Saturday, October 27, 2007

Paris and Nicole

I got too curious, and I had to check out The Simple Life, a reality show where socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie gets to live on a farm in the mid west, without their credit cards and servants and cell phones. So I rented the first season.

It's fun. Just in the first episode we learn that not only do the girls not know what "bottled water, generic" is, but they don't know what the word "generic" means.

Also, Nicole don't know what a Wall Mart is, and neither of them has seen one. The family is incredulous. In the country in the US, not knowing what a Wall Mart is, is like not knowing what a road or a roof is.

When they go shopping for the family, they get a few extra items and overshoot the fifty dollars they've been given, by fifteen. They don't understand why the store won't just give them the groceries. And they don't understand the term "soup kitchen" when the clerk says that the store isn't one.

They can't bring themselves to touch a dead animal when asked to pluck a chicken, and they totally freak out when there are small bugs in their room. The family's four-year-old boy kills the bugs for them.

They seem to be lovely people at heart, but they are every bit as spoiled rotten as you'd expect. In the beginning they go at a shopping spree before the farm trip. They buy accessories at prices like $1500 and $2000 a piece. And I'm sure none of them has ever done an hour's honest work in her life, and wouldn't have any idea of how much of it it would take for most people to buy a $2000 handbag. Not that there's anything wrong with luxury items as such, it's just the level of disconnect that's interesting.

It's not their fault. How can you understand something you've never been exposed to? How can you understand "I can't afford this jacket", when you've never seen anything in your life you couldn't just put on your credit card?

It's a hoot and a holler.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Two asylum inmates were escaping, via the roof. It was a foggy night, and one of them shone his flashlight across to the next building, pointed at the beam and said to his friend: "go ahead, you walk across first."
His friend said: "do you think I'm crazy? When I'm half across, you'll just turn off the flashlight!"

My dad told me that one when I was a kid. It was also used in the Batman comic "The Killing Joke" by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland.
That one by the way demonstrates why an artist should not comment too much on his own work: Alan Moore has stated that he did not think this was His Best Writing, or words to that effect. And this upset those fans who loved it, as well as the artist Brian Bolland, for whom it was a career highlight. See, no reason for that. If somebody loves something, who's to say otherwise, even the author? (I too thought it was good.)

Francis Francis X1 cappuccino machine

Look at all those bits and notes of instructions! You'd think I'd bought a nuclear reactor.

Update: Hey-Zeus friggin' Cripes, if I needed a new thing to be geeky about, this is it! I don't think there's any end to the refinements to the things to learn about making espresso/cappuccino.
Question is if it's relevant to me. For instance, coffee gourmets tell us that coffee must be totally freshly ground, and even freshly roasted (!) to be at its best. But so far in my life I've not been able to tell the difference. But then maybe I never had really fresh coffee. But do I want to learn? Maybe I'll be spoiled if it's really significantly better.


Neener-neener-neener, I got Leopard early!
(How geeky can you get.)

Update: Aaargh! Disappointment. The new internal hard disk I got for installing Leopard on was broken. Durn it all to heck.
I wanted a new disk because I need a bigger one anyway, and because while it has been rare on my Mac that a system upgrade broke any apps, for some reason I got the idea it might this time, and a few of my mission critical apps don't have upgrades.

Update 2: Worse, there's some indication that my macro app, iKey, is not and may not even become Leopard-compatible. That would truly suck, I have invested so much time in that.

Later update yet:
I looked at the more advanced competitor macro app, QuicKeys, and to my surprise the interface is actually easier, so I'm going with that one. Probably a step up for me, it'll turn out.

I like the Leopard look-and-feel a lot, event the parts that some bitch about, like the see-through menu bar and the blue-grey folder icons. (I never cared all that much for the bright blue color of the old folder icons.)

... Apple's excellent Migration Assistant software is currently transferring all my old files and settings from the old hard disk. It seems it's going to take near four hours, even with direct hard disk interface! (About half a terrabyte of data.) I feel stranded without access to my email app.


It's just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.
-- Bill Hicks

It's my opinion that Bill Hicks was a better philosopher than he was a comedian.

To stop being a victim

Article on how to forgive by Corinne Edwards. (I looked her up on the web after seeing on DVD a nice interview she conducted with Ken and Gloria Wapnick about A Course In Miracles, and it turns out she has a rather active blog.)

TTL comments:
But doesn't forgiving imply victimhood?

If you believe in 100% personal responsibility, like I do, there is never anything to blame nor forgive others for.

Instead, you ask: Why did I do this to myself?

Over time it gets easier to answer the question, and, as a result, you don't repeat the incident. Quite liberating, actually.

