Saturday, May 03, 2008

Philippe Carly

Nice page of miscellaneous photos by Philippe Carly.
(Who I often present on Domai.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Maggie Gyllenhaal

I just had lunch at a place with, today, several very cute waitresses, including one who was the spitting image of Maggie Gyllenhaal. (Movies: "Secretary", "Stranger Than Fiction", and "Adaptation", all good.) Same roguish smile and everything. That doesn't suck! And she seemed to appreciate me mentioning it.

(More pictures of Maggie.)

Coffee mill

When I was visited recently by a couple of old friends (o, how we laughed and talked), including one who was my boss in the nineties, he one-upped me in the espresso machine department, he's taken courses, has a bigger one (espresso machine that is), and uses a coffee mill.

So I decided to get one myself, seeing as I was not always happy with the quality of my coffee. After some research, I bought a Dualit Burr Coffee Grinder, and I just got it today.

So far I'm very happy with it. It seems like quality, and it's compact, fast, and really easy to use.

And I must say it actually makes a difference to use freshly-ground coffee. I had to have two cups this morning, it was delicious.

Role models

It seems yet another Disney movie star is shocking the bourgeoisie by becoming a woman. Mike Johnston has a suggestion for a solution.

Self preservation for Japanese women

Just when you thought the interface between East and West could not get more surreal...

Here's a similar one. The sight of pretty young women working out and cheerfully chanting "I have a bad case of diarrhea!" is just too funny.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

iTunes unsung songs

I realized it was silly that there are so many songs in my iTunes app which I rarely listen to because I listen to my favorites most of the time. So I made a Smart List which plays songs which I've not yet rated and which I've listened to less than 3 times. Songs which I've bought on iTunes music store, or downloaded, or ripped from old or new CDs. I am thinking I would find a few new favorites to broaden my horizon.

Guess what, that list contains over 2,000 songs!! Jeepers creepers.

Compact parcel

Ya gotta like Apple's new efforts in making their packaging compact. This parcel is barely bigger than the one my last version of Photoshop came in, and that one only contained a CD and 38 pages of legal boilerplate. :)

On the other hand, Apple sometimes goes overboard with the aesthetics*. Witness this external superdrive. Very slick, very pretty. But what's with the eight inch cord? Suppose you want to have the laptop on your lap? And the minuscule 4-point text on the back, printed in... matt black on glossy black! Holy cow.

* No, I'm wrong, what they sometimes go a little overboard with since the millinnium, is minimalism. I'm almost a minimalist myself, but not quite. I like simplicity. But I sometimes wish they would not go all the way to complete featurelessness. For instance I liked the curves on the lid and on the edges of my old Powerbook G3. (Man, that was a wonderful machine for the time, but it cost like five grand. Laptop prices have sure fallen since then!)

Lou said:

How's the build quality? Let us know how long it stays good.

eolake said...

Each time I get a new Mac, the build quality gets even better.

Only frustration right now is that I have way too many files for the automatic Migration Assistant software to work, and it won't do it partially, so I can't figure out any easy way to transfer my settings, bookmarks, macros...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Song of Blades and Heroes

One of my oldest Net friends, Italian artist Andrea Sfiligoi, is having success with a games rules book called Song of Blades and Heroes. He has promised to write a short article for this blog about his unexpected webtrepreneur success.
Wiki article. Review. Blog.

I don't know from games, so Andrea had to explain to me that it is one of the type of games played on a big realistic toy landscape with miniature game figures. (Or, I guess, just a tabletop.) He created the rules/story and wrote the book, and I guess it's played with pre-existing board/figures. Oh, and he illustrated it too, he's an excellent artist, both in fine art and in the commercial realm.

YouTube short-humor

YouTube is clearly giving birth to new humor productions, which is a good thing.

Take for instance Two Hot Girls In The Shower (sorry, no nudity, it's a tease). I think a few of the episodes are pretty funny, like this and this. And the humor is nice and subtle. It's clear they are pros, and they are apparently working in TV. Nice faces too.

But, some of the humor may be too gentle for its own good. Or is it just that 80 seconds is really too short to get the laughter muscles going? I think it is really short. Sure, we have short attention spans these days, but... ?

