On Buying a Camera

Steph on our street.

When I was in fourth grade, I’d tag along with my older brother and sister to the dark room at JFK high school, where they would develop B&W photos for the yearbook. Even before that, I had bought an Instamatic at a Goodwill store, and use the cartridge film for B&W photography of my Hot Wheels having horrible accidents.

Before too long, I was doing pinhole cameras, and then B&W with my dad’s failing 35 mm camera. (He had upgraded to a Pentax K1000, but I wasn’t allowed to use that.) I developed B&W images of train tracks, cats, nice cars, etc. I even learned to mount them.

In college, not long before I was married, I splurged on a Nikon N2000 35 mm (1986 or so), and it lasted about 7 years before the shutter was cutting images in half. It wasn’t worth repairing, and we changed to a searies of Point and Shoots for for the last 13 years or so.

For many years, I’ve preferred the point and shoots to an SLR, because it’s easy to carry and use more. Lately, however, we’ve been doing hundreds of shots on the boat and around London, and the lack of image quality has begin to bother me. Also, over a year ago my young daughter started a B&W class, and we bought her a used Canon EOS 1000 to shoot 35 mm with, and I was bit jealous. She’s done a great job with the camera for over a year. Two weeks ago we bought her an Olympus 850SW as her first digital camera:

Eve with Olympus

Buying a digital SLR is no easy business. Canon or Nikon? Live view or not? HD movies? Vibration Reduction or Image Stabilization? Weather-sealed Pentax? VR or regular lenses? G10 instead of SLR? What about a Lumix instead?

Yeah, it was pretty headache producing. In the end, I didn’t like the feel of the Canon’s as much as the Nikons (or maybe it was tradition). I wanted two lenses to start with that wouldn’t go immediately out of date. Instead, I wanted a cheaper body but better lenses that I could use on a better body in the future.

So, we ended up with a Nikon D60 and an 18-55 mm VR lens, and a 55-200 VR lens. The lenses aren’t terribly compatible with the F series Nikons, but they’re fine for the D series, and I didn’t want to spring for the D90 at this point:

Nikon D60

Since we’ve picked it up this morning, and charged the battery, I’ve actually taken fewer pictures than my wife and son. My wife took about 65 shots in Hampstead Heath, and my son made his first stop motion LEGO movies tonight using the integrated stop motion software and wireless remote we picked up for it. My wife is thinking about walking the Heath once a week with the camera to photography the wildlife, and both of us plan to take photography courses in London for wildlife and travel photography.


Fun stuff. Deep roots. I was particularly happy to see my son make his movies. I’ll see if I can post his first efforts online.

Waling out of Heath.

Annual Bike Rebuild

Birdy Light Bike

Back in September 2007 I bought a Birdy Light bike for bike commuting to work. I’ve been riding it pretty much every week, five days a week, back and forth to work (about 25 minutes each way, with a fair amount of uphill and down hill). I ride rain or shine, hot or cold, icy or hot.

Quick report: I’m on my third pair of brake shoes, which wear out pretty fast on this stop and go commute. I’ve had a lot of flats in the last three months, in part because my rear tire is gone. My rear derailleur cable was jammed in the last cable housing, so lately I’ve been down to one or two speeds (instead of eight). I was tired of the platform pedals. I never fit a rear blinker to the back. My gloves were shot.

Ergo, it was bike upgrade weekend. First, new Shimano SPD clipless pedals. I put them on yesterday, and immediately I appreciated in the increased pedaling efficiency. In fact, I did a 12 hour shift yesterday and biked home at 2 a.m. through the dark, quiet steets of London.

This morning, the original rear derailleur was the first to go, replaced with a Shimano XT derailleur. New shift cable, greased, and new rear cable housing. I even installed two lube ports in the shift cable housing, to make it easier to lube and keep from seizing again.

Next was a new chain, and then a rear flasher. After that, two new brake cables and tuning of the brakes. Next will be two new tires, 18 inch, which I have sitting in my office ready to come home.

So, riding to work should be more than a one speed experience again.

Good Grief– We’re All Ingrates

The following is a video we watched at the ECIS Tech Summit earlier this year. It was found by John Mikton– Louis CK on the Conan OBrien Show:

Yeah, he might be right. :)

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom

I was thinking that we might be able to catch a breath after the ECIS tech conference. I was wrong.

We just finished up the HS Tech course offerings for next year, we’re deep in the demo systems of several student information systems, we have the school auction this Friday and Saturday with important technology requirements, we’re weeding out stubborn DNS issues, and we’re fighting pesky issues on several fronts.

