Saturday, December 29, 2007

Die Hard 4.0

Just watching Die Hard 4.0.
It's an excellent action movie. Funny and captivating, like the first one.

And yet, why does Hollywood always insist that any action movie must have at least a couple of factors which are patently unrealistic? For example the villains not only being able to "get schematics" on their computer of a random tunnel that the hero has just entered by car, but getting them in 3D, and being able to re-route traffic into that tunnel by remote control. And not only that but being able to do it with literally five seconds of preparation time of figuring out how to do it! (There was no way they could have predicted needing to do it.)

Also the villains can remotely and instantly "reroute gas lines" to get a power plant to blow up... "Reroute gas lines"? What does that even mean?

Why aren't there writers in Hollywood specifically paid to fix scripts so they become realistic? It can't be all that damn hard. Just use 0.1% of the budget of a big movie, and you can have all the brain power you could want, willing and eager to help you. Heck, I'm sure there are loads of films fans and geeks out there who would love to do the work for free.

I dunno. The idea that perhaps the people in the world to whom these errors seem obvious are so few that they don't matter to the market is a very scary thought. That's a world that's hard to trust with anything.

Redneck style photos

Apparently it's not yet politically incorrect to make fun of "rednecks", so here we go.

David

David, the McDonalds generation.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas blues

Funny animated card: Christmas blues.

Good song too. I guess from the thirties. I am not a huge blues fan, but the occasional song I'll really like.

At first I thought: how nice, a cheerful blues song. Then of course I noticed the lyrics: "it Christmas, but it's raining in my heart..." :)

I find it interesting and humorous that there is a whole genre and class of music which is all about how life sucks and you're so sad.

I once wrote this:

The Good Times Blues

I've got the blues
I've got the blues

my kitten's run away for the seaside
my raincoat's got holes in its memory
my drainpipe is filled with illegal elves
living off my leftover birthday pie

I've got the good times blues

I've got the blues
I've got the blues

my wife is the prettiest in town
my kids are already famous
my wallet is fatter than the mayor's cat
my body is stronger than steel

tomorrow I move into heaven
today they will fix the stove
I live off licorice and candied nuts
I sleep on the red tile floor

angels come visit me in the bath
devils send me postcards from hell
I smile like an imp at pretty girls
I am never quite feeling well

We'll wait until Thursday
to tell you the good news
we always know what is good for you
which colors and what hues

I've got the good times blues

I've got the blues
I've got the blues

You can't be having these troubles
it is just not nice
you seem to be not understanding
that times are not the same

we all can be living off candy
if only the boss will let us
you just have to smile real nice
and shave your hair in the back

I dance on the limbs of trees in the yard
I howl at the moon during day
I gently lift kids off a donkey's back
and tell them the truth of the day

I've got the blues
I've got the blues

I've got the good times blues

stobblehouse 2000

Close up

Here is the full gallery.





Here is the full gallery.

Zeppelina writes:
I do like these photos, they are wonderful snapshots of `found` objects.

I like the way you have taken every day objects, and have made abstract compositions from them, using the shapes and textures to form the composition, and with simplicity too, no fuss or photographic manipulation involved.

It challenges us to view these every day objects in an honest and fresh way, visually examining detail which we normally would miss.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Infomercials

How hard is it to make an infomercial which pulls in the millions? Watch this.
(For some reason the video doesn't play in Safari on my machine, but it works in Firefox.)

Technology

"Anyone who fails to understand photography will be one of the illiterates of the future." - Lazlo Moholy-Nagy (stated in the 1920's)

Funny how they say the same thing about new pervasive technologies. Like computers now. And with a lot of truth in each case. If you don't understand a pervasive medium, you're well boffed.

I found that quote in an excellent documentary about photography (and its history). (Thanks to Wonko and his friend who DVD-recorded it for me.) Living the UK, I have to pay for BBC even though my TV is only used for DVDs. But I can live with it because the BBC makes a lot of excellent programming which probably would not have happened otherwise.

Michal Daniel


Michal Daniel. (Not "Michael".)

These pictures are taken with a palm device, of all things.




640x480.net - All Images © Michal Daniel

Pain in the neck

Update: It's not until now I hear about traction, amazingly. I'm getting quite interested in it. I remember I felt better after my physio pulled my skull, early this month.

It's an indication of the severity of the situation that I, who live online, had not even looked up the condition I suffer(ed) from. But now I have, it's cervical nerve root compression.
I'd estimate I'm 3/4ths healed around now. Some of the time I very uncomfortable, some of the time I feel close to normal.

But I want to take more care of my back in the future. Better posture and so on. And I've ordered a massage chair, top japanese model, to help the tension which is a big part of my bane. It's not a cheap thingy for sure, but once you've been practically screaming with pain a few nights, you want to try to take care of yourself.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Kindle, I wish it could read to me

I got the Amazon Kindle today, just in time for an xmas present!
The online functions don't work here in the UK, sadly. I do hope they bring them around soon.

It really is surprisingly small and light. Very handy, you can read in bed all night long and not get tired in the arm.

Room for improvement:
1: The "white" of the screen is closer to middle grey.
2: The screen should be a leeeeettle bigger, methinks.
3: The change-page buttons are really too big. It's hard to just hold it without changing pages.

But it's really cool, and I'm sure it's the future.

... It can read text and it can play music. Wouldn't it be fantastic if it could read your text out loud to you!?
My Mac can already do that in an intelligible fashion, with the new voice in Mac OS X Leopard. I doubt the gap in processor power needed is all that great.
I wonder if they have thought about this?

Update:
Alex said:
I don't want a text to speech tool in my e-book reader.
We've had T2S for ages, remember "Princess" and "Bubbles" in the original power Mac voices.
Can text to speech now cope with foreign phrases, and foreign quotes in text? What about slang?
What I really want is a "dramatic text to speech" tool, preferably with a "director" utility which allows for the tool to read ahead, and switch intonation, and voice quality based on character and mood.
We've come a long way from TI's Speak And Spell, but we still have a way to go yet.

Eolake said...
Just that. The original Mac voices were barely usable for anything, they were mostly novelties. But the new voice, "Alex", in Leopard, is very usable. Of course it's not quite a human reader yet, but I can easily understand 99.9% of what it is saying, and that opens up so many vistas. It means an ebook-reader could read to me while I'm resting my eyes, or cooking, or taking a walk, or...

The same as I'm doing with audio books on my iPod, only the thing is that only a very tiny portion of the text in the world will ever be recorded by humans, it's a lot of work.

What I can do is have my Mac read the text, but then I have to sit next to it. I could record it, but that's clumsy.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Investing

Dr. P4 sez:
I think "investing" in art is an insult. If I buy a beautiful sculpture, it's because I like it, not because I hope some day someone will pay me twice the original price.
Which makes find so utterly moronic that some wine bottles reach such astronomic prices. I mean, damn, in the end it's supposed to be drunk, or it's pointless.