The Asian babe, Kim Evey, is also in Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine show. I'm not sure if it's a parody of an egregious show or just an egregious show. OK, the Ron Jeremy episode is pretty funny, sort of.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Neil Gaiman, size of web images

This book by Neil Gaiman, for children, is probably cool. But it's hard to tell because the "sample images" are just two tiny ones, basically thumbnails, as I had predicted before I clicked through to that page.
How come web designers seem stuck in the mid-nineties when it comes to image sizes on the web? Less than 600 x 800 pixels is not a proper image, people, get with it.

A veteran's stories

A certain middle-eastern Frenchman posted this in a comment.
He's been sent a membership to a certain Art site for his recent labor-intensive contributions.

"GPS? Phooey! In my days, we didn't even have a round planet, it was still flat as a pizza. Even the full moon was smaller before the days of inflation. We had to walk 300 miles in the Sahara blizzard barefoot to go to school... on our hands. And schoolmasters were tougher than Arizona sheriff Joe Dick, I mean Joe Arpaio ruling this whatchamacallit Abu-Grain fancy middle-eastern resort.
For breakfast, we had to wrestle she-wolves to steal their milk and nab their cubs, or we wouldn't be getting any calcium or protein. If we wanted candy, we had to go and milk the bees ourselves for honey. The million, billion and trillion didn't have as many zeroes, because many were fighting for the Japs and it took them years after that to get amnisty and a Green Card.
There were no toothbrushes or toothpicks, we had to chew thistles and gargle with broken glass at bedtime. In these days, son, men were men. And so were women, by George! But we still clenched our teeth and mated with them, just so you little ungrateful whippersnappers could be born and disrespect the life out of us.
The only green fuels were put in the engines of horses, and ho-boy! did the exhaust stink from back in the carriage! If you wanted to take your date for a ride, she needed to cover the stench by putting a handkerchief on her nose after dipping it in skunk oil. If she could AFFORD skunk oil. The mosquitoes were as big as dinosaurs and meaner than a tax inspector's mother-in-law.
We were so poor, the whole family had to share one shirt, while we slaved 29 hours a day in the silver mines to pay for having the other shirt patched. That's right, silver: even the filthy rich didn't have gold mines then. Africans were so poor, they all starved to death before they were born! Every other year, whe had to feed by eating the locusts after they devoured all our harvests of brocoli, eggplants and rutabaga.

Mr. Awesome

My new hero is Mr. Awesome.
I also want to get gnarly pieces of poontang.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Photo of Kate Hudson

A good B/W photo can be really nice.
It looks like this was taken with a Hasselblad. The square format, the short depth of field.

Short depth of field for people photos has been the one casualty of the digital revolution, since sensors are generally smaller than film formats were. I think somebody should make and market a reasonably priced "portrait" camera, consisting of a large sensor, but not necessarily super-high rez, 16MP might do it, and a good, fast portrait lens. Short telephoto with a large aperture. Again, for portraits it would not need to be the sharpest lens in the world, so maybe money could be saved there too.

Admittedly a reasonably priced alternative already exists, in the form of the Canon 5D with the economical, but very sharp 100mm F:2.0, see sample below. (OK, it's closer than you'd normally do a portrait.) I think altogether they may sell for less than $2,500 now. But an even larger sensor would be great. I think if Phase One (digital backs for medium format) for example got together with a camera maker and made this dedicated camera and they could sell it for less than $5,000, it would be a hit.

Perran at 1/8th second

Laurie Jeffery just showed me this picture. I've talked before of the low-light capabilities of the Nikon D3, and this is an example.
(If interested, I can email you the full camera file.)
It was taken, for one thing, at 1/8th of a second at the long end of a 70-200mm zoom lens with VR (Vibration Reduction is Nikon's name for Image Stabilization).
For another thing at 1600 ISO. Try to find noise in it.
The room was quite dark, and her face was lit only by the screen of a MacBook.
I think that if Laurie had gone to 3200 ISO, there would still have been very little noise, and the slight camera shake would have been gone.

The box factory

In a season five Simpsons episode, Bart's class goes on a field trip to a box factory, where they've apparently been before.

The ironic thing is that the sole field trip I remember we were on in grade school was... wait for it... this is so cool... you're never gonna believe it... gee, I kill myself... a box factory!!!

