Saturday, March 06, 2010

Concept bikes

Concept bikes.
Most look impractical and/or expensive to make, but still.

Fun photos

Tommy found these fun nature photos.

Article on gear

Under the influence of a home-made cappuccino and a little licorice candy, I've just written a new article:

Photography Gear For Portraits And Nudes

This was a lot of fun to do. I hope people will gain from it too.

There is also the old Domai article about photographing girls.
3D DSLR Setup Spotted at the Olympics, post.
I'm a bit amazed he's using zoom lenses. That has to be tricky to synchronize precisely, at anything but the end settings. Though it seems he has made a jury-rigged band which turns them both at once, ingenious if it works well.

Bert, our resident multi-engineer, sez:

Not as "jury-rigged" as it appears, methinks. The link between the lenses appears to be using Posi-drive (tm) elements which, along with the machined bracket coupling the two bodies, imply careful design, precision machining, etc. Might yield surprisingly accurate results, who knows...

The twin-core variety he's using is composed of two highly flexible stranded steel cables encased in polyurethane (PU), with PU "ladder rungs" molded at regular intervals. The corresponding pulley has a smooth race on either side for the cables and a string of teeth in the center meshing with the "ladder".

The end result is something indeed very similar in principle to a chain drive, except that the resulting motion doesn't have the velocity wobble associated with rigid-link chain drives (humm, I don't know how I could easily explain this one... sorry).

Bottom line: excellent load capability and outstanding performance, stability and wear resistance, and also self-lubricating in a lightweight assembly. Probably wouldn't be tough enough for a bicycle (would be pointless anyway, don't need the precision there), but is pretty good in small precision assemblies. Downside is that you have to get the belts made to size, you cannot adjust the length as you can do with a chain (by adding/removing links). I myself would consider it more like a very rugged timing belt (which I probably would have used in his setup, the choice of posi-drive is a bit odd to me).

Thanks, friend. Hmmm, quite interesting. The comments do show that this guy, David Klutho, is a pro who has written books about 3D photography and so on.

F117 Nighthawk

Interestingly, this plane reportedly would have been impossible to fly before computers, it's far too nimble and unstable.

I think the Nighthawk, despite having been built to reflect radar waves off to the sides, has a certain stark beauty to it, yes?

Ray said:
It's flight instabilities aside, it reminds me of an ancient aboriginal spear point. I don't find it particularly beautiful. If our American cousins put as many bucks into making the world a better place as they do in developing cutting edge killing machines, we might all live less stressful lives. We already have enough nukes on both sides of a possible conflict to wipe out the world's population about seven times over, the experts tell us.

Eolake said...
No need to single out the US, almost every country in the world has a military, and indeed if all that money was used on, say, education, holy cow! Any bigger country which did that would virtually take over the world, and without losing their young men to war.

Essential Leonard Cohen

Essential Leonard Cohen (US link -- UK link) is an excellent compilation of most of the best of Lenny's songs. (Links go to Amazon, lots of samples)

Finnegans Wake new edition

Now you can be confabbled at at a deluxe rate, Finnegans Wake is being published in a new edition, including a calf-skin one at €900.
Danis Rose said yesterday: "Although it seems like a long time to be editing a single work, in many ways I'm astonished that it only took 30 years when you consider that the typesetting alone took 10."

I did think that all those made-up words had to be mistakes!
More seriously, I guess I should not be so dismissive of the book, it seems many people take it seriously and is getting something out of it. It's just that my own reaction to the book is that of somebody trying to talk to me and deliberately babbling and making up words and jumping all over the place. It just grates my nerves far more than I can go beyond just to read a book.

Here's a random page from the book.
I read once the sensible advice that the more complicated your content/message, the simpler your language has to be. And it seems that the story/content of Finnegans Wake (apparently it's not "Finnegan's Wake") is quite complex indeed. So coupled with the most opaque language in publishing history, it does not make for light holiday reading.

