Blog

My workspace, thoughts on cameras and my car.

It's June. And school is ramping up - reason why my posts have dwindled to just sketches.

 

I get loads of people asking me to post more photos of my workspace. I never got to it but I cleaned my room so I took a few shots. I had posted some back in the beginning of the year too. 

 

About a week ago, I switched to the Magic Trackpad to transition into Lion. It's pretty great, as I am a fan of the MacBook Pro's trackpad. I will say that it has a few ergonomic issues, like most handsome Apple peripherals. 

 

Above my monitor. 

 

A subway map of Seoul. Picked it up while I was there. Notice how the designer of this map purposefully made the Han River look like the curve of the Korean flag. Clever.

 

It's got some really tasteful lines. It's no Massimo Vignelli though.

 

To the left of my computer space is my framed Dieter Rams signature. And some inspiring words.

 

At the other end of my desk is my "PC" area. This is my old Dell that I use exclusively for Solid Works. Not fast but does the job. Also where I do my tinkering.

 

And further to the right is a humidifier, designed by Cyphics. I received it at the end of my internship

 

My mockups laying around my room.

 

My couch (and bed, because of school).

 

I stick stuff I did on walls. This wall was all filled before I ripped everything down.

 

The coffee table. These rare things called "books" hold some of my inspirations. Made with fiber from trees.

 

My most recent addition, the Naoto Fukaswa book. A master of minimalism and form.

 

I'm sure that I've sold at least a few dozen GF1/GF2's by advertising it to everyone. You may be one of the people that picked one up after me saying how great it is. Another friend recently picked up a GF2 and I got to take a close look at it.

 

Personally, I prefer my GF1, mainly because it has more manual controls. Panasonic has added a touch display to the GF2. I think this is insane. Why would anyone need a touch display on a camera?

 

 Things have gotten even worse for the GF3. It is a point-and-shoot with an interchangeable lens. 

 

I mean, just look at it. Companies are becoming increasingly concerned about reducing manual controls and making these into automatic shooting machines. The GF3 also does without a hotshoe, meaning that even the electronic viewfinder is out of the equation.

 

I originally fell in love with micro four thirds cameras with the Olympus PEN. At that time, I had believed that these cameras had the spirit of a rangefinder camera in a modern package. Now that I look at these newer cameras, that is clearly not the case. It's all about making a more convenient camera with better specs. They don't have soul. Sadly, in the modern market, specs are all that matters because "soul" cannot be quantified.

I'm sure that Panasonic had a list of specs that needed to be met with the GF3 to compete with competitors. It's the fault of both the consumer and the producer of these spec meeting products.

 

The Leica M9. This has been my dream camera for the longest time. Why? Because it has soul. In a world of spec battling camera companies like Nikon and Canon, Leica produces a honest and pure product. It does not fall into the battle of megapixles or automatic functions. It's the same old passonate product it has always been. It's about creating art, not about the perfectly exposed and focused photo. It's about being a part of the camera. It's about the camera being an extension of you eye. It's sex. Flesh. Sweat.

I think a good comparison is with the mobile phone market. There are a huge number of Android phones entering the market everyday. Every new phone has a higher spec than the old. Consumers go insane over buying the highest spec'ed phone. The Leica is like the iPhone. It doesn't need to compete with specs. In the grand scheme of things, it's products like the Leica and iPhone that will be remembered. Specs are such an insignificant part of a product. It's the soul that matters.

 

A new player is in town. It's the Fujifilm X100. And currently it's captured my love. It seems to be have the rangefinder spirit. At first sight, it's almost perfect. A rangefinder style viewfinder, a 23mm fixed lens, physical manual controls, and a APS-C sized sensor. It is also $1200, which is relatively affordable compared to the $6000+ the Leicas go for. This is the direction I wish the micro-four-thirds cameras would take. We need to bring back the craft of making good photos. Who cares about how many shots per second you can take or how many MPs your camera has. The camera does not make the art. The artist does. 

 

Now that my rant about cameras is over, let's talk about my car. As some readers may know, I bought a Ford Fiesta back in January. I wanted to give it a long term review.

 

First of all, I'll talk about cars I'm currently jealous about. First is the Fiat 500. I really really wanted to get this car but it wasn't released when I was buying my car. What's more annoying is that it costs about the same as my car. As a car, the Fiesta is probably better but who can ignore the 500's charm? In terms of pure aesthetics and philosophy, the Fiat 500 is possibly my favorite car.

 

Second, the CR-Z. I know that it's not a very good "hybrid" but I love the way this car looks. I've been seeing a bunch on the road and every time, I wonder why I never considered this car. It only has two seats but whatever, it's like a kei sports car.

 

The new new Beetle, or whatever it's called. I would have never owned the last generation Beetle but the new one looks pretty hot. It's like a cartoon Porsche. 

 

But the car I'm not jealous about is the Euro spec Fiesta. It's so much better looking that the US spec isn't not even funny. And it also comes in a 2 door style. Why must everything get watered down when it comes to the States? 

 

The smaller mouth of the US fiesta is what makes it less aggressive. Blacked-out headlights would also help.

 

Looks identical from the side though. What's that Maserati doing in my crappy neighborhood? 

 

But whatever, I don't have too many complaints about the actual car. First of all, I am getting some intense mileage figures. I basically only drive in the city and I'm getting 6.9l/100KM or about 33~34MPG. Class leading for sure.

 

The biggest advantage of the Fiesta over its competitors is the refinement. It feels far more premium than even cars in the class above it. The interior cabin of the Fiesta is surprisingly quiet. It's more quiet than the Hyundai Elantra or Mazda 3 in my personal experience.

The center dash is getting on my nerves a bit though. It's so over "designed". 

 

This is my mother's Fiesta in Vancouver. It doesn't have the Ford Sync package, so it just has radio controls. Look at how the radio channel buttons on the right end up looking even more like a Samsung phone from the 90s.

 

Talking about Microsoft Ford Sync, it's awesome and a nightmare at the same time. The UI is the most backwards and confusing I've ever seen. There is no consistency. This is ever more concerning since this system was designed by IDEO. I'm blaming Microsoft and Ford.

 

Just look at the procedure for updating the software. This is insane. Installing OSX is easier than this.

 

To people that first get in the car, the interior LEDs are what impresses them first.

 

As do the parking LEDs. I guarantee that no other car at this price will offer premium options like these.

 

Don't get my wrong, there are small signs of this car being under $20000. Small misalignments like these.

 

Another thing that makes no sense, this car doesn't have cubby for sunglasses. 

 

 

Something that's not ideal for LA is the front air spoiler. It's for improving aerodynamics/fuel efficiency and comes down really low. I have scraped it a few times while going over dips and coming out of parking lots.

 

Last complaint is the rear visibility. To give the Fiesta this handsome rear, they shrunk the glass quite a bit.

 

 Resulting in a pretty small window. I removed the rear headrests because they obscured at least half of what's available. 

 

Now the powertrain. It's been performing perfectly fine for me. I did have some weird shifting patterns initially and a software update fixed that problem. The automatic dual clutch system is hooked up to a computer that does all the shifting. It apparently learns from your driving patterns and learnt "incorrectly". This system is what gives the car its impressive fuel efficiency. But it does bring up the issue of trusting more and more on computers. 

 

Despite a few quirks, I love my car. One cannot ignore how grown up this car feels. The way it handles bumps and hugs corners. The way it handles wind noise. It "feels" almost German. Buy American. Oh wait, this car is built in Mexico and probably developed in Europe. My first impressions are here by the way.