Saturday, March 27, 2010

cursor help


Re the issue of the disappearing cursor (getting hard to find in the wilderness of two 30-inch monitors), I found a solution (Mouse Locator) which put colored rings around it for visibility. Those it came with were a bit broad and garish, though, so I summoned up a host of expensive Adobe apps and my meager designer skills and made a two-ring system for myself. Slender and attractive, but still quite visible. A black and a white ring, so on is always visible no matter the background. Yes, not just a pretty hat-stand, my friends.

(Since screen capture does not capture the cursor, I simply photographed the screen, with my trusty Canon S90 in macro mode.)

It's actually a relief not have to make a mouse-waving game of finding the durn cursor fifty times a day. And I feel the rings will not be distracting.

New interview mit mir

I'm being interviewed on EOShd.com. It's very cool, timely, and yet with depth and class. Very charming and witty, and yet with sober and educated debonair.

Apple wireless compact keyboard

I got this an an iPad companion and for travel use. It's ridiculously small and light.

It's also ridiculously beautiful. I can understand those who get irritated about all the attention and praise always heaped on Apple, but really, nobody else makes products like this. You wonder why, for looking at this, it seems so obvious. But I have a hunch that technically it is not easy to do this.
(Not fragile either, I heard a large man trod on his by accident, enough to bend the case a little, but it still works perfectly.)





I am large, so I prefer the monster keyboard you also see, with noisy keys with long travel. But I can feel that even with the very short travel, the Apple keyboard works well, and I could get used to it. And I've heard that many people think this is the best keyboard they have ever used.

You have to see it in real life. Seriously, it's one of the most gorgeous pieces of hardware I've ever seen.

------
Just to balance things out: Apple also insists on having these long-lived odd, irritating flaws, like much too short cables on accessories to make it look neat. For many years one was that a portrait-oriented photo which was taller than the screen could not be scaled to the screen by the OS. Lame. But fortunately fixed now. Another embarrassing one is that Windows for fifteen years has had a choice between various mouse pointer sizes. Apple's OS has the same 16x16 pixel arrow they have had since the very first Mac with its tiny screen!
Oh, in the newest OS you can scale it up. But it just blows up the pixels, so it looks horrible. Seriously, with all the finetuning they do, I don't know how they can live with this.

Update:
Also re the keyboard: from the Apple store, it looks to me like they don't have a wireless keyboard with numeric keyboard and Home and End keys and so on. While I think this is great for a travel keyboard (but how many uses that), it's a little surprising to be so careful about space for a stationary keyboard.
Also the thinness: I can understand it in a laptop computer, but I'd have thought people on average want a little more travel in the keys? No? Well, some do, and I hear some people who tend to hammer the keys hard get sore fingertips after a day's use on a flat keyboard. Of course one could say it's unnecessary and unergonomic to hammer the keys so hard. Waste of energy anyway.

Healing brush

Finally Adobe is making the healing brush work the way it should, in Photoshop in CS5.
This is a dramatic improvement, virtually a revolution in the ease of photo retouching. I predict that once you get used to this, you can't imagine living without it.
Some of what he's demoing there actually seems so magical that I'm half-fearing it's an April-1 joke that got out a bit early.

Adsense

Those google ads you see in blocks of a few text ads on some sites, does anybody know if anybody is earning anything on them?
I guess they are generated automatically based on keywords in the text. I always overlook them. Although unlike animated ads, they don't irritate me.

Note on art

When I see what people are doing with art applications on the tiny iPhone screen, and then consider further software development, and the larger iPad screen, and using a pen like the Pogo Stylus (basically just a thin finger for more precise control. Makes sense for me, because my finger covers what I'm trying to see.), then I think the much more expensive Wacom pen screens have just gotten very serious competition.
One issue of course is the missing pressure sensitivity (like the line get thicker when you press harder), but I wonder if that can be gotten around to some degree. For example with a soft pen head which touches more of the glass when you press harder.


Me, I'm definitely gonna have a go at sketching in cafes and such places. Hey, you may even pick up babes that way, who knows.
I find it's often conducive to the creative juices to write or draw outside your home or office, since you kinda take it less serious. Or summin'.
(Oh, and If I bring the small Apple wireless keyboard, the pad can be used for creative writing too.)

