Saturday, April 10, 2010

Glass and pictures

Tommy asks:
I want to frame pictures that will be measuring from 3 to 8 feet in width and about 7.5 to 20 inches in height. I understand that the picture cannot come and stay in contact with the glass and that’s the problem. With smaller pictures, the use of matting takes care of this. But, with larger images such as I’m dealing with here, how do you keep the picture away from the glass. Matting just doesn’t, that I’ve found anyway, come this large and would be extremely wasteful anyway.

Any suggestions?

Quick reading report

It's early days yet, but after using the iPad a bit as ebook (and article) reader, and fine-tuning the screen and font settings a lot, I would say that not only does screen reading seem OK, but I may actually in the long run prefer it to paper reading.

Alliteration addict

Hello, my name is Eolake, I'm an alliteration addict.
I have these little tag lines for Domai:
"thirteen years of curvaceous cuties" and the like.
So far I have:
curvaceous cuties, sensual sweeties, pert pretties, bouncy beauties, perky princesses.

I'd like to have a few more. They need, obviously, to be descriptive of the girls and spirit of Domai (meaning "horny honies" is no good here).

(Note: Pascal, don't go overboard, five suggestions or so is plenty...)

Photo contest reminder

$500 prize Photo Contest.


Lamborghini decorated with Sharpie pens and lacquered for permanence.

I wonder though if they will be disappointed, because last year I went for a big hunt for pens which were light-fast (won't fade by exposure to daylight). I thought, like many people I'm sure, that "permanent" meant it's light-fast, but it turns out it doesn't, it just means it's more or less water-proof. And as a matter of fact I could not find any pen which is light-fast. So this pretty car art may fade pretty soon.

He needn't have used pens anyway, he could as easily have done this with acrylic paint.

Depression article

An article with a medical slant on depression.
Depression is a conundrum : while most mental or psychological problems are RARE, this one affects 30 to 50% of people at least once in their life, be it only transiently.


Apparently this is one of the new big youtube hits. Hmmm. Small minds, small pleasures.

Maturing in settings

OK, one thing is clear about the padform: it needs to mature in the way of settings/preferences in apps. For example, there is no way to change font size in Safari. How lame is that? (Yes, you can zoom in, but that's no good if the lines are too long.) Well, basically there are no settings you can change in Safari on iPad, and that goes for many apps.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Regular pad picture frame

iPad slide show two from Eolake Stobblehouse on Vimeo.

The Mechanical Lifting Skirt

Here I had such hopes... why did they even bother pointing a video camera at this, much less posting it on the web? It doesn't work, it's not even close to working. As the kids say, "fail".


It seems that a very popular category of software on both PCs and mobile devices is software to help people take notes. Take notes, and sketch out ideas, and, uh... well...

What are all these notes people are taking? I have a single text document for things I need to remember, a few addresses and such. I've been using the same one for a decade now, and it's still only a couple of screen heights in size. And for things to remember on specific dates, I have iCal, which I only started using a couple of years ago, before that I had a couple of sticky-notes on the wall, that was all. So what are people doing with all these note-taking and idea-organizing apps?

Hmmm, come to think of it: in senior school (10-12th grade) we were handed a tall stack of note-taking paper, which a teacher joked would last us til Christmas if we were lucky. I think after three years I had used five sheets.
... if you use a couple of sheets per day for some reason, how do you even find the notes again, or remember what you have noted down? Aren't the text books better organized than random scribbled notes?

New phone booth invented

Danish students have a reputation for being intelligent. Oh, I'm sorry, they had a reputation for intelligence.

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana

Fruit flies turn in midair with a shrug of their shoulders, article and video.

Fruit flies beat their wings 250 times per second?! Dang.

Don't be too good either!

[Thanks to Tommy]
Boots refuses to print photography student's snaps... because they are too GOOD, article.
She was challenged by staff who accused her of breaking copyright laws, which make it illegal to print professional photographs without their owner's permission.
[...] Miss Kulinsha asked her to take the portraits to show her family at home in Poland, where they do not have access to e-mail.
But because of the delay caused by Boots, Miss Kulinsha caught a plane home without the snaps.

