I picked up a new gadget last week; a Fujifilm FinePix S5200 digital camera. It’s very cool. It’s almost as good as my trusty Canon T90 35mm film camera (not quite) but still small and inexpensive. I’m hoping it will work out well as an interim camera until the next generation or two of digital SLRs come out. The S5200 is almost like a mini-SLR. It has full manual control so you can do time exposures, control depth of field (the aperture only varies between 3.2f and 8f though), and it has a 10x optical zoom that’s about the same as the 300mm telephoto I use on my real camera. I’ll post some photos soon.
It was interesting how easily it works with Linux compared to Windows. I plugged the included USB cable into my laptop which runs Fedora Core 3 and a little dialog box immediately popped up asking if I wanted to download the photos. The gThumb photo viewer automatically started and allowed me to view the photos and park them anywhere on disk I wanted. I didn’t have to install anything or configure anything. It just worked.
It took me about half an hour to get to that point on Susan’s Windows box. I plugged in the cable and nothing happened. So I stuck the included Fuji CD in the drive and waited while it installed a USB driver, a photo viewer, and about 40MB of other apps which turned out to be worthless and eventually had to be uninstalled. When it finally finished I had to reboot, of course, since this is Windows. After the reboot, I plugged in the camera again and got a USB error message, followed by several cryptic dialogs complaining about missing drivers. Finally the Fuji photo viewer started. It’s very non-intuitive and it took a while to even figure out how to download the photos. After it downloaded the images, it popped up a dialog claiming it was “safe to disconnect the camera”. So I unplugged the USB cable. This immediately resulted in another string of error dialogs complaining that I had “unsafely” removed a USB device. We get the same series of errors before and after each use of the clumsy photo viewer, but it does work, sorta. It’s amazing how much easier it was on Linux though.
Robots seem to be occupying what little free time I’ve had lately. I’ve done a little more writing for Servo magazine that should show up in the March issue. I’ve instigated a group robot project at the DPRG – I’m not actually doing much of the work on it though. I’m leaving that to the folks with more time. I’m also still working on a C library for the MRM board with another DPRG member. We hope to release the library in the relatively near future (under the GNU GPL, of course).