An invaded Mac. was: The Fountains of Paradise

Is anybody familiar with Audible and their DRM scheming? I want to buy The Fountains of Paradise, but idiotically somebody decided it can only be sold in the US, so I can't. (International rights are brain dead. Just because somebody else has purchased selling rights, they bar people from buying five or ten copies across the ocean.)
Could somebody buy it and send it to me, technically?

I have even installed Hotspot Shield to hide my IP, and use a US address and cc, but still, everytime they throw me out and refer me to the UK site, which of course does not *have* this friggin book.
"Hey, guys, will you take my money please!!!!"
And they wonder why people use "piracy".

Update:
OK, it turns out I could buy it in the US iTunes store. Even a bit cheaper.
Maybe next time I'll try using USunlocked.com.

[Update re the below: It seems that rebooting after deleting the app did the trick. It seems it's gone now. Thanks god. (In the meantime I reset safari, so I've lost all the cookies and passwords it remembered. Just great.).]

... Great, now I have another problem: I can't get rid of the fucking banner AnchorFree Hotspot Shield puts in my browser!! Goddamn fucking shit.
I have removed the software and even used "secure delete" in Finder. It still pops up windows and banners in my Safari browser. I'm gonna hound the fuckers till the ends of the earth if they don't solve this for me, I'm so pissed off. In the fifteen years using a Mac, I never had this kind of problem before.
I'm reading this, but so far no help. (I've also called the company and mailed them, but of course this kind of thing always happens in the beginning of a weekend.)

Oddly, it has not affected Firefox. But the problem is not in Safari itself, because their server turns up when I do a trace-route:

traceroute to domai.com (64.38.197.113), 64 hops max, 52 byte packets
1 10.3.48.1 (10.3.48.1) 162.072 ms 219.470 ms 170.247 ms
2 74-115-0-1.anchorfree.com (74.115.0.1) 204.919 ms 165.597 ms 163.752 ms
3 68.68.105.9 (68.68.105.9) 165.942 ms 185.429 ms 168.603 ms
4 72.13.93.177 (72.13.93.177) 176.034 ms 171.033 ms 182.448 ms
5 216.151.186.153 (216.151.186.153) 167.036 ms 173.354 ms 184.160 ms
6 216.151.179.214 (216.151.179.214) 166.261 ms 166.384 ms
10gigabitethernet2-1.core1.sjc2.he.net (72.52.92.118) 166.367 ms
7 10ge5-3.fr1.sjc.llnw.net (206.223.116.123) 185.456 ms 167.458 ms 175.939 ms
8 xe2-0.cr01.sjc01.mzima.net (206.223.116.62) 188.845 ms 170.250 ms 207.039 ms
9 xe0-0.cr02.sjc02.us.mzima.net (216.193.255.221) 183.359 ms
tge2-4.fr4.phx2.llnw.net (69.28.172.109) 183.985 ms 189.751 ms
10 69.28.162.22 (69.28.162.22) 183.555 ms 195.362 ms 211.333 ms
11 neteng-intibgp.vl177.bb1.phx1.cwie.net (209.188.10.134) 187.083 ms 187.010 ms 189.355 ms
12 69.174.64.2 (69.174.64.2) 183.870 ms 189.868 ms 194.564 ms
13 neteng-intibgp.vl177.bb1.phx1.cwie.net (209.188.10.134) 185.413 ms 182.918 ms 185.369 ms
14 domai.cavecreek.net (64.38.197.113) 195.211 ms 185.774 ms 185.405 ms

Friday, March 26, 2010

Celestial matter, and fecal

New blog designs

Ray alerts me to a new design feature Blogger is experimenting with.

He's used it on his own blog, and I think that looks great.

If only I could change the design without looks all the custom tweaks, links, etc.

Design a case

Design your own iPhone case, neato. (Coming for other devices too.)

Video with still cameras

Video with still cameras -- Interview with Andrew Reid

Intro:
Andrew Reid has gotten praise for his experimental videos, such as Shadowplay
which was filmed in the dark city with fast lenses and with one of the new generation digital still cameras which also do video very well.

Andrew also runs the site EOShd.com, which is about just those things. I wanted to interview him, since for over ten years now, I've been writing about the amazing "democratization" of new media, since in many, many media, distribution and promotion has become vastly more powerful and cheaper, and in some of them, the same is true for production. This allows Hot Young Talent to do things they could never afford to do before, and get an audience for it.


Eolake:
Andrew, What are your ambitions as a film maker? Do you want to do feature films? And do you think these days the length of a film is as important as it once was? Or does the Internet mean that perhaps there is now a market for, say, 40-minute films which never see release in traditional cinemas?

