What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Acquired — Argus C20 Camera

Filed under: Fun!,Gadgets,Old Things — dave @ 8:12 pm 2012/07/03

Here’s something kinda fun; an Argus C2, my newest old camera find.

I picked it up for cheap at a local thrift store a while back, the latest in my decades-old penchant for old cameras. I think my collection — if it can be called that — started with my grandmother’s Brownie Hawkeye, which somehow ended up in my possession — I have no memory of exactly how — after she passed away.

I actually used that camera for a time; it didn’t produce terribly high-quality photos, but it was kind of a novelty in the day when Instamatic cameras were more the norm and 35mm cameras were the hot thing. Eventually it became more & more difficult to get film for it, and even more difficult finding a lab to process the film & make prints, so… On the shelf it went, along with some flashbulbs. How many people remember using flash bulbs?

From that start, I’ve been adding to the collection by keeping an eye out for old cameras at rummage sales, antique stores & thrift stores. There are now (I think) a couple dozen of them, plus some assorted light meters, lens filters, flash units, cases, etc… There are a couple of old movie cameras in the bunch, and a Polaroid camera or two. The newest “antiques” I have are a very early Fuji digital camera and an Apple QuickTake 100; in computer lifespans, they ought to be considered antiques by now. Finding a working computer they could interface with would be the big challenge now, so by that measurement, they qualify.

I was glad to find the Argus C2 though; I had another one like it years ago but gave it and a nice light meter to my brother-in-law as a Christmas gift. That was well before the ubiquity of digital cameras, and he actually got a fair amount of use from it (which was better than the shelf duty it served at my house!) The new(?) C2 is in slightly better shape (from what I remember of the old one), probably due to the heavy leather case and padding that came with it. It’s a heavy camera, built back in the day when heft meant “durability” and “quality”.

When I look at the old cameras, especially the 35mm cameras, I can’t help but admire the craftsmanship that went into them. These things were designed & built long before CAD was ever even thought of, and probably assembled by hand. The glass in the lenses was ground using really old-school technology, and even the tiniest metal parts… who knows how they were manufactured. Most were made of metal, with a smattering of paper products for the bellows and leather to dress them up a bit. It’s a wonder to me that the softer parts on these cameras have survived so many years in such good condition. Some of the lower-end cameras from the ’30’s – ’50’s used Bakelite for their cases; today’s cameras are mostly plastic with some metal, and lots of silicon for the electronics in them. If you were to drop one of the older cameras, chances are it would get scuffed up a bit but keep working; if it didn’t work you could often take it somewhere to get repaired. Today’s cameras — especially the under-$100 cameras — are for the most part disposable. Getting one repaired would cost more than replacing it.

For all the benefits and niceties of the older cameras, it would be hard to go back to film. The digital camera was really a game-changer in a lot of ways. In the mid-1980’s I spent a pile of money on a Canon T70 35mm camera and a couple of lenses for it. I could take some decent photos, but I never really put in the effort to learn all the tricks because with film you’d have such a time gap between when you set up a shot and when you’d see the result, not to mention the cost of the film and developing. With many digital cameras you can enable most all of the same controls as with a nice 35mm camera, but with digital you can see your results almost immediately.

That said, I still haven’t taken the time to learn many tricks with them; it’s mostly just point & shoot. Someday…

“It’s Precision Technology!”

Filed under: Gadgets,Geek — Tags: , , , — dave @ 8:12 pm 2011/01/30

Here’s something fun; a ‘manual’ straight from Haynes on Wallace & Gromit’s Cracking Contraptions!

I’ve probably enjoyed the Wallace & Gromit claymation movies more than the kids; Gromit is probably the most entertaining of the pair, even though he never speaks a word.

A few favorites from YouTube
The Tellyscope
The Bully-Proof Vest
And The Turbo Diner“That’s 300 horsepower of pure suck! Not bad, eh?”

A Nocturnal Work Aid

Filed under: Cool Technology,Gadgets,Geek — dave @ 1:18 am 2010/11/29

I picked one of these headlamps up on sale at Lowe’s yesterday for $12 — it was the last of a Black Friday special on the shelf — and it’s already earned its keep, although my neighbors must think I’ve lost some marbles… Tonight Bryce & I spent the last hour of the day (11 to midnight!) hanging Christmas lights on the outside of the house (before the weather turns sour tomorrow) and yesterday I used it to finish up the front end rebuild under the 735i; finished that one up about 10 pm.

These headlamps are just a huge help in working on a car, and so much better than the old-fashioned trouble light. Wearing it on my forehead, it puts the light right where it needs to be without a light fixture getting in the way, as is the case with a trouble light. I turn my head, the light goes with it so I can see what I’m looking at. I haven’t used it during the day, but it would even being a huge help then; if I’m under a car it seems the light is never good, and this thing will do the same trick then.

My new headlamp has three lighting modes,

  • Bright 1-watt LED spot; ~ 45 lumens, 11 hour run time
  • 2 bright Nichia LED’s flood; ~ 28 lumens, 50 hour run time
  • 2 bright red night vision LED and 75 hour run time

About the only thing I don’t like about it is the switch; it’s a push-button switch on the top of the lamp. One click turns on the 1-watt LED, second click turns on the red LEDs, third click turns on the flood light, and the fourth turns it off. The switch is also a bit difficult to click, which may be a defect of some sort with my particular unit. But the don’t-likes are pretty minor issues; all in all it’s a great little tool.

I do think I’ll put some day-glow orange or pink paint on it though so it doesn’t get lost like my last headlamp did.

