Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Barbury Castle crop circles

The Barbury Castle crop circles. Highly intricate mathematics involved. Article.

Photo via crop circle research db.

Machine Girl trailer

Machine Girl trailer. Anime-style girls-and-extreme-violence in an over-the-top satire live action film. Looks like fun.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Love Story, a new story

A Love Story
By Eolake Stobblehouse

Zxmtsk was one of the most beautiful females of her people. Built like a tank and strong like a tank, her bright blue hide and hundreds of stump tentacles became the focus of every male who encountered her. The scent of her powerful chemical makeup, which helped her survive on her harsh home world, was a natural aphrodisiac to her suitors.

She didn't have much time for romance, though. Being an eminent specimen of a species built for battle, she was busy carving a career as a mercenary in turbulent parts of the galaxy, and she loved her job.

One day romance caught up with her. Among the smoking ruins of the once-gleaming towers of the capital of Heeeerooiys, she found herself perceptive-organs-to-perceptive-organs with a huge green male, even bigger and stronger than herself, and handsome as a god, his skin oozing and his scent dominating the formerly idyllic city square.

Being an alien from the TiiiLx2II people of +iii9, he was nevertheless an instant revelation to Zxmtsk, she felt like she had found her soul mate. And oh! so beautiful he was!

The male, named E=MC3, was not immune to the female charms of Zxmtsk either. They feel instantly and hopelessly in love. They both felt that the fact that they were of different species was a technicality which should not stand in the way of true love.

At the earliest R&R they managed to arrange, they got married and sped off to their honeymoon.

Among the peaceful seas and mountains of one of the not-too-touristy vacation planets, they celebrated their love. They danced and they laughed, oh how they laughed and danced.

E=MC3 was a gentle and patient being, and he did not rush the physical relationship. In fact Zxmtsk found that in the end it was up to herself to take initiative. So one morning they ordered room service in the splendid seaside hotel, and stayed in to consummate their marriage.

It was a cool morning, but soon the room heated up from their love, and it was fortunate that the hotel was built to house guest even bigger and stronger than our dear lovers, because it quickly got a bit wild. Their huge bodies bounded around the room in the throes of love and passion.

Soon, amidst all the joy, Zxmtsk started to feel that her physiological changes were different than was normal, and it looked like E=MC3 was having trouble too.

And then there was the way they suddenly stuck together, and the temperature started rising alarmingly. It soon became clear that their passion had stirred an incompatibility between their bodies’ individual molecular makeup, and a big reaction was coming fast.

The resulting explosion laid waste to most of the hotel, killed 345 sentients and 987 robot servants, and left the site uninhabitable for decades. Zxmtsk and E=MC3 were both dazed and seriously bruised, and very disappointed.

Later in her old age, Zxmtsk would tell her grandchildren, in a hushed voice, how she had once met her soul mate, and he was not their grandfather. He had been a prince amongst warriors, and handsome like a dream. But they had decided to go their separate ways, it was a love not to be. The chemistry simply had not been right.



I'm watching Groucho Marx on Dick Cavett Show. Good stuff.

Groucho met a priest once, who told him: "my mother loves you." Groucho said: "I didn't know you fellas had mothers."

The priest said "I want to thank you for all the joy you've put into the world." Groucho said: "I want to thank you for all the joy you've taken out of it."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Death Proof

Just watched Tarantino's Death Proof.
It's a good movie. Kinetic. Real. Has one of the most nerve-wracking car chases ever.
And real nice women.
But be warned though: the violence is not a lot, but it's really... icky. Not for the tender of stomach, trust me.
(Note: the trailer has spoilers. I'm glad I didn't watch it first.)

There are many good extras on disc two, including a segment on the amazing Zoë Bell, who is both actress and stunt woman in this film. Sadly missing is an explanation on how the f**k they made the long stunt where she is on the hood of a car going 90mph, being banged by a second car. And having practically nothing to hold onto. I don't think they used any CGI (like hiding a safety belt), so I can't figure out how the hell they did it without killing her. It looks so goddamned dangerous.
(After a bit of research...) Apparently they did use some kind of harness. But I don't know how they hid it so well, you just don't see anything, and she seems to be sliding all over the place on the hood of that car. Of course it would have been homicidal to not have anything, there's no way anybody could stay on during that ride.
I am not the biggest fan of action sequences (I'm more into comedy), but this one really is ground breaking.
Oh, and Zoë's a good actress too, in no way inferior to anybody else in the cast. And she's got curves. Quite a package.

Oh, by the way, I liked what Quentin did with the movie, all the scratches, parts in B/W, very strange "unintentional" cuts, and so on. Refreshing.

Apple announces Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Apple announces Mac OS X Snow Leopard.
"Rather than focusing primarily on new features, Snow Leopard will enhance the performance of OS X, set a new standard for quality and lay the foundation for future OS X innovation."

It'll be interesting to see how they will price this system when it comes.


Apple (Like MS) is working hard on multi-core processing.

What a surprise it was when Moore's law suddenly stopped being so reliable a couple years back. I remember when the G5 was introduced and Steve Jobs publicly promised that within a year it would be up to 3Mhz. I thought "don't promise that you so-and-so, you can't possibly know that". And lo and behold, a year later he had to eat crow because "the processor industry has hit a brick wall". And since then everybody has been going with more and more processors instead of the faster ones they can't get. But the problem is that making the software to take advantage of more than a couple of processors is apparently really hard.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Engst on angst and Pogue

My good friend Adam Engst comments on the copyright angst speculations by my other good friend* David Pogue, which speculations I've addressed myself earlier, albeit in a confused manner. Adam is much less confused than I, and I'm pleased to read his detailed outline which supports the stance that I've long promoted myself, but have lacked statistical support for: that an open and trusting and personal attitude to distributing electronic content actually lessens piracy, not the opposite. Very heartening.

