2012 was a mixed year for me personally. There were good things and not so good. Without boring everyone with too much personal information that will be of no interest here are some of the highlights as they relate to technology and the use of technology:
1. I bought a new digital camera – the Samsung NX11 to take on a family holiday to Italy. It had been almost 25 years since my last visit to that beautiful land and I wanted to be able to capture some decent photographs. I chose the camera because it was light (much lighter than my daughter’s Nikon D3100 and also smaller), whilst still have a good resolution 14.6 MP and a decent sensor (23.4 x 15.6mm). It has received good reviews and my experience of Samsung technology in the past has been a positive one.
Overall I am pleased with how the camera performed and for the money (£299.00 for body and 20-50mm lens) it was good value. The RAW editing software that came with the camera is not the most user-friendly but once you get used to its quirky interface its surprisingly powerful. One advantage I found over the larger Nikon is that you are less conspicuous when taking candid shots, which is something I wanted to do whilst in Italy. I am rather pleased (I have to say) with one shot I took in particular (see below – ‘Italian Beauties’).
In terms of the actual images, they can be a little noisy above ISO 800 but that applies to many digital cameras costing much more. Also, when shooting in RAW they are not as sharp as they could be but this can be easily corrected in the RAW editor. Jpegs of course already have sharpening applied but then you lose the fine control over aspects like dynamic range, exposure or colour modes.
As for the future, I am looking at developments with Samsung’s NX range as they have some interesting innovations with their digital technology at the moment, with their Android equipped Galaxy Camera and their new range of NX cameras with 20.3 MP sensors. I may still end up with a move over to Nikon if more professional commissions come my way though and Nikon are certainly bringing our new DSLRs all the time of late. Who wouldn’t want a D800 or a D600 or even a D5200 for that matter?
2. Broadband – here in the UK we are often seen as behind the curve when it comes to broadband speeds. However, its really a very mixed picture. If you live in an urban area then you can get speeds up to 100MB, as I do with Virgin Media (soon to be upgraded to 120MB free at the same cost). However, if you live in the countryside (and a significant minority do) then you may not even be able to get any broadband – zilch connection! The UK Government along with the providers is working hard to change all that but some villages have given up waiting and installed their own broadband services using local investment (essentially local people invest and buy shares in a company set-up to provide broadband and related services locally).
So, the good news has been that my broadband service form Virgin Media, on the whole, has been excellent. However, its serves just my office which is detached from the house and in there we have Orange Broadband and phone. Orange are now calling themselves EE , meaning Everything Everywhere - which seems a total piece of marketing hogwash if you ask me as they don’t even provide broadband and phone services everywhere! In fact, I can’t get a mobile phone service in lots of places out in the countryside. An example would be Docking in North Norfolk, where my brother-in-law has a cottage. Its got a population of 1,150 in 469 households as of the 2001 census and yet Orange can’t give me a signal in large parts of the place and surrounding area.
In terms of the connection in the house it is basically mediocre and I am unhappy with it (more to the point my teenage kids are!) and I am looking at changing. So, I am not impressed with Orange (sorry EE) and even think that they should be reported to the Advertising Standards Agency for misleading advertising with their Everything Everywhere claim.
3. Apple – this last few months I have been surviving without my beloved Macbook Pro, having donated it to my daughter for her college work as my previous donation (a 1st Gen Macbook Pro) has finally got too slow and the keyboard has lost a few keys. Its been hard and without my iPhone 4S I am not sure how I would have managed. I am intending to get a new iMac soon and I will let you know how that works out.
So, how have I coped? Well, my iPhone 4S has Numbers and Pages on it and combined with Dropbox and the work laptop (I manage a charity and use a HP laptop) I have just about managed. it makes wonder if I could ditch the laptop altogether (in terms of mobile use - would still need it at work for the accounts – Windows only) and just use an iPad?
Speaking of iPhones, I dropped my iPhone recently whilst visiting someone in hospital and of course the screen smashed making it very difficult to read the screen now, so it looks like I will need to get that replaced asap. In terms of upgrading to the iPhone 5 my contract has some time left on it so I guess it will be an iPhone 6 for me if all the posts about Apple’s plans in that respect are anything to go by.
So, all in all, 2012 has been a mixed bag tech wise but I remain grateful for all that has been good about the year and that generally my tech as served me well and been useful and productive. At the end of the day I have so much stuff that I feel terribly guilty at times when I think about others less fortunate. That’s why in 2013 I am part of a team going to work with street children in Brazil, but more of that another post. Just to say I wish everyone a very happy, peaceful and healthy New Year!