Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult - Mystery Babylon

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult - Mystery Babylon, song on YouTube, an old big fave.

"Children in Color" contest results

Only less than a hundred entries, but then there were many really good photos, so well done.
(Click for big pic.)

The three winners: 

Jaromir:



Dana Thomas:



Max:



Honorable Mentions: 

Timo:



Steven Gray:



TCGirl:



Mister Beep:



Uncle Ron:



Bron:



Pascal:



Max:



Jaromir:



Congratulations to all, well done.
The three winners will get their $100 prizes by Paypal.

Hold-it Multi-stand

I'm amazed, the Back2 site actually used my letter for a testimonial for their book-holder! (Bottom of page.) It was a quite honest letter, so I guess they are not selling too many of these yet, to use it.

I'm not sure why this particular google search found this article, but I like it. Adam touched upon a central point in the 'pad's "magic" there.

Friday, July 16, 2010

iPad for pros (updated)

Andreas points to this interesting article of unusual use of iPad for photographers (though it could work for many others too).

Update:
Just one word from Ctein made me take notice: "yet". As in "there's no pressure sensitive pen for the iPad. Yet."
I had sort of been thinking that pressure sensitivity was build into the Wacom Cintiq itself, which is silly now I think about it: it has to be in the pen! In connection with software in the tablet, of course. The pad has bluetooth, I don't see any barrier for anybody making a pressure-sensitive pen for the iPad for making professional art. And then we will for the first time have a quality, serious alternative for artist to to the exclusive Wacom machine. Not to mention the iPad is portable, much cheaper, self-powered, wireless, and can do a ton of other things the Cintiq can't. Very interesting.

Hotel wifi (updated)

I just heard that hotels in the USA generally provides free internet/Wi-fi connection. In my experience, in Europe you mostly have to pay, and a pretty penny too, for a connection in hotels, although some cafes have free connections. Do these observations fit with your experiences?

Update: According to a 2009 survey (article), 32 of 80 surveyed USA hotels provide(d) free Net connection. 

Free iPhone 4 cases (updated again Saturday)

Update: the video is already up!
One of the first things Jobs shows, is videos they made of three other good and popular phones doing exactly the same thing. I must say, quite convincing. Nobody made any hullabaloo out of these phones.
And by the way, convincing argument for either holding your phone lightly, or getting a case.
Update: return rates for the iPhone 3Gs was well below industry average. And for iPhone 4 they are only a third again of that! I can believe it. Even though I'm not in the central target audience for a mobile phone because I work from home, I must say that I really love this dang phone. Just as an object, the screen, the quality, everything, it's just lovely. I can't wait to see what the iPad 2 will be like.

----
Original post:
Apple is right now having a press conference about "antennagate", and despite less than one percent complaints, as TTL tells me:
Good news for the i{Phone|Pad} case collector! Jobs just promised free cases for everyone who bought an iPhone 4. Not a bumper. You can pick your choice from several 3rd party designs. 

Going all the way, pretty classy. They could easily have gone with just their own bumper "case", which must be really cheap to produce. But by going "above and beyond", they have a very good chance of turning the recent sour mood around.
Wired article.  (Man, they move fast!)

I wonder which designs they'll offer.
("You can't have too much money or beauty or too many iOS device cases.")

Apple played this video before Jobs came on: 



Pretty direct lyrics! Only Apple could pull something like that off.

Thanks to Toforyo for this link
He also used the exact phrase I used recently about "antennagate": a storm in a teacup. Meaning "much ado about nothing".

iTunes tip

iTunes now has an option (in the Summary tab)  to convert higher bit rate files to 128 kbs before transferring to an iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) and iPods. Since many files these days use a higher bit rate*, and since it's hard to hear a difference, expecially on earphones, this is a good space saver.
It takes a long time to recompress many files though. I think I had my iPod plugged in well over an hour. I saved around 6GB on about 1400 files which were bigger. (I forget how many files my sound library is? 20,000?) On my iPhone I saved about the same, which is not far from a fourth of the space available on the biggest current iPhone (32GB minus overhead), so well worth it I think.

*iTunes file are now 256 kbs, which I think is a rather dubious choice. I saw a test from a pro, and even in careful testing, he had real trouble finding any real difference in sound quality. But file size is double.
... But then Apple will sell more iPods as people need more space on them...

iPad as a second monitor

Use your iPad as a second monitor for your Windows PC, YouTube video.

I can't believe this came first for Windows!

Update: aha, you can do it on Mac too. TTL points to AirDisplay.

... I am trying it on my Mac Pro. Apart from the screen updating being slightly slower than we're used to, it works well, so now I have three monitors on this durn thing! (A bit superflous to most use, all right.) I think I'll try it on my "Airbook", where it would do much more good. (Some people can't get it to work on their laptop.)

