Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Big Dog"

Joe tipped me off on this video about military robots, especially the one called Big Dog, which is a four-legged critter designed to carry heavy gear over uneven terrain. Like Joe said, it's very reminiscent of the Desert Walkers in Star Wars, but it's real, and quite cool.

War-mongering is an insane waste of brains, money, work, and lives, but at least some technological progress trickles from it into more productive areas later.

Space exploration graphically

Below is a small bit of a huge graphic which shows a colorful diagram of 50 years' worth of space exploration.
Did you know that there has been forty-three missions to Venus! Wow. That's far.

(Wow, and it's on a fast server too! that 900kb+ image loads virtually instantly for me.)

I am using this as wallpaper on my big screens. It's kind of funny, because all the labelled objects in the picture makes it a real challenge to see where the frig my icons are! :-)

Last drop

Interesting how many steps there still can be done in design progress.
Sure, this is not world-rocking stuff, but many people want that last drop. And also, not all shampoo (and such) bottles are very practical to use.

iPad/Neo video demo

I have made a little video demonstration of how the Alphasmart Neo can be used as keyboard for the iPad.
Or using the iPad as screen for the Neo, if you prefer!
I had set the text very large (36 point) so it would be seen on the video. In normal text size, a *lot* of text will fit on the screen, of course.

iPad with Neo as keyboard from Eolake Stobblehouse.

I have upgraded to Vimeo Plus, so you can see it larger on, see links above.

(By the way, I think Vimeo has smart ways of convincing you to upgrade to paid membership... less waiting time, bigger videos, etc etc.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

The beautiful people

Update: Miserere said:
A comment on the hypertanned couple: They've been photographed on the day of competition, she as a Figure competitor, and he in bodybuilding. It is customary for contestants to apply several layers of tanning products (many designed especially for these types of uses) because they pose on stages with very heavy lighting; if they are not hypertanned their muscles will appear flat and shapeless, their figure washed out, "overexposed" in photographic terms :-)
Even dark-skinned competitors of African descent use tanning products, so imagine the need for pasty Caucasians!

One fine morning on an airplane

[Thanks to Ian]

A man and a woman were sitting beside each other in the first class section of an airplane.

The woman sneezed, took out a tissue, gently wiped her nose, then visibly shuddered for ten to fifteen seconds.

The man went back to his reading. A few minutes later, the woman sneezed again, took a tissue, wiped her nose, then shuddered violently once more.

Assuming that the woman might have a cold, the man was still curious about the shuddering. A few more minutes passed when the woman sneezed yet again, and her body shook more than ever.

Unable to restrain his curiosity, the man turned to the woman and said, "I couldn't help but notice that you've sneezed three times and then shudder violently. Are you ok?"

"I am sorry if I disturbed you, I have a very rare medical condition; whenever I sneeze I have an orgasm."

The man, more than a bit embarrassed, was still curious. " I have never heard of that condition before" he said. "Are you taking anything for it?"

The woman nodded, "Yes. Pepper."

Screenshots on iPhone/iPad

Bron gave me an excellent tip on how to make screenshots on the iPhone/iPad.

... You can see what I mean about photos of a screen looking bad (see previous post)! These are tons better.

iPad interface gotcha (updated)

This is another example, in a different app (GoodReader), of an interface flaw (in my opinion) in the otherwise excellent iPad interface. It seems to be system-wide rather than app-specific.
The flaw is that when you see the pop-up menu...

[Update: the photos are not representative of the iPad's screen quality. Of course the lines are straight in real life, and the tones/sharpness much better!]

... You can't see anything hinting that the window can scroll and contains more options. For space reasons or maybe aesthetics reasons, the very thin grey line which appears when you actually are scrolling, disappears when you're not doing it.

