Saturday, January 30, 2010

If you have a cash surplus...

Utopian Pessimist Calls on Radical Tech to Save Economy, article/interview.
Peter Thiel: "People take it for granted that their retirement funds can earn 8.5 percent a year. That’s what their financial planners tell them. And sure, you look back over the past 100 years, the stock market has generally gone up 6 to 8 percent a year. But in a larger historical perspective, that kind of growth is exceptional."

Thanks, Peter! I've said something similar in my money article. Given risk, inflation, etc, you can't expect the near-ten-percent growth that everybody likes to talk about as a god-given right. In fact I think that if you are risk-averse, you should be happy with any significant growth at all after inflation.
And I do think that the past couple of years have proven that it's prudent to be risk-aversive! Even great banks can fail spectacularly. So if you have capital, spread it over at least three banks, and put a bit in cash in your home, and quite a bit in gold bullion (not paper gold, actual coins like Krugerands) in a safe place.

Smiling models

I just learned today from one of my photographers that it's no accident that my bigger competitors in the nudie-girly-site market have so few smiles in their photo sets... apparently they prefer it like that, and instruct the photographers to have few smiles in the shoots, and (I guess), more "sexy" expressions.

I really don't get that. For me, smiles are so important. A set without smiles is almost useless to me.

I wonder if a big section of the broad audience really need help by a "sexy" expression to find (upcoming Domai model) Laura here sexy? I sure don't.

Miserere said...
Not everyone considers the same look sexy. Most of Domai's viewership probably think smiling girls are sexy, and those girls are on Domai because Big E. thinks smiling girls are sexy. It's a selection effect, me thinks.

eolake said...
Doubtlessly there's something to that.
Though I would point out that I don't select smiles because that's what I find sexy. I select smiles because I find them pleasant and wonderful.
It's a spiritual/human attraction. The sexual attraction is pretty automatic, you don't have to work on it, is what I'm saying.

Adobe Plays the Porn Card in Flash Campaign Against iPad

[Thanks TTL]
Adobe Plays the Porn Card in Flash Campaign Against iPad, Wired article.
Adobe does not like the iPad not supporting Flash.

By the way, does anybody know if Twitter has a no-nudity policy on pictures? I've just gleefully been posting some via my Domai account without thinking about it, and so far so good, except now one of them is gone.
I'd like to know if they are likely to cancel my account if I keep doing it, because I could host the images myself, just be a little more work.

Phone card query

Phone card query, post by Neil Gaiman. His young daughter unknowing ran up a $600 phone bill.
"T-mobile now charges $16 a meg for data when you're out of the US.
... had Maddy not set off alarm bells, I could, I have no doubt, have come home to a $5,000 phone bill without even trying."

Sixteen dollars per megabyte! That's criminal. That's like hotel phone prices (which are also criminal, to my mind). One megabyte is three decent-sized photos, not even one youtube video.

Sunshine pics

I went for a walk, and it was very, very contrasty sunlight (winter sun and not a cloud in the sky), so I took the opportunity to test the contrast capability of the Pentax K-x and the 35mm Macro lens. They did really well.

I like these two pictures which came out of it.

... And the lens is damn sharp, as Mike Johnston said. (He called it a "paragon".) I admit that sharpness is pretty incidental to artistic expression, but, well, I simply get a kick out of it. If I get a bigger home some day, I'll get a really big printer, just to enjoy the quality of images modern cameras can produce. Lord knows, back in the day I'd have killed for this quality.
Sorry, TTL, I did it again, I blogged again about the progress of technology. I can't help it, I write about things which make me feel stuff, and tech progress gives me joy.

Burned-foil art

[Thanks to Japan Exposures.]
A new entry in the ongoing "art or sport?" category, this guy makes photo-realistic pictures by burning foil with incense sticks!

Teens arrested in sexting case

Two Lacey teens arrested in sexting case, article.

What worries me is that it seems that in areas with much emotional turmoil, people in general loose their intellectual faculties to a degree which allows the definitions of common terms to simply shift with hardly anybody noticing. It is clear that these days, "engaged in sexually explicit conduct" has been redefined to mean "nude". This is a big problem for many reasons.