Juicy Jabber busy

Five thousand mails/messages per day! Holy frig. The price of Net fame. Gawd.

It takes her a full day to do one Vlog? I'm not sure if that means she's ineffective or that she's a lot more conscientious than I'd be.

She has very nice hands. That's actually surprisingly rare, even on pretty people.

It's interesting, you could hardly find anybody further removed from my reality than Blair here. She's seen Twilight five times for krise sakes! :-) But I find that I respect her a lot, and her work too, and I think she's very funny.

Sexual Harrasment Video

Is this a parody or for real?
"Mmm, two fat cocks... oil..." Good grief.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Aimee Mullins: Running on high-tech legs

"Pamela Anderson has more prosthetics in her body than I do, and nobody calls her disabled."

It's amazing: this woman is more able than 98% of the people I know, I see no evidence that she's suffering more than anybody "normal", and yet it's just hard to shake that inherited feeling deep inside of "oh that poor soul, see what a brave face she is putting on her disability, how admirable". It's weird. She is not disabled, she can certainly run a hell of a lot longer and faster than I can with my meat feet.

I was hoping to find a video showing those "cheetah legs" demonstrated in use... Ah, found a brief one:

... I think she should try to be more forgiving of people calling her an "inspiration". It's a good thing to inspire after all, even if part of it comes from misconceptions of disability. She might for example inspire "disabled" people to not think of themselves as disabled. And maybe "normal" people get inspired to overcome their own obstacles. That's hardly a bad thing.

Here's a video, unfortunately of horrible quality, showing her showing the legs.

Update on Duffy's face

There's an essential comment added to my controversial post about dimple surgery.

TED talk on autism

TED talk on autism.

Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works -- sharing her ability to "think in pictures," which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

They seem to have listened to us, and removed that big bang of noise which used to open the TED videos. Good.

Seems there's a movie about Temple, starring Claire Danes.

She talks for instance about sensory sensitivity. I have a lot of that, every sensory input, touch and sound especially, are very intense for me, and often a problem.

She touches on something I've long considered important: that children should not be kept from working. Sure, they should not slave for 18 hours for others' profit, but to keep them from work totally may damage their life, because then they can't handle it when they are suddenly dropped into it as adults, and additionally if they work they will have a great boost in self-worth when they produce something and earn their own money.
To work and study til 20 and work for the rest is nuts, I think we should play and study and work all the way from childhood til death or incapability.

Solving the kid

[Thanks to Ian]

Gear for nudes

I got asked about what camera gear is good for nudes. Is there interest in an article for beginners about this?

It seems many people have not yet gotten around to using digital cameras, is that right?

(Note: you don't have to be registered or logged in to put in a comment, just select the "name/URL" button and write a name.)

Vulvas on TV (and violins on film) (updated)

If you don't like to see vulvas (often called "vaginas"), including one under the scalpel, don't go here.
Me, I think the mag publishers probably have their head up their ass, there's no way the Australian soft-porn law is intended to suppress certain types of genitals. They should just select the appropriate poses and let the women look like whatever they do.
(A different issue is that the show is controversial for showing vulvas. That's much less surprising than the fact that they did it.)

Somebody found it on youtube.

Work life

Too bad, it was a cute story. Pat said:
The original source seems to be the "Weekly World News" on 5 Dec 2000. At least it's more believable than their normal alien abduction stuff.

The demonic skater

Watch this, it's not what you think.

What is Windows Live?

David Pogue tries to clarify what Windows Live is.
He likes SkyDrive, which is an online disk like iDisk, only bigger and free.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


I've just found a very promising "radio" site: ActionExt. I typed in a few random songs, and it had them all, and they just start playing right away. This is easier than using torrent to sample an artist! It seems to get the audio from YouTube videos, and you can get the video full screen by clicking on the tiny video window.
It can also show lyrics, but I haven't figured out how to get it to do that on purpose yet.