The Rescue Reel

Filed under: Gadgets — dave @ 2:59 pm 2010/09/07

Here’s a great product… The Rescue Reel.

I remember having similar thoughts on 9/11, seeing people jumping out of those burning skyscrapers… There should be a better option for people in a situation like that than making a decision between dying by fire/smoke or by jumping.

Looks like it allows anyone to rappel down the side of a building even if they don’t know how to rappel. I’ve rappelled before, but I’d be hard-pressed to back out of a broken window on what I remember from those lessons ten years ago. If I worked in a high-rise building, I think I would spend my own money for the peace of mind something like the Rescue Reel would provide.

via Newsweek.

Finally! Ad Blocking In Safari!

Filed under: Gadgets,Mac Stuff — dave @ 11:22 am 2010/08/25

On my aging PowerBook G4 I usually have both Firefox and Safari open; Firefox because of the wonder of AdBlock Plus, and Safari because its controls are much more intuitive, and it’s able to render so many sites so much better than Firefox. Now, finally, there’s a chance I can just stick with Safari;

Safari 5.0.1 introduces extensions: a great way for you to add new features to Safari. Built by developers, Safari Extensions use the latest HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript web technologies. And they’re digitally signed and sandboxed for improved security. You can install extensions with one click — no need to restart Safari.

Scrolling through the list of available extensions I immediately installed AdBlock for Safari.


So far it seems to be working well, but I just installed it like five minutes ago, so the jury is still out.

The main reason I want (or need) the ability to block ads is because of the proliferation of Flash-based advertising… I’ve learned the hard way that Flash and PPC processors just do not mix. It seems that most any commercial site I visit is plastered from top to bottom with Flash ads screaming for attention, but more concerning with my crappy trusty old computer is the amount of CPU time those ads consume; just a few Flash thingys on a web page is enough to slow my computer to a crawl. And if I’m not connected to an AC adapter, I can just watch my battery life drop like a rock. Facebook is a terrible offender in this regard; Flash every-stinkin’-where. Apple has been far too slow to allow developers to extend Safari; thank goodness for Firefox.

So I’m a happier camper today! That’s one nice little ray of sunshine in a week that’s provided my life with nothing but clouds and rain and danged few silver linings. Thank you Apple!

A Handy Mic Stand

Filed under: Gadgets,Geek — dave @ 9:08 pm 2010/05/02

If I ever become a death metal rock star (yeah, that’s me all over!) this stand will accompany me in every concert. So awesome.


Interesting back story on the stand in the Wired article.

Video Game Driving Challenge

Filed under: Cars!,Computers,Gadgets,Geek — dave @ 11:54 am 2010/04/07

My kids have asked me before why it is that driving a computer-simulated car in a video game is so much different than driving a real car. My off-the-cuff answer has been that the controls in the video game are usually much cruder than those in a real car. Imagine if you were driving down the highway and your steering was controlled by two buttons for left & right, the throttle was an on-off switch, as was your brake. Controls like that in a video game make driving pretty dodgy, but if it were in real life… I’m glad I don’t have to share the road with vehicles like that! Cars would have to be just as indestructible as their game-world kin.

The guys in this video were wondering something similar; how it would work if you tried to control a real vehicle from the typical video game driving perspective. The results, even with normal vehicular controls, are pretty hilarious. (There is some foul language in the video, so keep the volume low or headphones on if there are kids nearby!)

I’m guessing the drivers could improve with a little practice. Or maybe a lot of practice.

I Want Me An iPad

Filed under: Computers,Cool Technology,Gadgets,Geek,Mac Stuff — dave @ 4:50 pm 2010/01/27

Apple just introduced the iPad, and I want one. You can read about all the details and watch the demo movie in lots of places, so I won’t spend any time on that…

I just want one.


Apple’s Magical Mouse

Filed under: Computers,Cool Technology,Gadgets,Geek — dave @ 12:59 am

I helped a friend set up her new 27″ iMac last weekend, and it came with the coolest new mouse… The Apple Magic Mouse.


The mouse is the button, plus it has no scroll wheel, but you can use it to scroll up, down, diagonally and sideways. Comes in one color, wireless Bluetooth, but right now is only supported for use on a Mac (Windows support is coming!) The way it works is similar to the MacBook trackpads with multiple-finger functions, but that is a couple of steps above the trackpad on my getting-older-by-the-day PowerBook G4! I want one!

Actually, these would be great for use at work; seems like I’m replacing a mouse somewhere in the building at least once a week. The failures are usually with the scroll wheels, and the Apple Mighty Mouse with its tiny little scroll ball is the worst offender. The Magic Mouse with no external moving parts should be nothing but great! And as great as this mouse is, the tablet computer that Apple is expected to announce should be nothing less than amazing.

Getting Back Your Lost Camera

Filed under: Fun!,Gadgets,Geek — dave @ 12:06 am 2010/01/05

This is not only a great idea, it could be a real hoot putting it together!

A Pictorial Guide to avoiding Camera Loss

Have you lost your camera recently? Mislaid it somewhere in a national park? Left it in a taxi? Dropped it in the gorilla pit? Anyone can be a victim of the thoughtlessness and/or sleepiness that can lead to Camera Loss…

Of course it’s not sure-fire, but it at least gives you a better chance of getting back a lost camera than the ordinary assortment of anonymous images normally found on a camera.

All kinds of clever things come to mind for a little slideshow on my camera… The only problem I’d foresee is having to change my practice of letting iPhoto remove the photos from the card when it’s done importing them. But I can change.

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