It's also worrying that playful behavior by young teens is being lumped in with serious predatory behavior by adults. It's a very bad example of the lack of ability to differentiate.

This mental confusion also means that if a 16- year-old girl has a photo of her 16-year-old boyfriend nude, she is apparently now in "possession of child pornography" and may go to jail and be in a sex-offenders register for the rest of her life. It's really not a sane state of affairs.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Calibre for ebooks

Update: Cool!!
... One of the few disappointments I had with calibre was that there were no Danish news sources amongst the many, many international sources in the list. So I went to the MobileRead forum, the calibre room, asked, got referred to the "custom recipe" thread, asked there, and user kiklop74 created a "recipe" for me to load the three Danish newspapers I'd mentioned offhandedly. I followed his instructions to load them into calibre, and now I can read Danish news on my Kindle! So kool!

(I should mention that I generally prefer magazines to newspapers. What they call "news" is 97% stuff which depress you, and you don't need, and of dubious truthfulness.)


Calibre is a nice cross-platform application for managing a wide variety of types of ebooks. It can also create ebooks, for example in the EPUB format, from other formats. (EPUB is used on iPad and other devices, and unlike PDF it allows for the reader changing font size, and the device will re-flow the text.) It seems EPUB is a variety of XML, which I understand to be a sort of hyper-HTML language for text formatting.

A cool feature of calibre (the author spells it with a lower-case c) is that it can be set to check with various news services and magazines on the web, and download them automatically and format them for a good ebook format for whatever ebook reader device you happen to use. Very neat.
... In fact there's a huge wealth of news and magazine type resources. Calibre will convert them to a format your preferred ebook reader (including phones etc) can handle.)
Calibre can also automatically send the articles (books) to you via email. I guess to your Kindle's email address, for example.

Hey, I have Dilbert on my Kindle! And when I get an iPad, it'll be in color too.
... I also have Wired Magazine, The Guardian, The Onion, The New Yorker, Mac World, Discover Magazine, Digital Arts Magazine, and these are just a few I'm trying out to see how it works. Everything seems to be perfectly formatted, and eminently readable, although I do look forward to the bigger and more contrasty screen of the iPad.

I hope the iPad will read aloud to me. The Kindle does, it's very understandable, and I love that feature.

... Talking about the Kindle, I do like it, but even in version II, there are some odd choices. For example, I'd like the Home button on the right to be a "page back" button, I need that much more often. And the home button should be a different shape and sit higher, because if you hit it by mistake, in some documents it's quite a trek to find your way back.
And with a grey screen background, why on Earth did they select to make the Kindle white? If it were black, it would not only look kooler, but the screen would appear brighter by contrast. This would help both the public image of the device, and the reader's eyes.

Just in case the main Kindle engineer is reading this... separate buttons for "text larger" and "text smaller" would be very helpful.

iPad speakers

I hope the iPad speakers are really as good as they say. Because while I love my Airbook, the speakers (apparently located under the keyboard) are barely adequate. They just don't go as loud as I'd like, even when just watching videos. And of course they are far from hi-fi. If the iPad is to be really useful as a video device without using headphones, the speakers have to be two notches better than that.
It is just too clumsy to have to take headphones on and off every time you put down the device. After all, the great thing about the iPad is that you can pick it up, put it down, and twist it all around, anywhere and anywhen.

How To Get the iPhone Kindle App Outside the U.S.

How To Get the iPhone Kindle App Outside the U.S., article.
"Thanks to the iTunes Store option to choose “none” as a payment method, you can sign up for a US iTunes account with nothing more than an e-mail address (not the one you normally use), a real address and a cellphone number. Any free applications are then available to download, and best of all, when you hook up your iPhone or iPod Touch the application just syncs."

