Saturday, March 10, 2007

Load balancing

Thanks to Through The Light I found out I can use both my broadband connections simultaneously, with a "dual WAN" router.
Well, after a month-long struggle involving two different routers and what feels like dozens of supporters and as many hours of tedious work, it seems I finally got that to work. (It seems for some odd reason NTL did not ask for registration of the new router like it should, so I had to copy the MAC address from the last device that was connected to my cable modem manually into the new Linksys router so it has a "fake" MAC address. This works.)
It seems I have a dual WAN connection now. I only haven't found a clear way to confirm they are both working simultaneously and the load is balanced over both connections. (But I can see they both do work, I can turn them off individually.)

Weirdly, running dual WAN seems to disable my iChat. Most of the time it will not connect now, though sometimes it does. And the account security settings change spontaneously. Very strange. Life with computers: never a dull moment.


Interesting slide show about photography and plagiarism/copyright.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Anticipating the joy

Lee said:
"Oh, happy birthday, Friday Melbourne time, Eolake."

Right! Friday 9 March is my birthday (44). And also the ten-year anniversary of DOMAI. Zippidy-doo-dah. :)
When I put up the first simple and small page ten years ago, I did not consider that the site might in 2007 be ten gigabytes and be known by millions. Actually I did not even consider it might last ten years, or even just be a commercial site. What fun.

Update March 10: Thank you to everybody. Yesterday was a hail storm of well-wishes for me and for Domai, by web, email, and phone. Then I had an excellent dinner at Laurie Jeffery's and friends'. He is justifiably proud of his cooking. Actually he is the best amateur cook I know. They put up 44 candles, and we all chatted long into the... evening. After all I'm middle-aged now, and I can't party til 1 AM like I did a couple of times when I was young.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Starry Night?

Gary asks:
"I have a serious question I need answered. Whenever the space shuttle astronauts take pictures why can't we see any stars in the background anywhere?
Also when they landed on the moon and snapped pics of the earth, where in creation is the stars at? This has always troubled me because at night I see the stars but when they snap photos in space it's all black.
Please explain? This is something I've never understood?"

I'm not sure. It could be because the moonlanding was fake as some say. Or it could be because they were photographing sun-lit objects (the Earth or the Moon), and so the stars are too faint to show up in comparison. When you see the stars at night, there are no huge sun-lit objects to cause your pupils to contract.

Oooh, I just remembered, back in school we were told that if you stand at the bottom of a well, you can see stars in the small piece of sky above. It didn't make sense to me back then because I thought it was the blue of the sky which was too bright for the stars. But if instead it is the daylight on the landscape around you doing it, then that datum makes sense.
... I still don't quite see why the sky would not be too bright all by itself to show any stars though. Ah well.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cameras in the Antarctica

Interesting article about how cameras hold up in the Antarctic. One funny point is that buying the most expensive gear is no guarantee. Amongst 50 photographers, several had camera failures with Canon 1Ds, and several with Leica M8, both of which cost many thousands of dollars just for the camera body.

I also find it ironic that the author, Michael Reichman, has earlier in an article adviced us to not fear shooting in the rain, even with cameras which don't have special all-weather seals. But most of the camera failures described in this article happened during shooting in the rain in the Falklands. And several with cameras which do have all-weather seals, like the Canon 1Ds. (I'm frankly a little surprised about this, for this camera is used all the time by press and sports photographers shooting in all kinds of weather.) I am reinforced in my decision to not shoot in the rain without packing the camera in a plastic bag.

Ex Mente Orbis

Ex mente orbis:
"From the mind comes the world"

A couple years ago I was recommended two movies by my friend Ken Evoy. And they are indeed both wonderful movies:
Sexy Beast and
Life As A House.

I am rewatching them both this week, and it strikes me that they have something in common: one is about a man retiring from the Hectic Game of it all. And one is about a man who already did this, but the Hectic Game comes hunting for him.

I doubt I'll ever retire in lawn-chair sort of way, but this is resonating with me in another way: What are the rewards of the Hectic Game? Meaning earning big money, getting big status and influence?

Say a man named Bill has been playing the Game like all-git-out for ten years and has made vice president and a big house and mortgage. But he has not had a minute of free time to develop his mind and spirit or think about his life. And say his old school pal Bob has spent the same ten years being unemployed, on park benches and in the library, not earning a cent, but making all kinds of changes and developments to his mind and spirit. Who is the most successful, Bill or Bob? Beats me.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Snow pictures

The alert reader might suspect: I have at least two very strong interests in art and aesthetics: one is lines. Another is patterns. So when a subject like these has both, I get very keen about it.