I'm reminded of the story of the box of strawberries which were the finest in the world, and they were sold on and on at ever higher prices. Then one buyer lifted the lid and peeked at the berries, and said: "but these strawberries are rotten!" The last seller then informed him: "No no, these are not for eating, these are for selling!"

Advertising

Pascal said somewhere:
If movies spent less millions on advertising, and reflected those cost savings by cutting in half the prices of movie tickets and DVDs (advertising is often half the expenses!), I bet the global sales would INCREASE, and pull the benefits up markedly.
Quality doesn't need mass-advertising, pleased people do all the promoting.

Advertising is one of those things I've always been uneasy about. But I can't really decide.
In the excellent SF novel Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling, it is very briefly mentioned that sometime in the 21st century, advertising was outlawed worldwide. And I think that's a very interesting idea.
Of course, it would find some way of happening anyway, human nature being what it is, just like violence and drugs. Product placements, etc etc.
But I think it just presents the idea for consideration that advertising is possibly an evil. We are so used to seeing it everywhere that this thought is quite revolutionary.

Update: I'm not sure it's "evil", but I think we'd be better off without it. I like media better without too much advertising. And part of the reason I don't watch TV anymore is the constant interruptions. Also, I don't have advertising on my own sites. The moment I were to put a banner at the top of my site, it would not feel like my own site anymore.

And if it were not for good anti-ad software, there would be many sites I could not use, like for example the otherwise excellent lovefilm.com, where I rent my movies. Their advertising on the site not only moves, it makes sounds too! Drives me nuts.

My own boss

This quote always reminds me of my own life. It's from "Arthur".

"What do you do for a living?"
"I race cars, I play tennis, I fondle women. But, I have weekends off, and I am my own boss."

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality

The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality. Article by David Pogue.
Now he has me worried.

Update: I was being a little tongue-in-cheek here, just a little. I'm not all that worried. Things will always find a balance, and the bulk of people are willing to pay for what they get, given that they can pay easily and the price is fair.
Personally I keep sharing within reason, and if my customer/visitors do the same, I don't attack them. I have never attacked anybody for sharing a few dozen images from my sites, not even a few hundred. On rare occasions it has ventured into the thousands, and then I have addressed the poster or the host with a polite request to remove them. I think that's reasonable.

Domai sculpture

Nine months in creation, the specially commissioned DOMAI sculpture "Inviting Joy" is finally ready!
Victor Issa created this based on my wishes and on Domai models.
I am over-thrilled with the result, it really embodies what I want DOMAI to express, and it is a gorgeous fine-art piece too, and of the highest quality.


This is the page about it on Domai.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Internet wine delivery

It seems France is way ahead of the rest of the world in nanotechnology.

Ridley Scott, smoke and mirrors

Ridley Scott's commentary (apropos those) on Bladerunner is brilliant. It's a whole little primer on how to make films.

One example: on shooting the city scape miniatures... you need a very small aperture, otherwise the small depth of field will give away that it's miniatures. So every frame needs to be exposed for a full second or something like that. So you need a motion control camera, since the camera is moving extremely slowly.

And he wanted much smoke to give the atmospheric perspective. And also to aid the models, because since they were comparatively small due to budget, and so they could only be so detailed and no more.

But the thing is with smoke and the filming with one frame per several seconds, the smoke will move, and flicker!

So they devised a system with many smoke detectors in the room metering the level of the smoke, and a system for small nozzles adding a little at various places, thus keeping it constant over the whole room, over the whole day. And it worked!

Bet you didn't think of that when you watched the movie!

Update: Even Ridley repeats the commonly-heard assertion that Deckard's mental image of a unicorn (which was missing in the original release) means that Deckard is a replicant. I never got that, how's that logical?

Update: I'm amazed at the level of collaboration they did on this film. Ridley Scott says that Harrison Ford came up with the blood in the glass of water. And apparently on the very last night of the shoot, Rutger Hauer wrote one of the best speeches in movies ever, his own "all those moments" speech. Fantastic.

Rutger also invented the hairdo he had. And Darryl Hannah invented her missing eyebrows and her black-painted area around the eyes, inspired by the vampire in Nosferatu.

Update: (blogging is great, I can just keep adding thoughts as they occur.) The five-disk Blade Runner (I thought it was called "Bladerunner") collection includes an excellent making-of documentary. At three and a half hours! Amongst other tidbits it includes a glimpse of a more graphic love scene between Deckard and Rachel. Hot stuff.

Ridley Scott is a very intelligent man. He talks about how love (read: sex) scenes are always superfluous. Gratuitous. And he always keeps them out, or at least short. And I understand what he means. They usually do stop the action, and are not often very interesting. But I don't see why they have to be like that. A scene with the main character riding his bicycle down the road can also be gratuitous and boring, but it does not have to be. It's just a matter of whether it adds to the film, in terms of story, or character, or mood, or whatever. See? So if a sex scene tells us more about the characters or the story or the world it's in, then it's good.

Topfree in Scandinavia


In Sweden and Denmark there is a new movement for women to bathe topless in swim baths. They sure have my support.
The article is in Danish, but the gist is that they stage topless bathe-ins as a protest against rules demanding tops. And they seem to gather sympathy, at least in Denmark. Sweden tends to be a bit more conservative, so I don't know how the movement goes there. (Though it started there.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bladerunner, picture quality, and engineering

It's funny, no matter the brilliance of new hardware, so much depends upon the soft side of things, on coding. Example: I watched Ocean's 13 on HD-DVD. It looked dreadful. The image was grainy, and the colors were off, way off. The first time Al Pacino entered the frame, I thought his character had been in a tanning-booth accident (seriously), because his face was all orange!

In contrast, I just now watched the first two minutes of the HD-DVD version of Bladerunner. What a picture! I swear it looks better than anything I saw in the cinema. Crystal clear, sharp, perfect, living color. Everything you could hope for, for the most visually rich of all movies since Metropolis.

It is weird about Bladerunner: three decades on, it still has not been matched in design and visual depth and beauty. How can this be?

What I really love about Bladerunner is the huge cityscapes, exemplified by the first two minutes. That huge model of future L.A., with thousands of tiny window lights. And the detailed buildings, like the immense Tyrell Corporation building (with the slanted side buildings). If that building was real it would house maybe 200,000 people. And the design of it is just beautiful and intricate.


Update: Apart from the visuals, my opinion is that the "magic ingrident" of the film is Mr. Rutger Hauer and his amazing delivery of his lines. His pauses are genius. "Men? ... Police... men?"
And of course those lines themselves.
"All those moments/will be lost in time/like tears in rain."