You can see here that there are actually more options below when one scrolls:

What I'm doing here could be seen as useless complaining or "bitching", but I just find interfaces interesting both in their good and bad aspects. And also, if nobody at all mentions these things, it's less likely that flaws get fixed.
And heck, I might even help some iPad owners to look for extra options in their apps which they might otherwise never have found. (I only found out about this thing two weeks after I very angrily and erroneously had reported that Pages For iPad did not have options for changing font type and size.)

Philocalist said:
Being not at all Apple - orientated, something immediately catches my eye here, though it could just be a quirk of your image capture (or, indeed, my eyes!)
In the top image particularly, the pop-up window that you show appears to be badly skewed / out of true, i.e not perpendicular ... which would irritate the life out of me if it is indeed part of the (lack of) design in the app ... just looks like a sloppy end result.

God, no, this is just because I did not hold the camera exactly parrallel to the screen surface, and because it's taken with a zoom.
Additionally, as you may know, photographing any electronic screen often results in moiré errors and generally oddly reduced quality of the image. The screen looks much better in real life than these photos. You can be sure that visually the interface as well as the screen on the iPad is very good. Outstanding, in fact.

Anon said:
I agree that this is not intuitive, and it naturally works the same way on the iphone. Space is definitely one of the reasons they've chosen to do it this way.

But I think they may have felt that a traditional scroll bar would be confusing in a touch interface. Clearly you just use your finger to scroll, and if there was a scroll bar, people might get confused and think that you can't just drag anywhere with your finger to scroll, but that you have to go to the scroll bar, because that is so ingrained in our heads.

I suspect that they couldn't find a visual cue that overcame this "you have to touch here" syndrome. For me, I've just gotten in the habit of wiggling my finger a little if I think there is a chance there is more info than fits on the screen...

Eolake said...
That's a good point, thanks.

(Hmmm, maybe the thin line indicating how much of the menu is visible could stay on the screen even when you're not scrolling. Maybe most people would not take that as the only area you can scroll. Not sure.)

Jumbo Shipping

[Thanks to Tommy]
Commercial video for a specialized shipping company. If you ever need a 900-ton thingamabob shipped, these are your guys. (The first half of the video is less interesting.)

No arm, no legs, no worries

Thanks to TTl for recommending this video.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Brittas empire

An outstanding sitcom, don't-miss.
Seems to be only out in the UK:

The Brittas Empire: Complete BBC Series 1-7 Box Set [DVD]

The Brittas empire

An outstanding sitcom, don't-miss.
Seems to be only out in the UK:

The Brittas Empire: Complete BBC Series 1-7 Box Set [1991] [DVD]

Railing photo

Thanks to Chedopp for pointing to this nice photo by our esteemed reader EmptySpaces.

Sony Alpha NEX-5

Hands-on: Sony Alpha NEX-5 interchangeable-lens camera, C/net article/video.
It seems it's a very compact camera with very high image quality, but unfortunately with serious handling flaws. Maybe next model handles those, but I'm not so optimistic, seeing how these things tend to go. (For example, the first compact Sigma was much too slow, and it was not improved much in the second model. The same could be said for Olympus' M4/3 models.)

Taylor Momsen doesn't give a sh*t

Taylor Momsen Goes Pantsless, Curses On Morning Television, article/video.

(I haven't seen Gossip Girl, and it does not seem to be comedic, so I probably won't.)
I like that she's an actual rock musician, instead of the tsunami of soft pop we have these days.
I also like her answer when asked why she dresses very "provocatively" at sixteen: "Well I don't really understand, am I supposed to dress like that when I'm 30?" she said. "Isn't this the time when I'm supposed to be able to wear anything? I don't really understand! I graduated from high school two years ago..."

I think the "Morticia" eye make-up (seen in the video) is a mistake, look how much prettier she is without it:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't sleep too long

Four-five years ago there was a period where I struggled with depression. I don't now, it's way, way better, but events last week reminded me of a datum I learned back then, which was tremendously helpful to me: too much sleep with too much dreaming causes over-emotion ("arousal") which causes exhaustion, which causes too much sleep and more dreaming, etc etc.
It can be difficult to get up after a decent amount of sleep if you are truly exhausted, but it can be necessary to break this vicious cycle. Dreaming is very hard work (the body reacts as if it's real), and if you sleep an extra couple of hours, but dream intensely, it will not get you more rested, it will make you more exhausted.

