Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

"A Leica Won't Improve Your Photography"

A Leica Won't Improve Your Photography, article.
The other side of the coin. Good for me to read, at least. Compared to an SLR (which is much cheaper), there are several significant downsides to a rangefinder camera that are not immediately obvious. And the article is not from a Leica-hater, either, the writer owns a lot of Leica equipment.
Also, take note of the long comment under the article by David Dyer-Bennet, he knows what he's talking about.

Update: M Reichman has a first-hand impression of the M9.

Hilary Hahn - Bach Partita for solo violin No. 3

New Jobs keynote

Steve Jobs is back.

I'm becoming an organ donor today.
(Personally I think it should not require registration. What use has a dead person for his kidneys?)

Topfree beaches report


TC Girl found this nice picture here.

The page also contains the usual disaster photos the press likes, but also a couple other pleasant ones like this:


The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
-- John F. Kennedy

Some think it's holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it's letting go.
-- Sylvia Robinson

I think think both of these are really good.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On Sobriety

On Sobriety, article. I was touched.

The Cat Duo

Tommy asks, Is This Art?

Python vs electric fence


A Tale of Two Lenses

Would you believe these two lenses have the same specs? 35mm, F:1.4. Mild wide-angle, big/fast aperture.
580g vs 200g.

(I got the pic from tOP.) Now, the Canon lens (which is excellent, I have it) is designed for a DSLR, which means that the optical design has to compensate for the fact that due to the mirror in the camera, the lens can't get as close to the sensor as it would naturally be. But I'm curious if this fact alone can justify such a huge size/weight difference. (Of course the quality of the Voigtländer lens is to be considered, I have not seen a comparison.)
Update: There's been cast doubt that the picture is exactly to scale. On the picture, the relationship is 1:4 in length, but the numbers given on the site are 1:3.

Nano video

So the new iPod Nano shoots video. Didn't see that coming. I haven't looked closer yet, but I have to admit that my initial reaction is: 'why? ... that's like a cigarette lighter with wheels'.
Saturday update: just coming onto this point in the keynote now... Right, seeing it as a free built-in Flip for quick youtube clips, I can see the point.
Anyhow, it's insane what they have built into this tiny thing now. Voice recorder, radio, pedomenter, music player, video player, video camera...

There's a new iPod shuffle too. With, once again, a radically new form and look. And, once again, a new and different connector to the computer. I love Apple products, but do they have to keep inventing new connectors and plugs all the time?!

Leica's back

Leica's back, article.
Not even as expensive as one might have feared. Rock and roll. ('scuse the expression. The past half hour I've just been listening to the three songs in the "Tush" post below at full vol.)

Compact likkle fokker, yet with large sensor. Another candidate to the long awaited high-quality "digital street camera". If it's fast and the image quality is what you'd expect from a Leica, and has no egregious faults...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Lesson of the day

Lesson of the day:

Don't shake a box of raisins without securing the lid.

And if you did anyway, be careful where you walk until you got them all.


"I shuttle, I shuffle, I tippie-toe, I cake-walk, anything to avoid the 24 chocolate-covered cherries on the floor from yesterday's party" - Andy Warhol, From A to B and Back Again

(Quoted from memory from a reading about 20 years ago, so bear with me if it isn't verbatim.)

What Does 'Expensive' Mean?

What Does 'Expensive' Mean?, article by Michael Johnston. It introduced to me the interesting concept, which I had a feeling about but no term for, of "Veblen goods", which means products which are perceived as being highly valuable because they are extremely expensive, not despite of it. Like a Rolex, a Rolls-Royce, or a turntable which costs $20,000. The bulk of the price is perceived status and "magic", not actual added value. If Rolex started selling a $100 watch, the brand would be dead soon. If everybody wore the cheap Rolex model, who would pay $10,000 for the expensive model?

Looking for tush

I was just rocking out to Joan Jett's "Tush":

... When I thought: that's remarkably saucy lyrics, ain't it? ("Lord, take me downtown, I'm just looking for some tush [ass]".) I looked them up and found out it's actually a ZZ Top song. A remarkably faithful cover, and yet at least as good as the original:

... so maybe I should look at bit into ZZ Top, never really did.

