Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


AFP photo feed describes white people as “finding food”, black people as “looting”

Filed under: — adam @ 8:40 pm

[Update: I originally said: "Way to go for racial equality!", and I think it's important to temper that with the comments below. ]

Screencaps here:

[ Update: There are some clarifications, including a copy of an email from the person who wrote one of the captions, here: ]

How to back up your tablet settings

Filed under: — adam @ 10:12 am

If you have a Wacom tablet, here’s how to back up your app settings:

Ad-free Opera for today only

Filed under: — adam @ 9:08 am

If you download Opera 8.02 today, you can get a free ad-free registration code (actually, I don’t think you even need to download it – just email them). I don’t know if there’s any special reason, or they’re just trying to build user base.

Opera 8 is a substantial improvement over 7. I’ve been using it again for the past month or so. There are still minor compatibility glitches with things that assume you have Mozilla or IE, but overall, it’s very stable and fast. I’ve heard good things about the included mail client, too, but I haven’t used it.

Via Jeff:


NY Eye and Ear Infirmary

Filed under: — adam @ 1:24 pm

NY Eye and Ear Infirmary

Buying ads just for the pagerank

Filed under: — adam @ 9:51 am

Tim O’Reilly discovered that a number of advertisers are buying ads on his sites (and others with high pagerank) not because they want clickthroughs, but because the pagerank boost is cheaper than buying their keywords through AdWords.

The discussion about whether there’s anything wrong with this is pretty interesting:

Small Dog guide to removable storage

Filed under: — adam @ 9:21 am

Pretty comprehensive overview of removable storage options.


Release your inner (outer) hipster asshole

Filed under: — adam @ 4:58 pm

On a mailing list I’m on, someone pointed out the ipodmyphoto site, which I won’t link to out of common decency. Someone else followed up with ‘I want an ipodded shirt that says “hipster asshole”. Orange and Black please. ;) ’.

I just couldn’t resist, and you shouldn’t either.

Ourmedia needs your help

Filed under: — adam @ 9:25 am

Ourmedia is doing well. Too well. A huge amount of content in the internet archive now comes from Ourmedia, but that depends on allowing unrestricted uploads with after-the-fact policing. The admin team is struggling under the task of reviewing the submitted content of 40,000 users with only 40 moderators. Now would be a perfect time to volunteer, if you’re interested.

Instant Labeling Tape

Filed under: — adam @ 9:20 am

It looks like an LED ticker, and you just fill in all of the bars that aren’t in your letters with a black magic marker.

Great idea!

Via makeblog:


Canon announces 5D 12mp dSLR for $3300 (retail)

Filed under: — adam @ 2:24 pm

Canon is, quite frankly, kicking the shit out of Nikon. At this rate, I’m guessing that they’ll hit the $1000 price point for full-frame dSLRs in 4-5 years, possibly less.


Photographer Series

Filed under: — adam @ 9:50 pm

I’ve started a series of cutouts of photographers in action. I really like these.


Color Code and Peekaboom

Filed under: — adam @ 1:05 am

This is a total mindfuck.

It’s a project to color code every word in the english language based on the average color and number of images returned in a search for that word.


Speaking of images, there’s a game called Peekaboom. You play with one other person over the internet, where one person is the peeker and the other is the boomer. The boomer reveals part of an image pertaining to a word that they’re given, and the peeker has to guess what the word is based on successive revelations.

This is an attempt to teach computers to identify images from part of the image.


Aeon Flux trailer is out

Filed under: — adam @ 1:19 pm

Looks fine and dandy to me.

Great tip on creating layer masks in Photoshop

Filed under: — adam @ 12:55 pm

Create a layer mask from another layer:

That’s just incredibly useful.

Intelligent Falling

Filed under: — adam @ 11:48 am

The Onion weighs in:

“Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, ‘God’ if you will, is pushing them down,” said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.


Why I shoot photography.

Filed under: — adam @ 12:13 am

I shoot photos for the same reason I cook and program computers.

I believe that humanity’s high calling and deep purpose is the neverending struggle against the varied forces of entropy. Tempered by the wisdom of allowing natural forms of order to co-exist and simultaneously be captured in time, we live to create in our environment a reflection of our own inner sense of order. Every meal prepared, every elegant algorithm, and every imperfect echo frozen by sheer force of will is one more piece of the pattern coalesced from the ethereal storm and notched on the spear of humanity’s collective soul.

Take a handful, grab hold of the writhing chaos, keep your grip in the face of adversity, and shape it into something that can’t help but be beautiful until it hurts.

We will eventually be forgotten, and remembered only for what we added or took away.

I prefer to add.


Some thoughts on the new Sur La Table in Manhattan

Filed under: — adam @ 10:37 am

A new Sur La Table store opened in Manhattan recently. I was looking forward to it, but having seen it, I think it’s a bad move. The store is far enough away that it doesn’t stand to take business away from The Broadway Panhandler, and it will compete directly with Dean & Deluca. Their selection is pretty good and interesting, but nothing special.