Monestary life

[Thanks to Tommy]

Monastery Life
A young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand.

He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript. So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up! In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk, says, "We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son."

He goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault that hasn't been opened for hundreds of years. Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot.

So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing, "We missed the R ! We missed the R ! We missed the R !"
His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably. The young monk asks the old abbot, "What's wrong, father?"
With A choking voice, the old abbot replies, "The word was...


Apropos jokes, did anybody notice that this was a joke? The file window "accidentally" exactly covering her naughty parts. I thought that was hysterical.

Young Girls Do Beyonce's 'Single Ladies'

Young Girls Do Beyonce's 'Single Ladies', article/video.
Now, I imagine this will created all sort of mixed emotions all over, but you can't deny that these chicks can friggin' move! Holy mama.

Frank Frazetta, Algis Budrys

Frank Frazetta passed away on Monday, 10 May 2010.

Frazetta illustrated the first mass-format book I was in: Writers Of The Future, volume V, cover seen here (my own copy):

... When SF luminary and WofF editor Algis Budry talked to me and the other writers in the lounge in JFK airport, he said laughingly: "now I'll have to warn you: the butterfly woman on Frazetta's cover this year... has nipples!"

I considered myself a friend of Algis. He sadly passed away in 2008.
He was also the publisher and editor who published my second story, December Morning, in his magazine Tomorrow SF.

New Sonys

New Sony exchangable-lens (but mirror-less) cameras.
Might be interesting, especially if they have better high-ISO performance than the M4/3 cameras from Panasonic and Olympus, cuz those are a little disappointing in that aspect.

Prayer of the Day

"Dear Lord, please change me so I'll easier be able to feel gratitude. I'd be very thankful!"


Since people tend to put things in a context they are used to, I better explain that when I use terms like "prayer", "god", "meditation", "spirituality" and such I use them as very wide terms, which include the variations known to Christians, Buddhists, etc etc, but also variations not coming from any organized religion, but just what a person might develop personally of methods to do his spiritual work.

And it seems that's a trend: studies show that fewer and fewer people in the western world think of themselves as belonging to a specific and limited church, but more and more think of themselves as Spiritual in some form.

A natural life

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.
-- Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

Have sex with it too, maybe?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

ePub validation

To get a book into Apple's iBook store, you need to convert the book to the format ePub. I've done that. But... I am using this page to try to validate this ePub file, but it seems to be invalid. However, there are no hints of how to fix it. (The file is made by Sigil.)
Does anybody know how to fix it?
( takes $100 for conversion and validation, and that's just ludicrous.)

OK, I tried using inDesign also, but the epub file it made does not validate either. (Also, oddly, when placing text with autoflow from the original .rtf file, it only imports about 25% of the text.)

BW nu

An excellent collection of black-and-white nudes, one and two.

Spiderman swing dancing

Didn't see that one coming.

Apple Pages for iPad, correction and critique

By the useful method of reading a review article, I have found out that I fortunately was wrong about Pages for iPad: it does have options for changing font and the size of text. It was indeed almost too incredible to believe that it didn't, and I would not have believed it, if not for Apple's very occasional incredible choices, for example a mouse cord too short to reach around to the other side of a laptop and still be useable!

So, this is apparently the downside of the no-menu interface of a tablet (which has many positives)*. When you have many options, how do you present them without stealing too much screen space? In this case, I think Apple was too clever by far... a little button has a little "i" on it. This is normally "information", but in this case it serves up the various Styles possible for the text.

This is odd enough in itself, but then the pop-up menu with styles has no indication that it actually scrolls down to more options. It looks finished, no scroll bar or arrow or anything. But it does actually scroll, and when you do that, you find "text options" right at the bottom, which let you set text size, color, and font. That is very well hidden for options which normally is the very first thing you want to use when you set up a word processing document. Sigh.