Solar-powered plane

Solar-powered plane looks promising.

Energy emanations

Isn't it interesting how people can just exude or emanate something? Like some people make others grouchy just by being near. Or happy.

Or sex. Or similar things. It can have many variations, though. Once in a supermarket I saw a good looking forty-ish woman who was demonstrating something or other. And just walking past, I got the absolutely certain perception that she loved men. It included sex, but was clearly a good and strong and clean love.

In a hotel lobby I once saw a Thai call-girl come through. She was astoundingly gorgeous. She paid a phone bill from a huge wad of big bank notes. And she carried around her an intense cloud of pure sex. We were three men sitting there, and we were speechless until she had left.
It was amazing, it was like a durned superpower, seriously. I'm sure she can make men do whatever she wants. I hope she's only using it to earn an obscene amount of money, and not for evil. :-)
I'm sure some people could have felt it even if their back had been turned.

Emanations can be anything, though. Any emotion or state, or just personality.
There are different levels of sensitivity to these things. For example I have a friend, he always knows the exact moment when I enter the building, even if he's in another room or even in the shower.

Heretic thoughts

Somebody suggested that the iPad should have a stand, or at least some holes or hooks for attaching a stand.
I say heresy!!! You may not mess with the holy Apple super-minimalist aesthetic!

If you can't move your mouse because the cord is only five inches long, that's a sacrifice you must make for the beauty of the machine in promotional shots. And if your iPad keeps slipping out of your hand because it has no shape or texture, that's something you have to live with so it can look amazing in the famous videos where the product rotates slowly while the light glides over it seductively.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A good morning

Now, the video below is very funny, as is often the case from Fry and Laurie.
But it reminds me of another little linguistic quirk: you'll often hear somebody say "good morning", and the opposite person saying something like "yes it is" or "what's good about it", as if the first person has made a statement about the quality of the morning. But contrarily I've always been under the impression that "good morning" is rather a contraction of "I wish you a good morning".

Bad driver

Sorry for the slightly sexist headline of the video, I didn't write it.
But really, how do you even manage to drive this badly??!

Picture frame

It's all true what they say about the screen on the iPad. I sometimes think "wow, this web site has never looked this good before". It may have the best sharpness, contrast, and colors I've seen. And it's not like my normal monitors suck!

So it's good you can use it as a picture frame. I made a little video showing it.

Multitasking iPhone OS

Apple Unveils Next-Gen, Multitasking iPhone OS, article.

I scream, you scream, we all scream, for multitasking.

What I don't like hearing is that Apple is rolling out some kind of new, location-based advertising scheme called iAd. (I wonder if they'll continue the damned "i" theme throughout this century? I never even understood it in the first place.) Don't we have enough advertising fucking everything up? It's just noise. I don't get why the broad population are apparently more willing to be bombarded with ads than they are of just paying for the content.

A 2.5 Year-Old Uses an iPad for the First Time

Read info here.
Interesting how she got it right away (she's tried an iPhone before), and the only problem she has (apart from loose kiddie motor controls) are places where the interface is less than intuitive, like a large picture which is also a button.

We can also see there's a reason for the wide bezel: if a finger on the holding hand touches the screen by accident, the touch-interface gets confused, I guess quite reasonably.

My screens

The pad has two different "desktop screens", the one shown normally when not in any app (the one with all the icons), and the one shown when you turn iPad on, before you have opened it with the slider. (One can choose to have a password for entry to the iPad, it's set in Settings/General.) I think the purpose of the dang slider is to prevent accidental "computing" if the Home/activate button is hit accidentally while it's in a bag. (By the way, unlike an iPod there seems to be no physical slider which prevents it from waking up if the home button is pressed. Does anybody know different?)

So many good choices, but for now, it's Dorianne.

The iPad is slick. (Updated)

The pad has a minor ergomonics issue: it's very slick, so it's difficult to hold securely with one hand while you're reading in bed, say. You need to apply a lot of force with your fingers, which is obviously tiring in the long run, and doesn't even help that much.