You can make playlists for your site:

Create PlaylistPop-out playerDownload music and ringtones

I haven't found out how to edit it yet, Barbra Streisand does not really belong with Sort Sol! (Ah yes, you can edit it by using the address in the "link" section on the page you get after creating the playlist.)

This is so cool, this will make it much easier to share music with my readers, without having to slog through all kinds of lame live and cover versions on YouTube. Even though it gets the content from YouTube. I wonder how they filter them.

Update to birthday gift post

This must be the longest delay I've ever had on answering questions to comments on a post.

Chilluns tails

JACK (age 3) was watching his Mom breast-feeding his new baby sister... After a while he asked: 'Mom why have you got two? Is one for hot and one for cold milk?'

MELANIE (age 5)asked her Granny how old she was.. Granny replied she was so old she didn't remember any more. Melanie said, 'If you don't remember you must look in the back of your panties. Mine say five to six.'

BRITTANY (age 4)had an ear ache and wanted a pain killer. She tried in vain to take the lid off the bottle. Seeing her frustration, her Mom explained it was a child-proof cap and she'd have to open it for her. The little girl asked: 'How does it know it's me?'

SUSAN (age 4)was drinking juice when she got the hiccups. 'Please don't give me this juice again,' she said, 'It makes my teeth cough..'

DJ (age 4)stepped onto the bathroom scale and asked: 'How much do I cost?'

CLINTON (age 5) was in his bedroom looking worried When his Mom asked what was troubling him, he replied, 'I don't know what'll happen with this bed when I get married. How will my wife fit in it?'

TAMMY(age 4) was with her mother when they met an elderly, rather wrinkled woman her Mom knew. Tammy looked at her for a while and then asked, 'Why doesn't your skin fit your face?'

(age 4)was listening to a Bible story. His dad read: 'The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city but his wife looked back and was turned to salt.' Concerned, James asked: 'What happened to the flea?'

This particular Sunday sermon....'Dear Lord,' the minister began, with arms extended toward heaven. 'Without you, we are but dust...' He would have continued but at that moment my very obedient daughter who was listening leaned over to me and asked quite audibly in her shrill little four year old girl voice, 'Mom, what is butt dust?'

The Yike Bike

[Thanks to Kirk]
The Yike Bike. Motorized.
Looks cool. It's only ten kilos. And it folds.

Interestingly, it's only because it's motorized rather than pedaled that it was possible to make it fold into such a small package.

I'd love to get one. I wonder though where it's legal to ride it, since it surely is missing some requirements for bikes, like lights and so on.

Ketg said:
I just looked at the website and the lights are in the handle bars.

Helen Skelton completes Amazon adventure

Helen Skelton completes Amazon adventure, article (and video).
The BBC star, who had never been in a kayak before training, broke two world records as she became the first woman to paddle the length of the river.

You just don't expect anybody who's that beautiful to also be that incredibly tough. I'm impressed.

Bad TV

After getting TV again, and despite still thinking that in the high end, we are living in the golden age of TV, I can't help but notice that the old complaint that most TV sucks, is still true for a lot of it.

For examples, channels like E and MTV, many of their hosts are unattractive and have little if any charisma, the sets are often like living rooms at best, and many videos have "effects" that must have cost upwards of $13 to produce.

What with that? A decent set need not be expensive, the world is brimming with people who want to be on TV, many of them pretty and pleasant, and there are surely lots of hot-shot computer guys who'd love to put in their resume that their videos are on TV, even if they're not well paid.

My lovely friend Sally worked for a local TV station almost twenty years ago, and with barely any training at all, she made a music video which was better than a lot of what I see on MTV.

Amy Acker

Amy Acker played Fred and Illyria, an old god inhabiting Fred's body, on TV show Angel.
Never a hotter costume since vampire Willow on Buffy.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Tunick model

One of my correspondents was part of the Sydney Spencer Tunick shoot and reported the experience. It's a good and funny article.
For anybody with body image issues, I'd encourage you to go to an event like this, as every size and shape was represented. Hairy, smooth, large, skinny, pierced, tattooed, tall, short, black, white, big parts, small parts ... in such a large crowd every variation was on display and nobody gave a damn, we were just people. In my entire life I've never felt such a sense of community - we were all equals, sharing an experience.

