Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nano video (updated)

When the iPod Nano came out with built-in video recorder, I thought it was a weird idea. Well, I was wrong, it's pretty cool, and the video quality is far better than we had a right to expect from a device so small it can get lost in a bag of candy.

David Pogue said in review that this device will make for a lot of spy-filming. I've no doubt he's right, but it made me think: is that even legal?
In private settings probably not. But in most countries it's legal to photograph anything you can see in a public place, so does that go for filming too?


Just watching Grace Jones in Vamp. Like suspected, the film, so far, holds little of interest, but Grace is something else.


I'm just running out of an excellent product, "Tea Tree Lipfix", and unfortunately it has been discontinued. I helped when one's lips got into a worse condition than ordinary chapstick can deal with. Does anybody know a similar product?

Getting misunderstood

I love the English language, for many things, for example its beauty, and its power to reach globally.

But it has its frustrations. My pet hate one is that there is no plural for "you". I can't get over that. So many times does one need to explain whether one means "you" the individual or "you" the company/family/whatever.

Another one is despite the hundreds of thousands of words in English, most of them have several definitions, and often very quite dissimilar. I was reminded of one today: "amateur".

Its two most used definitions of "amateur" are:
"a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons. Compare professional."
And: "a person inexperienced or unskilled in a particular activity: Hunting lions is not for amateurs."

Very different definitions!
I know amateur photographers who are more skilled than some professional photographers I know.
And yet, when I say "I'm an amateur", there's no way for the reader/listener to know whether I mean "I do this for love only" or "I'm not really very good" without clumsily going into explaining it. Is there?

How to succeed and how to suck eggs

A successful individual typically sets his next goal somewhat but not too much above his last achievement. In this way he steadily raises his level of aspiration.
-- Kurt Lewin

Interesting statement. I've noticed that ambitious individuals, including sometimes myself, often judges themselves against the most successful person in their field. And of course this just leads to continuous frustration, instead of satisfaction with your last success.

So instead of "the last play I was in did better than ever, it's wonderful", you have "I'm not bigger than Tom Cruise yet, it's horrible."

Even on a smaller level: back in school, in the subjects where we walked through a series of exercises individually (wood shop and typing), when I fell behind a couple of the fastest in the class, I lost the spirit and started coming late to class! That's just dumb. Maybe you should only compete with your past self.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Unique Monochrome Medium Format Back

A Unique Monochrome Medium Format Back, article.
A monochrome (Black/White) digital camera would have greater resolution and greater sensitivity than the normal color ones. A lot more of both. Because you don't have the color filters to steal light. But unfortunately at the moment there is only one such camera, and it's unreasonably expensive (price like a good car). We can hope a more customer-friendly camera will be made some day soon.

Oh, and isn't just typical of this universe that making a good camera without the added complexities of the color matrix filters was harder than making a color camera, not easier? Ridiculous, but typical.

Ice sculptures

Ice sculptures.

Serious Use of Compact Camera Images in Graphic Design

Serious Use of Compact Camera Images in Graphic Design, article.
"As someone also doing serious and fine art photography with compacts for the past couple of years, this is where I fall into a dilemma. While on one hand I strive to capture technically sound images and am always on the lookout for the next compact that would raise the bar on my images, on the other hand as a designer I make do with images that I would reject outright for technical flaws if taken by me. Images used in important publications, which may be read and used by top national and international organizations, governmental agencies, funding agencies, think tanks and the like, taken with automatic point-and-shoot cameras I would not even look at! Thus I wonder if it is the image (the subject, the moment, the interrelationship of elements, the light, etc.) and the purpose for which it was taken that really matters and that the rest is essentially 'technical' and 'secondary', the bit photographers tend to worry too much about these days!"

If you have followed my blog for a while, you'll know that I struggle with similar issues. On the one hand, I know that technical perfection has very little to do with the artistic impact of a photograph, and in fact many of the most famous pictures in the world are very imperfect technicality. On the other hand, I'm enamored with the tech side of things, and it's hard to separate this from the creativity.

Sound insulation boxes

You may remember my question about sound-insulating the vents from my air conditioning. In the end I went with pretty much what I'd had in mind from the beginning, and got some boxes with sound insulating material inside, mounted. The workers were just here today.

I was worried that it would deface the building, but I think the boxes were so beautifully made by C.M Fair Joinery, that they actually enhance the building, or at least are much better looking than the cheap plastic grilles which were there before.

I think they won't bother anybody, I think the air flow will be sufficient, and I also think that they will do the trick. At least make a significant difference. I'm quite happy.

