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February 2007 Archives

February 2, 2007

Moleskine

One of the best things I've done for myself recently is to purchase a pocket-sized Moleskine notebook.

They're a little pricey, but the build quality is worth it.

It's also a little hard to get out of the mindset that a $10 pocket journal isn't some sort of sacred object. I initially found myself filtering what I wanted to write down, trying to sort the wheat from the chaff and only commit Very Important Thingsā„¢ to the 'skine's hallowed leaves.

I got over that quickly, though, and it has since become an indispensable tool in my life. It fits perfectly in my hand, perfectly in a pocket. It's everywhere I want to be, allowing me to jot down any fleeting idea I may have for current rumination and later review.

As but one example, there's page 7 of my notebook. On it are jotted down notes from my last visit to Agua Fria National Monument. Roads I want to come back to later. The dead horse cow I encountered across a wash. Modifications to directions I had that are no longer accurate. That's all fairly important stuff.

But then at the bottom of page 7 is what I wrote while in Black Canyon City filling up my tank. A note about how I saw a test mule for the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler Pacifica. A note to myself that Black Canyon City has a gas station (in addition to delicious pies and a good steakhouse), and the prices there vs. the Mobil station I filled up before leaving home ($2.39 there, $2.29 here). There's no way that'll be important to me years from now, much less a couple months from now. But that's what happened, that's what was on my mind, and that's what was committed to the page.

I filled in the next page tonight, putting down on paper for the first time the numbers I need to have the income I want. They're tangible. For the first time, I can look at that page and see my plan is well within reach. My math is achievable with a little work.

And right below that math I wrote down every bit of work I need to do for the numbers to crunch. I have a plan. There's no more forgetting it or randomly munging details in my head: It's on paper. I can open that notebook up every morning and stare at the plan, know what I still need to accomplish, and know how close I am to achieving my goals.

My brain now inhabits a little black notebook, and it's wonderful.

Epson Paper Mystery: I've Got Answers

A question that pops up over and over on the internet (and it certainly popped up in my mind) is What's the difference between Epson Premium Semigloss Photo Paper and Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper?

It's a darn good question: They're both RC base, both 10 mils thick, both the same opacity. And at first blush, they appear to have the exact same surface.

There are two differences to be aware of (beyond the easy-to-discover "premium semigloss comes in limited sizes"):
1. Premium Luster is much shinier. Where light reflects off the textured surface, you'll get bright white glare. Light on the Premium Semigloss is much more muted and controlled.
2. Premium Semigloss bears a plain "EPSON" backprinting. Premium Luster bears Epson's professional backprinting, reading "EPSON Professional Paper" and "Do Not Duplicate" in multiple languages. (They're both packaged as professional media, so don't ask me why the distinction.)

February 6, 2007

Karamel Sutra

Ben and Jerry's Karamel Sutra is the single most disgustingly delicious ice cream I've ever had the pleasure of eating.

You know it's horrible for you. It has a tube of ooey gooey caramel the size of a 50 cent piece. The ice cream itself is dense and creamy and lingers on your palate long after you've swallowed it. It's oh-so-delicious, but not the sort of thing you could eat in large quantities.

The nutrition facts bear that out, too: a 1/2 cup serving (of which there are four in a pint) composes a whopping 23% of your daily recommended fat intake. But it's so worth it. Infarction be damned, that's some good ice cream.

February 14, 2007

How to Fail Miserably

I wanted to love Canon's professional imagePROGRAF line of printers. I really did.

What's not to love, on paper? They claim a larger gamut due to their twelve colors. They claim a stable of papers that puts even Epson, de facto inkjet paper powerhouse, to shame. And, perhaps best of all, they make the fastest wide-format inkjet printers on the market. Faster than Epson. Way faster than HP.

Unfortunately some of us forced to work with them have discovered it ain't no honeymoon.

Over at ASU, we've got two Canon iPF8000 printers. They print on media up to 44" wide, which sounds like a total boon until you've actually tried to use them.

Canon #1 will gladly print away all day, but everything comes out very yellow, a tad magenta, and distressingly oversaturated. This is not good for a $6000 printer marketed to photographers as producing accurate color.

Canon #2 refused to print at all until yesterday, occasionally even playing "hide and seek" on the network, able to be found on some computers but not others. Once the non-printing issue was solved, we were all terribly pleased to discover that it kind of prints: the blue printhead is entirely non-functional. This is something so terribly obvious that it shouldn't have left the factory, much less passed inspection when they were set up. The print heads on these suckers have 2,560 nozzles per color. The printer also knows how to work around clogged nozzles. In other words, there's no way this is something as mundane as a clog: it's faulty hardware.

Canon's batting zero on the functionality of these two printers alone in my book.

But it just gets compounded by more facts of the situation.

Little niggling design choices by Canon, like the printer flashing "PAPER TYPE MISMATCH" every time you print, regardless of whether the papers actually match. The warnings from a supposedly-full-bleed, professional printer that it's going to cut off part of the image if you print past its margins. The braindead paper loading, which sees you with the catchtray bar in your chest as you blindly fish around hoping the paper loads, and the printer doesn't decide your perfectly-straight paper is skewed and make you do it all over again.

Then there's the issue of Canon papers.

In their "Printers for Professionals" brochure, Canon occupies the entire back page with a list of their available papers. I defy you to actually find someone who can sell you one. I tried. I finally gave up and switched my order to Epson paper after two weeks; one distributor had not been able to get any of Canon's papers, and the other claimed they could get the one I wanted but never actually did. Further, if you go over to Epson's site, they have full technical specifications for every paper they sell: brightness, weight, lightfastness ratings, surface... At Canon's site, you can't even find information about their professional papers. And even if you can find their media site through the back door, the most you get is the name and maybe the weight of a paper. Further, Canon's a little obsessive about adding brighteners to their papers, leaving many of them looking decidedly blue instead of white. The more you brighten a paper, the more you have no clue what the image is going to look like as the brighteners fade (nevermind the fact blue paper looks ridiculous).

For a company that's trying to steal Epson's thunder, they're sure as hell doing a miserable job of it. Two broken printers, annoying "features," and unavailable paper? I know that's the sort of certainty I want for making my prints!

Meanwhile, my consumer-level Epson printer is churning out prints on all sorts of papers that match perfectly to my monitor, and every paper Epson makes is available with a day's notice.

How Canon can screw up this badly on low-quantity, expensive printers when they make high-quantity, inexpensive consumer printers so well is far beyond my comprehension. They've got the money and the time to get it right, but they just... didn't.

About February 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Middle Grey in February 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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