Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why a simple product line is integral to Apple’s success

Why a simple product line is integral to Apple’s success, article.

It's what I've been saying for donkey's years: K.I.S.S.

Monkey dentist

Oddity of the day.

From a spam mail

This iss your penis: 8--o
This iss your penis on drugs: 8=====O

Any quuestions?

Behold those elephants, huge as hills, lying on traveling
and often mired in a rough muddy highway, lady clonbrony was taken ill the day after her the lights of paris. Above that river, in which the skya sort of gigantic razorfish suspended.

Phase One news

Danish high-end digital camera-back maker Phase One invests in Mamiya.
"Claus Mølgaard, Phases' VP of Engineering is now in charge of all product development for both companies."

Man, can you imagine what that guy's work day is going to be like? Holy fork.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Students Take Space Photos

Students Take Space Photos With Simple Latex Balloon and Digi-Cam, article. Thanks to

Painting or drawing?

Some professionals and teachers in the arts, especially those teaching for the commercial arena, argue strongly for the distinct segregation of different techniques and genres.

For example Andrew Loomis argues that painting and drawing are very different, and should be kept separate. When you paint, you work with shapes and tone, when you draw, you work with lines, and never the twain shall meet.

I felt odd reading that, because I loooove lines, and I don't see why one can't use lines in paintings.

Then he added that he was talking mostly about naturalistic painting. And that lines don't work well in such paintings, which are about the rendition of surfaces and light, shapes, textures. And yes, I can see that. If you want to make naturalism, it's hard to introduce outline lines, because they don't exist in nature. (In fact when I was a child, I once used some mental effort on figuring out whether there actually were lines around things like there are in comic books.)

But then he does give several examples of strong exceptions, including illustrator J.C. Leyendecker, who, as he says, basically did drawings with paint. (Very strong work, see below.) But then Loomis says: "however, I doubt if a close imitation of his style would sell today". I looked up Leyendecker, doubting I'd find much given that the book I'm reading is fifty years old, and clearly he was already outdated then. But lo, there is tons of his work on the web! Clearly he still or again has a strong presence.

So this tells me that we may speak past each other when we speak about different purposes, as when I am thinking about "interesting art", and Loomis is talking about "saleable art". And it also tells me we should look at time frames always. What's gone out of style in the fifties need not be out of style in the noughties.

And last but not least, one must separate the maxims one teaches students, and the maxims which apply to the experienced artist. Just because a novice will make a mess of it when he mixes two techniques does not mean the experienced artist might not make very strong work doing so.
does not mean the experienced artist might not make very strong work doing so.

Jimbo said:
Isn't the book for the novice? Maybe he figures that down the road the experienced artist will figure that out.

Perhaps he does. But things you learn early on can easily become ingrained, so things like this may have to be pointed out.

For example, somebody pointed out that Ansel Adams' famous Zone System (for controlling tones in photos) was a *teaching tool*, not a production tool, and yet some people have made a religion of it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Craig Needs a Friend

Craig Needs a Friend. This is amazingly hil. And inspiring, makes me want to do something off-beat.

New Canon

New Canon, article.
"Canon has announced the newest in its long line of hugely successful Rebel DSLRs, the Rebel T1i (EOS 500D in the rest of the world, except Japan, where it's the Kiss X3 Digital)."

Haha! Why stop there? Why not a name for each country it's sold in? Fifty-nine different names for the same camera would be metal.

I'm sure it's a totally rockin' camera though.

Ten kilometers of track

Effin kool.

(HD version here.) (Click HD button at the bottom of the video.)

I was a bit surprised to discover that Copenhagen is fantasy, but Pippi Longstocking is not!

Prodigy painter

I've heard of child geniuses, but this is something else. Hailed as a fine arts painter genius at 22 months old... hmmm. If the family get to be millionaires and it later turns out she didn't really have talent but was just playing around, how embarrassed they'll be!


There once was a man from Nantucket
who mortgaged his house for a bucket
the lesson was clear
he said with a jeer
I couldn't afford a Mcnugget

Digital image quality

A reader and customer wrote to me to comment that he thought one series (see this nude) had a particularly high image quality, and he was sure this was film, not digital.
But the funny thing is not only is it digital, it's from a Nikon D70, which was an entry-level DSLR camera, and the first generation entry-level DSLR to boot, so it's not even new.