Super-HD (updated twice)

My pal photographer/videographer Laurie Jeffery has told me over coffee from my cappuccino machine yesterday, that he has no need so far for a camera with more than 12 megapixels. I have said the same more than once, but I'm an amateur photographer.*

He does work with real high resolutions in videos though. See this amazing setup he did for Heathrow (London) airport. One video running on 24 monitors, each one HD!

I can't figure out how the heck he broke up the picture into many little ones, and exported each bit to run on a separate monitor... Maybe he can enlighten us briefly? (Or brief us enlighteningly.)

Talking about Laurie, he made a couple of nice artistic-nude experiments today.

* Update: I was asked why I said that I'm an amateur photographer. It's because it might be a plausible objection to my opinion on resolution: I don't have clients to answer to. But Laurie has, and none of them want more than 12MP can handle (with a good camera).
(I guess there are clients who do demand more, otherwise medium format digital cameras at $30,000 would not have a market, would they?)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clever engineering

Tommy sent this example of top-notch home-engineering.
Looks safe to me!
Notice the front wheels hardly touching the road. Should make for light steering!

Hillbilly joaks

(Seems to be joke week.)

Two hillbillies walk into a restaurant. While having a bite to eat, they talk about their moonshine operation.

Suddenly, a woman at a nearby table, who is eating a sandwich, begins to cough. After a minute or so, it becomes apparent that she is in
real distress. One of the hillbillies looks at her and says,
'Kin ya swallar?'

The woman shakes her head no.

Then he asks, 'Kin ya breathe?'

The woman begins to turn blue and shakes her head no.

The hillbilly walks over to the woman, lifts up her dress, yanks down her drawers and quickly gives her right butt cheek a lick with his tongue.
The woman is so shocked that she has a violent spasm and the obstruction flies out of her mouth.
As she begins to breathe again, the Hillbilly walks slowly back to his table.

His partner says, 'Ya know, I'd heerd of that there 'Hind Lick Maneuver' but I ain't niver seed nobody do it!'


Hillbilly Vasectomy

After their 11th child, a hillbilly couple decided that was enough, as they could not afford a larger bed.

So the husband went to his veterinarian and told him that he and his cousin didn't want to have any more children.

The doctor told him that there was a procedure called a vasectomy that could fix the problem but that it was expensive. 'A less costly alternative, ' said the doctor, 'is to go home, get a cherry bomb, (fireworks are legal in hillbilly country) light it, put it in a beer can, then hold the can up to your ear and count to 10.

'The hillbilly said to the doctor, 'I may not be the smartest tool in the shed, but I don't see how puttin' a cherry bomb in a beer can next to my ear is gonna help me..

''Trust me,' said the doctor.

So the man went home, lit a cherry bomb and put it in a beer can. He held the can up to his ear and began to count!






At which point, he paused, placed the beer can between his legs and continued counting on his other hand.



Two hunters were dragging their dead deer back to their car. Another hunter approached pulling his along too. 'Hey, I don't want to tell you how to do something, but I can tell you that it's much easier if you drag the deer in the other direction. Then the antlers won't dig into the ground.'

After the third hunter left, the two decided to try it.

A little while later one hunter said to the other, 'You know, that guy was right. This is a lot easier!'

The other added 'Yeah, but we're getting farther and farther away from the truck!'

Update: Tommy shared:

How I learned to mind my own business...

I was walking past the mental hospital the other day, and all the patients were shouting, '13....13....13.'

The fence was too high to see over, but I saw a little gap in the planks, so I looked through to see what was going on.....

Some idiot poked me in the eye with a stick!

They all started shouting '14....14....14...'


Pascal added this one:

Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with those expensive double-pane energy efficient kind, but this week I got a call from the contractor, complaining his work had been completed a year ago and I had yet to pay for them.
Boy oh boy, did we go around and around! Just because I'm a blonde does not mean I'm automatically stupid. So, I proceeded to tell him just what his fast-talking sales guy had told me last year - namely, that in one year, the windows would pay for themselves.
There was silence on the other end of the line, so I just hung up. I have not heard anything back.
Guess I won that stupid argument!

Windows 7 Keeps the Good

Windows 7 Keeps the Good, Tries to Fix Flaws, review.

And Pogue has some interesting comments based on the Win7 review's reader feedback. It is interesting for example that virtually all reviewers really liked Vista when it came out, but now it is widely considered very poor, and a flop. (Myself, I've only used it for a couple hours on my mac, so I have no strong opinion. Seemed all right.)

"As recently as this summer, at least two-thirds of corporate computers were still running the positively ancient Windows XP."