Has Hauer done anything else as great as this?

The fake mirror

Most hidden camera pranks are pretty dumb, but this one is ingenious. I could have thought of building the mirror room, but including the identical twin actress is just genius.
I would have liked to have seen how I would have reacted myself, and how soon I'd have figured it out.

I like the lady who in a depressed voice states: "Ich bin unsichtbar." ("I am invisible.")

D3 samples

Nikon D3 image samples.

Parotting my dad: I've told you before, and I'm telling you again with tears in my eyes: this is a revolutionary camera for low-light photography, and I can't wait until we get this kind of performance in a camera which is not so dang big and heavy. And I think both Nikon and Canon may come up with something like that before long.
ISO 3200 pictures look fantastic, and even ISO 12800 is very usable in my view. This is something entirely new.

Update: the official D3 pages.
I love the term the "proprietary FX format". It is like by shaving one tenth of a milimeter of the 80-year old 35mm format, they suddenly have created their own brand new format, which is revolutionary, and we forget that Canon has had full frame cameras for four years already! Very funny.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

HP One

I'm watching Harry Potter One on HD-DVD. It's a good film. Looks great, and I can't imagine how they could have done a better job translating the books into movie land.

I am still sometimes rankled, though, by the imcompetence of the Wizard Leadership. For example: the students are not allowed in the Black Forest, because it's dangerous. And they are not allowed roaming the castle after dark, because it's dangerous. So what is the punishment if they are found around the castle after dark? They are sent into the Black Forest! Come on! That's insanity and buffoonery, and not worthy of a "great leader" like Dumbledore.

I greatly enjoy the stories, but there are just a couple of examples like this, where I think Rowling is being illogical for the sake of creating suspense. She could have done that more logically with just a little more thought.

---
... Anyway, one of the things I love most about movies these days is the amazing designers and concept artists who work in them. Take for example the giant chess set in The Philosopher's Stone. What an amazing design. Both in terms of the basic design of the individual pieces, and in terms of the weathering and aging they have applied to them.



Tryk på

Just because I'm in an exuberant mood today, I'll be cantankerous and post these lyrics in their original Danish.
They are from the song Tryk på by the Danish band Shu-bi-dua.
The band were huge in the seventies and eighties, and recently I bought all seven CDs of theirs from then.
That by the way is another small miracle of modern economics: each CD cost me only about, call it, eight dollars or so, which was about the same as the LPs cost back then, and this is not compensating for 30 years of inflation. Nice.

Jeg ta'r til Hillerød
og køber morgenbrød,
og henter min avis.
Så ta’r jeg hjem igen,
for at læse i den,
og glæder mig naturligvis.
For der er meget godt,
og det er trykt så flot
det er s'gu billigt til den pris,
og når kaffen er klar,
så ta'r jeg en 'gar
og læser hat i min avis.
Og der er tryk på, sensationen tryk på,
du kender tonen, lidt dur. og lidt mol,
lidt kys og lidt vold.
og en splitternøgen kælling side tolv.

Der er en fed kronik
om ny barok musik,
og en leder at Karl Baj,
som siger kernekraft
og solbærsaft,
må isoleres hver for sig.
En nekrolog om Ho,
der siger han lever endnu,
og en rubrik om vildt begær,
og en fotokonkurrence,
hvor ingen har en chance,
for dommeren har fået stær.
Og der er tryk på...

En mand med guld i mund,
og hus ved Øresund,
vil bytte guld og gods,
for en gammel kælk,
og en halv liter mælk,
og et billede at Stirling Moss.
Og så på sidste side
får du alt at vide,
om Lucky Luke og Barske Bill,
og når du er træt af mosten
i morgenposten,
kan du svøbe den omkring din sild.
Og der er tryk på...

---
Another small phenomenon: I remember an interview with Shu-bi-dua (sometimes spelled Shubidua), where this song was mentioned, including the mention of Stirling Moss. They commented that "these days maybe nobody knew who he is". And this was 25 years ago! (I guess the song is 35 years old.) Well, thanks to the miracle of the web and wikipedia, I was finally able today to find out who he was. (I was just a child back then, so they were right in my case, I did not know him.)

... I just know somebody will try a machine translation, so I beat you to it. Warning, it is completely off!

I ta'r to Hillerød and buyer morgenbrød , and get my paper. So ta’r i homes again , to read through to the , and i am pleased naturally. By there's highly good , and it is printed so in a big way it is s'gu cheap to the terms , and catching the coffee is distinct , so ta'r i a 'gar and locking hat to my paper. And there's depress , the sensation depress , you recognizing the tune , awhile dur. and awhile mol , awhile kiss and then some bank. and a splitternøgen kælling paper twelve. There's a boldfaced features about novel grotesque music , and a administrator that Karl Baj , that says kernekraft and solbærsaft , can isolate individually. A nekrolog about Ho , there says he liver yet , and a blank about savage appetite , and a fotokonkurrence , where none has a alternative , by the judge has got strong. And there's depress. A gentleman by gold to mouth , and cottage known Øresund , vil barter gold and goods , by a aged kælk , and a half litre milk , and a portrait that Stirling Moss. And so at last paper gets you all ascertain , about Lucky Luke and Gruff Beatle , and catching you are tired of mosten to morgenposten , can be you svøbe the round your herring. And there's depress.

Better

Well, I'm starting to feel a lot better.
I've long prided myself on my "fierce independence". Which is in some aspects pretty idiotic, and it took a serious crisis like my back condition this month to make me reconsider it for real. I was in such pain I begged for help from everybody and anybody. I've had help from nurses and doctors, healers, spiritual teachers, physio therapists and homeopaths, angels, and probably mice and cockroaches. And it's all helped.

All through it I felt that it was basically just a blip on the curve of what is otherwise a time of big expansion for me spiritually, the further development of which I'm much looking forward to.

Camera guide

Need to find a good camera without days of research? Look at Imaging Resource's Quick Recommendation Guide.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Comics

[Thanks to Joe]

Jules Feiffer, in his book on comics, put it like this:

Comic books, first of all are junk. To accuse them of being what they are is to make no accusation at all: there is no such thing as uncorrupt junk or moral junk or educational junk—though attempts at the latter have, from time to time, been foisted on us. But education is not the purpose of junk. Junk is there to entertain on the basest, most compromised of levels. It finds the lowest fantasmal common denominator and proceeds from there. It’s choice of tone is dependent on its choice of audience, so that women’s magazines will make a pretense at veneer scorned by movie-fan magazines, but both are, unarguably, junk. If not to their publishers, certainly to a good many of their readers who, when challenged, will say defiantly: “I know it’s junk, but I like it.” Which is the whole point about junk. It is there to be nothing else but liked.