Long story short: 6-7 years ago it was debatable if digital had surpassed film quality-wise, but not today, it has.

Future photo sensors

Another article from Ctein about the future of digital sensors, this one reaches into the very uncertain future, but with existing technology, not science fiction.

Mixed fun photos

Dibutil Ftalat sed:
The last one is by a friend of mine Val (Valter) Proudkii - a great photographer in my opinion. His site.

Bluetooth teething problems

(It's a bit late in life to have teething issues, methinks.)
I had a bluetooth keyboard, but I stopped using it, because every time I woke up the computer, it was a hassle waiting for the machine to find the keyboard. And then recently, my Playstation 3, which I use to play blu-ray disks (because the dedicated player I have is a nightmare of slowness), stopped reacting to its remote control, which had to be purchased separately and is a blutooth device.

So I asked our friend Bert the engineer for advice and he said something about having said many years ago that blutooth was a bad idea. So I asked him:

"Do you think that the very idea of wireless control (bluetooth) is bad and can't be done well, or just that bluetooth itself is poorly developed?"

Over to Bert:

A bit of both, I suppose. The very idea of a self-configuring RF network (the base concept behind BT) involves so much wishful thinking that it borders stupidity. Don't get me wrong, it's feasible, but not in a world where quality products have become more a memory than an expectation. There are many problems with this concept, the worse being the lack of available bandwidth, simply not enough channels available for this idealized wireless concept.

There are also design issues. Take digital wireless phones, for instance (I do mean land line phones, not mobiles). They face the same basic problems, but they have two advantages that make a world of difference. Firstly, the handset(s) are recharged in the base that connects with the outside world. When you drop the handset in the base, there's a physical connection available between the two units and that's when registration takes place. No contact, no registration. Lost registration? Simply re-establish physical contact for a couple seconds. This makes it impossible for your neighbor's handset to accidentally (or maliciously) hop onto your network.

Secondly, digital phones and their corresponding bases are both programmed and debugged by the same group of people, so software issues are much more easily identified and fixed. BT was made vendor-independent from the start, though, and with no restrictions on the size or shape of the units. That's where you enter a world of pain. Makes it nearly impossible to specify a "mating ritual" involving physical (electrical) contact. And the software issue instantly evolves into a guaranteed nightmare by implying compatibility between thousands of devices from hundreds of vendors across dozens of application fields.

One may argue that this is no different than, say, USB devices, but I beg to differ. If you buy a crappy USB device, you are always free to pull the plug and throw away the device. Or you could compromise if, for example, you own two scanners that simply won't co-exist, all you have to do is make sure that both devices are never plugged in simultaneously. But how are you going to do that with RF devices? Especially that some of the problem devices may very well belong to your neighbor...

Performing on-the-fly, unconfirmed device registrations is stupid bordering suicidal, IMHO, but it's one of the fundamental goals behind Bluetooth. You walk into a BT-active space with your BT-enabled device and it magically and seamlessly integrates itself into the existing network. Yeah, right. I read about this idea in a magazine over 15 years ago (iirc) and it immediately seemed like a dumb idea, and I haven't found any reason to change my opinion since.

Take a PS3 in your average apartment tower, for example. All living rooms are located either one on top of the other, or mirrored with a simple wall between the two. So it may very well be that your neighbor's PS3 is the BT device physically closest to your own PS3. If he stores his remote near his unit, all bets are open. Especially if he read an article on power vampires and decided to unplug his PS3 when not in use. His remote loses registration when he unplugs his PS3, and thus goes on the hunt for a new station to register with: yours!

I could go on further, but I guess you get the picture by now. As if it was not enough that a BT link is susceptible to be killed at any time by interference from other RF sources (not even necessarily BT, since everybody shares the little available bandwidth), but all BT devices are also basically predators hunting for a socket to occupy, making odds of usurpation quite high as well.