Update: I can't find it on youtube, but I found a tremendous track. John Lee Hooker playing Boom Boom (the song he played in Blues Brothers), with backup by ZZ Top! I didn't see that combination coming! But man, it rocks.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Snowwhite's Revenge

Bert found Snowwhite's Revenge, Apple Powerbook case modification. It's a vinyl decal you can buy.
Besides the cute idea, I think it's quite beautiful, very simple lines, just one color, etc.

Which reminds me: I loved the colored iMacs back around the millennium, before they went flat-screen. And Apple and Jon Ive's team still makes great industrial designs but... they are almost too simple these days, too minimalist. Aside from the logo, there is no decoration whatsoever on a Macbook. My first Apple laptop (the first I bought from new anyway) was the "Lombard" (or "Powerbook G3 (Bronze keyboard)" as Apple lovingly called it). Here it is:

... it was Apple's first really slim Powerbook, and I think it was beautiful. See, there is no functional reason for the three panels with the lovely curved lines on the lid (and notice: the texture and reflection is subtly different between the panels). They are there because of the visual appeal. I think Apple lost something when they dropped stuff like this and went aggressively minimalist.

(Wow, this makes me nostalgic. Those were some heady days, back when my own business took off, and I could afford to buy a computer like this back when they cost about five grand. And for a year, I think, I ran all my sites, production, and business on that machine. Of course it couldn't handle the size of the files I work with these days.)

Amazon Discussions forum?

Have you ever noticed that Amazon sites have discussion forum for products? It's not something I've paid a lot of notice to, but it can be useful, as for example when I had some questions about my excellent Panasonic SD255 Breadmaker with Raisin/Nut Dispenser (sorry, but that is it's name (seems to be a European name, though, I don't find it on the American site.)).
Here's its forum, and here's my question and answers.

Women in film, morphing

I don't think I've posted that one before, but I think I have done so with a similar one, with paintings of women.

Future without amendment

"All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse." -- Benjamin Franklin

[First: his use of "amendment" confused me. I knew it could mean an alteration, but now I've looked it up, I also know it can mean an improvement. I don't think it's used often in this meaning, these days.]

Ole Ben had a point, as often. For example, when I moved to this small apartment in a lower-middleclass district some years ago, I think I was imagining that it was to be reasonable short term, that I would get something more luxurious or build a cool house, or something, within a few years. Something like that may still happen one day, never say never, but in the mean time I've sort of settled down emotionally, and seen that while there's nothing glamorous about where I live, it's not bad either, I lack for nothing important, and I'm comfortable. I have no pressing reason for drastic changes.

And while I like watching shows like Grand Designs (about people building an unusual house) if one pays attention, one thing almost all these people say are: if I'd known how long, hard, grueling, and expensive this was to be, I might never have started.
And just so: while anybody in the world can readily point to disadvantages of their current situation, it's an absolute guarantee that any new situation you change it for will have new disadvantages, and you'll usually not be able to predict them.

Of course change can be good, I'm just saying one should get some perspective on it, and not just do it because it's "what's expected" or whatever.

Update: TTL sez:

I've come to the conclusion that all projects worth your while are impossibly hard to do.

Writing a book, composing a piece of music, designing a typeface, painting a painting, implementing a programming language, creating a website ...

I've done all those things, and with each one I've thought to myself: "Had I known how mentally taxing this would be, I'd not have started". And when you finally complete the damn thing, the feeling of relief is so great that you feel you could fly.

I'm pretty sure designing and building a house is no different. Impossibly hard for those crazy enough to take the plunge. And similarly satisfying when it's finally completed.

Stephen Fry writes about this very subject in his latest miniblog. It has this brilliant quote:

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than for other people.” --Thomas Mann

... and contains this:
'I began writing seriously when I was about thirteen. Out streamed poetry, stories and novels, the latter of which were always aborted early, usually half way through the second chapter. It took my friend Douglas Adams to encourage me to go further and he did this by pointing out that the reason I had never managed to finish a novel was that I had never properly understood how difficult, how ragingly and absurdly difficult, it is to do. “It is almost impossibly hard,” he told me. It is supposed to be. But once you truly understand how difficult it is,” he added, with signature paradoxicality, “it all becomes a lot easier.”'

Monday, September 07, 2009

How big is 5 megabytes?

This is a post I'd missed first time around.

The volume and size of 5MB of memory storage in 1956. Not GB, but MB.

Compact full frame

If Mr. A here is right about his numbers, it seems that with the M9 (will be announced officially on Wednesday), Leica has actually created what is so far the best ratio between sensor size and camera size. I must admit I didn't see that one coming.