Don't miss clicking on the more subtle compositions in the middle here. I am very fond of those, but they have to be viewed in a larger size.

I find it cool how the picture above looks almost exactly like a black-and-white picture, but it is a color picture! I have not removed any color from it.

The pictures are slightly manipulated, with contrast and such.
The top one I've put up before, but this time it's larger.


Digital photography is making amazing progress. There are still two areas though where I hope it will soon leap way ahead of where film is. Those are
1) sensitivity. I want to handhold photos in almost any light. (This area is already ahead of film, admittedly.)
2) contrast handling. Even in overcast whether I still sometimes get pictures where the camera couldn't handle the contrast, and it looks awful.
It seems a step has been made in the latter area by Canon.

Using customer reviews

Customer reviews, like on Amazon, is a fantastic invention. It is one of the things that permit the overwhelming diversity in today's culture (due to digital production and distribution) from being a blessing more than a curse.

But you have to learn how to use them, and how they work. See for instance these reviews on two different sites. Could the average rating be more different?

I think the difference here is a variant of a parameter I have found to be very important: to what degree has the audience reviewing the film/book deliberately searched for it before buying/renting it? I suspect that the renters on UK LoveFilm here found the film by accident and tried it out. And the reviewers on were people who were deliberately looking for movies with the female lead, and so they liked it. And you do in fact find evidence to support this if you take the time to read the reviews rather than just the star ratings.

I find that big-bucks movies which are pretty much forced in your face, Mission Impossible type movies, tend to get relatively lower ratings compared to quality, than more rare movies, especially old ones. Because the only people who buy and so review the rare movies are those who love a specific genre or actor, and so rate it higher.

Before I learned that I was woefully disappointed a few times, for instance when I tried out the horror/slasher genre based on stellar reviews some old films got. It turned out they were dreadful, but only slasher-film-lovers wrote those reviews. Caveat emptor!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

1,000,000 aches = 1 megahurt

Most deliberat puns are awful, but these are fun. Author unknown.

1. Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi
2. 2000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won ton
3. 1 millionth of a mouthwash = 1 microscope
4. Time between slipping on a peel & hitting the ground = 1 bananosecond
5. Weight an evangelist carries with God = 1 billigram
6. Time it takes to sail 220 yds at 1 nautical mile/hr = Knotfurlong
7. 16.5' in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod
8. Half a large intestine = 1 semicolon
9. 1,000,000 aches = 1 megahurt
10. Basic unit of laryngitis = 1 hoarsepower
11. Shortest distance between two jokes = A straight line
12. 453.6 graham crackers = 1 pound cake
13. 1 million-million microphones = 1 megaphone
14. 2 million bicycles = 2 megacycles
15. 365.25 days = 1 unicycle
16. 2000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds
17. 52 cards = 1 decacards
18. 1 kilogram of falling figs = 1 FigNewton
19. 1000 milliliters of wet socks = 1 literhosen
20. 1 millionth of a fish = 1 microfiche
21. 1 trillion pins = 1 terrapin
22. 10 rations = 1 decoration
23. 100 rations = 1 C-ration
24. 2 monograms = 1 diagram
25. 4 nickels = 2 paradigms
26. 4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing = 1 IV League


I rent a lot of DVDs, and a continuing problem is that maybe one if five has so many scratches that it pretty unwatchable.
CDs and DVDs are awesome technology, but come on, it's been over twenty years, how come nobody has invented a disk which does not get scratched if you look at it sharply? Seriously.
Or even just a DVD player, a box or in a computer, which does not keel over and throw its legs in the air in the presence of scratches. How hard can it be to program it to not freeze or crash, but just skip to the next place on the disk which is scratch free?

It seems to be emblematic not just of technology but almost anything human that there are these amazing things, but they always have all those huge, obvious flaws. Weird.


Isn't it funny how solid "value" seems, and how subjective it really is?

Many women would tell me that $4,000 is cheap for a good engagement ring, while I would tell her that that's insane to pay that price for a little piece of metal and glass-like substance which has no practical use.
On the other hand I'd tell her that $4,000 is cheap for a Canon 1D, while she thinks I'd be nuts to pay four grand for a digital camera when I can get a perfectly good one for $200.
Of course in five years that camera will be a door stop compared to newer ones. But it is still worth it to some people right now.

... As for using fifty thousand dollars on a wedding which lasts one day, I better not get started on that one, I can't keep my calm perspective! :)

Maybe it really is like my spiritual mentors tell me, that anything physical is illusory, so the only value it has is whatever you decide it has.