* Well, all right, it actually does have menus, which make anything possible, the problem is, like we can see here, that there is not yet a standard way of presenting these menus, so the user can figure them out.

Pure Trim (and sleep and dreaming)

(I am sorry if this sounds like an ad, it isn't, it's just my experience.)

Sometimes when I have been mentally/spiritually/emotionally extra active, I can get into a state similar to depression. It can't really be depression, for the definition of that says that it lasts more than six months, I think. At least if it is 'depressive disorder', which is what people normally mean by "depression".

Anyway, I've been noticing that when this mood is really troubling me, I realize one thing: I've forgotten for a few days to take my protein drink!
Not just any protein drink, it's one called Pure Trim.
It is marketed as a slimming product, and it's probably good as that, if used more intensely than I do. I just use a little. I don't like the taste, but as I say, when I forget to use it, I often get very tired and in a bad mood after a few days.
Pure Trim also contains a lot of excellent nutrients, but the main thing for me (which isn't even advertised, but others have noted it too) is this positive influence against irrational tiredness (not caused by lack of sleep) and irrational bad mood (not caused by external events).

So far as I know, you can't buy it in stores, unfortunately. It's one of those things which is set up with a business strategy to make people "affiliates" and sell to others. This method has a spotted reputation, I guess, but some good products are in there too.

Because food and health products are difficult to export due to many regulations, it is only sold in the US and Canada. I use MyUS to forward the product to me from the US.
I buy the Pure Trim in this web store. (It is owned by a friend, but I don't get any commission.) If you like it after trying it, you should become an affiliate, you get it dramatically cheaper that way.

Update: another important influence is sleep. Don't sleep and dream too long!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bed time

It's bed a long, hard day. I have worked for several hours! But all things come to an end. And now, with inexorable promptitude, my bed time fall over me. And I must give in to the spirits of the night, hoping my gentle proteges make it through another ten hours without succumbing to life's festive but bloody pounding. So I bid you: bonne nuit. God nat. Gut nacht. Ha en bra nat.

Update next morning: TCGirl sent this lovely song as a lullaby.

Odd Photoshop problem (updated)

Photoshop CS5 seems nice, but I have a very odd problem: I can't load my old custom actions.
That is, I can, but when I load the file (photoshop CS4/presets/actions/stobblehouse actions.atn), then I get actions I created over a year ago! Not the new ones I use all the time... Dangit.

When I open Photoshop CS4, there are the correct actions!
I've even tried to make a little change to them in CS4, and then Search in Finder to find the newest files which have been changed... that really should work, but no Actions file show up.
Where the heck does PS CS4 store the data for the actions I've been using??

Relief: I think my bacon was saved by this page (and by Miserere) You have to use "save actions" in the Actions sub-menu in the old version of Photoshop first, then load the file you just created, in the new version of Photoshop.

And you have to do the same for Tool Presets you have made.

Sometimes these apps are so weird.

Why the heck does it not store the data in the .atn file???

Why does it not automatically import custom actions from the old version?? Or at least tell us how to import them? There must be tens of thousands of Photoshop users struggling with this by every update.

And while I'm at it, why does Actions have a special popup menu in the palette, instead of the usual right-click popup menu?

Twitter hit by major disruption

Twitter hit by major disruption, article.
This happened today.

Safe disk

Womili tipped us off on this external back-up disk which is fireproof, water-proof, and shock-proof. Sounds like a good idea, and it's actually not as expensive as I would have thought. (For a couple of years, I've had a back-up disk in a fire-safe, accomplishing about the same effect.)
I would like one which is solid-state, but sadly the biggest one is only 250GB, and much more expensive. I need at least a terabyte.
The thing weighs 7 kilos!
I wonder how the heck they have accomplished all that protection, especially against deep water for three days! The thing is not all that large, and it does have openings and plugs.
Here is a kewl video from the BBC of a hard-core testing of this.