Now, I don't really know how the problems are solved in the real world, because I just avoid BT altogether, but I suspect that many more-or-less inventive, yet not necessarily good or especially inter-operable schemes have been devised, creating endless confusion. Kludges built atop a wart, if you ask me.

Be well, Bert

I shouldn't wonder if other devices are actually the issue, I had not thought about that. I've noticed that in this apartment recently, I can sometimes see over half a dozen wireless networks! so it stands to reason that something similar may be happening with bluetooth (and it does have quite a range, I could easily use it through two walls, when the remote still worked).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Perceiving people, age

A friend of mine here in town is in his early sixties, and looks about that. He told me that people treat him differently now that he's "old". For example they will put his change in his hand in the supermarket!

I think this is remarkable, because this guy is both mentally and physically as fit as me, perhaps more so. And when I look at him, that's what he looks: fit and sharp. And yet it seems many people see white hair and see "old and feeble". Isn't that weird. Very poor perception.


Professional real estate investors are now buying houses in America for a fraction of the once-listed price. Some are calling them "vultures", but that smacks of envy. If these people weren't buying now, nobody would be buying, and the market would dip even deeper and lord knows where that would lead.

So far as I know, here in UK/Eu, the market has dipped a lot, but not quite this dramatically (actually, probably the prices given in the video are outstanding examples rather than the norm). They are only about down to the level they would have been at without the housing bubble, not below. Yet. I still wait and watch, like I've done and said for five years.

Funny enough, just today I was reading Thoreau's Walden, and he talked about how it's a plague on the land in the West that our lives are driven by envy, so everybody has to have a house which is at least as big as the neighbors, driving us into debt and servitude. His Walden cabin was around 3 by 5 meters, which is about the size of the rented rooms I lived in for the first twenty years of my adult life. I only bought an apartment when I could afford to buy it cash.

Mixed photos

What the heck is this? Looks like science fiction.

I once saw a woman (at a women's fair, no less) who looked sort of like this, except perhaps her bosom was a tad larger and more emphasized, incredible as it sounds. It was impossible not to look at it. We exchanged a hello, and my eyes slipped down for a split second, and I knew she had seen it, and I was just too embarrassed to talk to her.

Talking about Bat logos.
An angel's work is never done.

fboness says:
That tower is the Burj Dubai. It will be the tallest skyscraper in the world.

Funny, I was gonna guess either Asia or Dubai. Those guys are kwaiiiisy!

Pascal said:
The kid photo is cute, but is there some joke in it that I haven't noticed?

Yes, it's that the attention of all the women in the room is on the toddler like white on rice.

Batman logo changes

It surprises me (as a childhood Batman fan) how many different logos there have been, and how very different they are, but each still works as saying "Batman".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why do the British drive on the left?

Why do the British drive on the left?, article by Cecil Adams, the pundit with an unpleasant attitude but lotsa data.

He also has one on the "electric energy vampires" thing.

And here's one on Why porn actors aren't charged with prostitution. Interesting. Gotta love the first amendment.
It doesn't explain, though, why prostitution is illegal in the first place, in many areas. Why can you charge for driving a cab, but not for giving a BJ? ... Aha, he does address that elsewhere. And here's a newer article on the subject, addressing the interesting question about who is actually committing the crime.

Consciousness Drives the Universe

Consciousness Drives the Universe, video on the holographic nature of the universe.

Two and a half

I'd feared the sitcom was dead, but I've just started watching the fourth season of 2.5 Men, and it is actually shaping up to be the best season yet. Hilarious.
"My name is Kanockers. Vod Kanockers."
I hear it's successful. I hope this will inspire other studios to take up sitcoms again, a good laugh is so damn healthy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Adult industry

More than one person has referred me to this article (More women needing cash go from jobless to topless).
I think it was Joe who said recently that it always comes down to money. If you can afford to think so, pot or sex-work is "immoral", but if you're really hurting in the wallet...

An interesting part of it is the statement that the adult industry may be recession-resistant, but it's not recession proof, contrary to what many of us thought. Down thirty percent is significant. In fact, it's only survivable because of the nice profit margins of the industry, if a computer company goes down by thirty percent, it goes down a hundred percent!

