Saturday, March 13, 2010

Photo Contest, $500 prize

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More from John A

My friend John came over, he does not yet have his own site for showing his photos, but he allowed me to present my favorites of them here. (I've finetuned some of them a little with cropping and such.)
I think they're the biz, what do you think?

(More here.)

Update: Ray used a noise-filter on this one:
... I had gone for the more rustic approach. But this may be better, whatchoothink?

Arbitrary feudal lord

Apple, arbitrary feudal lord? PC World Article.

I too think that it would be better if Apple allowed anybody to make and sell apps for the iPhone. But I don't know how much of that attitude is just commercial protectionism, and how much is to protect the iPhone from malware and whatnot. If some software f***s up your iPhone, you'll complain to Apple, won't you? It's a complex issue.

Funny enough, over ten years ago, Del Miller and myself wrote a satirical interview with a future Steve Jobs, where Apple by 2015 had taken over Microsoft's place as Overlord. I'd hate to think we were right!...
Steve Jobs: How did you like the G10 processor demo?
Interviewer: Well it was pretty impressive, generating a DNA enhancement right there on stage that cured Malaria was certainly impressive, and having a reluctant Phil Schiller test it in that mosquito chamber was pure brilliance. [...]
Jobs: That is the upcoming new Mac, the implantable "iMac GI"
Interviewer: Oooh! Er, "GI"?
Jobs: Yeah, it stands for "gastro-intestinal" You just swallow the little bugger and it swells up like a sea sponge somewhere in the vicinity of your duodenum. It sends the I/O out your bile duct directly into your sacral ganglia and from there to your central nervous system. We call it "Invasive Computing·.

Update: since I could only find this via the wayback machine, I figured I'd better post it on my own site!!

Fry on copyright

If you go to the iTunes store in your iTunes app and search for:
festival fry
... you'll find a podcast ("Series 2 Episode 4, iTunes Live Festival") with a nice speech by Stephen Fry. He does a lightning run through the history of printing and recording and copyright, and then explains why he thinks that best way for us is not to either abolish copyright altogether, nor to keep hold of copyright with an iron fist in a steel glove, but to keep it but hold it lightly. Just what I've been saying for eleven years.

Wild money

If you found $10,000 in "wild money", to be used just for fun, how would you use them?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Apple boobs battle

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Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love

Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love, article.
Most sites, at least sites the size of ours, are paid on a per view basis. If you have an ad blocker running, and you load 10 pages on the site, you consume resources from us (bandwidth being only one of them), but provide us with no revenue.

My arguments against that are:
1) So maybe some sites get paid per impression, not per click. But if advertisers won't keep paying if nobody is clicking.
2) Irritating your readers is not good business.
3) Text ads work well, because they can inform and give a choice.
4) Animated ads? Really? If the web could do it, would you also hit me over the head? It would get my attention.

I don't visit Ars Technica often, I'm not aware of what kinds of ads it use. But I know that when I turn off my ad-blocker, some sites just drive me nuts, and drive me out very fast. You just can't read when things are blinking in your face.

(Eleven posts today! Duuuuude. Too much?)

MS Courier

Microsoft is hoping that the upcoming "Courier" tablet device will do to the iPad what the Zune did to the iPod... or even better!

OK, so it'll fold. But two small screens? Sounds to me like it'll double the problems of a small screen rather than solve them by, you know, a larger screen. And it's still not pocket-sized, except for coat pockets.
Apparently it's still pretty far from production.

Intersection in India

Makes you wonder if traffic lights really do all that much good.

Scary contact page

It seems that this gentleman is rather tired of people attacking him.

He wrote an interesting article about the problems of ebook formatting. Seems the problems are bigger than the publishing industry is aware of. The author advocates HTML as the basic language for manuscripts instead of MS Word.
I was sort of hoping that Word and other word processors would know how to format at least a basic novel into pretty good HTML. Was this too optimistic?
I'm not being sarcastic. I've not used Word in many years. But it seems that basic stuff like Bold and Italics and Center should not be too hard to get right when exporting as HTML?

By the way, why can't the Kindle read ePub? (which is actually HTML) That's really lame. That's like making a web browser which does not recognize a JPG file.

Apropos... the ecological case for ebooks.

Glee - Don't Stand So Close To Me

Just trying outa TV show called Glee. It's hard to stand because it's all about teenage crushes and it's a durn musical too (well, at least the characters are actually singing in the story too when they sing). But it has humor. It's surprisingly funny actually.
See this, the teacher is trying to tell with a song that this young student is not for him. The redhead is a fellow teacher who is as much in loooove with him as the student is. Their faces are hilarious.

By the way, the reversed picture is a neat trick to avoid being automatically deleted by youboobs.

