Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A man and his path

[Thanks to Igor]

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, April 15, 2014   2 comments links to this post

Monday, April 14, 2014

Holly, six, runs her own 'London Marathon'

Holly, six, runs her own 'London Marathon', video.
Cute story.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Monday, April 14, 2014   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Super-lens at super-price

Often considered almost at opposite ends of the market, Sigma and Zeiss have both come out with a high-quality normal lens at F:1.4.
Both lenses are really, really top-shelf, with many elements and exotic glass types, and both of them are among the sharpest lenses ever made for general consumption.

OK, great, so Sigma can make really high-end stuff too*, that's interesting. But here is what makes it really interesting: The Sigma lens is one-quarter the price of the Zeiss! USD one thousand as opposed to four thousand! If I were an exec at Zeiss, I would be kicking the furniture now.
That price is very aggressive indeed. I think this is one of the lowest prices I have ever heard of for a lens of this class. They surely can hardly make any profit on this, they must be gunning for the market share.

Review Zeiss Otus 55mm 1.4
Review Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art
The build quality was exceptional, but what really got our attention was Sigma's off-handed remark that they weren't looking to surpass Nikon and Canon, but rather the $4,000 Zeiss Otus 55mm ƒ/1.4 monster.
The Sigma 50mm ƒ/1.4 Art is quite large and bulky with a total of 13 elements in 8 groups, including 1 aspherical and 3 super low dispersion elements. 

They are full-frame lenses of course, and the Sigma's supported AF Mounts are: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma SA, Sony A.
I hope Sigma will start making such lenses for Micro Four Thirds. Although for my sake they can skip the normal lens, I don't really know why anybody would want one these days.

The Sigma monster:

The Zeiss monster:

They are both very big lenses, and both really well made, and both beautiful. The Zeiss perhaps mostly so, but 300% premium's worth? Doubtful.

This shakes things up quite a bit... not the least: why are we paying Leica and Zeiss 4 to 6 thousand dollars for a lens, if Sigma can make it in the same quality and sell it for 75% less?
Also, what impact will this have on prices for quality lenses of the future? On the one hand this seems a devastating hit, but on the other hand, traditionally, the prices of luxury products ("Veblen goods") have proved magically durable. Most people who would buy a $4k lens buys it as much for the prestige as for the product. And a Zeiss lens will impress his friends and colleagues much more than a Sigma lens. And many of them will surely be able to convince themselves that there has to be some difference in quality that's worth it, otherwise why would it cost so much more?

*By the way, Sigma's weakest point has been their quality testing, too often their exemplars showed greatly varying quality. But reportedly they have made great efforts to change this.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Sunday, April 13, 2014   8 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The best magnifier? Satechi Readmate

For some years I've been looking for a really good magnifier. But I didn't find much. This surprised me, there is usually some good products to find in any category, though sometimes one may have to pay more.
But now, thanks to macobserver.com, I found one I really like, the Satechi Readmate. It is a 5X magnifier with built-in LED lights.
It looks great, is very reasonably priced, it's optically better than anything else I've seen of the kind, and it's very practical to use.

Photo by MacObserver

(It seems not to be sold in Europe yet, I had to buy it from Amazon US. But it was swift and not too expensive, well worth it I thought.)

I'm also considering their combined desk lamp/magnifier 2X, which seems useful for small manual tasks and for reading paperbooks with fine print.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Thursday, April 10, 2014   4 comments links to this post

Monday, April 07, 2014

Dear River - Kina Grannis

I predict Kina Grannis will be a big success.
(Not a difficult prediction.)

I've always had a problem with beauty in her caliber. It attracts like hell, but it also hurts. Really hurts. Anybody else know this?
Maybe if I could fool myself, like most of us do, that "catching" her would be to catch the beauty and thus end the pain, but I can't.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Monday, April 07, 2014   5 comments links to this post

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The smallest full-frame camera

It is a bit strange to me that Sony has yet to get any real competition to their Super-Compact full frame camera RX1 (kewl vid), or their quality pocket camera RX100 with a really big sensor for the camera size. Will they really keep this amazing market to themselves? When nobody step up to the challenge?

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Saturday, April 05, 2014   2 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 03, 2014

A block on me getting your comments to fix

I've been alerted that something is blocking the emails which I usually get when somebody comment on my blog.
I will try to fix this.

In the meantime, if recently you've put in a comment which you thought I would reply to and I didn't, you can go to eolake.com and use the email address at the bottom. Thank you. - Eolake

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Thursday, April 03, 2014   1 comments links to this post

Doing it is patriotic

[No comments on my April Fool's piece about the Hacker State? Does this mean it was a flop or too successful?]

