Day: November 17, 2011

Thursday, 17 November 2011

08:44 – Apparently, some people took one of my comments yesterday to mean that I was planning to abandon Linux for Windows. I’m not. What I may do is buy a low-end PC with Windows on it to do some stuff that requires Windows.

For example, right now I’m driving to the post office to mail kits. The USPS has a web site where I could print labels with postage and have the mailman pick up the kits at our home. That’d save me a lot of trips to the post office, but the problem is that I’ve never gotten that site to work properly on our Linux boxes. When I try to use it, it goes off into an endless loop. I think the problem is the version of Adobe Reader rather than Linux per se, but of course that still means it doesn’t work on Linux. And there are a few other Windows-only applications that might be useful for the business. I am and always have been practical about operating systems. They’re not a religious issue for me. If I need Windows, I’ll use Windows. If I need OS X, I’ll buy a Mac. I prefer to use Linux simply because it’s secure and doesn’t lock me in to a corporate walled garden, as the alternatives do.

And, speaking of kits, we just sold the last chemistry kit in stock. We had to increase prices on the new batch by $10 per kit. We’ll be assembling three dozen of those over the next couple of weeks. We’re still accepting orders for kits to be shipped the week of December 4th. With Christmas and the winter semester approaching, this new batch probably won’t last long, so I also need to get orders placed for the components we need to build another batch.

09:49 – Old memories. I used to do a lot of darkroom work, including processing color film, which was a big deal to do in a home darkroom back in the 60’s. There were kits available: E3 and later E4 for processing Ektachrome color slides, and other kits for processing color negatives and color prints. I ran through all of those, but was looking for a new challenge. So I decided to process Kodachrome at home.

Kodachrome is (was) utterly different from standard color films and papers. Those were called “substantive”, which meant they had the color couplers built into the emulsion layers. There was just one development step, during which an organic chemical in the developer reacted with each of the three color couplers to form the three dyes needed to make up the color image. Kodachrome, on the other hand, was actually a black and white film. No color couplers. Instead, it had three separate black and white emulsion layers, each sensitive to only part of the color spectrum. During processing (which, IIRC, involved more than 30 separate steps) the film was first developed in an ordinary black-and-white developer and then exposed individually to monochromatic light to fog the unexposed silver halides in each emulsion layer. After each layer was fogged to reverse it, it was developed with a specific developer that produced the appropriate dye for that layer. The final layer was fogged with white light and then color-developed. There were numerous intermediate steps.

I actually got recognizable results on my first attempt. Not good, but recognizable. So I wrote Kodak to ask them for some tips. By return mail, I got a very polite letter from Kodak, which basically said as inoffensively as possible that they didn’t believe I was doing what I claimed to be doing. So I mailed the guy back and told him I most certainly was. He then, again very politely, basically asked me to prove it by sending him a Kodachrome slide developed as a negative. So I did that.

It was a couple of weeks before I heard back from him, and when I did he was asking me if I’d like to come up to Rochester for a job interview. I replied, thanking him for his interest, but explaining that my parents thought it would be inappropriate for me to apply for a job with Kodak since I was still in junior high school.

Oh, yeah. The reason I was thinking about this is that we just sold the last kit in stock to a guy who’s a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology–sometimes called Kodak Institute of Technology–where I did graduate work. Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, RIT isn’t actually in Rochester, NY. It’s in South Henrietta, NY. I used to have a great t-shirt for the South Henrietta Institute of Technology.

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