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Jerry Saperstein RSS Feed (Evanston, IL USA)
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Tabletop Photography: Using Compact Flashes and Low-Cost Tricks to Create Professional-Looking Studio Shots
Tabletop Photography: Using Compact Flashes and Low-Cost Tricks to Create Professional-Looking Studio Shots
by Cyrill Harnischmacher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.52
69 used & new from $13.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly thorough, surprisingly good., April 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was expecting a somewhat tepid book along the lines of the old Amphoto publications.

I wanted - and needed - a refresher course on tabletop lighting using small flash units. I was particularly interested in the promise of an exposition of light shaping techniques with small flashes.

Well, I got that information and a lot more. This is truly a thorough book on modern tabletop lighting techniques. I learned a number of new techniques, particularly on making, mounting and using small reflectors. That information alone made the book worthwhile for me. There is also a lot on DIY (Do It Yourself) projects, including building a very interesting strip light, modern ways of adapting and using softboxes wit7h small flashes and bit on a gadget that will adapt commercial size softboxes for use with small flashes. If those units weren't so expensive, I run out and get several, since thanks to the author, I am now aware of their existence.

Interestingly, there is relatively little on photographic technique itself.

Overall, an interesting, informative book and one I enthusiastically recommend.

Jerry


Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Desktop External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup USB 3.0 (STDT4000100)
Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Desktop External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup USB 3.0 (STDT4000100)
Price: Click here to see our price
31 used & new from $159.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Drive is good - which is all I care about, April 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Seagate did not get to be one the two remaining hard drive giants by turning out poor or even mediocre products. As someone who uses dozens and occasionally hundreds of hard drives annually, I know that some will fail sooner than others, but all will ultimately fail. Given that, I will happily use anything from Seagate or western Digital, always making sure that I have more than one copy of important data. If the data is truly worth protecting, it is worth the additional expense of backing it up to more than one device. Period. End of sermon.

That said, I never do anything more than test the software hard drive manufacturers include with their drives. Although the quality has improved from years back, the included software is rarely top-of-the line quality. In the case of the software included with this drive, I quite honestly didn't bother. There are far more powerful backup applications to be had and I have them.

However, I did review the reviews by trusted third-parties regarding this software and though they all share my basic opinion that you can do better, most concluded that Seagate's included software is adequate for nominal users. Note that their back-up app for mobile devices does not back up applications!

So the bottom line for me is quality of the hard drive itself. Seagate doesn't make it easy to find the rotational speed of its drives any more. Part of this is because spin speed is less important than it once was because of newer technologies..I have read both 5,400 and 5,900 RPM.

Even with USB 3.0, for demanding purposes like video, this drive is on the slow side: 60MB/s sequential write - dicey if you're using it for demanding video. Read speed is 143.3 MB/s as measure by CrystalMark, which isn't bad.

The drive runs cool and seems to be fanless. The enclosure is a plastic cube. There are no diodes, not for power, not for operation, not for anything. I'm not a fan of this, but can live with the omission.

Overall then, this is simply an external hard drive to me. A hard drive from a reputable manufacturer with a 2 year warranty and huge capacity. It is not the fastest hard drive, but it isn't advertised as being a super-fast hard drive and its benchmark scores are more than respectable for all but the most demanding purposes. It is quiet, doesn't get very hot and innocuous in its designed. And it's priced right. I'd say go for it.

Jerry


Albinar 2 in 1 4" Hand Pistol Grip Mini Tripod For Digital Cameras and Camcorders
Albinar 2 in 1 4" Hand Pistol Grip Mini Tripod For Digital Cameras and Camcorders
Offered by GoShot Camera
Price: $6.95
2 used & new from $6.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for use with light cameras, April 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you're using a GoPro or other small, light camera and handholding it, you want this gadget.

Particularly, if you have larger hands,the handgrip is very comfortable. The extended platform provides excellent eye relief for LCD screens, allowing you to hold the camera away comfortably from your face. This permits pretty smooth follow-action panning for video.

Legs fold out from the handle body, forming a surprisingly firm tripod.

The camera platform has click stops and can be adjusted over a 60 -90 degree range.

There is a 1/4-20 female socket on the bottom of the platform adjustment knob allowing for mounting the unit on a monopod, which can give you extraordinary control when photographing performances or events. This is a very nice feature.

You can fold out two legs from the handle, forming a sturdy table-top tripod which, obviously, be used to position the unit on the top of rocks, garbage cans, some fence posts and other supports, providing more versatility. You want to be careful when doing this, of course, since cameras falling to the ground are not a pleasant sight.

Build quality is okay, but I definitely wouldn't subject this unit to rough handling.

My only complaint is the lack of a hole or slots for mounting a lanyard.

Overall, a nice addition to my camera bag, especially for doing video with a light camera.

Jerry


Clic Stic CIAK-0010 Universal Camera Handle for Digital Point and Shoot Cameras and Camcorders
Clic Stic CIAK-0010 Universal Camera Handle for Digital Point and Shoot Cameras and Camcorders
Price: $5.99
4 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Just right for smaller cameras, particularly for those with dexterity issues., April 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is about as simple as it gets. A plastic handle of moderate length (about one hand or thereabouts high) that has a nice pebbly finish. There's a 1/4-20 tripod screw on the end of the handle. Screw it into your camera (without over-tightening) and you're set to go.