BW gal

tOP points to this excellent idea for a costume as a B/W character.

Looking at curvy women

Looking at curvy women 'gives men the same high as drugs', article.

It's no lie. It's an extremely powerful attraction, it's remarkable.

It's not just biological either, because the effect is often not dependent upon getting a sexual relationship, or even wanting one. Just the looking gives a high.

First Look at the Noktor 50 f0.95 Lens

First Look at the Noktor 50 f0.95 Lens on the Olympus E-P2, article.

Interest in this lens is quite strong, surely because traditionally super-fast lenses have been inordinately expensive.

I think his samples look nice.

This is the first time we've been able, without adapters, to get such shallow DoF (so much background blur) on Micro Four Thirds cameras.

The homemade flying hovercraft

Tommy found this video of the way cool home-made craft.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

SG, art and porn

Suicide Girls, Art, and Pornography, article.
Continuing our occasional theme of defining porn.

Suicide Girls is a punk girl site. A bit of an oddity, I can't figure out what to make of it.

Honey etc

One of the nice things I can get on cable but couldn't on DVDs are those shows who show how various things are made. I like those. I've just started a segment about fiberoptics, I'm certainly curious about those, the astronomical amount of communication they can carry is fascinating.
The segment just before it was about honey. I didn't know that until about 150 years ago when somebody invented the removable honey frame, they had to kill the bees to get the honey. And also, a single hive can produce three kilos of honey per day! That's astounding.

Surprising to me, a segment about bricks was more interesting than the one on fiberoptics. Of course the segments are superficial though, for example it was not explained why clay gets so amazingly hard when it gets fired (baked), I never got that.

And then, church organs. One of those may have over 2,000 pipes. They must be fabulously expensive. And how many customers can they possibly have, I'm a bit amazed that there can really be an industry there, surving.

It's a bit of a voyeur thing, I guess, on one level. But I like it, it satisfies some of my natural curiosity about the world, without going into politics and such BS.

The Fall and Rise of Bundle-Based Businesses

The Fall and Rise of Bundle-Based Businesses, article.
"In aiming to break apart the traditional computer book into its component chapters (albeit with more depth than a book chapter would have space for), we were channeling the bundle-busting trend."

It's similar to something I have touched on briefly before, the length/size of content, what works in digital media contra what works/worked in atom media. I'll bet for instance that even if it should turn out that novella-sized works (10,000-40,000 words) are what works best in ebooks, experienced novelists (a novel is over 50,000 words, often several times that) will have a very hard time breaking the habit of writing to a different length than what they're used to. Training is very sticky.

Noktor F:0.95 lens

[Thanks to TCGirl]
Noktor Unveils HyperPrime f/0.95 Lens, article.

Super-fast lens for low-light. Note that it's for M4/3 cameras, so the effective angle of view is like 100mm, making it a portrait and short-tele lens. It'll be interesting to see how good it is optically. Especially, good performance at full aperture is very hard to do on a fast lens.
Although it's manual focus, I like that 3rd-party lens makers are still willing to experiment with risky lenses.

Bark Bark Disco | Song For The Lovers

[Thanks to Illustro]

Cute and funny, but again, what a shame that so many humans are ashamed of their bodies, this could be so much prettier without the censorship.

Pitch drop experiment

Pitch drop experiment. One drop falls about every decade!

When I was a boy, I once found a big clump of pitch. It's really kewl. When it's at cool temperatures, it's hard and very brittle, like black glass, only opaque. But when it warms up in your hand, it becomes soft and mallable!

Abstract and Vincent

Somebody asked me: "Is van Gogh's work abstract?"

Very good question. My personal feeling is that his artistic power came from the abstract, while his (eventual) broad success came from his forcing the art close enough to naturalism that people are not too turned off by the unfamiliar. (They were in his own lifetime though, since abstract art did not yet exist, hardly.)

