eXtensions - Friday 8 December 2023

Friday Review: Photomator Fix; Delivery Frustrations; Phoenix Comments; TV Programming; Disk Technology

By Graham K. Rogers


It might be the start of the holiday season but deliveries this week have been a problem. While I wait for the new Harman Phoenix rolls to arrive, I have been looking at online reviews. I can't wait. The end of the year and start of next sees new series on AppleTV and Netflix. Disks fail, but it is hoped that a new ceramic material will last much longer.

When iOS was updated last week, there was also an update to Photomator, one of my more useful apps, which had also won Apple's Best App award. Unfortunately, the update (either to iOS/iPadOS or Photomator caused problems with TIFF scans of my films, so I filed a report with the developer. Images from the iPhone and RAW files from the DSLR were not a problem: just the unedited TIFFS. I was asked to send some sample images and a video of the app crashing. A couple of days later, although they were unable to replicate the problem, I was asked to try again with the just updated (3.5.2) version. Whatever had caused my problem with the TIFF files was no longer crashing the app, so although Pixelmator had been unable to repeat the problem with my files, one of the other fixers may have been related.


Having ordered a small sample of Phoenix soon after it was announced, I was pleased to see that it was due for delivery on Wednesday and I cleared the roll of film already in my Nikon F3. Late Wednesday there was a message from FedEx telling me of a delay, with a new ETA to be announced. As this was the second delayed shipment this week I felt as if there were some form of conspiracy. On Thursday morning the delivery readout from FedEx was not encouraging. It looked as if the package had still not arrived in Thailand although it still showed a scheduled Thursday arrival. Most of the time, FedEx and DHL among others, work well, but once in a while the ball is dropped. And this time, just when a new film arrives.

By Friday I was more than frustrated. This was worsened by a chat with a FedEx robot. I decided to continue by email and had a reply shortly after: under investigation. Camera Film Photo to whom I had sent a Bcc out of politeness responded with a real reply, apologizing (not their fault) and pointing out that at this time of year there are scheduling problems. I thought that logistics would be the forte of a logistics company.

Phoenix I sometimes look through YouTube at random and a few days ago saw a video from a street photographer in New York who was trying the new Phoenix film from Harman. It is clear that part of its marketing for the new film includes the involvement of the photographer community. Ribsy's short trip out and back on the Staten Island Ferry was interesting enough, but the final third of the video, from 18 minutes on, is an online meeting with Harman personnel who explain about some of the ideas behind the development.

Some of Ribsby's images from the trip were in the video and, like the others I have seen online in the last day or two, the product looks exciting to me. I expect my rolls to arrive in the next few days, so I made sure the Nikon F3 I will be using is ready. It had film loaded so I finished that quickly in anticipation of the new film being delivered (see above).

With all the effort that Harman have put into this, I was a bit disappointed to see some negative comments on Instagram to the effect that the film is not ready. Output I have seen from early users has impressed me. I don't really want a film that will give me identical results to products from other manufacturers. Some films will not suit certain users. For example, I have had pleasing results from Lomo Purple (loaded in one camera currently), but have not been able to produce output that pleased me from Lomo Turquoise (and there are plenty of good examples online). Scanning and post-editing play a large part in the output and that will be true of Phoenix. Harman have been quite clear that this is an unfinished project: calling it Limited Edition; and asking for feedback. Those griping about the output or making critical remarks about R&D should read the articles and watch the videos available from Harman and early users.

Lomo Purple Lomo Purple

Another YouTube video came from Brae Hunzinger who took a good series of photographs in Vietnam. He seemed to be not overly keen on the film because of its color tones, which is part if the attraction for me. Another video from Bad Flashes provides a useful comparison as it shows different ways the film was exposed using three cameras and 5 films. He also tried one roll pulled 2 stops, and flash, so in the video the Phoenix film had a good workout. Box speed (200) shows darker shadows and I rather like this effect that comes in other examples I have seen so far. Overall the narrator was positive about Phoenix and the decision by Harman to make this new film. Comments were on the positive plus side too. West Yorkshire Cameras used a Leica to take mainly landscape pictures under a cloudy sky with no bright sunlight or sharp shadows. The contrast was less obvious than I had seen from other sites. He commented on this and the flatter nature of the shots. He had some shots later in sunlight and these had much better contrast.

