July 2006

Consumption and Military27 Jul 2006 at 19:52 by Jean-Marc Liotier

In “The Art of Camo” (an article for the American Institute of Graphic Arts), Phil Patton says :

Camouflage attracts modernists raised to believe that ornament is crime. Camo ornaments legally, you might say – its pattern has a job to do.

That quite nicely puts my feelings into words. I worship pragmatism and generally can’t stand pointless decoration… Camouflage is an excellent excuse to indulge in some. So maybe this is the reason why I love camo patterns… Well, that and the way I’m irresistibly attracted toward the sort of large and expensive hardware that camouflaged people play with…

RSS26 Jul 2006 at 9:30 by Jean-Marc Liotier

From Panayotis Vryonis own account, development of the Lilina PHP news aggregator he created has not been very active in the past few months. But fear not : new developments could well appear on the horizon in the coming months – Ryan McCue announced his intentions in a comment on this blog :

“I now a project admin on lilina and plan to make a lot of changes”.

This is good news for Lilina users, especially as Ryan McCue intends to integrate my Lilina RSS output patch to the distribution.

Military20 Jul 2006 at 23:08 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Jihadis Adapt to Counter-Terror Measures and Create New Intelligence Manuals” is an article by Abdul Hameed Bakier published at the Jamestown Foundation. It describes the sort of documents that the jihadist movement has been producing. From what I read in the article, much of the published material describes basic operational techniques already available from open sources and paraphrased with a few Quranic verses sprinkled along. But among all that chaff there is certainly original source material from the rather large experience surviving experienced members of the jihadist movement have gathered on various theaters. There are plenty of American servicemen writing about their daily lives but I am quite curious about experiences from their opponents. Too bad I am not fluent in Arabic…

Photography12 Jul 2006 at 12:41 by Jean-Marc Liotier

I have noticed that when using my 300D with my 580EX in high-speed sync mode I sometimes get a grossly over-exposed band on the left in portrait orientation or on the top in landscape orientation. Worn shutter, flash malfunction, body malfunction, communication error between flash and body, confusion between normal flash synchronization and high-speed flash synchronization, excessive shutter speed in normal flash sync ? I posted my problem on Photo.net but the answers were inconclusive. I am left scratching my head about it and I can’t even find out how to reproduce the result reliably… For now my bets are on user error…

Here are a few frames featuring the overexposed band in case they remind someone of a known problem. One of the most likely root causes is the somewhat loose flash hostshoe.

Roller skating10 Jul 2006 at 22:24 by Jean-Marc Liotier

This morning as I was cruising on my way to work some idiot had the bright idea of overtaking me and then tailgating me with an obviously hostile posture. Hopefully not on purpose he crushed my left skate under his front tire. As I went down writhing in pain he merrily went on his way and fled the scene like a true automobile weasel. In the shock of the moment I could not remember the make of his car and even less his license plate. But I do intend to go to the police and file a complaint against him in protest against violence toward rollerskaters. Meanwhile I indulged in a little open-letter style rant in french to blow some steam off…

Considering the beating that my left skate took I feel lucky that I got away with just a badly sprained ankle. I must even say that I am pleasantly surprised about how much my 2004’s FSK Crossmax protected my foot. Had the skate not shielded me and absorbed part of the stress my ankle would certainly be in a very sorry state with probably a few ripped ligaments. So now that I’m back in the market for a pair of urban mobility skates I shall certainly buy another pair of semi-rigid freestyle skates, and very possibly the same brand.

Since I won’t be skating for a while I have plenty of time to ponder my purchase…

Consumption and Photography04 Jul 2006 at 16:46 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Under the blazing sun during the start of the Le Mans 24 hours skating race I shot only two hundred frames before running my three freshly recharged batteries flat. I first thought that they were nearing the end of their useful lives, but during the night I managed to shoot four hundred frames on a single battery I just recharged. The intense heat from direct sunlight may have something to do with how fast power is depleted.

This comes as a surprise to me : I am used to rotating batteries in an inner pocket near my body to keep them warm in extreme cold weather but this is the first time I encounter performance degradation in extreme heat. And I have no idea how to attack this problem.

Robin Tichy mentions that “Li-ion batteries outperform their counterparts in high-temperature conditions ranging up to 40°–45°C. SLA and NiMH batteries do not perform well in higher-heat situations”. The BP511A batteries I use in my Canon Eos 300D use Li-ion – maybe I should consider myself lucky I did not use NiMH batteries

Roller skating03 Jul 2006 at 14:42 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Last week-end I got a first taste of speed skating at Le Mans 24 hours thanks to the nice people at AstraZeneca who kindly invited me to be part of their team. I took a few pictures of the event from my point of view as a first-time racer.

I ran the 4.18 km lap in 9’22” on average. Even after my fastest lap in 9’01” I was far from exhausted… I discovered that the secret behind fast racing is not so much physical performance as tactical choices : riding with the right pack changes everything ! I knew that in theory but finding out in practice was an epiphany. The tactical dimension makes speed skating much more fun than I thought it would be.

I achieved those results on my pair of 2004’s FSK Crossmax with 237mm chassis. From what I understood, I did quite well considering the limitations of my hardware. My large T-shirt and baggy shorts were probably also a significant drag. So next year I’m getting proper racing skates and tight fitting clothes… Only pushing below 9″ shall satisfy my need for speed !

I’m glad I found an excuse to splurge on exotic hardware but I’m afraid my progress may have as much to do with improving my skating technique… Double push here I come ! Meanwhile I recommend the excellent howtos published by the highly competent LondonSkaters.

Roller skating01 Jul 2006 at 0:13 by Jean-Marc Liotier

The powerstraps on my pair of 2004’s FSK Crossmax have worn out a long time ago – friction from the buckle got the better of them. Apparently I am not the only one to have broken a strap on FSK skates. This article by Steve Davidson at Londonskaters describes how to replace it with a ratchet strap. But I was not aware of that solution at the time so I bought a pair of Myth “G-Strings” velcro straps – a type usually favored by quaders. After a year of use I must say they served their purpose quite well : ankle restrain has been adequate. The main drawback is the clumsy manipulation of a strap not anchored to the skate, especially the heel cable that was tricky to put in the right place in a hurry. The plastic covering on that cable soon gave way but the rest of the strap has been sturdy enough to remain functionnal in spite of moderate urban abuse. So overall I am quite happy about how those straps extended the life of my trusty roller skates.