OpenRAW – Fighting to Preserve Digital Photographs

I’ve been using my Nikon D-100 for a while and occasionally I use RAW mode when I’m taking photos of things like Donna’s paintings which will have prints made of them for sale because they’re lossless and retain much more information from the CCD than other image formats. The rest of the time I shoot in JPEG as they’re holiday snaps and it just works.

However, RAW formats are proprietary – each vendor will have many different versions as their cameras evolve and they want to add all that new shiny information into them. These undocumented formats then need to be reverse engineered by the open source community to make them usable outside of proprietary information silos – for instance Dave Coffins dcraw program supports over 208 cameras so far – but because the formats are completely undocumented there’s no guarantee of a complete implementation!

So, this brings us to OpenRAW billing themselves as “Digital Image Preservation Through Open Documentation”. Why should we worry ? Well, how about this :

Photographers will find their older images inaccessible, as future software versions lose support for older cameras. In the worst cases, entire brands may disappear, as has already happened with Contax.


In some cases manufacturers have even encrypted the data within newer RAW files. Intentionally or not this encryption has placed full access to the images stored in these files out of reach of the photographers that took them. Unless, of course, they limit themselves to tools sold by the camera manufacturer.

So it’s the same issue as it is for proprietary document formats, once the vendor moves on and looses interest in the older formats you may find that you have problems properly accessing (or even accessing at all) the contents of those proprietary files. Simply put, the photographer does not fully own his photograph in this format.

OpenRAW argue (correctly, in my opinion) that camera makers will not consent to use a single, standardised, RAW format, but their solution is pretty simple:

We want camera manufacturers to publicly document their RAW image formats — past, present, and future.

Personally I’ve got to agree, can you imagine being an archivist 100 years from now trying to access RAW photos made by a company that may not exist & written by people who are dead when you have no access to the source code or documentation ?

AMD to Recall Faulty Opterons – Can Overheat, Cause Floating Point Errors

Ouch –,,3715_13965,00.html:

AMD has identified, and subsequently corrected, a test escape that occurred in our post-manufacturing product testing process for a limited number of single-core AMD Opteronâ„¢ processor models x52 and x54. No other single-core AMD Opteron processors, and no dual-core AMD Opteron processors, are affected.
You must be operating single-core AMD Opteron x52 (2.6 GHz) or x54 (2.8 GHz) processor-based systems, AND you must be running floating point-intensive code sequences.

Advance Micro Devices Inc. on Friday said that it has discovered a potential heat problem with a small percentage of Opteron chips run under extreme conditions, and said as many as 3,000 processors at customer sites could be affected.

Update: oops.. here’s an unfortunate advert to appear over the Information Week article.. 😉


New Source of Comets – the Asteroid Belt ?

Found on the Planetary Society Blog:

So far, it has generally been assumed that all comets originate from the other two known reservoir regions: the Oort cloud and Kuiper belt. The main asteroid belt is home to, well, asteroids, not comets. But Hsieh and Jewitt have proven that there are comets in the main asteroid belt, and that they almost certainly formed there.

Pretty interesting given that the current assumption is that all water on Earth arrived via cometary bombardment early on in the life of the solar system.

You can read more on Henry Hsieh’s website and peruse the abstract of their paper “A Population of Comets in the Main Asteroid Belt” from Science Magazine.

Wonderful Photography

Joseph Holmes – Natural Light Photography

Category: Personal site

Topic: Photography

Overall rating: 4 out of 5

Content rating: 4 out of 5

There are some simply stunning images here – Joseph Holmes – Natural Light Photography – an amazing collection spanning over 2 decades. Here’s what’s on his front page as I write..

Hills, San Benito County, California, 1986

Via Alec Muffett.

Tags: photography

Judge Put Coded Message Into “Da Vinci Code” Judgement

The BBC reports that Mr Justice Peter Smith encoded a message into his judgement on the “Da Vinci Code” copyright case.

Seemingly random italicised letters were included in the 71-page judgement given by Mr Justice Peter Smith, which apparently spell out a message. […]

Italicised letters in the first few pages spell out “Smithy Code”, while the following pages also contain marked out letters.

I liked the fact he said:

I can’t discuss the judgement, but I don’t see why a judgement should not be a matter of fun,

Nice one your honour. 🙂

Australian Government to Introduce De-Facto ID Cards

From the ABC:

Federal Cabinet has approved the introduction of a smart card for all people who use Government health and welfare services.

The card will include a photograph and personal details, and will be used to access Medicare rebates and family benefits. […]

Announcing the decision, Prime Minister John Howard says the Government has decided not to continue with a proposal for a national identity card for all Australians.

So if you want to be able to claim your Medicare for going to see the doctor, you will have to have one of these cards…

US Wants to Remove More Rights, Expand DMCA

It would appear a coalition of the repressive wish to expand the remit of US Copyright law, including the DMCA, to make it even harder to do research, play media on any OS but those you have to payed Microsoft/Apple for, or defend yourself against damaging software they put on silver circles they claim to be (but are not) Compact Discs.

Jessica Litman, who teaches copyright law at Wayne State University, views the DMCA expansion as more than just a minor change. “If Sony had decided to stand on its rights and either McAfee or Norton Antivirus had tried to remove the rootkit from my hard drive, we’d all be violating this expanded definition,” Litman said.

Even the current wording of the DMCA has alarmed security researchers. Ed Felten, the Princeton professor, told the Copyright Office last month that he and a colleague were the first to uncover the so-called “rootkit” on some Sony BMG Music Entertainment CDs–but delayed publishing their findings for fear of being sued under the DMCA.

..and how do they propose to get this through ? Fear of course! That resurgent American political tool.

During a speech in November, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales endorsed the idea and said at the time that he would send Congress draft legislation. Such changes are necessary because new technology is “encouraging large-scale criminal enterprises to get involved in intellectual-property theft,” Gonzales said, adding that proceeds from the illicit businesses are used, “quite frankly, to fund terrorism activities.”

Ed: my emphasis added

Partial PHP5 Fix to Rich Boakes “Most Wanted” Plugin

Figured out that if you replace:



$m = new MostWanted();

It gets rid of the annoying PHP-5 error:

Fatal error: Non-static method MostWanted::mostwanted() cannot be called statically in [...]

The only downside is that for me it lists the top-5 twice, for some reason. Oh, that and when I left a comment with the fix for Rich I managed to miss the leading $ in the second line (which is present above).

NB: I’m using this as the widget version, caveat emptor.

Stupid CNN

Clicking on the video link on this article I get a pop up that says (in an image, just to make it even dumber):

Dumb CNN Plugin Image

In text, it says:


The video experience is optimized for Windows Media Player 9 or above.

No Windows Media Player detected

They also give you a “GET THE PLAYER” link to click on and when I do, the Microsoft site helpfully tells me that:

Your operating system is not currently supported by Windows Media Player.

What a suprise.. I’ve sent a whinge to CNN to ask them to fix this bug and support more video codecs – be interesting to see what (if anything) happens..