Andrew Reid:
I think the internet is opening up new genres of cinema and art but I think feature length films are still important. Shorts have always existed but feature length films have always been more popular, I think they fit well with the way the human mind experiences emotion, and memories.

People tend to absorb more information and quicker whilst surfing the net so I think it's asking a lot from someone to commit to a feature length film on Vimeo or Youtube by a new young artist, for example. So much else is competing for their attention at any one time.

So in this particular situation a short video is the best way to get somebody's attention if you are new and relatively unknown. It needs a hook - this is often as a technical demonstration of the camera but it won't always be that way in the future as the technology matures, it won't be so new and exciting any more and it'll come down purely to how creative the artist is - which is an exciting thing of course!

There is a future in the internet for delivery of feature length films but only as a means to an end, due to a shift in technology. I do love doing music videos and short artistic videos but I'd still prefer to end up doing feature length films which are shown in cinemas. I hope cinemas never die. I think cinemas concentrate the viewer's attention only on the film whilst the internet just distracts them constantly!
[I would add here that by "internet delivery" I did not think of a film sitting on a web page, but more of any kind of electronic delivery of a feature film, which can then be seen at leisure on your preferred screen or TV. - Eolake]

As for democratisation - I think the internet enables this to a point, allows everyone to have their say - but along with greater democratisation comes greater competition and it becomes harder to get noticed when so many others are doing similar things, and ideas are exhausted more easily.

You see a similar thing with Google rankings... the big popular sites are often always at the top.


Eolake:
What do you think right now is the minimum investment, and in what camera gear, for somebody to make a film which will seem convincingly professional? (Granted talent and so on.)

Andrew Reid:
This is the great thing about HDSLRs. Previously it would cost over £20,000 to produce professional and cinematic looking digital video, and the camera might have a fixed lens. But now the quality is even more cinematic yet the cost is a fraction compared to just 2 years ago.

The Panasonic GH1 for example can often be found on eBay 2nd hand as a body only with no lens for £500 and then you can invest between £200 and £500 in lenses which are very important to give you a 'film-like' look. These lenses can be an absolute bargain, for example some of the best SLR lenses are very old. Their cost is sure to rise so it helps to get in there early and (for example) find a Contax Zeiss 85mm F1.4 at £300 (the new Zeiss lens for Canon DSLRs cost £800), or a Canon 35mm FD F2 for £150. So I'd say between £700 and £1000 will deliver just about as professional looking and as cinematic looking as it will ever be possible in the digital 2D era of indie filmmaking. A lens is a great investment as it will work on future cameras too.

There is always something better available round the corner, but it's going to be relatively smaller steps from here on. To have something like DSLRs with video come along and be a 'game changer' is very rare and doesn't happen very often. It's a big step up from what we had before especially at this price point.


Eolake:
And for editing such a film? Final Cut Pro? And pretty much any new Macintosh? Or...?

Andrew Reid:
I use Final Cut Pro but Adobe Premiere is also a good option, especially on a PC. Mac's are quite expensive and you need a very fast processor, lots of memory and hard disk space. But I'm a Mac person and I'm happy to spend the extra for a more reliable operating system.

Video editing was the reason I went from PC to Mac a few years ago anyway when I started editing HD video, my PC didn't handle it very well and Final Cut Pro was ahead of the game. But things have improved software wise on the PC since then, so it's a good value option to go with an affordable Windows machine.


Eolake:
Some people say that cameras like Canon 5DII and Panasonic GH1 make good video but lack some handling features to work well as video cameras, like a good viewfinder and a handle... What do you think?

Andrew Reid:
Yes that's currently true out of the box. There is speculation that in a few years we'll all be back to using larger video cameras but with the same technology as introduced by HDSLRs. But I quite like the way cameras like the 5D Mk II and especially GH1 handle. They're very small. They're quite stealthy - people react differently if they think they're being filmed. With an HDSLR they just think you're taking a few idle snaps. So it's useful for real-life videos shot in public places, or narrative films which involve people in the background. You get less unwanted attention!

The issue of a viewfinder is solved somewhat by the Zacuto Z-Finder which is a magnifying loupe that attaches to the LCD screen of your camera, giving you a 3 inch electronic view finder in your eye. It also helps steady the camera against your head for handheld work. You can also buy a huge range of HDSLR rigs which improve the handling and give you much more to grip, for example a pistol grip with an arm that steadies the camera against your shoulder and a 'follow focus' wheel for adjusting focus without touching the lens. You can also put the camera on a steadicam device for handheld movement which really flows as smooth as butter. The options are huge from the various 3rd party manufacturers.