Hmmm. Yeah. I can see that argument. But how about "comics" like Art Spiegelman's Maus, or Alan Moore's From Hell? They are both indisputably in the comics medium, and they are both indisputably about as far from "junk" as you can get.

Update: OK, the book was published well before these examples. And before most heavy weigth comics I know. Still there was The Spirit for example.

But junk is as junk does. The problem with the term is that it can mean "meant for entertainment mainly", which is true is 99% of comics, but it can also mean "beneath serious consideration", which is a grave mistake, especially if considered across the board.

More from Feiffer via Joe:

The particular brilliance of Superman lay not only in the fact that he was the first of the super-heroes, but in the concept of his alter ego. What made Superman different from the legion of imitators to follow was not that when he took off his clothes he could beat up everybody—they all did that. What made Superman extraordinary was his point of origin: Clark Kent.

Remember, Kent was not Superman’s true identity as Bruce Wayne was the Batman’s or (on radio) Lamont Cranston, the Shadow’s. Just the opposite. Clark Kent was the fiction. Previous heroes, the Shadow, the Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger were not only more vulnerable, they were fakes. I don’t mean to criticize, it’s just a statement of fact. The Shadow had to cloud men’s minds to be in business. The Green Hornet had to go through the fetishist fol-de-rol of donning costume, floppy hat, black mask, gas gun, menacing automobile, and insect sound effects before he was even ready to go out in the street. The Lone Ranger needed an accoutremental white horse, an Indian, and an establishing cry of Hi-Yo Silver to separate him from all those other masked men running around the West in days of yesteryear.

But Superman had only to wake up in the morning to be Superman. In his case, Clark Kent was the put on. The fellow with the eyeglasses and the acne and the walk girls laughed at wasn’t real, didn’t exist, was a sacrificial disguise, an act of discreet martyrdom. Had they but known!

And for what purpose? Did Superman become Clark Kent in order to lead a normal life, have friends, be known as a nice guy, meet girls? Hardly. There’s too much of the hair shirt in the role, too much devotion to the imprimatur of impotence—an insight, perhaps, into the fantasy life of the Man of Steel. Superman as a secret masochist? Field for study there. For if it was otherwise, if the point, the only point, was to lead a “normal life,” why not a more typical identity? How can one be a cowardly star reporter, subject to fainting spells in time of crisis, and not expect to raise serious questions?

The truth may be that Kent existed not for the purposes of the story but the reader. He is Superman’s opinion of the rest of us, a pointed caricature of what we, the noncriminal element, were really like. His fake identity was our real one. That’s why we loved him so.

Now any Superman readers here will point out that this is no longer the case. Superman's origin was revised in 1986 (and has recently been revised again, adding in old elements, like his cousin Supergirl) to make Clark Kent the real guy, and Superman the put-on. It doesn't work as well that way, I think it was better in the old days. I do get a kick out of those old Superman comics where he was godlike in power and could, for example, decide to spend an afternoon in the 31st century and casually, as though he did it all the time and it was no big deal, "pierce the time barrier." These days, in the days of trying to make a "realistic" superhero, a lot has been lost. They aren't fun anymore.

eolake adds:
Have you read Alan Moore's superheroes? Like Supreme and Tom Strong? They do this beautifully. Like one character who is *so* powerful that he can run across the galaxy by just taking a few steps on each planet along the way!

Amazing Grace, Meryl Streep

Amazing Grace, Meryl Streep.

HIgh School


I just ordered this TV show on DVD, based on good reviews.
A reviewer wondered why it was no hit. I think it's obvious looking at the cover: no attractive people. It's just unamerican.

Don't you think "freaks and geeks" are usually more interesting people than the "popular" ones?

Is it just me, or are many Americans stuck on high school? In Europe, school is a preparation for life. But it seems like in America, school is life, and everything else is just an aftermath. What really matters in life is how popular you are in high school. The only reason you work hard to become successful is to be able to go to your high school reunions and rub it in the faces of the people who used to stuff you in your locker.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Barbie baby photographer


Barbie "I can be a baby photographer". Now that's a hoot and a holler. Especially that you can get it in two different "flavors". But I worry that the black one is called "African-American". Isn't that discrimination against, say Haitian blacks? Or African-Europeans? Or all of the other numerous colored peoples who don't happen to be US citizens and of African descent?

For the boys, there is the "war photographer" doll. Sorry, it's an "action figure". I want one. I love the perfect cameras, actual Nikons and Canons. For some reason, there's no black version of this one. I'm a little upset about that.

DVD commentaries

Somebody in Hollywood should do courses in how to do DVD commentaries, because few people do it well. For example, in the Seinfeld DVD sets (which otherwise have many excellent extras) there are many, many commentaries (at least forty episodes, I think), but I haven't found a single one which was interesting. When the actors speak, or the creators (Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld), they spend most of the time just watching the episode and laughing heartily at it. Why don't they respect their audience and re-watch the episode at least once before doing the commentary, so they would have the laughing and the surprises out of their system, and time to think up something pertinent to say?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Subnotebook

This is an interesting beast, if the keyboard is actually usable for touch typing. Only half a kilo, and only $400. Kewl. (Update: almost a kilo, sorry. Imagine still getting confused by achaic units like pounds, after all these years.)

Update: Quote from this review: "The keyboard on the Eee PC is very, very compact. The first two days I spent typing on the Eee PC were quite frustrating as the small footprint and tiny keys require you to use a “hunt and peck” style of typing rather than traditional touch typing methods."

For me that is a deal breaker. To make a device almost big enough for touch typing, but not quite, is like having a girlfriend who will let you go to second base, but no further. The real fun only starts when you can use all your fingers. :)

Update: the more reviews I read, the more confused I get. Many say you can touch-type, many say you can't. In pictures the size of the keyboard looks similar to that of an Apple laptop, but I can't find any numbers.
... Well, I can find the outside dimensions: the Asus is apparently 22.5 centimeters wide. And the keyboard on my Macbook Pro (both the 15" model and the 12" model) is 27 centimeters, so this parity must be illusory.
What I really want it a laptop with a full sized keyboard, but weighing less than a kilo.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hotel cleanliness

Do you drink from glasses in hotel rooms?

Offer

Quick note for those who like Domai.com but don't visit all the time: I have currently a very attractive holiday offer there. (NSFW.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

1984

Behind the scenes of Apple's famous 1984 commercial. (Sadly not very long or informative.)

Camera comparison

This is how to do a good camera review: concise and careful comparisons with all the close competitors. Well done CameraLabs.

Below your means

I just got my accounts from last year, and it turns out that for the first time ever, profits did not go up, but down. Way down.
I think my sales flattened due to new competition.
I made one bad investment. I knew the risk.
Then the dollar fell.
And I got offered much more material for sale than earlier, and I was slow in learning to say "no", so I bought much more than I needed to.
Altogether my loss of profit was bigger than my entire income was ten years ago!

