December 22, 2003

New Bells, Whistles, Digital Cameras, Saint's Days

Mea culpa. I did my part to boost semiconductor prices by buying a new digital camera at Best Buy the day I left Colorado for Paris. Camera phones and digital cameras are supposed to be the big drivers of semi prices in the fourth quarter. It sure seems like the camera phones are taking off. When I was in Baltimore, I had dinner with my colleague Thom Hickling. During dinner, Thom's college-aged son called and needed a picture of a $20 bill for a report. I forked over my yuppie food stamp and Thom snapped a quick pic with his camera phone and emailed it directly from his phone to his kid's PC. Please, nobody tell the Fed how easy it was to create new money out of thin air. As for the digital camera...I went with a Sony DSC-P10, mostly on the strength of the recommendation by my nephew Tyler, who showed me how to operate it. I'm not much of a tech geek, and I probably won't use all the features the camera has. But it does have some nifty ones. And from time to time, I'll post some images here. Most of these images won't have anything to do with investing, at least directly. But I will note that the proliferation of cheap audio visual digital technology is going to shake up the media even more in the coming years. Already, you're starting to see the images, words, and sounds of Iraqis and U.S. soldiers hit the Web, completely unedited and unfiltered by Big Media. Digital technology makes everyone an eyewitness, with the footage to prove it. The decentralization of the opinion making class is under way. And it's a good thing. Now...on to the pictures... First...the bells of St. Merry. You've heard about them on the Daily Reckoning. Heck, with the MPEG feature on the camera, I suppose I can even record them for you sometime. Until then, here's what they look like from our fourth floor perch across the street. DSC00029.JPE Next, the entrance to the hotel St. Merry, right next to the infamous Cafe Paradis...not too many cafe drinkers out right's only lunch time, and it's fairly chilly right now. DSC00029.JPE And finally, a look up north in the direction of the rue St. Jacques and the Sorbonne. I wish I knew more about the history of this shot to tell you what you're seeing. What I can say is that on the North side of Paris (the left bank) this ramrod straight road is called rue St. Jacques. On the southside it's called the rue St. Martin. It's so straight because it's an old Roman road that runs straight through the original Celtic settlement in Paris on Ile de la Cite (where Notre Dame is). I'm told that the Rue St. Jacques is named for St. James and that pilgrims took this road south to visit his church in Spain (Santiago de Compostela). I say HIS church because some Catholics believe St. James founded a church in Spain at that his remains are relics at Compostela. The Catholic Encyclopedia (from my quick glance) is ambivalent on whether this happened or not.) The building you see in the picture, if I'm not mistaken is the observatory of the Sorbonne. Construction began under Louis XIV in the mid 1600s and the guide books say you can still find bullet holes from the last days of the liberation of Paris in August of 1944. It's about 39 meters above the ground, a good sniper's perch. There are two pictures. I posted them to show you what you can do with the DSC-P10 (even though I'm not very good at it.) The first is taken from the balcony without any manipulation. Here it is... DSC00032.JPE The second is one I monkeyed around with...going from 3 megapixels to five and using the zoom feature. You lose a little granularity with something so far off. But you get the idea of how it can work. Oh yeah, one last note, going with a higher number of megapixels improves image quality (thought not the way I did in the case). But it also increases image size, meaning it will take your pictures longer to upload and email. I've just linked to it here so it doesn't slow down the page uploading. That brings up an interesting point...bandwidth is a pretty big issue with these new camera phones. It's no surprise that they've taken off in South Korea especially because bandwidth there is so much more robust. It can support the rapid transfer of large files...something that ain't quite the case yet in the USA. Stock to consider on the camera phone trend: Samsung DSC00033.JPG


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