Monthly Archives: May 2005

Aspect Ratios

I discovered something a little puzzling recently; it’s surprisingly difficult to get a large picture frame with the correct aspect ratio to fit a print from 35mm film.

The standard size for photographic prints from 35mm film is 4″ x 6″, which translates to an aspect ratio of 2:3. However, frame sizes larger than this tend to have the 4:5 aspect ratio of medium-format film, e.g. 8″ x 10″ or 16″ x 20″.

I also discovered recently that digital cameras have yet another different aspect ratio, 3:4 (I found a useful discussion of digital vs film photo dimensions on the ACDSee website, which is often a useful resource for imaging information).

Older & Wider

I had a great birthday weekend! On Friday 13th (my actual birthday) I went with five friends to a restaurant in Red Hook called Bouillabaisse, and had a fantastic filet mignon.

Saturday was initially kind of hectic, as I was rushing around in a Zipcar — the first time I’d used the cars-by-the-hour service. I was supposed to get a Beamer for a couple of hours, but due to various delays and complications I ended up with a hybrid gas-electric Toyota Prius, which was cool in a different way — kind of like driving a laptop with wheels. I used the Prius to borrow a turntable and mixer from Jonas in the Lower East Side, after which I picked up hundreds of dollars’ worth of liquor and beer in Brooklyn for a party at my house later that night. It was a lot of work tidying the house and filling the bath with ice and drink, but the party was a lot of fun, so it was totally worth it.

Then on Sunday after cleaning up my apartment while listening to vinyl and running into various friends out and about in Carroll Gardens, I went to a reception at my new job to celebrate the opening of a new exhibition, Greetings from Home: 350 Years of American Jewish Life. The exhibition itself was very interesting, although I was a little tired from the previous night’s revelries, so the speaker program dragged on a little for me.

After the reception I headed back to Brooklyn and met some friends for a curry, followed by beers and a few games of pool in the Brooklyn Inn before getting a relatively early night.

Blair Glitch Project

So Tony Blair is still the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, albeit with a significantly reduced majority. No surprises there, then — as pretty much everyone suspected, voters punished him for the whole Iraq debacle, but realized that there is currently no realistically better alternative.

I voted Labour in the end too (thanks to Lucy, my trusty proxy voter), although my candidate Tony Coleman lost his Putney seat to Conservative challenger Justine Greening in the end anyway.

Anyway, the BBC web coverage of the election was excellent, especially the interactive election map.

Open Sesame

Today T-Mobile sent me a leaflet with my bill giving generic advice on how to protect my oh-so-important T-Mobile passwords (passwords plural?). You’ve probably received advice like this before; it usually goes something like this:

The security of your account is important to us; follow these tips to ensure that your password is safe and secure:

  • Create a separate password for each different account;
  • Use a mixture of upper and lowercase letters and numbers, and use passwords that are at least 8 characters long;
  • Avoid common passwords such as a spouse’s or pet’s name;
  • Memorize your password; never write it down;
  • Change your password regularly;
  • Never tell anyone your password;

Of course these guidelines are completely and utterly impractical. No normal person could possibly manage this astounding feat of memory for even a small number of accounts.

Many of us, however, now have literally dozens of user ID’s, logins, PINs and passwords for banks, credit cards, healthcare providers, utility companies, pension plans, e-mail accounts, instant messenger clients, etc. etc. ad infinitum. It’s completely asinine to expect people to be able to follow these password rules, an exercise in group consensual denial. They are almost as moronically pointless as the button labelled “Yes, I’ve read and understood the terms and conditions” on yet another click-through EULA, or End-User License Agreement, that you haven’t even skimmed (but that’s another rant altogether).

So, like most people I imagine I have about 3 or 4 usernames and passwords that I recycle for pretty much everything, and I can usually (I’d estimate about 70% of the time) gain access to the services I need within about three attempts. And so far, no-one has stolen my identity.

Subway Bitching

I generally don’t complain about the New York subway much, because compared to London Underground (which I endured for over a decade), the MTA runs a pretty good, reliable and affordable operation that generally gets you where you want to go.

Today, however, two things happened on the subway that made me very frustrated.

The first incident occurred while I was trying to get into a subway station to catch the southbound A,C or E train at 23rd St & 8th Ave. A train arrived at the same time I did, and I swiped my Metrocard through the turnstile, but then I had to wait for a flood of people to come out through the bi-directional gate. After a bunch of people had come out I saw a small gap and pushed through, but in the process I nearly knocked a slightly dazed-looking middle-aged woman onto the floor — she literally shrieked! I mumbled some apologies and ran to the train, but it was too late — the doors were closed and I’d missed it.

But which MTA dumbass decided to allow turnstiles to be bi-directional in the first place? This is certainly not the first time I’ve tried to get in or out of a subway station, and found someone else trying to use the same gate, in the opposite direction, at the same time. It’s dumb, dumb dumb.

The second annoying thing occurred on the F train at Jay Street Borough Hall station. I watched a couple getting off the rear carriage with their young child in a Bugaboo pram/stroller (which I happen to know is a $700+ piece of baby transportation equipment), when the train guard closed the doors on them, crushing the Bugaboo between the doors. The father grabbed the doors and shouted angrily, and eventually the guard opened the doors again, but for God’s sake — surely the whole point of having a train guard to operate the doors is to AVOID crushing babies in strollers between the doors?! How hard can it be?

OK I feel better know — rant over.