Saturday, December 01, 2007

A preview feature

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Screen Dictionary

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

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

Sigma announcement

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

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

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


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

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

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

Pogue on Kindle

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

Toddlers want tech gear

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derivatives bubble?

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

Internet issues

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

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

Phone cameras or camera phones

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

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


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

Chank fonts

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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fall Day photos

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

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

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

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

Pascal posts

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hy6 camera

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

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

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


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


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

Saint Petersburg

Domai photographer Max Asolo has visited Saint Petersburg, Russia.

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


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

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

Mom is Santa?

Leather Santa?


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

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

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

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

Möbius Transformations Revealed

Möbius Transformations Revealed. Very cool.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sophisticated Insults II, The Umpire Strikes Back

Funny coinkidink, somebody just sent me this.

When insults had class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The scarcity mindset

The scarcity mindset dominates humanity.

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

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

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

Lecture on achieving childhood dreams

Lecture on achieving childhood dreams.

P.O blues

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

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


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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 25, 2007


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

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

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

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

I like sequel titles

I like sequel titles.

The Son Of Tarzan.

The Empire Strikes Back.

The Quickening.

Kramer Versus Kramer II, The Revenge.

Apollo 14, This Time It's Personal.

Harry Potter VIII, So You Thought It Was Over?

Mission Impossible IV, Well-Nigh Unlikely.

Hannibal III, Time For Dessert.

Saturday The Forteenth, The Aftermath.

665, The Neighbor of the Beast.

664, The Next-door Neighbor of the Beast.

The Princess Divorcee, Nothing Lasts Forever.

Titanic II, Bobbing Back.

Spider-Man 4, A Lazy Sunday.

Forest Gump II, Gump and Gumper.

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

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

Brokeback Mountain 2, A Tale Of Two Lesbians.

The Godfather 4, Older, Wiser, Bitterer.

Toy Story III, Finally Lego.

Lethal Weapon 5, Nursing Home Armageddon.

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

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

301, The Mass Funeral.

C Movie, A Wasp's Tale.

Beowulf Again, Longer Swords.

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

Ironman the Sequel, Upgrading To Brass.

Transformers II, Transforming Your Soul By Meditation.

Van Helsing II, More Kinds Of Monsters.

Ben Hur The Remake, Chariots and Cell Phones.

South Park The Movie II, A Big Rubbery One.

The L Word The Movie, Strap-on Bonanza.

The Matrix 4, Turns Out Nothing Was Real.

Indiana Jones 5, Now Only Vehicle Chases.

Rocky 7, Going Gently Into That Good Night.

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

Pascal added:

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

Sequel 3: The Trilogy.

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

Final Fantasy VII1⁄2: Advent Children

Final Fantasy XIV: Song of the Fat Lady.

Desert Storm 3: This Time We'll Win.

Official Sports League Game 2008: Spring Edition.

Silence of the Cash Cows: Milk'em Dry!

Silence of the Hams: Real Bad Acting.

Store Wars: Clash Of The Price Tags.

Scar Wars: The Dark Nip-Tuck.

Bible III: the Koran.

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

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

Star Wars Ch.7: Siths in Iraq.

Halloween 33: Say "AAAAH!"

Rambo 2008: Last Blood.

Conan Barbarian, Armenian Warrior.

Blog Post 2: The Comments.

World War III: Bush vs Laden.

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

Resident Anonymous Flamer 2: The Big Rubbery Twosome

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

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