Corinne Edwards writes: "No, it is not letting them off the hook."

In 100% personal responsibility, you specifically let the other person off the hook. You recognise that you are responsible from the event as it played out to you.

Of course, from the perspective of the other person, the same applies. Whatever happened in their reality is their doing it to themselves. For their own reasons.

Totally right. Forgiveness does imply victimhood. But if you think about, any time you feel bad, upset, sad, angry, this implies victimhood too! And so you have something to "forgive".

"Advanced forgiveness" (an Course In Miracles term) means to change your mind from that of a victim to that of cause. From conflict to peace.

I also agree that real forgiveness does include letting somebody "off the hook". If you still desire to see somebody punished, then you have not fully forgiven.

Update: Ms. Edwards herself visited, commented, and referred to this.

OS X Leopard

Mac OS X reviews:
David Pogue main and extra features.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Comments mails

Oh! Blogger finally allows you to sign up for emails when somebody makes follow-up comments on a blog entry (on somebody else's blog) that you have commented on. Excellent!

Thursday morning

Thursday morning: end of the week again already? Where does time fly?

King Zod says:
In my Kingdom the end of the week is "Friday." Thursday is simply Friday Eve.

eolake said...
King Zod: Quite so. It's a joke.
Not the funny kind, the other kind, as Neal Gaiman says.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

USB plugs

Every other time I plug in a USB plug, I waste several seconds because you can't see which way it's supposed to turn, and I do it wrong the first time.

Based on 100 such incidents per computer user per year, and three wasted seconds per time, and 200 million computer users, I get that this wastes 16 million man-hours per year. Just because the plug was not made asymmetrical.

Alex expands:
You think that is bad, at least it is keyed to be the right way around.

Have you ever considered how dangerous it is to have a connector which physically will fit either way round, but not so electrically. The amount of time I've lost because a connector was in backwards, not to mention the cases where this causes board damage.

There is an interesting JTAG/OnCE connector, for cost implemented as simply as possible, unhooded and unkeyed. It is used for programming chips, like Freescale DSP's. One programmer is made by McGraigor , and available from Freescale and direct from McGraigor. The one from Freescale has a pin embedded so the connector can only be used one way around. The McGraigor direct version is un-keyed.

All well and good until you see the Freescale reference design, and they do not show to use a keyed header, so you end up not being able to plug in directly.

I have found, on my laptop, that a 3.5mm audio jack will slip into the 7in1 card slot which is right below the audio ports. The power barrel connector will fit inside the ethernet RJ-45 socket too.

In the PreUSB days I found Apples DIN8 serial connectors to be hard to line up, and not all AppleTalk dongles had an indicator to show the top. Also PS2 mouse and keyboard ports, dammit, once the box is under the desk I can't see which way up, or which is Mouse and which is key!

Have you ever tried to connect a parallel printer with a DB25M to DB25F only to find it is a single RS232 with only 9 of the 25 wires.

Have you ever plugged in an ethernet cable only to find it is a crossover not a straight.

Have you ever tried to plug a PBX phone into the wall using a POTS cable?

I can't think of a single easy to plug in, unambiguous connector which does not rely on clear sight of where you are connecting it. heck, the other day I plugged a walwart into 110V a bench power strip only to see that physically I had one pin in the socket and the other hanging over the side, I'd missed by an inch!

Actually, I have had easy to use, absolutely positive plugs, all were in industrial applications, and each as big as a PC mouse. Still in answer to you comment, it must be many times the wastage if you take in all other connector types.

Oh, here is a tidbit:

"A: The USB-IF does not allow the logo to be on the overmold of either the "A" or "B" connector of a cable assembly. The standard USB trident must be on the top of both plug overmolds as described in chapter 6 of the USB 2.0 specification. Any cable assembly found with the hi-speed logo on the plug overmold will be deemed non-compliant."

So the type A plug is asymmetrical, the logo is on the top! I can't find docs on where the port is labeled on the device.

Superman, Morrison/Quitely

Superman, Morrison/Quitely.
The best Superman comic book ever? That would indeed be something of a statement, after all Superman has been handled by scores of excellent writers and artists over his 70-year career so far. But I would rank it right up there. And not only is it excellent, it also accomplishes what I had given up hope of: a fresh take on Superman. And it's even really well written and superbly drawn, funny, and surprising.

And yet the best Morrison/Quitely collaboration might be the old Flex Mentallo mini series. Out of print, I think, but bizarre, inventive, and seminal.