Really? Wow. Even though, as David also points out, nothing threatens MS, they gotta hate a statistic like that! Compared to that, the propagation of OS X is a triumph. Of course you could say they had a much smaller userbase to convince.

Wookiee friend

I posted another one of these earlier. More here, though most are not as funny.

Man Busted for Being Naked at Home (updated)

[Thanks to Jeff.]
Man Busted for Being Naked at Home, article.
They were on his property, and they are suing him for being naked?! ... just when you think the world can't get any weirder...

I'm reminded of a remarkable incident in my own life. About 12 years ago, when Domai was a very young site, I started writing a fictional story for the newsletter. The story described how I walked past a window where a nude lady came out, and neither of us were embarrassed.
I wrote half the story, and the next morning on the way to work (I still had my day job, that's how long ago this was), that exact thing happened to me! It was early and dark, and I walked past a house on the edge of the industrial district, and this gorgeous young woman came out of the shower and into her kitchen, which had a whole glass door, giving me full view of her wet, slim, beautiful figure.
No, I was not offended and did not call the police! I loved it!
And what an amazing "coincidence"!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another GF1 review

DPReview reviews the Panasonic GF1. Now, they make verrrrrrrry long reviews with a billion details, so you can start with the conclusion, and then go to the first page if interested.
Like me, they like it and think it's one of the rare camera which makes photography fun again, as well as being capable of making very high quality pictures if used right.
"the GF1 is a camera that simply cries out to be used and, for this occasionally jaded user at least, puts the fun back into photography. [...] once you attach the wonderful 20mm F1.7 pancake it becomes something special; an unobtrusive creative tool that you can carry anywhere, and one that's capable of superb photographic results.
When I started using the GF1 I didn't think I'd use the 20mm F1.7 that much (too many years using zooms), but once attached I rarely took it off. The 40mm equivalent focal length is both restrictive and yet surprisingly liberating from a creative point of view, and took me back to my earliest days of photography using a Pentax Spotmatic with a single 50mm lens. And you can stick it on a wrist strap and basically carry it with you wherever you go."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TidBITS 1000

Congratulations to TidBITS, the Net's oldest and best Macintosh newsletter, for reaching issue one thousand! That's a weekly newsletter for almost twenty years. I admire people who do things well, and I admire people who stick to doing something when it works well.

Web Surf to Save Your Aging Brain

Web Surf to Save Your Aging Brain, article.
"Researchers found that older adults who started browsing the Web experienced improved brain function after only a few days."

IMac updated (uhm, updated)

I've said for ten years that the iMac (updated now) is, while on the Apple platform perhaps considered a "home computer", full capable of most professional applications. And this gets more true with each generation. Laurie Jeffery, mentioned below, has for a couple of years now used an iMac for his main computer, and this guy is a top-pro photographer and videographer. He made the huge videos you see in the new Heathrow airport terminal five. He made those from concept through videography through final output, and so far as I know he did it on the iMac.

Laurie tells me:
I really do. A Mac pro would be much, much faster. I use one in the office in Leeds when I'm there and it flies.
But there's something beautiful about the iMac. The new one looks more so. Wonderful lines.
Sometimes, using a beautiful machine actually enhances the creative process.

I guess I can see that.
Me, I do admit I like pretty and compact products. And I admire the achievement of getting a large part of the power of a Mac Pro into an iMac, and even more into a MacBook Pro. And I'm amazed that it takes that much more size and weight to significantly go beyond what those machines can do, a Mac Pro (the tower machine) is really huge and heavy. I mean it takes a strong man just to carry it.
But for something I don't have to move around, I like the most power, and the top speed and 30-inch display (twins now), and multiple big internal disks of the Mac Pro is an addiction to me. It was so even back when it was the G5, which was noisy. The new intel machines do not even have that drawback, so that's it for me. (There was a while a few years back when I used a Powerbook or an iMac for email and web, and a PowerMac for the heavy lifting, but thankfully that's unnecessary now.)

The new mouse sounds highly interesting. I like my Rollermouse, but I miss the sideways scrolling that the Apple Mighty Mouse had, and the new one also has multi-touch.
Admittedly it is not cheap for a mouse. I'm sure you can get a perfectly servicable mouse for less than one-fifth of the price of this one. But I want what Apple offers. And I'm not alone: in the middle of the worst depression in three generations, Apple just reported their best quarter ever!
... I have to admit I hope their bluetooth implementation has gotten better. I was not impressed with coaxing my iMac to recognized my bluetooth keyboard every time I woke up the machine last time I had a wireless keyboard.