And yet I am perfectly happy. Why? Because I'm living way below my means, and can easily absorb this loss. No kidding. Not even close to being a problem, I'm still saving up every month.

If I'd done what some would do, and taken a mortgage to the biggest house I could possibly afford, and gotten three cars and a summer home, then this would have been devastating. But as it is, I did not even notice until I got the numbers from my accountant, half a year after the fact.

Canon bargain


To be honest, just a couple of years ago I thought that good digital cameras would never fall in price to levels similar to film cameras. Simply because they contain so much more electronics it did not seem possible. But I'm happy to report I was wrong. $400 for a digital SLR (body only) is astounding. This is barely more than I paid for my first SLR, which was far, far less capable, and this is even before calculating in 30 years of inflation!

Mattress

One thing I'm realizing is how fortunate it is that I bought a Tempur foam mattress last year. Throughout last week I could only (barely) sleep (a couple of hours at a time) in one position (flat on my back). With any normal mattress this is painful and difficult in itself, but with waterbed or a memory-foam mattress it is possible. In short, last week I would have royally boffed if I hadn't had it.

I am also happy I splashed for a motorized bed which can raise the head rest in any position. I really needed that in the condition I was in last week. I'm not kidding.

PostureMinder

PostureMinder seems interesting. My physio recommended it. It watches your posture through a web cam, and reminds if you have been slouching. Sadly it does not come in a Mac edition.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Mind-Booty problem

The Mind-Booty problem.
Quote: "In Georgia, 21-year-old Genarlow Wilson is serving a mandatory 10-year jail sentence for aggravated child molestation. His crime: When he was 17, he had oral sex with a 15-year-old girl."

In a time when consensual sex between teenagers is considered the same as rape of a little child, we have a cognitive problem in society.
-----
Jerry weighed in:
Seems The Mind-Booty Problem Rethinking the age of sexual consent. By William Saletan
Posted Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007, at 8:02 AM ET may be another case of another reporter not checking all the facts.

Strange though that his article provides a link with "oral sex with a 15-year-old girl" that takes you to http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/21/us/21rape.html?_r=1&oref=slogin where it clearly states a judge has ruled that the 17 yo shouldn't have been jailed and that the state of Georgia has since revised their Code to make it a misdemeanor between teenagers.

In Louisiana the death penalty can be evoked - LOUISIANA's age of consent is 17. However Louisiana law allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty for people
convicted of having consensual sex with a person under 12 years old. The Louisiana state Supreme Court declared the law constitutional in 1999 because of a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling addressing the rape of an adult, not a child. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1977 banned the death penalty for raping adult women, but the justices did not say whether it could be applied to child rapists. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the 1999 Louisiana case, allowing the death penalty law to stand.

And in SOUTH CAROLINA its age of consent is 16.

And people 18 or younger can have consensual sex with someone as young as 14. South Carolina law allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty for people twice convicted of having consensual sex with a person under 11 years old.

Not really in agreement with having sex with kids that young but the death penalty is too damn strong.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ch-ch-changes

Music industry changes.

Copyright willies

I don't get copyright. If you include a painting or something in a photo or a film, it's a copyright break, but apparently you can take a photograph of a another photograph and sell it for big bucks in the fine art world, and that's fully legal??

Listening

"I'm listening to what you're saying, but I only hear what I want to."
"That's called being a woman."
Contest.

Better, and Bedford 'Rascal'

I'm getting better. I'm hitting it with therapy from all sides, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical therapies. I think one of the good things is the muscle relaxants. Thanks for the tip, Richard. (My fysio might have mentioned them anyway, but you can't be sure.)

---
This is Bedford "Rascal" van, I took the picture a few days ago. This thing is so small I'm a head taller than it! It makes me laugh every time I see one. "Bedford Rascal: the van for the small craftsman".

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Transformers

I've decided to take Joe's advice (thanks to everybody who wrote here and in email), and see how it goes when I'm writing on a laptop in bed. So this is a test.
So far it feels much better. But I'll talk to my physio about it.

Since last night, when I feel good, I'm watching Transformers on HD-DVD in my living room. And when I'm in pain, I'm watching Ghost Rider in my bed.

It's an interesting contrast, because they are both big summer-holiday Action Fantasy type of films, based on comic books or toys. But not equally well made.

Ghost Rider is... pretty silly. Well, they are both silly, but Transformers is it in a good way. Ghost Rider takes itself too seriously, and it's pretty cliched. It has flashes of humor, but too rarely. It looks good, but unevenly. For example, the most important design, the skull of Ghost Rider himself, is boring, a generic smooth skull. They should have done much better. Like the face of King Kong in the recent movie, which had scars and a chipped fang and so on.

Transformers is a nice surprise. It is much better than a silly toy-based film for kids is supposed to be. It is funny, often very funny, and has a good story. And it looks simply amazing. And not just the special effects either: every shot is just gorgeous.

Another thing that's gorgeous is the female lead. Holy cow, she can't be human. And a good actor too, like all of them, doing a good job blending drama and silly humor in this film. Recommended.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Back Trouble part II, this time it's serious

For the first time in ten years, I have to take a sick leave. I have acquired some painful inflamed nerves in my neck, and my physio therapist tells me I have to stay off the computer for a week, otherwise I'm in big trouble.
So I will really try to stave off my blogging addiction.

More on real estate

I read an article last year saying that the UK was closer to a burst of the real estate bubble than the US. Just goes to show that predicting is a mug's game.
But at least they were acknowledging the existence of the bubble, which many have been in consistent denial about.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Wingsuits

I'm amazed I keep hearing about new things. Now human flying squirrels.
Real "daredevil" stuff.
Amazing how much they go forward with that tiny area of "wings".
As you may expect, U-toob has lots of videos about it.

Hot mama

Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor to get a physical. A few days later, the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm.

The doctor greeted Morris and said, "Wow! You're really doing great, aren't you?"

Morris replied, "I'm just doing what you said, Doc, 'Get a hot mama and be cheerful.' "

"No, you misheard me!" the doctor said. "I didn't say that. I said, 'You've got a heart murmur. Be careful.' "

A ToP site

One of my favorite sites is two.

This is another excellent article by Mike.

Water as fuel

Is water as fuel becoming a reality? If this is true and will work, it might change the world.

Back troubles

I may post less for some days, I have some back trouble, currently manifesting in inflamed joints and muscle spasms in my neck. If I move my head wrong it can be painful, and it's hard to get my rest. It sux.
I'm getting physio therapist attention.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A preview feature

Here's another feature in Mac OS X Leopard, I discovered it by accident: if you have a file (or folder) highlighted in Finder, hit the space bar, and a huge preview will appear. This is neat because you can navigate a lot of files with the arrow keys and instantly get a full-sized preview of any kind of file, picture, text, Word, PDF, etc. And you don't have to have the app open. (And even if you do, opening a file in an app takes longer.)

