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


Reading and Blogging Britannica

A UC Berkeley student is reading the entire Encylopedia Britannica, and blogging the good bits. It’s healthy to have a hobby.


Sometimes I think Spamusement is written by me in my sleep

Filed under: — adam @ 9:48 am


Black Box Voting Board member arrested for trying to view the Diebold vote counting process

“Jim March, a member of the Black Box Voting board of directors, was arrested Tuesday evening for trying to observe the Diebold central tabulator (vote tallying machine) as the votes were being counted in San Diego’s mayoral election (July 26).”


Things I hate about Bridge

Filed under: — adam @ 5:32 pm

Adobe Bridge (bundled with CS2) is much much better than the File Browser in previous versions. It has some great features. It’s very fast, and has good support for previewing a large number of different file types.

But there’s still a lot to hate, mostly about things they seem to have left out (of course, it’s entirely possible that I’ve just missed them). I’d love to see these things in an incremental update and not have to wait for CS3, if in fact they are missing.

  1. There’s no place to paste in a location from another window! If you’re looking at an open folder in another browser or OS window, to get to that path in Bridge, you have to navigate to it. This is really basic missing functionality!
  2. Yes, you can drag and drop files to your email program, but I think this belies the Adobe workflow way of doing things. I’d like to see the ability to “Send files to” a location, including another program (email, batch uploader, etc…), with the ability to run a script or some actions (think Image Processor) automatically. And while I’m talking about Image Processor, why can’t I run an arbitrary number of actions there?
  3. Why no fullscreen view or very large preview?
  4. This is more of a Camera Raw issue, but it’s central to the centralized workflow that Bridge encourages – why can’t I store multiple different raw settings for a single image? (I haven’t been using Version Cue – is this doable that way?)

There’s probably more, but the point here is that Bridge is great. It’s fanstastic for many things, and it does a lot that’s good that none of the other files browsers I have do. But it falls down on some of the basics that make it unsuitable for using as the only file browser.

Family Guy “Take on Me” spoof

Filed under: — adam @ 2:25 pm

That’s just a lot of hairstyles

Filed under: — adam @ 2:24 pm


Excellent comments on NYC subway searches

Filed under: — adam @ 12:52 pm

Bruce Schenier’s blog has excellent comments on the NYC subway search stupidity.


NYC Police implement totally useless and invasive security measure

Filed under: — adam @ 4:48 pm

NYC Police are apparently going to start random bag searches of people entering the subway.

And if you refuse to have your bag searched? Why, you’ll have to leave the subway and try again later.

I fail to see the point of this huge waste of time, effort, and privacy.


Oh, by the way, uninstall greasemonkey now

Filed under: — adam @ 10:44 pm

Greasemonkey, not surprisingly, has some huge security flaws, and the author recommends you uninstall it. Who would have thought it would be a bad idea to download some code from random websites and run it in your browser?

Opening RAW photos in CS2

Filed under: — adam @ 10:33 pm

Another very informative article from Photoblog 2.0, this time on ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) 3.0.

Again, I mostly agree, with some comments.

I wholeheartedly believe that adjusting raw images in photoshop is an integral part of the modern photography workflow. The camera is an input device for getting your raw material. Obviously, the better the raw material you have to work with, the better your final product will be, so photoshop is no substitute for learning how your camera works, improving your shooting technique, or taking good pictures. But the latitude that you have available to you in photoshop is something that can’t be ignored.

A few general things about that:

  1. You can now adjust exposure by a whopping +/- 4 (yes, FOUR) stops! Using the full extent of this is likely to give you some severely messed up shots, but I’m totally stunned at the amount of detail (and noise!) it pulled out of some old badly underexposed raw photos that were almost completely black. Note – this is an excellent argument for shooting raw and keeping your raw files around – the raw processors are only getting better, and you can keep revisiting old frames to see if they can be improved with the new tools. If you shoot jpeg, you got what you got. [Update: Here's an example of a +4 stop recovery.]
  2. You can choose to apply sharpening to the preview only, and leave your actual image sharpening for full photoshop. I highly recommend you do this. In Bridge, it’s under Edit>Camera Raw Preferences.
  3. You can now open a bunch of raw photos, make adjustments, and save the changes to the raw files without ever opening the photos themselves in photoshop. This can save you a bunch of time in batch conversions. Also, ACR does batch processing in the background while you’re doing other things.
  4. A fun ACR trick – holding down the alt key (option on a mac, I think) while you slide the exposure or shadow slider shows you just the highlight and shadow clipping. This is supplemented by the checkboxes at the top for showing these in color overlaid on the image.
  5. If you want settings saved in the the sidecar .xmp files instead of a central database, you need to change that in the Bridge preferences (Edit>Camera Raw Preferences).