The handle provides stability and secure handling when dealing with very small cameras like the Sony WX-80 or handheld camcorders like the late, lamented Flip, Kodak and Sony models.

It's a little gem for small to just under medium or so cameras. It is inexpensive, appears durable, easy to use and will provided added stability for sharper photos. Excellent addition to your camera kit.

Jerry


The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim
The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim
by Nicholas Kulish
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.93
57 used & new from $12.75

4.0 out of 5 stars To what purpose?, April 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a very readable and generally interesting popular history of the hunt for a German doctor who, for a short time, possessed absolute power of life and death over helpless innocent people. He seems to have enjoyed himself, murdering at least hundreds with lethal injections of gasoline and performing painful, generally fatal, surgeries in the interests of advancing German science.

Hannah Arendt, wrote of the "banality of evil", ordinary people who following orders or simply doing what they believed was right enslaved and murdered tens of millions during World War II. It was not only the SS and Gestapo. Thousands of French police, for example, played a role as did many Ukrainians.

More than a million Germans and countless confederates murdered millions upon millions of Jews, Slavs and others between 1933 and 1945. A few thousand were prosecuted. Some were executed, but the vast majority went on to lead the pedestrian natural lives they had denied to so many others. As the authors state "When the war ended Heim [the murderous German doctor] was essentially a nobody, one of tens of thousands of perpetrators [actually more than a million direct participants]. It would have been impossible for the Allies, both logistically and politically, to round up all the concentration camp guards, to imprison every SS officer, to remove every member of the Nazi Party from public life. The willingness to find and prosecute war criminals grew precisely as their numbers dwindled."

The reality was that hundreds of thousands of Germans in the Wehrmacht took part in the murder of Jews and other civilians and many non-party civilians participated in the exploitation of slave laborers who were often executed, starved or worked to death.

In short, most Germans who committed acts that could be construed as crimes weren't bothered and were left to marry, grow old, have children and grandchildren and die of natural causes, unlike their victims whom they forced into gas chambers, made to kneel over mass graves containing the corpses of their relatives or laughed at as they begged for food and water to stave off starvation.

Herr Doktor Aribert Heim established a prosperous medical practice in Germany after the war, but years later, he feared he might be prosecuted for "war crimes". He left Germany and eventually lived for years in Cairo where he died in peace in 1992. As the authors point out, had he remained in Germany and was prosecuted, any penalty meted out would likely have been light.

The story here is of a police investigator, Alfred Aedtner who turned "finding Heim into an overriding obsession".

Essentially this is a kind of police procedural where the bad guy is well known at the outset and who easily gets away.

The authors do a good job of recounting the story, which has virtually no suspense. They tacitly, in my eyes, admit that evil goes largely unpunished, as it did here. Overall, an interesting history for the WWII buff, but for most people, it will not resonate.

Jerry


UTG Multi-functional Tactical Messenger Bag
UTG Multi-functional Tactical Messenger Bag
Price: $19.29 - $53.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The size of a fanny pack, not a messenger bag., April 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Applying the term "messenger bag" to this is a misnomer. It is the size of a largish fanny pack. I was surprised by this, but since I got it on sale, I think it is worth the money as a replacement for a fanny pack that I've used for more than a decade.

Construction quality is okay, but clearly not of the highest order. The design is both good and bad.. You can see where they grafted on pockets, such as the one on the top, merely because there was empty space.The main compartment has slim front and back spaces with no dividers. I had purchased this with the idea of using it for a mirrorless digital camera. It will work for that, being big enough to carry the body and a couple of lenses, but the lenses most certainly will be i their own protective pouches.

A rear compartment is large enough for a 7" tablet, a compact Bluetooth keyboard a a 12,000mAh external battery.

The bottle carrier will hold most smaller cups and bottles.

The shoulder strap will extend to cover accommodate bulky winter clothing (or body armor). Clasps and buckles seem to be of medium quality.The bag feels comfortable on the shoulder, though

Overall, the bag looks more like a case of form being more important than substance. But as an inexpensive (when on-sale) replacement for a fanny pack, it's not bad. But it surely is not a "messenger bag".

Jerry


Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math
Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math
by Majed Marji
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.54
44 used & new from $18.14

5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to programming science for children and adults, April 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Since the beginning, dedicated people have tried to make learning how to program computers interesting, fun and easy to learn. One of the most famous beginner’s languages that evolved into a full-scale high-level programing language is BASIC (Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code), still widely used today.

Scratch is an event-driven programming language developed at the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology(MIT). I hadn’t been aware of it, frankly, until I picked up this book.

Like many others, I am a self-taught programmer. And I think every child – and quite honestly adults as well, should learn at least the fundamentals of programming. Since computers (Information Technology, actually, is integral to our lives, my feeling is that everyone should understand at the least the fundamentals. An extreme attitude, I admit.