Many countries have a problem with low birth rates. It's a real crisis in Japan for example, they'll basically die out in a few generations if things don't change.
I had not heard it is also a problem in my native Denmark. But it is. One birth per 100 people, that's catastrophic if you want to maintain a population and want it to be mostly native.
Maybe it's tied to Satisfaction. If people are generally satisfied, why shake things up?

The big Danish travel agency Spies has made a daring commercial which gives a prize to a winner amongst those who can prove in the future that their child was conceived on one of their Spies travels!

(I can't figure out how to embed a Youboob video when posting from my iPad. Neither the yt app nor their web site gives the code. Any ideas?)

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Thursday, April 03, 2014   12 comments links to this post

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Denmark to become the first "hacker nation"

Danmark og Europa. Regeringens oplæg til dialogarticle (in Danish)

The government of Denmark has decided upon an unusual, not to say virtually untried, way out of the global financial crisis: Freedom of speech. Which might be read: "freedom from copyright".

"Our neighbor Sweden got into hot water by hosting the very controversial PiratBay web site", says Danish Prime Minister Mogens Glistrup. "But they did not go in prepared, they had not done their homework, and they did not have our motivation, determination, and frankly, our desperation." 

The Internet has long been seen as potential salvation for all kinds of desires and behavior which are in legal grey areas, some of them quite dark grey. The problem is that while there is a lot of money to be gained in these grey areas, there are also a lot of money to be protected by black-washing the same grey areas. 

"We plan to roll this out over a five-year period," says Glistrup.  "We are looking into kinds of pornography which is illegal in many countries, such as zoophelia." (It is worth noting that Denmark was the First Nation to legalize pornography in 1969, and other nations followed suit when rape stats dropped as a result. Denmark even exported zoophelia porn in the seventies, "which wasn't bad at all," according to Glistrup, "and production values could of course easily be much better today.) "We are considering 100% anonymous file hosting, even protected from international and our own law enforcement". 
We are investigating hosting sites which are generally banned contrary to freedom of speech, such as "hate speech" sites and information about how to make weapons, drugs, and explosives. But we are probably starting with the easy one: making it legal to link to, though not host, copyright-protected materials. Our stance will be "free and found is legal", or "finder's keepers" as our nay-sayers call it," Glistrup said with a self-depreciating laugh, adding that special taxation will "naturally" be the price for being hosted in this new haven of Net freedom. 

We wish Denmark luck in this endeavor. While it is clear that short-term harm may come from it, such as innocents dying in bombings or children learning the facts of life before the parents are ready to teach them, the long-term advantages are enormous, no less than the freedom of mind and knowledge, and this may eventually lead to spiritual greatness and who knows, perhaps even a galactic empire for mankind. 

1st April, 2014

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, April 01, 2014   1 comments links to this post


I really like the smaller camera companies, Fuji, Olympus, Pentax, Sony. They often make some fabulous products which the "Canikon" hegemony has no interest in.
But: they are often clueless when it comes to using standard tech. Like a camera where you can't change the battery, you have to plug in the whole thing with a special apparatus to charge it.

Or this one: There's a firmware update now to Olympus E-M1. And it turns out that instead of giving you a file you put on the camera's memory card, you have to install a special app on your computer, then connect the camera to the computer, and the update will happen over the Net...

Great. I find out how to access the USB port on the camera, you have to lift out the tiltable screen first... of course.  Only now it turns out: none of my USB cables fit in the durn camera!
It is already bad enough that there are four different male plugs for USB, but this...
I google around a bit, and find somebody selling a USB cable for Olympus. It looks a bit different. Then it dawns on me, I still have the box the camera came in. I look in that box. No cable. Aha, there's a section of the cardboard origami trick which is so subtle as to be almost invisible, and there's the cable.
Indeed, it fits. Olympus has made and demands use of their own special USB plug, lord knows why.

And then it turns out that the installer or the camera won't recognize the USB connection, so I can't install anyway. I'll bet anything that if they'd just given us a file to put on the memory card, there'd have been no issue.

Normally I love technology, but sometimes I have sympathy for those who long for a simpler life.

USB B? Mini? Micro? None of them, it is "Olympus"

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, April 01, 2014   5 comments links to this post

Monday, March 31, 2014

A crazy coral video

This time lapse video is astounding. Just one little fact: it took 120,000 22-megapixel images to create it!

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Monday, March 31, 2014   3 comments links to this post

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The meat head

Or: this is your brains on mayo.
I swear I didn't do this on purpose, I couldn't have put on the mayo that precisely.

Panasonic GM1 with Olympus 45mm 1.8 at F:2.8, ISO 640 (on auto like usual).