Record Mac sales

Pessimists may have been worried that Apple's success with iPods could cause them to drop the ball on the Macintosh and endanger the future of their favorite computing platform. It does not seem likely, fortunately, in fact Apple just had record Mac sales.

Remembering Black Monday

Remembering Black Monday.

It tells me something about how completely I was wrapped up in my own problems in the late eighties that I completely missed any news about this stock market crash.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I'm always looking for new things to be geeky about.
OK, not really. But somehow I'm always finding them!

(Is that a beautiful machine or what?)

I'm always complaining about how product photos are way too small on the web. You'd think we were still using 1995 modems and monitors. But here I found a site which provides pictures larger than my 30-inch Apple monitor can handle. That's more like it! :)

Beth Lock and John Farr and about writing

A podcast with my old friends Beth Lock and John Farr, about Mac stuff, and about being a writer, and sundry. Back around the millennium, there was a group of people writing about Macs and computers and life and philosophy, those two were essential to it, and I was in the periphery, back when was active (I wrote for other Mac sites too).

John Farr makes an interesting observation/question about writing: For a writer who writes a blog, does the immediateness and instant gratification of that process take away the maturing and seasoning of some material which might otherwise have become a really good article or book?

Personally I doubt it. I don't think the kind of writer who has the discipline and depth to write a good book will also be the kind of person to "prematurely ejaculate" it all onto a blog's pages. Au contraire, perhaps bits that gets written on a blog might become the genesis of a book which might otherwise not have happened? And for sure, tons and tons of writing on blogs would not have happened otherwise. And some of that is good, and none of it is so bad it should not exist.

It takes tremendous discipline and stick-to-itivity to write a book. The whole thing has to hold together. It takes no discipline or stick-to-itivity at all to write a blog. Just see how well I'm doing. Seriously, I don't have any of those things at all, which is why a blog is perfect for me. I can write for five minutes about soup, forget all about it, and then write for three minutes about space travel. And none of it has to be very good, because the reader does not pay, and can skip any post that does not interest him.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Times, changes, cameras

I just came across these photos. They are around 15 years old. I walked about town with my lovely friend Bettina, and took her portrait in various settings. I used a medium telephoto lens (135 mm I think), and a ISO 125 film (I used a high-sharpness developer and if I used a faster film, the grain would be enormous). So I had to use a tripod, logging it about all over, setting up, adjusting.
If it was now, I would use one of the new generation digital SLRs, a setting of ISO 1600 or perhaps even 3200, and a image-stabilizing zoom lens, and I would not need a tripod no matter how deep in the woods we were. And I would get better sharpness yet*. Again, gotta love that.

* OK, sharpness is not the most critical thing in portraits, but you need a certain minimum. And you can always subtract it, but not add it.

Times are accelerating

Pascal noted:
The babysitter to the small children: "This story happened a very long time ago. Even before there were any laptops, cell phones and DVDs."

I once saw a cartoon: a little boy asking his mother, "these 'Beatles' they talk about, who where they?"
That was thirty years ago...

3+1 ladies

Somebody pointed out the below picture on my home site. It was taken almost 30 years ago.

It is a perfect illustration of some of the things I talked about in the recent interview. It was taken with a small pocket camera (one of those which were as small as a 35mm camera could get, and fit in a breast pocket). And it was taken on a day when I was on an outing with my family.

There's no way of knowing beforehand that you will come across a picture like this. It only happens in walk-around photography. Or Street Photography as it is sometimes called. Well, it's synonymous at least.

And when I didn't see any subjects, or family demanded attention, I just put the camera in my pocket and forgot about it for a while. And yet it made exhibition-quality images if used right. Gotta love it.

We have digital cameras which are almost there. Only point is the autofocus has to get faster, I hope they fix this soon. (Actually, they should make them with manual focus or even fixed focus, because with the small sensors, depth of field is so great that focus hardly matters. The aforementioned camera had manual focus and that was totally useable despite having less DoF than small digital cameras.)

Sousounde by Metisse

Fear rules

Anon sez:
Security is a load of crap. It's probably the most poorly defined concept of all time. Right next to "good taste" and "common sense".
Maybe you feel secure being watched by a bunch of CCTV cameras on the bus, but I don't. I feel quite secure without the cameras, mind. Maybe you don't feel secure being out by yourself at night, but I do. I don't feel secure in a car or plane though, which may be irrational, but it's no more irrational than ever more stringent "security" measures.
That being said, giving up freedom for security is just not acceptable.

