my ISO needs.

Maybe others will dissagree, but I bet a lot of people who lusted for the ISO dial now basically ignore it. I for one won’t waste any tears crying over it’s absence on the X-T10.

Fuji: All we need to be completely rid of ISO dials is a couple more tweaks to the auto ISO settings. Specifically the ability to indicate a target aperture the same way we designate a desired shutter speed. I often want “Max ISO 6400, Minimum 1/100s, Wide open aperture”, but when there’s enough light for ISO 200 I am left with the camera raising the aperture to f/4 without raising the shutter speed to 1/4000 first. I know I can use the manual aperture for this, but it would be good if there was an option to integrate that decision into the full automatic logic.

DRIVE DIAL

Unlike the ISO dial on the X-T1 the drive dial was extremely useful. On my X-E1 changing drive modes is a shockingly byzantine experience, especially the way CH and CL are so hard to get to. Having the little nub dial was a huge improvement, both because it was easy to change and because it was easy to look at the camera and see what setting was active.

For this feature the X-T1 and X-T10 are roughly equivalent since both have a drive dial, but if anything I’d give the advantage to the X-T10. To me the drive dial is more valuable than the ISO dial and I’d rather have it as a full milled metal wheel rather than the nub system. On the X-T10 the drive mode is visible when looking down (along with aperture, shutter and Exp. Comp.) and I can turn it precisely with two fingers rather than shifting the nub with just one finger. That last part is a mixed bag since changing it with one finger is also a valuable option, but I don’t need to turn the dial that often (compared to say exp. comp.) so the big wheel will work fine. The big wheel also lets it hold more options (9 rather than 7) without being any more finicky which is a bonus.

Overall the X-T10 has 2 fewer dials than the X-T1, but as it stands I won’t miss either of them. The nub dials for photometry and drive mode end up being overkill for my purposes, and though it might not scream “professional” compared to the complexity of the X-T1, the simplicity of the top plate of the X-T10 is more beautiful IMHO, and at the end of the day removing useless dials means reducing the number of issues I have from dials moving when I take the camera in and out of bags (of which the aperture dial on lenses will always give me enough surprises to keep life interesting).

BUTTONS/COMMAND DIALS

Another major difference between the X-T1 and X-T10 is how the command dials and buttons work in relation to each other, which is explained by Fuji as resulting from the X-T1’s weather sealing. I’ll start by saying that obviously if you NEED the weather sealing then this is a non-issue: You need the X-T1 and it doesn’t matter how “mushy” or hard to use the buttons are. Fuji had to make concessions and you get a lot in return for the awkward buttons.

That said: I hate the buttons on the X-T1. I hate how recessed the directional pad buttons are, I could barely find the focus-assist/Q buttons without looking and the command dials were mushy and hard to spin if my hands were even a tiny bit sweaty. It makes sense that I felt like I was wearing rubber gloves (both keep out water) but it was not a good feeling at all.

Now of course, I haven’t tried the X-T10 buttons yet, but from what I’ve read they feel and work just like on the X-E1, and I LOVE those buttons compared to what the X-T1 has. The command dials especially were disappointing on the X-T1, because they don’t have the function buttons integrated into them which means you need to learn two extra “positions” for your fingers to take and you are that much more likely to have to use multiple positions to get something done. On the X-T10 you can click the dial, spin it to choose an option and click again to confirm, changing a setting with only one finger and without moving your hand. This is how it should be.

IMHO the extra buttons also make the camera a little uglier/noisier to look at because there are extra buttons visible. Sure more buttons is usually good and makes the camera look cool, but for me invisible tools are pretty much always more valuable than ones that take up extra space (and they could still have those extra buttons if they wanted, giving you even more shortcuts). I also found the front button in particular to be frustrating because I would press it when I didn’t mean to, especially when I was looking at the LCD and changing settings. I would surely get used to it eventually, but I would never push the command dial by accident on the X-T10.

Hopefully this was a temporary setback and Fuji can figure out how to make clicky buttons and a weather sealed dial that has an integrated button for the X-T2. For now this is definitely a knock against the usability of the X-T1 that makes me glad I’m getting an X-T10 instead.