Long-Term Pain for Shareholders

Big Job Cuts Mean Short-Term Gain, Long-Term Pain for Shareholders, Study Finds, article.
Turns out firms that cut aggressively aren't prepared to ramp up quickly once the recovery begins. In contrast, peer firms that cautiously trimmed are well-staffed to take advantage of a swift shift in momentum. "You can't shrink your way into prosperity," says Cascio in the article.

Of course one should take into consideration whether the staff pool is actually very bloated or whether everybody is pulling their weight.

Acrobat installing

Just bought Creative Suite 5. Well, I bought it a couple weeks ago, I got it today.

Adobe gives instructions upfront: "The components of your suite edition are located on one DVD set and one single DVD..."

And hear this: the Acrobat Pro application alone is now almost one gigabyte!! This is twice the space I had on my first mac in 1995. Totally ridik.

Also, Acrobat Pro apparently don't use any palettes. Normally an Adobe pro app has about 13,000 palettes, so when one is sitting there looking at an empty screen after opening the app, one thinks it is not done opening yet or has crashed...
It seem it uses a document window with tabs in lieu of palettes. Might actually be a good idea.

It has a cool feature too: a "typewriter" tool. It for "typing in" names and such when you fill out a form, just like you would with a typewriter if you had the form on paper. As you might expect, it can type anywhere on the page like a real typewriter could, and it types in Courier, naturellement! :-)

Short joke to start the day

A dyslexic walked into a bra...

Cheap hosting

Laked pointed this article to cheap web hosting.
I would say, if it's an important web site, get professional hosting (it's cheap now) instead of using, for instance, Dropbox's folders to host it. Not only does a real domain name look much more professional, but there's also no guarantee that Dropbox will suddenly decide that web hosting is a mis-use of their service, and delete those sites. But it can be used for fun little things.

Just for fun, I tried it out by putting my own front page in there. Wow, it really works. (The links don't work, because I did not upload the rest of the site, only the front page and graphics.) (Here's the real page.) DropBox is simply free and easy and flexible FTP (file transfer protocol) service, impressive, I think.

I don't know why I haven't found LifeHacker long ago, they have lots of good stuff, like this article about how to avoid the stress caused by perfectionism.

Japanese non-erotica

Interview with Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.
"During the inquiry they gave me this simple rule that no photograph could show a sexual organ. So I had the idea of scratching the genitalia in the photographs to hide and erase them. In part, I had to teach people that genitalia are not obscene in themselves; it's the act of hiding them that's obscene."
Araki is a superstar in Japan. You realize this if you chart his wake through the streets of Shinjuku--young girls screeching, yakuza gangsters pointing, salary men stopping dead in their tracks. No photographer in the West has this kind of public visibility.

It's funny, I've heard that before, many many years ago about another Japanese photographer. The biggest are treated like movie stars are in the states.
And with this guy, this is at the same times as his work being in constant conflict with the law. Very odd.
BTW, so far as I've seen, photos of tied up women and schoolgirls is not exceptional in Japan, it's as common as rice and sushi. Humiliation is in their DNA for some reason.


By the way, here's another japanese photo I suddenly found now. I first saw it in Pentax Magazine over thirty years ago, and it really struck me. Perfect example of making Art from virtually nothing. I saw it in bigger size then, and it has really beautiful tones and texture.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Jungle Queen

Wow, I found another great black model for Domai.
See Nikitta (note: nudity).

NGR poster

I got it from NakedGirlsReading's site.
I really like that group and their activity (book readings in the buff). I always rejoice whenever nudity, especially of pretty women, comes into the culture without being either hyper-sexualized or vilified.

Stats on books

Does anybody have any sort-of reliable statistics of how many manuscripts written get published?
And how many books of 100 published make a profit?