On top of that, their prices are high, nearly a 10% markup over Broadway Panhandler (which I consider to be still on the expensive side) with a brief informal comparison on some items.

The store is too small to be really great – I was very much looking forward to getting some of their famous classes here, and the space seems particularly poorly suited to that. It’s too small, too crowded, and too cluttered. On top of that, I assume they now have to charge sales tax on mail orders to NY, so that pretty much kills them as a mail order source too.


US lowers expectations for Iraq

Filed under: — adam @ 11:07 pm

Well, the US government, anyway. I seem to recall a certain vocal minority saying all along that this is how it would turn out.

“The goal now is to ensure a constitution that can be easily amended later so Iraq can grow into a democracy, U.S. officials say.”

Until someone else forgets that too.


“Washington now does not expect to fully defeat the insurgency before departing, but instead to diminish it, officials and analysts said. There is also growing talk of turning over security responsibilities to the Iraqi forces even if they are not fully up to original U.S. expectations, in part because they have local legitimacy that U.S. troops often do not.”


Filed under: — adam @ 9:33 am

We’re doomed.


Adobe Camera Raw possibly doing something wrong with noise?

Filed under: — adam @ 12:15 pm

I’ve noticed that a lot of my photos have been more noticeably grainy recently. Like this onion stacking shot. (Whether you like this effect or not is not the point.)

At first, I just chalked it up to high ISO and/or exposure compensation. But then I did some informal tests, and found that Breezebrowser Pro (which I switched away from to go to Adobe Camera Raw 3 because ACR is easier to use with my Photoshop workflow) on a few of the RAW files, gave much cleaner and less noisy results, even with noise reduction turned off.

In my limited testing, with the settings I used, images produced from ACR are definitely noisier and more posterized in the noisy areas than the same raw files processed with BB, with the same exposure comp, no sharpening, and noise reduction completely off. Indeed, even the +1.6 images from BB are less noisy than the +1 images from ACR.

I’m not certain that one of the other settings isn’t causing the problem, and I’m somewhat at a loss about how to go about doing an unbiased test. Suggestions are welcomed.

On a related note, turning noise reduction on in BB gives even better results than the BB baseline, where even cranking luminance smoothing and color noise reduction all the way up in ACR seems to have very little effect. Moreover, Photoshop’s reduce noise filter works noticeably better on BB-converted raw images where it seems to do very little on ACR images.

Needless to say, this result is pretty disturbing, and I hope I’ve just done something wrong.

David Galbraith’s new theory of unintelligent design

Filed under: — adam @ 12:06 pm

“I have a new theory – Unintelligent Design, which is the same as Intelligent Design, except that the creator is either a moron or Satan.”



~50 banks exposed in ID keylogger spyware theft

Filed under: — adam @ 4:53 pm

The guys at Sunbelt have discovered a massive ID theft ring running a spyware pingback keylogger collecting lots of personal data.

“This is a very different type of trojan than others, because how it transmits data back. To our knowledge, it’s the first of its kind. So get a software firewalll in place that has outbound protection.”

Kottke asks “what’s next for the internet?”

Filed under: — adam @ 12:54 pm

I’m waiting for the computers to get out of the way.

Kottke says: ‘”Web 2.0″ arrived a year or two ago at least and we’re still talking about it like it’s just around the corner. What else is out there?’

I think that all of this stuff is still too difficult to use, and it’s spread out to too many services that don’t sufficiently talk to each other, and it’s not sufficiently preserved as raw data. Where are the other services supporting Flickr’s API on the receiving side, so tools built for flickr can just work with those other services too? It’s not a standard if no one else does it. Why can’t I download all of my pictures from flickr without writing some code? Why can’t I see my favorites as a set of links? Why can’t I browse links as Flickr sets?

What’s missing is the usability layer that makes it possible to use all of these services together without writing to their individual APIs.


What does an ID textbook look like?

Here’s what I don’t get. What would it even mean to teach intelligent design in schools?

Chapter 1: Some things are too complicated to have arisen by evolution, specifically people.
Chapter 2: …..?
(Chapter 3: Profit?)

As far as I can tell, there’s nothing to it. It’s the opposite of science.

“I don’t understand this, so there must be no possible answer”.

It says not just that we don’t know, but that we can’t know, so there’s really no point in trying to figure it out.


Google and MSN search results differ on Google/Microsoft lawsuit results

Filed under: — adam @ 8:07 pm

A researcher found that a search for “Dr. Lee court documents Google Microsoft” (no quotes), in reference to the lawsuit between MS and Google over the hiring of a key employee, yielded vastly different results from MSN and Google. As happens, the results have been a bit skewed by the existence of this observation, but my results seem to roughly correspond to those reported.