For years now, with the help of a kind and trusting US friend who let me use her address and credit card, I have been buying both from the US iTunes store and the UK one, is another matter.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

iPad and graphic-rich books (updated twice)

Thinking still about the iPad (sorry) I am sorta wondering... on the one hand, it does not look like anything new, only an amalgam of things we've had for a decade. Buuuut... I am starting to get the feeling that maaaaaaybe this may actually be a new platform for media. Or perhaps rather the start of the actualization of the platform which people like me, Jakob Nielsen, and Scott McCloud has claimed that we have had, since the mid-nineties...

For example web comics have not really taken off. Why not? Well... a couple of years ago, I did several hours of work to find all the web comics I could, and made one mega-bookmark to load them all every day to read. And yet I have never done this!! The durn mega-bookmark still sits on top of Safari, untouched, but not deleted because of all the work I put into collecting them. (Probably half the links are dead.)

I did not use them because I simply am not comfortable enough to sit and read comic strips in my office chair. And also, most web comics are scaled for tiny screens on PCs from 1997, apparently. If somebody makes a web comic application which really utilizes the iPad's potential, I think we have a whole 'nother game.

And also, as a writer/artist I get the weird feeling in my gut that there's a potential market here, similar to the app market which did not exist before the iPhone put the platform there. I feel that graphics-rich books of various kinds, perhaps some with videos embedded, would become much more sellable. It's just a feeling.

TTL wrote to me:
It will be very interesting to see the effect the iPad will have on how people read stuff. Who knows, it might even be that it will take a little steam off from writing articles on the web, when people start to wonder whether they should publish that content for the iPad instead.
Are we going to see more longer format writing again? Just as people learned to output their thoughts in byte size chunks that can be quickly consumed from blogs while sitting on the office chair.
I predict the iPad will be a game changer in more ways than one.

I'm getting just the same feeling about long-format writing, it'll be quite interesting.


I just wrote to David Pogue:
Dear David,
Re this
article: .... so now baby boomers are synonymous with oldsters intimidated by technology!!
When you and I were kids (David Pogue and I were both born on 9 March 1963), baby boomers were the young and the hip!
Then they were the big and powerful.
Now, revenge is ours.

I must speak now, in a few years it'll be too late...
Love, Eolake

Anonymous said...
Who is David Pogue? If you are going to drop names, please make them people I actually know.

ttl said...
He's some Irish singer. No need to make such a big fuzz about it.

eolake said...
Yes, of course I was referring to the great Irish singer David Pogue, cousin and arch-rival of Bonno (I am never sure of the spelling, sorry). Although as serious fans will be aware, he is technically Scottish, but his parents moved to Ireland when he was less than a year old, so obviously he was left no choice but to come with them.

Word is that David has been trying for the last couple of years to find a hot female pop singer to make a hit duet with, but he keeps being frustrated by the fact that just as they start the agent message-tag game, the female singer will invariably become involved in some drug-related scandal or such, and David will have to pull out, not to shame his deeply catholic parents.

Another frustration in his life is that when he's in NYC, he keeps getting stopped on the street by people who mistake him for another David Pogue, who apparently write about computers or something for the NY Times. He can only make them go away by pointing out that unlike the other David Pogue, his ears are anatomically correct and he can use in-ear earbuds without problems.

Update: ttl said...
So, Eo, are you planning to publish some ... er ... “graphic-rich” books for the iPad?

Eolake said...
Although to be honest, less than ten percent of such plans of mine tend to pan out. So we'll see.

My latest idea is to do a "powerpoint" type slideshow instead, so each page is a drawing, and the "text" is spoken word which I record. This will leave the art free of text, because I find that text almost always drag the art down, aesthetically.
For example the most beautiful pages I have found in comic books over the years have been pages entirely without any text on them. But it's hard to tell a story that way, so I figure spoken word would be a solution. (Each page could be a full drawing, or it could be several like a comic book page.)

If one is good enough (I don't know if I am), one can also put a lot more tone and emotion and so on into spoken word than in text.

And of course a huge number of people in the world just are not comfortable reading, either for psychological or eye-sight reasons.

Kahimi Karie - Elastic Girl

A couple ole faves.
(The songs, that is. I've never seen the videos before today, and like most music videos (and CD covers), they seem to be basically tacked-on.)