There should have been some ribs or a grip. Preferably on all four sides, on the back. But maybe it was hard to produce, or maybe it would infract too much on Apple's holy super-minimalism. No sirree, that wouldn't do at all, would look good in the slick TV ads.

So we have to turn to vigilantism. Its an object of use, after all. So I double-taped some gaffa tape to the back in the place where I hold most often. I weakened the glue a little (with paper) on the top layer so my fingers wouldn't actually stick to the thing, but merely not slide. Result: "magic", to use a work never used before about this device, I'm sure. Much better. You can see on the mirror photo that I can hold it with just a very minimal grip on the front with my thumb.

I'm sure a snug, light-weight case of thin leather would be better, so I hope one comes along. (I'm not sure Apple's is perfect in this respect, but I'll surely get it because it can act as a stand too.)
Update: In fact, thinking about it, a very snug glove of thin, soft leather would be just the thing. With small holes for the controls and ports. and a removable cover for the screen. I want that. Maybe I'll find a place who can make it.

(That article is here.) (Saving you some googling, after the thought of Ms. Connelly's bosoms has driven your curiousity to unbearable levels.)

TCGirl said:
Look NO FURTHER than HERE, Eo!!! Check out the [silicone protective case] MSUITPAD; PERFECT!! You've got the protection AND the grip combined in this BEAUTIFUL case! Leather would only get messed up, if you happen to get it wet would also get slippery, with wear! With this cover, you could take it off and wash it, every now and again.

keyboard tip

I had already been told by Tonya Engst that one of the tips with ebooks and in general with touchscreen interfaces is that many features may pop up if you hold your finger on a spot for a second or two.

Uknewalready forwarded this:

Tip of the Week: Special Characters on iPhone OS (including iPad) By Sebastian Massey

While it’s true that the interface for the iPad is amazingly intuitive, its simplicity can sometimes hide a number of important advanced features. One such feature I recently discovered is the ability to type accent marks with the on-screen keyboard. This feature is part of the keyboard, not a particular app, so it can be used with Mail, Notes or even Pages.

To type a letter with an accent, simply hold your finger down on the letter for a second or two, and a number of options will appear. While still holding down your finger, just slide to the accented letter you want and release. It’s that simple to type è, ñ, or even ü. Try holding down other buttons on the keyboard and see what happens. As another example, try holding down the “.com” button in the safari keyboard. It will give you options for other suffixes like “.org” or “.edu.”

These options are incredibly useful and I honestly had no idea they were there until someone who needed them asked me how to get accents. I wonder what other hidden powers I can find in the iPad and iPhone OS.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

SF in toothpicks

We've had this before, but this is a much better video.


[Thanks to Joe]
Children ride 40mph ZIP WIRE a quarter of a mile high to get to classes each day, article.

Sounds like more fun than my school bus, and surely faster.

School run: Nine-year-old Daisy Mora makes the trip every day to get to lessons, with her five-year-old brother riding in a cloth bag

Tommy found a video. (No, it has not been on this blog before.)

About this thing Apple calls iPad

About this thing Apple calls iPad, article.
Suddenly there was a group of six or seven medical personnel around her, they were passing it around, one had the map function going, another brought up You Tube.
"Any of your folks have an iPhone, or an iPod touch?" I asked. No one did. "Any Mac folks here?" was my next question. Not a one. Yet everyone who touched it knew what to do.

I got mine

OK, just got iPad.
I've noticed that Steve Jobs and Apple don't call it "the iPad", they call it "iPad" as if it's a name. As in, "when you turn iPad, the screen will turn also".

So far so good. Only oddity so far is that when plugged into my Mac, the little note by the battery says "not charging". I wonder why.

It's true it's responsive. It's not just "fast for a mobile device", it is fast for anything. Well done, Apple.

These fit me

A specification that will not fit on one page of 8.5x11 inch paper cannot be understood.
-- Mark Ardis

Only the shallow know themselves.
-- Oscar Wilde

Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the fine line between sanity and madness gotten finer?
-- George Price

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Night Stand

I still get amazed at the unexpected, innovative, and wonderful apps people come up with for the padform. For example Night Stand, a simple collection of luminous clock interfaces! Now I can see what time it is at night, in an aesthetic way, without turning on the light, and without anything ticking.
It also has alarms (including music), screen dimming, snooze button...)