ICE – not a bad idea

Filed under: — adam @ 9:20 am

Clever solution to a problem.

Put a contact in your phone that starts with ICE (In Case of Emergency). That way, if you’re ever incapacitated and someone finds your phone, they know which of the many entries to call.

This seems to be getting some press coverage, so I suppose there’s a chance before not too long that emergency responders will actually know to check.


Secure RSS idea using greasemonkey

Filed under: — adam @ 3:47 pm

That’s the best idea for greasemonkey I’ve seen so far. Generate an encrypted feed, subscribe to it in a public feedreader, and have your browser decrypt it locally in realtime.


Via schneierblog:



Filed under: — adam @ 5:40 pm

How are we doing?

Wonder Woman casting

Filed under: — adam @ 11:36 am

I watched Blade:Trinity recently, and I got my answer for Wonder Woman casting.

Jessica Biel.

She’s got the right look, she can do kickass fight scenes that are reasonably believable, and she’s actually a pretty good actress.

Tell me that’s not Wonder Woman:,%20Jessica,%20Jessica&seq=3

[ Update: it seems I'm not alone, and the rumor mill has it that she's one of the candidates: ]



Filed under: — adam @ 12:32 pm

My friend Amanda has started a blog for people who live in Lincoln Towers, an apartment complex on the Upper West Side, which seems to have already attracted some surprisingly mean trolls.


Beautiful Temperature Sensitive Faucets

Filed under: — adam @ 10:12 am

I love technology applied in creative ways to everyday objects.

These are faucets with the top removed so you can see the water flow, which is illuminated with red and blue LEDs to indicate the temperature of the water.


Via Futurismic:


Generally good advice on digital image processing

Filed under: — adam @ 9:04 pm

Digital cameras don’t produce pictures.

They capture impressions of the light that came through the lens, and it’s not a picture until you put some processing behind it. Even the simplest, most rudimentary digital camera has a tremendous amount of processing behind it. If you shoot jpeg and use the resulting images, the processing doesn’t go away, you’re just letting the camera choose the defaults for what the processing should be. When you shoot raw, you can do the processing yourself, and get a lot more control over every variable in the procedure.

There’s a pretty good guide to the steps here (via lifehacker):

The basic workflow is similar to what I outlined in my digital camera workflow diagram.

I mostly agree with the points in the article, but I have a few comments to add:

  • I would avoid auto levels, auto constrast, and auto-color. Generally, they give horrid results unless you’ve tweaked the default settings. (Scott Kelby has a good section on this in his Photoshop for Digital Photographers books, which are outstanding.) The tools to do these adjustments by hand, particularly Curves, are not terribly difficult to learn to use, and well worth the effort.
  • Sharpen last! If you’re shooting raw, no sharpening has been done for you. This is good. It should be done as the last adjustment, and at 100% magnification so you can see the effects close-up. Photoshop sharpening applied correctly will always be superior to what the camera will do for you, especially with the CS2 Smart Sharpen filter.
  • My typical order of operations is: fix any glaring problems (rotation, editing out major objects), fix color, fix contrast/brightness (both with curves), fix up blemishes, reduce noise, then sharpen. If I want some special effects, there may be more steps in there.

You’re scared, so we’ll take this opportunity to waste your money and invade your privacy

Filed under: — adam @ 1:19 pm

Millimeter-wave machines are to be deployed to scan the passengers of the London Tube.,,20409-1686151,00.html

Because the 500,000 security cameras obviously weren’t enough to prevent the bombing, obviously the answer is more invasive surveillance.


Photoshop screenshots though the ages

Filed under: — adam @ 6:34 pm


Compelling argument against strong ID

Filed under: — adam @ 3:40 pm

Perry Metzger (on hiatus from blogging), moderator of the cryptography list, wrote the following in response to the question of why Americans are so afraid of ID cards. I reproduce it here verbatim with permission:

Perhaps I can explain why I am.

