After the Last Stand

May the road rise to meet you...When the XNA-fuelled fireworks were over at yesterday’s Last Stand in Dublin (literally and figuratively) I was totally lost for words. When does that ever happen?!

What I really want to say most is thank you – especially to Clare Dillon, Philip McKeown, Fergal Breen and everyone else at Microsoft, MTUG, IrishDev and beyond who made my time with the Ireland developer communities so enjoyable. I love the communities because you guys WANT to be there and so it makes it worth my while to shower you with my honest (boundless?) enthusiasm.

And thank you so much for letting me keep the Lego Mindstorms NXT kit! (!!!) I promise you it will be well looked after and is staying in a loving home where it will get all the attention it deserves. And Siofra and I may have to share the table between mosaics and Lego from now on :)

You probably could tell, I really enjoyed the chance to pull out all the stops and show you what I’ve been up to.

Just like the guy who forgets that his glasses are on his forehead, I forgot that my speaker notes were in my pocket. There were about 4 other things about XNA and Robotics Studio I forgot to show you yesterday… but those all are for another day, except this one thing:

With the XNA 1.0 Refresh, it takes just one step to package up your games (code+content) to distribute as an install for Windows and XBox360! At present, you need to be a XNA Creators Club member to play the XBox versions, but the Windows ones are good to go for free.

So if I can have the permission of the inimitable Phil McDarby to distribute the beautiful background image behind the fireworks, I’ll take my Guitar Hero XPlorer-controlled finale, pack it up, and you can all answer Ireland’s Call with your Guitar Hero controllers any time you want, even when Ireland aren’t playing rugby at Croker.

 [Update: I’ve done this, and also released the code.]

p.s. thanks for reading this on my new blog… you’re at the right place, and I may be traveling the Earth but I’m not falling off the face of it :)

Nikon’s Raw (NEF) Vista Codec Updated

Nikon Logo

Nikon has released an updated version of their Raw (NEF) Codec for Vista that resolves an issue that caused it to suddenly stop working last week. Apparently the problem had something to do with an expired certificate.

The new codec is still labeled version 1.01. However, if you uninstall the old 1.00 or 1.01 codec, and install this new one, you’ll be back in business.

I mentioned back in January that I have stopped shooting JPG images, in favour of only shooting RAW (NEF) images. I am still using the following photography pipeline:

  • View, sort, and triage NEF images: from Vista’s File Explorer and Windows Photo Gallery.
  • Load into Nikon Capture NX: for post-processing. This program has earned my respect with its ability to store my edit history in the RAW file, and also one ingenious feature (yes, I think ingenious is exactly the word for it) called Color Control Points. However, I have nothing positive to say about Capture NX’s user interface: it desperately needs keyboard shortcuts, and lacks basic navigational functionality like mouse-wheel zoom. I found a great resource for Nikon Capture NX tips and tricks here at Nikonians.org.
  • Batch export to JPG: using Nikon Capture NX’s batch processing
  • Upload: to Flickr.

There are two challenges with this pipeline:

  • First, the Vista codec still isn’t particularly quick, even on a relatively beefy laptop (Vista Overall Experience Index: 3.0; Processor: 4.6, Memory: 4.7, Graphics: 3.6). You can flip through photos quickly enough, but if you want to delete a photo, Vista spins its wheels while the codec renders the high-res image. To work around this, I use the keyboard shortcuts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) to quickly “rate” all my photos, and then delete all the bad ones in one go.
  • Second, although you can associate metadata (“tags”) with NEFs in Photo Gallery, using the above-mentioned codec, the tags don’t show up anywhere I can find them in Capture NX. Therefore I am not tagging my images on Vista (defeating a lot of its organizational potential) and instead am just tagging the JPGs on Flickr, which, by that point, have become disassociated from the original NEF images. Some day, if I want to sync them, it may be an intractable task (or at least an image processing challenge).

So my Vista-Flickr NEF pipeline experience is good but not great. I am still going to keep shooting RAW (NEF) only, as I am learning how to make subtle and powerful changes to my photos using Capture NX, which I find very valuable. After all, if it’s worth shooting, it’s worth trying to shoot it right!

[February 2009 Update]

I posted some updated thoughts on NEF Codecs for Vista and Windows 7 for 32- and 64-bit installations. Thank you for all the thoughts and discussion here and I hope this continues to be helpful.