Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The $2 Camera

I'm a  sucker for old tech.  Not any old tech, of course.  When I push the 'on' button it has to light up.  My previously most recent experience was finding and restoring a $5 Dell laptop which was about fifteen years old.  Today, I found a Kodak EasyShare digital camera for $2 at the same thrift shop that the computer came from.  Kodak introduced this model in 2004, so it is pretty much a contemporary of the laptop.  In fact, this Kodak closely resembles the Olympus D360-L which I was using a couple years before the EasyShare made its debut.

The first digital cameras came out of the Kodak labs, and by 2004 they were producing some pretty sophisticated instruments for the consumer market.  The EasyShare has a nice 4X zoom lens, a 2.2 inch display, and a lot of the other features which are today incorporated in the latest digital offerings.

What was lacking in the EasyShare, of course, was the capacious image sensor of today's digital cameras.  The CCD in the 2004 Kodak could only capture 4.0 Megapixels.  Any cheap cell phone these days will typically have several times that capacity.  However, three or four megapixels was perfectly adequate for attaching a picture to an email, or uploading to a photo sharing site like

I was pleased to find a ring binder in the plastic bag with the camera containing the EasyShare user manual.  Unfortunately, there was no charger for the lithium-ion battery, so I'll be reluctant to put the camera to much use until I can locate a charger.  I did run by a couple other local thrift stores to look for accessories and  surprisingly found the docking station/charger which was made for this camera.  The dock had a $10 price tag on it, however, so I passed up that opportunity.  Back home, I checked ebay and found I could get a charger from Hong Kong for less than five bucks -- shipping included -- so I went for it.

I did briefly light up the EasyShare to check funtioning, and I pressed the 'review' button to inspect the memory.  I found that the SD/MMC  memory card was pretty much filled up with some pictures that had been made just a few months ago.  Someone had made a series of pictures of a nice house which was up for sale in an upscale east-side Albuquerque neighborhood.  The location was obvious from the southwest style of the house, as well as a view of the Sandia Mountains in the background of one shot.  They weren't pictures to stir the imagination, but it is still nice to make some connection -- however tenuous -- with a previous user of the camera.  I've found film in several vintage cameras previously, but all came up blank, so these EasyShare found images are a first in my experience.

And, lastly, the obligatory camera initiation shot  of  Richard.  He is eight years older than the EasyShare, but still lights up and doesn't require batteries.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The last debate

No surprises in Brooklyn.  Hillary Clinton is very very good at telling people what they want to hear.  Earlier in the day I happened to look at a clip from her AIPAC speech in which she voiced unconditional support for Benjamin Netanyahu's right wing government in Israel.  It was a chilling performance and a convincing one.  It calls into doubt her sincerity in admitting to having made a mistake in supporting Bush's war in Iraq.  Would she really pursue such a partisan policy regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, or would she be more pragmatic once in office.  How can we know?

I don't have those kind of reservations about Bernie Sanders.  I don't agree with him on all the issues, but  I feel I know where he stands on questions of foreign policy, health care, education, income inequality, prison reform, campaign finance reform, and climate change.  There is likely a slim chance that he will prevail in the New York primary, or that he will achieve the presidency.  If he does overcome the odds and make it to the oval office, I have no doubts that he will continue to advocate those positions he has staked out in the campaign.

I don't  know what Hillary will do in office.  Many people are inclined to support her because they feel she will not do anything stupid in regard to issues of Supreme Court nominations or women's rights.  That is probably correct.  But what about relations with Russia?  What about pursuing a deeper involvement in conflicts in the Middle East?  How would she deal with nuclear armaments issues?  Will she support meaningful change in regard to income and wealth inequality?  Will she move the country into a position of leadership to combat climate change?  I don't think anyone can supply sound answers to those questions, and I don't think Clinton is really any more predictable across the board than Donald Trump.  I am having a debate with myself right now as to whether I could cast a vote for Clinton if she is the nominee.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Congratulations on Victory in Wisconsin (and Wyoming)

 (Reuters / Mark Kauzlarich)
Bernie and his supporters have achieved a remarkable string of wins in the primary contest.  They have also changed the political landscape in unprecedented ways.  The Sanders campaign has demonstrated the feasibility of running an effective electoral effort based on small donations with no help from PACs or other big money sources.  There is really no excuse left for future candidates who want to be considered in the progressive camp to not look to the support of the people for campaign financing rather than to the traditional big money sources.

The other big thing coming out of this electoral experience is straight talk about the issues of real importance to the majority of the American people. Issues of income and wealth inequality, banking and financial market regulation, environmental degradation, and control of the endless war machine have been laid bare.  Elected officials are going to have a harder time paying only lip service to the people's fundamental concerns.  By the same token, there seems to be some hope for moving electoral contests at all levels beyond the focus on personality and empty rhetoric that has characterized the elections of recent decades.

The genie is out of the bottle and he isn't going back in.

Saturday, April 2, 2016