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Comment of the Fortnight
25 July 1999
Short Takes

JFK, Jr.

I was sorry to hear of the passing of John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, and her sister in a plane crash. He published a better-than-average magazine which I enjoyed reading, and, from everything I can determine, he was a genuinely nice guy.

I'm disgusted by the news media. I can't believe the wall-to-wall, continuous media circus that surrounded this tragedy. Yes, Kennedy was popular. Yes, his family has some “mystique.” However, if that plane had carried two Nobel Prize-winning scientists and a doctor who had developed a life-saving operation, here's what you would have heard on the national news, in its entirety:

In other news: a plane carrying several scientists was reported missing off the coast of Massachusetts. The Coast Guard has started a search.

After the plane had been discovered, here's all you would have heard on the news:

In other news: the bodies of two Nobel prize winners and a famous doctor were recovered off the coast of Massachusetts. The President's science advisor and the Surgeon General issued a joint statement saying, "This is a great loss to the scientific and medical community."

I'm also a bit astonished by the outpouring of grief from people who aren't even remotely related to the Kennedys and who never even met JFK Jr. in person. Maybe that's just because I'm a cold-hearted cynic.

Lousy Design

What is it with people who design digital cameras? Yet another camera, the Panasonic PV-DC2590 has its controls set up “wrong” (from my point of view). If you look at Steve Sanders' excellent website, you'll see a picture of the controls. When you want to switch from taking pictures to reviewing pictures you've taken, you have to turn the switch through the “OFF” position. On most digital cameras, this retracts the zoom lens and loses some of your picture-taking settings.

In his review of the Yashica Samurai 2100DG, Steve notes that the “...flash, macro and infinity focus modes are all on the same button which means that you cannot use the flash with the macro function.” I can see some logic here; a flash in extreme close up may over-illuminate the subject. Nonetheless, it seems an odd limitation.

Open message to all digital camera manufacturers: Hire Bruce Tognazzini or Jakob Nielsen and Donald Norman to review your design before it drives the rest of us crazy! <grin>

The Matrix

I finally went to see “The Matrix.” The plot was nothing special, but it was a marvelous visual treat! If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend that you see it on the big screen; I don't think it will look half as nice at home television size when it comes out on video.

Gilroy Garlic Festival

One of the reasons these short takes are so short is that I'm preparing to head back down to Gilroy to enjoy the Gilroy Garlic Festival. (As of this writing, the website appeared to be inactive.)

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