Laforet advice

Advice on being a photojournalist, by that photographer famous for looking like me and being almost as handsome, Vincent Laforet.

Message to the lonely man

Thanks to Bert for spotting this hilarious animated video.

My mind is weird

The human mind is a funny thing. At least mine is. When the first Micro-Four-Thirds camera, the G1, came out, I wished it did not have an electronic viewfinder and thus did not look like an SLR.
But now the Pentax compact i10 comes out and looks like an SLR for no good reason, I think it's soooo cute!

(... All right, admittedly my main reason for wanting doing away with the EVF on M4/3 cameras was size. And the i10 is nicely compact.)

Twitter update

Dude, I need more twitter followers! Follow me now!
I want to surpass Stephen Fry by the end of this year. (Yeah, right. If that happens, ice cream is on me!)

I also have a Twit for Domai.
One cool thing is that Twitter pics, for free, allows even bigger pics than Blogger does. (I think TypePad blog system still only allows much smaller ones, and that's for pay.) See sample here (nude).

iPad keynote is up (updated again)

The iPad Steve Jobs keynote speech is up.
(They keep calling them keynotes, even though there are no longer any convention for it to be a keynote for.)
(By the way, my first iPad post is bigger now.)

OK, I'll admit it, I'm sold on the iPad by now. I'm geek enough to like it, but not geek enough to hate its shortcomings too much. :-)
I never got myself an iPhone. I don't use phones much, and for most other uses, it's simply too small for me, it's no fun. I have an iPod Touch, but I barely use it.
But the iPad seems useful to me. For example, it seems to be what I wished for, for watching videos like this keynote. (What I do for now is use my Airbook with a Laidback stand.) And exactly the same goes for reading articles which are longer than a typical blog post. The office chair is not meant for relaxed reading/watching, it's meant for work.

There's also many kewl new apps which have only appeared because of the iPhone, such as certain painting apps, postcard apps, iTunes University, and so on. These will now be available on the iPad, and will surely soon optimized for its much larger and better interface also, but still with the appealing simplicity which was their raison d'etre in the first place.

Me, of course, I'll always need a device with a good keyboard too. But it just hits me:
most people don't write. Hardly even emails!
Okay, they fire off a two-line email to family twice a week and they answer work emails very briefly, but that's it, and a glass keyboard can do that. But they simply don't really need a keyboard that much, and that's probably over 90% of web users...
Also, most people don't touch-type when they write their occasional email, and if you're looking at the keyboard anyway, then the glass keyboard is much less of a disadvantage.
(I can also observe the fact that I sometimes get in contact with a person who tells me that they have been pleased visitors to the blog or to Domai for years... and yet they have never mailed me or even just put in a comment. I guess it simply is not something most people do.)

... The more I think about it, the more I think I could learn to love this kind of thing as my mobile device, only pulling out a bluetooth keyboard when I really need to type. For example, have the dock with the keyboard in my hotel room, and then take just the light and small device with me for lunch, for reading/viewing/browsing and checking if any important mails or work situations come in. Hmmmm, yeah...

Of course, I should remember that even with a keyboard and mouse, this thing is not a Mac, it does not have a windows interface, can't multitask, can't run my usual Mac apps, and so on. So if it's a working vacation, and I want to do more than pure writing or light photo editing, I'd probably like to have my MacBook Pro with me, upon reflection.
... Which makes it a little bit puzzling to me why they wanted the iPad to be able to run iWork. If you want to do desktop publishing work and such, would you not want to have an actual computer, at least a laptop?


More observations: Joel Johnson. John Herrman.
And Stephen Fry. Who says:
There are many issues you could have with the iPad. No multitasking, still no Flash. No camera, no GPS. They all fall away the minute you use it. I cannot emphasise enough this point: “Hold your judgment until you’ve spent five minutes with it”. No YouTube film, no promotional video, no keynote address, no list of features can even hint at the extraordinary feeling you get from actually using and interacting with one of these magical objects.

And of course Adolf weighs in.
And here's a thought about iPads and the older generations.

Update: the iPad has been underway since the nineties...