BONUS: SR AUTO SWITCH

I consider this one a “bonus” because I didn’t actually get to try it, but since it’s missing on the X-T1 and I’m excited about it as a feature of X-T10 I figured I’d mention it. The full auto switch seems like a really smart idea to me that will help both hardcore professionals and hardcore amateurs.

For amateurs the appeal is obvious: Use that lever and you don’t have to learn about photography or your own camera, only disabling it when you have time to ponder the unknowable mysteries of the exposure square and focus points.

For pros the appeal is more nuanced, but I think very important and multi-faceted. For starters there’s the obvious use case of handing off the camera to a noob. In that situation other Fuji’s are ridiculously complicated to hand over, requiring potentially several dial/knob turns and a trip through the menus to set AF to something simple (anyone else tired of trying to get people to put the box over your face?). The new auto switch means you’ll be able to hand off the camera after a single change AND you can immediately change it back to your manual settings after, rather than having to remember/re-create them once you get the camera back. I’m really excited about having full auto work like this, especially now that the face detection/zone focus modes are powerful enough that it will work “like a smartphone” and help noobs get the pictures they expect.

To me though there’s a whole other appeal, which is that it gives you a way to have a second “save state” for all your settings, which is notably missing from Fuji cameras. Sure you can use the “Custom settings” system in the Q menu, but that thing is garbage, only letting you save the stupid JPEG related settings and ignoring everything important (af mode, shutter mode, face detect, timer). I find that Custom settings feature on my X-E1 messes me up by accident more than it helps me, and I’ll probably remove it once I have a camera that lets me customize the Q menu.

On the other hand this new SR Auto switch won’t let you have a CUSTOMIZEABLE set of saved settings, but because it changes all settings to their most automatic format it can completely change the behavior of the camera in an instant without losing the work you put into the current setup. I can imagine this being extremely useful when I’m doing very precise work with the camera but have an intermittent need for more general shooting.

E.g. While shooting macro I have everything on manual to make the flash work, I have a lot of settings configured in ways that make normal shooting impossible. If I suddenly see a deer with the X-T1 I might need to change a lot of config to get a shot of it, but with the SR Auto switch I could get a shot in seconds, then revert back to my elaborate macro configuration just as fast. Similar situations would come up any time you’re using manual flash or when you’re switching back and forth between two lenses (e.g. f/4->f/1.2) where one type of shooting can function on auto but the other requires special configuration.

Finally I’m excited about the SR Auto switch because if everything else about the camera is set to auto already (auto ISO, shutter, and aperture, how I usually use my X-E1) it will act as a super-fast switch for Face Detection/Zone AF, letting me use SR Auto to let the camera try to guess the AF point and disabling it to use the D-Pad instead. I’ll have to wait and see how often this comes up, but I’m guessing there are a lot of situations where it will be useful (as long as the actual “scene recognition” doesn’t get in the way and overdo it, though no one has complained about that yet).

FUJI: For bonus points make the auto switch configurable, and give us a few more options! Would love if you could choose it’s effect from a list like this:

  • Enable/disable SR auto
  • Enable/disable Face Detection
  • Enable/Disable Zone Focusing
  • Enable/Disable MS+ES auto mode.

If it was that configurable I bet a lot of “pros” would be dying for a similar switch on the X-T1

CONCLUSION: I WANT MY X-T10 NOW PLEASE!

There you have it, tons of detail that adds up to “both cameras are great” and “X-T10 is an easy choice for me.” If I needed weather sealing I would get the X-T1 of course, but I might just keep it as a second body for bad weather and sports. For almost all types of shooting I do the X-T10 would be just as capable and ergonomically more appropriate, in addition to being much much cheaper

P.S. I didn’t talk about buffer rates, in which context X-T1 easily comes out ahead. If you need 8FPS for dozens of shots then you need the X-T1. Personally I never want to deal with all those RAW files, so CL is fast enough and from what I understand the X-T10 will do fine at that rate.

P.P.S. The other significant difference I didn’t talk about is the picture-in-picture focus aid mode, which is awesome and only exists on the X-T1 because the X-T10 has a smaller viewfinder. I didn’t use this very much but will indeed miss it on the X-T10 since it strikes me as the best manual focus solution. That said focus peaking will still work great and having a non-mushy focus-zoom button on the command dial is just as valuable to me

What is Jurassic World?

