Gelzon de la Cruz

Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Dot Now

In Media, Technology on October 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Communications paradigms are not tectonic plates. They’ve already shifted, without the earth shaking drum-roll.

Before printing presses, in the time of hand-copied manuscripts, the tattler was the medium for dissemination. But the tattler, a herald by a more regal name, was not limited nor defined by sources of words written.  He or she could gather news by other faculties. By taste, giving a review of a just opened public house’s fish and chips. By smell, voicing disgust over the village’s delay in finding its next garbage dump. Or by hearing, of course, relaying news on the state of the besieged castle over yonder hill.  Even back then, the tattler knew enough not to be bound to the tempo of scribblers.

Today, the prime presence of any media outlet is on the Internet.  To think otherwise is to harbor nostalgia for the days when newsletters and mailing lists were on the cutting edge.  Step back and consider your sources. See how the publishers of information and entertainment, the corporate entities themselves, have stepped out and in front of the media they own.  When you discuss breaking news with friends, do you attribute your info to “the online edition of …”, or do you simply say “from ABS-CBN” or “from GMANEWS”, while also meaning “of course online, helloooo”?  There are simply too many ways for getting the news now. And you don’t have to pause in your hearsay just to state if you got it by newspaper, TV, radio, Twitter, Facebook, Rappler, or the news aggregators of Google and Yahoo.  The timeliness and plausibility of your news already suggest how you got it.  Which is to say, if it happened just now, its not from newspapers, not TV, maybe the radio, but most definitely from the Internet.

Forget embargoes. Instead think “icebergs”. When the lifeline of the Allies stretched across the Atlantic in the Second World War and more than half of their matériel were going to the sea-bottom because of U-Boat wolf-packs, the British War Office never thought of declaring a self-imposed embargo, never thought of postponing their convoys. They instead came up with tactics to honor the threat of interdiction.  One tactic considered was to disguise freighters as icebergs.  Quickly discarded, the germ of the notion was developed further into dazzle camouflage that made it difficult for U-Boat skippers to estimate the range, speed and heading of each merchantman—key parameters for torpedo target solutions.  An entertaining digression, little more than a pun really.  But the ramifications of choosing between embargoes and icebergs are just as dire, here and now.

Press releases, not to mention breaking news, infest the Internet.  Should you embargo it? Sit on the news, wait for your evening broadcast, wait until next day’s print, or, forsooth, shelve it until next month’s edition? If you willingly, eyes open blindly, take this route, then forever stay silent about how you’re helplessly losing audience share in the face of this online onslaught.

Or, will you iceberg it? It takes little to notify your audience of this news.  Add some cross references to substantiate and qualify, finish with analysis that relates it to inhabitants in your corner of the world, and voila, you have an update with genuine value add for instant and free posting to online communities.  Then follow up in your less rabidly timed medium—in a broadcast block, a news section, or as a full magazine feature—with in-depth coverage, with interviews possibly, or even a human interest spin, if you must. Post it quickly, spotlight the tip of the iceberg first, and steer your audience into the news’ path. Then publish it well, dive to reveal what is frozen in glacial ice, to answer the succeeding questions that any sentient being would demand answers for.

The broadcast networks already know this; they are already practicing it;  they need to do it because they have billions at stake. The smaller players, with just one or several programs or publications to speak of, can see well enough to start doing it themselves.  Paradigms have already shifted, so do let’s KBO (keep buggering on), shall we?


Notary Me

In Society, Updates on October 3, 2012 at 9:58 am

Does the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 turn me into my own personal notary public?

In his legal note titled “Notary Publics” (see, Judge Gabriel T. Ingles described notaries as being empowered to acknowledge documents and, by affixing their notarial seals, convert these from private to public statements.

But the new law already treats my online content as public and published, while making me attest to its truthfulness under threat of possible prosecution. And, in a sense, my online stuff is even more accessible than the “public” copies stored in the filing cabinets of notary publics.

If so, I’d lobby that ALL elected officials have personal accounts for publishing ALL of their statements, ALL of which will now have the weight of actual affidavits. For example (I repeat, these are just examples), I’d like to see the following as sworn statements:

  • “I did not plagiarize.” – Subscribed and sworn to before all Facebook users on this 11th day of September, 2012 by Sen. Tito Sotto.
  • “I signed the Anti-Cybercrime Law by mistake.” – Subscribed and sworn to before all Twitter users on this 12th day of August, 2012 by Sen. Chiz Escudero.

Right now, I’m thinking of building an Affidavit App for Facebook.