A hands-on article.

Sheldon shirts

I knew there would be others than me interested in Sheldon's shirts, but this is an unexpectedly fine resource.

... By the way, I sometimes come up with tee designs, and I've sometimes used Cafepress. But I think Cafepress only makes tee-shirts with iron-on decals which quickly fade. How do I get a tee-shirt made in a more durable way? (And better contrast.) I'm thinking of flat one or two-color designs.
... Mmmm, it seems the flex print method may be the ticket.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad padding in (updated again)

Apple is using very big words about the new iPad device.

Immediately it seems promising. A laptop like the "AirBook" (as I persist in calling it no applause at all) is very handy is size and weight, but it's just clumsy to hold and use. The iPad is only half the size and weight. If the user-interface really works, they may have something here.
I've been intrigued with all the things people do with the iPhone, but the display is simply waaaaay too small to appeal to me.
I really hope the iPad can multi-task, unlike the iPhone. (Update: seems it doesn't. I don't get it.)

The iPad docks to a dock which has a full-sized keyboard. I like that.
I wonder if you can use a regular USB keyboard? That would seem like a good idea. But the iPad does not even seem to have a single USB port, I wonder why.
... It does have bluetooth though, maybe one can use a blutooth keyboard and mouse?

Stephen Fry tweets: "Nothing you can say about the iPad matches the experience of using it. So much more than a large iPhone or small laptop. Stunning feel."
And David Pogue has a first-impressions blog post.
And TidBITS covers it.
"During the announcement, Apple CEO Steve Jobs led up to the iPad by pointing out that everyone (well, everyone who is anyone, or is likely to be a customer, from Apple's perspective) uses a laptop and a smartphone, so any device that attempts to fit between those two form factors must perform key tasks better than one or the other. He then pointed out that products in the popular netbook category fail that test, since they're generally slow, have low-quality displays, and, well, run Windows.
Thus, Apple sees the iPad as sitting between the iPhone and the MacBook, and competing directly with the entire netbook category. And certainly, the iPad's screen looked far better than any netbook we've seen, and the responsiveness of the demoed apps was impressive."

Another gotcha (after no multi-tasking): it doesn't support Flash? Weird. (And we don't know about PDF yet. That would be another big hole.)

Steve said:
"I can envision them as being a great way to share digital images or slideshows without audio. The one downside I wonder about is the audio for sharing. Not good on the iPod Touch."

eolake said...
They claim the built-in speakers are very good.

"The future of magazines and periodicals has just been presented."

Yes indeed. I've been waiting for this for ten years. This is clearly a huge step in that direction.
I still buy magazines out of habit, but I almost never read them, because I've read all the news on the web! This device potentially replaces magazines in the sofa, in cafes/restaurants, and in the bed.

Update: GG points to an article with a very good point, that the iPad, like the iPod and iPhone, is not for geeks, it's not for people who already have devices of that stripe, it's for everybody else! (Just like the Mac was for people who were allergic to looking at command line code.)

There's a famous Ballmerism, one he's even said to me, that goes something like, "A business isn't worth entering unless the sales potential is 50 million units or more." 50 million. That's why Ballmer is happy to go into the portable media player business and the game console business, but laughs about ebook readers.

That's ridiculous. If everybody had to wait for every market to be potentially 50 million units, there would be no markets of any kind. A market is worth going into if it can make a profit, that's all. (I'm aware he's talking about M$, but still.)
And in a decade or two, the ebook reader business will be as large as the gaming console business, or in the same order of magnitude for sure. I hereby officially predict that "reading" (and video) devices like the iPad has the potential of becoming totally dominant, due to simplicity and portability and universality.
(And this has not dawned on me just now, I have been considering what the ideal form would be for such a device for a decade. Basically, what is the magazine/newspaper of the 21st century...)

Oooh, another good observation from that article:
We can sit here in our geeky little dorkosphere arguing about it all day, but as much as Apple clearly enjoys our participation, the people Jobs wants to sell this to don't read our rants. They can't even understand them. My step-mother refuses to touch computers, but nowadays checks email, reads newspapers and plays Solitaire on an iPod Touch, after basically picking it up by accident one day. That's a future iPad user if I ever saw one.