We are ruled by fear. A couple of years ago you could not buy honey in the UK for love nor money. One specialized kind of honey had been linked somehow to cancer, see...
And when I was in high school, our favorite workout in phys ed class was the trampolines. But then they were pulled out, because there had been a couple of accidents somewhere in the country (Denmark). That these accidents were on mini-trampolines, not big ones, was immaterial, all trampolines were removed from all schools in the country.

The basic thinking is "must not happen again".

There's a wonderful old science fiction story by Jack Williamson (whose first story was in the 1920s, and who only died last year, almost 100 years old, and who I met in 1990) called "With Folded Hands". Somebody invents a small black robot whose job it is to serve man and to protect him. The problem is not only does this robot propagate automatically, it is also programmed too well. They will not allow anybody to do anything that may potentially harm them. Which of course pretty much means anything at all.
Which I think is a beautiful analogy for fear stopping us from living.

Alex says:
I can't tell if Britain is cowering at home on a Saturday night with a six pack of tinnies of Fosters and a DVD rather than going the cinema and having a pint after. I only hear what I'm told. I am told that in Leeds they still go out on mass to get bladdered at the weekend.

Even if there are no fireworks on Nov 5th, and they are building schools without playgrounds because they are too unsafe, and there are no showers after PE because statistically 1 in 10 kids is a pedophile (joke), Britain is worth visiting. Worth it for the art, architecture and just the general, you know history of it all.

There is a distinct difference between walking through a Cornish fishing village and a Mediterranean fishing village.

London is a different scale to NY, SF, DC, Paris, Munich. You just have to be there to know what it is.

You can probably emulate Scotland by visiting New Zealand for landscape, but you will not be drinking 80' with your haggis, tattens and 'neeps.

If you have had fish and chips in the US served with Four Monks English Pub Style Malt Vinegar, it is like seeing the Mona Lisa and thinking you know what Botticeli's Venus is like.

You can only go to the Bloody Tower in one city.

You will never find another country that was ruled by Romans, Celts, Vikings, Saxons and Normans (except maybe the North of France).

There is only one place in the world which makes tea with cold milk. That is Britain. You can drink it with Eccles cakes, scones, barabrith, crumpets...

Where else do you get a daily nude in the newspaper? Where else can you get fish and chips wrapped in a newspaper with a nude girl in it? Where else would you find "curry'n'chips with mushy peas"?

Britain, for now, is so British. Sure, I defy you to find a British barmaid in London, but give it a try before it becomes something new.

Actually Denmark has had nudes in newspapers for 35 years.

Anyway, when living in Scotland, I tried to put up a small text-only ad in the local shop asking for a nude model. It was taken down because it shocked people. And in the same shop they were selling newspapers with full nudes in them, sometimes on the front page! I don't always get humans.

Scared men?

Are men really "scared of successful women"? I don't see why.

Mike Oldfield, Britain, and security

Timo writes:

Mike Oldfield quits Britain over smoking ban

Yesterday, when the article went online, and last I checked, there were 22 comments by readers. Each one of the comments said they fully understood Mike's decision and that they would do the same if only they had the cash at hand. (Some were expats who had already moved, welcoming Mike to Spain.)

This morning I noticed The Mail had disabled commenting on the article and the comments already posted are no longer visible.

The article puts emphasis on the smoking ban, but I understand Mike's dissatisfaction is more general than that. (After all, he had 54 Acres of land surrounding his estate at Gloucestershire, surely he could smoke freely there?)

Recently BBC news reported that there are 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain - about one for every 14 people. The average citizen in the UK is caught on CCTV cameras 300 times a day.

Mike is about to release a new album. If this is a publicity stunt I applaud him for originality! If, on the other hand, this is truly a 'libertarian' voting-with-your-feet, I applaud him for that too.

I don't have an overview of the situation by any stretch, but there are things which indicate that Britons have gotten too tense for their own good. But I think this obsession with "security" (in the broadest definition) is happening world wide. Some countries are just not so far yet.

By the way, I wanted to check Mike Oldfield out a bit more, especially Tubular Bells. So I look around for a few samples. But then I find out that I already have Tubular Bells 2003 in iTunes, but I just haven't had time to listen to it yet! I don't even remember when or how I got it...
I don't think I spend much time finding new music, and yet I often find songs I bought or downloaded months or years ago, but haven't yet listened to once. I wonder how people who are really into music find time to listen to it all?

Dumb interviewees

Funny job interview stories.

'When I asked an applicant to tell me some of her positive traits she paused and then said, “The only time that I get drunk is on the weekends!”'

More here and here.

Even retail has standards. More than once I have seen women come in who were not even wearing a bra. No thanks!
Posted By Jolene, Hendersonville, NC : October 11, 2007 9:51 pm

Huh? sounds good to me.