Shaped bokeh

Make patterns in the blur.

I've figured out that probably the only way to get totally smooth blur would be an aperture with soft edges, like a graduated center filter in place of the aperture. But how to vary the size of that, I don't know!


Make a super-cheap and fast flash diffuser.

ePad ad spoofs

As usual, Apple commercials are inpiring spoofs.

I think both of these capture well the intense sincerity which apple executives have in the promotional videos. :-)

This one:

is pretty funny.
But he means it seriously. He really does not get the iPad.
Hey dude, the iPod Touch sucks eggs because it's simply too small to be useful. Well, clearly some people find it useful, but I don't get that. I feel like I'm trying to dance in a phone booth.

Danish stamp

The next Danish stamp will be based on one of the most beloved LP covers ever, the one from Gasolin's third album.
It was photographed from a cafe wall in Copenhagen. They could not find out who had painted it, so they just went ahead and used it...
When the artist, Tage Hansen, made himself known, he was not pee'd off. Perhaps he was even a bit flattered. In any case, he was satisfied with a few copies of the album for the use. Too cheap, methinks.
At least the PO will be paying his survivors for the stamp use.

Sadly I was not able to find a bigger scan of the cover. You can hardly see the little joke: she has her arms full, and has dropped her panties.

Anticrepuscular Rays

TC Gal found this article about anticrepuscular rays. She says she is always looking for them too, but I have to admit, I don't think I've ever seen them.

They are parallel rays of light, coming through clouds, made visible by dust in the air being lit up. They seem to converge due to normal perspective, like a road or a row of houses. The "anti" part part means opposite the sunset(rise).
(Nice pics of the opposite seen here.)


So, we can pre-order iPads now in the US!
It'll ship in early April.
I admit with faint embarrassment that I'm very excited about getting one.

I've ordered one, via a US friend. It's a little silly that I can't wait the extra three weeks or whatever to get one from the UK, but hey, I'm silly.

It's the first computing product in many years that I've actually been excited about getting.

TTL said:
According to The Next Web, people in other countries are using US Unlocked to buy their iPads. US Unlocked even blogged the iPad pre-order availability.

Thanks. I've been using, quite satisfactorily, AccessUSA for a couple of years (also on your recommendation).

By the way, in this case I used a friend's credit card, I have not gotten one via AccessUSA. The IP did not seem to present a problem. And normally I can use my own card (say with Amazon), even if they can't ship beyond USA.
... Actually, maybe I could even have used my own card this time, with Apple, but I already was using the other card because iTunes does not allow non-USA cards to be used for the US store.

Touch PCs

David Pogue reviews a couple of the first PCs to feature touch screens. It's a very mixed picture.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How to destroy a D90

I posted about how to paint a camera, if anybody could. And later bought a pink one, as being easier. Well, the Nikon D90 does not come in pink, but despite it being a pretty macho camera, somebody thought it should be.
I would have used an old camera instead. Especially since he clearly has no idea about dissembling cameras or painting things.
I wonder if this is meant to be comedy of a sort?

Sample comments:
Bloody... How could they destroy D90. I mean how could they do anything that stupid to any camera.

Pointless and annoying. Who decided that this guys monotone drawl would engage and entertain anybody?

Made in Taiwan

Does anybody know why so many, many products always have the country of origin stamped on them? I mean, if somebody were to ask me which single datum would be most useful to stamp on everything, I doubt "country" would be in the top ten.

Dibutil Ftalat said:
This is required by international trade treaties.

Ah, there you are. I have a feeling there had to be something like that behind something so universal.


The keen reader will remember how I was recently lamenting the sorry state of licorice availability in the UK, compared to Denmark (in DK it's called "lakrids", typically phonetically similar, but very different spelling). Well, enter the hero, my big sister (though a head shorter than me), she scoured town for the best licorice candy for me, I think all of it sugar-free.
Supposedly less bad for the teeth and certainly the waistline because of no sugar, you really get your money's worth with this sh... stuff. Most of these varieties have a very intense and strong taste, and it seems that it takes me at least ten minutes to consume two thumbnail-sized bits of it. You can't say this about most candy!

Portraits of Strangers

Portraits of Strangers, photos by Danny Santos II. (The photos scroll to the right.) It's clear he's a very good DOM.

Tommy said:
I wonder how the photographer manages to get such nice pictures while standing on the street. I mean, it's kind of tough to set the composition up ahead of time.

I think the two most important things when photographing people are the light, and the background. When you get serious about photographing, you train yourself to look for useful backgrounds, and to check each picture for the background before shooting (time permitting, of course).

Also, a very blurred background helps enormously. It's almost harder to make it look bad. Which is why I always recommend people-photographers to get lenses which can do this.