Apple states: "Magic Mouse features a laser tracking engine that’s far more sensitive and responsive on more surfaces than traditional optical technology. That means it can track with precision on nearly every surface with no mousepad required."
I hope they are right this time, because this was exactly what they said about optical mice when they came around, and it turned out that they were much more fickly about surfaces than old time rubberball mice! If you used it on a wooden table, it wouldn't work. You'd think it would be perfect for an optical mouse because the wood has all this texture. But noooo.

Alien swap, a couple jokes (updated)

When Johnny got his 4th grade test paper back, he saw a big red F staring back at him. He had failed the test.

Billy looked at his glum friend and asked, "Why did you fail that test?"

"Because of an absence," Johnny answered.

"You mean you were absent on the day of the test?" Billy inquired.

"No," Johnny replied, "I wasn't, but that smart kid who sits next to me was."


Button slogans
  • I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.
  • 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
  • He who laughs last thinks slowest.
  • Be modest and proud!
  • I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.


A couple was driving down a lonely country road one evening when a spaceship landed on the road ahead of them. The couple stopped the car as two aliens got out.

"Don't worry, we're friendly," one of them said.

The couple got out of the car and saw that the aliens were a couple too. Upon inquiring, they learned the alien couple was from Mars.

They four of them sat in a nearby park exchanging stories and information about their respective planets. Eventually, the subject of sex came up.

"Just how do you guys do it?" asked one of the Earthlings.

"Pretty much the way you do," responded a Martian.

Discussion ensued and finally the couples decided to swap partners for the night and experience one another.

The female Earthling and the male Martian went off and checked into a hotel. In the room, the Martian undressed. He had a teeny-weeny weenie - very short and very narrow.

"What can you do with that?" exclaimed the woman.

"Why?" he asked, "What’s the matter?"

"Well," she replied, "it’s nowhere near long enough. It’ll never reach!"

"No problem," the Martian said. He proceeded to squeeze his nose. With each squeeze, his member grew until it was quite long.

"Well," she said. "That’s quite impressive, but it’s still pretty narrow."

"No problem," he said again and started pulling his ears. With each pull his member grew wider and wider until the entire measurement was extremely exciting to the woman.

"Wow!" she exclaimed as they fell into bed and made mad, passionate love.

The next day the couples rejoined their normal partners and went off together.

As the Earthling couple drove home, the husband asked, "Was it any good?"

"I hate to say it," his wife said, "but it was really wonderful. How about you?"

"It wasn't all that great," the husband replied. "It was the weirdest thing. That Martian woman kept squeezing my nose and pulling my ears all night!"


Pascal added:

I checked into a hotel on a business trip and was a bit lonely, so I thought I'd get one of those girls you see advertised in phone booths when you're calling for a cab.
I had grabbed a woman's card when I called a cab to take me from the airport to the hotel. It was an ad for a girl named Erogonique, a lovely girl, bending over in the photo. She had all the right curves in all the right places, beautiful long, wavy hair, long graceful legs that went all the way up to her firm, shapely butt. So I'm in my room and figure, "What the hell, I'll giver her a call."
"Hello?" the woman says. Gawd, she sounded sexy.
"Hi," I began. "I hear you give a great massage and I'd like you to come to my room and give me one. No, wait, I should be straight with you. I'm in town all alone and what I really want is sex. I want it hard, I want it hot and I want it now! I'm talking kinky the whole night long. You name it, we'll do it. Bring implements, toys, everything you've got in your bag of tricks. We'll go hot and heavy all night - tie me up, wear a strap-on, cover me in chocolate syrup and whipped cream - anything you want, baby. Now, how does that sound?"
"That sounds fantastic," she said, "but for an outside line you need to press 9."

Knaked Knitting part Deux

The Knitting Noras and the "naked calendar" for charity were on TV.

Jeffery blog/pics (Updated)

My friend Laurie Jeffery invites us to his blog where he talks about things he like, such as cooking and photographing nudes. Go here.

Update: I asked Laurie about a large version of this picture, and he said:
If you go here, Click on the models name. Or go here and click on the picture. It from my free collection of nude, one new one each day of the year.

Alex said:
I didn't realize cannibalism was legal in the UK. Also I think I'd typically cook nudes, the clothing just seems as if it would make things too chewy.

Verra funny.
And here I thought I'd managed to write it so it wouldn't be misunderstood by all you jokers. :-)

Programming languages are so less prone to this sort of thing

My->friend[Laurie_Jeffery] {
( he/his ::= Laurie_Jeffery)
invites us to his blog
where he talks about things he likes,
such as {

I know. Which is why Bill Gates can be so relaxed when he asserts that any and all errors in Windows stem from the users.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Who let this dog out?, photo series

Who let this dog out?, photo series.
My pal Max has done the old trick with placing a doll or such thing in every shoot in a series.
One of the perennial problems in Art and art is how to achieve variation, but also unity. This is one way.