Asked a candidate how his trip was on the Ferry, he replied: “Well the bar wasn’t open on the ferry so I couldn’t get drunk before I came here”. It was 9:00am.
Posted By Anne, Chapel Hill, NC : October 11, 2007 9:42 pm

Surely tongue-in-cheek?

Wore a sophisticated tie with a T-SHIRT . How can anyone make a ridiculous mistake such as that? I was feeling bitter by just watching him.
Posted By Sean, New York : October 11, 2007 9:10 pm

Sounds like a humorous dresser.

F. I. added:
I think this story demonstrates two true-isms about typical office-based work situations.

The first is, that many of the competitors for job positions are genuinely underqualified, or at least underinformed, idiots. (This does not mean, by the way, that other competitors are not phenomenally competent.)

The second is, that many of the interviewers and decision-makers are equally unperceptive. Many of these supposed "mistakes" are really just sensible people trying to become remembered or noteworthy in the minds of the interviewers, but missing the mark because the candidate turned out to be so much more capable and intelligent than the interviewers were. The hard part, for bright people, is dumbing it down enough that even an average person can readily figure out what's going on.

I recall a similar situation which took place on some discussion boards for I was mentioning my frustration with the fact that, often, when I interviewed, the questions addressed base levels of certification (which I tend to lack). I complained that I had no certification in word-processor training, and that it seemed to me that such a certification might actually be to my detriment. Someone who has ONLY a cert in word-processing, to me, is someone under-educated for the many types of jobs (Publicist, reporter, advertising manager) which I was applying for at the time.

Many respondents, however, did not concur. Their answer was, "Well, if you can't word-process, why do you think you could go on to learn to be a reporter?" I had not said I COULD NOT word-process; only that I had not been CERTIFIED to do so, because my undergraduate and graduate institutions of higher learning were rather more intellectual and did not offer such mundane training, although I am perfectly adept and capable at most modern word-processors and can learn any new program, to full utility, in perhaps an hour or two.

Yet the board's respondents were not convinced -- to many of them, the absence of word-processing certification implied an absence of work skills. I was stunned that they could be so ... what's the word ... stupid. They even went so far as to suggest, that my failure to readily identify key-stroke combinations for certain main activities in certain word-processing programs meant my WRITING would be slower, less efficient. Do people really think that the only act of writing is, rapidly operating a word-processing program? The half a moment required to point-click the mouse for a cut-and-paste operation is, to me, immaterial when one considers the many minutes expended on choosing the right word, or standing up to get the dictionary, or stopping by the library to look up something in the encyclopedia. To them, however, a writer is someone who sits down and, as in a factory, would type as fast as humanly possible. If he can type eighty words a minute (as I can) he must be twice as fast a writer as someone who can type only forty words a minute.

Amazing, how little understanding of the job skills there was, in the minds of those discussing the matter. I was almost unable to "dumb down" my discussion sufficiently to convince the board's participants that they really misunderstood, when they thought my lack of a childishly simple certification implied lack of skills. What was worse, was that about half the respondents in that thread who had listened in and written statements (probably because they were interested in the subject) were actually people actively engaged in hiring writers! So, it's nice that they kind of said, "Oh, I see, well maybe I'll reconsider for certain educated candidates." But it's horrifying that, up to the time they had read that thread, they had NOT reconsidered, and had instead assumed that a word-processing certificate alone indicated all necessary job skills for the person they would hire to be a professional writer.

Somebody wrote:

Rewrite Your Resume

Resume not getting the job offers you were hoping for? Perhaps it's time to rewrite it. For best results, here's a list of 50 words we recommend you not include on your resume:

Abandoned * Absconded * Angered * Arrested * Bankrupted * Blundered * Botched * Bungled * Busted * Canceled * Compromised * Defrauded * Derailed * Destabilized * Discouraged * Disrupted * Distorted * Erred * Exaggerated * Failed * Flustered * Fouled * Goofed up * Help up * Indicted * Jailed * Klutzy * Lollygagged * Misguided * Misbehaved * Miscalculated * Misidentified * Muffed * Neglected * Overestimated * Overlooked * Robbed * Ruined * Screwed up * Sidelined * Stalled * Stole * Subverted * Underestimated * Undermined * Vilified * Waffled * Wavered * Withheld * Wrecked

Now you have an advantage over all the other job seekers. Good luck!

Article about Apple Videos

Article about Apple Videos.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

NasonArt interview

I've been interviewed by NasonArt Review.

The interview had very good questions, so it was fun to do.
The editor works fast, so between me receiving the questions and the interview appearing was less than 12 hours. :)