Image printing - the resolution question

David Pogue did some A-B testing of 13MP images resized to 5MP and 8MP, and nobody can tell the difference:

Pogue’s Posts - Technology - New York Times Blog

This is not a big surprise to me, because we've done tests like these over the past 5 years with Picasa's print engine.

Picasa does Lanczos-3 interpolation to 1/2 the native printer resultion by default when it prints, and a user can request that we use Lanczos-8 at full-res! Needless to say, I think our output looks rather good, and we do better with small-sized images than almost any other app out there.

Many major online print providers still do awful interpolation, and so part of this equation is: what kind of interpolation does the printer driver (or RIP) use when it's printing? I've seen many well-known services do nearest-neighbor resampling, and almost all consumer printers do this. You might not be able to tell, but you probably could if you looked closely.

When we chose a default "low-res" size for Picasaweb, we actually picked 1600x1200 based on some double-blind prints at 8x10.

I'm not kidding: people could not tell the difference between a 2Mpix image printed with great interpolation at 8x10, compared with an 8Mpix image printed at full resolution.

Sounds crazy, but there it is...


Mail options for Windows Mobile (Smartphone)

Part 2 in my ongoing smartphone adventures!

Just in case you wanted "Direct Push Technology" and you don't run Exchange, then your options are these (none of them work, if you want the summary):

1. Run using T-Mobile's hosted service, which under the covers converts IMAP/SSL to something like POP3. This service sends you silent SMSes which trigger the Windows Mobile client to sync. (You're not charged for the SMSes.) But it is so insecure and you don't share deletes and unread flags with your IMAP server. Boo hiss.

2. Run Flexmail, which does IMAP IDLE against IMAP! (Hope?) Except it doesn't work with SSL (so close The UI looks pretty, but it doesn't have the basics, like when you're viewing a message, the left and right arrow keys do...nothing. You go back to the message list and pick another message to read. Works great with GMail/Pop3/SSL though.

3. Get your hopes up that vgsmail will work with your phone, to find out that it doesn't.

4. Run the built-in Messaging app with its minimum polling rate of once per 15 minutes, bad tendency to download way too much information on sync, bugs with deleting files on IMAP servers, and live with it.

How much does an Exchange license cost again? Oh wait, that's what they want me to say.



thoughts on the t-mobile dash

I had a t-mobile Sidekick the first week it was out, and I loved it, though it was too big. Mine died a couple of years ago, and it would have been expensive to replace, so I didn't...never was my main phone. It pleasantly surprised me on a routine basis, though.

I thought that maybe the new Dash (a Windows Mobile device made by HTC) would satisfy the "one phone that does everything" problem. And it's thin enough to go in your pocket, even though you worry about scratching the screen. The full-sized Blackberry and Palm can't do that.

But man, the software. After 24 hours of wrestling, I think I can articulate what I think about Windows Mobile now. (This is the "smartphone edition" - a blackberry-esque re-simplification of Windows Mobile.)

It's not that it can't do everything, or that it's hard to figure out - it's not. It's that it's just no fun. While the phone itself is fast, the UI just takes 3 times as long to accomplish most tasks as it does on a Nokia or a Samsung or even a Sidekick, and the breadth isn't -- worth it.

This means that the t-mobile Dash doesn't have that elusive pleasant feeling of surprising you by making a set of things easy - the way that a Series 40 Nokia is a good phone, and a Sidekick is a good IM client, and a Blackberry is good at email, and an iPod is good at being an iPod.

I had an old college friend visiting yesterday, and he asked if maybe mass customization wasn't the path for handheld devices - you buy a device with software and hardware that is customized and designed perfectly for you. I think this is a brilliant idea and one that pretty much has to happen. All tasks just aren't equally important to all people. This is apparently the mistake that some of the popular Symbian OSes make, and certainly that this Windows Mobile phone makes.

Meanwhile I have a phone that runs applications that I have to shutdown sometimes using Task Manager, and writing a new text message is just that many steps harder, and somehow I can spend hours doing nothing more than I could using a more focused device.

And the very nice Google Java apps display no fewer than 3 warnings each time you run them (this is after you open "Java" in the "Applications" folder under the "Start" menu).

Overall, it has a beautiful screen and fits in my pocket, but it was designed by committee, and so it does a whole lot of things in a mediocre way. Devices made by small teams have obvious limitations, but a person who is actually allowed to craft the perfect experience makes a thing that is wonderfully better at doing something than something that is generic.

The problem in the technology world is that this piece of top-level design: the insight that distinguishes the main screen of an iPod from the main screen of a Blackberry is the lowest level in the technology stack (e.g., the application launcher, the global navigation), and it is the thing that software engineers like doing the least, and so it is the least flexible and customizable today.

But I am convinced that there needs to be some serious work on this to make devices that work for people.


wordpress editor

Will someone explain to me why the Wordpress 2.0 editor requires me to edit the HTML by hand everytime I look at it funny? (Otherwise it inserts BR tags instead of P's or gets my ordered lists all out of whack.)

I've not had to work so hard to make something work since I was doing layout in IMSI Publisher (this is 5 years before I learned Pagemaker, which probably means the 80's sometime). I would rather edit HTML by hand than use the broken Wordpress editor, I think.

Anyway, this blog uses Blogger, which has a significantly less broken editor (thanks cw).