"Desktopdating", new malware?

I got this mail from a friend:

I answered:
'Re "desktopdating", I am already on facebook, and I'm not keen on joining another "social network".'

She wrote back:
Sorry about that...
I had a friend who sent me this network. I opened the email, hoping to find a message from her, and it sent mails to all my addresses, including some serious business contacts!

Probably the same thing happened to her friend. I didn't happen to me, probably it's geared to Windows and Outlook like is usual. (Update: apparently not this time. My friend has a new Mac. She's using yahoo email on their site, via Safari. Ooops.)

I've looked up the site, it's no networking site, it's just porn links [update: wrong, that's, the mail refers to, which seems more legit. One more reason for text-only emails, you can see where links lead.]. So this is a spamming virus, I am guessing. (Probably not designed to do damage to the machine, but to spam.)

Update sep 8: I got the same mail again from my girl friend today.
I told her, and she answered:
I've got the same email again as well. This time I did not enter to it, so I don't know what else I can do? How to stop this mambo-jumbo nonsense ?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Vampires and mirrors

I'm watching a couple of the remaining movies in the Legacy Collection. [By the way: strange... when I type in "Frankenstein" in the search field on this page, the post I linked to above should turn up, but it doesn't. What's that about?]
Son Of Frankenstein was surprisingly watchable.
As is Dracula's Daughter. Even funny sometimes.

So I'm thinking... if vampires don't cast reflections in the mirror, then if one stands right in front of you, you can still see your entire self in the mirror? How does the mirror "see" you?
And if the vampire is standing up against you, your front will be in shade. Will this shade be visible in the mirror?

A widdle pun for ya

There are many things to get used to for us foreigners who've moved to Britain. For example, the first time I walked into a British photo shop years ago, I picked up a couple of films, a photo album, and as an afterthough, a disposable camera. The clerk tilled it up and told me the price. I said: "Ouch, that's rather expensive, isn't it?" And he answered: "the camera adds ten pounds".

New Leicas

Interesting new Leica cameras, for the luxury-segment of the market. The compact one sounds especially interesting, I think. (The M9 will be very expensive, and mainly interesting to people who already have Leica lenses.)

Industrial Town Eksthetic part Trois, last one, I promise

(Last of part Trois anyway.)
(Click for big pic.)

My own favorite here is perhaps the top one, gate and razorwire.
(But obviously I have some liking for all of them in some aspect, otherwise I wouldn't post them.)

"Why I Love Micro Four-Thirds"

Why I Love Micro Four-Thirds, article. Speculation about the "open standard" aspects of the M4/3 standard. Lenses not tied to a single camera brand, and so on.
It's all good, but even if it does really catch on, it going to take years to really build up a serious range of choices such as this idea promises. Sure, you can use many, many older lenses on an M4/3 camera, but it takes adapters, you lose autofocus and such, and older lenses are not optimized for the high resolution of today's camera sensors (plus most of the lenses were made for the much bigger 35mm format, so they're bigger and you'll double the effective focal length).
(Note: many technical questions are explained in the comments under the article.)
Update: also, do read the comments for the intense and often funny discussions about the merits of the system, especially from Mike the site proprietor.)

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea ("no breath") means when a person stops breathing for periods during sleep, hundreds of times per night, usually caused by obstruction of the air ways. It ruins the quality of the sleep, and robs the brain of oxygen. They say quite many people have it.
A pen pal of mine was worried that I might have it, so I looked it up, and found these helpful little videos.

I've established to my own satisfaction that I don't have it. (Part four of the videos have data about indicators that you have it, which include being awakened by your own snoring, dry throat or headache upon awakening, much drowsiness in the day, and inability to get refreshed from naps.)

Sat nav

In the name of balance, after proclaiming my love for computers and Internet:

Yesterday I ordered take-out food over the web, and it was loooong delayed. I called them, and they had been trying to call me on an old phone number: they couldn't find me, because my address did not show up on their satellite navigation system.
And just a couple of days ago, a parcel was delivered by a guy who'd walked a ways from his van, because his sat nav had directed him to the street behind this complex, where there's no driving entrance.

It seems both these guys/companies in a short time have become so dependent on satellite navigation that they no longer think to even carry a map anymore! In a few years, if the GPS system crashes, half the motored world will come to a crashing halt too. Lame.