From Megapixels to Inches

In Technology, Updates on October 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

It seems that we rarely get the details we really need from photolab and printing specialists whenever we ask if our image files are big enough for large-format or high-quality prints.  For example, ask what size image would look good on 8r prints and most  technicians will say 8 megapixels (MPs)—as if there was a correspondence between 4r prints and 4mp images, 5r and 5mp files, and so on.  The actual minimum for an image to look as fine as it could on 8r print is 7.2mp and the math for figuring out this number is simple enough that we don’t have to settle for mere estimates.

When reproducing images, resolutions are expressed in dot pitch—72 pixels per inch or PPI for default screens at a low 640×480 setting, 96ppi for sharper 1024×678 displays, 180ppi for print publication minimums, and 300ppi for photographic reproduction. On the other hand, resolutions in digital cameras are expressed in mega-pixel or MP counts—like the 5mp that got digital SLRs to first be considered seriously, and the 12mp that is now common on point-and-shoot compacts.

Let’s look at the numbers behind these different takes on the resolution count.  An 8 by 10 inch portrait photograph taken on your camera and printed for you by a photo-lab would have to be at least 2,400 pixels (8in. x 300ppi) wide and 3,000 (10in. x 300ppi) pixels high. And, a 2,400 by 3,000 pixel image measures 7.2mp in digicam resolution. It really is that simple—multiply 2,400 by 3,000 to get 7,200,000 or 7.2 million pixels.

Turning the equation around, a 12mp image with the typical aspect ratio of 4:3 (for every 4 units of length for one side, there are 3 units on the one perpendicular to it), would have side lengths of 4,000 and 3,000 pixels …

4a x 3a = 12,000,000

12a2 = 12,000,000

a2 = 12,000,000 / 12

a = square root of 1,000,000

a = 1,000

where 4a = 4,000 pixels

and 3a = 3,000 pixels

If you plan to reproduce a large 6 by 8 inch picture in a glossy magazine layout with sharp 300ppi images, how do you check if your JPEG file has enough resolution? Yes, it is as simple as it seems. Just multiply 6 inches by 300 and you have your width, multiply 8 by 300 again to get your height. So, you’ll need an image that is at least 1,800 pixels wide and 2,400 pixels high.  In this case, even a 7.2mp image will be sufficient. All you have to do is down-size or crop it down from its 2,400 by 3,000 original.  What you wouldn’t want to do is upsize a small, say 3.6mp, image and stretch it into the layout.  Then, you’ll lose the one dot one pixel correspondence and your image will look all “pixelated” as they say—pixelated because the picture elements will be much larger than the ink-dots meant to reproduce each one of them.

Stop to think about it and you’ll realize that the resolution information stored with image files is just a vestigial convenience. Right-click the icon of your image file, click on “properties” in the pop-up menu, select the “details” tab, and finally scroll down to the “image” panel and you’ll find horizontal and vertical resolutions expressed in ppi, while image dimension is measured in pixels.  What the resolution setting does is give your system the necessary variable to compute the dimension in inches if your file is outputted into various media. But, inches or any other real-world units for length hold little meaning while the image remains in digital form.

But in case you do need to tweak ppi resolutions (to have complete control of your photo-prints, or simply to help out your overworked team-mates) just do the following in Photoshop:

  • Click on “Image” in the main menu and select “Image Size” in the drop-down list.
  • In the “Image Size” window, look at the “Pixel Dimensions” panel in the top half of the window and note the pixel width and height of your image.  For example, with a 7.2mp image, you’d note that it is 2,400 pixels wide and 3,000 pixels high.
  • Then, look at the “Document Size” panel at the lower half of the window. Here, find the image’s width and height in inches, and the “Resolution” setting that yielded these measurements.  Change the resolution from its camera default of 72ppi to a print-ready 300ppi.
  • Don’t be surprised when the your change in resolution also changes numbers in the “Pixel Dimensions” panel up top, but not in the inch dimension for “Document Size” at the bottom of the window.  For example, again with a 7.2mp image, the dimensions will have inflated to 12,500 x 10,000 pixels.
  • Now, go back to the “Pixel Dimensions” panel and change back the pixel measurements to what they were before you changed resolution from 72 to 300ppi. Again with the 7.2mp image example, just change the dimensions back to 2,400 by 3,000 pixels.
  • At the end of the exercise, you’ll have an image file that is essentially unchanged, without any kind of up-scaling or down-sizing, but with “Document Size” settings that are tailored for print reproduction, and that show you its actual size in inches if it is printed out.

At the end of the day though, these resolution settings are arbitrary, and your options for getting your images into fine and faithful hard-copies will always be determined by the pixel count.