Monthly Archives: January 2016

Computer Upgrade

As I am currently planning to expand my collection of articles on DSLR and Camera Lens Technology, I have decided to increase my productivity by some faster hardware. I also needed a larger and more precise display for image editing. My previous computer was a Lenovo Ideapad I purchased in 2009, and it really did an excellent job without hardware failures or data loss. In order to keep my system compact, I went for a notebook again. I finally decided for a high-performance gaming notebook – the Acer Aspire Nitro Black Edition VN7. Here is a summary of it’s most relevant equipment features:

- Display: 17-inch IPS – LED backlight – Full HD 16:9 – Acer Comfy View Non-Glare (wide viewing angle, matt surface to avoid reflections)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-4720HQ (Quad-Core) – 2,6 GHz – 6MB Cache, 47 Watt TDP
- Memory: 16 GB DDR3L-1333 SO-DIMM
- Hard Drives: Hybrid 256 GB SSD – 1000 GB HDD
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M – 2 GB GDDR5 VRAM – HDMI
- Sound: Optimized Dolby Home Theater v4 – 4x Stereo Speakers
- Communication: Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000 Mbit/s) – Wireless LAN 802.11 ac – Bluetooth
- Interfaces: 2x USB2.0 – 2x USB 3.0 – HDMI – Microphone – Line-Out
- Card Reader: SD Card Reader
- Input Components: Acer FineTip Keyboard with NumPad and background illumination
- Operating System: Windows 10 64 Bit
- Specialties: Black Edition (designed for demanding tasks, image and video processing, gaming)
- Extras: 4 Speakers, Dust Defender Technology, Cool Boost Thermal Feature, BluRay Burner

When unboxing the Acer, I felt that the packaging was really designed to offer a very good protection against scratches and wear while in the box. Also, all packaging materials give an impression of high quality: The notebook itself was covered by a black soft pouch, and another soft inlay was placed between the keyboard and the display. The power supply unit was packed separately with the power cable. Unboxing the Acer Aspire was really lovely.

The surface of the Acer is made of fine plastic which feels pretty good but is also susceptible for fingerprints. The keys are made of plastic which is even smoother than the rest of the surface and therefore also susceptible to fingerprints, but these can be removed easibly with a microfiber cloth.

Starting the Acer does immediately turn on the keyboard rear illumination which I found slightly distracting. It can be turned off via the Function-keys (Fn + F9), but after rebooting the keyboard back illumination is automatically turned on again. This is not a big deal, but I had wished for a method to turn the back illumination off permanently (comments are welcome).

Aside from these tiny remarks, I am totally amazed by the sheer performance the Acer Aspire delivers. After installing my usual software and also some games (Portal 2, Half-Life 2), I realized that the hardware is not even slightly challenged judged by the low hardware temperature and low fan speed. For the other software (Photoshop, Lightroom) the additional computational power is saving me so much time as the SSD opens applications almost instantly. The IPS panel is brilliant for its colors and the high resolution increases the effective canvas size in Photoshop. Also, just a neat feature I haven’t expected: The Acer includes four speakers (with subwoofer) and the sound is incredible!

 

New York Public Library – Public Domain Images

The New York Public Library has released roughly 190.000 historical images of various categories. The copyright for these images has expired, and therefore they can be shared and used without restriction. In conjunction, NYPL Labs has launched a data visualization tool that allows easy navigation through the digital collections and to download images in high resolution.

My attention was drawn to a collection created in 1935 by photographer Berenice Abbott – an iconic documentation of New York City in the 1930s for the Federal Art Project. Abbott focused on architecture, and I thought a short selection of her photos would fit very well into this blog.