The camera manufacturers themselves see HDSLRs still mainly as still cameras, and indeed that is how the majority of buyers think of them as well - so they're just responding to market demand. For the future Canon and Panasonic are probably thinking more about traditional forms of video camera rather than these 'hybrids' and just improving the technology, which is fine - but it will come with a hefty price mark up when it appears in "real" video cameras.

I am not sure (especially as HDSLR keep improving) that people will sacrifice their investment in lenses, accessories, rigs and pay extra to get a larger camera which gives them the same image quality just with a few improvements in handling built into the main body. So the HDSLR video market is going to be strong for some time yet regardless of what the manufacturer's pro divisions come up with.


Eolake:
Would you prefer to use one of these cameras, or a low-end professional video camera? The latter has surely also fallen in price a lot?

Andrew Reid:
I'd prefer to use one of these cameras over even a high end professional video camera.

As an example - RED are somewhat in trouble from the advent of HDSLRs. Canon and Panasonic are able to invest a lot more in sensor technology than RED are.

RED are to release a small camera with interchangeable lens and large sensor, called Scarlet but it has been beset by delays and will be very expensive. The image quality might not be as good as a HDSLR costing a fraction of the price, and it's only advantage will be better built-in handling in terms of the body design and functionality - the stuff you can add from 3rd parties like Zacuto on a HDSLR (and still have a cheaper camera afterwards!)

There are indeed improvements needed for some aspects of HDSLR image quality - especially the recording format - but the main HDSLR advantage is the large sensor - almost unique in the video world - and their interchangeable lenses - throwing open over 60 years worth of lens options - all the classics from the likes of Leica and Carl Zeiss.

I believe a 35mm large sensor RED camera with a Zeiss cinema lens would cost approx. 20x that of a GH1 with a Zeiss SLR photographic lens on it via an adapter and the difference in quality wouldn't matter to the film's audience even if you blew up the picture for cinema projection.

Recently British cinematographer/director Philip Bloom showed his HDSLR shorts at the Stag theatre at Lucasfilm's ranch in the presence of Quentin Tarantino and Rick McCallum, the Starwars producer. In fact in some ways the footage looked better than 35mm motion picture film. It's even possible that the HDSLR will be used to film the planned Starwars TV series. Lucasfilm clearly have a strong interest in the technology.

Compared to small 3CCD chip professional camcorders of 2008, the difference is similar as the one between a compact point & shoot and a DSLR.

There are more parallels with 35mm SLR photography... Digital video's ultimate benchmark has always been the Hollywood 35mm motion picture look (film). The look of HDSLRs and Hollywood is now similar to the difference between full frame DSLRs and 35mm photographic film. Film is still a bit better - it has more latitude, but in the near future, digital will be better than film in every respect and a lot cheaper.


Eolake:
Do you think there will ever really be a commercial market for "art" films without a traditional story and such?

Andrew Reid:
I hope so. But I think story is still an important part of film making, and it's easy to forget that when the HDSLR footage looks so beautiful and artistic. At the moment it's exciting to see what new forms of film these cameras will give rise to, and if they open up new markets that's a great opportunity.

But in terms of creativity they are just tools, and what will determine the commercial market is probably more to do with how people use the tools. I think there will be some breakthrough hits filmed with HDSLRs but these films will probably resemble the classic motion pictures styles and stories that really move people and connect with them, the same as in the past. It's just that they might be filmed by a group of friends in Europe rather than a major motion picture studio in Hollywood.


Eolake:
Do you think it's time yet for independant film makers to bypass the cinemas entirely, and perhaps even DVDs/Blu-ray, and focus entirely on Internet sales and distribution?

Andrew Reid:
Yes. Near future, I think physical distribution of video will be dead within 10 years in the developed world (where internet use is widespread and fast).

I don't so much mind the passing of large bricks & mortar DVD retailers but I hope the concept of a bricks & mortar cinema will survive for a while yet. Nobody can fit 100 movie fans and a IMAX sized screen in their house.

However I think cinema too will be consigned to the dustbin as as home theatre kit gets more and more snazzy. Home cinema can offer a lot - the social aspect, the popcorn, the image quality and sound as well. But at the moment, there is demand for traditional cinema, even with such widespread use of DVD, Blu-ray and internet video.