I have browsed several "hit lists" of padform apps recently. TC Gal found this good one.


I'm using twitter still, to promote my sites when I remember so, and to pick up some links when I'm out. But I don't think I'll ever love it.

It makes me stressed and jittery. Like running around at a party and trying to follow 30 conversations at once... what if somebody says something interesting while I'm not there!!... OMG, must move on, must move on, must move on... With the result that I never have the time to process anything and actually get the benefit from it.

BW photo set

Top Cat chick found this collection of BW photos.

Some of them are a bit too flashy for my taste, I prefer simple. But pictures like the two above remind me why I love photography.

All Tomorrow's parties

William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties and Neuromancer have now also been released on audiobook. Huzzah! This makes the lineup virtually complete. I think missing still are just Virtual Light and Idoru. And maybe The Difference Engine, his oddball collaboration with Bruce Sterling.

I've noticed he has a new one coming in fall, Zero History. I hope it's better than Spook Country, which is the only one of his books I found a bit blah. Like Pattern Recognition it's a technologically-oriented novel rather than Science Fiction, but I liked Pattern Recognition lots, lots better.

Wind Turbines Could Power Atlantic Seaboard

Chain of Offshore Wind Turbines Could Power Atlantic Seaboard, article.

Monday, April 05, 2010

health sales

I've noticed something: when a thing is being sold in a health/medical setting, it's much more expensive than when the same thing is sold to the general public. Great ethics there...

Philocalist said:
Its endemic to anything that is sold to a specialist market, not just the medical industry.
Look at the price you pay for a camera bag, compared to something very similar sold as a 'utility' bag to Joe Public, or a waterproof camouflaged 'fishing' jacket compared to the same type of article bought new at an Army surplus store.
Bottom line is, we public are way too easily led my manufacturers and their marketing people who create that 'perceived' need that makes us buy, often at a price far in excess of what is rational!

Back in the nineties, before HD, there was Digital Video, and one of the first affordable very good cameras, was like $3000. Then the company, one of the big Japanese giants, heard that pros was flocking to this camera and using it for serious projects, and they hiked the price over 3X!

A "blank slate" (updated)

Why the iPad Is a Blank Slate, and Why That's Important, TidBITS article.
So what's the difference between a Mac and an iPad? It's that blank slate thing. No matter what you do on a Mac, the keyboard and mouse and window-based operating system make it impossible to ignore the fact that you're using a Mac, and it's often equally as impossible to ignore the fact that you're using a particular program.
In contrast, the iPad becomes the app you're using. That's part of the magic. The hardware is so understated - it's just a screen, really - and because you manipulate objects and interface elements so smoothly and directly on the screen, the fact that you're using an iPad falls away.

Now even I am getting sceptical... Adam Engst actually also uses the word "magical" about using an iPad (as differentiated from using it about the device itself). Adam is one of the most down-to-Earth people I know. This is spooky. :-)

... the iPod touch, cool as it is, doesn't become the current app in the same way because of its small size. The apps are so small and so many user interface compromises must be made that it's hard to forget you're using the iPod touch as a device. As our friend Ken Case of The Omni Group has said, size matters, which is why a swimming pool is not just a big bathtub.

Good metaphor.

Ronald said:
I have to commend you on sponsoring iPads for the TidBITS editorial team - great move, and very generous of you.

Thank you. I actually gave an iPad not just to the editors, but to everybody at TidBITS. Partly as a thanks for all their great work, and partly because, as you will be aware by now, I regard it as an important new platform, and I wanted to do my bit to the world getting first class reporting on it.

P.S.: Hm, I almost didn't post - "Type the characters you see in the picture above.", but no picture. Turns out one needs to enable scripts for first before it appears - how very sneaky of them.

Odd, first time I hear of this. I wonder if it's my "fault", since I have a Google Analytics counter on the home page?

Onion headlines

A pretty durn sharp The Onion piece about the Catholic Church's little, um, problem. And in other "news", Chimp In Cocaine Study Starts Lying To Friends. And further, U.S. Government To Save Billions By Cutting Wasteful Senator Program.