Pentax 645D Debuts in Japan

Vapor No More! The Pentax 645D Debuts in Japan, tOP article.

The upshot is that this may be a quality medium format camera at dramatically lower prices than what's otherwise available. Maybe also smaller and with better ergonomics.

U.K. millionaire to move to mud hut

U.K. millionaire to move to mud hut, article.
LONDON - A 41-year-old millionaire businessman who nearly died in a car crash eight years ago is leaving behind his exquisite 16th-century farmhouse and lavish lifestyle to move to a mud hut in Uganda and start a children's charity. [... ]
The self-made tycoon has a troubled past that includes a criminal record, alcoholism and affairs. He says a serious car crash in 2002 in which he almost died led him to find God.

Talk about a polarity shift.

Money institutions

A person can have paper money or coins. But in a bank, most of the money exists just as numbers in a computer. And we all trust that the bank does not go in and just doubles those numbers just for fun.

My question is: who allows banks to do that? And can institutions other than banks do the same? Take organizations such as Paypal or GoldMoney, for example, do they have the money they hold for members in a bank account, or on their own computer? And if the latter, how did they get to a point where they are trusted to do this?

OK Go 2 - This Too Shall Pass

Miserere sez:

I ****ing LOVE OK Go! Their songs aren't the best (still very good) but their attitude is plain brilliant. Refreshing is maybe a better word. They exemplify "fun", the antithesis of rap artists or drug-fuelled rock'n'roll.

This particular song is a favourite of mine, and I play it many mornings while getting dressed to put myself in a good mood. I prefer this other version (also with a fun video) [see here.]

As for the current video, not only did they get the whole chain reaction organised, they had it performing to the beat of the song (those bottles being played were golden), and they included many references to past videos of theirs. If anyone wants to spend a fun hour, watch their old videos on YouTube (they're all highly original) and then rewatch the chain reaction. How many references can you catch?

I'll shut up now.

I also have a weakness for people who can have fun with art. There's just a limit to how long you can stand writhing in angst about the human condition.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

DRM Frustrations

Cartoons Reveal DRM Frustrations, fun TidBITS article.

There is also this article, about Digital Rights laws being used oppressively.

April 3

Apple says the iPad will be coming to the US on April 3 for the wifi-only version. Here's the TV ad (has loud music).
It's late april for both kinds of iPad in UK and several other big countries.

TTL said:
The Wifi version is universal. So, even if your country is not on the list, all you have to do is buy/order one from another country.

Beautiful Earth Views

[Thanks to Norm]
(HD version.)

Would be cool to have a very slow version of this (and super-high-rez) on my desktop as wallpaper.
One of the newest iPhone knockoffs have an animated wallpaper, I don't get why that's not available for PCs or Macs. Sure, it'd use some processing power, but I have 16 processors sitting in my Mac Pro, most of them idle most of the time.

Deflation? (updated)

Update: here is a very rough "article", culled from answers to questions of mine about these issues.

Just a brief post on something I may have more on later: a couple of my correspondents are saying that I should not be so worried about high inflation coming, because while a lot of money is surely being made, the very big dept defaults which have happened and will happen much more, are destroying more money than are being "printed"...

So some are actually predicting deflation instead, which may even cause for example precious metals to actually fall, at least in the US.

What they also say, and which I already suspect(ed), is that the big global downturn is not the one we just went through, it's much bigger and hasn't happened yet, including more banks folding.

I can't pretend to understand it all, I'm just trying to follow the best I can.

Flowers for Alternon

I got flowers delivered today for my birthday. Innatnice?

The pic above was with the Canon S90, the one below with the Lumix GF1. Top one at ISO 800 and cropped a little more. Bottom one at ISO 400. It seems the Canon has the color of JPG files amped a bit more, which is common for compacts, to please their normal buyers.

Monday, March 08, 2010

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass

[Thanks Tommy]
OK Go - This Too Shall Pass - Rube Goldberg Machine version

But it isn't really a Rube Goldberg, I think. I've not been able to find many of Rube's original drawings, but I understand that it's a machine, in other words, the hardware fits together in a unit, not just a room, and it does a task. Whereas this sort of video, popular in recent years, is more like a scattered number of things happening in a long chain reaction. I don't know if there's a word for this thing.

WU scam

Here's a scam I almost fell for, since it was sent to the the email account I actually do use for Western Union, one I rarely use now.
It was clever to send an html page as attachment instead of giving a web link. But what confirmed to me that it was a "phishing attempt" was that the buttons I saw at the top did not do anything.

Slimblade (updated)

I've acquired a Kensington Slimblade* trackball. I've never had a trackball before, but since my neck issues I'm still searching for the ideal pointing device. The Rollermouse is great, but has issues on very large screens.