Thanks to Jan for this interesting article. Quote:
This led me to create a “not-to-do” list. Number one was no book touring or bookstore signings whatsoever.

Yesssssss! I've been reading about authors being exhausted by book tours, and I'd vowed to never make them. For writers, it's not your job to do the publisher's promotional work for them, your job is to write your next book.

The Revenge of Bat-Cat



We've had somebody who painted on people before. I think Alexa Meade is good fun.


(My apologies to the photographer for adding the speech balloon and statement.)

For those who are unsure about their Batman lore, this line was stated in the very first Batman story, when Bruce Wayne decided to dress up as a bat. He decided that it would scare criminals, because they are "a cowardly and superstitious lot".

A cable tip

[Thanks to Observando]
I think I'll get few of these kinda clips. What are they called in English?
Update: thanks to Pop, who informs, they're called binder clips.

Pascal said:
I just verified something: you can avoid the hazardous disassembling of your cable's wires by taking apart the clip's "arm" instead. You should be able to easily slide it out of its notch, insert your cable, and then put it back in.

DDD found this:

I'd love to see a hot chick in a binder clip dress, and naked under it. There's nothing so tantalising as when you can almost see things. Once many years ago, in a church of all places, I met a gorgeous Italian girl, who wore a sweater with knitting-holes so big it was almost transparent. I thought I'd get a heart attack. Or at least a neck incident from trying not to look down all the time.

From a review:
- A great bookmark that won't lose your place.
- Keep bags of chips closed as well as bags of frozen vegetables.
- Hold a stack of credit cards together in a pocket or bag.
- Keep curtains closed to keep the light out, great for hotels.
- Use it to hold electronic cords in place, take the wire out and run the cord through, then replace the wire.
- Use as a key chain that won't get lost, again by removing and replacing the wire.

Black Lagoon

Another pic from Ben Tan. That guy can draw chicks!

The pad is silent/backups

Couple of item from my email: a reader referred to the self-publishing article, which says how cool and quiet the iPad is.
"I wonder how they can create this thing that doesn't get hot nor need fans like that."

Yes, it's dead-quiet. Silent, actually. And never gets hot, or even warm.
Apple did a great job with fine-tuning the software so it's both fast and quiet. One of the ways they did this is the "no multi-tasking" thing.
It can be seen as a lack in some ways, for example you can't have one app downloading something while you use another app. Most of this will be corrected this summer/fall coming OS 4, but will still be done so it doesn't hurt the device's speed.

The article also makes a point about loosing the flashdrive that you have your manuscript on.
One should always have backups. Back up at home on a separate disk, and also at Dropbox or someplace like that. The guy who lost his flashdrive is careless if he did not have a backup anywhere.

DropBox (updated twice)

DropBox is a wonderfully useful service for syncing your files between devices. And free. And you can send and share files. Including photo galleries made automatically!
My friend Carter made this gallery (has nudity) just by dragging a folder of Domai pictures into his DropBox folder.

I think it works great, and is very easy (way easier than making galleries for Domai!). It is free too! If you sign up here, I get a bit of extra storage space for my own use, such as sharing free Domai pages. :-)

I just realized that when they make photo galleries like this, they down-size the photos to around 766 pixels tall. (Landscape-format pictures end up the biggest this way.) So uploading bigger images is wasted.

Oooops! Mark says:
If you click the Full button below a picture, it will zoom to full size.
Clicking the Save button below the picture will save the full-sized file.

International pricing

Many people, including myself, bitch about the much higher prices on gear like cameras and iPad in Europe/UK compared to USA.
But a TidBITS article made me realize that we tend to overlook that prices in the US are usually given without sales tax, and in Europe they are usually given including sales tax. If we include this factor, then the markup on the iPad in UK over US is actually less than ten percent.

Hunter said

Hunter S. Thompson in September 2001:
"We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or where will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Irag, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for war seem to know who did it or where to look for them.

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed--for anyone, and certainly not for a baffled little creep like George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it off."
Hunter S. Thompson