Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kodak can't remember numbers...

Just to set the record straight: I really love my Kodak M883 digital camera: it's lightweight, has great optics [sure, I'd like more than 3X zoom, but this is a relatively low-end consumer model], easy-to-use controls, and takes really great pictures.

However, this morning, I stumbled onto the dark side of the Kodak implementation: every time you offload your images from the camera SD memory stick, the camera starts renumbering at 1! Unbelievable... and tech support told me that this applies to most of their current cameras.

What this means is that you can't simply copy the images into the same folder (if, for example, you organize your images by month or by subject for easy retrieval)... that won't work because sooner or later you'll have have two images called "100_0001.jpg", "100-0002.jpg", etc. What a pain... and such a simple thing to have done right in the first place. My older Nikon and Kodak cameras don't have this problem.

Come on, Kodak... you can do better than this.

So here's the simple but irritating work-around. I found out by testing that the camera searches the SD card and finds the highest-numbered image in the image folder (that's "\DCIM\100KM883" for my model; yours will have a different model number but the '\DCIM\" part should be the same) and starts one higher than that. If there are no images in that folder, then it starts at 100_0001.jpg.

To solve this problem, make sure that there is one image left in the image folder that is at least equal to the highest number you have already saved. Easy way to do this is to simply delete all the images except the last one. That way, the camera will start numbering at the next higher number, which is just what you want. Or delete everything from the image folder (like many image managers such as Picasa do after offloading the images), and then copy/create a new file with the last image number that you have used.

If you're a *nix user, cygwin user, or Mac Terminal user, you know that the 'touch' command will do this for you quickly and easily. If you're on Windows, you can download a free version of the touch command and then say "touch :DCIM\100KM883\100_<4-digit number>.jpg" (substituting the correct drive letter and image number) and it will create an empty file and thus cause the camera to number as you would expect it to.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If Vista is so great, why does it...

not recognize that a file has already been backed up?

I'm using (the new) Windows backup [Editor's Note: Why break the old backup routine and not even provide a way to get data from the old backup files?] and doing a weekly incremental backup, which is supposed to backup only the files that have changed since the last backup.

However, I notice that all my backups are over 8Gigabytes, and I know I don't use that much space in a week. I dig into the backup directories and see that -- each week -- the "incremental" backup is including a 5.5Gigabyte file that hasn't changed in months!

Go figure...

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Just installed a new version of CloudMark Desktop (was SpamNet) onto my system and ran into a most frustrating version of ring-around-the-password (they're not the only one; see my previous comments about DirecTV... shame).

Here's the deal...

I've had SpamNet on my machine for several years -- ever since the first beta -- and love it. It does a terrific of blocking spam and not black-holing too many of my wanted emails. I've had the same password for most of that time as well. Great service!

However, when I did a clean install of the latest version, I had to access My Account, so I entered my email address and password: "Invalid password" came back. I tried it a couple of times to make sure that I had typed it correctly but no, it still complained. I checked my password storage at www.4MyPasswords.com [Full disclosure: I developed and support that free site] and yes, I had the correct password.

So I clicked on the link to reset my password, followed the instructions, entered my new password and -- you guessed it -- I got "Invalid password" again, even though I had copied the new password to my clipboard and pasted it back in: no chance of getting it wrong that way.

What I found out after some experimentation is that CloudMark does not accept special characters in their password prompts(!) yet they blithely allow you to type in special characters when resetting your password -- no message, no warning, they just disappear.

I finally figured this out, entered a new password without any special characters (I had used an asterisk, as this make password guessing more difficult and my password more secure) and now everything works again.

So, I give CloudMark two Tech-Blech(tm) awards:

Tech-Blech award #1 for implementing such a poor user interface that throws away data without telling the user.

Tech-Blech award #2 for designing such poor securty by not allowing special characters in their passwords and thus reducing the security of their site.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

And they call this "Customer Support"?

Where do they dream up this stuff that they call a user interface...?

I'm working in QuickBooks (2007) and I get an error:
(SideNote: I've been seeing lots of 'help' errors in various products these days -- maybe they just don't figure that it's worth getting it right).

So I go online to the Intuit/QB site, can't find anything helpful, and go to submit a problem report. I get ALL THE WAY through writing it up, filling out their prompts, click the 'Submit' button and get this display:

They couldn't tell me that in the very beginning?

Note to Intuit: This is an excellent way to alienate your customers and ensure that you get no feedback!