Gordon said:
I prefer Swiss Army knives.

Apples and the nineties

My friend Laurie talked about a very picturesque trip they took this week. One of the things she mentioned was an apple tree without leaves but with apples.
Back in the nineties, living outside Copenhagen (a pretty place called Lyngby), I lived next to an apple tree, and one autumn it did just that.
It was so striking. I wish I could go back in time and photograph it properly with the great cameras we have now. All I have is this one picture taken with one of the crappy early digicams, a Nikon Coolpix 600. (See how the highlights are so blown that it looks like snow. And this was *after* I had the camera fixed, it was much worse when first I got it.) It was a "one megapixel" camera which actually only had 786,000 pixels, and even those were not all that good. But we were all impressed with it back then. I bought it for about $600, and the price had just dropped from about $1100!
The picture below was used in print by the photo store where I bought the camera, to impress people with the camera. It barely held up in a 6x8 inch print, and yet at the time it seemed dang good.

Here I am in November 1998. Gawd how young I looked. And yet already that long ago I was already making my living on the Interweb. Barely.

Me and aforementioned apple tree.
(These are the full resolution pictures!)

My workspace in the late nineties. What I use now is still only about thrice the size. The Interweb is not so demanding on physical space!
(The dictionaries on the left have now been replaced by virtual ones. Faster to look up.)

I was actually living in that single room, rented. Until 1999, in my mid-thirties, I lived in rented rooms. I guess it can be seen as a bit ascetic, but I was happy that way, it allowed me to concentrate on the things which interested me, my art and spiritual path, reading and so on, instead of working hard to pay for a big home. I only got my own apartment after I could pay for it in cash.

The window pic was taken by my friend Peter.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Number of the Best

I just happened to take a look at the lowdown on my main hard drive just when the numbers lined up like:

Total capacity: 999 GB
Free capacity: 333 GB
Used capacity: 666 GB

I think that's very funny. What can I say? Us home workers get our kicks where we can.

(Like I said once, I name my hard drives with names with Initials H.D., a tradition going back to the mists of the mid-nineties.)

(BTW, the number of the Best should really be One, shouldn't it? I dunno whaaat that bible booky was tawking abaht.)

I saw a cartoon once, a street shop under a big sign: "Dyslexic People's Union". A guy walks in and says: "I'd like to join your onion."

"Available darkness" photography (updated)

Interesting double-article about how much sensitivity we need, or not, in our cameras.
"Digital sensors have better reciprocity characteristics, so my exposure times have dropped a lot the past few years; rarely do I need to go beyond a minute these days. Nonetheless, my style remains the same and the results are still artistically satisfying. Would I jump at ISO 100K? Not particularly; I'm okay with tripods and a couple of minutes between frames.
There are lots of photos I don't make because the subject matter won't sit still for large numbers of seconds. Do I think having 1,000 times the ISO I now use would open up all sorts of artistic opportunities? Hell, yeah! Is it artistically, conceptually, and philosophically valid? Double-hell, yeah! Photography's never been merely about photographing what you could see; it's always been about photographing what you wanted to see."

Update: Michael Johnston has expanded on the theme today.

Willful and Graceful

Since I like Will And Grace, and have bought all the DVDs, Amazon sometimes sends me emails saying something like: "As someone who has purchased or rated Will and Grace, you might like to know that _____ is now available."

And here's the funny thing: I always look at the item hoping to find more good comedy shows. But I never do. It's always something gay/lesbian related instead!

What's up with that? I barely notice that Will And Grace is gay related, I just love a good comedy. But either Amazon has decided that the sexual-orientation aspect is more important than it being a comedy show, or many more of their customers find that aspect more important, or... I dunno. I just find it a bit weird and striking.

Jeanne Robertson: Bungee Jumping in Canada

[Thanks to Cap Kirk.]

"Jeanne Robertson is a nationally-recognized humorist and professional speaker. In 1963, at age 18, she was named Miss North Carolina. Robertson credits her reign as the catalyst for her career."

Dang, she is funny.
And pretty. And tall, 6.2 barefoot! Gotta love a hot, funny, tall gal. Jeanne, if you ever get tired of "Left Brain" (I know I get very tired of mine sometimes), look me up, OK? :-)

Steve recommended this one (ooh, live video):

(Hmmm, what's a "bad mitten"?)