This is not the same as coverflow, and may be more useful, because the files are not covering each other.

If you select more than one file and hit the space bar, you will get a slide show which you can leaf through with the arrow keys. I can really use this.

Update: in the interest of balance, I should also report that Leopard is less stable on my Mac Pro than Tiger was. Tiger very rarely crashed, Leopard so far has crashed at least once a week, mostly when I wake up the machine. Poor show.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Screen Dictionary

In Mac OS X Leopard, if you hold down ctrl-command-D, it will give a pop-up dictionary panel for any word you point at.
(I only wish I could resize the panel, it's too small to hold more than a few lines of text.)

Oops, I posted too fast, this seems to work mainly in Safari.

Sigma announcement


Sigma attracted a lot of attention from discerning photographers when they announced the DP-1. But the camera has a much longer time to market than expected. So they have just made this announcement.

I think it's refreshing, both that a big company takes quality so seriously, and also that they will make an announcement like this directly to their customers, instead of talking only to the press and to dealers.

It also gives a small impression of how damn complex making a good digital camera is. Personally I don't get it, I'd have thought all the basic problems would have been ironed out years ago. But this is clearly not the case. This is also illustrated by the fact that big, venerable companies like Kodak and Contax brought out big, very expensive cameras which were failures because they simply weren't good enough.

Flickr

Flickr is one of those sites you will have heard about even if you've never been there, like FaceBook, Amazon, MySpace, and ladieswithwhips.com.

I went there, and imagine my astonishment when I realized that I at some point had created an account, with head shot and everything, and never used it. Not only that, but thirty-seven people had searched on my name on Flickr! And not found any photos. Whattawaste.

So I have uploaded some. I must admit, the photo uploader app they give you is a fokload easier and faster to use than adding images to Blogger or my own site.

Pogue on Kindle

David Pogue reviews the Amazon Kindle. He confirms many of the impressions I'd gotten, for example that the was a bad idea to make the Next Page button be the whole of the right edge of the device. Sure, make it easy to hit, but also make it easy to avoid when you want. But he also confirms my suspicion that the thing has the rudiments really right.

Toddlers want tech gear

I didn't see this coming: now small children want real tech gadgets, not toy ones.

Predictably, some educators say that technology "stifles the imagination", however they figure that. Probably the same way some people claim porn causes rape. By emotional decision. (Factually rape statistics have fallen in any country were porn has been legalized.)

Quote:
"The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against screen time for children ages 2 and younger, and it recommends no more than one to two hours a day of quality programming on televisions or computers for older children."

I can hear the answer now: "don't worry, none of what my kids watch could be called quality programming."

Gunnery Sgt. Hartman said:
I am in favor of limiting some kinds of technology in schools, like the use of calculators which makes a lot of people - especially if they're not good at math already - too dependent and impairs their ability further.

Does anybody learn how to divide two numbers on paper anymore? I learned it before calculators, but I'd be hard pressed to try to do it now.

Derivatives bubble?

Gobal financial derivatives ("an investment that derives its value from another more fundamental investment") are now valued at ten times the actual worth of the actual physical planetary assets and production.
Time to buy gold and real estate?

Internet issues

I read last week that there may become Internet connectivity problems, at least around these parts, due to increased video downloading. It was said that big ISPs need to invest some ridiculous figure, like 100 billion, otherwise we will get "brown-outs".

I did not take it seriously. But I'm beginning to wonder after today. Because today one of my internet connections (cable) has totally failed, and I keep having problems with my backup connection (DSL). I must say I don't like it.

Phone cameras or camera phones

I use the camera in my mobile phone once, and then I got tired of it when it turned out I couldn't figure out how to transfer the pictures to my computer. So I have not been interested since.
But similarly to the arena of ring tones and sports, I'm in a minority with my lack of interest. It seems the future of snap-shot photography belongs to the phone camera and online sharing sites.

I am curious by the way, about young people's acceptance of tiny pictures and tinny music. They seem perfectly fine with viewing pictures on a 2-inch screen, and to listen to music via an external micro-speaker in their MP3-enabled phone! I just don't get how that kind of experience can give them any kind of pleasure.

Litigiusness...lessnes...ity

If like me you have a love-hate relationship with "the stupidity that is humanity" stories, here is one more.

Chank fonts

I've been a customer of Chank fonts since the millennium. (I use his font Space Toaster for the Domai logo.) I see him as a poster boy for the one-man web business.
Here are his free fonts.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fall Day photos

From today. It's the first shoot with my new little Canon Ixus 960 (which I finally got tuesday). (Known as SD950 in the US.)
Below are the first and the last picture I took. The blue one is perfect for a desktop (wallpaper) picture.
Here is the full gallery, 12 photos. (Large.)



----
By the way, isn't it funny how you can be snobbish about anything? :)
You can be: "I'm making my pictures on a camera costing twenty grand and the size of a bread box. I'm the business." But you can also be: "I'm making my pictures on a $200 camera which fit in my breast pocket. I rule."

But then of course one might also simply get pleasure from any of these facts without being snobbish about it. There's a world of possibilities.

Update: I almost omitted the bricks/fence picture for being too boring. But then I got the idea to make it monochrome, and I very much like it now.

Pascal posts

A couple of new posts about women on Dr. Pascal's blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hy6 camera


It's quite rare for a new medium-format camera system to be introduced. (Medium format is a film/sensor size from 4 cm to 6 cm. Clumsy and very expensive, but super-high image quality, useful for high-end pros.)

But it's good to see a new system, since old ones have been dying out in recent years, Bronica, Contax, Mamiya, Pentax, all deep-sixed.

It's amazing how big a premium you pay to get the extra sharpness that a camera like this will give you. Example: there will be an adapter for this camera to allow the sensor to be rotated 90 degrees without taking it off and exposing it to the elements. This adapter alone will cost around $1500!
The full camera with a standard lens is around $35,000... You either really need it, or you're an oil sheik. (Or a dotcommer who sold out in 1999.)

Etch-a-Sketch

From the it's-a-weird-ole-world department: the computer-controlled Etch-a-Sketch.

Kaossilator

American music dude.
Japanese music dude.
Thanks to TTL.

Saint Petersburg

Domai photographer Max Asolo has visited Saint Petersburg, Russia.






Saint Petersburg, along with Moscow, is now one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in or visit. Weird ole world we live in.

Opera?

Why don't I like opera?
Take Paul Potts, for example. I can see that he's really impressive, and it does affect me strongly. But at the same time something about it really rubs me the wrong way (beyond the danged audience not being quiet). I don't know why, I just flinch from it.