In the distant future, I can see technology becoming so advanced that it will work on a more electro - psychological level than a audio/visual one, and then it may be an historic first point of entry for humankind to 'post-humanism', a state of experiencing things entirely unhindered by the physical human body. I think all the scary sci-fi plots will come true basically.

------
Andrew sent a couple of stills from his videos. He wrote:
"The 2nd one in the street alley is from the next Shadowplay shot with the GH1. The first is shot with the 5D Mark II in Manchester. Both are shot in very low light, with a very fast lens the cameras sees more at ISO 1600 than the human eye is capable of making out."

Quotes from today

Just as eating against one's will is injurious to health, so study without a liking for it spoils the memory, and it retains nothing it takes in. - Leonardo da Vinci

The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.

-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1890

If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.
-- Benjamin Franklin

"The only failure is the failure to try."
-- Buckminster Fuller

Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.
-- Og Mandino

Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.
-- Samuel Johnson, quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson

When everyone is against you, it means that you are absolutely wrong-- or absolutely right.
-- Albert Guinon

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.
-- Flannery O'Connor

pad-pod roundup

Here's a kool article from Andy Ihnatko about iPhone, iPad, uses, and various accessories. Including data I never knew about drawing on a phone.

Searching Twitter

I still don't remember regularly either to read or the write on Twitter, yet.
Mmm.

But I've just tried searching on it for the first time, and it's really an amazing thing. It's like a super-democratic (unfiltered) googling, and you see what's being said right this minute about anything. Because it's the quickest way in the world to broadcast anything, many things turn up there first of all, if they come into attention of the Internetted world, which is half the world these days.

Another funky little thing: just for fun I tried turning on my Mac reading alerts to me, including tweets. And if my twitter app downloads several at once (if the machine is just being woken up for example), it reads them all at once! It's dead funny to hear.

The Samsung mirrorless (updated)

Pogue has a lukewarm review of the new mirror-less Samsung camera. Great image quality, poor ergonomics.


I think it was a mistake by Samsung to go for their own system. If they had gone with Micro Four Thirds, they would instantly have been supported by the excellent lenses which already exist for this system. And if they had been Nikon or Canon, they would have a host of legacy lenses which, while biggish, would fit with an adapter. But now they have neither, they have to build a whole lens system from scratch, and that's just crazy in economic down-times, it's hugely expensive. They don't even have a wide-angle lens yet.

One must say, they have managed to make it remarkably compact though. See here, it's hardly bigger than the GF1, but has 50% bigger sensor.

... Aaaaanyway... I hope somebody will make a mirror-less full frame camera. Full 24x36mm format. It would be great to have the image quality of a Canon 5DII or Nikon D3s in a compact-ish camera! Even one without exchangable lenses might be interesting.

Update:
See comments for adapters for many lenses, thanks to Miserere.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Audiobooks for free, (updated again)

Craniac pointed us to several audiobooks sites, including AudioBooksForFree.

Can you make this sample play? I don't see any button to click.

"For free" is... well, they're only free in very low audio quality. Rather dubious affair really.

... Wow, that site is outdated... they deliver all the books on an iPod (a little down the page). Great idea. But too expensive, and the iPod featured is from 2004!

Thanks to Tommy for pointing to BooksShouldBeFree. It collects mainly audiobooks from libravox, and seems quite useful.
... Except that the books are divided into a file per chapter. I may have to use software to collect them into one file per book.
The "podcast" option puts a podcast (look for Librivox) in your iTunes podcast section, and then you must download each chapter by clicking on it there.

I have downloaded Moby-Dick. Holy crap, it's over a day long!

Update:
NYT has this article.
It refers for instance to this resource on the Internet Archive site.

Sit tight

Apple shipping schedule

A US friend is helping me getting the iPad early by having one shipped to her, actually to the office, and then she'll send it on to me here in UK.

But I think I remember that sometimes Apple will often ship a "hot" new product so it actually *arrives* on the official release date (which is Saturday, April 3). Is this not so, does somebody know?