Posted by jeremyclarke on · General

Jurassic World is a thoughtful contemplation of animal rights in the context of zoos, genetic manipulation and artificial selection.

Jurassic World is the best pan-millennial, meta-cinematic work of self-satirizing marketing-fiction ever created.

Jurassic World is a silly movie about cartoon dinosaurs fighting in front of product placements.

I recommend it, but as always don’t watch the trailer first, it ruins all the fun.

Men’s rights activists: Stop.

Posted by jeremyclarke on June 6, 2015 · Politics

Stop saying you’re not feminists, you are. Unless you think women aren’t as good as men, or that they don’t deserve the same chances, you believe in the premise of feminism. Saying you’re not feminists makes you sound like idiots, liars or misogynists.

Stop saying you’re “egalitarian” as if it’s mutually exclusive with feminism, that’s ridiculous. Women’s rights is an obvious and perpetual facet of any sensible mission to make all people equal. Your toxic stubbornness to accept multiple labels is literally making “equality” a bad word. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Stop seeking out feminists that make you upset. You don’t need to agree with them and they definitely don’t need to prove anything to you. You invented the “feminazi” then proceeded to breed them with your narcissistic, hateful and inexplicably violent comments. If you can’t find respect and empathy for someone’s views leave them alone, you’ll feel better and they won’t hate us all so much.

Most of all, stop blaming women for your problems. Stop deluding yourselves that you aren’t the luckiest humans in history to even be having this conversation. Yes, men are also bullied, stereotyped and raped, no one is saying they aren’t. We can all work together on these issues that affect everyone, but only if you accept responsibility for the completely unequal situation we find ourselves in.

Try making something out of love instead of hate. Try speaking from a position of empathy rather than conviction. Try assuming the best from feminists, then watch how easy it becomes to find fair, “reasonable” women that don’t mind talking to you.

P.S. It’s time to learn what “cisgender” means.

Star Wars Day Meditations: Jedi Code v. Sith Code

Posted by jeremyclarke on May 4, 2015 · General

The Jedi Code from a comic book

MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU

This Star Wars day consider studying some Jedi philosophy along with the memes. The natural starting point is the Jedi Code, a short mantra that was the foundation of Jedi emotional control and a key element of the Knighthood for thousands of years.

The Jedi Code

There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
(There is no chaos, there is harmony.)(*)
There is no death, there is the Force.
The Jedi Code (Based on the meditations of Odan-Urr)

For bonus points dig into the Sith code to consider what distinguishes them and which you agree with more.

The Sith Code

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
The Sith Code (as written by Sorzus Syn and taught by Darth Bane)

Book recommendations for true Star Wars nerds (both have excellent Audible.com versions):

Darth Bane Trilogy – The story of the founder of the modern “rule of two” Sith tradition who killed all the other Sith lords ~1000 years before Anakin Skywalker was born.

Darth Plagueis – The shocking and fascinating life of Darth Sidious’ own Sith master, a high-powered banker in the Old Republic who used his position in conjunction with Palpatine’s to fund the destabilizing “war” with the separatists that ultimately toppled the Republic.

Both of these books (well all 4 since the Bane books are a trilogy) are centered on Sith Lords rather than Jedi, but they are still probably the best way to understand what motivates the Jedi and their religion. Jedi define themselves in relation to the Sith just as Christians define God in relation to Satan, and it seems that the Sith are more willing to think honestly and frankly about the true nature of the force than the Jedi are.

Read books about Jedi for action, heroism and blind faith. Read books about the Sith for ethical enquiry, contemplation and historical analysis of the Republic and it’s super-powered rulers.

Mourning the Canadian Census

Posted by jeremyclarke on April 7, 2015 · Politics

In the early new millennium Canadian history was being erased by never having been recorded. Against a unified opposition the dominant Conservative party halted the mandatory census, citing privacy concerns.

The decades-long civic research project was recast as optional and no data was collected to match previous census results. It took years for the effects to be felt because the timeframe was so long, but researchers started missing the data, relying on out of date results from past censuses.

We will never get back these years of knowledge even if the census is rescued, meaning we can never accurately assess the effects of Conservative policy on Canadians.

The Harper legacy will be a black hole.

Al Jazeera: What happened when Canada stopped counting its numbers

Voices-Voix: Statistics Canada (mandatory long-form census)