ISSUE 34  News & opinion |  September 2002 | updated 11/17/02   

  Web design tips Pt. 2 Digital camera Scandinavia Comment Archive  
  They seem so, well... civilized















Fuji FinePix 601

  Baggage tag - CLE - DTW - AMS

After spending two weeks in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, I have to say my return to the good ol' USA has taken some adjustment. We usually consider ourselves to be living in an advanced society, but when compared to Scandinavia I start to wonder.

OK, so my reactions are based on short, casual encounters with these countries, but I've traveled a fair amount in Europe and the US, so I'm not totally naive about such things.

To sum up my visit to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Olson and Bergen, plus a few small towns in between: cities are livable, safe, and pedestrian friendly. Parks are everywhere, clean, and well-used. You don't need a car to get around; public transportation is widespread, convenient, and reasonably priced. In Copenhagen, thousands of people bicycle to work, school, and the store daily.

Crime appears to be low: in many days & nights of walking around I never encountered so much as an unpleasant verbal exchange on the street. Panhandlers are virtually non-existent. My one encounter was a guy who'd seen me struggling to get my transit card to work in the machine, helped me with that, told me the proper platform to wait on for my train, then apologetically asked for a few kroner (less than a dollar).

Add to this people who are helpful (if not overly-friendly), plenty of cultural attractions, beautiful scenery, and the result is a vision of what "civilized" countries can become.

What's not to like? Well, high cost of living, very high taxes, and a much less diverse population than in most American cities. There's a price for everything.

Smart Media, dumb human
This trip was the shakedown cruise for my new Fuji Finepix 601. We did it all: movies in the Amsterdam airport, lots of medium-resolution stills, audio comments with the pictures, the sounds of street performers... multimedia up the wazoo. The Finepix worked great.

The biggest problem was the LCD screen on the back: sunlight overpowered the image, making accurate framing impossible. Fortunately the camera's viewfinder, which zooms along with the lens, is a perfectly workable substitute. Unfortunately the camera's many adjustable settings can only be changed via on-screen menus. There were bright afternoons when even in the shade I couldn't see the small text and icons.

But the worst moment came after I'd hooked the camera to a friend's PC to show off the picture quality. We went to the Fuji website, downloaded & installed the appropriate driver, and there were my Copenhagen pictures in living color. Movies, too. No problem. The next day I hooked up again, only to see the blood-red message on the screen: "CARD ERROR." Desperation forced me to read the Owner's Manual for the first time. There is an important, specific way to disconnect from the computer which I of course hadn't followed. The penalty for not doing so: a SmartMedia card that needs to be reformatted (which of course wipes out everything on it). Or maybe the data can be recovered...

Next: data recovery websites - do they deliver on their promises? Stay tuned.

49 Tips for Better Web Design, Pt. 2
Last month was the first installment of 49 Tips for Better Web Design, a brief collection of Do's and Don'ts for beginning web designers. They're based on years of experience and research, but of course are only my opinion of what's most important. I hope you find them helpful, and I'd love to hear your comments.

This month's tips cover Typography and Graphics. Next month it will be Domains & Hosting, and Promotion. Part 1 was Writing for the Web, Visual Design, and Color.

[ 49 Tips - Part 2 ]  |  [ 49 Tips - Part 1 ]

-Al Wasco, Sept. 20, 2002