Update: works great on the Macbook Air also. And on that one it expands screen space by almost double. And in one compact package which can also be used for many other things. Not bad for traveling.

Andreas says: 
And it has been pointed out it's about the highest quality display you can get (for a laptop). 
(Image from linked article.)

Japanese papercraft figures

Man, how Japanese are these? Cool though, as art.



I find it fascinating how Japan has this huge cartoon/comic culture (adults read them too, as readily as anything), but it pretty much all looks alike. You would think that such a big cultural business would develop more diversity.
(Thank goodness for Hayao Miyazaki.)

I'd like to see how these nice figures get made.
There's an article here, but it seems not to refer to the same quality level of figures.

Pocket cams

In continuation of the theme of superzoom cameras, I was once more asked for a recommendation about which compact camera to buy.
For a while, I've been saying "buy the Canon compact you can afford, but make sure it has Image Stabilization for low-light hand-held shooting". And I'm still saying that. Those Canons has amazing image quality for the size and price. (We may now be at the point where all current models have stabilization, I'm not sure.)

A friend got snarled up in the many choices between zoom lengths and megapixels. My advice per 2010 is: stick to 10 megapixels and 3x zoom. More than that is pressing the limits of what compact cameras do well, due to the small sensors and lenses. But at 10MP and 3x zoom, you can have a tiny camera which still will cover most situations and can have excellent image quality.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Missing Missy

[Thanks to Philippe]

This is pretty funny.
Although I do notice that while David apparently does not have time to slap up a Missing Cat poster for a friend (I guess she is), but he does have time to make several elaborate and professional posters whose only purpose is to mock a person for being worried about her cat. A bit odd.

Here's a similar thingy.  Because of a small faux-pas in choice of note paper, he lengthily mocks the guy, first for not inviting him to a party, then for having invited him, then for not chatting the first time they met, and then saying that it was he himself who did not want to chat, he did not want to talk to people with wicker furniture.

Well, he is funny, and I suppose it's all supposed to be taken lightheartedly, but if these email conversations are real, then David must be difficult to know, and must have a real Seinfeld/Larry David syndrome, you know, always mocking everybody, and only have a couple of friends where the common activity is basically mocking everybody. Must be a painful life, really, if you have to do that.
It would seem to be a better use of comedic talent to write it fictionally*, rather than carving up people around you. But then it's more work. And he does seem to be a really good designer, so I guess he's doing well.

*As Seinfeld and LD have done very successfully, though it's clear that most of it came from their own lives. Seems to me to be a better cathartic process.

Ah well. Whatever.

Contortionist Lazarus Gitu

This guy is extraordinary. I think all his cartilage and tendons have been replaced with rubber.

Rihanna - Hard ft. Jeezy

This one seems to be one of the new hitters.
I think it's the one I saw on TV recently. Very pretty. But multi-shade make-up which must have taken hours to apply. I wonder why they do that, it's not my thing. But then of course you can make somebody seem a lot prettier with lots of make-up.

Quotes w/comments

To be willing to die for an idea is to set a rather high price on conjecture.
           -- Anatole France

 I'm getting more and more around to the idea that even our seemingly most basic ideas are just beliefs and not to be trusted. I used to think that uncertainty was a weakness, now I'm suspecting that certainty is.


It's so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn't it?
           -- L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, 1908

That's another thing it has come to seem to me, even though the quote is from a fictional character. Connected to the quote above in principle. You do/say something harsh, believing it's justified or even necessary due to how you view the world. I heard from a nun who used to work in one of the infamous Irish monestaries which were run like slave camps: we just believed it was necessary.


Never be a cynic, even a gentle one. Never help out a sneer, even at the devil.
           -- Vachel Lindsay

I have found that cynicism is a very dear habit to many of us, and very, very hard to excorcise. It's one it will pay vast dividends to be on continuous guard against, I believe.


The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything.
           -- John Irving

Well, I'm not sure about this one. It works for some. Neil Gaiman at least said his thinking is always in writer's mode.  But I just re-bought Illusions by Richard Bach*, and he is the very successful author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. He only writes when he is "assaulted" by an idea.
Similarly the story which won the First Prize in the Writers Of The Future contest where I was a finalist years ago, is a guy who really does not write much. But when he does, it's exceptional stuff.
But perhaps most writers, like athletes, need to continually do their stuff to become Good and stay that way.

*After 25 years, because I realize my beliefs have changed much towards those the book talk about, so I thought it could be interesting. 

Photo contest ends today

Just to remind: "Children in Color" photo contest, deadline today July 15. 

This is your third and last warning!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

SWITCH, A short film by Tyson Hesse

Pictures from France

Pictures from France. Stuff to see there, it seems.