Ghost Girl - A British feature length movie shot on HDSLRs

Ghost Girl - A British feature length movie shot on HDSLRs, article.
... the difference with HDSLRs is that for the first time an ultra low budget film can finally have the same production values of a multi-million dollar Hollywood production, and for all intents and purposes cinema goers would find them indistinguishable.
How will the established movie industry react? Certain parts of the industry were frightened enough when the Blair Witch Project was shot on grainy DV. If I were a talented director or DP, I wouldn't be worried in the slightest - but if I were working for Panavision, RED or in the professional camera rental business, I'd be as scared as a beanie hatted teen under torchlight by now.

From Ghost Girl blog:


(By the way, we're working on that interview with Andrew from EOShd.com which I postulated a while ago.)

Philip Bloom is another indie filmmaker who has a popular site about this matters.

Photo Contest, $500 prize

Reminder of the contest.

Zivity, Paypal, Patents, and the Decline of DIY Creativity

Zivity, Paypal, Patents, and the Decline of DIY Creativity, article.
You probably know that Paypal bans adult sites. Well, it turns out one site is excepted.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Web fonts

My ol' pal and font-supplier Chank is having a sale.
And he writes about HTML5, which everybody seems to be excited about:
Such a thrill to see the new HTML5 "@font-face" standard being adopted so smoothly. The new web standards and webfont delivery techniques are just now starting to really change the way the www works. Websites are embedding fonts in viewer's browsers, allowing them to see a broader selection of real fonts, displayed in the html of the web pages as selectable, scalable, searchable text. So smart and simple, once you learn how to do it, and so much more elegant than saving gif or jpg pictures of words for headlines and display type. That's kinda silly.
-

audiobooks

I'm looking for good downloadable audiobooks. Non-fiction or fiction, funny is best. Any recommendations?

By the way, the iTunes store has always been dead slow for me, no matter what machine I use. Every time I make a search it takes five, ten seconds, sometimes much more. A friend said it's fast for him. How is it for you?

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir - 'Lux Aurumque'

[Thanks to Tommy]
Singers singing together from twelve different countries...
This is one of the many, many results of the Internet which I frankly had not predicted!
And not only do they do this, but so well!
And think of the possibilities... when you think of the logistics of trying to get several dozen good singers together in one place to practice!



(You will not be surprised to hear that the gorgeous blonde is my favorite. What a fantastic smile.)

Net TV?

This sounds too good to be true. Thousands of (HD?) channels for a one time payment of fifty dollars? What's the catch? Is it licensed content? (if not, it may not last.)

Longest running e-newsletter

Listen to the fascinating tale (part 1) of the longest running electronic newsletter in the world, TidBITS. It's been weekly since years before the WWW started! Adam and Tonya are always entertaining and funny. (Part II.)

Another good MacNotables episode, discussing ebooks, part 1 and part II.
(Of course you can also get the free podcast via iTunes.)

I'm realizing that all other things regardless, just *being there* and *staying there* is a very valuable and rare quality, which people like Tonya and Adam have. Most people with imagination have no stick-to-ivity.
Actually years ago a friend asked how long I'd had my site, and I said four years, and he said "so what are you gonna do next?" I said "next? What do you mean?" He said "well, most people I know, when they've done something for a few years, then they move on to something else." I imagine I said: "I have an easy and fun job, earn good money, and I'm my own boss. I should be on medication if I wanted to change that."

This blog is the same. You can come in any day of the week and hang your hat for a few minutes, and I'm here. I only wish I could serve coffee too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Comics

I've always wanted to do comics. And now the ridiculous printing/distribution overhead is gone.
I believe I could be a good artist. But frankly I'd need quite a bit of practice. What I could do, though, is to be creator and writer, and either hire an artist or collaborate with one. There are so many talented artists who want to work in comics. That'd be kewl.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT2

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT2 review.
This looks like a really neat-o underwater and rough-conditions camera.

And good looking too, methinks.
What looks like a viewfinder is actually the lens. Or rather the peephole for the lens, because the lens is sitting vertically inside the camera, for compactness and protection.

And talking about Lumix, look at this weird thing I stumbled over... somebody fitted a Leica lens and reflex finder onto a Lumix GF1! I can't decide if it looks amazing or ridiculous.

Simple Backdrop for Portraits

Setting up a Simple Backdrop for Portraits - Photo Tip from Hunter Freeman

Gizmodo on digital comics

Gizmodo has an article about digital comics.
And a gallery. (Click on "full size" for best effect.)
Now that's where the Kindle comes up short.

TMNT

Ninja Turtles unplugged.

Soft Kindle

Kindle for Mac.

Kindle for iPad.

Kewl.