Scratch is intended for 8 to 16 year olds, but can be used by everyone. It is available on an MIT website for interactive use. You can also install a local SCRATCH editor.

Scratch is event-driven, meaning one event triggers another. It is a graphic programming language: you drag blocks into a tree to perform specific actions. From the outset, Scratch is a fully multimedia application – you can make games, animations, all kinds of things that would have been very difficult in earlier languages like BASIC.

“Learn To Program With Scratch” is a marvelous learning tool. The writing is extremely crisp and illustrations are well done, meaningful and plentiful. Advancing from the always requisite “Hello World” program to creating your first interactive game takes but a dozen pages. I have yet to test this on my grandchildren, but I love it!

Author Majed Marji covers a huge amount of programming territory in 9 chapters and a few less than 250 pages – and he makes it a painless, interesting and fun journey.

In fact, “Learn To Program With Scratch” is an excellent example of how programming should be taught. Parents who want to teach their kids how to program – and maybe learn the same skills as well – will find this book an excellent way to accomplish this.

Jerry


Neewer CN-LUX360 5600K Dimmable LED Video Light Lamp for Canon Nikon Camera DV Camcorder
Neewer CN-LUX360 5600K Dimmable LED Video Light Lamp for Canon Nikon Camera DV Camcorder
Offered by BestDealUSA
Price: $15.35
5 used & new from $10.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High utility, excellent versatility and great value, April 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Most digital cameras simply aren't that good when it comes to recording in low light situations - and, I of course, insist on doing much of my8 video in low-light.

With this dandy LED light source, it is no longer a no-win situation for me.

The LUX360 has 36 LEDs which consume surprisingly little power, only 2.2W. Power is supplied by 3 AAA batteries. I haven't run them dry yet despite some fairly extensive testing.

Output brightness is controlled by a remarkably smooth and sensitive adjustment dial on the rear. Color temperature ranges from 5600K to 3200K which seems to be handled nicely by Automatic White Balance on the camera I used for testing. A white diffuser panel and a green minus (pink) and orange filter are provided. The white diffuser coupled with a low-output setting make the unit very usable for close-in photography: you won't be blinding your subject, but they will be evenly and adequately illuminated.I intend to get some nearly opaque white sheet styrene to cut into a filter shape in an attempt get a more flattering close-up light.

A tilting mount is provided that can be very handy inn using the unit for off-center or bounce lighting. In addition to a cold-shoe, the bottom of the unit also has a 1/4-20 brass tripod screw mount. LUX-360 units can be daisy-chained: the instruction sheet shows three linked together horizontally.

Overall, these are great units. I don't know how long they'll last because the construction quality doesn't feel very high, though I've experienced no problems. I'm getting two more of these With some clamps and small Gorillapods, I should br able to craft some interesting location lighting.

Cool stuff!

Jerry


ProPole - Painters Pole Addapter
ProPole - Painters Pole Addapter
Offered by 17th Street Photo
Price: $19.95
3 used & new from $19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works very well with a painter's pole., April 5, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I use this with a Mr. Long Arm 3208 Pro-Pole Extension Pole, 4-to-8-Feet to extend my camera's reach. The Pro Pole Adapter is a well made product that screws on the end of a painter's pole. It has a 1/4-20 tripod screw on the end (which can be replaced with a longer screw, if desired). And it has a hex head set screw to firmly secure the adapter to the pole. In fact, my only quibble is that the don't provide the proper hex head wrench in the plastic bag holding the adapter. (I apologize for not providing the size here: I will add it later to save you the frustration of having to find the right-sized wrench - the ProPole folks don't tell you.)

I think this could be lower-priced, but on the other hand, it is less expensive than competitive units.

Overall. you need this if you're going to be using a painter's pole with cameras, microphones, lights and such.

Jerry


Mr. Long Arm 3208 Pro-Pole Extension Pole, 4-to-8-Feet
Mr. Long Arm 3208 Pro-Pole Extension Pole, 4-to-8-Feet
Price: $16.99
8 used & new from $16.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Good enough, but I wonder if I could have done better., April 5, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this to use with the ProPole - Painters Pole Addapter so I would have a way to get my camera up high. With newer cameras with WiFi connections, you can put your camera on end, right a smartphone mount on the other and you can control the camera remotely.

Build quality of the Mr. Long Arm 3208 is excellent. The bottom half is plastic and the extension tube is light metal. There's a friction locking mechanism on the end of the plastic bottom and it tightens well and holds the upper tube firmly.

You can extend the upper tube out to eight feet and without a load on the end, it remains straight. You can force the tube to bend by pushing it against a wall or other solid surface. I wouldn't trust this with a Nikon or Canon DSLR on the end, but with lightweight cameras on the end, the Mr. Long Arm remains straight and easy to handle.

What I am personally not sure of is whether eight feet is long enough for my photo and video needs. Once you start playing with a camera on the end of this and see how it allows you to add unique perspective to your shots, you want more length.

But for what it is, Mr. Long Arm 3208 Pro-Pole does the job well.

Jerry


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