A new album from Peter Gabriel is a rare treat. After some 20 years the former vocalist and main driver behind the original Genesis has released I/O. My download from iTunes has the title I/O (Bright-Side and Dark-Side Mixes) with different versions of the same songs. There are 12 tunes but the mixes give me 24: 2 versions of each. Damien Morris (Guardian) calls this "a glorious, late-career masterpiece" in the title. The YouTube video included with the review is a work of Art in itself.

Apple has green-lit the 3rd season of Foundation, Dennis Sellers reports (AppleWorld Today). This is based on Isaac Asimov's book series of the same name. I was pleased to read this (Sellers' comments and Foundation). The series has been one of the best things for me since AppleTV started, although I am a fan of almost anything sci-fi. I am currently enjoying the 4th series of For All Mankind and the 3rd season of Slow Horses which is about as low-tech as you can have, but has some superb writing and magnificent one liners, particularly from Gary Oldman.

Masters of the Air, from the makers of Band of Brothers and The Pacific will arrive in January and a new trailer has been released. Apple has also announced another Sci-Fi series, Constellation, David Snow reports (Cult of Mac). It reminds me of other movies and series like The Cloverfield Paradox and the George Clooney movie, The Midnight Sky (and others) in which a returning space crew finds the world changed. In this case, it is an astronaut who "returns to Earth to find pieces of her life missing". This is released on AppleTV on 21 February with the first 3 episodes. Others follow weekly. One of the characters in this is played by Jonathan Banks, who played Mike in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. I also saw this week that Killers of the Flower Moon has appeared in my AppleTV listings. That is for the weekend.

Art exhibit at Bangkok Arts and Culture Center

With Apple soon to release Masters of the Air, Netflix looks at World War 2 with a documentary that was released here on 7 December, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, which was probably not a coincidence. The description of World War II: From the Frontlines refers to unseen footage, and boy is that true. They have managed to source so much new film (some of which is digitally enhanced) that this is a whole new look at the conflict. That enhancement (at least so far) does not detract from the value of the experience. I have been watching documentaries on the War since my childhood when it was fresh in the memory of family members. It was still part of our lives even then as rationing continued until I was 3 when I saw my first banana and orange.

With the continued fascination with the conflict, a report on The Guardian tells us that "Russell Crowe, Rami Malek and Michael Shannon will lead James Vanderbilt's historical drama Nuremberg". Malek will play American psychiatrist Douglas Kelley, who decided whether Nazi prisoners were fit to stand trial. Crowe plays Göering who took cyanide before the authorities could hang him. Filming for this is scheduled to start in February.

There was also a magnificent series in the 1960s on British TV that looked at the headlines from 25 years ago that week, All Our Yesterdays (which is a quote from MacBeth), headed by Brian Inglis. When I first started watching in 1961, the year covered was 1936 and we were able to follow week by week as WW2 approached then unfolded. I just checked and there was a second series (after I left the UK) from 1987-89 (62-67). The news footage was almost all black and white, while the Netflix documentary is color.

Having lost data once, I am quite serious about backups, using 4 Time Machine disks for backups on the MacBook Pro (one is always at my office and is recycled periodically) as well as iCloud. All my original photographs from the DSLR (RAW) and from scans of negatives (TIFF) are also backed up on separate disks. The redundancy is because I know that at some point one of those disks will fail. Not might: this is pretty much ensured, whether the disk is made up of platters or is solid state. At some time down the line, something will fail.

backing up

Following research into alternative materials, Oliver Haslam, iMore, reports on a coming glass and ceramic solution from Cerabryte that can store 10,000TB on a palm-sized cartridge with a claimed life of 5,000 years. Both of those figures would work for me, particularly with the physical size. There is a video on this interesting new concept which uses images that look similar to QR codes burned into the surface. I guess this means they are write once and read media, unless the data space allows for simple replacement, making the original data unavailable when updated. This is not likely to be in the shops for a while yet.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)


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