Is this one of those true cliches, like you can't read doctors' handwriting? Box factories are a stable of school field trips?

All I remember is that they made, amongst other things, boxes to go in portapotties. And that we had to find our own way back to the school in a public bus. Odd.

Canon SD890IS and pricing

The Canon PowerShot SD890IS is the same camera as the Canon Ixus 970. In the states, it sells for around $350. In Europe, about €450 or £350. And the Euro is worth 1.5 dollars, and the Sterling is worth 2 dollars. In other words, the price is twice what it is in the states. Bah, humbug.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Alec Crichton art videos

Stephen Gillette alerted me to Alec Crichton abstract art videos.
I recommend the download options here (the videos lower on the page have a Download File option).
I like them.

Normally moving pictures are reserved for story telling ideas. I guess this is because 98% of people are only interested in people, not ideas or pictures. Just see how many gossip magazines are sold compared to art magazines.
But for those who like pictures, and who don't find abstract videos to be necessarily artsy-fartsy or pretentious*, you may be interested.

I've briefly messed around with short, abstract videos myself. They were meant, like I believe Alec's are, to be seen as pictures, only with motion and sound. Not like videos in the sense of having a narrative.

I believe it's one of art's functions to make us look at the world. Generally we only pay attention to people, and occasionally to cool cars. But if we really look at the banal things around us, a universe of aesthetics may open up.

* "Pretentious", by the way, is an interesting insult to direct at a work of art. The word means "Claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit, especially when unjustified." So for one thing there's an instant assumption that it's unjustified. Which is in itself suspect, since art is subjective. And for another thing, only people can claim or demand things. A work of art can't. A person might be pretentious, a thing can't be. So a person using this term is trying to push the idea that the artist is dishonest and wants to climb over his station, without actually saying this in so many words. Instead the honest and direct thing to say is simply "I don't like it" or "I think it's crap".

Arrested Development and how to watch TV

Talking about good TV shows, I've figured out why the groundbreaking Arrested Development was a big hit with critics and discerning viewers, but not with the broad public.

It's the same phenomenon as Police Squad versus The Naked Gun. The concept did not succeed as a TV show, but really worked as a movie. Because it was so intricate and detailed that you had to pay attention! Most people, to the astonishment of somebody like me, don't sit down and watch television, they have the TV on while they do other stuff. And that does not work unless the show is pretty easy to follow and digest.

Me, either I watch it, or I don't. When I visit my likkle sister, I get irritated, because the TV is always on whether anybody is watching or not. It's dreadfully distracting. To me, if something is not worth giving your full attention, it's not worth getting distracted by.

I think Arrested Development (or something developed from it) might be very successful as a movie.

Eric said:
Interesting you should mention Arrested Development:
Wikipedia says, "In February 2008, stars Jeffrey Tambor and Jason Bateman confirmed in interviews that a future motion picture may be in the works, and that although Hurwitz "does not yet have a script, he has a good, solid understanding of what he'd like to do for the movie." Will Arnett also confirmed a movie was currently being planned, on Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

Hey, excellent!

Joe Dick said:
I'm the same way. If I'm not sitting down and watching something then why have it on? It seems strange to have it on when no one is watching anything but a lot of people do that.
I too loved Arrested Development. It might be a good thing that it didn't last that long. Too many American shows go on too long.

Yes, I was actually thinking of that. While it might have deserved a bigger audience, I'm not sure I'd want to see AD for eight seasons. It was quite intense, and might have gotten to be too much. Though for some shows it works, I never got the least bit tired of Friends.

Maybe for some shows it could continue indefinitely, but slowly change the characters and settings? But would it be the same show? And how do you come up with new things as good? And it really seemed to kill West Wing. But then that was more likely simply because they had run out of steam. And the creator had left.

Thinking about it, the reason I think I may have gotten tired of Arrested Development if it had continued much longer, was that they were starting to milk some jokes/plots to the last drop. Like George always being on the run, and George Michael continuing his crush on his cousin, and Michael continuing to want to leave the family, but not being able to. If the show had continued, they really should have given them some new games to play.
Friends was very good with this, apart perhaps from the silly Rachel/Ross romance, . The characters had very different careers, relationships, and concerns near the end than in the beginning.