This is amusing, they have blatantly ripped off the look-and-feel of Apple's iBooks app. :-)

TidBITS article.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Living iPad Magazine

See here is my fear for iPad content: trying to liven up articles with moving graphics. It seems to me that the graphics, being much more stimulating than text is, makes you lose the interest in reading in that moment, instead of making you want to read. What do you think?

VIV Mag Interactive Feature Spread - iPad Demo from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.


Here's a Sports Illustrated demo, which seems reasonable.

Structured Procrastination

[Thanks to Adam]
Structured Procrastination
, article. Make your procrastination work for you.
The trick is to pick the right sorts of projects for the top of the list. The ideal sorts of things have two characteristics, First, they seem to have clear deadlines (but really don't). Second, they seem awfully important (but really aren't).

Tommy said:
Oh my God!!! I have finally found MY new role model and web site to follow. I just did't know that it had a title.
This is just wonderful and I can't wait to tell my wife that this is why our bathroom remodel in on it's 3rd year. :-)

New shelf


Mike Johnston had a gorgeous book shelf made. Just to my taste, dark wood, simple design, quality construction.

Talk Deeply, Be Happy?

Talk Deeply, Be Happy?, article.

Oh deer

[Thanks to Kirk]





iPhone app

I'm working with a company to make a Domai iPhone/iPad app. It'll be free, just promotional, and have pretty much only faces and maybe a bit of covered bodies. I'm a good editor, and there'll be many very pretty faces, so I think it might be a success.
If it'll also help the bottom line is another matter, but it's worth a shot.
They're telling me it'll scale up to the iPad, which is important to me, so I'm making the pictures in XGA (1024 x 768 pixels), the iPad screen resolution.

Update: I think I'm calling it off, though. I've run into a wall of red tape. Apple needs to see corporation papers, Apple needs to approve everything but is not responsible for anything, and Apple can pull the app out of the store anytime they like if they don't care for it. It's BS.
For thirteen years in my business I've dealt with hundreds of photographers and other people without any contracts, and there's never been a single problem which could not be solved with a couple of emails.
I'm sure it's the same with most any larger companies, but that does not make my allergic reaction any less.

I could make it an iBook instead, but what would make it more interesting as an ebook instead of just a free web gallery? How to do that?





Meteors and population

I'm always wondering about how we call this planet "over-populated"... Except for freak nations like Japan or Denmark, most of the planet has vast, empty spaces. Wasteland. (Actually even Japan and Denmark have pretty big empty spaces, just not on an American scale.)

Meteors and old satellites are continually falling to earth, and nobody worries about it, because the odds of one falling in a populated places are vanishingly small. That ought to tell us something.

Food enough, they say. Well, lack of food is just due to people insisting on living in deserts. It's mismanagement. The land alone if managed right could probably sustain ten times the present global population. And if on top of the we put a few more handy inventions like the Super-Grain invented in the seventies, say, growing food from algea in the seas, then who knows.

Tacoma Bridge

You may have seen this astonishing footage of the swaying and collapse of the Tacoma Bridge in 1940. The problem was that in the wind storm it went into resonance with it's own speed of vibration, so it went into feedback and and the swaying got stronger and stronger. It collapsed like a wine glass in the right musical note.

What amazes me, though, is that even under this tremendous swaying, the bridge still held out for over an hour! That's some strong sh*t there.


Bill said:
I'm always amazed by that footage. I studied aerodynamics in college and love the physics involved with the collapse. I especially find it interesting how the bridge motion was primarily twisting, not side-to-site or up-and-down as can been seen by watching the centerline of the road at about 2:10 in the video. It's also good to remember that bridge designs changed considerably after the collapse to prevent it from happening again.

Yes, they have to do something to change the "note" of the bridge, like holding down a guitar string.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kick-Ass the movie


I can't believe DC Comics has not sued over this character ("Big Daddy"), he's the spitting image of Batman. Seriously, that has to be too close for comfort.

Anybody seen Kick-Ass? Any fun or just a kid's flick?
Oh, and the comic? Any good? It seems very violent, I'll bet they couldn't make the movie like that.

Here is the character "Hit Girl" out of costume. Apparently she never gets to relax.


Update:
Illustro points to this trailer, and this. Well, paint me green and call me Pea, it is actually real damn violent. I guess you can star in a movie you can't watch.
I love the use of one of my fave lines, from Batman II: "Who are you?!" "I'm Hit-Girl."

Control issues