But I haven't yet heard any very satisfying definition of "abstract art".

Monday, March 01, 2010

Look two times

Here's a tip I read decades ago, about when you have a bit of trouble judging whether to use something, whether it's a pattern for your curtains, or a creative work you have made, or one you may buy or not: look two times.
Look at it once, and let some time pass, and then come back to it.

This seems to have some workability, I'm not sure why, maybe the thing is being processed by some "back-stage" processes in the mind while you're away from it.

Tunick in Sydney (updated)

Talking about the Sydney Opera House, Spencer Tunick has just held one of his famous mass nudity photo shoots there.
More info and photos here.

Update: An article by an artist who was there.

Metropolitain, a video

Metropolitain, a video made with the Canon 5D2.
It seems the pretty girl, Diane Sands, is also the one playing the music, and perhaps the composer. (If it was me, I'd have included a couple shots of her playing.)

You can see it larger on Vimeo by clicking on the logo.
It looks very nice full screen. And it takes the jump up in size without becoming blotchy at all. I wonder how Vimeo does that, if it skips instantly to downloading an HD version, or if it's already doing that, even though the video window was too small to show all that detail. The latter seems wasteful, but the former seems unlikely, because the change really is instant.

Metropolitain from Greg Mirzoyan on Vimeo.

How Do You Want Me

"Imagine the world without guns. The Kennedys would still be nine for lunch. Quentin Tarantino would have a proper job." - Dylan Moran in How Do You Want Me
(Amazon US - Amazon UK.)

Dylan Moran plays a former London comedy club owner who has a hard time fitting in, in his wife's birth village. He buys the local photographer's business, and the owner is hardly able to conceal his delight in a buyer showing up.
I like this series, it's very funny. If you like stuff like The Vicar of Dibbley (US --- UK), I think you'll like this.

"You're not really saying yes to life, are you Derek?"
"Piss off."

The Rising Tide of Internet Censorship

The Rising Tide of Internet Censorship, article.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

PlanetSolar boat

PlanetSolar boat. They plan a trip round-the-world.
It won't be as fast as it looks. But then it looks great.

Int Cleastwood

I'm watching 90 minutes of DVD from what may be the best interviewer in the world, James Lipton in the Actors' Studio, interviewing Clint Eastwood. I like his work but I think I'm not Clint's biggest fan in the world, because he tends to do "human drama" kind of films, whereas I prefer things more abstract, fantastic, or humorous*. But I have a high respect for him, and I think he must be one of the most intelligent creators in Hollywood.

A perfect example is something many actors have pointed out, that Clint is perhaps the only instructor they've met who does not yell "action!" and "cut!", but just quietly states something like, "OK, go ahead when ready" and "that's enough of that". It turns out this is not just a quirky character trait, it's quite important.
I thought you ought to see this brilliant bit, so I posted it:

... I especially took note of the comment that he had never been able to get a single director to change the habit of yelling "action!" This to me speaks volumes about the ability of humans to learn, after all it's not like these are stupid people, they are trained professionals in a very competitive business.

The Clint's last words in the interview is "you're real lucky if you manage to have success in a profession that's fun." Couldn't agree more, if you spend half your waking hours doing something, it's makes a hell of a difference whether you find it a burden or a pleasure!

* Don't get me wrong, I have watched and enjoyed a great number of his films.

A puzzle

A blonde calls her boyfriend and says, 'Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can't figure out how to get started.‚

Her boyfriend asks, 'What is it supposed to be when it's finished '?

The blonde says, 'According to the picture on the box, it's a rooster.'

Her boyfriend decides to go over and help with the puzzle. She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table. He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box, then turns to her and says, 'First of all, no matter what we do, we're not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a rooster.'

He takes her hand and says, 'Second, I want you to relax. Let's have a nice cup of tea, and then.' He said with a deep sigh. 'Let's put all the Corn Flakes back in the box.'