20 Things I already know about Apple’s iTablet/iSlate

20 Things I already know about Apple’s iTablet/iSlate, post. I wish I'd seen that yesterday, it's really good.
(It seems the iPad has been announced in the past hour, I haven't looked yet. Maybe I'll wait until the speech video is up. Maybe not.)

Shutter Speed’s Effect on Falling Snow

Shutter Speed’s Effect on Falling Snow, post by Jeffrey Friedl.

I like this picture. Almost abstract art.

The dear gentle Harlan Ellison

[Thanks to tOP.]
It's no wonder Harlan Ellison has health problems. As a matter of fact, I'm astounded he's lasted as long as he has, given that he is always it a total frenzy of a fury about *everything*. It must be a hard life.

[Note: if you click on the YouTube logo instead of the Play button, it will take you to the video on YouTube itself. This often allows for higher resolution, or you can get the address there for downloading a video with the help of sites like or 3outube.]

Remington Standard Typewriter No. 7

Remington Standard Typewriter No. 7 (with green punk hairdo).

Below is my secretary on our old typewriter, she said we had to upgrade.

Thom on M9

Thom Hogan has some interesting observations on Leica in general and the M9 in particular. For example the oft-overlooked limitations in lens range (due to the finder system), and why a BW M9 would be a good idea (hear hear).
(His idea of an electronic viewfinder inside an optical viewfinder though, I don't think can be done.)

I would like a good electronic viewfinder or screen (the Lumix G1's is only the start) which, like an optical viewfinder, showed some of the scenery outside the image proper! Makes it much easier to compose. Don't some high-end video cameras have EVFs like that?
It won't matter if there's vignetting (because the lens only covers the image area well), because you only need it for orientation. And maybe the outer parts of the chip need not have the resolution or quality of the part making the actual image. That may not be possible to build, but then again, it may be possible somehow if somebody starts thinking about it.

A $500 Player for $3,500

Blu-ray Maker Re-Boxes $500 Player, Charges $3,500, article. Too funny. They haven't even put the innards into a new box, they put the whole damn box inside a new box and slapped $3,000 extra on the price!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An iTunes for Print Media?

An iTunes for Print Media?, article. A variation of the frenzy of speculation pre-Apple "slate?" event. I only even take notice because it's on a good site without fluff, and because it's slanted at photography.

The mystery of life

So many things are possible

And so few things are likely

Thus the mystery of life

The Clever Little Clock

A little clock which enhances high fidelity music enjoyment. Brilliant!

Coffee Art Paintings by Dirceu Veiga

[Thanks to TCGirl]
Coffee Art Paintings by Dirceu Veiga.
It's funny: would the drawings really have been different if he'd just used brown watercolor instead? But it's a good gimmick, and pretty cute drawings.

Very smart of him to photograph the drawings on top of bags of coffee beans, and with cups of coffee. It adds dimensionality to them in more than one way.

Paintshop Pro 3

Corel has released Paintshop Pro 3. (Seems it's Windose only.)

It's been many years since I've used anything but Photoshop, what is your opinion as to the best affordable alternative to it?

The Normal lens (updated)

When I bought my first camera in the seventies, zooms were expensive and not very good, and there was no such thing as a kit zoom lens, one sold with the camera in a bundle. (I think Fuji came out with the first one in the late seventies.) But since then, zooms have become better and cheaper, and everybody wants them. But there are still reasons to use prime lenses, such as cost, weight, size, and fidelity. Even the cheap 50mm lens can be surprisingly good and versatile.

It should be noted that on a DSLR camera (unless it's an expensive full-frame one), a 50mm lens is no longer a "normal" lens, it's more to be regarded as a shortish portrait-length lens.

Of course not all 50mm lenses are equal. For example, one of the first lenses I got when I first aquired a good digital camera (Nikon D100, back in 2002) was Nikon's 50mm 1.4. But unfortunately my dreams of creamy soft backgrounds were dashed by that lens's dreadful "bokeh", meaning the blur is uneven and edgy, not smooth. In contrast, I recently got Pentax's 50mm 1.4 AF lens, and it has beautiful bokeh (and is sharp too).