I'm watching Wolverine. I like it, entertaining.

Interesting to notice though, how it's a "family" type action movie. Perhaps because it's Marvel Comics, I don't know. But here you have a fight between two men both of whom has big nasty claws as main power, and they're trying to kill each other. And yet you barely see a drop of blood. If that was real, there'd be blood flying all over the place. They would be soaked in it and slipping in it.

New times

[Thanks to Dave]

Good fun.

I wonder how many years it will actually take before reading on a hand-held screen will be more common than reading on paper? I'd say 12-15.

Liberty Comics #1

Liberty Comics #1, review/article.

Are censorship issues really moot in the Internet age? I'm not so sure. Certainly they have been pushed back, but they push back too. For example Karen Fletcher, who ran a tiny web site (Red Rose or something). Granted, the site was pretty disgusting to almost anybody, containing text stories including violence to children and such. But: it was fiction. Not even any photos or illustrations. And yet the woman was arrested and got a pretty harsh sentence in a plea bargain. This is one of the best examples of how, if you really want free speech, you have to defend the indefensible. Policing fiction is policing thought. What kind of society has thought police?

Update on Trackball

Just a quick update on the Slimblade trackball.
... After a little software adjustment and practice, I find it gives me the best combination of speed and precision I ever had. I can zip across two wide screens in half a second, and yet make as precise work as I've ever made.
Admittedly I was a bit in doubt there in the beginning, it felt tricky to control, but it was just sorta like getting a different bicycle.

the padform

TTL said:
Maybe we non-iPadists need to wear a T-shirt that says “Mind the gap” ... just as a friendly platform warning to those who are not used to seeing iPadless people. :-)

Good one. And it'll give us a couple seconds to swallow our pity so it doesn't show.

By the way, it's very unhandy to say, for example: "software for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad"... So I've invented a word for that platform: it's now called "the padform".

Sunday, April 04, 2010

"Free audiobooks", an app

We talked before about audiobooks, free and otherwise. I just found a two-dollar iPhone app, "Free audiobooks", which lets you download 3000 librivox-recorded audiobooks for free. They are all out of copyright, and recorded by volunteers, but you can't beat the price.
In the app, if you choose "email to iTunes", you can listen to the book while doing other things on the iPhone (or Touch). (So far, the iPhone only lets Apple's own apps multitask.)
There are several ways of getting the free librivox audiobooks onto an iPod, but this one may be the most handy. OK, admittedly, the only iPod it works on is the Touch.

By the way, in newest version of QuickTime, Apple has in their infinite wisdom removed some features, like easily saving files, even if one is paid up with QT Pro. Does anybody know how to save a file from the interface seen above?
(I can make a web page with the link to the file and select "save" when right-clicking on the link, but that's a real clumsy workaround.)

M. Pipolo saves the day:

I know... Apple's removal of features from QuickTime X after I had paid $30 for the Pro version irks me still. Grrr.

If the video file is its own autonomous URL (i.e., not embedded in another page), in Safari I usually just press Cmd-L > Cmd-C > Option-Cmd-L > Cmd-V it. (That is, highlight the URL in the address bar, copy it, bring up Safari's downloads window, then paste the link in.)

If the file is embedded, I have to first make it begin playing (so the video file begins buffering), then press Option-Cmd-A (Show Activity window), then find usually the largest file in the list (it will be streaming, so its size will look something like "1.2 MB of 34.8 MB"), click it, then copy and paste it into the Downloads window as above.

Its still a little clunky, but using all keyboard shortcuts, it can be streamlined down to about a 4 to 6 second process. :) Note that this method requires Safari to download it afresh, so there's no reason to wait for the video to buffer/play any longer than necessary to retrieve the links.

Thanks, these are brilliant! Did you figure these out?

Scarface School Play

Funniest fudging thing I've seen all week.

"You son of a bee! I'm leaving, you mother-fudger!"

Steven Levy

Steven Levy, who wrote "Insanely Great", one of the best books about the Macintosh, said:
"Back in 1975, Ed Roberts's Altair cost $397, only a bit less than the iPad does today. But it had no screen, no web, no apps and you had to assemble it yourself. We've come a long way since then. And as of Saturday, we're a little way further."