It feels similar to my reaction to some kinds of jazz music: the appreciation of the music is like a lizard-brain reaction: like the body reacts to it at cellular level, and I don't like that, it does not have my permission. I don't like to "give in".

Mom is Santa?

Leather Santa?

Vancouver


Ray tells me:
Here's a look at the fresh snow here this morning earlier.... West Vancouver is to your left, and North Vancouver is to the right. This building is sitting almost on the borderline between them. The cleared right-of-way up the side of that nearest hill on the right is the cable-car system for the Grouse Mountain Skyride & ski area. The residential areas on the mountainsides to the left are in "British Properties" so named because the Guinness family (of grog fame) donated the money for our Lions Gate Bridge, and were given in return a tract of land on the hillside for future development. It's now reportedly the richest suburb in Canada. Hard to tell, looking at it from here. But up there, if you have to ask "How Much?", you can't afford it.
Cheers,
Ray ("oldest living blogger") (USA today mention.)

Aren't digital cameras and the Internet wonderful? A picture you took may be available world-wide literally within a couple of minutes after you took it.

Ray also sent me this. Quote:
"Q: Any idea how many of the 109.2 million blogs you track get no hits in the course of a year?

A: Just over 99 percent. The vast majority of blogs exist in a state of total or near-total obscurity."

Möbius Transformations Revealed

Möbius Transformations Revealed. Very cool.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sophisticated Insults II, The Umpire Strikes Back

Funny coinkidink, somebody just sent me this.

When insults had class

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
-- Winston Churchill


"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."
-- Clarence Darrow


"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."
-- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."
-- Groucho Marx

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."
-- Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."
-- Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play, bring a friend... if you have one."
-- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second..... if there is one."
-- Winston Churchill to Shaw, in response

"I feel so miserable without you, it's almost like having you here."
-- Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator."
-- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."
-- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others."
-- Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."
-- Paul Keating

"He had delusions of adequacy."
-- Walter Kerr

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?"
-- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."
-- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."
-- Oscar Wilde

Update:
His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy.
-- Woody Allen

The scarcity mindset

The scarcity mindset dominates humanity.

Small example: the new Amazon Kindle e-book reading device has 250MB of memory built in. This carries the operating system, and beyond that, about 200 books.
200 books is surely enough for most purposes. And you can expand it with SD flash cards.

But consider this: if they had included a GigaByte of memory, this would have cost them maybe three dollars more per device (which sells for $400). Perhaps just one dollar, considering bulk rebates. And they'd have been able to say "holds a thousand books" in the marketing campaign. And their buyers would have felt so much richer, holding "a thousand books" in their hand even before loading any content. And he would have been more eager to buy Amazon's e-books because all this empty space was longing to be filled.

So I think it's silly to save those three dollars. Giving customers more than they expect is a great business strategy.

Lecture on achieving childhood dreams

Lecture on achieving childhood dreams.

P.O blues

Dang, my new Canon pocket cam (see below) should have been delivered last Wednesday, but the local P.O. has trouble.

It seems they have decided to radically reorganize how parcel delivery is done. Probably for good reason, but they decided to do this 1: soon after an "industrial action" (a.k.a. a strike) and 2: a few weeks before Christmas. Result: total chaos. Good choice there. :)

Contact?

Here's how not to make a contact form: make all kinds of irrelevant information required (those with an asterisk) for the form to work.


TTL adds:
Yeah, looks they want to date you or something.

My pet peeve are ones which insist you tell them your "state". At least this one asks for a province. (Just fill in the name of your favourite wine.)

Actually, designing of international forms for postal address is all but impossible. There are tens of different address formats in use. In some Asian countries Postal Address, the concept, has no resemblance to ours. For one, it's upside down. The most significant bit, country name, is on top.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

USA

It's amazing such a dominance the USA still has on the Internet. I would have thought that by 2007, two thirds of the web would be outside the US. That may be so, but not for me, not commercially. Almost three quarters of my sales are to the US, and I could really feel on stats that this was Thanksgiving week.

Perhaps it's a language thing. Me, I'm used to doing everything in English, but perhaps a big bulk of web users in most countries will only surf a smaller subsection of web sites in their own language? And yet I have a feeling that if I made a whole site for each of the major languages, it would not change much.

Alex said:
I can almost take it for granted that my US friends have a PC and DSL or Cable modem.
Most of my UK friends, of equivalent social status, may have a PC, and all seem to be dial-up. Even my sister who is a software professional has dial-up, there again, she lives in the comparative sticks/boonies.
So it would seem to be a connectivity issue as much as anything.

Hmm, although it is clear that the US is much ahead in broadband (as Europe is with cell phones), I was not under the impression that the UK was that much behind.
... Thinking about it, I actually have a couple of friends in the US who have mentioned that they don't have broadband available where they live.

I like sequel titles

I like sequel titles.

The Son Of Tarzan.

The Empire Strikes Back.

The Quickening.

Kramer Versus Kramer II, The Revenge.

Apollo 14, This Time It's Personal.

Harry Potter VIII, So You Thought It Was Over?

Mission Impossible IV, Well-Nigh Unlikely.

Hannibal III, Time For Dessert.

Saturday The Forteenth, The Aftermath.

665, The Neighbor of the Beast.

664, The Next-door Neighbor of the Beast.

The Princess Divorcee, Nothing Lasts Forever.

Titanic II, Bobbing Back.

Spider-Man 4, A Lazy Sunday.

Forest Gump II, Gump and Gumper.

Philadelphia 2, He's Back and He's Pissed.

The Mummy III, Don't Expect Any Plot By Now.

Brokeback Mountain 2, A Tale Of Two Lesbians.

The Godfather 4, Older, Wiser, Bitterer.

Toy Story III, Finally Lego.

Lethal Weapon 5, Nursing Home Armageddon.

The Passion Of The Christ The Second, So I'm Home, But Is Anybody Pleased?

Look Who's Talking IV, Talking To Cockroaches by Now.

301, The Mass Funeral.

C Movie, A Wasp's Tale.

Beowulf Again, Longer Swords.

Superman The Prequel, Life On Krypton: Pretty Peaceful Really.

Ironman the Sequel, Upgrading To Brass.

Transformers II, Transforming Your Soul By Meditation.

Van Helsing II, More Kinds Of Monsters.

Ben Hur The Remake, Chariots and Cell Phones.

South Park The Movie II, A Big Rubbery One.

The L Word The Movie, Strap-on Bonanza.

The Matrix 4, Turns Out Nothing Was Real.

Indiana Jones 5, Now Only Vehicle Chases.

Rocky 7, Going Gently Into That Good Night.
-----

The "665, The Neighbor of the Beast" one is not mine. I don't know who made it up, but it's great. - Eolake

Pascal added:

Sequel Titles 2: "Haven't we already done that one?"