For example Mont Saint-Michel, which I'd not heard about, but it looks kewl.

Update: Chris writes some interesting stuff in the comments, and links here.

When did Android become a charity?

When did Android become a charity?, article.
About a week ago, blogger Chuck Falzone started a campaign targeting Android users, asking them to spend at least $5 a week on apps. Why? Because people aren't buying them, so developers are making only a fraction of the money that iPhone developers earn. What does this teach us about Android apps?

I am  just having fun with this. I am not into platform wars, I was not really, not even back in the day (late nineties) when Apple could use all the help it could get. Life's too short. Competition is good for everybody. I'll buy an Android device, even a Mobile Window device the moment I think I can get some fun or use from it.

Moon River by Innocence Mission



Don't miss Bright As Yellow.

Also, somebody used one of their songs for a birthday tribute:


... I'd like to meet her, she is cute, with personality, and she photographs.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

iPad leather case review

I got this iPad "wallet" from a British company. It is real leather, and it looks good, feels good, and even smells good.
And it's even a better stand than Apple's case: it works both in landscape and portrait format, and at a couple of different angles.
Needless to say (one might hope), the ports, speakers, and buttons are all accessible.

It was a bit delayed, and my emails were not being answered. But then I was telephoned by Richard from i-Covers, and he said that there were delivery problems with the faux-leather item which I'd apparently ordered, he was sorry, and would I like one in real leather instead, for the same price? Sure I would. Good service, since the leather item is twice the price. [It was not listed when I ordered, otherwise I'd have taken it, it's not unreasonably priced. They seem to have taken the faux-leather variation off the list.]

The wallet can remain on while you use the iPad, but it's not all that handy in open condition, so if you want to handle the pad a lot, you'll probably want to take it out. Fortunately that's quick.

I like it, and I think it's very reasonably priced for something which looks as high-end and professional as this.

It only remains to be seen how it copes with wear. For instance, the leather bit (and stitching) on the far side of the speakers on the bottom is rather dinky, due to space limitations. Might be fragile.
But I'm not the best man for these kinds of things, seeing as I'm not exactly the Indiana Jones road warrior type iPad user.

I also got this stand, which is quite flexible, and will work for a laptop too. The length of the legs has two settings, and the large back leg will lie down to almost flat on the table, good for typing, also with a laptop (smallish ones, I'd guess).

Useful iPh apps

I've found a couple of useful iPhone apps recently. One is "idea generator". It simply presents new, random three-word combinations. I think it could be quite useful, not only for a writer who is stuck, but for many more situations. Gift ideas for example. One combo I got right now was:

JEWEL ENCRUSTED - RUBBER - INSTRUMENT

... for the lady who has everything. But don't use it too enthusiastically dear, it may chafe.

---
Another in a similar vein is "Nameshake", which gives you new names, I guess mostly for expecting parents. You can lock gender, or first letter, or nationality, or all or any or none. That's certainly useful for me, I keep getting new models named Julia or Anna or Natali, so I have to find new names.

---
And then there's one I've barely tried yet, SnapTell. You use the iPhone to photograph a product or a barcode (so far books, DVD, CDs), and you usually get access to loads of online reviews, and places to buy it, ordered by price. Kewl. I'm guessing you can even photograph it off the computer screen or the TV if the picture is good enough...
... Yeap, you can. It worked with a very tiny picture (a thumbnail) of the DVD of "Life" season one. And it sort of worked with photographing the Kindle off Amazon's front page, although oddly, I got the charger for the Kindle instead, even though it was not in the picture. 

A few quotes from the Quotes of the Day service

Vegetarianism is harmless enough, though it is apt to fill a man with wind and self-righteousness.
           -- Sir Robert Hutchinson

When all is said and done, the weather and love are the two elements about which one can never be sure.
           -- Alice Hoffman, 'Here on Earth'

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
           -- Pablo Picasso

It doesn't matter if you win or lose in the big, scary jungle of the real world. Winners and losers... Enemies and allies... We don't live in a comic book! This is the real deal.
           -- Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005

Monday, July 12, 2010

Alberto Montt in daily doses

Alberto Montt in daily doses.

Two hobs, three ovens, two nuts

People are nuts. I'm watching season six of Grand Designs. This couple is building a house of modest size, which is mostly underground. They are taking really big risks financially, just coming through by the skin of their nose. And yet: in the kitchen they have two hobs (cooking surfaces), and three ovens! All state of the art, of course.

Their justifications are that they both like to cook and it's "all about symmetry".
I mean, I can understand it if you're rich, can pay it all cash, and you just kind of like the idea of a couple of extra ovens. But if you are struggling financially just to build the house, why put in crazy luxuries like this? And I've seen many similar examples in this excellent TV series, people making meaningless, huge extra expenses for themselves, when they are already in deep water.