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Sunday, March 30, 2014   5 comments links to this post

the meat computer

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Sunday, March 30, 2014   0 comments links to this post

The Needs pyramid expanded

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Sunday, March 30, 2014   5 comments links to this post

Friday, March 28, 2014

Olympus E-M10, Gold award

Olympus is on a hot streak for sure. Re the new "entry-level" (hah) OM-D E-M10, DPreview writes:

The E-M10 very much feels more like a third generation OM-D model than a step-down from its two brothers. It borrows many qualities we liked from both of them and presents them in a slightly smaller, lighter package. [...] In fact, the only crucial difference between the two is the E-M10's lack of weather-proofing, and that's not likely to be a significant drawback for a lot of potential owners. It also doesn't hurt the cause that the E-M10 is cheaper at introduction than both OM-D models that came before it.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Friday, March 28, 2014   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Animalistic fun

[Thanks to Bert]

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Wednesday, March 26, 2014   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

String non grata

A piece of string tried to go nightclubbing. "Sorry, no string allowed here," said the bouncer.
A bit later, a strangely thin person with a big knarly head and a wild hairdo turned up.

"Hey, I'm sure that you're that piece of string I turned away before," said the bouncer.

"Oh no, I'm a frayed knot", said the string.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, March 25, 2014   2 comments links to this post

Neil Campbell Ross art

I am a fan of Neil Campbell Ross.

Here is some of his art which led to the wonderful CGI film Hotel Transylvania.

(Almost forgot: click for big pic.)

I have long had a strong affinity for art with flat fields, and Neil does it better than anybody I can immediately think of. (Bill Sienkiewicz sometimes went in that direction, but not fully.)
I wish I had these in really big size, like 3MP+.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, March 25, 2014   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sigh, comixxxxx (updated)

Update: I just got the first issue of Leaving Megapolis. It seems fresh and promising. Superheroes gone balls-out homicidal psychotic. I only remember Alan Moore doing something like it, in a MiracleMan story. 
But warning: I've been reading comix for 45 years, and this is the most graphically violent one I've ever seen. It makes Frank Miller's Hard Boiled look like a Disney comic. 


Like I guess I've said, I can't really figure out... until some years ago, I bought comix every week. Loved the stuff. So now and then, now digitally, I try again. I log in with Comixology app, I buy a couple things that seem interesting, and I read around a bit... and it just doesn't hold my interest. Odd.

It's not that I haven't given it the good ol' college try (whatever that is), I just looked at my purchased list, and I've bought 69 series just by fishing a bit like that. That's not 69 issues, that is sixty-nine series! (Often only a couple issues per series, okay.) 
How things add up when you don't have a growing physical stack of unread comic books to remind you. Like I used to have on my bedstand for a long while. Then I realized I wasn't reading them, and moved them to the top drawer. Later I realized I still wasn't reading them, and moved them to the closet.
Maybe it's cause the good for-adults authors are not there anymore, like Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore? That would seem like a good bet, but I don't get very far re-reading my old favorites either. Guess I've changed. 

Awsome Simon Bisley cover to the
weird and wonderful Grant Morrison
Doom Patrol. 

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Sunday, March 23, 2014   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"They mostly come at night. Mostly."

I just watched Aliens (1986).
Some think it is, like often, inferior to the first one, Alien. But I thought it was actually a good movie (I hadn't seen it since the eighties). Expectations might lead one astray, though, because they are very different movies. Alien was an avant-garde SF Horror movie. Abstract and slow. The second one was a thriller, action SF movie. And it pretty much had to be, because unlike the first one, the monster was now known, there was no way to milk the unknownness-terror and slow reveal like there was in Alien.

Sigourney did an excellent job, as always. And so did Carrie Henn as young "Newt". It seems Carrie had no intentions of continuing making movies, and has kept that, she's a teacher in California.

Bron said:
Aliens was the rare case of the sequel being more fun than the original. Alien was terrifying.

Indeed. Geiger's monster really is excessively scary. I read some actor complaining that some people said it was *too* scary. "It's art, he said, how can it be 'too strong'". :-)

Despite this, I don't think it will ever be a "classic monster" in the sense of those old Universal critters. Maybe because there is nothing humanoid about it, maybe we have to relate in *some* way to a monster in order to be really invested. And Alien is basically just an excessively dangerous animal. While it's clever, you never get the impression that it's capable of thinking, really.
... Hehe, it's even a bit stupid, because like all movie monsters, it does the timeless "scary pose"... it stops for several seconds and poses impressively in order for the victims (and the camera) to get a good look and a chance to flee. This can't be optimal monster behavior!

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Saturday, March 22, 2014   9 comments links to this post

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