This is an interesting contrast to the usual “we refuse to comment during an ongoing investigation”. I wonder if this is indirectly caused by indexing of internal company pages that link to one viewpoint or another.

Incidentally, I find it not suprising in the least that the search results aren’t impartial.

Scientists named Steve for evolution

Filed under: — adam @ 9:17 am

Project Steve is a collection of scientists named Steve who support evolution, to demonstrate the stupitidy of compiling lists of scientists who don’t. 580 so far!


Assless Panties

Filed under: — adam @ 2:47 pm

Cam and Damien are auditioning for reality shows and blogging it

Filed under: — adam @ 1:20 pm

Cam Barrett (one of the first bloggers) and his twin brother Damien are auditioning for The Amazing Race, some kind of reality show on that other medium. To boost their chances, they’re blogging the whole thing.

Breezekit lets you make your own photo books

Filed under: — adam @ 9:29 am

Via Lifehacker:

“We strongly believe that with today’s 6 color and 8 color inkjet printers and wide available of specialty inkjet media, you can produce photo books with better print quality than the 4 color printing offered by online Photo Book printing companies such as myPublisher, Shutterfly, and Ofoto.”

Nice. I may have to try this out.

Free textbooks coming next from wikipedia

Filed under: — adam @ 8:47 am

The founder of Wikipedia wants to put together a complete free curriculum for K-12 plus university, projecting a back of the envelope estimate of completion by 2040.


Thoughts on flickr interestingness

Filed under: — adam @ 9:48 am

Exploring the flickr interestingness pages, I find that they certainly have a lot of dramatic and quite excellent photos, although they all sort of start to blend together after a while into one big high-contrast blur.

But this seems likely to only increase the number of viewings for photos that already have a lot of, er, exposure.

Where’s the revolutionary interface for browsing the lost gems that nobody looks at?

Romantic (Little) Death

Filed under: — adam @ 9:37 am

Pop band The Sun put together a video montage of footage from Beautiful Agony (the erotica site which features videos of just the faces of people masturbating) for their song “Romantic Death”:


Bush endorses Intelligent Design

Bush thinks intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in schools -

“I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,” Bush said. ” You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes.”

That is, of course, the usual dodging of the real point. ID is not a theory, it is a vague notion. It is the embodiment of saying “we can’t know, so we’re free to imagine whatever we want”. It is as testable as the flying spaghetti monster “idea”. ID is useless as a scientific concept, because it closes off further investigation.

(I might accept ID as a valid theory if it was accompanied by some attempt to identify, and possibly vanquish, said creator.)

All ideas are not equal. ID should not be taught in schools any more than the “idea” that black people are inferior because they have smaller brains should be.

“Because I say so” is not a valid logical argument.

Why haven’t we put this idiocy to rest yet?

[Update: here's some good dissection of this point.]

Flickr adds some new features

Filed under: — adam @ 5:53 pm

Flickr adds tag clustering and interestingness aggregate pages.

But where are the feeds?!?!


Why I oppose DRM

As some of you know, on September 11, 2001, I lived one block north of Battery Park, at 21 West Street. (Ironic popup tag provided courtesy of Google Maps.) When I was forced to leave for thirteen days while the smoke cleared, I had little time to grab anything. I left without my computers, without my original installation discs, and without all of my Product ID stickers. I found myself suddenly without the mechanism to reinstall a number of legally purchased programs that I needed to use for work, and taking a lot of time that could have been better spent wallowing in my own PTSD calling around to various companies to get them to unlock things for me.

There were stories of rescue workers hampered by license management, and that’s when I knew.

The world is dangerous, and sometimes emergencies happen. While people can say “hey, maybe we should make an exception here, because there are extenuating circumstances”, computers just don’t care about that. We are backing ourselves into a restricted corner, and a dangerous one, where computers call the shots, even in the midst of crisis, even in the midst of rational exceptions. Granted, every case is not this extreme. Hopefully, the future will be without another like it in my immediate vicinity. But the trend to pre-emptively lock down everything by default scares me.

As we evolve towards tighter and tighter controls without any possibility for exception, what happens when those granting agencies stop granting? What happens when companies that issue DRM go bankrupt? What happens if they’re unreachable? What happens if they simply decide to stop supporting their framework?

As my high school calculus teacher used to say – “it’s always easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission”. Security is many tradeoffs, and if you restrict legitimate uses in the name of preventing illegitimate ones, you’ve cut off part of the point of having security in the first place. If you restrict legitimate uses without even preventing the illegitimate ones, you’re wasting your customers’ time, and you’re part of the problem.

See more of my rants on DRM and security.

Blog-a-thon tag:

Planet ten found. Again.

Filed under: — adam @ 6:39 pm

I stopped watching the X-Files after the third or fourth time they found aliens without remembering the previous times.

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