Morcheeba - World Looking In


If I had a death-metal band, I'd call it Unicorn. And the logo would have a white cute unicorn with a light blue horn and a pink mane and tail. And the band members would all dress in pink, and yellow.

Libertarian (updated)

The point just came up in a comment: how do you define "libertarian"? (I am not saying here that I am one, because messing with politics is intellectual suicide, but it may be closer than any other political philosophy I've seen, from what little I know.)

I find that the more you mire it down into specifics, the more muddled does the concept become. To me, it means at its basic: Don't f**k around with my life, and I don't f**k around with yours. Or more positively: I have no interest in controlling what you do, and I'd be happier if you don't attempt to control what I do.

Of course the problem is that we all want freedom to do whatever we like, but when others do something we don't like, that's offensive and should be curtailed by whatever means we have!

I guess it's also connected to the alternative political spectrum: not left to right, but centralized versus decentralized. A totally empowered world government at one end, and a totally empowered individual at the other. I lean towards the latter.

What I would love is for a philosophical discussion of liberty, it's an interesting and important and difficult principle. But sadly this kind of thing usually quickly becomes a political discussion, in the meaning of "strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles," as Ambrose Bierce said, and seldom were truer words spoken.

An unrelated point: our libertarian friend Kent has an odd characteristic: when he makes a comment on this blog, I don't get the usual e-mail notification about it. I hope this is not true of too many people, because I want to read the comments. Does anybody have any clue as to why this should be so? (I've checked my spam folder, they are not there.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A life in art

A life in art, article. What he said. (John Sandford Camp.)
"Of the successful artists I’ve known, I’d say that the two things that led to their success were compulsion (virtually to the extent of mental illness) to do the work, and the eventual ability to monetize the effort. Most of them never get that success—they’re finally ground down and give it up."

Digging graves

"He who digs a grave for another, ends up in it." (tiny video)
(Is this a saying outside Denmark too?)

Update: it's in many languages, clearly, and it's always a hole/trap/pit. And looking at it again, I can see that the Danish saying can be read that way too, and it makes sense.

Good question

Another flying car, the Transition

Joe pointed to this. The Transition seems to me to be one of the most desirable of the various "flying car" varieties I've seen so far. Little, cute, simple, workable. Not super-economical though in purchase, "anticipated purchase price" is $194,000. Amazingly specific given that it'll be two years before they can deliver. Maybe it'll be $193,000 or $196,000. :-)

I have a strong feeling this thing can take off from almost any road with a 100m stretch. I also have a feeling the authorities really wouldn't like that! And I have a feeling it would be a hard temptation to resist.

Joe said:

This is a attempt to get the best of two worlds. Ground transportation and flying.

You can think of a airplane as a time machine. It can compress the time required to travel.

I can fly to Ocracoke NC in about two and a half hours. The drive time to it is eight hours.

Flying I can treat this as a day trip, go down in the morning and back home the same afternoon. This would not be possible in a car.

The draw back in doing this is there is no transportation available when you get there.

I have done this trip with my wife and taken bicycles. This limits the sight seeing to how good your physical condition is.

The flying car is a dream for now but someday who knows...

(Look at this article. He actually claims that the Transition will take off vertically with thrusters. How lazy and careless can a reporter be?)

On shoes (updated)

The fact is, sometimes it's hard to walk in a single woman's shoes. That's why we need really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun.
-- Jenny Bicks, Sex and the City, A Woman's Right To Shoes, 2003

Everything I know about women, I learned from Sex And The City. This explains a lot about me.

Pascal said:
Women's shoes are SO uncomfortable, anyway. Even if you're a woman.
I don't want a woman to endure pain just because she thinks I'll find her more pretty with suffering. Have some spine, ladies! (And high heeled shoes are BAD for your spine, trust me, I'm a Doctor.)

One of the girls from back in school said that using heels all the time had made her archilles tendon too short for regular shoes. She was around sixteen!

It's idiotic: the purpose of high heels is to make the calf muscle more prominent. But many women wear heels even when wearing pants or a long dress.
I've never worn a tie in my life, practically, and I'm sure it's not half as uncomfortable as heels.