This trackball certainly a beautiful product. (Though not cheap.) And I seem to be getting used to it quite fast, I'm optimistic about it. I like how you scroll by rotating the mouse. By the way, it's much larger than it looks in pictures.
Update: it's a little tricky to use for accurate work, but that's probably true with most new devices. [Later update, better now.]
2nd update: An irritation which I hope is not common. It seems the Slimblade may be responsible for my Mac not being able now to stay asleep. It wakes up after an hour or so. And then the media- and document-mode of the trackball do not work anymore. [This I've not really solved yet, I have to disconnect it before putting the Mac to sleep.]

Reviewers complain about how the software is confusing, but some recommend viewing the video tutorials to get used to the "media mode" and the "graphics mode". I don't think they are that important anyway, I already have keyboard shortcuts to control iTunes and picture sizes in Photoshop, and the modes don't seem to go much further than that.

*A bit of an odd name. It has no blade.

Philocalist asks:
Eolake: ... you mention that this is much larger than it seems ... I've been looking for something like this to hopefully make life a little easier for a friend with MS ... could you perhaps tell me what size this is, and also maybe give an approximation of the ball size? Are we talking golf ball, tennis ball, etc?

In-between. The ball is about 5.5 centimeters in diameter. The device is about 13 by 15 centimeters. Just now took this:

Both keyboard and my hands are over average size.

Oooh, I just realized, I could use a golf- and a tennis ball... Like I felt, right in-between:

Small shoes

In Danish there's an expression, "at gå i for små sko", "to wear too-small shoes". It means being petty. (To be frank it may not be in very common use these days, I haven't heard it for decades.

of lesser or secondary importance, merit, etc.; minor: petty considerations.
having or showing narrow ideas, interests, etc.: petty minds.
mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things: a petty person.

I think one of the best purposes in life is to develop oneself towards the opposite of being petty. Towards having larger and larger horizons, and being more and more gentle and inclusive in life. It's far from an easy road, but highly worthwhile.

Slightly related: I remembered an old Danish comic strip: one guy was saying: "I'm against whaling, and I'm against war, and I'm against plastic, and I'm against globalization, and I'm against racism, and I'm against capitalism!"
The other guy answers: "Well, that's very positive!"

That's the thing, innit? Personally I think that while it can be necessary to be against one thing or another, I think one has a richer life if one concentrates the core purpose of one's life around something constructive.

Ayahuasca Trip

The famous Amazon hallucinogenic tea. Clearly not for dilettantes.

Qwazy stairs

Staircase and bookshelves, kewl.

(More stairs here.)

IE battles

I hear that Windows now puts up front your choice of many browsers instead of only MS Internet Explorer. Apparently it's still the monopoly spectre spooking. They've been fighting back and forth over that browser for fifteen years now, I don't really get why it's so important. Nobody earns money on browsers, they are all free, and they don't have any advertising built in. (Which also poses the question of why there are so many highly developed browsers when nobody can charge for them.)

... Windows now puts up front your choice ...
George said:
That's true only for Europe' bound Windows. For good or for bad, the EU has decided this.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Taking Photos is a Nasty Thing to Do

Taking Photos is a Nasty Thing to Do, pretty funny.
'I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do—that was one of my favorite things about it. And when I first did it, I felt very perverse.' Diane Arbus

The Nature of Existence

The Nature of Existence, video.

It's long, I've only watched a little, and I'm not sure of its ultimate value. But early on, it did teach me two things I never thought about:

"Understand" means to Stand Under, in a data hierarchy.

"Explain" Means out of plain (simple) things. You use the simple or the known to create understanding of the more complex or hidden.

Air - La Femme D'Argent

San Francisco. A commenter informs: "It was filmed only four days before the quake and shipped by train to NY for processing. Amazing but true! Which would place the date of filming on Saturday, April 14, 1906."

Not speedy, those old streetcars.

KentG said:
Those are cable cars, notice the slot between the rails. There were some streetcars (trolleys) crossing Market Street, notice the electric pickup (trolley) on them.
Cable cars are still not speedy.

Viewfinder pictures

TC[Girl] alerted me to the cool TTV technique.
I like it, I like the pics.
This is my trusty Hasselblad, fifty years old. It was THE professional camera back then, as it still is to some now, only with their digital models.

Below, one I like not taken by me, but by Alex Pete Patellis. I found it in this Flickr group.


Buy my tee-shirts today!
(Available in several colors. There are black and grey shirts too, with yellow design. )

Expanding universe

Everybody Knows that the universe is expanding. Cuz that's what the clever people say. But I'm wondering how they can say it. What is the universe expanding into?
If it's expanding into something, why isn't that something part of the universe? And if it's expanding into nothing, what do you measure it's size against?

DDD links to an attempt at answering.