Sequel 3: The Trilogy.

Final Fantasy 2: It ain't over even when it's over.

Final Fantasy VII1⁄2: Advent Children

Final Fantasy XIV: Song of the Fat Lady.

Desert Storm 3: This Time We'll Win.

Official Sports League Game 2008: Spring Edition.

Silence of the Cash Cows: Milk'em Dry!

Silence of the Hams: Real Bad Acting.

Store Wars: Clash Of The Price Tags.

Scar Wars: The Dark Nip-Tuck.

Bible III: the Koran.

Bible IV: the Unauthorized Sequel. By Anton Szandor LaVey. Rated Adults Only.
(Former title: Bible IV, Satan Strikes Back.)

Barbara Cartland's Generic Love Story #10,452: Love Is Eternal. (With previously unseen footage!)

Star Wars Ch.7: Siths in Iraq.

Halloween 33: Say "AAAAH!"

Rambo 2008: Last Blood.

Conan Barbarian, Armenian Warrior.

Blog Post 2: The Comments.

World War III: Bush vs Laden.

Honey, I Sold The Kids: Let's Go To Hawaii!

Resident Anonymous Flamer 2: The Big Rubbery Twosome

Marvel vs DC vs Dark Horse vs Ninja Turtles vs Disney vs DragonBall: The Mother Of All Crossovers

Return Home of the Second Revenge of the Hero's Nephew's Neighbor's Girlfriend's Angry Boss And His Dog, Nothing Personal Just Business The Remake: The Ultimate License Cash-In!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

One element

I just had a realization:
It seems to me that pretty much all works of art which become hits have one single element which carries the work. One really strong bit.
In a song it might be the main melody line. Or the drum beat.
In a novel it may be the main character, or a setting.
In a picture it may be a combination of colors, or the lines of the central figure.

But it helps me to think of how to create a work, that to make something strong, I have to find/make one single very strong element, and compose the work around that.

Update: this is not meant to be an absolute statement, but mostly a help for creators. For example if you're working on something, and you can't point to an element which you are sure is really strong, the work is not likely to be successful no matter how much you fine tune it.

Mac buyers FAQ

Macintosh buyers' FAQ, by the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg.

Canon on film

Public relations speak: Canon management was asked if Canon is ever going to release another film SLR camera. The answer was: "I can't say what products we have for the future, but in thinking about a question like that you have to look at the ratio of digital to film users in the market now. I can't really say more than that for commercial reasons."

That's answer enough for me. :)

It's funny to me that they apparently think it would hurt them in the marketplace to simply come out and say "no". The reason they won't develop a new film camera is that the market for it has all but disappeared. (I'd be surprised if they could sell a thousand of any new film camera.) So what's the harm in telling this vanishing market that they shouldn't have any false hopes?
If anything it should help sales of existing film cameras if buyers know that there will not be any new models. Or they may buy a digital camera sooner.

---
By the way, language question: if I talk about a book, I'd say "they sold a million copies in the first year". If I was talking about a camera, the word "copies" seem wrong... but which word would it be instead? You can't just use "cameras", because we are talking about just one specific model.

Update: thanks to Damien for suggesting "unit". That'll do well in the context I describe.
But less well in a situation I had last year: I had bought a camera on eBay, and the one I actually got was the same model (Nikon FM), but was more worn and had a different serial number. So it was a different... (blank).
Looking it up, it seems "exemplar" is a correct word for it. Which is funny, because that's exactly the word I would use in Danish. But I've never heard it used in English, so I wonder if everybody would understand it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Secret underground temple

Secret underground temple built by private enthusiasts in Italy, over 20 years.

Rollerblading grace

(Note: it does not get really started until about 50 seconds. Poor edit.)


Beowulf

It looks like Beowulf is a hit, early sales are at the top of the lists. Lord knows why, the trailer does not appeal to me. It looks like a video game, the story looks like it's clichéd beyond words, and the main character can't pronounce his own name ("beahwoof").
I had hoped better, since Neil Gaiman is coauthor.

Prices

You'd think that easy online access to pricing information would have evened out pricing. But maybe not. It still pays to look around.

Recently I wanted an ethernet cable. I could get a 20-meter one online for £25. But I decided that I wanted it the same day, and went across the street to PC World, and they had a 15-meter one for £40. That's 60% more!

And look at this pricing: Apple UK: £370, Amazon UK: £240. That's a 54% premium at Apple.



---
And by the way, something good is happening to phone call prices. I can call the USA now from the UK for just over 1 pound (two dollars) per hour. Excellent. And that's without any special cards or codes.

Wiki on ads

Wikipedia on why they do not run ads.

Broken Back Mount

When Dances With Wolves was current, I didn't think a film would ever come around that I felt less desire to see.
But then Titanic arrived. This was surely the zenith of maudlin crap?
No, now comes Brokeback Mountain.
I shudder to think how this record will ever be broken.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

SanDisk II, The Vampire Strikes Back

Another in my faintly embarrassing series of notes on how fast technology moves: I did not dream five years (such a short span of time) that in 2007 you could buy a 4-gigabyte memory card, and a card reader, for around 30 bucks/18 pounds. It's just ridiculous.


(Funny, I seem to be fixated on five year spans. In my life, everything changes in five years.)

UK charger

I want to buy an Amazon Kindle from the US and have it shipped here to the UK (by a friend, Amazon won't ship them outside the US). It surely won't work connection-wise, but I just want one for reading, and lord knows how long it will take them to get the finger out and get it on the UK/Eu market (we can't even get the Sony Reader yet).

The question is: the charger will be with an American plug and 110 voltage. Does anybody know: what's the likelihood it will adapt to UK voltage or that I can jury-rig another solution to charging the thing?

A sophisticated insult

What's a sophisticated insult? Pascal suggests "Go to the Wizard and request a brain". Perhaps it would be even better if it really required a familiarity with Oz, like: "comb your straw and go petition the wizard."

I was once treated exceedingly rudely by somebody on an otherwise very educated mailing list, so I said something like:
"I acknowledge and appreciate your input, pointed though it was, and humbly suggest that you take advantage of your next available vacation time by a protracted, if possible permanent, visit to the netherworld."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Background patterns

Sometimes I get tired for a while of having a distracting photo on my desktop ("wallpaper"). But on the other hand, just a solid color is very boring. So I got the idea of making these subtle patterns. They are both based on photos, and made to a tiling pattern with a Photoshop plugin called Terrazzo, and then bled of most of the contrast. I quite like them, whaddayathink?
They are designed for my 30-inch screen, I don't know if they suffer if used on smaller screens.
Update: Goshdarn, I forgot that Blogger allows maximum of 1600 pixels. Here is a link to a zip file of both, in full size.