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Eric Kim: Second day and mixed emotions


MACOLDIE just loves Engaget's podcasts and listens regularly. The latest edition comes highly recommended for anyone interested in eBook readers and the new large-format Kindle DX. The detailed discussion highlights the cost of the DX and explores potential problems in the subscription model for newspapers. 

In the USA, where newspaper subscription has always been a bigger segment of the market than in other parts of the world, people may be willing to shell out several hundred dollars a year to have their favourite broadsheet ported to the Kindle DX every morning. But it becomes a very expensive proposition at the moment and probably wouldn't work as well in, say, the UK where the subscription base is minimal and the majority of people buy their papers from a nearby shop or--another shrinking market--regular delivery from the same local store.

The guys at Engaget even question the future of e-ink technology because of its many shortcomings in refresh rate. We know from using the Sony ebook reader that the refresh rate is just about adequate for reading a book--the page change takes about the same time as turning over the page of a normal volume--but navigating the menus is excruciatingly slow. Most times it feels like manipulating a computer of 20 years ago.

While e-ink displays have one overwhelming advantage with their long battery life, we suspect most people would settle for a back-lit display, similar to that on the iPhone, for general book reading if they could be sure of a reasonable time between charges. As usual, the need is well ahead of the big bottleneck in all portable computer devices: battery life. Anyway, listen for yourself.

Another angle on the ebook discussion we would recommend this article on TechChrunch: How Big Can the Kindle Get?

This morning I awoke with the disquieting realisation that I would have to accost at least ten strangers in the street before I could eat my egg and cress sandwiches. I was tempted to stay in bed and send in a sicknote. This is way outside my comfort zone but it had to be done. Eric Kim had set us the task of approaching complete strangers and asking them to pose for a portrait. We were to get five people to say no and five to accept. Sounds simple. I was assigned to Eric’s co-instructor, Charlie Kirk of Two Cute Dogs, and we set forth in search of victims in Russell Square and down to the British Museum.

As you can imagine, the first encounter was the worst but I found my confidence building up rapidly. I’m not sure about the results but I certainly met some great people: from Taiwan, Holmfirth, Bangkok, Japan, Wigan, Amsterdam, Isle of Wight, Ravenscourt Park, New York. Indeed, I was so busy chatting I almost forgot to take photographs. Charlie helped enormously, encouraging me to get closer to the subject, to rely on zone focus combined with manual aperture and shutter speed. Fortunately this is easily done with a simple camera such as the Leica Monochrom.

The afternoon session was devoted to assessment of the three photographs we had all submitted in advance. Criticism there was in spadefuls. My three efforts (including Mr.Broccoli, above) were comprehensively demolished. But everyone came in for constructive advice and this is perhaps the most important aspect of the course. Although tonight I don’t feel I am exactly cut out for this street-photography mullarky (I’m too nice, apparently), I am sure I will bounce back. In any case, I take pictures to please myself and, with luck, I will gradually improve technique.

The most important thing I have taken from today is that I am good at talking to people. It’s that first approach that is the most difficult but I now understand that I am actually quite good at it. And that’s not too bad for a fundamentally shy person. All I need to do now is learn to take good photographs.

Tomorrow is another day.

 Relaxing at dinner after the day
Relaxing at dinner after the day’s workshop: Eric and Cindy


  1. That is very brave of you Mike. I am 100% positive street photography is not for me, I would need to become a 180 degre opposite of who I am inside myself and still be able to take great pictures…that would be fighting against my own nature. I am not considering myself an artist and I need to remain within my comfort zone to produce something good. I am not against a little challenge but that would be like sky diving to me…out of the question!

    So well done to you for trying…

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