Our Zimbra trial is still going well. Our next step is to build a test Microsoft AX database on our test network, and see if it can talk to Zimbra as if it were an Exchange server. I like the web interface, and tests with Outlook and OS X Mail have gone well so far.

I had fun diving on my boat last week in a new wet suit (45 degree water):

Jim dives on boat.

I cleaned the knot meter paddle wheel and the prop and shaft. I rather like working on and sailing boats…

Now, time to parent a little bit for the rest of the evening.

Hope, Positivity, Awe

Throughout this week I’ve been hearing positive comments about Ewan McIntosh’s keynote at the ECIS Tech conference we held last week.

To be honest, I thought the keynote was exceptional as well, but also challenging. He had a strong and detailed set of examples of how students and adults are using social media tools to re-invent how they use media.

In my opinion, his best slide showed a new taxonomy of media spaces: watching space (television or sage on stage), demonstration space, sharing space, group space, publishing space, and private spaces. I don’t have that list correct yet, so I’m hoping I can find the slide again on his site.

In all, for many in the audience, it was a challenging presentation because he pretty much suggested that students learn as much or more outside of school than in school. Relationships with faculty and certain learning experiences are critical, but the “institution” of school itself may be receiving defensive protections that are unwarranted. One of his favorite examples is blocking websites on school networks for no discernible reason (other than, perhaps, protecting the institution at the cost of learning).

Still, his reviews were stellar, even if everyone said there were things they may not have agreed on. They said “he made his think” about things they hadn’t considered before, or took the time to try and understand.

It also crossed my mind, however, that his message as also essentially positive. Kids are learning, in all sorts of new ways. They are doing amazing things. They can be more creative and involve in ways that they care about their communities, friends and even the planet.

Given all the recent gloom and doom about the world economic and ongoing process, it’s hard not to cheer a presentation that suggests the future could be more interesting and exciting and rewarding that market numbers would suggest. Thanks, Ewan!

Live, Learn and Move On

I’m glad I’m not keeping a list of small tech problems lately. Just today, I must of had five, right down to our firewall goofing up and cutting off Internet services, our DNS servers being “picky” and a host of other little things I’d rather not mention.

It would be great if there was an easier way to simplify all this– or better still, set it and forget it. Today were we’re targeting big changes, but things cropped up all the same.

In the end, maybe I need to cherish the boring days more.

More materials from the ECIS Tech conference to come!

What’s Next? Technology and Schools in Five Years…

The following 2 meg PDF contains the slides from “What’s Next? Technology and Schools in Five Years.” It was the third keynote of the ECIS Technology 2009 conference that John Mikton and I presented. John Mikton is Director of IT at International School of Prague.

ECIS Tech 2009 Third Keynote Slides

I had a fantastic time working with John– collaborating on this project was a great experience.

John Cleese– Waking Us Up!

I thought I’d share the closing video that we used at the end of our ECIS 2009 keynote. It’s John Cleese doing a presentation at a Creativity Conference:

There are several things I find fascinating about this presentation. First, much of the advice and even examples he gives are exactly what I taught to college students 17 years ago. Second, he rightly highlights the independent importance of the human creativity process that may best flourish entirely separately from technology and interruptions. Finally, he closes with a statement about how creativity can be seen as a threat, especially by leaders who are themselves very poor at creative thought and appreciating the creative process. Cool stuff.

ECIS Tech Conference 2009– Complete

I just took the family to breakfast in South End Green, and now we’re relaxing in the Starbucks after the ECIS Tech Conference finished up yesterday.

It was an impressive event– 31 of us spent a full day together at the Tech Summit, running through discussion after discussion of about 30 tech topics of interest to Technology Directors. Then we all joined the two day main conference, with Keynotes from the 2012 Olympics Committee, Ewan McIntosh, and myself and John Mikton from the International School of Prague.

The keynote and sessions by Ewan McIntosh were especially impressive, and I was motivated by him to open a Twitter account (my account name is jheynder).

I’ve been slow to update this blog since moving to London for many reason (gigantic piles of work being the main ones), but I feel energized after the talks at the conference, and I’m back to blogging for now. Over the next several days, I plan to post as many resources from the conference here as possible, including the keynote John and I did.

A modest proposal: I’d like to encourage as many of the ECIS attendees to consider going to the annual NAIS conference next year in San Francisco. If possible, it would be fun to have three objectives: spend a day talking on leadership issues, enjoy the conference, and have a meet up with our NAIS counterparts for a dinner, a meeting or both.

Let me know if you are interested!

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