As a small note, I think that Adam's conclusion that he's diametrically opposite David's viewpoint in this matter may be imprecise: I don't think David took a very strong viewpoint, only a rather tentative one.

* This may be presumptuous, but I count both Adam and David as friends based on the fact that I've been in regular email contact with both, personally and professionally, for more than a decade, and that I love and respect them both highly. They are both mensch amongst mensch, as well as prominent pillars in the tech world.

Gandalfe sed:
Eolake, you name dropper you. ;o)

Don't say that so my good friend the crown prince of Denmark hears it, he hates when people call me that.

Update: Adam points out to me that his picture is outdated, and supplied this one. He runs marathons. Unfair. Even at sixteen, I couldn't have run a marathon.

The Worley gig

The Worley gig turns five. My ole pal Gail Worley writes about rock 'n stuff.

Reaction speed

It's quite funny, I have several times now, when buying stuff on the web, gotten the shipping confirmation email after I got the actual package!

I guess what it tells you is the speed of actually getting something done is more dependent on human factors than on the speed of technology used.

Also, the willingness and effectiveness varies so wildly! There are companies which will ship you something and it arrives less than 24 hours after ordering, every time. And then there are companies where everything takes a week or two or even three. And I haven't found any correlation between this and the size of the company.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Compact deluxe

Back in the eighties and nineties I was sad that I didn't have the time or money to enjoy fine things such as the then-new category of cameras called "deluxe compact", spearheaded by the Contax T, and later followed by Contax T2 and T3, and the Nikon 35Ti. Maybe one or two others. (Anybody remember any?)

They were meant to be very compact cameras, but delivering full sized photographic quality. And they were lovely cameras.

But it just strikes me that they are really beaten soundly by the newest digital compacts, like the Sony and Canons I've talked about recently, in almost every respect.

These have zoom, they have autofocus (and pretty quick now), they can take hundreds of pictures per card, not 36 per film, there's no cost per picture, you get the pictures instantly, the image quality is as good, if not better... and they are half the size and one fourth of the price. Pretty darn amazing.

They even look and feel good, the best of them. I'd say they only have two downsides compared to the old ones: if you need a blurred background for portraits, the small sensor is limiting in this respect. (On the other hand, the fixed-focal-length of 35mm on the older cameras is not good for portraits either.) And you don't get the luxury feeling of owning a fine piece of equipment that others can't afford.

If the last bit is important to you, you can get the new Sigma DP1. But then you get a camera which is much slower and clumsier than the aforementioned ones which are way cheaper. Odd that. But I have a feeling that there'll be luxury compacts in the future without those drawbacks, for after all, now that even a $300 camera has stellar image quality and 13MP, the camera makers have to get new ideas for how to stand out from the crowd.

I fone phor real

The new iPhone starts at $200. That's just insanely cheap. It's half what I paid for my Razr last year, and that one has around 1/10th the capabilities.

I wonder if they have updated the camera in it? It's still 2MP, so maybe not. Laurie Jeffery sez it's the one thing he's not happy about with his iPhone, the image quality sucks butt.

Update June 10: the keynote presentation has been posted now, and I must say it's impressive what you can run on an iPhone. Lots of fun and useful apps coming up. About 40 minutes in there's a demo of a very fun app which lets you play musical instruments right on the iPhone.

... Man, Steve is looking skinny. I wonder if he's well. (He does seem energetic and happy though.)

Photographers and painters

Photographers and painters collaborate in the art group Phartists.

In the early nineties I was part of an artists' group in Copenhagen, called Underground (not so much as a political statement as because our meeting room and gallery was in a basement). That was fun. I even sold some paintings.

Disguised camera

For people who are tired of getting mistaken for terrorist just because they are toting a camera, here's the solution: a camera disguised as another object.

Admittedly it's very expensive and a bit old fashioned looking. But I'm sure Panasonic could make a modern version. Like a Desert Eagle which takes 12-megapixel pictures. A papparazzi holding that will surely get Madonna to freeze rather than scratch his eyes out. What her security posse will do is anybody's guess.

iPod scrolling

Jeff told me:
A long time ago (in Internet terms - it may have been months) you were bemoaning the fact that iPods were less than convenient as spoken-book readers because it was not easy (or simple) to fast-forward or rewind an audio file.

Of course you know about selecting the fwd or rwd option, then scrolling -but- did you know that you simply have to hold down the left-arrow button to rewind or the right-arrow button to fast forward. (Not press-and-release... hold down.)

Amazing I'd never thought to try that, when I knew it worked on the remote control.
Like on the remote it's not perfect, because it accelerates too fast, but it's better than scrolling. (Especially on the iPod classic. For some reason the scroll wheel is not very sensitive, so it's hard to know when it reacts.)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Jackie Mason

Jackie Mason on how older people don't want or need computers.

I'm curious: how did the Jewish accent develop? It's not like they come from one particular country.
Come to think of it, "ebonics" has nothing to do with Africa. I wonder if a group sometimes develops an accent or mode of speech just to get a sense of group.

Bert added:
"I'm curious: how did the Jewish accent develop? It's not like they come from one particular country."
No, but all of those who have the accent (that I know of, anyway) speak Yiddish, and probably learned it as their mother tongue.
It has also been demonstrated that languages learned past tender age (six years old is considered a limit) are not processed in the same area of the brain where native languages are handled.
It therefore isn't such a leap to infer that this "second-language processor" is not tied as closely to the hearing and speech centers, hence the accent phenomenon.
But while that would explain why there is such a thing as an accent, I believe that you are right in pointing out that in many cases, adopting, or even emphasizing the accent of a given group is a deliberate choice. That most certainly appears to be the case with Mason...