Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hardest Working Mayor in North America

[Thanks to Uncle Ron.]
Hardest Working Mayor in North America, video.
"Hazel McCallion is a wonderful example of leadership for many reasons: she has been the mayor of Mississauga, Ontario for 30+ years, re-elected 10 times, and is responsible for a debt-free district while creating a vibrant downtown. She's done all this with great energy and enthusiasm while approaching 90 years old!"


I have bought a "Pro" account with, which I like. Simple and useful. I'm especially impressed with the download speeds. I have two different broadband connections for redundancy, and on the fastest one (cable), I get between 2 and 3 MB/sec downloads!

I tested a 100MB file. When I uploaded it, it took exactly 20 minutes. When I downloaded the same file, it took exactly 45 seconds!

That is a huge lopsidedness. I forget, is there a solid technical reason for this, or is it just ISP politics to keep you from using too much bandwidth hosting video from home or whatever?

Tropic Thunder (updated)

Tropic Thunder: good movie, funny movie. Unusual movie.
The big surprise was Tom Cruise as an ugly, unappealing, unethical, balding movie executive. So much make-up it took minutes to recognize him. Like they said in the commentary, "it's hard to make that m***erf***er look ugly", but they managed it.
You can think what you will of his personal beliefs (and god knows, everybody thinks something about them), but he's still got the big nuts as a actor. Here he could be doing MI:4, and he goes and does this bit part playing a disgusting human being. And not only that, it's possibly the funniest part in the movie. It's hysterical. Kudos.

Update: Don't miss the extras, including the hysterically funny mockumentary "Rain of Madness".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gregory Thielker's Paintings

Gregory Thielker's paintings, based on photos of rainy windshields. Neat idea.

The Irksome Cellphone Industry

The Irksome Cellphone Industry, article by David Pogue.
I didn't know that in the US, the recipient of a cell phone call pays for it too! Geez.
And twenty cents per text message? Raised to that price about concurrently by all four major carriers?! I can send an email per minute, 16 hours a day, and it doesn't cost me a cent more than my basic subscription price.
Basically the world runs on "what can I get away with".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Johnston reviews the Pen

Ken Tanaka on The Online Photographer reviews the Olympus Pen. Is this finally the "Decisive Moment Digital"* that many of us have been waiting for, for most of this decade?
Short cheat-note: if it'd had a better screen and much faster autofocus, it could really have been something.

*A DMD is a term Mike Johnston coined for the theoretical digital camera Henri Cartier-Bresson might have liked: compact, but high quality mechanically and optically, and fast to operate. Good for "street photography".

Fig leafs

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

One-dollar camera, two dollar bear

One-dollar camera, two dollar bear, origami.

So far as I know, in real origami, you're not allowed to cut in the paper. Lucky for him, I think it's illegal to destroy money or bills in the US.

Ole gals' lawn party

Ole gals' lawn party. Never let it be said that good fun is hard to find.
(Warning, nothing really spectacular happens, if you don't find the first minute funny, give it up.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Camera sizes

The Pentax on the right is the most compact they managed to make a 35mm SLR camera. (Virtually the same size as the Olympus OM-1.)
The Panasonic Lumix G1 is almost the smallest exchangeable-lens digital camera we have yet (beaten by the Pen). It has eliminated the space for the mirror and the pentaprism, the imaging area is only 25% the size of the Pentax's, and yet it it's still slightly bigger than the ME-Super!
Miniaturization of electronics has been amazing, but I don't think we are done yet.

Of course I'm leaving aside here the consideration that feature-wise the G1 has my beloved ME-Super beaten in so many ways it'd be a chore to count them, and that even with the smaller imaging area the picture quality is still better, but I still think it's an interesting comparison.

By the way, this is about the size I think it's fun to use a camera. Much bigger/heavier, and it starts to feel like work. At this size, just playing and photographing with them is a joy in itself, and that's even before we get any good pictures out of it.

Dave Etchells (of Imaging-Resource fame) sez:

Actually, when I was briefed on the original G1 by Panasonic Japan, prior to its release, they said that they actually could have made it a good bit smaller, but they were concerned that people would find it *too* small if they did. As it is, I think they did an excellent job with the grip design on it, as it fits my hand comfortably, while some other larger cameras (notably the old Canon Rebel XT) do not. That said, if it was much smaller, I suspect I'd have felt differently; would have been irritated by the too-small size. Of course, this is very much a personal preference thing, so there are likely to be people who'd be entirely happy having something even smaller.

Yes, I admit I am ambivalent. And the G1 is a very good size for working with, as opposed to carrying about in your breast pocket like a tourist. It might be about perfect as a compact serious camera. It does feel good in your hand.

I also love breast-pocket sized cameras. But I admit they do necessitate a lot of compromised in terms of security of your grip, how many buttons they can have, etc.

Basically I want the blonde and the redhead and the black girl... but while early middle age have beefed up my bank account to afford them all, it has also weakened my strength for handling them all at once. :-)

Antonov An-225

Antonov An-225, biggest plane in the world. What a brute. I can't help but think of the responsibility one must feel landing such a mofo.
As one might figure, it's a re-purposed military vehicle. It can carry over 250 tonnes of cargo and has 240 records in the Guiness'.

Good vibrations

Unfortunately without any financial kickbacks to myself, I nevertheless want to recommend the Oral-B Pulsar toothbrush.

It is not only the best and most comfortable toothbrush I've ever used, but it has added uses, especially for single ladies who don't care for the complications of casual male companionship. I have it on good authority that the vibrations from this thing are really top quality. And it won't embarrass you if found by strangers.

Blue/green illusion

[Thanks to Carter.]
This is one of the best illusions of color I've seen. The green and blue spirals are the same color! I had to use Photoshop to confirm it to believe it. Is our perception of color really that untrustworthy? Wow.
From here and originally here.

Here's a similar one, perhaps even more remarkable. The hearts are all the same color. (As usual, click on it for full version.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tom Jones question

OK, so this might be a bit compulsive, but this is driving me nuts:

"It's not unusual to be loved by anyone"

... isn't that ungrammatical? Shouldn't it be "someone"? And if I'm right, can you explain it simply?

Update, Thanks to all commenters so far, especially Environs. I think I'm getting the idea... "someone/somebody" means there's a person as opposed to no person. (You'd say "there's someone by the door", you wouldn't say "there's anyone by the door".) "Anyone/anybody" means there's a person, and it's unspecified or unimportant who it is. Since the song is talking about being loved at all rather than about who is doing the lovin', it should "someone", not "anyone".
(Of course the reason he uses "anyone" is that otherwise the line is a syllable short.)

Of course, in a world where everybody says the sun is going down when it's actually the horizon coming up, what can you do?

Update: talking about grammar, if anybody is destroying it, it's newspapers. Fetching my milk this morning, I saw a headline (I don't pay for newspaper, if I want to get lied to and insulted, I have friends who'll do it for free)...
what they supposedly meant was that one of Michael Jackson's brothers is accusing a medical doctor of murder or manslaughter.
What came out was: "Jacko bro names killer doc".


"As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls."
-- M. Cartmill