Autocorrect Follies

[Thanks to anon]

Autocorrect Follies, Pogue article.
if you type “holy moly,” you wind up with, believe it or not, “holy molybdenum.” (“Molybdenum [noun]: the chemical element of atomic number 42, a brittle silver-gray metal of the transition series, used in some alloy steels.” Don’t you hate it when your phone is smarter than you are?)

And  here are some auto-correct samples from Wired. But frankly, Pogue's article has many more, and better ones. He used his immense Twitter audience to help compile them. (I get a headache just thinking about sorting through, selecting, and editing the thousands of responses he must have gotten.)

Photo contest, only two days left

Just to remind: "Children in Color" photo contest, deadline July 15. Early entries are few, but good, so get cracking!
Only two days left!

This is your second warning!
Mmm, and probably last.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why Print is Bad for Indie Writers

Why Print is Bad for Indie Writers, article.
There will always be people out there that won’t read ebooks, and it’s true that digital publishing is still a tiny fragment of the overall market.  But the key to success for the indie author is to realize the print-only readers are no longer your audience.  They never were, really, no matter how hard you wished otherwise.

I  think this guy is right, even though he states the case very black-and-white.
The comments under the article are interesting too. 

I have a friend who have self-published a book, a biography, and it seems to be doing well. I think in that case, paper publishing was the right choice. But: she was in a unique position of writing a definitive bio. She has a big personal and professional network and a ready market. And she had the knowledge and connections to do a print book as it should be. And she had the time and money, five figures I believe, to do it right. These are rare circumstances.
[Note: Carol tells me she is also making the book available as ebook on both Kindle and iBooks very soon, which pleases me, since I've become hooked on the variable font sizes of ebooks after using the iPad for a while.]

Probably a new and "indie" author should only do print if special circumstances demand it, or if it is already a good hit as an e-book.

Yumi's eyes

All the beebs in the world

I now have so many gadgets around the house that when something beebs, I have to stop, think, or even search to find out which one it was, and if it's something I need to do something about. Really. It's ridiculous.

Yesterday I heard an ambulance siren. Very loud. I almost got a heart attack. It was loudest when I walked into the living room. It was so loud and so realistic that I had to not only stand over, but to lift up the fax machine to be sure that the sound was actually coming from it.

But I couldn't blame it, the thing had a paper jam. Serious situation. 

Not only is it the first time I ever heard the machine give that alarm in the four years I've had it, but come on: a loud ambulance siren to tell me the fax is stuck? Jeeeeeezzz.

A Better Finder Rename

Just a quick plug for a super-useful Mac app: A Better Finder Rename.
Every day I have to rename hundreds of files, and I would be lost without this app or something very much like it. And it is so user-friendly and flexible that I doubt anything else comes close.

By the by, I linked to Apple to show that it is an app with good-will. But I just had an occasion (Mail Unread Menu) where I couldn't use an app downloaded from Apple because it was not the newest version, and it was broken after an update of Apple Mail. But I found the newest version on VersionTracker.com, and now it works. Very useful site, also to find apps you don't already have or know of (and also for other platforms). 

A pool in Singapore

[Thanks to Ian]




The £4billion Marina Bay Sands tourism development opened in the Singapore city yesterday, and the 150-meter long pool - three times the length of an Olympic swimming pool, was a highlight.

Infinity pools are designed to make it seem as though the water extends to the horizon. In reality, the edge of the pool is usually about an inch below the water level. The water therefore spills over the edge into a catchment below, and is then pumped back into the pool.
The concept is said to have been inspired by the terraced rice paddies in Bali, Indonesia.  They are often seen in luxury resorts such as the Marina Bay Sands.

The enormous hotel, which dominates the Singapore skyline, has 2,560 rooms and suites, a fleet of celebrity chef restaurants, shopping areas, theatres, a museum, a casino and a crystal pavilion.

The resort is set to employ 10,000 people directly and generate up to £48 million each year.  Entrance to the casino alone is nearly £50 a day - but an average of 25,000 people have visited the casino daily since its initial phased opening two=months ago.
Thomas Arasi, president and chief executive officer of the resort, said he expects to attract an astonishing 70,000 visitors a day, 18 million a year.

It was due to open in 2009, but was delayed thanks to labour and material shortages, and funding problems due to the global financial crisis.


I was about to say. They are lucky they managed to finish it.

And the upkeep! How do you manage such a pool every time there's a storm?

OK, I'll admit it's quite impressive though.       :-)

Pencil pad stand

[Thanks to Delta]

Pencil iPad stand. Doesn't get simpler.