I just had to quote this to mess with reader TTL, who is very tired of me making historical comparisons like that. "Yeah, so it gets a bit faster and at bit cheaper every year, so what, get used to it!" I'm trying, but it's hard.

And further: those people who are getting sick of hearing about the f***ing iPad have better skip this blog for a while, because I'm totally obsessed with it. This is an event I have been waiting for, for fifteen years. Perhaps most people view it as just another new gadget of little consequence, but I am not alone in seeing it as an important milestone in the history and development of publishing, education, and global communication. (Apple is not the huge hero here, admittedly; like the MP3-player this was a thing that was happening anyway, they just stepped in and took the limelight by doing something with more panache.)

13 bright bulbs

13 of the Brightest Tech Minds Sound Off on the Rise of the Tablet/Magazine, article.

Negroponte said:
"The unsung advantage of current ebooks is being able to use them in bed."
I guess he's not reading my blog, that's one of the first things I "sang".

Some of the quotes/posts are a bit weird though. "Advertising pioneer" George Lois says that a magazine on a tablet is a very poor substitute for the "real" thing. Apparently glossy paper has some magic quality unknown to science which makes the same pictures and words soar to the skies and heavens and shine with a divine light which just is not possible on the unworthy LCD screen. He thinks a computer screen is "bland" and "crammed". Well, screen already show more colors than you can print on paper with off-set. And while the iPad is a bit smaller than most magazine pages, that's just for now. There's no reason in a couple of years it can't be twice as large for a reasonable price, and hopefully barely heavier too. (I wonder if it could be strong enough if Apple bit the style bullet and made more use of plastic so it could be lighter?)

Magazines and "issues"

Back ten years ago, used to send out a PDF magazine. A closed issue with illustrations, articles, and so on. And I'm realizing I miss it. They have an active web site, now, lots to read, but it's not the same. With a "magazine issue" I felt that I had "something". I felt, "ah, issue 124 of MyMac is out now, now I have something to read over lunch, and I'd put it in my laptop and read it over lunch, seeing what my favorite authors such as Nemo, Beth Lock, and Tim Robertson had to say this month.

Here's a sample issue from 1996, which has been sitting on my computer in a folder named "reading" for over a decade! For one thing it's fun to read about "waiting for Copland", the huge Mac OS system which never arrived, and stuff like that. But also it's noteworthy that while the layout was simple and direct as it had to be, this is definitely a real magazine. There are many articles, and they are full articles and of good quality.
(I was interviewed in 1999 in issue 51. Though I can't find the PDF version, the interview is still online.)

Contracts and the Net

I just had a long and pleasant conversation with one of my beatiful and talented friends. (I'm serious, she's played the fiddle in some of the most prestigious venues in the world, and she's an outstanding composer and writer too.) With her brother, an artist, she wants to publish childrens books, as ebooks first, and with music in them. They talked to some woman who loved it, and would publish it and so on. And then came the contract... basically, this woman would own their work, their soul, and 99.9% of their income for life. Slightly exaggerated, but not much.

But, but, but... that's exactly what the Net is for! So we no longer have to be prey to such people. We can be autonomous.
A problem is my friend has a hard time with computers, so I am not sure what to say to her.


iBooks has finally appeared on iTunes!

It only works on iPad, not iPhone or iPod Touch. An odd choice. Maybe they'll rather sell more iPad than sell many books for smaller devices?

The iBook store is only available to US customers, that sucks.

You can load your own ebooks into iBooks, if you can get them converted to epub format (you can use calibre for that).

Popular Science magazine

Popular Science magazine comes to the iPad, article and video.
I think this is a good example of actual thinking going on, when somebody tries to move to a new medium. Surely not all their ideas will work equally well, but it's clear they are working very hard to do it right, to make most of a very different medium, and I respect that highly.
In something like this, there is a huge number of factors, many of them unknown, both psychological, economic, and technological, to take into consideration, and I don't think there's a single person on the planet with a mind who can handle it all at once.