I do not trust governments. I’ve inherited this perspective. My grandfather sent his children abroad from Speyer in Germany just after the ascension of Adolf Hitler in the early 1930s — his neighbors thought he was crazy, but few of them survived the coming events. My father was sent to Alsace, but he stayed too long in France and ended up being stuck there after the occupation. If it were not for forged papers, he would have died. (He had a most amusing story of working as an electrician rewiring a hotel used as office space by the Gestapo in Strasbourg — his forged papers were apparently good enough that no one noticed.) Ultimately, he and other members of the family escaped France by “illegally” crossing the border into Switzerland. (I put “illegally” in quotes because I don’t believe one has any moral obligation to obey a “law” like that, especially since it would leave you dead if you obeyed.)

Anyway, if the governments of the time had actually had access to modern anti-forgery techniques, I might never have been born.

To you, ID cards are a nice way to keep things orderly. To me, they are a potential death sentence.

Most Europeans seem to see government as the friendly, nice set of people who keep the trains running on time and who watch out for your interests. A surprisingly large fraction of Americans are people or the descendants of people who experienced the institution of government as the thing that tortured their friends to death, or gassed them, or stole all their money and nearly starved them to death, etc. Hundreds of millions of people died at the hands of their own governments in the 20th century, and many of the people that escaped from such horrors moved here. They view things like ID cards and mandatory registry of residence with the local police as the way that the government rounded up their friends and relatives so they could be killed.

I do not wish to argue about which view is correct. Perhaps I am wrong and Government really is the large friendly group of people that are there to help you. Perhaps the cost/benefit analysis of ID cards and such makes us look silly. I’m not addressing the question of whether my view is right here — I’m just trying to explain the psychological mindset that would make someone think ID cards are a very bad idea.

So, the next time one of your friends in Germany asks why the crazy Americans think ID cards and such are a bad thing, remember my father, and remember all the people like him who fled to the US over the last couple hundred years and who left children that still remember such things, whether from China or North Korea or Germany or Spain or Russia or Yugoslavia or Chile or lots of other places.

Wikipedia is amazing

Filed under: — adam @ 11:20 am

The editors of Wikipedia, collectively, are my new hero.


The things people do to their pets

Filed under: — adam @ 3:04 pm

They missed a huge naming opportunity here – it should have been called Cat-amari Damacy.

Solar grill

Filed under: — adam @ 10:11 am

Harness the power of our fusion neighbor to cook your dinner.

Ads from 80s comics!

Filed under: — adam @ 10:09 am

Awesome. I remember pretty much all of these. Glubgrafutz.


Fireworks pictures from the East River

Filed under: — adam @ 3:25 pm


We’re just going to deal with the fact that people die from time to time

Filed under: — adam @ 9:53 pm

Kottke asks:

As members of the human species, we’re used to dealing with the death of people we “know” in amounts in the low hundreds over the course of a lifetime. With higher life expectancies and the increased number of people known to each of us (particularly in the hypernetworked part of the world), how are we going to handle it when several thousand people we know die over the course of our lifetime?

Interesting question. I think, like everything else, the lack of novelty will acclimate us to the experience and we’ll just get used to the fact that lots of people we know will come out of our lives as easily as they entered.

Some things I really want my next console to do

Filed under: — adam @ 9:29 am

I’ve been reading over the specs and thoughts for the new consoles, and I haven’t seen any discussion of some things I REALLY want out of the next generation of console games:

  1. NO LOAD SCREENS ONCE THE GAME STARTS. Just stop that right now.
  2. Profiles! Multiple people in my house play games. There’s no reason for single-player games to make it difficult to figure out who saved which game. Also, don’t make me sit through a load screen before making my choice. Different cards for each person aren’t a good answer for this.
  3. Varied controllers. The gamepad is okay for many kinds of games, but hands down, one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had was playing Tie Fighter two handed with an F-16 Combatstick and a separate throttle. I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to get this kind of experience in my living room. Similarly, you can’t play RTS games with a gamepad. The controls just don’t work. Give me some innovation here.

Is the paint buddy new?

Filed under: — adam @ 9:02 am

This thing has been making the rounds:

It’s a new Rubbermaid product called the “Paint Buddy”. The idea is that when you paint, you leave a little left over in this thing for making touchups.

Didn’t I see this in a Lillian Vernon catalog, like 20 years ago?

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