Nikon 50mm at 1.4:

Pentax 50mm at 1.4:

... One should note that bokeh is very subjective, and also changes a lot with the light, with distance, with the kind of detail in the background, etc...

Update: Steve said:
As for bokeh, just watch for the number of blades in the lens. More is better as a general rule.

That is true. Because except for full aperture, with spot-shaped out-of-focus highlights, one will see the shape of the diaphragm in them, and most find a circular shape best.
But: another important factor is whether a point-shaped source of light gives a disc of light with more light in the center as is natural, or more near the edges. The latter often happens with lenses with aspherical elements, and tens to give edges within the blur, and to make "double lines" of edges in the blur.

Monday, January 25, 2010

How not to fix your radiator

The big oil-filled electric radiator in my living room has now for a while gotten the stupid habit of ticking. It's the the timer, which I've never used, and it won't be turned off. I've read the "manual" and everything.
Finally I found the obvious solution: I'd kick it. The timer is external and fragile, so of course it's stop ticking, while it would keep heating fine.
No sooner thought than done. It produced an impressive array of sparks and such, and half my apartment went in black, including my blu-ray player, my HD TV, and my computer (in the other end of the apartment), which took four reboots to work properly again after this.
Result: now the radiator does not heat, but the timer still ticks on merrily, even though it's kicked halfway to the middle of the case.
What I've learned: study an appliance a bit more carefully before kicking it. Some of them are complex mechanisms, and you need a delicate and precise touch.

Leica: Could Be Worse

Leica: Could Be Worse, article where MJ compares the "high prices" of Leica with prices in the high fidelity industry. Good fun. For example, instead of paying $16,000 for a camera with a couple high-end lenses, you could be paying $16,000 for one meter of cable.

From a featured comment:
... one myth that we deal with all the time at my company is whether MP3 files are significantly inferior to the original audio. When we remove variables like cheap 5 cent D/A converters, 10 cent headphone amplifiers, and $1.00 earbuds most often found on portable MP3 players from the equation, guess what? For all people tested, MP3 audio files achieve transparency against the original material at around 160kbps. Most so-called audio 'experts' refuse to believe this, but we've demonstrated it over and over again in blind ABX testing.

U.K. Photographers Protest Police Harassment

U.K. Photographers Protest Police Harassment, article (with links).
The act of photographing is by itself an extremely poor indicator of possible malign intent. There are plenty of ways for actual terrorists to get photographs of potential targets, either by accessing available existing images or by photographing surreptitiously. The act of photographing openly with plainly visible equipment most probably means a person is less likely than the average citizen to be a terrorist, not more.

I have actually speculated for a while that we needed something like this, and I'd have loved to have been there, but I only learned about it yesterday, so that didn't happen.

Sometimes sports is OK

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I think the photo below is really Kool, a classic street-photography picture. It has humor, composition, originality, colors, textures.
I found it in M. Reichman's Open Letter To Leica.

It amuses me how very literate writers will often subtly use throw-away references which only a small number of readers are likely to get, but it doesn't matter. For example, Michael subtitles the Letter thusly: "A Modest Proposal For Reinventing the M Series". See here for the once-famous reference.

"Amber dome"

Back when I first wrote about the LightSphere, which I used for John's portraits, it was requested that I post samples taken with the "Amber Dome" when I got it.
OK, done.
I used it for all the John pictures, actually. But in the smallest room, and against a window, as seen below, it was too warm in tone, so I tried the standard Dome, see below also. The amber one seems very warm indeed in these samples, but like I said, it was used for all of them, so it's clearly a question of what other light is also in the picture. If the flash (direct and bounced) is almost the sole source of light, the camera's white balance will probably balance it automatically. And it will fit if the ambient light is warm indoor light. But it will clash against daylight.

(By the way, the normal dome and LightSphere are slightly warmer than the naked flash, a good thing.)