CityDesk 2.0.1 Beta Released

As promised, Fog Creek announced the availability of CityDesk 2.0.1 Beta today.

This really is a great step forward, with dozens of small time-saving enhancements and several big features that make previously-impossible things doable. You can read my first impressions here.

May 6th, 2003

How Software Should Be

This is how software development should be:

Fog Creek Software announced that the beta version of CityDesk 2.0 will be released next week. It will be an open beta, meaning anyone who wants to can join. When the final version of CityDesk 2.0 is released, it will be a free upgrade for registered CityDesk 1.0 users!

Ed Hamrick is constantly working on his excellent VueScan software for driving film scanners. I purchased the Pro version, which gives me 12 months of free updates. I thought that would be maybe 2 or 3 minor revisions over the next year, but it turns out he releases 2 or 3 new revisions each week! Every time he fixes a few bugs or improves support for scanners, he releases a patch.

May 1st, 2003

Older Cameras

All the photographers I know seem to be planning their switch from film to digital (if they haven’t already made the jump!). “When will I change?” “At what price point?” “Digital compact or digital SLR?” “How many megapixels?”

Am I the only one switching the other way?

My 2.1 Mp Olympus C-2040Z is great for family snapshots, where I rarely enlarge beyond A5. It’s also good for learning and experimenting, where the instant feedback really helps. But as a poor hobbyist, I�just can’t afford to buy a quality digital SLR that will allow me to make prints up to A3 size for camera club competitions. Not yet, at least.

In the meantime, I’m shooting stuff intended for camera club on some older manual 35mm SLRs I’ve come across. I’ve now got:

  • Nikkormat FTN + 50mm f/2.0 (on loan from my father)
  • Pentax ME Super + 50mm f/2.0 + 70-200mm f/4.5 (bought the camera body for $5 at a garage sale, 50mm lens for $30 from a friend at camera club, and swapped a Minolta SR-101 + 135mm f/2.8 lens in poor condition for the 70-200mm zoom)
  • Ricoh Singlex TLS + 50mm f/2.0 + 28mm f/2.8 (bought for $40 second hand)

In the next week or so I’ll be purchasing a Canon FS-4000US film scanner (review) to scan the films I put through these cameras. It also has an APS adapter, so I can scan all the photos Megan and I have taken with our compact camera (photos from the Maldives, Borneo, and elsewhere).

By coincidence, I came across two interesting articles this week on using older manual SLRs – Old Beaters: The Joy Of Bottom Feeding and What Do You Lose Stepping Back 20 Years? They’re both great articles.

March 4th, 2003

How To Give Parents A Pre-Natal Diagnosis

Warning: this article is intended to make a serious point in an interesting way. It is not meant to offend anyone, except possibly doctors.

I’m very sorry, I have the results of the genetic tests and they have confirmed our suspicions that your foetus is what we call… Normal. Some people prefer the terms “Ordinarily Challenged” or “Normal Syndrome”. The syndrome can be easily identified by a complete lack of any interesting genetic characteristics. I know this will come as a shock to you, but you should be aware of what this is likely to mean.

If your foetus manages to survive the rest of the pregnancy and the birth, which is becoming more common these days, he or she will face some daunting challenges. Children who suffer from normalcy are prone to health and psychological problems. It is almost certain that the growing child will suffer a seemingly endless stream of viruses. They will frequently damage themselves, and sometimes others, from their excessive energy.

Their relentless demands will put a strain on your existing family and, of course, your relationship with your partner will suffer, and possibly end in a painful and acrimonious separation. Any children you already have, even if they also suffer from normalcy, will be jealous of the newcomer and all their extra attention. Many siblings are liable to be psychologically scarred by the new arrival.

I need hardly mention the financial consequences, although disastrous, they will be nothing compared to the emotional turmoil your life will suffer.

After a while, you may be lucky and find they can be kind and loving young children. They may find some temporary happiness in things such as music, dancing, food or playing with toys.

But if they survive early childhood, a Normal child is almost certain to grow into a Normal adolescent. Your years of sacrifice will be thrown back in your face as they become disobedient, wild and reckless. Unable to find happiness and contentment, they will treat you with contempt until they manage to leave home. Even then the suffering will continue as they will often return to try and extract money. They will blame you for their own faults and leave you bitter and twisted.

They may well become criminals, over a quarter of Normals will have trouble with the law, many will spend time in jail. Many will have problems with alcohol or drug abuse. Normal marriages are often unhappy and short and over half end in divorce.

Even if they become successful this is likely to be because of the often observed tendency of Normals towards excessive greed. The chances of them sharing their success with you are remote and they will tend to see you as an embarrasment.

Finally, Normal people are likely to die before their time. 23% will die of cancer, 33% of heart disease. Hundreds every year in this country alone are so distressed by their condition that they take their own life. I’m sorry to say that many will have had a lonely, painful and pointless existence.

I am afraid that Normal Syndrome is a genetic condition that affects every cell of the body, and so is impossible to cure.

Termination is an option.

Shall I book an appointment?

…from a parent who received a diagnosis rather like this.

I’d like to give big thank-you to Bob Lincoln for allowing me to post this masterful piece on my site. Bob originally posted it to a bioethics mailing list, and somebody who saw it there cross-posted it to a Down syndrome list that I’m subscribed to.

February 7th, 2003

18 Week Ultrasound

We had Megan’s 18-week ultrasound this afternoon. The result was a completely Normal Diagnosis.

Also, there was an interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald recently about Down syndrome in art: Nativity scene paints different picture of Down syndrome.

February 4th, 2003

Renovation Update

The brickwork out the back of the house is now finished, and looks pretty good. Work is now starting on the stuff inside the back room.

January 18th, 2003

Disability Benefits

This page will mainly be of value to Australian residents, but people in other countries may also get some ideas for finding out about local disability benefits.

  • Theme parks (e.g. Wet’n’Wild, Movie World, etc) often offer a discount for a disabled child and their carer. As an example, general adult admission to Wet’n’Wild is $35.00 and the child rate is $22.00. The disabled child rate is $17.50, and one carer gets in for the pensioner price (I think roughly $22.00). It pays to ask!

January 9th, 2003

New Down Syndrome Association Web Site

Jill O’Connor (from the Down Syndrome Association of NSW) visited us today with her husband Brendan and son Declan. I’m working with Jill to set up the new web site for the DSA.

December 31st, 2002

Grace’s First Birthday Party

Grace had her first birthday party today. She slept through most of the celebrations, but at least she was the last kid to bed! Games featured included pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey, balloon races, two treasure hunts, and an impromptu winner-take-all balloon battle.

Check out the photos in the gallery.

December 29th, 2002

Christmas 2002

We spent Christmas Day down at Huskisson with Robyn, Ian, Todd and Joyce this year. Grace had a great time, and of course was spoilt rotten.

[Image] [Image]

December 26th, 2002

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