Archive for December, 2005

I’ve climbed my first scottish winter route

8 December 2005

On Wednesday, I climber my first scottish winter route. It was the Runnel in Coire an t’Sneachda (near Aviemore). This is a picture of the final pitch:

A surprisingly pleasant experience. Of course, I have photographs.


An Afternoon and Aperture

6 December 2005

As I wrote previously, I got Aperture running on a 12″ Powerbook. I will now try to say what some of my impressions have been so far. Bear in mind two things thought. The first one is that, even if I complain about speed or bugs, I’m actually running Aperture on unsupported hardware. Apple didn’t wan’t people to run Aperture on 12″ Powerbooks and so it probably had a very good reason for doing so. The second thing is that I’m not a photographer. Of course I take a lot of pictures on various occasions, but that does not quite make me into a photographer.

First thing many people would do is to try to import the iPhoto library. That took well over 10 minutes, which I thought is perhaps a bit too long, until I realized that it’s over 4GB of data. Then I realized, that I should have probably made a backup of my files first, since I have no idea what effect would my little hack have on Aperture.

Luckily Aperture seems to be working fine without deleting or corrupting pictures. It did not import my “Smart Albums” from iPhoto for some reason. I didn’t think that’s a big deal; recreating them is a matter of seconds when I actually need them. I was more interested in how fast or slow would Aperture be.

The answer is: slow in some respects, rather fast in others. For some reason opening a smart album takes about 15 seconds. That’s not great. Even more confusingly, first it displays only a few pictures from the album (about 5 seconds) and then the rest. I very much doubt this has anything to do with the graphics card hack, but I don’t know. I would blame general computer slowness together with the fact that it’s after all only version 1.0. On the other hand diplaying all the pictures in the library takes about 3 seconds, which is at least as good iPhoto.

Where it’s really slow is, unfortunately, slideshows. For JPG files, it 5 second dealy between images, for RAW files its more like 15 to 20 seconds. That’s with the “Manual” option. When you choose something like “Dissolve trough black” than it’s actually a lot faster. The first image takes 20 seconds to load, while subsequent changes are instantenaous. I don’t quite uderstand while Aperture does take so long in this task, when the Loupe tool is so fast. The full screen mode, which is essentially the same as Slideshow but lets you adjust the picture and metadata is much faster. Cod knows why. With slideshow Aperture would know which image is comming next, so why not pre-load it? I hope this gets fixed by Apple.

Where Aperture is really fast, is when working with the Loupe tool. For a 2MB large JPG files (no I don’t have all my photographs in the RAW format), it takes about 2 seconds, before the image is loaded. Then it keeps about 6 or 7 images in the memory and so the Loupe is instantenaous when moving from image to image. With 8MB RAW files from EOS300D it takes about 7 seconds and then it keeps 4 or 5 pictures cached for instant access. This is no doubt a function of the size of RAM, so on a computer with more RAM this will be more, while loading the pictures would obviously take less time if the computer had a faster hard drive. I’ve tried opening the same 7 JPG files in Photoshop CS2, zooming in to 100% and then moving between them and I had to wait on many occasions. So clearly this is something that has been done to work rather fast.

Unfortunately, that’s where I’ve discovered the only problem (which may well be caused by unsupported graphics card, just for the record). Sometimes the Loupe just does not display anything on certain portions of the picture. It happend twice but I can’t recreate the problem even with the same picture, even after I look at loads of other pictures and the look back… bizzare.

What’s also rather fast is applying different color modifying attributes (exposure, white balance etc.) to the pictures. This is 100% instantenaous even on a PowerBook. Reducing noise, or conversly sharpening filters are not that fast even though faster than Photoshop.

Metadata managenment seems to work OK. I have not tested the lift and stamp tool on large selections. The web gallery export and book export are nice features, but I’m not sure how usefull they would be for the professional. For an amateur like me, who has no desire to learn InDesign it’s a rather nice touch.

Finally the user interface is nice and easy to use, but a bit crammed on a 1024×768 screen. I have to try Aperture when I hook the computer up to a second display. But if one remembers the keybord shortcuts (V,W,I,Z,F) for a start, then it’s always easy to display what I actually want to see.

In conclusion, I’d say that Aperture seems perfectly fine on the 12″ Powerbook, so I’m not quite sure why Apple decided not to let people run it. I guess there might be some nasty bugs somewhere, or maybe the graphics card NVIDIA GeForce 5200 simply does some wrong calculations resulting in an incorrect output. Luckily, even if this is the case, Aperture should always keep the originals. Finally to find out all about what’s wrong with Aperture, read this review. It’s a good review, even if it concentrates on the negative aspects. Obviously to see all that’s great about Aperture you only have to go to Apple’s website. They’ll try their best at selling it to you.

Aperture on a 12″ Powerbook (with an unsupported graphics card)

5 December 2005

This hack should let you run aperture on a 12″ Powerbook with CPU faster that 1.25Ghz and more than 1GB of RAM. It fools Aperture into thinking that it’s running on a supported video card. It will not help if you don’t have the RAM or CPU required.

The procedure consists of two steps. First we have to actually install Aperture. Next we have to modify the executable to make it ignore the fact that our graphics card is unsupported. I should warn you that this is something that Apple definitely does not support. Should anything go wrong don’t blame me! Your computer may explode. More realistically it will corrupt all your image files and then you’ll be sorry.

Once you have the Aperture DVD in the drive, you have to get the contents of the aperture package. The folder with the packages is hidden in Finder. You can get to it trough command line, or in Finder, in the “Go” menu, the “Go to Folder…” item. Enter “/Volumes/Aperture/Packages/” or at least that’s where it was for me.

First install the “ProAppRuntime” package. That should happen without any coimplaints. Now right-click on the “Aperture” package. Choose “Show Package Contents”. Now click the “Contents” folder and you should see a file called “Archive.pax.gz”. Copy it to some temporary folder on your hard drive. Go to that folder and double click, it should unpack. In this folder a new directory called “Applications” would appear with “Aperture” in that folder. Step 1 is complete.

Step two involves right-clicking on the Aperture application icon, choosing “Show Package Contents”, then going to the “Contents” folder and then “MacOS” folder. Now backup the Aperture executable. Open it in your favourite editor (I used emacs). Search for the string “5200”. You should see “NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra OpenGL Engine” followed by “NVIDIA NV34MAP OpenGL Engine”. Replace every single charcter in the above strings by say number “1”. Including spaces. Save the file, close the editor. And that should be step 2 done.

Now you should be able to run Aperture without getting any complaints. It may crash, delete all your photograps and your 12″ PowerBook might explode.. You’ve been warned.

Please let me know if you had any luck with the above procedure. It has worked for me and Aperture is importing my image library as we speak. Check out this photograph, showing my 12″ PB with Aperture running. It wass taken with a mobile phone so the quality isn’t brilliant.